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In The Land of Black and White



Estimated reading time — 9 minutes

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host.

But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”

– Maya Angelou

 

I know of an anecdote, one about a little girl named Madeline. Little Maddie was seven years old, with dark chestnut hair and wide blue eyes. Everyone thought she would grow up to become such a pretty woman, and a smart one at that. Maddie loved to read books, all kinds of books; fairy tales and history, fantasy and mystery. Her parents were so proud of her for being so smart and pretty and brave, they knew she was special. But they were also scared. You see, little Maddie was sick… very sick. She rarely left her bed. But she had her books, and the love of her parents to keep her company. She was brave for both herself and them. Of course, Maddie didn’t know any better.

 

One day, on a sunny afternoon in December (Not a dark stormy night in Autumn), just a few days after Christmas, Maddie’s parents came into her room, full of books and the left over wrapping paper, all crinkled and sparkling in the sunlight that leaked through her window. They said that they’d have to leave her alone for a while. Not long, just an hour. Just enough time to meet with the doctor. They said that they would be right back and that if there was any trouble, to call them with the phone that was kept on the nightstand, the one next to her bed, the red one. Maddie wasn’t scared, and she knew it wasn’t a good idea to move around too much. She was just too brave. Her father kissed her on the forehead, her mother on the cheek. Maddie smiled, and asked if they could open her window. It was an especially warm day with a clear blue sky. Some fresh air could be good. Maddie’s father smiled back, as he opened the window.

“Anything else?” Her parents asked before they left.

“No I’ll be alright,” She said to them. “I’ll just read a story for a while.”

 

And then Maddie was alone. All by herself in that great big house, no sound at all except for the beeps of the machine, the one that kept check on Maddie’s heart. She tried to read her book, but the sunlight that fell on her face made her sleepy. Maddie closed her eyes, for how long she didn’t know. Not long enough to dream, but long enough to loose time. To her it was just a blink and nothing more. But she didn’t open her eyes willingly. The squawk of crow, a black crow, forced her from the peace of sleep. Well, it wasn’t just a crow. Maddie also felt warm, too warm for December in even the best of times. When she woke up, she saw that a crow had perched itself on her windowsill. She also saw something else, something that made her shriek.

 

The chair that was kept in Maddie’s room, the chair that her mother would sit in just before bedtime, the chair that should have been empty, had been filled by a stranger. Too Maddie, it looked like a person, but also not like a person at all. It had a face, with eyes and a mouth and a nose and all, and it had arms and legs, just like a man’s. It was even wearing a suit, a black suit with a white shirt and a purple tie. But this stranger, this man if you will, looked wrong to Maddie. His face had all the right parts, but they were mutilated in ways almost incomprehensible. Shiny and pink in some places, black and crackled in others. He had no lips, and his nose was made of two small holes that flared in and out as he breathed. His eyes were yellow and sunken, never blinking, not even once. His body, while never falling to ash, had small flames dancing up and down the lengths of his arms and face, flickering hot light. His cloths were covered in the stains of blood. He looked much like a burn victim would, before the fires were put out. The machine, the one that kept watch over Maddie’s heart, began to beep quickly and loudly. Maddie forgot how to be brave.

 

“Don’t be scarred Madeline,” Said the dark man, his words sounding like nails against glass, more of a rasp than a voice. “I’m not here to hurt you.”

“Who are you?” Asked Maddie, feeling a bit less frightened.

“My name is Lazarus, and I’m a bad man for all the right reasons.” He said back to her. Smoke was rising softly from the fires. He seemed to be in pain, but doing his best to ignore it, somewhat stoically.

“Lazarus,” Maddie said out loud, pronouncing each syllable carefully. “That’s a weird name.”

“It’s an old name. A very old name, from a very old story.” His eyes searched Maddie’s face, looking for any sign of expression, but she gave nothing away. His eyes eventually fell upon the book in Maddie’s lap, Alice in Wonderland. “I see you like stories,” Maddie nodded her head. Everyone knew that she liked stories, even strangers. “I happen to know a few. Would you like for me to tell you one? We have some time to spare.”

 

Maddie didn’t know what to say. She thought the burning man was being friendly enough, even if he was scary. But Maddie was alone, she was always alone she realized. She never got to meet anyone new, so she decided it best to let Lazarus stay. Besides, she loved stories, even bad ones.

“Okay,” She said, “You can tell me a story. But you’ll have to leave before mom and dad come home. I don’t think they’d like you.” Lazarus inhaled deeply, a wheeze through his mouth and an exhale of smoke through his nostrils. He nodded in agreement.

 

“There was once a family of rabbits, a mommy rabbit and three baby rabbits. They lived in a rabbit hole in the forest. They were happy. The baby rabbits would jump and play all day under the shade of the trees or in the tall grass of the sunny meadow while their mother looked for food in the forest. At night, they would return to their hole, and they would snuggle together in the warmth and safety. They never worried about anything, as there was always plenty of food and fun things to do, and they always had each other for comfort when they got sad or frightened. It was good. But one day in while playing in the meadow, a fox hiding in the grass approached the three little rabbits, who were unaware of the impending danger. Their mother came out of the thickness of the forest just in time to see the fox, but was too far away to call to her babies. She knew that she could not reach them in time to get everyone safely into the rabbit hole, and even then, the fox would always know where to wait.

 

“What did she do?” Asked Maddie. Lazarus raised his charred hand, motioning for Maddie to wait and listen. “Well, the mother rabbit had a difficult decision to make. If she wanted her children to get away from the fox, then she would have to take action. But all actions have consequences. She knew this, but she also loved her children more than she feared the fox. So, she ran out of the forest as fast as she could go. She ran towards the fox hiding in the grass, and when she was close enough, she called out to her children. ‘Go, ran back to the hole!’ she yelled. The three little rabbits heard their mother just as they saw the fox. But the fox was no longer interested in the little ones. The mommy rabbit had caught his attention, as she led the fox further into the meadow, away from their hole and away from them. They little rabbits got away. Their mother was not so lucky. The fox had caught her, ripped her to bloody ribbons, but her children were safe, and that was all that mattered.”

 

Maddie was silent for a moment. So was Lazarus. “That was a sad story,” Said Maddie. Lazarus nodded his head, because he knew it was a sad story, but then again, the truth doesn’t pick favorites. “I didn’t like how the mommy had to die.”

Lazarus gritted his teeth together. “She could have lived, if she had wanted to. But then what would have happened to her children? She died to save them, for the greater good and out of love.”

“I guess so, but it’s still sad that they had to grow up without their mom.” Maddie looked at her windowsill, there were two more crows perched there. One of them stretched its wings and settled next to the others. She thought it was odd, but said nothing. “Would you like to hear another? We still have some… time.” It was hard for Maddie to tell if Lazarus was happy or sad or angry; his voice was always the same. His face never changed either.

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Before she could answer, Maddie coughed into a tissue. It was a long, hoarse cough. When she finished, she saw that there was blood soaking through the soft paper.

“I’m sick,” she said, looking at Lazarus. He leaned in close to her, so close that Maddie could count each of his crooked brown teeth. He leaned in close, and whispered into her ear.

“I know.”

“Do you have any stories about sick people?” She asked. Once again, Lazarus, the burning man, nodded his head.

“It doesn’t have a happy ending either.”

“That’s okay.” She said. “I’ll still listen.” Lazarus placed his bony fingers on his lap, and breathed in deep.

 

“A long, long time ago, there was a small town on the shore. There were people who lived in this town, all sorts of people; bakers, silk weavers, carpenters and many more. They lived happily and productively. They would work and play and marry and live long happy lives. But one day, people started to get sick. Not everyone, but quite a few, and more every day. The ones who got sick would grow black boils on their faces and necks, their skin turning yellow and green. It was a very painful sickness, one that would eventually kill. The doctors of the town could do nothing to stop it, as there was no cure. The only option was to barricade the town, to stop the great plague from spreading. No one was allowed to leave once they entered the town. One of the people who lived in the town, a tailor, had a wife who was outside of the town limits before the sickness had taken over. She had been away, to visit her family a ways off. When she returned, she was stopped by a guard, who said that she may not enter without permission. The tailor’s wife begged and pleaded to the guard, telling him that her husband, the man she loved, was in the town. The guard finally told her that if her husband would allow it, then she would be able to enter. He also warned her that she would not be allowed to leave again.

 

Word was sent to the tailor, that his beloved wife was awaiting his permission at the gates. At first, he was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing his dear wife again, as he had been very lonely since her initial departure. But, as he thought upon it, the tailor’s heart began to sink. He realized that if he were to allow his wife to enter the town, that he would condemn her to the same fate as so many others. The thought of her suffering through the sickness, the sores and bile and rot, the festering misery, he could not allow it. He wanted her with him, of course he did, but he loved her too much to let her perish along with him. He was already showing symptoms of plague. So it was with a heavy soul that he refused the messenger. He was heartbroken, his eyes wet with guilt and grief. When word came back to the tailor’s wife, who had been waiting at the gates all morning, her heart was also crushed. It wasn’t until years later, after she had remarried and raised several beautiful children that she was finally able to forgive him. She understood that her first loves only wish was for her to continue on and be happy.”

 

By now the sun was no longer shining. Overcast had made the sky a light shade of gray, almost white when compared to the crows on the windowsill. More had shown up while Lazarus told his story, so many that there wasn’t enough room on the sill for all of them. They were starting to perch themselves on a nearby tree. Maddie coughed some more.

“I liked that one better than the first. At least it wasn’t all bad.” She said after her fit of coughs. “But why are you telling me all of these sad stories?”

Lazarus looked at Maddie, never blinking, never smiling. In a voice as black as coal, he said, “I think you know why.”

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Maddie looked down into her lap. She did know why. But she wasn’t scared. No, Maddie knew how to brave, and not just for herself either. She turned to Lazarus, his face charred and scarred beyond recognition of humanity, former or otherwise.

“When?” she asked. Lazarus turned his head to the window, towards the black crows that had gathered.

“Soon.” He said to her. The beeps from the machines, the ones that kept check on Maddie, they became irregular, slowing down.

“Do we have enough time for one more story?” She asked him.

“Not much, but we can try.” He replied. Maddie shook her head. She said that it would be okay, that she would still listen. Even if it had a sad ending.

 

“There was once a sweet little girl, with chestnut hair and wide blue eyes. She loved stories, all kinds of stories….”

 

When Maddie’s parents returned, they found her lying still in bed. She had stopped smiling, stopped breathing. They cried into each other’s arms. What they had been told by the doctor, they knew it was only a matter of time. Even still, they didn’t think that it would be this soon. Their souls had been profoundly crushed, shattered into oblivion. But in a strange way, not in a callous or indifferent way, they were relieved. The weight of the inevitable had been lifted, and in its place a sharp sting. They knew this as they wept, and while gazing out of the bedroom window. They were focusing on the sky, which had grown into a perfect and terrible shade of gray. They were so focused in their sorrow, that they never even noticed the burns left on the chair.

 

The crows had taken flight.

 

Credit to: Stephan D. Harris

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88 thoughts on “In The Land of Black and White”

  1. FlowerOfDarkness

    This sounds like a nice way to move on. I hope it can actually happen (I respect all those who say it isn’t physically possible and I don’t call you idiots for saying it, so please return the favor)

  2. Hridyotraj Nath

    Loved it …………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!very much .the curiosity , the detail,the depth ,it is tasty .but i still wonder that is lazzarus a demon?

  3. Thank you for the imagery that your stories provide Mr. Harris. I have no problem imagining the scenarios as your words unravel which is something I can not say about 98% of the pastas on this site.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. This story was very sweet, sad and haunting. I really enjoyed your writing style. Of all the pastas I’ve read so far (working from the top of the ratings index page down) this is the pasta in which I could actually hear the cadence of the writer’s voice. Another thing I enjoyed was that the imagery was creepy in usual usage but how benevolent it all actually was here. It was kind of odd and refreshing to feel comfort from and sadness for a character that would have been a focal point of terror in another story. Thanks for the refresher! I’ll keep an eye out for more of your stories.
    10/10

  5. I didn’t find this to be a very creepy pasta, but I found it to be a very bitter-sweet short story. :)

    I enjoyed reading this and rate it 7/10!

    Sincerely,
    Grim Gamer

    My right eye is red, my left eye is blue, I like reading, do you?…

  6. A very sad and touching (thought definitely not creepy) story. A few details were a bit odd, like Lazarus’s face that “had all the right parts” except it had no lips or nose (so it didn’t have all the right parts after all), or the machines Maddy is connected to that come out of the blue never having been mentioned before. Minor things, anyway.

  7. Wow, loved it. The description of the characters were amazing, the subtle details to the storytelling, everything was just amazing. 10/10

  8. Did anyone else think it was strange Lazarus who was the rich man in hell from the bible story was the one to take the girl?

  9. Holy wow. That was simply beautiful.
    10 out of 10.
    It’s not really creepy but it almost made me cry and certainly left this not-quite-eerie, sorrowful feeling in my heart, yet a feeling which was sweetened by the gentle hand Lazarus used to guide Maddie into death… Just wow.

    I adored the little stories with their lovely morals.

    This story will stay with me for a long time.
    *sniffles*

  10. Morbid? Not particularly, unless you count the description of Lazarus. Scary? No, it’s not so, either.

    But definitely creepy and beautifully written, a tale for someone who’s dying. Someone who wants to overcome their fear of death so that they can pass in peace for the benefit of everyone they hold dear. As the parents knew it was a matter of time, it was best she died when she did. Just as it was for the best that the mother rabbit died and the lover died, it was best for this special little girl to die. One day it’ll be best for us to die, too, whether we are burdening relatives with the inevitable or suffering too badly to stay behind.

    It’s definitely a creepy story when you think about it, I give it a 9.

  11. Beautiful work I loved every bit of it. An excellent pasta indeed. :) Much better than others I have seen. 10/10

  12. This pasta was incredibly well-written in absolutely every aspect. The style of writing is simple, but alluring, bringing in the reader with both vivid imagery and straight-forward writing. The story was not frightening, no, but instead filled me with a bittersweet remorse.

    To write a frightening story that chill the hearts of readers is sometimes difficult. Though, writing a story that touches the hearts of the readers in a far gentler way, while simultaneously being a Creepypasta is rarer still. Clean, precise spelling and grammar package this tale in a way that makes reading easy and enjoyable. Well done sir, and I wish you luck in all future endeavors.

    10 out of 10

  13. I would have to say that this is by far one of the best stories on this entire site. Instead of just a dull story riddled with gore that’s meant to make it scary, this story actually forms a deep emotional connection between you and Madeline. Very good, thank you for taking time to write this.

  14. i loved it. :) Maybe one day i’ll be lucky enough to find a burn victim in my bedroom chair, waiting to take me away. I’ll probably scream like a little girl. but after the initial scream, i would be most pleased

  15. Is Lazarus from any other story? He seems like someone who would be from some old mythology or something, besides the suit. He says hes from a very old story and everything but I’m not sure if he really is and I’m curious to find out what happened to him

    1. I googled the name too but all I got was a bible story that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the Lazarus in this story

      1. Stephan D. Harris

        It is from the bible. Lazarus was central to the Last Miracle, which had probably the most ethically challenging dilemma in all of Christianity

        1. Lazarus died and was later resurrected by Jesus. As Stephan said, it was the last miracle.

    2. I was thinking Lazarus, from the Bible, who was resurrected. This Lazarus was kind of on the fence between dead and alive, and I believe there was another Lazarus who was a leper, which has a direct connection to this story.

    1. Lazarus came to a sick girl and told her stories about death before she died, to help her accept the fact that she was dying. Before she dies he tells her one last story, which is her own

  16. Stephan D. Harris

    The parents left together because they were expecting bad news, and because why let just the one spouse deal with it alone? Couples need each other. The sub stories were to help ease Maddie in accepting that dying is just a bad thing that happens, but can also ultimately end on a positive note. ( in this case her parents don’t have worry about when or where Maddie will die, which is a sickening feeling to have trust me)
    As for Maddie dying all of a sudden…. does that really destroy the message here?

    1. Couples need each other? Not over their child lol. I don’t know the statistic, but if a couple’s only child dies, the majority of the time the couple breaks up. I’m pretty sure any loving parent would rather spend time with their sick child rather than stick to their spouse. Now, maybe if you introduced that they were on their way to get another loan to pay for the medical bills of little Maddie, and told me they both needed to be there to cosign, I’d say okay. I also think that’d be a nice touch of realism.

      I know the sub-stories were good but they could have made the writing a little better if they mirrored the main story in some aspect. For example, let’s say the parents did have to take out loans and life crushing debts to pay for Maddie’s hospital bills, and one of your sub-stories would have been something about how some rich billionaire had a chance to donate some insignificant amount of money to some disease foundation some time ago and he ignores it, and then it turns out his child develops that disease that could have been cured if he funded that foundation, but now the child dies. THAT would have been a good sub-story because there’s a huge connection even though the stories are still different.

      Uhmmm. Maddie dying suddenly wasn’t story breaking. Maybe if you just brought up some minor hint that her condition randomly took a turn for the worst before/during her sleep, and that was what lead Lazarus to come, I’d think it was okay. Instead of basically ‘the weather was so nice and warm, she decided to take a friendly nap’ the reason she fell asleep was because of her disease or whatever.

      Again, I’m not trying to criticize your story, I’m looking to improve it.

  17. So. The story was really well written and highly entertaining, if this was some random person’s story I’d give you a 10 and move on, but let me give my opinion.

    I liked the way the imagery of the outside world changed, warm and sunny when the girl was alive to gray at the end.

    I also liked the way you almost humanized Lazarus with the line “He seemed to be in pain, but doing his best to ignore it, somewhat stoically.” That was crazy amazing to me, and really helped to form my opinion of this weird character I knew nothing about.

    I’m not sure why the girl’s parents did that weird extended goodbye if they were leaving for just an hour. Does that mean they never left the house before? Is it because they knew the girl might die at any second? (If that’s the case then why did they both need to leave, couldn’t just one of them have left?)

    Again, you introduced some sub-stories that are a nice read but only have a small connection with the main story. I thought the sub-stories themselves were entertaining, but there wasn’t enough linking it to the main story. (Mother dying for children had absolutely no connection; sick husband letting wife live actually felt like a slap in the face when the woman remarried and had kids so suddenly (not to mention she was gone an obviously long time if a disease popped and and the government quarantined her village in the time of her family visit, she can obviously live without her husband quite easily).) The main story would have been better for me if those mini stories had somehow mirrored a small aspect of the main story.

    I’m also not sure someone can go from having a stable heart rate to coughing blood and dying in an hour without showing symptoms of being near-death for her parents to see.

    Uhmmmmmmmm I’ll leave it at that but yeah good story.

    1. I took the woman being gone for so long because she had to travel so far to see her loved ones. I read it as almost Biblical era, in which case it could have taken months to travel back and forth. She could have left to see a sick loved one, or for a census, perhaps.
      Second- the little girl’s condition was never expanded on (the blood coughing sounds like TB, but maybe cancer), so it would be hard to say. I read it as Maddie was already dying and perhaps unconscious shortly after her parents left. Not all deaths are dragged out.
      I liked that the sub-stories weren’t too on the nose (it would have felt too predictable). As another commenter (Jenn) put it, we (hopefully) all die at the right time, hopefully with some peace as well as pain. This wasn’t a morality tale (which it would have turned into if the stories overlapped too much), it was a mortality tale.

  18. This made me think about life. I loved it. This pasta has been a rare gem in a site where people prefer gore to actual plot and depth. 10/10

  19. This was so well written.. I imagined in a kind of Tim Burton way written in a way that seemed reminiscent of Rold Dahl :) I loved it

    1. Stephan D. Harris

      Okay, there’s a few problems with doing that. First of all, I’d have to find a small scale publishing company that accepts unsolicited works, caters to both the genre and demographic, and actually WANTS to reproduce it. It’s a huge pain in the ass.

    2. Stephan D. Harris

      Screw it. I’m going to try anyway.

      This also means that I’m going to have to ask that no one reproduces this one anywhere, and that if I win any of the writers contests I’ll have to this removed from the site. Sorry kids.

      1. I wish you the best of luck. Check by the library- they may have a guide called “Writer’s Market” or similar- that’s listed with publishers, publishing houses, and agents.

  20. how sad,i wish they went to the hostpital,docs told her there nothing they can do and they disconnected her,but they see Lazarus,but they didnt know his name,petting Maddie on here hair,but not burning it,they were horrified to find a burning man petting their daughter,and when they ran to tell the doctors a mysterious man sitting next to their daughter,burnt,when they and the doctor come back to Maddies room,to their suprise,Maddie is breathing and alive,and she is whispering into Lazarus’s ear,and then Lazarus disappers when the doctors and the parents had talked and turned around,Maddie came back and them his name was Lazarus,and he helped her for a price~

  21. This story was so sweet. I loved how he took her so gently, slowly preparing her by telling her the stories. As sad as it was that she died, it was almost nice knowing it wasn’t brutal or totally terrifying. I absolutely loved everything about this story.

  22. It didn’t really make much sense until about halfway through the story, but once it clicked, I felt as though it was a very good story. 8/10

  23. Great story. Not so much creepypasta, but well written.

    Did anyone else picture Lazarus looking like the smoking victim from Beatlejuice? The one that’s on the couch in the afterlife waiting room?

  24. By god, Stephan, you never fail to entertain me. This one made me feel for Lazarus, what a beautifully designed entity. I love your writings more than any other on this site, they’re all nearly perfect, in my opinion. Keep going, you’ll make it big.

  25. Maya Angelou’s quote was excellent foreshadowing for the end of the story. The “fire” (the burn victim Lazarus) brings catharsis and gives Maddie peace in her final minutes. Brilliant as usual Mr. Harris!

  26. This one shares a lot of the same themes as my first pasta, “The Sixth Floor.” It’s still on this site somewhere.

    Also if you liked it, please like my page. Just follow the red letters that spell my name.

    1. I searched the site for your story you mentioned, and I must say I’m very impressed! You have a knack for the Ray-Bradbury-esque kind of creepiness. Very nice.

    1. WhatisthisWinter

      My favorite Creepy pasta writer leaving a comment on the story of my other favorite writer?… I don’t know how to deal with this! Will you have my child?

  27. I agree with Constipated Unicorn. Perhaps the only creepy part was the idea of how death took little Maddie. Burning chair ouch.

  28. I agree with Constipated Unicorn. Perhaps the only creepy part was the idea of how death took little Maddie. Burning chair ouch.

  29. Constipated Unicorn

    I didn’t find this story very creepy, but I still loved it. I thought the plot was really deep; sometimes we have to die for the sake of our loved ones… A really beautiful pasta nonetheless. Very well written as well.
    10/10

    1. I found it creepy in a way. I mean seriously a girl never breathing or smiling. That’s just scary and heart broken for parents. Cause moms and dads. Would be scared for there kids.

  30. THEN WHO WAS....nevermind...

    Very well written. I could see the characters as I read this and was totally into it. Awesome job man!

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