I was exhausted. I had just gotten home from another day of forced monotony that we call a job. I wanted nothing more than to kick back with a cold beer and watch the hockey game. I walked to the fridge and grabbed a beer before shambling to the entertainment room. Still warm. Damn. I sat down in my comfiest recliner. The footrest sprung up, and I pushed the back down far enough so I could just see the TV. I grabbed the remote and hit the power button. The TV flickered on, filling the room with the sound of hockey. It wasn’t the same without the cold beer. I reluctantly sat back up and got out of my chair, and made my way to the stairs leading up to the attic. I pushed the door open and stepped into the dark, musty room, thick with the stench of mold. I grabbed the flashlight that I kept by the attic door and clicked it on. I made my way around all the boxes, coming to the back of the attic. There I found the fuse box. I set the flashlight down and began to tinker with the fuses. A bit of light caught the corner of my right eye. I thought nothing of it, being too predisposed with my task. I finished fixing the fuse and turned to my right to grab the flashlight. But it wasn’t there. I put the flashlight down with my left hand. That’s when it hit me. Where did that light I saw come from? I recollected the flashlight and walked to the right of where I was. It didn’t take me long. I came to the side of my attic, where a crack in the wall was shining a brilliant white. I thought that maybe this was the end of my house, and the crack led to outside. But that was impossible. There was way more house below this light, and it couldn’t lead outside. It was nighttime.

Still no messages on my phone. I guess he wasn't going to call me back after all. I can't really blame him, maybe I came on a bit too fast yesterday. I had noticed him long before he noticed me. His shiny black hair and unnatural blue eyes. I wasn't the only one watching him, that's for sure. His movements were elegant in a boyish way. And his smile...his smile. I would die for that smile. Still no messages... I thought about calling him, maybe apologize for going too fast yesterday. I'm a coward, I know, but I just couldn't bring myself to dial his number. Besides he'd promised he'd contact me when he's ready. So I'll wait. I'm patient. I know, I'll just casually stroll past his house. Just to see if he's home. Maybe he's out, that would explain why he couldn't call me yet. He only lives half an hour away anyway. Maybe he's shy and is scared to call me. Silly boy. I'll go to him and tell him that he doesn't have to be scared. That I don't mind if he needs time. He lives pretty secluded in a farm on the outskirts of town. I can hear the sheep in the stables as I approach. My heart skips when I see there's lights burning inside. He must be there, he told me yesterday his parents would be gone for the weekend. They left him to look after the sheep for those days. Poor baby, that must be hard work. He was probably just too busy to call me. I'll have to stay here until his parents come back and help him take care of all those sheep.

You're just sitting there, trying to fan yourself off from the heat as you wait for you mother to come back from inside the shop. By chance, perhaps, you glance over to your left where another car is parked, empty and probably even more sweltering...

While brushing your teeth in the evening, you catch a glimpse of your wall mirror, covered in fingerprints. Annoyed, you grab a towel and rub at them. They remain. Upon closer inspection, you realize that they seem to be on the other side of the glass....

As Jake trudged through the cornfield, he recalled the argument he'd had that morning with his Pa. "But they've only been up a month-- they don't need changin'!", he had yelled. "Yes they do, Jake, every one! And I want that first scarecrow replaced by sundown!" He...

If you are reading this, then I am dead, and you are standing aboard a derelict Cyclone class patrol ship, the USS Mistral, with her engines dead and her electrical systems nonfunctional. I am, was, the XO of this vessel, Lieutenant Commander Ryan Simmons. Please read this carefully. If you are an officer or enlisted man in the United States Navy, this is an order: Scuttle this vessel, immediately. Do not finish this letter. Get off the Mistral at once, and send her down. Consider this a quarantine scenario; all hands are likely dead. God help you if they are not. We are eight days out of Kirkwall, tracking an intermittent and scrambled distress call from what appeared to be a Icelandic fishing vessel, the Magnusdottir, deep in the no-fishing zone of the North Sea. We found the vessel, or rather, we found a mile wide streak of oil and fragments, the largest of them still burning. The night before, the enlisted man on watch had reported seeing a flash of light on the horizon. The Magnusdottir’s crew was no where to be found, except for one lone fisherman, unburned and floating at the far end of the debris field. He had been shot in the forehead with a small caliber revolver. When we fished his pale blue corpse from the frigid water, he was still clutching a fishing knife in one clamped hand. What we were able to piece together from the fragmented and confounding evidence was that for reasons unknown, the crew had been in conflict, resulting in the murder of the of at least one sailor, and the eventual sabotage and destruction of the ship. Visibility was only a few hundred feet as we spent the next day drifting silently among the debris, in hopes of finding a survivor. The crew was already visibly shaken by the discovery; the grim dread of the fog, and lone smoldering pieces of the Magnusdottir that collided with our hull unsettled even the most seasoned of us. We had expected an easy cruise, and the simple retrieval of a dozen thankful Icelandic fisherman. What we got, at first, was a silent and oil-slick coated sea, a single corpse, and more than a few nagging questions. The Mistral had just been serviced, after an extended tour with the Atlantic Fleet in Bahrain before her transfer to the North Sea. She was in good running order, so I can only assume that the initial mechanical failure was an act of sabotage, or of some external force. It happened the first night, when our final sweep had been completed, and we returned to the site of the Magnusdottir’s first transmission.

This thing on? I guess it is. I can see the little light on the recorder and it isn’t flashing just yet. This is a…well, OK. It isn’t a last will of any sort. It’s a recording of the freaky stuff I just saw. Saw and ate. Oh god, that was bad. Not the previous phrase but the food. Well, OK. Let me start at the beginning. As in a few hours ago and what the hell I did at that café. If it was a café in the first place. Got a call from an old school friend. She wanted to meet me for a bite to eat. She’s a damn hot chick and I hadn’t seen her in a good long time. Course, I kept in contact over the ‘net – with a body like hers I’d have been stupid not to. Plus, I was hoping to get lucky with her. Oh man, I’m drooling. Uh…yeah, OK, so where was I? Oh yeah, I go to the meeting place and it’s something that looks like an abandoned building. All hollowed out. I think to myself this isn’t the place. Look at the address: 13 Kent Street. It synched with the numbers on the building. Funny thing is, this is a building in the middle of a busy city. Abandoned, but people were walking outside. Asking me what I was doing here and who was I meeting. Of course, I told them to fuck off – it’s my own business to be hanging around out here. Damn, if I only knew then…but damn, I wouldn’t have run. She was stunning. Came towards me and I knew then that I would be having fun soon. Of course…well, I shouldn’t say. Took my hand with hers and said that it was great to see me in the flesh again. I asked what we were doing here…and why everyone avoided it. She avoided the question by kissing me…and I can’t really remember what happened after that – except we were in the building.

The last storm was already on the horizon when I woke that Sunday morning. It hung in the south, a solid black wall of dust, churning and seemingly motionless. I’d every intention of sleeping late into the morning, as had been my Sunday custom since Adele and the girls had left, but the distant rumbling and crackle of lightning drug me from the bed just after sunrise. I shuffled drowsily around the farm in the early morning, lashing the doors of the barn, rounding up the two stubborn hogs, and shuttering the windows; but soon I found myself rooted in place, captivated by the writhing shape in the sky. It stretched impossibly wide across the open sky, rolling across the border from Nebraska. The air had a dry, electric chill, and already the sickly yellow wheat swayed in anticipation. I was in a trance, eyes locked on the distance when I saw a small light dust plume to the west, picked out in stark contrast with black beyond. The horse and rider at the base of the little dust devil approached the farm at a sharp trot, and my dust bleary eyes registered the silhouette. Carl Jordan had owned the farm next to mine for as along my family has been in the Dakotas, I grew up with his great booming laughter warming our home nearly every night. His usual broad, yellowing smile was absent beneath recently trimmed mustache and broad rimmed black hat; his dark suit was blotted with fine layer of grit that he brushed absently at. “Eddie.” His voice was tired and small as he looked down at me. “No church today?” I hadn’t been in months and he’d once admitted to envying me. I just didn’t see the need any longer, and I’ve relished the extra hours. I ignored the question. “What’s troubling you, Carl? Mattie all right?” I asked. He turned towards the south, to the storm and sucked loudly on his lower lip. After a few moments of thought he sighed deeply, with a phlegmy rumble. “The Hattersons are dead. All of them, ‘cept Saul.” He said evenly, not returning his gaze to mine. I drank this in for a moment, feeling the insides my sinuses beginning to burn in the cold and arid breeze. I briefly dwelt upon the image of the youngest Hatterson, a tow headed toddler with the dim looking smile I’d seen at the general store with Saul and Molly a few days prior.

It’s a cool, calm night. You worked hard that day, and you feel ready for a good night’s sleep. You climb into your bed and turn off the light. You notice that, considering you live alone, it’s unusually quiet tonight. Ever since the death of your next-door neighbor, the loud rap music woke you up in the middle of the night no more. The police were quite reliable in these parts, but you can’t help but feel a little disturbed that, for all the blood that was spilled and mess that was caused, the investigators still don’t seem to have a lead. You tell yourself not to worry, the community is on their toes, no sensible killer would go sneaking around this town. You lay down and close your eyes. As you drift off into sleep, a clear view of the front of your house floats into your vision, lights off except for the television in the downstairs window that you must have forgotten to turn off. You sit up. What kind of dream was that? No, it was more vivid, more distinct than a dream. Strange. Oh, well, you think as you lay back down. Not long after you close your eyes, you get a similar vision of your front door. Again, you wake up. What’s going on here? No matter. You left all your doors locked. Still, you feel a bit disturbed as you lay back down. The stairs leading up to the upstairs hallway fill your mind. The picture at the top of the staircase grows larger as you seem to be moving slowly up the stairs. You try to remain asleep, but abruptly sit up when you hear the wooden steps creak outside your door. Paranoia gets the better of you and you pull a small pistol out of your nightstand you kept around for self defense. Holding it doesn’t seem to give you as much comfort as you thought it would as the steps continue to creak slowly as whatever it is slowly ascends to the hallway. You get up and poise the gun at the door. The creaking stops.

There are times in ones life where one feels unsafe. Insecurity permeates their being, and despite their best efforts they cannot quell the fear that builds within them. They seek some form of solace; a refuge against the tumultuous and unpredictable storms that seek to overwhelm them. Some weather the storm stoically, holding to some deep-rooted faith, divine or otherwise, that this moment will pass. Others lose what vestiges of their sanity remain, their paranoia evolving into madness...a thunder of sorts to match the lightning of this overpowering gale. But there is a third option, one known to only a few. The Taiwanese call it the Ritual of Gai Kao. To engage in this age-old rite, you must first be riding the waves of sadness driven before this chaotic storm. When you feel you are at your most desperate, seek out a place that is often frequented by many people at once. The patio of a coffee shop, a bowling alley, an RV park...any place where the traffic of humanity has left the residue of souls. These are places of great power, and will aid greatly in your efforts. It is also easier to do just prior to 8:24 PM on October the 26th, as that is when the Kao is at his greatest strength. Once there, sit calmly and engage in a mundane activity. Reading the newspaper, stirring your coffee, something like this. Do NOT speak to anyone, or your efforts will be in vain. You must be in a meditative state, engaging in only such mindless activities so that your mind can focus on the worry at hand. Soon you will become keenly aware that the sounds of the world have dulled. The crappy coffee shop music is gone, the sound of crashing pins has faded, the engines of vehicles lost in the void. At this point you MUST look down. This symbolizes the approach of Gai Kao, the spirit of security, and to not show your reverence by averting your gaze will result in the most dire of consequences. From this point on you must do EXACTLY what I say. Do not deviate; I will tell you what will happen later if you do.

The trio of city workers stood six stories below the surface. Amidst the ancient network of iron, cement, and stone, they monitored the array of sensors and scanners that bedecked their protective suits. Traipsing through the dread stillness, they entered a chamber strewn with bones,...

We are Onieronauts. We are explorers of the Dream World. We blur the line between waking life and sleep. And we're watching you. It's strange how many people forget that you spend 1/3 your life sleeping. People have forgotten the importance of dreaming. Less and less people...

This is my last will…I’m recording this now. I don’t have much time left. Well…not so much of a will, really. Everyone I know is dead, missing of seconds away from death. I don’t know how it went so wrong. It was supposed to be something that would grant me eternal wealth, riches and longevity. Something that I heard was supposed to be how Caesar rose to power. Me being the idealistic man that I am, I decided to try it. The information was scattered far and wide. On top of Mount Everest, inside the 5001st paving stone on the Great Wall – everywhere imaginable. Everything fit together precisely and beautifully. This is how it works. Go into the “slums” of your city and wait for midnight to strike. You must bring along three items – a coin that was made on the year of your birth, an object that holds music – like a CD, a tape or an MP3 player and the left eye from a two-week-old puppy. Stand on any street and wait exactly five minutes. If you did it correctly, there will be the sound of a single footfall behind you. You must then place the items on the ground, say your name aloud and then walk straight ahead for five minutes. Not sure what you’d do if there’s a wall or a bend in front of you. Follow the curve of the road or go around the obstacle maybe? Anyway, there’s no time to muse over the small details. If you’ve followed those steps to the exact letter, you’ll get great power and life and all that in a couple of days. After that, you’re set for the rest of your life. If you didn’t…well, that’s where I am now. Wait. Did you hear that? A sort of…squishing sound? Like wet…I don’t know. The mic on here probably isn’t powerful enough to pick up those sounds. After I didn’t get my wealth and power, I did some research on this particular ritual. It’s not some crappy internet meme like Candlejack or the strange Creepy Pastas on old rituals. It’s powerful stuff – old black magic. Old…as in really old. If what I’ve read is correct, this stuff was considered old when Rome was the only world superpower. Some of the reports have crude drawings of the thing that appears behind you. HP Lovecraft has nothing on those images. I’ve also read reports on what happens to those like me…the ones who fuck up.

It’s late. You shouldn’t be up like this, you know. It’s not healthy, surrounding yourself in utter darkness, with nothing but a dull monitor to illuminate your surroundings, utterly defenseless. Your internal conscious could already be laughing at me. You could be thinking to yourself that...

I awake, as always, to the click and whir of a thousand hidden cameras, and the rising glow of the ambient lights. Over the next 30 minutes, the curtains on my bedroom will slowly part, gliding on mechanized tracks, and the yellow sunlight of dawn will stream into the wide circular room. Like all mornings, I entertain for the briefest moments the thought of hurling myself at the windows and plunging the half mile to the ground. I hold on to the little fantasy of wind and sky and falling for as long as it will remain, dreaming of those magnificent moments of freedom and choice. Even if I were not a coward, there are a thousand unseen barriers and safe guards. I can not see them, but several parents are doubtlessly just outside the door, and would be between me and the window before I could leave the bed. I allow the dream of freedom to evaporate for another morning. The woman next to me, I can not recall her name, shifts and rolls to embrace me. I wrap my arms around her and return the affection, but there is no love in it. She is young and soft, skin still stretched taut over her athletic and perfect frame. I know that in my youth I would have been buzzing with anticipation and lust simply seeing her, but now I can only take solace in the momentary ghost of affection and emotion. Her skin is warm, and her fine and downy body hair is smoother than the silk of the sheets. I draw an abstract of pleasure from this closeness, feeling something akin to happiness when our bellies synchronize in breathing, pressed close as they rise and fall in an alternating rhythm. Her breath is hot and damp on my chin and neck. It only takes me a few moments to tire of her, and I swung my legs to the edge of the bed. The black marble of the walls and floor of my bedroom are heated to my exact preference, so I walk, naked, into the large bathroom. Like every morning, I try not to focus on the near-silent buzzing of small servos and motors as each of the cameras pivots to keep me in view at all time. They must be completely autonomous, but it amuses me to think of a thousand uniformed parents tediously tracking my every move, 16 hours a day. They would be madder than I by now.

This farm has been in my family for two generations. I've always enjoyed the peace and solitude since I was a boy, just me and my folks. Now, there's just me. They died a few years back, leavin' the place to me and I've been doing my best to keep enough cash coming in to pay the taxes on the land (though why anybody'd want this place but me these days is beyond me). My grandpa was kind of a recluse and wanted a 'fair piece o' distance' between us and the city slickers as he called them. It's about 15 miles to the nearest town, down a couple worn ruts in the woods, that turn into a strip more dirt than road, before it finally hits the rural route to town. The old joke about 'You know you're a redneck when directions to your house start with: After you turn off the paved road...'? Yeah, that always used to kill him. Sorry, its getting hard to concentrate, mind wanders. I'm leaving this recording on the off chance someone from town notices I haven't stopped by for a bit and sends the law down this way to check on me. My advice to you is leave now, while you still can. I know it sounds crazy, but.. its true. First thing I noticed was wrong was a couple nights ago, when Sammy, that's my dog, started barkin up a storm in the middle of the night. Not too surprisin', we live like I said, way out at the ass end o' nowhere, and there's possums and raccoons and a few wild dogs livin out in the woods and sometimes they come on my land to try thier luck. Anyhow, Sammy's a good dog and just a few snarls from him is usually enough to convince most critters to hightail it back into the trees. But that night, there was something different. It was like he was crazy or something, snarling and yelping like mad. Not a bark, mind you, a yelp. Y'all with dogs know what I mean, that kinda noise they make when they're caught someplace between territorial anger and fear. I grabbed my jeans, shoved my feet into an old pair of workboots and grabbed my shotgun figurin' something bigger might be about. This ain't bear country but in lean times I've seen a wolf or two pacing the edge of the fence, testin' the water so to speak. Once I seen a cat, almost as big as Sammy out there, I shit you not. I dunno what it was, maybe a cougar or something, you'd have to ask a hunter, which to Daddy's disappointment I never turned out to be much of. Slaughtering a chickens ot the occasional pig was as far as I went and I ain't ever been comfortable even with that much.

I can tell, how you're staring there at this screen, finding some enjoyment. You need anything, just anything to keep you awake and entertained. It's late, you're dead tired, but you want to use up every moment. I know how it is. This happens to...

[A transcript of the first recorded interview with Subject H270, a victim of the recent "Interplanar Distress Phenomenon" that has taken approximately one hundred reported humans as of this date. Their numbers grow exponentially.] ----- MINISTRY FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY WASHINGTON, D.C 17. October, 2005 To: Officer Kathe Waldheim From: Agent Olaf Kaspar-Gottfried, Unknown Beings Examinations Department MIPA FILE NO. 33-4215 LAB NO. 92475683-K NOTES: Subject H270 has been put under sedation and injected with truth serum to ensure accuracy of the report and my own safety. Interview takes place one night after his rescue. Subject remains shaky when regarding my person, yet is otherwise confident reporting the incident. BEGIN TAPE Part I Kaspar-Gottfried: Recount for us the events that led up to your capture. H270: Home... I want to go home... Kaspar-Gottfried: You will be returned to your residence after the investigation, provided you cooperate with us. H270: No, no. Not my home. The home. (Sounds of a struggle. H270 shrieks, then whimpers softly.) Kaspar-Gottfried: Now, please recount the events that led up to your capture. H270: It started with the noises. You've heard them, haven't you? The noises? They come out at night. Little clicks, whirs, taps, vibrating sounds, that sort of thing? Completely unexplainable noises that sound normal at first. But they only come out at night. Kaspar-Gottfried: So these "noises"... they captured you? H270: No. Not at all. Kaspar-Gottfried: Explain. H270: The noises grew louder and louder every night. I could never sleep. After a week of insomnia, I decided it was useless. I thought they were trying to dominate me and take control of my mind. I would not be a slave to them. So I embraced insomnia, used the night to truly listen to them. That's when I realized... their voices had a pattern. A language. Time kept passing by, and I was determined to learn their language. And so I did. They kept saying the same things over and over again to me. "It is not too late." "Come here, come quickly." And then there are the things they said to each other. "What is he doing?" "Is he asleep yet?" "It's okay, it's okay. He's coming soon." The waking birds would drown their conversations out when dawn broke. Then there would only be silence. And one night, I noticed they kept telling me, "Come down, and descend. Come down." I thought they were speaking metaphorically, about some descent into Hell. But it wasn't. One night, I felt compelled by some strange force. A spirit not my own, to leave my bed and descend. I resisted as much as I could. After all, if I were out of bed. It'd mean they'd stop speaking to me! But I left. And I went into the basement.

On my eighth birthday, I got a present that would change my life forever. It was a beautiful doll that looked a lot like me. That is why my grandmother bought it for me. I named her Polly. However, days after I got the doll, things began to get weird, but I didn’t notice. I slowly became unsocial, never having kids over. All I needed was Polly to make me happy. She was my best and only friend. I just went to school, and came home daily. I never bothered to make friends, or talk to teachers. I even stopped trying in school. I had been a perfect student until I got the present. Nobody really noticed, though, so I didn’t mind. After about a week of having Polly, I stopped eating real food. I just didn’t feel right eating normal food, so I would always go out to the backyard (we lived in a forest area), after telling my mom I wasn’t really hungry that night, and find some woodland creature to hunt and kill for dinner. My mom didn’t notice me not eating much, until week three. She even took me to the doctor a few times, asking about what was wrong with me. The doctor always had the same answer. I was at a healthy weight and was not sick. After our third visit to Dr. Cortez, my mom decided I was fine and just going through a “stage” as she called it. After a month of having Polly, my mom noticed me sleeping in my closet instead of my usual place: my bed. And when she would come to check on me, not only would I be in the closet, but Polly would be in my bed. I would also sleep with my eyes wide open. My mom just ignored it, also saying it was a “stage”. Three months later, I got a haircut. I wanted a bob, and that is what I got. The creepy thing was, after I got my haircut, Polly’s hair started to fall out. It only stopped when her hair was exactly like mine. My mom then knew things were not right with the doll, but I would not part with it because Polly was my friend. She was the only one who understood me. My mom also told me that when she was about to fall asleep, she would find Polly right next to her bed. Polly would stare at her intently. My mom would put her back in my room, but always find Polly in the same spot when she went back to bed. Eventually, my mom ignored it. I now know that Polly was checking to see if my mom was still awake.

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution you can get yourself to. When you reach the front desk, ask to visit "The Holder of Song". You will be guided to a single door leading to a long winding staircase. It will...