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Chalk

January 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My name is Abby. My sister Amber and I are identical twins, and spend most of our time together. Outwardly we look the same: same shoulder-length brown hair, same large brown eyes, same pale skin, same thin 5′ 8″ builds. Inside, though, we’re a bit different. She’s the outgoing, friendly type that gets along with everyone. Me, I’m the awkward one that can’t figure out how to keep a conversation going and gets nervous around strangers.

Lucky for me, I have Amber. You could say that she is my hero, and I hope to be more like her someday. This might explain why I embrace the twin stereotype of our dressing alike most of the time.

It’s only ever a problem when one of us meets a boy we like. When this happens we have a signal: two small taps on the elbow, where nobody can see. If one of us taps the other on the elbow, that means: “I think he’s cute, give us some private time!” Her idea, of course.

Thanks to this little system my sister has had several boyfriends over the years, and I’ve had one or two. Amber dates sporty athletic types, I date broody insecure types, but neither one of us ever takes these relationships very seriously. At least, we didn’t until Chalk.

Our whole lives we had talked about our careers. We were both so driven. We had planned to graduate art college, rent a studio apartment, and create for a few years to see if we could get a reputation going as world famous artist twins. We had saved every penny through high school to make it happen and give ourselves as much of an opportunity to break out as possible when the time came. It was a dream we had shared since I can remember.

But then, we met him. It was our first year of art college on a sunny day, and he was creating a chalk sketch of a huge tree on the walkway between Building A and the Concourse Building. The roots curled around the metal benches, as if holding on to them with a firm grip, and the branches extended up and out towards the parking lot like giant fingers. It was a massive, impressive sight.

Like a few others, we stopped to watch him work. His jeans and hands were covered in chalk dust, but he had managed to keep his tweed vest and the purple button-down shirt clean. His sharp, angular features looked quite handsome, although they were often obscured by his longish hairstyle that he kept having to shake out of his vision. A pair of glasses hid his eyes.

Those glasses were weird. I mean, they were just regular glasses, but it seemed like no matter which angle he was at, there was a strong glare hiding his eyes. I think it was those glasses that kept me from tapping my sister’s elbow, even though when I felt two little taps on mine I felt a little jealous that she had “called it”. I mean, let’s face it, he looked pretty hot.

That day I left Amber to meet Chalk. Everybody called him that. He was a first year like us, and was known for sketching out chalk drawings around the college grounds and random other spots around town. I never did find out his real name, and I don’t think I ever met anyone who did.

Once, Amber said: “Oh he likes to keep his true name a secret and I’m not allowed to tell anyone. It’s really exotic and beautiful, just like him, but I kind of like that it’s a secret. It gives us something special between us, you know?”

I wish I had listened to my gut and warned my sister that something wasn’t quite right… but how could I know?

In the weeks that followed Amber would go out regularly to visit Chalk wherever he lived, and I focused on art history and improving my brush technique. I didn’t think anything of it at first: I was absorbed in my studies, determined to make a serious mark on the world as an artist, and she had never been the most studious type in the first place.

Still, as the weeks and months passed, I started to develop a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. She had never spent this much time with a boy before, and we weren’t spending nearly as much time together as we had our entire lives. I tried to brush it off as just one of those things, a part of growing up, but still, there was something a little unsettling about the relationship.

It’s hard to describe. Early on she’d say: “Abby we’ll catch up later, I’ve got a date with Chalk tonight!”

Then it became: “Sorry, I’ve got to go see Chalk.”

Then: “Going out sis!”

Lately, she didn’t even bother saying goodbye. Every day she’d just take off to go see him. He never came over to our place.

Things came to a head one Thursday night when we were doing our traditional sister time activity: drinking wine and watching “True Blood”. It was the one tradition we still managed to maintain.

We were just chatting after the show, having to actually catch up on what was going on in our lives. I told her about what I was working on, which courses I was thinking about taking next term, that kind of thing. No boys and no parties recently. The truth is, without Amber around, I was just a bit too shy to go out and make new friends.

When I asked her about what was going on she could only talk about Chalk, as usual. It was really starting to get on my nerves. He seemed to be the only thing she could talk about. A part of me started to hate him… and I admit that it was jealousy, but it was something else as well. I started to hate him for what he was doing to my sister. She was getting kind of obsessed.

Amber always seemed to avoid specifics. She would talk about how he made her feel, the kinds of things he would say, the incredible pictures he was drawing, on and on and on… but if I ever asked her about an actual date they had gone on, or what kind of place he lived in, or even something as basic as if they had slept together or not, she’d get this far-off look in her eyes and say something like: “Come on Abby, there are more important things.”

Tonight was no different:

“He’s so spiritual, you know? When we’re together he talks about how he draws energy from the environment and from people and how we all feed on one another in some form or other, and he’s so right, he’s so right…”

“Ok ok, enough about the boyfriend. You get that assignment for Classics done?”

“Which one?”

“You know, the big one that’s worth 40% of your grade that’s due in a week?”

“Oh that… no not really. There are more important things, sis.”

Up until this point I had assumed she was finding time somewhere to get her work done, but this was news. She had never flunked a course in her life and Classics had been one of her favorites!

“So, what, you’re just ditching it?”

“I don’t know. All I really know is how Chalk has been making me feel lately. Did you see the work he did on the eastern wall of Building A? It was this beautiful scene, half city street and half forest with deer and rabbits and…”

“Whoa whoa whoa, time out! Amber, you’re going to fail if you don’t get the assignment in! You’re OK with that?”

She just shrugged and sipped at her wine.

“So you’re… what… going to drop out?”

“I haven’t given it much thought sis, there are more important things.”

“There are… what are you talking about? Have you lost your mind?”

Everything we had worked for our entire lives was right here, and she thought there were “more important things”. I couldn’t believe my ears.

In the past my sister was always good at reading me. I could hide my emotions from anyone but her. At this point, though, I wasn’t being subtle. I was almost yelling, I could feel my cheeks reddening, and was obviously upset.

She just looked at me with this easy, relaxed expression that hinted distantly of pity.

“You just don’t understand sis, it’s something greater than all of that. Chalk was just saying the other day… ”

“Fuck Chalk! Did you forget our dream? You’re throwing it all away!”

I was screaming. I’ve never screamed at my sister in my entire life, but this was too much. It was like she was in a trance or something, and I had to try to get through somehow.

She just sighed, put the wine glass down on the table, and stood up. “He said this day would come. That people wouldn’t understand our bond, our love, our special energy. Abby, I’m going to give you some time to calm down. Maybe you’ll see things differently in the morning.”

Amber walked toward the door and started putting her shoes on.

“Where are you going? You’re in your pajamas!”

“There are more important things…”

This was crazy. She was clearly brainwashed or hypnotized or something. Anger gave way to fear now. My sister was in danger, and it might even be too late. This guy had reached into her and stripped out the person I’ve known all my life, and left this weird… shell.

I leapt up off the couch, dropping my wineglass on the way, and slapped her in the face as hard as I could as she reached for the doorknob. She just looked at me with this distant, slightly pitying smile.

I screamed: “Wake up!”

She moved toward the door again. I blocked her, talking all the while: “Amber he’s messing with your head! Don’t you see? You’re throwing everything away for some guy! It doesn’t make any sense! Why are you…”

And then she shoved me. Hard. Harder than I knew she could. When I hit the floor I was a good five feet away, and pain shot down my leg and up through my hips and back. Never once in our entire lives did we ever hit or scratch or even push each other. Now she had just thrown me to the floor, and was looking at me with that same distant little smile as if she didn’t even care.

“See you around, sis,” she said.

Part of me was still in shock, and the other part was just too sore to move, so I just sat there on the floor and watched as she walked out the door. She had left her keys, her cell phone, her purse… just walked out in her PJs and shoes. What just happened?

After a minute I snapped out of it, pulled on some clothes, and went out to look for her. I limped around the dorm, a bruise swelling up along the back of my left thigh. She wasn’t in the common room or cafeteria, and I sort of assumed she had gone out somewhere to meet up with Chalk.

It was only then that it hit me: I had never known where Chalk lived. My sister was out there with some guy whose name I didn’t know, who had absolute control over her, and I had absolutely no idea where she was. Some sister I am.

The only thing I could do was go to the places I knew he tended to do his drawings, but I didn’t have much hope. It was dark out, and a light rain chilled me to the bone.

The tree was mostly washed away, but a ghostly hint of the design could still be made out. It looked more like some weird squid now, with hooks clamping around the benches and tentacles reaching out into the parking lot.

I checked the eastern wall of Building A, but they weren’t there either. As the chalk on the mural had started to run, the scene had transformed. What was once a bright and bustling cityscape on the left had turned brown and drab, with people’s faces on the sidewalk sagging and melting. Their eyes bulged from their faces and their mouths twisted into grimaces.

I almost turned away but then something occurred to me: chalk doesn’t really work that way. If it was running it would just fade and become blurry. This was different. It was as if the image was transforming into something else intentionally.

My gut churned with fear as I turned to examine the image more closely. The horror of what was being slowly revealed by the rain began to dawn on me now, and I realized that there was no possible way this was accidental. Whatever was happening, there was a dark design behind it. A purpose.

The cars were turning to rust, the windows breaking and sagging. One of the buildings near the middle had actually crumbled, and inside there were people screaming, stuck in the rubble, with arms and legs trapped and bleeding. Their expressions were so real and life-like, filled with agony and despair. I shivered against the cold and held myself, trying to convince myself that it was just a picture… but I couldn’t help but feel scared. This was just wrong.

The forest scene on the right side was the same: what was once a happy green scene with cute animals had turned dark and brown, with the leaves looking dead and rotten, branches standing out like bony fingers, and the animals all transformed. The deer was still standing, but parts of its flesh were gone revealing half the skull and several ribs. Its entrails were dragging behind several feet. What had once been a cute bunny was now a rotten corpse with little black specks over it… flies?

Suddenly, my sister’s cell phone rang in my pocket. I jumped, startled by the sound. I guess I had grabbed hers by accident when I left; we bought the same model. The call display said simply: “Chalk”.

My hands shook as I pressed the answer button. I held the phone to my ear and listened at first, hoping for some clue as to my sister’s whereabouts.

Amber’s voice said: “Western wall, sis.”

It was her! I felt a bit of relief and realized that a part of me had been dreading that something horrible had happened to her. “Amber you scared the shit out of me! Come home, OK? I’m sorry for the fight, we’ll figure it out, I love you just…”

“Western wall, sis.” It was exactly the same as last time. A bit muffled, with a slight hiss in the background as she spoke. It was like a recording.

The line went dead. Fear slammed through me with a shot of adrenaline, and I took off around Building A. Even now I can’t tell you what it was that scared me so much, but my heart was pounding in my chest and I knew with absolute certainty that something was wrong. I had to find her, now!

Running along the north wall was the longest run of my life. Rain pelted down on my aching bones and the bruising in my left leg gave me a crazy limp, slowing me down. Eventually I rounded the corner, expecting to see Amber or Chalk or both but… nothing. Nobody was there.

I walked forward, dragging my left foot a bit, shivering worse than ever. There was no sign of them, but after travelling a few feet I saw that a new chalk drawing had appeared on the wall.

It was our living room. My sister was still in the same pajamas I had just seen her in, and she was sitting on the couch with her head tilted to the side. Her stomach had been torn out, and was splattered across the floor at her feet.

Her expression was a combination of horror, pain, and confusion.

My stomach turned then, and I collapsed onto the sidewalk. I vomited up the wine from earlier and cried, knowing that this wasn’t just an image. I didn’t want to look anymore and just stared at the mess I had left, slowly being rinsed away by the rain.

Just then I heard a shuffling, and looked back up in the wall. A life-sized rendering of Chalk was now standing at the bottom of the frame, looking out at the world, smiling. His glasses were reflecting the light, hiding his eyes as usual. He had a large butcher knife in his right hand, and blood coated the knife and arm up to the elbow.

Next to him, I was standing with my right hand on his shoulder, my left hand held out in a beckoning gesture, and a smile on my face.

What was this? What did it mean? In my terror and pain I couldn’t make sense of it, but I did know one thing: I had to get back home. This could mean something. There might be a clue back at home about where my sister was… and whether she really was dead or alive.

I got home as best I could, every bone aching from the chill and the shock. I would change, call campus security, and convince them to help search for her.

When I walked in I closed the door behind me, tossed my keys on the table, and confirmed that my sister wasn’t gutted on our couch. I turned and the bedroom door opened. Chalk was standing in the doorway, smiling. He had the knife in his hand. It gleamed, like his glasses, reflecting light from a source I couldn’t quite see.

I was too terrified to move. My heart was pounding in my chest again. I stammered out: “Where’s Amber?”

He just smiled and stepped aside slightly. Then, much to my relief, Amber stepped out of the bedroom. She had changed into the same outfit I was wearing.

She had the same smile on her face as Chalk, the same one I had been wearing on the western wall of Building A. She turned away from me for a moment, took the knife from him, and pointed it at me. “Get your PJs and shoes on Abby. We’re going to make some art.”

Credit To – Sidney Crawlspace

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The Silent Film Museum

January 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve always liked old horror movies, but I never really was a silent film enthusiast. I just found them too artsy and strange to really enjoy. It’s like watching a talkies era movie where everybody has been replaced by mimes and with awful camera quality. Though you have to respect movies like Nosferatu and The Golem for still being so iconic and getting Blu-ray releases, and thanks to internet forums I do have some knowledge on the matter.

Anyway, have you ever heard stories of those obscure Eastern-European museums that supposedly house all kinds of long lost prints? I did. And I thought it was unlikely too.

I was on vacation in Budapest to visit some distant relatives, which I hadn’t seen in years. My family has lived in the US since the 1910’s, so I had never even been in Hungary before, though my third cousin and his wife had come over to the US a couple of times. It was my first night in Budapest, and I was staying in a low-budget hotel just outside the inner city. When I woke up, the first thing I saw was the snow that gently covered everything outside. After getting up, I decided that I’d check out some famous landmarks first, since my appointment with my third cousin wasn’t until tomorrow

After seeing some famous landmarks and watching western-influenced buildings and Soviet concrete slabs make way for each other many times, I decided it was time go back to my hotel room. I was already nearing the area when I stumbled upon an advertisement.

It was a faded poster that drew my attention because of the strange black-and-white images on it, depicting a sad, mime-like face surrounded by what must have been stills from old movies. Above it there was some Cyrillic writing I couldn’t understand. Not very inviting. I was about to move on when I saw that there was a small English translation below, which said:

“Budapest Institute for Silent Film: Miracles of Modern Age!”

I chuckled. Didn’t seem very impressive. So I went on to my apartment and texted a bit with my colleagues, until I dropped myself on the bed, bored shitless. I studied the patterns on my bed sheets as I thought of everything I had seen today. But eventually even that didn’t save me from boredom, until the image of the old poster popped up in my head again. What was that thing for anyway?

Probably just some old movies, what else could it be? Books? Racing cars? The poster was obvious enough. Not that I’d would get to see any of that anyway, those prints had to be nearly dead. Or maybe I would, and it would be one of those crazy German flicks. I started to get curious. Maybe there would be some exclusives that were never put online.

“Screw it.” I thought. It couldn’t be worse than just sitting on my ass here the entire time, could it? So at about 3 o’clock I went back outside to where I saw the poster. The sad mime’s eyes greeted me from the distance and I could barely make out the address under all the stills. I will not display it here. I want nobody else to go through this, not even those who are morbidly curious to the point of stupidity.

After some research I finally found the location of the street on the map. The only thing I’ll say about it is that it was far out of Budapest itself. I took a bus ride through the snowy streets, beautiful fields and eventually the bus dropped me off at what looked like an old warehouse in quarter filled with old, featureless concrete buildings. This really didn’t seem like the place for an art museum. For a moment I considered just waiting for the next bus to pick me up again, but I was too curious now. I didn’t come all this way for nothing.

As I looked around a bit, I noticed that this part of the city seemed to quiet. I saw barely any people on the street, and when I did it was usually a homeless person quietly walking by, treating me as if I didn’t exist. The buildings looked faded, either out of use or just straight out abandoned.

A couple of empty streets later, I stood before what had to be the museum. With all the concrete architecture, it looked just like the other buildings. The windows were faded and scratched, there was graffiti on the walls and tiny cracks in the concrete walls, but it looked like it was still in use. Above the double doors there was a sign with Cyrillic text, probably with the title of the museum. After taking a deep breath, I opened one of the doors and stepped inside.

Inside, there was what looked like a receptionist’s lobby, but there was no one around. The walls were white, dirty and completely empty. Once again, I considered leaving now because this whole place was probably abandoned, but then I saw the lobby desk had a bell I could ring. I did, and the echo sent a chill down my spine. Who knew if this building was even inhabited? My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps grower louder. I turned around and saw a bearded man in an old business suit step into the room from the hallway.

He frowned at me with his coal black eyes with an emotion that was impossible to determine. After an awkward silence, he started talking rapidly in a Hungarian, wildly pointing his hands to the hallway and back at me. I tried to tell him that I couldn’t understand, but he was getting wilder by the second, shouting at me and forcing me near the door. Finally, I hastily grabbed some Forint bills from my pocket and showed it to him, and he seemed to calm down. After raising 5 fingers to determine how many bills he wanted, I was allowed to go inside.

I was led into a white hallway, which led to a room of silent film stills, one of which I recognized as Bela Lugosi, the man who played the iconic version of Dracula. However the text below (which was in Latin letters, for some reason) merely said Arisztid Olt – Az Élet királya. There were some other stills of more well-known movies, such as The Golem. One particularly strange still was of Orlok, the vampire from Nosferatu, gazing at the camera from and empty village. I did not recall seeing this in the original film, and I felt deeply unnerved by it, but I was about to discover that this was but the least strange of what this museum had to offer.

As I walked back into the hallway, I found that the receptionist was still on the other side of the hall, staring at me with his unblinking eyes, as if he wanted something from me. I waved at him, but nothing I did seemed to affect him. For a moment I considered walking up to him, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. After an awkward silence, I moved on to the next room.

A huge still of a man with jagged teeth and a top hat immediately caught my eye. It felt familiar, but I couldn’t bring myself to remember it.

“London after Midnight.” Spoke a creaking voice from behind me. I turned around and I saw and elderly man with a cane, smiling at me.

“Yes.” I said back to him. “I remember now. But it’s a lost film, isn’t it?”

“That’s what I thought.” He replied. “Until now.” He pointed to an encased film print below the still.

“That’s impossible. The last print burned down years ago!”

“Apparently not.”

“How would you know?”

“I am here on behalf of the NFPF, specifically to find to find this print. We had long giving up on recovering a film as searched for as this one, until last month I got a tip from an anonymous contributor that we might have overlooked some places.”

We were silent for a while, as I felt the weight of this matter sink in.

“So what happens next? I asked.”

“I’ve been trying to bargain with the…” He swallowed.

“…person running this place, but he doesn’t seem very responsive. I don’t know whether he even understands how valuable it is, how valuable anything in this museum is, really. He’s a rather eccentric man, I believe. He even played around with some cameras himself.”

He pointed towards an encased film roll in the corner of the room.

“Nothing I propose to him seems to get through his skull, I’m not sure to what extent he can even understand English. I’ve been arguing with him for days within this strange, isolated place, without progress…”

He fell silent. “One has to catch his breath now and then. You wait here, I’ll see if I can knock some sense into him.”

And so the old man left me in the company of the old, unnerving stills. After wandering some more around the museum, I discovered some more stills from famous films I had considered lost, such as Saved from the Titanic and Dracula’s Death. I quickly grew tired of this sterile, white environment with nothing but unnerving stills and walls of Cyrillic text to keep me company. I was already considering leaving when I heard a voice from directly behind me.

“We broadcast film now.”

Slowly turning around, I gazed directly into the receptionist’s emotionless face. How could I not have heard him coming?

“Jesus man, you scared me.” I whispered. The man frowned.

“We broadcast now.” He told me, slower and heavier this time. I should have ran right there right then, but being the idiot I was, I felt intimidated and followed him. He led me to what looked like some sort of mini-cinema. A small film projector with about 20 chairs, and no windows. He gestured that I should sit down, while he put a film in the projector. I squinted. It was the film that the old man had pointed to. What would he be up to now, anyway? But my thoughts were interrupted by the rattling of the projector, and the film started. There was a stylized title card which simply said:

“Baldrs Draumar”

Then the real movie began. I saw black-and-white shots of vast, abandoned cities, way more modern than could have been filmed at the time. Massive skyscrapers, cracked, decaying and covered in clay and dust. Immense suburbs flooded with sand, riddled with human skeletons. The sun shone brighter than I had ever seen, revealing every gruesome detail. My eyes were glued to the screen, this was unreal.

Then the movie abruptly cut to black, which awoke me from my trance. I looked around, and saw that the receptionist was gone. I heard that the projector was still running and sure enough, the film continued.

This time, the camera was slowly moving forward in a round hallway full of windows. It puzzled me, before I realized that it was an airplane, something else that was far too new for a silent film. As the camera kept moving forward and slowly swung up and down, I realized that it was meant to be in first person. I saw the camera pan down and focus on a watch…

…That looked exactly like mine. I didn’t know what to think of this. After a while, the camera went to the side and lowered itself, as if the person it was meant to represent was sitting down in one of the seats. Over time, I noticed that more and more of the person’s possessions were identical to mine. His briefcase, his clothes, and his wallet, which he opened, revealing a picture of my wife. I was paralyzed. For a moment, I considered that this whole experience had been some strange dream, but I knew, I knew that it couldn’t be. It felt too real.

I saw the plane take off, and for a time, nothing significant happened onscreen, but I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to see what was going to happen to me.

Suddenly, I noticed that the pattern of the clouds had changed. The plane was moving downwards. At first it was barely noticeable, but soon enough I saw small objects falling to the front of the plane. Slowly, I saw the people on the plane get more and more nervous, until they started to freak out, myself included. The camera started shaking wildly and speeding towards no particular place, faster and faster, until the light of the plane dimmed, and the screen went black in an instant.

I noticed that I was sweating as I slowly came out of my trance. I needed to get out of this place, right now. I ran out of the cinema like a cornered animal, through the halls with black and white stills until I reached the receptionist’s lobby, where I paused for a second to catch my breath.

I was about to open the door when I saw an abandoned walking stick, lying on the floor like it had been thrown away. The old man. When I realized what this meant, I sped out of the door. I never wanted to be near this place again, ever. After waiting anxiously at the bus stop, I took the bus back to the inner city. As I was walking back to my hotel, I noticed that the poster that led me to the museum was gone, vanished as if it never existed.

I’m at my third cousin’s house now. I’ve been staying here for a few weeks, trying to forget what happened. He and his family have been very hospitable and nice, but I feel that they are slowly getting tired of my presence. Eventually, I’ll have to take the plane back home. I have trouble sleeping at night because of what happened at the museum, and even with my family I don’t feel safe. Still, I’m trying to enjoy the days I spend here, because I know, that they will be my last.

Credit To – ArcticWolf

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January 2014 Discussion Post: Mythological Entities

January 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Last month, we talked about how to create good monsters. Some classic boogeyman from folklore and mythology were namedropped over the course of the discussion, which got me wondering –

Which already established mythological entities are your absolute favorites?

Unlike last month, please don’t limit yourself to just monsters or malignant characters. Any mythological, religious, or folkloric being – from the Lady of the Lake to Ishtar to Kappas – is fair game. When you name your favorite, please give us some detail as to who they are and why you find them more interesting than all the others. Of course, you could just leave a one-word answer, but it will be much more interesting if you actually explain yourself!

Let’s also avoid any religious-based arguments or bashing. In the interest of simple terminology, I am tossing all of these entities that have existed across the time and space of human culture under the ‘mythology’ umbrella – this may include whatever belief system or pantheon you subscribe to, so please do not take offense at seeing, say, the archangel Michael being discussed in a similar fashion as Cornwall’s knockers. We are not here to make any value judgements or get into slapfights because one person believes and entity is real and another person believes they’re just folklore. Similarly, do not take this as any attempt to trivialize any particular belief system by implying that it’s fiction or “just stories” – as I said before, I am using plain, wide terminology in an effort to treat all systems fairly and not step on toes.

This means that commenters attempting to drive the discussion down the road of religious trolling/debates will find their input removed. If you do worship or believe in an entity, feel free to tell us and answer people’s questions about it as long as it doesn’t devolve into any sort of flamewar. Likewise, I don’t see a problem with people asking believers questions as long as they’re polite and not mocking. If I feel any discussion thread starts getting out of hand, I will simply stop approving the comments by the guilty party. It’s a new year, let’s start it off by treating each other well, please.

I hope that everyone has fun – this has the potential to be a very interesting and inspiring topic, I think!

Bits & Pieces

January 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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If you are interested in the weird and wonderful, then you might already be familiar with the strange case of the Uist mummies. Discovered in 2001, the mummified remains of two ancient residents of the Scottish island of South Uist have perplexed and puzzled archaeologists ever since they were unearthed.

Buried deep in the ground of that remote corner of the developed world, the most recent scientific data estimates that both corpses were placed there over 3000 years ago. Their skeletons were found to have been contorted into an unnatural foetal position, and the photos, which appeared in the national newspapers at the time, were enough to make anyone uneasy. It was said that such a deliberately manipulated pose was common in ancient burials, but it was clear during those first few weeks of the excavation that one of those individuals was anything but common.

Initially the archaeologists exhuming the bodies placed great importance on the burials being the first concrete indication that the ancient peoples who once populated the British Isles mummified their dead. This has created quite a stir in the academic community ever since, as the hunt continues as we speak to find the estimated hundreds, if not thousands, of similarly preserved dead ancients dotting the land beneath our feet.

After some preliminary tests were performed on the corpses, it became apparent that both bodies had been immersed for at least a year in an acidic material shortly after death. This led to the speculation that they had both been mummified by being steeped in a nearby peat bog – a blackened, swamp-like piece of wetland formed via centuries of accumulating rotting plants and animals – for some time, before being left above ground, perhaps to be paid tribute to or to act as a warning to others for hundreds of years for some hideous crime. Both bodies had been remarkably well preserved and it was estimated by the archaeological team on hand that they had perhaps been stored in a primitive hut or house structure for much of their time above ground. Why this occurred is anyone’s guess, but it has been argued that the bodies were of ceremonial importance, and that perhaps a priest class lived alongside the seemingly immortalised bodies for an unknown ritualistic purpose, before finally concealing them in a stone coffin made of uneven slabs beneath the ground; not before removing a tooth from each jaw and placing them in the palms of their rotting clenched fists. A curious practice indeed.

The fact that the steeping of the bodies in the peat bog had led to the preservation of both corpses, excited the researchers: They believed that there was every possibility that some DNA might have been protected from thousands of years of rotting beneath the earth. This could be used to trace the ancestry of the individuals. And so, the difficult process of extracting genetic material from any remaining flesh began.

It was during this process that one of the scientists, a Dr Grealy, noticed something amiss with one of the cadavers. How something so obvious could have been initially overlooked was the source of much debate amongst the research team, but there seemed to be no doubt: One of the mummified corpses was composed of body parts from a number of once living individuals.

At first this was assumed to be pure chance, that perhaps the area had been an ancient cemetery, housing numerous bodies and had become a mixed bag of bits and pieces as they rotted, tossed around by the elements above and below ground level. This, however, was vehemently denied by Dr Grealy. She was absolutely convinced that the mummified body was deliberately cobbled together from various corpses for some unknown reason. Regardless of who was correct, the research team concluded unanimously that the body was ‘mostly’ that of a 40 year old man, with at the very least an arm, part of a leg, and a few ribs coming from other sources – with the jaw bone and lower teeth coming from an elderly woman. DNA identification of other body parts was, unfortunately, impossible.

Dr Grealy initially argued that the remains must have been pieced together in a ritual where body parts were offered to the whole skeleton for some reason; perhaps as a way to cement alliances or lay claim to land where the man was buried. But as Dr Grealy’s investigation became more time-consuming, so too did the outlandish nature of her claims increase. After pouring over the data and performing her own tests on the corpse for several months, she petitioned the academic research team that she was part of to publish her conclusions.

There was much resistance within the group, and it was decided that Dr Grealy had either lost her mind or was not the excellent researcher that they had believed her to be. She was suspended from the research project for an indefinite period and asked to rethink her assertions. But she would not, could not, let them go. Before she was escorted from the laboratory where the mummified remains were being stored, she was informed of the proposals to remove her from the project by a sympathetic colleague. With little time to act, Dr Grealy gathered up all of her research notes and pocketed a shard of bone which she had removed from just above the corpse’s rotten knee joint, before the head of the research team entered the laboratory with a security guard and asked her to leave the premises immediately.

Wracked by guilt at their colleague’s dismissal, two members of the research team maintained contact with Dr Grealy over the following four months, exchanging emails and even some ideas about the origins of the corpse. They all sympathised with Dr Grealy’s predicament, although they never would back up her conclusions publicly: They just seemed so outrageous. Even though the evidence did indeed suggest that she was correct in her beliefs, no one was willing to put their name to a paper stating that the corpse, that 3000 year-old cobbled together collection of bones from different bodies, had at one time walked about, lived as a single functioning human being. No, while Dr Grealy had found overwhelming evidence that the bones had been attached to one another by cartilage, tendons, and muscle, there must have been some bizarre contamination of the results. It just couldn’t be true.

And so, Dr Grealy was on her own. And on her own she stayed, but while some amongst her ex-research colleagues claimed she was quite mad, she didn’t seem delusional. She didn’t, for example, run to the press. No, she valued her career as a scientist and made it clear during conversations that she had to make sure that her conclusions were irrefutable, only then would she go public. It was for that reason she sank all of her money, time, and resources into finding another burial site on the island of South Uist. If she couldn’t gain access to that bizarre corpse, she would find her own to study, to hopefully support her hypothesis.

Dr Grealy hired a team of historians to help her identify locations which potentially contained early bronze age settlements. Those areas were then assessed at great cost by a freelance geophysical survey team, probing the ground for possible chambers or stone coffins hidden beneath. Keeping those she was closest to abridged of her progress, it appeared that she had indeed finally found another burial site and was confident that its construction matched those of that strange pieced together individual which had been dragged out of the ground on the previous dig.

Having spent most of her savings just to find such a place, she did not have enough money left to employ a group of archaeologists to help her excavate any remains which might have been found there. For this reason Dr Grealy began the hard work of digging for proof. The phone-calls and emails that she sent to her colleagues diminished over time, and it did indeed seem that she was slowly succumbing to a debilitating mental illness, ranting about ‘bits and pieces walking about at night, disturbing my work.’

Two months later the dismembered and decapitated body of a woman was found floating in the Clyde river. The body was identified as belonging to Dr Grealy, but it was argued that that was impossible; Dr Grealy had been missing for only several weeks, but the forensic investigation into the remains suggested that the body had been submerged in a peat bog for at least a year.

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

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The Time Machine

December 31, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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First test of Space-time Manipulation Device “Time Machine” with Human Subject

 

Abstract: This paper documents the initial test of the Space-time Manipulation Device carrying a payload of a willing human subject. Using methods detailed in this paper, the SMD is sent 1 year into the future, remains for 10 minutes, and is returned 10.0037 seconds after departure. Due to success of previous unmanned tests and new project parameters, a voluntary human test subject henceforth known as S7 was carried on the machine as a payload.

Orbital calculations were successful and well within error. Some concern is given to return time, being outside error predictions by 1.8%. Ongoing medical examinations of S7 are being carried out. The subject was returned unharmed, fully conscious, and completely and utterly unresponsive.

Introduction: For the past 25 years, a machine capable of travelling along the temporal dimension has been developed without public knowledge. By distorting space-time (See Pg. 48) the device can physically disappear from a point in space and reappear at the same point at a different time. The methods used to achieve this are discussed later in this paper.

Previous tests of the SMD have met with varying results. Initial tests ranged from minor incidents to catastrophes, the worst being test 4 wherein the appearance position of the SMD was miscalculated leading to the death of Dr [REDACTED]. Unmanned tests continued with increasingly accurate timing and positioning of the device. The last major problem occurred on □□/□□/□□ when SMD#136 failed to return. Its location remains unknown.

As the project was not made public, adherence to animal testing laws was not necessarily strict. As of SMD#223 the procedure was deemed stable enough to allow a living subject to travel a distance with the device. It is believed that increased military interest in the project was a major factor in the addition of an organic component. MoD official [REDACTED] oversaw all transport of living subjects.

S1, a small rodent, was placed in the machine and sent one year ahead. When the device returned, S1 was not present. An investigation concluded that this was due to insufficient restraints on the animal. After the harness was refitted, subjects 2 and 3 both returned dead form the trip. Subjects 4 and 5 returned alive, but seemingly unconscious, and died before reaching medical attention. S6, a dog, returned alive and was shown to be healthy upon medical examination. However, it was completely unresponsive, lying still with its eyes open. Shallow, rapid breathing could be seen, but S6 died before a brain scan could be performed. No cause was forthcoming. The subsequent autopsy could only conclude “It seems to have simply given up”.
S7 put himself forward for the experiment. As of □□/□□/□□ growing pressure was on to pull the plug on the project. If the SMD was not safe, then it was of limited use and would be broken into smaller projects. Financial concerns were a part of this. We had less than a year to prove that time travel was survivable for human beings, there was no time for extensive animal testing any more. S7, one of the senior leaders of the SMD program, volunteered as a subject, and the whole team was thrown into uproar. A few, like myself, were excited for the prospect and saw it as the only option, however there were many voices raised against the idea. After much debate, medical examinations, and final tests of the machine, it was determined that the S7 test could take place. SMD#414 was used for the experiment (specs Pg. 120). The test was the standard year-hop, stay for 10 minutes and then return. All parameters were strictly determined (Pg. 133) and the errors were acceptable (Pg. 227). The test was given the green light.

S7 was nervous as he was strapped into the machine. The SMD underwent extensive redesign since human transportation became a consideration. A carbon-fibre chair was used with restraints for arms, neck, head, chest, and legs (See fig 8). These were to prevent injury. As the countdown to departure began, S7 started becoming more agitated, turning into full on distress. He began to ask for the test to be postponed, for the straps to be loosened, to be allowed an extra few minutes preparation. We muted the speakers from the room. The straps were very well designed (fig 9) and managed to hold S7, as his verbal objections had become physical, pulling this way and that, trying to come free of the machine. It was hopeless. Seconds before departure he began shouting and thrashing wildly, but the speakers were still muted and we didn’t hear it. Then the device vanished.
10.0037 seconds later, the machine returned. S7 was in place, completely still. He stared straight ahead, every muscle locked, straining outwards. His breathing was rapid and shallow, and he wasn’t blinking. The medical team rushed in and released the straps, but S7 seemed not to notice. He just continued staring. No stimuli could coax a response from him: shouting his name, shaking him, even moderate amounts of pain caused any kind of a reaction. He simply sat, rigid as steel, eyes wide. The readouts showed an aggravated heart rate and critically high blood pressure. It was assumed that S7 was in some kind of coma.

Until the brain scan.

As soon as the EEG started, it was clear that S7 was not comatose. The amygdala, the most ancient and primal part of the brain responsible for fear and anger, was furious with activity. The frontal cortex was all but silent, but the deepest part of the brain glowed brightly. All of the team knew what this meant. S7 was alive. S7 was conscious. And, inside his own head, S7 was screaming. An animal, wordless scream of unimaginable terror. [FROM THIS POINT ON THE PAPER IS REDACTED. THE AUTHOR IS CLEARLY EMOTIONAL AND THE STANDARD OF WRITING HAS FALLEN FROM THE EXPECTED SCIENTIFIC LEVEL. PLEASE FIND A REVISED COPY OF THIS PAPER. THE CONCLUSION OF THE PAPER REMAINS AS EVIDENCE FOR AN ONGOING STUDY OF THE AUTHOR.]

Conclusion: I must know what happened to S7. The SMD is safe, I know that it is. I’ve worked here for [REDACTED] years, I have seen countless devices appear form the past. Nothing happens, the procedure is safe. What could be so bad that it could do that to a person? I have to find out. The thought of that man keeps me up at night. The clenched jaw, the straining joints, those horrible eyes. S7 panicked, that is all that’s wrong. He panicked and now he is how he is. I won’t panic. I will volunteer. I must, how else could I call myself a scientist? I won’t let the project be shut down. I will be the new subject, and I will see the future.

***

Medical Report on the Continuing Condition of Subject 8

 

Abstract: S8 continues to show no improvement. EEG’s show high levels of activity in the brain stem and amygdala. S8 remains in a conscious, vegetative state, showing no response to stimuli. Lactic acid build up in his permanently tensed muscles is beginning to lead to severe damage. Euthanasia is being considered.

***

Why do I not die? Why must I endure this? The others walk around me, but they do not walk. They stand, as still as rock. They do not move. They mock me.

But they do move, I know that they do. I see it, the slow crawl, over the millennia. Moving moving, but standing so still. The distortions of time, I know it is so. I know.

We dared to test the universe. We were arrogant, we bent time, and now I must suffer the consequences.

Alone.

But not alone, for they stand around me. Even now they crowd me, as they have for countless years. I know their faces, I have counted ever hair on their heads a million times over. It is their eyes that mock me. WHY DO YOU NOT MOVE?!

Madness is not far off, if it is not already here. It must be, for I am forgetting how to think.

I have forgotten so much.

What will I be when I forget all language? When I forget who I am? Even forget my name.

Well then, all the will be left, is to scream.

But I will hold my sanity, for I must.

I must.

WHY DO YOU MOCK ME? WHY DO YOU NOT MOVE? WHY DO I NOT DIE?!

Credit To – Jonteon

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Placidity Row

December 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve often thought it likely, though have no way to really prove, that in every sizable town in America there is at least one area that feels a bit strange somehow. Maybe it’s a single building that was witness to a grisly murder or maybe it’s a slum full of forgotten people with forgotten dreams. Either way, those who set foot in the area will often describe an overhanging sense of sadness or malaise or even evil. This is, of course, far from a rational feeling and yet when even animals seem to avoid the area or cars consistently break down there, it makes even the most skeptical observer start to wonder. In our town, the most well known of these areas is called Placidity Row.

It’s not some old wealthy area filled with haunted Victorian mansions, nor is it a rundown urban redline. Though, this damn city has quite enough of both. Placidity Row is a product of the construction boom of the prosperous 80s. It was the sort of green little enclave that songs like Pleasant Valley Sunday were written about- full of smiling neighbors, idyllic little picnic areas, and soccer moms driving SUVs. Within a couple of years of its construction, it was already garnering accolades as one of the best places for thirty something yuppies making it big in the city to move with their families. Easy access, good schools, Placidity Row had it all. Note how I said, “was” and “had.”

Somewhere around 2005, Placidity Row changed. Despite being less than 200 yards from a cell phone tower, phones in the area completely died. At most they would display zero bars but usually they wouldn’t turn on at all. Days with the power out began to outnumber days with power. Wi-fi access was out of the question even for the communications companies. GPS was completely nonfunctional and even newer model cars would stall out in the middle of the street.

If that had been the only issue, we might have blamed signal blocking lead deposits in the ground or something. It was only the beginning of Placidity Row’s strangeness, though. Even on those rare days when the power came on, refrigeration began to malfunction. No, not malfunction. A better term would be, “cease to have any physical effect.” Meat bought new and kept in the fridge would rot like it had been set out at room temperature. Milk would curdle the same way.

Even the open air seemed to be almost soaked with death. Bananas would go from lush green to brown in only half a day. An open can of soda would be flat within an hour.

In the 90s, EMTs and police began responding to an increasingly bizarre array of 911 calls. A housewife, Susan Kimura murders her two year-old cousin in an oven because the knocks on her walls “told her to.” Residents claimed that strange lights in the sky would lurk outside their windows until viewed and then fly off at seemingly impossible speeds. An old man was nearly beaten to death by neighborhood teenagers and one middle-aged woman because they were convinced that he was a sorcerer. City workers reported finding a flock of geese dead on the outskirts of the development. Animal control is still completely baffled as to what could possibly have killed them.

One year ago the entire city was in a panic as a seemingly healthy 20 year old woman from the Row turned up dead on the playground from what all signs pointed to as being a strain of the Ebola virus. Yet, just as mysteriously as she turned up, there were no other infections reported. Furthermore, when the poor woman’s body was delivered up for autopsy later that day, she seemed to have aged 70 years.

The most common unexplained incident at Placidity Row, though, has to have been reports of a team of phantom horsemen. They would race through the streets of the Row at incredible speed either in the afternoon or the middle of the night. Both people who were outside at the time and those indoors reported hearing the hoof beats and snorts of the horses but most often seeing nothing even when it sounded as though the horses were passing within feat of them. A minority reported a loud human voice uttering monosyllabic commands to the invisible beasts. Only five residents, however, reported actually seeing the phenomenon.

The five witnesses; an elderly couple, a single man in his mid thirties, and two siblings aged ten and eighteen, are all for the most part consistent in their description of the “apparition.” The witnesses all agree that the horses passed in such a blur that it is hard for them believe that they even saw anything at all. The woman, one Maria Knudsen, apparently something of a mystic, offered the suggestion to police that the witnesses in fact perceived the horses only with their mind’s eyes and recommends full psychic examinations on each witness. The department is “taking the suggestion under advisement.”

They also all describe a team of four horses, ranging from dark brown to black in color with a light grey horse in the lead. All the witnesses differ on the question of riders. The Knudsen’s claimed to see five separate riders for five separate horses, each of them seeming to be bald men of indeterminate race clothed in loose fitting fur robes (ranging from splendid and colorful to faded greyish brown) with brass circlets on their heads and long swords at their sides.

The other witnesses give a similar general description but only report seeing one to four riders, though all mention the lead rider. The thirty-five year-old man, Victor Kimura (a distant cousin of the Mrs. Susan Kimura who murdered her child), claimed that two or three identical riders seemed to motionlessly phase in and out between the horses before vanishing. Mr. Kimura admits that he was highly intoxicated at the time of his sighting, however.

Eight years after the first recorded anomaly at Placidity Row, all residents have moved elsewhere. The city prepared to demolish the subdivision before the houses became unsafe, having finally despaired of attracting new residents to the area. My sister, Sophie, and I are insurance investigators with World Farms. Ours was one of several companies that rushed to clear out the remaining Placidity Row accounts on its books. On August 19, 2013, our particular task was to investigate three houses on the south side of the Row and assess the losses they pose to the company.

We arrived at Sunshine Street, Placidity Row at 9 AM. Although the drive in from downtown had been pleasant and sunny, when we arrived at the Row (we parked outside of it and walked in) everything in the atmosphere of the place felt as odd as the various reports made it out to be. The air hung still and not a sound could be heard. Everywhere, there was a strong odor of burnt rubber that neither of us could place.

“Well, this still seems like a happenin’ place,” said Sophie as she swept her eyes over the line of faded-yet-identical-save-for-color houses. “I can’t imagine why nobody wants to live here anymore.”

“Well, if you’re looking for excitement, maybe you can dodge some falling roof beams in one of the condemned houses round here,” I said. “Or maybe we can get you an invisible pony ride.”

Sophie and I can be kind of brutal to one another sometimes. It’s only because we’ve seen so much weird shit over the years on this job. When I think back on all the times we’ve saved one another in the nick of time from some floor collapse in an abandoned apartment building or tweaked out squatter with a shotgun… But, I digress.

The first house on the list actually happened to be the former Lars and Maria Knudsen residence. Despite having been empty for the past seven years, the place was still remarkably neat and clean. The Knudsens were some of the last holdouts on the Row, insisting that the horsemen were only there to cleanse the land of the guilty or something like that.

Being in their 80s, the Knudsens wound up leaving many of their possessions and furniture behind them when they left for what I assume was assisted living. Oddly though, in a neighborhood where everything seemed to rot somehow, the Knudsens’ old furniture seemed like it had been recently dusted and polished.

“Think we’ve got squatters?” said Sophie.

“Unusually clean yet suicidal stalkers, maybe,” I said, half joking and half hoping that’s what it was because honestly this house was beginning to freak me out a bit.

My thumb hovered over the stun gun in my pocket as I climbed the unnaturally swept stairway. Sophie stayed behind to check the ground floor for water damage. I was relieved to find that the second floor hallway, at least, was a mess of peeled plaster and drywall chunks.

I made my way to what must have been the master bedroom, what I could tell was dried blood caked the walls. In the corner was a small altar where someone had been sacrificing what appeared from the skeletons to be pigeons and rats. It was some kind of Norse pagan ritual judging from the runes smeared above it.

In the center of the room where the bed used to be was a large blue binder. I picked it up and leafed through what appeared to be rough facsimiles of old Viking documents. I couldn’t read anything but the flat, medieval illustrations made the subject matter clear. The Knudsens were apparently Shamans of some kind desperately entreating the Norse gods to either punish the people of Placidity Row (based on the first few pages which see our horsemen friends descending on a battlefield of dismembered limbs) or to save them (based on the following pages, in which the horsemen seem to turn on the male and female Shaman figures and cause them to cower beneath what seemed to be an image of a pagan god.

As much as we needed this paycheck, Sophie and I decided not to be stereotypical horror movie victims that day and began the long, nervous walk back to our car. We took the binder with us, planning to look for where the Knudsen’s were staying.

We took the route that we thought would at least lead us to Bill Kitchener’s team from Workman’s Insurance for some safety in numbers. I gritted my teeth knowing what macho man Bill would say about us getting a little scared of an area that had reported no criminal activity in years. Sophie just smirked and pretended not to notice.

A few blocks up the road, we found Bill’s team. They were dead in middle of the street. They seemed to have aged 70 years just like that poor woman from the Row. Their bodies were covered in small cuts and lesions, but there none of them seemed to break the skin more than a little.

“I can’t imagine these cuts killing a bunch of healthy guys,” said Sophie.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a man with black hair in a heavy brown overcoat lurking in the shadows beside one of the garages. He bolted as soon as I turned my head. We tried to give chase but I could have sworn he was running at 40 miles per hour. He turned a corner far ahead of us and disappeared. Loud sounds of hoof beats on asphalt accompanied by fierce yells seemed to come from all directions at once. We ran for the nearest house, not even stopping to notice that the door should have been locked.

Inside we came face to face with an Asian man looking to be in his mid thirties wearing a heavy brown overcoat and shotguning a fourth of whiskey. In the corner lay the body of an elderly Asian woman who I could tell right away was Susan Kimura.

“Victor, why did you kill your cousin?” I said on a hunch.

As he lowered the bottle to speak, I nearly recoiled at the sight of Victor’s face. He was more than just a haggard drunk. He looked like he should not even be alive. His skin was gray and blotchy. The tacks under his dull bloodshot eyes were so deep you could see red. His gums were almost black and his teeth looked ready to fall out at the slightest touch.

Victor hurled the now empty bottle aside, not even flinching as it shattered. “The bitch isn’t my cousin, she’s my damn mother. Besides, you can’t kill what was already dead.”

“Look!” said Sophie. I turned to the foot of the stairs to see a bald, yet beautiful young Asian woman in fur robes with a brass circlet on her head.

“My son and I are what in English are called Wild Hunters. We are tasked with regularly weeding out the souls of the foolish and rewarding those who show deference to the name of the old gods,” said Susan. “I came to this barren and spiritually dead city hoping to make a mortal life for my infant son away from so much carnage. But Nordic Shamans sensed our presence and sought to use us to bring revival to this place. When I resisted, they cast a spell of madness over me and I turned my only boy into… this ungrateful pup.”

“That’s right. Just blame the geezers for everything like you always do,” said Victor from the kitchen where he sat on the floor nursing a headache. “If you hadn’t just given up maybe I wouldn’t have to drink to keep the call of the so-called gods out?”

“I have accepted my inability to escape fate. You are a fool and a drunk who keeps fruitlessly trying to kill his own mother,” said Susan.

“I truly do wish you guys luck on this little family squabble,” said Sophie. “But unless you’re going to let us go, I think my sister and I have a few pounds on you with Victor being a little too hammered at the moment.”

Susan stunned us with a laugh loud as a trumpet while the hoof beats began again in the distance. “I’d kill you before you took a step. But I prefer not to get my hands dirty when I can avoid it.” Susan pointed us toward the now open front door and the sight of Bill and his two coworkers coming up the lawn in Wild Hunter dress, longswords drawn.

Sophie and I decided to take our chances on being faster than the burly guys and bolted out of the door to the side of the yard. As we sprinted down the street as hard as we could, we could hear the hoof beats getting faster and faster. Sophie screamed and fell to the ground as a hurricane force wind blasted over her and just missed me. For a split second I could see the figures of what I assumed to be the Kimuras in the wind at the reigns. Bill caught up with Sophie, who just barely dodged his inexperienced lumberjack sword swing and tased him in the gut.

I ran in a serpentine pattern, attempting to avoid the other two Wild Hunters as long as possible while hearing the horses bearing closer behind us. One of them just barely grazed my thigh as I felt myself lifted off the ground at incredible speed. As I was being hurled to the ground a yard away, I could see that there were now two other figures on the phantom horses. They seemed to be rapidly jockeying for position with the Kimuras.

Just as Bill was about to finish Sophie off, the horses bore down on him like a train. All four of us who remained watched stunned as his suddenly bleeding body was launched at least 200 hundred yards in the air, landing with a sickening thud on the roof of a nearby house. The other two drones were finished off in similar fashion just as quickly and the horsemen took off south of us. As the hoof beats died down, I suddenly realized that my cell phone had begun working.

Perhaps I should thank Odin or Thor that Sophie and I got out of there with only minor cuts. We would later find out that the Knudsens had died earlier that day within minutes of one another in two separate nursing homes.

Now that the anomalies have started to die down a bit, the demolition of Placidity Row is proceeding as scheduled. Sources are divided on whether city government plans to declare the area a wilderness preserve (for animals that still refuse to go near it, of course) or whether it is now hearing bids for shopping malls and condos. I wish the poor suckers luck. Something tells me the tradition of the Wild Hunt is going to live on.

Credit To – Cosmo Fish

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