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Ubloo, Part Three

May 4, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Note: This is part three of the Ubloo Series. Part one may be found here and part two is here; the remaining and final part will be posted tomorrow.

I watched the white lines in the middle of the highway disappear one by one under the hood of my car as I sped down the interstate. If I watched them long enough they would eventually just bleed into one long hazy line of white in a sea of asphalt, and then I would snap out my stare, and they would be separate again.

I reached over to the passenger side seat and grabbed my pint of gin. It’s sad how good I’ve gotten at twisting the cap off with one hand, while the other is on the wheel. I took a big swig and finished the bottle, then tossed it out my driver’s side window and heard the glass shatter in a satisfying splash.

“It had to have been microsleep.” I kept telling myself. I don’t know if I was finally starting to lose it or if I’d already drunk too much by noon and was just rambling, but I had to somehow rationalize the fact that I’d seen Ubloo, and not heard him afterwards.

In the end I chalked it up to hallucinations brought on by the lack of sleep, and told myself that I would try to get at least 5 hours tonight. For the past few weeks I’ve been running on just about 4 hours a night, or however long I can stomach those terrifying nightmares.

In my rear-view mirror I checked on the box that housed Robert Jennings’ things. Today was finally the day I would learn what that book meant. I can’t tell you how long I compared this writing to samples on my laptop for, and it wasn’t until a very blind stroke of luck that I figured out what it actually was.

I was sitting at a hotel bar in Pennsylvania when a man came and sat next to me. We made some small talk at first but I think he was scared off a bit by my disheveled appearance. We drank in silence for a few minutes and then he broke it abruptly.

“You can read that shit?” He said, all but gracefully.

“Unfortunately no.” I sighed. “In fact I’m just trying to figure out what language it is to be completely honest.”

“Oh.” He looked down at his beer and started picking at the label. “Mind if I take a look?”

“Sure, just be very careful with it.” I slid the book over to him carefully. He opened the front cover and flipped through the first couple pages.

“Well I tell you.” He began. “It’s some sort of African writing.”

My ears perked up at this.

“African?” I asked hopefully.

“Yeah I used to be a security guard at the National History Museum over in New York City. I swear I saw some shit just like this in there.”

I didn’t even bother thanking the man. I grabbed the book from him and sprinted up to my hotel room to begin working. I must have wrote damn near 500 e-mails that night, with a small sample of the writing attached, to every African history professor, museum curator and African language translator I could find an address for.

That’s how I met Eli.

Eli was a retired African history professor living in Natchez, Mississippi. The e-mail he sent back seemed a little surprised and excited all at once. He told me that this writing was an almost extinct language that he learned translating documents for a professor while studying for his doctorate. I told him that I would pay any sum of money should he help me translate this book, as long as I hand deliver it to him and he reads it directly to me. I couldn’t risk losing this book in the mail, and besides, Natchez was right on my route to the Louisiana house.

I had finished reading Robert’s Journal about two weeks ago. He wrote about the dreams, how hard the burden was to bear and how it was affecting his family life. Robert went knocking on one of his tenant’s doors, after not hearing from him (or receiving the rent) for weeks. He let himself in and found him there, wrists slit in the bathtub. Apparently a pair of his old jeans were laying on the bathroom floor, and in a pocket Robert found a picture of the Louisiana house, with the address “hastily” scribbled on the back of it. I found it curious that he made no mention of where he found the other book though.

Robert also theorized about what exactly Ubloo was trying to do. He seemed to believe it was some vengeful spirit, feeding on our nightmares or fear. Truth be told his Journal wasn’t too useful, it was simply a recording of everything he’d been through in the three years he dealt with this curse.

I snapped out of my thoughts just in time to hear her scream.

K-THUMP

And then a big crash as my windshield spider-webbed inward. I swerved out of instinct and lost control of the car. It veered off the highway and down the embankment, throwing the woman from my hood and sending her rag-dolling across the landscape until she was stopped by a tree, and I heard her spine snap from the whiplash with a sharp pop.

My car finally slid to a stop and then I heard him.

“OH MY GOD! MARY!”

An old man was running down the embankment now over to where the woman lay.

“MARY! SWEETHEART PLEASE!”

He knelt down and cradled her head in his arms, her legs twisted into sickening shapes. He turned and looked at me, still in shock, knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel. It wasn’t until I had a half moment to collect myself that I realized the gravity of what just happened.

“BACK UP! I’M A DOCTOR!” I yelled, opening the door and running halfway over to the man.

“She’s DEAD you idiot! You KILLED her!” The old man sobbed into the hair on the top of his wife’s head.

I stopped halfway between my car and the tree. The two of them couldn’t have been younger than 70. A little up the road I noticed a car pulled off to the side. They must have broken down or gotten a flat, she was probably trying to flag me down, or maybe just standing too far into the lane.

“I’m sorry, I…” I stammered out, choking up. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

“You were fucking drunk you idiot!” He snapped back at me. “A drunk just like your old man! That’s what killed him and what killed your Mother too!”

I was taken aback by this.

“No, that’s not true!”

“It is!” The old man reached behind his back and pulled out a revolver. “Look what you’ve done boy! It’s all your fault!”

And with that, he cocked the revolver, put it in his mouth, and I watched his brains splatter out the back of his head in a burst of color.

I stood there in shock, listening to the still silence of the aftermath. I scratched the back of my head and stared at the man and woman. How the fuck am I going to get out of this? I scratched the back of my head again, what an odd moment for it to be tickling like this.

Then I felt my hair ruffle. I spun on my heel surprised and scared and there he was. His long trunk recoiling back towards his head and the long black pointed tongue hanging lazily out of the end of it. He stared at me with those deep black horrible eyes. So black I could see my reflection in them, the reflection of me standing there frozen in fear. He bobbed slowly up on his legs and back down almost gracefully. His head cocked to the side just a fraction of an inch and without any movement I heard it.

“Ubloo!”

I woke up to a gasp of hot stale air. The world came back to me slowly as I drank in my surroundings, and then everything flooded back at once. I had pulled over at a rest stop just outside of Natchez to take a leak and grab a coffee. I must have fallen asleep in the car.

“FUCK.” I slammed my hand onto the steering wheel.

I must have had at least 50 dreams with that thing and yet he still somehow managed to catch me off guard. I reached into my center console and pulled out the pill bottle of adderall. I threw two in my mouth and forced them down with a swig of gin.

For a second I sat there, head against the steering wheel fighting off my thoughts, and then I turned the key and started the car, and left the rest stop parking lot.

It took me about another half hour to get to where Eli lived. His house was large and old from the looks of it. His driveway was much longer than I was used to. The land surrounding his house stretched on for what seemed like forever. I guess city-living has made a place like this seem unnatural to me.

I drove my car to the front of his house and he came outside and waved. He had been expecting me, I called him when I was just about two minutes out. He was about my height but much older, in his late sixties. He had a full head of white hair and a white goatee to match it. His skin was wrinkled and he had a pair of half-framed glasses resting on his nose.

He lit up a cigarette as I got out of the car and stretched my legs.

“Afternoon Doctor.” He called from his front steps. “I must say I been mighty lookin’ forward to this book a’yours. Can’t find much that hasn’t been found a’ready, and if I have me the chance to translate some new discovery well, I guess we could call us even.”

He spoke with a thick Mississippi accent but he was understandable. He looked me over for a few seconds and then spoke again.

“My you look turrble Doctor. Long drive?” He asked me, with a tone of sincerity.

“Just a rough night.”

I couldn’t help but smile at that. I opened the back door of my car and pulled the book out of its box. I shut the door and then studied the cover one last time in mystery as I walked over to Eli.

“Here she is.” I said handing over the book.

Eli took the book in his hands and pushed his glasses up to get a better look. He squinted at the cover in the sunlight for about three seconds before I saw his eyes widen and his mouth open slightly.

“Doctor.” He said gravely. “Where did you find this?”

“It was given to me by a friend.” I lied, but only half. “Why, what’s it called?”

Eli turned and stared at me for a long time, and I could almost see the gears in his head turning as he was starting to realize just why I looked so haggard.

“It’s a religious text.” He started, his voice wavering. “Written by a witch doctor from the Binuma Tribe.”

“Witch doctor?” I asked curiously. “Like voodoo?”

“Yes Doctor.” Eli turned to look at me as he spoke. “But not just any voodoo. The Binuma Tribe, and most specifically this witch doctor, are referred to in African folklore as one of the most ruthless in history.”

We stood there for a moment together on his front steps. With only the sound of the wind to keep us company.

“Well Doctor.” Eli began. “Let’s go inside, and make sure this ain’t a fake before we jump to such rash conclusions.”

We went inside together and Eli brought me to his study. He began examining the book, the text, the paper, everything. While he did this he had me running about doing various tasks for him. Pulling samples from his filing cabinets, looking up texts that he didn’t have on the internet, fetching sweet tea from the fridge. After about two hours he finally sat back in his chair and turned to look at me.

“Gosh a’mighty Doctor, this is the real deal.”

I was overjoyed to hear this. Truth be told I hadn’t even considered the possibility that this text was fake, and now that I was just minutes from answers about Ubloo, about how to stop or kill him, I finally felt a weight lift a little from my shoulders.

“So I tell you what.” Eli began. “I got a guest bed upstairs. If you have nowhere else to be you can shack up with me here and we can translate this book in—oh I don’t know—three days?”

My stomach dropped.

“I’m sorry Eli but that’s too much time.” He looked back up at me again. “I need to be back on the road by sundown.”

He looked surprised, and rightfully so.

“Hell, boy you look like you haven’t slept in days! Surely you can take one night off from the road?”

“I’m sorry but I’m running out of time.” I got up and walked over to where Eli had the book. “May I?”

“Well of course Doctor, it is yours after all.”

I flipped through the pages to the chapter I needed.

“Not anymore Eli.” I said as I got closer to the text I had to hear. “Once I leave this is yours, do whatever you like with it.”

I stopped finally on the page I needed. A crude picture of Ubloo stared up at me surrounded by text.

“Please, this is the text I need.” I said before he could ask anything.

Eli turned down to the page and read in silence for a few minutes, and as he did, I could see him understand. When he was finally done he turned and looked at me with big sad eyes.

“How long?” He asked.

“About two months.” I said back, my heart breaking with finally being able to tell someone who would understand.

“Jesus…” He said trailing off, and then; “one moment Doctor.”

He got up and walked to the kitchen, and came back with a tray. On it, two glasses full with ice, and a bottle of what looked like whiskey. I laughed, and for just a second I felt human again. Eli poured me a glass, then him, and we drank together in silence.

“So now you understand why I can’t stay.” I finally said.

“I do Doctor. Now, you might want to sit down for this, because it’s quite a long story.”

I took a seat next to Eli and braced myself, heart racing for what was coming next.

“This creature, this… thing, is called ‘Daiala Bu Umba.’”

“Daiala Bu Umba?” I asked curiously, feeling odd that these people didn’t come up with the same name both Robert and Andrew had.

“Yes, Daiala Bu Umba, this translates to ‘The One Who Shows.’”

A shiver ran down my spine as Eli continued on.

“It says here that this witch doctor was very powerful, and that his people—the Binuma Tribe—were being chased across the dessert by a rival clan. Rather than the clan hunt them down in battle, they sent their best warriors into the Binuma camp at night, and slaughtered them in their sleep.

The witch doctor was away, praying to the gods for his people to escape, but the gods had abandoned him for using voodoo to defeat his enemies, and his prayers were not answered. When he returned to camp, he found all of his tribe slaughtered in their beds, including his wife who was with child. The witch doctor was overcome with grief and hatred, and turned to his most powerful voodoo to exact vengeance on the rival clan, and abandon the gods that turned their backs on him.

He gathered everything of use he could find left behind by the raid; elephant tusks, snake skins, animal bones and anything that held any significant properties. He piled them together with the bodies of his fallen tribe and burned them all, chanting a voodoo curse all the while, a curse to be place on the rival clan, to summon a spirit that would haunt their sleep the way they haunted his Tribe’s.”

Eli stopped and looked up at me.

“Do you want me to keep going, Doctor?”

I took a sip of my whiskey and solemnly nodded.

“In a matter of days, the rival clan were all having horrific nightmares and could not sleep. They dreamt of being raided by other tribes and seeing their women and children raped and enslaved, of crops burning and dry seasons that never ended. Before long, the clan turned on each other, or took their own lives, until none remained.

But something was wrong. When the witch doctor heard the clan was destroyed he celebrated, but he continued to hear of people being afflicted by The One Who Shows. He realized that the beast he made could not be stopped, for it had an appetite for despair that could not be satisfied. One by one, people would be afflicted by the spirit, and when they died, it would pass on to another, and so on and so on.”

He stopped and looked back up at me and stared.

“Well? Could they stop it?” I asked

“It doesn’t say.” Eli said through his sadness. “It says that tribes began to exile anyone who contracted the deadly spirit, for it was impossible to fight. Leaving the spirit to be contracted by a different tribe.”

My stomach dropped entirely. Well that’s it. There’s no escape for me. I’m going to have to deal with Ubloo for as long as I live… Or as short as I live. I see now why Andrew and Robert took their lives.

My eyes began to well up and Eli poured me another glass of whiskey.

“I’ll understand if you want to get back on the road Doctor. I’ll keep translating and I’ll call you if I find anything that helps.”

I gulped down the whiskey in one shot and wiped my eyes on my sleeve.

“Thanks Eli.” I forced out. “Let me know, I’ll show myself out.”

I got up before he could stop me and headed for the front door. Before I could get down to my car Eli was in the doorway and called out to me.

“Doctor! Just where is it you’re going? If you don’t mind me asking.” He said, the sadness on his voice made the question hang in the evening air.

“To follow a dead man’s footsteps.” I answered. “That lead to somewhere in Louisiana.”

Eli stared back at me and his eyes began to well up with tears.

“Well I wish you the best Doctor. I can’t imagine the things you’ve seen and I won’t pretend to, but God bless you for fightin’.”

I nodded and opened my car door, but stopped and looked up at Eli.

“Daiala Bu Umba.” I said with a half laugh. “That’s a lot better than what I’ve been calling it.”

“What have you been calling it, Doctor?”

I stopped for a second and thought about just how silly the name I had for him was.

“Ubloo.” I said with a half-smile.

“Ubloo?” Eli looked at me confused.

“Yeah, that’s what it always says to me right at the end of a dream.” I hesitated. “Does it mean anything?”

Eli looked down at me with a stare I will never forget, a look in his eyes that I know he will never give to another man in his life, and he said:

“Yes Doctor. Ubloo is short for ‘Ubua Loo.’”

The wind blew gently between us and the grass swayed in the waning sunlight as I awaited what would most likely be the last thing I’d ever hear from him.

“It means wake up.”

Credit To – DifferentWind

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Ubloo, Part Two

May 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Note: This is part two of the Ubloo Series. Part one may be found here; the next two parts will be posted over the next two days.

“THAT’S MY BABY! NO PLEASE GOD NO!”

“I said BACK UP you fucking CUNT!” The policeman bludgeoned Mrs. Jennings across the mouth with his billy club with a sickening thwack.

I heard her cry out from the hit, and watched as her teeth flew from her mouth to the pavement, clattering at the feet of the armed police officers. They were all striking her now. They beat her down to her hands and knees and were all taking turns hammering at her back with their clubs. She was still begging them not to take her son away but they couldn’t hear, they were laughing. Laughing in a sick and maniacal tone that made my stomach turn.

Now the emergency medical responders emerged from the apartment building, wheeling Andrew out on a gurney. They pushed him clumsily down the stairs, his arm emerged from beneath the white sheet as he bounced down the first step. I watched his lifeless body bounce on the gurney until he landed awkwardly and fell off it completely, the white sheet blowing away in the wind and revealing his corpse.

“Oh, well by all means you dumb fucking junkie, just help yourself to a nap while we’re trying to do our fucking JOBS!” With the last word, the EMT kicked Andrew’s body in his stomach.

I watched his body jerk and fold from the impact. The other EMT was joining in now too, both of them kicking and stomping at Andrew’s lifeless corpse. I tried to yell, I tried to scream at them to stop, but while I felt my vocal cords vibrating in my chest not a sound came out. I watch as one EMT picked up a heavy rock from a nearby flowerbed and carried it over to where Andrew’s body lay. The other EMT rolled him onto his back and I let out the loudest scream no one would ever hear as I watched the rock slam down into Andrew’s face. I heard a deep crunch and knew his skull had cracked. His head rolled to the side and faced right at me, bleeding and crushed.

Then I saw his eyes open, those big green eyes surround by a bloodshot white.

“THE END IS THE BEGINNING DOCTOR.” He said to me with his jaw half attached. “THE END IS THE BEGINNING.”

And then I heard him say it. Soft yet loud, small yet commanding, sharp as a knife yet smooth as water.

“Ubloo!”

I shot up from my bed, panting and covered in sweat. I reached frantically in the dark at the bedding next to me until my hand gripped my flashlight. I turned it on and shined it around the room, darting from one corner to the other, looking for something, anything, but there was nothing there, nothing there except for the stacks of boxes that littered my hotel room.

I turned my nightstand light on and checked the time. 4:12 AM. Three hours of sleep would have to do.

I pulled open the nightstand drawer and grabbed the pill bottle from inside. It was half full, I would need to write myself a new prescription soon, which couldn’t have come at a better time because it was looking like it was just about time to move again. I opened the bottle and threw two adderall into my mouth. I grabbed the glass of water I left out for myself and drank half of it.

I was going to have to start packing now if I wanted to make good time finding a new hotel. I stood up and stretched my legs and back. Now that I’m practically running on drugs and minimum sleep I can feel my body falling apart. I walked over to the dresser and twisted the cap off the bottle of gin from the night before. I took a long swig and cringed at the taste. I was never really a big fan of gin but it’s the easiest to conceal on your breath. When I turned to get started packing I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and froze.

My eyes sat above two dark heavy bags and were so bloodshot they almost looked red. My hair stuck up every which way in dark scraggly tufts. I had a dark shadow of hair on my cheek bones and neck that made my once tidy-kept beard look unattended.

“Jesus…” I said with a pause. “How the fuck did I get to this?”

SIX WEEKS PRIOR:

The funeral of Andrew Jennings came and went and I didn’t attend it. Part of me says it’s because I just couldn’t bear to face Mrs. Jennings, part of me says it’s because I’m terrified of Andrew himself. The week leading up to the funeral I could hardly focus on my work, I just kept thinking of what I heard that night before I fell asleep.

After another week, I chalked it up to just the booze and my imagination getting the best of me. Besides, I wasn’t even asleep when it happened, so I couldn’t have dreamed it.

I decided that I was going to go see Mrs. Jennings to give myself closure. Her office wasn’t far from mine for someone who owns half the apartment complexes in Middlesex county, and I decided that I deserved a day off after what I went through.

When I went to see Mrs. Jennings it was a cool spring day. I was nervous, very nervous. In med-school before I had to give a big presentation I would ease my tension with a shot or two, to loosen up. I did the same that morning, but I guess I should have eaten a bigger breakfast because by the time I got out of my car at her office building my head was swimming.

Inside the lobby was a cute young receptionist. I asked her where I could find Mrs. Jennings and she told me floor three suite one, very politely. I got in the elevator with another man and we rode up together. While we stood there I heard him sniff the air twice, then look sideways at me from the corner of his eye. Fuck, he must be able to smell the booze.

When I got off at the third floor I found a water fountain and drank a few gulps. I pulled another piece of gum from my pocket and chewed it for a minute before I knocked on Mrs. Jennings’ door.

The door swung open and her eyes met mine, and almost instantly I saw them start to well up.

“Oh, Doctor A.” She said, sounding unsurprised. “Please, come in.”

She stepped to the side and let me walk into her office. Immediately I noticed that she was in the process of packing her things, and the office was practically bare save for a few papers and her computer.

“Moving out eh?” I said to her with a half-smile, trying to lighten the mood.

“Yes.” She said, shifting her eyes from me to look around the room as she spoke. “I found someone who’s going to buy all my property. Normally it would be too much but I gave them a great price. I’m going to travel and see Europe like myself and Robert always wanted to.”

“Well, that sounds exciting!” I said, a little too enthusiastically. I saw the sadness creeping up on Mrs. Jennings and continued on, changing the subject. “Mrs. Jennings, I’m terribly sorry to hear about Andrew. He was a very bright young man.”

This brought on the water works.

“He was.” She sobbed. “And I want to thank you, Doctor, that day when he left your office he called me and told me he felt better than he had in years. Thank you for giving me that one moment of having my son back before I lost him for good.”

She started to cry. I looked around her office nervously, and my eyes found a photograph of a young Mrs. Jennings, standing next to a tall broad shouldered man with a big smile, and a young, handsome Andrew. At his side sat a golden retriever, who must have been Buster. I remembered the dream Andrew told me about him and shuddered. I walked over to the photograph and picked it up out of its box.

“This must be Robert, no?” I asked. She looked up from sobbing and saw the photograph in my hands.

“Oh yes.” She answered as she walked over. “That’s my Robert there, Lord he was handsome. And of course there’s Andrew and his dog, Buster.”

A chill ran up my spine as she said his name. Something told me Mrs. Jennings knew very little if not nothing about the dreams her son was having. I looked down at the box I took the photograph from and saw a proposal to buy a property. I was about to look away when something caught my eye.

“Mrs. Jennings?” I said, not lifting my eyes from the paper

“Please dear, call me Gloria. I don’t feel like much of a Mrs. anymore.”

“Gloria, I thought all the property you owned was in Masschusetts?” She blinked at me for asking such an out-of-the-moment question.

“Well, yes dear it is.” She answered, studying my face.

“Sorry it’s just, I couldn’t help but notice this proposal here, for a property in Louisiana?” She looked lost for a second and then I saw the memory hit her.

“Oh yes, that was a property Robert was looking into. He simply adored that Louisiana house. I’m not too sure how he even found the place quite honestly. In fact, when he first started flying down there every other weekend I was all but sure he was having an affair, but when I asked if I could come with him he didn’t put up a struggle at all.” She picked up the proposal and thumbed through the pages until she found a picture and handed it to me.

The house was huge and old, with big columns that framed the front of it, and a black gated fence surrounding the yard. The windows were too dark to see through but it looked to be two stories, only wide enough barely to fit in the picture. It looked a little run down but I could see why Robert was interested in this house, it had potential to be absolutely gorgeous.

After looking over the picture for some time I finally spoke.

“And this house…” I began. “Are you selling this as well?”

“Why, no, we don’t own it Doctor.” She said, looking hurt by those words. “Robert passed before we could finish up the paper work. Such a shame too because the place was lovely.”

I don’t know why but my heart sank a little bit with this.

“But Robert visited there often, right before his death?” I asked.

“Yes. Yes he did.” Gloria responded. “The funny thing is, Robert was known for closing on properties quickly, sometimes too quickly.” She said with a chuckle. “It was like he was afraid to finally go through with it.”

She watched me scrutinize the photograph of the house. “You look interested Doctor.” She said, the chuckle returning as well. “Are you looking to make a move as well? Or get into the real estate biz?”

“Maybe…” I said trailing off.

“Well tell you what. That whole box is full of information Robert kept on that house, separated a bit amongst some other paperwork. I’m just gonna shred all this stuff so if you’re interested help yourself.”

It took me a bit to register what she just said.

“Sure, yeah.” I finally managed to push out. “That sounds great Gloria, thank you.”

I picked up the box and slowly started walking to the door.

“Say, just for curiousity’s sake…” I started. “Who was the previous owner of the house?”

“Oh well it didn’t have an owner, it wasn’t in use when we viewed it.” She said. “Technically it’s owned by the Bank of Louisiana. Before that, it was a school.”

“A school huh?” I ask.

“Yep. If what the woman who showed us the property told us was true, it was the first all-black school in the whole state.”

I stood there for a minute. Thinking about how bizarre this whole thing was. Why was Robert looking to buy an old run-down school in Louisiana? Why this one specifically? And why wouldn’t he close on the property?

As I turned to leave I heard Mrs. Jennings call out from behind me.

“Oh, Doctor.” She said. “One last thing.”

“Yes?”

“I won’t ask why–although I think I know–but if you’re gonna walk around on the liquor, drink gin.”

I was startled.

“I’m sorry?”

“Gin, honey.” She said. “It’s tougher to smell on someone. That’s what Robert used to do.”

I left that office feeling out of place. As if everything that just happened was a dream. I drove straight home and immediately started rifling through Robert’s paperwork. It was tough business at first. I wasn’t too adept at identifying real estate documents so I didn’t quite know what I was looking at at first, but about an hour in I got the hang of it.

I separated the paper work out on my dining room table. In one pile I had all the information about the house. Turns out the thing was owned by some incredibly wealthy family back in the early 1800’s. In fact, they were one of the first families to move down to Louisiana once we got it from the French. The date when they fully converted the place to a school I couldn’t find but it looked like the Bank didn’t get ahold of it until the 1960’s.

I sat back and scratched my head. I looked at the other two piles I had made. One was anything Robert had written on or used not pertaining to this house and the other was just junk. I walked over to the junk pile and started putting the papers back into the box, one by one. Halfway through the pile I got to a beat-up looking manila folder. I undid the clasp and pulled the papers out from inside it.

I thumbed through the first few pages, more rental agreements for Massachusetts properties. I was about to throw them in the box when I noticed a series of numbers on the corner of a page.

“12-4-21”

I pulled this paper out and studied it. It was a rental agreement for a studio apartment in Cambridge. As I looked over the paper more I realized that there was a check stub stapled to the back of it. The check read for $180,000.00, made payable to the Cambridge Realty Trust Company. He had paid for this property is his name for ten years. I found this odd. Why would one of the biggest apartment owners in the state rent an apartment from someone else? I dropped the envelope to the table and heard a clink. I picked the envelope back up and turned it upside down. I felt something slide down the envelope and into my hand, and when I looked, I found a key, with “Unit E335” etched into it. I looked back over to the rental agreement and sure enough, the address of the property read:

375 Broadway St. Unit E335 Cambridge MA

I froze for a half second, then frantically searched for my coat. I couldn’t tell you why I felt the urge to go see this place now, but it all just felt too abnormal to ignore. My instincts were telling me to go to there and I was going to trust them.

I got to the apartment fairly quick and bounded up the stairs. The front door was locked and I tried the key. The key fit snuggly into the lock and turned with ease. I felt my nerves leap. I entered the lobby and found the staircase. I ran up the stairs two at a time until I reached the third floor. I opened the door and sure enough, right in front of me was Unit E335. It felt like time froze, and I was just standing there staring at this door. This morning I was drunk, trying to find closure, and now here I am rifling through a dead man’s things and walking his footsteps. Who am I doing this for? Me? Robert? Andrew? I shook the thoughts from my head. It’s my day off—I rationalized—I’m just killing time playing detective.

I walked up to the door and slid the key into the lock, and turned the doorknob.

The door swung inward and I was staring into one big room. I found a light switch and flicked it on. The room was your typical studio apartment. Kitchenette and bathroom all in one big spacious area.

But there was no furniture.

The entire room was completely empty, walls bare, except for the middle of the room, where sitting there on the floor, facing me, was a safe.

I walked slowly up to the safe and put my hand against it. The metal was cool. I tried to move it and it was incredibly heavy, it must be thick.

I stood there and looked at it, pondering the peculiarity of the whole thing. Then I knelt down, and expecting it not to work, entered in three numbers.

“12-4-21”

I heard the mechanism inside click and my heart skipped a beat.

Slowly, I swung the door open and peered inside. Sitting at the bottom of the safe were two books. I picked the first one up and read the cover:

“The Personal Journal of Robert A. Jennings”

My hands were shaking. I took the book out from behind Robert’s journal and studied it. The writing was in some weird language I had never seen before. I flicked open the cover and found a folded up piece of paper. I took the paper and unfolded it and my stomach dropped.

It was almost an exact copy of the picture Andrew drew for me that day in my office. Black and white, sitting there staring into my very existence, was that terrible monster, Ubloo.

I don’t know what happened first, shutting the book or getting up to leave. I don’t know why but I couldn’t be in this room anymore. I wasn’t supposed to find these things. With the books in my arms I ran out the apartment door without even shutting it behind me. I ran straight to my car, threw the books on the passenger seat and drove straight home. When I got there I grabbed the books again and sprinted inside, looking over my shoulders the whole way. I got inside and slammed the door, ran over to my dining room table and threw the books down.

I immediately started going through the pages of this weird-languaged book. It was incredibly old and full of pictures. I got hallway through when I stopped on a page with a drawing that looked like a crudely drawn Ubloo. I frantically searched through the rest of the book but I couldn’t make heads or tails of the language so I cast it aside. I then grabbed Robert’s journal and opened it to the first page.

“My name is Robert A. Jennings, and for the past year I have been afflicted with paranormal encounters in my dreams by a monster I call Ubloo. I know how this must sound, but everything I write in here must be taken with the utmost gravity, as I fear I will not be around much longer.”

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This had to be a dream. Some sort of fucked up dream. I flicked through the next few pages and saw recordings of dreams Robert had that were absolutely horrible. Dreams of standing on the ground and watching his son jump off a six-story building, only to splatter on the pavement right in front of him over and over again. Dreams of walking in on his wife cheating on him with their neighbors, his son video-taping it and them turning on Robert and beating him senseless while his wife laughed. Dreams of his parents being burned alive while the fire department laughed and molested his wife. Terrible things. How this man lived so long with such a burden I will never know.

I quickly flipped through the pages until they were nothing but white. I stopped when I reached the end and I knew Robert had died before he could fill this journal. Slowly, I flipped backwards until I reached the last page he had written on. When I read the words I dropped the book as if it were flaming hot and recoiled a few steps back, staring at it on the floor.

The damage was done. Those horrible words etched into my mind’s eye.

“The end is the beginning”

I paced around the room for a long time and thought hard about everything that happened. Just then, I heard a noise in my kitchen. I walked in to investigate and then felt a blinding pain across the back of my skull. I dropped to the ground face first and my head felt like it had split.

“Look baby he IS home!” I heard an unfamiliar face say. I watched as a pair of black boots walked up next to my face, and lightly kicked me in the forehead. “Wakey wakey Doc!”

From the ground I could see a pair of boots. At the other end of my kitchen I saw another man, dressed all in black with a ski mask, holding a gun up to a girl’s head.

“Please Doctor A! Help me please!”

I recognized that voice from somewhere, but where?

“Shut the fuck up bitch he can’t help you!” I heard the other man say as he pistol whipped the girl in the side of the head. She began to cry.

My vision came into focus and then I realized who she was. She was Andrea, my receptionist.

“ANDREA!” I yelled, but I was then kicked in the stomach by my attacker.

“Didn’t you hear my buddy?” He said as he stood over me writhing in pain. “You can’t fucking help her.”

He took a step back and stomped, and I felt his heavy boot come down on my knee cap and felt an exploding pain in my leg. I screamed loudly and clutched at my leg, but when I did the man only kicked me again, which hurt even worse the second time.

“Please Doctor A! Please help! They said they’re going to kill me!” Andrea pleaded from the back of the kitchen.

“Bitch, I said shut the FUCK up!” I heard the thwack of the pistol hitting Andrea again and heard her sob.

“That’s right baby doll.” The first man said. “We’re gonna kill ya. But first, we’re gonna hurt ya, and then, we’re gonna have a little fun.”

“No please, stop!” I looked up just in time to see the muzzle flash, hear Andrea scream, and then almost like it surfaced from all the noise of screaming and gunfire, I heard it in the back of my head.

“Ubloo!”

I woke up in pitch darkness and realized I had been screaming. My throat was sore and my shirt was soaked in sweat. I began to panic. I realized I was sitting at my dining room table and ran to the light switch. I flicked it on but nothing was there. No noise, no one in the kitchen, nothing. All at once it came back to me. How could I forget falling asleep? After I saw those words in Robert’s journal I sat down and decided to go through the rental agreements again, which were all laid out in front of me. I must have fallen asleep doing that, but how did I not remember sitting down to do this?

Then I remembered my conversation with Andrew. How Ubloo realized the he could scare him more with a microsleep dream than a normal one. How the ability to catch him off guard was more effective. I got so caught up in this theory that I didn’t even realize what was happening, but when I did, I got sick to my stomach. It couldn’t happen, it couldn’t. It wasn’t even real this isn’t real. I tried to force the thought from my head but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

Ubloo is controlling my dreams now.

I vomited on my dining room floor. This was all happening too fast.

I looked around the room frantically. I have to pack. I need to get out of here. Maybe if I run he’ll have to chase me. It’s worth a shot.

I ran back to my bedroom and began gathering my things. I ran over to my brief case and pulled out a prescription pad. I was definitely going to need this. I began packing in a frenzy before I even realized I didn’t know where I was going. But then it hit me.

Louisiana.

I’m going to fly to Louisiana. I packed most of my things with this being the idea but I began to feel queasy thinking about it. I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was going to this place to continue Robert’s work. I couldn’t yet, I didn’t know enough.

I’ll drive.

I’ll stay in hotels along the way and do research. Read Robert’s Journal, figure out what this other book says, research that house Robert wanted to buy. I had too much work to just fly to Louisiana. I had to learn. I had to study everything Robert wrote down and knew if I was going to have a chance at getting rid of Ubloo.

6 WEEKS LATER

I pulled my bag behind me as I approached the checkout counter.

“Leaving us so soon Mr. Abian?” The girl behind the counter said to me.

“Yes, sorry but I need to get back on the road now.” I said with a smile.

“Well it was a pleasure having you. I always feel safer working here when a Doctor stays with us.” She smiled back.

I said my good-byes and headed for the door. I checked my watch. 7:01 AM. Perfect. I’ll be in Mississippi by the evening. Then I’ll be able to find a place and hopefully meet up with Eli, if he’s willing to be up that late.

I began to look up from my watch.

It will be great to finally know what that book sa-

In an instant it was gone, but I knew what I saw. I saw it. I fucking saw it right before it disappeared behind the corner of the building.

Staring at me from around a corner was a grey head with shiny skin, and two deep black empty eyes. At the bottom of that head was a long snout that dangled and whipped with his head as he pulled it back.

I stood there frozen with my bag in my hand. I stood there and I waited. I waited to wake up.

But I didn’t.

Credit To – DifferentWind

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Ubloo, Part One

May 2, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Note: This is part one of a four-part story. The next three parts will be posted over the next three days. Enjoy!

In a past life I was a psychiatrist. Well, let me rephrase that. Before my life fell to pieces I was a psychiatrist, and a damned good one too. It’s tough to really say what makes a psychiatrist “good” at what they do, but I started in my field early, got great experience my first few years in the business and not before long I almost had more clients than I could handle. I’m not saying someone would walk into my office suicidal and do a complete 180 in one day, but my clients trusted me and felt that I genuinely helped them, so I came very highly recommended, and my rate was admittedly steep. That being said, I was used to a “higher tier” of patient.

I’m not sure how the Jennings family found me but I assume they were pointed in my direction from their previous psychiatrist, as that’s sometimes the case. Someone walks through your door that you’re incapable of helping for whatever reason so you make some recommendations. One day I got a call from Mrs. Gloria Jennings, a very wealthy real estate owner who wanted me to work with her son, Andrew. Apparently Andrew had just about worn out every psychiatrist in the state and I was essentially their last option. Andrew was your typical drug abuser, his poison of choice being heroin, and as anyone in my field can tell you these people are just a headache to deal with. If they’re not clean and scatter-brained then they’re high and not making any sense. I wouldn’t have taken him as a patient but Mrs. Jennings offered me almost double my usual rate so I couldn’t say no. It was the worst decision I’ve ever made.

I met Andrew early on a Monday morning. From experience it’s easier to catch these types before they’ve had a chance to use. Best case scenario they don’t even show up and you get a free hour, but Andrew was fifteen minutes early. He certainly looked like a heroin addict. Dark bags under his green eyes, hair disheveled, a scraggly beard growing on his face. He looked to be in his early 20’s. He was tall and inexplicably thin, and wore baggy, plain clothes that only accentuated his sharp figure. I welcomed him into my office and offered him a seat. He sat down and began rubbing his hands together and exploring my office with his eyes with darting rapidity.

For my own privacy I will refer to myself as “Doctor A.”

“So, Andrew.” I began. “I’m Doctor A. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself?”

For the first time he made eye contact. He hesitated for a moment and then spoke.

“Look, this is about the eight or ninth time I’ve started from scratch so I’m just going to cut to the chase. My Mom probably told you I was a drug user and I am. I use heroin and cocaine if I can get my hands on it.”

I opened my mouth to ask if he ever uses both at the same time, to explain the danger of the combination but he beat me to it.

“No, I always do them separately. I’m not an idiot.” He said.

“I don’t think you’re an idiot.” I lied. “I’ve seen a lot of users in my day. Trust me.” Andrew hadn’t stopped staring at me. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and asked the obvious next question. “Why do you use?”

“Well, on the nights I don’t want to go to sleep I use the cocaine, and on the nights I don’t want to dream, I use the heroin.” As he said this he dropped his gaze to the floor, still rubbing his hands.

“I’m sorry, the nights you don’t want to sleep you use cocaine?” I asked, just to make sure he said it right.

“That’s correct Doctor.” He said, still not looking at the ground.

“And why don’t you want to sleep Andrew?”

“Because, I don’t want to see Ubloo.” He answered, shifting his gaze back up at me, and registering my reaction to that word.

“I’m sorry, who’s Ubloo?” (Pronounced “Oo-blue”) I asked curiously.

Andrew sighed. “Ubloo is a monster I see sometimes in my dreams, who controls them.”

“And how does this, “Ubloo” control your dreams Andrew?”

“Well I don’t know if his name is actually Ubloo or if that’s what it’s fucking called but that’s all it ever says. And I know he controls them because the shit that happens in my dreams when he’s there no one would ever dream of.” He said to me, his hands finally unclasped and balled into fists at his sides.

This was starting to get interesting, and I decided to go just a little deeper down the rabbit hole and asked the gnawing question; “And what sort of things have you dreamed of?”

“Look I’m not crazy. It’s not like I just go on these huge benders and dream of this fucked up thing. I used to be a star athlete and I was on pace to graduate valedictorian before this thing started fucking with me.” He was getting visibly angry.

“I don’t think you’re crazy.” I lied again. “If I did I’d have given up and told you to just go, I’m a psychiatrist, Andrew. I know crazy when I see it.” This seemed to calm him down just a little. “But you need to understand that I need to know everything before I can make a diagnosis of how to help you, so I’ll ask again; what sort of things have you dreamed of?”

I saw him unwind, and I knew I had broken through. “Terrible things.” He said. “People and things that I love, and just the worst imaginable things happening to them.” He was staring at the floor again.

“What sort of things, Andrew?”

“One time…” He swallowed hard. “One time I dreamt that I was stuck in a cage, in a basement I had never seen before, and there were three men in masks raping and beating my mother.”

This startled me, and I flinched a bit and he noticed. I was losing him. “Go on Andrew.” I said comfortingly, masking my shock as intrigue.

“She was calling out to me, and I was crying, and every time she would cry out to me or cry for help a man would hit her, and no matter how bad she bled she kept calling out, and they kept hitting her and violating her.”

Now I’ll interject here and say that normal people do not dream these things. Dreams like these are rare even among the most severe of psychopaths, and now I was starting to understand how Andrew had gone through so many psychiatrists in just a few years. Either he was a time bomb of the most criminal psychopath in history, or he had a new sleep disorder not yet seen in my field. The pros of diagnosing a new disorder were hugely outweighed by the cons of fostering a kid who could potentially make Ted Bundy look like purse snatcher.

I was shaken up but I managed to keep it together. In these situations it’s important not to get lost in the details and just nail down all your facts first. “How do you know that Ubloo was behind this dream?” I ask him.

“Because at the end of the dream, I always hear him make that horrible noise; ‘oo-blue!'” He mimicked, high pitched like the sound a small animal would make.

“And you always hear this noise? That’s how you know he ‘controlled’ your dream?”

“I always hear him, but sometimes I see him too, but only for a second, and then I wake up.”

“I see. Could you draw Ubloo for me Andrew?” I slid him a notepad and a pen. He looked confused at first, probably because I was (to him) believing every word, but he grabbed the pad of paper and began scribbling. I looked down at my watch, twenty minutes have passed, not bad, and then out the window at the sky, which was a clear shade of blue. I heard the pen hit the table and the notepad slide back over to me. I looked down at the pad and choked my leaping heart back down into my chest.

The thing had a long, dangling snout, almost like an elephants trunk with a tongue poking out. Its face was devoid of features aside from two large upright oval eyes that were completely black. It had six limbs and a long slender torso. It was hunched down, the back and middle knees were just a little above its body, it could obviously make itself very tall if need be. The feet were circular with six appendages sticking out, in all directions, all equidistant from the others. The front two legs were considerably longer, and had just two extremely long fingers on each hand, both at the top of its hand and in the same direction. It was eerie to look at. It had no clearly dangerous features; no claws no teeth, but still I couldn’t help but feel a chill on my spine when I examined it.

I snapped out of my state and looked back up at Andrew, who was staring at me and waiting apprehensively. I think I had my diagnosis. “Well Andrew, I think I know what’s going on.”

He didn’t look at all relieved. “Oh?” He said monotonously.

“Yes, I think what’s going on here is that you’ve been lu-”

“Lucid dreaming, yeah I thought that too.” He interrupted. I sat there shocked. “You think that I had some traumatic nightmare of this thing and now whenever I lucid dream I subconsciously insert it into my mind, which triggers a traumatic scenario to play out before me.”

Rarely in my ten years of practice I have been speechless, and I sat there mouth agape. Andrew stared back at me and I watched him smirk.

“I told you Doctor A, I’m not an idiot. I looked into all of this when it first started happening. That’s why I started using. I learned that opioids can suppress lucid dreaming and in the beginning they did, but eventually he kept worming his way in, and the more I used the harder he fought to keep coming back, so I tried the cocaine to keep me awake, but I found that made things worse. I stayed up too long, and I started experiencing microsleep. I didn’t know if I was awake or dreaming, and he must have learned this. You see, when it first started I could tell faintly that it was a dream. They all had this haziness effect on my comprehension, but when I would microsleep, the dreams were incredibly vivid. He learned, Doctor A, he learned that I was more afraid of the microsleep dreams and he somehow made every dream just as clear since.”

I honestly didn’t know what to say. Either Andrew was completely and utterly crazy, or so intelligent he was incubating his own insanity. I asked the only question I had left.

“When did you first dream of Ubloo?”

“It was right after my Father died.” He said, gaze shifting back to the floor. He killed himself, put a bullet in his head when I was seventeen. The night after the funeral I dreamt that I was standing over his grave, looking down at the grass. It was normal for a bit but then I heard him, I heard him screaming from in the ground, screaming for help, asking me to dig him out, but I couldn’t move. I was frozen. I stood there and listened to him banging on his coffin lid so hard the ground was pulsing and I heard him screaming in fear but I just couldn’t move, and then I heard it, ‘Ubloo’, and I woke up.”

I sat there staring at him for a long time. While his dismissal of lucid dreaming being a possibility is impressive, it’s not uncommon for children to link a traumatic event to something imaginary to better comprehend what’s happening. I was starting to gain some traction back.

“When was the first time you saw Ubloo?” He hesitated for a half second but then he began talking.

“One time I dreamt of my dog, Buster. I was standing behind this great big fence, and I was just a kid so I couldn’t climb it. Buster was on the other side of a busy freeway, just sitting there looking at me, and I knew–somehow I knew–he was going to try to cross and come see me, and I knew he wouldn’t make it. He ran into the freeway and got hit by a car instantly. I screamed and I cried but the car didn’t stop, it just kept going. Buster was laying there broken and bleeding. I saw him try to get up, and he tried to crawl forward, and another car came speeding by and hit him again. It kept happening, I kept watching him get hit and torn to shreds by these cars, they just never stopped. That was the first time I saw him. I heard him right in my ear, ‘Ubloo!’ and then I turned and his face was an inch from mine, his huge black eyes staring right at me, and then I woke up.”

He was shaking now, and I could tell he was close to breaking down. I had to stop pushing him.

“Alright Andrew, I think this is a good place to stop today.” I stood up and walked over to my desk and got a prescription pad.

Andrew sat there and blinked at me. “You’re gonna… You’re gonna give me something to stop it?”

“For now I’m going to give you something to suppress your dreaming. Until I can diagnose where these dreams have been coming from, it’s important that you get a good night of sleep, help you clear your thoughts. I’m helping you to help me help you, get it?”

He blinked again. “Yes, I get it, thank you. They have drugs to suppress dreaming?”

“Well technically no. There’s a new drug called cyproheptadine that is used in treatment of hay fever, but one of the side effects is a suppression of dreaming–nightmares specifically–especially those induced by post-traumatic stress disorder.”

I kept writing the prescription in silence, and I could feel Andrew’s eyes on me. “But it’s not from PTSD, it’s from Ubloo.”

“I know that Andrew” I lied to him for the final time. “But it’ll work just as well at keeping Ubloo out of your dreams as well.”

This got to him. He was overjoyed and sprung up from the couch. He kept thanking me and telling me that I was the best Doctor he’s ever seen. That he finally felt like he had a fighting chance. I couldn’t help but smile at this, I guess it’s the reason I stuck with this practice after so long. I walked him to the door and shook his hand. He looked me straight in the eyes, smiling for the first time since I met him, and left my office.

That was the last time I would see Andrew Jennings alive.

A week went by and the next Monday, Andrew didn’t come in. Now normally I’d breathe a sigh of relief, tell my secretary I was heading out and grab a coffee down the street, but I couldn’t help but wonder about Andrew. I had thought about these dreams he had ever since he left, and truth be told I was almost looking forward to getting an update from him. I left my office and told my secretary I was heading out and to cancel my next appointment. In my hand I had the bill for Andrew Jennings for our last session, which had his address on it.

He was staying in an apartment building his Mother owned just outside of town. It was about a 15 minute drive from my office. I managed to slip in through the front door of the building as someone was leaving and found his name on the directory. His name was just written down on paper so I could tell he hasn’t been here long, in fact his Mother probably set him up here just so he’d be closer to my office, to ease his commute.

He was the last unit on the first floor. I made the long, arduous walk down the hall until I finally stopped at his door. I paused for a second and thought about what I was doing, but my curiosity got the better of me and I knocked loudly three times.

No answer. No sound of movement inside. After I had listened for a good while I knocked again, louder.

“Andrew, this is Doctor A. Can you come to the door please?”

Still nothing. I tried the door knob and surprisingly it twisted all the way. I felt the weight of the door lift and I could tell it was open.

I can’t tell you how long I stood there, hand on the door knob, just thinking. Thinking about how this would look; Doctor allows himself entry into Patient’s apartment. Doctor potentially finds Patient loaded on heroin, or potentially overdosed. Overdosed on heroin, but possibly the new drug he prescribed to him–a known user–just a week ago. But what was worse, was thinking about those horrible dreams he told me about, as just a piece of wood separated himself and I.

I took a deep breath and opened the door.

The first thing I noticed was that the shades were drawn, and there was no light save for a low wattage lamp in the corner. The air was stale and musky, and laid out on the table were needles and spoons and empty baggies.

I walked through the living room and saw no signs of Andrew. There was a hallway just off the wall that the couch was against. I took out my phone and turned the flashlight on. I walked down the hall slowly, my breath short and my hands shaking. There was a door immediately to my left that was agape. Carefully, I peered around the corner and shined my flashlight inside. It was the bathroom. Moderately dirty but not the worst I had seen. There were no signs of struggle, no vomit in the toilet, nothing that would indicate a potential overdose.

I let out a minor sigh of relief and turned back into the hall. There was only one door left, straight ahead. It was shut completely, all white with a silver knob. I stood there in the dark with my flashlight and looked for a light switch. These apartments were old. The switch must be in Andrew’s room, behind this door.

Realizing it wasn’t getting any easier, and swallowing my nerves I began to creep forward toward the door. Every step felt like a mile. My feet felt clumsy and my legs heavy. By the time I reached the door it felt like an hour had passed. I sat there and just stared into the bare white door, raised my hand and lightly rapped my knuckles against the wood.

“Andrew?” I asked as I knocked, the door creaking and gently swaying inward. Through the crack I could make out the faint outline of a person, and pushed the door open fully.

Andrew was on the ground, propped up and sitting in the corner, his skin pale and white, his bright green eyes staring wide at the door that I had just came through.

I stood there and stared at him in complete shock. It was the first time I had ever seen a dead body outside of a casket. It just looked so void and lifeless. I noticed blood on the carpet, and that his fingernails were split and bleeding, pried back from his finger in some places. I somehow managed to find the light switch and flick it on, that’s when I saw it.

“THE END IS THE BEGINNING”

It was carved deeply into the wood next to him. I stared at it just long enough to see what it said when the smell hit me. The most foul thing I had ever smelled, and in that moment it all set in and I felt more nauseous than I ever have in my life.

I sprinted out into the hallway and vomited immediately. I stood there bent over vomiting when an elderly woman a few doors down opened her door and gasped when she saw me.

“CALL 911!” I yelled to her, vomiting again. I heard her door slam shut and I tried to make my way down the hallway to the lobby, stopping every 20 or so feet to gag.

When the emergency responders came they pronounced him dead at the scene. They must have been used to this sort of thing because they didn’t seem too phased by it.

I gave a statement to the police and told them he was a patient of mine, and that I was checking in. They didn’t seem too suspicious and told me that if they needed anything else they would call. I left my business card with them and walked back to my car. As I started to pull out a car came screeching into the parking lot and I saw a woman get out. It was Mrs. Jennings. She was bawling and screaming and a few officers had to restrain her.

“THAT’S MY BABY! NO PLEASE GOD NO!” She yelled as she tried to fight through the policemen. I watched as much as I could bear and drove out of the parking lot. I called my secretary and told her to cancel all my meetings for the day, stopped at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of whiskey and drove myself home. I sat there and drank in silence for a long time. Eventually I turned the ball game on and ordered some food, but when it came I couldn’t bring myself to eat.

By the time I had finished the bottle it was getting late. I stood up and stumbled down the hall to my bedroom, kicked off my shoes and fell face first into my mattress. I laid there thinking about Andrew, about his pale lifeless body propped up in the corner staring at me with those big green eyes, about his last message “the end is the beginning” echoing through my brain trying to find a rhyme or reason to it. My thoughts were growing slower and my eyelids growing heavy. “the end is the beginning” playing over and over in my head. I felt myself just listing off to sleep when I heard it. From no where and everywhere all at once.

“Ubloo.”

Credit To – DifferentWind

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May 2015 Discussion Post: Very Superstitious

May 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM

This month, I’d like to discuss superstitions!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a superstition is a belief that two things are connected, despite a lack of any concrete proof. As an example, one of the most famous superstitions is that breaking a mirror will curse you with seven years of bad luck. There’s no true evidence that any actual causation exists here, yet this belief is still passed down over generations.

So tell us:

Do you subscribe to any beliefs that could be called superstitions? If so, why? Do you have anecdotes of your superstitions appearing true? Do you remember when you first learned any of your superstitions?

If you don’t personally believe any superstitions, but you have familial or cultural superstitions that you’d like to share, please do! Very often these beliefs appear, evolve and spread within certain regions or groups, and I’ve always found it fascinating to compare notes.

If you have any theories or stories about how a specific superstition developed, please feel free to share with us!

The only guidelines here are the general commenting rules: be polite and don’t use this topic as an excuse to troll or insult each other.

Obligatory soundtrack incoming:

…now have fun!

My Creation

May 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Being a programmer, one of my dreams has always been to create an original video game, something that nobody in the industry has done before.

After seeing Spore, I became intrigued. Here was an attempt at putting people in control over a universe. After looking at what made videogames popular, I realized the main aspect was control.

People in their daily lives have no control over their environment. They are told what to do, where to go, and how to live. Their jobs consist of standing or sitting somewhere until it’s 5 PM and they’re allowed to head back home. It’s no mystery they’re unhappy.

For many people videogames are an escape to a world where they are in control, or live exciting fake lives filled with adventure. The aspect of control is found in strategy games, the adventure in role playing games generally.

I looked at games like the Sims, and noticed what made them so popular is not just the illusion of control, but the degree of control. You have complete control over people’s lives.

Before the Sims, there was Sim Earth. A game in which you do not control individual people, but an entire Earth! I came to the conclusion that I had to develop a game similar to Spore, in which the player subtly “guides” evolution. What caused Spore to be such a failure is the lack of realistic control people had. It hardly resembled evolution.

To do this, I began by generating a physics system. I know little of physics but decided to study it, and try to create a simplified version in which certain particles can interact, in specific manners. When it comes down to it, physics is simply complex mathematics.

I simulated energy, and matter, and created a simple system, with a sun emitting energy, circled by a planet catching said energy.

I decided to create simple basic cells from scratch, that were “hardcoded” so to speak in the system I was designing. They lived of off the energy emitted by my sun, and had a “genetic” code that coded for the substances produced by the cells. I guess you could call them my eukaryotes.

My world within a few minutes would always fill with these cells, after which they would mutate, and the most efficient cell in converting energy from the sun into useful substances for division would survive. It was very boring, but it worked I guess.

I decided to expand the physics system, and force the cells to create waste products, that were toxic and would kill them. I noticed that some cells responded to this by producing less waste. Others responded by producing something to emit the waste. Yet others developed chemicals to clean up the waste products.

However, I noticed something fascinating. Running the simulation for a few centuries (a few minutes in real life), created cells that made massive amounts of specific waste products on purpose. I noticed that other cells died as a result of this, to which the other cells responded by usurping the building blocks they had created from energy. The first predators were born.

With the first predators, diversity in this little world rapidly increased. Some grew a response to flee when they encountered these toxins. Others grew resistance to them. The ones that grew resistance would eventually grow to utilize the toxins products.

Eventually I noticed something interesting. The cells that escaped from the toxin grouped up with the cells that utilized the toxins. They stayed close together, and helped each other. Eventually these type of cells would attach to one another. They formed a weird symbiosis, where the cell that would normally flee, would now move towards places where the toxins are, and the other cell would consume the toxins and provide the “mover” with some of the energy.

Without going into too much detail, I became very excited, and decided to let this simulation run during the morning (I had stayed up until 5 AM), while I went to bed. When I woke up at around 11, I noticed the world I had created had changed, and was barely recognizable.

Massive plant-like structures grew in this world, consumed by other organism that ate these plants. However, looking at the log, I noticed the world hadn’t changed much in the past two hours or so. I had reached another “stasis point”, where the simplicity of my simulation prevented more complex life from evolving.

I expanded the system, by breaking up “energy” into different types, with different wavelengths that were absorbed to different degrees by different molecules. I implemented vibrations in the air, created an improved simulation of weight, and made some more minor tweaks.

This caused the simulation to run slower of course, but it was worth the sacrifice. I stayed around the whole day watching the simulation in excitement, and playing with it, as it was incredibly addicting. Complex organisms evolved, that cooperated. Plants that depended on each other, or attracted predators that ate the horrible looking creatures that ate from them.

I had fun, and noticed that some creatures evolved “warning calls”. This means that if they noticed a predator, they would issue a sound, and all others of their kind would flee into holes they had dug in the earth. Others evolved “mating calls”.

I decided to have some fun. I made a dump tool, allowing me to dump specific organisms on the Earth, and wrote my name with it. I created 10 “meteorites”, and dumped them on a piece of land to create an island, because I wanted to see whether the animals stuck on both sides would evolve in different directions. I made a smiley-island with volcanic eruptions.

By that time I realized I had stayed up until 5 AM again, as I heard the birds outside. I felt tired again, and woke up at 1 PM or so. When I looked at my simulation again, I felt a sense of shock.

Different groups of animals of one species had made statues with stones. Some in the form of a smiley. Some in the form of my name. I didn’t know why they were doing this, or how. What I did notice is that they would attack each other from time to time.

I didn’t know what to do with it, but I concluded that these organisms must have somehow noticed that the smiley and the name I had written were “special”. The fighting disturbed me, and so I decided to create a massive mountain ridge through volcanic eruptions to separate the two groups.

By this time, changes were happening fast, compared to earlier. While I had to spend a night sleeping to see tribes evolve in my simulation, while I was getting something to eat or take I bathroom break, I would notice the tribesmen wearing different styles of clothing, or having changed their type of dwelling.

Their numbers were also continually increasing. At some point, I noticed the creatures began making their own symbols on the ground, and no longer just copying mine. Most of the symbols seemed random and unintelligible to me, but one stood out.

The organisms had created a symbol that resembled them. A small circle, with a square beneath it. Within the square, a dot could be found in the center. This was meant to symbolize the visual organs of the creature, as the creature had two visual organs, one in the front of it’s body, and one in the back. In the square, other sensory and reproductive organs were symbolized.

Next to the circle on top of the square could be seen something resembling a drawing of a fork. Two of these forks had been painted in opposite direction. And next to that the smiley face could be seen.

I realized something. They were not communicating towards each other. They were trying to communicate to something “out there”. My meddling in their landscape had somehow made them realize that something powerful was out there, capable of changing their world.

I wondered, whether symbols like Stonehenge and the Pyramids in my own world, could be signs of primitive people trying to do the same thing. Begging their creator or overseer to initiate contact with them. However, one thing was undeniable by now. These creatures realized there is something out there.

I wondered long. Did I have a responsibility to initiate contact with something that isn’t real? Or are these creatures real in a different way? Can something be real, merely by being capable of having a concept of itself? And even if they are real, does that mean they will be better off with me initiating contact with them? Should I change my simulation, to ensure them permanent happiness? And is it even possible for me to do such a thing?

I did not want to confirm my existence to them, but I did want to be able to communicate with them. I decided to program a “prophet”. An organism that looks like them, and can not be proven by them to be different from themselves, and is fully controlled by me.

I let it be born into a powerful position, as the son of a leader. I decided to lead by example, and seek to teach these creatures English, so I could communicate with them. As prophet, I instructed them that English was the language we could use to communicate with the “greater one”. They would have no way to be sure if it was true or not.

I hadn’t made up my mind yet about whether I would reveal myself or not. But I did want to be capable of understanding what they wanted to tell me. In a few generations. They all spoke English.

And rapidly, signs began emerging on the ground in English.

“GUIDE US” “SHOW YOUR GREATNESS” “HELP US”

And, during times of disease or hunger or general misery:

“GIVE US FOOD” “SHOW US A MIRACLE” “END OUR SUFFERING”

I decided that I couldn’t maintain a world with such suffering as emerged in the simulation without intervening. Why would I accept a world with death and rape and murder, if I could make on without it?

I implemented fixes that were gradual, so they could not be proven to be miraculous. Murder and rape would over the years become rarer, and so would death at a young age.

I figured that they would not notice if the change happened over generations, but they did.

“THANK YOU”

“ALL BLESSINGS BE UPON THE GREATEST”

“WE LOVE YOU”

And, most heart-breaking:

“COME BACK TO US”

Tears ran over my face. There is something there. And it knows I am here, able to contact them, but unwilling to do so out of fear of what I have created.

But, I felt I had a responsibility.

And so I loaded up the character I had created again, and went to their King, asking to talk to all their wisest men. But, by this time, I was not believed.

“You are number 1341 claiming to be an avatar of the Greatest One. If you are him, I pray for your forgiveness, but please, show us a sign, before demanding of me to gather all our wisest men.”

And so I hesitated, but responded.

“Tomorrow there shall be two more meteors, falling on a deserted island in the sea before you, on the same day. And when they do, doubt no more and realize that I have come back to repair the broken world that I created.”

And so I exited my avatar, and progressed the simulation until the next day was reached, and threw two meteors on the deserted island before the mainland, where thousands had gathered to watch whether a sign would be given.

Upon the descent of the meteors, celebrations were held. All the sentient organisms gathered around the small house where I had exited my avatar, and lay flat on the ground, in apparent worship of the man who was last seen there, and afraid of coming close.

I don’t know who was more afraid by now, me or them. I loaded into my avatar again, and exited the house. The creatures continued to lay flat on the ground, in utter silence. It is as if they felt unworthy of speaking.

“Let your wisest man stand up.” I told them.

And up stood one of these bizarre looking creatures.

“Thank you for coming back. Pray tell us, do you have any requests of us?”

I hesitated, before saying “There is nothing you can do for me that pleases me, but for you to be good to one another, and to contact me with your wishes and fears.”

The creature responded “We know you come from a different world, and we are afraid. We understand how vulnerable we are, and how incomplete our experience is. Please, allow us to join you in the world that you created our world from.”

I began crying behind my computer, as I responded “I do not know how”.

The creature responded: “At risk of offending you, please understand the severity of our situation. By living in a world that is incomplete, we are at constant risk of disappearing forever, never to be seen again. We would never even consciously realize that our end had come.”

I realized that they were unable to comprehend that I only had absolute power within their world and not outside of it. They also did not realize that my knowledge of their world was limited. I may have created it through simple laws, but those simple laws gave way to a reality of its own that is more complex than I can comprehend.

I responded again “I only have power in your world. In my world I have no power, and so I can not bring you there, because my world is not under my control. I also do not understand the world I have created. I do not know what is best for you. Only you do, and you have to inform me what you want.”

And the man waited for a moment. I was about to think they were going to end communicating with me, before their wisest man responded:

“You have created a world that is incomplete, with creatures that can not escape it, and you have no power to save them. They are completely unfree, and they have no power. We are completely at your mercy, and so we ask you from the deepest of our heart:

End us.”

By now I was crying, as I was confused and asked to do the impossible. My own child was asking me to kill it.

This is when I noticed the lights in my room flickering, before my computer suddenly shut down. I screamed. Upon trying to turn on my computer again, I noticed it wasn’t working. I called the power company, who told me that due to an accident, a power surge had travelled through the grid. They promised me they would pay me for any damage done.

I hung up and contemplated. The coincidence of what had just happened was too great to be imaginable. And I wondered. If these creatures were at the mercy of a confused creator, could the same be said of me? And is so, did my creator just prevent me from repeating his own mistake?

Credit To – unpatriotic

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I found a dead girl’s diary

April 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Everybody’s looking for Malinda Paige. The entire town would sling a rope around a tree and clap and cheer as she jitterbugged her way to hell. And the Police, of course. They won’t find her.

I’ve seen her. That’s why I’m here. I need to let it out. I think back to the start of last term, when the three young men that killed themselves. You probably didn’t hear about them. Or about Malinda Paige. That’s the kind of town I live in. The 70s and 80s tore through the region like a disemboweling knife, spilling the guts of industry to dry under the summer sun. A town full of hard people, made so because of the mountains we lived in. Hard of body and hard headed. A town too stupid to know it was already dead.

Exit Malinda Paige. We last saw her in her junior year. School broke for summer and we never saw her again. That wasn’t uncommon. We bled people, year after year. The smart ones would get a one-way ticket out and never look back. We hadn’t figured Malinda for the type. But rats flee a sinking ship too.

Malinda wasn’t pretty. Her eyes had that wet poached egg look about them. The glasses didn’t help. Her cheeks a little too round to give her that hollowed cheerleader look. Her face framed by a headful of lanky, greasy brown hair. This didn’t matter much. She had more than enough jiggle under her sweats during gym class to get the boys staring.

She didn’t have friends that I knew of. The human equivalent of styrofoam package stuffing. Just filling up the space around the people that mattered. There was something a little darker about the girl. She’d walk by the little knots and cliques in the corridor and someone would say slut or whore in a stage whisper, loud enough for me to hear from twenty feet away. Malinda wouldn’t bat an eyelid. It got around that she got suspended for a week for blowing someone in one of the cleaning stores. The type of guy that was part of a supply chain all too common in the town. Adderall, Oxycontin and worse. Apparently Malinda was getting fucked in more ways than one.

That’s why it didn’t blip when she didn’t turn up for senior year. Some things were made to sink without ripples.

She wasn’t the only one that didn’t turn up on the first day of school. Shane, one of the school’s basketball players had quietly slipped away into a shed behind his house, cradling his father’s handgun. He set there for hours before painting the wall behind him with his brains. Things get out in a small town. Secrets seep and leak. Someone’s brother mentions something. An EMT at a bar may drop the worse case he’d ever attended to. Some case like Shane’s suicide, how, perhaps, the bullet didn’t quite take as much brain as poor Shane wanted. How Shane, his eye sockets filling up with blood, screamed, “She sees me!” Over and over, weeping scarlet tears till he repeated it one final time in an exhalation of spit and gore.

This all came out later of course, whispered between shocked students at the cafeteria. Back then it was just the first day of school. Everybody moving up a year, swapping classes, lockers. My new locker bore the scars of some epithet scrawled in sharpie and inexpertly scratched off. I could still make it out.

The diary was sitting in the locker. A plain thing, paper bound in faux leather. A diary was an anachronism. An oddity, just like Malinda Paige. In a world where people posted the shallowest thoughts on Facebook and snapchatted glimpses of nipple to each other, there was something ancient and archaic about putting pen to paper. Something secret. The diary came off the rusty metal of the locker with a soft ripping sound. It had been gummed to the surface by a veneer of soda, a present poured down the top of the locker by one of Malinda’s fans.

I shouldn’t have taken it. Diaries are secret things. Some secrets were meant to be buried. Like Malinda Paige.

#

Where to start when it comes to her diary? It didn’t say where she was. It left me with more questions than answers. Who was Malinda? What was Malinda?

I didn’t look at the diary. Not for a week at least. I was caught up in the rush of the start of school. I meant to hand it over to someone. The school. Her family maybe. It sat on my desk for a whole week. Curiosity is a bitch of an emotion, isn’t it. It creeps. Like a rash you can’t scratch at. One rainy Saturday, tired of daytime TV and bored of the banality of Facebook, I flipped that thing open.

How do you describe the shape of madness? Let me try. Madness isn’t a hundred pages of spidery handwriting. No punctuation. No paragraphs. Madness isn’t series of geometric scribbles, filling up every square inch of paper that didn’t have writing on it. So dense and intricate that the patterns crawled and shifted when you looked at them too close. No, madness was what Malinda wrote.

when did it start i first heard the voices after my second period i remember thinking that i was crazy because thats what crazy people do
-m

There was stuff in there that was just plain wrong.

i thought of dad for the first time in a long time mum fell down and bashed her chin it was the blood i remember when dad used to hit her so bad that she couldnt walk hes long dead why do i still hate him so much
-m

Reading the text was difficult. There were no dates, the only way you knew she’d ended a section was when she left a single monogrammed initial at the end of it.

the voices arent mine i know that now its only when i went to school when it got much worse the voices are from other people i hear other peoples voices not the ones from their mouths the ones which they lie and whisper from their hearts secret voices i know them all
-m

The girl was crazier than I thought. I think some of her words alluded to the start of high school.

i hate it here its even worse than grade school i feel their eyes on me when they look at me i hear their whispers in my head and it feels like cut glass in my tummy and needles behind my eyes i hate them all
-m

Malinda Paige kept score, that was the worst thing. The number of times she’d had sex with an entire list of guys from school. What kind of person does that?

the other girls stare at me but i can hear what theyre saying in their hearts they dont know what its like the pills help but only so much the voices always cut through its only in the afterglow that the voices are stilled if you were going crazy wouldnt you chase after a little peace
-m

There was no clue to Malinda’s disappearance in her diary. That was the strangest of all. If she ran, wouldn’t she have written something, planned something? The last thing she wrote was even crazier than everything else.

im more than a hole for these guys im more than a target for girls to spit on more than just this flesh waiting to rot away theres a bird here in this eggshell skull it needs to be free i want to fly
-m

Nothing about where she went. I put the diary away. The shadows had grown long in my room and the light streaming in from the window had darkened to a dim orange hue. Malinda’s diary set at my desk, pages upon pages of nonsense. It wouldn’t have surprised me that she was mental. There’s a lot of that in the community, broken people, broken families. We just plastered over the cracks and pretended that everything was okay. But the cracks were there and they yawned open under our lies and facades. And then Malinda Paige went missing. I stared at the diary for a long while, the orange light dimming until there was nothing in my room but shadows.

The following Monday, our town had the second of the suicides.

#

Jimmy was well liked. Pleasant looking. Did averagely well in school between band practice and running track. Not rich, but he still hung with the cooler kids. He worked at a pool cleaning company to make ends meet. Not that we had many pools up in the hills. Pools were a money thing and there was precious little of that around.
Pool cleaning means chemicals. Stuff that you need to wear gloves to handle. Not the stuff you chug. When they found him, the pool boy was spread eagled on dry land,drowned in his own blood. He didn’t die easy. He didn’t die slow. He lasted long enough to scrawl she sees me in his own blood. We spoke of this in hushed whispers in school, nobody wanting to link two tragedies.

There was something at the back of my mind, something about Jimmy and Shane. I found it when I got back after school. I found it and something else besides. Jimmy and Shane. Of course, the names were familiar. It was a small town. But I’d seen those two names together not long ago. They were both on Malinda’s scorecard.

There was something else inside that damned book when I flipped the pages. Something that I hadn’t seen when I’d read the diary cover to cover the day before. Past Malinda’s last cryptic message was a single meaningless phrase, repeated over and over.

five went up four came down

There was new writing in Malina’s diary. A book that had been in my room all this while. There was no mistaking the spaghetti scrawl of her handwriting. Or the little smudges across the paper from left to right. Malinda was left handed. Had been.
My stomach roiled at the sight of the text. Malinda Paige was missing. Maybe dead somewhere. Missing girls don’t come to good ends around here. And yet there was a fresh page of her handwriting in her diary. Had the words sprung forth from the paper, seeping out of the pristine white like an old photograph developing? Even worse was thinking that Malinda Paige had somehow been in my room, sitting at my table, penning those words herself. Impossible. I had to swallow twice and take in a huge, shuddering breath before the nausea passed.

I couldn’t help but think of Malinda Paige in the past tense. Something terrible must have happened to her. Broken though she was, she would not have left without that diary. I shivered at the sight of it, still open to that fresh page of text, the edges stained with brown cola from some cruel prank. I had to get rid of it, but it deserved more than simply being tossed into the trash. There had to be a way. Malinda was gone, but her family was still here. I had to give it back.

#

The Paige house was on the outskirts of town, where homes were within the reach of even the poorest in our town. It was better than having a home on wheels, but not by much. Paint was peeling off the walls. One of the front windows had been broken and boarded up instead of being fixed. A collection of dust and dead insects had piled up between the glass and the wood over the years.

I thumbed the doorbell twice. On the second time, the button got stuck and didn’t pop back out. I rapped on the thin wooden door hard enough to bruise my knuckles. Getting Malinda’s address hadn’t been easy. She’d not made any friends in school. In the end, I went up to the school office and said that she’d left stuff in her locker and I’d do the school a favour by bringing it straight to her home. The clerk at the office hesitated at giving me Malinda’s address but gave in eventually. It would have been easier than dealing with another piece of orphaned property.
My assault on the door was rewarded by a slow shuffle approaching. The door squealed open to reveal a stooped lady, her frizzy hair streaked through with grey.

“Mrs Paige?” I asked.

The woman gave a huge grin, revealing a set of yellowing teeth set at odd angles. “Yes, that’s me.”

“I’m Emm, I was a… friend of your daughter. I found something of hers in her locker and came over to drop it off.”

“Emm is such a lovely name. Is it short for Emma?”

I nodded and forced a smile. I hated the name. It was so old sounding. Mrs Paige stepped out of the way and gestured at the open door. “Please come in.”

I already had my fingers around the edge of the book, meaning to hand it over and for it to leave my life forever. But curiosity bit again. Mrs Paige stepped into her home, the bright light of day rendering the interior almost inky dark. I followed behind, too eager to solve the mystery of Malinda Paige. I wish that I hadn’t.

The cool of the house was a welcome change from the spring sun. It took a moment for my eyes to grow accustomed to the dim light. The home was sparsely furnished, a threadbare sofa, the arms scratched and disfigured. The TV was old, even by the modest standards of where we lived. The wallpaper curled away from the walls, revealing pocked plaster. Dust glinted as it drifted lazily in the stifling air.
It wasn’t the poverty that got to me. My family wasn’t rich. It was the fact that I wasn’t in a house. I was in a shrine. Every picture in the house was of a single subject. Malinda Paige. I felt the weight of her gaze from more than two dozen photographs, like the little footfalls of insects on my skin. Pictures hung on the walls, in frames on the tables. She was everywhere in that house. I shuddered and made my way towards the kitchen behind Mrs Paige.

“Have you been in contact with Malinda?” I asked the elder Paige, trying to shake my unease off by breaking the silence.

“No, but she’s not far. She’s never far from me. She’ll be back.” She gave me a lopsided grin, pulling a chair up by a dinner table in the kitchen. There were dark streaks of grease or worse down the back of the chair. I bit my lip and sat down.

“Did you report it to the Police?”

“Oh yes, had to be done. I’m sure she’s alright, she’s so clever and so strong. So hard for a little girl to grow up without a father you know. Emery, that’s the late Mr Paige, killed himself when she was only fourteen. Can’t say I missed him, he was a devil when he was a few drinks in. One day he beat me to within an inch of my life. I’m talking eyes so swollen I couldn’t even see. That day I guess all the bad just caught up with him all at once, so he sat here in the kitchen, had a beer and a cigarette and slit his throat from ear to ear.” She drew one long dirty fingernail across her throat, all the while wearing that off centre smile, delivering her monologue in flat tone, almost a recitation.

“Malinda was right in the room, too. Hiding in one of the cupboards like she always did when he started up with his fists. Poor dear. Oh, where are my manners, I need to get you a drink.”

Mrs Paige walked over to the fridge while I sat, rooted to the chair. She had related the account of her husband’s death with little more emotion that someone reading out a shopping list. It had been a mistake to come. Nothing about Malinda Paige made sense, perhaps the girl was mad, but she was also surrounded by madness. I felt the same lightness in my belly that one got on top of a roller coaster, just before the plunge.

The older lady plucked a can of Coke from the fridge and set it in front of me. The cheery red can bore a Christmas motif from two years before. It opened with a satisfying hiss. The can was warm, blood warm even though it had just come from the fridge. I took a sip. It was flat, even though I could have sworn it was fizzing a moment before. Everything about this house was wrong. Mrs Paige. The pictures. The furniture. The food.

Mrs Paige leaned in towards me, so close that I could smell her breath, sour and warm. She looked me in the eye.

“I don’t worry because I can still feel her out there. She sings me to sleep sometimes. Five went up, four came down. Five went up, four came down. Five went up, four came down.”

She repeated it over and over, an idiot litany. I had to leave. The legs of the chair scraped on the stained floor as I stood. Mrs Paige struck then, her hands as fast as snakes, fingers digging into the soft flesh of my forearm. She pulled herself closer to me, still chanting that strange couplet.

“Five went up, four came down.”

A thin trickle of blood leaked from one nostril. Her nails bit deep into my arm. I tugged backwards, but her thin frame masked a wiry strength I could not overcome. I was trapped.

“Five went up, four came down.”

Our noses were almost touching. Her eyes had a dazed look about them, as though they were focused on something far away. Her voice got louder and louder, until she was nearly screeching the same thing over and over.

“Five went up, four came down. Find me.”

With that, she let me go. I fell backwards into my chair so hard that it slid back several inches. My flailing arms had caught the can of Coke and sent a fan of the sweet drink across the table. Through it all, Mrs Paige just sat there, smiling her broken smile. I gathered my things and fled.

Find me. Not find my daughter. Find me. The Paige household was a faint outline in the distance, but words echoed in my head. Just who had I been speaking to? Malinda had grown up in a household where violence was as common and unpredictable as the storms we got in the mountains. She’d spent most of her time in school on drugs or with a growing number of young men. She was scarred, broken. Five people went up somewhere. Malinda. Shane. Jimmy. They were two of her favourites, according to her diary. There were two more above them in her list. Cliff. Lucas. Another pair of golden boys. Tall, sporty, just the way she liked them. It had to be the five of them. Things were falling together, piece by horrific piece.

But still nothing to take to the cops. Not good enough to speak to Cliff and Lucas. Mrs Paige was right. I had to find Malinda.

#

I spent that evening going through the diary over and over, until my eyes watered. Nothing. No clues could be gleaned from the mess of words. I didn’t even know how tired I was until sleep snuck up on me and stole my last waking moment. I’ll always remember that dream I had that night. I remember it better than the lunch I ate this afternoon.

I knew I was dreaming right away. I knew that from the extra weight on my hips and the extra bounce under my t-shirt. I wasn’t in my own body. There was a thundercloud in my head, dark with flashes of light. There was a desert under my tongue. I knew that I had already taken a little something to calm the voices. I was meeting Cliff today. I liked him more than the others. He had a car, maybe we could go in the woods, somewhere a little quieter than usual.

He led me to his car. There were three others there already. Lucas. Shane. Jimmy. Cliff pushed me into the car. One of the guys was on my left and the other on my right. They were already slick with sweat. Not from the weather, which was still cool. I could smell it off them. Fear? Excitement? The car filled with the musky, animal stink of it as they crowded me in. I smiled at them, the cotton wool between my ears not letting me do much else. The car was unnaturally quiet, none of the banter, none of the jokes. I wore a clown’s mask, my smile tight and unnatural. I looked to the left and the right. Lucas’ jaw was clenched tight, cords sticking out on his neck.

We were out of town, speeding up into the mountains. Rocks, trees whirred by in a blur of grey, brown and green. It could have been hours and it could have been minutes, but the car finally stopped. We were far from town, far from any other human being. They dragged me from the car and pushed me deep into the woods. I thought to run, to flee, but the pills had slowed my thoughts to a glacial pace. We were in a clearing. Strong hands gripped my arms; they didn’t need to. My limbs flailed with all the resolve of a pool noodle. I looked into Cliff’s eyes. Sweet, beautiful Cliff. Always my favourite. He had something dark in his hands. With a flick of his thumb, a bright blade sprang from its sheath.

#

It took me a full ten minutes to convince myself that I had been dreaming. My sheets were soggy with sweat and I had to rub the feeling back into my arms where Malinda had been held. She’d been taken up into the mountains. Five went up. She was still up there.

Her diary was open on my desk. Last I remembered, it had been in my lap before sleep took me.

FIND ME

It had been written in strokes so deep and savage that the paper had ripped under the pen. That familiar script, slanted and smeared in a way only a leftie would know. It couldn’t have been me, not even in my sleep. I’d been right handed all my life. She had been here. She wanted to be found. And under those bold words, a series of numbers. Coordinates. She’d given me coordinates.

#

Many things went through my mind as I searched for Malinda’s clearing. That I was stupid. That I was crazy. I’d been getting so close to the dead girl that I’d finally joined her in her madness. Did I actually believe her diary? That she was some kind of mind reader? Or something more? And yet I was trudging through the forest, halfway up the mountains surrounding the town, on nothing more a feeling in my gut and a dead girl’s diary.

But there was a clearing, just like I’d seen in my dream. In the centre of the clearing, there was a space where the rocks had been pushed aside and the grass was a little greener than the rest of the clearing. The rusted metal of my shovel bit into earth. It was softer than I expected. I’d found her.

The rich brown earth gave Malinda Paige up slowly, her pale flesh seeing the light of day for the first time in months. She should have been a worm eaten mess, a dried out husk. I wish she had been, so that I wouldn’t have had to see what the four of them had done to her. It wasn’t enough that she’d been violated. They’d done other terrible things to body as well. Her hands were gone, both lopped off at the wrist. Her face had seen the worst of it, empty pits were her eyes should have been, horrific damage done to her mouth. No dental records? Even through all that I knew her for who she was,

There was an ugly, black thing sticking out from her torso. It came free with a struggle, the dried blood giving way with a sound like a plaster coming free. This was it. I’d found Malinda Paige. Now I just had to tell the world.

#

I found Cliff leaning against my Dad’s car when I left the forest, his car just slightly behind mine. I thought to flee back into the safety of the woods, but the nights were bitterly cold and I would not have lasted.
He spoke first.

“I know why you’re out here, Emma.”

“Emm.” I said, instinctively.

He grimaced when I said that. “It’s not what you think it is. Lucas killed himself this afternoon.”

“Guilt will do that to a man. When’s your turn?” Perhaps the bravado would distract him. My heart was hammering away in my chest. There was no way past him.

“You don’t understand. We did what we had to. You know she was different, you wouldn’t be here otherwise. There wasn’t any other way to get here. Only four of us knew she came up here.”

“And you didn’t mean to kill her. Just have a little fun but it got out of hand?” I circled a little to the side, trying to judge the distance between the door and me. Cliff played defence for the football team. I couldn’t outrun him even with a fifty foot head start.

“We did what we had to. She wasn’t normal. She was sick in the head. Sometimes she’d talk about how she could hear other people’s voices in her head. You know, after we’d done it. She’d tell me about how the noise nearly drove her mad. But I think there was more to it than that. She didn’t just hear voices. She could could put whisper back. Put things in your head. Make you do things.” He pulled his t-shirt over his head, baring his toned torso. Overlayed on the smooth muscle was a network of pale scars and marks. I recognized the little circular mark of a cigarette burn.

“Look at this. She’d make us do it to ourselves, knives sometimes. Fire other times. And she’d watch and laugh while we did it. It was never enough for her. The sex. The pain. Not enough for us to do it to ourselves. She started wanting more. For us to hurt each other and worse.”

The funny thing is, for a second there, I believed him. The more he spoke, the more animated he got. I saw the fear in the whites of his eyes, the way his voice got higher and higher the more he spoke about Malinda. But he was crazy, just like she was. He was the only one of the four left, if Lucas was already dead. Nobody knew about Malinda Paige, except for him… and me. He wasn’t going to let me down the mountain. Malinda’s grave was big enough for two.

“I don’t even know if we finished the job. Shane was the one who took her eyes and he blew a hole in his head. Jimmy worked on her teeth and he swallowed bleach. Lucas took her hands so that there wouldn’t be fingerprints to work on. You know earlier today he put his arms into a woodchipper? You stand there and believe that’s a coincidence.”

I stared at him, watching the sweat roll down his neck, watching his fingers flex. He was wound up, a coiled spring twisted twisted to breaking point.

“Or it could be that the four of you were sick and crazy and a coward’s death is the only way out.”

“Don’t fuck around with me!” His shout bounced back from the surrounding trees. “She called you here too. Didn’t she? Don’t lie now. We both know it. How?”

There wasn’t a need to antagonise him. “Her diary. She’s been writing in it.”

“How can you be sure it isn’t you that’s writing? Imagine someone that could wear you like a glove. You know something, Emma?”

“Emm,” I said again.

“No. Emma. That’s how you introduced yourself last year in chemistry. You’ve never called yourself Emm. Malinda wasn’t just some girl. She’s not just that mess rotting in the ground up there. There’s something left of her. It got to three of us. It got to you. You’ve been too close to her.”

There was something in my pocket, digging against the flesh of my thigh. A slim block. Something that had been, until recently, sticking out of the chest of Malinda Paige. My fingers closed around it, found the little catch.

Cliff took a step towards me.

#

Cliff’s murder would be whispered about for years. They found him strung up in the woods, a bloody mess, ribbons of his skin dangling off him. The coroner said that the massive blood loss had killed him in the end. Which meant that he’d been alive all the way while someone methodically peeled him. There was a single suspect. A hit on the fingerprints left on the knife stuck in his chest. A girl that had gone missing the year before. Malinda Paige. Or at least that’s what the police thought they found. She’d made sure of that. She’d also made sure that Cliff had left a signed confession, telling about how five people had gone up and only four had come down.

There’s a merciful blank in my memory from that day. I came to in my own bed, clean and changed. There was only the faintest trace of blood under my fingernails. She’d been thorough but not thorough enough. Or maybe it was a reminder for me.

They searched the woods but never found Malinda’s body. If it were ever there in the first place. Her diary I buried in the dirt, without a marking. Life went on.
There are three ways the town remembers the story of Malinda Paige. They are all true. They are all lies.

Ask the Police. Malinda Paige was a normal girl. She was brought up to the mountains and raped. The four young men tried to kill her and thought they succeeded. But they didn’t. Guilt took them one by one until Malinda came back to finish the job and has been on the run ever since.

Ask the dead boys. Malinda Paige was a monster. She wormed her way into their skulls and whispered dark things in their minds until they hatched a plan to kill her. They thought they succeeded. They failed and the whispers continued and they died for it.

Ask me. Malinda Paige was something special. She found another girl, a lot like her, and told her story in the only way she knew how. I’d like to think that she would have wanted me to write everything down.

There’s another story. One which floats in the dark moments when I’m alone. Like when it’s just me and the murmur of the breeze and the thump of my heart beat at night. That the four of them couldn’t have hatched a plan without her knowing. That Malinda Paige was more than just a corpse up in the mountains that refused to rot. That she’d always had a plan, a way to get out and she’d tidied up all the loose ends. That she would never be far from me.

-Emm.

Credit To – straydog1980

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