Fear Is An Open Door

April 7, 2015 at 12:00 AM

(October 12, 2014. Summerville Psychiatric Hospital for Extended Stay Patients. Interview of Elizabeth Hope Porter, age 17, admitted on September 27, 2013 by force via parental signature and doctor recommendation, currently undergoing treatment for acute delusional disorder and schizophrenia. Dictated by Porter, recorded, and transcribed for records and training purposes.)

Hello. Can you hear me? The doctor told me to talk into this little tape recorder. Sorry if it’s a little hard to hear me – I can’t move very far in my jacket, and my feet and chair are strapped to the floor. I’m kind of stretching to reach the microphone. Well, the doctors behind the window are giving me the thumbs-up, so I guess that means everything’s fine. High quality mic. I should probably start now, right? Yep, they’re nodding.

The doctor told me to talk about what we discussed when I first came here. I had been ranting on about how I wasn’t afraid anymore, that the thing that I feared was finally gone. He asked me what I was afraid of – or what I had been afraid of.

That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? I mean, humans fear a lot of things, don’t we? We’re scared of bugs, the ocean, a paper cut – normal things, silly things, things we see on a daily basis and yet tremble at the sight of for one reason or another. I can’t really relate to that. I mean, bugs are kind of ugly, but there’s nothing to be afraid of in something you can remove from existence just by smashing it with your dad’s size twelve shoe. And the ocean is indeed full of dangers like sharks and drowning, but why fear it when the answer is perfectly simple – learn to swim or don’t get in the water? As for paper cuts, they only hurt for a second and then are forgotten, no more lethal than stubbing your toe or bumping your elbow. What’s so scary about seeing the fluid that makes you alive bubbling up on the outside? It astounds me, really, the things people are scared of. I understand being cautious of things that will kill you, but stuff like this? Geez, get your priorities straight, humanity.

That said, there is one fear that I can understand, one that, I suppose, you can call irrational, even if it isn’t to me.

You know how, in movies, the character is walking down a dark hall or through some abandoned building at night, and suddenly a door to their right starts to rattle? Or they hear breathing or scratching or downright screams coming from behind it? You know how they move towards it so damn slowly, dreading every step closer, wanting to open it but so incredibly scared to do so?

I’ve always hated that. I’d watch a scene like that and think, “That’s not scary. Why the hell is she so scared of a closed door?”

Most people, I’m sure, would say something like, “Because there’s something terrible on the other side. Because, when she opens it, she might see something awful or get a faceful of straight-up monster-murderer death.”

To that, I say… I don’t disagree. Anything could be hiding behind a closed door, anything at all. A vile monster, a portal to another world, your parents having five minutes’ worth of quick-while-the-kids-are-outside sex – there’s no telling what’s behind a piece of two-inch-thick hardwood in the average house, haunted or otherwise.

But that’s the kicker. It’s behind a door, a closed door. There’s a barrier between you and the potential danger. If there is something on the other side, something sinister and unsightly, it can’t get to you unless the door is opened. That’s why scenes like the ones in bad horror movies always piss me off. If you don’t like the look of that suspicious door in front of you or don’t appreciate the unhealthy sounds coming from behind it, they why don’t you just turn around and walk away from the goddamn door? You don’t have to open it and face a fate worse than death. You can just leave it be, ignore it, maybe even lock it for good measure. Doors have locks for a reason. Better still, how about you just barricade it further? Put up some planks of wood, drag a dresser in front of it, even your own two hands would work if you’re strong enough.

See, to me, a closed door is the most comforting sight in the whole wide world.

Now an opened door… that’s another story.

The doctors just gave each other this look. I can tell this is what they’ve wanted me to talk about this whole time. Sorry, I tend to get ranty about stuff like this. My brain has set paths it likes to go on, and I kind of have to follow them. Not my fault.

Okay, where was I? Oh, right. Open doors. I used to hate open doors. Hate them with a capital H-A-T-E. There’s just something so… unsettling about them. A passageway, left ajar by a careless hand, allowing access to anything and everything that lay on the other side. It’s even worse when the lights are off in the room, and I can’t see what’s inside. Oh, but it can see me, though. Even if I’m all the way down the hall or even around the corner, I knows it’s there, wanting to cross the threshold but unable to, completely aware of my presence on the other side. At least, when a door’s closed, it can’t see me. It’s trapped behind a barrier it can’t physically move on its own, silenced and banished to whatever realm it lives in when it’s not trying to break into my world. Behind the door, it can’t whisper to me, can’t tempt me to close its only entrance, can’t snatch me up and drag me through into some dark and horrid place. It can only get me if someone leaves the door open, like an invitation, you might say.

I bet I know what you’re thinking. What am I talking about? What’s “it”? Well… I don’t really know. I’ve never been one hundred percent on what exactly the… let’s call it the thing in the doorway… is.

I just know that open doors have always frightened me. Since I was in diapers. A doorway wasn’t safe unless I was the one who opened the door. Only I could do it fast enough to trick the thing inside from seizing the opportunity to catch me between rooms. My record is less than two seconds to open, get in, and close, though I think five is probably the longest I have to get the door closed again. I learned over the years exactly how to trick it.

No one else ever seemed to care about this problem. Doors were always left open wherever I went – at school, at the mall, at home, everywhere. Gaping maws filled with something that apparently only I could see. I got mad at people who didn’t close doors behind them, mad enough to throw tantrums and cause some pretty bad scenes out in public. I cried when my parents tucked me in and forgot to close my bedroom door at night, unable to sleep until they did. I even refused to go to the bathroom in my own home if someone left the door open after using it.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy living like this. I lost friends faster than I made them, I missed a lot of days at school, and I passed up many opportunities because something (or a lack thereof) stood in my way. I went to a lot of therapists as a child. Both they always asked me why I did this, why I couldn’t be around open doors. To this day, I still can’t give them a better answer than… because I just couldn’t. I knew from the bottom of my heart that something lay in wait inside every doorway I saw, something evil and hungry and waiting for me to finally slip up and fall into its clutches.

Here at the hospital, they make me take little orange pills to calm me down, but, before I came here, I never accepted medication, despite advice from therapists. I’m okay with it now, but back then I was sure that taking anything at all would give the thing in the doorway an advantage over me. Can’t trick a monster when you’re addlebrained, you know? So, instead, my family had to reconstruct their lives to fit around, what they called, “my condition.” Doors were always closed at home, and every knob had a lock on it inside and out, even the closets. I even had a nanny for a while who came to school with me to make sure I wasn’t bothered by carelessly opened lockers or lunchroom doors.

Everything went smoothly for a good sixteen years. It wasn’t perfect – I had many panic attacks and public outbursts, I suffered some pretty bad bouts of depressions, and there was never a moment where I felt truly safe, where I wasn’t thinking of that thing every time a hinge creaked or a lock clicked. But I learned to live with it. I had my routines, my rituals, my coping mechanisms. I had my family’s cooperation and unconditional support. And I had a key for every door in my house.

Sixteen tense but stable years. Then the bad night came.

Ah, that got their attention. All the doctors are looking at me now, a wall of bright, glittering eyes. I think they’re all interns or something, people who haven’t heard this story yet, the reason everyone thinks I belong here. The only one who’s not ogling me is my personal doctor. He’s the only one who knows the whole thing already. Well, I guess I should get around to telling it, right? Maybe they’ll understand better than the doctor did. Maybe they’ll actually be on my side.

Oh, I just realized. I haven’t mentioned Tyler yet, have I? Well, Tyler’s my… little brother. Hmm, how do I put this? He… got a kick out of “my condition.” He just loved to tease me about it. He purposely left doors open around the house, jiggled the locks late at night, and made me chase him to doorways, where I would freeze and glare at him while he made stupid faces and dared me to cross the threshold. God, I despised him for it. He never understood how much panic and terror he caused me every time a door flew open followed by his dorky little laugh. It was a miracle I didn’t have gray hair by the time I was a teenager.

He was getting better, though. When I was thirteen, I’d smashed his face into a doorframe as he was trying to pull me through it into the other room. The doctor said I’d broken his nose and part of his left eye socket. After that, he didn’t tease me as much. I guess pain was the only way to get it through to little brats like him that tormenting me was a no-no. That said, I couldn’t do it all the time. My parents freaked after that first incident, and, any time I was tempted to do it again, they threatened me with trips to the psych ward. That calmed me a little. After all, psych ward meant pills, and pills meant addlebrained, and addlebrained meant the thing in the doorway would have no trouble getting its wicked claws on me.

So, last year, on a warm night in September, my parents were going out to a party and asked me to babysit Tyler. This wasn’t unusual. I was doing much better in terms of handling “my condition,” so they trusted me with watching my brother for short periods of time. They left around five and promised to be home after one in the morning. I made some mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner, and, at the table, I warned Tyler not to cause trouble for the rest of the night. I even promised to let him stay up until midnight if he behaved. He obliged with a mouth full of gooey cheese, but I saw that little gleam in his eye, that impish gleam of mischief yet to come. Pfft. Once a brat, always a brat.

But the night wore on, and everything seemed okay. We kept our distance from each other, I watching TV in the living room on one side of the house, Tyler playing in his room (the door shut) on the other. By eleven o’ clock, I was contently munching on popcorn and getting lost in a marathon of NCIS, my mind the farthest from doorways it had ever been. I even forgot that Tyler was in the house until, during a commercial, I heard his bedroom door open.

Immediately, I hit Mute on the remote and listened. See, I knew the sound of every door in that house. Each creak and squeak was unique in my ears. I counted how many times the hinges pealed open and groaned closed on my brother’s particularly squeaky bedroom door. Open, close, followed by footsteps, then open, close again. That was the bathroom door. I could tell by the wooden erk sound it made when he shut it. Now I just had to wait for him to finish his business and go back to his room. I wouldn’t be able to sit still until I knew all the door sounds were cycled through. Tyler knew this. He also knew that he wouldn’t hear the end of it if I heard an off number of door clicks.

I watched the muted screen and listened carefully.

Toilet flush. Bathroom door, smooth open, erk close.

Footsteps down the hall.

Bedroom door, squeak open and…

And…

I listened, but there was no second squeak that signified he closed the door. The house remained perfectly, painfully silent. My heart was already starting to pound in my chest, a-gong, a-gong, a-gong, liquid in my ears. I pressed back into the couch and waited a moment longer. He’s just messing with me, I thought. He’s just making me paranoid. Hell, he’s probably about to burst out laughing any second now and slam the door shut.

I waited. But there was still nothing. Just silence.

Now the panic kicked in. A door was open. A door was open in the house. Even though it was on the other side of the house, I could practically feel it like a scab on the bottom of my foot. The thing was there now, it was in that open space between my brother’s room and the hallway, gathering itself up, becoming solid, searching for me, waiting for me. I didn’t want to move, but I couldn’t sit still. My body was sweaty and trembling, my legs tapping restlessly, my fingers digging into the sofa cushions. I was shaking so hard that I could’ve bitten my tongue in two.

“Tyler, close the damn door!” I screamed, my voice high and terrified. It echoed back at me and made me flinch. Again, I expected laughter, wanted the laughter, but the house was so quiet that not even the supports creaked. God, why was he being so quiet?

I thought of something. What if the thing had Tyler? I didn’t think it was possible. It never bothered my parents or my little brother before, hence how they could walk past an open door with no problem. It only ever wanted me. But what if it’d changed its mind? What if it’d gotten tired of waiting for me to come to it and decided to go for the easier prey?

Or, maybe… it was holding Tyler captive, using him as bait to lure me out. I could just imagine him trapped in that dark, rotten place inside the doorway, held in a pair of large, monstrous claws. Perhaps he was so quiet because he could not cry out for me to save him. Perhaps he knew the thing would use his cries to drawn me to it and catch me as well.

I clasped the sides of my head, rocking back and forth on the couch, starting to whine. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just let it take Tyler. Even if I hated him, my parents would get so mad at me for letting him die. They’d yell at me and make me take medication and let the thing get me when I couldn’t control myself. I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t. But what should I do? What should I do? What should I do?

Then, in the silence, I heard a small, cheeky snicker.

I froze, my hands leaving my head and curling into fists. It was laughing at me now? Laughing at all the pain it’d caused me, all the torment it’d brought? How dare it. How dare it! I wouldn’t stand for it. Sixteen years, I’d submitted. Sixteen goddamn years, I let it dictate how I lived my life. Well, I was sick of living in fear all the time. I was sick of shaking at the sight of doors, sick of peeing my pants when a bathroom was right in front of me, sick of crying myself to sleep at night because I couldn’t stop dreaming about the thing in the doorway. No more. I’d show it. I’d show it once and for all.

I took the deepest breath I could, stood up from the couch, and started walking towards the bedroom hallway. As I passed through the kitchen, I pulled a boning knife from the block on the counter. It felt much better than going in alone.

There were four doors in the hallway: my parents’ room, the bathroom, my room, and my brother’s room. His was the only open door. Even from the end of the hall, I could see the darkness in the doorway. It wasn’t just that the lights in the room were off; the darkness was thick, coalesced, moving like a black curtain, hiding something sinister in its folds. It was in there, waiting for me. It could hear my heartbeat, I knew it could, it was so damn loud and fast like a machine gun. I bet it wanted to rip it out in front of my face and swallow it whole. I wanted to run back to the living room and crawl under the couch until my parents got home, but I knew I couldn’t. The thing would kill Tyler if I ignored it. Then I’d have to go to the psych ward. Then it would kill me.

So I squeezed the knife and walked slowly towards the doorway, telling myself that I was not afraid.

“T-Tuh-Tyler?” I said, my voice bouncing all over the walls.

No response, but I did hear that laugh again, that tiny, impish snicker. You know what? It sounded an awful lot like my brother’s laugh. That monster… How dare it imitate my brother! It was trying to trick me, trying to make me think this really was just a little game he was playing, trying to get me to let my guard down. But I knew better. I wasn’t about to fall for its game. I was done playing. I was going to make it pay.

I stepped towards the doorway, standing a good five feet away at first. I saw nothing inside, not even the outlines of my brother’s bed or dresser, just a rectangle of solid black. I held the knife flat against my thigh, inching my way closer and closer. The snickering was a little louder now, trying to be quiet, still imitating my brother. I was so angry that my teeth ground together.

Then I saw a flicker of movement in the darkness. I gasped, and the snickers stopped. It was waiting, ready to strike. So was I. Taking one long step, I placed myself directly in front of the doorway.

I’d never been this close to it before, close enough to almost touch the impenetrable blackness within. I finally saw it, the thing, the nightmare that had haunted me all my life. It revealed itself to me at last. It pushed through the darkness with arms outstretched, fingers clawed and reaching, eyes gleaming a dull red and mouth grinning in a crooked, gap-toothed way. It even made a sound, still imitating Tyler with a high, mocking, “Boo!” I’m sure it thought it finally had me, that it was going to grab me and drag me down into whatever hell it had crawled up from.

But I was ready for it. Without even the slightest bit of hesitation, I drove the knife into the darkness.

Oh, God, the relief. You don’t understand how wonderful it felt to plunge that knife into its throat. Blood burst over my hand like a warm bubble, but I didn’t even care. I listened to the thing gurgle, felt its hands reaching up and grabbing at the knife, at my own hand locked tight around the handle. And I didn’t stop there. I yanked the knife back and forth, sawing into the skin and sending more blood splattering across the floor and the front of my shirt. It wasn’t long before the thing dropped to its knees. I followed it down, pushing it to the floor, ripping the knife from its throat. It flapped its lips like it was trying to speak, but only gurgled whistles of air leaked out of its mutilated windpipe. I was so happy to see it bleed, to know I was finally hurting it instead of it hurting me. Exhilarated, I lifted the knife and jabbed it into its mouth, bringing it down again and again and again until its face resembled nothing more than a shapeless red mass on the carpet.

When it had stopped moving, I left the knife lodged in what was once its right eye and sat back against the wall, panting harder than I ever had in my life. Everything was hazy and tinted red. I rubbed my eyes until I could see clearly again, and you know what I saw? The doorway. I was sitting in his bedroom, and I could see the hallway beyond the doorway. No darkness, no sense of menace, nothing. Hardly able to believe it, I reached out with my bloodstained hand and was elated to see it pass through without trouble. Nothing grabbed it, nothing pulled me in. There was nothing in the doorway.

I let out the biggest sigh of relief. I did it. I killed it. I killed the thing that had haunted me for years. I could go through open doors now and not worry about what was on the other side. I was finally free.

“But, wait,” I bet you’re asking. “What about Tyler?”

Well, I couldn’t find him after I killed the thing in the doorway. I checked under his bed, inside his toy box, even inside his closet, but he was nowhere to be found. I called out to him, thinking he’d somehow left the room while I was fighting the monster. No luck there either. I realized a little later that he must still be trapped in the space inside the doorframe, the dark world the thing had come from. Without someone to open the door between its world and mine, the portal was sealed shut, meaning Tyler was still in there, locked away from his home and his family forever. If the monster didn’t eat him before I got to it, that is.

It frustrated me when no one believed this story. When my parents got home later that night, I eagerly began to tell them how I’d conquered my fears at last, but they wouldn’t stop screaming about all the blood in the house. My mother even cradled the corpse of the thing in her arms and begged me to tell her why I had killed my baby brother. In hindsight, I understand their confusion. Even in death, the thing was still masquerading as Tyler, from his clothes to his hair right down to the little V-shaped freckle on the back of his left hand. They were convinced that it really was Tyler, so were the police and the doctors as well, but I knew they were wrong. That bloody mess was a monster, my own personal demon, my mountain finally climbed and conquered. I did not kill my little brother.

Still, my parents were furious that I had lost Tyler. They treated me like I had a disease all my life and had not known about it until now. At the behest of the doctors, they had me put here, in the dreaded psych ward, where I am monitored, fed little orange pills in a cup, and kept in a soft room so I don’t hurt myself or anyone else.

I will say, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I kind of like it here, all bright and clean and with so many closed doors. It’s so comforting to see them locked tight with keycards and surrounded by big bodyguards. Not that I’m worried about stuff like that anymore. Open doors don’t scare me now. There’s nothing in them. Nothing except Tyler, of course, but he only seems to be there, a hazy, not-quite-there outline in the back of my eyes. Sometimes, if I forget to take my pills, he stands by my bed at night, leaning over me, his face all red and pulpy and dripping onto my pajamas. I don’t know if he’s dead or not, but, even if he is, it’s not like his ghost could come back here. He can’t ever really come back, though, not from where he is. Good riddance, if you ask me. He was so annoying and mean. I think my parents are better off without him. I know I am. If the thing hadn’t taken him away, I’d still be trapped in my own hellish hallway of gaping doorways. I should be thanking him for helping me remove my greatest fear.

Guess he was good for something after all.

Oh. The doctors don’t seem to agree with me. They’re all giving me this look like I’ve just done something terrible to their pets. That’s too bad. I really hoped someone would hear me out. Maybe I shouldn’t blame them. After all, it’s hard for others to see a monster that only scares you. It’s harder still when they’re tricked into thinking you are the monster instead.

Credit To – MercuryCoatedVeins

To Mend What Was Broken

April 4, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Edith Fenn-Blake knew that she could only find the house at night. Rumors around the village insisted that the very structure itself moved with the travelling moon, careful never to linger in one place lest the rays of sunrise should touch its thatched roof and burn it down. She also knew that it would be in the shadiest, most remote part of the marshy woods to the west of the village, where not even candlelight could shine properly. The being that lived inside was said to love such darkness, the kind thick enough to slide down one’s throat and strangle.

It would be a lie to say that Edith wasn’t afraid. She had been walking through dense, shadowed swampland for nearly an hour, listening to the unsettling sounds of crickets, frogs, and the swishes of alligator tails dipping below the murky black water. Her lantern had dimmed to nothing despite the fact that she had just refilled it upon venturing out, and now the moon was her only source of light, the feeblest sheet of gray in perpetual dark. Still, she pressed on through the sticky muck and prickly cattails, choosing to believe the rumors that those who sought the witch’s house would always make it there alive as long as they had a deal to make with her. Edith clutched her own deal tightly to her chest, feeling it ooze thickly through the burlap bag she carried it in.

She knew she was close when the heavy, green smells of the marshlands changed to the startling and far more unpleasant stink of rotting meat. It hung so copiously on the air that Edith could have sworn that what little fog she could see had a blood-red tint to it. Holding her breath, she trudged forward through the sludge, hearing the sounds of swamp creatures grow fainter until only her own splashes reached her ears. Even the crickets refused to sing.

At last, she caught a glimpse of light in the dense darkness. Like a will-o’-the-wisp, it seemed to hover on the air like a disembodied candle flame, flickering an ominous red. The closer she drew, the more of its surroundings appeared in her night-accustomed eyes. The crimson flame did indeed sit upon a plain white candle, which melted softly into a black candlestick placed on the windowsill of a simple, decrepit, weatherworn hut. It sat in a water-filled clearing at an angle that did not appear structurally sound, its side weighed down by a crawling mass of dark ivy and spiny pink bromeliad flowers. The dew that dripped from their leaves gleamed like blood in the red candlelight.

Standing at the edge of the clearing, Edith found it very difficult to breathe. It truly felt like the oily darkness was trying to slip down her throat and choke the life from her. The air itself tasted like offal. She could not turn back now, however. After the deed she had done to get herself out this far in the marsh, it would be pointless and unforgivable to retreat out of fear. So, steeling herself, she crossed the congealed moat, sinking in right up to her waist at its deepest point. Small, fast-swimming creatures in the water brushed by her ankles, and Edith could not help but think of alligators. No, she believed the rumors – no harm would come to her as long as she had her deal in hand. Shivering, she raised the bag protectively over her head and walked without pause until she had made it to the crooked front door of the witch’s house. With her skirt soaked heavily in pond slime and her feet still sunken in it, she raised a trembling hand and, as per the rules, knocked on the door six times in pairs.

Knock-knock, knock-knock, knock-knock.

Almost immediately, there came an answer from behind the door.

“Yes, come in, Eedie, dearie. I’ve been expecting you. Come in and tell old Nana what you wish for.”

The voice might have sounded like that of a cheery old woman had it not been for the churning, clogged gurgle and the deep, lionlike echo that hide in the undertones of each sickly sweet word. There was a small click, and the door slowly swung inward through the ankle-high water that spilled into the lopsided hut.

Edith was sorely tempted to run back into the dark and jagged trees, which suddenly seemed far more preferable to what lay inside, but the rumors reminded her what would happen if she backed out. She could still see the bodies – or the shredded pieces of them – that they pulled from the river not a day ago. Grasping her bag like a good-luck charm, she crossed the watery threshold into the witch’s house.

The smell was even worse inside, and Edith could plainly seen why. The field-dressed corpses of squirrels, foxes, and what might have been a large dog hung by their tails from the beams crossing the thatched roof, their fluids consistently drip-drip-dripping into the water. Tanned pelts, mounted antlers, and animals skulls of many species decorated the walls, often sporting odd objects like feathers, tiny gems, or hooks full of teeth around their edges. Shelves sat crookedly on the tilted walls, carrying a few books with unreadable titles, tools made of rock and bone, and jars full of thick, opaque liquid. Sometimes one of these jars floated past Edith’s ankles, and she thought she saw some decayed body part or fetus-like animal submerged inside.

Treading carefully, Edith approached a doorway covered by a veil of strings as thin as spider silk and adorned with decayed yellow fingernails instead of beads. From behind, that unnerving voice boomed again.

“Yes, yes, come right in, Eedie, my dear. Don’t be afraid. Nana won’t bite.”

The chilling little laugh that followed made Edith pause, but she shook off her reluctance and pushed her way through the veil, grimacing as she felt all the chipped and moldy little nails graze her skin.

The sight she beheld in the next room would have been enough to drive the sanest man into the darkest lunacy imaginable.

The witch sat at the end of the small room, possibly in a chair, though it was difficult to tell for sure given the water level and her enormous girth. Everything below her head seemed nothing more than a wad of moist, writhing flesh, colored scarlet in the candlelight and marred with boils, bulging veins, and crawling black beetles. Her arms were thin and bony like twigs stuck in her massive, slug-like body. Edith counted almost fifteen capillary-thin fingers per hand. The neck matched the arms in leanness, bending like a vulture’s and ending with a head the exact shape of an oversized potato. Her eyes were full black and beady, almost disappearing in the folds around them, and her mouth stretched quite literally from one ear to the other.

“Ah, Eedie, little child,” the witch said in an almost caring tone. “How wonderful to see you. I hope you are doing well. Oh, and my sincerest apologies about the mess. You know how finicky swamp waters can be during certain moon cycles.”

She laughed again, throwing her head back and widening her mouth to reveal a glistening, cavernous gullet behind rows of tiny, brown, triangular teeth.

Edith was struck silent at first, so horrified at this unthinkably grotesque creature seated before her. Then she swallowed, trying not to gag at the taste of the house going down her throat again, and forced out the words she had practiced on the way here.

“Th-th-thank you, ma’am,” she stammered, “f-for allowing me i-into your home.”

The witch lowered her head to face Edith again, her eyes nearly lost beneath her wrinkles when she smiled. “No trouble, my dear, no trouble at all. I love my visitors. I’ve been getting so many lately, wanting my help. It makes me feel so happy, you know? So loved… But enough about that. You have something you wish to ask of me, yes?” Her tiny eyes fell on the bag Edith had forgotten she was holding. It was only a little damp now, and it had stopped dripping.

“Y-yes, ma’am,” the woman stammered, wringing the loose burlap and cradling the lump at the bottom like a baby’s head. “I… I was t-told that… that you mend b-broken hearts.”

Though it seemed impossible, the witch grinned even wider. “I mend many broken things, my dear. Bones, minds, spirits… and, yes, I do mend hearts. They are my specialty as you can no doubt see.” She swept one of her bony arms around in a grandiose manner. Edith managed to pull her eyes away from the witch’s awful visage and focus instead on the wall behind her.

It was covered in dozens of human hearts. Dangling from strings pinned to the wood, they were all in various states of decay from freshly removed to nothing more than blackened, shriveled prunes. Some were laced up with little white stiches; some were driven through with long brown nails; some were filled to the brim with a liquid binder than had hardened into stone. All of them beat and pulsed silently on their strings as if they were cocoons about to hatch.

“But I am confused, Eedie, dear,” said the witch, startling Edith from her rapt study of the heart wall. “I sense no broken heart in you. You have a loving husband, your children adore you, and your friends treat you like a beloved sister. What could you possibly need me to mend?”

The woman gulped and gripped the bag more tightly, finding it difficult to look the hideous creature in the eye.

“It… it’s not m-my heart that needs mending,” she said. “It… it’s my daughter’s.”

A fold of skin above the witch’s left eye raised like an eyebrow. “Oh?”

Edith nodded quickly. “Y-yes, you see… She had a fiancé, a kind, generous man, or, at least, we thought he was… Anyway, th-they were to be married not a fortnight ago, but, at the ceremony… he was nowhere to be found. Nor was the dowry my husband was to give him in exchange for our daughter’s hand. It was… quite clear what had happened. He had stolen the gold and run off, leaving our daughter alone at the altar. As it is… she has not left her bed in nearly a week and refuses to eat anything we give her. This morning, she said that… she wanted to die, that she would… starve herself if she must, so terrible was it to live without the man she thought she loved. I… hated seeing her so miserable. I feared waking up one of these mornings to find my beautiful little girl… to find her…” She refused to say it. Sniffing deeply and blinking away her tears, she looked back at the witch. “I had to do something. I heard strange stories whispered around the village about a witch that could mend what was broken. I learned the methods it took to find her and the enormous risk it meant in getting there. I even saw what happened to the poor folks who… didn’t please her, supposedly. But it was the promise from others that she mended broken hearts that steeled my resolve. If anyone could save my daughter… it would be you. And, so, here I am, asking with all my soul… Please, please mend my daughter’s broken heart. Heal her and give her back the happiness she so deserves. Please.”

Edith stopped, winded from her emotional outpouring. She stared desperately at the witch, waiting for an answer. The creature stared back for a long moment. When she finally responded, it was after a long sigh and a slow shake of her malformed head.

“Ah, such compassion,” she said, “but so very misguided. My dearest Eedie, I’m sorry to tell you this, but I cannot mend your daughter’s heart.”

Edith’s stomach fell with a splash into the water around her ankles. “Wh-what? B-but I thought you- I thought you said-”

“I do mend broken hearts,” said the witch, “when they are presented to me by the owner of said heart. See how my children on the walls twitch and gasp for air? They were still alive when I held them in my loving, restorative hands. I cannot mend a secondhand heart like the one lying limp and rotting in that bag of yours. It is broken, yes, but it is also quite dead. Not even I can mend something back from dead, Eedie, dear.”

The rest of Edith’s organs tumbled from her body, leaving her cold and pale. “No, no, th-that’s not true. Mary, sh-she’s still alive, she was still alive when I-”

“Your daughter was dead the moment you split her chest open and ripped her unprepared heart from its cage.”

Edith was starting to shake, the damp bag in her hands growing heavier and slipping from her numb fingers. “But… but sh-she wouldn’t get up… she wouldn’t leave the bed… so I thought, if I did instead… if I brought it to you… th-then…”

The witch shook her head again and sighed. “I’m sorry, my sweet little Eedie. Some things cannot be fixed, especially when you have broken them beyond repair.”

There really was a splash as Edith dropped the bag into the water. It filled up quickly and sank down into the murky depths. As a misty red cloud and a few dark bubbles foamed up through the liquid, something small and burgundy floated to the surface, bobbing like an apple with a large chunk bitten out of it. Falling to her knees, Edith dipped her hands into the water and cradled the still heart, watching as tears rained down around it.

“Mary… oh, God, my Mary, my baby girl… what have I done… no, no, Mary, what have I done…”

“Oh, dearie,” said the witch. There was a rather loud sloshing as the dark water rippled out around her. To her great shock, Edith felt long bony arms wrap around her as the witch pulled her into an embrace. She stiffened against the creature’s vile body, feeling pustules burst onto her clothes and little insects scatter over her hair. “Don’t cry, my love, don’t be so sad,” cooed the witch, caressing Edith’s hair in a motherly way. “Do you hear that? That sound like a thousand mirrors shattering at once? That’s your heart, Eedie, dear; that’s your heart breaking.”

Edith forgot about the witch’s unwanted embrace and looked back at the dead heart in her hands. Each time she remembered her daughter’s face – her withered blue eyes, the circles that darkened them, the fear that filled them as her mother drove the knife into her chest – Edith felt another piece of her own heart fall off into an endless, black abyss.

“There, there, all is not lost, my child,” said the witch softly into her ear. “I mend broken hearts, remember? That means that I could mend yours… if you would like me to.”

Edith grew quiet, the heart tumbling from her shaky fingers and floating away in the stagnant water. Blinking her bloodshot eyes, she glanced up at the witch’s smiling face. “Y-you can?”

The witch nodded. “As good as new. You just have to say the word. What do you say, Eedie, my love? Would you like Nana to make it all better?”

Edith sat motionless in the cold, thick water, trembling in the witch’s revolting hug. Her entire being felt like one large point of pain on the face of a dark, desolate world. She could feel it moving inside her, growing and turning to rot, threatening to consume her until it would have been merciful to just dunk her head into the dark pool around her and drown. Was this how her daughter felt in those last few days? Was this how Edith was doomed to feel for the rest of her life? Could she go on living with such pain?

Finally, in a whisper choked with tears, she said, “Please. Fix it.”

The witch let out a deep, unnerving laugh and wrapped her arms more tightly around the stricken woman. “As you wish.”

Sudden pain erupted in Edith’s chest. She gasped, tasting hot copper, feeling it slide up her tongue and dribble down the middle of her chin. Quaking more violently than before, she slowly looked down and saw the witch’s long fingers buried beneath her left breast. They wriggled around in her flesh, pushing in until the entire hand had disappeared into Edith’s body, pouring a dark cascade of blood into the water. Edith felt the terrible fingers coil like centipedes around something inside her, something warm and beating. With a sharp, moist squelch, they tore it from her body.

Edith’s vision dimmed around the edges, and all the sounds in the world fell to a low ringing. She saw her own heart, writhing with life and torn right down the middle, held in front of her face, the witch’s insectile fingers gripping it mercilessly. Feeling terribly weak, she slumped from the witch’s embrace and leaned back against her foul body, popping cysts and squishing a few beetles against the fetid flesh.

“Now, now, just hang in there, Eedie, my dear,” said the witch from very far away. “Nana’s gonna fix it all better, I promise. Just keep those pretty eyes open. Keep them open for Nana, okay?”

Edith tried her damnedest to do as the witch told her. She focused her tunneling vision on her detached organ, still miraculously beating the last of its juices out the severed arteries. The witch had retrieved a long silver needle and some white thread, and, with surprising dexterity and grace, she began to sew up the tear in the middle of the heart. Edith watched, fascinated, as the lines of stitches were drawn across the red flesh. After a while, the pain in her chest subsided, the blood falling from her mouth lessening to a drip. By the time the witch had finished, she reached up to touch her chest and found that the hole was gone. It did not hurt anymore, but she was left feeling strangely empty and a little cold.

“There we go,” said the witch, helping Edith to her feet. “See? That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Edith shook her head vaguely, her eyes glassy and struggling to focus, staring around as if she had no idea where she was. Meanwhile, the witch slithered heavily through the water back to her wall of hearts. With the very needle and thread she had used to mend it, she hung Edith’s heart up with the others, the organ still silently pulsing against its skeletal stitches. Satisfied, the witch sat down in the water and smiled at her confused houseguest.

“Does it hurt anymore, Eedie, dear?” she asked.

Edith looked back at her and slowly shook her head. “No, ma’am.”

“Are you still sad?”

Another slow shake of the head. “No, ma’am.”

“Do you miss Mary?”

The woman blinked. “Who?”

The witch smiled, showing all of her wicked little teeth. “Good… Well, it’s been lovely having you here, my child, but it’s time to bid you adieu. The moon is moving quickly tonight, and I must catch up with it before the dawn catches me. You understand. Now run along, scurry back to your little village, don’t dawdle.”

Edith opened her mouth to say something only to quickly shut it, unsure of exactly what she wanted to say. All she knew for sure was that she was tired, physically and spiritually, and that she wanted to go home, maybe spend a few hours in the church confessional repenting for… whatever it was she had just done. Turning on hesitant feet, she passed through the fingernail curtain and waded in silence towards the front door. However, just as she pushed it open into the noiseless black night, the witch called out to her from behind.

“Oh, Eedie, before you go, I just want you to know this… Do you remember the bodies they found in the river, how they reasoned that they had somehow been my doing? Let me be clear with you. I mend what is broken. I have never broken a single thing in my life. Not a bone, not a mind, and certainly not a human life. However… whatever happens to the heartless soul that leaves my house… well, that is beyond my control. I suppose alligators are just… drawn… to the smell of a freshly opened body.” A laugh, a deep, sinister, knowing laugh. “Goodbye, Eedie, my love.”

As a chill ran up her spine like a long, bony finger, Edith spun around, only to find that the door – and the house she had come out of – was completely gone. No hanging carcasses, no flickering red candlelight, no monstrous witch. She stood alone in the center of an empty black pond, the moon shining balefully on the water like fresh tar, the only smells present being swamp muck and vegetation.

Before she had a chance to regain her senses, ripples glided over her ankles. Falling deathly still, Edith looked around and saw a dozen little pairs of stars dotting the water’s edge, round and glinting like hungry white eyes. As she let out a single, horrified breath, all the little stars simultaneously dipped into the muck, sending one final wave of ripples her way.

For one last moment, all was perfectly silent.

Credit To – MercuryCoatedVeins

A Word of Caution

October 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Hello there. My name is… well, honestly, I don’t remember. It’s been many, many years since anyone’s called me by it, and so I’ve simply forgotten. Not that it matters, I suppose. It is not my intention to make note of myself to everyone. I am not the subject of this excursion. This is just a little bit of advice I’ve decided to put to paper and release out into the world. Whoever finds this note may have their name as the author. It matters not to me.

Goodness, it is strange to actual write again. I haven’t done it in ages, so please excuse the poor handwriting. My fingers aren’t really designed for this purpose anymore, just as my body does not sit tremendously comfortably within this wooden chair. I will try to be as legible as I can. I want my message understood.

History has, throughout its recorded life, told many a tale of the strange and unusual. Ethereal spirits of those dearly departed, tentacled monsters that swallow entire vessels whole, mortal men that can shift between human and animal by the phases of the moon… I remember learning of such things in my youth, when novelties like books and education still interested me. Much of these stories are the workings of the imagination, the by-product of mortal fear, the explanation for the unknown when one cannot be found through fact. However, a small percentage of such notions do have some basis in reality. This is what I’ve been wanting to share with you, the finder of this etching.

I’m talking about vampires.

I have read countless tales of these bloodsucking beings, and I wish to be the first one to tell you that the human concept of the vampire is and always has been completely ludicrous. They went from being corpses found bloated and bleeding in their graves to pop stars with tiny fangs and desirable bodies. Some were spectral in nature, others more resembled the lycans or the walking dead, and a few were no more than snarling female heads. A million variations on a single concept – a life-eater – and not a single one of them is valid. You would think that, for a species with such a vivid and vast imagination, humanity would have at least come close to the truth about one of its most feared – and, in recent years, most beloved – monsters.

Well, maybe it is right in one respect.

Vampires do, in fact, drink blood. But they also eat meat as well. And all the other fluids a mortal body produces: water, spinal fluid, gastric acid, even urine and mucus. Generally, they consume every part of their kill right down to the bones. There is no preference or uncontrollable desire for one part of an animal’s anatomy. It is merely the sustenance needed to live, no different than what a bear or a bird of prey chooses for its meals. Though, I suppose you could say humans are a “preferred” source, seeing as they fulfill the calorie count of a vampire much more than other prey animals. A whole human can satiate a vampire for an entire month.

This is why there are no corpses found with the infamous twin pinpricks on the neck. And, that’s another thing – a vampire’s teeth. It is not simply two incisors in a mouth of perfect white bone. Vampires have little need for hygiene in general, let alone oral, so their mouths are cavernous breeding grounds for the foulest bacteria. While their bones are much stronger than a human’s, the teeth all tend to rot to brown, cavity-riddled points, which may have inspired the idea of a deadly kiss in the movies and books. However, anyone who is bitten by a vampire (and survives) will only gain a nasty bout of rabies or HIV rather than the gift of immortality.

Ah, yes, another thing the human theory of the vampire got… well, partially correct.

Vampires are by no means immortal – they are as susceptible to death as anything – but they can live remarkably long lives. Into the several hundred years, usually, though I believe the oldest was documented at about twelve hundred. I couldn’t tell you exactly why they have such hearty lifespans – perhaps it has to do with resilient immune systems or the fact that their primary organs (the brain and the heart) are much larger and suppler than a human’s. Biology was never my field of interest, and observation is the only reason I can make such vague hypotheses in the first place. Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader.

Despite their mortality, the most common cause of death to a vampire is natural causes – as in a bodily shutdown or an unavoidable accident. Very rarely are they killed in combat either with each other or with another mortal being.

This is something I tried very, very hard to explain to the young man who broke into my home a few days ago.

I haven’t had to deal with an intruder in a long time, but it is, as they say, like riding a bicycle. I managed to lock him down in my cellar before he could do any significant damage. It wasn’t too difficult as that was the first place he’d been going to when I happened upon him. I believe he thought I was sleeping down there. What nonsense. It’s cold and damp down in the cellar, not to mention filthy with garbage and leftover meals. I may not be the most health-conscious person in the world, but who in their right mind would sleep in such nasty conditions when they have a perfectly warm and cozy bedroom on the first floor?

Another quick note: despite what this poor soul would believe, vampires are not hurt by sunlight. Maybe they can get a little tan, and too much could give them skin cancer, but it will not burn them like a turkey dunked in a deep fryer. I will say, though, that they are nocturnally inclined. The only reason they will turn away from morning light streaming through a window is because they simply don’t want to get up until afternoon.

Being light on my feet, the man never saw me coming. A quick little shove and down he tumbled on the ten steps to the lightless bottom of the cellar. I had hoped he would break his neck and die right there, but he is a resilient one, barely scratched and already barreling back up as I was shutting the thick metal door. The silly man ranted and raved and threw his fists against the door all day, calling me every vulgar name in the book. He even threw in some Latin every now and then. Clearly a man of the cloth or at least trained by one.

While I debated what to do with my new houseguest, I took the opportunity to peruse his belongings, dropped carelessly at the entrance to my house. I couldn’t help but smirk as I rifled through his bag: wooden stakes, guns with silver bullets, rings of garlic, holy water, a crucifix wrapped in wild roses. Dear reader, none of these objects have any effect on a true vampire. They do not wilt at the sight of a cross or burst into flames upon entering a church. As religion is a manmade concept, so is the idea that so-called “holy objects” can harm them. In fact, many vampires are atheists, though it is not unheard of for one to retain the religious beliefs of his former days. It depends entirely on how much humanity remains within him.

As for the stakes, sure, they might do some damage if aimed correctly, but they are such unwieldy weapons, more likely to just scratch the skin rather than neatly poke through a ribcage and pierce the heart inside. The man would have been better off with his gun if he’d wanted to kill a vampire, though he needn’t use cheap, breakable silver for his bullets. Brass would do just fine, and that’s only if he could aim at and hit the proper organs. Though not supersonic, speed and agility are another of the vampire’s signature traits.

All of this and more I tried so hard to explain to the man in my cellar. He only continued to rave and to berate me, calling upon all manner of divine assistance to strike me and “my kind” dead. I tried to explicate that you couldn’t threaten an atheist with damnation, but, of course, he would hear none of it.

Perhaps he really did hear none of it. After all, my manner of speaking must have sounded quite different from what he was used to. My vocals cords had long since shrunken away, and the only vocalization I could produce was a kind of clicking noise with my tongue and teeth. To me, certain patterns of clicking represent words and sentences, but, to the man, they must have sounded like nothing more than animal noises. No doubt he imagined a bat or a burrowing beetle when he first heard my voice.

He wouldn’t be too far off in that respect. I use the clicking much in the same way that such animals do. Along with communication, it helps me to see. Echolocation, my dear reader. My sight left me along with my voice years ago, and so my only view of the world is through the vibrations of my clicks bouncing off of objects around me. It is like watching a colorful wave of sound move over contours in the darkness, revealing for moments at a time a world I can no longer see. It is surprisingly vivid, especially as hearing is my most powerful sense. I could even see through walls if I wanted to, learning the shape and layout of a room I’m not even in.

I can hear living beings, too. Not just from my clicks but from their own natural sounds, both quiet and audible. The man in my cellar, for instance. Right now, I can hear him sitting at the far end of the room, curled up in a corner, weeping so softly that the average ear would not even know he was down there. His heart is beating slowly, a stark contrast to the manic pace it had run on the first night, when the adrenaline had rushed hotly through his veins and made his skin burn bright red with sweat and heat. After three days without food, water, or access to a proper lavatory, his body has begun to tire. I can hear the minute pulses of his brain, the electrical sparks and jumps that represent words and emotions. I can hear them as clearly as if he was speaking directly to me.

He is no longer angry now. He’s scared. Terrified.

There are two thoughts in his head that pulse into my “vision” whenever I stop to listen to him. One is I’m going to die and the other is not so much words as a description, an image that is plastered across the surface of his mind and slowly imbuing him with a far worse emotion than mere fear – madness.

He sees a creature, tall, lanky, its knees bent, its back brushing against the ceiling of the ten-foot room. The skin clings to its body like a gray latex suit, outlining every oversized bone with astonishing precision. It’s more a skeleton than a full creature. One can even see the shape of the spine descending beneath the block of ribcage on the figure’s torso, the organs within writhing visible against the tight suit of skin. Its gender is made clear by its stark nakedness, the legs spread unapologetically wide, the breasts hanging from its bent chest like shriveled balloons. Its arms hang right to the floor, the backs of the enormous, spindly hands resting on the kitchen tile, the fingers curled up like dead tarantula legs and tipped with rotted brown claws. Beneath each arm is a translucent sleeve of flesh, deeply veined and elastic, connecting the impossibly long limbs to the sides of the creature like the wings of a bat all the way down to the ankles of its awkward legs.

The face is probably the most vivid part of the whole picture. Pressed perfectly flat, the nose nothing more than two holes in the middle of its pale, bald head, the shape more reminiscent of an alien than a human. The ears are large and mobile like pointed satellite dishes, turning independently to every minute sound they hear. In the places where eyes should be, the skin is smooth save for two tiny, puckered holes that are only micro-inches away from closing completely. The mouth is ghastly, stretching open from ear to ear with jaws filled with abhorrent teeth, jagged and decayed and positively dripping with disease. When it moves its vile jaws, a faint, sharp clicking sound can be heard, the same one I make when I am navigating a room.

In the man’s thoughts, I see a picture of me.

In the man’s thoughts, I see a vampire.

This is the purpose of my notes, dear reader. This is the reason I have taken on the task of operating this blasted pencil and scrawling these words in mostly legible cursive. I want to spread some light on all the lies you delude yourselves with. I want to warn you. Vampires are not to be looked upon with favor or admiration. They are to be feared. A vampire is not a brooding adolescent who gleams like crystal in the sun. It is not a rat-faced creeper who emerges from coffins and fears the sunrise. It is not something you want to run into the arms to and have carry you away into the silver moonlight.

If you ever ran into a real vampire – if you even saw one, glanced at it for a brief second – then you are already dead.

I write this now knowing full well that my message will go mostly unheeded. It will fall under the all-encompassing label of fiction as the stories of false vampires have. It will be interpreted no differently, maybe even disregarded entirely. I am well aware of this. But at least I can say I warned you. At least I can say that you knew when you broke into my home – or the home of any of “my kind” – exactly what you were getting yourself into. At least all the fault will lie with you and you alone as you are having your limbs torn off, your organs ripped out, and your blood slowly, painfully drained out of your withering, broken body.

So, my final message is for you to take caution, dear reader. Don’t go looking for trouble. If you spot something enormous and winged soaring over the trees, pretend you never saw it. If you hear clicking sounds coming from a dark alley, walk the other way. If you feel like you’d be better off fanged and bloodthirsty, look for help rather than a creature of the night. Don’t buy into the lies of Rice, Meyer, Stoker, and all the others. We are not all so eager to let you into the ranks of something you know nothing about. We do, however, welcome a free meal when it comes with stakes and garlic.

Speaking of which, if you’ll excuse me, there is a young man in my cellar who I’m just dying to have for dinner.

Credit To – MercuryCoatedVeins

Lorraine

July 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM

I used to be an avid watcher of Youtube. I had subscribed to literally hundreds of channels and watched probably thousands of videos. I especially loved channels that featured spooky content. Short films, disturbing facts lists, scary story readings – you name it. I was hooked on that stuff, a real horror junkie. There was nothing I liked better than ending a long day of school or work curled up in front of my monitor, headphones cupped around my ears, watching an amateur Slenderman flick or learning about creepy videogame glitches.

One day, while browsing through the site, I happened to click on a certain video in my recommendations. Nothing particularly special about it – I was just kind of going down the line, and that one was up next. I could’ve easily skipped over it or watched it first. Anyway, the video was made by a Youtuber called loonylorraine713. In the video, Lorraine, a youngish woman with frizzy brown hair that hid more than half her face, did a basic outdoor vlog pertaining to some urban legend. She spoke with locals, trekked through daytime woods, and scouted out a small playground at night, all the while sporting a very playful, entertaining attitude very unlike the average horror host. Her editing wasn’t bad either, making the vlog seem more like a story than just a person talking to a camera. At the end, she had this cute outro where she made a sideways peace sign over her left eye and said, “Stay spooky!”

I knew I liked her immediately. I quickly subbed to Lorraine’s channel and started watching all of her videos. She mostly did solo mystery hunting stuff, but there were a few skits in there, a couple Edgar Allan Poe readings, update vlogs, etc. Each one ended with either her or a drawing of her making the peace sign over her eye and saying, “Stay spooky!” I became a big fan of her work, never failing to post a comment on a video or click the Like and Favorite buttons. I even had my phone send me text alerts when she uploaded a new video, I was that hooked.

Nearly six months of avid watching passed, and I started to think of Lorraine as a friend. Now, don’t get the wrong idea – this isn’t a story about how I became a stalker. I just mean that Lorraine and her content became a big part of my daily routine, something fun and exciting to look forward to when I got home. Bad day at work? I’d watch Lorraine carve a really bad Freddy Krueger pumpkin. Finished two hours worth of schoolwork? I’d listen to Lorraine read “The Raven” for the umpteenth time. Her videos were something that made me happy, and, at the time, I couldn’t thank her enough for that.

Sure, I wondered what it would be like to meet Lorraine, to actually talk to her and tell her how awesome she was, but I doubted that would ever happen. She never said where she lived in her videos, and she didn’t go to conventions or public events for signings or meetups. She didn’t even like to show her whole face on camera, one side of it always covered by her perpetually messy brown hair. I accepted this, though. I was content with being just a fan. As long as she kept making neat videos, I was perfectly happy.

Then things started to get strange.

At some point in Lorraine’s vlogs, I began to notice something in the background. What looked like a pair of orbs, flat, glowing a dull red. It was indistinct at first, hardly catching my attention at all, but, with each video, the orbs seemed to become clearer, to move closer and closer to Lorraine. By one video, they were right beside her head, though she didn’t seem to notice. I wasn’t the only one to see this – the comment section was often filled with others asking what the heck those things were. Lorraine replied to a few of those comments, saying that it was probably something wrong with her camera filter or a trick of the light.

This explanation made me suspicious. This girl thrived on conspiracies, urban legends, and the paranormal. The reaction I’d expected out of her was that they were the presence of some ghost or alien laser pointers or some other ridiculous, pseudo-paranoid idea. Why would she be so quick to disregard something that, for all intents and purposes, seemed even more real than any ghost she’d hunted or Bigfoot she’d chased?

And something else about the videos bothered me. As time passed, Lorraine’s content changed. She didn’t do as many legend hunting treks as she used to. Her readings seemed flatter and less involved. Even her vlogs, which pretty much became her primary content, seemed so different from just a couple months before – for example, one of the later videos consisted of her sitting in her office chair before the black sheet she had draped behind her for all her at-home vlogs, just staring off to the side, her hair-veiled face looking incredibly blank and sad. The orbs were also in this video, hovering just behind her head like red eyes peering down at her. When a full two minutes of silence had elapsed, she glanced up at the camera, made the peace sign over her eye, and said in a perfect monotone completely unlike her, “Stay spooky.”

I grew very concerned, as did the rest of the small fan base she had. People constantly asked in the comments if she was alright, if something was wrong, or if she was playing some joke on us. Lorraine never replied, never gave any indication as to what was happening. Even the descriptions of her videos were left blank.

Her uploads grew fewer and far between until, after probably three months of strange behavior, they stopped completely. No vlogs, no skits, no updates. More questions from viewers, myself included. Are you dead? What happened to your daily videos? Is everything okay? Not a single response.

Then one day, completely out of nowhere, all the videos on her channel disappeared. Each and every one of them – deleted. You could search the entire spectrum of the Internet and not find a single trace of them. The channel became an empty shell, with even the profile page and photo slot wiped clean.

I was caught between disappointment and concern. Lorraine and her videos were my escape, my home away from home, and to have them just… vanish the way they did broke my heart. I constantly wondered what happened to her, what made her change and drop off the face of the Earth like that. More than anything, I wondered if she was alright. Those weird orbs in the background of her videos kept coming back to me, filling me with unease. Something to do with them… but what? I had a dozen horror-inspired explanations for that, but I didn’t really believe any of them. Whatever happened with Lorraine was real, not some nightmare written on Reddit NoSleep.

So what could it have been then?

I got my answer when, after an entire month of inactivity, Lorraine finally posted a video.

I was shocked when my phone informed me of the new vlog. I think I even said something out loud like, “She’s alive!” Quickly, I found a quiet spot to sit, plugged in my headphones, and opened Youtube. The video was first up on my Subscriptions list, entitled simply, “Im Sorry.” I felt a wave of relief wash over me. So she was alright after all, coming back and apologizing for whatever happened with the old stuff. She didn’t have to be sorry; I was just glad she was back.

Smiling, I opened the video.

It was nothing like her normal vlogs, where she pops on screen with her arms spread wide and her wide grin partially covered by her hair. It cut straight to a very, very close shot of Lorraine’s face, the lens practically pressed against her chin, her camera phone the only source of light. Her breathing was very loud, obviously too close to the mic. It made me jump a little. She then pulled the camera away so that I could see her whole face and not much else. It was completely dark around her, though I thought I could make out bathtub tiles behind her when the light moved. Her face was half hidden as always, but her expression was jarring. She looked terrified, her brown eye wide, her jaw trembling, her skin white as cheese.

When she spoke, it was in a whisper so quiet that I had to turn my volume way up to hear it: “Heh… hey, guys. L-Loony Lorraine here. Uh. You’re… you’re probably wondering why… why I haven’t posted in a while, or… or why all my videos were deleted. Um, well… you see… things have gotten a… a little strange and, um…”

She paused to glance around herself, her camera dipping down to let me see her chest moving furiously up and down with her frantic breathing. A moment later, she readjusted the camera and resumed speaking.

“There’s… there’s not a whole lot that I can explain. I don’t have much time. But, uh… all you really need to know is that I, um… I fucked up. Yeah, I fucked up… big time.”

I blinked when she said this. If there was one thing I knew about Lorraine, it’s that she never, ever swore, not even when she got scared during a ghost hunt or haunted house run. This added to the feeling that something wasn’t right. I listened on as she nervously whispered to the camera.

“Um, I don’t know… when it happened or… or what I did exactly, but… I… God, this is going to sound crazy, but I need… I need to tell you. Uh. Do you guys remember my old ‘cheating death’ videos? The… ones where I play supposedly haunted games and creepy rituals? Well, uh, I think that, during one of them… I don’t know which… I think I… unleashed… something. Something very, very bad.”

Again, she paused to look around as if trying to spot something watching her in the close darkness. She swallowed and wiped her brow with her sleeve before continuing.

“I, um, didn’t really notice it until it was… was too late. I just started getting real… tired for a while. Like I had no energy, no drive. I thought I was just, uh… getting sick or something, but then it just got worse and worse week by week. Then the nightmares…God, those horrible… I fought sleep for weeks on end to avoid seeing those… awful images. I can’t even begin to describe them… I don’t want to. I can’t.”

A tear rolled down her cheek, and she wiped it away, sniffing hard. I was locked on the video, her pain seeming so real, her terror so genuine. Where was she? What was happening to her?

“By the time I, uh, realized what was going on,” she continued, “I’d stopped making videos. I barely left my house or… spoke with my family. I… had blank spells, I… lost time. I started seeing my nightmares when I wasn’t asleep… in broad daylight. I thought… I thought I was losing my mind.”

She paused to take a deep breath, the exhale coming out in a long shudder.

“Guys… do you remember those orbs? Those weird, red, floaty things that kept appearing in my videos?”

I felt a cold chill pass through me. I think I knew what she was going to say before she said it.

“I… lied to you. Not at first, but… towards the end, when I said I didn’t know what they were. You see… they’re not lens flares or specks of dust or whatever… They’re actually eyes. I know this because I’ve… seen the same eyes in my nightmares, attached to the face of something… too terrible for me to describe. When I finally realized this, that… whatever was haunting me… was actually real, I got scared. I took everything off my channel, deleted everything that had to do with me, thinking it might help, but… I think it only made it angry. So I packed a couple bags and left town. I’ve… been running for at least a month now.”

She closed her eyes and pursed her lips for a moment, looking almost childlike in her terror.

“The nightmares are non-stop now. I haven’t slept in a couple days, but… the eyes… and the images… Guys, I don’t know how long I have. I’m at a motel now, hiding in the bathroom… it’s in the room. It’s stronger now. I’m gonna wait it out until morning and… try to head out again, find another place to… to spend the night. But… I just wanted to make one last video before I did in case… well, in case.”

She looked at the camera, her eye bloodshot, her lips trembling with a soft smile.

“I, um, just wanted to say… I’m sorry for… letting you guys down. You supported me in all my weird adventures and stupid shenanigans… and I repay you like this. By making the biggest mistake of my life. I just… hope you guys can forgive me for… what I did and… what’s going to happen. I hope you’ll remember me… for who I was. I hope that… I made some of you out there… a little happier for a while.”

I had to cover my mouth to keep down the choked sob that wanted to get out. She sounded so scared, so helpless. I wanted to do something, wanted to help her, save her, but I didn’t know where she was or what was really happening. Demon, maniac, whatever – she was in trouble, but there was nothing I or anyone else could do.

Especially when, from the dimly-lit darkness, four little arms as black as ink started to reach out from behind Lorraine. They weren’t special effects; they weren’t props on strings; they were real, extending out from the shapes of small figures pressed against the tile, figures with red, orb-like eyes.

I started screaming at my phone, calling out for Lorraine, telling her to look out, to get out of there. Of course, she didn’t hear me. This was a prerecorded video. The young woman with her face half-veiled with hair only sniffed, made a peace sign over her left eye, and whispered, “Stay spooky,” as the hands wrapped around her face.

The sound of her scream, amplified by the volume increase, made me tear my headphones out and drop the phone. On the little screen, I saw her do the same, the view bouncing and blurring for a moment before the camera came to a stop propped slightly against the wall. In the faint phone light, I could see the edge of a white bathtub and Lorraine’s thrashing legs being pulled up into it. I could still hear muffled sounds coming from the dislodged headphones. Screaming, banging, and something else that made my skin absolutely crawl: a wet, meaty tearing that reminded me of a turkey leg being pulled off. Before long, something red began to drip down over the side of the tub and pool on the linoleum. Seconds after that, the screaming stopped, and all I could hear was that awful, gleeful tearing. Then the screen cut out, and the video ended.

It’s been about a month since all that happened.

They found her body about a week after “Im Sorry” was posted – one Lorraine McDermont, age twenty-five, resident of some small town in southern Wisconsin. She’d been staying at a motel about fifteen miles north of Chicago. A maid had stumbled upon her in the bathroom of one of the rooms and was quoted as saying, “I’d never seen so much blood in my life.” Her family was contacted immediately after the remains were identified. No clues as to what had killed her were ever found.

I never met Lorraine. I never spoke to her or contacted her in any way. But, seeing that video, leaning of her death, I felt like I had lost a good friend. She may not have known it, but she was important to me, important to a lot of people. She was a good person. She didn’t deserve to die like that. She didn’t deserve the torment that led up to it.

I made a page on Facebook in dedication to her. Some of her old subscribers liked the page, but there isn’t much I can do with it. About fifteen minutes after that last video was posted, Lorraine’s channel had been deleted for good. So, if you were thinking of finding it or that video after reading this, you’re out of luck. You can’t even find screen caps of her content. To this day, I don’t know who did it or why. People I’ve talked with online said that only a couple dozen people actually saw the video, and that there’s no copy of it anywhere on the Internet. Someone had even tried to call the police after seeing it, but no one could find the link afterwards. There was no way to explain what had really happened without sounding like some lying horror junkie. Hence the reason the case went cold.

There’s really not much more I or any of the others can do besides keep her memory alive on her page.

Maybe it’s better that way. Having her videos gone, especially that last one. I think about it often. If they hadn’t actually found her, I’m sure most people who saw it would’ve said it was faked. Even a diehard believer of the paranormal might’ve played the skeptic card. I remember the fear in Lorraine’s eyes, the tremors in her voice. That’s probably what clinched it for me and a lot of the others – you can’t fake a level of fear like that. And those… things behind her. I still can’t say what they were. Without the old videos, I can’t deduce which game or ritual she played caused them to… I guess “awaken” is the only suitable word. Did they disappear after they… got Lorraine? Are they still out there?

What exactly did she mean when she said she was sorry for “what’s going to happen”?

I don’t know, and, frankly, I don’t want to know. I’ve pretty much had it with the strange and unusual. I don’t even go on Youtube much anymore. It reminds me too much of a dead friend.

I think I might delete Lorraine’s page. I think I need a break from all the creepiness for a while. After all, it’s not helping that people keep talking about the eyes from her videos. They’ve been posting troll comments like how they’ve seen them in real life and how weird shadows appear in their pictures. Some have even talked about having nightmares. This is probably my fault because I wrote a few status updates about how I’ve been having really bad dreams lately. A little accidental suggestion on my part, I suppose.

Still, it’s disrespectful to her memory to keep this kind of talk going. So, yeah, I’ll delete it later today. I think Lorraine would understand. She wouldn’t want anyone to end up like her.

Anyway, I’ve said all I wanted to. And, I’m really tired. I think I’ll try and sleep. Hopefully, there won’t be any of those nightmares this time. I don’t think I can take another night without closing my eyes. I might go insane.

Credit To – MercuryCoatedVeins

The Looking Game

May 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The blaring sound of seven in the morning jars you violently from sleep, shoving dreams away like rocks off a cliff, never to be seen again. You stir and make morning noises as you reach from beneath your sheets and blindly search for the Snooze button. Once silenced, you convince yourself not to rappel back down the cliff of slumber and reluctantly get up to begin your day.

Yawning widely, you shuffle from your room to the hallway, wiping crust from your eyes and drool from your mouth. You never were a very pretty sleeper – part of the reason why you are still single. The thought makes you smile randomly.

You eventually find the bathroom and, after a few seconds of grasping in the dark, turn on the light. You flinch back like a frightened vampire before shaking your head at your own immaturity and stepping inside for a meeting with the porcelain head.

Concluding the meeting with a flush, you move to the sink to wash your hands. Your eyes wander up to the mirror, looking at your own semi-sleepy reflection. Your hair is a mess, and the bags under your eyes look like plums. You think to yourself, Wow, who’s that sexy beast? and chuckle softly, wringing soap from your hands.

Then, as you dry them on a towel adjacent, you get an idea.

Have you ever actually seen yourself looking away in a mirror? Not like you turn your head and look back with your eyes – that doesn’t count because you’d still see your reflection looking at you. You’re thinking more along the lines of catching yourself looking away, of somehow moving so quickly that you defy physics and actually see your reflection looking away before it can look back with you. Like the reflection is someone you can trick into making a mistake.

Clearly, you think to yourself, this is a dumb idea, a really dumb one. You can’t catch yourself looking off in a mirror. The amount of damage you’d need to do to the laws of nature and time… Well, simply put, it’s impossible.

That being said, you decide to try it anyway, a little pointless experiment to pass the time. It is Saturday, after all, so it’s not like you have anything better to do right now. Might as well indulge in a little childish self-amusement.

You place your hands flat on the sink, lock eyes with your reflection, and slowly turn your head until you can barely see the edge of the mirror. You mentally count one… two… three and turn sharply back to the mirror. Your reflection stares back at you. The both of you purse your lips thoughtfully.

You repeat the process: stare, turn, count to three, and turn back as fast as you can. Same result: staring at yourself. You stick out your lip in a pout. You don’t even know why you’re doing this, but it’s frustrating as hell. Maybe it’s because you’re still half asleep. Maybe it’s because you’re just crazy like your parents used to tease. Whatever the case, you decide to try again.

You stare at yourself, seeing all the colors in your irises, the red of the thin veins along the scleras. Slowly, you turn away, finding a point on the wall to focus on. However, instead of turning back immediately, you wait, keeping your head still, your eyes locked on the little nondescript spot. You tell yourself that, if you wait long enough, maybe you can fake it out, trick it into letting you win the game. You smile a bit at your own silly stupidity, but restrain the laughter, trying to maintain focus.

You count the seconds in your head. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. You remember your childhood, games played with friends, games like Hide n’ Seek or The Staring Contest. Fifteen. Sixteen. Seventeen. You remember your own competitive nature back then, the desire shared by all children to succeed over your friends, the desire to win at everything you do no matter how pointless or impossible. Twenty. Twenty-one. Twenty-two. You understand that you feel the same desire now, to reach for something you know is too far away, to try anyway until your fingers wrap around its barely material form. Twenty-five. Twenty-six. Twenty-seven. Even if it means falling over the edge, even if it means going just a smidge too far… the desire to win, in this moment of ticking seconds, is just too great.

Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. Thirty.

You snap your head around so fast that it makes your vision blur for a moment. You have to blink the sudden fog from your eyes in order to see. When you do, you see the mirror, same as before and yet completely… different. First, you stare in disbelief, then you let out a long, deflating sigh which, as your lips slowly curl up into a smile, changes to a small, abrupt, slightly shocked laugh.

Your reflection, standing directly opposite you, is still staring off to the side. You can’t believe it. A disembodied image of yourself following movements and actions completely independent of you. You’ve only seen yourself like this in pictures or home videos. It’s unsettling, not to mention completely terrifying, to see it happen in a mirror, something not capable of prerecording images. But, more than anything, it’s unbelievable. You didn’t think this would happen – it’s just a silly little game, a whim, the result of boredom and one foot still in dreamland – but somehow it did exactly what you’d wanted it to do. It’s like finding fossils in your backyard or creating a hair loss solution from blood pressure meds.

You want to tell someone about this, show this to someone, maybe even create a sideshow attraction out of it and become exceedingly famous. You want to let someone know how you played the most impossible game there is and came out on top.

That being said, you’re locked to the sight of yourself looking away, unsure what might happen if you move or speak. Then, as you continue to stare at your imperfect doppelganger, the elation you feel slowly degenerates into something like soft unease. Something isn’t right. It should’ve moved back by now, the delay filled up as the reflection struggled to right itself and restore the natural order of things. But it remains fixed on the spot on the wall, so still that it doesn’t even seem to be breathing. The unease begins to calcify, to cling to the lining of your stomach and slowly weigh it down with growing nausea. What’s going on? Why isn’t it fixing itself? Why won’t it look at you and put everything back the way it was?

As the seconds pass without change, panic begins to bubble inside you. You want to speak, to shout at the reflection, to reach up and smack the glass as if you could wake it up or something, but you remain as fixed as it is, though a slight tremor begins to move through your bones. You shake and sweat, the desire to scream and cry and beg for the figure in the mirror to please, please look at you almost overwhelming. What if it never moved? What if it stayed that way, and every time you looked in a mirror next, all you would see is this sideways glance, unsullied as you brushed your teeth, unbent as you washed your hands, unsaturated as you stepped out of the shower? What if it never leaves this mirror, and all the mirrors in the world would only show the wallpaper behind your back, the towel rack behind your head, the empty space where you should be but will never occupy again like a lifeless ghost?

Then, after nearly twenty straight seconds, it finally moves – slowly turns its head to face you again. Your relief is palpable, heating your skin like a warm blanket. You are about to smile and let out the biggest breath, maybe even laugh and crack some kind of nervous joke to break the excruciating tension, but you stop when you actually see what it looking back at you in the polished glass.

Your reflection has changed but in a subtle, unnerving way. Its eyes are wide and fixed, its forehead smooth, its mouth a straight line – veritably, the complete opposite of the expression you wear now of fearful confusion. This face, combined with the renewed stillness and flawed exactitude, makes it seem more like you’re looking at a doll replica of yourself than your actual reflection. You find yourself wanting to back away, to turn out the light and leave the bathroom as fast as possible, but you’re fixed to the spot, staring at what should be a perfect representation of yourself but is somehow anything but.

Then, to your horror, the eyes of your reflection roll back into its head, leaving only bloodshot whites and fluttering eyelids. The head falls back while the mouth opens in a soundless, screaming gape. Then, with a brief shudder, the body crumples out of frame like a puppet relieved of its strings, the sounds of flesh and bone thud-thud-thudding against the floor clear and perfect.

Suddenly, you are staring at a reflection of the wall behind you.

You feel your heart hammer in your chest. Sweat beads across your skin and makes your hands slick and clammy. You’re shaking all over. Something’s wrong. Something’s gone terribly wrong, and you know that, if you just turn your head, you’ll know exactly what it is. But you’re scared, more scared than you’ve ever been in your whole life.

It’s just a game, you find yourself thinking. It’s just a game. Nothing was supposed to happen, especially not something like that. It’s not even possible, none of it is. It’s just a stupid, harmless little game… right?

Against all better judgment, you slowly, slowly turn your head and look down.

You see your own body lying still and lifeless at your feet.

As the knowledge of what you’ve done invades your mind, as the enormity of it brings you towards complete and total mental collapse, you have one final, cognizant thought: It is just a game, and I guess I won.

Credit To – MercuryCoatedVeins

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