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The Backroads Part 4: Soul Harvest

The backroads part 4 soul harvest

Estimated reading time — 17 minutes

Read Part One here

Read Part Two here

Read Part Three here

[exhausted] Hey again, everyone. You’re all probably wondering if we made it back to
the Paved Streets or what’s going on, so let me just pick up where we left off last time;
otherwise I’ll be hopping all over the place and you’ll only end up more confused… I’ve
learned a bunch of technical stuff that I’m sure some of you have wondered about

First— you may remember that I sent the last update from a library. On the way out, I
noticed a sign that read “occult” and grabbed an armful of books. One title in
particular— Soul Harvest— bore significant relevance to our situation, and I found
myself reading it after Paula went to sleep. I meant to tell her about it so many times
since, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever find the courage. She already hates me so much, but
she recently began to soften in front of the kids, and I don’t want to lose that progress…
[bitter] Just to recap, she and I have both sold our souls. Do you understand what that
means? We didn’t… I sold mine weeks— maybe months— before her, but nothing
seemed different. I thought I would eventually go to hell, but it didn’t matter; what “hell”
could be worse than the Tunnels?

[defeated sigh] Look, I’m not sure what I believed before all of this happened, and I
don’t expect you to alter your entire belief system based on the word of a random—
possibly deranged— stranger… But I’ve been through too much to just write it off as
coincidence or superstition…

According to the book—hell doesn’t even exist… At least not in the traditional sense…
There are places like it, but the system doesn’t work like you’d expect. There’s a few
different things that could happen after you die, but reincarnation is the most common. I
won’t try to explain the other parts, but— when you sell your soul— they don’t take the
entire soul right away; they only take a piece of it… Otherwise, you would drop dead on
the spot, and any deal made would be rendered void.

This way— when you do die— your soul will automatically seek out its missing piece.
Once the buyer has your entire soul, they can do whatever they want; they can fuel
darker magics or place your soul into another vessel— one they will then control like a
puppet. That vessel could be a dead body, an unborn child, an animal, or even a
golem… I don’t know what a golem is, but I know that I don’t want to be one… Of
course, the buyer always keeps a small piece of you for themselves— that way, the
process can be repeated infinitely!

If there’s a way to break the cycle, I haven’t learned it yet. The book failed to specify if
we would remember selling our souls, but I have a sinking feeling the answer is no.
Basically, if I don’t find a solution during this lifetime, I’m probably screwed for the rest of

[paranoid] I’ve been having vivid nightmares of living a perfectly normal life as someone
else, and then randomly committing an act of terrorism… It makes me wonder about all
these mass murderers and serial killers… How many were truly committed with free
will? How many really saw the demons they were raving about?! Is that my future?!
I could go down this rabbit hole forever, and I know Paula would, too… I just don’t see a
point in telling her as long as there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe there will be
some hope for her; Delphi didn’t seem like an evil witch… If nothing else, I don’t think
she would use Paula to hurt innocent people… I think I would rather be used as a fuel
source— better to not exist at all… Who knows what that demon has planned for me…

[Special Announcement]
I was up all night reading that book cover to cover— at least, I think I was… The
broadcasts are the only way to tell time, and the time varies with each room, so bear
with me… This place is basically hell’s junkyard— just a bunch of strewn about leftovers
and remnants from the past…

The idea of sneaking back into a Station was terrifying enough, but I had to do it with my
family… I had to remain calm at the sight of my children interacting with Cleaners… The
thought of them wearing those tiny, white uniforms was too much… We also decided to
skip the Hub-run. Failing to enter the Station wasn’t really an option, and Paula was
certain I wouldn’t survive the effort… She was so clinical about it…

[cold/calculating] If you go to that Hub, you will die; then I’ll have to decide how long we
wait before leaving without you. Even if we somehow survived, the kids would always
question my motives. Besides, we don’t need the supplies; failure isn’t an option.

… It was hard to argue with her logic, and— if I’m honest with myself— I think she was
mostly right. [bitter/resentful] Except it’s more likely that I would have been injured just
badly enough to hold them back…

Sometimes, Paula knows things before they happen; I used to think the magic was
letting her catch glimpses of the future, but that’s not it at all. It took me longer to get
there, but I understand now… It’s common sense… Good, old-fashioned common
sense. When you do something long enough, you begin to see the patterns. History
repeats; embrace it— it’ll do wonders for your life.

Anyway, back to it— that day was dedicated to drilling contingency plans into the kids.
They’ve both matured so much since coming here, but they’re still so young. If
something happens to Paula and I… Well, we prepared them for the possibility as best
we can; it would be naive not to.

The Sunday midnight announcement was our starting gun. No matter what kind of room
you’re in, Olivia O’Neal will pop up to ask if you’re ready for another run to the hub—
even if a screen has to drop out of the ceiling. Her human appearance used to give the
kids a semblance of normalcy, but now they’ve seen her “mean face.” Chloe cried for
two days— those bottomless, black eyes haunt her nightmares; Milo, however, wasn’t
phased in the slightest… Maybe we should have let Chloe play more Resident Evil and
less MarioKart…

We always thought Olivia was giving generic messages to specific sections of the
Backroads; it seemed like a “local news report” type of deal, and most of them sounded
like they were pre-recorded… Then, after— I don’t even know how long— this one was
suddenly different… I knew something was wrong when Evil Olivia showed up, but her
message chilled us.

[bubbly infomercial] Tidings Tunnel Traipsers! Does labyrinth living got you down? Do
you miss the relative safety of the Paved Streets? Did some nasty witch tell you there
was a way out? Did you forget under what conditions the Stations leave? Did you let
yourself believe there was hope? Well, congratulations, because now…
[bubbly/threatening] Sirus is watching you…

When the broadcast ended, we all stared at the blank screen in shock. That
announcement was clearly directed towards us— there was no denying it. Part of me
registered Chloe’s cries— they were just so far away, and I failed to act; so did Paula.
Every other broadcast had ended with “Sirus be with you…” I’ve always wondered who
he was, but in a hope-I-never-find-out way…

Of course, I didn’t have much time to worry about that. I’m ever playing the fool… I
thought my big problem was being stranded at a Station with no ride, but that wasn’t
even an issue. The real hurdle is that the Station won’t leave the hangar until someone
runs out of gas… Then there’s the matter of who we would meet on the other side… I
could see the same gears turning in Paula’s head, too; all the while, Milo tried to comfort
his heartbroken sister… The poor kid will probably never trust again— ha, like any of us

Our spirits were initially dampened, but the more we thought about it, the better our
odds seemed… We never saw Stations before we got the map because the doors seal
after the Cleaners leave. There’s not even a seam; we’d been walking right by them the
whole time. If we could get inside before the doors sealed, we would theoretically be
safe until the Station left or the next Sunday rolled around.

As for who would be waiting on the other side— we would see them before they saw us.
The driver would have to park, and they would probably use the pump first. That gave
us plenty of time to check them out before showing ourselves. We felt the potential
rewards outweighed the risks. The real trick was getting past the Cleaners.

We camped out in a 60’s middle school bandhall; it was the first door past the Cleaner’s
route to the Station, and we hoped to sneak inside right as the last one left. The sound
of their boots echoing against the stone floor was nerve-racking; even though I knew
where they were going, it still felt like they were coming for us… Sirus is watching, after
all— but of course they didn’t… One after the other they filed into the hangar, and the
oppressing sound of their footsteps faded into the distance; that’s when the real wait

We didn’t know if they would be there for an hour or half of the day, and we couldn’t
miss our chance. Paula and I took turns standing at the cracked door, listening; it’s
impossible to tell how long we were actually there, but we were forced to endure a final
round of Evil Olivia before finally leaving.

[taunting/bubbly] Tidings Tunnel Traipsers! Have you made your Sunday Hub run?
There’s still plenty of time to abandon any ill-conceived notions of escape, but you
better hurry; the clock is ticking, Palmer family… And don’t forget…
[threatening] Sirus is watching you…

You gotta give credit where it’s due; when the broadcast started, Paula and I shared a
knowing look— a silent agreement that said her words couldn’t affect us… But then she
said our names… Yea, it was already obvious we were getting personalized
announcements— it’s just… I don’t know— it’s just different to be called out by name…
Our resolve was thoroughly shaken, but not enough to change our minds… Besides,
Olivia was trying to set us up. It was only ten minutes before we finally heard the
Cleaners leave the Station— it was absolutely too late for a Hub-run…

We didn’t know how long the hanger doors would stay open, so we had to go right on
their heels… I poked my head out to see a dozen Cleaners walking away from the
Station— all staring straight ahead like good little soldiers. Milo took a position directly
behind me, and Paula carried Chloe in back; if anything went wrong, they were going to
make a run for it while I bought as much time as possible.

In the Tunnels, guns are usually a death sentence rather than life saver. The sound of a
shot fired will bring any demons in the vicinity straight to your location… Though, if your
only goal is to buy time for others to escape— well— in that case it’s nice to have
around for emergencies. We moved straight into the hangar doors just as they were
closing; one second later, and I would have been crushed…

[Station Staycation]
Any fear was instantly negated by the security felt in seeing those heavy, metal doors
seal shut; we’d made it… We were closed off from the rest of the Tunnels; there were
no demons or Cleaners— just us and a Station full of supplies… I was almost afraid to
turn and see which kind it was. I would’ve been grateful for a Paved Street Station;
that’s the one I really wanted… Sure, I’ve never been more desperate for a drink in my
life— but it wasn’t worth the price. I didn’t want my family anywhere near those dirt
roads— or worse…

Can you believe that— despite how reasonable I’ve sounded thus far— part of me truly
believed we were home free? I thought we would turn to see a tiny, rundown station and
be grateful for its water and soup; we would be grateful to stay in one place… Then,
we would eventually find ourselves back on the Paved Streets, where I intended to kill
whoever walked inside…

Spare me your judgments; you know what desperation does to the brain… Imagine the
most desperate moment of your life— even if you’ve been to war, I bet your children
weren’t at your side— I bet your partner wasn’t dragged there against their will, and you
almost certainly weren’t forced to barter with your literal soul, were you? If so, I’d love to
chat… But it’s not a contest… Trauma is trauma, and we all react to it differently.

If you guys know one thing about me– it’s that I’m always wrong. We had found our way
into a Grass Trails Station, and I spent each day terrified that we would suddenly find
ourselves back in that hellish landscape— or that the infamous Sirus would suddenly
appear… But we actually had a great week compared to what we were used to. Of
course, we were still forced to endure Olivia’s special announcements…

They came on three times a day, every day; that’s how it worked the other time I stayed
in a Station, but it was always so random in the Tunnels— because of the time changes.
We were terrified the first time we heard one; Olivia strongly indicated that the Hanger
doors wouldn’t protect us against Sirus— but no one ever came. We eventually learned
to ignore the threats all together. You can only be told the boogeyman is coming to get
you so many times before you stop believing it… Doug said the demon who ruled this
place moved on to another game; I was beginning to think Olivia was just bored and
missed her master… Yea, that wasn’t it…

Sorry— anyway— we didn’t actually make it to the Backroads until our fifth try. Every
Saturday night, we stripped naked, put our possessions in a pile, and allowed ourselves
to be scanned by the Cleaners before quickly disappearing into the Tunnels… Paula
was able to conceal the map— don’t worry about how— but with it, we fell back into our
old routine until we could try again. The second and third attempts landed us at a Dirt
Roads Stations— and the fourth attempt was the one to finally land us in a Paved Street
Station; water and soup were never so delicious. In all that time, never once were we
taken up to the Backroads; we were devastated… So devastated that we almost took a
deadly risk— we wanted to stay for another week…

The Cleaners came in as usual, but the one who approached me did so with both hands
out, palms up… It was one of those imposters that Doug told me about. While scanning
me with his Geiger counter thing, a small, crumpled piece of paper fell from his hand,
and I quickly secured it with my foot— only bending to retrieve it once he turned away.
I knew we were safe as long as we played along, but it never gets easier. Neither does
facing the Tunnels, though, we had initially hoped that would no longer be necessary.
Now that we’d found a Paved Streets exit, we didn’t want to lose it, but that note
changed everything…

I read it the moment we left the hanger; it said, “DANGER” in all caps followed by, “a
demon is coming.” At the bottom were directions to a room further down the tunnel and
instructions detailing how to spot and open a door… It also said “friends are waiting.”

[New Friends]
I remembered Doug essentially vouching for the fake Cleaners, but my trust issues
have multiplied exponentially since my first day in the Tunnels. Even so, I felt that if he
were genuinely trying to help, it was only because he had no way of knowing we weren’t
new to the game. He would have assumed we were fresh from the Roads and probably
still in shock. “A demon is coming,” was a fine way to ensure a fast reaction with
minimal questioning— especially for anyone who’s seen the Stranded…


I just didn’t see any reason to meet with him when we already had a perfectly fine plan
in place. We were going to hide around the corner and sneak back in just like any other
Sunday, but Paula had one of her “feelings.” She said coming right back in would be too
easy, and that the Tunnels didn’t do “easy.” She was right again… I should have seen it
coming, too; either way— we dodged a bullet.

We agreed to hear the man out, but we were keeping the escape plan to ourselves. No
matter how well-intentioned he may be— we didn’t know him— we couldn’t risk tying
ourselves to a stranger. Proceeding down the Tunnel, we counted six doors on the left
and entered the seventh. A short, round woman with gray hair was startled by our
appearance, but she ushered us inside without hesitation— a look of pity plain on her
face as she noticed the kids.

New clothes were given to us, and we were allowed to dress before joining the group
further in. Five others were spread around a rundown disco club; four men and one
woman— all sharing the same sorrowful stare… A short, hairy man came to stand just
behind the old lady. They could have been siblings for their similarities, but the way they
looked at one another said it was more… We later learned their names were Mike and
Marian, but there was no time to chat until we were relocated to their backup meeting
place— the living room of an abandoned crack den by the looks and smell of it…

Once there, Mike explained the rules of the Tunnel while we waited for the rest of their
group to arrive. I didn’t expect to learn anything new; I was just aggravated about
wasting time, but there’s more to those Geiger counter wands than we realized. They
scan for organic material, and – when found – the inorganic materials (such as clothes)
are separated. The machines transmit results to the Main Office in real time… That
means any demons that were still roaming around would have been alerted to our
presence… Paula never missed a beat; no one ever suspected this wasn’t our first time.

[scared/confused] Demons?! You mean those sickly, starved people we saw in the
woods? They attacked us the first night we were lost, but they fled as soon as we fought
back… What do they want with us?!

[calm/sympathetic] Those were the Stranded; don’t worry about them— you won’t see
any down here. I mean actual demons, like what you see in horror movies… We don’t
have time to give you the full story, but— more likely than not— there’s one looking for
you as we speak. It’s ok; they won’t find you now, and you’ll learn the ropes fast once
we start moving in earnest. We’ve worked out a foolproof system— haven’t lost a life in
over a year!

[scared/confused] But what do they want? What happens if they do catch us? What do
you mean, system?

[calm/sympathetic] It’s best not to discuss the nitty gritty in front of the young’uns. I know
this is a lot to take in, but there are rules to living down here— a system— and if you
follow the rules, you can stay alive. There’s power in numbers; we take turns making
Hub-runs and everyone pulls their weight with the chores… There’s other kids in our
group, too. You’ll meet them when we get back to base. I’m sure our guys will be here
any minute… If not, we’ll have to leave without them…

[scared/cautious] That sounds like a fine way of living— and we thank you for the
orientation— but we just want to go home. Maybe if—
[the muffled screams of several men and their racing footsteps are heard in the
Tunnels— growing louder as they draw closer; then all noises are abruptly silenced with
the wet sound of a violent collision, tearing flesh, and breaking bones]

Everyone froze at the horrific sounds coming from the Tunnels, but— the instant all fell
silent— everything happened very fast. Mike’s group began to move towards the rear
exit as he scooped Chloe into his arms and rushed to take the lead while the rest closed
in around him— effectively blocking us from our daughter. They countered our protests
by insisting we follow along… They showed no hesitation in leaving the rest of their
party for dead… It didn’t inspire much faith in their “perfect system…”

We followed them through half-a-dozen Tunnels and rooms before Paula turned to
shoot me a look that demanded action. She was thinking the same as myself— that if
they got us back to their “base” there was no telling how long it would take to escape…
If we even lived long enough to try… My own humanity is further gone than I thought… I
didn’t hesitate; now that the shock of hearing those men die had started to fade, I was
free to feel the full fury of what these people were trying to do…

[clearly upset] They knew we didn’t want to go with them… But they couldn’t accept
that, so they snatched our kid… Well, everything that happened from that point on was
their fault— not mine! You see that I didn’t have a choice, right?! I’m sorry… I know you
understand. You’ve been with me from the beginning… You’re the only ones I can really
count on now. It’s just… Well, you spend enough time thinking about anything, and it’s
liable to get under your skin, right?

[disassociating/disbelief] The younger female was trailing the end of the pack, and—
before I knew it— I had a fistful of that poor girl’s hair, dragging her backwards. Her
scream echoed through the corridor, drowning Paula’s surprised gasp as I positioned
myself to break the woman’s neck with one easy twist if they didn’t release Chloe… The
desperation in Mike’s voice… I’ve heard it in my own… I wonder how young she actually

[desperately struggling to speak calmly] Wait! You don’t understand what’s happening; I
swear, we’re only trying to help. You can’t possibly understand the danger we’re in. We
haven’t gone far enough… All that screaming— it knows exactly where we are now!
[smells something awful/lowers voice] Oh, no… Do you smell that? It’s almost here. You
want to kill your family? Fine!

[Mike drops Chloe, and she runs to her mother; at the same instant, a door between the
two parties bursts open]

[disassociating/disbelief] The relief I felt at the sight of Chloe running safely back into
Paula’s arms was cut short before I could release my hostage. A door directly between
us and Mike’s group opened to reveal my worst nightmare stepping into the dim tunnel

My actions were completely automatic; it was as if someone else were controlling my
body, and I was simply viewing the events as a third party… So many things happened
at once… I was semi-aware of the screaming taking place behind the demon— with all
that commotion, you’d think it would have focused its attention in their direction, but it
seemed to only have eyes for us…

It was able to imitate humans better than the deranged, feral ones you usually see in
the Tunnels— like the one who bought my soul— only… I don’t know… I don’t want to
say I could feel his aura— more like this demon was so evil, that it seeped out of his
body in the form of heat waves; you could physically see it.

The dim lighting masked parts of his face in shadow but what I could see appeared to
have no skin. He was completely red and charred as if all the skin had been burned
away. There was no hair, his eyes were just glowing, red-hot coals, and his peeled-back
lips revealed thin, needle-point fangs… From the shoulders down, he was covered with
a brown, tattered robe…


Just glancing into those eyes made me feel as if I would spontaneously erupt into
flames; I was soaked in sweat as instinct took full merciless and unapologetic control of
my body… And I shoved that poor girl straight into the monster before turning to follow
my already fleeing family through the closest door… The symphony of screams that
echoed behind us reached new, unimaginable heights… I didn’t dare look back, but the
sound that haunts me seemed very much like that of a skull being crushed…

When I dream, I see that thing’s hands on either side of the girl’s head— I don’t even
know her name— just the sound of her screams being abruptly silenced as those giant
hands begin to squeeze, followed by that god awful crunch. Then came the sounds of
her family… Screams of terror— of anguish— the gunshots…

Paula led us away; she wasn’t using the map— we lost any chance of getting into a
Station that day… We just wanted to gain as much distance as possible, so we didn’t
stop until several hours later… It was another Planet Fitness… Have I told you how
many of those we find? It’s insane—

Anyway, that was probably the hardest week we ever had in the Tunnels. We had no
Hub supplies— just the clothes on our backs and whatever resources we came across.
I risked more than one Honeytrap to keep us going; they usually had some kind of
snacks and water… But it was all worth it, because— at the end of that week— we
found our way inside the fifth and final Starion hangar!

[Paved Street Paradise]
We spent four nights in the hangar before being suddenly blinded by sunlight pouring in
through the windows. We were topside; we all cried silent tears of joy, but it was too
early to celebrate. Knowing what had to come next, Paula took the kids behind the
counter while I crept toward the entrance… One look outside, and I knew all of our plans
were worthless.

Parked at the pump was an old, blue van with handicap tags; its back doors were wide
open as a middle-aged woman in purple scrubs assisted an elderly man in a wheelchair.
I could hear Olivia’s voice playing through the speakers, but neither of the newcomers
seemed to be paying attention.

I called Paula over as the van’s lift lowered the man onto the ground, and she saw the
problem immediately… We couldn’t very well just kill them and take their van, could we?
Was it really so different than if it would have been another family— or another Rob?!
Well? I’m genuinely asking… I can’t tell right from wrong anymore. Considering I don’t
have a soul, I don’t think it matters, anyway. What’s the point if I’m just some demon’s
property? At least Paula knows who she belongs to…

[exhausted] I’ve got to stop obsessing over that…

In the end we decided to make nice with the newcomers. Mr. Sanders was 83, barely
lucid, and had all of 6 months to live, while his nurse, Jenny, was a single mother with
three kids. It took some doing to convince her what this place was. She was
transporting Mr. Sanders to an end-of-life care facility when they got, “a little turned
around,” as she put it. She hadn’t been on the road long enough to suspect anything
was wrong— and she definitely thought we were crazy— but when she couldn’t call the
police, her office, or her kids, she became a little more receptive to our story.

Not by much— in the end, we still had to take the old man hostage to keep her in one
place… It reminded me of how Mike took off with Chloe… The kids helped put Jenny at
ease, but— believe it or not— it was Olivia’s announcement that finally convinced her
she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. There were no wires running to those old speakers—
they shouldn’t have worked, and Olivia shouldn’t have known our names…

[impressed/bubbly] Well hello again Station Squatters! We would like to give a special
shout-out to the Palmer family— the first ones to ever return from the Maintenance
Tunnels! Of course, no one has ever been willing to make the sacrifices they have,
either. Just think, Mike and his little crusaders had been stealing our Cleaner Recruits
for nearly a decade, but not anymore! You threw the leader’s daughter into our Master’s
arms, and, now, a civil war has broken out amongst the rest!
Sirus can’t wait to see you again…

We all stared at the speakers in shocked silence, absorbing those words. We’ll never be
sure if Mike and Marian were truly good people, or if Olivia’s message was simply more
mind games, but a feeling in the pit of my stomach tells me she didn’t have to fake that
one… It’s the way he dropped Chloe so quickly— as if it truly had been for no one’s
benefit but our own. The second it put his own people in danger, he didn’t care what we
did… That’s the problem with life in the Tunnels… You don’t have the luxury of asking
questions first… Those have to come later…

I hope our fear of repeating that mistake hasn’t caused us to make an even bigger one
by allowing the old man and his nurse to live, but— if worse comes to worst— they
won’t exactly be hard to handle… Especially if we take care of the woman first. That’s
just how we have to think now…

Well, I guess this is enough for one update… Now that Jenny believes us, she was kind
enough to lend me her phone; I have to believe this message will reach you as the
others have… I wish I was leaving off with something a little more hopeful in the way of
getting home, but the most important thing is— we’re out of those god damn Tunnels!
No matter what, we’re never going back there again! I’d rather die than suffer through
one more Hub-run. Besides, there’s always the chance of help from the outside…

Hey, I don’t want any of you to even think about trying to come here— but if you happen
to have police or military connections… Now they might be able to rig something up, ya
know? Maybe they could bring a few tanks and drones down here— a few missile
launchers for those monsters in the Grass Trails… You never know what’ll happen if you
can survive long enough, and surviving on the Paved Streets is a walk in the park once
you’ve endured the Maintenance Tunnels.

I’ll try not to keep you guys waiting so long for the next one. Until then, wish us luck!

Credit: Page Turner

Official Site

Please Note the Author of this Creepypasta does NOT give permission for it to be used for any podcasts or narrations

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