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The “Hooray, Ratings Work Again!” Giveaway – Winner Contacted

March 5, 2017 at 3:31 PM

Hey, everyone!

It’s been a few days since I implemented the fix – special thanks to CloudFlare tech support for figuring it out after everyone else I’d approached had been baffled – and it appears that we are fully in the clear with regards to the ratings plugin. I haven’t received any reports of malfunctions, and I’m seeing people voting like crazy in the logs, so I think it’s safe to say that we dodged a bullet and everything is finally back in working order!

To celebrate, I’m going to hold a giveaway! I’d been thinking about raffling off this particular item for awhile now as I thought it might be a fun way for some of you to render your creepypasta into a new form – so, no time like the present, right?

One winner will receive a Steam copy of TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio. This is a program that allows users to build their own visual novels, even without knowing any game programming or scripting (though the description states that more in-depth options exist for advanced users).

I’ve really enjoyed the few times that we’ve received submissions in interesting formats/platforms like Twine – and I’ve seen some authors express interest in turning their work into games or visual novels, so it’s my hope that some of you find this an interesting opportunity to tell your stories in a non-traditional fashion. While I’m only giving away one copy, I think it would absolutely be interesting to see future submissions or adaptations of already accepted stories (with permission and/or by the original author, of course) in this format!

Here are the details:

  • You need a Steam account that can receive gifts from a US Steam account.
  • You need to be 18 years of age or older to enter, please.
  • Due to the digital nature of the items, this contest is open worldwide, as long as it is legal for you to have a Steam account and receive gifts.
  • Please use the same name and/or email to comment that you use to enter the raffle. This will make validating comment entries much easier for me!
  • The raffle will start on March 06, 12:00AM EST and will accept entries until March 20, 12:00AM EST. You can see the helpful countdown on the widgets to know how much time is remaining!
  • I will draw names and contact the winner within 24 hours. If the winner does not reply to claim their prize within 72 hours of my contacting them, they will be disqualified and a new winner will be selected – rinse, repeat.
  • If the Rafflecopter widget below does not display for you, please click the text link in their place and enter on the raffle’s website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to everyone who enters!


March 5, 2017 at 12:00 AM

I am here to discuss my experiences with a band, known as Vantablack. They are a progressive death metal band, based in my hometown of Battered Grove – a small, but lively, town in New England. The band consists of five members: a drummer, two guitarists, a bassist, and a vocalist. Beyond their roles in the band, I know little about them. They’ve exclusively played shows at my hometown venue since they formed a few months ago – nowhere else, but I’ve never seen them in town before. I still don’t. I don’t even know their names. The band and its members are shrouded in mystery. The only thing I’m certain of is what I’ve witnessed.

Before we get into the details of what I’ve experienced, let’s talk about Battered Grove’s local music scene. The bands here and in the surrounding towns are predominantly metal or, at least, metal in some form. Their genres range from extreme metal, death metal, and black metal to metalcore, deathcore, and even grindcore. If you aren’t familiar with these genres, don’t worry. It’s not important to understand the context of my situation. I’m just trying to paint a clearer picture for those who are familiar.

These bands play at our local venue, Garrett’s Locker. It’s a small, run-down place, but it’s ours. A great place for kids to have fun. I go there every chance I get. Watching bands, in addition to moshing, is a great stress reliever. But it’s more than that. Being at a metal show is a thrilling experience. The environment is positive, the people are friendly (for the most part, occasionally, there’s a moron who likes to crowdkill every chance they get), and the music is phenomenal. It’s a heavenly assault on the ears and an alleviating comfort to the soul. There’s nothing else like it.

In more recent years, financial issues have led the venue owners to allow in touring bands. These bands have a bigger draw than locals, and more people equals more money. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your head above water, especially when it means saving the place, but I miss when the venue was ours and only ours. It was like a secret club, almost, a place for local musicians only. Our escape from the day to day troubles of the world. I mean, it still is all of that, but the touring bands bring fans with them that just don’t give a shit. Scene girls that care more about who’s cuter, rather than the actual quality of the material. I’m not judging. I just miss the old crowd.

One day, I noticed an invite on Facebook to an event page for Garrett’s Locker. It was a show, but not just any show. It was an “ALL LOCAL METALFEST JAMBOREE!!!”, as it said on the page. All locals, huh? I was intrigued. I hadn’t been to a show at Garrett’s with all local bands in years. This was great, I thought. I looked at the lineup to see who was playing. I recognized every band on the bill, save for one. Vantablack. They must have been new, I thought. But new local bands almost always were openers. Vantablack was headlining the event. I found this very odd, but I assumed they paid the promoter for the spot or something. Things like that happened occasionally. Rarely, but they happened. I figured this must have been one of those times.

Fast forward to the day of the show. My friend, Billy, and I showed up early, as we usually did. We always loved to hang out in front of the venue for a while before the show started. It gave us a chance to meet friends and meet some of the bands during load-in. We already knew all of the members in these bands, having seen them play for years. Instead of a meet and greet, it was more like a family reunion. But at every family reunion, there are always new relatives to meet. You know, those cousins you never knew you had? That was Vantablack.

While talking with the lead singer of my favorite local band, a bus pulled up. Thinking it was an actual bus using the parking lot to turn around, everyone got out of the way. Instead of turning around, it parked. That’s when I noticed the lettering on the side of the bus, “VB”. That’s when I knew that it belonged to Vantablack. This was a surprise. No local band, or even touring band, had ever showed up to Garret’s with a bus. It was always either multiple cars, a couple of pick-up trucks, an SUV, or a van. Having an actual tour bus was impressive, especially for a local band. This, coupled with the fact that no one else knew anything about the band either, caused everyone to stare. We were waiting to put a face to the name, so to speak. We were waiting for the big reveal.

With equipment in hand, five cloaked figures came off of the bus in an orderly fashion and walked into Garrett’s. When I say cloaked, I mean cloaked, hood and all. I couldn’t even make out a single face. Strange is an understatement. It was downright bizarre. Billy agreed, having seen nothing like it, and he’s been to more shows than I have. Besides confusing us, Vantablack’s “grand entrance” succeeded in making people interested. It was all anyone could talk about the whole night. The mystery surrounding the band was enough to make everyone insatiably curious. I have to admit; I was looking forward to seeing what they offered.

The night was going well. I met new friends, enjoyed the music of some of my favorite bands, and moshed to my heart’s content. It was shaping up to be one of the best shows I’d ever attended. All of my favorites had taken the stage, and the only thing that would make the night better is if Vantablack lived up to the hype. Having not emptied my bladder all night, however, I took a bathroom break right before their set.

The bathroom for Garrett’s Locker was actually in another building, connected to Garrett’s via a long and narrow hallway. This meant a bit of a walk was needed to get there and back, which was part of the reason I hadn’t gone all night. When I finally arrived at the bathroom, I noticed something weird. Among the many band stickers on the wall by the sink, there was something else. Carved into the wall was the letters “VB”, followed by a strange symbol. I figured that one of Vantablack’s members had put it there. It was kind of fucked up to carve it in the wall, though, and besides, what was the purpose? Carving your band’s initials and symbol into a bathroom wall isn’t exactly the greatest method of promotion. I simply brushed it off and finished my business before returning to the show.

Upon returning, I could hear the music as it filled the room. Vantablack had already begun their set. From the sounds of it, they were good. Not just good, but great, even better when I got a view of the stage. The members were dressed up in dark, brooding get-ups. Some of their clothing included gauntlets, spiked boots, chainmail, and horned helmets. The vocalist was wearing what looked like samurai armor. They all had different styles, but all of their clothing and armor was black. To be honest, they looked like villainous characters right out of an RPG. It was awesome.

This is where things get a little weird. I was so caught up in the music and the band’s appearance that I didn’t notice what was going on in the room. Looking down at the crowd, I realized what everyone was doing. They each had their left arm in the air and were swaying back and forth in unison. It looked as though they were in a trance. I’ve been to a lot of metal shows, so I know how things should operate. Movement from the crowd is always sporadic and unpredictable. This was not the case. Everyone was perfectly synchronized. No moshing or dancing, just swaying together like zombies. And let me tell you; it was fucking creepy.

After noticing the seemingly hypnotized audience, I caught up with Billy to see what was going on. I noticed him standing in the back of the crowd, so I went over to him and asked what he was doing. I received no response. I kept yelling in his ear, but he wouldn’t reply. I eventually became aggravated and shook him. Nothing. No reaction. Just constant swaying. Everyone, swaying. I looked over at the sound guy and the person running the concession stand. They too were moving back and forth, mesmerized by the music. I was baffled.

I watched the rest of Vantablack’s set from the back of the room, not knowing what the hell was going on. Eventually, they played their last song, and just like that, everyone snapped out of it. Looking dazed as ever, they all wandered out of the room and to their cars. Billy was my ride home, so I followed him.

On the drive home, I mentioned to Billy that I tried to get his attention during the show. He acted like he didn’t recall this. But what he remembered was Vantablack. He wouldn’t shut up about how great they were. It’s all he talked about the whole ride home. He even ventured to say they were his favorite band now. That struck me as highly unusual. I’d known Billy for years. I also knew his favorite band. He would never put another band above them, especially after only seeing them play once. I didn’t voice my thoughts to Billy, though. I just wanted to go home and sleep and forget about the whole thing. And I did, until the next morning.

I woke up the next day, sore. My arms and legs were in pain from the night before. Moshing will do that to you. Because of this, I popped a few aspirin before starting my daily routine. Everything was back to normal, until I checked my phone.

I had a few Facebook notifications. Nothing out of the ordinary at first, a like here, a comment there. One notification, though, was an invite from Billy to like the page “Vantablack”. I then remembered the peculiar show they put on and how they hypnotized my friends. I decided to do a little research.

I visited the Facebook page and checked out their music. They had one release, The Nihilist. It was free to download and contained five songs, all of which I recognized from the previous night. One that really stood out to me was “Knowledge of the Damned”. This was the song they were playing when I entered the room. All songs were professionally recorded and sounded as high-quality as any touring band’s music would sound. I was impressed, but that wasn’t what I came to the page for.

I scoured the page for any answers to what happened the night before. I found little. The page had just been created. There were no posts or pictures. Still, they had roughly 200 likes. This was also about the number of people who had attended the show. No new band could gather likes that quickly. It was unheard of. Something still wasn’t adding up.

As I sat there, completely baffled, I noticed Vantablack make their first post. It was for a show the following day. It read “VANTABLACK SECRET SHOW: TRUE FOLLOWERS ONLY”. The title was odd. I clicked on it to find out more. These were the details provided:

Welcome to your new belief-system! This is an opportunity to show Vantablack you are a true follower. Rules are simple. Find a stygian tome. This will be your ticket into the event. It also contains the event’s coordinates. Tome locations are outlined below.

Several locations were listed, including the Grovewood Cemetery, right near my house. I didn’t understand the secrecy or the meaning of the event, but I was compelled to find out more. Something wasn’t right, and I wanted to know exactly what it was. I thought that, perhaps, the secret show would shed light on the situation. As such, I decided to find a “stygian tome”.

I searched for a few hours in the cemetery before finding what I was looking for. Leaning up against one of the gravestones was a small, brown, leather-bound book. I picked it up and inspected it. It lacked any noticeable features, aside from the black silhouette of a ram’s head embossed on the front. Inside, there was a single page with the show’s coordinates, followed by several blank ones. Despite the lack of characteristics, the book was very nice. Vantablack was going all out for this show. It made me want attend the event even more, if only out of pure curiosity.

The next day, I punched the coordinates into a GPS app on my phone. The place was in town, but seemed to be in the middle of the woods. This made me hesitant, but morbid curiosity outweighed my concern. I would have to walk there, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. A hike wouldn’t be the worst thing for me. Giving myself enough time to get there before the event started, I set off into the woods behind my house.

It took nearly two hours to reach the spot. There were no trails, so I fought with branches and briers most of the time. It was hell, but I made it there in time. Upon arriving, I noticed something right off the bat. I saw no instruments or equipment. Kind of hard to play a show without those, right? What I didn’t know, at the time, was there would not be a show, at least not of the musical variety.

The members were standing near a large tree, wearing those cloaks they adorned when first entering Garrett’s. Others were showing up. I watched as they walked over to the members, handed in tomes identical to mine, and then stood in a circular formation. I followed.

The circular formation was purposeful. On the ground in front of us was a large design, spray painted in red on the ground. It was the symbol I had seen carved into the bathroom wall contained in a circle. Before I could contemplate its meaning, I noticed Billy walk up and turn in his tome.

I was about to wave and say hi to Billy, but I quickly discarded the thought and chose not to. He looked different. Different, but familiar. It was the same look he had when swaying during Vantablack’s set. I then looked around and realized that everyone looked like that. They were all in a trance, just like they had been during the show. I was the only one out of place.

In an attempt to follow the pack, I decided to sport a similar expression on my face. I had to blend in with the “true followers”. I couldn’t risk getting kicked out, especially after I’d traveled so far. Shortly after I did this, the vocalist stepped forward and removed his hood. The event was about to begin.

Vantablack’s vocalist spoke with authority and conviction, reciting the following at the start of the event:

“Welcome, believers. We appreciate the journey you’ve made to get here, today. We appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made in your lives: past, present, and future. We are here now to share the burden. We are here today to unite as one people. Are you with me?”

In unison, everyone replied with a loud “YES!” I failed to do so, but was sure no one noticed. For roughly an hour, the vocalist continued to speak and asked for more synchronized responses. I don’t remember much of what he said, as I was more focused on fitting in and fearing what might happen if my true intentions were discovered. I do, however, remember what happened towards the end of the event. It’s difficult not to.

At the end of the vocalist’s long and drawn out sermon, he raised his left hand and shouted “NO ESCAPE, NO JUSTICE!” which I recognized as lyrics from “Knowledge of the Damned”. The group then repeated this back. I did as well, having caught on by this point. After this, one of the other members of the band came over with the skull of a ram and placed it at the center of the symbol. The vocalist stepped forward until he was directly behind the skull. I didn’t know what to expect.

At this point, Vantablack’s vocalist called out names. Full names. How he had that information, I didn’t know, but when he called out a name, that person would step up to the skull and face the vocalist. Billy was the first one called.

Still hypnotized, Billy walked up to the skull and held out his arm. I was confused by this. The vocalist then pulled out a dagger from within his cloak and sliced Billy’s arm, allowing the blood to drip onto the skull. Billy didn’t react. I did instead. I shook in fear. Was my arm going to be cut as well? What if I screamed in agony? What would they do with me if they found out I wasn’t a “believer”? These were the questions that raced through my mind as I watched my friend’s blood paint the skull red.

I watched in horror as names were called, and skin from each person was torn open by the vocalist’s blade. I didn’t understand, nor did I want to. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I thought about making a run for it, but I knew I wouldn’t get far with the plethora of obstacles the forest offered. Plus, I was outnumbered. It would only take one person to catch up with me and drag me back into the ceremony. I decided to stay and play along.

My name was the last to be called. I hesitantly stepped forward and faced the vocalist. He stared at me for an awkward length of time before speaking.

“Are you a true follower?”

“Yes,” I said.

He continued to observe me and then spoke again.

“NO ESCAPE!” he shouted.

“NO JUSTICE!” I retorted, almost instinctively.

The vocalist then sliced my arm open, and my blood dripped onto the skull like the others before me. I felt the color drain from my face, but I didn’t react. The pain was great, but my will to live was greater. The vocalist smiled and allowed me to walk back to the herd. I must have played my part well.

After slicing my arm open, the vocalist concluded the event by thanking everyone for their participation. I began walking home, but started running when I got far enough away from everyone. I was officially spooked. However, I was more ecstatic that I was able to make it through the event. Who knows what might have happened had I cracked under the pressure? After getting home and bandaging my arm, I sat down and took a deep breath, thankful to be alive.

Vantablack has played many shows at Garrett’s Locker since their sadistic ritual in the woods. I haven’t gone to any of them. I wasn’t affected like everyone else was, and I think it’s because of what happens at the beginning of their sets, whether it be a spell, incantation, or ritual. I missed the start of their set that night due to my impromptu bathroom break, and that is most likely what saved me.

Despite not going to their shows, I pay close attention to their Facebook page. After every show, they gain more followers. After each surge of likes, they put on another “secret show”. I don’t know what to do. I’m scared of what’s happening to my friends, and I’m scared of what Vantablack will do next. I thought of calling the cops, but I’m too paranoid. If the members found out that I was trying to put a stop to their antics, I could become a sacrifice in one of their rituals.

I have nightmares about that day in the woods. It plays out like it did in real life, only instead of slicing everyone’s arms, he stabs them in the heart, killing them instantly. I want to run, but cannot move. After watching everyone else die, the vocalist walks over to me. Just as he’s about to deal the final blow, I wake up. Every single night this happens. Why? Why?!

The thing that scares me the most is that I keep finding myself listening to their music. It’s the only thing that seems to comfort me. And when I do, I feel the need to join them. I feel the need to be a part of their nefarious cult, and I don’t know why. I’m at the end of my rope, here, and I can feel myself slipping. Their lyrics keep ringing in my head, and I think they hold true. There is no escape, and there is no justice. I don’t think they can be stopped, and I don’t think I can keep myself from them any longer. I want the nightmares to end. I think it’s time to become a true follower.

Credit: Christopher Maxim

Hidden People

March 4, 2017 at 12:00 AM

It had to be close to 12 now. The silver gleam of the full moon was spilling through the woodland trees, illuminating all it touched. Evan looked at his watch. It was 5 minutes to 12.

Although it was not a necessity, Evan wanted to get there by midnight. For each month that he decided to do this, he planned very carefully. While the moon’s reflected light was growing, he would gather the things they liked, always careful to not pick any metals and plants with vibrations that could harm them. Such items could be to them like sulphuric acid could be to humans. Though if it was to be milk, butter, or of his own body, he would make sure it was fresh. They preferred these things to be fresh.

Some months, he would not come at all. He liked to remind them that he would not rush to appease them; he did not fear them. Though his father had said to him that this is what he must do now that he had moved away from the family home. They would see Evan as independent, so his father’s efforts would not count for him. If Evan abandoned them, things would grow a lot worse for him.

He kept walking through the woodland, not thinking so much as simply just walking and knowing that the correct path was underfoot. Evan had learned that he functioned best when he allowed his senses to take lead – thoughts could be very distracting. His current goal was to get to the burrow in the tree, and that was simply what he would do. As he got closer to the burrow he began to feel more awake; a sign that he was close to it. He heard a sound in the trees, a rustling. He continued walking, without turning to pay it any attention. He had never allowed himself to fear them, Evan felt that he was above that. After all, he saw his surroundings through more than one pair of eyes. In fact, the only reason he could see them was because of this sight.

Evan focused on his own footsteps, his destination, and his goal. He was wearing his hiking boots with the steel toe cap. They were not too keen on the toe cap. Fortunately for them, Evan preferred to keep his feet to himself. So long as he wasn’t provoked, anyway. Walking at night with his hood up, standing at 6’4”, Evan wouldn’t be a silhouette anyone would be glad to see. Though the only people in these woods at such a time were usually the daring, unhinged, or unusual.

The atmosphere seemed to be growing brighter. The moon, the light source, becoming more intense. Though also he could see different colours in the air, brighter colours. He was now in front of the burrow under the blackthorn tree. Evan had formed quite the bond with the tree within the years he’d lived here. The tree was ancient and very enchanting to look at. It was a little distance from the other trees, and always seemed to be in a world of its own. But in the ground in front of it, leading underneath it was a burrow. Generally, it wasn’t very deep, and anyone taking a mere hike wouldn’t think twice about it. But they hadn’t experienced the burrow at a time like this. Considering it now, Evan could see great change. The hole was deep and dark. Although there were orbs of light circling the tree and light cast by the moon, the hole remained entirely black. It was like a black hole, swallowing up anything directed at it and leading to a place nobody knew.

Evan stood a foot from the burrow and slowly knelt in front of it, arm resting upon his bent knee. He watched the burrow and waited for a moment, for them to feel his presence and grow familiar with it once again.

With a calm disposition, Evan looked directly into the blackness. He then pulled his backpack down from his shoulders, unzipped it, and brought out the items. He carefully placed each of them in front of the hole. His father had said that to drop them down would be extremely unwise. They would not take too kindly to it, and would make that very known. Evan then arose and took a few steps back, kneeling back down again and watching the hole. The lights circled around the items curiously, then abruptly moved back. Two small glowing fiery lights formed in the black. Eyes. They stared back at Evan from the hole. Evan didn’t know what it was exactly, though it was the one that most often greeted him here. It felt extremely old, ancient even.

Evan nodded once to the eyes, greeting them. They just stared back, staring into him. Evan knew the amount of layers those eyes could see through was inconceivable to man. It was OK for Evan to leave now. He took his backpack, turned around, and walked without looking back.

When Evan got home the apartment was silent. His flatmate Jon was asleep, he could hear him snoring in his room. Evan got undressed and slipped into bed. He would sleep soundly tonight.

A week later.

Evan’s eyes flew open, suddenly awake. They were immediately greeted with darkness, though the moonlight behind his drawn curtains allowed him to make out the silhouettes of the things in the room. His bedside table, his lamp, his mirror, and maybe something else. Though he wasn’t concerned for any of that. All he cared about was the hill in the woods.

Evan immediately pulled his duvet open and swung his legs round to the floor. He had nothing in his mind but that woodland on the hill. He needed to get there. Without a memory of any dream, or any reason for him to do so. He was only in his underwear, so he got up and went over to his wardrobe, taking out his black hoodie and jeans. He was completely focused on each passing moment as he dressed himself. He then left the room, not at all paying any attention to the dark mass in the upper corner of the wall.
Evan made his way to the front door, not bothering at all to turn any lights on. He did not need his sight in any way. For this situation, they were quite useless guides. He then put on his hiking boots and jacket, took his car keys from the kitchen counter, and made his way out to the car. As soon as he was out of the door and in his car, he was on his way.

Once he was coming up to his destination, he began to feel more relaxed. Though his actions were still without usual logic. But that was mostly what he would expect, what with the strangeness surrounding each day. Every day of his life, even in his childhood, had been distant to normal reality. No day had gone by where he had not seen something the human eye was not supposed to see. Evan didn’t know why, but he didn’t have average human perception; that was something he was used to. And still, after being so different from those around him, he managed to get on well with everyone. All through education, and at work, he had been popular, admired, even an object of lust. He didn’t feel lonely or unstable, no matter how distant his world was from everyone else’s. Maybe that was because his family accepted him, maybe it was because he had always received adequate attention from those around him. A day at school, socialising and studying, to a night of being watched by black masses of smoke standing at six feet tall. He could adjust and accept greatly.

Maybe it was just because it was his life. To him it was normal, so there had never been anything to get used to.

He parked on the road beside the bottom of the hill, switched off the engine, and stepped out of his car. He looked up towards the hill on which this part of the woodland resided. The moon was watching over the trees, though she was pale from the blanket of clouds before her. Evan could see patterns of energy emitting from each tree. Though radiating out from amidst the trees was darkness. And that was where Evan had to focus.

Evan began to climb the hill, treading straight through the vegetation. He could feel something watching him from the darkness. It was calling to him, beckoning him up the hill with its energies. It had reached him from his own bed. Each step felt natural, as though he was being led. Though he felt so out of touch with the physicality and solidity of his surroundings. He had experienced things like this before, though this felt much more intense.

Once he was up in the woodlands, amidst the trees, he could see clearly in his head where he had to go. A clearing… He had been there before. It was sloped, populated by blackthorn trees. Though in the centre was an oak tree of great age. The trunk was very wide and rough, and thick moss-coated branches came out of it from the top, growing in every direction. The clearing was quite high up on the hill so he would have to trudge through ivy to get there. The image was still in his head but it didn’t feel like a thought or memory, it felt like he was seeing it as it was.

Evan made his way through the clear path. He passed a few young foxes, gaunt and wary. They were about to run off but the peculiarity emitting from the young man caused them to hesitate, eyeing him with curiosity. Without taking their eyes off him, they slowly retreated into the darkness. The moths fluttered straight past him also, preferring the spaces far from him.

Evan continued to walk, with each step he took the image in his head grew clearer. The sound of the ivy brushing his boots, the rough soil underfoot. Every sensation seemed heightened, though still somewhat distant. He knew immediately once he’d reached the clearing. The moonlight had grown dimmer, blocked off somewhat by the shrouding branches of the oak tree. It was looming down over Evan, watching him. Though darkness was still in the background, its blackness fixated upon him.

Evan stood in the centre, waiting. For what, he didn’t know – he just knew he had to do so. He was calm, disturbingly calm. There was a silhouette to his left side, average height, man-shaped.


To his right side there were lights. ‘Jack O’ Lantern’, ‘Will-o-The Wisp’, he recalled the writing in his father’s folklore books. He turned to them, his attention captured. They were bright, but gentle. There were three of them, about the sizes of tennis balls. Two of them were pale red, like dim but pigmented fires, the other was white. Seemingly satisfied that they’d captured his attention, they began to move, weaving in and out of each other, dancing around in indescribable patterns. Evan was beginning to get lost in them, when they abruptly blended into each other and became one. Evan’s eyes began to burn and he began to feel light-headed

He looked away. The lights vanished.

It was then that he noticed the shadow that initially had been one at a distance had now become several. It was moving towards him, seemingly from all sides.


They were mirroring each other. At first it had seemed like they were sliding human shapes, but as they approached nearer it became more apparent that they were masses more than anything. Shadows, blackness. No matter where he turned he could still see them. He closed his eyes and they were still there.

The light-headed feeling intensified. Evan pressed his hand to his forehead, as if that would somehow still his increasingly spinning head. He could feel them around him, wispy, though intense. Touching him in ways that no solid thing could.

Finally, he felt himself being torn from his body, shooting up into Nyx and being thrown into the blinding brightness of Aether.

Evan’s eyes opened and he found himself in a corridor. He sat up slowly, becoming aware of the pounding in his head and his sudden blurred vision. He slowly looked around him, observing the environment he was in. His vision had grown slightly clearer, but not by much. He could make out more of his surroundings, the corridor was very long and empty, the walls were white, and the floors were grey. The floors seemed to shine and looked like they should have felt cold, yet the sensations of temperature seemed to be non-existent. There were rows of doors on each corridor wall, and there also seemed to be moving shapes between the spaces. His eyes kept attempting to focus on the things around him, but they were failing miserably. Though this place, it still seemed familiar. He had never seen it before, but he felt like he had been here before. He began to rub his eyes.

It was then that he felt it. Something was in front of him, staring straight at him. Evan got to his feet and allowed his eyes to adjust. Directly in front of him stood a human-like shape, like Evan himself it was tall. It was made up of patches of dull and grim colours, the occasional vibrant one. It stretched out its arms, long and thin they were, and its long fingers pressed onto Evan’s eyes. Evan was taken aback, flinching. He felt a strange liquid on the thing’s fingers, greasy and unpleasant. In an involuntary response, Evan tightly closed his eyes. Upon reopening, everything was perfectly clear.

The first thing he noticed was that it appeared like a man in his early-twenties, like Evan was, or a bit younger. His nose was long and thin, his lips were also thin, and deep crimson. The colour stood out in contrast with the milky whiteness of his clear, taut skin. The man’s hair looked soft and shiny, shoulder-length and raven black. But the features that stood out most on his face were the eyes; large and maroon with black vertical slits in the centres. Evan observed the man’s attire. He was dressed in a way that reminded him of an Edwardian or Victorian style of dress. He wore a tailcoat over a white shirt, a black bow tie, braces attached to his trousers, and a bowler hat and shiny shoes. His entire outfit looked new and crisp, the fabrics perfectly smooth.

He, or rather it, appeared in a way that a third dimensional being could understand, and that was simply what it was. Evan remembered his father warning him that they did this, and going on to say that behind the deception was something not even Evan could picture or perceive in any way, shape, or form. The man was not recognisable, though he was also not unfamiliar to Evan. Much like the rest of the environment.

“What is it this time? I’ve been leaving you things, just like my father said to,” Evan said.

“Your father doesn’t have all the answers.” Its voice was low in pitch, and had a somewhat unnerving, unrecognisable accent.

Evan chuckled sarcastically, not taking his eyes off it. “So, have you made a personal name for yourself then?”


Backwards words. Evan noticed it immediately. He was no stranger to the games they liked to play, “How interesting. Well then I’m called Nave.”

“Nave,” he repeated, “I may use that sometime.”

Something about the blankness in the man’s response unsettled Evan. There was an uneasiness about the man, the way his mouth remained straight, lips unmoving when he spoke. The way he did not blink, not once. Those eyes – a deep, intense colour – the shade of dark, fresh blood. The slits were focused on Evan, thinning then dilating slightly. Why did they do that?

For a moment, their perception just stayed there in union. Or rather, the creature stared at Evan, observing him. The eyes were doing more than just watching, they were digging. Evan knew they were seeing far more than they appeared to. Those eyes could see through anything, including illusion. “They trick you,” Evan’s father had told his son, “it’s called glamour.” Though his father had also said it could never be perfect. They would never be just like humans, no matter how accurately they attempted to mirror them. His father had been right so far, Evan was seeing it right then. It may have looked like a man, but there was nothing human about those eyes.
Evan cut his thoughts short, not wanting the man to know them anymore.

The eyes just continued to stare back at him. “There is something here for you to see.”

The man began to walk. Not too slow, nor too fast. As they passed each door, Evan got cryptic hints of what may have lurked on the other side. Each door emitted its own sound, and each chill he felt brought with it its own very individual and unique sense of dread. It was all too bewildering.

Nearing the end of the corridor, Evan could see golden light emitting from the right corner. Evan subconsciously began to slow his pace, distancing himself from the man, wary of what was round there. As soon as he became aware of what he was doing, he picked up his pace again. They turned the corner.

Evan could not believe what he was seeing.

They entered a vast room. Inside of it was a sight Evan had never seen before. It was beautiful and enchanting. The walls were covered with art – naked bipedal male and female bodies, with skins in many shades of browns and reds. Sparkling lakes in jade and sapphire shades, flowers with petals in colours Evan had never seen before in his entire life. Nothing like any colour of the known colour spectrum. Right ahead of him was an altar. The wood looked like mahogany, but Evan knew it wasn’t truly that. And around the room stood gold, brass, and silver statues of the gods and mythological creatures of many human cultures. There were also unusual stones and crystals upon the altar. Some of them looked like known stones, though they were not quite the same. Everything seemed to create one big picture. It seemed to portray existence in some sort of complex way. Or maybe they were just mocking humanity and their ways.

Far too filled with awe, Evan had initially not been able to say anything. The environment had been too loud, louder than even his own thoughts. Curiosity brought him a voice, “What is this place?”

The man turned to face him. He looked pleased, “Perception.”


The man smiled softly. But it looked wrong with his features.

Evan noticed the atmosphere changing around him. The room seemingly melting, the pigment of colour fading out. Evan turned, watching it all disappear before him, marvelling at it. Everything once seemingly solid became liquid, then blurred out to gas and became simply a room, just as plain as the corridor had been.

Evan turned to the man for some sort of familiarity and stability. Though he discovered its appearance had changed along with everything else. It looked like the male appearance, but now female. Raven black hair, though now flowing and long, porcelain white skin, deep crimson lips. Though her eyes, they seemed more human. Still not perfect, however. And the face, it was a face he’d seen many times before. He’d been seeing it in his dreams and nightmares since he was a child.

The clothes were gone. The woman stood naked in front of him, small breasts, thin at the waist. Evan could feel his mind-set begin to alter, his instinct take over. Sense was slipping away, not much seemed to matter anymore. It was their creation of illusion, glamour. And even though it was becoming apparent to him that the whole purpose of this visit had most likely been their idea of a fun game, Evan felt his resolve moving increasingly further away from him.

The woman took a sudden step closer to him. There was an impish quality in her expression as she pressed her unclothed form against him. He suddenly felt it then, like he was a part of her somehow. It was as though she wanted him to feel like she wasn’t as foreign as she seemed. He rested his hands upon the body, allowing them to slip down the small of her back, and wander round the curvatures of her exposed hips. It felt soft, like skin. He pressed his nose into her hair – her scent was light and feminine. Instinctively, he pulled her body tighter against his. His flesh was satisfied at its womanhood.

But his mind was not.

Evan’s perspective began to change, and he loosened his grip on her. He felt her energies turn dreadful. As her body lost contact with his, he saw her face again. It was blank, featureless. Just white skin. He felt a pang of fear, and pushed her away, startled. This enraged her, turning her skin grey, scales forming upon it. Her eyes formed once again, though into burning red fires. It was then that a hole stretched open where a mouth should’ve been, and a shrill, piercing sound escaped from it. It was ghastly, unlike anything Evan had heard before. An inhuman sound provoking dread, fear, and terror in their deepest forms.

The wailing formed words, “YOU’RE NOT THEIRS, YOU’RE OURS!”

Evan froze and became dizzy. His head began to spin rapidly, faster and faster. It felt as if the sound was seeping into his pores and filling his entire being. He felt himself being lifted, and suddenly spinning with it. Brightness closed in around him, encasing him, blinding him. He was losing touch of this place; this world. He was being thrown around the spaces between the dimensions of the cosmos. And then he felt nothing.

Evan awoke to the sound of morning birdsong, and trees whispering to each other in the wind. He felt the cool breeze of the morning air on his face. He opened his eyes and found himself lying under the oak tree in the clearing, the forest was still and the air was tranquil. Though he felt a bit rough. He had no idea what time it was, but judging by the dim daylight glow it had to be somewhere around 7 a.m. Evan’s eyes felt itchy and sensitive, he rubbed them as he slowly arose from his spot. It was then, standing up, that he became aware of his pounding head. He groaned, holding a hand up to it. He didn’t want to have to go to work today. He then remembered it was his day off, and felt a sudden gratitude. He began to walk down from the clearing, through the ivy and onto the pathway. Even though he was experiencing pain and discomfort and wanted to get home quickly, he forced himself to take a slow stroll to his car. To fail to do so would result in a stronger headache. Once he’d made it down to the car, he climbed into the vehicle and drove home.

It was 7:08 a.m. and Jon was sitting on the 3-seater chair with a glass of water. When he’d woken up this morning it had become apparent that he was alone in the apartment. This was no concern to him. He’d thought that Evan must have risen earlier than usual and taken a walk. It wouldn’t have surprised him; the guy was rather spontaneous. He hadn’t heard Evan getting ready and leaving the house, but Jon was a heavy sleeper. It was very unusual for him to be awake so early on a weekend. It was possibly because he had such an early night. He had gone to bed at around 8, something about yesterday had drained him. He didn’t know what, all he knew was that he had just wanted to sleep. Now he was awake. He’d brushed his teeth but not bothered with anything else yet. He just wanted to sit for a while.

He heard the front door open and turned to see Evan coming through the door. He looked rough – bloodshot eyes, his usually neatly-styled dark hair was a mess, and his clothes were dirty.

“What the hell happened to you?” Jon asked.

“I have the biggest headache,” Evan replied, ignoring the question.

“Where have you been?”

“The woods.”

Evan allowed himself to drop down beside his friend. Jon got up, took an ice pack out of the freezer, and threw it at Evan. Evan just lay there with his eyes closed. Jon sighed, picked up the ice pack and applied it to Evan’s forehead. Evan let out a sigh of relief.

“What’s wrong with your eyes?”

“They’re too bright.”

“What’s too bright?”

“Who are you, my mother?”

Jon sighed, “Well what am I supposed to do? Stay silent? You just come back here looking like you’ve been dragged around the woods all night. And you’re making no sense.”

Evan didn’t respond. He just stared up at the ceiling blankly. After a while he said, “They want me more than ever now. I think I’m going to find out.”

“Find out what?”


Jon didn’t say anything more about it. Evan coming back in such a condition began to make a bit more sense after that. Evan didn’t need to say anymore, Jon just knew it was something that would only make sense to him. He thought Evan was weird, but he didn’t think he was crazy. Jon thought back to all those times as children, when he had stayed over Evan’s house. Sometimes, when they were sleeping, something would wake Jon during the night. An unsettling feeling, an energy. He could feel it coming from Evan. He would look over and he would be able to make out in the dark an even darker spot, a great pitch black shadow looming over his friend. Watching him sleep. On the rare occasion, he would see Evan lying there talking to it in whispers. Though sometimes he’d be still, just staring at it. Jon remembered growing fearful. Evan had looked dead. He had been so still, and his eyes had been so empty. It was as if the shadow had been death, pulling the life out of him. Sometimes Jon could have sworn it had eyes. Glowing orange eyes. Jon would just close his eyes again, pretending to be asleep, swearing he wouldn’t open them until morning. Sometimes he had hated it when Evan stayed over. Not because of Evan, but because of the nights. He had hated sleeping in the same room as him. The day and evening would be great. Evan’s mother would put cartoons on for them and they’d watch them all evening. Evan would sometimes even teach him how to draw. Drawing was something Evan still loved to do to this day. They’d listen to music and not care about girls, college, or money or anything like that. They were kids and life was simple. But some of those nights caused Jon feelings of dread.

Back then the idea of ever living in a cabin with Evan would have terrified him. But they were grown now, and slept in separate rooms. The weirdest things to happen these days were usually only caused by Evan. Jon wasn’t a child anymore, he was a man. He would never allow anything to scare him like that again. He didn’t want those damn things in his home. He wouldn’t have any of it.

“What are you doing today?” Evan asked him.

Jon was slightly taken aback at Evan’s sudden calmness and change of subject. “Nothing.”

“Let’s just chill then.”


“No. Outside.”

It was 12, noon. The woods were quiet and still. Evan and Jon had been walking for a while, not much conversation had gone on between the two. Once they were at the woodland hill, Jon began to feel a slight difference in his friend. They had been in the woods together before, though this time it was different. There was a distance in Evan, as if his mind was not entirely with them. Evan hadn’t said much about what they were doing, just that they were chilling out. Jon had showered and dressed without questioning him. Why would he need to be concerned? The fact was that for the past few weeks Evan had been acting particularly unusual. Unnerving, even. So, this walk in the woods was causing Jon to feel ever so slightly on edge. Especially considering how strange the air was around Evan recently. Nevertheless, Jon hoped that this walk would be the thing to get some normality back.
Evan led them to the stream, where beside it he lay down looking up through the trees. Jon stood there, staring down at Evan. Evan gestured for him to sit.

Jon sat himself against a rock, watching Evan.

“What?” Evan asked him.


“What is with you these days?”

“What is with you?”

It was more of an accusation than a question. Evan turned to Jon and glared at him. When he realised that Jon was just going to stare straight back, Evan shook his head and turned away. He continued to gaze through the tallest branches. There was no brightness or blue, just white and grey. He looked up at the whitest cloud. It looked fluffy and soft, though really it was just countless water and ice droplets formed together. Evan thought about how fascinating it was, really. Looking at clouds, for Evan, was an eye opener. It reminded him that everything was formed to create a solid image in the mind. Nothing was truly as it seemed. Existence was merely a vast picture of illusion nobody would ever understand. Not even himself. What if there was no truth? What if things were completely different through each pair of eyes to exist? Evan was beginning to believe, or realise, more and more that truth was simply what each mind and pair of eyes made it to be. Because what the truth was to one living thing was never the same for another.

“Jon, do you remember when we were younger and used to see people in the clouds?”

For a moment, Jon thought Evan was referring to something unsettling, but then he remembered. Those summer days, lying on the dirt and looking up at the clouds. They would each try to outdo each other in finding a cloud with the most interesting shape. Though they would almost always end up being silly and finding a person they knew in it, or someone of the sort.

Jon smiled at the memory, “Yeah.”

“Well, what if they were really people’s faces?”

“Yeah,” Jon replied sarcastically, chuckling, “Because Uncle Paul is really going to be in the clouds.”

“No, shut up. I mean what if there are things that can appear to us in ways like that?”


“Things… Sort of like other conscious things.”

Jon thought about the orange-eyed mass of darkness standing over 9-year-old Evan’s death-like body. He inhaled slowly and sharply “Well,” he said, “maybe there is.”

Evan turned to look at him, “Does it disturb you?”

Jon could see Evan searching for any sort of fear or reaction in his eyes. He wished he wouldn’t do that.

“I don’t know,” he lied.

There was silence for a moment. Jon had wanted to leave it there, but then he got curious himself.
“What about you?”

Evan continued to look up through the branches. He looked calm, no hint of fear or uneasiness in his face. He was thinking about his answer. “It should do, really, shouldn’t it? But Dad told me there was no reason to be afraid, especially not for me.”

“What would he mean by that? Why shouldn’t you be afraid?”

Evan let out a dry chuckle, “Well, really, I have no idea.” Evan brought himself up to a sitting position, decidedly having enough of the clouds. He took a pack and lighter out of his pocket and pulled out a cigarette. He inhaled as he lit it up. “My dad is weird though, isn’t he? He studies that sort of thing,” he said on the exhale.


“Not too sure. It’s a hobby, I guess.”

“He gets a good amount of money though, on the books he writes about all that weird shit.”

“Yeah. I’d think so too. He has been doing it since way before I was born.”

They took the moment of silence to occupy themselves once again with their thoughts. The stream by them existed in greens and blues. It was somewhat still where Evan and Jon were, as if waiting for more of the conversation.

After that Evan was pulled from his distance by the sudden urge to urinate. He hadn’t noticed it before, but it must have been there. Evan couldn’t even recall drinking anything in the past few hours. He told Jon where he was going before leaving the stream to release.

Evan found a spot behind a tree, unzipped his trousers and did what he had to do. It was then, when he had finished up, that he became aware of a change in the atmosphere. He felt a feeling like a brief shock of electricity run down his back. It was a familiar feeling, an indication of a foreign world. A world consisting of things no solid human being could ever understand. Their world, where time and solidity was nothing. The mirror that reflected a completely different picture of reality. Evan had often wondered what would happen to a person if they were ever to experience this dimension in its truest form, void of any illusion. His father was convinced it would end in death. Evan thought he was right. After all, how could a person truly experience something that foreign? Something that had never even existed to their own senses, their own eyes. A place where every sensation would be completely different, non-existent to their own reality. An experience like that, it would be worse than horror. It would be unimaginable, indescribable, not one word or human experience would come close.

Something like that, it could only kill a person.

Evan turned around.

It had been only about 5 minutes when Jon heard the sound. It had come from the direction Evan had gone to. It had sounded most peculiar, unlike anything he had ever heard. It had sounded so abnormal that it made a great chill run through his body, made it feel a way that it had never felt. The best comparison Jon could think of was being in a vehicle going over a great bump while a stick of ice went through his body – not something likely to happen. He’d felt the sound, more than heard it. It had been slow and rhythmic. Inhuman, ungodly. And then it had stopped.

Jon had been momentarily stunned, as if the sound had infiltrated his entire being and buried itself inside of him. Though now the panic and anxiety was beginning to set in. He quickly got to his feet.


He began to call Evan’s name. No response. He hurried off in the direction that Evan had went, the direction of that dreadful sound. He stopped immediately when he saw it, a gaping black hole, swirling rapidly. He knew then that the sound had come from that. A devoutly religious person would have thought it to be the portal to hell. Looking at it, he began to feel dizzy. His head began to tingle and spin, his eyes grew heavy, his knees became weak, and he dropped to the ground.

The first thing Evan smelled was mud. The first thing he saw when he opened his eyes was a figure in the darkness of night surrounded by candlelight. Evan was lying a small distance away from them, rather confused, anxious and curious. He remembered what had happened, he had been in the woods with Jon, he had released his bladder and then he’d felt something behind him. He’d turned to look, and… his mind was completely blank. He couldn’t remember anything he had seen after that. Though now, he was lying on the ground in a woodland, watching a young woman on her knees surrounded by a circle of candles and holding an old-looking book. She was wearing a black hooded robe, but her youth and femininity had been given away by her voice and slender hands. She seemed to be chanting something. Around her were orbs of dancing lights, she was calling them. Evan watched on in awe. The woman momentarily paused her chanting and abruptly whipped around. He suddenly felt a twinge of fear, as if he was a child caught doing something he shouldn’t be. He couldn’t see her face too well because of the hood, but for a moment he thought she was looking directly at him. To Evan’s relief, she turned back around and continued her chanting. The words were being spewed under her breath, though Evan could only make out “child” and “mother”. It was then that he felt her desire. Her burning desire to be a mother, a desire that could not be fulfilled. She was barren, and was asking them for help. When she had finished chanting, she got to her feet and undid the robe. The woman was wearing peasant clothing; a dark green bodice and skirt. Right out of the renaissance era. She turned around again, wary of what may be around her. Evan was relieved to realise that she had not been sensing him, but rather she feared being caught. Evan got a good look at her face. He could feel his father’s blood in her. The woman then turned back around and pulled a knife out from a pouch. She then sliced her wrist swiftly and deeply, and held her arm out to allow the blood to fall onto the soft earth below. It was her offering in return.

Evan then saw many different scenes flashing into his head. Families that were generations ahead of the woman. Always tears and pain, women with sickly children. Barren maidens. Babies, deformed, or lying in their mother’s arms – dead. The women were not all his family’s blood. Some of them had just married into the bloodline, married into the curse. Though after leaving things in the woods, their children had come out healthy and strong. The memories began to slow down, reaching normal speed on a familiar face.

It was the devastated face of his mother as she wept over the frail and sickly body of a baby. Evan’s father was holding her as she sobbed, all the while she just repeated that she had given them all that he had said for her to. They had finally cured her barren womb, but each child was still cursed. Evan saw his father’s face. There was something in his eyes that said he had a plan.
Evan suddenly found himself in the nighttime woods again. Though these woods were very familiar. They were the woods he had grown up in, teeming with pure nature, life. Evan’s father was kneeling in front of an oak tree. He kissed the sickly baby’s small head, and placed it down in front of the tree. He then walked away, without looking back.

Evan blinked, and it was daylight. A baby lay there in the same spot, though it was very different. Upon its small chest lay a scrap of some sort of material, happy gurgling noises were coming from the baby’s mouth. Curiosity got the better of him, and before he could stop himself he found himself cautiously walking towards it. He walked until he was staring it right in the face. The baby looked like his mother and father, like the baby before. Though the first thing that came to Evan’s mind was their art, their glamour. They were the masters of illusion; things were never as they seemed. Its brown eyes looked up at him curiously, sparkling and healthy. Its mouth was stretched into a smile full of life. Evan knelt to look at the material, etched into it was faded words. It read:

The other one.

Evan then heard approaching footsteps on the vegetation, he stood up and turned to see his father walking towards the child. Evan swiftly moved out of the way. His father crouched down, looked at the note, and gently scooped up the baby into his arms. It beamed up at him. His father smiled back, and with the child he walked away.


Evan turned around and there it stood once again. It stood in his favourite form, the dark-haired female. Though Evan could see it in a new light now, it looked more familiar than ever. He no longer saw it as a foreign being, but more as family. After all, that’s whom it was; his sibling, his twin.
It held its hand out to him.

He took it.

Evan could not remember the first time they had made their presence known to him. He only remembered that, growing up, the ‘monsters’ under the bed and in the wardrobe were real. He remembered the first time he had brought it up.

His mother had been tucking him in, though there had been something else on his mind that night. And he knew that if it was not mentioned then and there he would not have been able to sleep soundly. The question would have echoed in his head, spinning around and bouncing off the walls of his skull. She looked down at him with warm eyes the colour of conkers, her long and silky jet black hair brushing his face, comforting him as she embraced him, ready to say good night. Though he hadn’t been.

He asked her what they were.

She told him his father would finish putting him to bed.

She left the room, a few minutes later Evan’s father came in. He told him that there were many stories of them. Nobody knew what they truly looked like, though they looked unlike anything imaginable. Unlike any visible thing on Earth. They could only appear in ways that brains could perceive. In every culture since the beginning of time, there were only beliefs. Nobody truly knew where they came from, just that they were much older than humanity. Evan’s father said that they were the hidden people, in a place close to his own. Hidden by the cosmos from the direct perception of humans.
And then he read to Evan. It was a folklore tale about guardians of the forests.
That night Evan had fallen into a deep and peaceful sleep.

When Jon awoke, he found himself lying on the ground in the woods. It was still daylight though the clouds had dissipated, making room for the sun. He looked around for Evan, and saw him lying still on the ground. His eyes were open, but they looked empty and blank.

Jon felt a horrible feeling in his gut. He approached the body.


After a few excruciating seconds, Evan turned to face him and said, “Let’s go back home now.”

Jon felt instant relief. So much so, that he wanted to drop down and embrace his friend. Instead he just said, “OK.”

They made their way back, mostly silent. Once home, Evan would carry out his day as usual. Then, once night fell, in those small spaces of darkness between patches of light, in the shadows, they’d still be there watching him like they always did.

And just like any night, Evan would just go to bed and fall asleep.

Credit: CuriousInsect

Come and Play

March 2, 2017 at 12:00 AM

I know how this is going to sound. I know that it sounds impossible. Insane. Bat-shit crazy.
God knows I’ve been over it again and again. I’ve thought of every possible explanation. But I’ve come up empty every single time. Which means that what happened really did happen.
I need you to believe me. I know it won’t change much. What happened, happened – there’s no going back or changing that. But I still need someone to believe me – anyone. For me. For my sanity.
I am not crazy.
This might be my last chance to tell anyone what happened. Tomorrow I’m going into the “Attitude Adjuster” – as they call it here – and no one is ever the same when they come back out of that room. I probably won’t even be able to remember my own name, much less the crazy shit that went down seven months ago.
So I’m writing down everything in this little book. Call it a journal of sorts. I don’t know if they’ll actually send it to you like I asked, but I have to try. And I have to hope that they will.
Don’t feel guilty after you’ve read it. You wouldn’t have been able to change anything. You wouldn’t have been able to help. This is for me. Closure.
I hope it reaches you though.
It started when I moved to that new place in the old part of town. Remember how excited I was? God, if I’d only known. But at the time it was my second chance. My last chance. I had a new job, my debt wasn’t as crippling and I was sober for the first time in three years. Katy had even said that if I stayed sober for 6 months, she’d let me see the kids over weekends.
The place was pretty run down, but it was big. I’d figured I’d start restoring it, getting it back into shape after I’d saved for a couple of months. New paint, replacing the tiles, fixing the ceiling and putting in some new roof tiles were the major things I’d have to address. I’d rebuild the porch and replace the deck in the backyard for the family barbecues I dreamt we’d have. It had a large backyard for the kids and even a big, open basement I’d have liked to convert into a nice gaming area – once I’d installed a new floor.
The house was fairly isolated. Right at the end of the street. Number 113 Harriet drive. The closest neighbours were about a kilometre away, as most of the surrounding places were empty. It wasn’t the greatest neighbourhood, but I’d lived in worse. It was right on the edge of the woods, and there was a path that led down to a small stream where I’d have liked to take James fishing.
Moving in didn’t take long – I didn’t have much. A few pieces of furniture, my bed, my clothes and the kitchen stuff you sent me when I got out of rehab. It only took me half a day, even on my own. Two days later everything was in its place and I was settling in nicely. I’d even bought an extra chair and some cheap paintings to give the living room a more homely feel.
I was happy. It genuinely felt like I was getting my life back on track. I worked hard, and I was exhausted in the evenings, but it felt good. I was working on my second chance. Weekends I slept in, worked on the house through the day and watched old movies on the DVD player you sent me.
It was a simple life, but an honest one. I hadn’t really craved a drink for months and not at all since I had moved in. Like I said, I was happy.
About two months after I moved in, I took some time off. I had built up a considerable amount of vacation time and I wanted to really get cracking at getting the house into better shape.
Saving for the materials also went quicker than expected, since I didn’t have a lot of expenses and I still had some of dad’s money he had left me.
So I bought the materials and got started. I painted first. The whole house, inside and out. I hired a labourer – Kevin – to help, and I was surprised we managed to finish the first coat in one day.
Three nights later was when it started.
I had just finished making myself dinner when I heard it. A light knocking. I stopped, cocking my head and listening again. Nothing. Thinking someone might be at the door I headed over and opened it, but there was no one there. Shrugging, I closed the door and got my dinner. I was just about to sit down and put on another movie, when I heard it again.
This time I could more or less pin point where it was coming from and it sounded like it was coming from down the hall. Setting my dinner down, I walked down the hallway, straining to hear the knocking again.
I was just passing the basement door when I heard it again.
It was the basement door being knocked on.
I recoiled. Someone was in my house.
I slowly retreated back to the living room, keeping my eyes locked on the basement door. I reached for my phone on the kitchen counter and called the police, keeping the basement door in my sight.
A woman operator answered, asking me what my emergency was.
“I think there’s someone in my house. In the basement.” I whispered, picking up the large knife I had cut the chicken with.
“What is your address, sir?”
“113 Harriet drive, the Willows. My name is Derick Reid.”
“A unit has been dispatched. Are you able to leave the house?” she asked, just as I heard the knocking again.
“Yes. I’m moving to the door now.” I whispered, and started to the front door. Moving slowly, I tried to keep the basement door in my sights for as long as I could, and when I couldn’t anymore, I sprinted to the door, ripped it open and jumped down the dilapidated porch.
I stopped at the street, turning to look at my house. With the door standing ajar, it almost looked like a great monster was about to devour me. A chill ran up my spine at the ominous thought.
“Sir?” the operator asked.
“Yes, I’m outside. I’m standing on the street.”
“Ok, a unit was only a few blocks away, they should be there any second. Please wait for them.”
She had barely finished her sentence when I saw a police car turn the corner up the street, heading in my direction.
The car pulled up and two officers got out – a young woman and an older man.
“Are you the one who called, sir?” the woman asked, quickly summing me and the house up.
“Yes, there is someone in my basement.”
“Ok, sir. Please stay here.” she replied and they started toward the house. “It’s the third door on the left.” I called after them and she raised her hand in thanks. They stopped on the porch, pulled their weapons and entered the house.
A few minutes went by and I nervously watched the front door, every now and then scanning the area in case the intruder had managed to elude the police and make a run for it.
Soon the officers emerged from the front door. The older officer was talking into his radio and the woman approached me.
“It’s all clear, sir. There is no one in your house.”
I was relieved, but also embarrassed.
“Are you sure? Did you check everywhere?”
Patiently, she nodded. “There is no other exit from the basement except the door and all the other windows and doors in the house are closed and locked.”
“Sir, I’d like you to please put the knife down.”
Looking down I was surprised to see I was still clutching the knife. I was gripping it so tightly that my knuckles had turned white.
I dropped the knife on the sparse grass of my front lawn.
Looking up at the officer, I saw her eyebrows were raised.
“I’m sorry. I – I guess I was really scared. I just grabbed it. God knows what I thought I would do with it.” I ran a shaky hand through my hair.
“That’s ok, sir. Why don’t we go inside and you can tell us what happened.”
We went into the house, and I was somewhat cautious. Looking down the hall I saw that the basement door was open.
The officer placed the knife which she had picked up on the counter.
I took a seat in front of my cold dinner and the two officers stood opposite me.
“Tell us what happened.” I identified her as Julie Rossi by her name tag. The man was Greg Rickards.
I took a deep breath and told them about the knocking.
Officer Rickards raised his eyebrows.
“So you heard a noise coming from your basement and called the cops?” It seemed as if he wanted to grin.
“No! Well… yes. But it wasn’t just a noise. It was distinct knocking. Three knocks and then nothing. Then three knocks again. Against the door. What could have made that noise?”
“Well, any number of things. But my first question would be why an intruder would knock against the door in the first place.”
Officer Rossi gave him a disapproving glance, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Sir, while we can’t tell you what made the noise, it most certainly wasn’t an intruder. Maybe it was the wind, or the house settling down. Do you live here alone? Perhaps you have somewhere you could possibly stay? Just for tonight?”
“No, no, that’s ok. I’ll be fine. Thank you for responding so quickly.”
I walked them to the door and I actually heard Rickards chuckle as they crossed the lawn. Asshole.
Closing the door I turned and rested my head against the door. Taking a deep breath I crossed the living room and made my way down the hall.
I stopped in front of the open basement and looked into the darkness. Nightfall had come pretty quickly, but the basement was a dark place to begin with.
I flicked the light switch for the basement and waited as the fluorescent light bulb slowly flickered into life.
Taking another deep breath, I started down the stairs. The old wooden stairs creaked loudly as I made my way down. Everything was the way I remembered it. Nothing seemed out of place or odd.
Shaking my head a little I walked back upstairs. I switched off the light and pulled the door shut.
And just as the door latched the knocking came again. Loud and clear. There was no mistake.
I jumped back from the door, slamming into the opposite wall.
How? What? What the fuck? I was just down there! There was nothing there!
The knocking came again, this time much louder than before – and then it was followed by a giggle.
It sounded like a child – maybe a girl.
Without thinking I jumped forward and yanked open the door.
There was nothing.
I stood there, utterly flabbergasted, gripping the door and panting like a wild animal.
Slowly I closed the door and immediately the knocks came again. Before the third knock fell I opened the door and was met with the same sight as before. Nothing. Even the knock had been cut off.
I slammed the door and backed away into the living room. Collapsing onto a couch which had a good view of the basement door, I groaned a little out of fear and frustration as the knocks started up again. It seemed the pauses between knocks were random. Sometimes it was seconds and other times it was minutes. But it was always three.
Every now and then I could hear – or thought I could hear – a little girl giggling.
What the fuck was going on? What was doing that?
What I wanted to do was get out of the house, but I had nowhere to go. The knocks were freaking me out, but the laughter was pushing me to the point of absolutely losing my shit.
I could have gone to a motel, but then what? I had bought this place. I couldn’t stay in a motel indefinitely. Call someone. Who? Katy? Kevin? And say what?
I got up, and moved to the door. I opened it and then retreated back to the living room again.
I waited for almost five minutes, but nothing happened. So the knocks only happened when the door was closed?
I stood up and retrieved my cold dinner. Hungrily I ate, continuing to eye the doorway to the basement. Placing the dishes in the sink after finishing, I also drank a glass of water.
It had been almost half an hour since I had opened the door, and there had been no knocks since – and no giggling. I was feeling a little relieved, but apprehensively so. As if it was too good to be true.
I gathered my phone and headed to my upstairs bedroom, making sure to never turn my back on the basement. Running the last few stairs and the short distance to my room, I quickly turned and slammed the door, locking it for good measure.
I had left almost all the downstairs lights on, but had decided that this was a necessity. Breathing a sigh of relief at being seemingly safe and secure, I went about my pre bed business. It was still early, but I was tired. And besides, I didn’t want to be downstairs.
I got into bed and grabbed the book I was reading, planning to read for a few minutes and then go to sleep, but I must’ve fallen asleep almost instantly.
I woke to a bright and warm morning and for a few moments I had forgotten about the weird events of the previous night. I stretched and yawned, but mid yawn it came back to me. I stopped, and then actually laughed out loud. In the bright morning sunshine the curious knocking and giggling didn’t seem nearly as scary. I mostly convinced myself that it didn’t happen at all and that it had been the work of my over tired imagination.
You called the cops. Well… yeah, that was embarrassing.
I got out of bed, planning to go down and make myself a big breakfast – when I noticed that my bedroom door was open.
I stopped mid stride.
I locked it last night.
I stood welded to the ground, suddenly as cold as ice, despite the warm morning.
I nervously glanced around the room, and spotted footprints. They were small, barefoot and human – it could only have been left by a child. They were pitch black, as if whoever left them had walked through tar. They made their way in through the door and up to the side of the bed. They then turned around and headed back out the door. I stood motionless for several seconds more, trying to make sense of the bizarre scene in front of me. I looked down at myself for some reason, and I sucked in a breath. My torso, arms and legs were all covered in blood red scratches. I felt along the scratches on my left arm, but there was no pain – only the weird sensation you get after your leg or arm has stayed in the same position for a long time. Almost like pins and needles but not quite.
I was scared. Someone or – and before I could stop the thought – something had been in my bedroom while I slept. Someone had managed to open my locked door, come into my bedroom and do something to me. While I slept!
Slowly I crept forward, deciding to follow the tiny, black footprints.
They led away from my door and down the stairs. I followed, first gazing down the stairs for a few moments before taking the first step down. The black footprints never diminished as they would if you stepped in mud and then walked a few steps on. Each one was as black as the previous one, and the footprints going to my bedroom and those coming back were exactly the same shade of black.
I reached the first floor landing and saw that the footprints led to the closed basement door – the same basement door that I had left open the night before.
Fear had completely enveloped me, but curiosity drove me forward and before I could talk myself out of it, I had opened the basement door. I switched on the light and I could clearly see the footprints coming up the stairs and then going back down again.
My feet seemed to have a mind of their own, for they started down. My breath was coming in quick gasps.
The basement was stuffy, which was nothing new, but there was an underlying … smell in the air. A rotten smell – the smell you would get down by a creek or swamp. I was positive I had not smelt it the day before.
Reaching the basement floor, I saw where the footprints had started – and where they stopped.
They led to the middle of the room and then vanished.
I stood staring at the spot where they had started and stopped. There was nothing close enough which could be climbed upon, so that was no explanation.
Suddenly the basement door slammed and the light went out at the same time.
I screamed – literally like a girl. I tried to turn and run up the stairs, but in my rush I somehow tripped over my own feet. I went down hard and for a moment just lay there.
My heart was pounding like a jackhammer and my breathing was wild, but all else was deathly quiet. I could not see an inch in front me – I was in absolute darkness.
I was about to try to get to the stairs in a more calmly manner, when I heard a shuffle behind me – roughly where the footprints had started and ended.
I sat up and turned around. Another shuffle – this time it sounded like a wet footprint. A high pitched moan escaped my throat and I caught my breath, somehow thinking that if I stay quiet, that whatever it was would leave me alone.
A giggle came out of the darkness, a sound which caused tendrils of panic to run through my already tense body.
“Deeee-rick…” came the sing song whisper out of the darkness.
“Come play with me Derick.”
A cold and clammy hand gripped my wrist and I lost it. I ripped my arm away and sprung up, blindly scrambling toward and up the stairs. I stumbled again and again and almost fell back down the stairs, but finally I reached the basement door. I flung it open and tumbled into the hallway. Jumping up I quickly slammed the door shut, and collapsed against it. I heard another giggle coming from the other side of the door and then three soft knocks.
What the fuck was going on? A little girl? Was my house actually haunted? This shit doesn’t happen in real life!
Get out of the house, a different voice in my head said. Why are you still here? It almost pleaded.
But no. Something strange was definitely happening, but I had nowhere to go. This was my home and I was stuck with whatever was going on.
Eventually I got up and went back to my room. It was only then that I noticed all of the footprints were gone. I sighed. I had planned to phone someone – maybe the cops – but no one would believe me now without at least some sort of evidence. I quickly showered, deciding that it would make me feel better and while drying myself I saw that the scratches on my body were fading too, but a blue, almost black, hand print was forming on the spot where I had been grabbed. It was a small hand – like a child’s.
I was exhausted and it was only ten am. I decided to head out for breakfast, to clear my head and to try and make sense of what had happened.
I called Kevin to tell him that we wouldn’t be working today and headed off to a cafe close to my house.
I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I forced myself to eat a considerable breakfast, and after a couple of cups of coffee I was beginning to feel a little bit like myself again.
I went through all of the events of the previous evening and that morning and I could only come to two possibilities. Either my house was actually haunted; or I was going insane.
Exiting the cafe, I noticed a bar down the street, and something awoke in me which I hadn’t felt for a very long time. I had always called it the Thirst. Heaven knows the things that had happened – or which I had imagined – were cause enough to sit down and have a nice relaxing drink.
But it wouldn’t just be one, would it?
No. It wouldn’t.
Turning my back on the bar I headed back to my car.
I spent the day window shopping and eating something small at almost every cafe or restaurant I saw. I was wasting time – I didn’t want to go home.
I was on my way to the next eatery I had Googled, when something occurred to me: Sooner or later I would have to go home, did I really want to get home at night?
This made me stop, and I knew I would have to get home before dark.
I sighed, said a small prayer and headed home.
Nothing was out of place. Everything was as I had left it and all the lights were still burning.
I was full from basically eating the whole day, so I decided to just head to my room.
I first stopped in front of the basement door once again. I opened it quickly and flicked the light switch, and to my surprise it came on. I debated about going down, but quickly scrapped that plan. I closed the door, leaving the light on and headed up stairs.
I locked the door again and moved the dresser in front of it. Looking at my makeshift blockade, I again pondered my sanity.
I took another scalding hot shower and brushed my teeth. It was still early, but I was exhausted.
I had just slipped into bed when three loud bangs erupted from downstairs. Not knocks. Bangs. As if someone was slamming with an open hand against a door or window.
I threw the covers off, but then froze.
I listened and waited and after a few moments the bangs came again. One-two-three. This was followed by a girl laughing.
Even the giggling has escalated, I thought.
I reached for my phone on the table but then paused. What if I called the police and they again find nothing? They would think I was wasting their time. Or that I was crazy. Maybe you are, an unfriendly thought answered.
Bracing myself with a couple of deep breaths, I got out of bed and walked to my bedroom door. I put my ear against the door above the dresser and listened, but I could hear nothing. Everything was deathly quiet.
I was just about to move the dresser and unlock the door when three more bangs slammed into my bedroom door. I yelled out and fell back. The bangs made the entire room and windows shake, and a photo frame of the kids I had on the dresser toppled over. I crawled backwards toward the bed, as another set of bangs rattled the door. And then another. The pauses between them were getting ever shorter, until there were no pauses. It was deafening. A girl was screaming on the other side of the door – hysterical, maniacal screaming. The room shook and the windows rattled and it seemed that the door would explode inward at any moment along with my eardrums. I pulled my knees up and hugged them and soon I was screaming at the top of my lungs, pleading for it to stop.
And suddenly it did.
With tears streaming down my face, I waited for the next set of bangs. But they never came. It felt like hours went by before I could summon the courage to get up. Slowly I moved to the door and listened. Again all was quiet.
Waiting several more minutes, I moved the dresser and unlocked the door. Peering out, nothing seemed out of place – except for a trail of small black footprints leading to and away from the door. The one picture I had hung in the upstairs hallway had fell from the wall and lay in a pile of broken glass. The other upstair doors were all closed, just like they had been before I went to bed. I slowly stepped around the broken frame and moved toward the stairs, trying to look everywhere at once. Reaching the stairs I stood there for several minutes, looking down. The footprints seemed to mock me.
I realized I was still gripping my phone in my hand and debated once more if I should phone someone. Anyone. But again I struggled to come up with an explanation or a scenario where I wouldn’t seem crazy. Surely the footprints would disappear again?
Just go look. If you don’t like what you see, get out of the house and then you call.
Slowly, I descended the stairs.
Everything was quiet. Reaching the first floor landing, I saw that all the downstair doors were open – except the basement. Moving cautiously forward, I glanced into every room I passed, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. Again I did not turn my back on the basement, but rather turned and walked backwards toward the living room.
The living room was in disarray, with pictures and small ornaments on the floor and even the small table I ate my dinner on was toppled over.
I stood still for a moment, trying to figure out what to do when three more knocks came from the basement door. They were soft again, like the knocks I had heard the first time.
I turned to face the hallway, and was just in time to see the farthest door just before the stairs slam shut. And then the one next to it. And the one next to it. The doors slammed shut with a violence that seemed unreal and I found myself retreating for the umpteenth time that day. The final door slammed shut and all was silent again. But then the basement door clicked open. Slowly – painfully slowly – it swung open, its rusty hinges protesting.
And that’s when I heard it. The sound that made me lose the final bit of self control I had – the basement steps creaking. Someone – or something – was coming up the stairs. At first I was frozen. I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t move or think or scream. I just stared at the open doorway to the basement. Another whimper escaped my throat and new tears started rolling down my cheeks. Whatever it was had reached the final couple of steps and I could hear shallow breathing coming from the darkness. Two eyes appeared, and it seemed that that was what I needed to regain control of my limbs.
I sprang toward the front door, reaching it in three bounds, but it would not open. I yanked and pulled at the door, while simultaneously trying to look back over my shoulder at the thing that approached. Looking down, I saw that the door was locked and cursed my own stupidity. I quickly unlocked the door, but it would not open. I could hear the thing approaching down the hall, the shallow, rattling breath getting louder. Despair almost overtook me then, and I knew in my heart that whatever was coming, was somehow keeping the door closed. With every ounce of my strength I pulled, and the door came unstuck. Spilling out my front door I risked a final glance over my shoulder but saw nothing.
I went sprawling. I had tripped on the edge of the sidewalk and I heard a girl giggle again.
“Deeeee-rrriiiiick,” the girl’s voice sang, though I knew that it was no girl. “Come play with me Derick.” I was up in a flash and went sprinting down the street.
When I thought I was far enough and relatively safe, I stopped under a street light and made the decision to call the cops. I explained that someone was in my house and that I would be waiting a couple of blocks down the street.
They took much longer to arrive this time, and I was surprised to see it was again officers Rossi and Rickards.
I was sitting on the sidewalk inspecting my wounds from the tumble I had had when they pulled up.
“Mr Reid. Are you alright?” Rossi asked as she approached me and saw the blood on my knees and elbows.
“Yes, I’m fine, I fell running.” I got up and she asked me to tell them what had happened.
Now I’m not an idiot. I knew how it would sound, especially after I had called them the day before. So I left out the part about me opening the door after the knocking to find nothing. I left out how I had found a child’s footprints in my room and that a girl was talking to me about playing with her; I left out the part about said girl grabbing me in the darkness of the basement – how my bedroom had shook from the banging and that a girl had been screaming hysterically minutes before. I left out how the downstairs doors had all slammed shut. I left out how the basement door had opened on its own and something had come trudging up the stairs.
I shortened it to me hearing something downstairs after I went to bed and seeing someone heading down to the basement.
So they put me into the back of the car, radioed the situation into HQ and headed down the street to my house.
Pulling up, they told me to wait in the car and they once more headed into my house, weapons drawn.
A couple of minutes later they reappeared and they then quietly spoke to each other on my front porch. Rickards then spoke into his radio and Rossi came and got me.
“There’s no one inside.” she said. And she looked at me as if she felt sorry for me.
“Are you sure?” I stammered, hugging myself like those grief stricken women you always see in the movies.
“Positive. We went through the whole house and nothing seems out of place.”
At this I cocked my head to the side.
“Nothing’s out of place? When I left here a while back the house was in shambles. Furniture was knocked over and pictures I had hung were on the floor!”
Rossi looked at me curiously. “Follow me.” she said and led me back to my front door.
I didn’t move.
She turned and saw that I was frozen to the spot. Her face softened – perhaps she could see I really was frightened.
“Come on Mr Reid, we are still here – you’re perfectly safe.”
After another moment I reluctantly followed her.
She led me into my living room – which was completely spotless. All the pictures were hanging where I had hung them when I moved in and all the furniture and ornaments were in their correct – and upright – positions. Even the dishes which I had failed to do the day before were clean and on the drying rack.
“What the f-” I whispered.
“Mr Reid, are you feeling alright?” Rossi asked me and laid a hand on my arm. My mind was running at a thousand miles per hour and when she touched me it brought me back to this horrible unreality. I jerked away from her touch, and she held up her hands.
“ Whoa, take it easy Mr Reid, we’re here to help.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just…”
She nodded her head that she understood. She sighed and looked me in the eyes.
“Mr Reid, have you been drinking?” she asked gently.
“What? No!” I cried. Having heard that question a million times before – what followed was never good.
“Are you on any strong medication?” she asked a little more firmly.
I sighed, suddenly angry. “No, I am not drunk, I am not on drugs and I’m not crazy!” I said a little more forcefully than I had intended.
“Ok, calm down.” Rossi looked over at Rickards who was still outside and he shrugged.
“Sir, I would really recommend that you stay somewhere else tonight. You have obviously had a very emotional day and getting out of the house, even if just for a night might be a very good idea.”
I was about to protest – to tell her to go fuck herself, but then I saw the logic in what she was saying. Tomorrow would be a new day and Kevin would be here to start on the second coat of paint. If something crazy happened again, at least I wouldn’t be alone.
“You might be right. I’ll go stay at a motel. Would you mind waiting for me so I can just throw a couple of things in a bag?” I asked, genuinely not wanting to be alone for even a second in this house.
She agreed and I quickly headed upstairs. I noticed that the broken frame was somehow repaired and hanging on the wall again. I paused in front of it, a shiver running through me. Was I going crazy? I put on some clothes and threw some more clothes, my toiletries and a book into a bag.
When I returned downstairs they were waiting for me in the living room.
“Ready to go?” she asked with a small smile.
“Yes, and thank you for waiting, I appreciate that.”
She smiled again and we headed outside. I locked up, thanked and apologized to the officers and then got in my car.
I headed to a nearby motel and checked in for one night. Walking to my room, I saw a bar across the street. Shaking the thought off, I entered my room and headed to the small bathroom. I splashed my face with water and looked at myself in the mirror.
Was I going crazy? What was going on?
A drink would help calm you down.
I straightened, frowning at the tired looking man in the mirror.
It was not the first time I had a thought like that since I got out of rehab, but I was always able to brush it aside. It never had any real power over me.
But this was different. It wasn’t just the silly, weak voice that had tried to get me to drink after rehab. This voice had substance. Power. I found myself actually considering it. A drink would calm me down. After what I had just experienced – or believed to have experienced – maybe a drink wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. And if I only imagined it, I was pretty much fucked already.
I stared into the mirror for a couple of seconds more.
No, you’ve been doing so well – been sober for so long. Don’t throw it away.
I sighed. I walked over to the bed and fell down on it. I would not go for the drink I so craved.
Switching on the TV I found an old documentary about crocodiles and settled in, hoping I might be able to forget about what was happening at my new house – or in my mind.
The night wore on. I couldn’t shake the memories of what had happened earlier and the more I thought about the police – the way Rossi had looked at me – the more I thought that I might have imagined it. Could it be? Could I have imagined everything? Was I going through some sort of psychotic break? A mental breakdown?
Suddenly I was back in my living room. I was standing at the kitchen counter again, staring down the hall at the basement door. Slowly it creaked open. Fear overcame me, and I was paralysed. I opened my mouth to scream, but nothing came out.
A hand emerged from the basement. A black hand, with inch long nails. My legs gave in and I collapsed to the floor. A moment later, a great monster had stepped into the hallway. Its skin was black, and wrinkled, like old leather. Large horns grew from its forehead and it had flaming red eyes and long fangs.
It stood glaring at me, and a guttural growl rose from its throat. It sprang forward, moving as quickly as nothing I had ever experienced before. Bearing down on me I cowered into a small ball – and awoke as I fell off the motel bed. I sat up, taking in my surroundings. I was soaked in sweat and my breathing was heavy. Taking deep breath after deep breath, I waited until my breathing returned to a semblance of normality before getting up.
I stood in the middle of the hotel room, indecisive.
“Fuck it.” I said out loud. I headed out the door and across the street.
It was a dive bar and it was empty, save for two men sitting at the bar. The Eagles were softly playing over the speakers and the news was on mute on the small TV behind the bar.
I walked up to the bar and the bartender came to take my order. He was a young man – early 20’s – with a silly looking goatee and an earring in his left ear.
“What can I get you?”
“Double Jameson, neat.”
“Coming up.”
He turned around and poured my drink.
He served it to me in a tumbler and was about to move away again, but I stopped him.
“ Wait.” He turned around again. I drained the glass in a single gulp. The whiskey burned on its way down, but it was a familiar, comforting burn. Relief washed over me, and I immediately felt better.
I gestured to the bartender with the glass to pour another. He smirked, but took the glass and refilled it.
I savoured the second drink. I sipped at it, while going over the night’s events again.
Every drink was followed by another drink and soon I was drunk. It was a comfortable feeling, one that I knew well and I realized that I had missed it. The disturbing events of the evening didn’t seem as important anymore and the constant fear I had felt since those first knocks had melted away.
I kept pouring the drinks down, not wanting the feeling to disappear.
I awoke, fully clothed on the bathroom floor of my hotel room. I had a crippling hangover – my head felt as if it would burst at any moment. Shame filled me almost instantly. I had thrown away my sobriety. Taking a moment to gather myself I carefully got to my feet. Looking in the mirror I saw vomit on my chin. I looked at the toilet and saw more vomit on and around it. Disgusted with myself I flushed the toilet and immediately took a shower.
Feeling a little better, I cleaned the bathroom and got dressed, popping a couple of painkillers I always kept in my toiletries bag.
It was already two o’clock. I went to check out of the hotel, and thought about getting some food in me. Next to the bar across the street was a small burger joint and I decided a greasy burger was just what I needed, but when I sat down I had entered the bar and was ordering a beer.
I sat staring at the golden liquid bubbling away in front of me and an internal war waged.
You might as well drink it. You already pissed away your sobriety last night.
No, get up and leave. Go home. Kevin will be working by now, wondering where the hell you are.
This continued for some time. I ordered a burger while the debate went on, and even finished most of the meal without touching the beer.
But the burger was really greasy. And the bun was dry. So I became very thirsty. At least that’s what I told myself. So I took a sip. And then another. Soon the half finished burger stood forgotten on the far side of the table and I had finished two more beers.
I had just started on my first whiskey of the day when my phone rang.
“Mr Reid? Where are you?” Kevin.
“I – I just went out this morning for breakfast and a couple of things, but I got held up.” I shook my head at myself, ashamed – but not ashamed enough to not take another sip.
“Oh, ok…” he sounded distracted. Almost upset or…. scared.
“Kevin? What’s going on?” I asked, setting my glass down.
“Nothing. I started painting again, because the door was open – I assumed you left it open for me. But…”
“What is it?”
“It’s just that I keep hearing this knocking. It sounds like it’s coming from the basement. I went down to go check, but I didn’t see anything. But it keeps happening. And I could swear I heard a girl laughing down there…”
My entire body went cold and my mouth dried out. A thought then occurred to me.
“Kevin. Listen to me. I didn’t leave the door open, I locked it. Get out of the house, now.”
There was a pause. “Why?” Kevin asked, clearly confused.
“Just do it. Please. Get out and wait for me down the road at the intersection.”
“Mr Reid, are you ok? You’re not making a lot of sense.”
“Just do it goddamnit!” I cried and the other patrons of the bar turned to look at me.
There was another pause and then I heard three distinct bangs in the background. Kevin cried out and I could hear the terror in his voice.
“What the hell? What’s happening?”
“Get out of the house Kevin!” I yelled into the phone, getting up from my table and heading to the exit.
“Hey, buddy, you didn’t pay!” It was the same bartender from the night before.
I stopped, taking out my wallet and tossed all the money I had on the table. Quickly I exited the bar and headed to my car across the street.
The noises coming through the phone were not encouraging. I could hear the banging, though now it was the same consistent explosion of noise that I had experienced the night before – I could hear a girl screaming through the chaos.
Kevin was screaming in terror, but I figured as long as he was still screaming, that it was a good sign.
I got into my car and was soon speeding back to my house.
Suddenly there was silence from Kevin’s side.
“Mr Reid?”
“Kevin? Are you ok? Where are you?”
“I – I think I’m ok. I locked myself in your room.”
“Ok, that’s good. Now listen to me very carefully. You have to get out of the house. Now. Go. Get out. Run down the stairs, and get out. Don’t wait, don’t stop, don’t do anything – just get out.”
“What is happening?” Kevin asked again.
“Kevin! Go now!” I screamed into the phone.
“OK, I’m going!”
“Stay on the phone!” I ordered him as I sped across a red light.
I could hear his heavy breathing and whimpering through the phone. Faintly, I heard a door open and I assumed he was exiting my bedroom.
“You can do this Kevin.” I encouraged him.
“I’m going down the stairs now. I’m in the hallway. What the – there’s footprints all over!” he whispered.
“Just keep going, you’re almost there.”
“I’m in the living room now – wait. What’s that?”
“Don’t stop! Get out!” I urged him.
“The door… the basement door is opening… oh, my god, something is coming up the stairs!” He was petrified.
“Kevin! Run! Get out!” I screamed again.
There was a pause, a moment of absolute silence broken only by our panting.
And then Kevin screamed. It was a blood curdling shriek and I heard the phone drop to the floor.
Kevin’s scream continued for what felt like an eternity, and then he was silent.
What had just happened? Was Kevin dead? Killed by what? If he was alive, what had just happened?
I still had the phone to my ear, when I heard a noise.
It sounded like footsteps, but they were uneven. Almost like something was limping. They also sounded like it would sound if you were walking through mud. Squelching is the word that came to mind.
Terror seized me and I almost lost control of the car.
Finally, I heard shallow, rattling breathing coming through the phone. The same breathing I had heard the night before. I wanted to hang up, to end the call, but I was paralysed. How I did not cause an accident, god only knows.
The thing on the other side of the phone then said something. It was barely a whisper, but I had heard those words before: “Come play with me Derick.”
Suddenly the phone crackled, static shot into my ear and the line went dead.
I pulled over. I gripped the steering wheel in a death grip, my knuckles turning white and I took a few deep breaths.
I had to decide what I was going to do. Call the police?
I was sure if they showed up again and there was nothing to find they would haul my ass off to jail.
But what if this time there was something?
I had to go check first. To make sure Kevin was … ok.
I pulled off again and a couple of minutes later I turned onto Harriet drive.
I slowed down and approached my house at a crawl. The front door was closed and all seemed quiet.
Parking the car, I left the car running and the door open. I wanted a fast getaway if the need arose.
I slowly walked up to the front door and I paused on the porch, listening. I couldn’t hear anything, even after I pressed my ear against the door.
Reluctantly, I opened the door, and pushed it open. I stood on the threshold of my own house, afraid to enter. The smell of paint was clear, but there was a faint swampy smell underneath it. Except for the painting tools leaning against one wall, everything looked exactly like I had left it the night before.
There was no sign of Kevin. He had said he was in the living room, but I couldn’t see him. Shaking my head at what I was about to do, I took a few tentative steps into my house. I still couldn’t see Kevin anywhere. I took a few more steps and slowly the basement door came into view. It was closed.
The front door slammed behind me with a force that caused the windows to rattle and I screamed.
Fuck this, I’m out.
I turned on the spot and ran to the front door, but again I could not get it open. This time it wasn’t locked, and no matter how hard I pulled, yanked and groaned, it would not budge.
Without thinking, I grabbed the extender pole that we used to paint the high, hard to reach places and scrambled to the window. With all my might I swung the pole into the window, but the pole bounced harmlessly off it. A gasp escaped my lips.
“What the fuck?”
I went to town on the window. I swung again and again and each time the pole bounced off the window without leaving so much as a crack. I tossed the pole aside and lifted the nearest chair I was able, using all my strength to throw it at the window, but it had the same result. The chair crashed to the floor in a pile of broken wood as the window held firm.
Panic took hold of me.
I was trapped.
Standing in the middle of my living room, I tried to think of something I could do. I had to escape. I reached for my phone, and as I punched in the emergency number, I heard it.
A scream of fear, anger and frustration burst from me involuntarily.
Louder than before.
The knocks were coming faster and faster, and I heard the girl giggling again.
I pressed the call button on my phone, my eyes locked on the basement door.
The operator answered and I rambled off my address and that I needed help.
Before the operator was able to respond, the phone was ripped from my grasp by an unseen force, and flung against the wall where it shattered into pieces.
I whirled around like a mad man, trying to see everywhere at once.
The knocks drew my attention back to the door. I waited, panting. Then the bangs came again. It emanated from the house itself this time and it was deafening.
Soon the pauses had disappeared as before, and the house was shaking and roaring. I held onto the nearest chair for support. The volume of the bangs increased and I felt a warm liquid trickling from my ears. The girl was yelling again and I swear I was hearing her inside my head.
The bangs stopped, just as suddenly as the previous night, and the ringing in my ears told the tale of my damaged ear drums.
A moment later I was flung across the room, as if a wire had been attached to the back of my pants and had been pulled with extreme force.
I slammed into the wall opposite the hallway, and I bashed my head against the wall, causing me to crumple to the floor in a heap.
Dazed I lifted my head and a searing pain tore through it. Blood was pouring from the back of my head. Faintly, I heard it.
I heard the basement door open again. I was directly opposite the hallway and I had no line of sight on the door itself. Groaning, I tried to get to my feet, but slumped back against the wall.
Again I heard the creaking of the basement stairs as something ascended.
Again I tried to get up and this time I managed it by holding onto the kitchen counter.
I heard the top of the stairs creaking and this was soon followed by shallow, rattling breathing.
A giggle came from the basement as I staggered for the front door again, using the furniture to support me, completely forgetting that I had tried the door already. Reaching the door I collapsed against it. I tried getting it open from the floor, but it wouldn’t budge.
I heard the footsteps reach the top of the basement and turn toward the living room. The steps were uneven – as if it was limping – and it sounded as if it was walking through mud.
I gave up on the door. It seemed that there was no escape.
I tensed as the thing neared the corner, and pulled myself into a ball.
Finally, the thing turned the corner – for that’s what it was. A thing. It was not of this world. I saw a very pale, almost white figure rounding the hallway corner. It looked like a little girl of about nine or ten, frail and thin. Snow white hair topped a sunken, haggard face. Its mouth was open as if it was trying to suck in all the air it could and yellow, rotten teeth protruded from behind its blue lips. But the worst thing was the eyes. Pitch black eyes stared back at me. There was no white to be seen in those eyes – no pupils, only solid black. There was only one emotion in those eyes – hate. Pure hate. Those eyes seemed to look into me and a coldness I had never known before washed over me, causing my body to go limp and to untangle from the ball I had retreated into. My bladder let go and urine streamed down my leg. I could not look away. It was moving in a staccato, jumpy way – as if all its joints were rusted and getting them to move required force, which then suddenly caused them to shoot forward. A thick, black liquid covered its feet, but where it came from I could not say. The thing lifted a hand and pointed at me. “Deeee-rrriiiick,” It sang, though now it did not sound like a little girl’s voice at all. It was a high pitched whine, like a conveyor belt moving too fast, moments before it snaps. “Come play with me.”
In a blink of an eye it was right in front of me and it reached down and gripped my arm.
A pain I had never imagined shot up my arm. It was a cold pain. A cold burning pain – like when you hold a big piece of ice for too long. The cold moved through my body, and in an instant I was shivering. I tried to scream, but the cold had robbed me of my voice. Breathing was becoming difficult, and I saw a faint vapour rise from where it held my arm – almost like smoke.
It lowered its face to mine and I thought it attempted to smile, but it did not work – its face seemed to crack at the attempt.
It was only inches from my face, and I gagged on its foul breath. It smelled like death.
The thing then seemed to inhale deeply, and inside of me there was a pull. It felt as if something was trying to leave my body. Physically it felt like I would vomit, but it was a more intense, disturbing feeling.
It straightened and turned, starting off back the way it had come – dragging me behind it like I was a bag of potatoes. I assumed it was heading for the basement, but I was absolutely powerless to do anything about it. We reached the dark doorway of the open basement and it looked down at me.
“We’re going to play forever, Derick.” Its voice grinded inside my head, scratching away at the last threads of sanity I had left.
A bang on the door behind me interrupted the thing and it let go of my arm.
It looked back into the living room and for just a moment it looked as if the thing was debating its next course of action. Another bang on the door made it decide, and in an instant it was gone.
I suddenly had control of my body – and my vocal cords – again and after taking a deep breath I screamed. I screamed like I had never screamed before. I think I would never have stopped screaming, had the police not kicked down the door. I was dazed and barely conscious as Rossi and Rickards stormed into my house, guns drawn.
Rossi quickly found me while Rickards jumped over me and went into the basement. She knelt beside me and inspected my injuries and I saw her recoil when she looked at my arm. I looked as well, and saw that a large black handprint was on my forearm similar to the other one, but much more severe. It looked like frostbite.
Rossi instructed me to stay still, and that an ambulance was on the way.
I heard Rickards yell something, and Rossi went to look. Moments later handcuffs were being slapped on my wrists and I was being told that I was under arrest for murder.
“What? What… talking… about?” I mumbled as another flash of pain shot through my head.
Rossi replied, but darkness took me.

You mostly know the rest. I blacked out and was treated for a concussion and frostbite on my arm. My hearing was also severely damaged – I was almost completely deaf in my left ear.
They found Kevin’s body in the basement. They had shown me pictures in the interrogation that followed. He seemed to have been drained. Not a drop of blood or water was found in his body. He looked like a mummy. It was like he had been sucked dry. They charged me with murder. I don’t really blame them. I had a shit ton of alcohol in my system from the night before and had been drinking that very day. What were they supposed to believe? Although whenever I brought up the question of how I killed him – how I would have drained them, they only mumbled softly about an accomplice.
The marks on my arm were also explained by that same excuse. As was my damaged ears.
Basically they didn’t know what the fuck happened, but they sure as shit didn’t believe my story.
When they realised that my story wasn’t going to change, that I wouldn’t slip up because I truly believed what I was saying, they transferred me to the psych ward and soon after that, the mental hospital where I currently reside.
I don’t know what I expect you to do with this story, even if you do believe it. I think I just needed to tell it to someone other than the cops or head doctors. The one thing I do know, is do not go into that house.
I can hear them coming to take me to that room, so I don’t think we’ll speak again.
I didn’t kill Kevin. If you believe me about nothing else, please believe that.
I’m sorry about everything.
I love you sis.

Credit: Pablo Dickens

Grim Future

March 1, 2017 at 12:00 AM

“I can’t remember… The other car came out of nowhere…” Connor will relay mechanically in his dissociated state. Stitching together his fragmented memories for the police report after the accident. He will stare at the scene of the crash, glancing at each piece of scattered shrapnel reflecting his broken thoughts. The lights from the cruisers, ambulances, and nosy rubberneckers will cause his head to throb, adding to the chaos of his universe. Eventually the shock will pass and he will collapse to his knees on the cold pavement in agony, grief overwhelming him. One vision will burn into his psyche, silencing the growing cacophony of his own thoughts. A seemingly innocuous item which will fester in the back of his mind until he ended his own life many years later, a bright yellow bumper sticker.

Earlier that evening, Connor was enjoying a late, quiet, Autumn drive with his wife Megan down a lonely residential road. He was admittedly dizzy from the night’s festivities out with their mutual friends but he insisted he was sober enough to take the wheel. Despite his assurances, he pressed the accelerator a bit harder than usual hoping to make it home before any cops had a chance to complicate his evening.

The couple sat in silence entwining their hands between them, falling under the spell of the rhythmic strobe of passing street lights. Megan kept her eyes trained out her window at the changing leaves, squeezing her spouse’s hand intermittently. Connor ogled her with a lazy drunk smile on his face. Turning back to the road, he snapped out of his hypnotic state and slammed on the brakes in response to the quickly approaching tail lights which threatened a meeting with the front of their own car.

“Jesus!” Connor spat as he and his wife lurched forward. “Where the hell did this joker come from?” He cried aloud.

He hadn’t noticed any car ahead of them when he looked at the road only seconds before. A feeling of anger rose within him as his pleasant evening drive was interrupted by over cautiousness.

“Honey, you need to relax. You were going too fast.” Megan said matter-of-factly.

“Yeah well, this idiot is going slower than 30! There’s nobody around, speed up!” Connor shouted as if the newcomers could hear him.

The driver ahead, showed no signs of hearing his demand and continued to cruise at a glacial pace. Connor took note of the “Baby on Board” sticker on the bumper. A bumper which had caved in, most likely from another car slamming into its slow backside. He rolled his eyes knowing his car had the same sticker on its bumper. Earlier he protested putting it on the car he shared with his wife but Megan had been adamant about it.

“Why would you want to advertise having a kid, especially with potential kidnappers everywhere.” Connor reasoned but Megan insisted other motorists would drive more carefully around them knowing they had a child in the car. Connor felt the collapsed bumper of the other car as evidence of the contrary. He kept this thought to himself.

Connor leaned on the horn and flashed his high-beams. As he did so, he noticed there was a passenger in the car. The two figures faced ahead, neither turning in their seat to acknowledge the noisy car behind them. They didn’t pull over to the side, instead they continued at their leisurely speed.

“Seriously? They’re going to pretend we’re not here? Come on!” Connor honked a few more times but there was still no reaction from the other car. He took their indifference as insolence which ignited his anger into rage.

“You’re getting angry for no reason.” Megan said coolly.

“We need to let the babysitter go, I’m not paying him for an extra hour.” White knuckling the steering wheel, Connor swerved to the oncoming lane and before he could floor the accelerator the car ahead merged into the other lane swiftly along with them. The car remained in front of Connor and his wife, blocking their advance.

Seething Connor yelled, “What the fuck is this guy’s problem?”

“It’s obviously some stupid kids messing with us. Let’s just stay calm and not give them the satisfaction of riling us up. Forget the babysitter we’ll be home shortly.” Megan soothed.

Connor wasn’t having it. Now he was hell bent on either passing the pair in front of them or cornering them and beating their asses, the liquor fueled his bravado. He maneuvered back to the right lane but the car matched his path exactly. The ease of their maneuvers confirmed Connor’s suspicions that the occupants of the other car had harassed other drivers before.

Wanting to get away from the nuisance Connor tried to think of another way to bypass the other car. Unfortunately, the road on which they traveled didn’t branch off anywhere to get around the offending vehicle. Their only chance was at the end of the road where there was a red light for a T-intersection. However, that light was still a few miles away and Connor’s patience was wearing thin as the other car continued its deceleration.

Determined to circumvent the sluggish car, Connor tried one more ploy, this time he swung to the left cut short and swung back to the right hoping the other car would be caught off guard. They weren’t. Instead the other car seamlessly matched Connor’s position shifting left then abruptly changing course back to the right lane.

The way the other car matched their position struck Connor as odd. He hadn’t noticed it before but there was no hesitation from the other car, no split-second pause to consider Connor’s next play. Their movements weren’t that of a copycat, rather it was like they knew what he was going to do.

Connor’s brief feelings of confusion were overcome by his feelings of anger and he responded to the other car’s tricks in the most childish way he knew and quickly flipped them the middle finger. He watched the shadowy figure driving the other car do the same. Again, there was no hesitation as the other driver’s hand shot up along with Connor’s. Wanting to test a theory, Connor allowed his hand to linger in the air longer than necessary, waiting for the unknown driver to put his hand down but instead it stayed hovering in the air.

Connor’s anger subsided a bit. In its place a sense of unease crept in. He unfolded his other fingers, twisted his hand to present an open palm to the other car and gave a small wave. Connor, eyes widened, gawked as the silhouetted hand of the other driver slowly formed an open palm, turned to face the windshield and waved out to the empty road ahead of them. Every motion was in harmony with Connor’s actions. The mild gesture sent a ripple of fear down Connor’s spine.

He yanked his hand back to the steering wheel and observed the other driver do the same.

“Did you just see that?” Connor flinched at the edge of panic in his voice.

“You waving at the guy you’ve been bitching about for the last 10 minutes? Yeah I was there for that.” Sarcasm tinted her voice.

“No. There’s something weird going on.” He couldn’t take his eyes off the mysterious figure.

“He’s just messing with you.”

“No, I’m not sure what’s going on but it’s as if he knows what I’m going to do. I don’t think we should be anywhere near this guy anymore.” Connor’s eyes darted around the empty road hoping for some signs of life to provide help or at least comfort but it was only him, his wife and the couple in the dented vehicle ahead of them. Megan noticed nothing so Connor tried to push his worry aside but he couldn’t shake the feeling.

They continued driving in silence, Connor’s hands tightened their grip on the wheel straining the skin along his knuckles. The tension increased with every passing minute until the quiet was cut by the sound of Megan’s phone ringing which caused Connor to jump in his seat. Without turning he felt her eyes on him, the same eyes she’d penetrate him with whenever he was “overreacting.”

She reached into her bag and produced the phone. The phone pressed to her ear and Connor gaped at the passenger of the other car who also put something to their ear. He was certain now that he wasn’t hallucinating everything. The anonymous pair were, somehow, mirroring Connor and his wife.

Megan hung up and mentioned something about the babysitter but Connor was too engrossed with the occupants in the other car to hear what she was saying. Fear began to sink in thinking about whoever or whatever was in the other car.

Both cars drove slowly for the remaining few miles of the road. A million things ran through Connor’s mind. He worried that the pair in the other car were sociopaths, part of a cult, possibly gang members and that him and his wife were involved in some unnerving gang initiation. He wanted to turn around but that would mean driving miles back the way they came and he was afraid the shady couple would turn to follow them and that was worse than having them lead.

Mercifully they came around a bend which brought them to the red light at the T-intersection. Both cars stopped to wait for the light to change.

When the light slipped to green nothing happened. Connor and Megan waited for the other car’s turn signal but it never came. The two shadows stared ahead at the empty intersection, idling at the light as if to dare Connor to give way first. He gnawed on his cheek hoping the other couple would just speed off and that whatever was going on was just some horrible practical joke but they didn’t budge.

“Why aren’t they moving? The light is green.” Megan asked her husband confused.

A few more seconds of the standoff and Connor steeled himself to put a stop to whatever it was the dark couple was trying to do. Connor cautiously stretched a hand into the back seat, fearing he might spook the shadow couple if he moved too quickly, and snatched the ice scraper from the floor. It was a poor excuse for a weapon but he needed a defense in case the other couple was dangerous and with every second that passed Connor became more convinced that they were.

“Megs, I need you to stay in the car. Make sure you have 911 dialed on your phone and get into the driver’s seat. In case something goes wrong I want you to be out of here and calling them.” Connor implored.

“Connor, you’re overreacting.” She tried to calm him down but she was visibly nervous.

“Maybe so, but still, get into the driver’s seat and put the car in reverse so you’re ready to take off.” She recognized the seriousness in his face and nodded.

Connor took a deep breath to prepare for whatever he was going to face and opened the car door. He was surprised that nothing stirred within the other car. He stepped out into the cool night air and his wife slid into his seat. She closed the door behind him and locked it.

Warily Connor shuffled toward the driver side of the sinister car and raised the ice scraper, clutching it tightly in both hands. His heart knocked against his rib cage. He caught an incomplete view of the front of their car but noted it was similarly devastated as the back of the vehicle. He licked his lips attempting to get strength into his voice and barked to the occupants in the dented car, “I’m not sure what your problem is but get the hell away from–“

Suddenly the car accelerated and shot across the intersection. Instead of turning it plowed through the guard rail along the intersection. The sound of screeching metal on metal punctured through the night and Connor watched the savaged bumper and comical sticker of the other car disappear and plummet 100 feet into the vegetation below.

Dumbfounded, Connor froze mid step. A few seconds of his wife’s shrieking finally coaxed him back from his shock,

“Megs, call the police right now! Tell them someone drove off the road and may need help!” He whipped his head to see her nod in compliance but she shook terribly.

The ice scraper lowered and Connor ambled across the intersection. He loitered near the part of the barrier still intact. He hesitated before inspecting the scene, not wanting to see body parts or any mess that was down there. He breathed deep and peered over the cliff. There was nothing.

Connor’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. He squinted harder to scrutinize the dark underbrush but he could discern nothing. There was no glow from the tail lights, no glint of moonlight on the car’s surface, and no sound of a constant blaring horn. The barrier was torn through, evidence that an object crashed through it, but that object somehow disappeared.

Without glancing back Connor called over his shoulder, “Megs the car is gone!”

“What?” She shouted back.

“There’s no car!” Connor spun around in time to witness an enormous semi-truck slam into the back of their car. Like a rocket their little sedan, with his wife inside, bolted across the road. The gust of wind created by the car’s speed was enough to blow him back and steal the air from his lungs. His eyes met his wife’s terrified gaze for a heartbeat, her glossy green eyes wide and fearful, then she disappeared over the edge.

A moment of disbelief passed, then Connor roared Megan’s name. He stalled, reluctant to look over the edge again. He had a small glimmer of hope that once again nothing would be at the bottom of the cliff. He agonizingly dragged his gaze back to the depths and this time a car lay there in ruin. A crushed metallic heap at the bottom of the dark pit.

Before he falls into shock unable to think coherently, before the police arrive too late to save his wife, Connor noticed one thing. The unmistakable “Baby on board” sticker, which clung to the remnants of the collapsed bumper on the back of their car. It was unsettling to him how familiar that bumper seemed…

Credit: BloodEmpress


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