Today was the day he was dreading. He knew they were going to be extremely busy, and quite frankly he wanted to call out seeing as he was already late. His thoughts were briefly distracted by his black tabby, quietly pawing at his legs, ready...

When Anita found him, her immediate reaction was to put him in the foyer next to the stairwell so he could be decorative. Not everyone would have one, and the way his arms stuck out just so would make him a suitable hat rack. She realized, almost too late, that this might have been in bad taste. But what, she thought, was a woman supposed to do when her husband went and turned into a glass statue overnight? She had heard of this happening, of course. It just seemed to happen to other people; one day they were perfectly normal and then the next, someone found them frozen. Clear. She had heard of it, but had never seriously considered it happening to her. The people this happened to were far too glamorous; celebrities and the like. Certainly not to him. She was a widow now. That made her feel old at thirty-seven years and she was sure she didn’t like it. After a week she quietly filed a mortician’s report and sat down to a cup of hot tea. She hadn’t broken it to his family yet, though his sister had been calling. She told her he was away on business. There was no reason to tell them yet. The Quentins could wait another day to hear their little boy wasn’t okay. At that very moment it occurred to her that using her husband’s remains as a hat rack might be poorly received by the general public. And so Anita began the difficult task of finding a place for him. At first she kept him to the study, in front of the fireplace. He kept her company with her tea. But soon she began to find that sitting with the countenance of her dead husband reminded her of her widowhood, so she moved him to the garden and used him to scare the crows away from her tomatoes. He did little to dissuade the crows, however, and soon became their favorite perch. Finally, she hauled him to the attic. She kept the rest of her glass figurines there, and didn’t see why he should be treated any differently. Somehow, it all seemed normal at the time. Everywhere you looked someone was at it. The glass bodies seemed to multiply. When she called her husband’s mother and told her, tearfully, that he had passed away, she burst into hysterics and told her that so had one of the grandchildren. Anita was uncomfortable, and then she hung up. When the man who cut her lawn succumbed as well, she began to worry. Now it was affecting her everyday life, which was something her husband and niece had not generally been part of. Her husband worked constantly and usually slept when he graced her with his presence. Her niece, whose name she couldn’t even remember, lived in Florida. She put entirely too much sugar in her tea and shivered as she drank it. She did miss her husband. Sometimes. And now she would have to trim her own lawn. Her first hint that something might have been a bit off was when she found her neighbor, frozen solid while pulling the weeds in his yard. The next day, while shopping for groceries the bag boy, with a crackle, transformed, still clutching her biscotti. She tenderly wrenched it from his grip, glanced around halfheartedly, and didn’t pay. Then the news reports began to get very tiresome. First it was strange, isolated events. Then it was an epidemic, then a pandemic, and then it was Susan Shepherd reporting to you live from New York City and…crackle. Ting. Suddenly, she wasn’t reporting. Suddenly, she wasn’t even alive.

"New York, September 30 CP FLASH "Ambassador Holliwell died here today. The end came suddenly as the ambassador was alone in his study...." There is something ungodly about these night wire jobs. You sit up here on the top floor of a skyscraper and listen in to the whispers of a civilization. New York, London, Calcutta, Bombay, Singapore -- they're your next-door neighbors after the streetlights go dim and the world has gone to sleep. Alone in the quiet hours between two and four, the receiving operators doze over their sounders and the news comes in. Fires and disasters and suicides. Murders, crowds, catastrophes. Sometimes an earthquake with a casualty list as long as your arm. The night wire man takes it down almost in his sleep, picking it off on his typewriter with one finger. Once in a long time you prick up your ears and listen. You've heard of some one you knew in Singapore, Halifax or Paris, long ago. Maybe they've been promoted, but more probably they've been murdered or drowned. Perhaps they just decided to quit and took some bizarre way out. Made it interesting enough to get in the news. But that doesn't happen often. Most of the time you sit and doze and tap, tap on your typewriter and wish you were home in bed. Sometimes, though, queer things happen. One did the other night, and I haven't got over it yet. I wish I could. You see, I handle the night manager's desk in a western seaport town; what the name is, doesn't matter. There is, or rather was, only one night operator on my staff, a fellow named John Morgan, about forty years of age, I should say, and a sober, hard-working sort. He was one of the best operators I ever knew, what is known as a "double" man. That means he could handle two instruments at once and type the stories on different typewriters at the same time. He was one of the three men I ever knew who could do it consistently, hour after hour, and never make a mistake. Generally, we used only one wire at night, but sometimes, when it was late and the news was coming fast, the Chicago and Denver stations would open a second wire, and then Morgan would do his stuff. He was a wizard, a mechanical automatic wizard which functioned marvelously but was without imagination. On the night of the sixteenth he complained of feeling tired. It was the first and last time I had ever heard him say a word about himself, and I had known him for three years. It was just three o'clock and we were running only one wire. I was nodding over the reports at my desk and not paying much attention to him, when he spoke. "Jim," he said, "does it feel close in here to you?" "Why, no, John," I answered, "but I'll open a window if you like." "Never mind," he said. "I reckon I'm just a little tired." That was all that was said, and I went on working. Every ten minutes or so I would walk over and take a pile of copy that had stacked up neatly beside the typewriter as the messages were printed out in triplicate. It must have been twenty minutes after he spoke that I noticed he had opened up the other wire and was using both typewriters. I thought it was a little unusual, as there was nothing very "hot" coming in. On my next trip I picked up the copy from both machines and took it back to my desk to sort out the duplicates. The first wire was running out the usual sort of stuff and I just looked over it hurridly. Then I turned to the second pile of copy. I remembered it particularly because the story was from a town I had never heard of: "Xebico." Here is the dispatch. I saved a duplicate of it from our files: "Xebico, Sept 16 CP BULLETIN "The heaviest mist in the history of the city settled over the town at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon. All traffic has stopped and the mist hangs like a pall over everything. Lights of ordinary intensity fail to pierce the fog, which is constantly growing heavier. "Scientists here are unable to agree as to the cause, and the local weather bureau states that the like has never occurred before in the history of the city. "At 7 P.M. last night the municipal authorities... (more)" That was all there was. Nothing out of the ordinary at a bureau headquarters, but, as I say, I noticed the story because of the name of the town.

The most amazing and the most horrible thing just happened to me. I’ve stumbled upon a discovery of a lifetime, but at the same time I wish I could undiscover it. I was actually just tampering around with some music programs creating ambience tracks. You see,...

Hello. I have spent the past months among humanity, and I am quite disappointed. After a great many queries and searching out suitable aspirants, it seems as though this age is rife with a population whom seem content to treat the unknown as naught but a...

You’re awoken from a dreamless sleep by a dull thud from the hallway. Your eyes snap open and fix instantly on the door. What made that noise? Breathing hard, fear beginning to twitch in your mind, you realise with a shiver that you’ve kicked your...

Even as I come to the realization that nothing in this world can pierce the hopelessness that ruins every stimulus I can still come upon, I find a reliable sense of wonder when imagining how patient it has been. Its origins and its creation, its nature and its effects. This always makes me shudder with a palpable sense of despair mixed with awe at my strange fate - I have regressed into sympathizing with it, into turning to its titanic lack of mercy and all-encompassing designs in order to feel anything. It is the only real thing, I guess. The only thing with a purpose left in it. I used to be a studier of memetic theories - advanced sociology, with a specialization in all things information technology. I had written some well-respected studies on general behaviour on the internet - the spread of ideas, the way people communicate depending on the subject matter. "2 girls 1 cup", but with more analysis, detachment and looking at how quickly things get attention, and how it is related to man's creation of culture. I decided to turn towards outliers next, the fringes and the corners of the internet. Lost information. I scoured for obscure P2Ps and used extensive programs to make my investigations go faster. I simply looked for anything forgotten, useless, half-cooked, unique, empty, lonely or downright useless on the internet. I figured it could become a book, a study or a decent hobby. When I found it there was one thing that called to my attention - the channel name. I was using any and all ways to access any kind of IRC there was, trying to see what stood out. Where I saw it I have long since forgotten, but what I saw was exactly what I was looking for. The name of the channel was skewed at an angle rather than a smooth line of text with a designated box. Rather than text it was designated by a symbol, and not the kind available through any unicode or any script I knew of. Yet upon examination of the site's code there was nothing indicating an image rather than a script. In fact, there was nothing indicating that the channel could even exist - the script didn't allow for more than a few channels, and the one with the symbol made one too many. The next day I took my hard-drive to the garage, and then prepared to hook up my spare with my trusty screen and keyboard. Upon connecting I noticed something that made my face lock and prickly moisture form underneath my eyelids. The letters, arrows and other symbols on the keyboard had been... Usurped. Absorbed. Eaten. The symbol had taken every spot. On the screen's frame the name "PHILIPS" had been replaced with a row of seven symbols. A bag of snacks lying on my desk had met the same change, and only the symbols could be read. Stunned as I was my mind didn't take to work until I accidentally glanced at my watch and saw that I was late. The more profane, sheltered part of my brain won me over, declaring the whole thing an impressive prank designed by a pair of friends noted for their odd humor and knowledge of my new hobby. It even assured me they could have made the snacks bag simply to test their commitment. I took the bag and everything affected along with the hard-drive, and with a flash of instinct I threw them into a rocky ditch on my way to work.

A gentle breeze blew through the little valley, pushing the perfectly formed clouds leisurely across the sky. The tall, green grass echoed the movement in the sky above, swaying gently as the cool sunlight reached across to the distant horizon. Birds sang soothingly in a...

I love my mice ever so much. You see, I own a little colony containing hundreds of mice, all finely bred and engineered in this very laboratory. But these are no ordinary lab mice, as they've advanced far past crawling through mazes for food. What...

Istanbul, Turkey August 09:12:09 AM I am at a small outdoor cafe just a few hundred yards from the teeming throng of a morning market, just in sight of the Bosporus. I love this city, and all its thick and violent contradictions. The rising heat of the day is already causing the linen of my suit to cling to my legs. I awoke last night with a change of heart; you are owed an explanation, and even a warning. If I do as I have planned, I and my actions will be vilified, and misunderstood. Please believe me, I am doing this for all the right reasons. You may not see it now, but in ten or twenty years, you will see a new world born. That is worth any sacrifice. I have done my work here in Turkey, the first of many great cities to see, and I board a plane tomorrow. Don’t bother looking for me here. Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 05:04:20 AM I am in one of the oldest settlements of mankind, and her majesty overwhelms me, just as her descent saddens me. Once the jewel of Alexander’s conquest, and the capital of Tamarlane’s empire, she has fallen into disrepair and goes fallow with neglect. I must confess knowing this already, but forgive my sense of romanticism; I did want to see this place, once. I have no work to do here; once the junction of trade lanes between East and West, Samarkand has become isolated and useless to me. But the ghosts of her history and past bring me strength and resolve. The case that I carry with me is heavy in my hand, it is my burden, but with each stop, that burden lessens. I have allowed myself this one folly, leaving the web for a moment, but I will not linger long. Munich, Germany September 08:05:18 AM The city still sleeps late into the morning on Saturday, and in many places the streets are still empty. There is a grand majesty of Munich’s remaining prewar buildings, and I remarked on its beauty to my local driver. “It was a lot nicer before the British bombed us,” he said without a hint of irony. He was at least two generations removed from the war, and did not seem, or want, to understand when I told him that London had the same problem. Most of humanity is horrified by the specter of the war, of what happened here. They wonder how man could be so inhumane. These people know nothing of the world, or of nature, red in tooth and claw. These are the people that artificially elevate humanity above the animal kingdom, people that maintain an ephemeral barrier between our particular primate sub-grouping, and the rest of life on Earth. I never understood these people. I deposited one more device downtown, in a massive state-of-the-art theater complex. I hid it carefully, and set the little slaved atomic clock to my own. My flight departs in a few hours, and if you are following me, you will have no luck in Germany. London, England October 05:09:19 AM London shows her war wounds with flat gray office towers, and plain, blocky apartments, yet her age and history bleed through the scars as I stroll down the Thames, scarcely aware of the brackish odor of the oily waters. The trash and detritus in the river don’t sadden me, the way I imagine it would for you. You draw some artificial line between a hamburger wrapper and the fallen leaves of a tree that I will never understand. You distinguish between nature and humanity in a way that puzzles me. We are nature, our cities, our roads, and our orbital satellites are no different than a termite colony, or a birds nest, except perhaps in scale. There is nothing unique about humanity. I know that I am all but alone in this conceit, but history and nature herself will prove me right. The devices I planted here are in the Underground; silently waiting for the day to come when I will activate them, and they will open their ceramic filters and gently release their payload into the air. I burned the last decade of my life like a candle to forge the perfect weapon, hardened against the air, hearty and undeniably alive, burning with the will to survive. I have chosen the stations because the first letters of each station spell my name. Consider it an artist’s signature. I wouldn’t tell you this if I wasn’t sure this would be useless information, and I doubt you have even uncovered who I am. As always, I will be gone before you arrive.

I’m so cold. So very cold. There is no warmth left in this room. I suppose I should start at the beginning. It started about 2 weeks ago, back when I could still see the sun. I live alone, my parents kicked me out after I dropped out of high school…I always hated high school; the teachers, the kids, all of them…Every last one. They don’t understand you, nor will they ever. Friends…I scoff at the idea, they’re just people who act like they care, but turn around to stab you in the back. Deplorable. As you can tell, I’m not a people person. Although maybe it wasn’t their fault, considering my sickness. Oh, did I not mention my sickness? I guess I spaced it. I’ve always had serious mental problems; as far back as I can remember. I get these…weird images in my head. Sick images…images of murder, sickness, and war. From what I’ve been told by people around me when I’ve had my ‘episodes’, mostly teachers, I spasm and throw myself to the floor, scratching and writhing at everything around me screaming all the while. Of course I don’t remember it, all I remember is the images…I doubt I will ever get any of them out of my mind. These ignorant teachers thought I was merely acting out, seeking attention as it were, as did my classmates. I hated them and they hated me, leading to many fights at school. I even sent a few kids into the hospital. Ah, my youth. I live in a dingy rental home in the slums of an unimportant city. My parents don’t visit me anymore, and none of my neighbors can stand being around me for more than a few moments. Nobody ever cared about me and nobody ever will, and I’m content with that. Back to my current predicament; it was only last month when I saw a doctor about my episodes. He diagnosed me with a wide array of mental disorders, none of which I bothered to ask what they meant; all I knew was that I needed pills and he could give me some. I remember him handing me 3 or 4 bottles of pills or various shapes and colors, but I didn’t take them right away. I waited, thinking maybe, just maybe the images were caused by a troubled childhood, and maybe I had matured out of it, but sure enough in a few days, they came back. Suicide, bombings, and genocide this time. My mind was filled to the brim with disturbing, haunting images; these were some of the worst yet. I was already sobbing in the fetal position by the time my mind comprehended that I might be able to stop this. I couldn’t open my eyes, I didn’t want to see anymore. I remember crawling on my side towards the bathroom, shakily standing up and spilling open my medicine cabinet, spilling the assorted products on the floor. I grasped blindly for the unfamiliar shape of pill bottles, and soon found them. I ripped them open and threw them into my mouth, spilling many on the floor. I collapsed onto the cold tile, losing consciousness. This was a first. Then, I woke up in my bed. I must’ve thought to myself that I got up and walked into bed, I just didn’t remember it. Maybe. Then it began: I was cold. With my heavy comforter, one of the few things I had invested my small amount of spare money into, should have kept me warm. I always found solace in sleep. I got up and walked into the living room and turned on my TV. Cable was out, should have known. How long had it been since I paid my bills? Still cold, I thought to myself. I walked over to the thermostat and cranked it up, hearing that old familiar sound of the heater pumping warm air. I sat back down, but 15 minutes went by, and I still was cold. I walked over to the heat vent, placing my hand over it; I couldn’t feel any warmth, I couldn’t feel any air coming from the vent, but I could definitely hear it. Ah, my bills, no wonder there was no heat. I could only feel the cold grate of the vent. But then why could I hear it pumping throughout the room? Might as well call my landlord, I thought to myself, picking up the phone. Dead. “Doesn’t anything in this hell hole work?” I distinctly remember asking myself. It was one of the last things I remember saying out loud. How was I to know what was happening? I walked outside, I don’t remember if it was to grab the morning paper or perhaps to soak up some rays from the sun, but it was at this time I knew something was wrong. It was dead outside. I’m talking Sunday morning in the winter at 4:00 in the morning dead. There was no lights on in the houses, nobody walking outside, no noise. The silence was deafening, cliché as it sounds. I slowly walked back in, afraid to disrupt the perfect silence by too loud of a step. I hadn’t realized till I was back inside, but it was much colder outside then in.

I used to live in the Lower Queen Anne region of Seattle, just a few blocks from the Space Needle, which has a little park around it- lawns, a fountain, sculptures, a theater and museums- a little park which is remarkably safe after nightfall. There...

Did you ever see one of those videos where you are asked to look for, or follow a specific thing through out the video? Then, at the end, they reveal that as were watching, something large and intrusive moved around in plain sight and you...

GET HELP. You start noticing those words when you're going about your day-to-day business - just flipping through the classifieds, or posted on telephones near bridges. Normal places. Just words that seem to be catching your eye. Then they start appearing more randomly: the first...

I used to be fearless. Horror movies never really scared me. Scary books had no effect. Haunted houses are meaningless. I was never a child who slept with the covers over their face, or with a night light. As a little girl, I never felt the need to crawl into bed with my mother after having a nightmare. I never really had nightmares to begin with, and the few that I did, most would never consider a nightmare at all. I've simply never been afraid of what goes bump in the night. Our home security system kept away fears of very real humans with dark intentions, as did our rottweiler, aptly named Killer. As for threats outside the home, well, who could be afraid in a nice, white, upper class community? I've lived in a bland bubble all my life, never knowing what fear is. So why should I ever be afraid of the dark? Up until this moment, I haven't been. I saw it as childish and illogical. Of course, I don't feel that way anymore. I'm writing this to you now as a warning because it's too late for me. I know that now, and it's brought on a surreal sort of calm…When I finish warning you, it will be all over. So forgive me if I'm being long-winded…I enjoyed life a bit more than I was once willing to admit. It all started with what I thought was a virus. I had been linked to a video called "Girls and Boys Come Out to Play." It sounded harmless enough. I thought it was an art student's film, perhaps. The person who had linked the video promised it was very good. Well worth watching. I can't remember the video. All I can remember is the feeling it brought up. It wasn't fear, but it was close. I was uncomfortable. I was unnerved. I was also vaguely ill. From then on, things only got worse. The background on my computer had changed to a picture of a disturbed looking young woman who stared at me from a black abyss. Every now and then, and growing more frequent by the day, strange noises would emit from my computer, even when the sound wasn't on. Screaming, strange laughter, grinding noises… At the time, I was annoyed; the fear hadn't settled in quite yet. Then, the faces started popping up, like those ridiculous 'screamers' that scared my friends in high school. Yet these were different. They looked real. They were the faces of the dead; and they had died violent deaths. I wish I could say that I stopped using the computer, but I couldn't. My job requires me to use my computer frequently. What was I to do? I had no other computer available to me.

It's dark. When you don't know where you are or how you've come to be there, even the simplest things can be supremely frightening. So it was that when Walter awoke, his consciousness confused and hazy, the thing that he fixated on was the darkness. A darkness so thick and oppressive that it could've been a blanket - perhaps it was, for all that the disoriented boy knew. A quick rustle around his immediate area made it clear that no, he was not bound or covered by anything in particular - it was just... dark. He'd been awake for a few minutes, and his eyes hadn't yet adjusted, as they normally would. In the back of his mind, Walter rationalized that this must mean that wherever he was had a true and complete absence of light - there was nothing for his eyes to adjust to, so waiting around in the hopes that he'd suddenly be able to see where he was going was a rather pointless endeavour. He rose to his feet unsteadily, and reached out to grasp at - what? A wall? Anything, anything that might've been there to help him launch off of the ground. Nothing met his fingertips, and after an embarassing moment of swaying, Walter tentatively took a few steps forward. He didn't run into anything, so he continued walking, slowly, and with one hand out to his front, and one to his side - just in case. Hours passed as he walked. Or at least, he assumed that they did - total darkness, with no exposure to the grounding reference of the sun or moon, made it a bit difficult to figure out exactly how long he'd been in this... place. But Walter knew that logically, if he only kept walking, he would eventually end up... somewhere. Even if it was a dead end, at least it would be reassuring to have found something concrete in this strange place.

It’s night time. You’re in bed, trying to get some sleep. The TV is on. You’ve got it on the lowest volume setting so as you don’t wake your parents, the flickering light emitting from it is rebounding around the room, changing the shape of...

The snow rests pale on the naked metal of the shacks around me. The pastel paint stripped away in ugly patches, the rusted iron underneath leers orangish-red at my intrusion - like a thousand fiery eyes set in the suffocating whiteness that is all around...

Compared to most other towns, the one I live in is pretty high above sea level, and my house just happens to sit on the highest hill there. From my bedroom window I can look out and see the entire town, along with the surrounding...

The worst thing I've ever done in my life happened about twelve years ago, when I was a sixteen year old kid living in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the early fall, when the leaves were just starting to turn orange and the temperatures were starting to fall, hinting at the freezing chill that was only a few months away. School had just started, but it had been going on for about a month now, so all the excitement of going back and reuniting with old friends had been replaced by the realization that we were captives in a place that only wanted to load work upon us. Understandably, me and my friends were all eager to do anything that might remind us of the worry-free, responsibility-free days of summer. Earlier that year, about the time the last school year had let out, one of my friends from work, (McDonalds, which some people think is lame, but I always had a great time there), had taught me a technique to make yourself pass out with the help of an assistant. It worked something like this: One person would rapidly take ten deep, heavy breaths, and on the tenth, squeeze his eyes shut and hold his breath as tightly as possible while crossing his wrists over his heart. The assistant would then give the person a huge bear hug from behind and squeeze the person's wrists into his breastbone. Within seconds, the person holding their breath would lose consciousness. The assistant was then in a perfect position to make sure you didn't totally collapse and crack your skull open on the sidewalk. The effect only lasted for like a second or two--it wasn't like we were putting ourselves into comas or anything--but it felt like you had been out for hours, and when you came to, the disoriented feeling of not knowing where the hell you were and what you were doing there was awesome. Now I know some people are like "WTF, are you a fucking retard?" And yeah, I know, we were probably killing about a million brain cells each time we would knock ourselves out, and I think probably my memory has suffered for it. But to a bored-as-hell sixteen-year-old, I thought it was hella cool. All the effect of getting your lights punched out, with none of the pain of getting hit in the face. I'd tell you to try it to see for yourself, but after what happened; I would never recommend it to anyone.

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....