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Silence in the Rain

December 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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The cat walked slowly across the concrete, pausing to lick its paw in the middle. It sat there in the moonlight, just watching the skies and heavy rain. The clouds swirled, and the night was young. Perhaps it could find a confused mouse, or a drowned frog in this time. Its tail moved with anticipation of it’s hunt.

A chain-link gate swung open with surprising speed, startling the cat, resulting in a hissy fit. The man who opened it carried no thought of the terrible weather, cat, or of anything else he was up against. Yelling an obscenity, he ran as fast as he could through the opening. That thing wasn’t getting him, no way. He sprinted through the gate, and into the alleyway. He didn’t know why, and he didn’t know how, but something was following him. His first inclination was when he kept seeing this menacing figure at every turn. No matter where he went, he kept seeing it. He had thought that it might be a person following him at first, but that had quickly changed when he saw the height and shape of the being.

Great, a fork in the alley. Mark, sped towards the right. Not because of any good feeling, but because he knew whatever it was would catch up no matter which way he went.

The figure always seemed to be two steps ahead of him. Every time he turned around, it was there, silent as the night, just watching him. He could never make out it’s features in the rain, as it blurred his vision. He could tell it was tall, and seemed to have black and white skin, with the black covering the legs and torso. He had figured since it didn’t move when it was being watched, he could look at it and just keep it frozen. It worked, but when he stared at it, he felt sick, like something was clawing its way out of him. His worst memories resurfaced in his brain, among them an embarrassing date, a lost pet, his sister’s funeral… he had turned away, and crawled for a few seconds until he could stand up again. Then he ran far from the creature, the thing that, like his memories, he could not seem to escape.

Suddenly Mark slipped on a giant puddle, interrupting his thoughts. immediately, his jeans and hoodie became soaked on contact. Picking himself up from the water, the feeling to look back was too great. He turned around. There it stood, as real and frightening as ever. What really startled him was that it was closer because of his tumble, only a mere twenty feet away. Trying not to scream, in case that triggered a reaction from the creature, he spun around and ran.

The rabbit may not know of the fox, but it will sense danger when it presents itself. This was not unlike the feeling he felt right now. He didn’t know what it was, or why it wanted him, but he felt in his genetic memory that this thing was a great threat. If this thing was chasing him, it’d probably chased other people. Which meant that nobody had gotten away from this thing ever.

Or else they didn’t live long afterward to tell the tale.

Mark ran out of the alleyway, and into the street. The rain had been coming down hard, he knew that, but until now he hadn’t realized how much. The street was overflowing with water. It was even coming onto the sidewalks. A flash flood. He wasn’t really surprised nobody was out, even if it was New York. With this weather, everyone else would be inside closed and locked doors. Leaving him alone with…

Realizing his mistake, he threw himself into the street, while turning around. The figure had come to a stop about ten feet from where he was. Then he went under the water.

It was a little surprising being underwater in a city street, but at least it wasn’t deep. Finding a hold in the asphalt, he pushed himself up, and out of the water. Looking around, he found that the street was going uphill, or downhill depending how you look at it. This meant that there was a slight current in the water. Not enough to pull him away, but enough to make him unsteady. Mark looked around, frantic about the creature’s whereabouts. In the pouring rain, he couldn’t see ten feet in front of him. If the creature really wanted him, then he was about as vulnerable as he could have possibly been. Looking around, he finally spotted it about a yard away.

This close, and in the rain, it looked like something out of a horror movie. It stood around eight feet tall at first glance, but as he tried to find it’s head, it just seemed to get taller, like an endless ladder. Looking closely at it, he noticed that what he had originally thought was skin, was actually a formal suit, complete with a tie. It was both comical and terrifying at the same time, much like a clown. it took an ordinary object, and perverted it, twisting it into something sick. Upon even closer inspection, he realized it was far from perfect. It had large rips in the tie, and one sleeve was torn off about half way up. It had many tears in the fabric, and was stained with several foreboding rust colored spots. But when he finally found it’s face, he screamed. It wasn’t that there was no face, but it was just so horrible that his mind immediately erased the image from his head every second he spent staring at it. He literally could not remember what it was, but it terrified him beyond belief.

Snapping himself out of his trance, he moved to the right, narrowly avoiding a- tentacle? How had he missed that? Ducking, he closely evaded decapitation from another. Remembering the current, he threw himself down the street, being swept away with the current down the hill. The entity did not follow.

Floating down, unable to get a grip, Mark just tried to stay up on his butt while sliding. Looking ahead, he found to his horror, that the creature was already at the bottom of the large hill. Using his feet to steer, he sped himself towards a lamp-post on the side-walk. Reaching out, he attempted to grab it, only to find himself falling. Grabbing the edge of the sidewalk, as to not be swept in, he realized there must be an open sewer grate below him, unseen in the water. Cursing, he tried to pull himself up. Looking to his right, he spotted the figure about sixty yards away now. Gripping the concrete he tried to heave himself up. Another quick glance to his right.

Twenty feet away.

Giving it up, Mark let go and fell with the water. After four seconds of terrifying free fall, he hit the ground. Hearing a crack and experiencing extreme pain, he moved his left leg. It felt fine. Then the other. Once he moved it, he felt incredibly intense pain at the base of his thigh. That meant it was his hip. Shit. Trying to stand up, he found he couldn’t. The pain was too unbearable. He started crawling, knowing he had to get away. Dragging himself across the ground, he came to the sewer canal that carried rain water and gunk under the street. Looking to his left, he thought he saw a light. He couldn’t tell, as his vision was blurry. Funnily enough, it got cloudier. Then the sick feeling started again, along with the memories. Realizing his fate, he tried to drag himself into the canal so he could drown. Surely it would be a more peaceful death then whatever this being had in store for him.

Right as his body fell in, he felt a tendril grab him by the ankle, and lift him out of the water. Flipping him right side up, he hung there, looking at the creature for the first time, face to face. He was filled with unimaginable terror. It’s body radiated evil, and he vomited from the sickness, again and again. Then he felt two claw-like fingers lightly position themselves on his eyes. He tensed up realizing what it was about to do.

. . .

The woman opened her apartment room window. Looking out into the rain, she had thought she heard screams. But there was silence but for the rain now. There was no point looking outside anyway, there was nothing to see. The rain must have been coming down very hard, as it became. She thought about her mother, and the familiar sadness washed over her. She turned away from the window. Sitting down by the lamp, she began to read a book. Looking up slightly, she was startled to think she had briefly seen the faint outline of a man outside her window. But that was impossible. Her room was on the fifth floor of the building. She laughed at her absurd thought.

Then she saw the other shadow standing next to her own.

Credit To – The Doctor

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Margarine

December 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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We look up at the sky every day. Usually it’s blue or black; sometimes orange or yellow. Sometimes it’s not there at all.

It happens about twice a month but it’s been more frequent lately. We’re not too worried about it though, it hasn’t harmed anyone yet- with the exception of the planes that went missing the first day it happened. But planes don’t fly anymore, and I’m sure we’ll find them soon.

When the sky disappears, it’s replaced by a thick substance that hangs about ten feet above everything, much like a thick fog. I guess you could call it a fog, but it’s not all gas. It’s thicker, and sometimes it feels almost solid- but it’s rare that you hit one of those patches. In the beginning, people would climb onto stacks of boxes and anything else they could find to run their fingers through it. Folks don’t do it much anymore though, we treat it now as any cloudy day. It always goes away after a few days.

There’s only two strange things to me about this, but I don’t mind it much. The first is that the “sky” is a color that I’ve never seen before. Hell, no one has ever seen it. I’m not quite sure how to describe it; how can you describe a color no one has ever seen? It’s a darker color, no official name and people call it whatever they please. I call it Margarine after my late wife. She sure was a color of her own.

The second thing I find queer about it is the quality of the air on days like this. If you’ve ever been a little too close to a fire, you know how this feels. Breathing gets a bit harder and there’s a heavy smoke bite to it. It’s not too bad but I have to consciously breathe a little more each day it’s here. It must just be my age, I’m no spring chicken.

You would think something like this would get everyone’s ears perked and panic showing but really nothing has changed. The government isn’t doing much, neighbors go about their business and the local weather station tries to predict when the next day like this will be. They never get it right but no one minds, it’s always a nice surprise.

I find myself wishing for days like this, the normal sky unsettles me now. I feel calm when all I can see is the Margarine, not much else seems to matter anymore. It’s been here about four days now and the air is getting smokier and it gets closer to my reach every morning. My breathing is a little more labored each day but it’s ok. I’m sure it’ll go away soon.

Credit To – A.M.

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Imagination

December 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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It’s 10:19 p.m.

I’m driving home from night class as I stop at a gas station two blocks away from my apartment. No one else is here, and few cars pass by. I get off my car and head towards the small convenient store associated with just about every gas station. The doors are locked, so I make my way to the window where the cashiers help customers when they’ve closed. I look inside as I knock on the window. The lights are on, but I can’t seem to find anyone inside. I turn around to check on my car; still there. I turn back around and get startled. Facing me from inside the store was the cashier. Blood flows down from her pure black eyes and into her clothes.

She tilts her head and slightly opens her mouth. She extends her hand and-

“Hey buddy, mind hurrying it up?” I turn around to respond to an impatient customer.

“Sorry about that.” Oh jeez. Here I go again, narrating my own life in the darkest way possible. Another person lines up behind the other customer as I take out my wallet and hand a twenty dollar bill to the perfectly healthy female cashier.

“What number?” she asks.

“Seven,” I put my wallet back into my pocket. “Thank you.” I nod my head and return to my car. I gas it up and continue to head home. I’ve always had this fascination of imagining the most messed up things when I go about my life, just like how I did when I was at the gas station. I’m always half expecting these imaginations to happen when I think about them, which is why I always do it. I love getting the feeling of being scared or the short-lived anxiety that comes with it. Sometimes, even if it wouldn’t be what I originally imagined, my heart would jump when there’d actually be something there. Like a person being on the other side of the hall when I turn a dark corner, even though it won’t be a beast of some sort that I thought up.

I step on the brakes and halt my car when I hit a four-way stop and check my rearview mirror. The backseat area of my car is dark, and my mind begins to manifest another situation as I resume my drive.

Behind me sits a thin, long haired creature. It has the body of a dog and a mouth like that of a human being. Its eyes are wide and pure white. It stares at me as I look ahead of me, paying attention to the road. It never stops staring as I drive. I turn my head to check my blind spot, and the creature is gone. I look forward again and the creature returns behind me, only to have its face inches closer to my neck. The reflection of the creature can be seen on the rearview mirror, but I still don’t notice it. The creature smiles, revealing its sharp and crooked teeth. Soon, it-

Oh. I’m home now. Time sure flies. I pull up to my parking spot and turn my car off. I grab my backpack from the passenger seat and pulled the handle of the car door to open it, but stop as I feel something blow pass the back of my neck. Like a breath. I disregard it.

Until I felt it again for the second time.

Credit To – Ismael Zuniga

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The Serene Cyclist

December 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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I used to live in Cambridge a while back, which is a small city smack in the middle of England, best known for the university that is as large as the city itself. But I was there for work. I had a few friends around the city, and Cambridge being a very green city, it is the ‘Cambridge way’ to cycle around to most places. I would mostly visit my friends in the evenings, and we would all stay up till late, not socializing, or drinking, but playing games, musing philosophically and finding other means of continuing our existence. On the nights this continued for particularly long I would have to cycle back halfway across the city, often in cold. This was usually quite pleasant; Cambridge is quite a safe city, and I generally enjoy being out in the dark, alone, under the yellow of the night-lights. It was one of those nights, though, that I met what felt to me like the devil himself.
It was on another one of those long quiet lamp-lit roads on a particularly chilly February night. I was halfway home and slightly wary of it being 3 am. This was late even by my standards, and this put me somewhat on edge. My senses seemed to be more alert than usual and I was unconsciously keeping an eye on every single shadow on the street, trying to avoid as many alcohol fuelled incidents as I could. As I turned into a street that told me I was not very far from where my apartment was located I started to feel much more peaceful. It was halfway across the street biking at my leisure that I noticed a man in a dark jacket cycling around 20 feet in front of me. My senses suddenly sharpened again, due to the simple fact of him seeming to appear out of nowhere. Perhaps I had not been paying as much attention as I thought I was.

The man was cycling quite slowly, and even while barely pedalling I slowly started to draw near him. It also started to get quieter on the street. It took me a few moments to realize that I could not hear the man’s bike or the many mechanical clicking sounds my bike often made. The quiet was eerie. That should have warned me, but not heeding what now seems like a very obvious warning, I kept cycling closer to the man. I found his speed quite peculiar, even more so that his dark attire, and so as I drew nearly level I glanced at his body. I say his body because his face was not very human. It was made of what can only be described as a shadow, and with eyes that seemed like he very depths of hell itself. One look left me lifeless, motionless, speechless, riding down the slope right next to him, too scared to move, too scared to act. And worst of all, I was unable to take me eyes off his.

“This way is closed” he said, in a growling voice that made my hair stand on end. “This is way is closed. Go back.”

That was all he said, but those with those words the hold his eyes– its eyes had over me was broken. I managed to find some life in my hands and I braked as hard as I could, letting him get ahead of me. He continued to cycle ahead at his eerily slow place and then, as mysteriously as he had appeared in front of me, he was gone. He simply disappeared, unhurriedly, into the shadows at the end of the street. The rest of the way back home for me was a fight against my own body. My mind would not stop reeling from the horror it had just experienced, and my heart was in my throat, unwilling to go down. I could not think. I could not rationalize. I had no refuge. I could hear again. I could hear the wind in my ears, the clunking of my pedal as I cycled as fast as I could. and unfortunately for me, I could hear someone riding a bike a little behind me.

When I finally got home, I threw my bike and rushed into my first-floor apartment, refusing to look at what was surely there. I could still hear footsteps following me up the stairs but I refused to acknowledge them as I rushed into my room as fast as I could, and into the refuge of my bed.

I could still see shadows under my front door as I finally decided to go to bed. They refused to go away.

True story from 3:49 am, 25th of February, 2012.

(This is a part of a collection of real life horror stories and memoirs currently being collected and compiled by Salman Shahid Khan. For more, please visit and follow the writer’s blog here)

Credit To – Salman Shahid Khan

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Patricia

December 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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My house is so quiet. Except for the pattering of the rain on the window, and the scribble of my pen as I frantically write in order to get a good night’s sleep tonight, and the grandfather clock ticking. When I’m alone, I seem to pick up every little sound. To sleep without first recording what has happened would be the worst thing I could do. I must record everything. Every last detail. I cannot forget. I-

I woke up with a sudden sense of dread, though of what I did not know, could not explain, and ultimately forgot as my senses came to me. I realized my family was already up and engaged in their morning routine. A glance at the clock radio on my nightstand and my customary verification by the clock on my wall told me that I had overslept by fifteen minutes.

Jumping out of bed, I hurriedly dressed, brushed my teeth, and was on my way down the stairs pulling my hair into a ponytail when there was a knock on the door. It was uncommon to have a visitor this early in the morning, but being the closest to the door, I answered it.

To my surprise, my good friend Patricia was standing there in the heavy, Florida morning air. I couldn’t say I expected to see anyone in particular, but her being there was very unexpected. Aside from a sleepover or two that we had kept secret from my parents, she had never come to my house before.

I asked her to come in but instead she grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me outside, closing the door as she did.

“Patricia, what are you-” I started, but she cut me off.

“Why won’t you let your family meet me?” she asked, angrily. I was completely dumbfounded by the question.

“Patri-”

“No! We’ve been friends for years and I don’t understand why-”

“Stop it!” It was my turn to cut her off.

I yanked my wrist out of her hand and took a step back staring at her in surprise. She glared back at me. I had never seen her this angry.

We stood there for a few seconds, and for a moment, all that broke the silence was her heavy breathing and the muted sounds of the waking neighborhood coming through the humid air.

In an instant, she changed, her anger dissipated, and she looked as normal as if we’d passed each other in the hallway at school.

“So, do you think you can introduce me?” she asked, this time perfectly calm, as though the last ten seconds hadn’t even occurred. Still in shock, I took a second to take in what just happened and compose myself.

“Er, Patricia,” I started, trying not to upset her again, “ we’ve talked about this before.”

“I know, I know. But I really really want to meet them now,” was her reply, insistent.

I couldn’t even remember why we decided to not have Patricia come over. But although it had happened years ago- around the beginning of our friendship- and I had all but forgotten why, there was a very strong feeling within me urging me to keep that promise.

Not knowing exactly why I felt this way, I said, “I’m just not sure that that’s such a good idea.”

Almost too quick for me to see, what looked like pure rage swept across her face and in an instant, was gone. She smiled her pretty smile that I’d seen a million times and said, “Okay, see you at school then!”

Then she was walking away. Down the sidewalk. To the four-way stop. And disappeared around the corner.

I turned and opened the door to join my family for breakfast, but as I opened the door I fell into blackness and…

Awoke with a jolt. My mind was racing with random feelings and images that I couldn’t piece together. A look at the clocks told me it was 10 minutes after I should have gotten up. I decided that the noise my family was making in the kitchen was what woke me up and quickly readied for the day. I was almost to the bottom of the stairs when I heard a knock at the door. Feeling a strong sense of déjà vu, I walked over and answered it. Patricia was standing there, and my feeling of familiarity with the situation grew. Uneasy, I stepped out of the house and closed the door behind me.

“Morning! Can I see your family?” she asked sweetly. Why do I feel like she’s asked this before?, I thought. Without any reason I could think of, I suddenly knew that I could not allow her in the house.

“No, Patricia, you can’t,” was all I could think of to say.

“But I-” as she spoke a sudden rush of fear swept over me.

“No!” I said, interrupting her.

“Now, Gabrielle,” she chided, calmly, serenely, “just let me in and we can-” Now my fear was turning into unreasonable hysteria.

“No! Get away!” I screamed, “Go away!”

At this, Patricia’s face turned to stone, emotionless, cold. I reached behind me without turning and groped for the doorknob, desperate to get inside; I felt like crying.

“Fine,” she said, and, turning, walked away.

I took a step as a turned around to face the door and tripped on the doorjamb before being consumed by an inky black…

I woke up with tears running down my face and I had no idea why I was crying. I was five minutes late in waking up and could already hear the rest of my family downstairs, in the kitchen. I was frightened for no apparent reason, I could only remember…nothing substantial…feelings. Fear. Weakness.

Eager to join my family, I quickly went about my morning routine and walked down the stairs. About halfway down I suddenly felt an expectation…of what… I did not know. Reaching the bottom of the stairs I turned to enter the kitchen and there was a sudden banging on the front door. Dread shot through my body like lightning. Everything came flooding back, and I remembered Patricia. In an instant, I didn’t know why, but I knew that I had to keep her out. I ran to the door and opened it. Patricia flew at me with a wild look in her eyes and I quickly closed the door. I heard her rebound off of the sudden resistance and took the opportunity to open the door and close it behind me as I stepped out. The morning was clear, but there were clouds on the horizon.

Patricia was picking herself up off the ground. I could hear the sound of a truck backing up in the distance. Tears were now flowing freely down my cheeks as I tried to reason with her.

“Patricia wh- why are y-” was as far as I got before her lips parted in a guttural scream and she lunged at me again, her face contorted in hate. In reflex, I ducked and protectively raised my arms. She flew over my head and slammed into the door once again. Momentarily stunned, she fell on top of me. I pushed her off, but before I was able to recover she was back on top of me, grabbing me by the throat. I tried prying her hands off but her grip was too strong. I couldn’t breath. The beeping of the truck was growing louder. I could see Patricia’s face, full of malice, over mine; but she grew dim. The beeping was louder. Grating. Inside my head. She continued to choke me. Black mist invaded my vision. Taking over. Then there was nothing but the Beep Beep BEEP BEEP….

…I woke violently to my alarm precisely when I was supposed to. The clock on the wall confirmed it. I could hear my…nothing. There was no sound coming from anywhere in the house; except for the ringing of the grandfather clock chiming the hour. Suddenly, I remembered everything vividly. Trying to keep Patricia out and being strangled as a result. I jumped out of bed, not bothering to dress or brush my teeth and ran downstairs. I threw open the front door, ready to do what it took to keep her away for good.

There was no one on the porch. Just the heavy, Florida morning humidity. And dark clouds, closer than in the dream. No Patricia.

With a sigh of relief. I turned and went inside. As I started closing the door, I looked toward the kitchen and froze. Standing in the doorway to the kitchen was Patricia. On her face was that smile I had seen on the face of my friend for years. In her hand was a carving knife I recognized from the knife block in our kitchen. I couldn’t hear anything from the kitchen. Dread filled my body as I realized what had happened. She began walking toward me with that smile and that knife. I was far too frightened to move.

As she came within striking distance, she reached out and grabbed my wrist with her free hand and placed the knife in my hand. It was all I could do to not to cry out when I felt the cold of the handle and the warm sticky of what could only be the blood of my family. She released my hand, patted me on the cheek, and walked past me out the open door.

I numbly walked to the door of the kitchen and saw what I hoped to God I wouldn’t: my family, lying dead in pools of their own blood. My knees gave way and I fell with a shallow splash, next to my parents. I stared. Unable to cry. Unable to move. Hours passed.

The rain came and I realized that I have to remember what happened. Everything. Patricia, the dreams, everything. This dream is the worst. I am alone. My house is so quiet.

 

Physician’s Note:

 

Dr. Randal Lunder

9/28/10

Patient ID: GDS1992

This document was collected at the scene of the murder of the patient’s family. Patient was found sitting at her kitchen table, surrounded by their bodies. The murder weapon (carving knife) was found at the scene covered in the patient’s prints and her family’s blood. When questioned, she showed no apparent guilt or remorse and insisted “Patricia did it” repeating the phrase ad nauseum. She was convicted of murder in the first degree on three counts and custody was remanded to the Psychological branch of the Federal Department of Corrections.

Patient exhibits signs of dementia and describes symptoms of Homicidal Bipolarism. She is currently incarcerated in the Southeastern Center for the Criminally Insane. As her treating physician, I suggest her treatment of high-dosage anti-hallucinogens be increased, and her shock therapy sessions be reduced to twice a week. Will re-evaluate patient in four weeks.

Randal Marshall Lunder Ph.D

 

Credit To – Strudeldude

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The Metaphysical

December 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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“One may attain the Metaphysical’s wealth,
All they have to trade is blood and good health.”

This was the message written on the mineshaft’s sign. My brother and I read it out aloud, mocking its corny Dr. Seuss-esque warning. We dared each other to enter the tunnel, which eventually escalated into him chasing me inside. It was fun at first, but as we ventured further down the tunnel it didn’t take long for us to find ourselves missing—stranded on a gravel path lit by wall-hanging lanterns.

“Nice going dumbass,” Kadeem said. “We’re completely lost thanks to you.”

“You’re the one that brought us here,” I replied. “Besides, we’re not lost. We’ll just turn back.”

“Care to show the way genius?”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you Riley!”

And like the close brothers we were, we began to fight. When he wrestled me onto the ground—shoving my face with his kneecap into the stone floor, I noticed a large rectangular object in the corner of my eye.

“Wait…look,” I struggled to say. I pointed at the container not far from us with my free hand (since my brother trapped my other arm with an armbar). Almost immediately he let go of my limb. I stood up, brushing off any dirt that got on my face. We looked at a gargantuan leather box. It was enveloped in dust. Crude slashes decorated the majority of the box. Kadeem and I walked towards it, pondering what was inside. We bent down and lifted up its weighty lid and dropped it aside, causing a flurry of dust to nearly hit our eyes. Both of us peered inside the box. Once the dust cleared, we were left dumbfounded.

“Is that—,” I started.

“I don’t…I don’t believe this!” Kadeem shouted.

The contents of the chest were organized piles of five dollar bills. All of them mint condition. Kadeem’s eye sparkled with glee. Mine out of pure shock. My brother began to dance like a madman, throwing money in the air while maintaining a maniacal laugh. I knelt down and picked up a note, stroking my fingertips against the paper to test its authenticity. It sure felt real enough. There was something abnormal about them too; however, the dark setting prevented me from finding out exactly what.

I called Kadeem over to take a look at the note. He ran up to me and looked over my shoulder. I asked him if he saw anything unusual about the bill. He snatched it from my hands and glared at it two inches from his face. As he inspected the bill, he murmured.

“Red seal…is that a star next to the serial, no—no no wait yeah it is…”

“Can you see anything?” I asked.

“Just give me a fucking second,” he snapped.

He walked around the area, staring and whispering to the note. When he was finished he called me over and told me what he discovered.

“Riley,” he said. “This stuff could be worth a lot more than you think. The series on this bill says 1953.”

“So,” I said.

“So, old bills equals more money. If they’re uncirculated—but I doubt it—but if they are…then we’re looking at some serious cash.”

“What you mean?”

“Right. So my professor was talking about old dollar bills in economics the other day. These bills believe it or not. Anyway, he says that the ones for the red seal can sell for about seven bucks. If there’s a star in front of the serial number, then the price could go for double. If they’re uncirculated, their value skyrockets to about a hundred dollars. If we went by its true five dollar value, I’d say there’s $20,000 in that box at the very least. If we’re lucky, then we could be looking at over two hundred grand.”

My jaw dropped. Immediately I felt the joyous sensation that flowed inside Kadeem not too long ago. I bounced all over the place like a possessed pogo stick for about a minute, hollering and flailing my arms in windmills.

“Hey Riley calm down,” Kadeem said, holding me in place. “Breathe.”

I nodded, still smiling. I began to pant as an overwhelming exhaustion took over my body. “How do you not…get tired doing that?”

“Because my phys. ed program isn’t shit. Unlike gym class, training in the Army makes a man outta you.”

“Fair enough.”

Kadeem patted my back as I tried to regain my breath. “Okay,” he said. “What I’m thinking is we carry as much money as we can back to my car. We obviously can’t get it all so we’ll return tomorrow and do it all over again. It might take a week or two to get all of it, but I’m pretty sure we can pull it off without people sticking in their noses if we’re careful enough. Sounds good?”

“What if someone does see us and tries something?”

“Then I’m leaving you on your own.”

“You’re such a dick.”

“I know. Come on, let’s get rich.”

We shoved what we could into any pockets we had on us. Jean pockets, jacket pockets, even a small roll of $20 was fitted in Kadeem’s pen protector. As we put on more weight, we talked over what we’d do with the money. Invest it in a fancy car, boat, perhaps a business (the idea didn’t appeal to him though), give some to our parents; our imaginations went wild. Even the unrealistic purchases seemed buyable just looking at the money. Every bill I scavenged made me feel a bit wealthier. The discomfort from the profusion of money I wore didn’t bother me. We were going to be loaded, and that was all that really mattered to me.

Out of the blue, the ground underneath us shivered. Startled, we halted our excavation and began to hightail it out of there. As we sprinted for our lives, the minor tremor enhanced to an earthquake. Rocks painted in the blue light began to fall like massive hailstones. Numerous stones thumped against the top of my skull, yielding varying degrees of pain ranging from tolerable to excruciating.

“Keep going,” Kadeem shouted.

I mustered all my energy into one sprinting burst. My chest felt as if it were about to collapse from the lack of breath. My legs ached. My head felt light. My body was being dragged more than it was being guided by my own perception. Hope and desperation swarmed me as the morning light at the end of the tunnel grew brighter.

Suddenly the ground gave way. We fell into the abyss alongside the rocky debris. Freefall lasted only but two seconds. During those two seconds, my thoughts played an instantaneous reel of my life, depicting it as a blur more so than a lucid film. I, along with my brother, polluted the darkness with our screams.

My back hit the surface with a hard thud. As soon as I felt the pain, I felt dampness soaking the skin of my clothes. I opened my eyes to see my body descending down a navy blue atmosphere. Wads of five dollar bills softly floated to the bottom with me. It took me a while to realize I landed in water. At first, I felt relieved that I was alive, but then fear took over the moment I started choking on water. I struggled to swim to the top. I regained my breath before swimming to the gravel shore a city block’s length away from me. Not too far from me was Kadeem just starting his swim to the coast. I called out to him and he looked back at me.

“Riley…is that you?”

“Kadeem! Are you okay?”

“Yeah, how are you holdin’ up?”

“Everything hurts like hell but I should be alright. I’ll meet you on land, okay?”

“Wilco.”

Once we got to the coast, I asked Kadeem what happened. He told me the floor collapsed in the dickish way he always does whenever I ask the obvious. I shrugged his condescension off since it wasn’t the appropriate time to fight. Immediately afterwards he said, “Screw the money, two hundred thousand dollars isn’t worth dying over. Right now I just want to get out of this cave. I sure as hell am not coming back here again.”

For the first time in a long time, I couldn’t agree with him more.

We stood up and caught a good glance of where we were. A titanic dome towered over us—at the climax was a jagged, distant opening. Thin, dim beams of yellow light shone down from it, shining upon the center of the black pool. Hanging from the base of the hemisphere were lanterns lit with cyan flame, scattered around in no particularly organized order. Their glow portrayed a million spots of gleam along the rim of the pond.

Kadeem and I walked on a straight path that exited the shore. The cyan-shining lanterns followed as we walked. My back began to feel the sore aftereffects of the devastating spine-on-water impact. I tried to rub the pain away with an equally sore hand. I talked to Kadeem to help me ignore the pain.

“What do you think life would’ve been like with two hundred thousand dollars?”

My brother, who was leading the expedition, looked back at me and laughed.

“I don’t know man,” he answered back. “$200,000 wouldn’t buy us Brad Pitt’s nutsack, but it could’ve given us something nice to work with. A better apartment for me. A used car for your eighteenth birthday. The rest could’ve gone to our parents, make their lives easier. God knows we’d do anything for them.” He paused for a moment. “Listen, I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to focus on getting out of here.”

“Okay. Um…Kadeem.

“What?”

Thanks for the car.”

Kadeem chuckled. “Don’t mention it.”

I stayed quiet for about ten seconds before speaking up again. “Mom’s gonna kill me for being out this late.”

“Jesus Riley you’re such a fucking puss—”

Suddenly a violent tremor shook the barriers of the alley, sending a deafening shockwave throughout the tunnel. I clapped onto my ears and gritted my teeth, trying to remain balanced until the earthquake subsided. I released my tension and went over to my brother to see if he was alright. He nodded as I helped support him up. After we got on our legs, we jogged further down the trail.

Several minute later the path abruptly ended, and was replace with the cliché rickety bridge leading to another path similar to the one we stood on at the moment. Underneath the bridge was nothing. Just a valley shadowed in a darkness that covered its floor. I inspected the trench, and instantly my heart sank into my stomach.

“Ready to cross,” Kadeem said, already walking the starting section of the overpass.

I took a deep breath. “I…I can’t.”

“Because…”

I gulped. “I’m afraid of heights. I just—I j-just can’t alright.”

Kadeem rolled his eyes as he approached me. “Not now Riley.”

“Kadeem—”

“Are you fucking serious? Are you screwing with me? After all of that progress we made. After all of that shit we just put up with you expect us to stop right now?”

“I mean there’s got to be another way. Seeing how big this place is I don’t see a reason for there not to be. Besides, just look at this thing. It was probably built before Columbus was born. It’ll probably fall under us once we step foot on it.”

“I walked on it and it seems perfectly fine. Now come on you baby.”

“I’m. Not. Going.” I folded my arms and turned my back to him. I was hoping the gesture showed him how serious I was.

“You’re such a child,” Kadeem said. “Fine, I guess this is a perfect time to practice what they taught me in the service.”

“What are you talking abo—”

Without delay I felt a suffocating strain being put on my neck. I forced my fingers in an opening in an attempt to free myself, only to wind up getting my fingers trapped.

“Headlock. Gets em’ every time. Come on Riley, we’re going on a field trip.”

Kadeem dragged my body to the start of the viaduct. I dug my soles into the ground in a hopeless attempt to slow down his progress. Without trying he tugged me onto the creaky bridge. I liberated my fingers from Kadeem’s grasp, and used them to clutch onto the ropes. Again, his brute strength overpowered mine, leaving me with a severe case of rope burn.

“How’re we doin little brother?”

Coughing, I managed to utter a small “Fuck you”.

“That’s the spirit. Now you’re starting to sound like your old brave self.”

Halfway to the other end of the chasm, I saw something moving in the darkness. When I regarded it as a figment of my imagination, I began to see more. I squinted my eyes to get a better picture—realizing that those small objects were hands. Hands clouded in pure blackness, rising up from the shadows like newly renewed corpses from their grave.

“Kadeem,” I coughed.

“We’re almost there Riley.”

“Ka…Kadeem.”

“Hold on baby brother. Don’t get your tits in a bundle.”

He tightened his grip on me. I tried to warn him a third time, but the choke he put on me prevented the words to come out of my mouth. I could only express the massive sight with inaudible murmurs. The hands slithered closer to us like snakes stalking their prey. I shut my eyes and turned my head away from them. I also shed a few tears, which somehow managed to catch Kadeem’s attention as we finally crossed the bridge. He liberated his stranglehold, dropping me onto the ground. Although I didn’t see his face, I could tell that our fear was mutual. With him walking backwards and with me on the floor, we gazed at the phenomenon clothed in black void looming over us. When it ascended at its peak, it froze for a split second before it started to crash down on top of us.

My brother picked me up and we sped off not a moment sooner. The monstrosity collided into the rocks behind us, causing them—and the bridge—to rain down into the abyss. While we were fortunate enough to avoid falling with them, the enormous, sudden earthquake that came after was enough to make me piss myself just barely. We dashed down the linear tunnel of cyan fire, unaware of any fatigue present in us. I looked behind me, and saw that one by one the lanterns were extinguished—behind that was darkness. I couldn’t tell if it was either the fiend or just plain shade.

We continued to run as the darkness slowly blanketed us. The illumination behind us vanished to black. The blackness slowly gained on us. We ran faster, encouraging each other to do so as we did, to try to keep up with the blue light. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t see anything within two feet of my proximity. I gave one more spurt of energy into a final full sprint. Once fatigue caught up with me, I dropped to my knees in a wheezing fit.

“Kadeem,” I yelled. “Where are you?”

There was a faint, yet agonizing howl echoing at the back of me. I lifted myself up and looked to see where its origin was.

“Riley, help m—AAAAHH!!”

A sickening ripping sound drowned out Kadeem’s cries. My body iced up. Goosebumps tickled me like a suit made up of cold centipedes. I stared at the emptiness, contemplating the dilemma. I took several steps towards my brother’s wails, only to chicken out the moment I heard a deep whisper heading my way. I wanted to help him, I tried to force my body to head in his direction, but fear as well as logic persuaded my legs to go the opposite direction. As I ran, I couldn’t help but feel guilty.

I scurried in the darkness for a good ten minutes or so. There wasn’t a glimmer of light anywhere. It felt like I was running in circles blindly. There were occurrences when I thought I lost it, but when I did, a low, blood-curling whisper trailed behind me. It seemed as if death was inevitable. As I dashed further and further down the path, drenched in sweat and exhaustion, my mind tried to convince me to give in—to tell me that no matter what I did, I was going to die. I tried to fight it. I tried to block out the doubt. But as I traveled deeper, I saw less and less hope. Eventually my body gave into the argument. I collapsed onto the ground, splaying my arms like a kneeling crucifixion victim. I didn’t want to die, I tried to feign optimism to give myself reason to press on, but it was too unrealistic.

A shroud of the familiar blue light suddenly ignited, engulfing me in a dome. Under my feet was a slimy black substance with elongated hands of the same hue protruding from the goo. In an effort to flee, I tried to lift my left leg. However, the matter kept it to the ground like quicksand. The ligaments shot from all angles en route to my captive body. Ten of each grabbed onto my legs. The same went for my arms. The cavern was soon obstructed by the slime’s evolution to the dome’s pinnacle. As the blackness crawled up the walls, a large pearl-white skull and decrepit heads masked with the slime jutted from it.

“We are the Metaphysical,” they whispered repeatedly in resonating pitches varying octave to octave. The baritones quivered my heart. The strident ones grated my ribs like ragged nails to a chalkboard.

As they uttered their chant, a fiery, dissolving sensation came over my arms. I couldn’t help but to scream. When I looked to see what happened to my arms they were gone. Completely erased from the shoulders. What remained was an evolving bloody mess staining my clothes. My limbs were being carried off by the Metaphysical as if they were precious artifacts—returning to their slimy residence with open palms and cautious manner. Soon as they returned to the walls my arms joined in on the wild choir—bathed in their bleak material.

“Sacrifice,” the Metaphysical whispered. “From death comes life.”

Below me, the hands disappeared, exposing the gravel path. Poking out from those minerals were cobras about the size of twenty foot pythons. They slithered away from me and inside the mouth of the skull in front of me. As I observed their migration, my legs started to experience the liquefying feeling that vexed my arms. One Metaphysical hand strangled my neck and held me up. The slime it was covered in felt like acid against my skin. The combined agony was so extreme to the point where I clamped my teeth together—causing the front row to shatter under the extreme pressure I put on them. The welling tears were like needles, stabbing the corners of my eyes as they crept out my tear ducts. Once my limbs disconnected from my body, the liquid-covered hairs on them grew into thin spider legs, walking my legs into the skull’s jaws, entering foot-first.

The Metaphysical retreated to the tiny corners of the cave. Everything was the same, except the lantern’s light. Instead of blue, they shone scarlet. The wall in front of me cracked open, revealing a portal to the entrance of the mine. To me, it felt very close. Practically inches away. But the fact that I was only a bloody stump taunted me. No matter how much I wanted to escape, I couldn’t.

Seconds after the gate opened, I heard faint footsteps from the other end of the portal. I struggled to fight the sleep inducing blood-loss I was faced with. My eyelids were as heavy as tons, but I managed to see whose footsteps they were. Almost immediately, I became overjoyed as to who I saw.

“Kadeem,” I cried. “Thank god you’re alive. You gotta help me!”

Kadeem turned his head in my direction. For a moment, I thought the troubled expression on his face was worry on my behalf. But he wasn’t. If he was, then he’d have come to rescue me. But he didn’t.

“Sacrifice,” a whisper behind me said. “A brother offered blood, and in return earned his life.”

Kadeem turned his body around to face me straight on. His leather jacket was dripping rolls of five dollar bills. But that wasn’t the major feature in his physique. It was the gory absence of his right arm.

“A most excellent trade,” the thing whispered.

Kadeem shot out the mine. I shouted for him to save me with no response on his end. He didn’t even look back. The last thing I saw before being dragged away was the path of money following him.

Credit To – Marquise Williams (aka HonestyAndCapacity)

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