21 Mar The Collector
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"The Collector"Written by Thomas Anthony Lay
Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
The next time you are sick, ill, weak… When your mind is foggy and your bed feels like the only place you can be; beware the Collector. It comes in the dark, in the silence. It comes for the decrepit, the unsound of mind, and the weak of body. I’ve seen it. I know what it wants and it won’t stop coming for me until… I won’t get better now. If you become aware of its presence, don’t look at it. If you see the Collector, it will collect. As I sit here scrawling these notes, I can feel its claws on my ribs, its breath on my neck. I know it’s watching me. It’s summer and this room is cold. The light is out, a maintenance guy should fix it tomorrow but the sun will fall soon and tomorrow is too late. I hope someone will read these notes and heed the warnings. Don’t look at it.
It all started two days ago when I came down with the flu. It was a pretty serious case – my mother even got a doctor to see me as I could barely stand. I still can’t stand, only now I’m in the hospital. I’m using all of my energy writing this. It started out as one would expect; blocked nose, horrendous cough, shivering, the usual flu symptoms. That night was the first night I saw it – the Collector. As I was tossing and turning in my bed walking the line between uncontrollable sweats and chilling shivers, swallowing medicines that tried to soothe my throat, and blowing mucus from my bunged up sinuses, I noticed something. There, in the darkest corner of my room, in front of my closed door I saw two orange dots. My vision was blurred due to watery eyes, and I figured they were a reflection of something. I don’t even know what I thought, but I didn’t really pay much mind to them… Until they blinked. I’ll be honest, that part got my attention. I sat up in bed and squinted into the darkness, looking up near the ceiling at these two tiny orbs just floating there, occasionally blinking at me.
My eyes struggled to adjust, so I guess it – the… thing – decided to make it easier for me. The eyes grew larger and I heard shuffling. It took me a moment to realise, but whatever I saw actually stepped forward. Only then could I see the outline of the figure that stood in my room. Its swollen, bald head was brushing the ceiling, yet its spindly arms dangled by its knees, extended by long, sharp nails on giant hands. I froze. I just lay there staring. All I could see was its tall, skinny outline and luminous amber eyes… And a pouch. In its left hand it clutched some kind of bag. Still unable to process the terror fully, I reached over and flicked the switch on my lamp. That was the moment the horror gripped my heart. The bulb flicked on and immediately popped, but that instantaneous flash of light was all my eyes needed to see that the figure stood in front of me was real.
I saw its sharpened teeth in a lipless mouth, snarling at me, hungry for me. There was no nose on its pale face, barely any features on its whole body actually. But the worst part was that bag… It was a large pouch, dragging along the floor and at first I thought it was made of leather. It was only the following night I learned the truth. I tried my best to scream that night. My throat was clammed up and wouldn’t obey. It lurched forward, calm and slow. Again I tried to make some kind of noise to attract my mum’s attention. I don’t know what happened next, but I flailed and knocked the lamp off my bedside table. As it crashed to the floor the reassuring sound of my mother’s footsteps rushing up the stairs calmed me somewhat. She threw my door open and watched me in the dark for a while. The entity didn’t move. It stood staring at me, so I pointed at it, trembling.
My mother flicked the main light on and it was gone. She told me she saw nothing, and when I explained what had happened she reassured me it was just a hallucination due to my high fever. Perhaps she was right, but I could tell my symptoms scared her. It was that night she called the doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with avian flu and said I should really be hospitalized. I objected, I hate hospitals. She let me off this time but told my mother that if I hallucinated again, then I would have to go in. I reluctantly agreed. When the doctor left, I asked my mum to leave the light on and the door open as I slept. Somehow, I sunk into a restless sleep that night, luckily undisturbed.
When I awoke, I felt like an absolute trainwreck, many times worse than the previous night to point I was calling out in pain. This was enough for mother to drive me to the hospital. I remember falling in and out of consciousness and being wrapped in a lot of blankets to control my shivering. I don’t remember much else between the car ride and the hospital bed, but yesterday I spent the day being hooked up to various machines and monitored. I couldn’t shake the image of the previous night from my head, though, so I decided to do some research on my tablet. Luckily, the room I was in had a strong WiFi signal, so browsing was not a problem.
I typed in term after term and found nothing for at least an hour. Then I hit it… I searched for the leather pouch and glowing eyes description, and buried away several pages from the front I found an assortment of articles about ‘The Collector’. I read them and every account matched what I saw, but the more I read the more my heart pounded. The intermittent beeps of the heart monitor beside me grew closer together as adrenaline coursed through my body. A nurse popped her head around the corner to check on me and noticed my heart rate was elevated. She ran a few quick tests and advised me not to read scary stories. She smiled sweetly and left again after a few tests and questions, and as she closed the door I continued to read. I’ll paraphrase what I’ve read, though my memory isn’t great so I may miss something.
“There is a strange phenomenon among people who succumb to illness and disease. The final scrawlings of these people describe a single entity. It is odd that the same being appears in many texts and writings described in almost the same way, however, we can assume that it is the result of a form of mutual hallucination due to sickness. The creature in question is described as being inhumanly tall and unreasonably skinny with unusually long limbs. It has a swollen head, hands, and feet, and its fingernails are long and sharp. A small portion of people describe the entity as having glowing orange eyes and sharp teeth, but no nose. It is noted to carry a large bag allegedly made of human skin, although the contents of the bag are disputed. Some write that it contains the treasures of the sick, some claim it contains organs, bones, or extremities such as ears, noses, and fingers. It is for this reason the entity has been dubbed ‘The Collector’. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this phenomenon is that in every case, the deceased responsible for the writings are said to have some part of their body, whether internal or external, and belongings missing. Their faces are usually twisted in horror when their bodies are discovered. This detail is unexplained as of yet.”
That’s as best as I remember it. The last sentence shook me. I know it was a crummy article buried deep on the internet somewhere with no citation, but still. It described what I saw, and so I dug some more. I knew its name now – The Collector – and so I searched. My next finding came later at night just as the sun was setting. I found an old, dead forum where people discussed ghost sightings and the like, and I found a buried thread aptly titled “Orange eyes large bag”. I opened the link and I regret that decision. I found posts describing the Collector, but I also found more. One user in particular posted, “DON’T LOOK AT IT.” Another user echoed the same sentiment, and a third user elaborated; “If you see it, it won’t stop coming for you. Only the sick can see it, and once it’s been sighted the sick cannot recover. If you have seen the Collector, your time is up.” The worst part of these posts is that the profiles of the users that all claimed to have seen it stated that they haven’t been online since the day they posted.
Enough reading. Last night I lay, bunged up and coughing constantly. I had one eye on the door but the trickle of light creeping through the gap at the bottom did little to reassure me. My eyes were fixated, but also heavy. I was drifting off and I swear I only closed my eyes for a second, but when I opened them I saw the orange orbs again. The temperature dropped, or at least it felt like it. My stupid quivering hands fumbled for the panic button, but I couldn’t find it. I looked around frantically as the Collector shuffled forward. There! On the floor! I leaned over and stretched for the button as the Collector reached for me. Just as I grabbed the button, those razor-sharp fingernails dug into my wrist and pulled me away from it. I’m thankful for the heart rate monitor because the terror that gripped my soul last night alerted the nurses nearby. The alarm to my room began sounding, but the Collector remained undeterred. It picked me up by my wrist like a ragdoll and an intense burning pain emanated from where it gripped me as I screamed in agony. I was dropped onto the floor and the door swung open.
As the nurse turned the light on, the power to my room went out. Luckily, she had a torch on her. She helped me up from the floor and examined my wrist – broken. She assumed I had fallen out of bed and landed on it, but I pointed to the Collector stood in the corner. She looked and saw nothing, then it sank into the wall, disappearing. I needed an X-ray now. The nurse couldn’t explain the gouges on my wrist, or how I had fallen out of bed with the side guards up. But the thing that confused her and the other doctors the most was the missing bone in my wrist. I mean, it was a mess, completely shattered. Luckily it was my right hand, so I’m still able to write, obviously. But despite that mess, they could plainly see one of the bones was nowhere in sight. They shrugged it off as a birth defect that had gone unnoticed. I knew differently.
So now I’m here, no light, no heart rate monitor. Today is Sunday so the maintenance guy won’t be able to fix the electricity here until tomorrow as I’m not a ‘high-priority’ patient. The sun has gone down, and I’m lying here in my death bed. I know tonight is the night he’ll claim me because there is no way for me to call for help. The room is cold, but it’s not lonely. Here, in the dark, it’s just me…
…and The Collector.
Credit: Thomas Anthony Lay
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