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Take the Four-Thirty Six

March 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Hollis Gommer sat on a bench, one shoelace irreverently untied, the laces brushing against the dusty concrete, the other tied in a pristine double knot, hardly untied for several days now. The evening sun beat upon the back of his head, even filtered through several layers of pink and orange clouds. He wondered somewhere in the back of his mind why his hair felt so warm, like his back was to an oven, he thought. He wondered what was cooking in that oven. It must be cornbread, he could almost smell it, a slightly sweet, slightly pungent aroma wafting lazily up one nostril, down the other and across his tongue. He could taste it, the grainy yellowness, buttered, with jam, blackberry, not the stuff with the little seeds that catch between each and every tooth, but the smooth kind, a little bitter, a little sweet.

A bus went by. He looked at the old digital wristwatch on his right hand—the six-forty two. He needed the seven-something. He thought to himself, which was it, the O-one, the twelve? Damn it all. He looked to his left, north, from where he came, not too long ago, still too recent to know the bus system he reckoned. He looked to his right, south, he thought, home, somewhere.
There was nothing around him. The road was cracked and dry. A slight breeze gave relief to the droplets forming on his forehead, and he let out a sigh. The cold of the night would fall soon. He knew that he needed to be indoors before the sun fell. He looked back behind him towards the sun and squinted, his eyes feeling like they would split in four, roll back and stretch by the very optical nerve down his low cheekbones.

The orange and blue that swirled around the sun quickly faded to the east into a deep velvety purple. Far off into the horizon, specks started appearing, little pricks of light, little pricks Hollis thought, who are they? Burning for thousands of years, sitting in space, spinning around, twirling their celestial dance to no end, to no cadence, to no rhythm, to nothing, no point. He turned his head back to the sun, almost at the horizon and thanked himself for it. He knew as well as anyone only one thing. The buses didn’t run once the sun went down.

He looked to his right and saw something far off in the distance. A cloud of dust, nothing more he thought, but it got closer, a rickety old school bus it looked like, the side panels long since faded from their bold yellow into a grimy filth. He tried to place the color as the bus drew nearer—white maybe? No, eggshell white? He tried to think harder as a slight pain erupted in his left temple—eggshell—he was hungry enough to take even one of those right now, but cornbread would be better.

The sun was almost down and a shiver went through his spine. He crossed the road and waited. The old machine rattled closer and closer. Something about it didn’t sit right in the pit of his bowels. As it came closer and closer, he could tell that it was moving at a speed that no vehicle of that age could handle, it had to have been going ninety down that old desert road. Ninety? Maybe eighty, his eyes were deceiving him, no it had to be going only fifty. He realized then that it was slowing down, forty maybe, thirty. It screeched to a halt in front of him and the door opened. The bus driver sat behind the wheel, crouched down, white wispy hair hanging low below his eyes. Hollis couldn’t see his eyes. They remained trained forward staring at the road. His stomach did something of a somersault as he stared at the steps leading up to the bus. A dried green slime caked the steps, bleeding over like a stagnant waterfall, dripping over, step by step by step.

He looked up at the driver.

Still nothing. He heard no voices coming from the bus, only the low rumble of an engine far past its prime.
He listened still, stillness, Hollis stood still, he looked at his watch on his left wrist now—fifty-seven. Close enough? He thought to himself. A bus is a bus. Even  Hollis couldn’t deny that fact. A bus. Is a bus. Maybe going to way from which he came, but still, he looked to the west at the sun, now half below the horizon, the purple spreading farther and farther to the west as the gold ochre disappeared.

Hollis stepped forward and grabbed the rail, hardly thinking. It felt cold in his hands, ice in his palms, sweaty from the sheer oddness of the vehicle, even Hollis thought it was strange, as if a single snowflake had fallen onto his tongue, melting quickly in a spike of chills. The seats were empty, the old fake leather cracking with no attempt at repairs, no tape or glue, just spiderwebbing fractures in nearly every seat.

“Sun’s almost down,” he said to the driver with a cautious smile as he took the front right seat.

“Hmm.” The driver kept looking forward through his matted and greasy hair. The engine roared as he slammed his right foot down on the accelerator. Hollis could feel himself being pressed back against the back of his seat and his heart leapt, skipping a beat, if he had been keeping track.
Hollis looked out the window at the scenery—nothing, nothing for miles, only dead grass and woody trees, no leaves, no bushes, only the quickly fading light casting long shadows over the land. Every last smudge of light in the east had been replaced with a deep velvety royal purple. The road seemed to go on and on, as the bus seemed to accelerate more and more. An orange moon was peeking out over the horizon.

“Moon’s coming up,” Hollis said, never breaking his gaze at the orb. He would swear that he could actually see it rising, making its nightly debut in the eastern sky.
“It’ll start soon,” said the driver, his eyes fixated on the road.
“What’s that?” It only then occurred to Hollis to wonder where he was going exactly. He only cared that he was on the bus going somewhere, maybe not the seven-something, but the late sixes is close enough to the early sevens, he supposed, six-forty five may have been better, safer he thought, what was this? The six-fifty two? Fifty seven? He wondered again what he should have taken. But, then again, a bus is a bus he thought, a bus is a bus is a bus, the wheels, the steering wheel, the engine, it goes, he thought and he stays still, he thought. His feet worked, but not well. He looked back out the window, the moon now in full view. He remembered a long time ago, sitting on a tire swing, hanging low from an old oak tree in someone’s yard, his papa’s, he thought, maybe, or maybe a neighbors, looking up at the moon, in the years before the grass died, before the sun had baked the dirt into a dusty cake.

“Where’s that?” He repeated.
“You got on the bus.” The driver replied nonchalantly, eyes still pasted to the road.
Hollis was confused.
“You got on the bus and the bus only goes one place.”
“Where’s that?” Hollis said once again.
“I only go one place.”
“Where’s that?” he said once again, starting to get aggravated, something that didn’t happen very often. He remembered the last time he had gotten aggravated; or rather he recalled what little he could of it, a red flash followed by running, lots of running, his feet hurting, his hands stained with something warm and squishy, he wasn’t sure why he was running, but his ankles buckled and he fell, fell hard onto the gritty ground, scraping his knees through his faded jeans, raw, a searing blinding heat shooting up his thighs into his stomach and he vomited—hard, expelling nothing.
“Only one place I go; you got on the bus, I thought you knew.”
He paused.
“I don’t turn around.” The driver said.
“Should I ask you to?” Hollis’ stomach fell several inches, into his colon it felt like and he felt like he was going to vomit nothing again.
The driver let out a low chuckle and offered no answer.

Hollis felt the bus slow down, he was pushed forward by the force of the rapid deceleration. His face squished against the cold textured barrier in front of him and the bus was stopped. He stood up and ran down the grimy steps. He found himself amidst crowds, crowds of a magnitude he had never seen before. It was a metropolis without the buildings. There were no buildings anymore, not like there used to be, not like the monolithic testaments to the empirical imperialism of mankind that used to dot the landscape like a rash on the earth.

No one was dressed well. Rags at best. Trench coats to keep warm against the night. Every single person seemed to be going in the same direction—towards a collection of bright fluorescent lights on the horizon, just over a hill.

Hollis lightly grabbed the arm of a passing stranger, “where is everyone going?”

The stranger looked at him, eyes glazed over, pupils dilated, and shied away as quickly as he could. Hollis resigned himself to simply follow the crowd. They were a motley crowd, clothed in everything from rags to the finest coats. Nobody seemed to speak a word, it struck him as odd. The silence to him seemed loud, his own thoughts seemed to grow louder, persistently begging him to neither turn back nor keep going, or to stay put. He would do no good here or there, there or here, hither, thither, point A or point Q, F, Y, or V, he thought, no points mattered anymore. He walked up the hill with the crowd and just as the hill came to a peak, he could see a massive behemoth of a structure, at least ten stories high, at least, perhaps even more, he couldn’t tell. Hollis stopped where he stood and looked, and stared, he could do no more, he had not seen such a structure since, since—he thought harder, since the hospital, he thought, but maybe that was smaller, it sure seemed big, but his cold white room was small and sterile, two beds and a roommate rocking back and forth in the fetal position murmuring to himself, the queen, she stole it, she stole my heart, the damned queen, stole my spade, how can I dig now, I have to dig my own grave, gravity is lying, if you’re not dying you’re lying, if you’re lying you’re still dying every day, they sun passes, bakes the earth, the earth roasts, roasts in a pan, panning back and forth, of course, of course, of course—Hollis would cover his ears—of course, courtly fanatics fantasize over the strangest thing, don’t you think Hollis? Hollis? He pressed his hands over his ears even tighter—Hollis? He grew louder. Can’t you see it’s all a lie? If you’re dying you’re lying if you’re lying you’re still dying just putting on a store front, window shopping through life, I forgot, I should call my wife, she doesn’t know I took a vacation—you’re not married, Hollis thought, his hands over his ears as tight as they could possibly be.

The biggest thing since the hospital, but monumentally larger, it was round, shaped like a pie tin with an open roof, all stark and bare concrete, a gray slate colored smooth surface from what he could tell. The walls of the structure angled out slightly, supported by immense columns of the same makeup, cold grey, smooth, industrial. The whole thing looked like it was barely finished.

He ventured down the hill, still following the crowd, growing louder and louder with each passing step, a general hum in his ears, and he was glad, his thoughts were covered, gently muffled like a pillow over his cognitive ears, no more former roommate babbling on. He recalled further what he could, a red flash, no running this time, just a red flash across his eyes and an burst of motion across the room. Not until he could feel the warm throbbing of his throat in between his hands was his roommate quiet, but still his words echoed after attendants rushed in and restrained him, if you’re not lying you’re dying if you’re lying you’re still dying slowly, painfully, more painfully than any pins forced beneath your fingernails, slowly, hear them squish as they force the flesh out…

Hollis felt no anger towards his old roommate. It only was. And was it was, he thought, thinking, was, he thought, wondering again what this building was. He could hear noise from it, a dull roar, a hissing, like white noise from a television set, like the slow trickle of a whispering stream intensified, over a waterfall, tumbling down with the television set, the glass tubes and bowed out screen cracking and splitting as they chased the water down the rocks.

He thought he could hear the glass breaking as he drew nearer and nearer to the building. He could tell now that it was a kind of stadium. He tried to fight his way out of the crowd, but it was too dense, people were packed shoulder to shoulder as they filed into an entrance, a door at least twenty feet high, twenty? He thought, maybe thirty? Before he could determine the exact height of the entrance, it was too late, he was already in.
As soon as he entered the monstrosity of a structure, the high density of the crowd immediately slackened, no longer shoulder to shoulder, Hollis finally felt like he could breathe again. He let each breath slowly enter his lungs, and exit his lungs, enter, exit, in, out, inhale exhale, he thought as the violet blue electricity running through his nerves subsided into a dull hum. It seemed to be the same kind of crowd as outside, eclectic in their mix, electric in their energy, all abuzz about something, something was happening, something was transpiring. Hollis realized that he was in a smaller hall, even though the ceiling was about three stories high. Vendors stood alongside the walls shouting out words that Hollis couldn’t recognize at the top of their lungs, an attempt to draw in customers. The walls were just as bare as the outside of the structure, flat matte concrete, a dull bluish grey. It seemed fresh almost, like it had been built less than a few hours ago, but he knew that it had to have been longer than that, at the same time, it seemed as though it had sat there for a millennia, untouched by the years, unscarred by the rain, unscathed by the thunder and passing wind, blowing over the desert plains in furious gusts on almost a nightly basis, kicking up dust in giant cyclones of litter and dirt, floating across the flatlands.
The smaller hall seemed to be adjacent to a much larger room, from which emanated a sound, a dull roar, what had to have been the voices of twenty-thousand people or more, all attempting to talk over one another, not shouting, but cumulatively an aural force to be reckoned with. He stepped into the main room in what was clearly now a stadium. A sea of faces seemed to all stare at him as he walked into one of the upper levels.

He was tired. He felt like he had been on his feet for hours. He looked at his watch, approaching midnight it looked like, perhaps he had, but he couldn’t recall exactly. It didn’t matter. There were places to sit, benches, made out of that same concrete, that same blue-gray cement. He squeezed into one of the rows, already packed with people and managed to find a seat between two larger men, both seeming to look down at him as he took his seat.

The lights changed. They went from a neutral white light to a deep soft amber, and changed again to a heavy scarlet. The crowd went silent.
Down in the middle of the stadium was a stage, a small platform, no more than maybe ten feet high, with a staircase leading up to it. A man climbed the staircase as the lights changed again, this time to turquoise, a color that seemed to hurt Hollis’ eyes. He squinted and he could see a small man walk up onto the stage as the crowd’s noise fell down from its dull roar. The man had no microphone, no amplification, but his deep voice carried to each and every set of ears in the massive stadium.

“If you aren’t lying you’re dying.” Hollis’ ears perked up and his eyes narrowed; the lights shifted back to red. “And if you’re lying, still, still as the night in rebound flight, you’re dying,” he knew this man, he remembered again back at the hospital, his hands around his neck, a rush of attendants and a quick shot to the rear then silence and restraint. “Still-hearted over cold hands with the one, tick, two, tock, three across an ivory face, to wherever mice may flee and men will flock,” the crowd cheered, “when they see and hear the hands and bells at ten just to pretend no ringing touched them, even then, only a small heart and smaller mind to defend,” a sense of rage began to build in Hollis, “they’re lying, but no, it’s only pretend, no mice of men the truth, failed to defend, only a deaf ear, of fear, of pain of washed out chalk in the summer rain, defend the one ear, but the rat of mice defends both, no pretend there, a blind ear to fear, no way to see scared.” The crowd erupted in applause and cheering. “Enjoy the spectacle,” he ended.

Hollis’ neighbor looked at him, “You look tense.”
Hollis said nothing.
“Here,” he said handing Hollis a green metallic bottle “drink this.” Hollis thought nothing of it, he was, after all, quite thirsty. He downed the entire bottle in a few swigs, it felt strange in his throat, bubbly, but not carbonated, lightly fluffy, he thought, and it was sweet, oh was it sweet, it made his teeth hurt for some reason, not a sharp pain, but a dull ache, somewhere in the back of his mind it registered that he perhaps shouldn’t drink something of this nature, but he was too enthralled with what was going on down on the floor.

Two of the largest doors Hollis had ever seen opened up on opposite ends of the stadium and two beasts emerged, one feline looking, blue with white stripes, the other bright orange, reptilian in nature. They stood at the opposite ends and seemed to stare down each other, both with hands at holsters. The crowd was silent and Hollis could hear the swift breeze outside echoing through the many doors and openings of the arena.
“You feel it yet?” whispered his neighbor.
Hollis wasn’t sure what he meant. What was he supposed to feel, he wondered as he often did.
“You all right buddy?” Hollis wasn’t sure again but something seemed off. His nerves were buzzing again, a violet-purple wave of electricity seemed to run through his body, from the tips of his toes to the top of his skull, buzzing, vibrating violently in an array of some bizarre sensation he had never felt before.

He pulled back from his neighbor as the man’s right eye slowly lowered itself onto his high cheekbone. The man’s eyebrows furrowed and they didn’t stop rising, they raised up into a perfect bushy point, far above his hairline. Hollis took deep breaths, in, out, inhale, exhale, he thought, just keep breathing, he thought, but no amount of breathing seemed to bring him enough oxygen. His chest expanded and contracted, painfully almost.

His heart leapt as the crowd erupted; he looked down below him and all he could see was a violent torrent of red and orange, blue and white. He looked back at his neighbor. His eye seemed to be back closer to his socket, and he let out a sigh of relief, only to be jolted back again when his neighbor almost aggressively nudged him and gave him a sadistic smile, “I knew you’d like it.”

The crowd continued cheering as the colors went back and forth, occasionally backing off from each other long enough for Hollis to see the two beasts, their sides moving up and down in labored breath, clearly torn from the relatively serious altercation. A wave of energy ran through his spine once again, making him feel nauseous, he bent forward and heaved but nothing came out, after all, he had a difficult time recalling the last thing he had eaten.

He looked back at his neighbor and tried to ask what he had given him, but no words came out, his tongue seemed to be frozen in between his cheeks. He looked at his watch to see how much time had passed—three-forty two. A jolt ran through his body once again as he wondered how much time could have possible passed. Had he really just watched the swirling spectacle for over two hours, or three hours? Was it four? How long had he been in that seat? His mind turned back to his ex-roommate from the hospital and Hollis wondered where he was now. He was obviously still somewhere in the arena. He looked back at his watch and he realized he could no longer make any sense of the numbers, they were all just points of light on his wrist, emanating a strange neon glow onto his arm, stretching and swirling around his arm-hair, twisting and contorting in shapes he had never seen or even contemplated before.
The crowd cheered again and it was over. The dull roar of a thousand intoxicated conversations resumed as people started to file out of the place. Hollis tried to slip through the crowd as quickly as he could to get back out into the open air. He went through and between, maybe even over, he couldn’t tell and he didn’t care, he just wanted to be back. Back where? He thought. Back where, back where, not the hospital, not the bus stop, he tried to remember where he had been before, before, before the bus stop, before the hospital, before the road…

He found his neighbor again and he grabbed his arm, “how do I get out of here?”
“What do you mean, you follow the crowd and leave.”
“Is there a bus?”
“Take the four-thirty six.” He said.
Four-thirty six, thirty six, thirty six, he repeated in his head, he couldn’t forget, he needed to be out, to be away to be back to be somewhere once again.

He was out. The wind had picked up and was fiercely howling from the west. It kicked up the dirt and stung his face and the grit got into his eyes. The crowd seemed to melt into one entity, uniformly swaying back and forth, walking back up the hill towards nothing.

Or maybe something. He could hear the rumble of an engine, maybe two or three. As he walked up the hill, they sound became louder, much stronger, and he knew that there was a possible way out, a way back, back somewhere, a somewhere he didn’t know but a somewhere nonetheless—a somewhere is a somewhere.
He looked at his watch, the numbers making something of sense once again—four-twenty two. He breathed a sigh of relief, he still had time.

Hollis was on the tail end of the crowd and his legs were hurting again, they burned like they had never burned before, he kept stopping to look at the path he was on as it twisted and contorted like everything else around him, marveling at how he was able to keep a straight line in walking. The bland colors that he had seen before were now all shades of green and brown, blue, and an occasional red in the dirt. He finally came to the peak of the hill and saw buses of all shapes and colors leaving. His heart sank as his possibility for a ride diminished. But there was one left, the same one, it seemed, that had taken him there to begin with, the same eggshell-white rickety old schoolbus. He quickly got on the bus and the driver gave him no regards yet again, he just stared through his white and gray greasy cheek-length hair.

The engines rumble grew as he shifted out of neutral and into gear, the vibrations shaking Hollis’ body and making him want to vomit again, his stomach twisting and turning, not unlike his surroundings, still at times an amorphous blob of all sorts of colors and shapes, things he could not reckon with, things he could not make sense of.

The bus started down the road, slow at first. Hollis looked out the window and saw that they were on a bridge over some large body of water, the moon, now high in the sky, reflecting boldly over the water shone brightly into his dilated pupils. He looked down at his seat, trying to escape the inundation of discernment, something he had long since lost, he thought to himself as best he could, is this the world? Where have I been? He looked back out of the window and saw that they were no longer on the bridge but in a forest, a dark dense blend of dark evergreens and woody browns, and even though it was dark, he could see yellow ochre, bright crimson and the deepest orange he had ever seen, realizing then that it was fall. His stomach twisted in his gut and he wanted to vomit again but he knew nothing would come out, he knew that nothing good would come from trying.

It went faster and faster as the driver kept his glare at the road and shifted into higher and higher gears, more gears, it seemed, than a bus ought to have. Hollis was spinning in his seat, his eyes going from the forest outside to the floor of the bus, to the driver, to the floor, to the road outside through the front window, to the forest again, in all its vivid colors and he still wanted to vomit, his whole body spinning on its cosmic axis, its own entity hurtling through space at speeds unknown.

The bus stopped and Hollis got off as quickly as he could.

The sun was close to rising. Hollis could see the distant pink on the eastern horizon. He looked around and he was back in the deserted nothing.

Credit To – c

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The Custodian

March 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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A man named Marty Foster was walking. He wasn’t quite sure where to; hadn’t been for some time. He had found that it was shockingly easy to lose his way in a world that only spun in one direction. Sooner or later he always wound up lost, staring at his own back; nipping at his own heels.
He had discovered very few truths in his time, and he guarded them all jealously. He didn’t know why. They weren’t exactly the answers to cosmic mysteries; certainly nothing to write a book about. More like guidelines, a kind of virtual redoubt to fall back to when all else failed. One of them was: no matter where you are, you are there. This was comforting, and damning. One might say it was his cross as well as his crutch. Right then, he was in a city, a big one, with a big-sounding name that he either didn’t know or had forgotten. Another truth was: anywhere you are, there’s a thousand places you aren’t.

There was a river through the middle of the city, a head-to-toe bisecting stripe of nature. Its form was strikingly fluid against the hard gray of the city’s steely flesh. Marty Foster walked along next to it, and his reflection rippled on the water’s surface, keeping pace with him. Stepping on his heels. He couldn’t outrun his shadow. Yet another truth.

Reflected in the water also were the twinkling lights of a thousand billboards, crowning his watery self with a neon halo. The billboards loomed everywhere, bombarding their rapt flock with promises of salvation through discounted brain surgery, buy-one-get-one-free mammograms, instant wealth with such-and-such a program, call now, no obligation. They clamored for attention, a flock of gaudy, idiot children. Where are your parents, thought Marty Foster. You are orphans.

He walked on, his tennis-shoed feet marching to the beat of some unheard drum. Now visible were the dirty backsides of the neon messiahs, the grit and grime and steel of their unseen half now seen by Marty Foster. He ignored them. Another truth: if it stinks bad enough, dogs will come to lie in it.
He looked out across the river and saw a man treading water in the middle. Charon had fallen out of his boat. Another truth: gravity only works in your favor when you’re sleeping.

Marty Foster laid no claim to wisdom. Wisdom was for prophets and politicians. If someone were to ask him for advice, he would tell them to take a walk, and walk with their eyes open and their feet on the ground. It worked for him. He wouldn’t say he was a pilgrim either. Yes, he was walking, but he had no final destination, no promised land or heavenly kingdom, no long-dead hunk of space rock.

Marty Foster had no god. He did not believe this made him evil. It was just a fact. No god had made himself known to Marty Foster, so he saw no reason to make himself known to god. He did not believe himself to be anybody’s son but his father’s. The most profound form of self aggrandizement, in his mind, was to say you were a child of a god. God had no children. If he had, they would have killed him and taken his power.

Yes, he was walking, and yes, he’d stepped on his own heels more than once. But no, he was not searching for something. He was no prodigal son, he was no pilgrim, seeking to lick an unknown father’s boots. His only desire was to see. He had seen nothing, so he kept walking.

He had met a woman once, with a tattoo on the back of her hand. It was a golden cog wreathed in ivy. It was beautiful. She was not. They had talked about god. She had said: “You know what I think?”
No, Marty had said, I don’t. She was wearing a loose black tank top, and he had his hand up it.
“I think that if god were to just show up one day, on the street, in your church, anywhere, no one would recognize him. He’d be just another face, you know?”
Yeah, Marty had said. I know.
“The only reason people like god so much is because they don’t know what he looks like. See, religion’s kinda like sex. Not everyone has it, but everyone talks about it, you know? No one’s ever seen god, but everyone talks about him. Some people even talk to him, if you can believe that.”
Nope, Marty had said. I don’t.
“Damn straight you don’t. See, people don’t worship what they can see, they never have. Even the indians who believed in plants and rocks and birds and war, they couldn’t just sit back and enjoy it, you know? They had to go and push credit on something for it, something had to have made everything.”
Yeah, Marty had said. I know.
“See, as long as there’s that image in the mind, that unattainable ideal, there’s gonna be a god, or some other poor bastard like him. See, when people move past that, they can see what it is they’re struggling for. When that happens, god becomes obsolete. People become their own gods.”
Marty asked her what it was people were struggling for.
“Ask god,” she said, and rolled over.
Yeah, Marty had said. Me neither.

And now he was in the big, nameless city. Walking. Still walking. The sidewalk had veered away from the river, taking him deeper into the city. He found himself now in a business district, a neighborhood where twenty-first-century snake-oil salesmen plied their trade.

Marty saw an electronics store with TVs in its display window. Some of them were on and showing the news. On one channel they were showing footage of a woman in a sari being stripped and beaten in a public square. On the screen, a man spat on her. Behind him people cheered. The window was barred. Marty didn’t know whether it was to keep people out or the news in. Above the TVs was a sign declaring loudly, “40% OFF!!!” It was hand-written on a hot pink piece of construction paper and held up with a length of scotch-tape.

It was an amazing invention, television. It was life condensed to a palatable hash, all the good parts all the time. It was the highlight reel of the world. If you didn’t like what you were seeing, you could just turn it off and ignore it. It offered the experience of power without all the tricky decision-making that came with it. It was the closest man had come to godhood, allowing him to watch the world from afar while laying down judgment from on high.

Marty Foster had met a guy once who said he was the king of the world. His subjects were elves that lived in a glass box in his living room. He controlled the elves’ world. You’re nothing, he would shriek at them. You’re puny, you’re ants. And then he would switch off the sun. Then would come the muttered apologies, the soft sobbing of unbearable guilt, and then the sun would come back, and the elves would dance.

Marty Foster slowed his pace slightly as he became aware of footsteps behind him. He cast a glance back, and saw three men in medium cold-weather gear, hoods pulled over their faces. He took a left through an alleyway, trying not to betray his sudden urgency. He could see the city lights at the end of it, the children calling out to him. The footsteps behind him quickened, and then one of them was in front of him, blocking his way.

Marty Foster stopped walking. “Excuse me, sir,” Thing One said. Things Two and Three came up behind him. He was trapped. Thing One’s breath came out from under the drawn hood in a gray cloud, and Marty thought of a ghost wearing clothes. “Might I have your attention for a moment?”
“I don’t have any money,” Marty Foster said. He saw a flash of teeth under the hood as Thing One smiled.
“Now, you expect me to believe that?” Thing One asked. “How am I supposed to trust you, a total stranger, on money matters? Do I look like I was born yesterday?” He moved closer. “Now take out your wallet. Slowly. There’s no need to rush; we have all the time in the world.” Another truth: Time is immortal, and he makes slaves of us all.
“I don’t have a wallet,” Marty Foster said.
“Well,” said Thing One, “They never do, do they. What a shame. To think, we could’ve been friends.” He raised his fist. Marty Foster closed his eyes.
When he opened them, he was on his butt on the ground, cold soaked through his jeans and into his bones. His back was up against the decaying, once-red brick of the alley. His feet were cold. He looked down, and saw that they had taken his shoes. He hadn’t been lying when he said he had no money. Now at least they believed him.
He looked at his hands, saw they were covered in blood. His blood. He touched his face, and it felt like a bag of hot, wet sand. His nose leaked a drizzle of mucus and coagulating blood. He found that he didn’t particularly care. Another truth: the only wound that doesn’t heal is the one that kills you.

They could take his shoes. They could take his blood. They could take whatever they wanted. Those things were secondary. He didn’t carry the things that mattered in his pocket. They floated, nebulous, a string of firing neurons in the galaxy of his mind. His truths were the only things that were really important, and no one could have them. That was how he had survived. He simply didn’t have anything that people wanted. If he did, it would’ve been taken from him long ago.

He pulled his legs in toward his body, willing his blood into them. He stood up slowly, realizing that he was almost completely numb. He turned toward where the light had been coming from, and came face to face with a man in a long black overcoat, and a stovepipe hat. His breath steamed out and up, curling around the top of the hat, giving the impression that it was actually smoking. He had his hands deep in his pockets, and he was not looking at Marty Foster.

The man in the stovepipe hat had his attention directed skyward, like he was trying to look into heaven. He had a small smile playing about his lips. He was tall, very tall, maybe six-six. And he was old, much older than Marty, probably seventy. He had a short, thick, old-testament beard colored the same gray as the city. He looked like a tall, white Buddha, with that expression on his face. He looked serene. His eyes were half closed. Beneath the lids Marty saw dark, dark irises, so brown they were almost black. They were old eyes, eyes that had seen many things. In them, Marty saw the rise and fall of men and empires.

“I don’t have any money,” Marty Foster said, and wiped at the blood and snot leaking out of his broken face.
The man in the stovepipe hat did not look at him. He inhaled deeply, through his nose, and said, “Do you hear it?” His voice was rich, full, the voice of a king- or a god. As he spoke, his expression stayed the same. “It’s beautiful.”

Marty Foster cocked an ear, listening- heard only his wheezy breathing. “No,” he said, “I don’t hear anything. You wouldn’t happen to have a tissue, would you?”

With out lowering his gaze, the man in the stovepipe hat removed a hand from one of the deep pockets, and offered it to Marty. In the hand was a kerchief, clean and white, with a golden cog wreathed in ivy emblazoned in one corner. It was beautiful. He felt almost guilty wiping his filth on it, but the other man had not seemed to notice the mess that was his face.

He mopped his swollen face, and looked up to find that the man in the stovepipe hat was staring at him. No, not at him, into him, through him, as though he could see the very thoughts in Marty’s bruised head. He had a moment of paranoid fear that the man was going to take his truths.
“It’s beautiful,” he repeated. “It’s a shame you can’t hear it.”

Marty’s face was beginning to hurt. His teeth felt loose. Another truth: pain stops, the world doesn’t. “Hear what?” he asked. He dabbed gingerly at his nose again, and went to crumple the now-soiled tissue and throw it away. But the man in the stovepipe hat held his hand out for it. Marty Foster placed the feculent rag in the open palm. The other man stuffed it back into his pocket. As it went in it left a trail of human sludge down the front of the jacket.

“The music,” said the man in the stovepipe hat. “It’s the sound of harmony. What I hear, and what you don’t, is the tranquility of a machine in perfect synchronicity with itself. I hear the sound of a great drum, beating across the universe. What do you hear, Marty Foster?”

Marty was not entirely surprised to hear his name from this patriarchal stranger. He wondered what else the man knew. “I don’t hear anything. Should I?”
The man in the stovepipe hat shrugged. “It is the lullaby that sang you to sleep in the womb. You have all heard it once. Whether you listened is up to you. Sometimes, you do hear it, ever so faintly. You know what it looks like when this happens. Those moments in crowded rooms where all the occupants grow quiet at the same time. They’re all hearing the music, and it gives them pause.”

Marty Foster, the unflappable, was flapped. “I don’t understand,” he said. “Why can’t I hear it?”

The man in the stovepipe hat said, “You stopped listening. That is the problem. Listening is the hardest thing for you to do. You cling to your truths like a raft adrift on the open ocean, so afraid to look down, into the depths.” Marty Foster was shocked. This stranger had seen.
“Mr. Foster,” said the man in the stovepipe hat, “How would you like to go for a walk?” That subtle smile was showing through more, white teeth crowned with pink gums. Marty wondered what he was king of. Another truth: there are two sharp teeth in the friendliest smiles.
Marty looked down. His shoeless feet lay inert at the ends of his legs, dangling like fleshy pendulums. His wool socks were holey and wet. His toes showed through one. They were turning purple. He looked up. “Sure,” he said. “Where to?”

The other man’s smile grew. Lots of teeth. “Why, to the control room, of course,” he said. He raised his arms up, as if delivering a sermon. “To see. And hear. That is what you want, is it not, Marty Foster?” He turned and began to walk out of the alley, toward the idiots.
Marty regarded the man in the stovepipe hat. “First,” he said, “Tell me your name. You know mine, it’s only fair.”
The man in the stovepipe hat paused, and turned. “My name?” he said. He looked confused, as if he didn’t understand the request. Then his face resolved and he said, “You may call me Consilius, if you must.”

Marty Foster nodded, and Consilius turned once again towards the mouth of the alley. Marty Foster and his dumb feet followed him into the light.
They made a strange pair as they walked along the street. To a passerby, they may have resembled a monarch and his jester: Marty Foster in his bloody, shoeless getup trailing beside and slightly behind a man whose name may or may not have been Consilius.

“So,” Marty Foster said, “Who are you? Are you supposed to be god or something?” The man called Consilius laughed loudly. It sounded rough, painful almost.
“No,” he said, “No, Mr. Foster, I am not god. God gave up a long time ago.”
“I don’t believe in god,” said Marty Foster.
“God doesn’t believe in you, either,” said Consilius.
Marty Foster stayed silent for a time. The city spoke for him. It had many voices, each shriller than the last. They all said the same thing. Marty’s feet hurt. “I need shoes,” he said.
“Not where we’re going, Mr. Foster,” Consilius said. “And besides, we’ve not got much further to go. I wouldn’t think you’d mind walking; after all, you’ve been walking for a long time, haven’t you, Mr. Foster?”
Marty conceded the truth in this. “Fine,” he said. “You still haven’t answered my question, though. Who are you?”
Consilius slowed slightly. He was considering. Then he sped back up, and said, “Patience, Mr. Foster. Please.”
This straw broke Marty’s aching back. “You know what?” he said, stopping. “No. I’m done with this. I mean, what am I doing here? I have no shoes, no money, I’m tailing a blissed-out psychopath who thinks he’s god’s nephew. This whole situation is fully and completely fucked.”
Consilius stopped abruptly and spun around to face Marty. “Fine,” he said, “Goodbye, Mr. Foster. Just remember, it was you who agreed to follow me. I did not force you into anything. It was your, what do you call it, free will that led you to where you are standing right now. If you must know who I am, then know you shall. But not here, in the street, like animals.”

He turned to go, and Marty Foster watched him depart. He had several seconds of doubt about many things. Where was this erudite stranger leading him, and what would happen if he followed? He wondered for one of those seconds whether he was dead and this gray city was some kind of new-age purgatory, maybe this Consilius was some gentlemanly reaper, come for a soul he did not believe he had. Marty wanted his secrets. Marty suddenly stopped doubting and jogged after the man in the stovepipe hat.

From a distance, the city had the appearance of a great gray brow, crowned with skyscraper spikes jutting out above a circlet of fog and industrial soot. Somewhere above that crown was the sun, the red, unblinking eye of the universe whose light burned as well as succored.
Long ago, in a land made of heat and dust, a man had given the sun a name, and in doing so, given it power. When the sun went away, people killed themselves to bring it back. The sun did not object. It always came back.

Somewhere below that crown, two men were walking. One of them had a broken nose and no shoes. The other had secrets. His shoes were black leather. They shined like mirrors.
The man called Consilius and Marty Foster were walking now, side by side. The sidewalk had ended, and they now walked on gravel. Marty’s feet hurt. “Where are we going?” he asked.
“The same place we’ve been going. Why so curious, Marty Foster? Don’t you trust me?”
Marty looked at him and said, “No. Not at all.”
Consilius smiled. “Wisdom is truth. Truth is perfection. Perfection is beauty. Therefore, wisdom is beautiful.”
Marty said nothing. No, he did not trust this man whom he was following seemingly to the ends of the earth. Another truth: a turd painted gold was still a turd.

They were now among a fleet of warehouses moored in a sea of gravel. Marty’s feet had stopped hurting. Consilius had slowed and appeared to be searching for something. Marty slowed too and watched the other search. After a time he stopped and stood in front of a door. Above it was stenciled a cog wreathed in ivy.

Consilius turned slowly to Marty Foster. “Well,” he said, “Here we are. Home, sweet home.” That smile again, toothy and white.
“You live in a warehouse?” Marty asked.
“In a manner of speaking, yes, yes I do,” said Consilius. “All of creation is a warehouse; the storage bin of the cosmos. You live in it too, Mr. Foster.” He turned back toward the door and reached for the handle.
“Wait,” said Marty. “What’s inside?”
Consilius paused, and said, without turning, “Perfection, Mr. Foster. Perpetuity.”
And with that, they went inside.
For a moment, as Marty crossed the threshold, he felt a yawning abyss open up below him. Then he was inside the door, and the gray light of the city’s dawn glinted dully somewhere far behind him. They were now in a small room. Against one wall was a bench, simple and wooden. Across from them was another door. Above the door was a sign that read MAINTENANCE in bold black lettering.
“This is the antechamber,” Consilius said. “Are you ready for what lies on the other side, Mr. Foster?”
“I don’t know,” Marty answered. He was being truthful. He was very quickly coming to the realization that he didn’t know much of anything at all.
“Steel yourself,” Consilius said.

And he opened the door.

Inside the door was the most profound darkness Marty Foster had ever experienced. He could feel it weighing him down, a blanket woven from dark matter sheep’s wool; it was suffocating him. He flailed his arms wildly, panicking, scrambling for something to touch, something to tell him he was still planted on the ground. He was suddenly horrified that he was drifting away, a man-shaped balloon that some careless child had let go of to make room for something shinier, prettier.

Behind him he heard a click, and the darkness burned away and Marty fell back to earth.

They stood inside a gigantic clock. City-sized cogs turned, turned, turned, grinding into eternity. They stretched to the ends of time and space on all sides, an endless, gilded wasteland. The clockwork desert gleamed with an incredible light that shone from somewhere far, far above them. The sound Marty heard was an indescribably beautiful hum, a thousand low voices buzzing, buzzing. In that multilayered drone Marty heard the intermingled songs of life and death, destruction and creation, damnation and salvation. They shook Marty’s bones, dissolving him and dropping him to his knees. The siren song of the god-machine resonated to the very core of his being. His heart stopped and started again, beating now to the rhythmic pounding of a great unheard drum. A man named Marty Foster was shattered, broken, reforged, rebuilt, human scrap metal.

He wept silently, tears running in unnoticed tracks down his face. Beside him Consilius was saying: “You wanted to know who I am. Still do, I think. Listen, then: this is the exquisite machinery of existence, the engine of creation. Vita ex machina; life from the machine. Do you have any concept of what this means, Marty Foster?”
Marty shook his head slowly. His feet had stopped hurting again. He was numb.
“This is perfection on a cosmic scale. Every facet of this machine was built with one specific purpose: to spin for eternity, in perfect cohesion with every other piece. If one piece falls out of sync, everything ends. And that is why I am here. That is who I am. I am what god left behind; a custodian, groundskeeper for the most valuable property in existence.
“Now tell me, Marty Foster, do you hear it? The music?” Consilius looked down at the broken man next to him. Marty nodded.
“Yes,” he hissed, “Yes, I do, I hear it. It’s beautiful.”
Consilius closed his eyes, and said quietly, “Isn’t it just…” The two men stood in silence, letting the music wash over them. It was like standing in the shallows at the beach, when the sun was high in the sky and the water was warm all the way down to your toes and the waves swelled up and over you. Marty hadn’t been to the beach for a very long time. He hadn’t liked it when he had. It was too big, too deep, and he couldn’t see. Who knew what was down there, hidden in all that blue. Not him. Not anyone, at least no one he knew.

What Marty Foster was feeling now was what hypothermia was supposed to feel like, after you had lost feeling and your brain knew it was dying so it made you feel warm and good, not like freezing at all. Marty Foster was content, at least for the time being.
“Would you like to stand up now, Mr. Foster?” Consilius asked, and Marty nodded. Consilius held out his hand, and Marty grasped it, and Consilius pulled him to his feet. His ascension.
He stood, wavering slightly, awash in the golden light that came from everywhere at once. There was a gentle breeze blowing, some stale, artificial wind that cooled his puffy face. Consilius was watching him.
“I have questions,” Marty said. He realized now that they stood on a balcony overlooking the mechanisms that moved, moved, moved, in total ignorance of the awe they inspired. On one side was a rusted maintenance ladder, the kind you see on the sides of apartment complexes. The top was covered in an iron-barred enclosure that looked like a birdcage.

He looked over the edge, and immediately regretted it; there was a thin, spectral mist floating very far down at the bottom. If there was a bottom. The mist concealed the machines’ roots from view, lending to them a strangely celestial quality so that they appeared to be floating in space, gleaming, cylindrical planets.

“I have no doubt of that,” Consilius said, turning his gaze to the landscape before them. “I’m not sure how many of them I can answer. But I shall try.”
“I guess that’s good enough.” Marty looked down at his hands. They were raw looking, cuts of cheap pork that some lazy inventor had mashed on with paperclips and hot glue. “First,” he said, “Why me?”

Consilius turned those eyes on him again as he considered. “That’s a fair question,” he said. “At least, in your mind it is. It’s amusing to me; you spend your whole lives trumpeting your own uniqueness, obsessing over what makes you special, and then you end up here, and you ask, “Why me?” as if I can tell you. How the hell should I know? Do you think there’s a plan? Some great ledger in the sky with all the events that have shaped your world over the millennia just written out, like a lunch menu? I just work here. When it all comes down to roles, I’m still just a janitor. I clean up other peoples’ messes. You wish to know why things are the way they are? Read a bible. Read a coyote story. Ask the ancient Egyptians about how Osiris masturbated the world into existence. Things happen because other things happen first. Cause and effect, Mr. Foster, cause and effect.”
Marty was silenced again; he was becoming used to this by now. After a few moments he asked, “Well, if there’s no plan, then why is this here? This… machine?”
Consilius said, “This machine is here because it needs to be. If it weren’t, you could be damn sure you wouldn’t be either. I told you, this is the engine. Life is its fuel.”
“And what about you?” asked Marty Foster. “Would you be here?”
Consilius blinked slowly. “I do not know. Maybe, and maybe not.”
Marty grimaced. “I’m getting sick of maybes,” he said.
“Well, that’s too bad, because they’re all I can offer you,” Consilius said. “I’m getting old, Mr. Foster. I have a long memory, but some of it is beyond my grasp. I don’t remember how it all started. I don’t remember why. All I can give you is this, and it is only speculation: you exist because the machine exists. Cause and effect. At the beginning, there was this machine, this clock, and when the cogs began to turn, something was needed to grease the wheels. Life came about so it could die and fuel the fires of existence.”
Marty listened to Consilius’ words, and imagined a great coal scuttle filled with the wasted corpses of billions of years’ worth of organisms; the great intermingled with the small, men holding hands with rats.
“That’s bleak,” Marty said tiredly.
“No, it isn’t,” said Consilius. “It’s beautiful. The perfect system. Everyone ends up a martyr, no matter how they die, because they’ve served their purpose to the machine, and in so doing, made way for the next generation.”
“So you’re saying that the only reason life exists is so it can die,” said Marty Foster.
“Am I saying that?” said Consilius. “I am. But I am not saying it’s true, am I?”
“Not outright,” Marty said. “But you’re suggesting it pretty strongly.”
“Would it be so bad if it were true, Mr. Foster?” Consilius asked innocently. “If it were, everyone would have a purpose. Death would not be in vain. Just… what if, Mr. Foster? What if?”
“Yeah,” Marty said. “What if.” He looked back out across the living mechaniscape unfolding before him. “I want to know why you brought me here, and not some other poor jackass.”

Consilius laughed again, that same choking hack that seemed so out of place coming out of a man like him. Maybe it was asbestos. He said, “I brought you here because I saw you first. I saw those men beating you, and I didn’t stop them because it was a cause. I didn’t know whether the effect would be your death or not. So I waited. And listened. And now you’re here. That was the effect. It just so happened that you were also a pilgrim. Oh, I know, you tell yourself you’re not searching for anything, but here you seem to have found something anyways. Poor you. As to whether this is punishment, well, that’s up to you. Do you feel punished, or rewarded?”
Marty thought for a moment. “I don’t know what I feel,” he said.
Consilius winked at him. “I think you’re beginning to understand, my friend.”
“I suppose I should feel enlightened or something, right? I don’t feel enlightened,” Marty said.
“I am not a purveyor of enlightenment, Mr. Foster. I leave that to monks.”
“Then what was the purpose of bringing me here?” Marty asked.
Consilius shrugged. “Boredom, I guess. Restlessness. It’s a shame you only have room for seven wonders in your world. There is so much more than that.”
Marty was angry now. “You’re telling me that you gave me the secrets of existence because you were bored? Because you wanted to shake things up a little?”
“I told you it was all speculation on my part. For all intents and purposes I’m little more than a mechanic lifting the hood on an automobile. I haven’t really told you anything, let alone the secrets of the universe. No one knows them, that’s why they’re secrets.”
Marty felt betrayed; this took him by surprise. “You don’t know anything then.”
Consilius gave him a look. “Are you disappointed, Mr. Foster?”
“Yeah,” Marty said. “I guess you could say that.”
“Well, don’t blame me,” Consilius said. “I never promised you anything. Remember, you came here of your own accord.”
“If you’ll follow me, Mr. Foster,” Consilius said, and turned toward the door. Marty followed him. Consilius led him back out of the warehouse, through the little white mud room. Then they were outside.
“So, what now?” Marty Foster asked. “Do I just… Move on?”
“Yes,” said Consilius.
“How?” asked Marty.
“That is up to you,” Consilius said. And closed the door in Marty’s face.

Marty pounded his fists uselessly against the door. You can’t do this to me, he said. You can’t, you bastard. You can’t. What is left for me to do, he screamed. His hands hurt. How can I live with this. He slumped against the door. He was defeated. Then the door fell open behind him and he was back in the warehouse. It was empty. He smelled dust and desiccated rat feces, could see piles of dirt scattered across the floor, a bed made of cardboard shoehorned into a gap between one wall and a lone shelf. Empty. Barren.

Another truth: sleeping dogs only lie when you let them.

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Never Trust the Quiet Ones

March 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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I finally understand! See, silence is key. It’s tranquil. Noiseless. Golden. That’s the true beauty of it; at its very essence, its very core. It can mean nothing at all, or absolutely everything. Why didn’t I see it before? WHY?! …Or should I say who?

I remember tossing and turning deep in sleep when I abruptly sat up, heart pounding. Naively I was quick to shrug it off as the latest in a string of nightmares. Little did I know mine were as lambs, sweet and innocent, compared to the monster waiting so patiently, so still, in the unnatural abyss I found myself in; the same that even at this moment threatens to swallow me whole. Lambs…and I the neglectful warden, turning a blind eye as they waltzed past one by one, straight into the slaughter house to be silenced. For good. And this was just the beginning.

When I lay back down I didn’t realize it at first, but I was not in bed. How terribly I long for it; for the ground was covered in smoothed concrete, cold and unforgiving. My eyes took a moment to adjust to the dim light, which gave me no consolation, since the shadows were thick as fog and appeared to go on for miles around. I was alone, and uneasiness began to take over as I hesitated. Where was I? Did I manage to leap right out of one nightmare and into the next? During dreams of this assortment, this was about the time I would call out to see who would be unintentionally joining me in the accursed romp through my illusions. Unfortunately, this was like no other I had accidentally stumbled upon, and regretfully, I broke the only precedent that mattered in a place of this caliber: the golden rule.

“Hello?” I recited out of nothing more than a bad habit, one of which I should have broken myself of long ago. My tone set in motion something beyond my sight, which began to slowly make its way towards me, sounding of glass being grated along with each step. A shadow moved into view swaying ever so slightly back and forth as it lumbered closer. A giant of a beast at least four feet from ground to shoulder, its pelt hung off its body as if a size too big and was covered in stark white fur, that held streaks of black that ran haphazardly across its surface. Huge ears sat atop the head and it had a muzzle to match, filled to the brim with teeth that looked out of place, as the canines jutted passed the jaw.

My nervousness began to rise, I’ve never known such a blatant fear before; just thinking about that scourge sends chills down my spine. As the fiend approached I froze. What could I have done? Run and be hunted down? I really wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere but there. For my alarm to go off and wake me up so I could hit the snooze button per usual; then finally get up to open the window and see what the day would bring, coffee cup in hand. I hated that alarm, but it was punctual. Never. Late. Not even once to pull me from the bad dreams. So where was that bothersome toll when I needed it most?
The brute came to a rest several feet away and something didn’t feel quite right; this creature had a foreboding air about it. My subconscious was screaming at me to get away, to do something, anything to move. Fight or flight, yet all I could do is recoil in terror. Towering above me it yawned, baring its teeth as if to show what the outcome of this encounter was to be. Then it slouched forward, eyes level with my own, and a striking pale blue gazed deep into my soul and I had to look away out of suspicion of what might become of me if I didn’t.

“I was growing impatient,” someone retorted from behind me, though I dared not turn to see who it was. “Too much longer and I would have awoken you myself.” That voice, I pondered, I’ve heard it before, but where? While I was attempting to work this out their speech continued, “You are right to despair, but you are mistaken as to why you are right to do so. Not many have caught sight of this form and lived, but you human are an exception for the time being. Such a weak species.”

The animal began to pull at its skin, “much like this abomination. Their leader, a king who refused to give up his kingdom. He chose to fight me rather than hand over his lot; so I acted accordingly and consumed them all, keeping his body as a trophy. Yet knowing this you haven’t cause to fret as their story came to an abrupt end the day I arrived. What you see before you is the husk of one who should have passed on over a millennia ago. Unconsciously trapped in a dark plague of the mind, the fallen king will continue to thrive in a state of permanent exile as long as I will it. Therefore, it is what you cannot see you should be afraid of.”

I was endeavoring to rationalize what was occurring, albeit dismally trying to pass this all off as a simple nightmare. Don’t worry, it’ll be over soon. I’ll wake up, I know it. Right? Right. But all the assurance in the world wasn’t enough to stop the tremors or make the entities disappear; everything was too real, and the severity of the situation seemed to grow with each fleeting second. Though that voice, for some forsaken reason or another, my current predicament wasn’t pressing as it should have been. I had just heard it, very recently. Even with the terror sitting close enough for me to reach out and grab if I so felt the need to; I still had the inclination to turn around and see who it was. Then…that’s when it hit me! My facial expression must have changed as well for the specter pulled me from my contemplation,

“You wish to speak?” My vocal chords acted almost as if of their own accord as I somehow managed to squeak,
“I-I know who you are.” And for the briefest instance, I know I saw that thing freeze up as if backed into a corner with no way out, however only for a second, before regaining composure and ultimately control over the situation.
“You know this human? Interesting,” The voice was both aghast and amused at this turn of events as I felt a hand of my shoulder and they whispered in my ear. “Alright, I’ll make you a deal. Guess my name correctly, I will let you go. And you will never hear from me again. On the other hand, get it wrong,” the monstrosity snarled, snapping its jaws, “and you belong to me until time ceases to move. Of course you can choose not to humor me; if that is the case I can set you loose and we can see which one of us can outwit the other. I would never give up a chance for a game of cat and mouse. Today I am feeling a bit generous, so take your pick. But be wary: for each ounce of my benevolence, there lies a pound of malevolence; so I would not rest upon my laurels for too long if I were you.” A choice? More like heads you win tales I loose. Option number two sounded like a death sentence, but guess wrong and I would be no better off. I briefly mulled it over.
“I’ll guess.” The beast lifted a massive paw into the air raising three digits as it did so,
“Then three guesses. No more.” Alright, so his name? It was…
“Frank? From-”
“Strike one.” A claw lowered. Not Frank? I swore it was him. How about, yeah, that guy from down the street who was always up gardening at the crack of dawn. It had to be…
“Rick?” Another curled over into its palm,
“Third one is a charm they say.” Drat. I was never very good at putting a name to a face, let alone when I couldn’t see whose face it was. Dread washed over me as the reality sunk in that this was not going in my favor.
“I don’t know!”
“Giving up already? You have one more go. Just say something, the first that comes to mind.”
“I can’t-”
“NOW.” The behemoth became infuriated, letting out a head splitting discord unlike anything I had heard before as the hand on my shoulder tightened. Reluctantly I was quick to obey as I cracked,
“…Not quite. The voice dissipated, echoing all around as the presence behind me vanished. Then the monster began to shake, much like a mutt coming indoors during a downpour, though if only that were actually the case. Instead it gave the impression of diffusing its color. The pitch black bands started to spread, engulfing it from nose to tail as bits of white began to show through. Completing the transformation, the being now stared back at me with amber eyes, lips twisted, gnashing teeth exposed. Hunkering low to the ground it looked ready to devour me whole.
“Wait a minute!” I shouted, sticking my arms in front of me as a last ditch attempt to somehow stop this before it had a chance to happen, “I just want to go home! Who are you?! What could I have done to deserve this?!” My plight must have struck the right cord as the aggression ceased; and the voice returned from the fog, speaking in a mocking tone,

“It’s always the quiet ones isn’t it? You can’t ever tell what they’re thinking. Calm one minute and -BAM- they’re flying off the deep end the next. Sound familiar?” Footsteps filled the air and the once mysterious voice took shape as someone walked out from the darkness. “That was the only conversation I had this morning with a human. I was in the process of tracking down a most peculiar individual when I found myself being nudged abruptly in the arm.” Standing next to the savage he turned to face me as he patted it on the head, “and that same human then deigned to speak to me, inevitably forcing me to loose that of which I sought. Any idea who dared to commit such a heinous crime? Of course you do, I can sense as much; but do you really know who I am?”

Indeed when he looked at me I remembered seeing his face before, if only I had known then what I do now; it was a matter of being at the wrong place at the worst time imaginable. I would give anything to change the past. I would have walked in a bit later than usual and missed that telecast. I would have chosen to get some more work done and skipped lunch. And I most definitely would not have struck up that conversation.

I recall that morning was no different than any other before it: I yelled at my alarm, got out of bed, enjoyed my coffee, and drove to work, getting on the elevator for the fourteenth floor. See, just as you pass the thirteenth, you always hear the news; since the lobby was small, and the television was barely put out of the fire code violation kiddy corner to the elevator doors. The news broadcast every morning on the hour, every hour, and if you had even the briefest of thoughts to change the channel, you would get more than a few dirty looks which would follow you around until the work day ended. The secretaries were always eager to hear the newscasters tales of tragedy and triumph to see if there was any fodder for their daily gossip get-together over lunchtime.

That day as I got off the elevator there were breaking up to the minute headlines rolling fresh off the press. A university professors ‘unique one of a kind look’ into the mind of a recently caught serial killer who was found walking around in broad daylight only a few towns over from ours. I never paid much attention to the details as I walked passed the outdated decor and upholstery on the way to my office; but every great once in awhile I tried to catch a bit, just enough to be able to join in when noon rolled around. Since I didn’t get out of my work area very often, it was my way of being seen and to not be known as anti-sociable.

So on those days, the appointed hour was always upon me before I knew it; and I stole away a minute early to beat the usuals to the water cooler and look as if I had been anxiously awaiting their arrival. First the weather was discussed, be it too cold or too warm, then we moved on to politics, how so and so could stand to improve this or that; then once those were out of the way, the talk moved on to what everyone had been waiting for, the piece de resistance, front page material.

And being next to the water cooler like that it wasn’t unusual for coworkers, CEOs, the general public, or even janitors to walk by. Most wouldn’t bat an eye our direction, but the occasional on looker would ask questions or there were those who would attempt to join in on the conversation as if they had been there the whole time. That’s where I went wrong, mistaking that thing for an average joe looking to waste precious work hours. I did nudge what I thought was someone in the arm that morning, in an attempt to get them in on the debate over the killer. All I had to show for it at the time was a glare and a ‘Do you know what you’ve done?! Move!’ As I apologized he left us standing there wondering what to make of it; though the group shrugged it off collectively, and we got right back into the news as if nothing had happened.

Nothing had happened?! Those bitter, deceitful, agonizing words! Lies. All of them! I shun their existence! Curse he who first uttered their likeness! If only I could remove them from the pages of history. If only I…could…
Again I was pulled from my thoughts as I connected the dots,

“Drawing a blank? I was thinking you might know the truth of this world, yet you are as the dirt and grit which I grind beneath my sole. Allow me to enlighten you before I leave your mind to slowly waste away into the deepest pit of oblivion. Soon the time will draw near when all shall cower before my likeness in its every form, for I am a disease, here to eradicate the weak and purge the degenerate. And as I am unending, this plane too will never glimpse the light; and while chaos and madness roam freely it will be plunged into an eternal darkness. This is where I must depart, for I have much to do before the nights end; however know you will see me again. When I have need of you, you will be called forth from this tomb to do as I behest. Also know the eyes and ears are quick to perceive what they discern as reality, you should rely more on your ability to reason. This human is a guise from a time farther on in the expanse of the continuum. So unless extenuating circumstances applied, it would be impossible for you to recognize him; since he was born long after what would have been your demise had you not crossed my path. As for my namesake, I have none. I cannot be seen, or heard; therefore I am as nothing. Take heed, learn what those long since gone failed to understand, it is what you can’t see you should be afraid of.”

The fiend licked its lips, setting forward a paw, “Now, we need to preserve you and rid you of your subconscious, so hold still and it will be painless, I assure you.” This time I scrambled to my feet and shakily took off running as fast as my legs would carry me. Glancing back I heard both the being and its counterpart exert forth what can only be described as pure insanity, a combined laugh that sounded more monstrous than anything else; it hung in the air and made my ears ring, “I guess I get to have my fun after all.”

I didn’t get far as what seemed to be miles of space wasn’t so. I quickly found myself against a wall; and following it, a corner where I stopped to listen for the predator lurking in the void; except there was nothing but my own irregular breathing. Defenseless as a newborn, I crouched with my back to the wall as my imagination began playing tricks on me. Hearing little noises from every which way I momentarily closed my eyes for a quick reprieve to gather my thoughts; when the feeling rushed over me instantaneously. The tremors returned as the chill down my spine told me what had taken place in that brief second. Preceding to open my eyes the horror was inches from my face, blood lust written all over its features; and this time it spoke of its own accord.
“No matter where you run, I will catch you. Hope, dreams, the light, none can hide from the truth. Here is where your tragedy ends, and life begins anew.” It opened its mouth wide and let out a deafening noise as it raised a paw and swung with all its might. I braced for the worst, however, it never happened. Neither the monster or his doppelganger were to be found.

But just as it said, here I’ve been. Hidden away from the world in its entirety. Its life, its people, its trees, its animals, food, sounds, warmth, rain, news, jobs, coffee, beds, its…everything. The simplicity of daily occurrences, like being able to call someone, or driving through the park on the way home, or to go to a movie theater and berate the popcorn, or even getting the chance to threaten that blasted alarm clock. I miss it all. Here there is nothing but darkness. An eight foot ceiling to a fifty by fifty foot enclosure, completely covered in smoothed concrete. It’s cold.
At first it was pretty lonely. That hasn’t changed much, though I find myself talking aloud every now and then to make it feel like I’m not the only one. But not too often, otherwise I feel my sanity slipping away. And now I take refuge in my nightmares, which might sound a bit silly, but it helps remind me of how things like trains, or snow, look. Being secluded you tend to forget what they look like after you pass the forty year mark. Not to mention people. But why must they scream and run from the monsters which no longer frighten me? All I find myself doing is following the people around trying to start a conversation; then I am reminded how that put me here in the first place. …and unforgiving.

I gave up long ago on finding a way out, for there isn’t one. However, it didn’t take long before I knew every crevice and speck inside and out. To begin with I never kept track of time, but I found a way, by keeping a mental note of the little bumps on the ground and walls. I’ll admit it took some time to make sure I was at this spot and not that one, but trial and error helped to get it right. A very good idea if I do say myself. How intuitive of me.

So after guessing the amount of time before genius struck I would say I have been here, let me think, yeah, that sounds about right. Sixty years. Sixty years?! Some might say this is a long time, but I don’t appear to age at all. I’m no older today than I was when I was first brought to this condemned prison. I don’t eat or drink either. I breathe. And sleep, yes I do that too. I remain here and wait. Nothing more. Nothing, but listen to the depravity of this place. The emptiness. The silence.

Wait…that’s the answer! I finally understand! See, silence is key. It’s tranquil; Noiseless. Golden. That’s the true beauty of it; at its very essence, its very core. It can mean nothing at all, or absolutely everything. Why didn’t I see it before? WHY?! …Or should I say who?

Credit To – Rozka

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Fenter Woods

March 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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I used to live in a small town called Fenter. It was a quiet place to grow up with one school, a doctors, a police station, a cinema (with films shown a month after the national release date), two restaurants and a host of local shops on the west side.  Over on the east side of Fenter was the residential area with about forty houses, the town bar and the local woods, which were about twenty square miles in across.

Even though I’d grown up my whole life playing in those woods it was still easy to get lost in them, so my father used to tell me and my friends to never go past the creek that ran through about a mile in. Still this gave us plenty of space to play in and we spent many summers building tree forts and playing hide and seek amongst the tall trees. One late summer evening me and my friend Jess were out near the creek seeing how close we could sneak up on the rabbits that inhabited the woods before they’d notice and run away. I’d spent about ten minutes searching for one and, in my eagerness; I’d left Jess behind. She’d stopped to examine some odd shaped rocks and being impatient I’d told her to catch up when she was finished. I was just reaching the hill where the creek bent and curved round to travel off north for another three miles when I spied one chewing on some leaves near an oak tree. I held my breath, grabbed my jacket to stop it flapping in the breeze and began slowly inching towards it. I was careful to avoid stepping on any twigs, if one snapped underfoot it was a definite game over and with the sun going down this would probably be the last chance I got to play before I had to go home for dinner. The rabbit was blissfully unaware of my presence; its brown coat tinged orange by the setting sun, ears flopped down like a hunters hat. The irony didn’t escape me as I crept up on it, silent as the leaves floating in the breeze. I smirked, I was about four meters away from it now and it still hadn’t noticed me, not my best but not bad. I slowed my pace even more; I didn’t want to make a rookie mistake in my excitement and ruin this opportunity. The rabbit finished on its leaf and casually began sniffing the next one before digging in. Two metres away now, the closest I’d ever gotten, I felt my heart beat in my chest and for a second I was scared the rabbit would hear it thudding against my rib cage and dart off. I shook my head and continued up behind it. It was almost within arms reach, I couldn’t believe it, I stretched out my arm, fingers extended. Wait till Jess heard about this, I’d be the first kid in town to have touched a forest rabbit. My hand was about a foot from brushing its soft pelt now, I could see each individual hair on it’s back. Thirty centimetres, I’d done it. I’D DONE IT! Suddenly an ear splitting scream pierced the air, shaking the silence of the woods in to shock and causing the resting birds to panic and scatter from the trees. I gasped and quick as a flash the rabbit was under the bush and gone forever. I cursed aloud and spat, frustration clouding my head. It was a good few seconds before I even stopped to think where the scream had come from. Then like a falling tree it hit me. JESS.

I sprinted back up the creek as fast as I could. She’d been about two hundred yards back when I’d last seen her, near the old silver birches. It took me about two minutes to reach the spot, next to the weird pile of rocks. My brow was covered in sweat and my hair was messed up where the wind had whipped through it but all I could think of was finding Jess, even though I knew the woods were perfectly safe I cursed myself for having left her alone. I spun around in a circle; scanning for any sign of her but there was none.
“JESS!” I yelled out, my voice travelling through the woods and echoing off the trees. It was getting darker and tall shadows were being cast all around me like a net.
“JESS WHERE ARE YOU, CALL OUT TO ME, JESS!” I stood and listened but there was no reply. I was just about to run further up the creek where the trail began to see if she had started to make her way home when I saw it. On the other side of the creek about fifty yards away it stood, tall as the lowest branches of the sycamore next to it about seven foot up. It was covered in black rags, ripped and torn across its thin, wiry body with a hood pulled tightly around its head, obscuring it’s features. Two white, pupil-less eyes stared at me from the shadowed recess and I spied the flash of teeth. Long slender arms with hook like fingers splaying off of stumped hands almost dragged against the floor by its sides. I suddenly noticed an over powering smell and wondered how I’d missed it, I’d smelt it before on the farms when the cattle were harvested in the slaughterhouses; it was the smell of death, thick and despairing. I almost choked but my mouth wouldn’t make a sound, I just kept staring at it, petrified, blood running cold through my veins. Even the birds had stopped yelling in protest and now there was nothing but silence, it and I; locked in a gaze that I would remember to the day I died. I don’t know how long I was standing like that, it felt like minutes but it was probably only a few seconds.  Suddenly, it shifted its weight and hunched down. For a brief second I thought it was going to start running at me and I almost threw up, uncontrollable fear racking my body, but then I noticed it had stooped to collect something from the ground. I cried out silently… it was Jess; her limp body looking like a doll compared to it’s freakishly proportioned frame. Despite being thin and stick like it picked her up in one bony hand with ease, fingers clasped around her waist, teeth bared in a crooked, humourless smile. It opened up part of its shoal and pulled her close against it’s blackened torso, I caught glimpses of a rib cage and rotten flesh. I reached out my arm, as if somehow I could pull her back to me but it was too late, it had turned and started to stride off deeper in to the forest. Even if I had known that area of the woods and had the strength to move my legs I would have never been able to catch up to it and, before I even knew it, it had disappeared from sight, like it had never been there at all. Only the heavy smell of decay was left lingering in the air, the only evidence that I hadn’t just imagined the whole thing. I snapped my head round and began to run back towards town, it was a good miles distance and I’d never run that far before, but that day I ran and ran and didn’t stop, jumping over fallen logs and ducking branches, I dared not look back.

The darkness was almost complete by the time I burst from the undergrowth and in to the town’s edge. I sprinted to the bar and threw myself in to the door, practically collapsing on to the floor. I don’t really remember much after that but from what I was told later on it took them about ten minutes to stop me from screaming about a demon I’d seen in the woods and that we had to find Jess. By the time they’d actually gotten the story out of me and organised a search party two hours had passed. Jess’ dad shook me and shouted at me, asked me what happened to his baby girl. I could only stare dumbfounded and mute until my own father dragged him off and told him to get a grip. The sheriff organised the towns’ folk in to two groups and they each took a section of the woods. I tried to tell them that they all needed to bring their guns, that the thing had to be killed; the thought of going up against such a nightmare un-armed was too much, I begged my father to stay but he told me to calm down, that I was talking nonsense and was probably just in shock, my mind making up stories to deal with what had happened.  He sent me home to rest under the watchful eye of my mother as he lead one of the groups in to the woods.

Three hours passed.

I was laying in bed still unable to sleep, huddled in my blankets, paranoid of every shadow and creak, convinced that IT, the nightmare, was going to come back for me, the only witness to it’s abomination, when I heard the front door open and the heavy steps of men entering the living room down stairs. I listened as they sat down and began to talk.
“Damndest thing I’ve ever seen in my life Jerry, I don’t know what’s out there but it sure riled up the dogs”, that was the sheriff speaking.
“What was it, a bear do you think sheriff?” I didn’t know the speaker but he sounded young, maybe one of the farm hands.
“Maybe… all I know is two of my best tracker hounds caught a scent, started going mad, they tore off in to the woods faster then I’ve ever seen them run, and they didn’t come back, now we’re two dogs and a little girl down, Jesus H”
Then the voice of my dad, I eased up a little, knowing he was back in the house made me feel safer,
“Chris said he found the poor girls gloves down by the creek, right where my boy said they were playing”.
The unknown voice came again, obviously Chris, “It’s true, they were covered in some kind of slime or something, don’t know what but it smelt god awful, one of the boys almost upped his liquor”.
“Okay, well at least we know she was there, I’m not hoping for much but I’ll pray, it’s one big forest and the chances o’ finding her are mighty slim”, the sheriff sighed, “I suppose I better go tell the family that they should be prepared for the possibility that they will never see Jess again, fuck, no man should have to outlive his kid, and the not knowing like this…”
“Didn’t Travis say he saw something big moving through the forest?”, another unknown voice, this one new.
“Yeah, he radioed in; said he saw some kind of, shit, I don’t know, giant moving in the distance, but the man was half pissed and it’s dark as the bottom of a well out there, probably just jumping at shadows, no most likely a bear or… a wolf or, something, jumped her from behind and dragged her off”, the sheriff again.
My father spoke, voice raised so everyone could hear, “Okay, lets all go home it’s been a tough night, we’ll search again for her tomorrow, even if it’s only a body we find, it’s better then the poor folks not knowing what happened, I want everyone to tell their kids not to go in that forest no more till we know for certain what occurred, understood?”
There were mumbles of agreement and then solemn goodbyes. The men left and the front door locked shut behind them. My father moved about downstairs for a few minutes before climbing the stairs and going to bed. Before he turned in he poked his head in to my room to check I was okay. I just pretended to be asleep, I had nothing to say, I didn’t even know what to tell myself, but one thing I knew for certain, I hadn’t been hallucinating, I’d really seen… IT, and whatever IT was it had Jess. I waited for a half hour after I heard my dad climb in to his bed before I sat up and switched my bedside light on.  I crept out of my bed and got dressed as quietly as I could then I descended the stairs. My father had taught me how to shoot and maintain a gun a few years back, out here in the country it was important to know; hunting was a tradition amongst the men and when I was old enough my father would take me camping in the woods for a weekend of game shooting like his father before him. I knew where my dad kept his 44.Magnum and rounds in the garage and after searching around for a few minutes I found the key for the lockbox. I opened it up, loaded the pistol and grabbed a flashlight before leaving the house and locking the door behind me. My breath misted in the air as the unseasonably cold chill hung around me.  I looked at the forest, once a place of fun and laughter now dark and sinister in the moonlight, branches stretching and contorting towards the sky like skeletal fingers. That thing had Jess and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do a damn thing to get her back, after all it was my fault for leaving her alone out there. I swallowed back the lump in my throat and began tenaciously walking down the road towards the woods.
“Don’t worry Jess”, I thought, “I’m coming”.

As I entered the woods I immediately began to question my actions, I knew that what I was doing was not smart by any stretch of the imagination, that my fool hardiness could very well get me killed. The thought of bumping in to the creature, out here, alone in the dark was more terrifying then anything I could ever imagine. And knowing that Jess was in that very situation herself was the only thing that drove me on. I trudged on the familiar old trail for about twenty minutes or so until I eventually came to the creek. I had never been here before in the dark and although everything was where it should be, it looked different. It was as if these were my woods to play in during the day, but now in the dark, it was an alien place, this was IT’s domain. I was a stranger here, unwelcome. This feeling was reinforced by the fact I had no idea what lay beyond the creek, except from what I’d seen in the immediate area from the other side. Carefully, I crossed the creek, the water soaking through my boots and dampening my trouser legs.

As soon as I stepped out on to the other side I felt like I was lost. How would I find my way back? Which direction would I go in? I ignored the first question; I had bigger things to worry about at the moment, and decided to head off in the direction I’d last seen the creature going. I started walking, vigilant for any signs of movement or noise. I’d expected there to be animals out this late at night but eerily it was silent, which made me feel vulnerable. Every footstep sounded like an alarm, telling the creature where I was. I stopped for a moment and looked around with my flashlight. I felt like the darkness was swallowing me; that the thing sat just outside the borders of light, laughing at my efforts to find it. I realised that if there was anything out there, the light would only serve to give away my position, effectively ending any kind of advantage I would have over it. After a pause I switched off the flashlight and waited for my eyes to adjust. It was difficult at first but after a few minutes I could make out enough of the forest to start slowly making my way through. It was about ten minutes later when I heard it. A short sharp yelp to my left in the distance. I paused and waited to see if any other noise was made. A moment later a snap echoed through the darkness and a dull thump. I was not alone anymore. Swallowing fear I sunk to my haunches and slowly made my way towards the noise. I had plenty of experience at being quiet from the rabbit game and even in the dark I didn’t find it too hard to distribute weight so as to move almost silently.

After a while I reached a clearing where the trees parted to a grassy patch about half the size of a football field. In the centre of the clearing was a rocky depression that sunk down in to the earth. I was about to make my way over and investigate when I saw it. It was standing near the edge of the clearing to the south and was slowly limping its way over to the depression, dragging something behind it. In the dark I couldn’t make out what it was but it was about the size of a child, except if the child had been snapped in the middle, it flapped limply with every bounce like a paper fan. I swallowed a lump and tears stung my eyes. I wasn’t sure if I was more scared or sad. I prayed to God to not let it be Jess and continued to watch it as it reached the pit and then hurled the object over the rim. It hit the ground with the unmistakable sound of crunching bone. The creature bent down headfirst as if to crawl down the rocks and then stopped. Slowly it stood back up and sniffed. I instinctively pressed my back to a tree, removing myself from view and strained to listen. I heard it sniff again softly and walk around in what sounded like a small circle and then… nothing. I waited. For what seemed like eternity I waited. I was unbearably tense, expecting to see it’s milky eyes slowly peer round the side of the tree followed by that big crooked smile at any second, or a long hooked finger to slide out of the darkness and rest itself on my shoulder. Nothing happened though, and nothing continued to happen for the next couple of minutes. Gathering my courage I hesitantly glanced round the trunk only to see the clearing was empty. I double, triple and quadruple checked the area making deadly sure it was gone and then I stepped out back to the clearing edge, making sure to keep low to the ground. To step out in to the clearing was out of the question, suicidal. What if it was only hiding at the clearing edge itself, or waiting in the rocky fissure at the centre. It would defy all logic, rebel against every survival instinct – and yet I had to know. I had come here looking for Jess, if I turned back now with out checking to see if it was her, crumpled and contorted at the bottom of those rocks then I may never know. The sheriff was right; the not knowing was the worst part. Before I stepped out I pulled the magnum from out of my waistband and cocked the hammer back, being careful to mute the click by smothering it between my legs. When it was loaded and ready to fire, I began to slowly inch my way out of the safety of the tree line and in to the open. I took a few steps and stopped, waiting to see if anything came crashing towards me. When nothing did I continued my cautious journey to the depression.

When I reached the lip I aimed the gun ahead of me and looked over. It was a couple of feet deep, about ten or so and was a little larger then I had expected. One side of the hole was hollow and extended in to the ground as a sort of cave, large enough to drive a car through. At the mouth of the cave was the body, slumped over a jagged rock. I glanced around again making sure I wasn’t being snuck up on then started to lower myself down. I would just need a quick glance to make sure it wasn’t – or was – Jess and then I’d leave, run back to Fenter. I’d wake my dad and the others, lead them here and we’d kill it, in this cave that was surely it’s dwelling. It could be in there right now, watching me struggle down the smooth rock. But I reasoned that if it was in the cave then there was noting I could do about it. I must be crazy; fear has consumed my brain so completely I must not be able to feel anything anymore I thought. This was proven wrong when I slipped and fell off the side of the rock, landing awkwardly and sending pain shooting through my ankle. I almost cursed aloud but bit down on my lip and shouted silently in my head. Luckily it wasn’t twisted, just achy and I was able to walk on it without a problem, the last thing I needed now was a broken foot. My thoughts were so preoccupied with the sudden pain that I had forgotten I was now right next to the cadaver. My leg bumped against it and I spun round gun at the ready, almost firing it off in to the rocks. I quickly berated myself for being so trigger itchy and then looked down. Relief and repulsion flooded through me. From this close I could see it wasn’t Jess, wasn’t even human, instead I realised it was a large dog, one of the sheriffs hounds that had gone missing earlier. It’s back was snapped in two and folded upon itself and its snout was crumpled back in to its face turning it in to a flat, tooth filled gap. Blood, fur, bone and brain where splattered over it and one eye hung loosely from the socket. The eye was positioned in such a way that it appeared to be staring right at me. I looked away and felt bile rising in my throat. The smell of death and decay was overpowering this close to the cave and I dreaded to think what other corpses were nestled away inside. I was about to begin scrambling back up the edge of the depression when I heard a sob. I spun round and stared in to the darkness of the cave.  It sounded faint, as if it had come from quite a way away, echoing through narrow rock passages until eventually finding its way to the surface. It came again, this time it was unmistakable. It was the sound of a child crying. The first thoughts to rush through my head were of joy, she was alive, it must be Jess, hidden away deep in this creatures lair, and as soon as the thought had come I realised, with a fear unlike any I had ever thought possible to feel, that I would have to go in to the cave and get her. I didn’t have a choice, I just couldn’t turn back now, I may as well kill myself with the gun I held in my shaking hand then live with the guilt. I pulled out the flashlight and, readying the gun, switched it on. The beam stung my eyes for few seconds as they adjusted to the sudden light but I could see the cave went on for a few metres before widening in to a kind of large, rocky chamber that had passages of varying sizes detouring off further underground. I entered the mouth of the cave and shone the beam over the walls and floor. The beam danced over bones scattered across the ground. It looked as if every type of animal in the forest had eventually wound up in here, torn apart then stripped of flesh. I covered my mouth and nose with the sleeve of my gun hand and continued to walk. There were four passages and the sobbing appeared to be coming from the one furthest to the left, thankfully it was one of the wider ones and I found I could comfortably walk down and still have enough room to stand up straight. If the creature were to come now from the mouth of the cave I would be trapped. However if it was already in the cave then I was walking straight in to its spindly, disproportionate arms. I swallowed hard and continued to walk, after a couple of meters it turned right sharply and opened up in to a small version of the chamber I had just come from, I was amazed to find it was full of items. Watches, Jewellery, Passports, Letters, Glasses, Clothes, Books, Wallets; it went on, as if a museum to sentimentality and trinkets. I picked one of the passports and opened it up. Paul Ashcroft, born 1972 Herronford, Ohio. Another read Richard Blunt, born 1954 Westville, California. I shone the light over the letters, seeing the addresses were to places all over the country. Then it dawned on me. I finally understood. It all made sense, the reason I had never seen this thing in the woods before was because it had only arrived a short time back. It must of travelled from place to place, from forest to national park to desert to mountain, picking people off, taking their effects then moving on to the next town. It was like a sick scavenger hunt. IT was killing people and then keeping their items as souvenirs. Another sob brought me back to reality and I dropped the passport to the ground. I hurriedly walked to the back of the chamber I now called the museum and found another short passage and then a medium sized cavern, inside was Jess sitting on the floor and crying. She looked up when my light shone over her and covered her eyes.
“Please… P-please let me g-g-g-“ She burst out in to fresh sobs, tears streaming down her pale cheeks.
I stood paralysed for a second. I was so intent on finding her that now I had I didn’t know quite what to do. I decided I had best let her know it was me before deciding on anything. I shone the light upwards illuminating my face. Jess stopped sobbing and stared.
“ Jess I’ve come to rescue you, we don’t have much time. We need to go now before that thing comes back to find me here” I whispered kneeling besides her. She did nothing for a few moments then threw her arms around me, her body shaking.
“I thought I was going to die down here, I thought it was going to eat me, like it did the rest, I just- I don’t- it’s…” she trailed off unable to get her words out through the tears. I squeezed her back for a moment, and then went to lift her. The sound of metal clanging against rock reverberated through the cave. I shone the light down and my heart sunk. She was chained to a heavy metal ring pin that had been nailed deep in to the rocks beside her.
“I couldn’t escape” she sniffed, “I tried to pull it out but, it’s no use”. I stood for a second, defeat washing over me.
“I could go get help come back and-“
“NO” she squeaked, “Please don’t leave me here”. Panic spread across her face and it was all I could do to promise not to leave. I thought for a few moments and then realising my only option I took her chin and looked her in the eye.
“Jess, I have a gun, I’m going to have to shoot the chain to set you free, it’s going to be very loud and the noise will probably attract the thing here”, she said nothing just looked at me, ”as soon as it’s broken we’re going to have to run for the cave entrance and back through the woods”. She looked thoughtful for a moment herself and then took my chin, kissed me and then nodded.
I blushed, sitting below ground in a monsters cave and I was blushing. I almost laughed. I forced the emotion down and just smiled before taking my gun and aiming it at the chain.
“Cover your eye’s, I’ll do it on three okay? One, tw-“, a guttural moan sounded from the mouth of the cave and carried its way to us. I saw the colour drain from Jess’ face and I knew mine was doing the same. It was back. Without thinking I pulled the trigger. The gun cracked, deafening in such a small space and the chain shattered, I grabbed Jess before she could react and pulled her up, sprinting towards the museum. As we entered in to it I dived behind a table full of brick-a-brack pulling her down with me. No sooner had we landed on the floor I saw the creature enter in to the room and scramble over to the passage we had just exited from. As soon as it was gone from sight I pulled her back up and pushed her towards the passage that led to the cave mouth. She didn’t need to be told twice and we ran as fast as our legs could carry us. As the cave mouth came in to view a scream, full of horror and anger, rang from behind us as IT discovered its meal had been stolen. As we got to the cave mouth I could hear wood splintering and the tinkle of a dozens of tiny objects hitting stone as it tore through the museum after us. I grabbed Jess’s foot and hoisted her up till she grabbed the lip of the depression and pulled herself in to the clearing. I spun around and saw IT exit the passage in to the main chamber. Its hood had fallen down and exposed what can only be described as a half insect, half human face. I fired a shot off in it’s direction and it screeched in agony as the .44 bullet connected with it’s thigh, knocking it back for a second. I took the distraction and spun around, leaping for the edge of the depression and grabbing a hold. Jess seized me by the collar and helped pull me up just as I felt hooked fingers brush the bottom of my shoe. We started to run across the clearing. The sun was coming up now and the sky was a pinky-red, casting a slight glow on everything. We ran and ran and ran and ran. The whole while I could hear it crashing through the trees after us. If I hadn’t of hit it in the thigh I don’t think we would have stood a chance out running it, but somewhere, some God was watching over us.

It was about forty-five minutes before we reached the creek and by the time we saw the edge of the woods an hour had passed. I still to this day do not know how we managed to run so fast and far without stopping, but I do remember the adrenaline coursing through me so violently that I shook for hours afterwards. When we reached Fenter I fired the gun off in to the air. Within two minutes dumbstruck towns people surrounded us, some asking what had happened, others grabbing and hugging Jess and most just staring blankly. When Jess’ father arrived he broke down and cried holding his girl to his chest and thanking God, and me, equally for his daughters safe return. When my father arrived he took the gun from me, put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a look. It was a look that said he didn’t care what happened just that he was glad I was safe. Regardless we had to explain to the sheriff what had happened. After we both explained our stories, a group was organised and armed and I was asked to lead my dad, the sheriff and twenty or so other men to the cave. I was tired and reluctant to go back but next to my dad I felt safe. After a couple of hours we came across the clearing and found the cave system just as we had described. The museum was empty. The shattered chain was found at the back untouched and a brief examination of the other caves revealed them to contain skeletons of other people later identified as other missing persons from the towns that backed off of Fenter woods. A medical check showed they had been dead for days. The woods were searched all day but nothing was turned up. That Night as I looked out my window before going to sleep I saw it again, standing at the edge of the woods. It looked at me through my window for a while and I stared back, like when we had first encountered one another and then it turned and walked back in to the woods. I knew this would be the last time I saw it, it was moving on to another place, away from Fenter, from this area. The woods were searched for another week but nothing was found. The official report stated people had been kidnapped and killed by a maniac who had escaped in to the wilderness before he could be apprehended although the people of Fenter never questioned our versions of the story.

So that is my account. This all happened twelve years ago now and IT is but a distant memory. Jess has just finished university and is going on to become a lawyer for animal rights and I am working on the family farm after dropping out of college. I tell you this story not to entertain you but as a warning, next time you decide to go hiking in the mountains or camping in the woods. IT is still out there and next time, it might be your town IT decides to visit. Be safe.

Credit To – Mr.Twelve

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Poisoned Oak — The Sacred Grove

March 7, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Related: Poisoned Oak

Bassa was not unlike many of his neighbors in Glevum, a town in the Roman province of Britannia; men who were originally brought to this land by conquest, and who were now settling down to a new life as farmers. The town of Glevum had once been a Roman fort, but over time it had also become a “colonia” of retired legionnaires like Bassa. He was born to a poor farmer and his wife in Thrace. At the age of 17 he joined the Roman army and Romanized his name to Titus Flavius Bassus. He survived the mandatory 25 years of auxiliary service in the Legio II Augusta, and was proud of his service and of the fact that his legion had participated in the Roman conquest of Britain 26 years prior. He was also proud that the new Roman emperor Vespasian had been the legion’s commander at the time of conquest, and had led the campaign against the Durotriges and Dumnonii tribes.
Upon his discharge Bassa had been granted Roman citizenship and enough land to set up a farm and support a family. For the last several years he had been building up a flock of sheep while also growing wheat. He sold wool and mutton as well as wheat in the market in Glevum and was beginning to feel that it was time to find a wife among the local Britons and start a family. During this time the Roman fort had been gradually expanding its footprint beyond its original stone walls with the erection of a wooden palisade. Life was good and getting better.
That was before he noticed that his flock of sheep seemed to be getting smaller.
At first he hoped he was imagining it. He had never learned his numbers so he couldn’t be sure if he was actually losing sheep. He wasn’t stupid, he just couldn’t count, so he hit upon the idea of putting a pebble in a clay jar to represent each of his sheep. In this way, it only took him a couple of days to figure out that he was in fact losing sheep. He couldn’t afford this loss of his flock and determined to find out who was stealing his sheep and put a stop to it.
He spoke to his neighbor—also a former legionnaire—to see if he was facing similar issues, and wasn’t surprised that he was also losing sheep. Bassa was relieved on some level, for it meant that his neighbor wasn’t the thief. The two of them decided they would combine their flocks at evening and together watch over them during the night, taking shifts sleeping. Nothing happened for the first two nights.
Then came the third night.

Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus’s day had started and finished badly. He was the Praefectus Castrorum of the Roman fort at Glevum, meaning he was its commander, so trouble usually landed at his feet. Throughout the day he had nursed a terrible hangover from the night before and was counting the minutes until he could get back into bed. That should have happened hours ago, but now sleep was further delayed by the sudden appearance at the fort of the local Archdruid, Belenos. Cnaeus normally tried to keep his dealings with the druid priests to a minimum. He didn’t completely trust them, believing that they were behind the persistent efforts to sow dissent and rebellion among the native tribes. So when Belenos had shown up demanding to speak with him his initial thought was to simply have him sent away. Instead, he grabbed a cup of watered wine and strode into his office. Belenos and one of Cnaues’s senior commanders awaited him.
Nodding his head in greeting, Belenos got right to the purpose of his visit. “Praefect, have any of your men gone missing recently?” he asked. Belenos was dressed in typical druid priest fashion. He had an unbelted white outer cloak over a course grey woolen robe. His white hair and beard were long, but neatly combed. His left hand rested on a long staff, crowned with a silver cap. On his feet he wore yellow sandals. Once again, Cnaeus was struck by how well the druid spoke Latin.
“We usually lose 1-2 legionnaires a month to desertion. What business is that of yours?” Cnaeus replied. Dressed typically for a Roman officer, he wore a tunic that was made of wool and dyed red. Across his chest was a belt called a baldric from which his sword hung. He wore a linen scarf around his neck which would prevent chafing when he put on his armor. And on his feet were sandal-like footwear made of leather. Lastly, he wore a cloak that was fastened at his shoulder. This was the clearest sign of his senior rank.
The office in which they met was in the older, stone built area of the fort. It was on the second floor and had a view overlooking the parade ground where some of his men could be seen practicing hand-to-hand combat. Lit by torches on this dark winter’s night, it was still an impressive sight whose meaning would not be lost on the old druid priest. A large wooden table served as a desk behind which sat a bench seat topped with a cushion. Cnaeus dropped heavily onto the seat. Belenos remained standing.
“And has that changed recently?” Belenos asked.
Cnaeus nodded at the Centurion who then answered, “Over the last week we have lost 8 men”.
“But that’s not all, is it?” Belenos replied giving Cnaeus a pointed look.
Cnaeus paused a beat before answering the question. Taking a deep breath he said, “The patrols sent out to bring back the deserters found parts of a couple of the men. It looked as if they had been gnawed on by an animal…” He let the words hang in the air, waiting to see how Belenos would react. Only he didn’t react at all. For reasons he couldn’t quite put a finger on, that greatly unnerved Cnaeus. He asked the Centurion to leave the room, and beckoned Belenos to sit.
They sat there facing each other, each in his own thoughts for several minutes. Finally Cnaeus spoke up. “You’re about to tell me this has something to do with the fact that we cut down your ‘sacred grove’ of oaks to build our palisade, aren’t you?” He thought about the large pile of oak logs, cut down the prior week, and now stacked outside the gates of the fort. The local Britons and the Druid priests had protested vehemently against the action. A couple of the locals had to be put to the sword before the work could be completed.
“You think your wooden palisade protects you? You were better protected when the oak wood used to build it was still part of living trees in what you refer to as our sacred grove.” Belenos replied. “Now they are out, and the price in blood will be steep.”
Cnaeus thought again about the condition of the missing men when they were found. “Explain yourself, priest. What’s done is done, and there’s no putting the trees back in the ground!”
Belenos looked thoughtful for a moment. It appeared to Cnaeus that he was torn as to whether or not to speak more about the situation. Finally it looked as if he had come to some kind of decision, and he began to speak.
“It has long been told that many years before the time of the Romans this land was periodically set upon by savage beasts. They would show up without warning and rampage through the countryside for weeks. Entire villages—men, women and children—were devoured by the monsters. It was like a plague of locusts stripping a field of grain. And they were just like locusts except these monsters stripped the flesh from the bodies of their victims as they devoured them. The people started to refer to them as night stalkers, as that’s when they would attack. After a few weeks the creatures would suddenly die, but not without each leaving behind an egg-like object buried in a shallow hole.
It isn’t known when the druid priests first realized that their appearance was actually predictable and that the creatures crawled out of the ground every 25 years. Not so different from the cicadas that come every 17 years, other than the fact that these are man-sized and bloodthirsty. The druid priests back then tried digging up and destroying the eggs before they could hatch, but they were hard as a rock. Burning them did no good; neither did throwing them into a lake. They still hatched after 25 years.
The only solution was to be there when the night stalkers emerged and to try to kill them. But 25 years was a long time to remember exactly where each egg was buried. The priests realized that many of them wouldn’t even be alive 25 years later. So they came up the idea to plant an oak tree over each buried egg. This way, those in the future would know exactly where the next generation of night stalkers would be surfacing. And they would have the chance to kill them as they emerged before they could do any damage. Since the eggs tended to cluster in certain locations, so did the oak trees the priests planted. And this is what led to the creation of what you Romans now refer to as our sacred groves of oaks.
But 25 years later the priests made an extraordinary discovery. Wherever an oak tree had been planted over an egg, nothing came out of the ground. 25 years stretched to 26 years and still no night stalker. At first the priests hoped that simply planting an oak tree had somehow killed the things in the eggs before they could hatch. But then a lightning bolt struck and knocked down one of the marker oak trees. Within nights a stalker rose up from the ground and rampaged through the area. It was only then that the priests realized the oak trees were merely imprisoning the creatures. It was now clear they weren’t killing them.” ______________________________________________________________________

Bassa awoke with a start. It had been his turn to sleep, and he judged from the position of the moon that he’d been asleep for longer than he should have been. He listened to the night wind softly ruffling the leaves, and sniffed the air. The fire next to him had gone out, and there was no sign of his neighbor. With as much stealth as he could muster, he climbed to his feet. In his hand he held his gladius, a short, stabbing sword that was the primary weapon of Roman foot soldiers. He could tell the sheep were nervous, but then again sheep were always acting nervous.
He scanned the flock for his neighbor, or some sign of him. A voice inside his head was telling him not to call out, not to make any unnecessary sound. He slowly made his way through the flock of sheep, nudging one out of the way with his knee when it didn’t move quickly enough. It was the smell that first alerted him to its presence. Bassa had been on a battlefield too many times to count, and the smell of dead and decaying bodies, while hideous, was something to which he had grown accustomed. Spilt intestines, blood, burnt flesh contributed to a stench that clung to your skin long after you left the field of battle. This smell was more overpowering and more terrible than anything in his experience. It was all he could do not to throw up on the spot.
Bassa looked in the direction from which the smell seemed to be wafting, and that’s when he saw it. He had seen many terrible things in battle, but this was beyond his comprehension. It was man-sized with a wide black body, beady red eyes, and two sets of membranous, transparent wings, the front wings being longer than the rear ones. The creature also had sharp claws on all four of its legs, a blunt head with protruding eyes, and an insect-like mouth full of razor sharp teeth. It was the stuff of nightmares, though Bassa quickly concluded he would probably never sleep again. Most horrifying of all was that its mouth was buried into the stomach of his still moving and moaning neighbor—it was literally eating him alive.
Without thinking, Bassa roared in rage and charged at the beast, his gladius held high over his head

Belenos took a deep breath, before concluding his story. “An oak will reach a good height in 25 years, and we have come to believe it is the root structure and essence of a living oak tree that keeps the creatures imprisoned. The roots grow around the egg as the trees grow. Over time fewer night stalkers emerged in the 25 year cycles. Each time the eggs were marked by trees.
Eventually they stopped showing up entirely. We had trapped them all. Until now. The particular grove you cut last week was at least 150 years old. And it had exactly 21 oaks.”
As Cnaeus chewed on what he had just heard there was a knock on the door and the Centurion entered the office again. “Praefect, excuse me, but you need to come immediately.” he said in a shaky voice. Bidding Belenos to come, Cnaeus left to room and followed the Centurion down a flight of steps and onto the parade ground. There, in the middle of the darkened grounds stood what appeared to be a local Roman farmer. But what immediately drew Cnaeus’s attention was what he was holding up in his right hand. Even in the low light he could see it was the bleeding and battered head of the most horrible looking creature he had ever seen. He quickly realized what he was looking at. “This bastard ate my neighbor and my sheep, but it was no match for a Roman and his sword!” Bassa roared.
Cnaeus turned to Belenos and simply said “Now there are 20…”
Before Belanos could respond, there came from outside the stone walls a chorus of cries of terror and howls of pain accompanied by the sound of terrified horses and cattle….

Credit To – LumaKing

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The Story of Her Holding an Orange: Part Six & Link to the End

March 6, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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If you’re just staring to read my experiences with this horror, you should read my other stories first. You can find them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Okay guys, a lot has happened since the last time I checked in. Lot of you messaged me asking if I was doing ok. Some of you even went as far as sending me you phone numbers and really reaching out. I thank you for that.

We have not encountered Rose since the last time. Also, we decided to move. I got a decent job on the south of the US and we thought it’d be a good idea to get out of here (any Atl folks, holla at me). My father did go see the priest who baptized me and the story actually become more convoluted, if you can call it that.

Anyways, I got baptized in a church called Ostrog, in Montenegro. Here is the pic of it. I don’t believe in god in any kind of way, but this church is amazing. It was built a long time ago. When the Turkish Empire came to take over, people took it stone by stone and moved it up in the mountain where the Turks couldn’t reach it. It is a magnificent building. Many people of different religions, including Muslims and Buddhists, come to that church in search of a spiritual help. That is the only place I ever felt something “more” than just my non-believer reality.

The Church

So, when I was six, my dad decided to baptize me there. Neither of my parents are particularly religious, but my dad fallows traditions, and baptizing kids is one of them. He decided that baptism should be performed at the most famous church in Balkans, Ostrog. You had to schedule it, and demand was so high that I was going to do it with other kids as a part of a group baptism. When we arrived there, and disappointment awaited (at least for my dad, I couldn’t give any less fucks). At the entrance of the church, the priest stopped me.

“You. You cant go in.” He physically stopped me with his hand. Priests in our country wear long black robes and rock long beards. So I was standing there being held by this batman looking dude. My dad jumped in front of me and asked what the problem was.

“You my child (talking to my dad), I know you. I baptized you. I can tell. (He did baptize him 20 years ago or so). But your son, he can not go in here.”

“And why is that?” My dad asked, shocked.

“I cant really tell you, but it is better for us all if he went elsewhere.”

“But why?”

“Son, please, leave. But remember this, don’t dare not baptizing him. You have to.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Nor will you ever. Just do it.”

So my dad took my hand and walked away not knowing what in the fuck was going on. On our way home, he was trying to figure out what happened. He thought that maybe I messed something up, like peed behind the church or something (which sounded like my kind of thing, but I didn’t do it).

When we got home, we got a phone call. It was from that priest. He wanted us to come back. Right away. It was a 35 minute ride back. My dad and I were more confused than ever. We arrived at the church, and all the previous baptisms have been performed already. It was only 3 of us there.

“I decided to baptize your son despite…”

“Despite what?” my dad asked curiously.

“I could not tell you. But it is important we do this fast.”

So we did. I walked in a circle and he went on with his prayers spraying holy water on me. I remember getting bored as hell right before he finally finished. He told us to go away and not to come back unless something out of the ordinary happened to me.

My dad was just glad we got it done. That was 20 years ago. My dad went back there few days ago. Priest was still alive, although retired. He still lived on the church grounds. It took some talking into (and donations) for him to speak up.

I got baptized on February 13th 1992. On the night before my baptism, priest was handling his sheep (back in the day, priests raised sheep and cows and lived mostly off of that) when he saw a figure in the dark. It was strange for someone to stand there that late at night, especially because visits were over and all the clerical staff was already in their designated housing.

“Hey, who is that?” Priest yelled.

“Come, father.” Woman’s voice spoke calmly.

Priest explained that from time to time, he’d get visits from desperate people, begging for blessing or shelter. So he went ahead to see what the woman wanted. He said that when he came there, he saw a woman in white, standing, not moving. She was standing among sheep, but they formed a circle around her, almost like a safe distance. Priest claims that he immediately felt something unholy.

“ What do you want?” he asked in a defensive aggressive voice. At that point he knew it wasn’t a peaceful visitor he was talking to.

“Tomorrow. Tomorrow you will encounter a boy. Just like any other. His name will be Milos. You won’t baptize him.”

Priest told my father that he performed several exorcisms before but he was never actually scared. This time, he felt unsafe.

“You and your kind have no place on this holy ground.”

“My kind, father? What would that be?”

“You, demons.” His voice was cracking in fear.

She laughed. “Demons? I realize you’re a man of cloth, but believing in demons? That takes a lot of faith, father.”

“I want you to leave, now.”

“Listen to me you pity priest. I know who you are. I know what you think. I know you feel my strength. Deny my request, and you’ll never sleep in peace again.”

Then, she left. Rest of the story you know. He refused to baptize me than he changed his mind. Apparently, he told my dad that he’d rather be tormented by an unholy spirit than deny god’s child a chance to connect to Jesus. He also said that he has been paying for it since the day he baptized me.

Every single night for two weeks after he baptized me, he has been seeing a woman in white appear on his window. She’d just stand there, looking at him with hand tilted. No smile though, but only a face of anger. He’d say many prayers but it didn’t seem to affect her. Then, his sheep started dying. There were no wolf marks, no sign of force. Just laying dead. Finally, number of exorcisms skyrocketed. He claims that this was a direct consequence of him disobeying woman’s orders. He even showed an exorcism videotape (they started filming in the chapel in the mid 90s) to my dad. My dad says it was unreal. Apparently a 13-year-old girl came in the chapel with her mom. Her mom was sobbing in tears begging for help. Priest started performing his ritual when the little girl started throwing stuff around. Priest called two young guys who came in to pray that day and asked them to hold her. She kept walking in circles, with two grown men holding her. And right before she fell to her knees, she said “You shouldn’t have done it father.” She was cured.

My dad had more than enough of information thrown at him, but he wanted to know what this woman was. Priest said that he originally thought it was a demon, but a lack of prayer efficiency and her freedom of behavior on the holy ground was concerning. He then thought it was some sort of a cult, witchcraft maybe. The problem is, she has been visiting him on February 13th every year. All the livestock he’d have would die on that day. Any sick person coming for help to the church that day would get worse. Number of possessed people would skyrocket abnormally on the 13th. And at the end of the day, she’d come to the window, no matter where he was. He tried talking to her many times, asking what/who she was. She never responded. She never aged. Priest was finally broken down to the point where he quit. He remained living at the grounds, but he couldn’t do his job anymore. He lost faith. He claimed that the god should’ve protected him. My dad says he may be mentally unstable at this point. He was mentioning something about Morana, whatever that meant. It appears to be a goddess of death in some cultures, but I really think this man has gone mad.

I think that this whole story was jabber of an old man gone senile. Goddesses? Demons? Hardly.

That would be the disappointing story of my baptism. I have not had any encounters with any of them since the last time. I am moving away, hoping it helps. I also decided this: if I encounter them again, I am taking the orange. I cant go on like this forever. I just… can’t.

For the ending of this story, go HERE - it will not be posted on Creepypasta. I feel that the final part is most effective when left at its original source.

Credit To – Milos Bogetic

NOTE: This is the sixth in a series of several popular Reddit posts documenting some seriously creepy experiences. We are publishing them here with express permission of Milos Bogetic aka inaaace, the original poster. The story is in multiple parts, and will be published completely over the next few days – much like what I did with the ‘Bedtime’ series earlier this year. After the stories have all gone up, I’ll edit each post with links to the other parts.

The OP has finished the continuation book that he promised during his successful kickstarter project.

You can find the paperback and Kindle e-book versions here: The Story of Her Holding an Orange by Milos Bogetic  - full disclosure: our referral link is included.

I know that this will not be new material for all of you, but for those of you who – like myself – don’t use Reddit, I wanted to post it so that you guys could enjoy it as much as I did after having it brought to my attention. Thanks again to Milos for letting me post it, and enjoy!

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