12 May Letter From the Ritual
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"Letter From the Ritual"Written by Kevin Sharp
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Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
It is five thirteen in the morning and this is all your fault. I’m at the top of Orpheus Street right now, waiting for a bus in the freezing cold. All the stars look bleached out in the dead black sky. This is the worst idea I’ve ever had.
I did see an opossum this morning, though. That was awesome. And mildly terrifying. Have you ever seen one of those? Be thankful if you haven’t. They have these tails. These long, weird tales. Not enough attention has been focused on opossums as nightmare fuel potential. Believe me, that potential exists.
Sorry. I have a tangent problem. You know that.
So, anyway, this is your fault. You’re the one who you kept telling me to read more creepypasta. Grow a pair, Stuart, you’d say. It’s just a scary story on the internet. That’s all. Read it. It’s not going to kill you.
Well, today is the day I find out.
Last night, I was alone and bored and trying to scare myself. My dad’s out of town at some convention in Las Vegas. I know I didn’t tell you. I’m sorry. I couldn’t. I know you, Em. I know you’d try to make me have a party and that’s the last thing I wanted. You know me. I hate everybody.
I keep having horrible thoughts of my father engaging in embarrassingly sordid and pedestrian Las Vegas behavior with all those other middle aged conventioneers. I see them as a drunk, bald, self-perpetuating conga line. Feral disasters away from their homes and flailing at girls half their age.
I thought after my mom died, I would have a better relationship with my dad. But all he does now is work. It’s like he’s terrified to have a conversation with me. I understand: I’m his devastatingly witty, charming, and well dressed son. I’d be intimated of me too.
But how charming can I be, you ask, if I stay in on Friday nights reading creepypasta alone? Still charming, girl. Still quite appealing.
These infuriating tangents will be the death of me.
Anyway, I read a ritual pasta last night called “Café des Poètes.” Have you read it? It takes forever to get creepy and winds up being more sad than anything else, but I liked it anyway. After I finished reading it, alone in my bed, my room lit up by my laptop, I thought, well, why not? What would happen if I followed the pasta directions? Has anybody ever done that? What do I have to lose, Em?
So that’s why I’m here, waiting for a bus. The pasta said it will appear after I wait for twenty minutes. It’s been fifteen. I haven’t seen a thing.
This letter I’m writing you, by the way, is part of the pasta. I’m supposed to stop and write a letter four times during this to my one true love. Hope you’re ok with being my true love. I don’t think Tad Zio is even aware of me. Also: he’s very straight. So tragically pretty and so mundanely straight. Slings and arrows we live through in this life, girl.
I don’t see a bus anywhere. This isn’t even a bus line. I’m beginning to think this pasta — spoiler — might not be true. There’s supposed to be a dude waiting with me on the corner, too. I’m not supposed to talk to him or look at him. Since he’s not here, that currently isn’t an issue. Which is good; this corner is actually pretty creepy. The streetlights are broken, kind of flickering, there’s this fog everywhere and it is frigid. Much colder than I thought it would be. I’m not wearing the right kind of clothes for this —
Oh. Oh, fuck. Oh, holy fuck. Someone is walking up to the corner. Holy fuck. They’re standing right next to me. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Oh, I wasn’t prepared for this. Not at all.
They aren’t saying anything. My hands are shaking. It’s hard to write. I can see my breath but I can’t see theirs, Em. I can’t see any breath.
There are lights. Coming from up the dead end street. It’s a bus. Jfc it’s a bus. It’s got black windows. The door just opened. I’m going in. Jfc.
I’m still alive. I’m a diner, I guess. It’s a weird diner. Like, really weird.
I’m losing it, Em.
This place — let me describe the bus first. The bus: Jesus. The bus. The pasta said I wasn’t supposed to talk to anybody on the bus. Not hard. The bus was a horror movie.
The lights would go on and off in the aisle. When the lights were on, you could see the other passengers. I liked it better when you couldn’t.
There were probably fifteen other people on the bus. That *shudder* thing waiting with me at the bus stop didn’t get on. I had to walk past it to get to the bus door. It didn’t move. After I sat down in the bus (I gave the driver a dollar, I went to the thirteenth row, I followed the directions), I looked out the window. Even in the dim not-quite morning light I could see it. It was tall and black and moved in a weird way. Like all of its bones had been broken and put back together. Or maybe like it had stolen other bones and put them inside of it.
I saw it crawl into the sewer entrance. I don’t know how it fit. It bent, I think. And then the bus was gone, driving through what should have been recognizable streets. But they weren’t. They weren’t at all.
The pasta said my phone wouldn’t work. And it doesn’t. It just keeps telling me it’s searching for a network. So I have to try and remember these bullshit instructions perfectly. And it sucks. All the ritual pastas I’ve ever read are blending together. I can’t remember what I’m even supposed to say at this diner when they ask me for coffee.
But oh god: the bus.
These things in the seats. They had hoods up. Black clothes. But I saw things. Tentacles. I think I saw tentacles. I heard gurgling. One was dripping, for god’s sake. And the smell. The smell. The smell.
The bus driver stopped twice. At the third stop, I remembered I had to get off. I didn’t want to get off. I didn’t want to walk by those things. I finally stood up. They all looked. I didn’t. That was in the instructions: don’t look the passengers in the face. I tried to forget the instructions added, “if they have one.”
The aisle to the front of the bus felt like miles. Maybe longer? What’s a league? Is that strictly an underwater measurement? Whatever. It took longer than forever.
And then one of them said my name. Quietly. Very quietly. It said my name and my birthday. It said the name of my old dog. Its voice sounded like a toy someone had left out in the rain. They all began to repeat a litany of me, all my secrets, all my stories, all my life’s moments in a horrendously low clatter, and I just kept going until I got to the door.
I jumped out and the bus creaked away. The sky had gotten darker instead of lighter. I was on a street corner, surrounded by office buildings and closed storefronts. The diner I was looking for was across the street. I could hear traffic but I couldn’t see any. The diner sign buzzed a dizzy neon. I crossed the street and went in.
Now I’m here, waiting for a waitress. That’s the next part. There’s a couple of other people in here. They’re just staring at their cups of coffee. I’m not looking at anyone. The air is blue from cigarettes but nobody in here is smoking. Explain that, please. Explain anything.
I don’t know what’s going on. The waitress is coming. That’s what she said. Ha! That’s for you, girl. I’m trying to keep it together.
The waitress asked me what I would be drinking. Her eyes were sown shut. Thick black strings were sewn in and out of the lids. They blended in with her eyelashes. She sounded like she was she was on a three second delay. I could see her teeth when she talked. I could see all the stitches in her mouth too.
I told her I wanted my coffee black. Just black. She asked me if I was sure. I saw her pupils flitter back and forth. I repeated that I wanted it just black. She walked away. Her legs had awful scars up and down them, the way people used to draw on nylon lines.
The coffee came. I didn’t drink it. I’m pretty sure that’s what I was supposed to do. It’s hard to remember. An old man was sitting at the counter. I could tell he was watching me. I was remembering what you told me your therapist said, about how if you control your breathing, you can control your anxiety. Your therapist seems cool, Em. If I live through this, Ima need his number.
The old man stood up and walked over to me. His beard was yellow from nicotine. He put his hands on the table and his thick discolored nails tapped against the surface. He asked me what I wanted. I told him I what I was supposed to say: I wanted to know the words that would wake the dead.
He told me the address of a mailbox. I was to drop this letter in the mailbox. If I had followed the directions, I would then wake up in my bed. This whole thing would feel like a dream. But a week later, a letter would arrive in the mail. I would open the letter and read it in front of a picture of the one I wanted to return from the dead. And then they would.
But if I hadn’t followed the instructions correctly, my one true love would get this letter I’m writing in the mail the next day. And as for what would happen to me?
The old man smiled. His teeth fell out of his mouth, yellow and brown stained, clattering against the battered black and white tile floor.
You’ll find out, Stuart. You’ll find out.
I’m writing this in the back of a cab. There’s no meter. I gave the address of the mailbox. The city lights are bouncing against the windows. I’m I’m trying not to look at the driver’s eyes in the mirror. I’m getting ready for the end.
This is the last part.
I’m at the mailbox. It’s in the middle of an empty lot. The taxi dropped me off here and idled for a moment; its hazards blinked and flashed. Tall weeds burst out of the pavement here. I see things that look like rats scurrying about. I hear the clicks of their nails on cement. The lot is in the middle of a series of abandoned buildings. There are things moving around behind the broken windows.
Dogs are barking somewhere. I can’t see them, but I think they’re getting closer. I circle around the mailbox three times. I repeat the words the pasta said three times: “See, the cruel Fates recall me, and sleep hides my swimming eyes.”
I think it’s from a poem, but when I googled it last night I couldn’t find a thing.
The echoing barking from the dogs is getting closer. I’m almost done with this letter.
I don’t want to finish. I don’t want to put this in the mailbox. I don’t want to find out if I was right or wrong, if I remembered all the things I was supposed to do, if I said all the right things at the right time. Because I can’t imagine I did. I think I was supposed to say something to the cab driver. I’m worried I was supposed to do something else in the diner. Should I have sat in the fourteenth row on the bus as opposed to the thirteenth? All these parts could have gone wrong.
I can see the dogs now. And I was wrong: it’s just one dog. I mean, it’s not a dog, not exactly. It has too many heads for a dog. It’s snarling and I can see its teeth. They’re bright white, like bleached out stars in a dead black sky. I feel the heat coming in waves from under its spiky fur. It paces the perimeter, staring at me with all those dead computer screen colored eyes. I know have to stop writing. I know. This is the last part.
If you’re reading this, you know what happened. I’m pretty sure you’re going to be reading this. I was supposed to tell the cab driver thank you. I didn’t say anything to the cab driver. I just remembered.
I shouldn’t have done this. I just wanted to bring my mom back. That’s all. I shouldn’t have tried. We’re alive and then we’re dead and we shouldn’t pretend we can change a single fucking thing ever.
I’ll miss you, girl. Aways remember to look good. Fuck those wannabe normcore bitches. Look fantastic. And don’t read scary stories on the internet.
And this wasn’t your fault, Emma. I think I wrote that it was. It wasn’t. Don’t feel bad, Em. I’m going to mail the letter now. Don’t feel bad.
Credit To – Kevin Sharp
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