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March 4, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I don’t remember much about my childhood, like most people. Those memories are always vague and eventually you realise whatever you ‘remember’ is probably just a reconstructed memory. You don’t have much choice in the matter, and are usually convinced that your memory would never fail you.
The first memory I have was when I was 5. I’m not sure if it’s real or not, but that’s when I think I met Michael. I never had any friends, so I was glad when I met him. He called me Jack, and I liked it. As uncertain I am if I remember our first encounter, there is no doubting the strong bond we immediately formed.

I won’t bore you with the details of what we did every day for the past few years, but I will outline some of the things we did together, to assure even the most sceptical among the readers of our friendship.

Michael, being a slightly effeminate child didn’t have many friends at school either. He was bullied, and the highlight of his day was coming home and sharing a cup of tea with me, all the while telling me of his woes and lessening his burden. The tea, unlike my words of consolation, was make believe.
Another one of his favourite activities was cutting my hair. He would style it in all sorts of ways and I enjoyed each one of them. Fortunately for him, my hair grew inexplicably fast and he often got a chance to restyle it.

There was one thing that constantly strained out relationship, though. Don’t get me wrong, Michael and I had absolutely no hard feeling towards each other. It was his parents. I don’t think they approved of me, and I couldn’t tell you why even if I tried.

It wasn’t just disapproval; I began to think they hated me. The longer our friendship lasted, the worse it got. It pains me to even think about it, so I won’t dwell on this for long.

As quickly as our relationship had initially flourished, it began to diminish after two years. Michael grew to become a stocky football player, and I remained exactly the same as before; scrawny and completely incapable of competing athletically.

He made new friends and started to ignore me. This hurt me a lot, especially since I was there for him in his time of need. His abandoning me was the last thing I expected and it hit me hard. I felt like I had no one left in the world.

As I sit in the corner of the room and write this, I can see Michael and his friends watching T.V. Sometimes it seems like he notices me and looks my way, but I know better. I have now resigned to my fate; He created me, but forgot to destroy me.

Credit To – Vish P

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The Father

March 3, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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When we are speaking of the supernatural, of the disturbing, of the grotesquely weird and disgusting, we consider only the monsters themselves. We see the twitching limbs and sharp teeth, the death and the despair, and the heart-stopping terror of the moment of death. We rarely look past this, into the real question and mystery. I could spend all day debating back and forth about any number of spooky topics, but I want to take a moment to discuss something else.

Recently I was going through a dusty old corner shop near where I live. It’s a small antique business, and I’ve found a couple jewels there before, and for bargain prices. The old man who runs the place doesn’t know the difference between an old piece of junk and an arcane artifact. I take advantage. But what I found there on this day was a stack of old books stacked haphazardly on the counter, as if they had been tossed down without a second thought. I started going through the pile, expecting to find a few old story books, maybe a diary at best. I was just leafing through a book of old nursery rhymes when I noticed an old, thin volume tucked between the other books.

My curiosity got the better of me, and I carefully removed the odd little thing from the stack. Made out of worn leather, it wasn’t more than 15cm in height, and couldn’t contain more than a hundred thin pages. I was unconvinced this was anything more than a short novel or someone’s old notepad. Judging by the lack of a title, probably the latter.

I opened the cover carefully, turning to the title page. Written in delicate, beautifully flowing handwriting were the words “The Father.” My interest peaked; I carefully lifted the thin paper and turned the page. To my surprise, I found a short verse, four lines long, with no title and no author’s name.

“From Mother’s womb we did not come,
Father’s hand is what was done.
To heaven’s gate we did not crawl,
Into the deeps we did not fall.”

I knew that this was not just any old children’s rhyme. There are no nursery poems which dismiss the mother of the child so quickly and easily. It’s usually “listen to your parents and do what they say. Obey God’s will and you will be rewarded.” This little verse was clearly saying just the opposite.

I closed the book, taking it up to the counter. The man gave me a strange look when he saw it, like he was wondering what a young person like me was going to do with such an old book. He just shrugged and let me buy it after a minute, but gave me that look again on the way out. It was like he was judging my personality.

I drove home, eager to investigate the rest of the book’s contents. I wanted desperately to know what the verse meant, and thought perhaps the idea might be made clear by the rest of the writings. About ten minutes after I opened the book at home however, I was even more confused than before. Each page of the book contained a verse of poetry, and each poem was of similar style and voice, but I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

“With fire’s blaze and ice’s chill,
In darkest night and deepest still,
He comes to those close to death,
And finds the souls he likes best”

Now what do you make out of that little piece? Does it make any sense? It didn’t to me, and I gave up and went to bed after an hour or so at it, leaving the book on the table. I figured I would be able to figure it out in the morning.

I dropped off almost immediately, and found myself in a strange dream. I’m in a gray-walled room, standing against one of the walls, as if I had just stepped through a doorway. All around me is perfect frozen silence, not like anything I’ve heard before. It wasn’t the pregnant pause at the theater, of the soft silence of falling snow. It was as if the entire universe had simply stopped rotating, and left behind the most complete and utter silence ever to exist. The atmosphere sent crackles of electricity up my spine, making me grow ever more tense and nervous. I began to feel watched and a little sick standing there.

Then the silence was shattered as the sound of approaching footsteps echoed eerily throughout the space. I found that I was able to move, and turned my head to see a man approaching. He was dressed in regular clothing, blue jeans, and a gray sweater, pulled over a slim, angular frame. I couldn’t tell you exactly what he looked like, because his face seemed a bit blurry. It was as if he weren’t a real person, just an idea. I didn’t notice it at the time, but just remember that there was something unsettling about him.

He walked towards me, smiling with his blurry mouth, like a generous host. Except he didn’t really walk, he almost glided, with a slight hitch after every couple steps, like his muscles refused to obey him. I noticed that it wasn’t just his legs either, every few seconds his entire body would spasm, twisting in an unnatural way.

I watched the figure draw near with increasing dread, but then he simply vanished, faded away. I barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief before I was slammed into the ground, staggering from the impact. I looked around, and found I was standing by a table, and on the table was the old book, open to the title page. The words “The Father” seemed to shimmer slightly. I watched in horror as a dark liquid began to run from the letters, staining the page, drenching the paper.

The smell hit me, and I gagged on the odor of blood. The liquid bubbled up from the pages, running out of the book and onto the table, forming a puddle. It spread outwards rapidly, spilling drops onto the floor of the room.

Then the screaming started. A hundred wailing voices all crying out, all begging to be freed, pleading for mercy, and over was all is the sound of laughing. Laughing, whole-hearted and happy, overlaying the sound of all those keening voices. The sound turned my stomach, making me cough and retch from the combination of scent, sight, and sound.

Everything went still again. I looked up to see the image of flames, dancing on walls, and a boy, trapped in the fire. His black hair falling over his face, and a knife is in his hand. Blood stained the ground around him, a single hand reaches from the flames, grasping at life, but it’s already too late. The still image flickers, and the figure I saw earlier is crouching before the boy. He’s offering a hand, as if in salvation.

Another image appears, a little girl, lying with her head bashed in. Her skin is black and blue from bruises. The figure appears beside her, lifting one tiny pale hand in his own large one.

There’s a man who’s badly wounded, shot and cut. He’s lying in a makeshift hospital bed .There are bandages wrapped around his head, covering his eyes. The man appears beside him, whispering in his ear.

The image changed again and again, each time another person was shown in despair, on the brink of death. Each time, the man appeared beside them, as if offering help. There are too many to count, too many to comprehend. I felt as if my head was being filled up with knowledge that I had no place for, that I didn’t understand.

Finally, the image became one of me; pouring over the book at my table. The book is highlighted, brought into sharp focus. The pages ruffle, blank and white, without a word written on them. A thousand hands reach up, tapping the book, adding a verse to the collection. Each page is filled, one after another. Then the hands change, becoming paws and claws, long hooked fingers, blades. They all grasp for the book, but it hovers just out of reach.

Then, the tome settled back onto the table, drenched in blood, and the pages fly backwards, until only the title page is visible. The words “The Father,” written in the beautiful thin handwriting. It seemed almost alive.

I woke up in bed, gasping for air. I leapt to my feet, throwing off the covers and practically flew to the other room, scrambling to the table. The book was still there. I’m conflicted. I want to throw the thing out the window or set it on fire, to destroy it, and never see it again. And yet I want to keep it with me, and make sure that no harm comes to the precious object. I feel as if the object is tied to my life, that it is the single most important object I’ve ever possessed.

Since then I’ve tried to leave it behind several times. I never had the heart to destroy it. I always threw it in the trash, or set it along the road. Once I left it at a café table, in the hopes a waitress would, perhaps, take a liking to it and rid me of the thing. But it always comes back. Even if I left it behind hours before, someone brings it back to me, or I arrive home to find it inexplicably on my kitchen table. Once I left it across town before going to the coast for a couple days, and when I came back my house was broken into, and the book was set carefully on the mantel. I’ve long since given up.

It doesn’t seem to harm me in any way. It just seems to follow me about, like a puppy. I’ve grown attached to the object, reading and rereading the verses again and again. Gradually, I’ve worked out the meaning behind them by comparing the dreams, and researching the entity known as “The Father” online. He’s hard to find any mention of at all, and it was months of digging before I found anything that seemed remotely related.

There were several reports by a shady internet group about supposed “captured creatures.” I’m sure you get the idea. The suitably called “monsters” were interviewed, and the audio recorded. Either the files leaked or their purpose all along was to be published, but I was able to listen to them. In each recording, the monster will mention “The Father,” as though refers simultaneously to a despicable entity and a treasured family member. The recording were removed only days after I found them.

Based on these and a few other strange articles I found, I have come up with the following description:

The Father appears only to humans in extreme situations where they are about to be killed or consigned to a fate worse than death. He appears only to certain individuals, based on some personal method or choice. At this point, he will ask the individual a question. What the question is exactly, I don’t know; it seems to be different for everyone. The individual answers the question immediately, and based on the answer, The Father will either leave them to their fate, or change them. If he changes them, the person will then become something more than human. They become what normal people define as monsters. This is the truth.

I said at the beginning that people look only at the surface of monsters. I mean this in more than one way. People don’t look deeper than the appearance of the creature, the terrifying, heart-stopping entity, so they don’t see that most every monster was once human like them. And second, they don’t bother to ask where the monsters come from, how they can exist in the first place. Maybe, if one person were to ask this question, the truth would be apparent. Monsters are not born, they are created.

The Father is the one who makes the monsters.

“The Father appears when all else fails,
To those who have no other hope
He’ll ask you one question only,
Yes to stay, no to go”

Credit To – IHaveNoName

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Perching In the Trees

March 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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My brother and I were always the best of friends. We were only a year apart, with him being older, and we spent nearly all of our time together. We grew up in a house pretty far from the rest of the town so we didn’t spend much time with other kids. The only times that we were separated from each other was during school but we would always play during recess and he would always give me a warm pat on the back during when our classes would pass in the hall. This carried on from grade school all the way to high school. Jason would skip his 5th period class to have lunch with me and some friends every so often, and when we got back from school he would give me help with my class work so we could spend the rest of the night playing video games and watching TV until our mom got home.

She would make us a small snack and an hour later dad would come back from work and the 4 of us would sit down at the dinner table. Even during dinner he was always making us smile, he liked to make people happy; I guess you could say that was just what he did naturally. When we weren’t inside playing games, we would occasionally go into the forest behind our house. Our father had taught both Jason and I how to handle ourselves out there in the forest and by the time Jason was in middle school he was an expert. The two of us would head out exploring and be back in time for dinner just as the sun was setting. We had even spent the night out there with dad in a tent big enough for the three of us.

Things were really great out there, family life was always perfect no matter how bad our personal lives would get. The fragile life we held onto broke away one night when mom didn’t come home. Jason and I were playing some games as usual when he pointed out to me that mom was late. She had been late before but never this late, she came home around 8 and it was already 8:45. Jason got a little worried and called her work, they told him that she had left at 7:30. Jason was a little uneasy and I could feel his worry even though he dared not show me it. Jason waited until dad returned home before telling him the news; he called her work as well and hung up when they gave him the same information.

Dad called his brother at the local station and we managed to wrangle up 5 squad cars to go down every road in town, that night it rained like a fountain and the roads were slick to drive on which made all of us drive even slower than usual. That’s probably the only reason that they spotted it. Dad’s brother called him on his cell and told him to get to Irving pass. We slowly drove up to the scene with three cop cars flashing there lights while others set up police tape. My dad got out of the car and told us to stay inside, we Jason was never one to listen and got took me with him. We watched as the officers parted for my father. He ran down the small ravine and standing from atop the road we saw our mothers car smashed directly into the trees below.

Claw marks were torn into the side of the car where paint was stripped clean off. The windshield was smashed and blood was on the hood of the car. Dad saw us standing there and told us to get back into the car. We did and we watched him talk to one of the officers. They gave him a raincoat and after they had set up a perimeter they called in the most of the station and more cop cars came down there.

All of the men got out with flashlights and guns and dad made us get into the car of officer Velasquez. He drove us home and stayed with us the whole night answering all of our questions. Apparently mom crashed her car into a tree and they believe a wild bear dragged her off. Dad and all those men went searching for her in the woods and found nothing. He came home defeated but hopeful and the three of us went to bed in the same bed believing that our mother was still alive. Weeks went by, the police stopped looking and eventually even my uncle left my dad to search by himself.

After 2 months my dad stopped looking too. It was the talk of the town for a while, a few people came by to give their condolences and we had even held an empty coffin funeral for our mother. When she was gone Jason and I took her role as chef, we made a terrible dinner every night and we didn’t get much better but our dad appreciated the help. After my brother graduated from school he went to work with my dad at the factory and I was stuck at home cooking for the both of them.

From then on the family never spent much time together and the dinners were always silent. Jason would try to get us to laugh but his jokes and funny stories would fall on deaf ears. He as well as I could feel the missing piece from our lives. During the weekends Jason would stay home with me and we would play games like we used to but in complete silence. Dad was either working extra shifts or drinking at the bar. On one particular night he was out drinking and we had no clue when he would be home. He had left us during the middle of the day and Jason wanted to keep things lively.

He told me to get my coat boots on; this always meant we were going for a hike. We packed a few things like food and water and after locking up we headed out. We took the same route that we always did; it had been awhile since we walked through the forest so for me everything seemed new. We stopped occasionally and sat down on a nearby log or rock we could find and we just listened to the sounds of the forest. We took in the sweet smell of the flower fields not too far from where we were and the sun blanketed through the canopy of trees.

I kept behind him and stared at his feet to follow close behind, he gave me some lessons on what fungus was edible and what plants were safe to eat. These were things that I already knew but I guess that he was trying to strike a conversation with me. Jason and I hadn’t talked since mom went missing and trying to do it now was just as awkward as it could have been. Jason finally sat me down next to him during one of our stops and he put his hand over me.

“I… I know that things aren’t like they used to be. I know that dad isn’t the same and that me and you don’t talk and hang out as much as we used to and I know that…” He stopped and started to tear up “I know that you think I don’t love you anymore, but it’s not true. I still love you and I still want to be the older brother you remember but you have to help me here, I don’t know what to do.” He put his face into his hands and I watched in silence as he cried. I had never seen Jason like this before in my life, he never exposed himself to me before, never showed a sign of weakness and for all these years I thought of him as some stone warrior but seeing him cry next to me lowered my own defense and I hugged him.

We just sat there, holding one another as we both cried in silence. The sun was just beginning to set and the whole scenario seemed to be like a novel. Then we both heard it, a loud scratching noise. It echoed through the forest in one violent sweep and it sounded like a moose scraping its antlers along the bark of a tree. Jason got up quickly and recovered that tough exterior he always carried. He told me to get my things and we started heading back to our house. Before we could even take two steps away from where we were sitting we heard it again, a loud scratching sound but this time it came from a few feet in front of us. I got behind Jason as he peaked around a tree. He didn’t see any moose or bear stalking around so we continued on our way very cautiously. We passed a few trees and spotted one with three gaping claw marks. They dug at least 3 inches deep and were in the shape of talons. We both stared at the marks knowing that no bird of this size existed in this forest, or the world.

Our pace picked up when we saw a shadow pass above us, when we looked up we saw nothing. Jason grabbed my arm and pulled me along until I started to walk on my own. We didn’t look above us but we could hear the tree branches breaking and every so often the shadow would pass over us. We were nowhere near the house and because of how long it had been since we were here we had forgotten the way back. Every so often we would pass trees with talon marks on them and each time we passed one our pace would pick up. We were sweating from all of the running and were getting nowhere. Whenever we would stop to look up the tree crackling would stop and silence would take over the forest. We started to run again and when we did we saw the shadow, it was much larger than before and a strong wind followed it.

My brother stopped running and pulled out his pocketknife, he tore a tree branch from the stem and began to sharpen the tip. During all of this I pressed my back to a nearby tree and watched above us. There were only a few inches of sun left on the distant horizon and the few beams that were left poured into the forest broken by the trees. As the last light faded we could feel a cold wind shuffle through the air as we shivered to its touch. He threw me the branch and kept his knife out in one hand while his lighter burnt in the other. We were no longer running, we were stalking carefully trying to make little noise as we watched above our heads. The winds would sometimes come from behind us, at which point we would turn and see nothing other than the leaves on the ground picking up as if something had flown by. We would feel the wind again on the opposite side that we had turned to and when we turned back around there was nothing, again.

Whatever this thing was it enjoyed toying with us. By this point the light was completely gone and only a few rare times would we receive light from the moon which was covered by clouds, only when they had completely moved did we get a few precious seconds of light that allowed us to see beyond a few feet. The strong winds stopped but were replaced by something much worse; the sounds of feet crunching through the leaves. We heard it constantly, circling around us just beyond our sight. Occasionally Jason would scream out to it, and then the crunching would stop. A few seconds would pass and it would start again. When the crunching stopped completely we were surprised to hear nothing, it was the deathly silence that made us more nervous. Before this we had known where the creature was in relation to us, now there were absolutely no hints.

A strong wind came from in front of us and extinguished the small lighter flame in Jason’s hand. This wind had also pushed the clouds along just far enough to bring in the light of the moon. What we shined in the darkness was more terrifying than what our minds could have ever created. Perching itself on a tall branch a few trees away from us was what seemed to be a giant cocoon. This was no cocoon, what we thought was the shell started to part. It opened and we came to understand that it was two giant wings spreading apart. Beneath the wings were two glowing yellow eyes that were buried deep into the head of a sickly looking creature. Its entire body was hairless and its arms were very thin and bent like that of a T-Rex. Its legs were massive and had talons at the end of each toe, it gripped onto the upper tree branch like a monkey, it even had the thumb. The oddest part about the thing was that its nose and mouth formed together to make a skin like beak in the center of its face.

We watched as its head darted around like it was twitching, its neck contorted and stretched as its entire body shook and shuffled in the trees. When the moonlight vanished we were back in the darkness with only the two glowing eyes staring at us, when they vanished we panicked. I could hear my brother scraping the ignition to his lighter, it clicked repeatedly and I saw a spark but no flame. When the flame finally came up it was standing right before Jason with its wings stretched out over him. I plunged the sharpened branch into its fat belly as it let out a cry. Jason grabbed my arm and we pushed through the creature as we heard its cries of pain. We ran now, faster than ever and in the far off distance we could see our house lights. We ran, screaming as loud as we could, trying our best not to trip. The light in Jason’s hand barely stayed lit and we heard the sound of flapping right behind us.

We were only about 100 yards from the house when we heard our father yelling, we could see his flashlight and our hearts filled with hope. When he was finally close enough to make out the features of his face me and Jason stopped running, we waited for dad to come get us and for this nightmare to be over. Seeing him was our salvation. Then I saw a look of terror on my father’s face, I soon after heard Jason scream and watched as he was lifted off the ground. Dad fired his gun at the thing but it did nothing. I felt Jason’s blood trickle down the back of my neck and when I looked up I collapsed. I saw only the silhouette of Jason and that creature, as they both grew further and further from me. It must have been a good five minutes before the screaming stopped. My father clutched a blanket around me and brought me back into the house.

After he had locked the doors he called uncle Jimmy and got the entire police force down to our house. When they arrived at the scene they thought he was crazy, he shouted about the creature that took Jason and they all stood there spooked by it all. None of them believed him until I took them into the forest the next morning and showed them the talon marks upon the trees. They called an animal expert out and he agreed that there was nothing of this size in the wildlife. Upon further investigation they found that all the tree branches above 15 feet had been snapped like twigs, they had even found a few more grip marks on where it had perched. The evidence piled up until the final piece of data was discovered, a few torn pieces of Jason’s shirt were found near where he was snatched and next to it was a single feather. DNA analysis revealed that whatever creature this came from was neither bird nor human, it was a whole new species altogether. The size of the feather indicated that the creature must have been taller than 6 feet.

Jason was never found, my father looked for him every day in the deepest parts of the forest but he never found a single trace of him. Nobody in our town ever questioned our sanity, not a single person claimed it to be a hoax. In fact, it’s been twenty years since Jason went missing. My father died a few years back, and I left that place a long time ago. My father died knowing that my mother wasn’t dragged from her car by a bear, he died knowing that wet roads weren’t what caused her to crash. He died knowing that it was that thing that killed her and took her away, but he never knew what happened of Jason.

I’ve been hearing rumors though, rumors that somewhere deep in the mountains near my hometown a man discovered a cave. The cave was littered with human bones, nearly a hundred of them. The police were called in but were never able to identify bones, as they were all nearly shattered into pieces, including the teeth. There was one peculiar thing though about the cave, when they went further into it they found what seemed to be three empty eggs. Then again, these are just rumors, and for everyone’s sake I hope they aren’t true.

Credit To – Brandon Puff

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March 2014 Discussion Post: Favorite Fictional Character

March 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM

One frequent discussion in the comments both here and over at Crappypasta is what, exactly, makes a good character. Some people seem to eschew any detail about the character’s traits or life, preferring them to be a blank slate for the reader to imagine as their own proxy within the story. Others like characters to be their own developed beings, not necessarily needing them to be a vehicle for the reader’s self-insert. With such different views causing people to bicker back and forth about which details and writing POVs are acceptable, I thought it might be helpful for any aspiring writers if we had a discussion about fictional characters that we love.

Don’t limit yourselves just to horror or even solely books. Comics, movies, games, whatever – tell us who your absolute favorite fictional character is, and then tell us WHY. What about that character hooked you? What tactics did the creator(s) of said character use in order to make you care enough about this fictional entity that you would choose them as your all-time favorite? Go in depth if you want, but please at least give us some reasoning behind your choice – simply naming your favorite isn’t really what we’re looking for here.

Have fun, and I look forward to reading your answers!


February 28, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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It was early Sunday afternoon, my parents were at church leaving me home all by myself. They were devout Christians, yet I’m not. Sometimes they even try to get me to go, but it bores the crap out of me and I’m just not a believer. So here I am, laying on my bed, laptop resting on my stomach and headphones in my ears. I wasn’t doing anything in particular, just browsing some of the new uploads from IGN, Jompa, basically anything to pass the time. Then I saw a video that stood out to me. LA Beast eating a cactus. That seemed really interesting, but before I could click it, I got a Skype call. It was my friend Nick.

“What’s going on, cocksucker?” I asked as my standard greeting to all my friends. There was a faint sound in the background that I couldn’t help but notice. It kinda sounded like someone was screaming. A woman. “Ughh.. What’s that noise?”
“Why do you look so calm!? Don’t you even know what’s going on?!” He answered, looking jittery. Every few seconds he would take a look to his left towards his door, then immediately in the other direction out his window, like he was paranoid.
“What? What the hell do you mean? What’s going on?” Now I was starting to get curious, and I’d hate to admit, but even a little nervous.
“Look outside! People are going fucking nuts!” I took the headphones out of my ears, and that’s when I heard it. Screams coming from outside on the street. My heart beat faster and the adrenaline started to pump through my veins as I slowly got up out of my bed. I took the headphone jack out of my laptop so I could still hear Nick and I made my way over to the window. Splitting the blinds, all I saw was a blinding light that made my head throb with pain. Taking a few seconds to adjust to the light, I saw it. People running up and down the street in every direction like they were being chased, but it was hard to tell the difference between who was running away and who was running at.

“What the fuck…” I said to myself. Upon closer inspection of the chaos down below, I could recognize some of the people running. A bunch of my parents church friends were down there. I’ve met them before at birthday parties that my parents would drag me along to. Most of them were pretty nice. Then I saw a man dressed in all black with a tiny white collar around his neck. It was the priest. He had dinner here on several occasions, and if it weren’t for the fact he were a priest, you wouldn’t even know he was religious. We liked the same shows and movies, which is weird because it’s hard to imagine a priest watching Game of Thrones and South Park.

I watched him for a few seconds, his skin seemed paler than usual, with cracks running all along it. He must be sick or something, because your skin would have to be pretty dry for me to see it this far away, at least 30 feet. He just stood there looking around until his eyes locked on something. A woman was running down the street, and he intercepted her path, tackling her to the ground. He got atop her and looked like he was putting something in her mouth, but a second later he violently pulled his hand back with something in it. I had to strain my eyes to properly see what it was, and I wish I didn’t… Her jaw. He ripped it right out of her head. I wanted to look away, I really did. I just wanted to go back to my bed and pretend none of this is happening. But I couldn’t. My eyes were locked on her laying below him writhing in pain on the floor as a pool of blood formed around her.

He dropped the half of her mouth onto the floor and leaned forward, gouging her eyes with his thumbs before swiftly splitting her skull down the middle. Even over all the other screams coming from outside, the loud snapping of her bones could still be heard. That was it. I threw up. Vomiting all of last nights dinner onto the floor. At least I’m finally away from that window. When I was finally finished, I made my way back over to my bed, Nick still sitting there. “Fucked up, huh?” He said.
“Oh my god…” Was all I could come out with. The screams rang through my head, but after a short while there was one less. I looked up at Matt as the background was now quiet. “Is everyth-“
“Shh be quiet.” He said quietly, cutting me off. He was looking towards his door, and I put my headphones back on and began to listen intently. A very faint thumping could be heard that grew louder and louder, like it were footsteps getting closer. “Ohh fuck.. It’s my dad.” He said, the thumping grew louder until it stopped where I assumed to be right outside his door. I was right as a loud single pound could be heard from his door. Matt sprang to his feet and went off screen to the right, I guess to hide in his closet. The Pounding continued until the door burst open and a man, his father, stepped into the room. I couldn’t see him in the frame, just his silhouette on the far wall. He took a few steps into the room, I could see him now. He looked just like the priest. Pale, dry, cracked skin. Walking over to Matts computer, he crouched down and made eye contact with me. A chill went down my spine and I froze up. I couldn’t tell if I were looking into his eyes, or a black void. Smile crept across his chapped lips, causing them to split between the cracks.
“Hi.” He spoke out to me. I couldn’t really describe his voice. It was just a deep, unearthly sound.
“W-what the fuck are you?” I’m sure he could hear the fear in my voice.
“We are the end.” After he said those words, he turned his head towards the closet where Matt was hiding. The call closed, leaving me staring at the Youtube homepage. I tried not to think about what happened to my friend, and instead reflected on what that thing said to me. “We are the end.” Those words played over and over again in my head until it finally occurred to me.

Years ago when I was a young boy, my parents made me go to church with them. There isn’t much I remember from that, as most of the time I was bored out of my ass, but there was this one time he spoke about the end of the world that I vaguely remember. He said that all those who believe in God, their souls will rise up to heaven. Without a soul, a body is just a shell, and a shell is always waiting to be filled by something.
My front door just opened. I could hear two sets of footsteps coming up the stairs. I guess mom and dad are back from church.

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Abigail’s Run

February 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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October 31st 1691

‘’Hurry,’’ Deliverance whispered, her voice softer than the light breeze which tousled her lank grey hair. ‘’Bury it, child, bury it deep.’’

Tucking a wayward strand of raven hair behind her ear, Abigail continued scooping up handfuls of soil and tossing them into the hole. Tears streaked her dirty cheeks, and her thighs were still damp with warm blood and tar-like ichor from the birthing. She glanced at her mother, and felt a tinge of fear at the worried expression upon the older woman’s face, a usually unreadable mask, completely devoid of emotion.

The thing in the hole squalled and shrieked with its newborn lungs, sending another chill of fear down Abigail’s spine. A spindly arm protruded from the dirt, grasping weakly at thin air before falling limply away. Sobbing, she dropped huge clods of soil atop it, until only its twisted spine and snake-like nose could be seen.

Soon even they were gone, and the hole was filled once more.

‘’Come, girl, we must be away.’’ Deliverance chided, putting an arm around her stricken daughter and leading her out from beneath the overhanging branches of the willow tree and back towards the house. ‘’It is done now. It’s over.’’
Abigail Hobbs, having buried her firstborn mere hours after its birth, could do little more than weep at the horror of it all.

October 31st 2005

Scores of children fill the streets: Vampires, werewolves, ghouls and gremlins galore. Sheeted ghosts gambol beneath the hazy glow of streetlights and luminous skeletons cavort amidst the shadows. And look, over there next to the birch on Ms Reeves’ lawn, why, is that the Frankenstein Monster? There he goes, staggering onto the sidewalk with a stiff-legged gait, his torn suit jacket flapping in the wind and his candy bucket swinging side-to-side. A clown in a pair of voluminous yellow pants dashes past him in a blur of colour, a painted, pallid mask with a bouncing red nose, the curls of a garish purple wig bobbing with each step. Jack o’ lanterns stand sentry on every porch and doorstep, taking in the colourful procession of costumes with gouged triangular eyes that flicker with a faint orange light. A gust of wind billows along the gutter, kicking up sun-bleached crisp packets, golden autumn leaves and a tattered yellow flyer. Witchcraft Heights Summer Fete, the bold type headline reads, below which the date August 12th is printed in flamboyant primary coloured lettering.

But of course, those dog days of summer are long gone. The days have grown short now, and long-legged shadows chase laughing children home from school, kicking up golden-brown storms of autumnal foliage as they play. And as the span of daylight withers and dies, so does the dark majesty of the bleakness ahead begin to bloom. The summer is dead and buried; the city is slipping into winter’s cruel grasp, where it will remain, a frozen snowflake of concrete and glass, until the thaws of spring. Now is the time when the darkness beneath the bed and the gloom beneath the stairs take on an altogether more sinister undertone; the time when the creaking you hear while tucked beneath the covers could easily be something with far too many limbs scuttling stealthily towards you; the time for ghost stories to be recounted in dimly lit bedrooms as the wind howls outside and rain sprays the window.

Tonight is Halloween and Brandon Knight is running late. Out of work by seven and home by quarter to eight, with just enough time to shower and freshen up before meeting his girlfriend, Kathy. That’s the plan, and everything is running on schedule until a pair of young mothers arrive in search of outfits for their toddlers. Of course they spend twenty-five minutes debating whether to dress the excitable children as pirates or astronauts, before predictably settling on a pair of witches instead, and of course it is twenty-past-seven by the time Brandon has ushered the squealing children from the store and locked up.

So now a quandary presents itself; does he rush home to shower and run the risk of showing up late, or does he head over to Kathy’s place early but smelling like something stagnant that has crawled from the depths of the town dump? It’s the clothes that finally do it for Brandon; he can’t take Kathy on a date in his Craft Castle uniform. After all, isn’t it bad enough that he spends eight hours a day five days a week wearing a cap so orange it’s practically luminous and a lime green polo shirt trimmed with sunburst yellow?

He has almost resigned himself to the fact that he will be arriving late at Kathy’s when inspiration strikes; he will take the Pumpkin Trail, the Grinning Pathway. He will walk the Witches’ Draw. To hell with the stories – something flitted across the edge of his vision, a scuttling mass of pale sticklike limbs – and to hell with the fact that they kept him awake for hours when he was younger. Right now, the path through the pumpkin patch that grows almost the entire length of the vacant lot between East Willamette and Mill Street has one distinct advantage which illuminates Brandon’s mind like a spotlight: it cuts his journey down from forty-five minutes to a mere twenty-five. Perfect. He’ll definitely make it on time now.

So instead of crossing, Brandon hangs left on East Willamette. A gaggle of zombie cheerleaders giggle as he passes them by, their prom queen faces and coltish legs stained crimson with streaks of gore, but he pays them no heed, and throws only a perfunctory glance over his shoulder upon arriving at the high-boarded wooden fence – I could hear them whispering to me, they had mouths that nobody had carved – before stopping at the loose plank that every kid in Salem knows, the one that every kid in Salem avoids. When he was younger, on the days he’d been late out of school and the shadows had grown long, he would run past that tilted piece of wood as fast as his feet would carry him, convinced that something sinister lurked beyond.

But of course, that was years ago. Tonight, he simply holds the plank aside and squeezes his slim body through the gap into vacant lot.

The black asphalt trail at Brandon’s feet snakes ahead of him like a discarded liquorice whip, curving around an old, blackened tree stump before disappearing into the impossibly tall stalks of corn. Most of them are little more than shrivelled brown husks now, wilting and falling apart, but they are still packed tightly enough to obscure whatever lies beyond them. Brandon pulls his hood up, adjusts his rucksack and bulls on ahead.

Back on East Willamette, the teenage zombies are heading to a house party a couple blocks over. Jennifer Fisher, an ample-chested med school student dressed as an undead nurse, lingers to peer into the gap in the fence the guy in the flannel jacket just ducked through. She thinks he’s sort of cute and likes the way his wavy hair hangs down past his shoulders, despite the dorky looking cap he’s wearing. If he’s slipped behind there to smoke a joint or something and is still there, then she’ll invite him to come along with them. She leans forward and sure enough there he is, squatting with his cap off and his back to her in the shadow of something that looks a lot like stalks of corn.

Jennifer grew up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She’s never heard the stories about Abigail’s Run; she doesn’t know any better. She calls out to the boy and his head whips around to face her.

A long scabrous tongue rasps across a lipless mouth. Maggots writhe amidst decaying flesh and a fly with shattered wings crawls laboriously across an unblinking eye. Something terribly thin, crouched on stick-like limbs with faint wisps of hair hanging from its mottled scalp, turns its gaze upon her.
The bottle of Smirnoff Ice she has been carrying slips from her grasp and shatters on the pavement, drenching her new sneakers and slicing her ankles. The thing that Jennifer mistook for a boy darts away into the gently swaying stalks, and only then does Jennifer realise the source of the shrill sound she can hear. It’s her; she’s screaming.

Husks of corn cling to Brandon’s jacket and jeans like withered brown spiders, and he has somehow lost his luminous cap, the absurdity of which he finds quite amusing. Pushing the last of the cornstalks aside, he emerges once more into the – relatively – open air and gasps at a sight long imagined but never witnessed.

A knobbed alley of pumpkins stretches as far as the eye can see, flanked on either side by high-boarded fences that tower over him. Some of the pumpkins are the size of his skull; some are larger than his Great Dane, Alaska. But all of them share a single defining characteristic: they have all been carved. Jagged mouths zigzag across bulging orange skin, sly knowing smiles lurk beneath slanted triangular eyes and distended ovals scream in perpetual terror. Some are more elaborate than others, and Brandon’s gaze lingers for several seconds on a bloated pumpkin with downturned eyes and a drooping mouth growing near his feet. Without fully knowing why, he stomps on it, smashing through ribbed skin and soft innards with ease. The entire thing caves inwards and orange tinted liquid begins to seep from the wreckage, yet those downturned eyes continue to stare up at him.

He can’t quite discern whether those eyes belong to a face that is weeping or laughing. He decides that it doesn’t matter, and that he really doesn’t care. Does a pumpkin even have a face, or is it a head? Can you have a head without a face?

As he tentatively picks his way through the sprawling pumpkin patch – for some reason, stomping that first pumpkin has made him uncharacteristically nervous – Brandon begins to wonder why the fences on either side of him are so damn high. North Willamette is lined with those looming townhouses, the ones with stone gargoyles crouched on the eaves that look about five-hundred-years old, yet the fence that runs as far as he can see does little to mirror their gothic architecture. No wrought iron gates, no elaborate iron railings, just those huge, imposing panels. They must be thirteen, no, fourteen feet high, and he can barely make out anything beyond their impassive brown finish. Their height, combined with the narrowness of the grinning pathway, leaves him feeling trapped and claustrophobic.

Strangely enough, it doesn’t leave him feeling alone.

It can smell the meat on the wind, and when it presses the object in its hand to the slits on its face, the pungent stench increases tenfold. It moves silently on all fours through the cornstalks like a scurrying rat, contorting its rake-like body so that its chin faces the sky and arching its spine in anticipation. Stick-thin limbs protrude at odd angles as it hurries towards the children. Towards its precious children. Exploding from the corn in a silent flurry of motion, it snaps its torso around and twists itself backwards.

Now it walks like the meat.

The light is fading, but its eyes are milky white and attuned to lightlessness after years of crawling through tunnels of Stygian blackness; they pick out every detail of its surroundings with the precision of a hunting Kit Fox. It hobbles forwards, forked tongue lashing the air. Husks of corn are caught in the folds of its decaying skin, and pieces of flesh have been ripped away by errant stalks to expose the yellowing bone beneath. A beetle crawls through a hole in its cheek, and is immediately torn apart by rows of shattered teeth, filed to points during long hours spent in places beneath the city upon which light has never shone. Pus oozes from open sores and angry red wounds writhe with clusters of fat yellow larvae.

At the edge of the orange carpet, it stops. It falls to its knees and shrieks, tattered, disused vocal cords rasping and screeching in a choir of shrill insanity.

It holds the broken body of one of its many children. Fat chunks slip through slim fingers and frail palms sticky with mush and liquid pound the ground in agony. It looks into the funereal eyes of its dead child and howls in atavistic fury. With bones cracking and joints grating, it drops down to all fours and shoots away into the darkness.

The wind is picking up now, and it carries to Brandon the shrill screams of gleeful children, high-pitched shrieks of excitement mixed with giggles of glee. He smiles ruefully as he walks, keeping one hand on the fence so as not to lose his footing, remembering how long it’s been since he was that small, running from door-to-door dressed in a long red trench coat and his dad’s fedora. Spawn was always his favourite comic book character.

He is startled from his reverie by the thing almost directly in front of him; he would have walked straight into it had he not looked up just at that precise moment.

Before him is a pumpkin the size of a small dumpster, its gargantuan bulk spilling across the Pumpkin Trail and threatening to bar his way. It has been carved with the visage of a mirthful clown, and the young man can almost see the mummer’s flabby jowls quivering with silent laughter.

But he’s been walking for a good fifteen minutes now, so he must be nearing the end of the Witches’ Draw. He’ll be damned if he’s going to let an overgrown vegetable – or fruit, whatever the hell a pumpkin is – stand in his way. He scrambles up the side of the thing, using its laughing mouth as a foothold, and is about to slide over it when a thought strikes him.

Maybe he can stand on the giant clown to peer over that soaring fence. A quick peek won’t hurt, just enough to satisfy his gnawing curiosity. He boosts himself up, his fingers scrabbling for purchase against the fleshy orange surface, and manages to pull himself up.

Before he can lean forward to peer over the fence, something flickers across the edge of his vision, and he feels a sudden awareness of scrutiny. Turning to his left and squinting into the darkness he finds nothing, and is about to turn away when a dark shape flits from the shadows.

Whatever it is, it’s moving low to the ground, like a dog or a cat, except a lot larger. It picks its way through the pumpkins with ease and fluidity, limbs turning at all angles and feet reaching high above its shoulders as it sweeps down the trail. A brief spell of moonlight gives him a true glimpse of its emaciated form and drawn, pallid skin, and warm urine seeps through his jeans. Whatever that thing is, it could have crawled straight out of the potholing-gone-wrong horror flick he’d watched with Kirsty over the summer.

Brandon loses sight of it, and for a second he allows himself to believe it an imagined terror, one born of far too many Hellraiser comics and late-night readings of Clive Barker novels. Then the creature leans forward, squatting atop a lumpy pumpkin…and looks straight at him. Unable to process the horror of its face, Brandon snaps his gaze downwards, towards those terribly-thin arms, and balks at the familiar orange cap clenched in one of its hands.

Before it has even begun to scuttle towards him, Brandon is leaping from the giant pumpkin and sprinting in the opposite direction.

From the window of 168 North Willamette’s drawing room, Augustus Dowell, seated in a plush leather recliner, watches his red Doberman pinscher, Maxwell, lope about the garden. He takes a sip from the glass of bourbon cupped in his hand, his watery eyes never leaving the hound. In the process of ferreting through the carefully-maintained bushes lining the rear of the garden, the Doberman freezes, its wiry body going rigid and its ears standing erect, and whips its head to the side. Seconds later, it launches itself at the fence, standing on its hind legs with its forepaws scrabbling against the wooden panels and barking ferociously. Augustus’s attention immediately shifts to the top of the fence, scanning the wicker dolls that hang lifelessly there. He lets out a deep breath he hasn’t realised he is holding after counting the seventh doll. Yes, they are all there; everything is in place, meaning that his property, and by extension his family, are protected.
Whatever is going on beyond his boundaries is none of his business, nor is it any of his concern.

‘’Augustus, bring Maxwell inside will you?’’ His wife, Constance, asks from the landing. ‘’He’s making an ever-so frightful racket.’’

‘’Of course dear.’’ Augustus replies, glancing a final time at the wood-and-wire constructs dangling from the fence before turning away. ‘’I’ll fetch him in right away.’’

Brandon, his uneven breathing becoming ragged, finds time between bouts of mind-numbing terror to curse himself for dropping out of Phys. Ed. If he’d never met Kathy in the art block that night, and subsequently decided to switch subjects, perhaps he wouldn’t be so damn unfit. The thought of her spurs him on, though, allowing him to draw upon reserves of energy he had thought long since expended.

He dares not turn around, lest that skulking thing be inches away from him, reaching for him with skeletal arms and-

Brandon barrels straight into the corn and for several seconds doesn’t understand what’s happening, batting at the stalks all around him in fear before he realises. This patch of cornstalks must mirror the one at the entrance he used, forming a barrier of sorts between the pumpkins and the real world. Meaning that he’s almost at the exit.

His joy is short lived as something hurtles past him and bare skin brushes the leg of his jeans.

He staggers to the side until his shoulder connects with the fence. Biting down a curse, he whips his head around, expecting the creature to be beside him. He can’t hear a thing, which is much more disconcerting than if he were to able hear it moving about. At least then he’d know where it was.

With his back to the fence and one splayed hand feeling the way forward, he inches slowly to the left, fearful of making even the slightest sound. His heart is thudding somewhere in his throat, and adrenaline is coursing through his veins like electricity. Everywhere he looks he expects to see it, leering out of the corn towards him. A subtle shift directly ahead causes him to freeze; a stealthy scratching that sounds as though it is directly beside him. His sodden boxer shorts become damper still. Suddenly, the thing has him, he can feel its spindly fingers scrabbling against his leg-

His phone. His phone is vibrating. Frantically trying to wrestle it from the pocket of his jeans, all the while aware of every subtle movement around him, he succeeds in doing so just as the incoming call notification shifts from vibration to an audible tone. Brandon does the first thing that comes to mind.

He turns and throws the phone as hard and as far as he can, back in the direction from which he came. It begins to wail and jingle as it spins through the air, and something shifts in the corn to his right – to his immediate right, inches away – and shoots off after it.

All pretence of stealth abandoned, Brandon smashes his way through the corn, bursting free of the clinging stalks seconds later and almost running head first into the chain-link gate that bars the exit onto Centre Street. There are signs covering the gate, so he can’t see them, but he can hear the blessed sounds of children shouting, parents chatting, and sirens wailing. Even the incessant hooting of impatient taxi drivers sounds like music to his ears.

Brandon scrambles up the chain-link and thuds down onto the pavement, narrowly missing a passing group of children and their parental escorts, who throw him scornful you-should-know-better-at-your-age looks, seconds before something crashes against the gate from the other side. He whips around, horrified, and begins to back away as various sections of the chain-link begin to subtly sag inwards, as though something were testing for a point of weakness.

He can’t see anything through the gate; signs and notices cover it entirely, having been crammed together side-by-side. WARNING CONSTRUCTION IN PROGRESS, one reads; UNSAFE SURFACES screams another in bright red lettering. A vivid red and yellow PRIVATE PROPERTY – DO NOT ENTER board runs the length of the gate, and as Brandon’s eyes shift to the right of it his pupils dilate and his heart drums a frantic tattoo against his ribcage.

Staring through the small slit between the PRIVATE PROPERTY board and its neighbour, a green heptagon with oriental lettering, is a listless, pupil-less white eye; below it, the vaguest impression of a row of pointed teeth clasping the chain-link and something serpentine and dark snaking along the side of the sign. Slim, hairless fingers scrabble at the links like pale overgrown spiders.

Brandon staggers away in horror and instead of finding the sidewalk his foot finds only empty space. Pinwheeling his arms but unable to keep his balance, he tumbles backwards.

Sahj Patel is on his way back to the depot when the man – a kid, just a kid really – falls backwards in front of his bus. He’s only four miles-per-hour over the speed limit, but at this distance he doesn’t have a hope in hell of stopping in time.

Something crunches sickeningly beneath the wheels, an elderly lady at the rear of the bus screams and a mother hugs her son to her chest. Sahj is out of the vehicle in seconds, but the way one of the wheels nestles in the kid’s chest tells him that he is already too late.

Only while he waits for an ambulance, tears streaming down his face and breath coming in huge wracking sobs, does he realise exactly where on Centre Street he is: the entrance to that accursed alley. Witches’ Draw, they had called it when Sahj was a child. Of all the places, he thinks, and slams his fist against the gate in frustration, tearing down a cluster of small wicker figures hung there by children in his anger.

Behind the gate, in the softly swaying stalks of long-dead corn, something stirs. A sickly crescent grin splits a pair of scabrous lips.

Free at last.

Credit To – Tom Farr

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