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The Last Step

October 3, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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What are you doing right now? Are you slumped on your couch mindlessly flipping through the TV channels? Are you tiredly scrolling through your Facebook feed for the fiftieth time today? Well shut that stuff down, and get off of your lazy bum because we’re going on an adventure.

What? It’s one in the morning? Yes, I’m quite aware, but these types of adventures can only happen so late at night. You see, this is the time when all the creatures that dare not be seen during the day can come out to play…with you. This is the time when the thick, velvet darkness of night will gladly wrap its fingers around you protectively…or the thing following behind you. Everything that hides from light can safely crawl out from their hiding spots so that they can find you…feed on your fear… This is the only time when you can see them up close…

Is it safe, you ask?

Just listen to my directions, and you’ll be fine. Listen to my words, and you can make a friend for life and live to tell the tale.

All right. Got your shoes on and jacket zipped up tight? Good. It’s time to head out.

You won’t have to walk for very long on this adventure. Why? Because the thing we’re going to visit doesn’t live very far from you. You’ve probably walked past its hideout many times during the day without noticing…but don’t worry. You’re not the only one. It lives on anonymity. You haven’t seen it, but it has seen you…hundreds of times. It knows your face by heart- from the deep colour of your eyes to that freckle you have on your cheek. But don’t worry- it’s this creature’s knowledge of you that will keep you alive…long enough for you to get away, that is.

Why? You sure ask a lot of questions. But I’ll tell you. This thing has lived alone for so long, crawling around in the suffocating dark, musty rooms underground. It moans and groans as it moves…those long, sharp nails screeching as they’re dragged across the cracked, concrete floors. Its wrinkled claws have been covered in blood so many times that the skin on its hands is no longer white, but a dark, dark red- so red it looks black.

It has no one, but that is for the best since its desire for company is sometimes overruled by its thirst for blood- your blood, really. Human blood.

Oh look, you’ve made it! Surprised? I can see the recognition on your face. Yes, this is the building just a few streets down from your home. The one that’s always in a state of “renovation”. But is it really? Have you ever seen anyone go in…or better yet…come out?

Ah, now you’re starting to remember. Whenever you walked by this building, did a feeling of unease start to creep over you? The sense that someone…or something was watching you? You probably sped up a little on your walk back home, ignoring the hairs that stood up on the back of your neck, or the small goose bumps that ran across your flesh as you convinced yourself that you were just in a hurry to get back to your couch and relax.

That’s what I thought. Well there’s no turning back now.

Slowly walk up to the front entrance. No, the door won’t be locked, and don’t ask why. Open the door and step into the lobby. Yes, I know it’s dark, but you’re going to have to deal with it. Like I said, nothing that lives in the dark will like any kind of light.

You should be able to see a large empty desk right in front of you. See it? Good. Now walk up to the desk and reach over the divider with your left arm. No- don’t try and peek over the divider…they won’t like it. Just reach and feel around. Your hand may brush some objects that feel…questionable. Ignore them. There are many things on that desk, but what you’re searching for is a key.

Do you feel it? The tiny, cold object with rigid edges? Perfect. Grab it.

Wait! Don’t pull your hand back yet- there’s still one more thing to grab if you want to walk out of this mostly intact. There should be something that feels like a small, glass bottle. Don’t ask what’s inside it- just get it.

Good. Now you can pull your hand back.

Make sure to put both the key and the bottle in the safety of your pocket before you move on. Now, there’s a specific door that you’re going to have to find in order to continue your adventure. Blink for a second and it’s easy to miss, but don’t worry- that’s why I’m here. Walk down the corridor adjacent to the lobby. It should be lined with various doors, but don’t try and open any of them. They’re all locked for a reason. What you can do, however, is count how many doors there are. Make sure to count in your head.




Shh! Walk quieter! Your footsteps are echoing off of the marble floors too loudly. You can’t let it know that you’re here yet.




Okay, it looks like you’ve reached the end of the corridor. Now, how many doors did you count on your way here? Six, you say?

Wrong. Look again. No, don’t turn around completely…don’t even turn your head. Just look from the corner of your eye.

There. You see it? That little black door hiding right behind you? That’s the one.

What’s that? You feel unsure about this? Well there’s no point in turning back now. In fact…you can’t. You see, there’s only one way out of this building, and it’s through that little door. No, you can’t walk back through the corridor because whatever is hiding behind those other locked doors will only let you walk past them once. Not twice. If you try to…let’s just say that those doors can’t hold them back.

Are we on the same page now? Good.

Now slowly turn the handle on the door one hundred and eighty degrees exactly. No more, no less. Anything else will alert it of your presence.

Slowly…almost there, and…-perfect. You nearly let the handle slip, didn’t you? Wipe those sweaty palms on your pants before you get yourself killed on accident. Goodness.

Okay, now pull the door carefully and ease yourself through the opening. A musty odour will wash over you, so try to take shallow breaths if it gets too overwhelming. What’s the smell? I’m honestly not sure. I can only guess, but I think it’s best if you don’t hear about it.

Whoa! Be careful! There’s a steep flight of steps in front of you that leads down into a set of underground rooms. Yes, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to shut the door behind you and cut off any remaining light. The passageway is filled with the thickest darkness you are ever going to experience, but this only lasts for a bit.

Don’t worry, there’s nothing here in this part that will try and harm you…I think.

Enough of that…your only choice is to move forward so don’t second-guess yourself. Make sure to place your hand on the wall and feel your way as you walk down the steps. Some of them are slippery, so be sure to keep your balance.

Slippery with what, you say?

I’d like to say puddles of water. But I think we both know that it’s not water.

As you walk, make sure to count the number of steps you take. It will come in handy later on.

It is quite eerie to hear the soft sound of your sneakers scraping against the stone steps, yet not being able to see anything, isn’t is? Right now, your senses are working at their highest capacity- making up for your loss of sight. You can hear every raspy breath that shudders through your throat. You can feel every dip and crack in the cool brick that makes up the wall currently beneath your fingers. You can literally taste the air- it has a metallic tang mixed with the stench of rotting trash that makes you want to desperately gag…

What number are you on? Fifty-seven? Good. Keep counting. Don’t lose track of those steps.

Oh? What was that? You feel like something’s breathing on your neck? Warm, moist air brushing across your back?

That’s because there is.

No, don’t react. Don’t stop walking. Yes, I did say that nothing would harm you…I didn’t say that that there was nothing that couldn’t harm you. Just keep counting your steps- it will keep you sane. This thing will try to trip you up- to distract you from your task at hand.

But don’t pay attention to it. Pay attention to the numbers.

Yes, it will keep edging closer and closer to you until you- no! What are you doing? Don’t reach back! Don’t touch it, don’t-

You felt it, didn’t you?

You felt the slimy texture of decaying flesh on your fingertips. You felt the greasy strands of unkempt hair falling across your knuckles.

The mistake has been made- there’s nothing you can do except to keep moving on and to not react. Act like that touch was an accident and that you thought it was part of the wall. Because if you react…if you flinch in disgust or scream in horror, it will know. It will know that you know about it. And it doesn’t want anyone to know about it.

You’re not a very good listener, are you? In any case…

Finally! You’ve reached the end of the steps! Have you kept track of your number? Yes? Good.

Yes, it’s still there…I know you can sense it, but you’ve got to ignore it. Keep that number in your head and don’t forget it! It’s trying to make you forget by making you scared. Don’t let it succeed.

Now that you’re at the bottom of the steps, I need you to take ten strides forward to another door. Here’s the hard part. The thing that was following behind you on the way down? Well now it’s standing in front of you…right next to the door.

In order to get out of this passageway, you’re going to have to act like you can see. I know it will be difficult, but you’ve got to trust me. Reach your hand out and feel around for the knob. It shouldn’t be too far since you’re standing right in front of the door. If you accidentally touch the thing again, just keep moving your hand around in search for the knob.

Do. Not. React.

Ah! There it is! The cool, metal of the doorknob is finally in your grasp. Now take that key you got from the desk earlier, and insert it into the keyhole on the knob. Try not to scrape it on the metal too much, or it will know that you can’t see what you’re doing and it will take full advantage of that.

Good! You managed to fit the key into the lock! Now turn the knob fully and pull the door open quickly. No, there’s no trick to turning this doorknob this time. Once the door is open, just get through it and shut it as fast as possible so that thing can’t follow you.

Make sure to- wait, look out! Watch out for the step that drops into the room! You don’t want to trip on it and mess this whole thing up, especially not when you’re so close to freedom.

Phew! You made it. This is the last room you need to be in to get out of this building. Yes, the temperature has dropped quite drastically, hasn’t it? Pull your jacket around you a little tighter and suck it up, because you’re almost there!

It’s still very dark, I know, but there should be a faint light coming from the corner of the room- atop a small box. Can you see it?

Yes, it’s the glow of a dying candle. Why is there a candle down here? Well, to put it simply and honestly…it’s bait. Bait for you.

You see, this thing I told you about earlier has studied you for long enough to know that most humans are attracted to light. It sees how you stay out of the shadows at night and stick to the bright shine of the street lamps. Even its underdeveloped and uncivilized mind can put two and two together. After all, it’s got the mind of a hunter. And hunters know how to get their prey.

And right now, it’s watching you in this very room. You can’t see it or hear it because it knows how to hide. It’s perfected the art of hiding. Even that sixth sense that most people have that alerts them if something is watching them won’t work with this thing.

Carefully walk over to the light. Don’t make any sudden movements.

Pardon? Well, yes, I know I said it’s bait, but do it anyways. Once you’ve reached the candle, sit down next to it and stare at it. Don’t try and look at anything else, because you won’t see anything. The darkness is too thick to reveal anything.

I know you’re probably scared at this point. You can feel your heart beating rapidly- desperately trying to burst out of your chest with anxiety. Adrenaline is coursing through your veins at one hundred miles an hour, warming your muscles up and keeping your mind sharp. Your brain is ready to make the split second decision of fight or flight…

But no. Don’t pay attention to any of that. Just pay attention to one thing.

Remember that number from earlier? Good. Now take that bottle out from your pocket- yes, the one you got from the desk. Slowly unscrew the cap and place it on the floor next to you.

Dip your finger into the liquid in the bottle, and write that number on the box in the candlelight. Yes, I know it’s warm and sticky, but that should be the least of your worries right now.

What is the liquid, you ask? I think we both know the answer to that.

See, whatever happens now is going to decide your fate. If you write the correct number, the thing will let you go without interruption, and you will have earned a friend for life. Albeit, a friend who will still watch you from the shadows, yet it will never let any other monsters harm you as long as you keep it company from time to time… But write down the wrong number and…well…let’s just hope you get it right, because if not, there’s nothing I can do to help you.

Okay, have you written your number?

Good. Close the bottle, set it down next to the box, and wait. That’s right. You have to wait.

It’s currently crawling around the room to take a look at that number. In fact, it’s actually right next to you at the moment, studying the figure you jotted down. Quite disturbing, no? Even with the candlelight, you won’t be able to see it, and you definitely can’t hear it. But maybe…maybe if you try hard enough…you’ll be able to smell it.

Go on. Take a whiff.

There. You could smell it, couldn’t you? The faint stench of rotting meat and death in general?

Try even harder, and you’ll be able to feel it. Because you see, right now, it’s running the edge of it’s razor sharp nails right next to the skin of your throat. Oh, you thought those goose bumps on your neck were from the cold temperature of the room? No. It is because your body somehow knows that this thing is sitting next to you…that it is reaching out for you with its claws and-…

-Look! I believe it’s made a decision…and-


Oh, I’m so sorry.

That’s not the right number.

Yes…you heard me right. You wrote down the wrong number…it was one off.

How, you ask?

Oh dear. I forgot to tell you to count the step you almost tripped on, didn’t I?

The last step?

My apologies. You really did seem like a very nice person…

But unfortunately, I can’t afford to lose this thing’s friendship.

After all, who else will protect me from the monsters?

Credit: Teddy Silva

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Revenge of the Pumpkin

October 1, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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REVENGE OF THE PUMPKIN | Original Short Horror Film | Classic Horror Tribute

For more original horror, come visit the Ghastly Tales channel, if you dare…

This is a video pasta. If the embedded video is not loading for you, please click the link above to go directly to the video’s YouTube page and try watching it there.

Credit: Ghastly Tales

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September 30, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Cynthia smacked, howled and screamed against Todd Barrett’s motel room window that night. Times like these, he was glad he hadn’t fully committed to “tramping,” and bought himself a fifth-wheel. Sleeping in a camper on a night like this would have been impossible. Instead, he had a soft bed below him, a strong roof above, and a simply superb on-demand adult video channel buzzing before him.

Three months prior, Todd had completed his apprenticeship. Now, he was a full-blown honest-to-no-one lineman. FP&L was shuffling him everywhere in the great state of Florida to keep the electricity flowing. Sometimes it was faulty wiring, but most times, the times Todd liked best, he was hiking up power poles and repairing the damage from Mother Nature’s worst.

Whenever bad weather was on the rise, Todd went out to location prior to the worst of it so he could get to restoring power early the next morning. If Cynthia truly evolved into the horrible raving bitch of a hurricane she was predicted to be, he would have his work cut out for him. He looked forward to the morning. Powerless cities were quieter, the smell of freshly snapped trees was often in the air, and despite the destruction, the birds usually went right on singing.

With a bright surge of light in his motel room, the electricity was gone from the entire building. Todd Barrett’s all-time favorite lesbian porn flick vanished from the screen. He should sleep anyway, he thought, but before he could close his eyes, they were flooded with a blue light that could have competed with the sun. The blue turned to orange, and through his second story window, Todd could see a deluge of sparks raining down in the motel parking lot.

As he stepped to the window, another burst of sparks ejected from the transformer above the lot. If not for the rain, the un-trimmed hedges below would have been set ablaze. In the brief light he saw—did he?—it could have been someone down there, in the in the center of the parking lot. Todd wasn’t sure, until a third spray of particulate fire illuminated the property. It was a man in a white T-shirt and basketball shorts. He was curled up in the fetal position. It was as if he had mistaken the muddy rain puddle for his bed, coiled up and fallen asleep right there. He wasn’t moving but—was he screaming? It was tough to tell over the storm and through the window.

Now came the most ancient of debates, to help or turn away. Todd groaned a mellow “oh, shit,” when he realized he had already made the decision. He was supposed to be a good man. He had told himself he would be making all the right changes ever since mouth had gotten him into trouble. Todd had a knack for talking, usually about others, and often about things they considered personal. Since his black eye from last week, he would drink less beer, help more, hurt less, shut his mouth, and hopefully find a good honest woman some time soon.

Todd Barrett threw on his raincoat and left the room in a hurry. In all likelihood, the sudden electrical flash had temporarily blinded this poor bastard that probably ran out to his car to retrieve his forgotten toothbrush or something. Todd had seen what an overload could do to someone up close, and they were still plenty dangerous from afar.

The motel clerk was gone from her desk, though he saw her flashlight moving in the back office. “Hey, someone’s hurt out there,” he hollered, but heard no reply. Todd pressed the emergency release on the automatic sliding doors, and stepped out into the rain.

Cynthia was indeed an ill-tempered, wild lunatic of a storm. Her winds tried to possess Todd’s very movement. He was soaked instantly; his jeans probably wouldn’t dry for three days. He slowly approached the motionless pile of a man, who was now face down in the flooding parking lot. As Todd drew nearer, some part of him questioned what form of temporary blindness would cause a man to scream into mud like this one seemed to be.

He suddenly realized the error in his assumption that this wet screaming mess had been a tenant of the motel. Maybe he was a roving crack addict or escapee from some kind of institution. Todd lost all interest in placing a comforting hand on the man’s shoulder, but planned to do so anyway—he was here, wasn’t he?

“You’re ok,” were the first, most natural and least accurate words to Todd’s lips, but they were lost to the wind. He repeated them, this time yelling, “You’re ok!” and finally his hand touched the man’s sopping, cold, cotton shirt. The screaming man rolled over and his yelling was quickly reduced to a gurgle through the witch’s brew of mud, rain, saliva, and blood in his mouth. Todd saw the dirty red fluid streaking from all corners of the man’s face, digging miniscule gullies into the mud and gravel stuck there.

Two bloodshot eyes, tucked within that filthy mask, searched wide and eventually locked with Todd’s. The gurgling stopped, and the man aggressively inhaled, no doubt taking in some rainwater, then painfully coughed and wheezed. That was when, from behind Todd, the transformer on the offending power pole breathed fire again, and Todd turned to look at it. What he saw there was no mere utility structure.

Something was clinging to the top of the pole. Mother nature’s light show had stirred up by now, and the thing—whatever it was—was occasionally silhouetted by jagged strikes of lightning in the sky. The first thought into Todd’s mind, of all things, was that this thing was something from The Muppet Show. Its four limbs were of such lanky length that they looked as though only a puppeteer’s wire could move them.

Another flash of lighting brought more unwanted detail. Tufts of hair covered the monster’s impossibly skinny form. It seemed to lack elbows and knees, instead utilizing a slow arcing bend of its slender limbs. There was more, it was doing something up there. Todd watched in disbelief as the nightmare’s almost perfectly spherical head parted into a gaping mouth with canine teeth, and sank them into the transformer. Another blast of sparks was set loose. It looked to be feeding on the power grid.

In perhaps a more delayed reaction than Todd had ever experienced, he began stuttering and repeating the only word his mind seemed to have on hand, “No, no, no, NO!”

The creature halted its feast. It had heard him. Now, the thing’s eyes opened, and their intense glow told Todd that they had previously been closed.

In two moments, Todd would make the absolute greatest mistake of his life. As those infernal, luminous eyes swept their surroundings like headlights, and the rain fell like ocean waves, Todd could have run away; but he didn’t. Crippled by his own fear, he could only stare. The evil eyes found Todd, and he looked back into them. That was when everything changed.

His arms were raised above his head. He heard a plastic, grating sound and felt sharp pain at the back of his head. Todd did not suddenly become aware of the situation, but rather felt it slowly envelope him. He was being dragged down the street. The plastic grating had been the rubbing of asphalt on his rain coat. The pain behind his head was that same rugged surface scratching into his scalp.

It was a bright, moonlit night. Cynthia was long gone from wherever he was now. He raised his head to see the horrible, lanky creature pulling him along by the ankle in slow, lumbering movements. It was much taller than it had initially appeared when beheld at a distance. The thing was maybe nine feet tall, those skinny, jointless legs made up most of the height. Its head hung low, and its free arm slowly swayed to and fro with each step.

Todd actually spent a moment debating whether or not he should play dead. Next he considered that he was likely as good as dead if he didn’t do something. He started with shouting, then kicking. He twisted and rolled and palmed his hands into the surface of the street. His nails dug into the asphalt and were sanded down, along with his now bloodied fingertips. He recoiled his captured leg, hoping to gain ground and attack the monster head on. It was out of reach. He summoned his will power and reached for the disgusting hand that was grasping his ankle. He felt a static shock as he touched its dark, matted fur, and pried with all his might, but could not break the grip. The thing, despite Todd’s violent rebellion, trudged on.

Todd tucked his shirt and raincoat into his pants and tightened his belt, trying to keep his outer layers from wrinkling upward and exposing his bare back to the passing ground. He slowly regained his wits and took in his surroundings. The neighborhood was quiet, it seemed there was no one here to help him. The cars looked older; in fact, he didn’t see a single one that looked newer than nineteen seventy. Over the course of a dreadful two minutes Todd recognized, double checked, and reconfirmed that he was in fact being dragged through the neighborhood in which he had grown up.

He was pulled around a bend, turning onto old Wilkie Avenue. At the end of this street would be a cul-de-sac, at the center of that would be his childhood home. Todd leaned and contorted, trying to see past his captor and catch a glimpse of their destination. He could see that the creature’s open, radiant eyes were lighting the way.

All along the street, his former neighbors stepped out onto their various yards and porches. Each person’s flesh had changed, head to toe, into that same muddy, bleeding mixture he had beheld in the parking lot. They went about their daily lives despite the grotesque transformation. Mr. Davis pressed his thumb over the end of a hose and sprayed grass clippings off of his sidewalk. Karly Mason, dressed in her now darkly soiled pink tutu, performed pirouettes and plies for the world to admire. Todd tried not to look.

His miserable guided tour continued, up the curb, across the driveway, onto the porch and through the door. As the creature lumbered up the flight of stairs towards the second floor, Todd grabbed hold of the banister and squeezed with everything he had. The creature pulled so hard, Tom thought his leg might rip from its socket, but before it could, the wooden post cracked and snapped in two.

Up the green-carpeted stairs, and down the second floor hallway he went. He knew whose bedroom was at the end, and as he was pulled into it, he observed muddied, bleeding versions of both his parents. They were pressed up against the wall, wildly trying to conceive his younger brother, all to the beat with The O’Jay’s “Love Train,” which seemed to be blaring from the very walls. It had once been a younger Todd’s favorite song. He screamed, flipped and kicked but couldn’t seem to close his eyes.

Todd’s horrible, gangling tour guide stepped out the second story window, dragging a now crying Todd with it. He was pulled out, to his surprise, not onto the roof, but the dirty surface of his old school yard. There he watched the imaginary battles of his youth turn real, as each of his mud-caked, bleeding, friends were slaughtered by one another.

By what could have been called the second day of being dragged—though time did not exist in this place—Todd had already seen most every location he once cherished. He was dragged through the ’64 Chevy Station Wagon in which he had received his first blowjob. He made a hot lap around his high school while listening to “Love Train” and watching a disgusting rendition of his old football team gnaw out each other’s muddy throats.

Todd’s raincoat had mostly withered to Swiss cheese at this point, and his cotton undershirt didn’t provide much protection from the ground’s coarse sandpaper effect. He resorted to sitting up, entrusting his rugged jeans to hold up at least twice as long as the jacket. He and his silent captor had just about completely caught up on his life by now, and Todd assumed an end of some kind was close at hand.

On the third day of the dragging, Tom was pulled out of the dark motel room that he wished he had never left. He was brought through the lobby, out into the rain, and past the screaming man he had hoped to help. Beyond that, everything turned bright. The rain stopped, and Todd finally felt the sun on his face. To either side of him, he saw vast, endless lines of wavy dunes. It was a desert that existed somewhere outside of his own memory.

On the fifth day, his entire upper layer of clothing had completely worn away. Grating, hot sand grinded into his wounds and formed a layer of bloody paste around him. If he had tried to scream, his dry throat would have yielded no sound. The sun had burned his face and chest to the point of blistering. The sand had rubbed his back down to mere muscle. It also seemed that hunger existed in this place, though it could not kill. Todd’s mind failed him, as he began thrashing wildly, no longer hoping to escape, but letting out his rage and trying to distract from the pain.

Day ten approached, and the dunes rolled on. Todd’s rag of a body was pulled past the rusting hulk of an old Lockheed airliner, the decaying hull of a cargo ship, and a few other scraps of metal that his weak eyes couldn’t identify. Above in the tauntingly blue sky, Todd observed a ringed planet, hosting a family of several moons. “Love Train,” rolled on, echoing unstoppably from deep within his mind. He turned over, opting to let the ceaseless sun destroy his back, which had been stripped of its nerve endings. He braced for the grating pain of sand on his wretchedly burned chest.

By the fifteenth day, Todd’s muscles had been stripped past the point of use. The lost layers left him more closely resembling his captor than any human. Thirty pounds of flesh had been shredded away from his miserable body. Knowing he should have been long dead by now, he wondered what he had done to deserve what he feared would be an eternity of senseless agony.

On day twenty, Todd suspected that by tomorrow, he would lose his mind entirely, and that might be good. He was well on his way to ending up just like—

His feeble mind stopped, reversed course, and retraced its steps. He would end up just like the man in the parking lot—Insane. In a merciful flash, Todd understood it all so clearly. This creature wasn’t something told of around a campfire. He had never heard a single word spoken about such a monster—Why? This had all started the moment he locked eyes with this terrible creature. He had seen it, and it knew he had. Todd had never heard of the monster because no one who saw it could ever speak of it—or anything—again. It was a secret. Now, for witnessing that secret, Todd was being driven insane.

He struggled to form the words with his brittle lips, but couldn’t. There was no way for his vocal cords to produce a sound. He tried anyway. If mouthing the four words was all he could do, he would do so for the rest of his tour.

I won’t tell anyone, he said, though it was really more a thought than spoken word, and a remarkable thing happened. The creature stopped. Todd felt his own foot drop into the sand. The creature, gangly, yet somehow graceful, crawled right over top of him. Through its disgusting dark tufts of fur, Todd could see what might have been eyes; they looked deeper into him than any human eyes ever could.

The creature grunted, stood, and from Todd’s perspective, its towering form was never so apparent. It turned, and lumbered away, off into the endless dunes. The creature could not whistle as it walked, so the wind did so for it.

Todd was alone now, lying there in that blasted desert, somewhere outside the realm of rationality where pain met time. A sudden breeze kicked sand into his eyes. His decaying fingers curled and gripped the sand to find that it was now wet, and not sand but mud. Water, sweet cooling water, fell onto his wounds and flowed in all around him.

He was no longer in the dune, but laying in the motel parking lot, next to a man who, little did he know, had been dragged for three thousand and eighty days, all in an instant; all for looking where he shouldn’t.

Above Todd, in a weightless perch on the power lines, was the creature. It blinked once at him, spread its limbs, and caught a gale of Cynthia’s wind. With one flash of lightning, Todd saw the silhouette of that hellish puppet disappear into the thunderclouds. He wondered if he was the only one to have laid eyes on the being and survived with half his mind, or if there were others that shared his secret. He would never know. For the rest of his dark, broken life, Todd would never speak of the monster that almost cost him his sanity with a single glance; and the world’s most ancient secret went on unheard of, riding the winds of violent storms until wind itself was no more.

Credit: Timothy Attewell

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The Sentence Kneels

September 29, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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By the edge of the cliff sat the man without wills.

I approached him reluctantly while the mountains were asleep. He turned his head to face me and his expression was blank.

“Have you come to ask me your one question?” asked the man.

“Yes,” I replied.

It is known that in the Universe exists the man without wills. Every living being gets to ask the man one question and word is that every answer he’s ever given has satisfied every inquisitor. Many a curious soul have come to ask him about his nature. Many return with proclamations that the man is no mortal.

Perhaps it was in a dream that I had been urged to go and find this man. In that dream, I saw the mountains. Yet here I am now, fully awake and unsure whether what I’m feeling would be terror or curiosity. There is no mistaking that this is him and there’s no turning back now. Little did I know what my curiosity would bring me.

“Go on, approach. There’s no turning back now,” said the man. I took one careful step.

Was that not an assertion? I wondered; I thought to myself.

I felt every fibre of my flesh trembling. Was it from awe or from horror? I was not sure. To be before his presence was a feeling I could not word.

His voice trailed away into the void. What followed was what I had feared the most. I smelled it in the air and felt it in my marrow. The mountains shook and turned to dust and the ground beneath my feet dissolved into nothingness. For sure, this was no longer a dream. The air grew dark and colder. Sullen howls were flooding the atmosphere and below me, below the man, was pure unending dark. It seemed that we were no longer within the same realm we had inhabited just a few seconds ago. I kept my wits about. Am I going to die? I thought. I did not ask him that. I was being very careful not to waste my one question despite how much I wanted to ask why the earth had transmogrified. Where are we? I thought and again resisted the urge to ask it. I kept my wits about by recalling the past. I remember meeting those who’ve met the man without wills and how they were never the same person they were before they got to ask their one question. They were rarely ever confused again or troubled again after their encounter with the man. But neither were they again gleeful. A sort of vacuum had replaced what once seemed the soul in their eyes. I was unsure whether theirs was the look of longing or the look of contentment. Trapped inside their eyes might have been screams asking for help; screams that long to undo the hell that is to have one’s question ultimately answered and thus snuffed becomes the possibility of further inquiry. But trapped inside their eyes might be the most tranquil river calmer than a thousand slumbers and this river may have been carved into being by the man now before myself; him of no mortal stature. I was unsure of what would happen to me after my one chance. I made sure not to ask him that despite how much I came close to doing so. My jaw almost gave in, almost let out the curious air but I drew it back and swallowed. My resolve was fixed on asking him only one thing.

Perhaps it was in a dream that I saw the man beg me to extinguish him. That he only could nullify lives for so long and that the task, once enjoyable, has now become a burden. Perhaps he longed to die.

I took another step closer to the man. There was no earth beneath us. There was only void made material. The look on his face was blank. His eyes were hollow yet tranquil. Or were they? For a second I thought his eyes were full of anguish. But I made sure not to ask him that. He reached out slowly with a hand in the dark, wanting to pull me in. When I felt his hand, it was nothing close to resembling skin and muscle. The heavens had been replaced by pulsating darkness. It made one want to look away immediately. The man reached his fingers to my eyes.

“What is taking you so long? Would you want me to ask your question for you?” asked the man. I was terrified by his tone of impatience.

“No, I do not,” said I.

“Then what is it you seek?”

My head grew heavy. A thousand lightning bolts perforated the blanket-like atmosphere. He knew I came here to destroy him.

I felt my question well up from deep within my soul. This was the moment I’ve waited for so long. Perhaps the universe cheered for me in secret. I felt the question climb slowly out of my entrails and depart through my teeth. The question contorted itself into sound, but surely this was to fail as representative. But it didn’t, so it seemed. I wish it hadn’t.

I asked, “Why are you so-called?”

At last I had purged myself of the question. There was nothing to do now but wait. My constitution has been turned inside out. One could look at me and see no hints of anything.

A lengthy pause followed. Perhaps the man misunderstood? But no, I was certain that he never misunderstood. If it is true that he transcends us ordinary beings then would it also not be true that he transcends our stupidity? But where we are now and how he brought us here perhaps only reinforces his being of another form, of another kind. Stuttering, I tried to follow my question with:

“Man is never separate from his will. That would be impossible.”

“Ah, alas. The question they’ve long prophesied. The question I’ve stirred within you. They’ve put everything into plan. And now we are here at the end of the world, at the edge of time and consciousness. Your preconceptions are true. I am not man. I am something else. Neither below it nor above. Your question begins to seize my hands as I had wanted it to. The erasure must see that itself is finished. I am without will and I am without desire. I am the vertebra of the cosmos but never did I seek this position. I had birthed the earth and so did it birth me. But time has come to erase all mortality and cut the fabric altogether. Must I thank you? I suppose I must. But I have no will. But don’t you see? I am pulled by forces sentience will never understand nor encounter. Perhaps in another life and in another dimension will there be an understanding amongst all entities. Feel no need to apologize to the others who came before you. Time is ripe. The long-awaited undoing is.”

I stood in silence, amazed and puzzled. Perhaps I was mostly terrified. Slowly, what felt like a thousand years, the man lifted his arms high and tilted his head to face me. I could not bear to gaze but I was gripped by something immaterial. I knew terror. His eyes were hollow when we got here, and now they’re even emptier — so empty that my own eyes started to turn in their sockets.


The man’s voice thundered. In fact, it was not voice at all. It was pure form. As his final words echoed through the infinite sea of black, so did his material vessel dissolve into a deep pool in space. A million blades of light cut through the nothingness. Out spewed all the horrors of existence. From nothingness he reformed. And now he appears before me a thousandfold larger. I was the dust by his feet. I am unworthy of proximity. No matter how hard I try and look up to see his face, I fail. The figure was too tremendous. Mine eyes cannot reach. I look up only to no avail. I see no expression. A sea of light has drowned the midriff. Miles away were two spheres ablaze. I had never asked to stare at God. I was compelled. I had to lock eyes with God but I could not discern whether the look in God’s eyes were merciful or sinister.

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The Long Night

September 28, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Bound in night’s shackles, an ageing man yearns to be free. As he tries to cry aloud only a starved, raspy breath escapes his tired lungs. Too weak to be heard, he faces this terror alone.

Nearly suffocating under the potent anxiety carried forth by an atmosphere starved in darkness, he is desperate to feed on the security of light. Treading carefully amongst the unknown, he fumbles for a light source. He gropes aimlessly at unseen walls around him, but no light switch can be found.

In his haste he dislodges an object hanging from the wall. Suddenly, he is startled by the screeching of iron against the hard surface beneath him. Straining to bend down so that he can inspect the fallen object, he brushes his hand over its surface. Suspecting and, indeed, hoping it may be a lantern, he searches his pockets for a matchbox. Absurdly, he retrieves one. Surprised by his good fortune, he strikes a match and applies the flame to the object. To his relief the lantern casts a dim light which brings the immediate area around him into view. For a moment he is comforted by the emergence of light, but his comfort is soon disturbed. A new fear is brought to the forefront of his mind: What if this light reveals no trace of familiarity? He wonders, fearfully. What if I cannot find my way back home? With cold sweat dampening his face, his mind is ablaze with quandary, but he does not truly understand why. Not yet.

With little choice but to press on in spite of his fear, the old man proceeds to survey his immediate surroundings. By his discoveries he is dismayed. Everything about this room is uncomfortably alien. First, examining the floor beneath him, he realises this is no homely environment: the surface is reinforced concrete laid bare. There is no carpet covering to breathe life or solace. Examining the mostly featureless confines, out of the corner of his eye he notices the handrail of a flight of stairs. Turning to look upon the stairs, he considers the opportunities which might lie above. If he were strong enough to ascend the staircase, who knows what he may find? Perhaps I would be safer up there. He speculates. Perhaps there might be some means of communication; a telephone, perhaps? Perhaps … it does not matter. Whatever haven of respite lies beyond these steps is, for now and always, beyond my reach. Knowing this, he is forlorn. How cruel it is that such a false promise of hope could be offered to him like this. Returning to his search, he finds the strange emptiness of the room serves only to increase his feelings of isolation and confusion. Even the walls appear to encircle him – taunting him.

It is not long before another feature of the room seeks to entice him. A combination of curiosity and dread grows inside of him as he fixes his eyes upon this all at once inviting and foreboding detail. The object of his attention is unremarkable, yet far from unassuming. It is a windowless steel door. Terror looms closer still – but curiosity lingers – as the man becomes acutely aware of distant cries. They are hostile. Whatever foul creatures loom beyond this door, he does not wish to find out. Yet he must proceed. His journey has brought him too far to avoid it much longer. Perhaps subconsciously he knows this. Why else would he be struggling for breath? For what other reason would his heart beat at the disconcerting rate it is so doing?

Hesitating briefly, he wonders what might happen were he to refuse to open the door; to defy whatever forces would have him venture beyond it. It takes him no great effort to dispel such thoughts, however. His determination to return home is powerful enough to keep him moving forward. As he reaches the door, he presses an ear to its cold surface. Whatever lurks beyond is unmistakably agitated. He pulls himself away and, with a deep breath, braces himself as he carefully opens the door. The scene before him is unimaginable.

Where prior to opening the door the air had possessed an aura of foreboding stillness, now a vicious gale ravages the atmosphere. Its cries, once distant, now verge on deafening. In the midst of the storm archers in the sky target the building with a relentless barrage of liquid arrows. Before him – revealed only by a warning light high above his head – perturbed waves writhe and thrash as if in attempt to free themselves from the night’s dreadful curse. Vain, yet persistent. Deep into the heart of a vast ocean of unfathomable depths, the man is trapped. Alone. It matters not how he came to be here; he is too far gone for anyone to help him now.

Standing transfixed in the agape doorway, his body trembles violently under the ominous shadows of the night. In horrified bewilderment, he gazes listlessly into the void. Amidst the callous taunts of the wrathful waves he seeks desperately for a rational explanation. With tremendous concentration he tries to take his mind back to the moment of his arrival. With great frustration he finds he cannot retrace his steps to a point in time prior to finding himself in the dark.

He reassures himself that in all the confusion of this scenario, combined with his deteriorating mental faculty, he is bound to be less capable of coherent thought. Whether he remembers this or not he reasons that the only rational explanation is he must have arrived by boat. Yes, Of course! He realises, almost gleefully. What other explanation could there possibly be? Approaching the railing, he searches the perimeter of the lighthouse for any sign of a vessel. With a quivering hand he raises the lantern above him as he walks along the railing, examining the illuminated ocean waves for any sign of the boat on which he arrived. Several minutes pass, to no avail. He becomes increasingly disheartened as the cruel realisation settles inside of him: There is not a single ship in sight. The much stronger light above confirms this. With no signs of life as far as the eye can see, the man now truly begins to comprehend his worrying isolation. Understanding the full extent of the emptiness of his surroundings, a truly mystifying awareness dawns on him: This building does not belong so far out into the ocean. I should not be here!

He is pulled back from the inner turmoil of his mind by the sudden awareness of the increasing agitation of the ocean’s waves. With great urgency he staggers back inside the building – back to its cold but sheltering enclosure. Once inside, he shuts the door tightly. He is drenched in icy water, quivering in unbearable discomfort. The lantern has been extinguished by the storm; the room is now submerged in utter darkness. Using the handrail for support, he lowers himself onto the third step, resting the now lifeless lantern down beside him. He leans forward, his elbows resting on his thighs, and his head resting upon cupped palms. Considering the absurdity of this situation he feels it would be fitting to laugh, but in his devastation he can only weep. In search of consolation his mind takes him to the fondest moments of his past, as it has so often done in times of distress. It is in the imagining of his wife’s beautiful face that refuge is to be found. His memory of her is so strong it is almost palpable. Above all else he remembers how beautiful she had appeared on their wedding day – how happy she had made him feel that day. Smiling through tears, he recalls the blissful memory of reciting his vows and the gleeful celebration which reigned until dawn the following day. He had loved her dearly; his memories of her have always brought comfort when nothing else could. Since her death, he has often longed to hold her; he has yearned to hear her soft, reassuring voice – to simply tell her one last time, “I love you.”

Through a mist of cold tears, he sees before him a vibrant aura. Its mere presence eases his sorrow. Drying his eyes so that he might see for himself the entity before him, he is left incredulous by its appearance. A mere arm’s length away from him stands his wife in the flesh. She is vibrant and youthful. He is overcome with joy, for her vivacity breathes life into an otherwise decadent atmosphere. He reaches out to touch her, but she steps away, slipping from his grasp once again. Fear creeps back into his soul as she evades his touch. With graceful effervescence, she glides towards the door, glancing back every few steps, smiling playfully as she does so. She is beckoning him. Realising this, the old man struggles to his feet, heading towards the door. Stopping inside the doorway, he watches in horror as his wife stands on the outside of the railing, preparing to leap. He tries to cry out for her to stop; to plead with her to stay. She turns to face him, smiling innocently, urging him to trust her. She relinquishes her grip, allowing the waves to carry her away. For a moment the man hears nothing but the distressing laughter of the ocean. Then, out from the depths, he hears the soothing voice once more. “Don’t be afraid, my love,” she reassures him. “We can be together again, I promise you. Just let go.” He edges closer to the railing, knowing perfectly well what he must do to be reunited with his love.

The now faint light – a spectral apparition dancing on the blackened water – begins to flicker. With this, the old man’s hearing begins to fail him; the scene before him fades to a blur of uncharacteristic forms. The bitter cold is now imperceptible. His time is short. With great strain, he steps closer to railing. The restless waves now strike the derelict structure with malevolent intent. It is as though their forces have now been completely alerted to his presence. To him, however, the waves are barely audible; their soothing cadence puts him at ease. No longer trembling quite so violently he closes his eyes, trusting the ocean to deliver him from this place of suffering and solitude; to deliver him into his wife’s loving embrace.

In an instant, immense waves engulf the lighthouse entrance. At once, lucidity is lost. Unseen servants of the night descend on the old man’s feeble form with devastating precision. Without hesitation they pierce his withered heart, dragging him further into their everlasting embrace. A pitiful, gargling whimper escapes him as consciousness seeps out of his body. Submerged in dark waters, vacant eyes stare helplessly into sightless visions of eternity.

Silence accompanies the night.

Credit: TheGreatNadir

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