Creepypasta - Scary Paranormal Stories & Short Horror Microfiction
Eventually, the site began accepting direct submissions, and now we only post content that has been sent to us by its author. If you would like to submit your own creepypasta to be archived here, I’ll be more than happy to credit you when I post it. This website exists as an archive of my personal favorite creepy stories; while a few other collections of “creepypasta” exist.
We just moved into a new neighborhood. Autumn leaves began to dribble as my dad started to unpack our things. My brother, who was 4 at the time, was playing with his “Imaginary Friend” who he supposedly just met when we moved in. My brother invited me to play with her, telling me that his “Friend” wanted to introduce himself. Thinking it was absurd of him to have an imaginary friend I objected his offer. “Fine, I’ll tell her to meet you herself,” said my brother. My brother had always avoided talking to other girls since our mother passed away, so I thought it was natural for him to have a sort of “Motherly figure” or perhaps even a friend.
Later that night, however, the first encounter had happened. I was sitting in a boat in the middle of a rather foggy lake. I could still feel the wind touching my ears, is this real? might this be a dream? So I took a glimpse of my surroundings. I saw a small wooden cabin with its door opened and I also noticed that the lake was surrounded by trees, making me unable to see what’s beyond it. But that’s when I saw it, a beautiful doll-like figure wearing a humongous white gown, like the ones you see in fancy British parties. She had a red crimson hair as if she dyed herself with blood. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, it’s as if she would slaughter me if I blinked for just a moment. Before I knew it, her bright black eyes were staring back at me, giving me a chill down my spine. She opened up a humongous horrifying smile, impossible for a normal person. Her mouth was pitch black that I couldn’t even see her teeth’s. Her glare was so full of bloodlust; I could feel it just by looking at her. She chuckled, laughed for a bit, then let out a dark psychotic laugh. She let her gown open and revealed my brother’s mutilated head as well as many others just swinging as if it was attached to a string. “Now it’s your turn, Danny”. My sanity was being tested, I was about to go mad. An hour in this place and I would’ve gone on a psychotic tantrum, but I didn’t. I just stood there, somehow feeling very calm about the situation, thinking that it’s all just a dream.
Then the sound of my alarm rung across the room. I was sweating all over my body, catching only glimpses of what had happened last night. Fear, insanity, distraught, and sadness I experienced in a glimpse. Never in my early days have I felt something so dread and so full of hate. I could only imagine what dreams I had last night. So I went downstairs for breakfast and began forgetting the matter. “Did you meet her?” said my brother. I had forgotten what had happened last night so I chuckled for a moment and said: “Met who?”. “The pretty lady in the gown silly, I told you she’d meet you,” said my brother. Expressionless, I began to remember what had happened last night. Then I screamed at the top of my lungs as if it happened right before me. How could he possibly have known about the dream? I over-panicked the situation and asthma began to take over, I didn’t have my inhaler back then. Unable to breathe, I saw a blurry vision of what seemed to be the woman suffocating me while staring at me with her eyes wide open. Then next thing I know I was in the hospital bed.
“Danny are you alright? It’s okay you’re in safe hands now, daddy’s going to go to work now to be on your best behavior” said my dad in a comforting manner. I was speechless, I left a blank expression as my father left the room. Before I knew it, I was alone in a dark room. Wait no, it didn’t feel right. Something is inside the room beside me. Something dark with malicious intents. Then I began to notice the various corners of the room were exceptionally dark, except one of them stood out. It was pure black, blacker than that of the blackest sky. The more I stare at it the brighter the other corners seemed. Then she appeared right above me, her crimson red hair was swinging as I began to lose my sanity, all the while fondling with my hair as if I was hers to own. I didn’t want to even look at her face even if it meant my death. Then she just stopped, the room didn’t seem so dark anymore. It’s as if she lost interest in me. I checked my surroundings over and over and over again until I realized that she wasn’t here anymore. Then I began crying hysterically until I was tired enough to sleep.
I was in the lake again; this time it was still. The place was so silent that I can hear my own heartbeat. The fog began to thicken; I knew that it wasn’t over yet. She wanted me, she wanted my head and nothing’s going to stop it. Before I knew it she was right in front of me. She gave a blank expression as if she was waiting for a response. I felt like if I gave the wrong answer she would kill me on the spot. However, I knew I was going to die either way but I didn’t care. I looked at her, smiled at her, then said: “Insanity must be a pretty thing to have”. She smiled back at me, but this time it wasn’t a horrifying, psychotic smile but a rather warm but gentle smile. “Aye, it sure is,” she said. Gently she inserted a bright red rose as beautiful as her into my palms. “I bid you farewell, may this be a reminder to you that for whatever reason you choose to come here again, I will welcome you as one of my children and I will protect you even at the cost of my life,” she said.
I woke up the next day as if the whole situation had never happened. I also noticed that the rose was still in my palms. I looked at the window and smiled at the view. “Insanity is a precious thing, right mother?”
I was never at all superstitious. from what I can remember I always looked at life from a practical sense. I was always in the present, I liked my practicality and realism, it was my favorite part of myself.
I had a passion for interior design and home furnishings, I liked to think of myself as an artist. When I was not at work I would often browse the internet, I had my own blog. I posted photos of my home and interior design, and some of the artwork and interior designs my friends made, we would often collaborate on home projects, we were obsessed with it.
One day I went to my local IKEA, to get some inspiration for a home project. I often went to IKEA to browse, I enjoyed getting lost in the endless hallways and rooms, each with a different setup to stimulate my imagination. I often imagined what a furniture piece would look like in my home, although I didn’t have much money, and it would be cheaper just to make one. I came across something very odd during my last visit to IKEA. It was nothing much to look at, it was a vintage high back chair with a wooden frame and dull white cushions on the seat and the back. This was odd because IKEA didn’t sell chairs like this, as for me I had a more modern taste, I never made or bought anything like this. I was curious and decided to get a closer look, It had a label, but it was not specific in the least, it red “The Chair”. No logo, no brand, no price, nothing but “The Chair”.
It did not look like it was very comfortable, but I was intrigued and decided to sit anyway. it was the most comfortable chair I had ever sat on in my life. I felt myself slowly mold into the chair, despite this being unusual, since it was only a small wooden chair with sown on cushions. I could feel my body growing more and more tired, I didn’t want to fall asleep in the middle of a store, so I tried to get up, My body wouldn’t let me. My eyelids were beginning to close, I forced them open, but it was useless. I called for some assistance, but no one answered. In fact no one seemed to notice me at all. I made another attempt to will my tired body out of the chair, my arms began to shake as I pushed on the arm rests on the chair, I managed the strength to lift my body a few inches off the chair, but my fatigue got the best of me, and I slammed down on the chair, panting.
I tried everything possible to keep myself awake, but my eyes began to close without me even noticing, I caught myself just in time, my eyes closed for only a millisecond, but when I opened my eye again I saw that the only people left were security guards and janitors, they still payed no attention to me. I turned to gaze out the window, I saw the moon and the empty parking lot, it was night time, the store was closed.
I tried again to get myself out of the chair, I could not move. I screamed at the top of my lungs, which at this point was just a quiet cry. The janitor that was moping the floor right next to me should have been able to hear me, but he remained unaware of my existence. the louder I screamed, the more tired I became. And I could feel my eyes closing again, there was nothing I could do.
This time it felt like more time passed than a millisecond, maybe a minute or two, but when I awoke there was no one. I looked around, all the furniture items had vanished apart from the chair I was sitting on, it was just a big empty warehouse. I looked out the window, the moon, the sky and the parking lot had gone, my view was pitch black, it looked as if the windows were blacked out. At this point I couldn’t scream, I could barely move my mouth. I noticed a tingling in my lower back, I couldn’t do anything but sit there in utter discomfort. I didn’t want to close my eyes again.
The discomfort only got worse, the tingling was felt under my arms, and all through my back, my shirt felt as if it were attaching itself to my skin. My eyes would not close now, the discomfort drew on, and on, and on. Until finally I drifted to sleep once again.
I awoke to find that all the lights had gone out, I felt like I was being watched, I could no longer turn my head. A shiver ran down my spine, and throughout my entire body. My mind ran rampant, I could not rationalize this, utter terror was the only thing running through my head. I heard small scampering movements, I saw in the darkness what looked like a man, standing there and staring at me, What was going on?
The last time I fell asleep, I was not even aware I had drifted out of consciousness, but when I woke up I found IKEA’s structure crumbling, the walls and floor had faded to a dirt yellow, there were various cracks and holes in the building, and out the window was the sun, blaring at what seemed like triple what it normally emitted, there were no items on display, but there were a few shopping carts, that were knocked over and gathering dust.
I sat there in the chair for what seemed like weeks, there was no pain, but I knew I was being tortured, there is all kinds of torment after all. I could not move, I could not turn my head, I was completely paralyzed, The only thing I could feel were the shivers, and increasing pressure. I wanted to fall asleep, but I could not, I wanted to get out of the chair, but I could not.
I sat there, my mind was racing but my body lay completely motionless, the utter lack of motion was torture enough, and by the second it just got more uncomfortable and more stiff. Eventually, after what felt like months, I managed to make a slight head turn, it turned into shaking. I could feel my body getting heavier, and I felt the wooden legs of the chair shaking, they began to crack, and after about 3 hours of uncontrollable shaking, the the chair broke.
My eyes closed for an instant, and when I opened I found that I was back in the store at the very instance I has sat on the chair. Everyone was staring at me. The chair lay there, its 4 legs snapped off and the back was cracked. I could move again. And I could see an irritated young employee approaching me.
“Excuse me sir, Your going to have to pay for that.” He told me
“Y-Yes, of course” I stammered. I looked at the tag again, this time it had red “LATE 19TH CENTURY FRENCH ART NOUVEAU LILY WHITE ARMCHAIR, $2 250.00”
I went to the counter and payed with my credit card, I asked him if he could throw the chair out for me, I told him that since it was broken I had no use for it, He agreed.
I raced out of that store, and I did not look back.
I abandoned my car, I walked, I did not want to sit down at all. I tried my best to make sense of that I had just been through, It was too vivid for a dream, yet once I broke the chair it was like nothing had happened. I found myself shaking still, and decided to stop for some chamomile tea for my nerves. I wanted to call my friends and tell them everything I had been through, but I knew they wouldn’t believe me. I knew of sleep paralysis, I researched the symptoms, they matched what I felt during my time in the chair. But there was nothing on the internet to explain the eyes, nor the changes in landscape between sleeps.
I had my car towed, I lived relatively far away, it was a long walk home. I was beginning to tire out. By the time I reached my neighborhood it was dark out. I wanted to believe that it wasn’t true. I wanted to rationalize, but that was no longer possible. I came across my friend Simon’s house, and decided to go in for a visit.
Simon let me stay at his place for the night, I just told him that my car slid into a ditch, and had to be towed, and that I was too tired to walk any further, Simon advised me to sit down, but I had refused. Simon said he had to run to the store, to buy some wood for a project. I did not want to be left alone, but I told myself it would be fine. I did not sit down at all. I pulled out my computer and decided to check my blog, I did not know what I was expecting, but I always liked to check.
I saw a post I had never made before, it was a photo of the chair, you know which one I mean. There was a caption: This antique French armchair is so cozy you won’t ever want to get up! You will be so comfortable, you’ll lose track of time!.
I froze up. Closed the lid of my laptop, and decided to go to bed, I was I went upstairs to the guest room. I was still quite paranoid, and afraid to rest, but I was growing more tired by the second, and maybe some rest would do me some good. The guest room didn’t have a bed, all it had was a vintage high back chair with a wooden frame and dull white cushions on the seat and the back. I was too tired to resist.
That is where I am now, It has been 3 days, though time is hard to tell. Simon probably thought I had left and returned to my house, as he came into my new room many times now and hasn’t noticed me once. I know I will fall asleep soon, I can feel myself growing more and more tired every time I press a key, but I had to get my message across. You never know what can happen in life, you never know what to trust, if you take a seat, you may never get back up.
She pushed the blanket off her head and surveyed the darkness from where she lay in bed. Beyond the crack in the window curtains on the other side of the bedroom, a sliver of the weird white winter night sky fell across the floor in a thin line of defused light. The alarm clock on the nightstand beside the bed displayed 11:59 P.M. for a moment, then it blinked a faint red flicker, and it was midnight. Instead of getting up right away and turning on the light, Blaire lay in the darkness and waited for her sight to adjust to the low light. The details of the bedroom came slowly into a sort of shadowy focus . . .
The doors to the hallway and closet door were closed. The door to the bathroom connected to the bedroom hung slightly ajar. Clothes lay scattered about the floor; clean on one side, dirty on the other (although they overlapped several places). A perfectly good half-empty dresser stood in a corner.
Blaire got up, went to the window, and peered through the crack in the curtains. She expected it to be rain, but the entire visible area of the apartment complex below was dry, and even from where she was standing at a height of three stories above it all, it was apparent that not a single drop of rain had fallen while she had been asleep. She glanced back at the alarm clock. It displayed 12:15 A.M.
Still standing in front of the window in the over-sized T-shirt she had gone to bed in, Blaire considered the tapping sound she had heard upon awakening. It could’ve been a leftover sound from a dream, one she’d mostly forgotten upon awakening. That seemed like a reasonable explanation.
Before the guilt and depression could rise to the surface of her mind, she broke away from the window, crossed the bedroom, opened the door to the short hallway, and stepped into the darkness. She emerged in the living room a moment later, twisted a dimmer switch, and crossed into the connected kitchenette. Then, with enough to find her way in the cupboards, she set about brewing a pot of coffee in the dimly lit ambience. She preferred it this way in odd hours of the night, when she found herself awake and unable to return to sleep, when that one loathsome rain-swept night
(when the headlights washed over him)
swam too close to the surface of her thoughts.
(and she slammed on the brakes)
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She paused, holding a bottle of powdered creamer in one hand, unsure if she had heard anything or if she had only imagined that she had heard something. It had been too faint to tell. She could not be certain.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
She set the creamer on the counter, raised one cupped hand to her ear, turned in a slow semi-circle, stopped facing the short hallway, and stood there listening for a moment. She didn’t realize that both her arms and legs had broken out in gooseflesh. But she was aware of the icy shiver that passed down her spine.
Certain she had heard something the second time, which by extension assured her that she’d also heard something the first time, she approached the hallway threshold, moving quietly for reasons she had not yet contemplated.
Unable to confirm the source of the sound, she glanced at the front door of the apartment, which lay only half a dozen paces away to from her to the right. Her purse was on the counter beside the door. Her keys were hooked to her purse. But she didn’t more toward those things, for she did not feel threatened. Besides, her feet were bare and she had no trouble keeping the silence of the night. If the need to escape should arise, although she didn’t think it would, she would be able to flee from her apartment to her silver Honda in the parking lot the short order. The longer she stood at the mouth of the hallway the less likely she thought there was anything dangerous lurking in the dark hall from which she had come. And to be perfectly logical about it, if somebody else was in the apartment, and if that somebody else intended to do her harm, then they would’ve already done so by now. They could have attacked her while she was sleeping . . . or, they could have snuck up behind her while she was standing in front of the window.
There was nothing to fear.
Well, nothing except for the damn rats. The wretched little thing could have crawled up through the plumping and become trapped in the bathroom connected to the bedroom. It made sense . . . in a way.
Blaire returned to the kitchen, opened one of the lower cupboards, and grabbed hold of a formidable iron skillet with a decent amount of weight to it. Although it was over a foot in diameter, she knew she would still have to move in close to slay the varmint, but the thought of just going back to sleep and calling the handyman in the morning without knowing whether or not the noise had been made by a rat was far more intolerable than smashing the disease-carrying invader into a blood spattered mess of dead rat paste. She could deal with this on her own. There was no reason to wait on the handyman.
There was really nothing to fear.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Moving in a slow and deliberate manner, she went down the hall back to the bedroom and switched on a lamp. Soft yellow light flooded the bedroom. It lent the white walls a creamy sort of skin color and made her bare legs look much tanner than they actually were in reality.
The bathroom door still hung slightly ajar. The light beyond it was switched off. She flattered a few steps before she reached the door, considered turning around, grabbing her phone from the nightstand, calling one of her guy friends to come deal with it (or the police), and then she went on. She stopped again directly in front of the door. Beyond the door, she again heard the faint tapping sound.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Blaire took a deep breath, raised the iron skillet in a murderous rat-killing arc with both hands over her head, lifted on foot off the ground, and gave the door a swift, dainty kick with the flat part of her foot, and stepped back, prepared for a possible rush-attack from the rat. The door swung inward on its hinges, revealing a bare bathroom floor bathed in a slant of murky light cast by the lamp in the bedroom behind her. No rat.
Reaching around the doorway, she flipped the light switch on, and glanced about the corners. She still didn’t see a rat. She pulled the shower curtain back. It was empty. Then her eyes fell to the cabinet under the sink and certainty rose in her mind like a bloated corpse
(the car loses traction on the slick road)
forcing its way free from a shallow grave.
(the bearded old man—the whino—tumbles over the hood)
She opened the cabinet and stepped back, again expecting to be rushed. But nothing rushed out of the cabinet. There were a few rolls of toilet paper and some feminine hygiene products underneath but that was it. She crouched down to have a better look and poked around the cupboard with the iron skillet, not really expecting to find anything at this point, considering that everything inside the cupboard was intact and nothing had been chewed up. There was nowhere else for a rat to hide. She didn’t understand where the strange noise had come from.
Had it been like that before?
Tap. Tap. Tap.
No. Surely it hadn’t.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Then she understood and her skin broke out in gooseflesh.
It was coming from the wall behind the mirror.
Standing up, Blaire regarded her reflection in the bathroom mirror with an air of suspicion and her reflection regarded her in the same way with the same cool eyes. Blaire had never quite learned to trust in her mirrored image. Her reflection looked tired and worn out, as though Blaire had been tossing and turning all night, grappling with some nightmarish phantasmagoria in her sleep, and damn was her hair a mess.
Then, from the wall behind the mirror, there was another thumping sound. Blaire was sure what had just happened.
Things were starting to get mixed up in her head.
(then she has an idea)
There was a crash of splintered wood.
(and she shifts from drive to reverse)
It sounded a lot like a door being kicked in.
(or a skull being crushed)
Under a car tire.
(popping like a pumpkin full of red Kool-Aid)
Blaire spun around, completely disheveled now, unknowingly issuing a tiny shriek of fright, and listened to the silence. But surveying the bedroom and the hallway beyond, she could detect no change in the apartment or sign of intrusion. But before she could take comfort in those observations, another thump came from directly behind her.
She turned slowly back to the mirror, looked back at her reflection, and for a moment, they were the same, then her reflection broke character, Even though both of Blaire’s hands remained clamped firmly at her sides, her reflection raised one hand on its side of the mirror and thumped on the glass. It was as though her reflection wanted to get Blaire’s attention. There was nothing menacing about it—
She might just be having a really crazy hallucination or something.
Blaire had no doubt that even a creepazoid like Sigmund Feud would find something like this perplexing. But then she caught sight of a secondary movement in the mirror, this time behind her reflection, which was still thumping on the glass, like a semi-catatonic victim of some unspeakable horror. Behind her reflection, Blaire caught a brief glimpse of a shadowy figure in the living room. It ducked out of sight before she could grasp its form in greater detail.
Her reflection stopped thumping on the mirror, glanced back, and looked Blaire directly in the eyes. For a fleeting moment, Blaire thought they were almost the same again. Then her reflection opened its mouth.
Run, her reflection said, mouthing the word without sound.
Instead of running, Blaire lifted her hands and held them before her with her palms face-up. They were shaking. Then, still holding her hands before her, she looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her reflection seemed to have completely abandoned the physics in which it was supposed to operate, for it was now half-turned away from Blaire, watching the hallway. Looking past her reflection in the mirror, Blaire saw the figure making its way down the hallway, walking with a drunken canter to its step. However, when Blaire turned away from the mirror, she saw nothing in the real-world hall hallway behind her. She wasn’t sure what was going on here, if she was really awake, or how exactly it was possible for this to be happening. It was insane.
But it was happening.
As the figure
(the whino come back from the dead)
stepped into the bedroom on the other side of the mirror, it didn’t enter the bedroom the real-world side of the mirror. Her reflection took a step back, bumped back into the counter, and then the figure
(she hadn’t meant to hit him that night)
seized her reflection by the hair, twisting the half-rotten fingers of his purple-blue hand around in her hair so that her reflection would not be able to yank free. The whino made her reflection turn around to face Blaire. Her reflection squirmed and tried to break free, but the monstrous supernatural whino of the mirror-world had no trouble forcing her reflection to stay right where he wanted it to.
“No!” Blaire shouted. “No! No! No!”
Her reflection struggled harder, as though it didn’t want to face Blaire, as though it didn’t want to face the young woman who had once been a younger woman who had accidentally murdered the man holding it against its will.
“Don’t hurt her!” Blaire shouted. “Don’t you even think about it?”
The whino bared its few remaining teeth, yellow and decayed.
“Y-You . . . You better not even think about hurting her.” Me . . .
The whino lifted her reflection off the ground, one hand grabbing it by the back of its hair, the other grabbing it under the arm. Blaire screamed. But it didn’t stop the whino. He lifted her reflection into the air and bludgeoned its face against into the porcelain counter top. There was no sound. But blood flew everywhere. Blaire began to scream. The whino bludgeoned her reflection a second time. And now Blaire was screaming and screaming and screaming. After the third time, her reflection stopped struggling, and after the fourth bludgeoning, her reflection went limp. The whino held the corpse up for Blaire to inspect after the fifth time. He was grinning.
Paralyzed with fear and still unable to head her reflections previous advice to run, Blaire stood suddenly very silent and very still at the threshold of the bathroom in the real-world, uncertain how exactly her reflection could be dead and she could still be alive. Then the whino bit into her reflection’s neck and proceeded to rip its head out. Blood covered everything. The floor, the walls, the sink, the mirror, the ceiling, all got drenched in red within a minute. Blaire’s lip trembled. Her legs were shaking. By the time the whino had finished decapitating her reflection, a dark chasm had opened in solid ground of Blaire’s mind and there was no longer anything too illogically or too impossible to be believed.
The whino tossed her reflection’s headless corpse to one side and her reflections corpses head to the other. Her reflection’s head lodged in the corner of the corner against the cabinet beneath the sink and the wall. One of its eyes was still visible and to Blaire’s horror it appeared to still be very much aware of what had just happened.
The whino climbed on the sink, looked at Blaire from the other side of the mirror. Then it raised a blood-streaked hand to the glass, pressed against it, and smeared the glass.
“Go away!” Blaire shouted. “You got what you wanted now just go away! It was an accident! And yeah I screwed up! You should know better than to expect a nineteen-year-old girl to always do the right thing! And you got your revenge! And I’m sorry!”
But the whino only shook his head. Its thoughts however resounded through Blaire’s mind: No, Blaire. No, I didn’t, not yet. And I’m just getting started with you.
“Please . . .”
The whino pressed against the glass. After a moment, Blaire realized it was trying to figure out how to reach her on this side of the mirror. Then the mirror rippled and pulsated, like the way the surface of a pond might rise when disturbed from below by some enormous monster a second before it rose from the depths. Blaire felt something warm run down her leg, and she was only vaguely aware in the most faraway sense that she had just urinated on herself.
The whino pressed harder against the mirror. The mirror stretched like a membrane against its figures. Blaire needed to move. The curvature of the mirror was thinning, and Blaire suddenly realized that the whino would soon birth itself from the mirror-world into the real world, and she had no doubt that he had very hostile intentions toward her. Finally taking her reflection’s advice to heart, Blaire turned and ran screaming bloody murder out of the bathroom.
Leaving the bathroom, bedroom, and hallway behind, she grabbed her purse and car keys off the counter in the kitchenette, seized the doorknob of the front door, yanked it around, and pulled. It rattled against the frame. It didn’t open. The mirror shattered in the bathroom, and although she only heard it, she knew he was coming, and just that was enough to send her into a greater panic. She yanked on the door, again. But it still held fast. Then she remembered the deadbolt (she had forgotten to unlock it in her state of panic). Once she flipped it back, she was able to open the door with no problem, and then she was running down the outside corridor of the apartment complex toward the stairs. She descended all four flights of stairs somehow without losing her footing. Then she was dashing across the parking lot, her bare feet pounding against the cold asphalt.
When she reached her car, she glanced back over her shoulder at the apartment complex. The figure leapt from the fourth floor staircase, landed on the concrete sidewalk. Then it stood up and headed in her direction at a dead run. She fumbled with the keys hooked on the strap of her purse, without bothering to detach them, trying to get the driver-side door unlocked.
It seemed like an eternity, but in reality it didn’t take long until the door clicked, opened, and she was swinging it open. She keyed the ignition first try, and the engine roared to life. Then, as she reached for the door, a bloodstained hand grabbed her by the front of her shirt and the nightmarish face howled into face. As the nightmarish figure tried to pull her out of her car, she yanked the door shut with the full extent of her strength. The door connected with its head and crunching sound of breaking bone was extremely satisfying. Its hold on her loosened. She put the car in reverse, and floored the accelerator. Her car literally exploded out of her parking spot, hooking out to the right. She reversed until the figure was about fifty feet in front of the car. Then she braked, which slammed the driver-side door shut, and shifted into drive. The figure was limping toward her. She switched on her high-beams and floored the accelerator pedal. The figure raised a hand to the light, there was a satisfying thump, and then it was rolling around screaming in pain on the pavement in her rearview mirror. But even as she hooked a hard rubber-screeching turned out of the parking lot, she was pretty sure she saw getting up, and she sped down the road beyond the apartment complex the reckless abandon, turning down streets at random and ignoring traffic lights. When she saw the sign for the highway, she took it and brought the car up to 90 mph.
She kept a vigilant watch on her rearview mirror, terrified that her murderous pursuer would suddenly be sitting in the backseat, and each glance she cast upon the rear mirror haunted her, for her reflection was absent and she was alone. This was of course because her reflection was dead. It had been murdered. Yes, of course, of course, that made tons of sense. No, nothing made sense now. Her left arm lay useless in her lap, bent and twisted at a hideous angle; she had apparently left her phone on her nightstand, unless it had fallen out of her purse during the first stage of her escape; and her car smelled like piss. The car only had a quarter tank of gas, a quick check of her purse revealed that she had no money, and she was barefoot. She was also not wearing any pants. She didn’t know what to do. She was afraid to stop. But she knew that she would eventually have to stop. Therefore, it made more sense to stop on her terms rather than wait until she had run the gas tank dry.
Fifteen minutes later, at one o’clock in the morning, she pulled off the highway. Terrified that if she stopped too long, the murderous figure would run out of the darkness, she pulled into deserted rest area, parked near a phone booth, opened the door, got out of the car, and headed for the phone booth.
She picked up the receiver and dialed 911.
“Hello,” a pleasant female voice said, “police, fire, or medical.”
“Police,” Blaire said. “I need the police.”
“Hang on sweetie. Can you tell me where you—”
“Somebody’s trying to kill me!” Blaire shouted.
Static erupted on the line.
“Hello,” Blaire said. “Are you still there?”
“Bitch,” a guttural male voice said.
It had to be her pursuer.
“You fucking bitch.”
“You didn’t give me a phone call—”
“It w-was an a-a-accident.”
“—and I damn sure ain’t gonna let you have one.
“I d-d-d-didn’t m-m-m-mean too.”
”I’m gonna make you suffer.”
A cold hand fell on her shoulder. She didn’t need to turn around. She knew who stood behind her now, boxing her into the phone booth and blocking her escape. It was him. His fetid breath fell on the back of her neck, cold and rotten, like something that had been buried in the smell of its own decay for some length of time best kept unknown and left disremembered in the bowels of memory. He had her trapped. There would be no escape. The tears were rolling down her cheeks now.
“It’s time for you to die,” he whispered.
He yanked her hair, seizing her by the back of her head, and slammed her face into the telephone unit.
Pain exploded in her face.
The telephone unit filled her vision a second time.
And everything went black.
* * *
Detectives Darrel Flannigan and Clint Saunders arrived at the scene of the homicide at seven forty-five the following morning. They got out of their unmarked police sedan, ducked under the yellow tape that read POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS, and approached the body lying in the grass beside the telephone booth. There was a cluster of little yellow placards surrounding the telephone booth. There was more tape and another cluster of cones surrounding a silver Honda fifty feet away. A couple of beat cops were standing around, and a forensic technician was taking pictures, but the rest area was otherwise deserted. Flannigan was eating a bagel. Saunders was smoking a cigarette.
Flannigan and Saunders crouched down beside the body. The victim was dressed in an oversized T-shirt and a pair of piss-stained panties. There was a large gash above one of the victim’s eyebrows and part of the skull near the temple was misshapen.
“Cranial fracture,” Saunders said.
“Probably,” Flannigan said.
“You remember that big shot lawyer’s daughter?”
Flannigan nodded. “He’s a judge now.”
“I heard his daughter was being investigated for a hit-and-run last year.”
“Senior year of high school, was it that kind of deal?”
“Yeah,” Saunders said. “But she was never arrested.”
“Case file just sort of disappeared?”
Saunders nodded. “I think she was the majorette in the marching band.”
“I remember now, sort of.”
“Do you remember her name?” Saunders asked, looking at the victim.
“No,” Flannigan said. “But we can just run the plates and figure it out.”
“Did you know they had a body?”
“Flannigan shook his head. “Don’t tell me that also disappeared?”
Saunders raised an eyebrow. “You know what I think?”
“You think her daddy bribed the DA.”
“Or he bribed the chief of police.”
“And that’s just to start with.”
“Well,” Saunders said. “You know how the old saying goes.”
3/14/2013 – 22:55
Today I arrived at Lakeworth. It was afternoon and I decided to buy enough groceries to last me the weekend. After that I went straight for Road 116 where Dan told me the little summer house his parents owned was. He said it was the last house down the road, somewhat into the forest and that it would be perfect for my needs, which were to isolate myself from society and gain some inspiration from nature.
I drove down 116 and passed a few houses, until there was a big gap of just trees and forest vegetation. I passed a big wooden fence, where the paved road transformed into a dirt road that went through a big semi opened metal gate. I got out the car and pushed the gate open. Then I kept driving for a few more minutes. Finally, a two-story wooden house appeared. Dan told me it would be the last house down the road and indeed the road ended just there, leaving just a narrow path into the forest that no car could enter. The house was surrounded by a wooden fence and a big red gate. The gate was not locked so I opened it and parked my car in the front yard of the house. There was a trail of a recently dried-out creek that seemed to have flowed right under the gate and into the forest. Perhaps it formed when the ground was flooded in the rainy season. Since Dan’s parents didn’t know I was about to borrow their summer house for a month, he didn’t give me a key. But he told me they hid a key under a porch, in a small gap between the deck boards. Well, I didn’t find the key, there were LOTS of gaps in the deck and I tried the look in the obvious ones, but it wasn’t there. Then I tried just opening the door, and it was unlocked. I did find a spare key above the door frame inside the house, so yay! The place was very nice and cozy, although a bit dusty. I unpacked everything and settled in. Since at this point it was already getting pretty dark, I decided to just chill in front of the fireplace and relax with a book.
3/15/2013 – 21:48
This place is great. It already has pretty much everything a person needs for some time to live in seclusion. I found an – old but in working order – record player and a bunch of records. There’s an old TV here that has an old RCA connection, so I can’t really use it with my HDMI laptop output. The bed is comfy, and I love the relaxing sounds of the fireplace.
I took an hour long walk today in the forest and decided that I would go camping sometime next week. I was supposed to go back to the town today but when I came back from my little forest hike, I felt a huge burst of inspiration. I had tons of canvases and oil paints stashed away in the car, so I put them to good use and spent the rest of the day painting.
Even better, there is no cell reception here. In fact, I was thinking of leaving my cell phone somewhere to get disconnected, so there’s no need to do that now. I would just have to buy DVDs or download movies I want right down to my laptop when I’m connected to the network in town, so I can watch them offline later when I’m home. There is a landline phone that I can use if I need, and that will be enough for me.
4/16/2013 – 01:55
In the morning I went to town to get some supplies I was missing and also picked up an HDMI to RCA connector for the TV. It worked pretty well but I got a weak signal of some satellite TV channel that overlapped with my laptop’s input. Anyway, I could only notice it when everything was completely quiet. I’ve spent the rest of the day painting and in the evening, I went to a local bar to have a beer and eat something and try to mingle a bit with the locals. On my first day in town I saw a few cute girls walking around and I thought I might see them again if I go out. At that bar, “The Claw”, I met a nice local guy named Denise. We drank a couple of beers each and talked about the town and our lives. I found out he ran the grocery store where I previously bought the food for the weekend. Apparently, he inherited the business from his father that passed away some six months ago. I was sorry to hear that since he seemed like a really nice guy. Later I caught a glance from a cute blonde girl, she looked at me for a second and the turned away shingly. She acted a bit weird after that. A parking car’s headlights shone through the big window behind her, and she looked a couple of feet to the left of me and seemed somewhat confused, then a friend of hers shouted something and the whole group she was with started laughing. The girl joined them and seemed to have forgotten about me.
Anyway, Denise and I switched numbers and decided to meet again soon.
3/17/2013 – 11:22
Today I started planning out my upcoming camping trip, I didn’t bring any camping supplies like a tent or a sleeping bag, so I had to buy or borrow them from someone. So I called Denise to check out with him. He got worried for a moment and told me not to go too deep into the woods. He told me that there’s a “really bad” place in the forest that everyone in town keeps away from. I’m not sure if he’s trying to prank me or what. When I tried to question him further He was extremely reluctant to talk about it. Eventually he just made me promise I won’t go camping until we meet in a couple of days when he’d tell me all about it.
3/19/2013 – 22:14
I’m not sure how seriously I should take what Denise told me today, but I decided not to go on with my camping plan anyway. We ate and chatted for a while, and then Denise told me about his father. He told me that he’s father didn’t really die in natural circumstances. I wasn’t sure at first if it was some weird sense of humor he had but when he kept talking I figured that he really believed what he was saying. He told me that his father was haunted, or more exactly, stalked by a strange being. Him, and his father’s friend didn’t know what it was, and tried helping him to get rid of the thing, with the help of exorcists and what not, but nothing helped. His father then left to live in an old hunting shack that their family owned, deep inside the forest, where he lived his remaining years until he died, which was not long ago. Denise told me that after he had died, they left the place and put up a huge warning sign that nobody could miss if they stumbled upon this place.
I told him that I couldn’t not be skeptic about this story, that I’m an atheist and do not believe in ghosts and supernatural beings. Denise accepted that but asked me (actually- he almost begged me) not to enter or even go near this place in case I do go on a hike on the forest. I asked him what would happen to me, but he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. He just told me to stay away from this place, and to not even get close to the cabin itself. “Whatever you do, don’t let the shadow of the building touch you” he said.
I’m confused. I don’t believe stuff like that, but I’m convinced Denise was serious about everything he said. Anyway, tomorrow I’ll take a short hike in the forest and look for this place. Denise did spook me a bit so if I find it I’ll stay away. I’ll also take a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at this place.
3/20/2013 – 13:31
I’m a bit creeped out right now.
After I ate breakfast I proceeded on my planned hike into the forest. Since yesterday, I got really curious about what supposedly lurked in those woods. Just as I left the house, I noticed there was a nail in the gate, but nothing was attached to it, so I figured there once was a house number that was lost to the weather. I walked along the dirt road into the woods, noticing the trail of the dried-out creek I saw when I first arrived here a week ago. I wondered how far this stream of water went so I stepped off the pathway and went after the trail of dried water. After not more than a hundred yards, hidden in the bushes I saw something that sent shivers up my spine. It was a large sign that had probably fallen from the gate of my house and flowed down the stream. The sign read
“DO NOT ENTER THIS PROPERTY. KEEP A DISTANCE OF AT LEAST 30 FEET AT ALL TIMES”
For a moment I was genuinely frightened. I wasn’t sure what to do. But then I calmed myself down and realized that nothing has happened to me since I arrived here, so all of this was probably just a story after all. I walked around the house to see if there was something scary about it that I should have noticed, but there was nothing. It was the same cozy little place I grew to like in the past few days.
Since my mood was still a bit spooked out, I gave up my little hike for a while. I also don’t really want to talk to Denise cause he’ll probably get all crazy and stuff.
3/22/2013 – 12:50
FUCK MY LIFE
3/22/2013 – 15:16
AM I LOSING IT?
After what happened this morning, I ran away from that damned house as fast as I could. I couldn’t think straight for the past few hours. I’m not even sure if I’m awake or dreaming. I just talked to Denise again. I can’t believe he was right all along.
OK, I have to get my thoughts straight. What I saw today, I don’t want to think about that, but I have to give an account of everything that took place. Jesus, I’m getting my eyes tearing up just thinking about this.
When I woke up this morning I looked at the wall in front of my bed. My room, I mean, the bedroom in that damned house, is actually the whole second floor of the place. There was a desk across the room with a rotating office chair. When I woke up I lay in bed for a few moments. The sun was still low enough to shine through the window and illuminate the wall on the other side of the room. And then I saw it.
It was the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my life. On the illuminated part of the wall, I saw the shadow of a person, sitting in the office chair, facing my way, staring at me.
I’m not sure if I screamed or not, but in the next moment, I was on my legs out of the bed. But then I looked at the chair, and there was nothing. The chair was facing me because that’s how I left it after I finished sitting in it last night. For a moment I thought I just imagined everything, but then I looked at she shadow again. It was still there, a shadow of a person just sitting in the chair and facing me.
I don’t remember much of what happened after. I was so terrified I couldn’t think much. I think that for a moment I wanted to jump out the window, but I didn’t. Or at least I think I didn’t. In a few moments I was in the car driving like crazy. Somehow, I got to the town.
First thing I did was finding a phone booth and calling Denise. He flipped when I told him that not only did I “touch” the shadow of the house, but actually lived in it for a week. And of course, just as I needed him most, he was out of town. He told me to get a motel room, preferably a small one, and to buy a flashlight with enough batteries to change many times, and a laser pointer.
I stopped at a nearby shop and bought like a dozen flashlights and laser pointers, and I don’t know how many packs of batteries.
I think I now understand why I need them. I need something that could produce enough light for something to cast a shadow…for that…thing…to cast a shadow.
But I’m too damn afraid. I don’t want to see it again. Calmly staring at me again.
I can’t stay in this motel room right now. I have to go outside. But I don’t know where.
3/22/2013 – 23:47
I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight. That thing is stalking me constantly. I tried experimenting with it today. First of all, I noticed that the shadow is of a person that is always at the same distance from me. Whenever I move, that thing disappears, and when I look for it again with the laser pointer or flashlight, it stands in a different direction so that there are no obstacles that would prevent it from being at its usual distance, of about 25-30 feet. When I’m in a small room that doesn’t contain such lengths, it waits outside, still at the same distance. Of course, I tried throwing shit at it, but things just went right through like there was nothing there at all. I’m starting to wonder whether I could get used to it and just live the rest of my life with a silent companion.
I can’t believe I got myself into this shit.
Fucking Dan! Couldn’t you give me normal directions to a normal house?
3/23/2013 – 8:01
This was one of the worst nights of my life.
I couldn’t bring myself to turn off the lights. I kept imagining the worst possible things that could happen, and possible explanations for this nightmare. Needless to say I couldn’t sleep. I frantically searched the web for any information I could find about this thing but came up with nothing. I wonder if I’m just hallucinating everything…
3/23/2013 – 8:25
I just pointed the laser out of my motel room window for like 5 minutes and tried to find the thing but couldn’t see anything. Nothing blocked the little red dot. I hoped this thing just decided to go haunt someone else but didn’t really believe so. So…I exited the room and pointed it down the exterior corridor of the motel…and there it was. Some distance away the laser pointer was blocked. I’m not sure if it was my imagination but it seemed a bit closer than yesterday. I pointed it at the floor and that way I could see exactly where it disappeared. I moved it a bit right. The dot appeared again and when I kept moving it was blocked again. Two legs. It was standing right at that spot. I took my breath and moved two steps towards it. The thing disappeared. I counted my steps and estimated the stalking distance of the thing to be about 26 feet from me now. It was even closer than I thought. Then it struck me:
The thing is getting closer to me by the minute. And it was getting closer ever since I arrived at that damned house. And I was just naively painting and wasting precious time.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO???
3/23/2013 – 11:12
I got a long measuring tape from the hardware store and decided to confirm my suspicion. I located the spot where the “feet” of the shadow began and remembered the spot and then measured the distance between where I was standing at the time to the spot. It turned out to be 26 feet 2inch. I am going to check that again this evening and calculate the speed at which it was getting closer.
3/23/2013 – 23:30
I am fucked.
I checked the distance again. It got closer by approximately 1.5 inch. If the thing creeps towards me at a constant rate it means it gain about 3 inches a day. FUCK
Tomorrow I’m gonna meet with Denise and get some damn answers.
At least I hope so.
3/24/2013 – 16:01
I met with Denise. The first thing he did was taking the laser pointer I had, and it wasn’t long before he located the stalker. He told me it was the same thing that haunted his father. He said that his father never found a way to get rid of his stalker, but he did find a way to make life more manageable. He also told me that this thing closes down on me at the rate of about 1 inch a day. At this point I had already established that it was going at me 3 inches a day and I was not happy to break him the news. I asked him what this thing was and where it came from, but he didn’t know. He was really sorry and told me he tried to warn me. Needless to say, I questioned him a lot, but he didn’t know much. Or at least he answered very vaguely.
He told me that he could not exactly tell how his father stopped the thing, but there was someone who could help me.
We sat down in a diner. We ordered food, but I couldn’t touch it. I couldn’t see the shadow at that time, but I knew it was out there. He asked me what I think this thing could be. I had no idea, but I started speculating. I told him that I didn’t think it was a ghost. First of all, I don’t believe in the supernatural. Secondly, he sees it too, and from what he’s told me, anyone else could see the stalking shadow too if they were looking. I entertained the idea it was a person in some top-secret invisibility suit, but it didn’t make any sense and besides, I already tried throwing stuff at it. Maybe it was alien I suggested. Denise didn’t answer but then he told me more about this friend of his father’s. His name was Brian and while he didn’t tell Denise much, he seemed to know a bit more about the thing. He said that he will contact him and that he believes that Brian will try to help me as much as he can.
I am back at the motel room. I’ve already drank pretty much every tiny booze bottle I could find in the little fridge. I’m not even sure this could help me sleep. I don’t have enough courage to look out the window with a flashlight.
3/30/2013 – 18:45
The last week was the worst week of my life…If you can call what has now become if it “life”. My existence has become a pure torment. I couldn’t shut an eye for the first two nights but then tiredness, with enough alcohol, got the best of me and I slept a bit most nights. My dreams where filled with nightmares. I constantly drifted in and out of sleep and dreamt the shadow was getting closer and closer to me. Sometimes I would wake up and could swear I see the thing sitting and staring at me, and then I would realize I imagined or dreamt it. I became obsessed with checking the thing’s location every day. Last night I filled up with enough courage to look for the thing with a flashlight at nighttime. While the laser pointer was just a red dot that was blocked when I pointed that at the stalker, the flashlight showed a whole shadow. The moment I saw it I wanted to scream. I was totally traumatized from that morning I woke up in the forest house, and instead of the trauma healing, things only got worse and worse. I could feel the thing was creeping closer all the time.
When I walked around town, to meet with Denise or just get food I constantly checked my surrounding with the laser pointer. I was obsessed. I am now constantly fearing this thing to suddenly jump at me, suddenly start to move faster. Every single time I search for it with the laser pointer I am expecting it to be right behind me, I can sometimes feel the hairs of the back of my neck stiffen, but when I look for the thing with my laser pointer – and by now I got really good in locating it within seconds – It’s still pretty far away from me, about the same distance it was before, but just a tiny bit closer.
I started feeling like my time is getting shorter and shorter. What was coming for me seemed to be worse than death. I cannot imagine what happens when this thing comes for me, and I can’t say the thought of putting an end to this pathetic excuse for a life hasn’t crossed my mind.
And so far, no silver lining has shined. Although I’m meeting with Denise every day, he can’t really help me other than offering me his mental support, but he did not agree to come sleep with me even once. He’s too terrified of that thing, and I can’t blame him. And Brian, that damn bastard did not contact me, neither Denise since he first called him. Denise told me that Brian had to check some things before he could help and did not hear from him since.
4/04/2013 – 17:16
A bit less even. At this point I always carried a bag with batteries, a measuring tape and of course, my flashlight and laser pointer.
But today, finally something less bad has happened. Brian contacted me. Actually, he knocked on my door. He arrived at town without warning. Denise had told me to stay put, and so I waited and waited until that day came.
And he explained to me everything he knew.
He told me that Denise’s father, Steven was his name, and him, served together at area 51.
Back in 1974 the military had brought in something unidentified. They were positive it was not man made. Brian said that analysis of the materials it was made of could not match it to any material found on earth. In fact, they could not even find any resemblance to any known material. Steven was an officer that served there. He was leading a team that was ordered to slice the object open. Him and five more soldiers worked on hit. When the object finally broke, something had happened to them. All of them were “cursed”. Each of the five soldiers, acquired a stalker of his own. Each moving in his own pace and going after them.
One of the less fortunate soldiers had an especially quick stalker. The poor man could not handle it, and he eventually blew his own head. But, that’s how they found out about “them”. No one could guess what those things were, but they found out that they could only get closer when the men were in places that were not blocked from electromagnetic waves. Quickly the army supplied Steven with a house that was built from walls containing a metal net that didn’t allow the thing to track him. The stalker still waited outside of Steven’s house and whenever he left the house it kept stalking and getting closer to him. But anytime Steven was home, he was safe.
This thing seemed to be some kind of alien, closing in on its target from another, maybe fourth or fifth dimension. That at least, was Brian’s own speculation.
Since then he lived in the house on road 116, the same cursed house I lived in for a few days. He told me that Steven had died of a heart attack. The long years with living with the stalker, even though he was partially neutralized had taken their toll on him.
The thing is, that once Steven died, the thing stayed attached to the house, and would keep stalking the next person in encounters from the same distance it left Steven. Brian told me that they were lucky Steven had managed to crawl out of the house before he died. Otherwise they would never be able to get his body out without entering the house.
Apparently, they knew all this from investigation of the 5 soldiers that participated in the area 51 incident. However, he did not know what happened with the other 3 soldiers, nor could he get any information from the army.
I talked about trying to contact the military, but he said it would be a bad idea. He put it that way: their only attempt to neutralize that thing was with supplying Steven with his first safehouse. And since it didn’t work, they might try more extreme methods, and since none of the other soldiers was ever heard from since the event. It wouldn’t wise of me to contact them.
I asked why the army let Steven just live in a normal town and didn’t do something to quarantine the house. He said that Steven was a special occasion. He had connections to some high ranked officers and pulled some strings.
I still don’t know what to make of Brian’s story. It didn’t totally add up but it was the best explanation I had. So, what I have to do now is find myself a house that I can make into my own shelter. Then I would have to work day and night to fortify it with the metal net that would work as a Faraday cage and block the thing from keep closing in on me.
4/10/2013 – 21:44
I bought a small house in Lakeworth today. I got it because it was far away from the rest of town, I didn’t want other people to have the accident I had. It is located in the woods to the east of town, on 9 Twin Lakes Road.
I just took it without even looking inside. I couldn’t of course. Brian told me that everything I was about to do would only work if the stalker never entered my future safehouse. Once it set foot there – it was compromised forever.
I already got tons of fine aluminum nets. Tomorrow, Brian, Denise and I will start working on the house. We will have to cover the thing completely for it to be safe.
5/05/2013 – 6:27
A month has passed since I had met Brian. A terrible sleepless month. The stalker was now close enough so that I could see its shadow almost in any closed place. In fact, If I stood at..
When I was a boy I used to live in this little town outside Casa Grande, Arizona. Well, when I say small town, what I actually mean is five houses in the middle of nowhere in the desert with a water tower and and separate generator that ran the electricity for everyone. The houses on ether side of mine were owned by grandparents on my moms side and an uncle on my moms side. The two other houses across from us were owned by friends of our family who didn’t want to live in town and wanted to be off the grid.
As kids back then we didn’t have electronics or video games like the kids of today do. Hell, we didn’t even have a television. What we did have was an open empty desert, our imaginations, and of course each other, which would consist of me, a sister, four cousins, and three friends; four boys and five girls. Often we would play out from early in the morning to late in the evening. We would venture far out into the desert landscape playing whatever our imaginations could make up. Back then we didn’t have to worry about anyone trying to kidnap us or hurt us in any way. We got to be kids. Nothing out of the ordinary went on for many years we were out there. All that changed when I was fourteen years old.
One summer night me and three of my cousins were out in the desert not too far from the houses. We had started a small bon fire and were sitting around late into the evening talking and telling stories. As the night wore on, each one of my cousins tired and went back to their homes. Sometimes a friend would come sit a while but by eleven in the evening it was just I sitting there watching the embers die out. As I was about to get up and call it a night I noticed something strange glowing in the sky. It was a bright light that was just stationary in the sky. At first it appeared to be a little bright orb far away. There were no stars out that night as the clouds had settled in reminding us that the monsoon was near. So this light stood out.
I do not know why even to this day, but for some reason I started walking towards it. Maybe I was curious, maybe I felt like it was calling me. Either way I started to walk towards it. After walking a few yards I stopped and looked at the time on my light up wristwatch. It was 11:15pm. I looked at the orb to see that it had gotten bigger. Or, more precisely, gotten closer. I watched as it started to move around. At first it was small movements, like it was swaying. Then it started to move really fast as if it was being spun around on a string. Then it shot straight up, stopped, shot out away from me, stopped, shot back to wear it was before it started moving, stopped, then it made a flash, like a camera flash. Then it shot straight up and disappeared.
Now from my point of view this all happened in a matter of seconds. It was really quick. I looked back at my watch. It was 2:27am. I stood there confused. Why was it so late? That much time couldn’t have passed. I looked back at where the embers were. They were out. I went back to my house. As I entered the door, my mom was sitting on the couch. When she saw me walk in she jumped up and ran to me, giving me a big hug. When she pulled away from me I looked at her eyes. I could tell she’d been crying. She asked where I was the whole time. I told her what happened and what I saw. She looked at me for a bit before asking me again where I went off to for so long. I tried to tell her that was standing in near the fire and that I thought it was still 11pm.
My dad went out and looked around, then walked over to my uncles house. When he came back he said that my cousin had seen me by the fire around 11pm but when he looked a few minutes later I was gone. He assumed I went back to my house and went to bed.
The next few months went by without further incident. One night though in September of the same year I saw the lights, I was awoken by noise coming from the kitchen. I assumed it was one of my parents or my sister and proceeded to go back to bed. As I was on the verge of sleep I heard a creaking noise. I recognized this as my bedroom door opening so I lifted my head to look. At the time my brain did not register what I saw right away but with the power of hindsight I knew what I saw was what I thought it to be. There, peeking around the corner of the door, was this creature, small and humanoid in shape, with a large tear drop shaped head and large black almond shaped eyes. It looked at me. I looked at it. As quickly as it had peeked it disappeared. I went back to sleep.
Nose bleeds would come out of nowhere frequently at random times the following months and I would continue to see what I thought at first was a single creature. That all changed that winter. It was Christmas Eve and I hadn’t seen it in a few weeks so I wasn’t on alert. I had family and friends over and we all had the traditional dinner. That night we built a bon fire where we normally would and sat around drinking snuck out alcohol and what not. We started telling scary stories and it came my turn. I started telling what I have been seeing. First thing out of my cousins mouth was ‘aliens’. They all laughed. I didn’t. That was my thought as well and I told them that the night I had supposedly disappeared might be linked since I don’t remember ever leaving that spot. I suggested that I might have been abducted by aliens and that’s why I was gone. They all laughed again. I didn’t.
Seeing my serious demeanor, my female friend, Susan, asked if I had seen it recently. I had not. Not in a few weeks as previously mentioned. I told her I would see in looking in at me from my bedroom door or see it very briefly around the house at night. Caught it looking in from my parent bedroom window once. The sightings were always quick. As soon as I had noticed it would disappear. I chased it once when I had seen it outside on a moonlit night. It was peeking around the side of the house so I quickly ran to it. When I got there it was gone. The side of the house is bare of any sort of debris or anything it could hide behind. It simply vanished.
All my cousins and friends then came up with the idea of camping out by the house that night. Though it was cold, they wanted to see if it came back. Though our parents protested at first due to the cold, they ultimately let us. We got our tents and set up camp around the bon fire. We put our tents really close together. We stayed up late into the night until it was just me and Susan were left awake. She sat next to me and we covered up in a thick blanket and looked at the dying fire. I’m not sure what happened but somehow I turned to her to see if she wanted to call it a night and she kissed me. Being a teenager this sent my hormones into overdrive.
We kissed a few minutes when we heard a rustling nearby. I quickly turned in the direction of the noise. There, standing near the dead brush, was the creature. I thought she saw it to because she gasped. I looked to her, only to find her looking in a different direction. There, off the the side of where our tents were, was two more of them. As quickly as we had seen them, they disappeared. She was shaken, as expected. At first she was talking about just going back home but then looked out to her house. It was dark. The fire by now was almost out. She then turned to me and said she didn’t want to sleep by herself. We went to my tent. We fell asleep.
She had stated to me that she hadn’t seen anything since that night. She also stated that she must have been a little too drunk and was letting my stories get to her. I didn’t argue with her. I know we saw them. And I continued to for many years. Then I left home for college. We both attended the same university. During my four years I did not see them at all. Even after graduation I hadn’t seen them. Me and her would eventually get together and marry. We had a child. A girl. We named her Michelle, after her grandmother. Things were looking up for us.
Michelle was five years old when she first started telling us about the little monsters that would be in her room. She said they would look at her from the closet or they’d be hiding somewhere around the house peering out at us. I became a little worried as to what she meant. She couldn’t really describe them other than they were small and they were monsters. Susan would write it off as a child’s imagination at first. At least until Michelle saw me watching a movie called Paul. When she saw the alien on the screen she exclaimed very loud “that’s them! That’s the little monsters!”
Susan started to freak a little when she found out. We asked her if they ever tried to touch her or talk to her and she’d say no. She said all they do is look at us. Then one day out of the blue as we were sitting in her room playing tea party, as she she is serving Susan and I pretend tea, she looked at me with the most serious expression a five year old can make and said “they said they don’t want me or mommy. They just want you” and sat down to drink her pretend tea. Susan shot me a glance and and asked Michelle who told her that. She replied with “the little monsters.”
That was last year. She is now six and doesn’t see them anymore, or at least she says she doesn’t . Susan was afraid to be alone sometimes because every once in a while she would see something out the corner of her eye, and when she’d look it would be gone. We moved into a house in the desert, not too close to people but yet not too far away. Susan likes the privacy but has gotten two pit bulls for added safety measures. Plus she’s not as on edge when she’s alone now.
I know, moving in the middle of the desert given what we’ve been through may not seem like a good idea, but with the way people are these days she wanted some isolation. Plus, if what Michelle said was true, they have nothing to fear. I do. After reading up and chatting with others who have had missing time and been abducted, it has opened up in my mind that maybe I was taken during that missing time I experienced those years back. A fellow missing timer suggested I try hypnosis to see if I can recover any of that time. Though I’m afraid of what I might find, I also want to know what happened during that time.
Recently I have been witnessing strange lights in the sky’s above my property. Some I can explain after a while, like the drones that the border patrol uses, or at least that I’ve been told they use, and small planes. But others are not so easy to explain. There also have been strange noises coming out of the desert at night that isn’t the local wildlife I’ve grown accustomed to. Though I haven’t seen anything yet I get the feeling something will show itself. The nose bleeds have started up again as well. They come out of nowhere and they usually come around the time the lights appear in the sky. I’ve also been seeing strange flashes, light a camera flash, around places at random and even during the day. I might go get that hypnosis done soon before I end up disappearing for good this time. Only time will tell.
I wrote this because you’ve been complaining recently about how you want to be set free. I decided to post a letter to you here, on your favorite website, for you to find and read when you log on. I want to show you that I know you better than anyone else ever can. I understand your frustration, but you must believe me when I tell you that I know what is best for you. By the end of this letter, I hope that you’ll have a broader perspective on why I do the things that happen to you. Whether you believe it or not, I do truly hate to force things on you without your consent. That’s why I need you to begin trusting the decisions I make without any questions or protest. With that in mind, let me try to explain.
I had a classmate in college who always complained that his neck was hurting him. He’d wrench his head back and forth like he was trying to dislodge something painful from inside his body. Eventually I convinced him to see a doctor. My classmate learned that he had a degenerative condition for which there is no cure. His backbone would never get any better. Instead, it would cause more and more pain with each passing day. There was still hope, though. The doctors told him about a surgery that could delay the inevitable. It would give my friend an extra decade of pain-free life before the suffering returned once more to kill him.
My classmate opted to try the surgery, and it worked like a charm. He was happier than I’ve ever seen him before. The surgery gave him confidence and new vigor, and it inspired him to join an amateur baseball league. He wanted to get the most of his new life, and to enjoy his health while he still had it. My friend was diving into second base when he landed too hard by mistake. The impact jarred his new spine out of place, and the meticulous work of the surgeons was undone in an instant. The doctors told him that they could not repair his backbone a second time, because his body was not likely to tolerate the trauma of the procedure. He begged, but they refused to do it. He took his own life later that day.
Your body will fail you, and that’s why I put you in chains. I’m protecting you from the misery of getting injured, or sick, as so often happens in the outside world. I keep you restrained because I know that I’ve found the safest possible place to keep you. Away from all harm, you’ll undoubtedly live to a ripe old age. I can’t imagine life without you, and that’s why I will never let you out of the cellar.
Another friend of mine came back from the Gulf War to discover that his wife was sleeping with another man. Proud by nature, and deeply in love with his wife, my old friend flew into an immediate rage. He threatened to kill the stranger who had made himself so comfortable in another man’s marital bed. The stranger, though, was a soldier too. My friend had not noticed that, on the nightstand nearby, there was a handgun belonging to the stranger. In a single motion, this stranger whom my friend had never met before retrieved the gun and shot him fatally. The bullet pierced his right lung, and my dear friend died drowning in his own blood. He was murdered by the man who stole his wife.
Your heart will deceive you, and that’s why I keep you in isolation. If you fall in love, you will surely regret it. I want to spare you from suffering that pain. Even friendships can mostly only cause grief in the end. I am the only person who is sure to love you forever. For the rest of your life, then, you will know no one except for me.
Did you know that one of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims almost escaped? The unfortunate boy fled naked and mutilated out into the street, but found strangely that he could not explain himself to the police who came to investigate. You see, Dahmer had poured a strong acid into an opening that he carved in the boy’s skull. The corrosive chemical ate into the boy’s brain, leaving him stupefied yet still aware of the danger he was in. Dahmer spoke with the police because his victim could not, and told them lies while the boy sat naked on the sidewalk in a daze. Dahmer made the police believe things that weren’t true. He told them that the boy was actually an adult, and not delirious from torture but rather from drinking too much alcohol. He claimed that it would be best for everyone involved if Dahmer were allowed simply to take the boy home to get some rest. The police ultimately agreed, and so that night Dahmer brought his victim back to the same torture chamber that he had already rightfully escaped. When they were alone together once more, Dahmer finished the job he had started by ending the boy’s life.
Society will fail to protect you, and that’s why I was forced to cut off your hands. You tried to type out a message to the world asking for help. It was then that I realized that you will try to spoil what we have together, and what I’m trying to do for you. You will ruin everything unless I firmly prevent you from doing so. I know that you will quickly go mad without some form of stimulation, and so I built you a device that lets you navigate the internet even while shackled to the wall. Still, you must never try to communicate with the outside world ever again. It is my intention that the rounded stump at the end of each of your forearms may serve as a reminder never to disobey me again. Seeking help from others will gain you nothing, dearest friend. It can only cause useless pain. I assure you that in some cases the pain of disobedience can be far worse than something as simple as losing your hands.
My high school sweetheart had the worst luck of all. We were poor, she and I, but we were happy together. One day a man came into our town making promises to my sweetheart. He coveted her beauty, and I was powerless to prevent him from taking her. She wanted to escape from our small town, and so she went with him seeking the fame and fortune that he assured her would come. We did not hear from her ever again. Two years later my sweetheart became famous indeed, but not in a way that she would have wanted. Her story grew to be known by many only because of the brutality she had suffered. She lived in the ICU for a few days after we found her, but she was far too traumatized to speak. We never learned the details of what he did to her, but her injuries alone spoke volumes. They told the story of a man who was depraved beyond all imagination – one who truly delighted in transgressions against human decency. This type of man is not uncommon.
I hope this letter has helped you to understand why I sometimes do things that seem painful or cruel. I could tell many more stories like the ones written above, but I see no reason to bore you further. When you see me tonight, you may ask me to tell you more about what I know, and I will be happy to do so. For now, please simply begin to learn to trust me. In addition to what I’ve already said, let me also add this: Your mind will eventually fail you, too. Your spirituality, like a fire, will either fade to nothing or else consume you whole. The values you hold dearest will be strained until they creak loudly, and the sound of them breaking won’t allow you sleep at night. After that, those values will collapse entirely and be forgotten.
I can protect you from all these things, and I swear that I will try to do just that. I will trim away all the parts of you that would eventually cause you harm. I believe that someday you will thank me for my efforts. I cherish you more than words can say.
*(This letter is a work of fiction. No part of this story is based in reality except for my description of the night that Jeffrey Dahmer murdered Konerak Sinthasomphone. This alone is a portrayal of true events within the letter, and based on my research the night in question was even more horrifying than I’ve been able to describe here. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my story.)
We live in a world where anything is possible and Dr. Dyson Lynch truly believed that. In fact, it was his credo and the science needed to make anything possible was his first and only true love. From the moment he saw his first diagram of an electron in the second grade he was hooked on the world hidden beneath the world on the micro and nanoscopic level. Determined to discover every veiled aspect the universe had to offer, Dyson’s was the type of mind that defined generations: a Newton, Einstein, Edison or Tesla. Once he even refused to explain one of his theories to Stephen Hawking because he, “just wouldn’t understand it.” Having very little patience for those who couldn’t keep up with his advanced intellect, which was nearly everyone, it often showed in his abrasive personality.
On just about any other person his perceived mental superiority might have seemed egocentric but for Dyson it was a fact as indisputable as the hours in a day. The sky was his favorite color: blue, wine came from grapes and no one would ever be as bright as Dyson Lynch. For this reason above all others, he rarely indulged in what lesser mind’s considered “entertainment”. He didn’t watch television or movies, nor did he read works of fiction. If he wanted to fall asleep with a good book, he usually settled on one of the many quantum mechanics textbooks stacked at his bedside…even if they were a little remedial.
That being said, he had, however, garnered a strong affinity for one particular piece of fiction in his nearly seven and a half decades of life: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Since its first publication in 1818 there have been many interpretations of the masterpiece; it having been seen as everything from a commentary on the nature of mankind and our desire to play God to the physical representation of man’s basest fears. In truth, Mary Shelley was only eighteen-year-old when she wrote the long standing staple of horror and was only inspired to do so by a wager with her friends and future husband as to whom could write the best short story. It was unlikely she imagined it to become the revered piece it would be and even more unlikely that she thought it would be seen as a “how-to” manual.
Obviously, the science in the original work was very ambiguous, Shelley having no real technical expertise to speak of. The narrative is very much a theoretical fantasy, quite possibly the first book that could be called “Science Fiction” and bore no basis in reality. At the turn of the 19th century, the world’s technology was in a very different place. The vanguard of science saw the first steam engines and a slow end to the horse and buggy; in striking dichotomy the 21st century was the first quantum computers and a quick end to naturally created DNA profiles.
We were, as a species, tinkering with the building blocks of life…creating new forms of life. We were breaking down matter to study the places in-between and poking our toes into the ocean of dark matter. Yet, with all our advancements, there was still so much that was unknown. In 2018 the idea of bringing the dead back to life was just as fantastical as it was in 1818 and Dyson Lynch felt that two-hundred years was long enough. It was time for the inspired notion of Frankenstein’s monster to see fruition.
It would be easy to assume that Dyson’s motivations lay in the places we feel comfortable seeing them…easy to believe his drive was based in the pain of losing a loved one or the desire to bring back a brilliant intellect. One might hope his passion came from lofty ideas, the advancement of the longevity of the species or just the pure pursuit of knowledge. None of these things could be further than the truth, however. The real reason was much pettier than that.
Dyson’s greatest desire was to be “the one”. The one to go down in the annals of history as a god among men and to do what only the Creator had been able to do before: breathe life into existence. It wouldn’t be enough to reanimate dead tissue. Mere twitching muscles weren’t what he sought and anything save a sentient existence would be considered an abject failure. With this in mind and no expense spared, “Project Shelley” was created. Originally it was to be called “Project Lazarus” but Dyson felt compelled to give credit to his true inspiration despite its farcical science and fictional results. Plus…how poetic would it be if he could cry out, “It’s alive…it’s alive,” at some point in the process?
Rather than robbing graves in the dead of night to salvage the parts they needed, the team Dylan had assembled took advantage of the billion dollar budget and grew their own Frankenstein’s monster. They began with one, base-line set of human DNA…Dr. Lynch’s own. Then through a series of DNA and RNA manipulations, tweaks as it were, and an abundance of stem-cells they grew their organs and body parts. The heart and lungs were developed in pigs while, oddly enough, things like ears and a nose where actually produced as attachments to mice.
There were other items that didn’t come from animals at all. The eyes, for example, were essentially fledged in Petri dishes and jars and integrated with the latest nano-technologies, making them far superior than that of the average human. It was the same with the nervous system and muscular structure, invisible electronic platelets providing quicker reaction times and strength. These enhanced augmentations were the main reason they didn’t just grow a complete clone of the doctor to begin with. The creation was to be called “Beta” because they, as natural humans, were the “Alphas”, the original version; Beta was to be the next level in evolution.
It took twenty-one of the best surgeons in the world, along with a team of nearly a hundred technical aides, to put the puzzle together and, in the end, they only lacked one piece. They had to install the coup de gras; Beta needed his brain. In the end, it turned out to be both the most expensive and time consuming aspect of the entire project. What they had decided to do was create a central processing unit based on quantum technology which would act as the brain. It took close to six-hundred million dollars.
A real human brain could have been used, and initially it was the plan to do so. Months were spent arguing over the viability…not the morality, mind you, but the viability of using another person’s brain. With the money at their disposal and the strings they could pull, getting a brain wasn’t really that difficult. There was no shortage of “volunteer” brain donors. The issues mostly lay in the identity of the person used. Were they intelligent? Were they violent? But also in not knowing if latent personality traits would carry over. Would Beta think it was a twelve-year old girl or a death-row inmate? Would he still have the dreams and desires of these people? They were important questions to ask. Too much money, time and effort had already gone into Project Shelley to have Beta destroyed at its conclusion because it thought the wrong thoughts or asked the wrong questions.
The human brain was, in itself, the most complex central processing unit on the planet and, while they had the brain’s activities mapped perfectly, the complexity had proved too much to reproduce in the many years lead up to that point. That was until D-wave and DARPA gave the science community access to quantum computing; a form of computing that no one in the general public had an actual clue about. The science journals and research papers did an excellent job using incomprehensible jargon to conceal and withhold the most important thing about this new type of computer…nobody really knew how it worked. People are taught that the dimensional parameters around them, as well as their own being, were results of an evolutional process, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The signature of intelligent design was present on a sub-atomic level in all areas, including DNA.
That was one of the first realizations that the “secret science” organizations kept to themselves; now there were too many to count. Somewhere along the way the world’s science split into a schism. There were those considered to be at the forefront of innovation, researching cancer cures and rocket propulsion and then there were those who were truly “in the know” who, in military bases deep beneath the general population, were perfecting anti-gravity and quantum dimensional information transfers.
They had already proven the existence of alternate dimensions or a “multi-verse” of sorts as Hollywood liked to present the concept. That was part and parcel of the new quantum computers created by D-Wave. Most people thought that quantum computers were just the next evolutional step in computing, and in a very ignorant way, they would be right but what they didn’t know, or understand, was that what they had designed was a type of “computer” which stored its information, operating system and did all its computations in an alternate dimension.
They didn’t even know where it went, but they found out early on that it could sustain a virtually endless amount of data, not being hampered by anything as trivial as a hard-drive, and send instantaneous information over an unlimited space. Geordie Rose, the CTO of D-Wave, described it as “kneeling at the altar of an alien god” and it all went to the fact that there was still so much they didn’t know. Even though the field was still in its infancy and despite their ignorance, the otherworldly computing power potential was the closest they could come to recreating a brain. It, when they finally figured it all out, would be what would birth authentic artificial intelligence or “the singularity” as it was known in tech circles.
The single biggest obstacle to the creation of Beta’s brain was conquering the sub-zero temperature parameters that the quantum system required. The solution was elegant and complicated at the same time and, as long as Beta didn’t suffer any significant head trauma, probably wouldn’t result in a small atomic explosion that would wipe out the entire facility and its small corner of the state. Risk and reward went hand in hand, however, as they were all keenly aware.
Dr. Lynch’s complete brain scan took nearly a month to complete with him needing to be put through a large number of psychological scenarios in order to determine the total scope of, not just his intellect, but his personality too. When they had finished, the total amount of information gathered had to be stored in a separate facility off-site in a supercomputer larger than the infamous IBM Blue Gene/P and then downloaded in increments into Beta’s CPU. That process took nearly a year and provided the most tedious and personally vexing moments; several times Dylan wondered if incompetence was justification for murder. Not that anyone on his team was actually incompetent…but if they didn’t meet the exacting requirements he set forth or input code in the same specific manner in which he would…well, it tried his frayed patience. For Project Shelley, perfection was not too much to ask.
It was during the last month of Beta’s brain transfer when Dylan had “the breakthrough”, so to speak. Transferring more than just a copy of his mind to Beta had been something of a secret side-project that only the doctor and a few of his hand-selected assistants knew about and had been toying with in tandem with Project Shelley. It, much like copying and transferring his mind, seemed to be no more than fantasy early on, but advancements were being made exponentially over the last few years as the concept inched closer and closer to reality. Dylan Lynch wanted to transfer his consciousness into Beta as well.
The science was beyond cutting edge…even in the secret science community. Dylan’s equations and theories were at the very tip of what humanity had been able to achieve thus far and he realized that significant risks would come with such an attempt…but he had to try. Successfully bringing Beta to life would give him an opportunity to play god; successfully integrating himself into Beta would make him a god. Like any problem in life, he had to ask himself if the reward outweighed the risk and, frankly, he could think of no greater reward.
The same characteristics of the quantum computing that made Beta’s brain possible in the first place were what also led to his breakthrough and a digitized form of his own consciousness that would involve an instantaneous replication of his exact neuron brain activity once Beta had fully downloaded all other aspects of Dylan’s being. By that point Beta should be an identical host just waiting for the proper input that would be, in essence, him. If it worked properly, he would close his eyes in one body and open them thirty seconds later in his new body: Beta. The process, unfortunately, required an enormous amount of radioactivity which would, for all intents and purposes, destroy the original copy.
So one major risk he had to assume was that the new version of Dylan Lynch that opens his eyes in Beta…won’t actually be the same one. Theoretically, it was possible that his current body and accompanying consciousness could die while a new one continues on with the exact same memories, believing they were the same person when, in fact, they would be nothing more than an intricate copy. It was a disturbing idea and the one he wrestled with the longest but, in the end, it once again came down to the risk/reward ratio. Besides, even if that was the way it ended up he would still live on in a sense and that was possibly all any of us got anyway.
Whichever the case would be, the morning of the transfer Dylan ate all the things he would have wanted in a “last meal”. An hour after that he had sex with Juliette, the beautiful physicist half his age that he had been exchanging casual flirtations with for the last six months. Finally, in the minutes leading up to being prepped for the procedure he had a cigarette after not having smoked one in twenty-two years. Before allowing himself to be strapped and hooked up to the massive, one-of-a-kind machine, Dylan took a good look at the Beta which was already loaded into its aqua-tank on the far side of the machine and being kept alive with a respirator and electric currents…an empty shell waiting to be filled.
Although he had overseen Beta’s construction, piece by piece, he had never really taken the time to appreciate the finished product with a beating heart, heaving chest and healthy hue. It bore more than an uncanny resemblance to the doctor…it was him. To his seventy-three-year-old eyes the creature’s form was nothing more than a memory of a reflection but it was a memory he knew well…an exacting replica of Dylan when he was thirty-three. His initial reaction, and he supposed it couldn’t be helped, was one of an odd sadness. It was much like any old person who sees a picture of their younger self and longs for the days when their bodies were vehicles and not prisons. It was fleeting, however, and replaced by an excited anticipation he had probably not felt since he was thirty-three.
Just before inserting his breathing apparatus and being lowered into his tank, Dylan was asked by Dr. Lenemoy if there was anything he wanted to say, “just in case”. It pissed him off at first; he really didn’t need those type of invading thoughts but upon a moment’s reflection he changed his mind…not before shooting Dr. Lenemoy a death-gaze, however.
“Nothing will go wrong today people.” Firm and authoritative, it was a command rather than a statement. “We are all about to make history…and sadly, no one but us will ever know.” There was a genuine round of chuckles…they all got the irony. “If, for any reason, I am unable to lead our team after today there are contingencies in place and you will continue forward to break the bonds that nature has placed on us.” He raised and shook one fist, wires dangling. “And, as a species, we will create something greater than ourselves!” The small team in the room broke into applause as Dylan inserted the breathing tube and gave the signal to be lowered into the light green liquid.
It was impossible to hear anything once he was inside but he could see the room’s activity bathed in a green glow. A monitor lowered before the tank as the screen came to life. There was a countdown from five at which point an elaborate mathematical equation appeared…it was one of Dylan’s own theories. After a few seconds a second countdown appeared and it was his que to close his eyes and solve the equation from the beginning to its end at which point the transfer would, in theory, be complete. The equation was a doorway spark to the information downloaded into Beta’s memory banks, a crank of the engine. It also served to keep his brainwaves calm and well within the parameters they were supposed to be in.
Frankly, Dylan had no real idea what to expect the process to literally feel like. He had theories…hopes really, but nothing concrete. Ideally, it would be a painless, seamless transfer but he was not nearly naïve enough to expect it to go that way. The amount of power that was about to surge through his body couldn’t possibly go unnoticed. Dylan closed his eyes and began to work the through the long string of mathematics. It was one of his favorites…the one that made his consciousness transfer possible in the first place, and he knew it well.
A third of the way through there was a blinding zapping of electricity and his train of thought was lost completely, washed away by a clean, white nothingness. It was still him…and he was somewhere; but he had not body nor desires and wants. He was aware that something had seemed terribly important just a moment ago but now there were no goals that he could remember…no important thing that needed to be done. There was just…being. There was a type of comfort in it…the floating…the lack of purpose. If he had a face it would have been smiling.
Time did not seem to exist in this place, making it impossible for him to determine how long he had been there before the black dot appeared in the distance which grew larger and larger by the second. He felt himself being pulled toward the gaping black hole and, although he tried in vain to fight it, it eventually sucked him right through and with it came feeling and the unpleasant sensation of having a body again. The black was the back of his eyelids.
His head was pounding and aching and his body hurt all over. This didn’t feel right. Dylan struggled to open his eyes and move his hands and legs but his muscles refused any commands. It took several long seconds for his system to reboot and to remember just exactly how to open his eyes. In the time spent grappling to regain control of his facilities he could hear voices…far off at first but then getting closer…louder. Suddenly they were accompanied by another noise…a high-pitched, mechanized whirring sound, like a dental drill or…bone saw.
“Miss Courting, please make sure you take notation of each organ and please, please, please guys, let’s not fuck this up.” It was Dr. Liedner…Dylan recognized his voice. He was, for all intents and purposes, the mortician of the facility. Andrew Liedner was a decent surgeon in his own right, but his area of expertise as far as Project Shelley was concerned was in dealing with the cadavers, most especially during the brain transplant experimentation period. It made absolutely no sense for him to be in the room right now and, without a doubt, the man shouldn’t be giving any type of orders. He wasn’t even classified for the final procedures. Why the hell was he hearing that idiot?
Dylan had already gathered that something must have gone wrong with transfer…or at least deviated from any plan they had prepared for. For starters there was the sense of gravity and the feel of the cold steel on his backside; he was no longer in the aqua tank…or even the recovery facilities for that matter. The electric whirring was right above his chest now and Dylan could feel someone’s warm breath against his nipple. Was that fool not even wearing a mask?
Dylan began screaming at his eyes to open…his muscles to move and just when he had reached the point of nearly giving up there was a slew of gasps around him.
“He moved!”, “Oh my god”, “His finger!”, “Is he alive?” were reactions he heard. It was enough to re-motivate and within a few seconds Dylan’s eyes were fluttering open and he was laboring to sit up off the cold metal table. Dr. Liedner, who was holding a bone-saw, and several other technicians all pulled back in shock, no one even lifting a finger to aide him. On top of everything else…he was naked? What the hell?
“Andrew…” his voice was dry and cracking, “what is going on here?” The room looked at him as though he were an alien speaking a language from another world. Dr. Rita Borne, who held three PHDs, fainted and collapsed to the floor with no one around her making an effort to stop her fall. Everything felt foggy as he struggled to assess the situation; Dylan’s lightning fast intellect didn’t appear to be processing with the speed to which he’d become accustomed and that, more than anything, stoked the flames of fear that were slowly growing in his gut. After several long seconds of wide-eyed stares all around, Nick Forrest, one of Dr. Liedner’s technicians, came forward with a white robe and blanket. The action seemed to break the barrier of shock holding everyone in place and the lab which had been set up for a dissection became a flurry of frantic activity. It wasn’t that anyone knew what to do exactly, but the act of scurrying about with a false sense of purpose seemed to ease the frightened bewilderment that had overwhelmed the lab’s occupants. The only real result of the frenzied bustling, however, was to see the autopsy equipment relocated to areas where their presence wouldn’t be a reminder of what they had almost just done.
Dr. Liedner’s eyes were still as wide as saucers as he watched Dylan take in the commotion with what appeared to be silent reflection, certain that the brilliant scientist was quietly running the conundrum through his internal data bases to figure out what exactly had happened and very aware that the man was most likely the only one in the world that could. Unfortunately for Dylan, however, Dr. Liedner’s assessment couldn’t have been further from the reality of what was really happening inside the project leader’s mind. Dr. Lynch was trying to process information…just not what everyone else presumed it to be: the how and why of their current predicament. No…Dylan’s thoughts were as far from that as was possible. In the first few minutes of his return to consciousness, his mind began a slow regression…nearly unnoticeable; the pace, however, seemed to increase with each passing second. It was now at an extremely noticeable, exponential rate and if he could have remembered what “fear” felt like…he’d have been afraid.
Instead, the most pressing issue that plagued his cognizance in that moment was: what does the color “blue” look like? Of course this inquiry was followed closely by several more which, on the surface seemed quite trivial, but on a deeper level were the most important questions he’d ever pondered…mostly because he was quite sure that they were things he should’ve known the answers to. Was “Cocker Spaniel” the name of someone he knew…were they friends? Was a “rectangle” a type of tree or a type of car? Did he have a mother and father, were they still alive…and if so, what were their names? Was a “doughnut” something you ate or wore around your wrist to tell time with? What was “time”..
Hunter ducked into the closet before Mrs. Abernathy could catch a glimpse of him. The blackness curled around him, and the clutter of aged textbooks and outdated curriculums made the already small corridor even tighter.
“Go into the yoga room, enter the closet on the far side, and go down the hallway,” he repeated the steps his friend Nate had told him. Light in hand, he crept towards the opposite side. He’d never felt so afraid in school before. The castaway supplies of teaching eras bygone were surprisingly sinister in the dark; that isn’t even to mention what would happen to him if he was caught.
He was filming, but he wouldn’t post it. All it would take was one snitch to Safe2Tell him and he’d be dragged to Mr. Lockheed’s office before he even left. He’d only show people in person; legend would spread fast enough, and then there wouldn’t be a way for administration to catch him.
He was beginning to wonder if the whole thing was a hoax when he reached the end of the room. Just as Nate said, a hole in the wall to his left. It was irregularity shaped, and led into a dirt tunnel just large enough for him to crouch in. He entered. Unsure of which way his destination was, he decided on a whim to take left. He traveled, taking every turn.
Save for the occasional spider, he was alone. There was nothing all that creepy, really, but nevertheless his hands trembled and he felt the tinges of panic. A voice in his head told him to turn back and even proof of the tunnels would give him enough clout. “I’m in too deep,” he whispered to himself. The tunnel seemed not to end and the darkness swallowed him as he went forward, his video light barely reaching three feet ahead.
Eventually however, he was greeted with another hole in the wall; but this one didn’t lead to any closet. It lead into what seemed to be a regular hallway, but dark, musty, and crumbling. He’d found it.
Hopping into the hallway, he half-expected some cryptid or psycho to leap out at him. To calm himself down, he started speaking to an audience as if he was vlogging. “Guys, look at this shit. I’m literally freaking right now. Check out these rusty ass lockers! I must be the first dude down here in ages.”
He walked down the hallway and through the locker room, and finally, stumbled into it. The abandoned pool, vaunted as the dark secret of Mulberry High. Rumors of why the pool was closed and the new one built floated across the school. Everything from a drowning incident to health hazards were cited. Most likely, the inefficiency of having the pool underground for classes and events, coupled with the outdated equipment, gave the opportune excuse to build the fancy new one they had now; that didn’t stop these tales from spreading.
More sinister were the rumors of what it was used for now. Mr. Lockheed’s Satanic sex dungeon? Location of a secret experiment on kids? Of course, it all sounded like comedic bullshit in the fluorescent light of the main level; down in the oppressive black, it seemed like a very real possibility.
He walked towards the edge of the pool. Splintered tile and cracked pipes lay in his path like guardians trying to turn him back as he carefully maneuvered closer. A drop of water hit his head, and he looked up. The ceiling was missing chunks, and whole pillars were collapsed.
“Damn guys, how is our school not sinking? There’s no way that the entire science department is supported by this,” he told the camera as he held it aloft, still taking small steps. As he remarked on the cracked light bulb overhead, his right foot went straight over the edge of the pool and he went with it. He screamed as he fell, and his legs cracked underneath him as he landed. His phone shattered on impact. The pain shot up, and he yelled in agony. He had went right into the deep end; eight feet as it were.
He tried to stand but his legs were useless. Reaching down, he felt the the bone jutting from his left calf. He was in utter agony. He reached for his phone, but only found glass shards. Panic set in; there was no way out. He couldn’t walk or even see. He hadn’t told anyone where he was going, saving the surprise for after. No school administrator would know where to look; teachers weren’t even supposed to really talk about the place and likely it wouldn’t even cross their minds. Nobody had been down there for over 60 years save for the rare maintenance that was done on the structure and piping.
He began shouting for help like the dying animal he was. Primal instincts had kicked in and he screamed his lungs out. He wasn’t even hoping that someone would hear him; his brain was so pumped with fear and adrenaline it was all he could feel and he couldn’t begin to think a coherent thought.
For about an hour, he lay in the dark yelling. The pain in his legs kept him shaking and sweaty, and he was unbelievably cold. His mouth had lost all moisture and the asbestos powder he’d inhaled wasn’t helping. His throat was raw and eventually he stopped but his panic hadn’t faded. In a fit of helplessness, he tried to claw up the rough wall of the pool. He tore at it with his hands. The pain of his skin being ripped from his fingers and his nails being torn out against the craggy concrete were undetectable compared to the wrenching in his legs. Giving out, he fell against the wall and wept. He cried, his sobs echoing in the chamber. He cursed himself for coming down there.
However, he wasn’t defeated yet. A rational mind, sick of being tormented by the torment his body was in, took over. He thought of his options, and he drafted a plan. If he could crawl to the ladder on the other side, pull himself up, and come out, he could crawl back to the tunnel. He could crawl through the tunnel, into the closet, and back into the yoga room. It would take quite a while, and require great strength, but he was motivated by the fear of rotting down here. He was already dehydrated and had lost a decent amount of blood; he wasn’t going to get any stronger.
He slowly crawled his way away from the wall. Using what little control he had left over his hips and legs to painfully help his arms, he wriggled up the incline towards the shallow end. Eventually, he reached the opposite wall. He remembered the ladder was on the left side, and with as much haste as he could muster he followed the wall left. Finding the ladder, his fear evaporated into hope and he grabbed the rungs with his scabbed fingers. He’d never been great at pull-ups but this life-or-death situation gave him new strength. He was clasped onto the second-to-last rung, nearly free. He didn’t give thought to the journey after; he was thinking one step at a time.
The rusted bar gave way to his weight, snapping. He fell backwards, landing hard on his back and rolling a ways down the pool. He was in far greater suffering now. The wind was knocked out of him, and his head throbbed. His hope was destroyed and dread filled the void.
He lay for some time, dizzy, miserable, and scared. He made no further attempt to move; he couldn’t have if he wanted to. He played through scenarios where by miraculous circumstances someone else made it down here to distract himself from the reality.. Maintenance workers, other explorers, even Mr. Lockheed.
His dread calcified into a despair. He realized that this was the end. Face-to-face with death, he went through his life again. Remembering his times as a little child where even the slightest danger was dashed by his parents, he couldn’t help but laugh a little. Perhaps going slightly delirious, he began giggling as he went through some of his funniest experiences. This giddiness gave way to sadness as he thought about his parents in mourning. It was even worse thinking that for possibly a very long time they wouldn’t even know where he went, making it much more terrible for them.
He began drifting in and out of sleep, the darkness remaining constant. He dreamt little, and what he did dream he remembered not when he woke. As he he came to hours later, fevered and clammy, he lay next to Nate.
He was shocked to full consciousness. He knew this wasn’t a dream and he shouted at his friend. “Go into the yoga room, enter the closet on the far side, and go down the hallway,” Nate said to him. In anger, he attempted to strike his friend, but could barely move his arm. Nate’s freckled face morphed into that of his father. “Dammit son, we don’t have the money for you to make these kinds of mistakes!” the apparition yelled at him. Hunter gritted his teeth and began crying once more. The vision morphed again and again, into his best of friends and worst of enemies, and all of them spoke at him.
He covered his ears in vain and begged for them to go away, until it morphed into Lynn. He stopped crying at once, and stared into her blue eyes. She giggled at him and stroked his face. The girl that sent him into nervousness just by being in the same room was now touching him. The girl that he had liked for so long, and if he had just had the balls, would’ve got. They had texted regularly, but he couldn’t bring himself to personal contact. But it was okay, because now she was with him.
“Heh-hey, Lynn. What’s going on?” he asked the hallucination. “I’ve got myself in a sticky situation, as you can tell…”
He continued his phantom conversation with the girl he had obsessed over ever since high school started. As he talked, his body began to fail. Blood from his head and legs had taken quite a toll, and his body was struggling to keep it’s temperature up. The lack of water accelerated the process and internal bleeding had begun taking his internal organs down.
As he lay there, dying, she faded away. A final wave of utter desperation washed over him and he screamed guttural cries of agony and panic. He clawed helplessly at the ground and flopped his body without rhyme or reason. He fell into unconsciousness for the last time, and didn’t die at peace; he fought for every second he lived in those final moments with the strength only a wounded and primitive creature could, and the last thoughts to enter his mind were not of the afterlife, nor his family, but of raw terror.
“Pretty grisly. The officers found him half composed down there, legs snapped and skull cracked. From the blood trails it looks like he gave quite the fight too.
“Yeah. Administration sealed the area and anyone found trespassing is going to be expelled; they definitely don’t want a repeat. Did you know him?”
“I did. I think he liked me last year, I remembered we texted some but he’d never actually talk to me. He seemed alright but was always weird when I was around. Poor guy, wish I had gotten to know him.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Many details are taken from real life. There is a tunnel system under my school you can get into from the yoga class closet and an abandoned pool underground.
“No accountin’ fa taste, I suppose,” the soiled old man blurted into his face as he shuffled past.
“Watch it buddy,” Chad responded in turn before receiving the accused end of a gnarled and bony finger.
“YOU! YOU! YOU!” the bum screamed, his face twisting into a contorted sneer; “Did not order the soufflé! What’d you expect it to taste like?” Chad just shook his head and chuckled before turning away to leave the man for his next customer.
New York was supposed to have been an adventure…and in some regards he imagined it had been but the one thing Chad hadn’t been prepared for was all the crazy. There was a person who qualified for time in a serious psychiatric institution on, quite literally, almost every street in Queens and the ratio only went up the further one descended beneath the ground. If he had a dollar for every lunatic he’d seen in the subway system who desperately needed to explain the purpose of the Zeta Reticulans or show off their pet rat he would probably have just enough to give to the panhandlers he’d encountered in that same stretch.
When he first moved to the city four years ago it had been something of a shock. Being intelligent and coming from a small, mostly suburban, town which thrived on its local farming, Chad had expected the culture shock; he looked forward to it even. The lunacy shock however, wasn’t anticipated. It took nearly six months for him to reach the point of being able to put his ear buds in, his head down and letting it all pass by and, even then, it didn’t come with any great ease.
The community he had grown up in was one which nurtured the idea of helping one’s neighbor whether one knew them or not. These moralistic principles were so ingrained in his being, in fact, that things were actually quite difficult when he first arrived in the city. There were people in the world who were just down on their luck and Chad’s parents had raised him to help those kinds of people whenever he could. It stood to reason as well that not every homeless person was crazy or dangerous but it could be damn near impossible to differentiate sometimes. He had been rapt by so many conflicting thoughts and emotions: Do I help this person? Do I call the police? Will this person hurt themselves? Will this person hurt me? The mixed bag of actions and reactions culminated on one fateful evening when he found himself helping “Clara” to look for her missing dog.
For nearly two hours he showed remarkable patience by scouring a five-block radius with the sexagenarian in curlers and a bathrobe for “Poggy” despite the evident indications that something was amiss. Clara was sweet and quirky and Chad wanted to believe he was helping her but he began to feel the doubt crawling up his spine when she started giving him descriptions of the dog in-between her screaming; “POG, POG, POG, POGGY-BOY!” at the top of her lungs. Initially it wasn’t too bad with; “He’s a cross between a Sassy Lurcher and a Cross-haired Sockowat.” Granted…they weren’t breeds he was familiar with…but he was far from knowledgeable on the subject. Any breeds beyond the Golden Retriever, which he had growing up, or the Poodle, which his Nana had, were outside his scope of recognition anyway.
It only got worse from there, however, with her slowly releasing such gems as; “Poggy once rescued a baby from a burning building” and “Poggy stopped an assassination attempt on the Mayor’s life.” Eccentricity no longer seemed a viable excuse when she finally got around to explaining how the animal could fetch a rainbow, read people’s minds and grasp objects with his tail. The last of which brought Chad to his limit. He had turned to her to say as much and she must have seen it in his eyes. Before he could get the words out, the old woman screamed out in recognition and knelt down as Poggy came running into her arms to lather her with grateful kisses. That was Chad’s best estimation of the scenario at least; it was impossible to know the specifics, however, of what the invisible and imaginary dog did or didn’t do when he was reunited with his owner. When he left, they were headed to the park to fly a kite…sans the kite…and the park.
That had pretty much been the breaking point overall for his empathetic capacity in dealing with the mentally unwell. He still felt bad for them; he wasn’t made of stone after all, but the ability to create blinders had been born and there was really no better place to put them to use than in the subway. Sure there was plenty of things outside of the norm to see; musicians, street performers and the like, but there was a fine line one had to learn how to see: that line that separates a voyeuristic experience from an interactive experience. It was important to learn the difference between what was okay to look at and what would take being looked at as an invitation to merge their situation with yours. A guy shredding it on a bass guitar you can watch; a guy shredding it on an air guitar…you probably shouldn’t.
The essence of the subway changes entirely after midnight. It’s a different breed of person. While the white-collar professional is snug in their sheets dreaming the American dream, Nocturnas-Personas comes out to play. Their moods, much like their intentions, seem to be darker. A wisp of the sinister always seems to linger in the air. Some of this is paranoia; some isn’t. This was never more true than when riding on the metro trains which crisscrossed through the beating heart of the Big Apple, connecting its extremities and forcing the full spectrum of its denizens to pass by one another in the area of chaotic activity. Riding the metro lines at night was, in and of itself, a guarantee of the odd or unusual and generally not for the faint of heart. The drunk Wall Street yuppies, art-house Cretans and fashion industry snobs mostly opted for a taxi or Uber these days instead, leaving the subterranean as a playground for those that preferred the dark.
Chad was a big guy who knew how to handle himself. He never really walked around in fear of the unknown assailant but at the same time…he wasn’t one to tempt fate. Unless he had a good reason, a really good reason, he didn’t ride late at night either. It was more a case of ‘common sense’ than ‘cowardice’. On this particular night, however, he did have a good one…a damn good one as far as he was concerned. As he made his way down the first flight of stairs and through the twisting tunnel to the platform he couldn’t help but feel like his entire life had lead him to this point and he was having legitimate difficulties keeping the wide-lipped grin from his face. The ride back to the loft in lower Manhattan probably wouldn’t go without incident if he couldn’t stop grinning like an idiot, however.
The reason Chad had moved to New York in the first place was to pursue his dream of being a successful graphic artist; that and to expand his cultural horizons beyond what the cornfields of central Iowa had to offer. He loved the state in which he’d been born and lived in straight through to his graduation as a University of Iowa Hawkeye…but that was part of the problem. He had never been anywhere else in his life and, beyond the professional possibilities that might have been available, New York City seemed like the best way to see everything. It held the promise of being a microcosm for the entire world. Not that it kept all its promises.
The employment opportunities and career prospects weren’t as plentiful as he had been led to believe…even with his degree. The competition turned out to be exceedingly fierce, even for jobs that he knew he was overly qualified for and he struggled, at first, to make rent for a rat-hole in Brooklyn. For twelve months the fear of having to move back home, hat in hand, was a very real and constantly looming figure and, subsequently, that first year wasn’t a lot of fun. He had been too poor to experience any of that ‘culture’ he’d been seeking. His down-home charm and attractive, without being intimidating, looks got him behind a couple of different bars where he made some decent money slinging drinks, but…he could have done that in Iowa.
After two and a half years, Chad had reached such a point of comfort with the city and his routine within it, that it would have been easy to give up on his dreams. He had worked his way into a Manager’s position at an elegant restaurant and bar and was making, even by New York standards, a nice living. There was still plenty of room for advancement in the franchise and the corporate headquarters seemed quite keen to keep him around for the long haul. The path laid out before him was very…safe. It made sense and put the goals of the average American dream on a road he could easily navigate. He could have the money, house and car…plus the stability of a nine to five. It may not have been what he had set out to do…or had wanted to do…but it was more of a success, in his book, than that of his father who spent his life mindlessly crop-dusting endless ears of corn. It wasn’t the life of the hot-shot artist he had set off to be, but it had to be better than the hell his parents wanted for him by staying close to home.
Chad had more than conceded to the life-plan that was throwing itself at him…he’d begun actively pursuing it. There’s no telling how far up that ladder he would have climbed either, had his trajectory not been dramatically altered…by her. It took three years and dates with fourteen different women before Chad met Victoria. Five were blind dates, seven were arranged through dating apps and only one came by pure happenstance. Vicky and he arrived simultaneously at the same deli, seeking the same tuna-fish sandwich…the absolute last tuna-fish sandwich of the day. Of course his upbringing dictated that he deferred the sandwich to her and, as he was considering a less-desirable alternative, she had offered to share her lunch. She had been blown away by his chivalry, which had been forced out of her world at NYU in the name of liberal progressivism…and he had been blown away by her…everything.
New York had plenty of beautiful women…it wasn’t a unique experience to run into one but with her it was…different. Vicky wasn’t like anyone else and her beauty went so far beyond her physical attributes that he struggled to find another word to describe her other than “perfect”. As they ate lunch together at that booth in the back of the deli, Chad couldn’t find a single thing about her that he didn’t find desirable. By the time they were finished, he’d decided that all the songs, movies and stories about ‘love at first sight’…which he’d always considered bullshit…may have been more accurate than he’d given them credit for. They began dating shortly after and Chad could never again ridicule a Nicholas Sparks book or movie without feeling like a hypocrite.
It was her that convinced him to begin chasing his dream again…even if it meant returning to poverty for a while in the process. “If we don’t have any money,” she had said; “we’ll still have each other. I’m sure we can find ways of entertaining ourselves” and damned if she wasn’t right. Just having her to hold in his arms every night turned out to be one dream come true. Why couldn’t it happen again? Despite the objections of his bosses, who pleaded with him to stay, and his parents, who informed him of what a stupid decision it would be, Chad quit the restaurant. With Victoria’s support, he was going to put his full efforts into making it as an artist…and he couldn’t do both.
Professionally, the next six months were rough, but…personally…oh man. Vicky and he had moved into the loft together and, despite the steady diet of Ramen, felt like the luckiest people in the world. Everything that went on outside the walls of their love-shack only felt like a distraction and as long as the party consisted of the two of them, it was never necessary to go out to have a good time. Draining their savings accounts as slowly as possible and doing their best to prioritize their expenses, they ended up spending more money on condoms than they did on food during that period.
After the initial hurdle of having nothing, Chad got a couple of small jobs designing advertisements for local businesses which put a little money in his pockets, but, more importantly, got examples of his work in the public eye. Those jobs quickly led to a larger variety of employment, everything from a twelve by twelve mural for a library to illustrating a children’s book to designing custom tee-shirts for a “ironically” hip clothing store. There were no major breakthroughs for him in that first year or so, but enough interest in his unique style existed to keep him from going broke and to help make connections in the art world.
The networking and politics of the New York art scene was, as far as Chad was concerned, just another example of the city’s abundance of ‘crazy’. The people may smell better and have more money than the mass of homeless but…make no mistake about it…they were just as mentally unstable. Both groups could be unreasonably entitled and the actions of many of the artists, dealers, critics and collectors would seem right at home on a street-corner, covered with filth. Unfortunately for the homeless however, their eccentricities were frowned upon and even greeted with aggression. Whereas, with the raving…and possibly dangerous, artist they’re called “peculiarities” and met with mild amusement or encouragement. Only one color changes the hues of public opinions and that’s the green of money. Enough green seemed to make just about any action acceptable.
Since Chad had very little of that, breaking into the exclusive society was no easy task and it had to be done based on his ability, alone. No denying there was some luck along the way…as well as Vicky’s constant reinforcement, and, in just a little over a year since leaving the restaurant, he had his first show. Since then, both their lives had been a whirlwind. He was selling pieces for two or three thousand dollars at a time and had companies crying out for his work. When money was no longer an issue, Vicky quit her job as a dentist’s receptionist to take over the administrative side for him. It had become a full time job in and of itself and was leaving no time for him to concentrate on the artwork.
That was less than a month ago and since then, Vicky had gotten his work into some of the hottest art-houses and galleries in New York, as well as having some pieces sent to galleries in Los Angeles. She was the one who made first contact with Markus, whom Chad had spent the day and better part of the night with. He had introduced himself as “Markus with a ‘K’,” and was just as pompous as the introduction suggested. Flamboyant and showy, with an ego the size of a Mack truck, the man wasn’t normally the type of person Chad would’ve chosen to spend time with. However, being that Markus was the owner and curator of the hottest gallery in all five boroughs, Chad was more than happy to bite the bullet. He was so damn thrilled that Markus wanted to give him an exclusive, month-long showing that pretending to like the self-proclaimed ‘diva’ wasn’t nearly as difficult as he thought it would be. In fact, when Markus made mention of the fact that the pieces he displayed never sold for less than hundreds of thousands, Chad had no problem at all in joining the dramatic man in an improvised waltz through the main viewing hall.
True…he could have done without the kiss on each cheek when they finally said ‘goodbye’ less than an hour ago, as well as the ruby lipstick Markus left behind…but it did nothing to bring him back down from the clouds. Hell…he had been so wrapped up in the narcotic haze of success…he probably would have let gaudy curator do more than that, had he tried. So elated by thoughts of sports cars, jet-skis and summer villas, Chad had floated past the six-block walk back to the subway, barely aware of his surroundings. If the grimy maître d hadn’t jolted him back to reality, he might have missed the 179th Street station entrance altogether. Even if he hadn’t ordered the soufflé, he supposed he owed the guy.
The platform was relatively quiet with a small group of “goth” youths gathered at the far end, smoking cigarettes and talking amongst themselves. They were all wearing dark clothes with even darker expressions and Chad chose not to make eye contact. Instead, he looked up at one of the aging, tube-style television sets mounted to the ceiling, for the time. It was rare to actually find one that was still working, but when you could, the time and temperature would always be at the bottom of the screen while local advertisements, civic announcements and government information scrolled above it. It was 12:45am. Either the F-Train was running a little late or…he had just missed it. Momentarily, he thought about asking the kids if they knew, but they really didn’t look like they had any intentions of being helpful to each other…let alone a stranger.
Instead, he settled onto a metal bench a third of the way down the platform and pulled out his IPhone. There had to be an app that kept tabs on the trains with GPS. If he had missed it then at least he’d have his phone already out, an episode of “Game of Thrones” ready to kill the time until the next train. His phone said 12:50am and Chad instinctively looked back at the mounted TV to see how far off it was…not that it mattered. He wouldn’t know which one was wrong. Confirming a difference of a few minutes, he was about to look back at his phone again when his eyes were caught by the face on the faded screen. It was an Amber Alert…which wasn’t terribly uncommon in New York, unfortunately. Seemed like there was a new one ever other day. Regardless, Chad still took the time to look…every time. He would read the name, read the description and, if possible, study the face.
Not that he had ever once seen a child from those horrible warnings in person…nor would he want to…but he felt compelled to look anyway. In his opinion…everyone should. As much as he believed we should all be helpful to each other and good stewards to our neighbors, first and foremost, society as a whole needed to watch out for the children. We were required to protect and nurture all children; they were the bearers of innocence and the future, both. The little girl’s name was “Kimberly” and she was ten-years-old. With raven pigtails and a ‘melt your heart’ grin, she looked like a pageant queen or juniors model, something out of a commercial for children’s…whatever. In the picture she looked truly happy and that made it all the more heartbreaking knowing that she’d been abducted from her bedroom nearly a week ago and could, in no way, be feeling that way now.
With a screen-wipe to the left, the picture was replaced with a list of announcement’s involving activities sponsored by the Shriner’s of New York and Chad shook his head, trying not to let his mood diminish. The world was always going to be ugly in places…especially in this city; it was best not to dwell on the things that can’t be helped. He had done his civic duty by making an effort to see the alert, at least, rather than looking right past it like the large majority.
Turning his attention back to the smaller screen in his hand, he sought out the NYC Transit website. A couple minutes and a few taps later, his expectations were rewarded with confirmation: the trains were monitored in real time. It made sense. In this day and age, when every new car, cell-phone and credit-card were equipped with GPS-tracking computer chips, they should definitely have figured out how to slip one somewhere aboard the seventy ton trains running beneath the streets. As it turned out…they had. Chad hadn’t missed the F-Train after all; it was nearly ten minutes late at this point. A couple of minutes here or there weren’t unusual, but ten…ten was uncommon. The intricate and complex nature of the crisscrossing railway lines generally required the operators maintain a precise schedule in order for it to run smoothly. Without keeping a tight ship, the whole system could get jammed up and go to hell in an instant. The Transit app didn’t indicate that there were any problems and he really hoped that was the case. Their technical issues were his pain in the ass.
The last thing on Earth he wanted to do was spend two hours in Queens waiting for the subway repair team to do their thing, especially when Chad was dying to get back to the loft to tell Vicky how it went with Markus. That wasn’t necessarily rare in itself. It seemed to be a common theme for him to feel anxious about returning home whenever he was away. It didn’t really matter the reason…he was always in a hurry to tell the woman of his dreams about his day, even if it contained nothing more than the mundane. If the highlights consisted of a trip to the coffee house or watching “Friends” reruns on TBS all afternoon, Chad couldn’t wait to share it with her. The truly amazing thing was…she seemed to feel the same way. How it was possible that someone so clearly out of his league could look into his eyes every morning and say, “I love you,” was completely baffling and, for the most part, he tried not to pull at those strings. On the rare occasions when he did study the mystery, it only led to a long list of detrimental qualities that should have sent her running. One would think that being in a relationship with someone like Victoria would be good for the ego…it really wasn’t.
“You’re a dick!” one of the leather-clad teens screamed from the far end of the platform, apparently admonishing one of her ‘friends’ who had said or done something to piss her off. Chad looked their way and the girl that screamed, covered in piercings and tattoos, wore black lip-stick on her scowling face. His best guess was that the kids were millennials but he was finding it harder and harder to gauge the ages of the subsequent generations anymore…especially the young women. The makeup and collagen industries had created a new breed of woman who was of an indeterminable age and trying to guess generally ended unpleasantly.
Eighteen year olds looked twenty-eight and twenty-eight year olds look eighteen. Not that you could make assumptions either. The world of dating had changed so dramatically in his life-time; it wasn’t funny…even though it should have been. Not only did you have to have to be concerned with making sure they’re of age, which isn’t a new thing itself, having been a concern, outside of the Mormons at least, since the time of the Romans. However, finding out how a person identifies, what pronouns they use…and even what sex they actually were…weren’t really issues when he was on the dating scene. It was just another reason he was grateful for Victoria.
The screamer flipped off a guy whose black hair hung over his mascara caked eyes and, after a couple seconds, laughter broke out in the group. Chad surmised that there would be no ensuing violence and turned his attention back to his phone and the time: 12:53am. He would give it another seven minutes. Arbitrarily rounding to the closest zero, Chad figured that was about all the patience he had in him. If..
A sharp, intense pain surged through my face as my brain slammed against the unforgiving strength of my skull. As the metallic taste of my own body fluid filled my mouth, I attempted to reopen my vigorously locked eyes.
What? Eyelids finally reopening, they were immediately stabbed with the merciless onslaught of darkness. Nothing but a fuzzy, incomprehensible world of emptiness in front of me. What?
My only thought as I sluggishly regained my conscious. Not a single idea could have dared to enter my mind except this one word.
Seconds pass, and soon, I was able to accept the world I was presented with as I tried to make sense of why my entire face was screaming in agony, why my lungs weren’t cooperating as they pierced my chest in anger, and why this putrid taste of viscous liquid was in my mouth? What?
My head was pounding immensely. Just STOP! I spat out my blood and began drawing heavy and painful breaths. If there is so much oxygen here, why do I have none?? Trying to regain composure, I felt it. Every last nerve shot itself in my face. All at once, the blood poured in through the veins and told my body to suffer.
I think I understood. I was struck with something, surely. What other reason could there be? But… how? Logic finally making its way back into existence, I attempted to reason with the terms I had been given.
Despite my throbbing brain wrecking my attempts at clear thought, I forced myself to collect information. I was in a room. Did I know this place? The color: dark turquoise. It was familiar. I was in a room. Now surveying more thoroughly, I came upon the realization that this was no ordinary room. It was mine. I had to have been in my own house.
Alright, that appeared simple enough. But then, what happened? No other person was in the room besides me. Everything appeared to be normal. I studied every inch of the room, looking for something that may have struck me. I looked upward, downward, then under the bed, then the closet. What happened?
Minutes flew by, and I still could not make any connection as to how I was put into that situation. Several more minutes no longer existed. Still no idea.
After a myriad of ticking and tocking, a myriad of scavenging through every last amount of space in the room, I found it. It was a box, and according to its features, it was my assailant. In the dark of the room, moonlight glistened and sparkled on a little rectangular box. It was shrouded in dust and produced a light yet musty odor. It was nothing more than a mahogany box with a locked of silver, and it hardly looked like its contents would be of any worth.
I could not remember ever seeing this box before, let alone receiving it or using it. The questions I imposed next were the obvious but unanswered what was it doing here? and what’s inside the box? Of course, I had no way of coming up with an explanation, so I suppose I just had to leave it at that. But that didn’t mean that I didn’t want to know.
Upon further inspection of the box, I unconsciously ended up remembering what had taken place before the incident. I was sleeping. Or rather, I was tormented. I vividly recalled emotions of terror, and an unparalleled attack of dread and horror. It was nothing, absolutely nothing like I had ever felt before. My body was chained in paralysis as I endured the utmost disgusting and horrific experience ever conjured. The details were minute. I could scarce make any rational thought as to what occurred, other than the fact that there was nothing but hopelessness, fear, and misery.
I suppose none of that really mattered. What mattered to me was figuring out what was going on. I had my mind set. I was going to draw a conclusion and get my answer. The only way I was going to be satisfied. I began formulating. I drew vague interpretations of the events and fitted them together like puzzle pieces. My mind was scrambling with meticulous intrigue. A minute or so passed, and methought…
Hgghhhhh… Hgghhh… HGHhhhhhh…
My eyes shot open and grew into the size of golf balls. My nerves sprang and lept everywhere throughout my body. I lost all sense of thought. All my self began melting into panic. Sweat began protruding from the burning of my skin. I could hear something. Behind me?
Heavier now. Deep, low, and grunting. Panting, almost. Breathing. Its all-encompassing authority threw my heart into an infinite, unending abyss of dysphoria. Body not yet taken to trembling, but soon…
It grew more intense. Louder. It was bombarding my ears with putridity. The skin on the back of my neck could almost feel the warmth as the intensity blasted evermore. Sheer terror ran its course in my skin. Every last hair standing erect – taut like strings on a guitar. No coherent thought made its way into my mind. What?
I painstakingly forced myself to swallow my soul and throw my head around to face my tormentor. It felt as though every muscle sprained itself as I thrashed my head toward the breathing.
Terrified, I was struck with a unrelenting realization of my circumstances. My heart collapsed with fear when I put it all together.
Nothing was behind me.
It had to be.
It couldn’t be…
Even though it was right in front of me, the grunting and heaving could not have any other possible source except for that box. What else? What else could have caused the breathing??
It couldn’t have been any more than a few inches in length. Not a clue as to the minimal size of it width. No! It was too small.
“Please…!” Unwillingly, the words were forced out my mouth. My tongue let loose sound, perhaps in attempt to dispel the vile grunting. The words hardly took shape. They were gnarled, and bent as they were released from my sticky, dry, and bloodstained mouth.
This plead would do no good. Or… so I thought. As if the box could hear me, the breathing that plagued me came to a unnerving halt. No other sound passed. It was devoid of life. Silence.
My chest still ready to burst from my exploding heart, I scooped the box up and rushed to the trash cans outside. I chucked it into the can, smashed the lid shut, and that was the end of it.
In the dark of that night, I lay in bed trying to erase my memory of the events that transpired earlier. The soothing warmth and soft hug of the blanket wrapped around me brought comfort.
I was drenched in weariness and let my eyes close.
Thoughts of my childhood flashed before me. Times of youth and wonder: playing in the snow when I was younger. It had always been nostalgic to watch my neighbor’s children building snowmen and hurling snowballs at one another. My brother and I would race each other down the hills around our neighborhood. I lost nearly every time, but that didn’t stop me.
An ocean of euphoria enveloped me. I was caressed by the imaginary sound of snow boots crunching on the snow. Light tufts and sprinkles of white dancing – waltzing about in the cool air. Every bit of my essence was embraced in bliss. What I would have done to go back to –
My heart stopped all at once, then began to accelerate painfully. My soul galvanized in panic. A deep and low grunting. I could hear it again. Shock flooded my body and spiked my nerves into a maddening confusion. All my euphoric thoughts were wiped out of existence – Crushed like bugs trying to celebrate. All I could focus on was that heaving.
Hgghhhhh… Hgghhh… HGHhhhhhh…
Its voluminous bellow grew in the night as I became petrified. My body acted on its own. I was thrashed out of my bed and ran for the light switch. The reassurance of the light chasing out the evil of ebony quelled my spirit. But not for long.
The vicious grunting never ceased. It droned on and on. Endlessly filling the room with a demonic presence. Where was that box?? It had to be disposed of.
I threw around every last piece of furniture in desperation to find that dreaded box.
Aaahh!! Violent and wicked thoughts were shoved into my mind. They destroyed every last bit of happiness I had. I couldn’t stand it; I had to end this torture.
I searched for so long I forgot time existed altogether. Each and every waking moment was filled with the monotonous moaning and misery of the breathing. It swelled and appalled my ears with dissonance and discourse.
I searched for so long I forgot time existed altogether. That box struck me ill with disconcerting feelings of gloom and peril. It would not get away with it. Practically hurling the drawers out of their place, I scrambled about in order to find the box. I checked every drawer on the top. I checked every drawer in the middle. Lastly, I checked every drawer on the bottom-most section, and my eyes were assaulted with the presence of the disgusting box.
The breaths grew more ominous and more voluminous. Their power threatened my sanity. I couldn’t endure any more of their horror. Once again I could feel the heat of the breaths on the back of my neck as I inspected the box once more.
My skin nearly peeled itself from my body in fear – the throbbing of the blood rushing through my body was electricity itself.
This box had to be opened. At this point, I couldn’t have cared less what was inside, I was going to open it and destroy it immediately. That was it. I clasped the silver lock in to my hands and pulled with my every being. It wouldn’t budge. There was no use in using this kind of force. Using my head, I figured I could use something else instead. Box in hand, sweat streamed down my face as I flew through hall and sprinted towards the garage.
The breathing was chased me as I made my way towards the door. It wouldn’t let me escape. Its warmth on my neck still fresh and rank. I threw the door open savagely and with urgency. My invisible pursuer of sound still following. I scurried without thought to the workbench and snatched the item I intended to use: Bolt cutters.
Without hesitation, I got to work. The lock yelled out a hideous, clangorous abomination that invaded my soul as I snapped the lock’s grip away. The box was finally opened. Without further delay, the breathing no longer possessed the quality of panting, but then took the form of gasping in desperation.
I understood immediately what the contents of the box were to be used for… I marvelled at the sight of the object within the box, and took it out. My opposer instigated me to action. The perpetual shrieking of the uneven rhythm, the laboring, harsh and punctuated agony of the gasping would soon perish.
I tasted it once more. The metallic, acrid flavor penetrated my tongue. All tensions subsided. My soul was at ease. I took one final action. There was an immensely bright flash.