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Our Secret Pond

June 12, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Our Secret Pond
By: Isaac Cook

The bright light of the sun flickered over us through the foliage above, as we excitedly ran along the trail that led to our secret swimming pond. Both of us had been through this path many times, so our speed didn’t arise any concern of us getting lost. Coming to the familiar fork in the trail, we stopped. The left path was longer and through the trees we could see boy scouts, about our age, coming in our direction. The right path was a shorter distance to the pond, so it seemed like the obvious option. As we were about to launch into a sprint, we stopped and glared down the path. An old man came into our view, tucking an unseen object into a dark, long trench coat, hastily walked towards us. Lifting his head up from his task, he stared at us. His pace quickened. His eyes looked dark and unforgiving, with a glint to them that could drive you mad. Shooting a nervous glance at each other, a crooked smile crept up the old man’s thin cheek bones. As we were both uneased by this, we quietly decided to take the longer path. We’d both rather endure a group of boy scouts on the small trail, than that man.

Releasing ourselves from the man’s gaze, as the forest was too dense to see through the divide of bush to the other trail, I felt a sense of relief. We passed the boy scouts, recognising some of them from school, it wasn’t as awkward as we had previously thought. Now being past the situation of the old man and the boy scouts, we both instantly launched ourselves into a sprint.

Quickly reaching the pond, without saying a word we both stripped off our shirts, shorts and socks. Wearing only our boxers, we jumped in. The water was satisfyingly cool. I ran out of the pond and towards the rope swing, for I had never actually swung off it, but this time, I was determined to push away my fear. Firmly holding the thick rope in both hands, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. As I opened them, I launched myself into the air, suspended by the rope. Everything felt like it was in slow motion as I let go of the rope and soared through the air. Looking down at my target area, which was the deepest part of the pond, I felt a sense of pride. I had done it perfectly, and not gone too far and into the shallower parts.

All my feelings of success vanished as bubbles started to arise from the ponds depths, and a dark figure drifted to the surface amongst my target area. In a split second I made out a human body and face. It’s eye sockets lay open and empty; a pale expression of pain and remorse draped on its face.

I let out a sharp scream as I collided with the body.

—-

Word of this incident spread around our small town like a wild fire. The police had been at our secret pond for days trying to find evidence to pin this on someone, to no avail. The body belonged to a woman who was extremely involved within the borders of our town. Everyone was devastated.

The next day, our small community took another blow. Crying families and missing persons posters littered the town, bearing seven pictures of the boys we passed on the trail. I’ve told the police about the old man. That spark in his eyes is burnt into my mind. That crooked smile painfully echos through my thoughts every time I picture it. The police sketch of the man is posted all over town as well; and no one seems to even slightly recognise him.

I don’t know where those boys have gone, or even if they are alive. But I do know one thing. That old man — that monster — wasn’t simply just out for a walk on that horrible, horrible summer day.

Credit To – Isaac Cook

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Darkwatyr

June 11, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Being shackled beneath the moonlit waves, still breathing, still screaming, is an odd sensation. I know that’ll be my fate soon, if I don’t act quickly. So, I want to get my story written before that happens.

I’d always been a swimmer. It was just something that I enjoyed. I was on swim team at school, went to the indoor pool even when it was freezing outside, and treasured my family trips to the beach. I didn’t ever think that it would get me in trouble; well, not this kind of trouble, anyway.

I had a summer life-guarding job when I was seventeen at the local beach. It was relatively uneventful, as people were surprisingly safety-conscious. I remember my first rescue very, very clearly. I suppose that’s mostly because of It.

A little girl, maybe six or seven, had been playing on a sandbar with her mother when an unusually large wave had pushed her into the current. I remember sprinting into the water, running against the pull of the waves, and eventually diving beneath the water. The child was afraid, and had swallowed some seawater, but she was otherwise unscathed.

I had just returned to the shore with the girl and her mother when I heard the noise. It sounded like some kind of underwater explosion, though no one else seemed to take notice of it. I looked around frantically, searching for the source of the noise. That was when I heard It.

Its voice was like that of a thousand people, speaking every language at once. Somehow, though, I still heard, very clearly, the following:

“YOUR INTERFERENCE IN FATE HAS CREATED RESONANCE. YOU WILL ASCEND BEYOND THE CONFINES OF YOUR FLESH, OR BE DESTROYED.”

It was an almost female voice that spoke these words, at a volume I could barely tolerate. I was understandably panicked, and quickly found the other lifeguard on duty to tell her that I was going to have to take the rest of the day off.

After I drove myself home, I tried to forget about the strange things I’d heard. It had to have been some prank, some live event…maybe it was the stress of performing a rescue. To distract myself, I decided to check my email. I had only one new message, from a recipient I’d never seen before. I was simply going to delete it, when I realized that it might be from work.

To: Tobias Fletcher
From:
Hello, Mr. Fletcher. I understand that Master has chosen you as Its latest disciple. This is a tremendous honor, let me assure you. I know that this all might seem very confusing, but I ask that you remain calm. For any questions you may have, please email me back or see the attachment.

Sincerely,

Ricardo Allen
664th Disciple

How’d this guy get my contact info? What was “Master?” Curious, I opened up the attached file. It was an image that made me nearly break my phone, as I flung it into the air out of sheer terror.

The creature was massive and monstrous. It looked ancient; great clumps of algae sprouted from what I could only guess were scars on what I assumed to be Its face, which was covered in an almost rock-like armor. Five indigo eyes stared at me from beyond the phone, two arranged on either side of the center of Its “armor,” and one above. Two yellowed tusks protruded from Its massive, crooked maw, and all on the head of the thing were a multitude of barbed spines. By all accounts, this thing was unbelievable.

My hands shaking, I responded to the email with only, “Please remove me from your contact list.” I thought that was the end of it, though I still quit my job as a lifeguard about a week after the incident.

As senior year started, my thoughts were plagued by the monstrous thing Ricardo Allen had sent me. I found solace in my schoolwork, and generally was content, as long as I kept myself occupied. Everything changed, though, when Iris arrived.

Iris Laterom’s family had just moved to California from Oregon. Iris was a bit taller than me, had a thin build, and sported shoulder-length hair that was dyed a minty green. She was a senior, and ended up with a schedule identical to mine. Like me, she also worked hard in her academics. We quickly became good friends.

It was about halfway through the semester when some weird things started happening. I started having terrible nightmares featuring all sorts of hellish disasters—cities burning to the ground, innocents being swallowed up by tidal waves and dragged out to sea, and orphaned children dying of starvation in the ruins of developed cities. All of these dreams were dominated by an almighty roar, followed by soft whisperings of an innumerable number of voices. I knew that they came from It.

Iris and I were working on a project for our Government class when she suddenly asked me, “Do you know anything about the Darkwatyr Cult Killings?” I replied that I’d never heard of them, to which she explained that, in the past nine years, three people aligned with a cult dedicated to the worship of a forgotten god had disappeared, only to be found a few months later, their corpses mutilated beyond recognition. She said that she’d been researching noteworthy crimes in the area for an extra credit assignment in Psychology, and that this one stood out to her. I wasn’t so sure about the validity of that statement.

Four days later, I received a strange email, like the one I’d gotten in the summer.

To: Tobias Fletcher
From:
Dear Mr. Fletcher,

My name is Silvia Nichols. Master has commanded me to give you important instructions, which you must not disregard as you did 664’s. As your immediate predecessor, I must inform you that failure to comply with your orders will result in immediate destruction.

Isiroremtal is an ageless, immortal being of great power and light. It is our Master, and bestows great gifts to Its obedient Disciples. It selects individuals with whom It resonates. You are the 666th of our order, which has spanned all of time. With the advent of heightened technology, Isiroremtal has had more opportunities for resonance than ever before.

What you must do on the preordained date is this:
1. Return to your location of resonance. It will be a watery place.
2. Enter the water of the place of resonance.
3. Cry out the name of our Master, Isiroremtal, the Sea-Darkener.
4. Be rewarded with the ultimate gift: ascension from mortality into an Aghlärghu, the species of the Master.

Failure to perform the required actions will result in your destruction. A Disciple is rewarded every half-year. My time will come in two days. You have six months after that date to prepare.

I wish you luck.

Silvia, 665th Disciple

I was so shaken up by the email that I completely forgot to print it out the next day, to show to Iris. The day after that, I took the printed email to school. Iris looked at it, and told me, very seriously, to meet her behind the cafeteria after school was over. To my utter shock, she didn’t come to any of her classes that day.

When I went behind the cafeteria, I found Iris curled up underneath a bench, facing away from me. I went over to make sure that she was all right. When I tapped her on the shoulder, she rolled onto her back, limply. I screamed. Her face was gone. In its place was the face of Isiroremtal. It sprung upward at an impossible speed, swung Its hand to my lips, and hissed, “STAY SILENT.”

I blinked, and Iris’ body was gone. In front of me sat a semi-translucent form of a massive creature. Its front arms were almost humanoid, except that they ended in massive, hook-like structures, and Its lower torso was comprised of gargantuan tentacles. The face that stared down at me was identical to the one I’d seen in the 664th Disciple’s email attachment. I looked up at It and asked, “Isiroremtal, the Sea-Darkener?”

It stared back down at me and made a strange, almost purr-like noise. “YES,” it said, with its thousand voices, Iris’ the most clearly heard. “I HAD TO DECEIVE YOU TO JUDGE YOUR WORTH. YOU ARE WORTHY OF BEING MY KIN.”

“I’m not going to let you turn me into…well, whatever you are! I’m not getting turned into that!”

Isiroremtal looked down at me, almost in sadness. “I DO NOT WISH TO DESTROY YOU. YOU WOULD MAKE A VALUED COMPANION. MY SPECIES WAS DESTROYED AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS WORLD. MY DISCIPLES WILL REBUILD THE AGHLÄRGHU.” It turned away from me, its tentacles shifting its position gracefully. “IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY, I WILL SHACKLE YOU TO THE SEAFLOOR. YOU WILL BREATHE BUT WILL NOT MOVE. YOUR DEATH WILL NOT BE BY MY HAND. INSTEAD, YOU WILL DIE FROM THIRST.”

With that, Isiroremtal’s projected form faded into nothingness. I almost pitied It, though my instinct to survive overruled my pity. Both of those things were overruled by fear that night.

I had another nightmare, though this one was the most disturbing of all those I had experienced. It was a first-person dream. I was standing in my room, when, suddenly, the walls fell away. I was at the seafloor, and, to my surprise, I could see everything around me. It wasn’t distressing at all, as I could breathe, and wasn’t cold, until I turned my head to the right. I saw a creature like Isiroremtal, though it looked far younger. Its face was armor-less, exposing its blue-green flesh. Its eyes were bright orange, and pierced the haze of the water disturbingly well. I tried to run from it, but my feet would not move. When I looked down at them, they appeared to be fused into the sand beneath me. The Aghlärghu turned to me and said, softly, “DO NOT BE AFRAID, TOBIAS. IT’S ME, SILVIA.” I stared at the thing in shock. In response, it seemed almost to smile. “THERE IS NO REASON TO FEAR US. WE ARE NO LESS HUMAN THAN YOU.” After saying this, Silvia swam away. I tried desperately to free myself from the sand, but to no avail. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, I screamed and screamed, praying that someone, somewhere would hear me.

Every night since then, I’ve dreamt of the seafloor, except that there is no Silvia to comfort me. Last night, however, the dream changed. I was free to move in the ocean, my vision enhanced. The waves and currents did not affect me. I felt liberated and powerful. Isiroremtal appeared to me in Its physical form, and we danced among the waves, all the while telling jokes and stories, as Iris and I used to.

I know now what I must do. I stand at the beach where I used to be a lifeguard, and as my life as a human comes to an end, my life as an immortal Aghlärghu begins.

Credit To – Hermit Extraordinaire

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The Culling

June 10, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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The Culling

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
See also: Livestock culling

The Culling is the bi-monthly occurrence whereby between 1,000 and 6,000 human beings are rendered mute and unmoving for several minutes, have their bodies float out into an open space, and then move straight up into the atmosphere until they disappear from the sight of others.

First witnessed and reported on as a phenomenon in March of the year 2015, The Culling was widely agreed to be the occurrence of the Rapture (from Christian theology) whereby a group of people is left behind on earth after another group literally leaves “to meet the Lord in the air.” Although many writers and thinkers still utilize theological language and rationales when discussing The Culling, evidence of the arrival and departure of extra-terrestrial travelers to Earth timed to coincide with these mass disappearances has led most to conclude that non-Earth inhabitants are taking humans for some unknown purpose.

Contents

  • 1 Origin of the term
  • 2 The phenomenon
    1. Floating stage
    2. Moving stage
    3. Departure stage
  • 3 History
    1. First Culling
    2. Reactions to Culling events – 2015
    3. Identifying alien objects
    4. Attempts to interact with objects
    5. Attempts to destroy objects
  • 4 Impact on life attitudes
  • 5 Victims group vs. supporters debate
  • 6 Views on rationale

Origin of the term [edit]

The word culling comes from the Latin colligere, which means “to collect”. Historically, the term was applied broadly to mean sorting a collection into two groups: one that will be kept and one that will be rejected. The cull is the set of items rejected during the selection process. When done with intent, the culling process was repeated until the selected group was of the proper size and consistency desired. “The Culling” (used capitalized) was coined in early 2016 by Richard Farnsworth, then President of California Institute of Technology, when he and his team of Astrophysicists reported to the public that alien space travelers had been visiting Earth twice monthly. Used in this more recent context, it is unclear why some individuals are selected and others are not, and unclear whether the individuals taken or the individuals left behind should be considered the cull.

The phenomenon [edit]

Victims of The Culling experience three known phases, the initial floating stage, the moving stage, and the final departure stage. Mankind does not yet know what happens to the victims of The Culling after the departure stage.

Floating stage
During the floating stage (also referred to as the levitation stage), victims stop breathing and their hearts stop beating. Body position, facial expression and degree of eye openness remain as they were before. Previous activity (i.e., verbalizing or running) ceases immediately. Unless constrained by another object, victim’s bodies typically levitate immediately between three and four inches (just under nine centimeters) from their original location. Despite repeated testing, it is unknown to what extent consciousness remains. The floating stage lasts between 16 and 19 seconds. Biometric devices previously attached to victims during this stage indicate no cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, or digestive system activity. Low level nervous system and endocrine system activity has been recorded (specifically in the Cerebrum, Thalamus, Hypothalamus, and Thyroid Gland), leading many to conclude that victims have not fully died.

Victim Kevin McDougal experiencing floating stage. Image taken May 6, 2016.

Moving stage
During the moving stage, when it occurs, victims’ bodies move from their original, levitated location in a direct path to the nearest open space at which the open sky is above. While some of the victims’ bodies move only inches or feet to get out from under tree branches or a building overhang, others move hundreds of feet to get out of buildings, subway tunnels, or caves. During this stage, bodies have been consistently measured to move at 3.1 miles per hour or 4.55 feet per second (5.0 kilometers per hour or 1.39 meters per second), equivalent to the average speed at which humans walk. This rate of movement does not change when additional weight is added (i.e., when a loved one jumps on their back). Body position, facial expression and eye openness remain constant during the moving stage.

If a victim’s body is unable to access an open space because it is in a closed building or vehicle, then it will experience up to six attempts to exit the space. These attempts involve 1) a reorientation of the body such that the feet are pointed in the direction of windows or doors and 2) steadily faster ramming movements into the windows, doors or walls. Attempts to leave a building or vehicle begin at the same time as most other victims experience the departure stage. While some victims exit the building after one attempt, many (especially during the first several months of The Culling) experience six attempts to leave. Six-attempts victims often suffer significant bodily damage as they are repeatedly forced into windows, doors and walls. Lower bodies and torsos are often crushed during the process.

When the 6th attempt does not lead to atmospheric access, victims remain crushed where they are, though no longer levitated. If a door is not opened during the subsequent Culling, then the body will again experience the floating and moving stages and the six attempts, damaging the body beyond recognition. (It is claimed that Aleksei Yesipov’s former body experienced the greatest number of 6th attempts – 68 – locked in a nuclear power plant outside of Minsk, though his body was no more than cellular pulp when emergency exit doors were opened in 2017.) If a door or window is opened during the subsequent Culling, then the body will move outside and experience the departure stage at the same time as do others. Opening a door or window in between Culling periods will not lead to any change in the movement or positioning of the victim body. Victim bodies can be moved in between Culling incidents, though alteration of the body’s integrity (i.e., though cremation) does not alter The Culling activity they will experience at the next full/new moon.

Departure stage
During the departure stage, victims move directly upwards, accelerating to a recorded speed of 213 miles per hour or 312 feet per second (342 kilometers per hour or 95 meters per second). Biometric devices previously attached to victims during this stage continue to indicate no cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, or digestive system activity. Nervous system and endocrine system activity has been recorded at stronger levels during this stage than was true during the floating stage, though scientists have questioned the reliability of their measuring devices as they travel at high rates of speed several miles up in the atmosphere. Three-dimensional GPS tracking devices, developed soon after the identification of alien space travelers, have indicated that victim bodies travel on a path directly perpendicular to their Earth departure point until they reach the edge of the atmosphere (known as the Karman line – an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the Earth’s sea level, representing the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space). Beyond the Karman line, it is believed that victim bodies move straight toward one of eight waiting alien space ships.

In seven known cases, relatives have clung to victim bodies during the departure stage for more than thirty feet. In each case, the relative died due to injuries sustained in their fall back to Earth. During the 24-hour period after The Culling has ended, clothing and items stored in clothing (i.e., wallets and cell phones) have been found falling/drifting back to Earth. Medical devices (i.e., pacemakers) and body cameras from victim bodies have also been found back on Earth.

History [edit]

First Culling
On Thursday, March 5, 2015, at 18:07 GMT, at least 2,934 human beings left Planet Earth in a manner previously unknown and unrecorded. The distribution of this first set of humans mirrored that of the world’s population, with the most victims coming from China, India, the United States, Indonesia, and Brazil. Given the simultaneity of the occurrences, losses were documented in the daylight and the nighttime. Lost humans included children as young as four days old (Charlotte Evers) and the elderly as old as 93 (Xiao Lu). All major racial, ethnic, religious and sexual/gender identity groups were represented among those lost. While two pregnant women were taken, no unborn children were. No non-human life forms have been known to be taken. Video images and sound from several dozen episodes were recorded by families, friends and strangers (i.e., see the documentary The First Culling). By the end of the next week, a list of the names of these individuals was collected and printed by the New York Times, London Telegraph and China Daily. During early March of 2015, only one reporter (Sven Lundquist from The Copenhagen Post) noted the “coincidence” that The First Culling occurred at the same exact time as the full moon.

Responses to these incidents were described at the time as both horrified and confused. Family members, friends and neighbors frequently reported their efforts to grab and hold on to victims during both the initial floating stage, the moving stage, and the final departure stage. Multiple reports described individuals whose bodies were thrust through windows and doors, causing damage to buildings and vehicles, before they were swept up into the atmosphere. In several hundred incidents, First Culling (initially referred to as “First Departure”) victims could not access the open air from inside planes, cars and buses after six attempts to break through the physical material/structure impeding them.

The Second Culling occurred on Friday, March 20, at 9:39 GMT and corresponded with both a total solar eclipse and a new moon. At least 5,038 humans left the planet on this date. For a complete list of all Culling dates and times, see The Culling dates.

Reactions to Culling events – 2015
By the end of the Third Culling, it was generally understood that Departure Events (as they were originally called) occurred at both the full and new moon. Anticipating the Fourth Culling on April 18th, many people actively planned to avoid leaving Earth by sheltering in a place with limited access to the outdoors. Interior rooms in buildings, buildings without windows (i.e., 33 Thomas Street in Manhattan), bomb shelters, and caves requiring transport via elevators became popular destinations for those hoping to stay behind. As the phenomenon of the six attempts became more widely known and studied, it was generally agreed that having your body repeatedly smashed against walls was not a desirable end-of-Earthly-life occurrence and was heart-breaking for friends and family to witness.

By the end of the Fifth Culling, reliable statistics were being kept regarding the number of victims worldwide. It was estimated that an average of 3,200 people experienced a Departure Event roughly twice per month. Given a world population of over 7 billion, it was estimated that each individual human has a one in 100,000 chance per year of leaving our planet. Compared to the entire world’s mortality rate, on average, humans are 100 times more likely to die from other causes than they are due to The Culling. Mortality rates for young (under 40) and healthy humans are similar to the annual rates at which young people were falling victim to The Culling.

In April of 2015, members of the media, social scientists and many others began to catalogue the qualities and characteristics of those who were lost. Individual names, birthdates, birthplaces, horoscope signs, personality types, religious affiliations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, criminal records, the existence of tattoos, “records of sin,” and recent activities (including travels, writings and interactions with others) were all evaluated in some fashion. Numerologists, astrologists, theologians, and even fans of professional sports teams began to make claims that they could characterize those who were departing and/or predict those who would be departing. The World Veterinary Association analyzed the biological and biochemical differences between humans and other animals to assess why other mammals were not departing. These evaluations of who had been lost in an attempt to assess why they were lost intensified significantly when it was learned that extra-terrestrial travelers were involved.

In November of 2015, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decreed that all commercial air travel would cease twice monthly to correspond with the occurrence of Departure Events and to avoid instances when passengers’ bodies were repeatedly being flung against airplane doors or windows (i.e., see Ira Morgenstern). Soon thereafter, calls were made by civic and religious leaders to voluntarily end the use of all motor vehicles at Departure Event times to avoid collisions, property damage and the additional loss of life.

In December of 2015, social and traditional media outlets reported heavily on “Departure Parties” or “Departure Gatherings” (later called “Culling Parties”). Groups of people large and small gathered to celebrate their camaraderie, shared interests and their “shared humanity.” Doors and windows began being left open to avoid damage from six attempts. Just prior to The Culling time, many people assumed a body position selected as being memorable, dignified, and/or humorous during the Moving Stage (see Jim Carey). While some gatherings offered traditional party activities (i.e., music, dancing and alcoholic beverages), others included a shared activity (i.e., nature hikes, art-making, or sexual intercourse). Culling Parties have since become a bi-monthly, worldwide tradition for people to spend time with friends and family (in one location or connected digitally), engaged in activities seen as significant, life-defining and/or worthy of “My Last Act.”

Beginning in late 2015, Departure Grief Support Groups (later called “Culling Grief Support Groups”) were formed by relatives and friends of victims. Loved ones were/are mourned and remembered in these groups, many of which meet at every full or new moon (depending on when the person was lost). It is common for support group meetings to be offered free meeting spaces, counselling services, memorial messaging (i.e., print, radio, bill board, and television), and food by sympathetic area vendors. These groups often raise funds through Kickstarter and other social media sites for the families most impacted by the loss of breadwinners. A number of bereavement publications and websites have been created focusing on the unique emotional and community needs of victim families/loved ones.

During 2015, Culling/Departure events had little significant effect on international politics or business. While most national leaders openly acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding these events, discussed their concerns, and prayed for the victims and their families; small numbers of other officials 1) disavowed that their citizens were affected (i.e., North Korea), 2) claimed that God had chosen their citizens only (i.e., Pakistan and Indonesia), or 3) argued that their citizens were being victimized by United States and/or Israeli forces (i.e. Iran, Yemen and Syria). Many regional and national political leaders established support funds (some of them tax-supported) that offered financial support to the immediate families of those who had been lost. Other than bi-monthly closures of international stock markets (beginning December 2015), voluntary bans on travel, and increases in spending on both entertainment (i.e., movies, music concerts and “high-end dining” prior to full and new moons) and “My Last Act” activities/related-merchandise, international commerce was largely unaffected.

Between March 2015 and January 2016, as over 65,000 total people were being carried bi-monthly into the atmosphere, much of the world’s attention focused on the notion of the Rapture. Rapture is a term in Christian eschatology which refers to the “being caught up” discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, when the “dead in Christ” and “we who are alive and remain” will be “caught up in the clouds” to meet “the Lord in the air”. For much of 2015, historians, theologians and many others deepened their studies of (and focused their media stories on) those who originated pre-tribulation rapture theology (the Puritan preachers Increase and Cotton Mather) and those who popularized it (John Nelson Darby, Grant Jeffrey and the Plymouth Brethren in the 1830s and the Scofield Reference Bible in the early 20th century). Theologians bolstered their arguments in support of the rapture with the “evidence” that the six attempts represented 666, the “number of the beast” or the devil. Those who argued that the Christian Rapture was occurring struggled to explain why the leadership of various Protestant denominations (i.e., Anglican Communion, Presbyterian Church, Methodist Council and Lutheran World Federation), the Pope and all Catholic Bishops did not “ascend to the heavens.” (In fact, during all of 2015, it was reported that only four Christian Clergy members, five Rabbis, three Muslim Imams, three Buddhist Monks, and one aide to the Dalia Lama were among those taken worldwide.)

Identifying alien objects
On January 13, 2016, Richard Farnsworth, then President of California Institute of Technology, called a press conference intending to “further mankind’s knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the mass human departures” that had been occurring. Joined by a team of eight scientists and six technicians from the Palomar Observatory, Farnsworth provided an overview of the data they had collected since April of 2015 “proving” that “multiple non-Earth-based objects” had been arriving just outside of Earth’s atmosphere at times that coincided with both the full and new moons, and with the instances when humans were levitating in the direction of outer space. Although no objects were visible to the scientists, stars and distant galaxies were lost from sight of the Hale and Samuel Oschin Telescopes in a manner indicating that objects were blocking the incoming light. Data collected indicated that at least four of these unknown objects were arriving at “Earth’s doorstep” directly above set positions, as if they were in Earth’s orbit. The Cal Tech team estimated that these objects became positioned at between 70 and 80 miles from the Earth’s surface (between 115 and 130 kilometers) and were positioned there for approximately eighteen minutes.

Data later collected by other observatories around the world indicated that the number of unknown objects was actually eight and that they were positioned at just over 78 miles above the equator’s sea level, (126 kilometers – with correspondingly higher or lower altitudes depending on the heights of mountains and the distance from the equator – see Equatorial Bulge.) The size of these objects as they face the Earth is estimated to be approximately 100 feet by 50 feet (30 by 15 meters – roughly the size of a basketball court). It was also learned that the eight objects were not spaced evenly into octants, as first assumed. Instead, as observed by MIT Human Geographer Arnold Spitz, the objects were spaced such that equal numbers of humans lived underneath each of them.

At this first press conference, Farnsworth refused to “venture a guess” whether the light-blocking objects contained or were controlled by “alien beings.” He did, however, offer his conclusion that humans were being taken away from Earth by “some force within these objects, as if in some kind of Culling.” He offered no explanation for why humans were being taken or what happened to them once they left this planet. He ended his comments by saying, “I’m not sure we will ever understand the reasons behind The Culling.” As has been widely commented on by the media and various blogging communities, Richard Farnsworth would later become a victim of The Culling on October 16, 2016.

After the January 2016 recognition that “non-Earth-based objects” were involved in The Culling events, international politics and business were impacted significantly. Over a series of five months, 193 United Nations member states agreed unanimously 1) to convene an ongoing special session and to keep their delegations in New York until the “threat has been averted” – February 2016, 2) to cooperate fully with a “Communications Committee” tasked with messaging the alien beings and attempting to discern their motives (see below) – March 2016, 3) to “apply all available resources” towards the goal of understanding The Culling events (including the biological reactions of victims; the physics of the floating, moving and departure stages; and further assessments of the qualities and characteristics of those who become victims) – March 2016, and 4) to share both rocket engine and guided weapon systems knowledge, along with launch pads and airspace, to prepare for the possibility that missiles might need to be sent to “attack Earth’s invaders” – June 2016.

During the first nine months of 2016, many employers began to implement bi-monthly “Culling time-off” for employees to be with their families. Major cultural and sporting events such as “March Madness” playoff games, Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, and television’s Emmy Awards show were rescheduled to avoid full or new moons. Universities avoided scheduling classes and hospitals avoided scheduling surgeries during Culling times. Governmental agencies organized “Buddy Up & Open Up” campaigns encouraging people to not be alone, and to keep doors or windows open and accessible during the twice monthly Culling Timeframes.

Attempts to interact with objects
In February of 2016, NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and the China National Space Administration, supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists, began making both navigational and tasking adjustments to 23 of the 1,100 active satellites orbiting the Earth. Satellites were selected based on their proximity to previously known orbital locations for the unidentified objects and on their ability to collect electromagnetic (or any other signaling) data coming from the objects. Other than confirming that “non-Earth-based objects” were temporarily positioned above the planet, authorities have indicated that “no currently understandable data” have yet been gathered. Without offering any explanation as to a cause, authorities have also reported that five of the satellites used for this purpose have cased functioning. Some members of the media (i.e., Dana Priest from the Washington Post and Matt Pearce from the Los Angeles Times) have claimed that scientists and leaders have learned more from these satellite studies than has been shared with the public.

After Elizabeth Bleacher wrote a March 2016 editorial promoting the idea in London’s The Sunday Times, individuals began purchasing and utilizing body cameras at the full and new moons. On the chance that the body camera owner became a victim of The Culling, the goal was to record both video and sound that would document the event. Loved ones left behind would have a recording of the victim’s last moments on Earth and scientists would have additional data they could comb through to better understand the phenomenon. The wearing of body cameras has been credited with the discovery that most victims are quietly humming/moaning during the departure stage. Regrettably, it’s been found that some form of electromagnetic interference ends all body camera signals soon after victims end their perpendicular trajectory and as they begin their movement towards alien ships. Body camera debris has been found among victim clothing/belongings that drift back to Earth. In December of 2017, the President of the People’s Republic of China declared that all Chinese citizens would be required to wear a body camera twice per month.

In March of 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media in Russia, and an additional 78 governments agreed that “every organization broadcasting audio or video content via any electronic mass communication medium must allot “every minute of the three hour time overlapping full and new moons” to a series of Welcome to our planet messages.” These messages, in the language of the sending country, attempted to introduce the human race and also describe humanity’s “peaceful intent.” In the 16 weeks that these messages ran, they became increasingly desperate and hostile, ending in August of 2016 with some version of the following: “Because you have not responded to mankind’s repeated attempts to communicate with you, we are left with no choice but to assume that you represent an invading force. We intend to respond accordingly.” (See “Final Message.”)

In May 2016 through June of 2017, NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and the China National Space Administration combined forces with the commercial firms Virgin Galactic and SpaceX to send a series of probes to the region just below low Earth orbit (LEO) in an attempt to gather more information than had been gathered by existing satellites. These probes were specially designed to gather any and all signals that might be coming into or out of, and to transmit visual images of, the unknown objects, and to transmit them back to Earth in real time. They were also tasked with assessing the direction from which, and speed at which, the objects arrived and departed. Because the unidentified objects locate at an altitude that has proven to be impossible for man-made satellites to establish sustaining orbits (Sputnick orbited at an altitude 55 miles higher), scientists found that locating their probes at the proper altitude was problematic. As occurred with the satellites, the probes (named Culling One through 14) confirmed that “non-Earth-based objects” were temporarily positioned above the planet but did not provide any “currently understandable data” for scientists. Reports that three probes were destroyed “by external forces” (see Miami Herald and Houston Chronicle) have neither been confirmed nor denied by the authorities.

Attempts to destroy objects
In February through July 2017, several attempts were made to destroy the unidentified objects. The Laser Weapon System or LaWS (a directed-energy weapon developed by the United States Navy in 2014) was reportedly deployed first from the USS Ponce (an Austin-class amphibious transport dock) and then from a specially-designed platform at the rear of two different Antonov An-225s. The US Navy and US Air Force reported that in the firings from both the USS Ponce and the An-225, the targets were further away than LaWS was designed to strike and that the power of the beam was weakened by the distance it had to travel. (Note that the An-225 flies at a maximum altitude of 36,000 feet or just under seven miles, leaving it about 70 miles away from the targets.) It is not known if the laser beams directly hit or had any noticeable effect on the objects. Note that there are currently no known operative orbital weapons systems, laser or otherwise, based on a functioning satellite. The United States, China and Russia each claim to be developing such systems.

According to leaked reports, at least seven attempts have been made to date to destroy the unidentified objects with Tomahawk Missiles, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), or similar non-nuclear weaponry. Although the United States, British, Israeli, Russian and Chinese governments are not responding to requests from citizen groups and the media for further information, officials from Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Raytheon have indicated that the directional precision of each of their respective systems was not built anticipating strikes on small objects (roughly 5,000 square feet in area – 450 square meters) located miles outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Self-propelled guided missiles were typically built to navigate within the atmosphere and are targeted through use of radiation, radio waves and/or visual contact, all of which have proved problematic for these targets. ICBMs were built to travel outside the atmosphere, but the accuracy of their strikes was intended to be based on available geophysical information related to the Earth’s surface (i.e., GPS) and not to target on air born/space born objects. Some in the media have questioned these claims of “missile incompetence.”

To date, no nuclear warheads have been used against the unidentified objects. Political and military leaders, members of the media, and bloggers across multiple nations have engaged in fierce debate regarding both the efficacy of, and the dangers involved in, using nuclear weaponry. Until recently, most arguments against “going nuclear” have included concerns regarding the potential for worldwide radioactive fallout and the fear of retaliatory strikes from aliens. As of late, more and more people have argued against attacking the objects by putting forward what some have called “fatalistic” claims that the alleged alien beings are unstoppable in their pursuit of human victims and/or are taking “sustainable” numbers of victims. Groups such as “Supporting The Culling” compare the 75,000 to 80,000 people who become annual Culling victims to a yearly net world population gain of 70,000,000 and argue that The Culling phenomenon is helping to mitigate this planet’s significant over-population challenges. Other groups, such as “Avenge The Victims,” have argued that “every possible military option” should be applied in order to “destroy the evil beings who have perpetrated these crimes against our species.” (See Victim group vs. supporters debate, below.)

Impact on life attitudes [edit]

It is generally agreed that mankind’s perspective towards life has been altered significantly by The Culling. After the collective initial experience of confused, fearful and angry reactions, the American Psychological Association (APA) and the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) recently reported on studies that fully one-third of Americans and Europeans have both “accepted” the ongoing nature of The Culling and are either supportive or neutral towards its occurrence. After spiking dramatically in 2015 and 2016, instances of panic attacks and a broad category of Culling-related anxiety disorders have now been reportedly decreasing.

Given the continuing uncertainty regarding an explanation for The Culling, human use of protective charms, amulets and concoctions has become widespread. Many forms of jewelry, clothing, items located around the home, food, drink, and inhaled vapors have been claimed to protect the owner from The Culling. Some so-called “protective” items have been found floating/falling back to Earth (see Mjolnir or Thor’s Hammer), thus discrediting their efficacy.

In the three plus years since The Culling first occurred, participation in religious life has increased at the same time that the acknowledgement of secular/humanist world views has increased. In the United States, for example, social scientists (see Jane Ebel) have documented how the 70% of Americans who had previously described themselves as belonging to or being raised within one specific religious denomination (i.e., Catholicism or Methodism) were more likely to attend church/synagogue/mosque on at least a weekly basis than was the case prior to March 2015. In the same studies, Ebel found that the 30% of Americans who would have previously described themselves as being atheist, agnostic, a religious skeptic, or religiously unaffiliated were more likely to “admit to friends and relatives” their beliefs.

At first, The Culling was not being discussed in most of the world’s elementary and middle schools. Educators indicated that they did not want to frighten the children and that they wanted to respect each family’s right to present the facts and discuss the theories within the context of their unique values. Now, the National Education Association (NEA) and World Education Research Association (WERA) have each issued statements arguing that young children should be taught about The Culling, that they should not fear it, and that they should “endeavor to live a life rich with knowledge, connections and experiences” on the chance they may fall victim.

Despite “Supporting The Culling” claims that human losses due to The Culling have mitigated population increases, birthrates have begun to increase within the past year, especially within western societies, due to concerns regarding the potential loss of “only children.”

Victims group vs. supporters debate [edit]

Media and Culling bloggers have focused much attention on the debate between Lucy Lawson, Spokesperson for “Avenge The Victims” and Thomas Ortega, spokesperson for “Supporting The Culling.” Lucy Lawson is a Pasadena, CA (USA) lawyer who lost her daughter Rebecca to The Culling in April of 2015. Thomas Ortega is a sociologist at The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM – National Autonomous University of Mexico). Contentious and overtly personal at times, this debate between these two individuals can be summarized by the position statements of each group.

From avengethevictims.com. “It is with horror that we regularly witness our loved ones being taken. Mankind must fight back to both avoid further loss of life and to avenge the innocent lives that have ended so abruptly. We urge our political and military leaders to use every possible military option to destroy the evil beings who have perpetrated these crimes against our species.”

From supportingtheculling.org/english. “While the loss of human life that has occurred during The Culling is tragic, it is clear that the alien beings are taking sustainable numbers of victims, are utilizing technologies far advanced to what mankind possesses, and are capable of causing much greater damage than what has already been witnessed. We believe that aggressive military action against the aliens will not prevail and will, instead, create incentives for them to kill more of us or even destroy our planet entirely. We believe that a peaceful human response will be more likely to lead to benevolent alien behavior.”

Ms. Lawson has argued that she would rather see all of humanity die in a battle with the aliens than see them continue to “steal away with victim after victim after victim.” Mr. Ortega has maintained that human life has been “shocked but also enhanced” by the steady loss of victims, given that “the threat of random, imminent death has motivated people to live life more fully, seeking stronger connections with each other and aggressively pursuing meaningful and memorable activities.”

Views on rationale [edit]

Many scientists, writers, political and religious leaders believe that human bodies are being taken by alien beings to be used in some unknown fashion. Given our inability to communicate with these aliens, it is impossible to understand why this has been occurring. Theories have included 1) food for the aliens, 2) test subjects for alien medicines, 3) the harvesting of specific bodily parts (i.e., the Cerebrum, Thalamus, Hypothalamus, and/or Thyroid Gland), 4) the harvesting of DNA, 5) bodily incubators for alien babies, 5) fertilizer for alien crops, and many other hypotheses.
While the majority of people polled indicate that they do not want to become a victim of The Culling, roughly 12% of survey respondents in the U.S. and European Union indicated their hope that they will “be chosen.” Instead of considering them as Culling “victims,” these “Chosen Activists” believe that those who leave Earth have been chosen for some “higher” though unknown purpose. Given this perspective, people lost during previous Cullings are revered, studied and imitated. Instead of using protective charms, amulets and concoctions to not be selected, these people pursue techniques and make lifestyle decisions that they believe will lead to their being taken.

Many Culling commentators ask questions that are driven by philosophical and spiritual disagreements, uncertainty, and/or a search for an unambiguous “meaning of life.” These questions seek to explain how The Culling fits into or alters an individual’s or a group’s previously held beliefs on the topic. For those who have concentrated their discussions on the individually-focused question of “What is the meaning of my life?” The Culling has invigorated attention on personal fulfillment, consciousness, and “doing your own thing.” For those who have concentrated on the collective question of “What is the meaning of human life?” (i.e., a “higher meaning”) The Culling has raised many questions on which religious and spiritual leaders have struggled to agree. While Secular Humanist group leaders have reported being emboldened by The Culling, several leaders of traditional religious groups have admitted to “significant struggles” trying to understand and explain The Culling within the framework of their beliefs.

One key element in all Culling rationale discussions is whether people are chosen or whether their “selection” is random or based purely on luck. Social scientists, members of the media, and many others have offered numerous theories on the human qualities and characteristics that increase the likelihood that someone will become a Culling victim. For every promising quality that is identified, multiple examples of disproving cases are then found. The Gallop Organization (United States), Angus Reid Strategies (Canada), and Allensbach Institute (Germany) have each completed public opinion polls that document significant increases in percentages of respondents who indicate that Culling Selection is random.

Some theorists have likened The Culling to the human breeding, slaughter and consumption of livestock. In these arguments, as is the case for farmed cattle, hogs, and turkeys; human beings (the “victims”) are unaware that their lives, the length of their lives, the circumstances that lead to death for some members of the group, and their actual deaths are dictated by “controlling beings.” In many of these discussions, human existence on Earth has been referred to as “free range.”

Credit To – Bob Gielow

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The starvation of angels

June 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Soft beeping from my alarm work me that morning. The same sound as always, a pulsing of noise that was like a heartbeat. Over the years, I’d grown used to the noise signifying another day at the station. I was positive about my lack of work, but I could just feel some new and horrific case would be looming over me soon. Turning my clock off to prevent it waking my slumbering wife, I pulled myself out of bed and got dressed. I had breakfast and read the news; old cases printed on the cover. Almost in sync with my need to get up and head over to the station, a knock came at my door.

“Back to the grind,” I hummed as I kicked my shoes on.

On opening the door I found my work partner, a spry woman in her late thirties with curly red hair pulled back into a pony tail. She wore a light brown coat and a sweet smile.

“Morning Harrison,” she chirped before pushing a coffee into my hands. “Boys want you over at Saints Lane apartment block. Seems they’ve found a body.”

I took the coffee from her, same one she gave me every day, and sipped it. “About time we got some more work.” Smiling, I closed the front door and headed to her car. Sharon Wittingham, to give her full name, was a detective like me. I trained her and was expecting her to move to a new city once she was trained, since she had the skills to go far – but she, like most people who live here, stayed.

Within half an hour we’d arrived. The complex we found ourselves at was the kind people tell of in ghost stories; old, damp and half empty. It was once a low-cost housing ideal from about fifty years ago, but the only thing it kept after countless contractors had pulled out was the low cost. A few squad cars where already outside, their lights flicking on and off rhythmically.

From what Sharon had told me, we knew the body was that of a young male, about twenty-three years old. We were trying to hunt for his family, but as yet didn’t have many leads. I ran through the notes in my head as we ascended the four flights of stairs, up to room 307. Yellow and black tape was hung about the place, stopping the other dozen residents of the complex from getting in. The door had been broken in by our own forces in an attempt to see what the source of the foul smell in the complex was. Little had been disturbed in the apartment itself; a few things like pillows were on the floor but nothing to suggest a struggle. Sharon headed into the bedroom of the apartment and nodded her head towards the body.

Grimly I followed her in. There, lying naked on the bed was a young man, with black hair, green eyes and a few studs. His body was a mess. Most of his chest had been pulled open and the lungs and heart partially removed, clawed out by long nails. Though his death looked horrific the young man had a peaceful look on his face.

“What a sorry sight” I commented, walking over to the body to take a closer look at the gaping wound in his chest.

“That’s what I said” Sharon nodded, looking around the bedroom. “This case looks like an odd one, I mean just look at this room. It’s immaculate, not a thing out of place. It doesn’t look like there was a struggle to me.”

I nodded in agreement before looking at the man’s side table to inspect it for clues. I pulled some gloves on and started to leaf through his possessions.

“Has anyone reported hearing a disturbance here in the past few weeks?”

“No, the kid hardly made any noise, it seemed. He moved in a few years ago. Didn’t go out much or have many people over.”

“Do we have a name?”

“Um…yeah, I think so. He called himself Joshua Brown. He was working near here, at a restaurant as a waiter.”

“I see.” I moved back from the small bedside cabinet, making note of a framed photo by the lamp. The image was of the boy, Joshua, in his late teens with another boy with long white hair, snowy skin, and a pink jumper. They looked happy together. Just as I was about to stand I noticed a few empty packets of contraceptives on the floor. I picked them up carefully and placed them into a clear plastic bag before showing them to Sharon. “Do you think he knew his killer?”

Sharon eyed me for a moment; she always said I had an odd way with words. “Well, he could have done it with his killer before he met his maker, so to speak.” She pondered for a moment before spotting the photograph. “If we look at it from that angle it’s totally plausible. We should try to see who he knew, who his friends and lovers were. Unless it was a one night stand, of course.”

I nodded and wandered around the room some more. “Get someone to look into his mobile phone records, computer and whatever other communication device he has. That’ll be a good first lead. We should also be able to get some DNA from this place, if we need to identify.”

“You talk like such an old man sometimes.” Sharon smiled. “If we get this to court we should be able to prove who did it – we just need to find the one who did the deed.”

I stifled a chuckle. “You talk like a teenager sometimes, Sharon.” I knew full well my come-back had no effect. “Let’s hope we can get whoever did this.”

“As if we ever let them get away.”

I smiled at her optimism and continued my search.

As expected, a good number of DNA samples were recovered and sent off to the lab while Sharon and I spoke to his neighbours to see if anyone knew Joshua. They all said the same thing; as far as they knew, he was a very quiet lad, though his appearance may have suggested otherwise. He was kind, didn’t talk about himself or his family much.

We were still finding it hard to get in contact with his parents – or the boy in the photo, whoever he was. The few photos around Joshua’s flat where almost all of the albino teenager and we guessed they’d probably been partners at some point. Working on that assumption, we’d started to construct a story that the two had probably split up or moved apart but had met up again recently and the albino had, after intercourse, killed Joshua. It was a little flimsy but we had to start somewhere.

It was long after eleven that night that I finally took a taxi home. In the heat of the moment I’d lost myself in work and I’d lost all track of time. Only when I saw it was so late did I at last leave. I arrived home and was met by my darling wife. Even now, forty-three years after first meeting her at college, she hasn’t lost her looks in my eyes. Even after she had her first stroke, I still loved her looks. They do say love is blind after all.

“Good evening love” I said with a soft voice. You could say that me and my wife, Annabelle, were the ideal model of what an old married couple should be – still as close as ever. Though I now had a full head of silver hair, I hadn’t retired. After my wife’s first stroke she’d wanted our lives to stay the same. She stayed at home and rested while I went to work. I loved my work and the money it brought in helped to pay the medical bills.

“Evening” my wife replied after a short pause. “How was work today?”

I embraced her and smiled, not giving her an answer other than a happy moan. Annabelle hugged me back, smiling. I hated telling her about my work – the death I saw – so I hid it from her.

For the rest of the evening we simply ate dinner and watched TV, before falling asleep at about one am.

The next day started the same. My alarm started softly to raise me from slumber and then I left to greet Sharon. She filled me in on some of the developments that had happened since we spoke last. The body had been moved from the apartment and we were now free to do a deep search. Joshua’s laptop had been found and was in the lab, being pulled apart for information. I needed confirmation that nothing had been missed, so I rode with Sharon to the apartment. The place was quiet as we went in, the smell of damp stronger than ever now.

On entering the apartment we found that little was out of place, thanks to the hands of our experienced team. I started to look about, first going through the kitchen and then the living room, followed by the bathroom then the bedroom, looking in more detail than I had done before. I made a note that the kitchen was poorly stocked to feed two people and that the only clothes belonged Joshua. Sharon and I quickly came to the same conclusion – that he was living alone at the time of his death.

My gaze turned back to the bed; most of the covers had been taken away but there was still some dried blood on the mattress, outlined by tape to show where the body once lay. I looked at Sharon who was rummaging through the dresser to the right of the small window that gave light to the room. On top of the dresser there were a number of small trinkets including a photograph of the albino boy, a free-standing cross with a rosary hung about it and a copy of the Bible. “See anything Sharon?” I asked, slowly walking over to look over her shoulder.

“Well, he was into his religion, but it looks normal enough.” She pondered, tapping the side of her neck in thought.

I nodded in agreement, coupling this with a small noise to signify I thought she was indeed correct. “I’d like to know who the albino boy is, he looks to be a bit of a theme here.”

“Possible suspect?”

“I can’t be sure until we find him, but it’s within reason.”

I picked up the photograph and removed it from its frame. For a moment I studied the image before noticing something as I held it to the light. Dark patches. Careful to not damage the deceased’s possessions, I turned the image over to see writing on the back. It read like a love letter, short sweet and simple. “It was sunny that day, like the sun, you light up my day, my angel.” I quoted aloud.

Sharon looked back at me in puzzlement for a moment before realising I was reading something. “Is there something on the back of the photograph?”

With a nod, I handed over the image. “No name sadly.”

Like me, Sharon studied the writing. “At least we know now that the two of them were dating. A bit tacky if you ask me.”

I chuckled. “When you find love you’ll learn that there is no such thing as tacky.”

“You know full well I have no intention of finding love.” Sharon responded flatly. She’d explained to me before that she wasn’t interested in any kind of relationship that wasn’t work of friend based; she enjoyed her solitude.

“We’ll see.” I smiled back before going to inspect the other images. “Let’s try and find the name of the albino boy, that’s our first task.”

Sharon agreed before hunting about for more photos to see if any others had messages on the back. Sadly, we were out of luck.

After collecting a few more of the young man’s possessions, we headed back to the station to try fit the links together and to wait on the labs to give up more information. It was past four when I got a call from the station’s pathologist, a towering blond haired man we all lovingly called R. He was from Russia and had one of those very tricky names with a great number of K’s and V’s in it. He told us he had news about the body and asked us to come over as soon as we could make it. I told Sharon and we headed over to his lab, on the other side of town. R was a workaholic like myself, and often pulled all-nighters, against his better judgment.

We headed into the small clinic and were buzzed into the main lab by R’s young receptionist. R greeted us at the entrance to his lab. His long blond hair was pulled back into a pony tail that often sat on his shoulder; his eyes were a soft blue and he wore a long white lab coat. On his right wrist he had a small gold bangle which I’d never seen him remove. His skin was very white, and he often wore a somewhat blank expression; the kind you see on the face of someone who’s lived with death for many years. I saw myself in R sometimes.

“Harrison, Sharon, glad you could make it over here so quickly.”

R smiled, holding out a hand. I took his hand and shook it. “Well, you know what we’re like, eager to get things done. Good to see you again.”

R had worked for us for about a year now. Before that he was a GP; a very good and caring one too, but after a tragedy struck his family he started to work here.

Sharon also shook R’s hand before heading towards his lab. R smiled in my direction to thank me for the pleasantries. I knew he wasn’t a talker. I followed and looked over to a metal table that presented the body of the victim, covered with a thin white sheet.

“What I found was pretty interesting really. A bit of a sick case though” the doctor commented, before pulling the cover down to reveal the upper half of body, folding the cover just under the wound in his chest.

“What do you mean?” Sharon asked, walking over to look, while I admired from a far.

“As I see it, his ribcage was pulled open and then most of the ribs removed followed by the consumption of the lungs and heart.”

There was a dumbfounded silence.

“You mean someone’s eaten him!?” Sharon shouted, a little too loudly for R’s liking as he was very sensitive to sound.

“Yes, eaten.” R responded, a little agitated to have had Sharon shout at him. “There are both large claw and bite marks on the remaining tissue.” He signaled to a mouth-sized bite mark, consisting of many needle-like holes that was uncovered at the bottom of the ribcage.

I felt a little ill just thinking about the notion of one human eating another.

“Those aren’t human though, I mean look at them!” Sharon exclaimed, as shocked as I was.

“Well, these bites come in sets of two and they’re the right proportion to be human. Say the one doing the eating had possession of some kind of adapted weapon? Humans are strange creatures, you know.” R’s eyes, peering over his glasses, remained on the body.

I paused, he did have a point after all. Maybe this was a far more twisted story than I’d first imagined. For the rest of the meeting, R filled us in on what else he’d worked out about the body and gave us his full report.

After reading through the case notes, Sharon and I both headed home. Annabelle met me at the door and we chatted about our day, though I made sure to cut out as much of the gore as I could. I picked at my dinner and avoided mention of food for the most of the evening. Honestly, I was shaken by what R had told me, so much so that I could hardly respond to my wife. Around ten, I went to bed although I couldn’t sleep. With the case on my mind, it was hard to think of anything else; ideas rattled around my head.

I arrived at the station by seven; a little early for me but I felt like walking. There’s something about walking, to arrive before anyone else, that’s strangely enjoyable. By lunch-time Joshua’s journal was released from the labs, with every page copied and recorded. Sharon went out again to ask around about the young man while I stayed put to read the journal. It was a few years old, but I thought it would still be in the right time span to possibly include information about the albino. I was right to assume it would.

The journal was nothing special; it went from the teen’s fifteenth birthday and stopped at his sixteenth. It started with the boy describing what he got for his birthday – a phone, the book he was writing in and a few trinkets from one of his friends. He spoke highly of his friend who I gather was known as Lyet. If Lyet was the name of the albino boy, then it should be easy enough to find him; after all, there can’t be too many kids called Lyet in the US. For the next few hours or so I focused on nothing but the journal, making sure to take notes on pretty much everything about the teen’s life that he wrote about. To my disappointment, there wasn’t much of interest apart from a few briefly mentioned cases of bulling, some underage sex between the young Joshua and Lyet and a few small social events that he and Lyet had attended. Joshua seemed to be very close to Lyet; he seemed to love him deeply, although it was mentioned that the boys never told their parents. The journal told of how Lyet was badly bullied at school and suffered depression as well as some other health problems. He took a lot of medications; an amount I’d consider to be unsafe. As the journal went on things remained the same, the two lads to date in secret and they kept their heads down at school to avoid attention.

Slowly, I closed the journal with care before noticing that Sharon had come in.

“Hey Harrison, how’s tricks?” she inquired, coming over with some lunch.

Gladly, I took it from her. “Well, it looks like we have a name to match a face now. It seems from the journal that Joshua was dating a boy named Lyet, around the age of sixteen, and it looks like a long term relationship to me.”

Sharon picked up the book and started to skim it, along with my notes.

“Reckon we’ve got our suspect’s name?”

“Seems so.”

“Well then, let’s put it into the computer.”

Triumphantly Sharon collected the notes from the desk before heading over to the computer.

Though my old legs had fallen asleep from the long time sitting, I raised myself and headed after her. By the time I arrived Sharon had sat herself down at a computer and was punching in her login. Before long our files were open and the hunt was on. As expected, it didn’t take long at all, although what I saw filled me with disappointment.

“Lyet Penheart, a white haired male from a small town in Texas, was found guilty today of Murder-Suicide. The youngster, aged seventeen, shot dead his father, the town’s resident priest on Monday 17th of February. The verdict of the court can now bring answers to those effected by the event.”

Sharon sighed deeply, reading aloud the article that was before her. “Looks like we went down the rabbit hole on this one chief.”

I nodded, although I remained transfixed by the article. It was simple, with little detail, but there was a mention of three older brothers, a mother in her forties and the cause of death for both Lyet and his father. His father was shot in the chest and later died at hospital while Lyet shot himself in the head. “Poor thing.”

“Yup… back to square one it seems.” Sharon commented.

“We’ll find other leads you know, we can do this.” I smiled, knowing this had probably knocked the wind out of Sharon’s sails. She has this habit of sticking to one idea in a case, and only gives up on it if she is proven wrong.

“I know.”

For a moment she just pretended to read the article before stopping herself, leaning close to the screen.

“You reckon Joshua would have known Lyet’s brothers?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Joshua’s boss told me he was a bit of an introvert. He never really went out and hardly ever talked to anyone. Since the other residents in Joshua’s complex never saw him with anyone, is it safe to assume that he knew the killer, since he wouldn’t really invite a random stranger in. Say one of Lyet’s brothers came to town, Joshua offers them a place to stay, and then the rest is history.”

Sharon knew herself this could be a little bit far-fetched but I knew she’d look into it.

“Find the family then, see if we can get more information” I suggested.

“Got it.”

On that, Sharon started to dig into our computers for more information about the family while I simply went to work organising the files for this case, hopping to see a fresh trail.

I arrived home at seven again that night; I greeted my lovely wife and sat with her at the dining table. Though her mind was sometimes muddled and she wasn’t always entirely there, I could see she was pretty excited today. Interested as to why this was, I slipped it into conversation over our beef stew.

“How was your day then Annabelle?” I smiled, happy in the knowledge that she seemed better today than she’d been in a long time. The doctors had warned of another stroke if she became stressed or was too active, so she often confined herself to the house, doing very little at all. It was as if she’d been prescribed loneliness – but some days she was happy, happy to live like this.

“Oh, my day was lovely.” She smiled, looking up from her meal. “A very nice boy came over today, he was collecting for charity.”

“Did you give them anything?” I asked back, knowing my wife was a very generous person.

“Well….” she said after a little pause, “he was looking to collect clothes so I gave him some of the shirts that are too small for you now, as well as some change. I tried to invite him in for cake and sandwiches….”

Her mind trailed off for a moment before she smiled. “I invited him in for tea, but when he came in, he didn’t eat anything, though he did say he was hungry… odd boy.”

Often my wife would repeat her sentences, forgetting what she’d just said.

“That’s nice. I’ve been meaning to get rid of thought shirts for a while now.”

I smiled. There was something about talking like this that always helped me get my mind off work. I allowed the conversation to continue until we’d finished dinner then we watched TV and went to bed, just like most nights. It was a simple life style but I wouldn’t ask for any other.

For the next few days nothing happened of much note. All three Penheart brothers had alibis for the night of the murder and so did the now single mother. Joshua’s parents told us that their son hardly ever spoke to them, but they would come and collect his body soon. We found a few more leads, though they all ran cold sooner or later. The IT department was still working on the computer and the phone of the deceased.

****************

It was late, few lights were on in the city but I still burned the midnight oil, working through statement after statement about the young man. Every one of them said the same thing; Joshua never talked to anyone, never had anyone over and pretty much never left his apartment, apart from when he went to work or went shopping. I was at a loss.

“Knock, knock.” hummed a familiar voice, baritone and tinted with accent.

I looked up and saw R in the door way, holding a few files. Like me, he was burning the midnight oil, though it was a little odd to see him in my office. I welcomed him in.

“Evening doctor.”

R came in, sitting across from me at my desk, before taking my notes to read over them. “Shouldn’t you be at home with your wife now?”

“Though I’d love to, I’m at a loss here R, I’m not the man I was thirty years ago.” He smiled.

I watching him read over my notes before taking a look at the file he’d brought with him.

“Didn’t expect to see you here so late.”

“I wanted to hand over these notes. I’ve found some bits and bobs.” He paused. “Where are you with the case?”

I knew full well that R would not be willing to tell me anything about his finds unless I told him mine; he liked to trade information, it was one of his many odd tricks.

“Well, we’ve closed the case on trying to find the albino kid. Turns out our top suspect has been dead for years. We can’t find any new leads, this job looks like it was done professionally R, and I’m starting to wonder if we can solve it.”

I knew full well I was putting it on thick, being a pessimist, but I wanted to go over the top.

“The albino kid? Sharon mentioned him over some drinks, she was so hyped up about finding the supposed killer so quickly, I didn’t want to tell her.”

“Tell her what?” I asked in response.

“Don’t you know? I thought you looked into the Penheart incident?”

“No, I thought it was an open shut cased. Was it not?”

R smiled knowingly; he always revelled in knowing things that others didn’t.

“Not totally. The trial was a shambles, evidence was lost, statements pulled out and reports rejected. Originally it was going to be presented as a case of retaliation – an act of self-defence -with the remaining parent standing trial for domestic abuse, but it was not to be.”

Closing the files he was reading, I watched a rather smug smile creep across the tall doctor’s face. “Lyet’s body went missing.”

I paused, half annoyed that I hadn’t been told, but then also confused.

“Went missing?” It sounded foolish, but R didn’t usually lie.

“Yep, I knew the pathologist who was going to make an assessment of Lyet’s body before laying him to rest but the night before she was going to make the report, the body just vanished; gone without a trace.”

“That’s total fiction!” I exclaimed. “A body can’t simply get up and walk away.”

R nodded then opened the file he was going to deliver to me.

“Up to you whether you believe me or not. Me and some work friends called it the body snatcher.”

When opened the file I saw some of the latest DNA traces found of Joshua’s body, along with long strands of pure white hair. I couldn’t think of what to say, I just sat silently, looking at the report. The hair was about the right length and colour to belong to the albino’s, but how could that possibly be?

“Your welcome” R hummed, standing up before leaving my office.

Left alone with my thoughts, I felt my stomach turn over. I’d seen the reports from the other crime scene; the boy lying in a pool of his own blood and brain tissue, clasping a small revolver in one hand. It could have been the lack of sleep … things no longer added up in that case; nothing made any sense to me. Theories buzzed and nagged at me. What if the death was faked, what if the body was stolen, what if ………….

I stood up quickly, holding my head before groaning. “The dead don’t walk around Harrison, get a grip.” My lack of sleep was clearly apparent now. Pushing the files into my desk drawer, I headed home, annoyed at R but also deeply puzzled.

My alarm did little to wake me the next morning, although the pounding at my door did.

Sharon, who was far too peppy for this time of day, had just gotten news that the laptops files had now been copied and were free to read. I hurriedly got myself dressed then left to join her. On the way in, she told me that they had found a full electronic journal, with the last entry being the day of Joshua’s death. She was hopeful that this could be our route to finishing the case; even if it was lacking detail it could shine some light on the story leading up to the young man’s death.

Sharon pretty much sprinted to my office where a hard copy of the journal had been placed. Instantly she fumbled for the last entry. I – slower at my age – arrived just as she found the page. Sitting down in my own chair, I took out a note pad and waited for Sharon to read what it said.

“OK, March 26th…” she paused to find her words before a very puzzled look crossed her face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“…. Nothing …. Let me just read it.”

I could tell she was composing herself. Taking a breath, she started to read.

“I know God must be smiling upon me, my prayers have been answered and I have him back. Robbed from me, I’d given up hope that we could be one again, but we will be; he doesn’t know what he is now, but I don’t care. He’s an angel now, the moonlight shows his true form. It scared me at first, but I know this was meant to be; I’ll become part of him. I lie with him now as I type this, his skin is so cold and pure, like snow. He’s yet to wake up from last night. He bit him pretty badly from animal instinct, but he’s starving, my angel is starving. Tonight I’m not going to fight him. We can make a thing of it before his mind is taken by the moonlight. If anyone finds this … finds me …. just know that I wanted this, I wanted to save my angel from his hunger.”

There was just silence left between Sharon and me as she finished reading. Slowly she placed the papers down, looking a little ill.

“He let this person kill him? What in the world was he going on about ….. an angel?”

Pulling my gaze away, I stumbled upon the file I recognised from last night. I bit my tongue then struggled to form a sentence, “I want to know everything – who Joshua knew and who his friends were, those who went missing and those he moved apart from.”

In reality I felt numb; this couldn’t be real, could it?

Sharon was as confused and disturbed as I was.

“Yes Harrison, but what do you think he’s talking about? He doesn’t seem to be stable, I mean, the way he talks here is ….. well, it’s odd to say the least. What in the hell was going on!?”

I remained silent for a while, “I don’t know… I’m going to ask around town and see if I can learn anything….” I paused, “…. alone.”

Sharon just nodded, knowing I was as perplexed as she was about the whole business.

Taking my coat I left, planning on walking over to R’s place to chat with him, to see if he could talk some sense into me. The walk across town was long and laborious and I held my head down for most of the way. Moving my way through the waves of people, I drew closer to the building where R worked. The sense of dread that had hung over me ever since last night, which had strengthened after reading the journal, felt so much greater now. The face and form of the young white haired man was etched into my mind. I quickened my step onwards.

Pushing the door of the clinic open, I started to head over to the front desk to call for R, but that was when I saw him. Alone and sitting on the furthest most chair from the door sat a young boy. His clothes where tattered; his hair long and white; he looked like a ghost. His skin was marble. I felt a sharp inhale of air enter my chest.

“Harrison, what are you doing here?” R called, walking around the corner.

I snapped from my trance and grabbed his arms, trying to get him to listen.

“There, look there, I ….”

As I turned to point to the boy, I saw that the chair was empty, as though I’d simply imagined him.

R gave me a puzzled look, “a chair?” His accent sounded a little stronger than normal as he muttered, “are you OK?”

No words came out of my mouth, but I nodded, letting go of R.

“Let’s get you some coffee and give you a place to sit down, OK?”

Without waiting for a response, R led me into a small conference room and got me to sit, before walking off to get some coffee for both of us.

Taking long breaths, I tried to control myself.

“Don’t let the stresses get to you.”

I tried to breathe slowly. Perhaps this was just a stress-related episode, but the only thing I could think about was Joshua and his killer, who in my mind was the white-haired teen.

Before long R came back, a folder under his arms, along with two steaming hot cups of coffee. I knew the man had an addiction to coffee and would offer or accept it at any opportunity. Passing me my mug, I felt myself start to relax even before I started to drink. R sat across from me, placed his work down then also started to drink.

“What happened out there?” he asked after a short pause.

“I don’t know, I think the stress is getting to me” I responded flatly, hardly concentrating.

R sighed then smiled.

“How old are you Harrison? You’re in your sixties now, shouldn’t you be living at home with your wife, retired?”

I glared at him for a moment.

“Doctors’ orders, you need to rest Harrison. Look, I know you enjoy this and your wife likes you to keep busy but this job, this style of life, really isn’t too good for you, considering ………”

My face softened and I nodded a little.

“This case in particular, why don’t you leave it to Sharon and the other boys at the station? They’re all up to solving it. I just don’t think you should be working with a case like this, not after….. well, you know.”

“I’ve accepted what happened R and I don’t want to retire, this job keeps my mind working.”

“No it doesn’t Harrison; I can see it in your eyes. I’m saying this not as a doctor but as your friend. You should stay with your wife and rest for a few weeks.”

R’s voice had gotten softer; he knew my wife’s time was short now.

Finally, I nodded and agreed.

For hours I just chatted with R about life. Looking back, I guess I did need to cut down my work hours and spend more time with my lovely wife. Night was falling as I started to walk home. People were buzzing around, migrating back to their homes from their long work days. I felt better about life, more relaxed. Passing by shop fronts and restaurants, I started to instinctively look at people, blocking out the bad images with nicer ones.

A couple were courting in the park under the old oak tree; one of the town’s resident homeless was sitting at a bus stop with his large headphones on, tapping his foot in time with an unknown song; a proud giant of a man was walking home with his young son, carrying a bag of football kit; a young woman in a blue dress was exiting a small store named ‘Transformer’ – I reassessed her gender shortly after.

I found myself smiling, feeling the tensions of the case melt away. A girl selling roses, a man going to work at a restaurant, a white haired teen in a light purple jumper looking over at me with dead blue eyes.

I stopped abruptly and looked back, the teen had gone again, vanished into the crowds. My mouth felt dry. This was just stress, right? I quickened my steps, feeling my body pump with adrenaline.

A cab sitting at red lights; a scruffy man walking down back streets; the white haired boy again, his neck purple like it was bruised. I walked faster still; the sky was orange as the sun set; the building to my right had five floors; the dumpster around the corner house three bin bags; the white haired boy again, his face wet from tears and pure white hair stained crimson. My eyes darted forward, away from the crowds and fell on him again. One eye was golden and seemed to be ruptured while the other was soft blue, his body looked so cold. I staggered back, but he’d vanished again, in the blink of an eye.

Panicked, I started to run to the warmth of my home, my whole body shaking now.

Breathless, I flew down my small street and fumbled for my keys before pushing the door open. Inside I tried to catch my breath, taking lung full after lung full of air. Exhaling heavily and looked around; the money pot that stood on a small table by the doorway to the living room was smashed on the floor. So too was one of the lamps, a picture frame, keys.

I felt as if time had stopped as I became aware of the sound of erratic breathing and gasping. I ran around the corner into my living room where I saw my wife convulsing on the floor. Her eyes were unfocused, one half of her face slumped to the side, her mouth half open. She was having another stroke. Lunging forward I went to take her into my arms, but that was then I saw it.

“So …. hungry”, he murmured, one soft blue eye locked on my wife. He was thin, pale, cold. Moonlight poked its head out from behind the clouds for a moment, showing his true nature; vast wings of pure light and a halo; bloody white claws on both his hands and feet; bloody neck, head and mouth, adorned with hundreds of sharp teeth. As soon as the clouds covered the moon again, he reverted back to the corpse he was.

My eyes were locked on it, the angel of death that sat and watched as my wife died. It was as if something had taken over the body of a young man and now wore his skin, like a well-fitting glove.

“What are you!?” I screamed.

Its eyes remained fixed on my wife, stiller now, “hungry ….. starving …..”

I turned to my wife, taking her in my arms.

This seemed to confuse the angel, puppeteering the body it called home. It moved towards me and my wife. The moon shone on it again; the smell of rot was stagnant in the room.

“Get back!”

It didn’t listen, simply moved closer, licking its long claws. “…..I want it..” For a split second it vanished out of sight and my world went dark.

*********************

I awoke to a pounding pain in the back of my head. I forced myself upright, before promptly clasping a hand over my mouth at what I saw. The starving angel was crouched over my wife’s body, or what was left of it, pulling away at the chest mindlessly, pushing flesh and muscle into its mouth. I thought I would vomit but grabbing for my hand gun I took aim. His dead eyes looked at me through bloody white hair, not seeming to know or care what I was doing.

“Get off her!” I screamed, before shooting all five round into its head. To my horror, the angel took every single one, reaction-less. Every bullet fell back out the hole it had made, bringing a pungent smell of rot with it, before closing up. Though it was futile I continued to click the trigger of my gun, though nothing came out. I shouted and screamed but it just continued to eat.

The neighbours arrived a short time later, reporting that they found me with the body of my wife, crying and screaming at monsters. Sharon and the rest of the police force arrived shortly after and took me to hospital and my wife to the morgue. No trace of the angel was found, but I know what I saw; I saw him at the funeral, at the side of my wife’s grave, by the road side, watching the world and all its death.

*************************

Since that night, I’ve retired from the police force and live alone. Stress is causing me heart problems and R keeps warning me I could have a heart attack if I continue to live the way I do, but I know I don’t have much time left anyway, since the angel is back, and he keeps telling me he’s hungry. I lie awake at night, the glow of his wings illuminating my room. If there is a God, he is nothing more than the monsters he has created. I can feel my chest getting tight as my heart fails me. I watch as the starving angel lifts his head and watches me with hunger in its eyes.

Credit To – emthesmall

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The Fear Experiment

June 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Introduction

In over ten years of continuous travel, I have encountered many peculiar and fascinating individuals. Usually the most interesting encounters are those with other travellers: men and women with no particular destination; or at least no destination they care to share. I like the idea that one can spend a fleeting evening with a stranger in the middle of a foreign metropolis, only to wave goodbye the following day and never hear from them again. We are merely ships that pass in the night.
As I contemplate modern technology–social media and the like–I fear the ships are becoming all too visible. The subtle nuances, silent expressions and secrets that define us are now exposed to the prying spotlight of a lethargic civilisation.
So I look to places where secrets still exist: hidden nooks and passageways; the world beneath the disembodied voice of the many; the past. And there–by chance–a friend and I encountered an individual so out of touch with the modern world that he could have passed for a ghost. In what could very well have been his last year on this earth, he told us of a strange and profound experiment he was party to in his youth.

A Cold Winter’s Morning

February 2008
Keleti Train Station
Budapest, Hungary

The train bound for Sighisoara, Romania rolled in at around 11am. If memory serves its final destination was Bucharest. The journey time was estimated at eight hours so we were pretty sure we’d be spending the whole day on board. As well as the two of us, several others boarded. We located an empty compartment and stowed our luggage.
Within ten minutes the train was ready to depart. Upon doing so, the ticket lady approached us almost immediately. I’ll never forget the vacant look on her face as she studied my ticket.
Some five or so minutes into the journey, an elderly gentlemen clutching a brown leather briefcase opened the door to our compartment. He hovered in the doorway for several seconds before finally choosing to enter. Nodding in our direction as he entered, we responded in kind as he sat opposite us. His weathered face was chock-full of gorge-deep lines.
My first thought was how unusual it was for an elderly gentleman to choose to join a pair of twenty-somethings on a train that was practically empty. It would soon be revealed however, that we were precisely the kind of company he was looking for.
The man–who I came to refer as _Mr. Grey_–sat in silence as he watched the world go by outside. My friend and I were idly gossiping, mostly about the things we had seen in Hungary and would undoubtedly see in Transylvania. Towards the end of our conversation, the man carefully opened the brown leather briefcase atop his lap and began to inspect the contents. Among a bundle of papers–written in more than one language–were a number of Soviet Military Orders: all of which looked weathered and tarnished, rather like the man himself. He looked down at the Orders, and then back up at us whispering in a thick Russian accent, “Tell me what you know of fear.”

The Man from Tbilisi

1920s
Tbilisi, Georgia

Mr. Grey grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia in the 1920s. His father was a military figure and a great admirer of Joseph Stalin. He claimed to have been heavily brainwashed in his formative years: becoming a strong believer in the Soviet regime and communism in general. So, when he approached adulthood, his heart was inevitably set on military service.
Upon reaching the age of 18, he relocated to the Soviet Union, specifically Moscow. He rose to prominence as a young and dedicated officer with an increasing interest in the human condition. This he attributed to his commanding officer’s interest in experimental psychology.
Throughout the Second World War, Mr. Grey worked as a practicing psychologist in a Russian laboratory on the outskirts of Moscow. There, he and his commanding officer – a man whom he referred to as Mr. Red – conducted a variety of experiments on unwitting subjects: often prisoners of war, although it wasn’t unusual for volunteers to arrive at the laboratory, including would-be soldiers unfit for frontline warfare.
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Grey’s interest in this field grew exponentially after the end of the Second World War, and almost a decade later during the height of the Cold War, he was conducting his own experiments.

1955
Gabala, Azerbaijan

For reasons undisclosed, Mr. Grey relocated to Gabala, Azerbaijan and established a psychological research facility with a team of seven medical practitioners. The team was assembled to conduct a highly controversial and secret experiment dubbed _Project Sleep_. But for those of whom were involved, it would later come to be known as _Project Fear_.
In their search for willing subjects, villages in the neighbouring countries of Armenia, Russia and Mr. Grey’s native Georgia were systematically searched. Vague but intriguing advertisements were posted in strategic locations throughout small and often poor communities. Mr. Grey was carrying one of the advertisements in his briefcase. Written in Georgian, he read the text aloud in broken English which, if translated, would have looked something like this on paper:

_VOLUNTEERS REQUIRED_
_CIVIL SERVANTS_
_MEDICAL RESEARCH_
_WELL PAID_
_SUPPORT MEDICAL SCIENCE_

The applications poured in. Twelve candidates were selected and subsequently invited to eligibility hearings. Of the twelve initially selected, seven were formally invited to participate in Project Sleep. The experiment was to be conducted in two stages, though candidates would only be made aware of the first.

Project Sleep: Stage One

Candidates were to be kept awake for a period of 72 hours in solitary confinement. To ensure their consciousness, candidates were under constant supervision. Alarms were triggered remotely and repeatedly if candidates appeared to be falling asleep.
Periodically, at the 24th, 48th and 72nd hours, candidates were asked to describe their worst fear. As each period passed, three out of the seven candidates exaggerated the fear they had initially described. For example, Candidate #2 had initially described a generic fear of crustaceans, specifically woodlice. Upon questioning at the 72nd hour, his fear was not only of woodlice, but of the possibility his closest friends and family members would eventually mutate into woodlice.
The 48th hour brought about strange, dark fears for candidates #3 and #5. Fears that greatly worried the practitioners. Unsurprisingly though, the 72nd hour instilled a heightened sense of anxiety and paranoia in all seven candidates, though it was specifically noted that Candidate #5 was said to be experiencing severe, apathetic gloom.
And then it was on to Stage Two.

Intermission: Train Compartment

Even the notion of describing Stage Two filled Mr. Grey with visible unease. He was sweating and clutching haphazardly at tattered bits of paper.
I recall with perfect clarity the moment Mr. Grey withdrew a handkerchief and slowly wiped his brow. His motion was pained and unsteady. But in that instant I could have sworn his obscured mouth was grinning.

Project Sleep: Stage Two

Upon completion of the 72nd hour, each candidate was permitted to sleep. In fact, they were given a sleeping agent which ensured they wouldn’t be aware of what was to follow.
All candidates were driven to a secret facility in the mountains somewhere outside Gabala, the team referred to it secretly as _The Mansion_. The sleeping candidates were strategically placed in various locations throughout the complex and were left to awaken naturally. The team allotted 24 hours for them to remain inside. The facility was locked from the outside and metal panels were used to seal the windows. No surveillance equipment was used. They would rely purely upon the candidate’s statements upon release at the end of the time period.
It is interesting to note that according to Mr. Grey there was nothing particularly unusual about the facility, other than its convenient, isolated location.

Results

Upon completion of the 24th hour, The Mansion’s heavy doors were opened. There Mr. Grey and his team discovered two emaciated candidates: numbers #5 and #7. Following the first sweep of the facility, the remaining candidates were nowhere to be found, though bizarre evidence to suggest they encountered unspeakable things was everywhere.
Candidate #5 was comatose and as such was placed under supervision. Candidate #7 however was surprisingly calm and coherent. He described an experience unlike anything any member of the team had heard of before. It began with him waking in a quiet room–one eerily similar to his bedroom at home in Armenia–and hearing strange sounds, including the fearful cries of unfamiliar voices.
Approximately ten minutes elapsed before a stranger burst into his room shouting maniacally, alluding to an insect of giant proportions pursuing him throughout dilapidated, maze-like corridors. Ready to dismiss the stranger’s story as nonsense, he became aware of a distant humming – or buzzing – sound. Some inexplicable, winged creature was on the prowl, tirelessly searching for a victim to fulfill its unknowable desires. The stranger left the room amid uncontainable shrieks and disappeared into the darkness of a gloomy corridor. The buzzing sound continued for a while until #7 heard what he could only describe as a bloodcurdling scream.
#7 exited the room, only to discover thick, coarse hairs strewn about the corridor, accompanied by sporadic pools of an unidentifiable viscous fluid.
Mr. Grey and his team referred to the notes made during Stage One with Candidate #7. He had repeatedly described a fear of helplessness, a fear that had remained consistent even after sleep deprivation. And so throughout Stage Two, as he wandered throughout The Mansion, he continued to experience circumstances beyond his control. He described labyrinthine corridors surrounding him that seemed to grow in height as he explored them. Doors seemed to move away from him, and his attempts to open them failed. He repeatedly came upon dead ends beyond which he heard manic voices, giving rise to the notion that the owners of those voices were being pursued.
In the end it was nothing more than blind luck that led candidate #7 to the exit. And up until the moment the doors were opened, he had believed he was slouched against a cold, brick wall rather that a set of perfectly ordinary oak doors.
Mr Grey’s discoveries within the facility were both fascinating and horrifying. In what appeared to be confirmation of the presence of a large crustacean, the team discovered a giant exoskeleton complete with a number of jointed limbs. And although it was retrieved for further analysis, it inexplicably disappeared from safe storage several days later.
Puddles of coagulated blood were also discovered, supporting the idea that something malevolent had been wandering the halls, and furthermore, that something or someone had been injured.

Intermission: Train Compartment

Mr. Grey looked at my friend and me with cold, vacant eyes. “The experiment was a success,” he said in that thick, Russian accent. “Although now I wish it hadn’t been so.” Once again he reached into his briefcase and produced a bundle of papers.

Further Results

1956
Undisclosed location, Azerbaijan

Candidate #5 spent almost six months in a coma, and had been under constant medical supervision in an undisclosed location, where the team hoped he would eventually recover. Much to their relief, he awoke on February 23rd, 1956. Several days passed before he felt well enough to discuss the events leading up to his coma.
The middle-aged Azerbaijani librarian disturbed Mr. Grey and his team of practitioners with his account, so much so, that all plans for subsequent experiments were abandoned.
Mr. Grey recalled the librarian’s unique fear as described in Stage One: the fear that human beings were vessels for a single, greater entity; a being with one desire: to compartmentalise itself into a theoretically infinite number of finite individuals. The fear intensified as the time periods passed, with #5 describing the entity as present in mammals, birds and fish, but more worryingly present in all human beings, living and dead. An entity that took the form of absolutely everything capable of breath in an endless attempt to escape the truth of itself as an impossibly lonely, omnipotent being.
Candidate #5’s conclusion and ultimate fear was that he too was an aspect of this faceless, mass of a thing, and that in a universe of infinite possibilities, he would be forced to live every single inconceivably horrible life imaginable from start to finish, over and over again, forever. In line with Project Sleep, deep within the walls of The Mansion, this all-consuming fear came alive. And as it did, almost instantaneously, candidate #5 saw through the eyes of the other candidates. He saw their fears, and lived them. He watched as they fled from untold horrors, and screamed each of their screams. His mind wandered further still, deep into the strange, half-imagined minds of the creatures made flesh by the candidates and their fears. He felt things only monsters were supposed to feel, and merged them with emotions unthinkable to man. And as this hapless wandering consumed him, his mind began to collapse, almost as though the matter in which he was made was coming apart, torn asunder by the unseen forces of an exotic dimension, a place where only fear, pain and agonising confusion could exist. And there he stayed for almost six months.
Candidate #5 addressed Mr. Grey and his team, telling them of their fates, explaining the intricate, invisible tapestry binding each and every one of them together, regurgitating memories, thoughts, hopes and dreams from the deepest and darkest recesses of their minds.
After what Mr. Grey described as _almost an eternity_ of outpouring, the Azerbaijani librarian returned to that deep, dark coma the team had found him in following the experiment.

Train Compartment

And so Mr. Grey’s conclusion was ironic. In what was supposed to be an experiment designed to study the depths of fear, he and his team of practitioners summoned what can only be described as man’s deepest fear: the fear that he one day may know himself.
I asked what he meant by that. He said simply, “Your question is proof that we aren’t quite there yet.” Mr. Grey closed his eyes and slept.
As the Carpathian Mountains rolled by the compartment window. I thought about the being, and the frightening possibility that Mr. Grey himself, and even my friend and I on a quiet train rolling through Eastern Europe could be nothing more than aspects of an unknowable, omnipotent creature.
We reached our destination. Mr. Grey remained asleep. I took his photograph. A part of me wants to visit Gabala, Azerbaijan to seek out the old facility in the mountains nearby. Will it be there?
If the experiment truly was a success, shouldn’t whatever was summoned still be there?

Credit To – Muted Vocal

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The Children on the Stairs

June 7, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I was doing a job for a friend of a friend. I was only charging half what I’d normally charge, but I was doing the job over just two nights, meaning I wasn’t making too much of a loss; there wasn’t a lot in the way of material outlay, either.
It was simple enough: strip out the plaster in the nursery of an old house and replaster it. I’d have my mate with me, so it wasn’t too big of a job. I could have done it in a single day and night, but it was better to say two nights, just in case.

When I saw the place, the first thing I had in my head was, why do they only want one room replastered? I hadn’t met the owner, otherwise I might have asked. The whole place was falling down, a total disaster if you ask me, though it would have been a grand old building if it was done up properly.

As it turned out, I ended up needing both nights after all. My mate Charlie left after the first night. But I’ll get around to that in a minute.

There was a story about this house, though I wasn’t sure at first if it was true or not. The story went that a family had lived there, some time before the Second World War, a family with four children. One night the father had come home from his job at the bank to find a silent house. He called out to his wife and kids, but there was no answer.

On going upstairs to the nursery, the man found a bloodbath. The floor, the walls, even the ceiling, everything was slick with blood. And in the middle of the floor, a jumble of bloody limbs and torsos. The mother was nowhere to be found. The father, in his grief, hanged himself from a tree in the park across the road.

The strangest part was, when the police arrived, they couldn’t find any of the children’s heads.

But like I say, this was before the war, and it was just a story people told around there. The house had been lived in until recently, so I understood, but I couldn’t tell you who had been there.

Now about Charlie.

He’s a big bloke, and not the sort of person you would picture getting scared over nothing. But that first night, at about 10:30 pm, he suddenly stopped still as a statue, the rotten plaster board shaking in his hands.

‘Did you hear that?’

‘What?

‘Like feet running up and down the stairs?’

‘No.’

‘It was like feet, running on the stairs…’

‘I didn’t hear anything, Charlie.’ I thought about teasing him, but stopped myself. Charlie is a big bloke, and he doesn’t have a sense of humour.

‘Little feet,’ he said, carefully putting down the plasterboard.

Charlie walked over to the door and looked out.

‘You’re not thinking about that story are you?’ I asked.

His head whipped round. ‘What story?’

‘Nothing.’

‘What happened here, Bill? Something happened here, didn’t it! Something bad.’

The landing was dark. I could see the top of the lower staircase, the ivory ball on the newel post connected to the mahogany bannister, the deep shadow of the stairwell, and the bottom step of the upper flight of stairs. The rest was dark.

‘Little feet…’ Charlie was muttering.

Without saying another word, Charlie bolted out of the room, whacked the lightswitch on at the top of the stairs, flooding the scene with light, and galloped down the steps, almost flying down them. I heard the front door crash open, and that was the last I saw of Charlie for a very long time.

He hadn’t bothered to shut the front door, so down I went and shut it for him. Then I went back up the stairs, swore under my breath, shook my head, and got back to work.

The second night was tough going. I should have gone back there during the day, but it was my wife’s birthday, and I’d driven her to a spa out in Hemel Hempstead and had to wait around to drive her back again. In the end I got to the house at about 10 pm, annoyed at putting extra pressure on myself, knowing that plaster was best applied during the day.

The room was just as I had left it. All the old wallboards were gone. The new wallboards were up, the seams taped, the wooden battens nailed in place. I got the buckets and started mixing the undercoat.

It was around 2 am and I was almost finished skimming the last section. The battens had been removed and lay in a pile in one corner. It might have been the coffee, but I was feeling a little edgy and I thought I heard the ceiling creak overhead. I got back on with skimming the plaster down and thought nothing of it. But then I heard the ceiling creak again. I told myself it was an old house and the floorboards were warped, but it didn’t do anything to calm my nerves.

At about 2.20 am something made me go out onto the landing. While I was standing there holding my breath, the trowel shaking in my hand, my eyes fell on the ivory balls on the newel posts. There were two of them on the landing, as well as one at the top of the upper flight and one at the end of the lower flight, four altogether, and with a decorator’s eye I began absentmindedly to compare the two on the landing.

They weren’t identical, and it started to bother me. As I got closer to them I realised two things: first of all that there were very fine zigzagged lines running across them, and second, that they weren’t quite the right colour to be ivory.

The ceiling creaked again, loudly.

I ran down the stairs, just as Charlie had done the night before, and sprinted down the street to my van.

I had my phone pressed to my ear even as I turned the key in the ignition.

Something moved in the nursery window.

‘What service do you require? Hello?’

It took me a moment to catch my breath.

‘I want to report some human remains,’ I said.

Credit To – Owen Clayborn

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