I’m Downstairs

February 2, 2017 at 12:00 AM

The clock struck midnight. I was on my laptop in my bedroom, browsing through YouTube videos. However, my browsing stopped when my phone vibrated. I saw that I received a text message from my friend, Ben.

“Hey man I’m outside by the back door. Can you let me in?”.

I knew he was lying. For the last few weekends, he had been messing with me. One weekend he told me he was parked in my cul-de-sac when in reality, he was in his bedroom. The following weekend, he told me he was coming over to hang out. When I came outside to greet him in his car, he floored it out of my neighborhood. I wasn’t going to let him get me this time. I sent a reply back.

“I know you’re just messing with me again.”

He immediately replied back.

“No I’m being serious this time, I am by the back door.”.

“Nice try, I know you’re not there.”

I placed my phone down and continued my search. About a minute later, my phone vibrated again.

“I’m downstairs.”

“Ben, you can’t troll me three weekends in a row. However, I’ll give you an A for effort.”

I placed my phone down again. I wasn’t going to play his little game. As I was about to continue my search, I started to hear something from the deafening silence of my dark house. I faced the doorway behind me and listened closely. It sounded like footsteps, silent footsteps walking around downstairs. It was nerve racking. I couldn’t believe it. Was my mind tricking with me or was Ben actually in my house? I grabbed my phone.

“Are you joking with me man?.”

I continued to listen as my phone vibrated again.

“No, I told you I was downstairs, but you didn’t believe me.”

I was quite relieved that it was him, but I was pissed off that he broke into my house. I could hear him walking around downstairs still as I waited for him to come into my bedroom. I grabbed my phone again.

“Aren’t you going to come upstairs? I can hear you walking around downstairs. Just come up here already.”

I sent the message and waited for him to respond. I was starting to get a little annoyed after a minute of waiting. I got up from my bed and went to the doorway. I proceeded to shout downstairs.

“Get your ass upstairs already! Stop fucking around!”.

I sat back on my bed as I began to hear him walk upstairs. Suddenly, my phone vibrated again. It was a text message from Ben.

“You know I was fucking with you, right?”

My heart dropped. I looked up at the doorway to see my killer smiling at me.

Credit: Matthew Stacks

The Man In The Window

February 1, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Things had been tough for my mom and I, ever since my dad left us two years ago. At least I was old enough to get myself to and from school and I new my way around a microwave, but I wasn’t old enough to get a job and the bills were piling up. My mom decided to get a second job. A night job. Maybe part time and not something to brag about but it would keep our heads above water.

I remember the first night like it was yesterday. My mom apologizing up and down for having to leave me alone. I told her I’d be fine and honestly I was pretty excited. She wouldn’t be home until late and that meant I could stay up late. There was a monster movie marathon on so who would complain?

It was just around nine-thirty and I was right in the thick of some Japanese gore fest when I swore I heard something outside. Maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me. Maybe the movie got to me. Either way, I HAD to check it out. I hesitantly peered out of the living room window, looking to the left, then the right, and nothing. Then, I noticed, directly across the way, a man, standing in his window, just staring. I couldn’t really tell what he was staring at but it freaked me out anyway. I stood at the window for at least a minute, as long as my heart could bare it, and he didn’t move. That was it for me that night. I was done with the monster flicks, done with the freaky dude in the window and tried to fall asleep.

The next morning I told my mom about the man. First, she was upset I was up so late and then she asked if I’d been watching scary movies. Needless to say, I got the “it was all in my imagination ” thing and that was that.

That night, after my mom left, I didn’t feel comfortable alone. It was like that feeling of someone watching you and just after nine again I swear I heard something. It was just like the last except there was no horror movie marathon. Against what my brain was screaming at at me I pulled myself again to the window. There he was! The man, just staring out of his window. This time I darted away as quick as I could and ran to my room. It was so weird. It got the hair on my neck standing on end. The next morning I told my mom but she just brushed it off, saying he was probably just a nervous old man and it had nothing to do with me.

I wasn’t so sure but what could I do? My mom left for work that night even though I begged her to stay. I tried to take my mind of the man. I watched t.v., I played music, I even did all of my homework, but still I wondered if he was out there, staring from his window at me or God knows what.

My curiosity got the better of me and I made my way to the window. My fear was realized in that moment because there he was, the man in the window, just staring. I tried to keep my presence a secret and see just how long he would stand there. My heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest but I stayed there at the window, in some sort of weird staring contest. Then it happened. He moved away from the window and I breathed a sigh of relief. My mom was right. I was worried about nothing.

Suddenly, his front door opened and my comfort changed to dread in an instant. I watched from my window, trying my best not to be seen, watching him walk down his driveway, then across the street, then up my drive way. I choked in fear and ran for the telephone. I dialed 9-1-1 and waited, my heart jackhammering a million miles an hour. Finally, an answer! I explained to the lady that I thought someone was trying to break in my house and she said help would be on the way and asked for my address. I managed to get out the first three numbers when I was grabbed from behind! I dropped the phone and felt these dirty, greasy hands wrap themselves around me. I screamed as loud as I could and shook myself, trying to break free but I was lifted from the ground. I could feel the hot breathe on my neck, smell the stale, rotten stench of my attacker. I couldn’t help but start crying, screaming my lungs out for my mom, for anyone, for help.

Then there was a a thud and I was falling with the man towards the floor. We hit and his grip loosened. I rolled away and scrambled behind the couch. Then I heard a voice say “It’s ok, You’re safe now.”

I looked up, shaking and bewildered. There were two men. One on the floor, who wasn’t moving and another, standing there with a baseball bat.
“You’re ok.” he said again. “I’m your neighbor from across the way.” My jaw dropped in confusion. “I’ve noticed a strange man lurking around your house, every night for the last few days and was concerned you might be in danger. I noticed your mom leaving and knew you were here all by yourself.”

The police arrived shortly afterwards and between our two stories the mysterious assailant was taking into custody. I thanked my neighbor as much as I could and from that day I always felt safer when I looked outside and saw the man in the window across from me.

I’ll Never Work a Closing Shift Again

January 31, 2017 at 12:00 AM

I used to work for a Subway next to a liquor store along a fairly busy road. I hated the job, but I was only working there on Friday and Saturday evenings to make some extra money. The customers were friendly enough, referring to me as “the blue-eyed girl” as we didn’t have name tags. My coworkers were alright as well, being fun and interesting people, but my boss was a jerk. Luckily I didn’t have to see him often because he was only around during the mornings. Yet, he’d always find a way to make my job more stressful.

My boss would constantly say that our store was doing poorly in profits and would make it so that only one person would be working for hours alone. I have no idea what he was talking about because whenever I was working I felt as though every resident in our city would make an appearance at some time during my shift. Luckily I had a coworker with me until about an hour before close, something I was truly grateful for. But that all changed after minimum wage went up. My boss figured he’d save the money he was losing by cutting hours even more. So instead of working with someone until 8:30 pm or 9 pm, I would be alone from 6 pm until close, something that worried my mother and boyfriend. They didn’t particularly like the thought of me being alone in the store for that long as I’m a girl. I didn’t like the thought of it either, but what could I do?

I dreaded the following weekend when the new schedule would be in effect. On Friday my boyfriend agreed to stay with me until close, but on Saturday he couldn’t and so I begrudgingly made my way to work for 5 pm on that day. I worked with someone else until 6 pm and then they left. I was now in the store alone. I was hoping it’d be dead in the store since a football game was on that night, and this proved to be true. Not many people came in. So with the spare time I started cleaning things early as I knew it would take a lot longer to get everything done without anyone else helping me, and I’d bring many empty containers to the back room to wash them, returning to the front whenever I would hear the door alarm go off signaling that a customer had just walked in.

This went on for a couple of hours, and I hated every moment of it. I was in the back around 9 pm trying to finish washing some things when I heard the door alarm go off. We would be closed in just a half hour, so this was the point in my shift where I truly despised getting any customers. I finished rinsing the bowl I was washing and then reached for a paper towel, walking to the front to greet my unwanted customer. Much to my surprise, no one was there. I didn’t see any cars out front, but I looked around the store briefly before returning to the back room. Whoever it was, they must have decided they didn’t want anything. Not that I minded.

A couple of minutes passed and then I heard the door alarm go off again. I briskly walked to the front expecting a customer to be standing there looking at the menu, but when I got there I did not see anyone standing there ready to order. Instead I found a man sitting on the far end of the store at the back table. He appeared dirty with scraggly hair and mud all over his pants. He tracked some in I could see, and wasn’t too happy about it knowing that I’d have to re-mop the floors. Despite my irritation I greeted the man.

“Hello, sir. Are you waiting on someone or wanting a minute to look over the menu?”

He kept looking back and forth, from wall to wall, and occasionally out the window. He almost appeared disoriented, but would look at his phone every once in a while as though he were expecting a message from someone. He was fiddling with something in his pocket but wouldn’t take it out. Most importantly, he didn’t respond to my question, and I was getting pretty annoyed.

“Well, we’ll be closing in 20 minutes, sir. Please keep that in mind.”

Again, he didn’t respond. Just kept looking everywhere and anywhere but toward me. With an irritated sigh I walked to the back room and began preparing the mop bucket, filling it with water and floor cleaner. This probably took about 2 minutes. Once it was ready I wheeled it toward the front and quickly noticed that the man wasn’t there anymore. He couldn’t have left the store, however. I would’ve heard the door alarm go off if it had been opened. I grabbed my mop and looked toward the ground where I then noticed the set of muddy footprints leading toward the bathroom door. Great. I’ll have to mop the bathroom again too.

I began mopping the trail leading toward the table where the man had sat and then all the way toward the bathroom door. As I finished cleaning the floor directly in front of the door, I heard the faint muffled cries of someone on the other side. I leaned in until my ear was almost against the door itself and listened silently. I could hear quiet sobs mixed with some words like “no” and “I can’t”. What on earth was going on in there? I took a step back as quietly as I could and then was surprised by the sound of the door being unlocked. I immediately jumped away with mop in hand, and was a good 10 feet away when the door opened.

The man emerged and stood there for a couple of moments when he saw me standing there. Then for the first time…he looked me straight in the eye. This sent a chill down my spine. I held onto the mop nervously, almost defensively. His stare was blank and yet somehow sorrowful. He didn’t say anything and quickly walked out the front entrance setting off the door alarm. I turned and saw him make his way down the road, never looking back.

I took a breath, loosening my grip on the mop and looked back toward the bathroom door. I reached for the handle and slowly opened the door, quickly peering around inside before actually entering. When I walked inside I found a giant muddy mess all over the floor, as though the man had been walking in circles in there. I sighed and quickly mopped up the filth and turned to leave when I noticed the garbage can lid was on the ground beside it. I reached for it, bending over the can itself in order to retrieve it when I happened to notice something shining inside. I could feel my face grow pale when I reached in and retrieved an open switchblade. The only other thing in the can was a crumpled piece of paper. I reached for it and slowly opened it. The words on it still haunt me to this day…

435 WILSON ROAD. BRUNETTE. BLUE EYES. SATURDAY 9 PM. $1200.

I closed the store early that night. I didn’t finish washing the dishes and didn’t bother sweeping or mopping the back room. I just locked the door, put the food away, counted my drawer, and left. I quit the next day. I told my mom about what had happened and she called the police. I gave them my description of the guy as well as the knife and note I had found. They thanked me for my information and told us that they’d do what they could to find the guy. My mom still freaks out about it and won’t let me get another job. I don’t go out as often and I feel nervous every day. I always feel as though I’m being watched or…hunted. I still wonder about that note sometimes, but in all honesty I don’t want to know. Whoever wrote it…whoever wanted to hurt me…I don’t want to know. I may never know anyway. But one thing I do know is that I’ll never work a closing shift again.

Credit: Charmberry

The Street

January 30, 2017 at 12:00 AM

It’s Saturday night and you’re dressed up in your favourite smart-casual outfit. Excitement fills your heart as you check yourself one last time in the mirror, make a final adjustment to your hair which is now perfect, and head out of the room. You glance at your coat as you walk past it, smiling to yourself as you open your front door and allow the warm, summer sun to splash your exposed skin, a gentle breeze tickles your face as it creeps into your house. It’s going to be an exciting night! Your friend will probably be waiting for you at the local bar, ready to celebrate her birthday. Most of your other friends will also be there. It’s not that often you all get together like this but it’s always sure to be immense fun when you do. After locking your door, keeping your house secure, you head down the street you’re most familiar with, not really paying attention to where you’re walking, but with your face to the sky basking in the warm evening air surrounding you. You’ve walked this route a thousand times, and you know it so well that your body goes into autopilot as you allow your mind to wonder about what the night has in store for you, drinking and laughing with your favourite people in the entire world.

Shortly after setting off, you arrive at the pub you’ve been in countless times before – your pub. The sound of singing birds and a gentle breeze erupt into the merry ruckus of debate and laughter as you step through the doorway. The smell of alcohol and and hot food dances around your nostrils bringing with it a warm nostalgic feeling that simmers in your stomach. You spot several of your friends gathered around a table in the far corner all waving frantically at you and you cannot help but to beam with delight at seeing them. Almost jogging over, you give them all a warm hug and wish the special guest a happy birthday. A drink already awaits you, a glass full stood among a variety of other beverages, all of differing volumes. You take your seat and take a sip, feeling the cool liquid swish around your mouth, the flavours of your drink of choice exploding on contact with your tongue and the warmth of the alcohol sliding down your throat to rest in your stomach. The feeling of that first sip was incredibly satisfying. Sliding into the conversation is easy with these people, and no more than a minute goes by before you’re already in full swing bringing more laughter to the group. Sip after sip, your drink diminishes steadily. Your mood is high, your body is relaxed. As time passes, more friends join the group and more alcohol is consumed. The empty glasses pile up and are removed by bar staff as you take turns heading to the bar to top up. The bar buzzes around you, the sun sets outside and the dark shroud of night covers your oblivious world.

Another few hours pass and some of your friends decide to start heading home after another brilliant night, an opinion shared by all. You may have drunk a little too much, however, and your vision is blurred. It becomes difficult to maintain focus and balance as you hug your friends goodnight and slur words of love and friendship to them. The words are returned and followed by more hugs and hand shakes as the bar staff politely urge what is left of your group to make your way outside. Without causing a fuss, you oblige and stagger to the front doors and outside into the warm night time air. The familiar breeze strokes your face as you say your final goodbyes for the night, ready to amble home on your own allowing your legs to direct you. The chatter of the streets fades to the ambient sounds of rustling leaves and solitary footsteps. The night is quiet, warm, and lonely. Now far away from the pub you came from, you mumble and giggle to yourself, following the comforting glow of the street lights illuminating the path back to your comfortable home. The streets twist and turn, you’re aware of the familiar route you should be taking, and as you shuffle along steadily you make the same right-turn you’ve made countless times before. You’re almost home, and it’s a good thing too as the temperature seems to have taken a sudden downward turn.

The night seems darker now, and much colder than it was barely a few minutes ago. You clutch your shoulders hoping to bring yourself some warmth and pick up your pace to get home quicker. Following the street lights seemed easy earlier, but now they blink and fade with every step. The large circles of light once so bright now seem difficult to see. Your heart begins to beat faster, and your stomach turns. The alcohol is making a comeback, and stretching your arm out to rest on the nearest lamppost proves to be a bad decision as your hand touches nothing. With your weight behind you and no lamppost to hold you steady, you fall to the ground scraping your hands on the cold, hard concrete beneath you. Your stomach can no longer hold the quantity of liquid you consumed earlier and with a mighty heave, the contents of your stomach is ejected all over the ground in front of you. Another heave and more vomit to add to the puddle. Dragging your wrist across your mouth to wipe away the remnants of saliva from your lips, you slump back against a wall and take some deep breaths. You look up to the lamppost that was supposed to break your fall and see nothing. Looking left, and then looking right, nothing. No lampposts, no light source. Confused and disoriented, you help yourself to your feet and scan the area around you. This street is familiar, but at the same time you know you’ve never seen it before. Despite the lack of light, you can somehow still see through the darkness, barely.

Tall, foreboding houses tower above you each side of the street and run parallel to the road. The trees here are bare, no more than a construct of sticks and branches mocking you, teasing you, confusing you. A sharp wind gusts down the street dragging a bitterly cold air behind it. You shiver and your skin goosebumps. Scared and confused, you start down the street again, hurrying yourself along. Your vision begins to return to normal as the adrenaline pumping through your system starts to sober you up. As you glance at the houses each side of the street, blank faces stare down at you. You can see them, you can feel their uninviting stare burn through your skin. Icy claws drag pointed fingernails down your spine and you break into a hurried jog. Your eyes widen and your heart pounds faster and heavier with every step. Your heavy breath mists as it leaves your body with every exhalation. The figures watching you from blackened windows, motionless, expressionless, are silently screaming at you, casting you out and threatening your soul. Tears of fear well up in your eyes as you think of home and your warm bed. You stop running and shut your eyes tight whispering to yourself; “This is just a dream. This is just a dream.” You concentrate hard on waking up, and open your eyes.

You feel your blood drain from your body and pure dread grips your lungs, removing all breath from your body as you hear a slow, ominous creak from behind you. The darkness is still very much surrounding you, and the icy air scratching at your face confirms the horror that you are not dreaming. Turning slowly, you see the door to the house behind you is ajar. Shadows seep out from the crack and creep towards you. In a moment of horrified panic, your legs freeze up but as the shadows only visible in your mind sneak ever closer, you convince yourself to run. You don’t know where you’re heading any more, but as you run you see more open doors, you feel more creatures, more things follow on. Glancing back you see them. Tall figures, almost humanoid, are stood still yet somehow also following. You try your hardest to speed up but your legs cannot move any quicker. Tears are cascading down your cheeks and your heart feels ready to burst through your chest. The smell of stale air suffocates you and suddenly you hear them. You hear the whispers and groans that complete the unadulterated fear squeezing your heart. Incomprehensible, vile whispers spit at you, enveloping your ears. Vicious claws reach out for you, fully intent on causing harm and destruction. You can sense the pure feeling of evil reaching out for you, wanting you, hoping to deliver you to death.

With every backwards glance, the figures draw progressively closer. The night falls deeper into blackness. Your vision becomes restricted, your breathing is tight. You gasp for air as your exhausted legs tumble beneath you, carrying you forward with all the pace they can muster. As you begin to glance backwards again, you stop short when you see razor-sharp teeth beside you, grinning psychotically and dripping with hunger. They lash out to bite you and just scratch your arm as you recoil and lose your balance. Falling to the ground again you cower, hiding behind your arms and sobbing. For a long while, nothing happens. You raise your head and peek out from behind your arm to pitch blackness. Your vision is gone, you see nothing, you hear nothing. Terrified and perplexed, you feel consciousness slowly slipping through your fingers. Mentally grasping at a metaphorical rope, you try your best to stay awake but your fight is in vain. Slumping gently down, reality itself runs away from you, the complete dead of the night lulling you gently to sleep.

The warmth of the sun hits your face and you bolt upright in bed, sweating profusely and straining to catch your breath. Resting your hand on your bare chest, you feel your heart beating rapidly and cold flushes run up and down your spine. Looking around your room, you realise everything is normal and a tidal wave of relief washes over your entire mind, body, and spirit. Now convinced it was just a bad dream, you let out a small, nervous laugh and throw the duvet to one side. Following your normal morning routine, you swing your legs out and scratch an irritating itch on your arm, only to recoil in pain as your run your fingernail over some unexplained gouges resembling a bite. The wave of relief retreats back into the ocean of anxiety as your heart refuels itself with panic. You hop out of bed and rush to the blinded window, throwing aside the curtains and staring blankly at the street outside. Only the blackness of the night and unfamiliar houses greet you. There is no sun. The trees are bare. An aimless soul is clutching their shoulders on the street below.

Credit: Thomas Anthony

“Sasaeng”

January 29, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Have you ever heard about the music industry in Korea? South Korea, to be more accurate. More likely, I’m sure you’ve heard of the increasingly popular music genre KPOP, or Korean Pop, and the subsequent insane fandom that comes with it. I’ve been in a popular KPOP group for a few years. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call myself Jin. No relation to the Jin from BTS, another popular KPOP group. I’m writing this as a warning to not only to others in our industry, but also as a warning to the fans and to those who dream of becoming a KPOP idol. Idol is another word for celebrity here. Thinking about it now, I don’t think “idol” is a healthy title for us. We aren’t. This is encouraging worship in the worst way possible. Trust me, I would know. And that’s where I’ll begin my story.

When I was growing up, I watched many people come up in the KPOP world. They had amazing lives and I wanted it. I never thought that I’d ever get the chance, but when I got the opportunity to audition for a huge company in Seoul, I took it. I begged my mother and father for a whole year to take me from my small province to the big city and tryout for my dream. It would take 5 auditions and 2 years before I was accepted at the age of 13. I had heard many stories about the hard lives of KPOP trainees. There’s a running joke calling the contracts you sign slave contracts. But, it didn’t deter my grind. I was ready for anything. I had no idea what horrors awaited me in the next 7 years.

To better understand my story, you need to understand how the KPOP industry is designed and how our culture directly affects it.

In SK, if you have talent, you’re a dime a dozen as literally thousands of people attempt to snag a place at one of the prestigious KPOP companies every year from all across the globe. Even the USA and Canada. Barring extraordinary circumstances, if you get accepted by a company after auditions, you become a “trainee.” It’s basically KPOP Boot Camp to get you in shape to form a whole group and start making money. Yes, boy and girl bands are still alive and well here. Trainees can be molded anywhere from 6 months to 5 or 6 years.

Now, my trainee life was simple and difficult. Every day, all day, I would train to be a pop star with 10 other kids my age. Some a little older, some even younger. It was hard. From sun up to sun down, we trained in all things you could think of. Singing, dancing, rapping, language, etc. But this life was the life I chose and wanted. I could write a whole horror story on just my trainee life, but this story’s subject is about the life after I debuted in a group. The life that I always thought would be a dream come true. The life full of traveling the world, singing, dancing, money, and the fans. The love of the fans. That was what I was most excited about. I wanted it so bad. The unconditional love of millions of people; wearing my face on their shirts, phone cases… screaming my name and crying when they got to meet me. Who wouldn’t want that? Being worshiped.

2 years after my other members and I became a legitimate group, I was bathing in the things I always wanted. It was amazing, but it came with a cost. In South Korea, and the KPOP world, we have different levels of fans. We have the normal fans who always support us, come to our concerts, buy our music, vote in our music shows, get our views up on YouTube, spend all of their money on us, etc. We love them and they love us. The second type are what we call “netizens.” These people are “internet citizens” and you may recognize this category as netizens are mostly in every fandom. That being said, they can be wonderful if they are happy with our choices, but when they believe we do something wrong, even if it’s as minor as looking at someone the wrong way, they can be vicious. We’re always terrified of our actions as we fear the repercussions of these fans, but we live with it. It comes with the territory.

Now, the 3rd level of fan… Here, we call them sasaengs. The Korean word “sasaeng” is a shorter form of the Korean word “sasaenghwal” (사생활), which literally means “privacy” or “private life.” I can honestly say, I do not understand this level of obsession. I heard rumors that they existed, but I never thought I’d ever have an encounter. I was wrong. These fans stalk us and invade our privacy. Us bigger groups or singers have at least 100 of full time sasaeng fans around us at all times. They try to rip off our clothes, kiss, molest, and rape us. They steal our private property and they have even broken into our dorms and hotels and planted cameras to watch us. They sometimes steal our boxers and sell them online. I even had a seemingly normal fan at a meet and greet place a camera in a stuffed animal she gave me. Thank God our security thoroughly checked our gifts before allowing us to have them.

I remember a few years ago hearing about a set of girls who had hit a few female idols with a bag full of rocks outside a venue when they were signing autographs. They were in the hospital for days after. I’ve even heard of these fans slipping drugs and poisonous substances into food and drink of the idols, making them sick. One even died after unwittingly consuming cyanide placed into a room service meal in Japan. That was a few years ago. Security has been upped since then and many times after, but they still get smarter about their dealings every year and it’s caused us to be wary of every fan we meet. The fans suffer the most for these egregious crimes against us in the name of love. I’m not saying these types of fans are exclusive to Korea and our industry, but when you mix these unstable personalities, the way our company markets us, and our cultural practices… you get a volatile cocktail that somehow seems to eclipse all other extremists out there.

They will do anything to make us remember them. Anything to get our attention. Anything to get to us. It’s been said that they hire full time taxi services to follow us around 24/7. This can get expensive, as you may know. Disgusting as the thought is, to fund their obsession, they have even sold their bodies for sex when they can’t get the money to do this anywhere else. It’s a sick life I don’t understand. We’ve also heard rumors that they have even killed just to the get the chance to touch us. But this has never been confirmed. We’ve all had the fear of God put into us by these rumblings and experiences of these “fans.” Honestly, I don’t think they have the right to be called fans. But the fear and the precautions were not enough to prevent the events that were to come.

Not only do we suffer at the hands of these people, we also have immense tribulation that’s sourced from our own company. Even though many of us have had horrible experiences regarding the dark side of our fandom, and have ample evidence of these crimes, our companies will do nothing to punish them. No legal action whatsoever. Why? Because they refuse to injure any source of income, even from these psychopaths. The people we entrust our lives to, the ones that are supposed to protect us… they value money over our safety and well being. They are just as much to blame. They can be cruel in every sense of the word. For example, in our world, we are not allowed to date anyone. Not publicly. Not in private either as forbidden by our companies, but we find ways around it, even though it’s in our contracts. We have little to no social life. Some companies will stipulate in said contracts that we can date 5 years after we debut, but unfortunately, that’s rare. Regardless, like I said, we find ways around it. We have to be stealthy about it, but sometimes that doesn’t always work as you’ll find out. The companies forbid it because they want the fans to have a false sense of hope. They want them to have the illusion of access. They want them to think we are available and that they actually have any chance of being with us. Sick, right? But the companies think it helps them make more money. It’s even been proven as true by the money they’ve lost by dating scandals. If we’re ousted as being with someone, the fans get angry. They almost feel like we cheated on them. They shame us, but the one who suffers the most is person we’re in the relationship with.

2 years ago, I had met a girl who worked at my company. She was the assistant to our debut stylist. I’ll call her Ji. She was quiet and she didn’t seem like she belonged in this hectic life we live. I barely even noticed her at first… until a few months after we debuted when she graduated to becoming one of our full time stylists. For months, she seemed to just blend into the colorful chaos that was our life, but one day I saw her. Really saw her. Ji was beautiful. Honestly, the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on. And that’s saying something considering I had been around the likes of gorgeous female idols for years. Ji was different. She didn’t have to wear expensive clothes or pounds of makeup to sparkle among every other girl in the room.

I began talking to her and it took a year, but I finally got a date with her. She was opposed to it for the longest time because of our contracts, but the connection was undeniable. A piece of paper couldn’t hold us back. Months of stealthy, shadowed dates, clandestine meetings, and stolen glances later… we were in love. The cover of her job helped ease the pain of having to be hidden from the public and corporate eye. My other members knew, but they had their own undercover lovers to deal with and encouraged me when we fought about stresses over our secret. My fans thought I was single and that’s the way it had to be. We adapted and were together as much as we could be. Every second was precious. Seconds that normal couples would take for granted.

I loved her. I truly did. I wanted no one else. She saw me. Really saw me through the idol exterior I had to wear constantly. We traveled the world together on tour and she followed me to the ends of the Earth. I thought one day, once we got older and when the contracts were renegotiated, we could go public. We could get married. Have children. Oh, how I wanted children with Ji. She would have made a wonderful mother. In the Spring of last year, Ji and I had become comfortable with our routine. Maybe a bit overly confident that we would never be found out. Cocky even. It happens when you get away with a lie for so long. You feel invincible and infallible in your life of secrecy. We never thought that cool morning in March would be the end of our carefully constructed house of lies.

Ji and I awoke in the small, private music studio I had rented as a cover for our rendezvous to a loud and eager pounding on the door. We both jumped up in a panic not sure what was happening. I got dressed quickly as she hid under the bed. It was second nature to hide her at this point. I staggered to the door, ready with at least 10 different excuses for any situation I would be met with to protect her, to protect us. We weren’t amateurs. I opened the door blearily and I was met by two men from upper management in our company. I sighed deeply as I saw the anger protruding from their expressions. I knew we had been found out.

The next few weeks were a blur of public relation meetings and threats from our company. Someone had seen us and taken pictures. It took just ONE person to make this all crash down. It went viral by morning and soon after, the whole community knew. The fans knew. They felt betrayed and angry. Soon, our entire relationship was under the microscope and even though we were so careful to hide our love, the details of our private life were leaked. The fans, industry, our company… they all knew how long we’d been together and what we’d been doing. They knew everything no matter how much we denied and fought it. It was over. I was threatened with lawsuits and breach of contract. She was unceremoniously fired and she was forbidden to see me ever again. We were both heartbroken for weeks. She was everything to me and I would have given up ALL of this to be with her. Even my career I had spent years working on to achieve, but my company rules with an iron fist.

You may be asking, why didn’t you just walk away? Leave? I had worked my ass off for 7 long years to be where I was at the time, but even then, I still considered giving it all up for her. She was worth it, even though I cherished my career despite the Hell I had to endure. However, in most situations you hear about, things are sometimes easier said than done. Like when you scream at a person to stop being stupid by running up the stairs in a horror movie instead of just running outside. You think you’d know better and make better, life saving decisions. But, do you really think you would? No one knows exactly how they would react or what would motivate your choices. Our culture is different than most. A culture that puts more emphasis on morality and respect. I respected my company and was raised to follow through with my promises. Be a man. Especially if these promises took legal form in a contract.

A few weeks after the scandal broke, my brothers in my group and my family had rallied around me and prevented any further legal action from being brought against me and Ji. They even helped us to see each other a few times. I thought, I mean… I really and truly thought we could weather this and come out of it together; more in love than ever. I never thought that my life would turn into what it is today. It was the end of September when I stopped receiving texts and phone calls from Ji. We had bought burner phones to speak when we could. I tried feverishly to contact her, but her phone was off. I thought maybe she had changed her mind. Maybe this became too much. Maybe she needed some space. Maybe my company had found out how we communicated and was able to break that life line again. She had been forced to move back 5 hours away from Seoul after she was fired to live with her family. She didn’t want to leave, but she had no choice. Not only had the company black-balled her at every company in Korea, but they also accompanied said threats with legal repercussions. They threatened her enough that she was scared to stay and with no income, she couldn’t afford to continue to live in the city. The fans were not making it easy for her either. She was being berated by horrendous insults every street she walked on. They stalked her and made her life a living hell. My poor Ji. She never asked for this. I was able to hide behind my company and be protected, but she was thrown to the wolves. I blame myself for not walking away with her… for being too scared to do so.

After a week of silence, and no way to contact her family, I thought she had left me. That it was over. I thought my company had finally gotten rid of her for good. I was a mess and I had no idea how to go about getting her back. I thought maybe it was for the best at times. She could live a normal life now and have a regular relationship where she didn’t have to hide and she didn’t have to share him with millions of other girls on a daily basis. I didn’t leave my room for days. I could barely eat or even will myself to take a shower. I consistently asked my company if they could reach her. Just make sure she was okay. I even pleaded with them to let me see her one more time and say goodbye, but it fell on deaf ears.

Eventually, I scoured the internet to find anyone related to her. I only had a few surnames and locations to go on. Luckily, I didn’t have to search social networking sites for long. I found one of her younger cousins that she grew up with. I used a fake name and account to contact him, of course. I didn’t want to risk this becoming another scandal. I told him I was one of her friends and co worker from Seoul and I was wondering how she was after everything that occurred, but that I had no way to reach her. I threw in a few personal details only someone whom was close with her would know… just to assure him that I was indeed a legitimate friend and not a netizen trying to find Ji.

After a bit of back and forth, he seemed to believe me. I asked him where she was and if I could have a way to contact her. He responded telling me that she had been staying at his aunt and uncle’s house for a few weeks, but a few days prior to my message, she had unexpectedly left. She had been speaking of moving to America to study abroad for two years and even booked a flight to tour schools on the East coast. They didn’t know it would happen so quickly though. They figured that she had decided to leave early to escape the ridicule and spotlight she was unfairly shoved into by our relationship. He said she didn’t even say goodbye or leave a note. She told no one she was leaving, but this didn’t shake me or her family because Ji always hated goodbyes. We never said by when we departed from one another. We always said, “see you soon.” He concluded by saying that they had faith she would contact them once she made her arrangements in the States if she decided to stay and that he would ask her to contact me when she emerged.
I wanted to protest and ask more questions as I felt my heart breaking all over again. Was she really and truly out of the country? Did she leave everything, everyone behind to start a new life? Did she leave me behind?

I politely thanked him for speaking with me and extending my invitation to speak with Ji when she became available. I thought on this information for a few days. I somehow came to the conclusion that my company had something to do with this. They always did. Ji did not come from a wealthy family by any means. She was the sole breadwinner for her family in her home province. She made just enough to support her simple lifestyle and take care of her family. I knew that flights and a trip to America would be out of her financial reach at this point in her life. So, naturally… I began to suspect that they had paid her to leave the country and cut off all communication with me. Probably another tactic to keep me in a cage and prevent more scandals that would cause the company more monetary decline. You have no idea the lengths they will go to secure their investments. We are a lucrative commodity and they refuse to put that in jeopardy over a girl.

I confronted them in a rage demanding answers countless times, but I never did get a denial or confirmation of my suspicions and accusations. Either way, they benefited from her supposed sudden exodus from South Korea. Eventually, I threw in the towel and tried to accept that I may never see her again and I had my company to blame every inch of the way. But I had no other choice but to move on. October came and went with no news of Ji. I kept my sanity by imagining she was living the life she always wanted in the States. Or even Paris. We talked a lot about what we would do once I was let out of my contract. That’s what kept me together those nights where all I had were my worst nightmares of betrayal to keep me company.

Life went on around me in slow motion. Soon, I was so caught up in recording our new album and performing our tour that I almost never got the opportunity to dwell or be angry. 2 weeks before my birthday, the end of November, I started to receive my yearly birthday gifts from fans. I always looked forward to this. Our fans were wonderful. They would get the most unique gifts for us for our birthdays. Expensive, homemade, creative. Of course, with the ever growing concern of the sasaengs, our presents were monitored and checked before they were given to us. Every day that I would come back home to the dorm, I would have a new pile of packages set up on my bed. Placed there by our staff. The other members always loved to come in while I opened them and call dibs on candy I didn’t want. We did this every night for 2 weeks. The night before my birthday, I was excited. I knew I’d get the biggest and best presents the next day. Even so, I thought of Ji from time to time. Like I said, Ji was never rich by any means, but the presents she snuck to me every year were always my favorites. I remember running my fingers over the bracelet she had gotten me our first year together over and over until I fell asleep, hoping maybe I would still get a present from her this year. I thought that maybe it would come in the form of an email or text message. Even a phone call. Just to know where she was and make sure she was happy. I wanted to apologize for what my company did and tell her that I don’t blame her for taking the money. Anyone in their right mind would… even with love on the table. I thought that I may just have the chance to tell her these things I’d rehearsed in my mind for months following her departure.

I woke up to my members and staff bringing me a huge breakfast in bed. The day consisted of a few appearances and a filmed adventure to water park that we would upload to YouTube later on. We had a live broadcast of my cake ceremony and got into an icing fight. We returned back to the dorm and I ran into my room expecting to see all of the best packages of presents to open. I was not disappointed when I turned the lights on and saw stacks and stacks of boxes to open everywhere. Like always, as soon as I sat down to begin, a few of my brothers came piling in to claim the unwanted candies and things I knew I’d never eat. We gathered around talking about the day and laughing as we were on a sugar high. By the 10th present, I was already exhausted. I had quite a few left to open and was moaning that I wanted to finish in the morning. They were disappointed, but I had finally convinced them to leave me be to rest. As we were picking up the tattered remnants of wrapping paper and boxes, one of my members came to the door with a box. It wasn’t very big and it was just a plain brown shipping box that most all of the fan’s presents were delivered in.

I ask him what it was and he chuckled tossing it to me saying he didn’t go around opening other people’s birthday presents like some kind of monster. He told me that he had gone into the kitchen for a glass of water and found it sitting on the dining room table. We thought maybe the staff had forgotten to place it with the others. We examined it and it was, of course, shipped to me. It read… “To: Jin Love: Your biggest fans. Happiest of Birthdays and we love you more than life itself. You love us too, right?” in Korean, of course. I took the box and shook it. It was a bit heavy, but I had a weird feeling that this box was unusual. Why? Because it didn’t look like it had been opened yet. The staff always opened the boxes first before giving it to us for safety reasons. Some of the newer staff would sometimes re-tape the boxes, just so it would feel like I was the first to open it on my birthday. It was nice of them to give the illusion of a surprise. So, I thought nothing of it. None of us did. I decided to put it with the others and I kicked the rest of my mates out for the night.

After eating the candy I wanted and taking a few pictures with my gifts to put on social media as a thank you to my fans, I got into bed. I lay there in the dark thinking about the day with contentment. Slowly, as always, Ji crept into my mind. I must have laid there for hours debating on whether or not I wanted to get up and finish opening my presents… reasoning that perhaps there was a present from her in the pile of unopened presents. I couldn’t wait until morning. So, I got up, turned on my lamp, and sat on the floor. I began opening the rest of my boxes. One by one, my smile excitement waned as I realized each present was not from her. I was happy with gifts from fans, but of course, I was disappointed. An hour later, I only had one box left. The box that was found on our kitchen table. I sighed as I pulled it towards me, sitting in a ring of shredded boxes and hopes. I took the box opener and slowly cut the thick layers of masking tape that covered the entire box. My heart pounded in my chest as I thought… “it’s the last one. One more chance for Ji to wish my happy birthday. To know she okay and still loved me.”

As soon as I cut through the last layer and began to open the lips of the box, I was hit by a stench I will never forget. I coughed and gagged at the putrid smell emanating from the contents of the package. I gasped for air and fell backwards on my elbows. My loud calamity had woken up my member in the room across from me and he sleepily opened my door asking if I was okay. I looked at him for a moment, trying to hold in a belly laugh, before his nose was assaulted by the smell of rotting meat. He covered his nose and coughed as he waved he hands frantically in front of his face. I enjoyed a right good laugh watching him struggle with his senses that betrayed him.

After a few minutes of debate, we reasoned that maybe it was some food that a fan made and perhaps it had spoiled on it’s journey to us. It wouldn’t be the first time. Just last year, one of friends got a box full of his favorite potted meat from fans. The staff left it as a joke and our dorm smelled for weeks. He thought it was strange that the staff would give it to me if it was rotten, but I didn’t want to disappoint my fans. If they had gone through all of that trouble, the least I could do was retrieve the card and place it with the others. I prided myself on sending thank you notes to all of the senders every year. That was just the kind of guy I was. With our noses being pinched by our fingers, we sat back down around the package and braced for a plate full of rotting food. I only needed to get the card and then we could take it to the trash. We were being very dramatic about it, to be honest. We counted to 3 and quickly opened the box the rest of the way.

We peered into the box. For a few moments, we both stared at the contents, not knowing exactly what we were looking at. The odor was burning my eyes so badly that they were tearing. I wiped away the blur from my vision as I looked closer. All I could see was a mass of what looked like purple and black mush. Swirls of white and yellow mixed into the slush of liquid surrounding 3 masses laying in a container at the bottom of the box. All at once, I heard my mate scream bloody murder as he jumped back and began to heave in the corner of the room. My brain misfired and all I could do was stare into the darkness. I began to shake violently as I finally came to the disgusting realization at what I was looking at. A human, rotting hand. A foot. And what looked like a pound of human flesh piled in the corner. I only learned later that it was a severed scalp that had been crudely shaved short prior to it’s detachment from the head.

All I could do was keep my eyes fixated on it. My body was frozen. My lips were dry. My lungs wouldn’t inhale or exhale. Tears ran down my face. My heartbeat was erratic and fast. My convulsions were becoming more and more extreme by the second as I kept my eyes on the only thing that was recognizable: a small, silver ring on the finger surrounded by bloating flesh and exposed bone. All of the candy I had consumed immediately turned to bile and worked it’s way up my throat. I don’t know how long I was sitting there in a statue state accompanying my silent meltdown. I couldn’t move until I felt hands all over my body pulling me back away from the box. After a moment of looking up at my group surrounding me, I let out a bloodcurdling, guttural scream and blacked out. At least, that’s how the story goes according to those who witnessed this as I don’t remember much; save for the sight of human body parts that are forever burned into my memory.

I woke up in the living room with police, my members, and staff scattered around the room. My manager was sitting next to me looking at me when tears in her eyes. She held my hand gently and spoke to me in a soft voice. I have no idea what she said to me. All I could do was be silent and look at my surroundings. The voices that mumbled around me went quiet as everyone acknowledged that I came to. They all looked at me with concerned faces. The next few hours are sketchy in my memory. All I remember is being questioned by police on what was in the box and who sent it. I didn’t know. Or rather, my mind didn’t let me know… for it was too traumatic to recover at the time. We were placed in a hotel down the street for a few days as the investigation was on going. Even so, our schedules were not altered to allow for time to digest the events. I wasn’t surprised. Our company doesn’t even allow us leave when we’re injured, much less a traumatic event. Eventually, I was told that the body parts found in the box belonged to Ji. They didn’t have to tell me this as I already knew this to be true. I recognized the ring on the rotting hand. Every day after the first package arrived, more were delivered. These contained the rest of her. Her head being the last. All from different locations and provinces. All sent to ME from “my biggest fans.”

They never did find out who sent it or how the first box wound up in our dorm with no one noticing. All they could tell me and her family was that the body looked to have been severely abused for months before she was murdered and dismembered. It was said that she was probably taken the day her family thought she left for America and was in captivity, being tortured endlessly, until they decided to kill her and ship her remains to me. They don’t know if she was still alive when they began to saw her up. Honestly, I think they were trying to spare us the details. I like to think she was already deceased. I have to believe that. My poor Ji. The love of my life. Theories go that it was sasaengs who kidnapped her and tortured her. Then killed her and sent me her body as a birthday present. They came to this conclusion by the note on the box. From your biggest fans. But this was never fully confirmed. Maybe they used my fame as a cover for the murder. No one knows. But I believe it. I can’t even get my mind around the other theories, like that my company arranged this to make sure she would cause no more problems with their cash cow. That is beyond my mental capacity to accept, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

Love makes people do crazy things. Love of a celebrity and the insanity that comes with it can cause people to go mad. Love of money can cause people to make decisions they would normally never consider. I don’t think I cried once. Not after the first night. I couldn’t. I was numb. I still am. That may have something to do with the medications I was given by our staff physicians to “help with the anxiety.” I’ve been forced to continue taking them to this day. I think about her every day. Her smile. Her voice. The last text message from her: “We’ll be together. They will accept us eventually. I love you, Jin. See you soon.” After the case went cold, they returned Ji’s belongings that were found on her body to her family. They gave me the ring that was still on her left hand. The couple’s ring I had given to her a month before we were exposed. The one thing I recognized in the mass of flesh and bone wading at the bottom of the box. I keep it in my nightstand with mine, but I never look at it. I can’t. Not without my mind recalling that sight on that night rather than the happiness that should be connected with it.

They never did run any news stories about her. I have a suspicion that my company paid off enough people to keep it quiet. I threatened many times to quit and disappear. I wanted no part of this life anymore. It stole and brutally destroyed the one person that I ever loved. I couldn’t look at any of my fans anymore… not without thinking in the back of my mind: “Were you the one that killed her? Was it you? Did you hack her body up and send it to me?” It became a big enough issue that my company sent me away to psychiatric facility for a month under the guise of working on my solo career. They refused to let me out of my contract, but as you have probably come to understand, this is no surprise. They threatened me with everything from my family and friends to my finances and legal recourse. They threatened my group members to the point where I agreed to do what they wanted. My actions would NEVER hurt anyone ever again. I make sure of this by no longer rocking the proverbial boat.

Which brings us to now. I’m sitting here in a small custodial closet in our company’s building typing this with only the glow from the screen lighting my surroundings. Hiding from them; my wardens… my tormentors. I’m just a shell of who I used to be. I record my music, I dance, I smile, I do meet and greets. I do my job. My company makes sure of that. So, if you see an idol or celebrity on stage or wherever and they’re smiling and appear happy as can be… make sure to pause a moment. Really LOOK at them and think about the journey they had to go on to get there. What secrets their company has hidden to make it so. The lives that have been ruined in the name of money and greed. The time and money you’ve spent on them, not realizing you only continue to feed the machine; therefore, only making the industry tighten their choke hold on us. The ever-present monsters that lurk beyond your view waiting for them and those they will eliminate to reach their goal. The suffering. Ask yourself… do they really want to be here? Or are they trapped? What have they given up? Lost? What’s be taken from them? What secrets have been carefully woven to give you a false sense of access, entertainment, pleasure, and sovereignty over every aspect of their life?

Then shake it off and forget about it… because you don’t really care, do you?

Credit: Ren Baek

Creepypasta

Submission Status

WE ARE CURRENTLY IN AN OPEN SUBMISSION PERIOD. Submissions will close again on February 20th, 2017. PLEASE READ THE FAQ AND ANY RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO SUBMIT YOUR PASTA OR SENDING CONTACT REQUESTS.


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