Popular Tags:


Joondalup

January 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.1/10 (279 votes cast)

In the nineteen seventies, the city of Perth, Western Australia experienced an urban sprawl that made its suburbs clamber up and down the coast of the Indian Ocean. These suburbs, tenuously connected by fragile railways, like a spiderweb, was where I lived as a child. These novel infrastructure developments meant that I was isolated to only my hometown, unable to find a reliable way to roam.

For that reason, my friends and I would often spend a lot of time at the namesake of our suburb, Lake Joondalup. Our group was a bit of a motley, connected by our own tenuous thread – we all loved to explore the bush, which at that point had yet to be swept aside by the development. Now despite a wide circle of friends with similar interests, I only really felt close to a young boy called Tristan. He was a large child with a kind manner, and a jagged row of white teeth that contrasted sharply with his dark skin and soft features.

We both loved the night. We loved the late evenings where a new world opened up to us around the lake; we would continue to explore the tree-lined banks after most kids went home for dinner.

This day, we had been skipping stones across the lake, while discussing the short assignment our teacher had set. Tristan, being aboriginal, had been given the assignment of finding out the meaning of many of the words we had in our day to day life that came from the first Australians.

“So,” I said, tossing another rock into the lake. “What does ‘Joondalup’ mean?”

“I actually know that one,” Tristan had picked up a larger rock than usual, and he weighed it in his hand as he thought about the best way to articulate his answer. “It means ‘place of shining’ or ‘place of white’.”

“No way, that’s so lame,” I said with all the seriousness a fifth grader could muster.

“You’re lame!” Tristan ditched the rock at the water beside me, and some of it splashed on my new white socks.I charged at him, trying to avenge myself for the inevitable wrath of my mother. He turned and legged it, with surprising swiftness for such a large boy. We both ran through the bush, our chase taking us right along the edge of the lake.

The next thing I knew, Tristan, maybe three or four paces in front of me, tripped. I saw him stumble, his ankle twisting in an odd fashion, before he keeled over and plunged straight into the dark water of the lake. The banks were a sharp, two foot drop into water, that was deep enough to submerge him entirely.

He surfaced “Christ!” He squealed, as I kneeled on the bank to try to help him out. “It’s so cold.” I didn’t respond. Behind him, was a white shape, blurry in the dark water but rapidly sharpening like an inverse silhouette.

“Yeah let’s go.” I reached out to help him when suddenly, the shape seemed to unfurl, wrapping itself around Tristan and dragging him downwards. My heart began to jackhammer against my ribs, causing the blood to pound in my head. Tristan surfaced, and flailed. I didn’t hesitate, grabbing the back of his shirt collar and pulling him upwards, as a pair of milk white arms, each finger tipped with gleaming claws, snatched at him from the lake.

He was hurt bad, his ankle was swelling and already mottled with bruising. I tried to drag him, carry him, but he was far too heavy. We stumbled along the rocky path, my legs nearly buckling as Tristan leaned on me. It wasn’t far to the break in the trees and the road beyond, but we barely got twenty feet from the lake before I looked back.

Darkened against the reflected moonlight, I saw the creature standing on the banks. Its form is etched like a carving on the inside of my skull. It had a human body, with broad, masculine shoulders and a long neck, like that of a deer, except it stopped abruptly, like it had its head severed at the base of the skull.

That was not the worst part of it though. The best way I can describe its legs were how one would expect a child to stack Lego blocks. They were many jointed, from the ankle upwards they stacked on top of one another, but not quite matching up, giving the impression of a jagged zigzag. I began to whimper and Tristan stopped to look behind him. I felt his grip on me slacken, and he also made a soft noise, I knew the noise, it was when your body was seizing up from the inside out, the nerves firing rapidly as your body began to employ its emergency response to fly.

“Let’s go let’s go,” our pace quickened. Behind us, I could hear the rustling of undergrowth and the light step of a pursuant. We fumbled faster. Tristan’s face was red and puffy, and the roaring in my ears had reached a deafening crescendo. We dared not to look back, our eyes fixed ahead, on the murky light of the streetlights.

Tristan jerked, and was lifted out of my grip. I tried to hold on to him, but I found myself shaken off, like a dog shaking its prey. I flew through the air, crashing into a tree and slumping into the undergrowth. My vision filled with stars, turning into flashes and eventual darkness as Tristan’s terrified screams faded away into unconsciousness.

When I came to, it was silent. I sat up, my breath ragged. It was well into the night, and a chill had descended onto the bush, meaning it was in the early AMs. I tried to stand up, but the world lurched, and turned on its side as a flash of pain threw me onto the ground again. I struggled to get up but, through it I began to feel unsettled.

I could hear footsteps. Seconds apart, like something was taking a step and waiting. I lay down again, peering through the leaves. It was itchy, and sticky down there, but I felt deep in my stomach that what was out there did not have any good intentions toward me. It took a few minutes to appear on the path, but there it was. That thing again. It turned out, that it was not waiting, but its legs were lengthening, allowing it to take huge strides. Now I realised, it was stepping backwards. Yes, I could make out its shoulder blades and the jagged line of its spine as it walked up the path. Its neck was swaying, as if it was looking around behind it.

As it drew level, I had to bite down on my tongue to stop me from crying out. It was carrying Tristan’s limp body in its arms, his dead weight barely seemed to register as the creature cradled him like a baby. It drew level as I was processing the sight of my friend, and I saw that at the end of that neck, where I had not identified a head, was a face. A flat. Human. Face.

I squeezed my eyes shut, willing the creature to go away. It walked up and down the path, and even through the bush. It passed within feet of me. I could hear the sound of its joints popping as it moved. Its shadow blotted out the moonlight periodically, but it never found me.

They found me just after sunup. I was still curled at the base of an ancient white gum, sobbing silently. They nearly missed me, as I was obscured by a thicket of some spiny shrub, but there I was, clutching my knees to my chest and whimpering softly. They did not find Tristan, but they found clumps of his hair, and scraps of clothing on the undergrowth, at about an adult’s shoulder height, like he had been carried.

I gave a statement to the police, and was given therapy. About a week later, a strange whitish scum floated to the surface of the lake, collecting at the banks and coating the water in a horrible film. This scum was found to be human fat, that proved a DNA match to the kidnapping victim, Tristan Cole.

The memory faded from my mind. The disappearance was chalked up to a suspected homicide. The vibrant memory became a distant shape, backlit by the moon and reflection off water. Sometimes my fear would rear its ugly head when I drove past the solid wall of trees that made up the edge of the lake reserve, but it was nothing more than a traumatic event folded away into a corner of my mind.

That was, until last week, when the thought of the creature was refreshed, given a new coat of fear-induced detail. Running in the local paper, the Weekender, was an article on new findings in the etymology of the word “Joondalup”. New research suggested that Joondalup meant “place of the creature that can only walk backwards.”

Credit To – MsGeophilia

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.1/10 (279 votes cast)

The Pastel Man

January 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 9.1/10 (1178 votes cast)

Consider this a warning. In the event it ever comes to you during a moment of weakness, as it did me all those years ago, say no to the Pastel Man. It doesn’t matter how much you love the person that it promises to help, nothing is worth what it wants in return. I tell you this in hopes that you don’t make the same mistake I did that cold winter night, kneeling beside my father’s writhing body on the living room floor.

It was 1997 when I first encountered the creature and ever since not a day has gone by where its awful face hasn’t haunted my thoughts. I was a teenager then, but I look at that evening as the night my childhood died – corrupted and violated by a callous hell beast with pale blue skin.

Even though it happened years ago, I still remember the events of that fateful first encounter vividly. I could tell you what my father and I were wearing, the toppings on the pizza we were eating, even the score of the football game playing on the TV. It was around half time when my father’s speech started to become slurred, which I found odd since he had been nursing the same bottle of beer since kickoff. Stranger even, I had seen him drink a six-pack to himself in the past without even appearing tipsy so I was having trouble understanding how a single drink could have such an effect on him. I realized it wasn’t the alcohol when half his body went limp and he slid off the couch. I asked him if he was all right, but his words had now become incomprehensible. I grabbed the phone off the coffee table and dialed 911.

“911 what’s your emergency?”

“I think my Dad’s having a stroke.” The thought had only crossed my mind a second before the operator answered the phone.

“Ok, we have your address. An ambulance is on its way. It should be there soon. Is he conscious?”

“Yes. He is, but I can’t understand him.” Nonsensical jumbled sounds were rambling out my father’s mouth. I was afraid. He was all I had. My mother passed away when I was a baby so I never got the chance to know her, but my dad was always there for me – doing the job of two parents. If I lost him then I would be alone.

“That’s normal with strokes. It’s good that he’s awake – “ And I didn’t hear the rest because that’s when I dropped the phone.

I was having one of those moments where everything faded into the background while my world fell silent. The football game playing on the television, the operator giving me instructions over the phone, even the sound of my father’s voice as he wailed in agony on the carpet became white noise – dissolving into the air as I lost all awareness of my surroundings. All of my attention and focus was now on one thing. The horrible abomination that was standing in my kitchen watching my father and I with a twisted smile across its disgusting face.

Its head narrowly missed scraping against our kitchen’s 9ft. ceiling as it shifted from side to side, fidgeting with anticipation like a giddy child in class on the last day of school waiting for that final bell to signal summer vacation. The pastel blue skin that covered its entire body, from the creature’s head all the way down to its feet horrible grimy feet, looked weathered and wrinkled like leather that had been left out in the sun for days. Hanging off its long, lanky frame was a plain brown satchel with black stitching. It lightly caressed the strap of its pouch with a long finger while it looked on with an eager expression on its face.

At first I thought I had gone mad from the sight of seeing my father have a stroke, but the closer the monstrosity slinked towards us, the more I realized it was no hallucination. It ducked its head under the light fixture in the living room and stepped a spindly leg over the couch. Though the monstrous freak of nature was clearly bipedal, it had moved down to all fours and appeared to be stalking us like some wild animal hunting its prey. I should have been terrified, but the horrible smile on its god-awful face made me feel more anger towards the thing than fear. It was as if it was taking pleasure in my father’s misery. Closer still it crept and I grabbed my father’s hand out of desperation in some veiled attempt to protect him. The creature stopped its face mere inches from mine before shifting its attention down to my father.

“I can save him, if you’d like?” I was taken back. I had prepared for the terrible thing to take a chunk of flesh out of my neck with its teeth or slash me across the face with its black crusty nails, but speaking to me was the last thing I expected. “He’s dying, but I can save him. If you’d like?”

I sat there, mouth agape, cradling my father’s head in my arm and staring into the two pink bulbous eyes that took up more than a third of the foul thing’s face. I remember thinking that they reminded me of Easter Eggs – a bizarre connection for my mind to make given the situation. It stood back up on two feet and once again I was reminded just how imposing the creature really was. It told me its name, which I dare not repeat because it also explained that speaking it is the best way to summon the beast. For the remainder of my story I will refer to this entity as the Pastel Man – just a name I came up with due to the pigment of its skin and the light shade of pink that was the color of its eyes. That and for some reason giving the creature a silly name always helped to make me feel less afraid of it. Not much less though.

Finally, my mind had recovered enough from shock to allow me to stutter out a few words, “What do you mean you could save him?”

“What I do is make deals, young man.” Its voice was surprisingly angelic – like a thousand choirs all singing in unison. If one were to close their eyes while the creature spoke to them, they might imagine they were listening to a seraph, not the hideous monster that was sporting a depraved grin in my living room. However, its extraordinary voice only managed to make me feel more uneasy. It wasn’t right that something so beautiful would belong to such a repulsive creature. The Pastel Man gestured to its satchel. “I have the ability to save your father’s life, but you have to agree to a deal with me.”

“What kind of a deal?”

“Everything happens for a reason, even death.” Its mischievous smile widened just a bit as if the creature was getting to the punch line of a joke. “It’s true that I can save your father’s life, but someone must die in his place. One shall die, so another may live. That’s the deal.” I clutched my chest. “Not you, what would be the point? No, I’m giving you the option to choose the person who will be replacing your father this evening.”

I was stunned by what I was hearing. “Are you death?”

The Pastel Man threw its head back and let out terrible howl. It was only later that I would come to realize that was how the wretched thing laughed. “No, I’m certainly not The Grim Reaper, although you aren’t the first person to ask me that. I’m not the devil either, nor do I work for him. Let’s just say I’m an independent contractor, shall we?” Two tiny holes that lied on the center of its face in the absence of a nose flared in satisfaction of its explanation.

“I can choose anyone?”

“Well, not anyone. That wouldn’t be very fun would it?” I could see a row of shark like teeth hiding in its mouth as it separated its lips to speak. “Your father’s replacement must be someone else in your life.”

“I’m not a murderer.” My voice was tiny. It barely escaped my mouth. I looked back down to my father. He had lost consciousness and his skin was becoming pale. “And I don’t think I could kill anyone I know.”

“You don’t have to murder anyone, young man.” The sly creature was moving into its final pitch. “All you have to do is tell me who it is you want dead and I will do the rest. Surely there must be someone you wouldn’t mind out of your life? A teacher, an ex girlfriend, a rival at school perhaps?”

There was. I had fantasized about it many times, but never in my wildest dreams would I have ever acted on it. Everyone has that person in their life who is toxic. Someone who makes getting up in the morning more difficult and I was certainly no exception. “Walter Flannigan,” I muttered under my breath.

“Who?”

“Walter Flannigan. He’s the guy at school who gave me this.” I lifted my shirt and showed it the handprint shaped bruise on my chest that Walter had given me during one of his infamous “hazing sessions” in the locker room earlier that week. “He’s been shoving me into lockers, and beating me up since I was a freshman. The faculty doesn’t do anything since he’s the best football player in the history of our school. He’s a five star recruit going to a huge college next year. ESPN even did a piece on him.”

“Ahhh,” The Pastel Man began to snicker to itself. It somehow widened its already enormous pink eyes even more then crouched back down to get face to face with me again. “What fun is being a king, without serfs to torment, eh?”

“Well I’m tired of being tormented so just go and kill him before I change my mind!”

The Pastel Man shot a massive hand out and wrapped its long fingers around my face. The grin that it was wearing since I first laid eyes on it had now been replaced by a scowl. “YOU DO NOT TELL ME WHAT TO DO! ARE WE CLEAR!?” I nodded sheepishly. The grip it had on my face was so tight. I understood then and there that if it wanted to, the creature could easily snap my neck or crush my skull like an egg. “Good, because it’s not so simple, young man. There are steps that must be taken.”

“Steps?”

“Yes,” A playful smirk once again returned to the Pastel Man’s face. “You will have to be present when this Walter Flannigan dies. In fact, I need you to summon me or else I can’t complete my end of the bargain. Get the boy alone and speak my name. You must watch him die by sunrise or else you will be violating the terms of our agreement. So do we have a deal?” I nodded again and the monster released its hold of my face before snatching my hand. Its giant paws swallowed my palm as we shook to cement the deal. “Excellent. With this handshake our deal is binding, young man.”

I watched curiously as the Pastel Man reached into its satchel and fumbled around until it found what it was looking for. In between its repugnant fingers it held a strange looking insect about the size of a quarter. The bug buzzed its wings in attempt to flutter away, but could not escape the Pastel Man’s grasp. With its other hand, it pushed down on my father’s jaw in order to open his mouth.

“What are you doing?” I asked, but the Pastel Man didn’t answer. It then violently stuffed the insect in my father’s mouth jamming it down his esophagus with its filthy fingers.

The Pastel Man rose once more to its feet. “There, the deed is done. Your father will recover in full. Now it’s your turn. Remember, the boy dies by sunrise or the deal is off.”

It turned its back to me and began to slither away.

“What if I change my mind?” I asked.

The creature stopped almost mid stride and twisted around. Again its smile had been supplanted by an awful sneer. I felt even less safe then when it was holding my face in a vice grip earlier. “Your father’s health has already been restored so someone must replace him. One must die so another shall live. That was the deal. If you fail to complete your end of the bargain then that someone will be you. Believe me when I say this young man, I don’t need to be summoned once our deal has been broken. I will come for you. That is a promise. And when I do you’re going to wish you never crossed me.” With that it continued out the kitchen and through the backdoor. I chased after it, but by the time I got outside into the back yard, the thing had disappeared. It was then that I spotted the lights of the ambulance as it pulled up across the street from my house. I flagged down the EMT’s and led them to my father.

It wasn’t difficult to find Walter. I knew exactly where he was going to be, but I had completely lost track of time while waiting to hear from my father’s doctors in the ICU. I had to hurry to Eddie Gillen’s house. Eddie’s parents were out of town and he had been talking all week at school about the “Rager” he planned on throwing. There were two things I knew about Walter:

1) Eddie was his best friend

2) He never missed a party.

It was somewhere around 3:30 AM when I pulled my car up to Eddie’s. I parked a little ways down the street so I wouldn’t be spotted. Because I had gotten held up at the hospital, I feared that I had missed my chance to catch Walter. My concerns were alleviated when I saw his raised pick-up truck still parked in the driveway. Another thought crossed my mind. What if Walter had gotten too drunk and passed out. I tried to think of away to get into Eddie’s and get Walter alone long enough for the Pastel Man to do whatever it was it had planned. Luckily for me, it wasn’t too long before Walter stumbled out of Eddie’s front door and climbed into his truck. I let out a sigh, having just escaped a potentially challenging problem.

He pulled out and I followed behind, staying far enough away so that I wouldn’t tip him off. He was drunk. Even from the distance I was tailing him, I could see his truck swerving in and out of its lane. The Pastel man’s otherworldly voice played itself over and over like a heavenly broken record in my mind.

“You must watch him die by sunrise…”

I wondered if I even had the courage to summon the creature again. Seeing it once that night was traumatic enough. Could I really handle looking into its horrible face for a second time? And what about Walter? Even though he was a huge ass, he didn’t deserve to die and certainly not at the hands of that thing.

It will kill you if you don’t let it kill him. Just remember, you’re doing this for Dad.

I’m not sure if it was the little angel on my shoulder or the little devil that was whispering in my ear. I looked out my driver side window. A pink ribbon lined the horizon – the very first signs of sunlight making its presence known in the dark evening sky. In a couple hours morning would arrive, and I would be too late to complete my end of the bargain. I would see the Pastel Man again one way or another.

Walter lived up in the foothills outside of town where some of the wealthier people owned homes. I had been there once for a school project – one where I did all the work and he ended up taking the credit. We had come to a part of the road leading towards his house that cut through a wooded area. I knew there would be no houses for a stretch so I decided that was where I would make my move. I sped up until I was tailgating the truck then started flashing my brights and honking my horn. I was prepared to rear end him in order to get him to stop driving, but it didn’t even take that to get the job done. He must have been panicking. His truck started to swerve violently across the street before running off road, sideswiping a tree, and coming to a complete stop.

I pulled up behind him then hesitated for a moment. A glimpse of the creatures grin flashed through my mind causing me to shutter. I got out of my car, but left the engine running and my headlights on. “Hey Walter!” I shouted.

Walter’s door jerked open and he jumped out the truck to the ground below. “Sean The Shithead?” he was confused, but clearly annoyed. Sean The Shithead was the nickname he had affectionately given me on my second week of school. Within a month he had my entire class calling me it. “You think that was funny? I am gonna fuck you up you little bitch!”

He stormed towards me with both fists clenched. Again doubts crossed my mind about whether or not I could pull the trigger. Guilt began to pump through my veins. Walter’s life was about to end and it was going to be because of me. Memories darted through my consciousness: All the afterschool beatings I took at the hands of Walter, the Pastel Man’s wicked smile, the look on my father’s face as he kicked and screamed on the living room floor. Finally those words, spoken through that unnervingly angelic voice of that terrible monster.

One must die so another shall live

Walter was moving closer. It was now or never. I had to choose whether or not I would summon the beast before the decision was out of my hands. I shouted the Pastel Man’s real name out in a burst of emotion aimed directly at the star football player. Walter paused for a moment, looking at me in confusion then recollected himself and proceeded towards me again – The Pastel Man was nowhere to be seen. For the second time that evening I wondered if I had gone insane. Could everything that had happened to me that night been in my head? What was real? Was my father even sick? Again I repeated the thing’s name in an effort to summon it, but this time it did nothing to hinder Walter’s pursuit of me.

He violently shoved me against the hood of my car, grabbed hold of my shirt collar and spun me around. Walter raised his fist to hit me. I winced and put my hands up in order to prepare for impact, but he never struck me. It only when I opened my eyes that I realized I wasn’t crazy. Walter’s face was white. His mouth hung open just as mine had when I first caught sight of the Pastel Man earlier that evening. I turned my head to see that unmistakable, long, lanky body slink out of the shadows and in front of my car’s headlights. Its face still wore that warped smile and I knew just beyond those thin lips was a mouth full of tiny daggers capable of tearing muscle from bone. Neither Walter nor I said a word. I think I might have been almost as terrified as him. My stomach began to feel sick as the Pastel Man stalked ever closer. I didn’t look at Walter’s face. How could I? The boy was about to die at the hands of this horrible monster and it was my fault. I didn’t have to summon it. I didn’t have to shake its hand.

“I’m sorry.” I truly was and I still am.

I hadn’t taken my eyes off the Pastel Man, but I think it had more to do with not being able to look Walter in the face than fear for my life. Walter said nothing. My car’s headlights fell on the creature’s face and now we could both see it clearly. The Pastel Man’s large pink eyes seemed to glow bright in the light of the headlamps.

Walter let go of me and made a break for his truck, but the hell beast pounced on him with a surprising amount of speed and agility that I had not yet seen it demonstrate. His screams were met with only apathy from the creature as it dug those filthy black fingernails into Walter’s abdomen. I tried to look away, but the Pastel Man made sure I remembered our agreement.

“YOU MUST WATCH, YOUNG MAN! DON’T FORGET WE HAD A DEAL!”

I forced myself to look back at the massacre. The creature’s smile had mutated from mischievous to depraved. It looked as if it was deriving some sort of sick sexual pleasure out of the torture it was putting Walter through. Deeper still, it burrowed its long bony fingers into Walter’s stomach. With a jerk the heinous thing yanked out a hand full of his intestines and dragged them across the ground as it approached me, flaring those holes on its face that filled in for a nose and clearly pleased with its handiwork.

“It’s over then?” I’m not sure if I was asking or begging the creature as the two of us faced each other in the empty street that night.

The Pastel Man threw his head back and once again let out that revolting howl. “Over? We’re just getting started.” It headed back over towards Walter, who at this point was crawling along the ground still trying to get to his truck while his innards trailed behind him. The Pastel Man cut him off and snatched him off the asphalt, easily lifting him by the head with one hand. It toyed with him for a bit, forcing Walter to look into its hideous face. With its free hand the creature reached into its satchel and pulled out a much bigger insect this time. It was different than the one my father had unknowingly ingested, both in size and in appearance. If the bug that the creature jammed down my father’s mouth was the size of a quarter then this one must have been as large as a golf ball. It was slimy – the mucous like membrane that encased its body glistened in my cars headlights. The Pastel Man dangled the nasty bug in front of Walter’s face for a few seconds.

“Now be a good boy and open your mouth.”

Walter screamed. That gave the blue beast the opening it needed. It thrust the slimy insect in his mouth and past his tonsils with its filthy fingers. I watched on as Walter gagged, presumably on the oversized maggot as it made its way down his throat. Soon he began to turn blue. I could tell he was choking to death and even though I wanted to save him, there was nothing I could do. A minute later and the Pastel Man dropped his lifeless body to the ground.

It examined the carnage for a moment, pondering over it as if it was a masterpiece in an art gallery. Then the demon turned away, retreating back towards the shadows and disappeared into the night without saying word. I stood there in the road, looking at the scene and still feeling sick to my stomach from what I just witnessed. I don’t know what I expected, to happen after the deed was done. There was no explosion, no brilliant light show where I would watch Walter’s soul either dragged down to hell or ascend upwards towards the heavens – just a dead boy in the road. A dead boy and his murderer. The Pastel Man was the gun, but I pulled the trigger. In a way there were two dead boys in the road that evening.

I knew that I didn’t have time to dawdle. At any moment a car could have come driving down the street and find me standing in the middle of that massacre. I sprinted back to my car and sped down the street towards town.

The coroner attributed Walter’s death to a drinking and driving accident, although there was understandably a lot of suspicion regarding the odd circumstances surrounding his demise. The autopsy revealed no evidence of the slimy bug that the Pastel Man had placed in Walter’s throat. The town was devastated. I remember a candle light vigil was held in his honor. A couple of big news outlets covered his death because of Walter’s status as an elite college football recruit. My father made a full recovery and just a couple of days after his stroke was released from the hospital. I would go on to graduate high school and meet the love of my life the very first semester at my university. Her name was Diana and she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. We married shortly after college, settled down and had a wonderful boy named Mathew. However, I never forgot the hand I played in Walter’s death. I have carried that guilt with me since the events of that night. No matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t forget. The Pastel Man wouldn’t let me.

It must have seen me as an easy patsy because the creature has come to me again and again every time a loved one has been on the brink of death, offering me the same deal I accepted that first shameful night. Though the creature had been persistent in its pursuit of blood lust, the image of Walter’s gruesome death never left my mind and gave me the strength to say no to its propositions. Even years later, on the eve of my father’s passing, I was able to refuse it’s proposal when the Pastel Man visited me in his hospital room.

I’ve been cursed to have my soul tested till the day that I die by the Pastel Man. A test that for years I was able to persevere through, until one evening where my life began crumbling down and once more the creature took advantage of me in a moment of weakness.

Diana and Mathew were on their way back from the airport after visiting my in-laws. I was swamped at work and had to pull an all-nighter in order to finish a project by its deadline so my wife hailed a taxi rather than ask me to pick them up.

It was around midnight and I was alone in the office when I got a call from the police department. They told me a drunk driver had collided with their cab on the highway coming back from the airport. My wife and the cabbie were killed on impact and my son was in critical condition. I sat there at my desk, unable to move or formulate a coherent thought. It was then that I realized I wasn’t by myself in the office anymore. Perched atop my boss’ desk was The Pastel Man, that abhorrent smile still painted across its nasty wrinkled face. It didn’t need to make an offer. This I believe the creature already knew.

“Can you save them?” I asked.

“Yes and no.”

“What do you mean!? Just spit it out!”

The Pastel man’s smirk disappeared and I could tell that it was not pleased with my tone of voice. Memories of the vice grip it had on my face the last time I demanded something from the creature bled into my consciousness. Perhaps it realized I was past the point of threats because instead of lunging at me as the creature had done in the past, it decided to clarify its cryptic response. “I cannot pull someone back from death’s clutches, only save them before it gets its hold of them. Your wife is dead. Now make your peace with that. Your son’s life on the other hand can be salvaged. For a price of course.”

I racked my mind. I couldn’t think of a single person in my life who deserved to die at the hands of that pale blue monstrosity. Even someone as awful as Walter didn’t deserve the gruesome fate he received that night due to my poor decision. But my son was all I had now, and he didn’t deserve to die either. Not because someone else had made a poor decision that evening and got behind the wheel of a car they were too intoxicated to drive.

The Pastel Man’s glorious voice filled the room again. I seemed to be hearing it from all directions. “The drunk driver that crashed into your family’s cab is still alive and in the very same hospital as your son. Why not him?”

For the first time that evening I looked into the large pink eyes of the creature. “You said it has to be someone I know?”

“Semantics. It just needs to be someone who has directly impacted your life. The moment he drove his car into your wife and son’s taxi he became a candidate.” The Pastel Man flared the tiny holes on its face with glee the way it always did when it was content with itself.

“Fine. Let’s do it,” I said. I shook its giant hand to make the arrangement official. And with that the Pastel Man gave me the instructions to complete our deal.

When I met with the doctors at the hospital they updated me on the condition of my son. “We’ve done all that we can, but he’s a fighter,” The doctors feigned optimism, but I could see in their eyes that they didn’t expect him to make it through the night.

They led me to his room and gave me some time alone with him. The Pastel Man was already there when I entered, smiling down on his broken body. Quickly I shut the door behind me and nodded to the creature. It reached a gangly arm into its satchel and pulled out the same type of strange looking insect it had shoved down my father’s throat. I opened Mathew’s mouth and with two grubby fingers the creature crammed the bug deep into his oral cavity.

“He will make a full recovery. Now it’s your turn.” The Pastel Man waltzed behind the hospital curtain in my son’s room. I knew I didn’t have to check to see if it had disappeared. If it were to make another appearance at the hospital that evening, then it would be because I spoke its name.

When I agreed to the bargain at my office The Pastel Man had told me what room the driver was being kept in. His injuries were far less severe than Mathew’s so he was in a different wing of the facility. I could feel my heart pounding as I made my way towards his room. With each step the beating in my chest grew louder. Already that same feeling of guilt I had felt while I looked down at Walter’s corpse lying in the middle of the road washed over me. I was about to take another person’s life. Who was I to decide whether someone deserved to live or die? I felt just as ugly and horrible as the Pastel Man looked. Maybe I didn’t have pointed teeth or wrinkly blue skin, but if I knew that if I went through with our deal, then I was just as big of a monster as it was.

I stepped as stealthily as possible through the door, hoping no one would notice me sneak in. As I looked down at the face of the driver lying unconscious in his bed, I instantly felt that familiar sickness in my stomach. He was a boy, no older than Walter the night The Pastel Man and myself unfairly snuffed out his life before it truly had a chance to shine. Walter could have become someone different when he matured, someone capable of doing real good in this world, but he was never given the opportunity. This driver was just a stupid teenager who made a mistake, one that he’d never get the chance to atone for. I saw Walter in the boy’s face and my stomach began to churn more. I tried to call out the Pastel Man’s name, but couldn’t. Perhaps that little angel on my shoulder wouldn’t allow me. I would not be responsible for the death of another boy. Not this time. I refused to pull that trigger.

I walked out of his room and didn’t look back. I spent the rest of the evening sitting next to my son’s bed. The first few rays of morning sunlight snuck into Mathew’s hospital room and caught my attention. I peeked out through the blinds and watched the sun rise for the first time since the night Walter died. It was beautiful. The pink ribbon that lined the horizon had bled into the sky creating a dazzling purple hue. I had my light show, and it was spectacular.

I broke my deal with the Pastel Man and in doing so my fate now rests in its filthy hands. Hands that it likely plans on burying into my abdomen. On the plus side, my son will recover in full. It will be hard for him growing up without his parents, but he’s always been close with his Aunt. My wife’s sister is a wonderful woman with a caring family. She’s his legal godmother and promised us the day he was born that she would always be there for him. Her husband does well for himself and they’ve never had a problem with money. The life insurance policy Diana and I took out combined with the money we had been putting away for Mathew to go to college will insure that there should be no financial issues while he’s under their care.

It’s only a matter of time before the Pastel Man comes for me. I have accepted that my death is near, but I’m not scared. In a way I look forward to it. It’s almost as if the boy that died within me on that terrible night has been given another chance. When I die all the guilt and hate that I’ve had for myself dies with me – wiped away so that my soul can cross over to a new plain of existence pure and innocent. The way it was before I ever met that monster.

One must die so another shall live.

That’s what the Pastel Man said.

Credit To – Vincent VenaCava

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 9.1/10 (1178 votes cast)

The Nail

January 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.0/10 (335 votes cast)

“Time for sleep; the Nail is near.

“But good children needn’t fear.

“Close the left eye, then the right.

“Now it’s time to say good night.”

Until I was nine, I didn’t really think about it. Or if I thought about it at all, I thought it was just a normal lullaby that mothers all over the country sang to their kids. It wasn’t till much later that I actually asked around about it and found out that nobody else had heard of it.

Every night, as I lay down to sleep, my mother would sing me that same lullaby. And every night, I would follow along with the words. I would close my left eye when the song said to, and I would close my right eye afterward, and then with both my eyes closed I would try to fall asleep.

It wasn’t till I was nine that I decided to close my eyes the other way around.

I don’t think I really expected anything to happen. I think it was just a streak of rebellion, or what passed for rebellion for a nine-year-old. I didn’t do it while my mother was singing the lullaby; I didn’t want her asking what I was doing. So I went ahead and closed my left eye, then my right, just like the song said. But after my mother left the room, I opened my eyes again. And this time I closed my right eye…

And I immediately opened it again. I had seen something. Someone. In the dim light through my bedroom window, I’d caught a glimpse of something the size and roughly the shape of a man, standing in the far corner of my room. And I thought, just before I opened my right eye again, it had turned toward me.

I still remember the thoughts that raced through my head. I wasn’t sure I’d really seen anything. Maybe it was my imagination. But what if it wasn’t? What if there was something there, that I could only see with my right eye closed? But I’d never seen it before; it had never bothered me. Maybe it was harmless. But what if it wasn’t?

Dreading what I might see, but dreading more what I might not be seeing, I closed my right eye again.

It wasn’t in the far corner anymore. It was looming right over my bed. And in what little light there was, it looked like it was holding a knife over my chest.

As the knife came down, I squirmed out of my bed and onto the floor. I heard the soft susurrus of the blade cutting through the sheets. I kept my right eye closed, and kept my left eye on the figure. It had moved when I wasn’t looking at it—even if it hadn’t bothered me before, apparently now that I’d seen it once, it was coming after me whether I could see it or not.

It stood again and slowly turned in my direction as I made my way to the door. As it lurched toward me, I turned on the light, and I got a better look at him.

I say “him” because that’s how I thought of it at the time, but looking back I’m not at all sure the thing was actually male. Not that I’m sure it was female, either. Its face and its build were both androgynous; it could have been either, or maybe neither. I guess it’s just for a young boy, male is the default gender; everything living is “he” until proven otherwise. I wonder if girls think the same way… if I were a girl, would I have thought of it as “she”? Anyway, whether it was male, female, both, or neither, the figure looked more or less human, but there was just enough wrong with it to mark it out as something else. I can’t say everything that was off about it. Some of it I couldn’t really put my finger on; the proportions were just a bit different from they should have been, and there were some other subtle incongruities I couldn’t pinpoint. And of course, under the circumstances, I was more focused on getting away from the thing than on studying its appearance. But even so, there were three features that stood out.

It had just one eye, bright blue and wide open. Not in the center of its forehead like a cyclops, but just where the left eye would be on a regular human. Where the right eye should have been wasn’t a hole, or a patch; there was just unbroken skin, like an eye had never been there, like an eye didn’t belong there.

That wasn’t even the weirdest thing. I think the weirdest thing was its mouth. It was smiling, its lips wide open, but there was no opening between those lips, and there weren’t actual teeth, either. What was there looked like just a flat plate of bone or ceramic, with the outlines of teeth painted on to it.

That was the weirdest thing, but not the most frightening. What scared me most was its claw. Singular. What I had thought was a knife in the dim lighting from the window wasn’t a knife after all. Most of its fingers were more or less normal, maybe a little bony, the fingernails maybe a little longer than they should have been, but nothing inhuman. The index finger on its right hand, though, was grotesquely oversized, and half its length was a gigantic, huge talon.

For a second I was too terrified to move; I just stood there petrified as the thing stalked silently toward me, holding its talon out ready to plunge it into me. I still had my right eye closed; as scared as I was of the sight of this thing, I was more scared of its being there when I couldn’t see it. Finally, as it lunged at me, its claw descending toward my chest, I dodged to the side and ran for the door.

I didn’t look back. I just wanted to get away. I ran down the hall to my parents’ room, opened the door without knocking, and threw myself onto their bed.

“I saw him,” I sobbed. “I saw the Nail.”

My mother had been asleep, I think, but she’d woken when I wrapped my arms around her. “The Nail?” she said, sleepily.

“The Nail. From the song. I closed my right eye first, and I saw the Nail.”

I’d opened both my eyes in my flight, but now I closed my right eye again and looked at the door. There was nothing there. I looked all around the room, but the figure was gone.

“Honey, it’s just a song,” my mother told me. “It’s just a song.”

But there was something in her voice that struck me as unconvincing, and I wasn’t sure I believed her. I still don’t. Anyway, as much as she tried to assure me I had nothing to worry about, she didn’t object to my sleeping in their room from then until we moved out of that house… which we did, only a few months later.

In the time since then, I’ve thought of plenty of questions about what I saw that night. If the Nail was real (if that’s what I saw), and my mother knew about it, why had we stayed in that house for so long? Why hadn’t we moved before I saw it? For that matter, why hadn’t I seen it before? Of course I followed the instructions of the lullaby when I went to bed, but could it really be that I’d never closed my right eye at any other time? Did the Nail only show up at night? Or could it be that I was so habituated by the lullaby to closing my left eye first that I always unconsciously did that, and I’d really never closed just my right eye before?

Anyway, though there’s a lot I still wonder about it, nobody else seems to have heard that lullaby, so I guess the Nail, if that’s what it was that I saw, probably must have been confined to that house. Even so, there’s enough I don’t understand that since I was nine years old, I’ve never, never closed my right eye without the left. Not when I go to bed, and not at any other time. Just in case.

Credit To – Immutatus

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 8.0/10 (335 votes cast)

Bonfire

January 10, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.3/10 (598 votes cast)

Murder is an incredibly human concept, when you think of it. All species kill; to protect their young, to cull those unfit, most often in order to stay alive- everyone needs to eat.
And yet, in nature, all causes of death are natural. We exist simply for existence’ sake. All victories, large and small, all worlds we build- everything we do, will die. Of course, it might be remembered, for a little while, by other, equally perishable beings. But, in the end, existence will cease to exist. That is the way of the world. All things come to an end. Eventually.
All ways of life die. Usually, of natural causes, so to speak. Occasionally, then, they die of something other than natural causes. And what is the word we have created, a stand-in for “other than natural causes”?
Murder.
A stupid word, when you think of it.
But an appropriate one.

******

The sky was a horribly dull grey-and-navy. The car loomed out of the shadows like some shiny, dusty monster. It was just a little way across the yard. It was the same car it had always been, but tonight it was dangerous. Even worse, it was unavoidable.
This was bad.
This was really, really bad.
And it was a sure thing.
A few months ago, crisis had been far away- horribly frightening, yes, but just another news item – but as the days turned to weeks it had edged closer, first on the news, (‘scenes some viewers may find disturbing’, though it was impossible to look away) – but the scenes of carnage had disappeared from screens once they realised that no solution was forthcoming -, then in rumours, rumours that had travelled, rumours distorted, then in real stories, of cousins and friends who had met their end. Then, it had been scary. It had been lock-your-doors-at-night, don’t-speak-about-it scary. That was because it was real, getting realer. The Internet is a liar, the news too, but what about Sue down the street who bawled in school thinking about her cousins, hoping they weren’t gone? Was she a liar? Were your own eyes deceiving you when you saw a boy little more than a child lose his grip on this life, gone before he could see the deaths all around him?
Oh, this was bad.
Oh, was it ever bad.
And it was happening. Tonight, it was happening.
They couldn’t help what they were about to do. They weren’t given a choice. They were trying to protect their family. They were trying to follow instruction, to do as asked, even if the instructions were coming from the other side.
But were there sides? No, she realised, there weren’t. It was the fire and they were the kindling.
Her uncle, her aunt, her godparents, they were trying to do their job. To protect their kids. They loved her, sure. But in this situation they were like game-show judges, the biggest phonies of them all. They would hate to see her go, but it was something that had to be done. They couldn’t help it.
They couldn’t help it.
She could see the look of desperation in those eyes, could understand it. They hardly believed that, if they did as told, everything would be OK. The villain never plays fair; the mastermind always finds the loophole. Everyone knew that. If comic books and action movies have taught us anything, it’s that the bad guy never plays by the rules. It’s common knowledge, that.
But, in all fairness, what choice did they have? This was no game, this was no movie. And they couldn’t help it. A thing like this, it had to be done.
We are the kindling, the voice in her head whispered.
But, no. They weren’t just the kindling. They were the weapon, too.
Oh, God, is this happening? Can this really happen? Am I dreaming? Am I in a coma?
But dreams scared her, so she pushed the thought away.
Scared of dreams, really? With all I’ve got to be afraid of?
“Ester, honey?” The voice was tentative, apologetic.
Oh, I hope you’re sorry. I hope you’re scared. I bet one’ll get you when you try to leave it’ll serve you-
But, no. That wasn’t fair.
Do you think what he’s planning is fair? What do you think about that?
No, it wasn’t fair, but none of this was.
Get out and run, girl. Take your chances in the wild.
And there would be chances in the wild. She was a strong girl, full of instinct, and the enemy kept to the towns. Oh, there’d be chances. And it wasn’t as if she hadn’t contemplated it, sure she had. It would be simple, easy, even.
But she couldn’t. Leaving would mean sure death for the family. She didn’t really care about the parents, they were mostly dead anyway, just walking shells. But the kids?
They were young, they had a life ahead – an uncertain one, but they had a chance of survival if she did as told.
Oh, she was going to miss them. Luckily they weren’t old enough for her treatment.
Casting call: Ages 13-25. Preferably, doomed.
They probably didn’t even know what was happening. Out here in the country, life continued as usual. They had enough canned goods stockpiled to last them years. It was true, the enemy kept to the towns. It was the threat of their approach that kept everyone subdued.
“Ester, honey?” Tentative, apologetic, irritating.
I hope he gets close enough to think he’ll make it. I hope his head comes clean off in their hands-
No. No, dammit! The thought wasn’t her own, and she knew it. In the last few days she had felt it in her head, her thoughts twisting and sifting. They were bad thoughts. They were angry thoughts, contemptuous thoughts. Worst of all, they were inviting thoughts. Whatever it was, it was in her head, and it wasn’t human. She had realised this, but had never spoken it aloud. Even in these times, the very idea was ridiculous. It was imperative that they maintain a sense of normalcy. If she told her aunt or her uncle, it might be the final straw, they might snap under the strain, and their kids needed them. At least one of them probably wouldn’t come back alive. They could drop her outside the city, but they had to be sure; they had to be positive that she wouldn’t run away-
that their sacrifice is received
Sacrifice? No. It was wrong to think that, but think it she did, and whether it was her own or not was immaterial; it was in there, it was not to be moved.
“Ester?”
She felt her feet shuffle across the rain-sodden yard toward the instrument of her destruction. She swung open the door and threw herself inside. Searched for the belt buckle. Found it. Pulled it across. Clicked it in.
This is the last time I’ll ever do this.
The action seemed to confirm in her head the truth of her imminent death. In belting herself in she seemed to, also, be sealing her fate. She was doomed, and she knew it.
This was bad. This was so, so bad.
The rain was night-time rain, not a fine mist all around, but heavy, separate, definite drops that dive-bombed the car as it pulled out the gate.
The same car, the same gate. All things as they should be.
Tears sprung fresh in her eyes. She didn’t care if he saw her upset anymore. She had been choking emotion down for weeks. She was about to die. She didn’t care if he was slightly uncomfortable. He didn’t seem it, anyway.
His eyes were bright, wide, awake, his grip on the steering wheel tight. In fact, everything about him seemed tight, wound-up,
Excited?
She wouldn’t allow herself to believe it, and the voice in her head was little more than a hiss, but it was soft and it was seductive; even more than that, even worse than that, it sounded right.
He didn’t look scared, not even upset, and, though he bore no smile, she somehow felt as though the absence of one was little more than formality. Somehow, he had convinced himself that this was simply an evening drive, a trip out for milk or teabags. Maybe he had to, to retain a grip on reality. That was alright; she had convinced herself it was aliens.
The raindrops attacked the sunroof and the night closed in as the small car skittered over the narrow and potholed back road. As they got closer to town, the road widened out, and the bumps became few.
It was disguisting how people continued as normal. Stockpiling food as though there was a severe weather warning. Chatting and gossiping.
They wouldn’t let their children leave the house, but the price of vegetables in Aldi was still the biggest piece of news.
People moving to the country to be nearer relatives that didn’t even exist.
It was all a cover story. It was all a lie.
There was silence in the car. She imagined herself saying something like “Can you believe this weather? In June?” and striking up a hearty conversation.
If I don’t talk now, I’ll never talk again.
But of course she wouldn’t talk. She couldn’t talk. Did it matter? She was about to find out what dying felt like. Another thought came to her, of her screaming “I’m too young to die!” and rattling the door lock. But it wasn’t funny. Under the circumstances, it felt completely horrible.
Then it occurred to her that perhaps it was in his head too. As she thought about it, it began to seem more and more like the logical conclusion. That maybe her uncle was driving along on auto pilot, seeing rainbows and ponies, not in control of himself but not aware of that either. It was nigh-certain that he had lost it. What happened when he got it back? Would he ever feel shame? Would he be plagued by nightmares perhaps? Believing that it was his fault that she would be gone?
That’s because it is his fault
The voice was back, and maybe the voice was right. All this talk of it being nobody’s fault, it was all over-the-top, soft-serve bullshit, anyway. It’s nobody’s fault if the world ends, sure. The ritual sacrifice of your niece? That’s another thing.
He’s weak. He always has been. They all are. Weak. When the cards are down, they’ll show their true colours. Good for nothing. Weak. Maybe the world’ll be better off without them.
Not them, us, she reminded herself. Not them, us. And it won’t be better. Mass murder leaves a stain on the world. Things are never better. Things only get worse.
Things only get worse.

But, of course, the only voice in his head was his own.
As he took the car over the road, he found himself surprisingly calm. Well, not really surprisingly. It was the most calm he’d been in weeks. And not without good reason, either. Finally, there was something he could do about his family’s situation. The weeks spent idle, fearing but being unable to do a thing, feeling like the worst damn excuse for a man ever created, they had been hell. Whatever they were headed into now had got to be some improvement. If he died, at least he could say he had tried to do something. He hadn’t given much thought to the girl. She had never been the most pleasant of people, and, given the circumstances, she was a small price to pay. She wasn’t his side of the family, anyway. Blood is thicker than water, his mother had always said, protect those you love. That was what he was doing. He was doing his job, the job he’d vowed to do. He had no choice. Now he could do something, and that was a good thing. Maybe, by Christmas, it would all be over. He felt good.

She felt ill. Waves of fear rushed over her. It was the way they walked, lurching, stumbling. Not looking where they went.
Like zombies.
The look on each ones face. The look in each one’s eyes.
Not zombies, worse.
Because they had no human master. Because they hadn’t risen – they had never fallen in the first place. As out of control as they were, they were certainly in control. Intelligent. And, most definitely, alive.
As they neared the town, they began to see the first signs of it. The first time, it looked like road kill. Several close-together instances of it. For a while that was all there was. Death. Everywhere along the road. Some still whole by the hedges. Some run over by the influx of traffic tonight. Some-
“They’re not human.”
What do you know, she can talk!
There was no reply from the driver’s seat.
“They’re not human” Her eyes were wide and round, her face pale. She sat bolt upright, paralysed with fear.
Jesus Christ you said that already
She was starting to become annoying. He was glad that they were close to the finishing line.
“ Humans… they don’t.. they don’t”
Fuck sake spit it out
“They… they don’t rip, they don’t.. chew
“You don’t know that anyone is chewing anything” He laughed light-heartedly.
It broke her from her stupor.
“I do know! I know, you self-centred shit!”
“Well,” he glanced at her, a cruel grin playing on his lips, “to be honest, it doesn’t really matter how you die, does it?”
He turned back to face the road, full of satisfaction.
That shut the little bitch up.

She thought she might be sick.
This is happening. This is really happening. But why should it happen? Kill the bastard! It’s easy, I swear!
And the thought appealed to her, it really did. But, what if she killed him, and then died herself, of starvation?
There will be chances in the wild. Chances upon chances.
She didn’t want her final act to be murder. No surer way to get to hell.
Do you really still believe in God?
Well, if there was anything to convince her of the unknown, this was it.
And what if she couldn’t live with herself after what she had done?
You’re running out of time, honey.
She envisioned herself grabbing something- what? She could try and injure him with the belt buckle, or steer the car into a ditch and run away while he either bled to death or tried to figure out what had happened. Under normal circumstances it would be hard for a teenage girl to fight a grown man and win, but these weren’t normal circumstances. She had a feeling her little friend could keep him pacified. Now she imagined herself clobbering him to death while he sat there with a dopey grin on his face, and, while the idea was somewhat revolting, it wasn’t entirely unattractive.

Now they passed the large and dusty-brown sign reading, “Welcome to our town!”, and, in smaller font, “Keep it beautiful!” An illustration beneath showed a cartoon rabbit beside a bin and a smiling child.

And then they came, out of the darkness, delirious smiles painted on their faces, some lurching, wounded and bleeding, but happy nonetheless, some running, leaping, laughing. She saw a pair dancing a stumbling waltz.
They had almost reached their destination.
The packs ignored their car, something she didn’t understand at first; she had expected to be devoured before she ever reached the square. Then she understood.
They recognise one of their own.
They weren’t leaving every car alone, however. She saw a man and a woman cautiously pull out of a driveway, ready to flee if they saw anything. They didn’t see anything. The girls and the boys were on them, wrestling them out of the car (with surprising force for their bony pubescent arms), their eyes alight with glee, looking more ecstatic than ever. What they did next didn’t bear thinking about. The pair didn’t suffer for long.
As they got closer to the square, the fear started to ebb away, perhaps because of the certainty that there was nothing she could do to save herself. That, in its own, strange way, was a comforting thought. And the anger she felt wasn’t so painful, either. It was, actually, rather nice.
He’s never going to make it. Once I’m gone, he’ll never make it.
In spite of herself, she smiled.
The raindrops plummeted to earth still, but the night opened up. In the distance, a large bonfire burned. With it came the smell of burning hair. It emitted a bright orange glow on the horizon.
It’s beautiful.
So, she was going to die. This was the way to do it, wasn’t it? By the fire, surrounded by family and friends? She laughed.

He jumped. The good feeling was gone. His stomach felt sick and full of fear. He was a bag of nerves.
Oh, God, what if I don’t make it, what if I don’t get out alive? The girl’s lost it, she’s lost it, I’m in the car with a maniac, surrounded by maniacs, I’ll never make it, I’ll never make it did you see what they did to them, they’re roasting them, they’re burning them, they’re burning them alive she’s crazy she’ll kill me this isn’t right they promised, they promised I’d
The car came to a halt. He looked down. Everything seemed to be ok with the car, but the car would not go. Then he noticed the keys in his outstretched hand. Out the window. His hand stretched out the window. He made himself bring his hand back in, then whipped it out and flung the keys out the window.
Oh, God, what have you done?
Then he noticed the cars lined neatly beside him. On one side sat a woman. Her eyes had a deranged look about them. Identical triplets who looked about 14 and bore a dazed and drugged look were strapped to the back seat. Clearly, they hadn’t come so easily.
On the other side, he was shocked to find, was a girl about 17 who sat in the driver’s seat and gazed vacantly up at the fire. The cars stretched out in a line, then the line turned at both ends at a right angle, the completed formation being a square. In the centre, the bonfire blazed. In the centre, the bonfire screamed.
This is it. This is the end.
He looked at the girl, Ester. She smiled at him, a pained, human, knowing smile.

She felt pain. Terrible, horrible, pain. It burned, oh, God, in her bones, in her blood, it burned. The world was all in dull soft-focus. It had taken on an orange-yellow colour. Beside her, the man felt fear. She didn’t have to look at him to know. It was obvious when humans felt fear. You could taste it in the air. They were, by nature, an obvious race. A fearful race, too. She turned; she showed him the look he needed to see. It was small comfort to him, that she knew. Ah, well. Small comfort was better than no comfort in one’s final moments.
He saw the look change, and the fear overtook him. His mind wouldn’t stand the strain much longer.

A new civilisation. A young civilisation. They would raze this town to the ground. They would raze every city and build anew. Build up out of the ashes.
Ashes of the people who messed the world up so badly that there could be no reprieve, no return.
Someone had to intervene.
Earth’s future was in the hands of the young. The young had to learn.
Learn they would. And they would teach their children a new way.

The fire warmed her, and the fire was good, the fire made her strong. She could fight the pain; she could fight anything. She felt happy, happier than she had felt in weeks, and to feel happy was good. To feel strong was good. To escape was good.

The new world would be free of man’s imperfections. Unified as one body, there would be no wars. Every young brain educated to fully harness the people’s potential. Man was disloyal. The new people were not. There would be no betrayal, because the disloyal had shown their true colours. Had sent their own young to what they believed to be certain death.
They would be punished for their sins.

Not the kindling, the weapon.
She grinned at the man, but he didn’t grin back. It was a shame, it was a crying shame.
This is good.
This is really, really good
.

The bodies of the delivery men and women burned in the centre of town.
They had been punished.

At 9.08 that night in June, Ester lost her grip on this life.
He didn’t have time to think that he was going to make it.
His head came clean off in her hands.

The sky was a horribly dull grey-and-navy.
She was the same girl she had always been, but, tonight, she was dangerous.

Credit To – Sarah Denbrough

*This story was successfully rewritten after receiving feedback on Crappypasta – click here to read the original version.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.3/10 (598 votes cast)

The Nice Guy

January 9, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 9.0/10 (758 votes cast)

Frank, Thomas and Kirby enter the office break room at approximately 12:25pm on a Tuesday afternoon. Each man holds various containers designed for holding food and drink, and as they lazily slump into the fiberglass chairs that were haphazardly pushed under the table after their previous uses, the room echos of violent thwop-pops and elongated scraw-jips as tupperware lids fly open and velcro bags release their treasures.
“God Dammit!” Thomas rolls his eyes.

Frank, with a mouth full of cold pizza, mumbles in empathy, “Wife packed ya tuna-salad again, huh.”

Thomas tosses the soggy sandwich down onto the table with a resounding glop.

“She knows I hate this stuff! I swear, I’ve almost reached my breaking point with this shit!”

“Why don’t you just pack your own lunch.” Kirby attempts to speak through teeth caked with salad. A drip of ranch dressing falls from Kirby’s lip and collides with the table. Thomas just glares at Kirby in disdain.

“You don’t get it, man. I’ve told her, like, fifty times. ‘I don’t like tuna-salad’, but does she listen? Nooooooo!”

Thomas raises his right hand to his forehead.

“I swear, I’m up to here with this!”

“Well, at least you’re not like that one guy.” Frank wipes his mouth of the residual pepperoni grease with a cheap paper napkin.

“What one guy?” Thomas looks at Frank in slight confusion.

“You talking about that guy from CompuTools? I heard about on the news last week.” Kirby chimes in, he has already begun digging into his pudding cup.

Thomas spins around to Kirby, “What the hell are you guys talking about?”

Frank, wipes off his hands with another napkin, folds his hands in front of him and leans in quietly. Thomas and Kirby follow suit.

“Y’see, there was this guy over at CompuTools. Nice guy, I hear. What was his name?” Frank concentrates in the ceiling, search for a name. Suddenly Frank snaps his fingers, “Phil Kerbson. Anyway, He was one of those diligent workers, never complained, always got his work done before deadline. Hell, he would even stay late to make sure that his perfect record was never tarnished.”

Thomas chimed in, “Ugh, I hate those guys!”

“Well, supposedly, CompuTools hired this new hotshot manager. Basic ROTC’d up from corporate, y’know… never lifted a finger in his life and get to skip right to the front?”

Thomas shook his head.

“Exactly. So this guy was brought in to,” Frank raised his finger quotations, “help. And since this douche really didn’t know anything about CompuTools products, he would just bark orders and micromanage everyone. Everyone in the office was buzzing, ‘We’re gonna quit’, ‘Let’s get HR involved’, ‘This guy is completely heartless’, the usual empty water cooler promises. Everyone was in a tiff… except Phil.”

“Phil would mind his own business and do his work with a silent smile. He would even go as far as asking this new manager, ‘Anything else I can do to help?’ Well, I don’t know if that manager deliberately planned to be this malicious or if it was just common nature for him, but he got this notion in his head… to see how far he could bend Phil, until he broke.”

“Starting the very next day, the manager threw the biggest workflow onto Phil’s desk and barked out, ‘I need this done by 5 O’clock today or you can just pack your shit now!’ or something to that effect. Phil quietly turned to face the manager, smiled his calm innocent smile and said ‘Sure thing, boss.’ 5 O’clock rolls around and Phil walks into the manager’s office and proudly places the completed report onto the man’s desk. ‘Here ya go, boss.'”

“The manager looked up from polishing and buffing his prized six-hundred pound marble desk to the completed pile of papers with a look of complete shock. How could one man complete that report in only 7 1/2 short hours? His eyes then shifted from the report to glare viciously to look upon Phil’s calm, lucid face. “Anything else I can do to help?” smiled Phil. The manager simply shook his head in disbelief. “OK, well I’m going to head out for the day, sir. You have yourself a great evening.””

“The manager was flabbergasted. He steeled his motives and vowed that he would try harder to break this man’s spirit by the end of the week.”

“Well, the end of the week came and went and still Phil was as cheerful as ever. Always responding to every outrageous task with a happy, “Sure thing.” And then turning in the completed work to the manager at the end of the day with a pleasant, “Anything else I can do to help?” Well this went on for a few weeks and the manager, now seeing that current efforts were fruitless, now decided that maybe he needed to up the ante. The manager would now bombard Phil with major accounts and lengthy business trips and tedious conferences all to quell his passion that Phil must be broken. But with every new and more difficult task, Phil would embrace it with a ‘Sure thing, boss’ and come back for more with a sunny ‘Anything else I can do to help?'”

“The manager, now at his wits end had one more trick up his sleeve. Although, his lack of concentration on the job he was hired for was beginning to come under fire, he wanted to give it one more shot before, he himself had to face the firing squad. He got it in his head that it was the breaks in-between each eight hour day that was allowing Phil to wind down regain his bearings, get a good night’s sleep and come back the next day ready for more.

So, with that in mind, he gave Phil the budget report for the following year and told him, ‘I don’t care how long it takes, but you cannot leave your desk until we trim at least five million dollars off of next year’s budget.’ As always, Phil replied with his trademark ‘Sure thing, boss.’ The manager turned away knowing that this task would be Phil’s breaking point. And, like clockwork, Phil came into the manager’s office with the completed budget and handed it to him. ‘Anything else I can do to help?’ The manager looked over the budget, ‘Eh, I really don’t’ like these numbers.’ The manager threw the report back at Phil. ‘Do it all over, and this time… do it right!’ Phil’s smile sagged a little, but soon rebounded and turned around and headed back to his desk.”

“The manager saw Phil’s smile buckle for just a moment and he chuckled to himself that his plan is finally working. Eight O’clock rolls around and Phil returns back to the manager’s office. But Phil looks a bit different. His hair a bit disheveled. His horn rimmed glasses are now on his forehead. one corner of his shirt has become untucked from his pants. Phil’s stride isn’t as carefree. Phil hands the report to the manager and exasperatedly utters, ‘Anything else I can do to help, sir?’ The manager, now seeing victory close at hand looks at the report, ‘Uh, Phil. I think you made some miscalculations here.’ The manager hands the report back to Phil, ‘Do it again, and remember what I said! You stay until it’s complete!'”

“Phil, dejected, defeated, disappointed, looks at the report in his hands, wiped the sweat from his brow, and scratched the back of his neck. The nearly broken man headed back to his desk to correct his errors. As soon as Phil left his office, the manager closed the door and danced a twisted victory dance. Phil was nearly gone. The manager was going to sleep good that night.”

“At 11 O’clock, Phil trudged back into the manager’s office and handed him the completed and corrected report. Exhausted, Phil asked ‘Is there anything else I can do to help, sir?’ The manager, now a shining example of pure arrogance, threw the report on the floor and exclaimed, ‘Why did you do the budget for next year? I asked you to do the budget for THIS year. Can’t you even follow simple instructions? I want you to march back to your pathetic little cube and you are going to stay all night in your have to until you do exactly what I ask you to do, or so help me God, I will find someone else who CAN do it!'”

“Now, no one knows exactly what happened next. But some of the late night stragglers who heard the manager’s tirade claim that as soon as he was finished. Phil took off his glasses, cleaned them off with the corner of his shirt that was still untucked, put his glasses back on and closed all of the blinds in the manager’s office that faced the rest of the room. What came from the room after that was a thunderous crash, and a high pitched shriek.

The door flew open and the manager bolted out of the room with glass shards in his hair, bleeding profusely from his face screaming, ‘CALL SECURITY! CALL SECURITY!’ Witnesses then claim that they saw Phil calmly walk out of the office, blood spattered about his shirt and hands. He held a letter opener in his right hand, now stained with blood. Phil calm and happy expression was lost to a visage one person could only describe as berserk. Phil brow furrowed, scrunching his eyebrows into a wide arches.

His teeth gnarled and, according to one person, appeared sharp and pointed. His skin, once pale and fair, now red and scaly. His slick hair now flailed wildly about his head and danced of its own accord. Phil marched towards the cowering manager, ‘sure thing, Sure Thing, SURE THING!’ Phil continued to chant these two words over and over and the volume of his voice continued to climb until he was shrieking.

Phil destroyed everything in his path to get to the manager, who was now scrambling for the elevator. He turned over cubicle walls, hurled the office printer, overturned desks but was still marching at a steady pace. Not once did Phil’s gate increase in speed. The elevator doors finally opened and the manager quickly darted inside. And as he was frantically pounding on the ‘door close’ button, Phil’s arm thrust inside the cabin as the doors were closing. The manager let out a girlish cry for help, and then…”

Thomas, now sitting on the edge of his seat, blinked “Yeah?”

“Well,” Frank continued, “Security hauled him away. The folks that stuck around for the whole ordeal say that they’ve never heard Phil use any profanity, ever. But on that day, they heard curse words so vile, that they almost sounded like they were in some form of ancient tongue, some demonic language. Only be the grace of God was Security able to restrain Phil. As the paddywagon rolled up into the office building drive, witnesses noticed three things. First, that Phil was kicking and screaming the entire time, and was hardly recognizable. Second, that the manager couldn’t stop crying. And thirdly, and the most bizarre, was they realized what made the thunderous crash in the manager’s office. The six-hundred pound marble desk, the manager’s prize possession, now lay in pieces outside the office window.”

“So that’s it? What happened after that? There had to have been a trial?” Thomas exclaimed.

“Oh there was a trial, but Phil was deemed mentally unstable to serve trial, so he was committed to the State Hospital over in Brookfield. And everything died down and returned to normal. The manager was brought into see corporate and he was actually let go because not only did the security cameras record what Phil did to the manager and the office, but they also recorded the manager’s outburst on Phil that caused him to snap in the first place.”

“Just desserts. I say!” Thomas commented. Kirby just shook his head as he started to clean up his empty containers.

“Well here’s real punchline. And this I got from Sally Boyd over there at CompuTools, she used to be the manager’s admin. After the manager was let go, he was cleaning out his, temporary desk, and to pass the time he had the radio on. The manager left his office for a moment to get some more boxes. As he returned back to his office, she heard on the radio announce ‘Phil Kerbson, committed to Brookfield State Hospital on Monday was discovered missing from his cell earlier today’. The manager froze in horror. And as Sally turned around to see the manager’s expression, the door violently slammed in her face, knocking her backwards onto the ground.

As she recovered from her fall, she told me that she could clearly hear the manager pleading for his life. She distinctly heard, ‘Please! Don’t! I’ll Do anything you want!’ And then, a familiar calm and soothing voice came from behind the door, ‘Anything I can do to help!’ Sally pounced for the door, but it was locked, she tried to look through the window, but the blinds were mostly drawn so she only see the flailing of arms and legs. Sally kicked at the door repeatedly and shouted, ‘SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP!’ But it was too late. As soon as the commotion ceased from inside the office, Sally heard the knob ‘click’ to signal that it had been unlocked. With tears in her eyes she slowly reached for the knob and opened to door to reveal a gruesome scene.”

“The manager, splayed open from his throat to his pelvis, rib cage and organs exposed. His hands twisted into contorted knots of flesh and knuckle. His face, warped into an expression of unrelenting anguish and fear, eyes wide, jaw locked nose broken and twisted. In his left hand, its last cadence drawing to a close, was the manager’s own heart. Sally and some of the onlookers who had finally gained access to the room then looked up to see the following message scrawled on the bare dingily yellow office wall, ‘We were wrong. He had a heart after all.'”

“Jesus!” Thomas had to hold back the vomit by covering his mouth.

“After that, CompuTools shut down that office, I think they turned it into a… a MegaBuy.” Frank finished his tale with a solemn sip of coffee.

Thomas rubbed his eyes, “Whoa! Wait a minute. What ever happened to Phil?”

“This is when I’ve supposed to say ‘That’s the strange thing…’ but it’s not really that strange. When they finally opened up the office, the only person in there was the manager. Sally even said she never actually saw Phil, she only heard his voice… or at least what sounded like his voice. And he hasn’t been seen since.”

“That story’s completely bullshit!” Kirby exclaimed.

Frank and Thomas spun around to glare at Kirby for breaking the mood.

“What,” Thomas inquired “Like you know exactly what happened.”

“I just know that that’s not how it happened.” Kirby calmly stated as he adjusted his horn rimmed glasses.

“OK, hotshot. How do you know?” Frank jested

“Because…” Kirby leaned in close. Frank and Thomas match Kirby’s movement. “the hospital doesn’t know I’m gone, yet.”

Just then, Kirby’s manager leans into the break room. “Hey Kirb, I need you to do something for me.”

“Sure thing, boss.”

As Kirby stands up to leave the now still break room, Frank and Thomas glance down at Kirby’s security badge for his full name, Kirby Phillips.

Credit To – Murphy1976 of WellHey Productions

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 9.0/10 (758 votes cast)

Sniff

January 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.5/10 (260 votes cast)

Let me tell you all a story. It’s one which I think is interesting, but at the same time frustrating for me. You see, it’s not mine. And for that reason I can’t develop it myself or adapt it into a complete tale. It’s supposedly an experience someone actually had, but the account seems so well rounded that I’m suspicious of it. I have a niggling feeling that it might come from something already published. I detest plagiarism in any form, and for that reason I’d hate to take the account, build upon it, then later discover I had taken something from another writer. There’s also the possibility that it is an urban myth or legend that I’m unaware of. But the truth is the story bothers me. I really would like to know if anyone here has actually heard of it. I’ll do my best to relate it to you now. Is it just a published story, or based on a genuine experience?

***

Many years ago my dad had a drinking buddy who was also a school teacher. They knew each other well and would often catch up over a few pints, discussing everything from work, to politics, to almost anything you could think of – the usual pub banter.

One night, one specific conversation they had together, always stuck in my dad’s mind. It was a quiet midweek evening, and their local was quite empty with just a few of the regulars propping up the bar. As they sat there, the conversation ebbed and flowed between the drinkers and the staff, eventually landing on the topic of ghosts. More specifically,‘Did they exist?’ and ‘Had anyone there ever seen one?’.

Of course, as these things go, they all took turns describing strange supernatural occurrences – things that go bump in the night. All of the stories were the same in that they were secondhand in nature. The accounts were of friends, family, and acquaintances who had encountered the paranormal, but no one there could claim to have seen a ghost themselves – no one but for the school teacher.

The story he told my dad and the others there that day, was that he had been privy to something quite frightening a few years earlier. In a suburb of Glasgow called Govanhill, he had an aunt. The man was caught between moves and needed somewhere to sleep for a few nights, and so she happily took him in.

It was a small flat with only one bedroom, but there was a sofa bed in the lounge which was not entirely uncomfortable, and would at least provide him with somewhere to rest before sorting out his living arrangements. After a nice meal and some polite conversation, the school teacher’s aunt went to her room for an early night. He was tired and hoped to get to sleep soon enough as well and, after pulling out the sofa bed, switched off the lights and closed his eyes. Quickly, he fell asleep.

He awoke to darkness. It was still the middle of the night, and he wondered why he had stirred considering he was usually a heavy sleeper and rarely woke before the morning. Then he heard it. A noise. There was definitely something in the room with him. The sound was unusual, but not unidentifiable. It was not unlike someone breathing, quickly followed by a sharp inhalation which the school teacher could only describe as a sniffing sound.

Readying himself to get out of bed, turn on the light, and see what was causing the unusual noise, his eyes now adapted to the pitch black. While no details could be seen, the breathing and sniffing noises began to edge closer to him. He was now convinced that there was something unwelcome in the room with him, and by the shuffling noise which now accompanied it, he was certain it was substantial.

Of course he was panicked. Part of him wanted to rush into his aunt’s room and barricade the door, another part preferred to stay still and not disturb whoever was there. Perhaps they had a knife. The thought of some burglar stumbling around in the dark with a blade only made him more apprehensive. He decided that he would lay there quietly and bide his time. Maybe the housebreaker would just take something and leave without altercation. But then what of his aunt? Had she been hurt?

Then, a warm moist breath blew across his face as someone leaned over him. Trembling, he reached out his hand instinctively, touching something cold and damp hovering only inches away. Leaping out of bed in horror, he knocked over a table as he made his way to the door, tripping clumsily and landing on the floor with a painful thud.

The school teacher’s aunt found him in the hallway, dazed, yelling for her to get out of the flat. She seemed strangely unafraid and after switching on all the lights showed him that the place was quite empty, including where he had slept. Calming his nerves with a drink and a snack, she sat him down and explained what she believed had happened.

The story goes – and this part I know to be true – that underneath Govanhill, and therefore his aunt’s flat, there once lay a large network of prosperous and important mines in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While they had been the site of many unfortunate cave-ins, gas leaks, and accidents, the aunt was convinced that she had often heard in that room the noises of those who had lost their lives down there.

While she had never experienced anything quite as potent as the school teacher, who was visibly shaken, she was more concerned about the poor apparition of an old pit mule trapped in darkness, trying to sniff its way out from that suffocating place, with only its cold, damp nose to guide it.

Credit To – Michael Whitehouse

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate This Pasta
Rating: 7.5/10 (260 votes cast)
Try a free sample Personal Astrology Profile!