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The Shredder Monkey – Part 3

June 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is part three of a three-part series. Please visit The Shredder Monkey Series tag to see the previous installments!

Blog Entry: September 21st, 2014

I’m feeling a little better today. I slept until two in the afternoon yesterday, then stayed in my room and watched Breaking Bad on Netflix until I fell asleep again. So now it’s Sunday morning, and I’m looking at the world with a clear head. Which is a bit ironic. Because the dream I had on Friday night was anything but sanity-confirming.

I was in the maze again. You know the drill – warm air, blue sky, dry yellow grass as far as the eye can see. I could see the rusty sheet-metal shack, but it was far in the distance.

I was calm, and I was lucid. I knew I was dreaming. I had to take a psychology class at Citrus, and we talked about how some people are capable of controlling their own subconscious thoughts. This place, this maze, was all a construct of my own imagination.

Then something spindly and grey grasped my shoulder and spun me around.

I was face-to-face with the monster.

The thing balanced itself on the three warty balls attached to the spider-like appendages that extended from its midsection. Its cylindrical body extended lengthwise and tilted so the stress-ball blob was near the ground and the tentacles hung from its tail end like hair, dripping slime. Its three spherical eyes betrayed neither emotion nor intention.

“Greetings,” the thing said. “What are you called?”

Its voice was pleasant but mindless, reminiscent of the automated recording reads you back your account number when you call the bank. I then noticed that the monster had acquired a new accessory – what appeared to be a fuzzy grey scarf wrapped around the intersection of its pipe-shaped body and jelly-filled head (its neck?).

And then I realized the thing had spoken to me in English.

“What the… who are you? What do you want?”

“Do not be afraid,” the robot-voice chirped. “I am here to advise you. Forgive the curtness of my communication. My body cannot produce your language. The filter I am forced to adorn may be unfamiliar to your species.”

I guessed the “filter” was the fuzzy scarf.

“Um… okay,” I responded. “Um… what’s your name?”

It whistled something that sounded like “Fifi.”

“Okay… Fifi,” I said cautiously, “what’s your advice?”

“You are like myself. You have the ability to climb through planes.”


“There are an infinite number of them. Every time you make a decision, another is created in which you decided the opposite. Billions of planes, all stacked on top of each other.”

“Oh!” I got it. “Like alternate dimensions. String theory. I’ve heard that one.”

“You’ve climbed into another plane before. It was like your own, but not.”

“I don’t think…” I started to say, then realized Fifi was right. My dream. The one where I’d driven home drunk and killed some bicyclist and was supposedly in jail.

“You felt weak and ill after, am I correct?”

“Yes,” I murmured, my brain suddenly a wet rag. “I… I had a dream. I was throwing up after and almost had to go to the hospital. You mean I… I traveled to another dimension?”

“Yes. Climbing is difficult on the corporeal form. It is more difficult the farther you go from your own plane. The place you traveled to was barely several billion away. On my plane, capable climbers are trained since we are small things.”

“Your plane?” I asked. “You mean, you live in another dimension?”

“My plane is untold quadrillions away from yours. Tens of billions of years ago an asteroid ricocheted off a newborn star. My plane is the eventuality of that asteroid travelling north. Yours is the eventuality of it travelling south.”

“Your plane,” I repeated. “Is that… are we there now?”

“No. This is a space between the planes. It is a dangerous place. That is why I constructed this labyrinth.”

“Wait, this stupid invisible maze was you?” I cried. “So, you’ve been chasing me through it for weeks?”

“It was difficult to trap both of our corporeal forms at once. You continuously vanished.”

“No, you kept on disappearing,” I argued. “And why are you trying to keep me in here anyways?”

“Not keep you in. Keep him out.”

My anger dematerialized, replaced by ice-cold panic. I knew who “him” was. I glanced around nervously.

“He is not here,” Fifi droned pleasantly. “He is a dark thing, a creature who wishes only destruction. He comes from a plane far, far below all the others. In my world we call it ‘Shish-vojes,’ and it is where we say evil beings are trapped after their natural life ends.”

“He’s a demon,” I whispered, feeling my pulse quicken and my palms grow moist. “We call that place he comes from ‘Hell.’”

“This is one of the places he lurks,” Fifi continued. “He constructed the square box. He offers attractive sustenance to climbers who wander into this space, while their bodies are in a state of unconsciousness.”

“He…I was there once!” I stammered. “I dreamed I bought some cereal! He’s the monkey!”

“He takes many forms. You consumed his fruit. This allowed him to intertwine your consciousness with his, allowed him to find you and follow you. Which he has been doing.”

“Yeah!” I said excitedly. “I found a stuffed animal that looked just like him!”

“The object was a token. An assertion of ownership, to deter others of his kind. But he could not claim you as his prize yet, as he was not yet strong enough to take corporeal form on your plane. Instead, he took possession of a weak mind.”

“Mr. Gaffigan!” I should have been afraid, but I felt as though my brain were on fire. “He… he was a confused old man. The monkey possessed him. He wrote on his walls.”

“The symbols were not him. That was myself. I followed the trail he left, took control over the same feeble consciousness. I could not stay there for long, as my strength was limited and the body attached to the mind I occupied was expiring due to the pressure of housing him. I should have been aware you do not understand my symbolic language.”

“Why did you care?” I demanded of her (him?). I was immediately ashamed of the nastiness in my voice. But if Fifi was offended at all, she (he?) hid it well.

“We nearly met inside the square box, when we were both small things. My elders had told me to stay away from this place, and to never consume anything offered to me here, but I had become curious. I saw you and tried to deter you, but I could not retain my corporeal form.”

I remembered the footsteps I had heard that day, the slamming door. I could see all of the strange products sold in the sheet-metal snack shop, all in different languages, all unrecognizable. The demon-monkey wanted to cast a wide net, lure children from all dimensions by offering them sweet, tasty things featuring their writing, familiar to them. This was all madness, fantasy, a fever dream. But somehow, for the first time in weeks, my life made sense. I was scared. But knowing what I was up against made me feel a little bit more powerful.

“So,” I asked Fifi, “this demon monkey thing wants to kill me or eat my soul or something.”

“He wants your essence,” Fifi dictated emotionlessly. “And he is very powerful. Stronger than any climber. Eventually, he will break through and take physical form in your world.”

“He already has. I saw the thing. How do I stop him?”

I noticed the sky above me had paled. My surroundings were blending together into a pixilated haze, I could no longer determine the point where yellow became blue. I was looking directly at Fifi, but she (let’s go with ‘she’) was melting into a grayish blob, as though I were looking at her through a camera and fiddling with the focus. I was waking up. No fucking way.

“Fifi!” I cried desperately. “How do I stop it?”

The haze became a filmy cloud. I was no longer in the field, but falling down some foggy, sense-defying pipe, and Fifi’s outline had become the sort of static, color-less shape you see when you close your eyes.

“You must climb,” her answering-machine voice echoed.

And then I was staring at stucco and light was streaming in through the blinds and my alarm clock was wailing.

Last night, I didn’t dream.

I’m glad I decided to keep this blog. I’m sure I’d have gone crazy if I didn’t have some outlet to organize my thoughts. And now, if I can’t chase down Fifi again, I’ve got to learn how to exorcise the Demon Shredder Monkey all by myself.

Yeah, I’m aware of just how Harry Potter fan-fiction that last sentence sounded. Maybe I am actually going crazy. But given the choice between looking like a nut job and getting eaten by that purple thing, I’ll take crazy any day.

Blog Entry: September 23rd, 2014

I started wearing a crucifix around my neck yesterday. And there’s a bible at the bottom of the backpack I take to work. I’m not sure whether or not the Shredder Monkey is scared of religious iconography, but it’s worth a shot.

I saw him again.

We were waiting outside MacArthur Dialysis at around five, waiting for Diem Phan to finish clotting. I was in the ambulance alone; Cisneros had gone inside to use the restroom. The rig was idling, the radio was on and, for some reason, I felt eyes on me. I looked behind me, through the back window.

His purple, plush face was pressed against the window.

It was the closest I’d ever seen the thing, and I was made aware of little details I’d have rather remained ignorant to. His purple fur was not monochromatic, like that of the stuffed monkey I’d tossed in the attic. It was matted, dirty, caked with grime. His red nose was comparable to a dog’s snout; leathery, warted, dripping greenish mucus. And his fiery eyes were neither plastic beads nor emotionless spheres like Fifi’s. I could make out whitish rings, black pupils staring at me, alight with twisted mirth.

He was enjoying this.

I stared back, too terrified to scream. The bright red, fleshy nostrils flared, steaming up the window, obscuring my view. Then, words began to appear, letters backwards. The thing was writing something in the fogged window, like a kid on a cold morning.

NWODR EH GARD from his vantage point.

DRAG HER DOWN from mine.

Then I heard a snap; the door opening. I screamed. Cisneros yelped and stumbled, catching himself on the driver’s side door. He didn’t even bother asking me what’s wrong. He just gave me that same look I’m starting to seriously despise.

Blog Entry: September 24th, 2014

No monkey sightings today. I was on edge all day long, eyes darting like a crazy person, jumping at any unexpected sound. I know he’s messing with me. That’s why he left me that message on the fogged-up mirror.

Whatever. He’s playing games, I’m figuring out how to get rid of him for good.

Remember how I said my parents keep everything in the attic?

I went up there today after work. I dug through box after box. Baby clothes, Jose’s old soccer trophies, photo albums, sheet music from the two years I played the cello in middle school. My clay model of San Juan Capistrano Mission, what was left of Jose’s foam board poster depicting the process of photosynthesis. Third grade, second grade, first grade… and then I found what I was looking for.

In a forgotten manila folder at the bottom of a water-stained box labeled KIDS 1997, I found a cache of crayon drawings signed Ariana. My suspicions were justified. A small child, guided by her imagination, unfettered by logic or rationality, could have travelled to places her older self would be kept from.

One depicted a red house (ours is brown) and a family of six – Mama, Papi, Jose, Ari, Noemi, and Roberto. Once, years after I’d drawn the picture and forgotten about it, my mom told me she and my dad had considered having more children, then decided against it. There were a whole bunch of those – crayon Ariana playing with people I’d never met, in front of houses and schools and parks I’d never been. And some of the people were weird. They had eyes in the wrong place, or noses that were too big, or too many arms or legs or fingers.

The Shredder Monkey knows how to find me here. If I can climb out of this dimension, like I did when I was a little girl, he’ll lose my trail. And then… I’m not quite sure of the “and then” part yet. Maybe he’ll forget about me. Maybe he’ll get bored and retreat back to his sad little sheet-metal squatter’s nest, better luck with the next unfortunate dream-traveler. Maybe some being in whatever plane I’ll end up in can teach me how to fight back. Maybe.

I closed my eyes. I tried to think about nothing. Allowed myself to forget all my little daily worries, forget where I was, dissolve all of my thought processes, focus on the neon shapes dancing in the blackness, flickering and folding and combining and breaking apart and coming together again.

Then the blackness faded to grey and the neon dulled to primary colors and the shapes took definite form. I was sitting on something soft and the air around me was warm and pleasant. The grey lightened into dingy white, and details revealed themselves. A pink dollhouse, complete with little wooden figures. A bookshelf, plush dolls littering brown shag carpet. A pink Barbie mirror mounted on the wall, reflecting my tired face rimmed with frizzed hair. I was in a child’s bedroom.

I heard voices, coming from outside the open door. Nervous, I jumped to my feet. I hadn’t thought of how I would explain my presence in some random kids’ room. Two little blonde girls barged in – twins, from the looks of them. They stopped and stared at me, wide-eyed.

Then the pastels and dingy white walls started to blur, and the floor dematerialized under me, and everything started to spin. The last thing I registered before my cold, hard attic floor was a child’s voice.

“Mommy! Mommy! There’s a lady cop in my room!”

This is good. This is really good. I saw myself in the mirror. The kid saw me, all of me. My blue uniform does resemble a police officer’s. I climbed into an alternate dimension. Now all I’ve got to do is figure out how to stay there.


E-mail from: Michael Wyzeki, Editor-in-Chief, Scientific Fringe Magazine
To: Ian Koros

Ian –

Thank you so much for this fascinating piece of work!

I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty of doing a bit more research, trying to find out who this “Ariana Gomez” is and how her blog ended up attached to a spam e-mail.

As you know, there have been isolated incidents of “travelers” claiming to be from alternate dimensions, but most have been proven false. And, after my extended attempts to contact the young woman responsible for this blog, I was ready to declare your account the same.

I contacted Citrus College in Glendora, and they kindly allowed me to look over their enrollment records for the past 10 years. In that time period, twelve women with the name “Ariana Gomez” attended the school. Via social media, I was able to open a dialogue with all twelve. All denied any association with the blog. None had ever worked as an EMT.
Then, I searched for a young man with the surname “Cisneros.” This was more fruitful – I found the Facebook page belonging to a Benjamin Cisneros, aged twenty-three, employed as an EMT with a small ambulance company. He was cooperative, and even met with me once in Pasadena. He has spiked hair and a mustache.

Cisneros was able to corroborate much of her story. He does work with a dispatcher named “Mary” and a lanky teenager, “Charlie Green.” The name “Henry Gaffigan” was unfamiliar to him. However, he transports a patient with similar symptoms (though this man is still alive).

But he’d never known a girl named Ariana Gomez.

I let him look over a hard copy of the blog entries you sent me. He was visibly spooked. In his words:

“This is really creepy. I mean, I have no idea who this chick is. But reading that stuff, what she wrote, I almost feel like I remember some of it. Like déjà-vu. I imagine a face, hear a woman’s scream, but it’s impossible. None of it ever happened.”

Then, two days ago a friend of a friend’s sister found this posted on a Persian cat enthusiast discussion board. Since everyone who knows me knows I can’t resist an internet mystery, it ended up in my hands:

This is ariana Gomez ariana Gomez can you see this please? Please? The shredder monkey got me I tried to climb again same as before, but the colors behind my eyes formed his face and then he was right there in front of me His face split open and became a mouth and all that was there was a dark hole and I fell down the hole and when I woke up I was gone and no one could see me and I didn’t have a reflection and im not in any of the pictures in my house just my mom and dad and Jose and all my stuff is gone from the house I’m typing on a laptop I found now but the screen is all white and I have no idea if anyone can read this or where its going or if im even typing or how long this will last becase sometimes I cant touc thin

So, Ian, I’m inclined to come to one of two conclusions:

Conclusion #1: we’re both victims of an unsettling hoax. Or,

Conclusion #2: Ariana Gomez is real. Was real. She became the victim of a demon dressed like a giant purple monkey. The Shredder Monkey… deleted her. Made it so she never existed. Or maybe, the monkey ate her entire dimension, leaving her disembodied consciousness stranded in another dimension, one in which she was never born. Maybe our dimension. Either way, all that’s left of her is breadcrumbs – the message on the Persian cat discussion board, Cisneros’ deja-vu, and the blog.

Oh, and speaking of her blog, can you e-mail me the text again? The file somehow disappeared from both my hard drive and my inbox, and I think I misplaced the hard copies as well.

– Mike

Credit To – NickyXX

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The Shredder Monkey – Part 2

June 18, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is part two of a three-part series. The final installment will be posted tomorrow; alternatively, you can track The Shredder Monkey Series tag for new updates.

Blog Entry: September 9th, 2014

Henry Gaffigan is dead.

Cisneros and I hadn’t been sent for him since the night he spoke, and I was thankful for that. Until yesterday. We were supposed to take him from Sunshine Convalescent to San Gabriel Kidney Center; as soon as his name appeared on our pager, my blood turned to ice. I’m pretty sure I was physically shaking as we walked through the door, but we didn’t even get to his room before one of the snotty, normally inattentive nurses caught us. Mr. Gaffigan passed last night. For no apparent reason, his blood pressure dropped, and his family had a DNR order in place.

Normally, I wouldn’t have found this revelation particularly shocking. He was old and sick, and Sunshine has a reputation for handing out the wrong meds. But Cisneros had to use the restroom, leaving me outside what had been Henry Gaffigan’s room. Not thinking, I looked through the little window in the door, directly at the wall beside what had been Henry Gaffigan’s bed. There were little pictures on the wall, done in black ink.

“I think it was the roommate,” the nurse told me. “Mr. Gaffigan definitely didn’t have the motor skills for art.”

But I wasn’t so sure.

Because I’d seen that arrangement of straight lines and triangles before. Long ago. On that strange CHALK chocolate bar.

What the fuck, guys? What’s going on?

Blog Entry: September 12th, 2014

Woke up at noon today. My mom said she’d called my boss and told him I was sick; I looked like I needed the sleep. She probably had a point. I haven’t been sleeping well the last week or so. Not since Henry Gaffigan spoke to me, and especially not since he died.

I keep on having this same dream, over and over again. I’m running through a maze and, whenever I think I’ve found the way out, I hit a wall and have to start over again. Except the walls aren’t really walls; they’re invisible, and I can’t touch them. But somehow, I know when I can’t go any farther. The only thing I can see is a dry, golden field, extending infinitely in all directions. Above my head, the sky is sunny and cloudless. I think it’s warm there.

So I run around, following these invisible passageways, and I’m nervous because I know someone is following me. I can’t see them. But I hear whispering, high-pitched and singsongy, like one of those recorders I used to play in third-grade music class. I can’t quite make out what’s being whispered. It might not even be English, or Spanish, or any other language I’ve ever heard. And sometimes that pipe-ish whispering is accompanied by a rustling in the grass, like the footsteps of a cat. I whirl around, but the whispering and footsteps automatically cease, and I’m staring at dead air.

Last night, I felt something reaching for me, jostling my hair. It couldn’t have been the wind, because the grass in front of me didn’t move.

Filled with an indescribable sense of dread, I ran faster. The footsteps behind me grew louder, loud enough for me to notice their three-beat, waltz-like rhythm. And the whispering became a hum, then a melody, and finally an entire wind section – the urgent, cascading notes echoing off the invisible walls around me. And something clasped my shoulder.

Something spindly, grey, scaly, tough, and covered with coarse black hairs.

But, when I whirled around to face the owner of that horrific appendage, I saw nothing but dirty white-and-grey bumps. My stucco ceiling, streaked by the light of the midday sun.

Blog entry: September 17th, 2014

I think I’m going crazy. That must be it; I haven’t had nightmares since I was a little kid but, all of a sudden, I’m waking up dizzy and nauseous from an impossibly lucid dream.

Right after I wrote my last blog entry, I drove to CVS and picked up a box of sleeping pills. When I was in kindergarten and woke up screaming, crying, and puking four times a week, and my mom told me she solved the problem by giving me a spoonful of cough syrup before bed. Apparently she’d gone about things the right way; one pill made me sleep like a baby. Until last night. I had the box on my nightstand, but I wanted to stay up a bit to finish Section 3 of the UC Irvine online application.

Next thing I knew, it was the morning. I’d woken up and showered, and was walking from my car to the station. I mean, I assumed I’d woken up and showered and drove to work, because there I was, on the sidewalk and in my uniform. I opened the door and walked past the dispatch booth to grab my time card, and the dispatcher – a chick named Mary – gasped.

“Gomez!” she cried. “What are you… how did you…”

“What’s wrong?” I asked, interrupting her babbling. “I start at eight. Did Langdon change the schedule again without telling me?”

“But…” Mary stammered, “but… you don’t work here. The police said… why are you out of jail?”

Jail? Huh? Mary’s always been a little ditzy, but her shock and confusion were sincere.

“Are you smoking something?” I laughed. “I was here yesterday.”

But apparently, Mary wasn’t trying to be funny. In one fluid movement, she shut and locked the door to the dispatch booth. Through the thin walls, I could hear her dialing a number on her phone. Thoroughly mystified, I checked the printed copy of the schedule that Langdon, my supervisor, always tapes up on the wall.

08:00 – 16:00, Unit 51: Cisneros, Green.

Heartbeat quickening, I scanned the numbers and names. The date was correct: September 17th, 2014. But there were some definite differences between this schedule and the one I glanced over yesterday. I didn’t recognize some of the names – Jardiel? O’Rourke? Lang? – and a few names were missing. Including mine.


I turned around. Cisneros was standing behind me. Except, he looked different. He was sporting a neat goatee and moustache, his longish black hair pulled back in a knobby ponytail. Yesterday, he was clean-shaven with a buzz cut.

“Gomez… Ari… what the fuck?” He, like Mary, was looking me as though I’d sprouted another head.

“What’s going on?” I demanded, my voice trembling. “Why am I not on the schedule?”

“Um…” he frowned, taking a step back. “Ari, I miss you and all, but I don’t think Langdon’s going to give you your job back. How are you even here? I mean, the newspaper said you were going away for eight years.”

“Eight years? What newspaper? What the fuck is going on?”

Cisneros took another step back. The front door opened, and I heard heavy footsteps. Charlie Green – all six foot four of him – stepped out of the hallway. There was a scream from the dispatch booth, and Mary came charging out, wide-eyed and hysterical.

“Grab her!” she screamed to the guys. “Lock her in the office!”

Before I knew what was happening, she was clasping my wrists behind my back. Cisneros froze. Green barreled towards me, shoving Cisneros out of the way, and then I was looking at the world upside down and backwards as he picked me up, swung me over his shoulder and dropped me unceremoniously on the floor of Langdon’s office. He slammed the door, and I heard the lock click.

I stood up and lunged for the phone on Langdon’s desk, desperate to contact my parents or Jose or my best friend or anyone else who could explain the discrepancy between the world I’d fallen asleep in and the one I’d woken up to. Then I saw a newspaper headline, popping out from under a pile of billing printouts. It was an article cut out of the Los Angeles Times, dated August 20th.

“Former EMT Sentenced to Eight Years for Drunk Driving Death.”

Yesterday (the article stated), Ariana Gomez, 22, of Duarte was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter.

It went on to describe her crime – on January 5th, 2014, at 12:45am, she’d made a right turn through a red light at the intersection of Foothill and Rosemead in Pasadena, on the way to the freeway, heading home after attending a house party. She’d struck a bicyclist – Adam Yen, 20, of Arcadia – killing him instantly. Her blood alcohol level was 0.14, nearly twice the legal limit.

I read the article twice, and then I lost my restraint, and then I screamed and screamed until my throat burned and my knees buckled, and I fell back onto Langdon’s chair and missed. I fell down, down… the world spun… then blackness… then the sound of the door opening, and Green’s voice…

“Where the fuck did she go?”

And then I was staring up at stucco peaks and valleys, eyes burning. My bedside lamp was on, and my laptop was open on my pillow. I rolled over and checked the time. 6:18. Twelve minutes until my alarm went off. My right arm ached, and my head throbbed. I turned to the side and puked all over the floor. I swung my legs over the side of my bed and tried to stand, but as soon as I shifted my balance the room began to spin, and then I was staring at the stucco again, drenched in cool sweat, too weak to move.

I don’t know what’s going on. That was the weirdest dream I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, it didn’t even feel like a dream. I was at the station. I was talking to my partner. I could feel Mary’s hands on me. And the lucidity of it all wasn’t even the strangest part.

I had been at a party in Pasadena on January 4th, my friend Caitlyn’s birthday. And I had thrown back a few PBRs, but I could talk straight and walk a line and thought I was okay to drive home around midnight.

But I hadn’t driven home.

I’d had second thoughts. I’d taken off my shoes and fallen asleep on Caitlyn’s couch, then woke up nine hours later with drool running down my chin and Jenny Wong’s ex-boyfriend passed out on my shoulder.

I lay there, on my back on the rug, for the better part of an hour before I had the strength to drag myself into bed. I had to call out of work again, and I’m pretty sure I copped as much of an attitude as I could manage with Mary, who answered the phone.

Hours later, in the shower, I noticed a dark purple bruise on my right shoulder that wasn’t there yesterday. Exactly the sort of bruise I’d have expected if Charlie Green had dropped me on the floor, like he did in my dream.

Blog entry: September 18th, 2014

I’m going crazy. I’m going crazy. The sleeping pills aren’t working anymore. I was back in the maze again last night, blue sky above me and golden field extending in all directions. I was running. This was the right path, I could feel it. I could find my way out of the maze, escape the thing chasing me, and then… I don’t know. Find the highway? Hitch-hike? In my dream, I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

But I kept running, in the moment sure my life depended on it. And then I heard the whispers again. The same melodic piping, but it was different today – doleful, haunting. I stopped, and surveyed the area around me. And I noticed I was not alone. In the distance I saw a grayish form, moving slowly though the grass.

Whoever – or whatever – had joined me in my mysterious labyrinth was at least a few hundred yards away, I could not tell whether I was looking at a human or an animal or some sort of machine. The same doleful motif was repeated and, this time, I recognized the gray silhouette as its source.

I ran, down the same path that I sensed would lead me to freedom. My lungs ached, my legs numbed, I could feel sweat beads rolling down my face and neck. Then I glanced to my left, and saw something that nearly stopped my heart, drove me to stumble and fall to my knees in the dead grass.

It was a small shack, square and flat-roofed, covered in rusted sheet metal. No windows, just one wood-and-mesh door. Several burned-out neon signs.

And, standing in front of the building was the most disturbing, hideous sight I have ever seen. Breathing. Staring at me with bulbous marble eyes. Yelling strange words to me in its shrill, woodwind voice.

Its body was grey and cylindrical, about three feet high, covered in dry, leathery hide dotted with bulging, pus-filled blisters and disparate clumps of coarse black hair. At its base was a tangled network of tentacles, writhing and twisting, glistening, coated with a whitish slime. Extending from its midsection were three appendages, dry and cracking like tree roots, bending at the middle and culminating in a warty ball with five spindly, scaled appendages, covered in sickly black protuberances and tufts of hair. And topping the cylindrical trunk was what appeared to be a clear sac filled with opaque black liquid, bulging and then extending, reshaping itself like a stress ball. Attached to this water-balloon head (head?) were three pure white spheres, unblinking, emotionless, but inarguably fixed on me.

I think I screamed. I attempted to climb to my feet but found myself drained of all strength, and fell backwards, supine in the grass. I could feel the coarse stalks scratching my arms as I collapsed, seeing nothing but blue. And then I felt myself spinning around, still falling, down through the grass and deeper and deeper into the earth, the grey creature’s drilling, flute-like cries pounding in my ears.

The last thing I remember was something staring down at me. A purple sphere of some sort, with a prominent red nose and two tiny green ears. Something reaching out with a long, skinny, purple arm, furry in texture, like a puppet. I couldn’t make out its mouth, but its red eyes flashed gleefully.

Then I woke up, the grayish light of early morning illuminating my room. And then I found myself staring, again, into depthless red eyes embedded in a purple sphere. I imagined one of its long, purple arms reaching for me, and I nearly screamed.

Then I realized it was all just a dream, and I was staring at the stuffed Shredder Monkey sitting on my shelf.

I talked to my dad later. I asked him about that trip to Tahoe years ago, when we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. He remembered the trip; he even remembered the Goosebumps book I was reading. But he said that we never stopped for gas, that it was cloudy and drizzling the entire drive, and that I slept in the back the entire way.

What is happening to me?

Blog entry: September 19th, 2014

I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep.

I saw it today. I saw the Shredder Monkey.

We were downtown, posting in a ranch market parking lot around Wilshire and Alvarado. I got out to buy a soda, and I looked across the street and it was there. On the sidewalk down the block a ways, just standing there, staring at me.

It’s big, at least as big as a man. From a distance, it looked like one of the guys in character suits at Disneyland. Wide, square body; balancing on these two tiny little skinny legs that shouldn’t be able to support the weight of its bulging body and giant round head. Long, skinny arms – one nearly reaching to the ground, the other extended towards me. All purple, with puke-green, mitt-like hands and feet. A big pink circle on its belly. Blood red eyes. It didn’t move.

I know it was watching me.

So I opened the door and screamed at Cisneros to look, look over there, but thing was gone. I jumped out of the ambulance and ran down the block to the spot I’d seen the giant monkey, between a lamppost and a run-down office offering payday loans.

Nothing. Not so much as a purple hair.

Cisneros gave me this half-pitying, half-mocking face he’s been throwing my way all week. I didn’t tell him about my dream, but he knows something’s up. He keeps on asking me if everything’s okay at home. Apparently, Charlie Green says I have “bitch eyes” now.

I’m scared. I keep on telling myself it’s just my imagination; that it’s the lack of sleep and the stress from work and applying to school getting to me, all mixed together and combined with that stuffed monkey on my shelf, staring down at me while I sleep. I took the thing and threw it in the attic. Maybe that will help.

But even so, it doesn’t change what I saw. I saw the monkey. Just like I heard Henry Gaffigan speak that day, like I saw those markings on the wall, felt Mary’s hands grasping my wrists and the pain shooting from my shoulders to my fingertips when Green dropped me. And maybe I could rationalize and explain it away if it weren’t for the bruise on my shoulder and the scratches on my arms and the maddening memory of that sheet-metal shack and that grey, scaly…

I can’t sleep. I can’t see that thing again. I can’t be in that maze. The pills aren’t working anymore. I’m scared.

Help me.

Credit To – NickyXX

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The Shredder Monkey – Part 1

June 17, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is Part One of a three-part series. The next two installments will be posted over the next couple of days; alternatively, you can track The Shredder Monkey Series tag for new updates.

E-mail from: Ian Koros, Contributor, Scientific Fringe Magazine
To: Michael Wyzeki, Editor-in-Chief


Several weeks ago, I was presented with a bizarre account I believe you’ll find worthwhile.

A friend of mine first found it. You know those spam e-mails, the ones that sometimes make their way into your inbox? For erectile dysfunction pills, diet supplements, et cetera? Anyways, this friend of mine clicked on the link attached to one of those by accident.

But instead of an advertisement for an erectile dysfunction pill or diet supplement, this one lead to a personal blog kept by a young woman. A girl named Ariana Gomez, apparently. I’ve tried to find this Ariana Gomez on Facebook and Instagram, but so far have had no luck.

My friend forwarded it to me, and I printed out the blog entries. It was a good thing I did, because the link no longer works. I got an error message the second time I clicked on it. And a pretty nasty virus, I should add.
Neither of us could find the picture of the monkey that Ariana Gomez refers to.

Below is the account in its entirety, which I retyped word-for-word from my printout. As to authenticity, you are free to judge for yourself.

– Ian


Blog entry: September 1st, 2014

Okay. Hi. I’m the girl who put up the picture of the stuffed monkey. You know the one. Squat, squarish torso. Long thin arms; skinny little legs that would never support that bulky, squarish body. Round head with two little ears on top. Purple, with puke-green details and a big pink circle on what’s supposed to be its belly. Red eyes and nose, no mouth. Not sure what’s up with the mouth.

Here’s how it is: this monkey is haunting me. This little cartoon character – the Shredder Monkey, he’s called – has appeared in my life on two completely different incidents, yet has absolutely no presence in pop culture. And then there was that singularly disturbing incident at work with the old man with dementia, and what he said …

Anyways. Lemme start at the beginning.

It was fourteen years ago. I was eight. My aunt and uncle had a timeshare by Lake Tahoe. Every summer, my whole extended family would drive out there for a couple weeks to swim, water ski, barbecue – you know, escape the commute and the suburbs, fun in the sun.

Since other people used the house as well, my dad liked getting an extra day off work and driving out early, just to make sure the place was livable – nothing broken or rotting, no beer bottles or used condoms or dead hookers lying around.

That year, to ease my middle-of-summer boredom, I decided to tag along with him.

So we took off in my dad’s Civic for the eight-hour drive, through an early-summer storm. At some point, I fell asleep in the back seat, lulled by the sound of rain against the window. When I woke up, we were parked outside of a dilapidated gas station.

I opened the door and climbed out. I didn’t recognize the area at all. The rain had stopped; it was warm, and the sky was bright blue and cloudless. The gas station had four pumps and one tiny shack that functioned as a snack shop. There was nothing but fields of tall, yellow grass on all sides.

The snack shop (or whatever it was) looked as though it had been standing since World War II. It was a little place, with walls of rusted sheet metal and one wood and mesh door. No windows. Just three blackened, indecipherable neon signs. My dad stood outside the car, pumping gas. He gave me five dollars to buy food.

The inside of the sheet metal shop was scarcely in better condition than the outside. The fluorescent lights were dim, and dust hung in the air. The white-tile floor was stained and peeling. Two old refrigerators rested against the back wall, stocked with soda and beer. A variety of cigarettes and tins of chewing tobacco were displayed behind the front counter. And there were several shelves dedicated to snack food. Candy, chips, beef jerky, plus more substantial stuff – cans of beans, string cheese (I stayed away), tuna, condensed milk, cereal. All coated in a healthy cover of dust.

I looked around, and realized that I didn’t recognize any of the brands.

A couple examples: CHALK chocolate (at least, I assumed it was chocolate). Something resembling a Snickers bar in a pastel purple wrapper with bright blue lettering. I had no idea what was in it, because the nutrition facts and description of the product were all written in a strange language that resembled Chinese characters mixed with Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
Then, there was some brownish substance in long, skinny plastic packaging. I guessed you tore open one end and squeezed the contents into your mouth, sort of like go-gurt. I didn’t know for sure, however, because the label was in another bizarre written language. Though not the same one. The CHALK characters featured straight lines and triangles, while this writing was squiggly.


A little freaked out, I was about to leave. Then I glanced at the cereal display, and noticed one box had English writing on it. SHREDDER SHOCKS. The box was yellow, and the words were red comic-sans. Kid’s cereal. The picture on the front was of a bowl filled with milk and what looked like shredded wheat squares and pastel marshmallows. The marshmallows were in the shape of purple monkeys. On the back were the obligatory kids’ cereal box games, hosted by a large picture of a cartoon monkey in a bamboo (huh?) tree.

You guessed it. Purple, with puke-green paws and circles around its red eyes, big pink circle on its belly. Square body, long arms, proportionately-incorrect legs. No mouth.

There was a circle-shaped maze, and text telling you to “help the shredder monkey find his way to the oasis.” At the upper right corner of the box, the other end of the maze, was a picture of a little cartoon pond, complete with happy-looking fish poking their heads out. Also, there was a word search, with words like “monkey,” “jungle,” “adventure”… you can guess at the rest.

As I examined the colorful box of cereal, I heard a shuffling that could have been footsteps in the next aisle over. Thinking it was my dad, I went to look. But no one was there. Then, there was a “whoosh” and a SLAM!

The mesh door was swinging. There didn’t appear to be anyone behind it, and I was alone. Weird. The wind, I guessed. I took it as a hint that I needed to get out of there as soon as possible.

I was hungry, and extremely untrusting of the inexplicably-labeled foodstuffs I’d seen, so I decided to take my chance with the Shredder Shocks. I grabbed the box, went up to the counter, and paid the cashier. I don’t exactly remember what the guy looked like. I think the cash register he used was a manual one. I exited the store with my snack, climbed back in the car, and a minute later my dad and I were back on the road to Tahoe.

The cereal was pretty good. Kinda like Lucky Charms and Shredded Wheat Thins mixed together. I ate handfuls until I was bored of it, then amused myself with the games on the back. Which were uncharacteristically hard.

I mean, you guys all remember the word searches and mazes on the back of cereal when you were a kid. They’re made for kindergarteners. Kindergarteners with IQ’s approaching two digits. But this maze I couldn’t solve. I must have tried for half an hour. It was weird; I could see the entrance, I could see the exit. There was a clear path leading to and from each, but the paths didn’t connect.

And the word search was utterly impossible. I decided it must be a misprint. I tried to work it out on a blank sheet of paper in the back of the Goosebumps book I was reading, but all I found was the same patterns of letters, repeated over and over again.


Confused and frustrated, I tossed the box and my book aside and curled up for a nap. When I awoke, we were in Tahoe. At some point while I was asleep, the blue sky had clouded over. Distracted by the bustle of moving stuff through the puddles into the house, cleaning up, and picking out my room, I forgot all about the cereal box. Nor did I think about it at all once my mom and my brother Jose and my cousins showed up, nor while we were swimming or barbecuing or camping. And, two weeks later, when we drove home, the box was no longer in my dad’s car.

On the way home, we didn’t pass the strange, dilapidated gas station.

Fast forward nine years.

It’s 2009, I’m seventeen. A senior in high school. I’m at a toy store in the mall, looking for a first birthday present for my cousin’s baby.

As any parent (or aunt or older sister) knows, walking through the stuffed animal aisle in of a chain toy store is a little bit like walking through Disneyland while tripping on acid. Lots of colors, lots of cute, a little terrifying. I was between Pokemon and Pillow Pets when I saw it fall and land right in my path.

It was a stuffed monkey. A purple and pink and green stuffed monkey, with a bulky square body and dangly little legs. Red eyes, red nose, no mouth.

I picked the little guy up. I had no idea where he’d fallen from, and I couldn’t find any others that looked like him. Confused, I flagged down an employee.

“That’s strange,” she said. “I’ve never this stuffed animal before. I don’t think he’s one of the ones we carry, maybe some kid left him behind.”

She ended up letting me have him for free. I don’t know how she would have charged me otherwise; he didn’t have any tags. So I took the stuffed monkey home and kept him in my room. The Shredder Monkey, it had to be. The same monkey as on that bizarre box of cereal I’d bought from that bizarre gas station nine years before. That bizarre cereal I’d never found again.

I’d looked for Shredder Shocks every week at the local Vons, where I shopped with my mom. They never had it in stock, and none of the clerks I asked had ever heard of the product. And when I Google’d Shredder Shocks, I came up with nothing but dune buggies, RC cars, and some episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

No big loss. The cereal hadn’t been that good. I’d looked for some of the other products I’d seen at that convenience store as well, and found similarly useless results. I’d come to assume that dilapidated gas station only sold poorly-made local merchandise, or brands that had been discontinued.

But, all of a sudden, the Shredder Monkey was back in my life.

I wasn’t scared of it, at least not yet. I showed the stuffed monkey to some of my friends, and then to my little cousins’ friends. No one had ever seen a toy like it, nor witnessed any version of the Shredder Monkey on cereal boxes or cartoon shows or anywhere on the internet. As far as pop culture was concerned, he didn’t exist.

Now, fast forward five more years. To this year. Three days ago.

I work for a small ambulance company out of Glendora. I graduated from Citrus College with my AA, but wanted to take some time off in order to earn money and focus on getting into a good BSN program. Life as an EMT with an inter-facility transport company is pretty easy; 90% of the job is driving bed-ridden, confused old people to and from dialysis.

That night, at around 19:00, my partner Ben Cisneros and I were dispatched to San Gabriel Kidney Center to pick up Henry Gaffigan and take him home to Sunshine Convalescent, a delightful little one-star facility where there’s regularly human feces smeared on the floor. We’d been on since 8:00 that morning and were both starting to drag, but you can’t argue with overtime. So we got there, got the guy on the gurney, and loaded him into the rig when Cisneros realized he’d left our oxygen bag inside. He ran back to get it, leaving me alone in the passenger compartment with Produce Aisle Henry.

A little about Henry Gaffigan.

Henry’s 96 years old and weighs around 90 pounds. He’s got a laundry list of chronic diseases, ranging from anemia to CHF to Parkinson’s disease. Mentally, he’s what we call a/o times 0, which means he can’t tell you his name, where he is, what day of the week it is, or what’s going on. Actually, he can’t talk at all; mostly he just stares at you. His atrophied legs are contracted, his right arm is contracted, and his left arm is ragdoll-limp thanks to his second stroke two years ago. His back is so stiff you can’t even prop him up in a wheelchair. He’s on continuous oxygen and, after dialysis, his BP drops so low that twice we’ve had to call 911 from the Kidney Center.

“Hey, Hank,” I said to him cheerfully. “I’m gonna take your blood pressure real quick, okay?”

He stared at me.

I wrapped our manual blood pressure cuff around his left arm. The dialysis machine had given me a fairly healthy 112/54, but those things love reading high. I put on my stethoscope and distracted myself fiddling with the earpieces. Then I heard the whispering.

“New… od…”

I dropped the stethoscope. No way. But his lips were moving again.

“New… Odor… Eigh..”

The utterance was a gravelly whisper, drawn from atrophied vocal chords unused for God knows how long.


I stared at him, mouth gaping. Henry Gaffigan was non-verbal. We’d taken him to dialysis for three years, he hadn’t uttered a word in all that time.

“Mr. Gaffigan!” I said excitedly. “Can you tell me what your name is?”

Then he sat up.

I wouldn’t even call it “sitting.” It’s more like his body folded at the hips like a hinge. He didn’t support himself with his hands, and his back didn’t arch at all. He just sat straight up, like Dracula out of his coffin in the old black-and-white movies. The nasal cannula attached to his face grew taut, then was pulled from the house nozzle.

Like a puppet’s, his head twisted towards me.

“NEW! ODOR! EIGH! GUARD!” he roared.

His voice was mechanical. Metallic. Like the voice your friend’s voice morphs into when she yells into a steel pipe. And the scariest part was that the jibberish words didn’t seem to be coming from Mr. Gaffigan’s mouth, but from all around me, down from the sky and up from the ground and right in front of my face, all at the same time.

I screamed. In one desperate motion I opened the back door and jumped out of the ambulance, stumbling as I hit the asphalt and nearly falling onto my partner. He was back with the oxygen. As I steadied myself, he frowned at me.

“You okay, Gomez?”

“Mr. Gaffigan… he… he said stuff!” I panted. “Did you… did you hear?”

He gave me a strange look, then climbed into the rig to secure the oxygen bag. He stayed in there a minute, and I heard him repeating Mr. Gaffigan’s name, trying to get his attention. Then, he leaned out the door.

“You sure?” he asked suspiciously. “He looks about normal to me. But you forgot to put him on O2.”

Bracing myself, I climbed into the back with him. Mr. Gaffigan lay motionless on the gurney, exactly how we’d positioned him. The blood pressure cuff still dangled from his left arm. His nasal cannula hung at his side, detached.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless at that point. I let my partner tend to Henry Gaffigan while I drove to the convalescent home, and the old man didn’t do anything else out of the ordinary. He was confused, silent, and quadriplegic, just like every transport before. Was I going crazy? I knew what I’d heard. What I’d seen.

And those words… that jibberish. It wasn’t completely unfamiliar.

As soon as I got home, I wrote down phonetically the syllables Mr. Gaffigan had uttered. (Chanted? Screamed?) It was easy; the terrifying sound was unforgettable.

New, odor, eigh, guard.

I puzzled over it. I repeated the words in my mind, then out loud, over and over again. I allowed them to blend together, gain meaning, lose all meaning. And then I got it.

I still live with my parents. Convenience, mostly; work’s close and they don’t charge me rent. And my parents have a frustrating habit of keeping everything – all my elementary school projects, high school textbooks, and childhood playthings live in moldy cardboard boxes in the attic. Which is where I spent that night, digging through said moldy boxes, until I found the one in which my brother Jose’s and my old books were stacked. Bunnicula, Baby Sitter’s Club, Harry Potter, Beverly Cleary… Goosebumps. Goosebumps number 3, 15, 23, 12, 7, 36…

Bingo. Goosebumps number 9. The book I’d been reading on that long drive to Tahoe, 14 years before. I pawed through the sticky pages until I found the blank one on which I’d written:


I took the book back to my bedroom, rearranged the words on a sheet of notebook paper, and compared them to the word salad Mr. Gaffigan had spouted.

Nwodr Eh Gard
New. Odor. Eigh. Guard.

What the fuck.

Maybe I am going crazy. Because I’m thinking a confused dialysis patient – a nearly-comatose dialysis patient who doesn’t know his own name – recited to me the meaningless syllables I found in a word search on the back of an obscure cereal box fourteen years ago. A box containing cereal that has, apparently, never existed anywhere except for that dilapidated gas station snack shop.

And that voice. That hollow, metallic voice. Booming from all around me, yet inaudible to my partner, no more than 20 feet away.

I looked up. My eyes rested on the stuffed animal that sat, amongst old dolls and beanie babies, atop my bookcase. The squarish, purple stuffed monkey with green paws and a pink belly. Long thin arms, skinny little legs. Round head, red eyes and nose.

And, even though it had no mouth, I could swear the thing was laughing at me.

Credit To – NickyXX

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Dionaea Muscipula

June 16, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Martin looked somberly into the murky gold of his lukewarm scotch. He hated these kinds of functions. Not only was he not particularly good at large crowds, dancing, loud music, and general social interaction, but it only became all the more painful when you combined a room full of people with his same weaknesses and demanded that they play the roles. It was a professional conference, he bemoaned, but he was the only person with the seeming self-awareness to feel abject discomfort at the whole evening’s proceedings. He slumped glumly in the stiff reception chair, his body depending on the unsteady table to keep him upright and appearing engaged. The white table, stained with leftover dinner crumbs and a spilt half glass of red wine, had been empty for what felt like an eternity as his dinner companions—strangers in nice suits and dresses who prattled on as if they were 25 again—had given themselves over to the open bar and dance floor.

He glanced at his watch. Surely after two hours of such nonsense his dues were paid well enough to warrant sneaking back to his room for some sleep and relaxation. Others might jest that he was a stick in the mud for retiring so early, but he would not make a fool of himself as his colleagues were so wont to do.

Gathering his tired dinner jacket and room key, Martin froze. From across the room, he spotted a gorgeous woman slicing through the crowd. There was something predatory in the way she walked. An utter lack of self-consciousness as she strode through the flailing bodies in the crowd. There was a look in her eyes, evident from half a room away, which showed she knew she stood on a level above all those around her. She had the look of a sated wolf prowling amongst unguarded sheep, utterly disinterested in their bleating. Her hair flowed in sheets of shining black as deep as the moonless sky, waving with disdain as she cut her own path through the writhing masses around her. Almost instinctively, the way parted for her, bringing her directly to Martin’s table.

With indelible grace, she swept a glass of red wine from a passing waiter, holding the delicate glass in her soft fingers. She smiled, pearly white teeth flashing between plump red lips. Her eyes were brilliant green, reflecting Martin’s dumbfounded gaze right back at him. The lovely scent of flowers encapsulated him as it rolled off her body. It was far more intoxicating than the mild drinks he had been nursing all night. Martin felt as if he were being drawn into her web, but he had no will to fight it.

“Annalise,” she breathed. For a moment, Martin was unsure what to do. All he knew were that those syllables were the most heavenly sounds he had ever heard. He would endure pain, torture, war, strife, poverty, illness, and any worldly ill if only those three syllables would replay again and again. To have those lips speak such beauty!

She smiled again and his mouth snapped shut from its gape. “M-Martin,” he stammered as he collected himself, shamed by the coarseness of his own voice.

She reached out a slender hand to touch his arm. “So nice to finally meet you.” Martin felt his heart begin to thunder. She knew of him? She wanted to meet him? What crazy fever dream had he slipped into? “I won’t keep you, as it seems you are leaving, but I just couldn’t miss the chance—”

“No, no. Not leaving,” he interjected, eagerly grabbing his chair and planting himself into it. “Just was, uh, getting a better view of things, you know.” She laughed and Martin prayed his ears would ring with that delightful sound for the rest of his life. He would go deaf to the world if only to hear her laugh.

“Then may I join you?” she asked, somewhat hesitantly, betraying the assured confidence Martin had seen so clearly moments ago. He could not imagine having such an effect on a woman, especially not one like her. Martin sat up a little straighter in his seat; keeping his dignity tonight might actually pay off for once, he mused. She must like a serious, intellectual man. Well, by God, she had found her man then.

“Where are you from, Annalise?” He was so smooth, he congratulated himself. Those words flowed like butter.

“Please, I didn’t come all the way over here to talk about me, Martin! Tell me about you,” she purred, her hand falling gently on his forearm as she moved closer. As close as he was, he felt himself absolutely adrift in her marvelous scent. She smelled of sweet flowers opened brightly to the summer sun, and Martin was content to collapse into the field.

So talk he did. Martin regaled her with stories of his groundbreaking work as she eyed him with pure wonder. He shared about his glowing academic career, the awards and showcases that had chosen to honor him and his work in his brief career. He spoke in heartfelt about his calling to the field, the passion and the reward he felt from doing such work. She played her role well, smiling at the right parts, laughing at his clumsy jokes and sighing in awe of his humble victories. Martin felt his chest swell with pride as he prattled on about his meager life, finding his own ego reflected and doubled in her searching green eyes.

After a while, she smiled and squeezed him arm softly, interrupting him mid-flow. It was amazing how easy it was to talk to her. He found himself divulging so many things to her, almost as if he had known her for half of his life. It was just her soft presence, the comforting aroma of flowers, and the focused interest pouring from her eyes. It made his tongue loose in a way no person or substance-induced state ever had. He froze in silence, suddenly feeling the ache of his throat after so much talking over the din of the music.

“I’m having trouble hearing you over all of them,” she said, rolling her eyes towards the mass of drunken hooligans who would don suits tomorrow and nurse hangovers through the scheduled sessions. “Do you think we could go somewhere more private?”

Martin was flummoxed. In all his years, he had never expected to catch the eye of such a woman—of any woman, if he wanted to be honest with himself. He had even less expected to find such a beautiful groupie for his relatively dull research. And now, this surprise of all surprises revealed another layer of amazement. She was trying to seduce him! Martin smiled. Perhaps he would let her.

“My room is just down the hall from here,” he spat out quickly, his eagerness spilling over his words. She gave him a reassuring and understanding smile.

“That sounds perfect.”

Martin stood from his seat, his legs wobbling uncertainly. He could remember college years and first dates with similar weakness of the knees, only this seemed even more extreme. A goofy smile drifted over his face; he was drunk on her presence, and there was no use in denying it. Every system he generally kept so well controlled was flying by its own rules, freed by her enchanting smile and intoxicating scent. He offered her his arm, and the two floated from the room. Martin’s legs seemed to belong to someone else, carrying him confidently out of the room. The doors swung shut behind them, effectively muffling the raucous music still pouring from the banquet hall. At this rate, his colleagues would be stumbling into the first session still decked in their party finery.

The sounds of the others faded as they walked along the hallway until Martin realized he and Annalise were shrouded by a heavy covering of silence. Anyone else in the hotel had long since gone to bed, and the music down the hall had faded quickly. He supposed it only made sense that the place would have good soundproofing for such an event. The silence was surprisingly intimate. He could hear her soft breath, the air moving over the swell of her full lips. Her feet sunk lightly in the plush carpet, whispering softly in the hall. In contrast, he heard his heart racing in his chest, listened to the uncoordinated and irregular pace of his own steps dragging through the carpet. He was a love—or perhaps more accurately lust—struck mess.

He fished the little plastic card from his wallet, and the door gave its friendly beep as the light flashed green. After shoving the door open, his arm flailed about in the darkness seeking the light switch that always seemed to be two or three inches higher or lower than he remembered. With a click, the lights hummed on and bathed the room in a harsh and artificial glow. Despite the generally terrible effects of such lighting on people, Annalise still appeared radiant as she stepped into the room. She was commanding as she entered, and he felt as if perhaps they had unwittingly entered her room rather than his, given her comfort. But no, his shirt and slacks hung pressed in the closet, his battered suitcase tossed unceremoniously on the second twin bed. She simply possessed an air of belonging wherever she went.

The smell of flowers carried him along in her wake, and he stumbled into his own room behind her, coming up short as she paused in front of him. Her eyes were smiling as she turned to him. “What a wonderful evening,” her words drifted into the silence of the room as she fell softly against the crumpled bed spread, her red dress a stark contrast with the dull white sheets.

“Uh, yes, it has been—“ magical, enchanting, impossible, miraculous?“—quite the night,” he finished weakly, standing uncomfortably in the entryway to his room looking around. He felt his eyes lingering too long in hers, drawn in by their brilliant spell. The heavy presence of flowers in the air made him feel woozy, and he nearly stumbled as he broke his gaze from hers.

“Martin, what if I told you that I have been thinking about my lips on you since I first laid eyes on you?” She whispered haltingly, her eyes betraying the innocence on her lips.

Flabbergasted, Martin sat in silence. Now he knew that this must be some kind of ruse. Or perhaps someone had spiked his drink and he was hallucinating. The drink—had he had more than he thought? Would he wake up groggily to some ancient troll in his bed? Could he have fallen asleep at the table, and now this goddess was his sweetest dream?

Before he could reach a final conclusion—brain tumor?—her lips were on his, her body pressed against him. His shock had prevented him from seeing the speed with which she pounced from the bed, catching him in her arms and drawing him back to the bed. No matter what doubts he might have, he could not deny the reality of the experience happening in that moment. He swam in the warmth of her limbs around him, the taste of her soft lips, and the scent of her lithe body. In that moment, all he knew was that his lips and hers were dancing together now, their tongues meddling somewhere in between. She pushed him back on the bed, her lips following his steady descent down to the stiff hotel bed. Martin’s heart was a metronome in his chest, trying to keep pace with his flying thoughts. He pulled her close, kissing every inch of that beautifully pearly white neck and face that he could. She laughed and smiled as she playfully pinned his hands down on the bed.

“You know, Martin, there is something delicious about a body excited.” Her tongue snaked its way into his mouth, those brilliant red lips melding with his for a brief moment. “And our bodies tend to respond the same to excitement and fear,” she whispered, coming up for breath. Every word she spoke sent waves of excitement across Martin’s body, just to feel the gentle ebb and flow of her breath across his skin.

“Me, personally,” she smiled, leaning to kiss along his neck, “I prefer the taste of excitement.” She ended this with a soft nip at his earlobe. Martin felt a slight stir of discomfort at her choice of phrasing, but brushed it off. Just a turn of phrase, he reminded himself, finding himself again drowning in her green eyes and the soft scent of sunlit flowers.

Her fingers played with the silk knot at her waist, carefully untangling the ribbons so that flashes of marble skin slipped through. She turned her back to him, letting the dress slowly fall away to reveal her perfectly sculpted body. Martin’s eyes grew wide as she spun, but his pleasure gave way to terror all too quickly.

Her chest was a tangle of intertwined flesh, a traumatic knot of scars and blood. In the time it took Martin to make sense of it, the knot began to writhe, petals of flesh slowly unfolding to reveal a gaping maw of teeth where her stomach should have been. Her once bright green eyes were now dull and dead, any hint of life yanked from them with the reveal of this monstrosity. Where the aroma of flowers had so allured him, now he could only smell the sickly odor of rot. A scream, initially frozen in disbelief deep within his gut, slowly clawed its way up to his lips, breaking through the air with a brief cry before those yellowed, broken teeth closed around his head.

The room echoed with the muted crunch of bone, the moist sound of blood and flesh abandoning their respective domains and mingling in a blender of jagged teeth. It gulped, Annalise’s whole body quivering with the effort of ingesting the body of her momentary paramour. The sheets were stained with blood, matching the brilliant fabric of the discarded dress. However, it was not interested in waste. Most of the blood flooded its gullet, Annalise’s ivory skin warming and brightening with the fresh flood of still-warm liquid.

Sweet iron filled the room, its scent nearly overpowering. The now lifeless body of Annalise flopped about as the creature neglected grace in favor of speed. Her head lolled onto her chest, drifting dangerously near the still gaping teeth. A thick, coiled tongue snaked out of the mouth, slithering across the bed to gather whatever remained before it could fully soak in to the cheap hotel mattress. With a shake and an odorous sigh, the creature sat back on the bed. Slowly, Annalise’s eyes began to change, drifting from their brilliant green to a steely blue. Her hair fell out like leaves shaken by the wind, short cropped salt-and-pepper strands replacing it. Her arms and legs lengthened, then thickened. After a moment, the creature stood, a perfect copy of Martin, but imbued with a very different spirit.

It considered the new body, then reached into its mouth to retract a thick pair of black glasses. For a moment, it held them to its new face, considering the advantages of such eyewear. Ultimately, it discarded them and watched as they shattered at the base of the wall. Unlike Martin, the creature walked tall, shoulders back and eyes up high. It smiled charmingly as the skin of his face stretched with the unusual gesture. While Martin certainly did not have sculpted abs or a youthful body, there was at least minimal evidence that he had taken good care of himself, resulting in a relatively slender and strong physique. The creature turned Martin’s head side to side, looking itself up and down in the mirror across the room. It was far from perfect, but with a dash of charm and some newfound confidence, it would certainly do. “Nice to meet you, Martin,” he said, his voice starting with the lilting soprano of before and then taking on a confident baritone that filled the room.

After pilfering the clothes hanging in the closet, the creature looked at the mess it had made and smiled. Martin slipped into its new costume, and walked strongly towards the door. His hand hovered over the light switch, gaining one last glimpse at the bloody masterpiece now staining the cheap room. Then, he plunged it into darkness and made his way back to the festivities.

The night was still young.

Credit To – Katherine C

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The Rationalists’ Mantra

June 15, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I’m a rational person. I’m an atheist, a sceptic about most things, and I trust in science. But sometimes I don’t act in the most rational way. After using the toilet in the night, I run up the stairs as fast as I can, as if something is chasing me. I can’t explain it; I just do it. I mutter my mantra every time I feel scared: “nothing is trying to hurt me; there are no such things as ghosts”. I close my eyes whilst shutting curtains at night. Once again, I have no explanation for this. Do I really think someone – or something – is looking in? Not really. But something inside me compels me to do it. Of course, nothing is trying to hurt me; there are no such things as ghosts.

As a child, as most children do, I believed in things like ghosts. Perhaps it was because my grandparents would always tell me stories, and they’d always talk of their haunted house. Whenever I visited their house, I was sure to stick close to my parents, just in case something happened.

The house had a huge garden, which as my grandparents aged, became harder and harder to maintain. My parents would go each week and do weeding, cut the hedge and any other jobs that my grandparents needed doing. I would sit in the sun-room at the side of the house watching television whilst they did this. The sun-room was next to a courtyard, and my I could usually see my parents around the corner if I felt scared, as I often did in the house.

Once, I was watching something on the TV and my grandfather walked into the room. I barely registered his presence, if it weren’t for the chill that gripped me despite the summer sun. I looked up from the cartoon and smiled at him. He just stared at me for a moment before walking out of the room. For some reason, this shook me greatly, so I walked over to the window to gaze at my parents pulling weeds from the ground, which usually eradicated any worries. Except what I saw made my blood freeze. My granddad was outside with my parents, digging something with a spade. There was no way he could have made it that far in that time. Needless to say, I ran out of that room as fast as I could and helped with the gardening.

I never went into that room again after that. I don’t know what that thing was. I don’t know why he stared at me. I keep telling myself my mantra: “nothing is trying to hurt me; there are no such things as ghosts”. But sometimes it feels like I’m kidding myself.

One night, we had to stay overnight at the house. I don’t know why exactly – I was only around eight years old – but it might have been around the time my granddad died, and my Nan liked the company. The house was quite large, and my Nan slept in her room, my parents across the hall in another, and me on the floor above in a room on my own. The room was massive, and was the only room in the house overlooking the small courtyard to the side of the house. Barely any light reached the room, and there were no street lamps outside the house. My bed was a queen sized bed, and I slept right in the centre. I remember thinking that if I slept too close to the edge I’d be pulled off – just a silly child thing. Well, maybe not.

The details of the night were fuzzy, but the memory scarred itself on my mind. I still can’t remember to this day whether my experience was a dream or not. When I told my parents the next day, they convinced me it was all a dream. But this dream – if that’s what it was – was so vivid, so life-like, that it had to be real.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night. The house was completely still. There were no cars outside, nothing. A grandfather clock in the corner of the room ticked, and I could see the outline of the pendulum swinging in the darkness. But that wasn’t the only thing moving in the room. The wall against which the clock stood looked as if it were vibrating, like it was made of jelly. Something came out of it. A hand. The hand was completely white and, as much as I always tried to avoid using this word, it was the only word that I could think of.

It was a ghost.

I pulled the covered tightly over my body, and I squinted my eyes so that I could barely see. My eyesight now fuzzy, I could make out the outline of a pale figure emerge from the wall. It looked like a woman, not like the man I had seen before, and it looked like she was floating. As scary as it seemed, she – or it – seemed benign. That is, until she looked at me. Her eyes were wide, deranged almost, and it felt like a thousand daggers hitting me at once. I instantly closed my eyes and buried myself under the covers, hoping they’d be enough to keep it out. I stayed under there for the rest of the night, muttering to myself constantly. “Nothing is trying to hurt me; there are no such things as ghosts”. As soon as it was light, I pulled the covers off myself and looked around the room. Everything was as it was the night before. Except the clock was no longer ticking. It had stopped just before midnight, a second before it would have chimed.

I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind. At the time, I told myself it was all a dream, and I moved on. But a month later, a tragedy happened.

After my granddad’s death, my Nan’s four children took it in turns to sleep in the house with her, as she didn’t like to sleep alone. My dad slept there on Sundays, but one Sunday my mum’s mum fell ill and so he visited her in hospital, meaning the house was empty apart from my Nan. And that’s when it happened. The next morning, as my Auntie went round the house, she discovered my Nan lying on her bed, murdered. Her neck had been sliced, but there was no evidence of any forced entry. My parents tried to protect me from the truth, being only eleven years old, but I heard the police tell them everything. When I heard it, I was sure she was murdered by that woman I saw that night. Or perhaps the man who looked like my granddad. Now, as a man of science, I’m not so sure, but nobody else had a motive; she was loved by everyone on the street, and she had no enemies. They never did find whoever did it, but they did find out her time of death: midnight.

The house was put on sale after her murder, but nobody bought the house, as prospective buyers were put off by its reputation. So, instead of selling the house, my parents decided to move into it. I remember begging them to reconsider, but when they asked me why I was ashamed to tell them the truth. They would have laughed at me, even though in my mind I was sure that what I saw was real.

My parents slept in my Nan’s old room, and I slept in the room opposite. Despite my opposition to living there, I was glad I wasn’t in the isolated room on the top floor. With all my toys, my room felt a bit more comfortable, like it was my own. We lived in the house for months, and it was uneventful. I eventually forgot my past experiences in the house, and persuaded myself it was all a dream, like I suspected.

But one night it happened again. Just when I was free of the tormenting memory, I was once again visited by the woman. But this time she didn’t pass through the wall. I was lying in bed, drifting off to sleep, when the bed suddenly jolted, the springs pressing down, as if someone had sat on it. I instantly pulled in my legs, and once again uttered my mantra, but it was cut short when I felt my legs brush against something at the foot of the bed. I pulled the cover over my head, hoping it would go away, but the duvet began to lift. It was under the covers! Whatever it was, it started to touch me, its body pressing up against mine. It slowly crawled along the bed until I could feel its breath on my face. I kicked out my legs towards it, hoping to push it away, but they met with nothing but air. I let out a scream, emptying my lungs so hard I began to retch. The cover was pulled from me, and I leapt from my bed, still trying to call for help.

“Mum! Please, come!”

The door burst open, and my mum walked into the room to the sight of me cowering in a corner with the duvet on the other side of the room. The thing – the woman – was gone.

“What’s the matter, honey?” she said as she came over to me. I was frozen in terror, staring blankly into the distance. “Honey, it’s midnight. What’s wrong?”

My mum squeezed me tightly, resting her head on mine whilst saying comforting things. She kissed my forehead.

“Something was in bed with me,” I said quietly, as if I would summon it by speaking too loudly. The words felt ridiculous coming off my tongue, but I knew that I hadn’t dreamt it that time. What I saw was real. I can’t explain it, but it was real.

And the most terrifying thing? It never came back. I didn’t sleep in my own bed for weeks, but when I did, nothing ever happened. And that, to me, was the worst thing. Whatever it was, it stopped appearing. I could barely sleep for years in the fear that it would return, sobbing every night at the thought of it touching me. And over time, I became more and more paranoid it would come back; I thought it was surely overdue a visit.

A few years later, we left the house suddenly. My parents offered no explanation, just that ‘we had to move’. But as we left, as if one last sick reminder, my parents and I all saw the spectre standing in the top floor window looking out at us, waving goodbye. But nothing is trying to hurt me; there are no such things as ghosts.

Credit To – MrG

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Black Fortune

June 14, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The trading ships had arrived in Venice from Kaffa only two days ago. The summer solstice had come and past and now the days were hot and heavy with humidity. The piers were alive with the sound of activity and excitement. I could smell the tang of varnished wood , the stale odor of stagnating water, the enticing aroma of goods being unloaded from the ships, exotic spices from the Far East, their scent hinting at the strange and wondrous places of their origin. I was on my way to the market place. Usually, I did not have the money to purchase anything of value, but I still enjoyed the experience. I would sit near the outskirts and watch, a detached spectator, and imagine the luxury goods I would one day be affluent enough to buy. Then no longer would I be merely a spectator, but an open contender in the commerce. A childish daydream, but one that gave me a welcoming reprieve from the daily grind of life.

However, today was different. I was here to buy a gift for my sister’s wedding with a small sum of money I had saved for the occasion. And a splendid occasion it was going to be. Her fiancé was an upper middleclass man, a well-known merchant . This was an opportunity for my family , and, in times such as these, opportunities were not to be squandered.

The marketplace was crowded, too much so to be entirely comfortable. I could hear the irritated voices of the customers, berating the merchants, attempting to bargain down the exorbitant prices. In one vendor’s stall, I saw the drying, blackening carcasses of three pigs, their strong smell mingling with that of exquisite perfumes and spices, meshing to create something disconcerting, almost nauseating.

Finding the perfect gift was going to be difficult. The merchandise was either much too costly or simply raw materials, which would be laughably crude for such an occasion. Then I saw it, an irridescent silken scarf from the far off Orient, elegantly emblazoned with a red and black flower, one foreign to this land. As I started to haggle with the merchant over price, I became distracted by two men at a neighboring stall, heatedly arguing over some outrageous rumor percolating through the market place. “I tell you, the devil was aboard that ship,” said one with an uncomfortable and superstitious fervency. “They said that two men died, their flesh rotting off as they still lived”. “It was six that died,” countered the other, “but it was the spice. It gave them fever and black spots. They are calling it black death. They have thrown away the entire cargo.” “No, the sailors saw the devil, three went overboard.” And so it went. The market place was, generally, rife with such stories, which I found were invariably traceable to the effects of long voyages and the imagination of bored sailors. In my opinion such fanciful devil stories were nothing short of preposterous. I finished bargaining with the merchant, concluded my purchase, and started on my way home.

The day was coming to an end. The sun hung low on the horizon, a bloated sanguinary tinged disk, filling the evening sky with its dull red glow. I was well on my way back. As I walked along the piers, I heard the sound of children laughing. I noticed a group of three boys who looked no older than ten, gathered in a circle. As I got closer I was able to make out words, threats of obscene violence, “stab its eyes out”, “break its bones”, “tear its ears off”. And then I saw it, a small kitten with jet black fur. The boys were tormenting it with the disturbing and unwarranted cruelty of which young boys are so often capable. It almost made sense, the animal had most likely been thrown off a ship due to the recent rumors and prevailing superstitions.

I felt a hot flash of anger. I had once had a cat, a large male with silky black fur which I had named Zitto. He had brought me nothing but fortune. My father had been a merchant at the time. He had found him on a ship and he was a fine mouser. When my father would leave on long voyages, Zitto would keep me company. He would sit on my bed, while I watched the ships from the window, hoping my father was returning with them. Then one day my father left and never returned. Reports later confirmed, he had died in a shipwreck. I was devastated. Zitto sat with me, comforting me through this time of despair and grief, a last link to my father. Those times were long past now, and, Zitto, like my father, was merely a memory.

I angrily strode into the group of boys and grabbed one of their sticks and broke it. “Get out of here !” I shouted and roughly pushed the nearest one. They scattered, running off, laughing senselessly. I picked the kitten up. It was trembling, every muscle tensed. I thought of Zitto and stroked it till it calmed. “You will be just like Zitto,” I whispered, “you will be a great mouser and a loving companion and you will bring me fortune,” but, I noted wryly, scratching my arm, “you will not be sleeping in my bed until we get rid of these fleas.” I put the kitten in my coat pocket and continued home.

Credit To – Milo DeOlivares

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