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Next Time

next time


Estimated reading time — 23 minutes

Now…

Gooood evening, Night Crawlers! I still can’t believe we have over a hundred people in our streams now! Lady, Lore, Disco, Q, Livers, all my original crew – can you guys believe this?

While I’m touched you aren’t surprised, you have to admit it happened fast! I hate to think Name-Her-Not had anything to do with it, but the Coming Soon video has over ten thousand views. At least she isn’t alive to see it; that gives me peace.

Besides, it doesn’t matter why we all became friends, only why we stay friends… right?

Right!

The schedule is going to be a little tight now that my promotion is official, but I think we can fit Days of Night into one video if you’re okay with another hour long premiere.

Somehow, I had a feeling you would be. I don’t write often, but I had a weird nightmare the sun stopped coming up, and it definitely felt like a horror story.

Haha, thanks, Lady! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them, but my plate is overflowing— [barks] Fuck… sorry! …Hope no one’s volume was up…

[talk away from mic] Yea— it’s okay, babe. Can you— yea, can you take him… and shut the— [door closes]

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Whew, I’m sorry, seriously! See what I mean? Chaos everywhere. I swear, one of my ancestors pissed off a voodoo queen or some shit.

On the bright side, you officially met Eddie! He’s been dying to say hello… as you heard.

Damn, that’s lots of heart emojis! He returns the sentiments, I assure you, haha.

Looks like it’s about that time anyway – goodnight, Crawlers! I’ll push you next time! Get it? Another Edge/Crawler joke – I’m considering it as my sign-off, do you like it?

Well, the masses have spoken; so sayeth they all!

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6 days later…

Hello, my favorite Nocturnal Knee-Walkers! How’s everyone tonight?

Great! I know you’re all surprised to see a stream today, but I need to discuss something important. I’m not angry… we understand you meant well… but someone submitted a sequel to Coming Soon…

I see how some would think it’s a good idea given the amount of attention it received, but the video wasn’t released with that intention. Our family went through an extremely difficult time, and part of my healing process was to share that experience with a few close friends. I never dreamed it would become popular, and while I’m grateful for new friendships – it’s not a story we wish to continue… and titling it Next Time was in poor taste…

It’s okay. As I said, I’m sure no ill-will was intended…

No, Lady, I didn’t recognize the email – and I’m not here to call anyone out – but moving forward, we appreciate if everyone can respect our wishes in this matter.

Oh, and while we’re here, Days of Night will premiere tomorrow at 7:30.

Haha, I’m excited too; I’ll push you later!

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The next night…

Alright, let me have it; what’d you think? I know it’ll never be a HBO series, but I honestly kind of like this one.

Aw you guys are making me blush, but no – part two is definitely out of the question! My promotion came with longer hours; there’s barely enough time to record as it is.

Haha, that’s hilarious – but sure, if we can get this channel monetized, I’ll write all the sequels you want. In fact, if I can ever do this full time, we can have random stories on weeknights and series continuations on weekends… not that I’ve been obsessively planning or anything… it was just an off-the-cuff type idea…

Ahh, only the truest of friends feed your delusions. The cold void that is my soul feels warmed and tingly.

While everyone is particularly happy with me, I have a touch of bad news. Next week’s premiere is canceled for work travel.

I know, I hate it too, but they’re sending me to some corporate retreat / teamwork training bullshit. It honestly just sounds like a weekend by the lake, but either way – I won’t have time to record. Maybe I can still get a few Peephole Shorts on TikTok – we’ll see!

I drive down Friday afternoon and come home Sunday evening; at least it’s only two nights away from home. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m gonna miss Eddie so much it already hurts [sigh]… oh, and the rest, of course.

I guess that’s it for now, push ya later!

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2 weeks later…

I know you expected to hear from me sooner, and I feel terrible for making you wait. As you’ve probably guessed, there is no story for tonight… I’m sorry about that, too. It doesn’t feel like I’m being overly dramatic, but it will probably sound that way when I explain why.

I never dreamed to find myself sharing another personal experience, but here we are. I thought hard about it, and honestly I’m still not sure if I’ve made the right decision… but I can’t allow one disturbed lurker to take this channel away; if I want to share something with my friends, then dammit, that’s what I’m doing! [fist bangs table]

If anyone would like to retrieve their alcohol or smokables, do so now.

Everyone ready? Okay. So, this “retreat” was two hours away at a lake in the middle of nowhere – it doesn’t even show on Google Maps. It has a complicated Ooga-boga-toga kind of name. There was no reception or WiFi; they claimed it was another “bonding” aid, but I’m thinking it has more to do with lack of availability.

We shared six semi-decent cabins between 24 people; it could have been worse space-wise. Splitting a bathroom with three strangers wasn’t ideal, but they said it was somehow also part of the bonding. Let’s pretend that’s less creepy than it sounds because we have a lot to cover.

My bunkmate was a decent guy; I’d seen Gary around the office, but this was the first time we really spoke… huh. Okay… maybe there is something to that bonding jazz, but we don’t have to admit that elsewhere.

The weird shit started when we met our Cheer Leader… not cheerleader… but our Leader of Cheer. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Her name is Karen Newcomb, and she’s easily the most hyper woman I’ve ever encountered. You’d never expect so much pep in a tiny package; I don’t know if she had cocaine in her sugar or just makes the kinda money that buys happiness – either way I wanted some.

I played their game and smiled with social grace like my livelihood depended on it – because it did – but, honestly it wasn’t worth it. Saturday morning, we were gathered by the lake when Karen introduced herself and got right to work.

We paired off with our bunkmates and were forced to do the falling backwards trust exercise, but she added an extra spin. The catcher asked their partner a personal question, which was answered after the faller was caught. Sounds simple enough if you’re okay sharing your personal information with strangers, but I’m not too keen on it these days.

A few jerks thought it was funny to drift towards awkward questions, but when Karen encouraged “secret sharing” some people got downright brutal. My dislike for the Cheer Queen evolved to hate faster than I normally judge character flaws – but I can’t stand cruelty for sport.

I was extremely lucky to have Gary as a partner; we laid low, keeping it simple with birthdays and pet names while tempers were tested around us. That woman thrived on drama… or she’s a master of uniting people under a common enemy – either way, no thanks.

She enjoyed a long day of torturing us with various mind-fucks before we were finally released for dinner and “evening recreation” which supposedly meant we could do whatever we wanted until bed. The only thing I cared about was sleep; the longer I slept – the faster time passed.

It was 8pm when I laid down and fell into a dreamless abyss, but I soon found myself with a bladder screaming for release. I remained in a half-delirious state while trying to estimate the amount of time passed and if I were still alone. After several silent minutes, I felt confident of my solitude, and mentally prepared for a mad, robe-less dash to the restroom.

There’s no way to convey how it felt to be certain I was alone… sleeping, and to… to open my eyes and have a face mere inches from my own! In one instant I took in her hot, peppermint breath and stray lipstick… she was smirking. As she slowly backed away, I felt myself shrinking into the corner, pushing my body against the wall to maximize the small distance between us.

I felt violated – there’s no other word. Then she had the nerve to pretend her actions were completely reasonable! She wanted to know why I wasn’t interacting with the group! So I asked, “Can you please define recreation?!”

I agreed to go purely to make her leave faster. While dressing, I saw it was 10:15 and almost got back in bed. The only thing that stopped me was the fear of Karen’s return, but when I stepped into the dimly lit night, I almost bumped into her. She was kind enough to wait for me in case I had difficulties finding the large bonfire.

We couldn’t just walk in silence either; she asked increasingly private questions focusing on how I spend free time. I tried saying basic things – like sports – but she kept nagging for a specific answer. Finally, I lost her by squeezing onto a log between Gary and a fat guy. You’ll never guess what activity Karen felt the need to drag me out there for – ghost stories!

Yup, I swear before all the gods of light and dark – that bitch forced me out of bed to insist I tell the first tale! Well – I wasn’t having it – no way. If she knew about this channel, she would have to admit it, because I wasn’t.

I told her horror wasn’t really my thing, [snicker] and that even if it were – I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing storyteller; most impressive was my serious demeanor. I think the right amount of pressure can make anyone a good liar. It was clear the others were growing uncomfortable at her relentless insistence, but I’m the only one who understood the flash of fury that crossed her otherwise composed face.

When her dark eyes were locked onto mine, I physically recoiled. Every time I stole a glance in her direction, she was staring at me. By this point, there was little doubt as to her awareness of the channel; the only mystery remaining was that of her intentions. I mean… she’s clearly not a fan, right? We weren’t allowed to retire until midnight; it was ridiculous!

At dawn, a loud trumpet woke us for breakfast. Roughly 100 yards behind the cabins stood a larger house where we gathered for meals. It was also where Karen slept so I didn’t like to be near it on principle.

The day was only the normal kind of terrible; aside from a few stray comments and suspicious looks, Cheer Queen didn’t push me too far until that night’s campfire. I wasn’t dumb enough to believe the recreation lie again – this time I followed the pack like a good little sheep. We went through the scary story dance again until I finally told the shortest possible version of “The Call is Coming from Inside the House”. I swear – I got it done in two minutes, and Karen’s look of angry disappointment was worth every second.

I’ll admit, when we were finally allowed to retire, I was feeling pretty smug. My brain should have been on autopilot – performing the minimum requirements necessary to retain my job – not going into overdrive and participating in head games with likely unstable individuals, but if I had to do the work anyway, I’m pleased with the victory.

How I was ignorant enough to believe it was over – I’ll never understand; maybe I was just relieved to know it was our last night in that hellhole. Fuck, I would have got into my car that very second – job be damned.

I was only asleep for an hour when a soft noise woke me. At first, I tried to ignore it – thinking it was one of the guys in the bathroom – but the more I listened, the more defined it became. Finally, during a brief pause in Gary’s snoring, I recognized the sound of fingernails on glass… tapping.

Obviously my first thought was Karen, but the logical part of me thought “No, that’s too crazy.” I’m disappointed in myself to say the least. Slowly, knowing the window was in my direct line of sight, I peeked open one eye – just enough to reveal a blurry shape across the bottom panes.

To see it clearly, I wiped away fresh eye goop, and my vision focused in time to see a person ducking out of sight. Even without distinguishable features, it was obviously Karen. By then I was furious; I rushed to the window, trying to catch a glimpse of her direction, and saw movement in the next cabin’s hedges.

I was putting on my last boot when I finally came to my senses. What would happen if a large man ran to confront a tiny woman in the middle of the night? How would things look to outside parties? I’ll never know if that was her plan or not, but I don’t care. For twenty minutes I laid staring at the window before drifting back to sleep.

I woke to more tapping shortly after 3am. When does she sleep?! This time, I leapt from bed in one loud, clumsy motion, hoping to give Karen a good scare.

I’m really losing my mind. That bitch got me so wound up that I saw Name-Her-Not’s sorry face – clear as day – for the split second she remained visible. I couldn’t sleep again after that, and I wasn’t okay at all Sunday. Gary thought it was a nightmare since he snored too loud to wake, and Karen kept winking at me; I felt like I would snap any second.

When we were finally released, I raced home like someone was chasing me – constantly checking my mirrors for signs of pursuit. I thought I’d be okay after making it home, but the nightmares and paranoia are back in full swing. I thought I was finally past all that…

Anyway, that’s why it’s been so long… I’ll get something special prepared to push you next week. For now, I’ve kept you too long, thanks for listening, Crawlers!

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One week later…

[tired] Hey there, Night Crawlers. Sorry I haven’t been around much this week, but no matter what – you were getting a story. I hope you liked Meeper’s Keepers as much as I did. If nothing else – it’s original.

That’s great to hear; I wouldn’t mind a few more from that author.

I’m sorry, Lady, I know I don’t sound like my usual self, but I really am trying… things haven’t exactly been better since last time we spoke. Aside from increasingly annoying nightmares – we woke to find a gutted hog lying across our driveway yesterday.

You guessed it, Lore… just out of camera shot. I’m sorry, but are there any of you who think a wild animal coincidentally killed it there? Because that’s what police think, and I swear—

Nope, not doing it. I’m not getting worked up again.

Nah, seriously, don’t worry about us; we’re fine… it’s the principle of the matter – like, when is this shit going to end?

You know what, Disco? I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do; go to bed early. My brain needs to stop for a bit, but have no fear, next week’s video will be here. I’ll push you next time!

————————————————

4 days later…

[ice clinking/glass slams on table, heavy thud/sitting] … are you out there, Bitch? [chug, heavy breathing – disconnect]

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The next morning…

[humble] To those of you unfortunate enough to witness the… incident before it was deleted, just know I humbly, sincerely apologize; I’ve never been more ashamed of my actions, and it will never happen again.

To those of you who did not see it – consider yourself lucky. Yesterday was particularly hard for our family – and as a result – I drank a bit too much. Around 1:00, Drunk Edge decided to start a stream; again, I cannot express the depths of my remorse.

I appreciate your patience and understanding more than you know. My little episode cost me four subs, but I expected more. At least I caught one break with this happening on the weekend; there’s no way I could have made it to work feeling this way.

Aiden had a ballgame last night, so we didn’t make it home until late… I immediately knew something was wrong because Eddie ran to greet us as we came down the driveway. He’s never left outside; he’s treated exactly the same as our sons. When he ran through the headlights, I was mortified to see dark, crimson stains on his head and chest.

Amber gasped loudly, and I knew she saw it too. We shared a knowing glance at the boys, relieved to find headphones on and their glazed stares concentrated on glowing screens. I parked without waiting for the garage to open and frantically searched Eddie for injuries.

He didn’t have a scratch; someone else’s blood was caked into his fur – especially around his mouth. I signaled Amber to wait in the car and cautiously crept alongside the house. My legs felt like I was walking underwater, and when I saw the front door swinging in the breeze – I almost Noped out of there.

I looked at Eddie once more and realized he seemed a little too happy. If someone were still here… alive… the dog would be on top of them, but instead, he was kinda… strutting. A closer inspection of the front door left no doubt it was kicked in, but nothing else seemed disturbed. I checked every nook and closet twice before giving the all-clear to Amber and the boys.

I ran to the monitors next – eager to see da fuq – and was surprised to see six blank squares amongst the ten. Until that point, shock was the prevailing emotion, but at the sight of camera fuckery – I lost it. It took only a moment to confirm they were gone; I watched the entire footage on my laptop.

At 11am, when the house was sure to be empty anyway, a dirty homeless man drunkenly stumbled into view from our long driveway. He had greasy, unkempt hair, a red, flannel button-up, and black jeans riddled with holes. In his hand was a scrap of paper he checked often, and from the way he systematically removed each camera – game cams included – it’s safe to bet it listed their locations.

From that point on, we only have one view of the front door from our entry hall. Nothing more happens for eleven minutes, then suddenly there’s a loud crash as the door is kicked in. The homeless man could be seen holding – what looked to be – a handful of raw meat.

Instantly, loud, furious barking erupted, and the intruder shakily held his offering aloft. Well – Eddie was having none of that shit; he didn’t hesitate to latch onto the hobo. You could hear the man’s arm break as his screams filled the air; he lashed out in desperation but couldn’t break the pit’s hold. Finally, after falling to the ground, he grabbed a chunk of splintered wood.

Somehow, he managed to free himself for a split second, but when Eddie lunged for another bite, he found the intruder’s crotch. At that moment, I almost felt bad for the guy. Eventually, he gave up fighting in favor of retreat, using his remaining arm and legs to drag himself away… supposedly to whoever brought him here. Around this time – thanks to enhanced audio – if you listen very carefully, you’ll hear a car peeling out as it leaves him behind.

Twenty-six minutes after Eddie and the intruder exited the camera’s view, The Good Boy returned with the previously mentioned strut. You’ll be glad to hear he has since been treated to a rib-eye of the finest quality for his unwavering loyalty and bravery.

We called the police, and yes, we are as sick of them as they are of us. They were less than polite until the body was discovered tangled in the backyard’s shrubbery – which also happens to be Eddie’s favorite place to hide bones – just FYI. After that they were forced to actually investigate.

Now you know everything we know… officially, anyway… I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking about Karen – I just don’t understand why! Why would she do any of this? Or the stuff from the lake for that matter?! I’ll update when we know more, thanks guys – push you later!

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The next night…

This was unexpected, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you more notice – but it’s really good to see my closest friends are here since this is specifically for you. I don’t know what to do anymore; I’m falling apart. We’ve had another incident, and Amber wants me to quit the channel…

I know, trust me, I know! I don’t want this either… but it’s putting my family at risk! Fuck, do you hear how insane that sounds? [ice/glass clink]

[sips drink] The thing with Name-Her— fuck it – the thing with Turner was a one-in-a-billion chance! I’m not famous, probably never will be – but that psycho bitch decided to fixate on me for whatever reason – fine!

Even though it took over six months just to physically recover, it doesn’t matter because she’s dead! Gone! Shat out by a bear and fertilizing these very woods! [ice clink]

My family never blamed me for what we went through, not once… but I could tell they weren’t thrilled when I started recording again. They know how important this is to me, so they kept silent – yet here we are again. [sip]

Hell, I’m not the only one who still has nightmares… we all do… often. Everyone except for Eddie… [sigh] I’d really hate to know where we’d be if it weren’t for him. Honestly, I’d have to be a selfish bastard to keep doing this… especially after last night…

Ha, fuck it, if this is our final stream – let’s go out with a bang! How’s that sound? I don’t throw around the L word often, but I really do love you guys; I’m glad it’s just the few of us here tonight, like the old days. [clink/sip] Well, let’s do this right – go get your vices and settle in.

By time the last official vehicle left it was almost midnight; the boys were in bed – Eddie included – and I wanted nothing more than to follow suit. Unfortunately, I had security measures to enforce; I know you don’t want to think about expenses when it comes to protecting your family – and that’s obvious for people who have money – but we need food, too. When Turner died, there was no reason to expand on what we had…

Anyway, I was already determined to call ADT first-thing, but in the meantime, I decided to move two cameras outside. The gun’s weight was comforting, but Eddie was securely tucked with Conner, and he was my preferred defense.

I didn’t try anything fancy; it was enough to have the driveway and house covered. Though it shames me to admit, it really did seem like Karen would stay away after such a massive failure. She got a man killed for fuck’s sake! [sip/clink]

When placing the last camera… I couldn’t find a flat surface and didn’t feel like dragging out the ladder. There’s a small crevice near the corner – just barely out of reach – where I thought it would balance… [sip] so I used the gutter to pull myself up. As you probably suspect, it fell – all the way to the ground, right along with me.

Initially, I thought the noise came from that, but when another loud bang sounded in unison with shattering glass – I began to understand. Then Amber screamed in a gut wrenching way I’ve never heard before, and I knew a fear not even Page Fucking Turner managed to instill.

I had another one of those episodes where everything seemed slow and clear. As two final shots destroyed another window, I rolled into the bushes, careful to keep my head to the ground. Once there, I heard retreating footsteps and almost pursued, but I couldn’t delay checking on my family.

On the slowest run of my life, I noticed two broken windows – our bedroom and Conner’s. I hope you can understand how literal I’m being when I say it felt like my organs were contracting into a single, fine point.

Inside, I almost felt relief at the sound of Amber’s fresh sobs coming from upstairs; it meant she wasn’t lying dead in our bedroom… then I remembered the look of Conner’s shattered window and began the next leg of an eternal sprint.

The first thing I saw when entering my son’s room was the red-speckled stuffing scattered across his bed. It was like walking through a picture frame – everything was frozen in place, awaiting inspection. Next I spied the hole in his pillow… but there was no blood in that spot… only white fluff. Finally, I felt the hard pulls on my arm, and realized the faint buzzing sound was actually a voice. [pour drink, hiccup]

Aiden was talking… I couldn’t make out his words, but he was pointing… I turned to the indicated direction to see Amber rocking Conner, with Eddie at their feet. Con had his arms wrapped around his mother, and that’s when I saw where the blood came from. I’m at my limit for reliving this nightmare, so let me skip the rest of the tears and explain what we know now. [gulp drink]

Police suspect Karen found herself a new homeless man because there were two shooters; one had a high vantage point – probably climbed a tree – while the other was on the ground. The first shot would have killed me had the gutter not broken, and the third and fourth went through our bedroom window – but Amber was already upstairs by then. The second bullet went through Conner’s pillow – exactly where his head lay moments before… he didn’t know what was happening… he… he woke up to Eddie biting his wrist… dragging him from bed… the blood was from his arm…

Needless to say… yea… I’m sorry, I really need to go now… [spill drink/knock stuff over]

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3 months later…

[nervous] Hi there, Night Crawlers; shit, I’ve missed you so much. Thank you for being here, I know I sounded pretty rough last time we spoke, but I’m seven weeks sober today! While I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re okay, we are better – and after the last few months that’s a welcome improvement. I gave some of you a few details via Twitter when it all happened, but now, with my family’s blessing, I would like to give you the full story.

We need to start four days after our last stream; I knew that Karen chick would be back – it’s just how my luck works – and I got the idea to check around the woods. I left work early without telling Amber and took Eddie for a long walk through the forest. About a mile in – just as I was preparing to turn back, I saw something strange hanging from a branch.

The closer I came, the more I saw; spread through the trees like a bad Blair Witch rip-off were bundles of three sticks tied together. Imagine laying two into an X shape, then putting a third straight down the middle – there were dozens!

At first I thought, “ok, the crazy bitch did this just to freak me out”, and I think that was a reasonable assumption to make – even now. It seemed like a smart way to ensure someone would stick to a certain path… one where a few bear-traps were concealed, maybe? Well, I felt smart for thinking of it… even if we didn’t find any.

Using a long stick for a staff, I continued following the strange idols, although keeping Eddie behind me was a challenge. He instinctively wanted to be in front, but I’d never forgive myself if he got hurt out there. The anger I felt was overwhelming… the audacity someone must possess to go to such lengths!

For half a mile we continued until the path diverged to each side – with the idols becoming larger and more frequent. There had to be hundreds more hanging in the branches to encircle a quarter-acre clearing I’d never noticed. It was well hidden; the surrounding foliage was dense, and the trees bent to form a canopy that concealed it from above.

That’s when I noticed new shapes mixed in among the stick figures; in addition to the triangles – there were small bundles of straw twisted and wrapped in twine. I didn’t touch any of it – in fact, I already planned to pay a teenager to take that shit down.

It’s amazing how smart Eddie is… I squatted low, carefully creeping to the clearing’s edge, and he laid flat next to me. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine…

On the opposite side from where we sat, a crude shelter was erected; several tree trunks stood scattered around a fire pit, serving as tables and chairs, but there was no movement in sight. We waited twenty minutes before entering the clearing, just to be sure… and, as we got closer… I started to notice the stumps were covered in red stains…

That’s when I remembered the dead hog… and it made sense, you know… if she was hiding way out here – she’d need to hunt… but then I turned my attention to the shelter. It incorporated trees as walls, and she did an impressive job stacking logs between them. When she was finished, she stuffed the cracks with moss and mud; it looked exactly like what they build on those survival shows.

That thing took serious work and dedication; it was terrifying to think how long she must have spent building it. Eddie wouldn’t go inside; instead, he stood at the entrance, whimpering. I gave him a comfort rub before proceeding alone and saw a pallet of soft leaves in one corner, split logs being used as makeshift shelves, and a horrifying altar at the opposite side. Real talk – it creeped me the fuck out before I even approached.

It was made from antlers and bones… in the end we learned it was a mixture of deer, human, and boar, but a wider assortment of smaller bones hung in various places. In the center of all this, framed for display, was Heather’s severed head! Sorry… you guys remember her as Karen, but I’m getting to that. The takeaway here was – if she was dead, who else was out there?!

I didn’t want to see anymore; we left quickly, not stopping until safely back home. We endured yet another round of emergency vehicles flooding our property as police dissected the new crime scene, but they remained as secretive as ever. The only thing I’ll say in their favor is, they left two squad cars to watch our home that night – one on each side of the house.

Sleep came unexpectedly fast considering my level of anxiety, but eventually, exhaustion conquers all. Everyone was thinking the same thing, but no one dared say it aloud. “What if Turner didn’t die? What if she’s been out there – hiding in the forest like a secret neighbor?” It was hard to imagine any other explanation…

I tossed and turned from a terrible nightmare where Page was pointing a gun at Aiden while I begged her to shoot me instead… and then she fired. I watched, mortified as my oldest son’s body was riddled with bullets; blood sprayed as I ran to him, but it was too late. I saw the instant the life left his eyes. As I held his corpse in my arms, Amber suddenly appeared – screaming – pulling me away.

More bangs brought me to awareness; I was dreaming, but Amber’s screams were real. There was an honest gun fight happening outside! We raced from the room, staying low as possible, to reach the boys. Images of Conner’s ruined pillow flashed through my mind and I vowed to adopt a second pup.

Thankfully we heard the first window shatter after we squeezed everyone in the bathtub. Shots fired intermittently for over five minutes before stopping; it was twenty minutes after that we received the all-clear. One man was dead, his head popped like a balloon, and one was injured – but luckily he’s fully recovered now. The manhunt continued well into the daylight hours, but the shooter wasn’t found.

————

Over the next few days we learned about the strange setup in the woods, but the more we learned the more terrified we became. They found DNA from two people out there. One belonged to Page Turner – that’s right, it was confirmed – the Bitch lived. The dead woman wasn’t in the system, and she wasn’t Karen Newcomb, but they could tell she was Page’s sister! From there they found the information for Turner.

After interviews with friends and family, we learned Heather came to Michigan to help her poor sister get back on her feet. She was under the impression a con artist scammed her out of her life savings, and I’ll bet you can’t guess who she blamed in that story! Yes! Me! At some point, Heather found Page’s little campground and… I guess she outlived her usefulness.

Oh, but wait, it gets better! Page is an honest to god witch! She believed in the whole Wicca-pagan-voodoo-ritual stuff! I mean, I’m not dissing it or anything – I know it’s a legitimate practice full of really cool beliefs, but this Bitch was obviously not that kind of practitioner. She didn’t hang all those idols to freak me out; she did it because she genuinely believed in their power. What she expected them to do, I have no clue, but they’re long gone now – removed for evidence – I didn’t even need to pay a kid! It probably goes without saying, but she also submitted the Next Time sequel – I should have known that garbage was her doing…

Aside from the news updates, it was a peaceful two weeks… enough so that the police couldn’t continue wasting their manpower. I’m sure that’s exactly what she was waiting for, too. We have the most expensive package ADT offers and moved a cot into Aiden’s room so Eddie could sleep with both boys… I even moved a bureau to block the window… but it didn’t make me feel better.

I had my cell phone dialed to 911, ready to press call at the first sign of trouble. Sleep wasn’t a problem; our protection was gone and I was sure Turner knew that. A bottle of Benadryl couldn’t have put me down!

We were trying to have a semblance of a normal evening and decided to watch a movie before bed. None of us could handle too much action, so we were happy to let Conner choose one of his cartoons. I pretended to laugh at a bunch of fish jumping over a wall for two hours while I studied the camera app intently – watching for any hint of movement.

When the movie ended and the tv was off, a high-pitched voice filled the room; it was coming from a camera! That Bitch hacked into our Wi-Fi! Eddie was immediately alert, looking around nervously while trying to keep us in sight. I’m sure you’ve heard the Nightmare on Elm Street rhyme: “one, two – Freddy’s coming for you…” – well, she was singing that, but substituting her own name.

She had to be close; instead of waiting to see what happened next, Amber called the police, and I released the gun’s safety before heading outside. I mentally prepared myself to shoot on sight; all I cared about was stopping her before she reached my family. I tried to imagine where I would hide and thought of only one place – the treehouse.

It wasn’t used; it was too dangerous to play in when I was a kid, but it was never torn down. Most of the boards were too rotten to step on, and half the roof was missing, but a small person could hide there if they were careful. I tried to peer around the corner without stepping into sight, but couldn’t see inside. Crawling along the hedges didn’t conceal me from view; halfway across – a bullet whipped past, and slammed into the brick behind me. Debris sprayed my head, and I thought that’s what cut me, but doctors say the wound is more conducive with a bullet grazing.

The shot definitely came from the treehouse; I made the scariest dash of my life as I dove through the open yard to take cover behind our above-ground pool. More bullets sped past, but I somehow escaped further injury.

I was close enough to hear her now; she told them I was dead, shot down and killed instantly. I couldn’t stand the thought of my wife and children – so close yet thinking the worst; I acted on reflex without hesitation. “She’s lying! I’m fine!” I screamed, hoping they heard.

Next, she fired two more rounds, and I heard both puncture the pool. As the water leaked out, I shot four into the treehouse and was rewarded with an ear-splitting scream on number three. No more shots were fired, and I stayed right where I was until police arrived.

They found her unconscious, and I was extremely disappointed to watch them load her into an ambulance, but at least she can’t hurt us anymore… plus she has a nice chest scar to match the one on her gut; I was only five inches from the heart! I hate to admit it’s a little impressive she survived in the woods – injured – for so long, but damn. Maybe there’s something to that Wicca shit, who knows.

Now, we have family therapy twice a month, and honestly – it’s really helping. The boys were skeptical in the beginning, but we were desperate; we didn’t know what else to do.

While I would be happier if Turner was dead I’ll have to settle for a max security mental institution; it’s unlikely she’ll ever leave that place alive. Her sister was her only relative still in touch… but with Heather dead, she’ll be completely alone now; I can’t say I’m sorry.

Look, I don’t know what the future holds for this channel, and while I’m not ready to go back to weekly videos – I do hope I can work my way up to it. I’ve had an easier time with this stream than expected – maybe we can get a new story up before the month is over; nothing too long, just something simple to get my feet wet! If you have any suggestions, send them my way. Thanks again Crawlers, I can’t wait to push you next time!

Credit : Page Turner

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