22 Jul Projections
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"Projections"Written by Spencer Jackson (a.k.a. Sjack072)
Estimated reading time — 34 minutes
I’m driving maybe a bit too fast and smoking probably a few too many cigarettes.
I love this… this part of the tale. The story can go anywhere from here. You know nothing until I go on—whoever “I” may be to you. Sometimes I wish the story would go anywhere else but here—and that I could be anyone else but me.
But I’m not. I’m Dylan Adams, and I’m driving a big-ass Buick Century down interstate 89, away from my home in Concord, New Hampshire. I don’t know why I left or where I’m going.
But there’s a 9mm handgun in the seat beside me.
To answer the first and most obvious question: Yes, the gun is loaded. But to answer the second, less likely question: Yes, the gun is loaded with silver bullets. No, I’m not hunting vampires or werewolves. I may not be even hunting at all. Still, with what I do, you need to have something you believe to be unique—with the remote possibility of the metaphysical—to contend in this arena.
Keep in mind as you read this—stop every now and then, and remember that the story can still go anywhere from here. It’s important.
I try to keep my eyes lowered, focusing on each white line between lanes rushing at me and swooping under the hood of my car. I know that doesn’t sound necessarily safe; it’s actually not. However, in my case, it allows me to just focus on where I’m going rather than catching a glimpse of a pulverized car or truck, or of an eviscerated corpse splayed across the road.
No, the world hasn’t ended. The cars, the bodies; they’re not actually there… but they were. There’s something wrong with me, with my brain. There’s a lot wrong actually. ADD, schizophrenia, OCD, and at this point, definitely PTSD. And that’s only to name a few pieces of baggage. I couldn’t tell you how many doctors I’ve seen, how many different medications I’ve been on…
When I was a child, I was considered a rarity. They told me I had a photographic memory and an overactive imagination. That was putting it lightly. I would see things from memories, projected right in front of me as if I could touch them again. For example, I had this toy F-16 fighter jet. It was my favorite toy. Somehow, between moving from one home to another, it got lost. However, when I thought of it, remembered it, and wanted to play with it again; I would see it sitting wherever I looked next. The catch to that power was that the jet was never there. I would go to grab it, and my hand would pass through it like a hologram. Typically, once the illusion was revealed, it would disappear.
It wasn’t always fond memories that would re-emerge into my reality, but the deep dark fears that imprinted themselves into my subconscious. Things I saw on television, or instances from nightmares I had, would suddenly and without warning become very visible—very real—at the precise instant my brain pulled them into consciousness. The images, or projections, would appear before my mind had the time to realize they weren’t necessarily real.
Time passed, and my condition seemed to recede. The doctors told my mother this would happen. We were both so relieved. Finally, the night terrors and random panic attacks could finally end. But that’s not where my story went. No, whatever functional error in my brain was causing the eidetic projections to appear never went away; it only changed. Suddenly, it wasn’t just my memories I was conjuring. Eventually, it wasn’t memories at all.
For example, right now I’m passing mile marker twenty-eight, and as I glance up to look at the sign, I can see in my peripheral vision that someone is in the seat next to me. I know better than to look to see who—or what—is there. You see, as I have matured from a child into an adult, so has my condition matured from a brain dysfunction into something much more… complicated. Acknowledging the being next to me would trigger it to be something more than a projection, something tangible and lethal.
Without any reason I could offer you, I flip on my directional and begin to pull off Exit 12a leading into a town called George’s mills. From there, I take a left towards Sunapee. I then fish another cigarette out of my rapidly diminishing pack and slide it between my lips. Wherever I’m going, I’m almost there.
The road is mostly pitch black. Above me, dark clouds occlude any light the moon could offer, leaving me alone in a murk of shadows. Understand that for me, there’s no such thing as pitch black. Images of all kinds, beauties and horrors, come pouring out. Each new image overlaps the last one, and I have to shut my eyes and will them to be gone. It works less often all the time.
I pass by Otter Pond. Don’t ask me how I know where I am or what anything is called. While I go by, I look over and see a figure standing on the other side of the guard rail. As I approach, the headlights reveal it to be a woman in a nightgown, with long scraggly hair and blackened hands. Her eyes are gone, leaving large vacant sockets to stare back with. I don’t slow down, but accelerate instead. Just as I’m about to pass by her, I see her whirl in my direction. I hear her scream with rage. I pass by, and I don’t look back… but I know she’s running after me with everything she has. She won’t catch me. She’s probably already gone. If I remind myself that I’ve seen her before, that she’s just a projection of a memory, she’ll vanish into thin air.
If I were to doubt myself, however, and look in the rear-view mirror to check; she would be in the back seat behind me. She would be very real. She would probably kill me before I could grab the pistol in the seat next to me. That’s why I don’t keep any mirrors around. The projections tend to be stronger because of the innate anxiety people have towards reflections. When it comes to the game I play, my convictions have to be solid. I can’t doubt what I know is real or not, and I can’t let fear fuel that doubt.
That’s not always easy for me.
Now you might be starting to understand the silver bullets. If I believe in, or imagine, them working, then they will. Those conditions only work here and there, but I’ve been able to test that one so far.
The actual town of Sunapee is dimly lit against the night’s darkness. I drive through, surrounded by a small handful of houses and tiny businesses. As I drive through the town, I can see silhouettes in nearly every lit window, figures standing—watching me pass. Who knows which of them are actually there? I can’t guarantee that every one of them is just a projection.
You see, the most recent and dangerous side effect of my condition is that I can see… the impossible. My own mental projections are already maddening, however my damaged mind has given me the ability to see things that shouldn’t exist. There are monsters, true monsters, in this world; and they hide behind the lens of reality like invisible radio signals simply waiting for reception to make themselves known. Consider the opposite of color blindness; where instead of not being able to see existing shades of color, I can see shades of color that no one else has ever seen.
I can’t say if what I see is the supernatural or extra-dimensional or however one could explain them. All I know is that some of the things I see are more real than others. In fact, some of them are things I’ve never encountered or imagined in my life—they didn’t come from my head.
These are the enemy. They know that I see them, and they hunt me for it. Or maybe they need me to see them to become real in this world, and that’s why they seek me out. I can feel them coming. It feels something like the electricity in the air when a storm is approaching.
I know how crazy this all sounds, but if you keep reading, you might just understand.
Sunapee is disappearing behind me, and I find myself not in as much of a hurry as I was on the highway. I won’t speed anymore for the risk of being pulled over.
Another thing I’ve learned is that the enemy take advantage of positions of authority. A few months back, I had a flat tire, and a cop pulled up behind me. I figured it was to see if I needed help. Instead, he issued that I had a warrant for my arrest, and despite my protests, promptly detained me. I was in the backseat of his cruiser, hands bound with zip-cuffs, when a passing streetlight illuminated the inside of the car. The cop was staring at me… with completely blackened eyes in a head turned back 180 degrees. The look on his face was more analytical than anything leering. Still, I freaked, trying desperately to pull my hands free of the restraints. That’s when he swerved, there was a flash of headlights, and then I blacked out.
The car had rolled several times. The cop was killed in the initial head-on collision. I was alive, saved by the seatbelt the officer had insisted I wear—he even put it on for me. The doors to the cruiser had opened as it rolled, and they were pulled off like the wings of a fly. Luckily, I was able to make my escape.
That, so far, had been the closest they had come to killing me. But now, looking back: Why didn’t he just do it once my hands were bound? And why did he buckle me up if he was trying to kill me with a car crash?
After a few miles of darkness, I emerge into an armpit of a town called Newport. Here, it is hard to tell the difference between my personal living nightmares and the actual scenery of the town. Trash everywhere. One lawn has an old, stained toilet marking the end of its driveway. I had to laugh at the absurdity of it. No wonder this corner of hell has been calling me.
I drive through town along Sunapee Street, turning onto North Elm at a set of traffic lights. I look around when the light was red. On the corner, there is this clown. His jaw is hanging open, much wider than any man can possibly stretch. He doesn’t have fangs, but there is this long, black tongue protruding from the cavern of his mouth, twirling and lashing throughout the air. He’s holding balloons of all colors. My blue eyes meet his glowing red orbs, and he begins sprinting towards me. I close my eyes, and focus on the instance I had where I dreamt of the clown before. I open my eyes, and he’s gone. I take my corner slowly.
I go by a McDonald’s on my left. It’s on fire. People, families with children, are inside writhing and clawing at the windows, desperately trying to escape the flames that already have them enveloped. I turn on the radio to take my mind away from all that. Flipping through stations, I hear some country music—change it; talk radio—change it; then the next station is all static. I leave it, and let my thoughts be lost in the ungraspable white noise as I turn left onto Unity road.
There’s a vibration in my joints, and I feel like if I were to lightly clench my teeth together, they would hum with the sensation I am feeling now. I’m extremely close.
About a mile and a half down the long, empty road, I see a clearing to the left. Logging operation. There’s an entryway leading in, bordered with cement barriers. Between the barriers is a rope with a Do Not Enter sign strung on it. I pull my Buick in and let it hit the rope, which snaps effortlessly. I pull in and to the right, where I stop. I’m here.
I light a cigarette, grab my pistol, and step out of the car. The engine is still running, and the lights are still shining bright across the sandy clearing bordered by tall pines. I stand a few feet in front of the car, far enough so that my shadow doesn’t take up too much of the light shining in front of me. The pistol is in my hand. The safety is off, hammer pulled back. Whatever I had come to meet was almost here.
That’s right, whatever I was about to face has been coming my way just as much as I have been going to it, and probably from just as far away. That’s the gift to my sight. I know when they’re coming, and I can meet them far away from home.
In my head, I was expecting anything to materialize before my sight, because that’s how it works with them. They may be here, there; everywhere around us, but I finish the job of bringing them into existence with my tainted sight, and then I stamp them out with my fist and a loaded gun.
At this point, I urge you to pause. Remember me saying how the story can go anywhere from here? By now, I’ve limited the number of avenues it could take, but in this moment—as I am waiting for whatever dark horror will appear in front of me—anything could still happen. The same goes with what comes after it arrives. I have to be ready for anything.
“Hi, Dylan.” A voice chirped behind me.
I whirl around, stunned that someone had gotten the drop on me.
Behind me, like literally right behind me, is a small girl, probably eight years old. She is blonde, with a pink sweatshirt and tiny jeans on.
“What the fuck!?” I shouted. “I didn’t see… I didn’t make you!”
The girl giggled, an insidious little sound, and said, “Do you really think you’ve made any of us? What if we made you?” As she asks her question, she smiles to reveal a mouth full of jagged, metallic teeth. Her arms stretch out to her sides, and I hear her bones cracking.
I don’t think. Instead, I begin to raise the pistol to point towards her smiling, innocent little face. Then I blink, just once.
It takes an average of 300 milliseconds for a human eye to blink. My eyes were closed for that tiny, miniscule amount of time, and when they opened, I saw a monster—pale, hairless, and naked with reptilian eyes and sharp fangs—flying through the air towards me.
The pistol never lines up, and I don’t fire. The little she-beast hits me like a freight train and I fly backward through the air, landing hard on my back and shoulders. The gun falls out of my hand, landing somewhere nearby. The air is forced out of my chest, but I have no time to feel it. As fast as she had changed, she is on top of me, screeching like a pair of fighting wild cats. One clawed hand has me pinned down, the other she raises high above her head, lashing down in a wide swipe. My neck and face suddenly feel like they’re on fire. She raises her hand again, but this time I grab her wrist on its way down. Before she can move her other hand, I grab that wrist too. She lunges down with her face, screaming in what is now a deep roar. Vile spit flies off of her twisted teeth. She is leaning down to bite my throat like an animal.
I respond by surging my own head forward in a brutal headbutt. It works. The impact knocks her back, and I feel strength diminish in her thin, waxy arms for just an instant. I seize the opportunity to push forward, raising her back up straight. I then pull hard on her left arm. As she loses balance, I release her right wrist and proceed to deliver the hardest punches I could muster against her bald head. One, two, three… four brutal strikes and she’s off of me.
I know better than to try to find the gun yet. Instead, I take my turn to pounce on the creature. The second I’m on her, she begins to roar. When I say roar, I mean it was an ear-piercing, deafening howl, something impossible. I feel as though my head might explode at any second. The maddening scream coupled with the pain of headbutting her almost makes me black out, but I fight through it. One blow after another, I beat upon her face. Dark, putrid blood coats my hands as bone and sinew clash. Wet, meaty squishing noises begin to overcome the volume of her defensive howl. I raise my fist up high, and with everything I have, bring it straight down into her face. Her hands, which had been tearing my skin to shreds trying to fight me off, fall limp to her sides. I don’t let up. I take both of my thumbs and I press them into her black and amber eyes. They pop like grapes, and more dark blood rushes out as if her sockets were geysers. This time, her screaming is high pitched and full of pain, full of terror. The sound lionizes the fucked up gorilla that I am, and I find myself smiling despite my firmly clenched teeth.
“YOU FUCKED WITH ME!!” I roared, “AND THIS IS WHAT YOU GET!”
I pull my hands back and jump off of her. The way she thrashes in her agony and newfound blindness is reminiscent of an insect’s death throws. The pistol takes me only seconds to find. I reach down and scoop it up. When I turn around, she’s airborne again. We collide, and I am slammed back onto the hood of my car. My head crashes so hard, it dents the steel hood and I nearly bite my tongue in half. Even blind, she takes a swipe at my chest, and this time it’s deep. I scream out in shock from the searing pain. Also, this time, she has me pinned down. Her skin begins to surge, and hundreds of thin black tendrils start to poke through the flesh of her face. Each one, like the clown’s black tongue, curls and stretches towards me.
However… this time, I didn’t drop the gun.
As she goes to lunge her claws into my throat, I fire. The hole that the silver bullet leaves is impossibly large for a 9mm. The edges of the wound are cauterized. She stumbles back, holding her stomach in a sweet disbelief. The next shot is aimed at her knee, and it blows her leg off. She falls, wailing. Still, she claws at the sand, trying desperately to reach me. I shoot her arm off at the shoulder. Now she rolls onto her back, weak but not defeated.
She tries to claw at my legs, but misses. I stand on her wrist.
“What are you?” I demand, practically choking the words out.
Between labored breaths, she says, “I-I—am unstoppable. I—will—kill… all of you.”
I say nothing more, and put the five remaining bullets through her head and torso.
I nearly fall over, stumbling back towards the car, where I lean upon the fender. I’m bleeding badly, but I won’t be able to go to a hospital anywhere near here.
Panting, I look up to find that I’m surrounded.
Freaks, monsters, zombies, burned corpses of children, the clown, savage wolves with glowing eyes—claws, tentacles, fangs, and blood; horrors of every kind all around me. They are silent and staring.
I’m done, I think to myself. But I won’t let them enjoy seeing my fear. Grimacing, I push myself back up until I’m standing tall. I reach into my pocket and pull out a loaded magazine. Looking at every terror around me, I load the gun and take a few defiant steps towards my kill. Their eyes never leave me, but they don’t approach. A silent moment passes. Then, simultaneously, the all back away slowly, receding back into the ebony abyss of the forest.
Were they all projections, or something more?
I’m alone again. I waste no time getting back into the car. I’m hurt badly, and I’ll have a ways to go before I can see a doctor. The cuts in my neck hurt, but they weren’t bleeding like my chest was. I needed stiches, and maybe a transfusion. Most importantly, I still need to keep my wits about me.
I’m driving maybe a bit too fast and smoking probably a few too many cigarettes.
I lead my big-ass Buick Century away from Newport, New Hampshire towards interstate 89. Aside from fighting to not lose consciousness, my brain is tangled on the fact that the monster had seen me before I saw it. That’s never happened before. Then I thought of what the monster had said. She said she would kill all of you.
I never disposed of any bodies of the creatures I’ve slain. I leave them where they are in hope that someone will find and report them, but if they do—nobody hears about it. The enemy doesn’t come from my imagination, but somewhere else. Somehow they become tangible through my vision. But now I wonder if it’s that exclusive. Could someone else have conjured that little girl?
I won’t pretend to understand any of this, or hope that you will. I need to find a hospital. Afterwards, a computer. I will post this blog everywhere, explode the internet with it if I have to. Someone out there will see it, not just the words and the story, but the monstrous truth behind it.
I am Dylan Adams, and I am not a witch-hunter, I am a soldier. The game is changing, they are changing, and I have to modify my tactics as well. This story isn’t over; it can still go anywhere from here.
I never asked for this sight—this curse of fucked up synapses— but I have it, and it’s a responsibility. If you have it too, then find me. Clear your mind, imagine me, and you’ll know where to go.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to log any activity on my end. Things have changed so fast.
Just a forewarning: What I’m about to tell you is crazy. The story: It is what it is, and where it goes from here—I can’t say. Just know that however way you take it will determine whether or not you’re in danger too. Observe these events, believe them if you can. But do not involve yourself, though. I’m not even cut out for this.
My name is Dylan Adams. A year ago, I sent out a post that went viral for exactly the length of time between one funny cat video and another. That post, it was a distress beacon. So far, I’ve had a lot of compliments for my creativity.
No one has reached out; no one like me anyway.
Not much time went by before it was taken down from every site I posted it on. At that time, I wondered if I even wrote it at all.
If you didn’t read my original blog, I urge you to do so. I’ve attached it to this post. It really makes the following explanation a lot easier to understand. Still, I’ll do my best to let you know exactly what’s going on:
My father had a very unique mind. He had what anyone would call a photographic memory. He could recall any memory in perfect detail. They did a lot of tests on him when he was a kid, and he was published in a few journals. Then they sent him on his way. Well, he took that talent and became an amazing detective, mainly because of that vivid recollection.
What few people knew was that he didn’t just see his own memories, but other people’s too. Some of the recollections were random, others belonged to those he met… like suspects for example. He was a champion in an interrogation room; able to pick out their emotions during the event of the crime, and summarize them in a way which had them literally vomiting before confessing. He was a decorated military veteran, Special Forces, and his colleagues always talked highly of him.
My father shot himself at home on my seventeenth birthday, but that’s a whole other story.
The important part is that in a way, I’ve inherited a unique mind from him. My version of it… isn’t quite as useful as his. There’s a photographic memory, and then there’s an eidetic memory or at least some abstract form of that. What happens with me is that the things I bring about in vivid detail aren’t just in my head. I see them in my real-time vision of the world. I think of my dad, and there he is, sitting in the room across from me. It’s every bit as real as the computer in front of you. These visions are called projections.
I don’t just see memories though, I see anything. Picture your worst fear, that horrible image you conjure when you can’t quite get to sleep. Think of every horror movie creature, every shock that still made you shiver hours later.
Now picture your imagination’s artistic touch on all of that—played in front of you in what could be the pinnacle of personal, virtual reality. Now, for anyone who could be unlucky enough to literally live in hell like I do because of this condition, they at least have the safety of knowing that what they see is a result of some very crossed wires in their brain, and that they are not actually there or dangerous in any way.
That comfort has never applied to me.
A psych counselor who– to his credit– had no fucking idea what he was dealing with, urged me to reach that false conclusion. He said that the next time I see anything threatening, to let it attack me.
The nightmares that I see? They do nothing other than to literally try to kill me. Whenever we meet eyes, the attack is on, and it is fucking brutal. I realized that my counselor may have misdiagnosed the situation when jaws as wide as a New York-style pizza closed around my midsection and I felt the pressure bubble pop as each shark-like tooth punctured my skin and muscle.
I have those scars… and a lot more… from nights that went way worse than that. People, doctors, have seen them. They’re my only proof. I used to think, ‘Could I have done this to myself? You know, to make it real? I, at many times, was convinced that I had.
Like I said before, I can literally see anything.
I’m in Manchester, New Hampshire right now. If I look up at the sky, I’ll see brilliant stars—billions of them—and the Milky Way, bright blue and green, stretching across the sky.
It’s a city. You can’t see shit. I do, though.
At times, I’ll watch the pavement in the street crumble and fall away, opening a large pit in the ground with all these black tendrils waving around, looking for something to drag down. A car will drive over it, and the hole will disappear.
People’s faces turn into the faces of dead people, of rotting corpses, while they take my order at a drive-through. I see blood everywhere. Walls, floors, handprints on doors. Bodies in the street, some sit up suddenly with hungry looks in their eyes.
Monsters. Whatever that pureed mix of fear and sadistic imagination called my subconscious can put into form, it will. These things try to kill me, and if I don’t control my mind to keep them at bay, they will kill me. Somehow, by bringing these things into my reality; they become real to me. It’s like the furthest the placebo effect can go. All this time, I’ve been able to cancel out the things I see by acknowledging it as a vision and focusing on what’s really there. It worked for a while, and I didn’t get any more scars.
Then the feelings came. It’s like that barely audible but unmistakable electrical whine from old tube-style TV’s. I think that’s how I put it in my last post. You might know what I’m talking about. Maybe not. Still, that’s what it’s like at first. It’s almost not a thing, but you hear it anyway. I hear it over everything around me. Then it builds, not in volume, but in vibration. I feel it in my teeth and hair, then in my chest; until finally my bones feel like they are rattling. My heart races, and my body twitches.
I didn’t have that feeling until last year. At the height of its intensity, some… thing would appear and nothing I could do would make it go away. So instead of running, I started killing them. If I killed one of my own eidetic projections, it would immediately vanish. These new things, they stay there. I’ve left their bodies for others to find, but no one has.
I call them ‘new’ because in my last blog, I said that what attacked me was not something I had made. It was something else, something more real in the most unreal way possible. I thought of my father, how he could see other people’s memories in vivid detail. I wondered, what if that’s what was happening to me?
I couldn’t fight the nightmares of every person I came across. My own were fucking plentiful enough. It made me also wonder if that is why he killed himself. There’s so much in one’s own life that has to be dealt with. All that baggage from everyone else? Still, there’s no way to really know.
I’ve thought of killing myself. It’s definitely more welcoming than letting any of the things I bring about end me.
I’ve been coping with the thought of seeing everyone’s deep fears until tonight. Tonight, I feel like my soul is burning. …It’s a good thing.
I’m at an Irish pub in Manchester, right near the Millyard—a group of mill buildings—along the Merrimack River. There’s this older guy, kind of looks like a less fortunate Patton Oswalt in dirty clothes. I think his name is Bob. Anyway, I don’t know—I’m just drinking my fifth beer while watching the sports network on TV. Bob is talking at me about the current season of some sport that I missed at the beginning of the conversation. At first, I tried to make it clear that I wasn’t listening, but he didn’t take the hint, so I just accepted the company.
Whenever he did stop talking, I would nod towards ESPN and say, “Well what about him?” to whatever baseball or football or who-the-hell-cares was on the screen. That would start a whole new round of him going at it.
He’s gabbing on, and the whole time, I’m trying to block out the grey-skinned human with long, extremely thin spider-like legs that end in sharp spear-point fingers as he shuffles his way across the wall. Its eyes are yellow, and its desiccated smile takes up the majority of its face.
I look away and then look back; it’s not there. I tune in and out of Bob to keep them away.
Then the feeling comes, that sound. People are laughing and shouting, glass chattering amongst a room of conversation. The TV’s, almost silent beneath all the noise, are at full volume.
I can still hear it.
I tell Bob that I have to go to the bathroom, and he waves at me as if to say I have his permission. Without paying, I walk around the corner, past the bathrooms and into a kitchen full of some very confused workers. From there I find the side door and take that into the alley behind the bar. Without pause, I pace left, down the hill towards the river. My teeth are chattering, buzzing with an inaudible hum.
One thing about the Millyard is that it is an ongoing renovation project. A lot of the buildings have been turned into offices, but the lowermost floors are too decayed. They’re renovating them so they can make use of the space.
In the meantime, it’s a great place to… deal with what’s going on. The routine is similar to that of an unfortunate victim of a werewolf attack embracing the next full moon. Stay away from public places, and find somewhere you can be dangerous with the least amount of collateral damage.
The air has this moisture, coupled with the smell of the city, and it’s like walking around a giant washing machine full of mildew-ridden clothes. Most everyone I see at that hour is drunk, or fighting, or homeless. I hate everyone.
I venture past the railroad tracks, to the mill building on Commercial Street. Its basement floor is a wide span of empty space and large cement pillars. I go there, the moon is out, or at least I see it that way. The light spills in through the open window spaces.
The sensation is so strong now that I can just about tell which direction the monster is going to come from. I stand there, ready with a .45 caliber pistol in hand. The fingers of my left hand stay touching the handle of the bowie knife on my belt.
I hear a low hiss, and a scuttle. I turn right. Still nothing. Above me, I hear the rasp of a deep breath being inhaled. I duck, turn and step away in time before it drops down.
I see the red-eyed face first, almost human-looking. It’s connected to a neck, which is nearly two feet long. The thing has a shoulder span of about a yard, and its arms arch high and end in several long, scythe-like blades for fingers. It has four hairy human legs with what looks like hooves that had been crudely sewn on. It shuffles like a god damn crab.
The blades lurch back, it draws in a gasping breath and screams. The sound is piercing and unlike anything I’ve ever heard. The blades whirl. I spin and duck, leaning and twisting as they try to scoop into my body.
The thing hurls itself at me through the air, its limbs pulled back; ready to close on me. I side-step around the pillar behind me. The giant claws snap around it, sparks fly off as they gouge the concrete with ease.
I roll to the right, raising the .45 and shooting it three times in the torso. It lurches back with each shot, and as it does, I run at it.
Jumping, I snap the knife from its sheath and sink the blade right up to the hilt into the creature’s back. It bucks and howls. I use the sunken blade to gain leverage as I step up onto its spine. The pistol in my right hand levels with the back of its head, and I pull the trigger.
We both crash down with a thud, and I immediately roll off of it. The feeling is still there, so I know it’s not over. By the time I’m on my feet, I hear the approaching roar of what sounds like a big-rig firing all eight cylinders at full speed. A mass of flesh appears from the shadows, furiously charging right at me on four legs.
I dive forward, rolling again as whatever came at me misses by inches. I hear its feet scrape against the concrete floor as it slides to a stop and whirls around. I turn to see what appears to be a giant, skinless hound with enormous jaws and massive, hunched shoulders. Red ichor oozes between its jagged fangs.
My knife is still in the crab-monster’s back, so I take aim with my pistol as best as I can. My finger pulls the trigger back halfway before I’m slammed from behind. The momentum of whatever hit me lifts me up and carries me about fifteen feet before it stops and I slide and bounce across the floor. I am reasonably shocked, but uninjured.
As I rise, I meet eyes with what could be considered the zombie of Michael Clarke Duncan, only about a foot taller. He is completely naked except for the fact that his body is wrapped in coils of barbed wire. His flesh is torn, and blood continuously runs from the wounds. There’s a blackened swatch of gore where his genitals should be; it would be reasonable to say that’s why he seems so angry. His face is twisted with rage, his red teeth clenched so hard it looks like they could break. He takes these large, heaving breaths.
“Jesus Christ!” I shout in exasperation.
The hound darts to the right. It’s flanking me. Even without my blade, I run at Big Mike and scream as if I’m charging into a battle scene from Braveheart. The hulk in front of me lowers his shoulders and holds his arms out to his sides as he begins charging at me. We’re twenty feet away, then fifteen, ten, and then five before I let myself drop to the ground.
Big Mike almost trips right over me as I flop to the floor. The timing is right on, though. The hound, which had circled to my right, flies through the air and takes Big Mike right off his feet. The two crash to the ground together.
Tangled among each other, even for that brief moment, sends both creatures into a rage against each other. The hound bites the giant, and he begins punching its throat. I run to my left, stepping on the corpse of the crab. Pulling the knife from its back and without stopping, I race towards the freakish melee in front of me.
Big Mike is lifting the hound off of him and rising to his feet when I fire the first of three shots. It hits him in the back, which doesn’t even seem to get his attention. The second shot catches him somewhere on his head. He turns his face my way, and I see that it had struck the back of his jaw on the left side. The entire mandible was torn loose and hanging in a horrifying expression of gore. His eyes widen with a newfound rage, and as I’m just feet away, I fire once more. The third bullet passes right through his left eye, and he goes down.
Without losing momentum, I jump over Big Mike’s body onto the injured hound and stab at its head with all the fury I have. Its body thrashes and hurls about. One of its massive paws catches me in the chest and pushes me onto my back. The hound shambles to its feet, but is too slow to pounce. I put the remaining three bullets I have into its face. Finally, the feeling I sensed ever since the bar is gone.
I lay there panting for a moment, glad for the worn and torn leather jacket I have on because of the protection it offered against the claws and concrete. It was too hot though, so I unzip it while I catch my breath. Eventually, I’m able to stand up and dust myself off.
I’ll admit, each time I walk away without a scratch, it feels just like that post-sex cigarette.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve started fighting back against these twisted projections… those things. If I can say anything, it’s that I’ve gotten to be very fucking good at what I do. My father had been all about putting me through local martial arts programs. You know; Jiu Jitzu and Krav Magaw courses taught by Sensei’s named Jim and Carl. I had refused to go once I was a teenager, but recently picked it back up.
I thought tonight was kind of special because it wasn’t often that more than one of these things came out at a time, let alone three; but I had no clue how special tonight would be.
I step back out onto Commercial Street, feeling actually relieved despite the shit-storm around me. Those bodies didn’t disappear. That’s important to remember.
Anyway, I walk home. It’s actually not too far from the Millyard. I live in an apartment above a shitty nightclub called The Jewel. My apartment consists of a bed, an oven, kitchen sink, and a bathroom. My food is kept in a mini-fridge next to my bed. I choose the stairs over the fire escape and get settled in. I pull the pack of American Spirit cigarettes out of my pocket and flip it open. There’s two left.
After some internal debate, I decide to go to the gas station up the street for some more. My body is still charged from the hunt earlier, and I know I’m not going to bed anytime soon. I smoke my last butt on the way there. This is important because as I walk to the store, I go right by the small side street that leads down, right to the room where I killed that crabby praying mantis mother fucker and his two asshole-friends.
I don’t even look in that direction. It’s not to avoid it; it’s just the impression that nothing will come of it. Nobody sees what I can. That’s why I fight them in private. Ever see Ed Norton beating the shit out of himself in Fight Club? That’s pretty much what it is to everyone else but me. You understand then why I hold this entire narrative as suspect. Suspect until tonight.
So I open the new pack of cigarettes, turn over one for luck, and put another between my lips. It’s lit, and I’m walking back. That’s when a tiny flash catches my eye. I glance right, down the hill, and suddenly I’m frozen.
Two white vans, no windows. They’re backed up against the side entrance to the construction site. I more or less find myself walking that way, compelled to see what real life looks when it’s adjacent to the corpses of my mental by-products. If they could only see it…
I creep down the sidewalk, between the vans and the building. I glance around the corner and see figures standing inside. There’s bright portable shop-lights beyond them, illuminating the whole floor.
The men inside are dark silhouettes to me. I step into the open. I’m completely numb, dominated by the sight of the men standing around the crab’s corpse. I’m caught in this surreal moment.
I hope you understand. When you’ve been dealing with the unreal your whole life, to the point where crazy or not, you still go understandably insane; all you want or need is some kind of… grounding. Any kind of proof; something real that you can hold on to.
As best that I can, I venture back into the mill’s basement level, hoping to use the pillars as cover as I approach. It’s a bad idea. As I get closer, I can tell that the people inside are definitely armed. Their heads look huge and it’s because they are all wearing these odd full-face helmets. They look like they should have arrived on motorcycles.
They’re talking via radios, but the helmets they wear muffle their voices. I can’t tell what they’re saying, so I inch my way closer. I’m being reckless, however I can’t deny any part of the drive to see if they are actually seeing the bodies—if they themselves are actually there or just another projection.
I’m only two pillars behind them, about ten feet, when I realize just how stupid I can be.
The cigarette is still in my fucking mouth.
I didn’t even notice it until one of the men stopped in mid-sentence to say, “Do you smell that?”
I quickly extinguish the cigarette and press my back against the pillar. Hunched there, I freeze completely. Around me, light builds as the men turn to scan the area around them with flashlights. A long minute passes before I hear the men start talking again.
There are six of them. These guys are completely equipped. Full body armor, face masks, and guns that I’ve never even seen before. They are wearing all black.
I hear a series of noises indicating the movement and operation of equipment of some sort. My curiosity once again clouds over any fear I have of being found out by the random soldiers. They are at my crime scene after all. Slowly, I circle around the pillar, intending on crossing over to the one just behind them. I stay very low, nearly crawling as I move.
I have to know. Even though it seems obvious that they are here for the bodies, I have to see it with my own eyes. Just one of them touching the body and seeing it move against their fingers would be enough for me. As I approach, I lean to my right to see around the pillar. The soldiers are all facing the crab monster, and two of them are hunched down low next to it. My heart is racing, and I—
“ON OUR SIX!!” A soldier barks, cutting the tense silence. I freeze up, and the soldiers whirl around, training automatic rifles at me. The rifles have tactical flashlights on them, and I’m blinded by them.
“Woah! Woah!” I shout, raising my arms high as I climb to my feet.
That’s as far as I get before one of them put his hand around my arm. Acting on reflex, I bend my wrist down, taking hold of his arm with one hand while grabbing just above his elbow with the other. I yank down quickly, using the motion as leverage to throw my legs up and around his neck. Working with gravity and pulling down with my back, I send his head and shoulders smashing into the floor, his body and legs pass over me as I roll off and back to my feet in a single fluid motion.
I kick his helmet like I’m going for a goal in the fucking World Cup. It was hard to tell because of the helmet and body armor, but I think I hear a muffled crack when his head snaps to the side.
That was the extent of my counterattack. I am suddenly covered in the other five soldiers there. They beat the ever-living shit out of me. My ribs, my legs, my head. When it’s all over, I’m on my knees, bleeding all over the place, and my hands are bound by those flexi-cuffs.
So much for walking away from tonight without a scratch.
The guy behind me radios in that he, “Has the target in custody.”
Target? Shouldn’t he say suspect?
There is a pause, and a voice on the other end chimes in, “Orders are to execute.”
I barely hear it over the ringing in my ears, but I get the message anyway. The soldier in front of me steps to the side, and I can finally see what lay beyond them. I look up to find an entire crime scene set up around the bodies of the things I killed.
I almost cry. I can’t stop smiling. To always second-guess yourself, to fight day-in and day-out to convince yourself that you’re fucking bonkers. To say that none of it is real, and all of this is just the narrative afterbirth of a complete psychopath… and then to find proof that it’s not all a lie.
They see it! They know it’s all there!
I laugh. They look, and whisper to themselves. I don’t fucking care! It’s… it’s literally the best thing that could ever happen to me.
I never finished school. I’ve never had a real job, or a girlfriend. I’ve never been in love… or had a reasonable grasp on what that would even be like. All I’ve had are these fucking nightmares, this abhorrent menagerie of… of pure fucking evil. It was easier to convince myself that it was all me, my brain. None of this was real. The scars? The hospital visits?
If I can imagine a mound of corpses that moves as one being, trying to pull me in, then I can imagine what an everyday doctor would say to a scratch, or broken ribs, or several claw marks across my throat. It didn’t help that I lied to them every time. All of that, it was all suspect. It was all in my head.
Well these guys are real. I’m pretty sure I killed one of them. Now I’m about to be executed for stumbling along my own crime scene.
You know what? I’m happy. I’m fine with dying at this point. It’s mainly because… I was right. I WAS RIGHT! It’s not just me. Something is happening. Something is coming here. Maybe it’s because I see weird shit already that I can see them. Still, these things—the bodies that stay behind—they are real.
Just that much; that little bit of evidence, is enough for me to die happy. I don’t need the full story. Hell—I don’t even want to know the full story. I feel the soldier behind me move closer and raise his rifle.
I wanted to look up to see the moonlight once more, feeling like there was something special about it that I couldn’t quite remember. I think of my dad, and how a bullet went through his head too.
Then I see the fucking clown.
I’ve never named him. He’s just the clown. He wears a black and yellow suit with white pom pom buttons. His skin is white. His hair is dirty yellow, and the top of his head is bald.
His eyes are black and in the center, glowing red. His nose is large and red as expected (anatomically, not from a foam ball). His jaw hangs about twelve inches too low. From first glance, you don’t think there’s actually any jawbone there. The flesh just hangs loose. Then there’s his tongue. Long, wet, and black; it curls around like a tentacle in the air.
I’ve seen this god damn clown since I was about five years old. In what is supposed to be my last moment, I roll my eyes and groan. The soldier behind me barks something else into the radio. Maybe he is double-triple checking the decision to kill me. Anyway, in that moment I realize something.
Every time I ever saw one of my own projections and didn’t actively try to block it out, it would always rush for the attack no matter what I was doing. This time, the clown is just staring at me. I look back, trying to read his expression. That’s when it clicks: Real people are about to kill me.
I am fine with it, but the clown? He is here for a reason.
“If I die,” I say out loud, “you die with me.” It’s more of a realization than an explanation.
The soldiers all pause and look down. One of them says, “Are you talking to us?”
The clown stares at me, and then looks at the soldier he is closest to. In his hands, he’s holding a large mallet on a long handle. It’s the hammer for the strong-man competition. He stares at the soldier and breathes deeply.
I pause, look at the clown, and whisper, “Do it.”
The clown winds back, and at full length swings the hammer into the soldier’s head. His neck snaps with a loud crack. As he crumples to the ground, the soldiers spin in his direction. They all see the fucking clown, curse and shout with fear, and immediately raise their weapons to fire.
I look right, to the soldier closest to me. Right behind him is the clown. It’s like he teleported to where my eyes went. He swings the hammer into the soldier’s stomach, who doubles over. When he’s bent down, the clown pulls the hammer back and strikes him in the head. The solder falls to the ground. The clown swings the hammer up and over his shoulder like he’s splitting wood and crushes the soldier’s head despite the helmet.
The other soldiers fire, but the clown is gone. As fast I look to my left, the clown is standing behind the two remaining troops. The clown lifts his leg and kicks the soldier to my left. He literally flies through the air, crashing to the ground almost ten feet away.
The other soldier got the hammer. The first blow hits him right in the knee cap, snapping his leg like a dry twig. The second blow hits him right in the chest, and he literally pukes a gallon of blood which runs out the bottom of his helmet in a putrid shower. The third hit strikes when he is laying on his chest. The clown nails him right in the middle of his back. He screams the whole time, but the last hit makes him reach a pitch that is more animal than human. He shrieks like that right up to the point where the clown’s hammer makes the back of his head become the first layer to touch the floor.
The last soldier stands up, clearly shocked by what he has just seen. I look in his direction, and this time the clown is standing right in front of him. The soldier recoils in terror. That’s when the clown’s tongue shoots out. That long black tendril coils around the soldier’s neck. He reaches up to tear it off, but he can’t. The clown draws him towards his low hanging jaw. Suddenly, that jaw takes a new shape as it opens impossibly wide. Enormous, dirty fangs appear as he closes that fearsome mouth around the soldier’s head, shoulders and torso.
A chorus of the most horrible cracking and snapping, gushing and grinding noises ensue as the clown chews and tears his way through the soldier’s still scrambling body. He twists his head left and then right before snapping back, severing everything he bit onto and leaving a gigantic chunk missing out of the top of the soldier’s body. His severed arms drop to the floor with his half-torso and legs. Blood is literally everywhere.
I kneel there, completely astonished by just the pure violence of what I had just seen. My hands are still bound. The clown side steps in a silly way until he is in front of me. It is like he’s acting drunk. There is this brightness in his eyes, the thrill of the kill I suppose.
He walks towards me, kneels down in front of me, and put his face right to mine. Deep, labored breaths flow from his cavernous mouth, smelling of rancid rot and fresh blood. I stare back at him, unaffected by his horrifying countenance.
“The rule still stands,” I say firmly, “I die, you die.”
He spins to the side, and my body clenches. I anticipate the hammer, but instead I feel something near my hands. The flexi-cuffs fall loose, and I am able to put my hands on the floor in order to push myself to my feet. The beating I got has me very weak.
I turn around, but the clown is gone. I don’t miss him at all though. I stumble out, bloody and shambling onto the sidewalk. Despite the pain, a smile stays on my face.
The vans have dash-mounted cameras. I carry myself over to the one on my right, and lay myself across the hood. Mustering the fire in my heart, I raise my arms and present two prominent middle fingers to the camera lens.
Satisfied, I stumble up the sidewalk towards home. My cigarettes are crushed, except for two. I’m fine with that, though.
If someone had called in my earlier gunshots, there would have been cops there. There was just the two vans. I leave behind every body, but none of them are ever found. Suddenly, my mind is given new pieces to a puzzle it had long given up on. It all made sense in the craziest way possible:
The ‘New Things,’ they are real. That’s why their bodies don’t disappear, and it somewhat explains that new feeling I have. As far as why I can see them? Well because I can see shit that shouldn’t be there already. I just have the brain for it.
As for the clown? That’s my second breakthrough. In no way was I controlling him, but he did fight for me. And when he attacked those men, he became real to them as well. When he was done with his bludgeon-filled slaughter? He still didn’t kill me. I laugh at the thought of it, but tonight was the first time my life was sure to end by something other than a projection or nightmare; it was the first time I was threatened by something real.
It hurts my brain to even think about this, but something about my life has established a hierarchy of ‘what is real’ around me. My projections are like ghosts, harmless unless I let them attack. I know they can kill me if I don’t force them out of my mind, but to see one of my own fucked up memories, that fucking clown, kill other people? It means that they in some way are real too.
Then there are the new things, the monsters that bring about the vibration I feel. I know I’m fucked in the head, but not so fucked up as to imagine the nature of the things I see (or feel) coming into this world. Those are someone else’s projections, but whose?
So much horror and tragedy, loneliness and doubt; all of it centered around the question of ‘What part of all this is real, if any at all?’ Imagine my surprise to find out it’s all real, even if it makes no god damn sense.
After all these years, tonight was the first time I could look at one of my demons and reach a common understanding. I wonder, does that mean the clown will begrudgingly defend my life to protect his own? What about the countless other grotesqueries my brain has made over the years?
If there’s a chance they will all fight for me… I could have an army.
These people that showed up tonight. They were studying the creatures, not me. Still, they called me the target. They know about me then.
What does that mean?
Either way, this is huge for me in a way I don’t think you’ll ever understand. I’m not lost, not completely insane. Something is happening, and like it or not, I’m involved. I will see this through to the end.
Choosing the fire escape this time, I pull myself haphazardly up the ladder toward my apartment. They’ve been following me, I realized. They’re taking the bodies after I’m done. But where?
There is only one way to find out. I will leave them more bodies, and when I can; I’ll follow them.
Will write again soon.
Credit: Spencer Jackson (a.k.a. Sjack072)
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