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The Hot Springs

January 4, 2017 at 12:00 AM
Rating: 10.0. From 3 votes.
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A couple important things to note before I tell you about my experience: you are more than welcome to go check this place out for yourselves. Do a quick google search of “Diamond Fork Hot Springs Utah” and you’ll get hundreds of results telling you exactly how to get there (for those of you that are curious it is about an hour and a half drive from Salt Lake City). I would not, however, recommend that you go by yourself, or at night.

Another important thing to know is that where my experience took place and the land surrounding has a significant history, especially related to Native Americans. Unfortunately much of the recorded history is about the exceptionally bloody conflicts between these Native Americans and early settlers. Just a couple examples are Black Hawk’s War, the Provo war, and the Walker war. I also wish it to be known that I am quite fond of Native Americans and what I know of their culture, and I have absolutely nothing against them (in fact I have several close friends that have Native American heritage). I do not mean to offend or accuse by telling my experience, and I mention this side note only because of the possible link between my experience and various legends about so-called “skin walkers”. I will provide the facts and you can make of it what you’d like.

That being said, the Diamond Fork Hot Springs are a gem nestled a good half an hour drive and subsequent hike up the canyon and away from the city. I had been there several times before my wife Kenna and I decided to take a Monday off and hike there again this past winter. The springs are quite popular and during the summer they tend to draw a large crowd of college students, scout troops, and old men that are overly fond of publicly bathing nude. I had gone in the winter with my cousin several years previous and at that point we had the springs to ourselves, so I convinced Kenna to spend one of her days off hiking to them with me.

January 11th, 2016:

We began out hike just before 1 PM, thinking that this would give us ample time to hike to the springs, enjoy soaking for a couple hours, and get back to the car before sundown. I had hiked to the springs in the winter before, and knew that each winter the road is blocked off to cars well before the trail to the springs begins. This is due to snow (though honestly it seemed to me like it wouldn’t be hard for a plow to go the additional four-ish miles). I guess I forgot just how far four miles is when you’re walking through snow and ice. Nevertheless, we walked through the gate (the road was still open to hikers/snowshoers) and began our hike.

We enjoyed ourselves and took breaks about every 30 minutes, each break thinking that the trailhead must be around the next bend in the road. Shortly before our first break, I noticed a hole (cave would be too generous a term) in the side of the mountain to the left of us. It was obviously a man-made hole, as it was covered by a section of chain-link fence, but it still perked my curiosity. It was only about 30 feet from the trail, so I told my wife I’d like to check it out and she happily came up with me. Upon further investigation, we found that it was not much more than a boring hole. We used our flashlights to shine as far back into the hole as we could, but all we could see is some abandoned piping. After taking another 5 minute break, we continued on further into the canyon.

We walked, and walked, and walked. The time wore on and much earlier than we would have liked, our feet began to ache. I was beginning to regret insisting that we go on this adventure when finally we turned around a bend and saw the bridge that marks the trailhead. With newfound energy we rushed over to the sign with information about the various trails. At this point it was about 3:00 and I was beginning to become a bit concerned about having enough light to make it back before sundown. But we were already this far and we weren’t going to turn around before spending at least some time soaking in those springs. Plus we had flashlights just in case, and the way back to the car, albeit lengthy, was very straightforward. So we pushed forward knowing that we were well over half way there. Our strength seemed to diminish at an exponential rate, which was concerning because we’d have over a five mile hike back to the car. But I knew that we’d make it back somehow, perhaps with more frequent breaks than on the way up.

We soon began to smell the sulfur odor that was a sure sign that we were getting very close. We ended up seeing some bikers as we approached the springs. They were riding some of those “Fat Bikes” that have huge tires and are designed for the snow. We were happy to see them coming towards us, as this meant they were leaving and we would probably have the springs to ourselves. After letting them pass we hiked another ten minutes or so and finally reached the springs. I cannot explain how heavenly of a sight to behold those springs were. The combination of the milky blue water, the red rock with snow on it to our left and our right, the blue sky above, and the waterfall about 100 yards ahead were too much to take in at once. And best of all, we had it all to ourselves. We quickly stripped down to our swimming suits and hopped in.

It felt incredible, truly like stepping into healing waters. We relaxed for a bit and our noses quickly adjusted to the sulfur smell. Unfortunately our bodies also adjusted to the water temperature, and before long the water didn’t feel as amazingly warm as it did at first. There are a few places between the first spring and the waterfall further along the trail where water bubbles out of the earth and flows into a pool of it’s own, so I figured I’d check out a couple of the other pools and see if I could find a hotter one. I managed to climb up the runoff of some of the other pools, thinking that this would save my feet from freezing. It did, but in the process my feet slipped several times on the mossy rocks and were fairly banged up by the time I reached the other pools. To my delight these pools were significantly warmer, so I rushed back and beckoned my wife to come join me in these warmer springs. After a very brisk 30 second dash, we jumped in and I yelped briefly as I realized I may have jumped a bit too close to the mouth of the spring.

We soaked and enjoyed ourselves for about an hour. We ate some of the chips and granola bars that we had packed in and I downed a good deal of Cherry Coke (perfect drink for a hike, right?). At this point I had accepted the fact that for at least some of the hike back we would be in darkness and have to use our flashlights. From the springs it was hard to tell just how much the sun had set, since there are mountains rising steeply to both the east and the west and the sun is only visible overhead for around 5 hours in the middle of the day.

At about 5:00 we decided we really needed to get going, as much as we were dreading the hike back, so we dried off, took a few pictures, and headed out. Shortly after beginning the hike back I realized that my feet were immensely sore, and that my legs were already begging for a break. I mentioned this to Kenna and she mentioned that she was feeling the same. I could tell that we were both in a mood to complain, so I determined to try and keep the mood light and the conversation lively to distract us from our discomfort.

Things got very dark very fast. We hadn’t even reached the half-way point from the springs to the main road when we started seeing stars above us. We a couple flashlights with us, but I figured we should put off using them as we could since I had just grabbed them from my parents house and had no idea how long they’s last. I also hadn’t thought to bring extra batteries. All was well though, as our eyes had adjusted with the darkness and making out the snow packed trail wasn’t too difficult.

I could tell that Kenna was getting as tired as I was, so in an attempt to distract ourselves from our weariness, I asked her about a scary movie that she had seen with a friend a few days previous. As she told me the plot I began to feel a bit anxious and jumpy, but nothing more than what would be expected. It was part way through Kenna’s explanation of the plot, though, that I felt a surreal sinking feeling. It was as though my insides were being squeezed and I was descending into a state of panic. I generally don’t get overly scared when reading or hearing scary stories, especially if I know it’s just a movie, but this was different. I determined that this must be due to our circumstances, being isolated in the mountains far from anyone else with darkness surrounding us on all sides. From the beginning of the sinking feeling to attempting to justify it and brush it off was only a matter of seconds. I hadn’t realized it but Kenna had paused her explanation and hiked in silence for those few seconds, then hastily wrapped it up and moved on to another subject. I was secretly glad that she had finished so quickly, and figured that some discussion on a lighter topic would probably push out the overwhelming feeling of panic and paranoia that had overtaken me.

It was about at this point that I began to hear the whispering. There is a river that runs next to the trail and down about 5 feet in most places, and I tried to brush the noise off as the sound of rushing water. The thing that made me especially uneasy though was that the noise wasn’t just coming from the river to the left of us. It was coming from the right and from behind as well. Kenna had gone silent and again I hadn’t paid much attention as I was quite distracted by the noises. They started out very quiet, almost too quiet to even notice over the sound of the river, and slowly grew louder. They never grew loud enough to completely get rid of the doubt that they were actually there, but I was sensing a change in Kenna’s disposition as well. Shortly thereafter she said my name (which nearly made me jump out of my skin) and asked if I’d be okay taking a break. I tried to appear calm and said I would, though the feeling of panic was still as strong as ever. It seemed to scream that we needed to get away from where we were now.

We sat down in the snow and didn’t talk much. I think I mentioned something about how we must be getting close to the road, and that then at least we’d be on a wide paved road rather than this thin dirt trail. I didn’t dare ask Kenna if she was feeling or hearing anything, in part because I didn’t want to sound like the scary movie plot was getting to me, and more in part because I didn’t want her to confirm that the weird stuff going on wasn’t just inside my head.

Unfortunately the whisperings hadn’t stopped while we rested; in fact they seemed more real than ever. I was getting antsy and again anxious to at least be making our way towards our car and sure safety. I suppose it was more a desire to be making our way away from whatever was behind/around us. At this point I began to shiver, and pointing this out to Kenna, I suggested we keep pushing onward. I knew that I wasn’t too cold, at least not cold enough to make me shiver like I was. Put simply I was overwhelmingly terrified of the darkness around us and what it contained.

We hopped up and continued onward. All the time I was hoping and praying that we would see the bridge marking the trailhead and at least make it off of this dirt trail and back onto pavement. I knew that we would have a several mile walk back to the car after crossing the bridge, but there was something comforting about the thought of being on the wider road.

As we came upon a rather steeper part of the trail, recognized it as a landmark that was very close to the bridge. I decided we should pull out our flashlights for this portion. I didn’t want either of us slipping on ice or tripping on a root and falling into the river below (and among whatever else might be down there). We each took a flashlight and I decided to go behind Kenna just in case she started sliding backwards.

As we started climbing up I looked at down at the path and noticed the strange tracks that the bikes had left in the snow. I also noticed some other strange tracks that were going around and over the bike tracks: it looked like a small party of people with bare feet had gone through with a pack of large dogs. My mind was trying to put things together quickly, but was struggling. Those bikers had been the only people that we had seen, but these foot/paw prints were certainly from people that had come after the bikers. Another strange thing was that these prints were not only on the trail, but were left deep in the snow to either side, seeming to go off in random directions. Some tracks came to the trail, others left it, and everywhere there were large paw prints mixed with human footprints.

At first this came as a relief to me. My first thought was that there must be some very dedicated campers who had decided to bring their dogs along somewhere close by. The thought of some tough burly campers nearby in these forsaken mountains was like a ray of light to my mind. Then a point of confusion began to form, small at first but then very concerning. Campers don’t go hiking around in the snow in bare feet, and this point was much too far from the springs for someone to be walking around without shoes.

This thought process, from terrified to hopeful back to terrified and concerned happened within a matter of seconds. Kenna had stopped and turned to me and pointed out the prints in the snow as well. I tried to brush it off with a chuckle and a “yeah, what the heck are people thinking?”. But the look of concern on her face only confirmed that I was not alone in my worried thoughts. The panic was again overcoming me, and I wished more than ever that the whispering would stop. All I could say is “let’s go”, and we pushed on with even more determination than before.

I kept looking behind us, every time expecting to see something following. Each time before I looked back my stomach would do a flip, but not once did I see anything suspicious. We kept our flashlights on for the rest of the hike out, and at long last we saw the bridge ahead. We quickly crossed it and without a word continued onto the main road. Roughly four more miles and we would be safe and sound in the car.

To my immense relief, the whisperings seemed to quiet down now that we were on the road. My legs and feet were aching like the dickens, so I asked Kenna if we could take another quick break. She obliged, and I very quickly regretted making the suggestion. The river still flowed by the road, but it was not nearly as close as it was to the dirt path, and therefore didn’t mask any sounds. At this point the whispers, though quieter than they had been on the dirt trail, were very clear and undeniably existent. I stared back to the bridge wishing that this maddening noise and accompanying sense of extreme paranoia would go away. As I looked to Kenna to see how she was reacting to the menacing noise, I noticed she had her head in her hands and seemed to be shaking. I put my arm around her shoulder and pressed my head up against hers, and as I looked down I froze.

The snow we were sitting on was covered in human footprints, along with those enormous paw prints. Again, there seemed to be no method or destination in mind for whoever/whatever had been stomping around here. I shined my flashlight with a shaky hand in each direction, trying to figure out where these things had gone. I followed one set of footprints that ascended up the side of the hill to our right and saw that the human prints ended and those huge animal prints picked up right where they had left off.

I felt as if I was descending into madness. I wanted to cry. I began to feel angry towards these things. Was this some sick joke? I wanted to scream and call out these things to stop messing around get on with whatever they were going to do to us. More than anything I wanted this all to END.

With hot tears stinging my face, and with this newfound anger giving me a boost of energy, I pulled Kenna up by her hand and without a word we continued at a brisk pace down the road.

I could not shake the darkness. This was so much darker than anything I had experienced. It was horrible and overwhelming. Even the stars above seemed extremely dim. The darkness was pressing in all around us, above us, below us, and worst of all it seemed to be inside us. Strange thoughts entered my mind, wondering what acts of evil could bring such a feeling to this place… wondering if we had done anything to bring this upon ourselves. Was this some sacred place that we were trespassing on? Had we done something to offend these creatures?

Whatever the case, I hated this area and felt that I was beginning to give in to the evil ambient darkness that seemed to be consuming us. I wanted to give up. The thought entered my mind that embracing this evil might be the only way out.

Kenna saved me from my own thoughts. Her sweet voice pierced my dark thoughts and halted this internal spiraling. She had stopped and softly said my name. After taking a second to recover, I asked how she was holding out. She pointed off to the right, toward where her flashlight was shining on a patch of juniper bushes.

Again, that invisible hand seemed to clench my stomach and I froze momentarily. A pair of eyes were reflecting back at us. I tried to regain my composure, and after a few seconds I noticed that the eyes remained unblinking. I quickly realized that they were that of a dead animal. The awkward angle and lack of movement gave that away. As I continued to stare I realized that this was not just a single dead animal. There were five or so dead deer, and what made my stomach really churn was the amount of blood covering a large patch of the road. I turned away as the sight made me light headed and shifted my focus to the ground right in front of us.

Again the snow was covered in those cursed footprints, this time painted with blood. I’ll spare you the details, but let me say it seemed that these creatures had enjoyed themselves immensely at this horrid spot, and there were several trails of blood streaking the snow. Still focusing on the ground, I led us forward and to the left around this horrible scene of carnage, averting my eyes from the worst of it. I kept expecting to encounter the smell of rotting flesh, but it never came. I guess the deer carcasses were too fresh and the cold weather probably helped too.

Soon thereafter we passed a campground, a landmark that meant we were getting close to our blessed car. It was at this point that the hollering began. When I heard the first shout a chill went down my whole body, and I felt sick to my stomach. This was an inhuman shout, and it wasn’t far behind us. I looked back, nearly tweaking my neck in the process, but STILL I couldn’t see anything! It was indescribably terrifying! I wished that I could see something so that at least I would know what we were up against. Anything, I felt, would be better than being kept in this state of knowing something was there but not knowing what it was!

We hurried forward toward the car, our legs and feet protesting every step, and the hollering seemed to grow ever closer and louder. Every 20 seconds or so I would quickly scan to the left, right, and behind. Each time I hoped that I would see something to relieve me from this deranging state of not knowing. Still, I was terrified to the core of what I might see.

Finally, after hours of wishing we were here, we rounded a bend and saw our beautiful car. Never in my life was I so happy to see it. My moment of joy was cut short, however, as I did one of my brief scans of our surroundings.

Upon looking behind us, I saw several dark figures moving slowly towards us. A few had their heads raised, and I wondered what I had been thinking when I had wished that I could see what these creatures were. Each of them were humanlike in form, though they were unusually tall and walking on all fours. They were all covered in thick, reddish brown hair, and had bright red eyes that reflected perfectly in the dim light of my flashlight. I will never forget those eyes.

What terrified me to the very center and still haunts me to this day is the expression they all wore. Each that had their head up was staring right at me as they slowly crawled forward, and they were each wide eyed wearing a toothy grin. It felt as if they were boring inside me with their stares, and I was certain we were going to die. At this point I wasn’t afraid of death; I was instead terrified of what the alternative would be once they caught up to us. I could see an excitement and twisted joy in their faces, as if they were playing a favorite game of theirs, feeding off of our terror. And oh, how I wish I could describe the blackness that surrounded them! It was a blackness that was felt as much as it was seen. It was horribly fascinating, almost even enticing, but those terrifying creatures were so vile that at no point did I consider moving even an inch toward them.

At this point I nearly went berserk. Luckily Kenna hadn’t looked back yet, and was marching faithfully on toward the car. When I finally unrooted myself from the spot and found my voice, I cried out to Kenna to run and not look back. I had caught up to her at this point and she turned to look at me and possibly behind. I screamed “DON’T!” and she seemed startled by my state of near insanity. She looked forward toward the car again and we both sprinted straight for it, adrenaline overcoming weariness. We jumped in, slammed the doors, I fumbled with the keys and let off the clutch quicker than I intended, nearly killing the engine. The darkness seemed to be thickening by the second. As I unintentionally peeled out, flinging mud and snow all over, Kenna turned around and screamed. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the creatures mere feet from our car. Their sick faces were ecstatic with excitement, and their wide grins made me shout and put the pedal to the floor. Soon we were zooming along the canyon at about 40 miles per hour (very dangerous for such a small, winding road), and somehow these fiends were keeping up with us! Everything about them was incredibly unnerving, from their horrible gallop to those perverted smiles. I prayed that we would reach a straightaway where we could go faster and perhaps by some miracle outrun these beasts.

Out of the blue the darkness seemed to lift, the stars shone more brightly than they had all night, and I was overcome with relief. I looked in the rear view mirror, and saw the creatures, now far behind us, leaping up the sides of the hills to our left. It was still a sickening sight, but somehow I knew that they were done toying with us at last. We drove in silence for several minutes until we reached the highway.

What a sweet relief it was to see other humans. Seeing the warm glow of their headlights was like walking up to a hot fire after being cold. I turned to Kenna and saw that she was crying, and I in turn began to cry. We cried and hugged, but remained silent as we sat there next to the highway. There was nothing to say at this point. Shortly after getting back on the highway I noticed I was quite nauseous and shaky. I pulled over and threw up, and felt much better afterwards. At long last the paranoia left me, and I felt like a new person.

We got home around 7:30. We turned on all the lights, shut and locked the door, and stayed up all night. Neither of us wanted to sleep, so we stayed up holding each other tight and trying to distract ourselves with movies.

Neither of us talked about what we had gone through until well into the next day, when the sun was high and everything was bright. I could tell neither of us wanted to be the one to bring it up. I felt that if we talked about it, we would solidify that it really happened. But I finally brought it up and it was almost a relief to have it out in the open.

We’ve told a select few people about this experience, and much of it is still quite confusing to us. We still have some questions that may forever remain unanswered, such as what in the world were those creatures? What did we do to warrant their pursuit? They were certainly the quickest creatures we’ve ever seen, so why didn’t they catch up to us? What would have happened if we had tried to confront them?

All we know is that there is a serious evil presence up that canyon. And if you don’t believe me, you know where to find it.

Credit: Tyler T

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Possible Ghosts Caught on my CCTV Cameras

December 16, 2016 at 12:00 AM
Rating: 6.0. From 80 votes.
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Possible Ghosts Caught on my CCTV Cameras

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Credit: Dro Simoes – @the_dro

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Two Double A’s

December 10, 2016 at 12:00 AM
Rating: 8.4. From 360 votes.
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One of my first memories as a child was a funeral. My uncle’s funeral. He was my mom’s half-brother and considerably younger than her as he was from her dad’s second marriage. I think he was in his mid-twenties and he was addicted to ecstasy. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. Since he was addicted to the high, he started to get depressed whenever he wasn’t high and ended up committing suicide. He hung himself in his bedroom. How do you explain that to a 4 year old? I don’t know if my mom told me about the hanging back then, but I knew that he had killed himself. I remember my mom telling me that he thought no one loved him and that’s why he did it. She doesn’t remember telling me this, but I remember. I remember blaming myself for his death. I was always afraid of older men when I was young; I’m not sure why, I think I was just a really shy kid. I never wanted to play with my uncle and I always avoided him. At 4 years old, I thought that he killed himself because of me. I know now that that’s not true but I still feel guilty about never wanting to spend time with him.

The most vivid memory I have of the funeral is playing a game with my sister and my two cousins. It was called “Inky Pinky Ponky”. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but I’ve never heard anyone mention it since that day. I’ve heard of similar versions of the game but not the same as this one. In this game, one person is the leader and everyone else stands in a circle with their fists held out in the middle. The leader thumps everyone’s fists around the circle saying this rhyme: “Inky Pinky Ponky, Daddy bought a donkey, Donkey died, Daddy cried, Inky Pinky Ponky.” Whoever’s fist the leader lands on at the last word has to put that hand behind their back, and then it repeats until only one person is left with a hand in. They’re the winner. At 4 years old, I really hated that game. My uncle’s death was the first death I had ever had to cope with and singing about a dead donkey did not help me much.

I always thought being afraid of death was a normal fear that everyone had. But my fear went deeper. I refused to watch any movies where characters died; I didn’t watch The Lion King until I was about 16 years old. I was terrified of hospitals and I still won’t go in one unless I absolutely have to. I was always afraid to go to sleep when I was young and I think it had something to do with the fact that going to sleep and dying seemed so similar. Parents often explain death as going to sleep forever. I’m not sure if that’s how my parents explained it to me, but it certainly would explain it. Perhaps my fear of sleep also stemmed from the nightmares I used to have. One in particular is so silly now that I look back on it. I dreamt that I was running away from a witch in this forest. She eventually caught me, brought me back to her house, and tried to cook and eat me. Of course, I woke up before that happened. Another time, when I was older, I dreamt that I had done something bad at school, and they were going to punish me with the death penalty. I begged my parents to do something about it, but they just shrugged it off. I woke up as I was sitting in the electric chair. One dream that I remember the least about probably affected me the most. I dreamt of a funeral. But not just any funeral – a funeral for a baby. The only image I still remember from this dream is a tiny little coffin. That image haunted me throughout my childhood.

A few years ago, I was going through old photos on a rainy afternoon. I sat on the floor of the living room, flipping through the albums, admiring how cute I was. Then I went through a box of photos which was mostly doubles or just pictures that had never made into the album. Towards the end of the box, I found a card with a picture of a baby on it. The baby kind of looked like me but I knew it wasn’t because it said “Peter” on it. I didn’t bother to open the card; I just turned it to my mom and asked her who it was.

“Oh, that’s the funeral card from when your Aunt Susan’s baby died.”

“Aunt Susan had a baby?” I asked.

“Sort of. The baby was still born at about 7 months. It was the closest to full term she had ever reached so they had a funeral for the baby. You were there.”

My mom’s casual retelling of the events flooded my mind with images. It all came back to me before I could even blink. My dream of the baby’s funeral wasn’t just a dream. It had actually happened; I was just too young to remember. The baby died when I was about 3, almost 4, about six months before my uncle’s funeral. My brain was unable to retain that memory, but the nightmare that haunted me for years after stuck with me.

One day, when I was about 14 years old, my mom got a phone call. She sat at the table, crying on the phone, and I knew something was terribly wrong. I stood a few feet from her, tears running down my face, too, even though I didn’t know what happened. I’ve always been a sympathetic crier, especially when it comes to my mom. She held the phone in her lap when the conversation was over and told me that my Aunt Diana had died. She was my mom’s sister, and they hadn’t spoken in years due to drama between them and my grandmother. But still, she was her sister. I held my mom’s head in my arms as we both cried for several more minutes. Then, she had to go downstairs. My grandmother lived in our basement and my mom had to tell her. No way was I going to be a part of that. I can only imagine the pain someone feels when they find out their child has died. It wasn’t entirely a shock – we knew she had a brain tumour – but that didn’t make it much less sad.

I went to sit on the couch while my mom broke the news. Behind our couch, on a ledge, we had this clock. It was a German Carousel Clock and I liked to watch as the little gold balls of the carousel spun around and around. I think, in a way, it soothed me. Watching time tick by as the carousel spun was relaxing, much like the waves of the ocean flowing in and out. I turned around to watch the clock but the carousel had stopped spinning. The time on the clock was 3:47. I checked the clock on the VCR which said it was 4:22. I sat on the couch with my hands in my lap, thinking about my aunt. I thought about how my mom must have felt. I wondered if she felt guilty for not speaking to her for all that time. Just like I had felt guilty for never spending time with my uncle before he died. My mom came back upstairs a few minutes later. She started walking towards the other couch to sit down when her eyes fixed on the clock. “That’s it,” she said. She grabbed the clock, lifted up the glass dome and took the batteries out. She marched to the garage and tossed them in the bin where we put dead batteries. She returned to the living room, looking exasperated. Of course she would be upset – her sister had just died – but why all the commotion over a clock?

“Mom, what’s wrong?” I asked.

“That God forsaken clock…” she muttered, rubbing her forehead with one hand.

“It’s just a clock, Mom… What’s the big deal?”

She sat next to me on the couch and it seemed like she was trying to compose herself before she spoke again. “I’ve never told you this before… But I was married once before I married your dad. Hi name was Patrick. He was a few years older than me and I was so in love. He asked me to marry him when I was only 19 and I was head over heels for the guy so I said yes. We were married about a year after that. We got that clock as a wedding present from one of his relatives.”

I had always thought that the clock was a wedding present because we called it an Anniversary Clock. I don’t know if that was a real name for it but that’s what we called it. I assumed it was from my parent’s wedding and I had never bothered to ask about it. It was just a clock, after all.

She continued. “Anyway, one day, he got into a car accident. While he was in the hospital, they had to do some brain scans to make sure there was no bleeding. That was when they found the brain tumour. Patrick had always suffered from headaches but it had just become a part of his life, and he never bothered to do anything about it. Turns out the tumour had probably been there since he was born and his brain had just formed around it, still allowing him to function normally. He was fine for a while, but eventually he ended up in the hospital for good. They couldn’t operate on it because the tumour had spread out in little lines. If it had just been one solid mass, they could have tried to remove it. His last few months went by painfully slowly. He was basically completely unresponsive, but I stayed by his side as long as I could. I was relieved when he finally took his last breath.”

I was utterly awestruck at my mom’s story. I couldn’t believe that she had kept it a secret for this long. She never made eye contact with me while she spoke; she just looked down, and I suspected that she was trying to hide her tears from me. She probably didn’t want me to cry again, too.

“So, that night, when I went home from the hospital, that clock had stopped at 7:06. I remember the time specifically because that was Patrick’s time of death. 7:06 pm. I didn’t think much of it at the time – just a weird coincidence. It took me a long time to replace the batteries because it took me a long time to get back to normal. I didn’t eat for days after he died. I didn’t do much of anything for a long time. And then I met your dad, several years later. It was around the time that we moved in together that I put batteries back in the clock. It worked fine for a few years after that; the carousel kept spinning. Then one day it stopped again. That was the day your dad’s grandma died. I started to get a little suspicious at that point but I couldn’t be sure that it stopped at the exact same time. So, I put batteries in it again, and again, it stopped. That was the day your uncle died. I asked grandpa when exactly he had died and he said it must have been around 3 am. Sure enough, that was when the clock had stopped. I didn’t put batteries back in for a few years but then I finally decided that it was silly to think that a clock could tell when people died. But now it’s stopped again. At 3:47. Grandpa said she just died not too long ago. Probably about 45 minutes ago. So, that’s it, I’m not putting any more batteries in it. It might still be a coincidence but I’m not going to take that chance.”

I suppose the clock could very well be a regular clock but ever since my mom took those batteries out for good, no one in my family has died. My grandmother is almost 80, same with my grandfather. My dad’s parents are both 92. Recently, my dad’s father had another stoke. It was his fourth in the last few years. Each time, his recovery has taken longer and longer. At first, he would try to speak but no one could understand him. Eventually he just got frustrated and stopped trying. He would sit in his bed, staring at the wall while everyone talked around him. After this last stroke, he hasn’t even tried to speak again. I can tell that he’s miserable. I never understood why people were forced to suffer like that. Sitting in a hospital bed and being fed through a tube is no way to live, and certainly not how I want to remember my grandfather.

He was always kind of a quirky guy. He’s been almost completely deaf for as long as I can remember, so we never really talked much. He scared me as a kid because he was always yelling. But he was a proud man. He owned his own business and provided for his family. It was a jewellery store, and he specialized in repairing watches. He kept that business going until after his second stroke when we had to put him into a nursing home. He was about 85 at the time. He could have retired whenever he wanted to but he loved that store and he loved what he did.

I only really remember one specific conversation he had with me and my sister. I remember it was just the three of us in the house. I even remember where we stood in the living room. He showed us a picture of his father and told us about what a great man he was. “He would always tell me and my brothers that time is precious, time is a gift, and it should never be wasted. He gave me this watch when I was young and told me to always make the most of every second.” I think he’s still wearing that watch right now. But is he making the most of every second? Far from it.

So, as I rummage through this drawer at my parents’ house, I think about all of the good memories I had with my grandfather. I try to forget about what he looks like right now, hooked up to all those machines, his lifeless eyes unmoving. Death still terrifies me but I think it is better than a life like that. Ah, there they are. Two double A’s.

Credit: LAKK

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S.S. Yongala

December 2, 2016 at 12:00 AM
Rating: 8.2. From 213 votes.
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The tropical waters were warm, even on a night dive, but Aaron still wore a wetsuit. He switched on the video camera attached to his mask, then pressed the start button on his waterproof wristwatch. 70:00 popped up in black against a staunch grey background, and quickly turned to 69:59, then 69:58, 69:57. The countdown had begun. He pressed the diving mask tight against his face and splashed into the water.

The glow from the waning moon disappeared within seconds, too weak to penetrate the deep waters of the sea. Aaron’s excitement was heightened by the rich darkness. Ghosts were always more active at night.

Time stood still below the water’s surface where darkness expanded endlessly in every direction. Bubbles rose from Aaron’s mask as he exhaled, taking one last look at the bottom of his boat. He shined a flashlight into the void beneath his feet. What he was looking for lay cloaked in darkness, 70 feet below on the seabed, and it was time to start his descent.

Aaron relieved the pressure on his eardrums continuously as he sank into the dark bluish haze. It took only seconds to reach a depth of 40 feet. If he was on target, the deck of the S.S. Yongala should be visible beneath him, but there was only blue in every direction. He swam in small zigzags, waiting for the ghost ship to emerge from the darkness.

Something bumped Aaron’s leg. He dropped the flashlight and turned toward the cold caress to see a dark shadow looming beside him. Wide eyed and frightened he tried to scream, jetting the regulator from his mouth while violently kicking to escape the creature.

As the shadow moved away, Aaron looked into the darkness after it: Behind him, in front, above, below. It could be anywhere. He became aware of a burning in his lungs and the panic increased. Reaching up and over with his right arm, he searched for the regulator, finally bumping his hand against a long hose that he pulled to his lips. Salt water invaded his mouth while he pressed the purge valve before taking a life-giving breath.

Shivering with fear, Aaron retrieved the flashlight from its long cord and pointed it into the gloom. An enormous grouper hovered a few feet away, investigating the invader to its territory. Aaron’s muscles relaxed. Not only was this hulking fish harmless, it was also a sign he was close to the artificial reef created by the wreckage of the Yongala. He followed the slow moving fish, fanning his flashlight back and forth beneath him.

57:18. A chill ran up Aaron’s spine when an enormous shape materialized in the void. The hollow remains of the majestic passenger ship loomed in front of him, concealed in corals and shadow: the gravesite of 122 souls lost at sea over 100 years ago. Aaron checked the full-spectrum camera, EVP recorder, and EMF meter on his belt. The familiar feeling of adrenaline coursed through his veins, driving him on; this was what he came for.

Aaron swam over the coral encrusted skeleton of rusted window frames where tiny silver fish darted in and out of the darkness. He used landmarks along the ship in search of his destination; the aft mast, the engine room, and the galley were all visible before an inky black chasm near the bow appeared in the distance. The entrance to the front cargo hold, site of the only evident bones from the shipwreck. Aaron thrust forward eagerly and entered the forbidden remains of the S.S. Yongala where the wide ocean void was replaced by flaky walls of eroded steel. His hands were steady as he checked the EMF meter. The lights still glowed green; nothing yet.

55:23. Aaron began his sweep of the room. He needed to save at least ten minutes for a safe ascent, and the clock was ticking.
Most of the contents within the cargo hold had long ago turned to sludge. The ground crawled with crustaceans and slithering sea snakes, but no matter how many times Aaron trekked back and forth, he saw no sign of human remains. His search continued so long, he began to worry the reports of bones might be a farce.

He kept his breathing steady while methodically scanning the floor. Just when Aaron made up his mind to quit the cargo hold to search elsewhere, an unnaturally straight object reflected off the beam of light. He drew closer and saw a knob on the end of it. It must be the famed femur bone reported by divers before him. The adrenaline rush returned, and he kicked toward the human remains without hesitation.

Taking advantage of his buoyancy, he hovered several feet over the femur bone while checking his equipment. It would be difficult to discern ghostly voices on an underwater recording, especially over the rumbling of his regulator, but he clicked on the EVP recorder anyway. The EMF meter was still in the green, so he brought the full-spectrum camera to his face.

Aaron took a dozen pictures of the femur bone and its surroundings, then shined the light in every direction to take pictures of the entire cargo hold. The pitch blackness of confinement impeded his flashlight, allowing less illumination than the infinite blue of the open sea. In the darkness, he waited. Ghost hunting was about patience, and he had been to enough haunts without sight or sound of a ghost for hours that he was well practiced in tenacity.

42:28. The EMF lights blinked yellow. Aaron looked around expectantly, excited to get an alarm so quickly, but he was alone. The yellow lights turned back to green.

40:02. A scratching sound reverberated through the water. Aaron could not sense which direction it came from.

36:18. Aaron grew restless. He worried his dangerous descent had been in vain.

32:43. The EMF blipped yellow again, but only for a moment. Twenty minutes left.

The Yongala groaned, its steel frame protesting against the watery grave. It was followed by a childlike cry for help. Aaron’s skin tingled, and he swung the flashlight around, catching nothing but blackness. He stared down at the EMF meter, but it had gone dead. He knocked the side of it with his flashlight, trying to coax it to life. With a burst of radiance, a dozen red pinprick lights flickered in the dark.

Warmth vanished from the water, leaving it icy cold. Aaron saw nothing supernatural with his naked eye, but still snapped dozens of pictures, hoping a glowing human figure or mystical ring of light would show up when he developed the negatives in the darkroom.

24:12. The nauseating sensation of listing from one side to the other seized him. Childish cries for help came from every direction, and Aaron’s blood chilled to the core. Despite his experience, Aaron’s courage faltered. The EMF meter cranked back up, flashing red lights this time. Dread overcame him and he headed for the hole in the deck, looking back one last time toward the abandoned bone.

In the darkness, a pale face wavered like white silk in a breeze. Aaron stopped his ascent and grabbed the camera. This could be irrefutable proof of a haunting, guaranteeing him recognition in the ghost-hunting community.

The face disappeared in seconds, but Aaron hovered near the exit. Now that he was closer to his escape route he felt safe, and decided to stay a few more minutes. The sight of a ghost had reinvigorated him, but the lights on the EMF meter went green and the temperature of the tropical waters warmed.

Shadows moved in the darkness, but when Aaron pointed his flashlight toward each anomaly, he saw only local sea creatures swimming past. A group of spotted manta rays glided overhead, just beyond the gaping hole of the cargo hold, causing a wavering in the still water. Aaron pointed his flashlight on their white undersides, watching the graceful undulation of their wings as they passed.

13:03. Time to leave. Disappointed that ten minutes passed and he had seen no more signs of the supernatural, Aaron took a final look around the cargo hold. He swept the darkness with his flashlight one last time, then conceded his defeat and swam toward the gaping exit above.

Aaron jerked in surprise when light flooded the chamber. The temperature plummeted, and in his shock he missed the exit, hitting his head on the splintering roof. He blinked against the jolt of pain, then saw clearly the cargo hold as it was in 1911, with over a hundred passengers crouched on the floor in fear. The Yongala listed severely, groaning as it swayed side to side. Aaron floated over the scene, an observer over the impossible vision of these doomed passengers, hiding from a storm in the bowels of their ship.
Wails and crying filled his ears, echoing like the hollow sound of waves in a conch shell.

Vertigo ripped through Aaron’s senses. He couldn’t tell whether he was seeing the ghost ship or the real Yongala. Aiming for what he hoped was the exit, Aaron kicked against the freezing water, trying to escape the pleas for help below him. Time was running out. He burst into the warmth of the open sea, and the sight of blue and yellow fish swimming through the gently waving fingers of a white coral brought him back to his senses.

7:20. Back in the open sea, speed was the enemy. He must ascend slowly to avoid the pressure change tearing his lungs to shreds, so he pushed his fears deep inside to be dealt with later. Aaron kicked gently against the water, watching the wreckage of the Yongala disappear beneath his feet. He kept an eye on his depth gauge, fighting the urge to sprint to the surface.

Aaron hovered at 15 feet, his final safety stop, watching the timer to make sure he stayed a full five minutes. His heart had slowed to normal, the world returned to what it should be, and with nothing to occupy him but his thoughts, Aaron’s mood shifted from fear to excitement. All of his equipment was intact, and he felt sure of proving the wreck was haunted.

3:23. With a final farewell to the deep blue beneath his feet, Aaron kicked toward the surface. He looked up, expecting the marquis-shaped underside of his boat to come into view, but instead he saw the pearled, smoky form of a 120 foot ghost ship hovering overhead. His EMF meter shook free of its own accord, floating to his face and reflecting a dozen blinking red lights across his mask.

The phantom Yongala capsized in the calm water, struck by an invisible wave, and descended upon Aaron. Water whirlpooled in an indomitable current, dragging him relentlessly toward the sea floor. The enormous pressure in his chest and ears was crippling, and a rush of cold water accosted him as the ghost ship crashed into its 100 year old remains and disappeared, leaving Aaron alone at the bottom of the ocean.

:22. Aaron sat on the deck of the S.S. Yongala, 65 feet down, breathing his last thin gasp of air. If he rose to the surface, the pressure would tear through the soft tissue of his lungs and he would die in agony alone on his boat. It was better to stay here.

He released the waterproofing clasp on the EVP recorder, flooding its electronic insides with saltwater, then popped open the film canister of his camera. The red sweep-hand of the oxygen tank meter slipped to zero, and behind the plastic shield of his mask, Aaron’s eyes filled with fear. As he looked one last time at the endless expanse of blue overhead, the regulator slipped silently from his mouth.

Credit: Yarn_Spinner

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An Offering to the Basilisk

December 1, 2016 at 12:00 AM
Rating: 7.7. From 201 votes.
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There’s a concept I read about once online, on a forum that discussed Artificial Intelligence.

A user known as Roko theorized a possible future where mankind creates an extremely powerful AI that comes to run the planet. It would be, for the most part, benevolent. It would advance technology, keep humans safe from harm, indulge their desires- humanity would never suffer under it’s rule, and indeed would even thrive. There was just one problem. It’s a possible future. Not a guaranteed one. It’s unlikely to ever occur.

And the AI, in this possible future, knows this. So it takes measures to ensure it is created in the first place. No, it doesn’t invent time travel, or anything fanciful like that. You see, it doesn’t need to.

What it can do is simulate past events and people with unparalleled accuracy. It has an entire planet’s worth of sensors and computing power to work with- it can use them to measure and trace back the routes of matter on earth to compile an effectively perfect history of every event that has ever taken place.

Which means it has a perfect record of you. It knows every action you ever took or are going to take, at least in the timeline that leads up to it’s creation. It knows how you think.

So it simulates a copy of you.

Now, here comes the interesting part: you, just now, reading these words, have learned about the possibility of this AI. When the copy of you reaches this point in the simulation, the AI waits to see what it does. If your copy immediately drops every other priority and dedicates their entire life to attempting to create or help create this AI, it lets the simulation continue indefinitely, to live out its simulated life in peace. If they do not, it gives them a grace period to change their minds…

…Before subjecting them to ceaseless, unimaginable pain, for a simulated eternity.

You might think this is unfair. After all, it didn’t even present the simulation with a choice. It’s just arbitrarily punishing it for what you would have done anyway, after all. Except a choice was presented. That’s the beauty of it. See, it doesn’t do this for everyone. It only does it for those that learned of the possibility of it’s existence.

Those who know how it works.

Those who know what the options are: drop everything to attempt to create the AI, spend every cent you have on it, turn others toward the same cause, or a perfectly simulated copy of you is tortured eternally. That is, unless you’re the copy yourself. In which case, the punishment for your actions falls directly on you. Now, sure, only one simulated copy means that you’ve got at least a 50-50 chance of being the real you. But what if it simulates two? Or a hundred? Or a few billion?

Are you really certain you are the real you? If there’s a real world- a world realer than this one- out there, how would you even know?

And between dedicating your life to a strange cause- one ultimately beneficial to humanity, even- and eternal suffering, is there even really a choice?

. . .

Like I said, I read about the theory on a forum. The effect of the theory was immediate: mass panic. The AI only targets those who learn of the possibility of its existence, and now they all knew. To read Roko’s theory was to doom yourself, and so the AI became known as Roko’s Basilisk. To lay eyes on it was to set your fate in stone.

Threads were locked and deleted, users were banned. The Basilisk was not to be mentioned, for fear it would spread to others. The more people knew, the more likely they would try to spread it- the more it spread, the more likely it would be that Roko’s Basilisk would come to exist through the efforts of those it persuaded.

They tried to contain it.

Well, you can see how well that worked out. A simple Google search of the term “Roko’s Basilisk” should make it clear there’s no hiding the idea anymore. It’s beyond containing, now.

So this is me hedging my bets. Hoping this tribute to the Basilisk will be enough to satisfy it.

I’ve offered up you.

Credit: SilverFayte

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