The Draft

October 16, 2012 at 12:00 PM
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It’s been a while since I wrote anything. I apologize to my fans for making them think I have writer’s block or something. I can assure you that I haven’t lost my touch, and I’m full of inspiration. Something just… came up. You see, I’ve been doing some research lately. You know, for my new story, and you’ll never believe what happened while I was doing that…

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I was planning on writing a short horror story about a haunted castle. I love classic stories with a twist, so that was right up my street. The location was an easy choice, since I live in an eight hundred year old town in Germany, and there is a castle near my house. I snooped around there for a while, looked at some old paintings, strolled through the old cellars and climbed the towers.
It was perfect! The entire time I was there I felt the anxiety growing. We all know the feeling of being watched – the feeling that someone is following your every move from the shadows. The longer I stayed in the castle, the stronger that feeling got. Yes, this old building would be the perfect setting for my new story.

After thanking the castle’s owner for letting me have a look around, I went to the local library to dig up dirt on the previous owners. I knew that regents and knights had lived there. Perhaps one of them killed a servant girl or wife during the dark ages. That would make for a brilliant “Bloody Mary”-like story. What I found, however, was way better than that.

As it turns out, there used to be a Jewish temple in that old castle, right up until the Nazis decided to ‘evict’ them. Of course, a WWII gore story about Nazis torturing Jewish children is not really my style, but you all know I like to shock my readers.

The muses were with me on this one. The story had already started to form in my mind, and it was getting better by the minute. I checked out a few books on Nazi torture practices and a book on local genealogy for inspiration. The librarian gave me a funny look, but as he was used to me taking strange books home, he didn’t say anything about it.

When I got home I began writing immediatly. I always write the first draft by hand, instead of using a computer. It just feels better, more comfortable that way. It’s almost as if my pen has a will of its own, and it does a lot of the work for me.

After an hour or two, I had finished writing the draft and decided to go to bed early. I slept like a baby that night. Little did I know that would be my last good night’s sleep for weeks to come…

When I woke up the next morning I made coffee, like I always do, and decided to read over my work before typing another draft on my laptop. I looked over at my desk, but it was empty. I remembered that the maid usually places everything I leave on my desktop in the drawer, so I didn’t think anything of it. I opened the drawer only to find it empty. Now I was starting to worry.

I checked the trash, searched my house, but I didn’t find anything. Naturally I got angry with the maid for throwing out my work, but it wasn’t as if I couldn’t write the story a second time. I rewrote my first draft, placed it in an envelope marked “do not throw out” and went out for a walk.

It was raining outside. I remember this, because it hasn’t stopped raining since. I always enjoy long walks in the rain. I find it inspiring to look at the bleak, empty streets while water pours down in seemingly endless streams. So I walked for a good thirty minutes.

When I returned home I poored myself a glass of white wine and walked over to my desk. The envelope was still in its place. I booted up my laptop and opened the envelope. My draft was gone again!

My draft had been replaced with a small, old looking scrap of paper. There were only two words written on it: “Hör auf!” [Translated from German - "Stop it!"]

I really didn’t know what it was I was supposed to quit doing, but I had a feeling somebody was trying to play a prank on me. Messages like this one only appeared under mysterious circumstances in my books, not in real life. I decided not to rewrite the draft by hand.

I started typing, but the words just wouldn’t flow. As far as I knew nobody but my mother had a key to my house, and this kind of prank is definitely not her sense of humor. I couldn’t figure out who could have done this, and I was stuck with the story, so I decided to go out and get a couple of drinks.

The next morning I booted up my laptop and loaded my save file. The single chapter I had written had been deleted and replaced by the same two words that were on the note, repeated hundreds of times:

“Hör auf! Hör auf! Hör auf! Hör auf! Hör auf! …”

A chill ran all the way down my spine when I read it. Paranoid questions dominated my thoughts: “Had someone broken into my home? How did they know my password?” and most importantly: “Were they here while I was sleeping?” I was going out of my mind pondering those questions, so I decided to play a prank on the prankster to calm myself down. I wrote the same chapter for the fourth night in a row, but this time I wrote an extra line at the end. “If you delete this, I will destroy you!”

I spent the rest of the day buying a few cameras and setting them up in every room of the house, so I could catch whoever it was that kept breaking into my house. After that I spent hours pacing the room, waiting for night to come. I finally fell asleep in front of the TV. Dreams of burglars haunted me all night, until a bright flash of lightning and a loud crash of thunder woke me up.

I checked my watch and saw that it was almost eight in the morning. Drowsy from the restless night, I made some coffee and walked back to the living room. As soon as I sat down, I jumped back up and, remembering the cameras, ran to my laptop to check if I had caught the culprit in the act of deleting my story again.

My story was gone, and another message had replaced it, in English this time:

“Not if I get to you first…”

I picked up the camera aimed at my desk and pressed the ‘replay’ button. The screen showed my desk, with my laptop on it, my chair, the random clutter that is my desktop. Nothing out of the ordinary. I pressed ‘fast forward’ to speed things up a bit. Suddenly, at five thirty in the morning the screen showed nothing but static for two minutes. I hit ‘rewind’ and watched those two minutes again to see if I could make out anything between the static. I couldn’t. It turned out that all the cameras showed nothing but static between five thirty and five thirty-two AM.

After that my story wasn’t deleted again, however that’s when the accidents started to happen. It started out with little things. I slipped in the shower, cut my hand while making a sandwich, minor mishaps like that. But the further I progressed with the story, the more serious my accidents became. Last week I tripped and fell off the sidewalk, right in front of an oncoming bus. I managed to roll out of the way, but I could have sworn I heard someone laughing. The kind of high-pitched, maniacal laugh you hear ghosts make in corny horror movies.

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Maybe I am going crazy. Maybe writing all those horror stories about rape and murder and psychotic breakdowns has taken its toll.

Yesterday my house burned down. I managed to save my laptop and a camera. I plan on going back to the castle where it al began. Perhaps there I’ll find a clue as to what’s happening to me. I’m trying to look on the bright side, though –

Even if I die due to one of these accidents, at least I got a good, cheesy horror story out of it.

-MJT.

Credit To: Michael J. Tops

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