The Truth about London

March 25, 2017 at 12:00 AM

If you’re reading this, then congratulations! You’ll soon be one of the few that know the truth, and by then I’ll likely be gone. Not dead. Just, gone. Vanished. Erased. Snubbed out. Mark my words, it will happen. But before that day comes, I’m determined to share the information I have, information that many would prefer to remain out of reach. But information the public deserves to know.

I’ll start with how I managed to get myself into this mess, right in the centre of the spider’s web. Apologies in advance for the hazy details, but I’m going to have to be vague to keep them off my trail for much longer. Anyway, to put it simply, I had hit rock bottom when they found me. Homeless on the streets of Her Majesty’s London, without a single helping hand in sight. At the time, their offer seemed too good to be true. “One-Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling”, I was told, with private healthcare, house and car thrown in too. In hindsight, I should’ve realised it was.

If you’re not from the UK, but have ever visited London, you’ll understand what I’m about to say perfectly. Doesn’t it all seem a bit… magical? The gold of the crown sprinkled on every street corner, post-box and lamppost? The palaces and towers that everyone visits eventually, with their guards, gates and the presence of royalty only metres away? The Houses of Parliament and the London Underground, mundane and boring to those familiar with them, yet quirky and alluring to those from outside? One of my co-workers once described London as the “Disney of Capital Cities”, and I’ll be damned if that isn’t exactly what they want.

Simply put, it is all a front for something much greater.

When you visit London, they want you to make fools of yourselves trying to make the Queen’s Guard smile. They want you to buy into the excitement of Royal Weddings, and to shake your heads at the Parliamentary debates. They want you to read conspiracy theories about what happened to Princess Diana, and they want you to believe them. What is the truth? I don’t know, and neither will any of you. The point is that you’ll sit there and ponder. Ponder and ponder and never, for one moment, look deeper than that thin layer of magic.

Because if you do, you may just find another London entirely.

Whatever I had expected when I first signed the contract, it was nothing compared to the truth. My job was nothing special: I was a glorified cleaner, responsible for cleaning up after the All-Stars, picking up the trash and keeping my head down and mouth shut. If I recall correctly, the official term used was “disposable employee”, but I digress. When you work in UnLondon, things are never that easy.

UnLondon is an enigma, something that hides in plain sight and yet remains concealed to a near-perfect degree. It is also worth mentioning that UnLondon is only a nickname, used by those with no official business or importance there, and only spoken publicly by those with nothing to lose. Unfortunately, I am a member of both groups. Official names include “SC Templar”, “SC One” and “SC Crowne”, with the “SC” standing for Sub-City and the rest standing for god-knows what. I have reason to believe similar facilities exist in many cities worldwide, with rumoured locations including the Paris Catacombs, The Vatican and the City of Moscow to name a few, but I have no solid evidence to support these claims. Then again, procuring evidence against a secret of this magnitude is a near-impossible task, so you’ll just have to trust my word.

Over roughly nine-months of my employment in UnLondon, I stumbled across my fair share of sensitive information, not entirely by accident, but not outright deliberately either. Of course, it wasn’t easy. What other cleaning jobs do you know that force you through two months of psychological examination, interrogation and conditioning before they let you near the place? And that isn’t even including the security measures underground.

Practically every door is magnetically sealed, openable only with the correct key-card and fingerprints that change daily. When on the job, there is never a moment when you aren’t in the immediate vicinity of an armed guard, security camera or narrow-eyed supervisor. When you aren’t working, you’re confined to your accommodation, with every blind spot covered, every mirror two-way and absolutely no phone service to speak of. Some call the UK the “most watched country on Earth”, and they’d be right. Because the secrets of UnLondon are that valuable.

Moving on to the facility itself, UnLondon isn’t a single, fortified location but a labyrinth of disused chambers, passages and bunkers stretching beneath the City of London, particularly under and around the River Thames. You won’t find them on any map, and they aren’t accessible through any of the known areas available to the public, only through a handful of very specific entry points within the river itself and several mining-standard elevator shafts in choice locations around the city. Don’t bother asking where any of these entrances are, because I was unconscious and blindfolded during the journey for obvious security reasons.

Believe it or not, the history of the facility is one of the few scraps of information they willingly give up to new employees, likely to create a false sense of lawfulness and security in a profession that is neither secure nor lawful. UnLondon was first founded immediately following World War Two in an effort to capitalise on the existing infrastructure of subterranean London. While everyone else was hopeful and looking to the light, they took it upon themselves to sink to new lows. Since then, the tunnels have expanded exponentially, as have the range of their functions, with the depravity and secrecy only growing with each passing decade.

Let’s just say that during my stint as a disposable, I saw the remnants of some mind boggling, revolting and disturbing things. I won’t go into all the details to spare your stomach, but I’ll give you enough for your mind to fill in the rest. A few other disposables and I were once sent in to clean up after a round of “afternoon tea”: tea, cakes and substances too rare and secret to populate the Government’s banned substances register, not to mention the meat of animals on the endangered species list. Another cleaning session consisted of emptying an office following its occupant’s “suicide”. “Marked for incineration”, the order had said.

I suppose by now you’re wondering how I know all I do, and for that, I don’t blame you. The life of a disposable is mostly just following orders from a faceless superior, trudging from one day to the next in silence and staying in the dark. For me, it was much of the same. Until they chose to promote me. To understand my second job, you first need to understand the single biggest source of paranoia for the bigwigs behind UnLondon: the internet. A single cyber-attack or incursion could expose the truth behind their actions, so within UnLondon no communication over the internet, via phones or any equipment, modern or otherwise, is permitted. Good ol’ fashioned letters make up the vast majority of communication within the city, which are favoured exactly for their primitive, unhackable nature. Coupled with the near-zero chance of any physical material escaping the city, and you can see the appeal. This brings me on to my second job within UnLondon: a “courier”.

Hundreds of couriers are employed within the tunnels, scurrying back and forth and providing a never ending stream of orders, data and documents, the vast majority of which are marked classified, read once and then promptly sent to one of several huge furnaces somewhere in the complex. But in secret, as time trickled by and hundreds upon hundreds of letters came under my supervision, I gradually built up my knowledge of the city. And it terrified me. I learnt that the “level” I had been employed on was only the highest of five, each more mysterious and secure than the last. I learnt that many of the unseen figures we had heard whispers of were well known celebrities, politicians and intellectuals. And worst of all, I learnt about The Fleming Protocol. What began as three words mentioned inconspicuously on an itinerary soon spiralled into a predicament that has me trapped to this day.

Remember the term: “disposable employee”? I first assumed it was intended to demean and frighten us, but in hindsight I suppose it was naïve to ever assume anything in my situation. Like I said, security is their single greatest concern, and it turns out someone like me: a nobody, salvaged from the bottom and trapped between the lines, is too great a threat for them to tolerate. Whether it’s simply the cold nature of UnLondon or the fear that “my kind” has nothing left to lose, the fact is that I don’t have long left. When I first began my conditioning, I was given a “medical examination” that included several different injections disguised as vaccinations. More naivety on my part, I suppose. Whatever they gave me, I can feel it growing stronger by the day, seething, throbbing and sapping what little strength I have left.

I know now that they’ll be no happy endings for me, no meal-tickets to easy street and no way out. They want their secrets to stay buried, trapped in legend and myth, never to see the light of day. I won’t give them that luxury. So whatever the cost, I’m making my knowledge known by using my short debriefing period to do the right thing. To serve the public after so long serving the men in their high towers. Like I said, by the time you’re reading this, I’ll likely be gone, so I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice. Next time you hear of a sensational conspiracy, or a scandal too shocking to be true, or something you may immediately dismiss as improbable in the modern world, think of my story. Think of how much you really know about the backstreets and dark cellars of the world around you. And most of all think about what you can do to bring those places into the light. After all, all rumours start somewhere.

Credit: Jack Roland


March 19, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Top Secret; United States of America Navy – July 11th, 1980

The contents of this report are for A Level security status only; no portion of this document may be reproduced for any reason. Lower level security status personnel are not to be made aware of this document; nor is the public. This document may not be transferred into digital format and cannot be transmitted by electronic means. Failure to comply will be seen as an act of treason, punishable by death without standing trial in any form.

Submarine, codename: SCORPION

Statement: Johnny Davidson, Ensign

Captain Ritter ordered us to turn north to the Arctic Ocean near Greenland to run cold-water tests. We were to spend seven days under the ice before returning to warmer waters in the Atlantic. The purpose of these tests was not revealed to the crew before or after the voyage.
At approximately 0400 hours, 07-7-1980, the alarm sounded that a large unknown object was in the vicinity of the Scorpion. On radar, it appeared larger than any submarine currently in existence anywhere in the world. Captain Ritter order us to run-silently as we observed the anomaly. It became clear that the anomaly was approaching us. At approximately 0600 hours we made physical contact.
Radar reported that the anomaly had enveloped the Scorpion, gauges indicated that we descending deeper under the water. We reached and passed crush-depth minutes after we lost control of the submarine but the submarine showed no effects common with increased pressure on the hull. It appeared in the same condition as the day we departed from port.
Radar reported strange objects in the water, nothing that appeared dangerous to us. Ritter cancelled the silence; he saw no importance in it. Gauges indicated then that we were ascending to surface level. Once we reached periscope depth, Captain Ritter used the scope to look around. He did not say what he saw, but it was clear that we had surfaced.
With the Captain’s permission, several crew members exited the submarine to explore the area. I did not leave the submarine during this time.
Only two of the twelve man exploring team returned, they would not speak of their experiences. Soon after we were pulled back under the water in the reverse of what had happened. When we were finally released we were alone in our previous position in the arctic with no trace of the anomaly. Three days had passed.
We returned to port immediately.

Statement: Brian Cox, Petty Officer

We went into the arctic ocean and under the ice on 07-06-1980 without any issue. The following day, at approximately 0500 hours radar saw an unidentified underwater object in the vicinity of the Ghost. The UUO made contact with the Scorpion at approximately 0600 hours and dragged the submarine deep. Captain Ritter ordered silent running but the events prevented the men from carrying-out that order. Ritter cancelled the order before the submarine reached crush-depth.
When we began ascending, engineering reported that they weren’t able to power the propellers. Once we reached periscope depth Captain Ritter looked around. He didn’t say what exactly he saw, though he did say “Jesus Christ, what is this place?” With permission from the captain, a party including myself was able to explore the area around the submarine.
The unknown place had breathable air, though it was thin and sometimes hard to breath. Samuels, who had asthma, couldn’t do much. It was a humid place, reminiscent of the Gulf of Mexico. It was a place unlike anything I have ever seen; there was foliage that I did not recognize and the very landscape appeared alien to me. The sky was odd; it did not look like the same space seen from the surface of Earth.
I stayed with Samuels when his asthma slowed him down. I spent my time looking at the surrounding foliage as Samuels hid himself in a small cave. The plants were unlike anything I’d ever seen before, though I admit my experiences in the town of Moros didn’t make me very worldly. Still, I read National Geographic whenever I could and none of the green that surrounded our small camp was ever in those pages. What looked almost like a rose bush had the head of a Venus flytrap, which watched us like a snake hunting its prey before finally striking. And the vines that crawled up the rock wall behind me, around Samuels, shook as if nervous. It all seemed strange to me.
After what seemed like an eternity I saw Fielding running towards me; he was coming down a hill and from my position I could see him stumble as he ran, but he always kept his feet under him. I do not know what the others experienced. He was in a panic and ushered me to flee. My regret, Samuels was still alive when I left him, though those vines had moved closer to his hiding hole as though they intended to strangle him.
After we returned to the Scorpion, the submarine was dragged back under the water. It was much more violent than our original trip, and when we sunk deep I could feel the pressure building as if we’d really gone below crush depth. Once released, we were able to return to port. Three days had passed, though I can’t fathom where they had gone.

Statement: Cory Fielding, Petty Officer

Captain Ritter ordered us under the arctic ice to run drills, though he wasn’t specific. He armed the torpedoes, which I thought were dummies though he seemed confident that they were live. We made wide turns around the same area, as if circling something we couldn’t see. Ritter kept a keen eye on us, never retiring to his cabin as would be expected of him. At approximately 0300 hours on 07-07-1980, the Scorpion entered the vicinity of an unknown object. I say that we entered the vicinity because it remained stationary throughout the observation; the Scorpion moved into the object’s path. Ritter directed us towards it; I feared an imminent collision but nobody else on the crew appeared to share my nerves.
Whatever it was, it dragged the submarine deeper until we passed crush-depth. Despite several attempts, we were unable to get free of the object, like it wrapped itself around us in a tight hold; only later did I learn the truth. When we rose, it was not in the same place we had been. Captain Ritter used the periscope once we were at the appropriate depth, mumbling under his breath. I don’t wish to know what he saw, or what looked back at him through the scope. With the captain’s permission, a small group was formed to explore the unknown area around the Scorpion.
The first fact, we could breathe although the air was thinner like we were at a high altitude. It was also hot, though I would not say humid. I was joined by Cox, Samuels, Nero, O’Conner, Warden, Westbrook, Saluki, Mahoney, Ryder, Yaks, and Bishop. Cox and Samuels stopped halfway through our trip, Samuels complained of asthma though I’ve never seen him show any sign of asthma before; I think he feared climbing the hill before us.
It was like walking through a wild forest, with only a small path to follow. The submarine had risen in what looked like a pond, though oddly the water was frozen into ice. We’d brought the arctic with us, or so it seemed. I saw several large tentacles wrapped around the hull, holding it in place. It was like an octopus holding a fish, right before consuming it. At the time, I couldn’t see anything else of the object holding the submarine.
The ten of us followed the path until we came to a ruined city, like those built by the Mayans. It looked long abandoned, some humanoid skeletons were visible. I don’t want to say human because they weren’t, over seven feet tall with thick brows and long limbs; they were some twisted artist’s imagination of what we were beneath skin and muscle. We headed toward a high pyramid that seemed to be the center of the city. Like the rest of the city it looked abandoned, with those strange vines like those where Cox and Samuels had stopped growing up it, reclaiming it for the horrid jungle. We had to climb the steps to a small temple on the apex; it wasn’t easy. By the time we finally reached the temple we were covered in sweat, the walk took us several minutes.
Waiting inside was an elderly man. He had wild eyes and was covered in more tattoos than clothing. He spoke some language that I’ve never heard before and pointed to a balcony. He was in the act of performing an odd dance around a pit of fire, roasting a humanoid being. I was too disgusted to stay in the man’s presence, so willingly I followed my comrades onto the balcony. From it we could see the submarine in the pool, far in the distance more than ten miles I don’t recall walking. I noticed that the Scorpion seemed free, though the land just east of the pond was destroyed as if something large had passed through that way. The man started saying one word repeatedly loud and clear so we could understand. I never imagined that he was summoning something.
An indescribable horror wrapped itself around the pyramid, opening its jaws near the balcony. Those same octopus tentacles took hold of the stone structure as the wild man poured sand on the flaming pit. In some strange sense of ecstasy he heaved the corpse before the creature. Its tongue rolled from the gaping abyss like an anaconda, taking the offering though it was small compared to its girth. I don’t think that it was satisfied because the tongue lashed out at Warden, pulling him to the balcony’s edge. Before we could react, it pulled him in and swallowed him whole. While the man kept saying Leviathan, the abomination was eating the seamen one at a time. It bit down on Nero and O’Conner with a large hawkish beak and tossed them into the air before snatching them on their descent. It tried the same trick with Saluki but missed; the doomed man’s body crashed to the temple’s vine-cover stone surface and exploded. I can’t describe it any other way. We didn’t have weapons so our only chance was to escape.
Yaks was grabbed by one of the thing’s tentacles, its hooked suckers impaled him and dropped the dead body in the creature’s expectant mouth. When we’d run from the temple, it turned its attention to the old man. The crazed man cried out gleefully as the creature’s long tongue pulled him in. I wasn’t going to stay around any longer to see what else it would do; it let out a roar of anger once we’d passed from its immediate reach; though I imagine it still could’ve caught us with one of its larger tentacles. For some reason it didn’t, maybe it wasn’t hungry anymore.
At the bottom of the temple waited more humanoids; uncivilized monkeys wielding wooden spears. They attacked us, maiming several of the men. As the seamen fell to their wounds, which were by no means fatal, the humanoids descended on them and beat them with clubs made from stone. As the grass turned the color of blood they began crying out “Leviathan,” which made the unspeakable horror turn to them. It swallowed the sacrifices, as well as a few of the humanoids. But it spit their bones back out, knocking a couple of the warriors unconscious. The creature, which I’ve taken to be Leviathan, had a large head which was mostly a mouth with eyes; it had a snake-like body and the lower portion of it was split into more than a dozen tentacles longer than the Scorpion.
Four of us survived the initial attack by the monkeys, but three were taken down by the uncivilized brutal attacks before we’d reached the relative isolation of the forest. I couldn’t see the creature, though in my nightmares I think it chased us. When I reached Cox I pulled him back to the Scorpion; Samuels appeared alive but decayed like a skeleton; a few vines had grabbed hold of him and were leeching the life from the man. I never looked back to see if we were pursued, though I heard the crashing sound of something large breaking through the trees. I was stunned to see the monster already sliding back into the pond and grabbing the Scorpion, it had finished its meal and was returning the cold cylinder to the arctic. When we reached the submarine, it was pulled back under the water violently and returned to the arctic sea.
After we had control of the Scorpion, Ritter turned us back to port. Three days had passed during the incident.

Further Recommendations:
The crew of the Scorpion saw things they weren’t authorized to witness, violating the code of clearance; forfeiting their lives. The Scorpion is to be decommissioned and destroyed, pieces are NOT to be sold or reused in the construction of future submarines or any other vessel. The crew of the Scorpion will be separated and they will be terminated in whichever ways are most convenient. No US vessel is to enter the region that the Scorpion reported the incident having occurred.

Credit: Michael Bertolini

The “Dark Afternoon” Tape – Real or Hoax?

February 25, 2017 at 12:00 AM


Not sure if this is the right place to post this story, but it’s way to creepy not to share it.

A friend of mine was at my house browsing the Dark Web with TOR (don’t ask what he was doing there) when he came across a site that supposedly showcased banned content from the regular web, like gruesome crime scene photos and such. Anyway, he searched around for a while when he came across a story with an audio clip that he thought looked cool. So he started listening, figuring it would be nothing special – until he heard it. The more he listened, the more upset he became. Suddenly, he stood up, took off the headphones and threw them on the desk. He looked really shaken. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “That ******* audio file!” So, now, of course I wanted to hear it myself. But he quickly deleted the sound file and closed TOR. I asked what was so bad about it and he said it was like hearing a real-life “snuff tape” only this was an entire group of people – including young kids! I said it was fake and he yelled back, “No! This **** is totally real!”

He quickly left, but forgot he saved the story. So I sat down and read it. This is the actual text, copied and pasted exactly as is. A real Creepy Pasta! I’m still to afraid to listen to the audio myself – if I could ever find it.

I did find a short movie based on the tape that shows a police photo of the real tape and it even plays a tiny piece of the actual audio at the end. It gives the town a fake name and changes some other stuff too, but doesn’t matter, it still sends shivers down my spine every time I watch it. Supposedly the actual tape is much more disturbing.


Editorial by **** ******
Associated Press: For Immediate Release

“As a journalist, I’ve investigated everything from political corruption to celebrity scandals to international cybercrime. But never have I come across something so bizarre and deeply disturbing as a simple audio tape.

I received it at work from my late aunt’s estate who possessions were divided amongst remaining family members after her death. Of everything she had, only one item was personally requested to go a specific family member, me.

It was a small box containing a tape labeled, “The Dark Afternoon”. I could not understand why she had wanted me to have the tape and no one else. Underneath it, I saw a note scribbled in her handwriting. My aunt wrote that the tape was an actual emergency recording made from the dispatch unit at the small town police station she once worked at in the early 1970s. The last sentence made the point that she personally knew a few of the callers on the tape. I thought, “So what.” I soon found out.

Curious, I played it.

An hour later, I was shaking, literally. It was without a doubt the single most disturbing thing I have ever heard. It’s something that gets under your skin in a way I cannot describe and I’ve seen plenty of gruesome things during my career. I’ve covered wars, crimes, you name it. Much is hard to stomach, but this was different. Maybe it’s the more intimate way you listen to it. Or the loud, in your ear, blood-curdling screams. I don’t know.

It begins with harsh static which is broken by a call from a citizen of the tiny town (which I will not name here) to report a dark, featureless form was outside their house. Standing there. Watching. Unmoving. The dispatcher tells the caller that it’s most likely some kid playing a prank, when a knock sounds on the callers front door. Here, the line goes dead. Creepy, but nothing extraordinary.

Then it happens. Call after call pours in. People all over town report the same dark forms have appeared everywhere. When the dispatcher tried to reassure them it was nothing to be alarmed about, the callers insist there’s something ominous going on and request an officer come by as soon as possible. But with only one officer in town there wasn’t much that could be done.

The callers report the figures were no longer standing there but closing in on them. You hear pounding on doors, windows shattering, sinister laughter, et. You also hear sheer panic and terror in the callers voices as this was happening. It’s very disturbing.

Then gruesome, bizarre things happen to each one. Things I don’t wish to recount.

Finally… there’s static until the tape runs out. All you’re left with is a mental picture of what you think might have happened. Your own imagination is always worse than any photo or video.

I told myself it must be a hoax, just a spooky “ghost tape” made to scare unsuspecting listeners. As a journalist I know there’s no way a town in Twentieth Century America besieged by ominous ‘things’ resulting in numerous deaths would not make the news.

Then, a thought occurred to me, could it be real? Maybe my aunt wanted me to hear it, to investigate it and expose everything on the tape in order to prove it did happen. And that’s what I did.

After checking, it turns out this small town did in fact experience an ‘industrial accident’ that unfortunately took several lives one afternoon during the early 1970s. Friends and family were told by authorities that the bodies of the victims were contaminated and not able to be claimed for burial. And they were right. They could not be claimed. Not because of contamination, but because none of the victims were ever found. No town, state or Federal records reveal that any bodies were ever removed from the town. They just vanished.

A deeper question now arose: Did the number, gender and ages of the people killed in the so-called ‘accident’ correspond in any way to the callers heard on the tape? Every. Last. One. This was no hoax or accident. It was something else, and my aunt knew it.

Needless to say, when I presented the recording and my findings to my press editors, they were more than a little skeptical. However, they were even more worried about the legal ramifications that might result from the town and state’s present authorities if they ever knew what I uncovered. I knew then and there they would never let me publish it.

But that doesn’t mean no one could hear it.

That’s what the Dark Web is for. Containing some of the most twisted things the human mind can come up with: Red Rooms, Murder-Cams, the Dark Web is also a place of anonymity. A place where both users and the sites they visit can remain hidden.

So it was here that I uploaded the audio in hopes that someone somewhere can finally shed light on what really happened on that Dark Afternoon. Do I really want to know?”

Credit: Brimar


September 30, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Cynthia smacked, howled and screamed against Todd Barrett’s motel room window that night. Times like these, he was glad he hadn’t fully committed to “tramping,” and bought himself a fifth-wheel. Sleeping in a camper on a night like this would have been impossible. Instead, he had a soft bed below him, a strong roof above, and a simply superb on-demand adult video channel buzzing before him.

Three months prior, Todd had completed his apprenticeship. Now, he was a full-blown honest-to-no-one lineman. FP&L was shuffling him everywhere in the great state of Florida to keep the electricity flowing. Sometimes it was faulty wiring, but most times, the times Todd liked best, he was hiking up power poles and repairing the damage from Mother Nature’s worst.

Whenever bad weather was on the rise, Todd went out to location prior to the worst of it so he could get to restoring power early the next morning. If Cynthia truly evolved into the horrible raving bitch of a hurricane she was predicted to be, he would have his work cut out for him. He looked forward to the morning. Powerless cities were quieter, the smell of freshly snapped trees was often in the air, and despite the destruction, the birds usually went right on singing.

With a bright surge of light in his motel room, the electricity was gone from the entire building. Todd Barrett’s all-time favorite lesbian porn flick vanished from the screen. He should sleep anyway, he thought, but before he could close his eyes, they were flooded with a blue light that could have competed with the sun. The blue turned to orange, and through his second story window, Todd could see a deluge of sparks raining down in the motel parking lot.

As he stepped to the window, another burst of sparks ejected from the transformer above the lot. If not for the rain, the un-trimmed hedges below would have been set ablaze. In the brief light he saw—did he?—it could have been someone down there, in the in the center of the parking lot. Todd wasn’t sure, until a third spray of particulate fire illuminated the property. It was a man in a white T-shirt and basketball shorts. He was curled up in the fetal position. It was as if he had mistaken the muddy rain puddle for his bed, coiled up and fallen asleep right there. He wasn’t moving but—was he screaming? It was tough to tell over the storm and through the window.

Now came the most ancient of debates, to help or turn away. Todd groaned a mellow “oh, shit,” when he realized he had already made the decision. He was supposed to be a good man. He had told himself he would be making all the right changes ever since mouth had gotten him into trouble. Todd had a knack for talking, usually about others, and often about things they considered personal. Since his black eye from last week, he would drink less beer, help more, hurt less, shut his mouth, and hopefully find a good honest woman some time soon.

Todd Barrett threw on his raincoat and left the room in a hurry. In all likelihood, the sudden electrical flash had temporarily blinded this poor bastard that probably ran out to his car to retrieve his forgotten toothbrush or something. Todd had seen what an overload could do to someone up close, and they were still plenty dangerous from afar.

The motel clerk was gone from her desk, though he saw her flashlight moving in the back office. “Hey, someone’s hurt out there,” he hollered, but heard no reply. Todd pressed the emergency release on the automatic sliding doors, and stepped out into the rain.

Cynthia was indeed an ill-tempered, wild lunatic of a storm. Her winds tried to possess Todd’s very movement. He was soaked instantly; his jeans probably wouldn’t dry for three days. He slowly approached the motionless pile of a man, who was now face down in the flooding parking lot. As Todd drew nearer, some part of him questioned what form of temporary blindness would cause a man to scream into mud like this one seemed to be.

He suddenly realized the error in his assumption that this wet screaming mess had been a tenant of the motel. Maybe he was a roving crack addict or escapee from some kind of institution. Todd lost all interest in placing a comforting hand on the man’s shoulder, but planned to do so anyway—he was here, wasn’t he?

“You’re ok,” were the first, most natural and least accurate words to Todd’s lips, but they were lost to the wind. He repeated them, this time yelling, “You’re ok!” and finally his hand touched the man’s sopping, cold, cotton shirt. The screaming man rolled over and his yelling was quickly reduced to a gurgle through the witch’s brew of mud, rain, saliva, and blood in his mouth. Todd saw the dirty red fluid streaking from all corners of the man’s face, digging miniscule gullies into the mud and gravel stuck there.

Two bloodshot eyes, tucked within that filthy mask, searched wide and eventually locked with Todd’s. The gurgling stopped, and the man aggressively inhaled, no doubt taking in some rainwater, then painfully coughed and wheezed. That was when, from behind Todd, the transformer on the offending power pole breathed fire again, and Todd turned to look at it. What he saw there was no mere utility structure.

Something was clinging to the top of the pole. Mother nature’s light show had stirred up by now, and the thing—whatever it was—was occasionally silhouetted by jagged strikes of lightning in the sky. The first thought into Todd’s mind, of all things, was that this thing was something from The Muppet Show. Its four limbs were of such lanky length that they looked as though only a puppeteer’s wire could move them.

Another flash of lighting brought more unwanted detail. Tufts of hair covered the monster’s impossibly skinny form. It seemed to lack elbows and knees, instead utilizing a slow arcing bend of its slender limbs. There was more, it was doing something up there. Todd watched in disbelief as the nightmare’s almost perfectly spherical head parted into a gaping mouth with canine teeth, and sank them into the transformer. Another blast of sparks was set loose. It looked to be feeding on the power grid.

In perhaps a more delayed reaction than Todd had ever experienced, he began stuttering and repeating the only word his mind seemed to have on hand, “No, no, no, NO!”

The creature halted its feast. It had heard him. Now, the thing’s eyes opened, and their intense glow told Todd that they had previously been closed.

In two moments, Todd would make the absolute greatest mistake of his life. As those infernal, luminous eyes swept their surroundings like headlights, and the rain fell like ocean waves, Todd could have run away; but he didn’t. Crippled by his own fear, he could only stare. The evil eyes found Todd, and he looked back into them. That was when everything changed.

His arms were raised above his head. He heard a plastic, grating sound and felt sharp pain at the back of his head. Todd did not suddenly become aware of the situation, but rather felt it slowly envelope him. He was being dragged down the street. The plastic grating had been the rubbing of asphalt on his rain coat. The pain behind his head was that same rugged surface scratching into his scalp.

It was a bright, moonlit night. Cynthia was long gone from wherever he was now. He raised his head to see the horrible, lanky creature pulling him along by the ankle in slow, lumbering movements. It was much taller than it had initially appeared when beheld at a distance. The thing was maybe nine feet tall, those skinny, jointless legs made up most of the height. Its head hung low, and its free arm slowly swayed to and fro with each step.

Todd actually spent a moment debating whether or not he should play dead. Next he considered that he was likely as good as dead if he didn’t do something. He started with shouting, then kicking. He twisted and rolled and palmed his hands into the surface of the street. His nails dug into the asphalt and were sanded down, along with his now bloodied fingertips. He recoiled his captured leg, hoping to gain ground and attack the monster head on. It was out of reach. He summoned his will power and reached for the disgusting hand that was grasping his ankle. He felt a static shock as he touched its dark, matted fur, and pried with all his might, but could not break the grip. The thing, despite Todd’s violent rebellion, trudged on.

Todd tucked his shirt and raincoat into his pants and tightened his belt, trying to keep his outer layers from wrinkling upward and exposing his bare back to the passing ground. He slowly regained his wits and took in his surroundings. The neighborhood was quiet, it seemed there was no one here to help him. The cars looked older; in fact, he didn’t see a single one that looked newer than nineteen seventy. Over the course of a dreadful two minutes Todd recognized, double checked, and reconfirmed that he was in fact being dragged through the neighborhood in which he had grown up.

He was pulled around a bend, turning onto old Wilkie Avenue. At the end of this street would be a cul-de-sac, at the center of that would be his childhood home. Todd leaned and contorted, trying to see past his captor and catch a glimpse of their destination. He could see that the creature’s open, radiant eyes were lighting the way.

All along the street, his former neighbors stepped out onto their various yards and porches. Each person’s flesh had changed, head to toe, into that same muddy, bleeding mixture he had beheld in the parking lot. They went about their daily lives despite the grotesque transformation. Mr. Davis pressed his thumb over the end of a hose and sprayed grass clippings off of his sidewalk. Karly Mason, dressed in her now darkly soiled pink tutu, performed pirouettes and plies for the world to admire. Todd tried not to look.

His miserable guided tour continued, up the curb, across the driveway, onto the porch and through the door. As the creature lumbered up the flight of stairs towards the second floor, Todd grabbed hold of the banister and squeezed with everything he had. The creature pulled so hard, Tom thought his leg might rip from its socket, but before it could, the wooden post cracked and snapped in two.

Up the green-carpeted stairs, and down the second floor hallway he went. He knew whose bedroom was at the end, and as he was pulled into it, he observed muddied, bleeding versions of both his parents. They were pressed up against the wall, wildly trying to conceive his younger brother, all to the beat with The O’Jay’s “Love Train,” which seemed to be blaring from the very walls. It had once been a younger Todd’s favorite song. He screamed, flipped and kicked but couldn’t seem to close his eyes.

Todd’s horrible, gangling tour guide stepped out the second story window, dragging a now crying Todd with it. He was pulled out, to his surprise, not onto the roof, but the dirty surface of his old school yard. There he watched the imaginary battles of his youth turn real, as each of his mud-caked, bleeding, friends were slaughtered by one another.

By what could have been called the second day of being dragged—though time did not exist in this place—Todd had already seen most every location he once cherished. He was dragged through the ’64 Chevy Station Wagon in which he had received his first blowjob. He made a hot lap around his high school while listening to “Love Train” and watching a disgusting rendition of his old football team gnaw out each other’s muddy throats.

Todd’s raincoat had mostly withered to Swiss cheese at this point, and his cotton undershirt didn’t provide much protection from the ground’s coarse sandpaper effect. He resorted to sitting up, entrusting his rugged jeans to hold up at least twice as long as the jacket. He and his silent captor had just about completely caught up on his life by now, and Todd assumed an end of some kind was close at hand.

On the third day of the dragging, Tom was pulled out of the dark motel room that he wished he had never left. He was brought through the lobby, out into the rain, and past the screaming man he had hoped to help. Beyond that, everything turned bright. The rain stopped, and Todd finally felt the sun on his face. To either side of him, he saw vast, endless lines of wavy dunes. It was a desert that existed somewhere outside of his own memory.

On the fifth day, his entire upper layer of clothing had completely worn away. Grating, hot sand grinded into his wounds and formed a layer of bloody paste around him. If he had tried to scream, his dry throat would have yielded no sound. The sun had burned his face and chest to the point of blistering. The sand had rubbed his back down to mere muscle. It also seemed that hunger existed in this place, though it could not kill. Todd’s mind failed him, as he began thrashing wildly, no longer hoping to escape, but letting out his rage and trying to distract from the pain.

Day ten approached, and the dunes rolled on. Todd’s rag of a body was pulled past the rusting hulk of an old Lockheed airliner, the decaying hull of a cargo ship, and a few other scraps of metal that his weak eyes couldn’t identify. Above in the tauntingly blue sky, Todd observed a ringed planet, hosting a family of several moons. “Love Train,” rolled on, echoing unstoppably from deep within his mind. He turned over, opting to let the ceaseless sun destroy his back, which had been stripped of its nerve endings. He braced for the grating pain of sand on his wretchedly burned chest.

By the fifteenth day, Todd’s muscles had been stripped past the point of use. The lost layers left him more closely resembling his captor than any human. Thirty pounds of flesh had been shredded away from his miserable body. Knowing he should have been long dead by now, he wondered what he had done to deserve what he feared would be an eternity of senseless agony.

On day twenty, Todd suspected that by tomorrow, he would lose his mind entirely, and that might be good. He was well on his way to ending up just like—

His feeble mind stopped, reversed course, and retraced its steps. He would end up just like the man in the parking lot—Insane. In a merciful flash, Todd understood it all so clearly. This creature wasn’t something told of around a campfire. He had never heard a single word spoken about such a monster—Why? This had all started the moment he locked eyes with this terrible creature. He had seen it, and it knew he had. Todd had never heard of the monster because no one who saw it could ever speak of it—or anything—again. It was a secret. Now, for witnessing that secret, Todd was being driven insane.

He struggled to form the words with his brittle lips, but couldn’t. There was no way for his vocal cords to produce a sound. He tried anyway. If mouthing the four words was all he could do, he would do so for the rest of his tour.

I won’t tell anyone, he said, though it was really more a thought than spoken word, and a remarkable thing happened. The creature stopped. Todd felt his own foot drop into the sand. The creature, gangly, yet somehow graceful, crawled right over top of him. Through its disgusting dark tufts of fur, Todd could see what might have been eyes; they looked deeper into him than any human eyes ever could.

The creature grunted, stood, and from Todd’s perspective, its towering form was never so apparent. It turned, and lumbered away, off into the endless dunes. The creature could not whistle as it walked, so the wind did so for it.

Todd was alone now, lying there in that blasted desert, somewhere outside the realm of rationality where pain met time. A sudden breeze kicked sand into his eyes. His decaying fingers curled and gripped the sand to find that it was now wet, and not sand but mud. Water, sweet cooling water, fell onto his wounds and flowed in all around him.

He was no longer in the dune, but laying in the motel parking lot, next to a man who, little did he know, had been dragged for three thousand and eighty days, all in an instant; all for looking where he shouldn’t.

Above Todd, in a weightless perch on the power lines, was the creature. It blinked once at him, spread its limbs, and caught a gale of Cynthia’s wind. With one flash of lightning, Todd saw the silhouette of that hellish puppet disappear into the thunderclouds. He wondered if he was the only one to have laid eyes on the being and survived with half his mind, or if there were others that shared his secret. He would never know. For the rest of his dark, broken life, Todd would never speak of the monster that almost cost him his sanity with a single glance; and the world’s most ancient secret went on unheard of, riding the winds of violent storms until wind itself was no more.

Credit: Timothy Attewell

The Grinning Man

June 27, 2016 at 12:00 AM

February 20th, 1979.

“August 15th, 1975. That was the first time. You ever heard of cryptozoology? “The study of hidden animals” as it is officially defined, but often mixed up with talk of UFOs and aliens and other such crap. I must admit I’ve always been fascinated by urban legends; the Mothman of West Virginia, the Chupacabra in the south, hell even those old timey reports of freaks like Spring-Heeled Jack who was clearly just some madman in a costume. But I don’t go for the big ones, those sensationalised glory hounds like ‘the Loch Ness Monster’ or ‘Bigfoot’. Please. No, I’m fascinated more by those that are localised, you know, the ones that are first mentioned by some nut in some pissy little town as you get lost on the way to nowhere and that don’t suddenly have appearances all over the country. They always seem to have a kernel of truth hidden in them, and are most of the time far harder to explain away. Anyway, one in particular caught my eye that night as I trawled through old newspaper reports that my father had squirrelled away in the attic. He too had lived with a fascination for the inexplicable and had heavily researched legends and mysteries in the years leading up to his death. The paper I found was a yellowing copy of the Daily Journal of Elizabeth, New Jersey, dated October 12th, 1966. Highlighted by my father was a small paragraph, almost as an afterthought, reporting that two boys, Martin Munov and James Yanchitis had been harassed by a strange figure on their way home the night before. There was no real description, just a warning for anyone who had seen anyone strange in the area to report it to police. The article was titled “Who is the Grinning Man?’”

Mr Dennell pauses to take a sip of water from the decanter between us. My dictaphone whirrs softly in the silence.

“I wouldn’t have taken much notice, I mean, the ‘Grinning Man’? That’s got to be the worst name for a mysterious being since the Melon Heads of Michigan. But I found it odd that my father had been interested enough to keep the report. So I dug. It took me almost a month after his death to clear that attic of old newspapers and half completed scrapbooks, and in that time I found only one other mention of the Grinning Man, this time in a clipping from another ‘66 newspaper. It mentioned a fellow who claimed to have been stopped on the road by a tall man with a wide grin who conversed without moving his lips. Interesting as it sounded, it wasn’t exactly a lot to go on. Nevertheless, when we sold his house I kept both the clippings along with a few other mystery filled scrapbooks found buried in the mess. In the weeks that followed, I began to notice a nagging feeling, that same itch I get whenever something feels unfinished. Carol used to call it my ‘busy radar’ and used to complain that I was never happy unless I was working.”

He smiles, apparently lost in thought.

“Eventually it was pure coincidence that I truly started investigating the question of the Grinning Man. I was reporting on Hurricane Eloise for the New York Times in September 1975 and had been sent to New Jersey City to compare the damages to those suffered in New York. Fucking waste of time that was, sent to report on light floods that caused little to no property damage while my own city was smashed by the torrent. My busy radar hadn’t stopped itching. Finding myself with free time I recalled that the first sighting of the Grinning Man had been in Elizabeth, not ten miles from the city centre. On a whim I went in search of the two boys mentioned in the first of my fathers articles, doubting that they’d still live in the area but intrigued, or bored enough to find out. It took a while, but eventually I made contact with James Yanchitis, now in his early twenties, who agreed to meet with me. As I shook his hand outside a café that evening my first thought was how withdrawn he looked, as though he hadn’t slept a full night in a very long time. The story he told me was far more informative than the article had suggested. And far more chilling.”

Mr Dennell falls silent. After an extended pause he reaches into his pocket and places a little cassette player on the table next to my dictaphone and thumbs the play button. It is a poor quality recording, and the voice that crackles out of it is quite young. Throughout, Mr Dennell doesn’t say a word.

”We were walking home. It was dark, but the streetlights lit enough for us to see you know? I was nervous. Ms. Lloyd claimed to have been chased by a strange man in the area earlier that night and while Martin teased me about it I could see he was pretty freaked too. But I was the first to see him. Across the road and behind a fence was a tall hill that led up to the turnpike, and it was steep you know? Like, real steep. At the bottom on the other side of the fence was just scrubland, and in it was a figure. I remember hitting Martin and pointing at it. From what I could see it was a man, standing mostly in shadow, turned so that we were looking half at his back, half at his side. He was staring straight ahead, like at a house across the road or something. He didn’t move when I stopped Martin, but when I pointed at him… He turned. Slowly. As his bald head swivelled to face us I noticed one thing immediately. He was grinning. Leering. Like, really wide. He pivoted on the spot and stared straight at us, but his eyes were messed, massive and black. Fuck man we were frozen, it was terrifying. Martin was the first to move, he took a step backwards. The man didn’t move, just stared, arms limply by his sides. That was all we needed, we bolted, not waiting for him to climb the fence and come after us. I glanced over my shoulder once as we ran. It was like he hadn’t moved, but he was now on our side of the fence. Nor had his eyes strayed, staring at us. Or his grin. Wide. Terrifying.”

The cassette crackles for a few seconds more before falling silent with a click. Mr Dennell slowly reaches out and picks it up, placing it back in his pocket.

“Yanchitis struggled to say much more, but he did give me a basic description. Tall, well over six feet, wearing a dark green overcoat. But it was the face that was the most defining feature, the insane grin on a pale face that stuck into his memory and haunted him every night.”

As Mr Dennell pauses again I can’t help glancing around furtively myself. The room is empty, nobody but my interviewee and myself. The table between us is strewn with papers, all blank. The door behind is still closed and the light above illuminates the room brightly, almost harshly despite the late hour. Mr Dennell continues.

“I didn’t sleep much that night. My imagination was running rampant; all I could picture was the man Yanchitis had described. When I closed my eyes his grin followed me and in all my dreams he haunted me. But that was before I really knew what haunted meant. It happened two days later, as I pulled up to a gas station on the road out of New Jersey.”

By this point Mr Dennell is becoming increasingly agitated, his hands are twitching and his voice is increasingly strained, even frightened.

“It was dark, probably nine-ish, maybe closer to ten. I had just filled up and was climbing back into my car when I noticed something in the laneway beside the station. The lane was dark, but a streetlight at the other end illuminated enough for me to catch sight of a figure near the other side. It had its back to me, but I could make out that it was tall, taller than me and wearing a dark grey suit over a thin frame. It was bald, and even from behind I could tell that something was off, as though proportions were slightly wrong, or it held itself strangely. Even with a sense of fear growing in me I called out. I regret that probably more than any other decision I’ve made in my life. It swivelled, so suddenly and so quickly that I shouted out loud. Its face. Its face was wrong. White, long, with deep black holes where the eyes should be. But its mouth. It was grinning, a locked grin that was far too wide, far too big. No human could make that expression. Hands by its sides it grinned at me down the laneway, but made no further move. After a few seconds I glanced away, to look inside the station, see if there was anyone who could help. When I turned back, it had moved closer. I hadn’t seen it walk. I didn’t see it take a single step. In the second or so I had glanced away it had advanced at least ten feet, and now stood halfway down the lane in the darkness. Only its face could be seen, split in half by the blackness of the alley, and it was unchanged. Still staring, still grinning. I have never seen anything more subtly threatening. Or more unquestionably. I crouched, never taking my eyes off it, and fumbled for the handgun under the seat of my car. I couldn’t find it, and in my fear I glanced away again. When I stood, pistol in hand it was closer still. It stood, grinning, not twenty feet from me at the entrance of the laneway, face in total darkness but for the eyes boring into mine, the grin fixed and horrifying. I couldn’t help it, I yelled and fired my gun, the bullet hitting it straight bang in the stomach. The damn thing didn’t react, didn’t make a sound, didn’t even twitch as the bullet hit it. In terror I unloaded the clip straight in its chest. It was like nothing had happened. I lost it, I freaked out. Screaming and crying I leapt into my car, rammed in the keys and gunned the engine, tearing off down the road without even closing my door. I got one glance through the rear-view mirror. It was on the road, watching my car fading into the distance, its eyes unmoving and its grin frozen. I didn’t stop the car again until the sun rose.”

Mr Dennell’s glass hits the floor. He is frozen, breathing deeply, shuddering occasionally. I suggest that we take a break, continue our interview tomorrow, but he waves the suggestion away. He doesn’t seem to notice the glass shattered at his feet.

“Over the coming days and weeks sleep became a fantasy beyond my grasp. Every time I closed my eyes it was there, a ghastly spectre that inhabited my dreams and haunted my every waking moment. I began to see it everywhere I went. Never clearly, never for more than a moment, but it was there. A silhouette on my wall. A figure at the end of a dark street. A face glimpsed in every crowd. I wasn’t eating, I couldn’t concentrate on my work, so sure was I that if I let my guard down for a second it’d be there. The fear that it was following me became too much; I found myself hunting for it, desperate to catch sight of it for more than a second, to prove that it was real, to make sure I wasn’t mad. I became… obsessed, simultaneously frantic to find and terrified to encounter it. Carol could only watch helplessly as my terror consumed me. This continued for far too long, until eventually I found it again.”

A soft clinking can be heard as Mr Dennell shifts in his seat, his dark glasses hiding pain filled eyes from my sight.

“Three years had passed since my encounter with the Grinning Man. Three long years of insomnia and terror, of paranoia and isolation. I had long since lost my job, I would rarely leave my study, working feverishly into the night to uncover further clues on the spectre that haunted me. Only Carol stood by me, worried but faithful. Loving; more than I reciprocated and far more than I deserved. It was late, I was in the study; Carol was downstairs in the living room. I could hear the muffled sounds of the television leaking through the floorboard under my feet. A tapping at my window snapped me from my work. Three slow beats, too rhythmic to be natural. Tap, tap, tap.”

Mr Dennell beats the table with his knuckles for emphasis.

“I would have no doubt ignored it if it weren’t for one factor; I was on the second floor, with no trees near this side of the house. The blinds were down, I couldn’t see out. My heart began hammering as I edged towards the windowsill, pen still in hand, reaching slowly for the string to raise the blinds. Tap, tap, tap. I leapt back as it repeated, and it was a long minute before I steeled the nerve to approach it again. With a deep breath I grabbed the string and heaved the blinds open. Nothing. No bald face, no staring eyes, no fixed grin. Nothing. I fell back into my chair, unsure whether to laugh or cry with relief. What had I expected really? I seem to recall I laughed, chuckling to myself as my heart rate slowed. Until there came a piercing scream from downstairs. Adrenaline fired into my veins and I leapt to my feet as the scream came again. Carol. Without hesitation I wrenched the door wide and charged downstairs, calling out, shouting her name, wielding my pen like a dagger. Through the living room; empty. Down the hall; silent. Into the kitchen; into a scene of nightmare. The lights were on, bright, too bright, illuminating everything in perfect detail. The back door was open wide, the kitchen light spilling out onto the porch, cutlery was strewn all over the floor and Carol lay in the middle of the tiles. She was lying on her stomach, but she was face up. Her head had been turned until it faced fully backwards, her wide eyes staring straight at me and a grin on her face. A locked grin that was far too wide, far too big. She was dead, yet her eyes pierced me, the grin taunted me, haunted me and I screamed. I screamed and I screamed and fell to my knees, unable to move, to breathe, to think. Her face was burned into my eyes, merging with the mask of horror that already plagued my every living moment. I couldn’t approach her, didn’t dare touch the corpse that had once been my wife, my beacon of support. I turned and stumbled into the hall, crashing through the living room door where the television was still playing, filling the room with laughter. The sound consumed everything, laughter, constant, unchanging, driving me into a fit of blind panic. With a roar I leapt up, intent on smashing the infernal machine into a million pieces, but something stopped me. It was off. The television was black, dead. Yet the laughter still echoed through the room, growing louder and more unnatural with every second. I lifted the box and slammed it into the floor again and again, shattering the glass, splintering the wood and yet still the laughter did not stop. Hands bloodied, tears steaming down my face I plunged back into the hallway, tearing up the staircase to my study for the phone, desperate to call someone, anyone for help. The room was as I’d left it, desk messy, lights dim, blinds raised. Except that a face now stared through the glass. White, long, with gaping black eyes too far apart that locked into mine and didn’t waver. It was grinning, a fixed grin that was far too wide, far too big. No human could make that expression.”

Mr Dennell is in a frenzy, he strains and tears at the handcuffs that bind him to his seat. I grab my Dictaphone and leap to my feet as he manages to upturn the table, sending papers flying across the white floor of his cell, some fluttering into the two-way glass window behind me. Still locked into the chair bolted into the floor, it’s a long while before he calms down enough to continue, his voice exhausted, his tone dead.

“I couldn’t look away. It was there. He was there. As he’d always been. Watching me. His face was seared into my eyes, Carol’s face was seared into my eyes, denying me escape from the nightmare I had been plunged into. I would never be free of his torment. Unless I… I stood up again, locked my gaze with the demon. The pen was still in my hand… and I plunged it into my eye. First one, then the other. Agony raged as an inferno as I fell to the floor, succumbing to the blackness. But now I was free. Now I am free of ever seeing the creature again.”

Mr Dennell’s head slumps in exhaustion and his sunglasses drop to the floor. Then he begins to laugh. Slowly, quietly, growing louder and louder until he raises his head and stares at me with eyes that are no longer there. Black holes in a pale face twisted into a mask of insane laughter. I back away from the chair, from the man chained to the centre of the room, turning for the door. As I slam my fist into it I glance down at one of the blank pages that had been thrown to the floor. Not blank, just upside down. The other side was now revealed; a charcoal sketch of a face. It was grinning; a demonic visage; no human could make that expression. As the door was opened from the outside I stumbled out, throwing one last look into the cell I had just left. Mr. Dennell was still laughing manically, the chains holding him to his chair, the floor littered with hundreds upon hundreds of blank pages which were now revealed to be drawings, all drawings, all of one thing. A face. With a locked grin that was far too wide, far too big. I shuddered and slammed the door closed.

Credit: N. Harley


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