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Forgotten

Memories. They’re how we know what has happened. Everything you remember goes in to who you are, why you act the way you do. It’s a shame that people are not afflicted by the things they cannot remember. Especially you.

Memories are funny like that. Sometimes, when something so wonderfully frightening happens to you, your silly mind blocks it out to ‘protect you.’ While it might think it’s doing you a favor, it kills me to see it take those things away from you. Amazing things have happened to you. Horrible things have happened to you.

Even if you’ve forgotten, I will always remember. I was there with you every step of the way. I was standing in the shadows, watching you. Tormenting you. You have such exquisite fear, I can’t get enough of it. Over and over, I put you through the most exciting times of your life, watching each time as you collapse upon yourself in mindless terror. You’re exhilarating. If only I could watch you suffer forever.. But that silly mind of yours. Each time, you forget what fun we’ve had and go on like nothing ever happened. You even read stories about horrific things, and you take pleasure those horrors as I do.

Yet, you could never even fathom how grand it is to watch you endure them. None of those stories could amount up to the terrors you’ve faced. I want to have more fun with you, and spend more time with you. I want to watch you screech in dismay again and again. I want to experience your agony a million times. I only wish you would remember the dread I put in you. I wish that you would remember me, and cry out in the night. It delights me thoroughly every time you see one of my abominations. You’re so resourceful, always finding a way to live without losing any of your limbs. If only I could watch you die as you scream, so scared for your life. If only the last memory you had was of me, making you drown in your fear as you begged for mercy, tears streaming down your face. I’d tell you I love you, and I would thank you for all the great times you’ve let me share with you. I think I would be truly happy as I watched you sink into your final, dying despair.

If you were smart, you wouldn’t turn out those lights and pretend you’re not hearing strange noises. You wouldn’t distract yourself and remain alone, convinced that you’ll be okay. Do you remember what happened the last time you did?

.. No, I suppose you wouldn’t.


By: Sama

Her


Stop. No, don’t look. It just encourages them.

You know who I’m talking about. Them. More specifically, her. Keep those eyes focused here, don’t look. Don’t even glance. Use your peripherals, because I know you see her. Just at the very edge of your vision?

Glance to the left side of the monitor, but don’t glance beyond it. There, your peripherals should have picked up a bit more. You saw her in the corner, didn’t you? You saw her black hair billowing across her pale face, the loose nightgown she wears over her emaciated frame. She’s been there for a while, just waiting. That’s how they spend their time. The spirits of the damned. The ones unfit for heaven, yet avoiding hell. The ones who walk the Earth with their sins on their shoulders. They live in constant, insurmountable, indescribable pain. The story goes that when St. Peter takes pity on a soul who has committed a grave sin, like murder, rape, torture, cannibalism, or worse, he punishes that soul and sends them back to our plane, to exist among the living until they’ve successfully repented for their sins. But first, he rips out their eyes, so that they can covet nought. Then he tears their jawbone from their skull, so that they cannot speak evils.

No, don’t look. She has moved closer, but that is only her curiosity. She can’t actually see you, not as you could see her. She sees in outlines, in blurs and motions. Her empty sockets let her see a person’s soul, yet it is useless to her. She lives not on the person, but on the body. Her spirit hungers for communion of the flesh, but she is eternally denied. Only the Savior can be a proper conduit of communion, to satisfy her cravings. She has tried, though. She has tried often in the past.

She certainly has taken an interest in you, hasn’t she? You see, she feeds on the living. She, like many before her, found humans to alleviate her ailments. She starves for communion, but humans like yourself can work as a…placebo, of sorts. She’ll try to get you to turn, to see into the voids which take residence over where her eyes used to be. She’ll pull you in, hypnotizing you with the dark, hollow sockets. She’ll close in even more, excitedly exhaling on your supple skin. She’ll jab her rotted teeth into your slender neck and lap the blood with her flopping tongue. I’ll scrape in with my fangs and scoop out your flesh like ice cream. I’ll yelp with glee at the warmth of your innards as I slash into your fatty abdomen. I’ll pull the bones from their sinew and suck the marrow out like a candied filling. I’ll jab my bony fingers into your eyes and take them for my own. I’ll rip your jawbone from your skull and use it as my own. I’ll become whole again, with your help.

But it’ll only work–

–if you look.

Alec sat in the cold blue glow of the steel chamber, monitors projecting their indecision between camera views outside the small compound. Each switch depicting the bright white of the lunar sands under floodlight, and the unrelenting black of the empty space above. Life in the small research station was similarly dark, oppressively quiet, with nothing but the clicks of recording equipment, inconsistent hums from computer systems, and faint-

CLANG!

The sharp noise from down the hall pierced the envelope of sound that had wrapped Alec in the monitoring room, and the startle had his heart thumping up in his throat. The dizzying adrenaline surge started to calm as he figured one of the backup tapes had probably been vibrated off a shelf by the machinery nearby. Solitary life in a research station had eroded Alec’s sense of tidiness and piles were the easiest sorting method for his work.

He turned his attention back to the screens. The widescreen to the left was depicting a grid of all camera views in small format. Something on feed 42-A caught his attention.

42-A. A form was standing below the camera, looking up. Motionless.

Humanoid, by the looks of it, what would be the head seemed slightly tilted. Alec brought it up on the center view to get a better look, and felt his stomach twist violently in fear.

It was standing still, staring with empty sockets amid a freeze-dried and cracked face of blue skin. It was morbidly recognizable, just enough facial features of his late assistant to make him remember the accident, the airlock seal and the guilt, the attempt to bury the evidence, and the endless solitude that had resulted.

The tilt–obscenely fatal in its arrangement–was due to a neck fracture that had been sustained when the compartment depressurized. The eyes had burst or shriveled with the change, Alec was never sure. He didn’t want to think about it when he had put on his suit and driven the corpse out into the dunes, the direction faced by camera 42-A. He had looked at the flash-frozen skin and abhorrent shapes from the pressure change as little as possible.

But now…now he was staring right into the same grotesque death that had decided to come back. Why? And why was the body just standing there, staring, so motionless? So frozen?

Frozen?

CLANG!!

Frozen! It wasn’t standing still, the feed was frozen! The time stamp on the video wasn’t moving, it was stuck at 16:25. Alec’s fears and mind raced as he looked to the right to check the current clock.

16:40.

CLANG!!

The noise. The time. The rest of the feeds, those that were live, hadn’t shown anything. Alec began to panic. There was an airlock near 42-A, one of a pair, the sister airlock had been his assistant’s coffin. He brought up the access logs, noting with dread that all access keypads had been left active as there had never been anything to keep out. No one knew the codes but the two researchers…

16:28. Access granted, login SRichards, code ******

Inside. It had gained entry 12 minutes ago.

No, wait, not inside, breathed Alec with limited relief, there was no subsequent entry for the inner door. It was still in the airlock. The noise must be it beating on the door! He knew he had to engage the manual lock, keep it out, maybe it would leave.

Summoning up any shred of courage he could manage, Alec stepped out of the monitoring room and turned to face down the sterile metal hallway that ended at the twin airlocks. The black sheen of the thick internal security barrier covered the left entry, while the functional right door sat uncovered, naked and foreboding. The frosted, thick plexiglas porthole …was empty. No hollow eyes, no broken neck or blue flaky skin staring back at him like with the camera. Just silence and solitude.

The silence…the staccato death knell had stopped.

Unsure of what this meant, Alec walked towards the door, an undecided pace between hurriedly reaching the lock mechanism and freezing in place with fear. Every step expecting the face–that horrid, cold, unliving face, bent at the wrong angle–to reappear in the dark transparent circle of the door.

He finally reached the door panel, and with unsteady hands engaged the manual lock. He even dared to peek out the porthole to confirm that it had left. Nothing to see, just the empty airlock and open expanse of sterile lit moonscape outside the external hatch, which sat halfway ajar. A light breeze crept down the hall and stirred Alec’s unkempt hair ever so slightly against the back of his neck as he continued to stare out in fear and disbelief.

It dawned on him as he heard the approaching shuffle of ragged boots on the metal planking back down the hall. The only breezes in the pressurized facility came from airlock use. Rooted in fear, catching hints of ragged research uniform and broken skin behind his own reflection in the porthole, he began to reach again for the airlock door panel…


By: Amused.


For such a turning point in my life, the night I acquired a certain item is cemented in my mind only because of how mundane it was. I didn’t chance upon a dusty tome buried amidst a pile of mouldering books in a university library nor did I chance upon a madman with a basket of trinkets in a Bangladeshi backstreet. I was sat in my underwear, lit only by a dull blue glow from my computer monitor, browsing eBay for nothing in particular.

The music in my ears fluctuated again, the soulful notes of Toxic by Britney Spears being ebbed away, replaced by a strange yet familiar concoction of static and oppressive silence. I rolled my eyes and removed my headphones, tapping them against my palm while muttering half-formed sentences expressing my distain for ever purchasing them. After a few minutes of tapping refused to exorcise the demons in my earpieces, I began to browse for a replacement. I then, on that most unassuming of nights, stumbled upon a posting that would have irrevocable implications for me.

“Wireless Headphones. Unwanted present, only used once. Bought as a gift for my nephew. Only used once, given back to me “Because of the talking in them” Guaranteed good condition, no point letting them go to waste because of an overactive imagination”.

The auction seemed like an amazing deal, only an hour or so left, a fraction of the retail price, paid delivery. I placed a bid and took myself to bed, trusting the late hour to protect me from having my new trinket stolen from me. As it happened, I was right and they arrived a few days later.

That was when things began to happen. As I connected them to my pc, I could feel a strange heaviness to the air, like the charge in the air before a thunderstorm. I dismissed it easily enough; I thought it was simply a symptom of the muggy summer air.

An hour or so later, permitting the things to accrue a decent amount of charge, I placed them on my head, and flicked the power switch. I was surprised to find, however, that there was no background static. There was a deep silence. Childish as the notion seemed at the time, it felt just like the silence of a tomb. There was also the hint of another sound, the raspy hiss of a whisper on the edge of hearing. I cast it from my mind and tested the sound quality by playing a classical piece, the finale to swan lake. To my eternal shame I felt a flutter of relief as the beautiful notes of Tchaikovsky’s ballet cut through the silence. After a few minutes, however, I was pulled away from the reports I was busying myself with as I heard a familiar buzz of static in my ear, only now with a disturbing new sound mixed in.

Voices. Maybe hundreds, all talking at once in a hoarse, drawn out whisper. Some were too fast to comprehend, others too slow. Some were in different languages, some in long-dead tongues of syllables unpronounceable. I broke out in a sweat, eyes wide. I was the subject of these voices, the understandable ones at least. They spoke of my choice of music, the cut of my new clothes, the reports strewn across my desk. One voice cut through the throng however, a dirty sounding diseased rasp. It said only one thing, but it was enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck rise and my heart pound. It said, merely;

“It’s noticed us,”

I threw the headphones from my head and tore from the room. As I did, I heard a burst of oppressive, heavy noise burst from the headphones, a terrifying mix of an air-raid siren and the static screech of an unturned radio.

It was at this point I decided I needed to be out of the house. I bolted down the stairs, leaping the last few. As I fought with the tangle of keys that resided on the small table by my living room door, I heard another sound, or more accurately a lack of it. An oppressive, murky silence had overtook the whole house. Behind me I heard a rising hum as the TV turned itself on, bathing the room in shifting shadows. From the static on the screen the head and shoulders of a man resolved. With a sickening sound of papers and flesh tearing an arm burst forth, implanting a shifting grey and white hand upon the ground with a curiously wet smack. Then the other came through with an equally sickening herald. The figure then began to flail itself forward and back, battering its head against the inside of the screen until it burst through with a sound akin a coconut being hit by a truck. Thus freed, it’s upper half flopped pathetically onto the floor, pulling the remainder of its body through with a series of motions and sounds that made me sick to my stomach.

I felt my legs fail beneath me, slumping to the ground, my car keys pointed forward in a parody of a defensive stance. It came towards me, walking on its hands and feet until I could feel it next to my face, a horrid smelling mist the odour of old books and rotting flesh lurching into my nostrils in a ragged wheeze. I tensed up, waiting to feel jaws on my throat, hands around my neck, anything, but none came. Through trembling lips I managed to force a single question to the strange creature.

“W…Why are you here,” I stammered. I could feel it smiling.

“You heard us,” it said, in a voice full of malice and pain “You listened to us, you’re our toy now,” It laughed, a hollow, empty sound. “Lucky you,” And then, I was alone. I felt the presence go, the oppressive sounds of static and dull silence stripped away leaving the usual night sounds in its wake.

I don’t know how long I lay there, staring at nothing, before sleep overtook me. When next awoke I took the headphones and gave them to a charity shop. A symbolic gesture, for now those terrible spectres visit me nightly, that horrible shifting man their herald, getting their fun from seeing my human fear.

But that brings us to the real reason I’m telling this story. Be careful when you stare into a screen of static, or hear what a rational man would assume to be interference of your headphones, or even when you’re in complete silence. Be careful not to listen to closely, for strange and terrible things lurk in that maelstrom of black and white.

And once they find you, you will never, ever be free.


By: Obnoxious Brit.


“Did you take your protein pills? Good, now put your helmet on.” Ground Control commanded and Major Tom obeyed. Ground Control droned on as Tom sat in his seat in his cramped capsule and waited. “Commencing countdown, engines are active.” Tom counted down with the man on the microphone as he felt the rush of anxiety flow through his veins. “10… 9… 8…” Tom checked the ignition and heard one final phrase from Ground Control. “May God’s love be with you. LIFTOFF.”

Thats all Tom remembered. He woke up to a deep black outside of his spaceship windows and an eruption of cheers from his headset. “Good work Tom, you’ve really made the grade. Just exit your capsule and pilot the ship.” Tom obeyed and exited his capsule, and floated in a most peculiar way to the pilot’s seat.

Floating through space a hundred thousand miles from Earth was the spaceship of Major Tom. It had been three months since the launch and the only company Tom had was the reiteration of pre-launch instructions in his head, over and over. He looked out his window to observe the moon and stare out to the lonesome lifeless abyss that was deep space. The stars looked very different, Tom thought. More vivid. Bigger, even.

Tom’s view was distracted by a sudden movement. Something had swiftly darted behind the moon. Something quite massive had hidden itself behind the moon. Perhaps an asteroid, Tom thought. But they don’t move that quick. Out from behind the moon jetted what looked like a piece of space itself. It was something very large, black as the night sky and dotted in large glowing lights. And it was coming right for Tom’s ship. Thinking quickly he reversed the thrusters on his ship. The massive space thing had narrowly missed the ship, but had enough momentum to spin the ship rapidly.

Tom was thrown into the ships walls. The familiar voice of Ground Control buzzed in Tom’s ear. “Tom, the ship has received damage all over the hull, what happened?” Tom could only reply “Tell my wife I love her very much.” A different voice from Ground Control echoed “She knows.”

The space thing was coming back for a head-on collision with Tom’s ship. All Tom could do was get into his spacesuit and wait. As the space thing got closer and closer, Tom could see how large it really was. It was snake like and had to be at least a mile long and hundreds of feet wide. As it came within miles of Tom’s ship, it slowed. Eventually it had stopped and just sat there. Staring, it seems. Then, it began to coil itself around Tom’s ship. Metal groaned from the pressure and glass cracked. Tom looked outside his window at the beast. It was just like space itself was tangling itself up around him.

Machinery began to beep and lights started to die. Tom frantically checked everything he could; the energy was slowly being sucked away. It didn’t take long, perhaps a few minutes, for the ship to be rendered completely powerless. Then, nothing. No more metal groaning and no more glass cracking. Tom was stuck floating around in a powerless ship and he could do nothing about it.

Ground Control had buzzed in his ear one last time. “Major Tom, your circuit is dead. Something is wrong.” Tom didn’t reply. “Can you hear me Major Tom?”

Tom still didn’t reply. “Tom, can you hear me? Major Tom!”

Tom turned off his only contact to human life. He turned off his life support systems and stared out his window. He saw a floating bit of space going towards a blue planet. With his last breath Tom sang quietly, “Here I am floating in a tin can, far above the moon. Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.”


By: Steve M.

Her Name


It wasn’t a big deal at first, you know? It was just another story online, one you’d read in the comments of a YouTube video, designed to scaring you into posting it on eight other videos. You know the kind, where you die a horrible death or your crush will reject you if you don’t spread the word? I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now it’s the only thing I can think about.

The comment started by saying that “she hasn’t left [the poster] alone in days” and “by reading this, she’ll come for you.” I don’t even remember the exact wording because it was late and I was tired and I’d seen a hundred other comments like it before.

I forgot all about it.

Until she started coming after me.

It started with little things. A flash in the corner of my vision, a strange shadow on the hallway floor. Then it got worse. I started to hear whispering when I was alone in the house, giggling, the sound of footsteps. I now know that she was teasing me. Sort of like how a cat will clamp its paw over a mouse’s tail and bat at it before it kills it.

Mirrors were the worst. She liked to stand just out of frame when I was brushing my hair, so when I shifted my head to get the other side, she would be there, standing next to the bookshelf, with her long, tangled hair, matted with blood, falling down her shoulders. And that grin.

Oh, God, that grin.

Her teeth were always bloody. I was never sure if it was her blood, or… I don’t even know.

Every night it seemed to get worse. I would see her on my way to class, in the rear view mirror of my car, dragging her talon-like fingernails across her own, rotting flesh as I stared in abject terror.

For a while I put it off to sleep deprivation. Finals, you know?

And then she came to me.

It was late, so late it was technically early. I couldn’t sleep because all I could hear was her giggling. I covered my face with the pillow and shut my eyes tight, when I felt something cold on my hand.

I was paralyzed with fear. It was sharp and it was cold and it was moving down my arm towards my elbow.

“Come out to play,” she said in that lilting, upsetting voice I’d heard one too many times before.

I screamed and sat up but she was gone. For the moment.

My biggest mistake was when I talked to her. I’d just stepped out of the shower and she was right there when I opened the curtains. I shrieked and stumbled back and she leaned down to me.

“Why?” I asked. “Why are you doing this?”

She told me why. It was because I knew something about her. That altercation ended with a serious head injury that landed me in the hospital.

That’s where I am now.

I can’t take this anymore. I’m just one person, it’s too much. I know what I have to do. I think I always knew.

God, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

Her name is Nora. She should be there soon.


Necronymous Forum

Private Message

Subject: Okay… Sent: Thu Jan 08, 6:36 pm
From: Seraphine-Savior To: Centurion616

This is kind of random, but I notice your posts constantly mention this ‘Thorvaldr’ character. You always say it’s watching something or waiting for something, but no one else has any idea who or what it is. I’m just curious… Who is Thorvaldr? :O

Subject: Re: Okay… Sent: Fri Jan 09, 2:17 am
From: Centurion616 To: Seraphine-Savior

Thorvaldr? I’m almost glad you asked. He’s just kind of there. A sort of presence, if you will. I can’t really explain it properly without it sounding completely odd. By the way… he sees you.

Subject: Re: Okay… Sent: Fri Jan 09, 12:01 pm
From: Seraphine-Savior To: Centurion616

Uh… could you explain that a bit better? Sorry, I don’t understand. I mean, is he a person, a ghost, a pet, or what? D:

Subject:Re: Okay… Sent: Fri Jan 09, 5:20 pm
From: Centurion616 To: Seraphine-Savior

Thorvaldr is a warrior king. He is waiting for the moon to rise as of now…

Subject: Re: Okay… Sent: Sat Jan 10, 4:14 pm
From: Seraphine-Savior To: Centurion616

9_9 I’m sorry, that just raises more questions than it answers. Don’t bother wasting my time by replying if you aren’t going to say anything useful. I know I’m probably coming off a little bit harsh, but it doesn’t seem like you’re taking this seriously at all. I’d try to help you on the forum, seeing as everyone thinks you’re a complete weirdo and I want to see if there’s anything that could be explained to them so maybe you’ll have an easier time.

Subject: Re: Okay… Sent: Sun Jan 11, 8:43 pm
From: Centurion616 To: Seraphine-Savior

I almost considered just deleting that reply there and carrying on the way I have been, but I’ve a feeling you’re not going to give up either way. If it’s that important to you, I’ll explain everything. To the best of my knowledge, Thorvaldr is something of an entity, and like I said before, he’s just there. He doesn’t even have a body, but somehow I’m able to know his every move and that he wants me to tell others about it. It’s an impulse. If I don’t tell everyone about Thorvaldr, he gets angry… He starts clouding my vision and everything gets dark and blurry, then I can’t sleep at all because I’m just lying there shaking. I can almost hear his voice kind of, but he’s not saying anything in particular, only these syllables and non-words that come out of nowhere right when I think everything’s quiet. He’s there, and he’s always there. I can’t get rid of him. I don’t want to go to a shrink, because last time I did they just gave me these pills that only made everything worse. I started seeing Thorvaldr in my own reflection. Even though it was very vague and hard to make out, I could tell it was definitely him.

I can’t fight it. Can’t fight a warrior king, especially when he’s taken over my mind like this. I’m trying to remember what happened, but somehow my memory’s been shot. Maybe Thorvaldr did it. I vaguely recall something about getting lost somewhere when I was in Norway, but that’s it. I’d tell you more, but I fear he’s trying to choke me as I type this…

Subject: Re: Okay… Sent: Tues Jan 13, 11:00 am
From: Seraphine-Savior To: Centurion616

Wow… that’s really weird… Anyway, the reason why it kind of took me an extra day to reply is because when I read that message, I had pretty much no idea what to say. That is really really weird. Maybe he’s just mad cause he doesn’t have a body? lol

Subject: Re: Okay… Sent: Tues Jan 13, 1:10 pm
From: Centurion616 To: Seraphine-Savior

Thorvaldr thinks that’s a great idea. Thank you.

Subject: Re: Okay… Sent: Tues Jan 13, 7:19 pm
From: Seraphine-Savior To: Centurion616

What?

Necronymous Forum Topic – Meet Thorvaldr By: Centurion616
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:20 pm

At least he’s not waiting anymore. (Pardon the blood)
[Video embedded]

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: Demona
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:26 pm

That was really disturbing. Put up a warning next time.

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: milkofthedead
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:27 pm

^ I think “Pardon the blood” could count as a warning. Though he didn’t say anything about the ‘corpse.’ At least I hope it’s not a real corpse… :O

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: Neocracy
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:29 pm

Could someone tell me what it is? I’m too afraid to watch the whole thing, I stopped as soon as he left the room.

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: Demona
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:36 pm

Okay, here’s a summary of what happened, at least the way I saw it. If anyone has any corrections, I’ll edit this.
0:00-1:12 – Some guy (I think it’s Centurion, but I’m not sure) is standing over a partially dismembered corpse on his bed. He’s replacing the missing limbs and digits with other body parts he’s pulling out of a sack.
1:13-1:40 – He leaves the room, comes back with a rusty sword and helmet and “equips” the corpse with them. Then the video just kind of jump-cuts there.
1:40-3:40 – He’s now sitting in front of the camera, staring. You can kind of see the corpse in the background, only for some reason the limbs are attached to the body like they actually belonged there. Then the damn video jump-cuts AGAIN…
3:40-4:36 – Same thing as last time, only Centurion is gushing blood through his closed eyelids and mouth. You can see some blood on the corpse too, and at the end of it all, Centurion smiles and waves.

Like I said, really disturbing shit. It’s worse than it sounds.

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: Neocracy
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:38 pm

Oh, that was it? It’s got to be fake. I mean, if he’s bleeding out his eyes like that, how can he see to post? And it’s definitely Centurion in the video. He’s got the swastika tattoo, remember?

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: ForTheEmpire
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:44 pm

If it’s fake, those are some really cool effects.

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: Seraphine-Savior
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:49 pm

No, no, it’s not fake. And it’s all my fault. See, we were PMing one another before, and I asked about the Thorvaldr guy. If I hadn’t suggested that Thorvaldr needed a body, then none of this would have happened.

Subject Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: milkofthedead
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 7:55 pm

It’s not your fault, Seraphine. Centurion would’ve done it anyway, he’s just like that. Remember when he wouldn’t stop obsessing over that church arson guy?

Subject: Re: Meet Thorvaldr By: Winterwing
Posted: Tues Jan 13, 8:00 pm

4:21- It blinked. I swear to god, it blinked.

By: Lindsay S. (aka HackerOnHacker)

We Danced

Footsteps aren’t an uncommon thing to hear when you’re sitting in a basement, so I think nothing of it when I hear quiet thuds coming from my upstairs hallway. I just assume it’s my brother, and continue doing whatever pointless little thing I was doing at the time. They go on for another couple minutes, and I’m starting to get pissed off. They keep getting louder and louder and I sigh, wondering what the hell my brother’s doing this late at night. I sit there, because it’s impossible to focus with the racket. I mean, it sounds like someone’s power walking all over my main floor.

I sit there and listen as the thumps get faster and wilder. They just keep moving, almost starting to form a rhythm. They move even faster and get even wilder and they’re thumping all over my main floor. I realize that whatever this is, it can’t be human. No human can move like that.

“What the fuck?!” I finally yell. After that, all the noises stop. Everything is quiet for a moment, and then I hear calm, slow footsteps moving to my basement door. The door is pushed open, and the footsteps stop again. I listen to my breathing for the next three minutes, then sigh, thinking it’s over. Turns out something else was listening, too. Suddenly I hear it thudding down the stairs, and I knock my chair over in my haste to stand up. I start to run towards the nearest closet, just in time to see a grotesque, hairless, four-legged creature, dancing towards me, tapping it’s swollen feet in an intoxicating rhythm. I dive into the closet and slam the door shut. There’s a half-second pause and then I hear that same rhythm on the door.

It just keeps going and going with no pause, no rests, no relief. He’s been at it for hours now, and I find myself tapping my fingers along with his song. But then, just as suddenly as it began, it ends. I wait for a few moments, then look out. He’s gone. I flip on a light and fall into a chair. It’s safe. I relax and think for a few moments. But then I notice my foot tapping. Maybe this song isn’t so bad, I almost like it enough to dance to it. So I drop down on my hands and feet, and I start.


By: Smiles.

You know those long, involved ritual creepypastas, the ones that involve a million different steps, the ones where if you breathe at the wrong second you die? Ever wonder who figured it out? It couldn’t have been trial and error – you don’t get a second try at something like that.

The answer’s actually pretty simple. Nobody figured it out.

He already knew.

There’s… an entity, I suppose you could call it, although I always think of it as a him. A little boy, to be exact. He seems to enjoy playing around with people, you see.

And he knows all the rituals, or at least all the real ones. So sometimes he spreads out the information. Ever felt inspired to write some piece of horror that seemed to contain elements that didn’t even exist in your nightmares? Ever had a disturbing idea for some horrible but compelling rite, that seemed to ‘just come to you’? It might have been him working through you.

If you get one of those flashes, write it down and post it. I can’t guarantee your health if you don’t – he can be awfully persistent about getting his little messages out, and even if you’re just babbling it to your safe padded walls you’re still saying it.

But, at the same time, if you get one of those flashes… halfway through writing it, stop, open up the instant messenger of your choice, and IM yourself. If all you see are your own normal words echoed back at you, give up there. Either it really is just your imagination that gave you the idea, or he doesn’t want to talk.

But if the message comes back with odd typos that weren’t there before, or new capitalization, or different punctuation marks… well, I’m sure you’ve seen enough pasta with puzzles in it to know what to do to find the message and respond.

If he likes you, or finds you amusing, he’ll talk to you directly there. If he gives you a new puzzle… keep going, but be careful. They get harder and harder, turning from simple wordplay to numerology to esoteric mystical references to God knows what else, but also more and more compelling. It’s harder to just close the window and walk away, and the feeling that you’re just about to reach a solution never eases. And so the next time some poor soul’s found slumped over their computer, killed by starvation and exhaustion and neglect… well, maybe it was just some game, right? But maybe he just wanted to solve that one damn puzzle.

If he does greet you directly, you can name three things you desire – any three at all. He will give you, in complete detail, rituals to achieve those three things – if you’re lucky, it will be a single rite that grants all three. They may be dangerous, but they will be clear and detailed paths to gain what you want through paranormal means.

But, of course, there are catches.

The first: you have to spread the rituals on. You can embellish them as you wish, add your own spin, even lie outright, but you have to leave the goal and most of the steps intact, and you have to put it somewhere where people will see – a forum, a notice board in real life, on the door of a building, wherever. The more popular it is, the happier he will be, and you want his blessing.

Because the second catch is that he always omits some key step. As long as you’ve posted the ritual up in public, you will know when the time comes what that step is – but it could be anything from drawing a simple squiggle to murdering your true love in cold blood. You could have to give up your soul, or mutilate a limb, or drown yourself… or you could just have to hop backwards two times. And you won’t know what it is until you’re buried deep in the rite, unable to stop.

So when you talk to him, be nice and friendly, and make sure you amuse him. He’s kind enough, most of the time. Just a bit mischievous.

How did I learn all this, you ask?

I don’t really know. It just came to me. Inspiration, you could say.

A few years ago I was spending some time with friends exploring old, supposedly haunted, places. We were at the Edisto First Presbyterian Church, where a girl named Julia Legare was buried in her family mausoleum in 1852.

People reported hearing unearthly screams time and time again, but never investigating the cause of it. Fifteen years later, when they opened the door to the mausoleum to inter the next family member who had died, finding her corpse huddled in the corner next to the door, arms outstretched as if still trying to find the exit.

Well, my friends thought it would be a funny idea to shut the giant stone door (which was originally open) behind me and pick me up in the morning. The bastards left me there… I tried and tried, using all of my strength, but I couldn’t budge it, it had taken four people to put it in place. In the dark, I resigned myself to the night ahead of me.

Now, I normally don’t frighten easily, but sitting there in the relatively small place, surrounded by a looming pressure that I couldn’t begin to explain, the darkness itself seemed to try to consume me. From all around it felt like weight was pressing against my skin, making even breathing hard. I sat in the dark for what must have been hours.

Then I heard the scratches. They were faint at first, I was sure it was my imagination, but soon they became more and more frantic as time passed. I huddled up in one of the corners farthest from the door and tried to cover my ears but nothing could stop the growing cacophony. This all may have lasted for a few minutes, but each second was an unbearable eternity.

Then, a loud scream echoed through the darkness, it was a wail of unrestrained pain and fear. The scratching stopped. For the first time I could distinctly make out the sound of a girl sobbing to herself, the pitiful gasping of one without a shred of hope left.

I felt such sorrow at the moment, such pain, that I think I forgot how to be afraid. In my heart all her suffering seemed to resonate. Inexplicably, I found myself apologizing aloud for everything that had happened to her. Hell, a part of me wanted to reach out and feel for a body to hug, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it for fear that I truly would find one.

I don’t know whether or not she heard me or was even aware of my presence, the sobbing continued and I could again hear fingers against the stone slab that was the tomb door.

I fell asleep at some point, which I felt was a merciful gift from the fates. I’m not sure how long I was out, but I was woken by a loud and powerful thud as the door slammed against the ground outside. I could tell from the light gray outside that daybreak was near, so I must have slept for at least a few hours.

I stumbled outside and went to a small unlocked prayer house. I think previously it was a segregated mini-church, but regardless, I leaned against the door and waited nervously until my ‘friends’ arrived. I approached them as they clustered around the fallen door, two of them were kneeling next to it with faces of shock.

There were bloody streaks covering the interior of the door, some with light scratches from fingernails, many without. I think now that she must have shrieked when they broke away from her hands, but I can’t be sure.

At first, they looked to me, then checked my hands, then nervously glanced at one another. I was rightfully pissed with them and told them every detail of what I remembered, wanting them to know what I had been put through.

Finally, after I grudgingly got into the car and we started to head back, someone spoke up. My friend said to me “We were afraid to say anything, but look at your face.”

I later found out that many times people had tried to permanently seal the entrance to the mausoleum, including enough heavy locks and chains that it would require heavy equipment to remove it, only to have it found torn open with the door lying on the ground once more. This was in the 1980s, the last attempt of many through the decades. It seemed like some force was ensuring that it was impossible to ever repeat the mistakes of the past. This is something I am understandably quite grateful for, but to this very day I am chilled to the bone when I think of what happened that night.

When I reached from the back seat and adjusted the rear-view mirror, I saw that there was blood caked on my face. Just like the streaks upon the stone slab, there were dark red lines on either side, as if someone had gently cradled my face with torn fingers as I slept that night, feeling the warmth of another for the first time in over a hundred years.

The loud bang on her front door jolted Clara from her daydream. This was it. After all the careful planning and struggling to survive, the end would come now; 9 blocks up in room 934 of the now abandoned Marriott. She started to cry, not for herself, but for her little 3 year old son, Jeremy. He was the world to her, and she couldn’t bare to think of his short life ended, not like this.

“Open the door,” she recognized the voice of her live in boyfriend of 4 years, Jerome. Quickly slipping off the guard chain, she opened the door and let him in.

“I don’t have much time. The boys are going to pick out what’s left of the Pathmark and I want to be first in line,” he suddenly stopped. “Damn baby, you smell good. What is that?”

“It’s called LOVELY, by Sarah Jessica Parker,” she said simply. “I found it next to the mini bar. Only the best, right?”

“Yeah,” he said as he left two backpacks next to the door and turned to leave. “I’ll be back soon. Keep the door locked, okay?”

Jerome was a survivor. While everyone else was scrounging for supplies downtown, he had had the bright idea to take his little family to the local Marriot to wait it all out. ‘No one is coming for us, they’ve given up on the major cities,’ he had said simply. The plan was to just let everyone kill each other while they lived the high life, stories up in the now abandoned hotel. It had worked. Most of what was left of humanity and the creatures they became had pretty much wiped each other out. Not that it hadn’t been a tough few months. The power was now out and they were down to canned goods.

But they were still alive. Clara dragged the two bags to the kitchen area and pulled out the dented cans. From the bedroom, she heard Jeremy waking up. A few minutes later, he came into the main living area.

“Mommy, mommy, look. I’ve got a gun shooter,” his excited eyes locked onto hers and she sighed. He was holding some kind of plastic handle he had obviously broken off one of the cabinets. He pointed it at her. “Bang. Bang. Bang.”

It reminded her of the awful gang violence just a week prior. Both Jerome’s crew and some Asian gang had had a disagreement over who owned what’s left of a number of grocery stores. That had ended with a few of their good friends dead. She didn’t show it.

“Let me see, honey,” she said, holding her hand out. He turned and ran into the bedroom. That was the annoying thing about the age, they never did what you asked. She quickly ran after him and pulled it out of his hand. She was now extremely careful not to let him have anything he could hurt himself with. It was safe enough. Other than the next two hours of constant noise, there was no harm in letting him run around with it.

“Mommy can we play that gun game again. Mommy, look at me. Mommy. Mommy can we play that gun shooter game again. Mommy, I want to play the gun game. Mommy …”

“Yes, yes. We can play that game again,” she hated that game. Every time she played it, it reminded her of the last couple of months. In the last hours of the city’s death, both sides had come out of hiding and shot it out. It was unsettling enough to be on the outskirts of a war zone. What made it absolutely unbearable was knowing that one side of the conflict was composed of the walking dead.

They had made it as far as the hotel. Jerome and his gang, as well as some of the other groups had held them off just over by 5th street, well within view of the 9th floor Marriott. They had been content to put bullets into their enemies and move on. Conversely, when one of those ‘things’ shot a human, they usually ended up carrying them off and eating them. Humans were fighting for survival. They were hunting for food. She had seen it first hand. A couple of asian thugs had been cautiously scouting between 5th and Broadway, and the enemy descended upon them with a plan that was both aggressive and cunning. These were not the meandering, shuffling corpses you saw in the movies. The enemy was very much intelligent.

And they were still out there.

She had only run into one of them once. Jerome had given her a handgun off of a dead police officer and told her, ‘just point and squeeze’. To be honest, he had taken care of things so well she didn’t think she’d actually have to do any shooting herself. But a day ago, in the hotel, one of them had slipped by the patrols and gotten in the building. She and Jeremy had gone to get ice – the power had still been working then – when she heard the slightest shuffle of feet around the corner.

She knew where it was and what it wanted. She could smell the rotting flesh. Something inside her, some force of survival, helped her know exactly what to do. The primal, maternal instinct within her guided her against this awful predator. Heart racing, she moved with her son past the corridor where she knew it lurked. She even continued the casual small talk with her little boy, slowly slipping her hand into her pocket where the .45 was located. She knew that once she and Jeremy were past the corridor, the thing would slip out of its hiding place and follow them, hoping for a clear shot. Once past the corner, she turned on her heal, pulled out the gun, rounded the corner and just started firing.

She was right. Not only had the thing come out of hiding, but it had moved at a quick pace too. In the two seconds it took her to spin on her heel and draw her weapon, the thing was already within reaching distance. Four shots to the body and two to the head that was still advancing upon her. She could still remember the expression of surprise and fear on its face just before its entire head popped, the grey matter spilling everywhere behind it. She had expected to see some expression of an undead creature, twisted in hatred and loathing. The terrifying thing, was that aside from the rotten smell and blackened appendages, its face still looked human.

Not waiting to see if there were more of them, she grabbed her son and bolted for room 934. She frantically reached into her pocket for the hotel room key card, cutting her hand on the various survival items in her pocket. She swiped it over and over on the door key, desperate for the green signal that would indicate the lock would give. Finally, it did, and she grabbed her son again and shoved him inside.

Rather than be traumatized by the whole event, Jeremy’s little mind instead translated it into a game. The ‘gun-shooter’ game. His three year old psyche interpreted the event as some elaborate fantasy, one that he wanted to repeat. It was odd the way that a child’s mind translated near death. Now, Clara had to relive the entire incident over and over again in order to maintain the facade that the two of them had not escaped certain death just yesterday.

“Bang. Bang. I got you mommy. In the head. I shot you, you’re dead. You’re dead mommy, fall down. Fall down!” She had humored him enough, and she couldn’t take the reality of the previous day’s horror any more.

“I don’t want to play anymore sweetie. Go eat your dinner.” She was surprised when he obeyed.

Sitting at the kitchen table, she watched as Jeremy ate the food she had made for him. Since yesterday, she had had trouble eating. She would put food in her mouth, think about the grey pieces of brain splattered all over the adjacent corridor, and vomit. But whatever it was about watching her son gobble up the last pieces of canned squash and mashed carrots seemed to finally convince her appetite to surface. In fact, she was really hungry.

She leaned in towards him to kiss him on the cheek, her maternal instincts kicking in again despite the nausea. Sometimes, a mother just has to reach over, grab her child close and kiss him over and over, especially considering recent events. She nuzzled her lips against his cute baby fat cheeks and rubbed her nose into him.

Something was wrong. She felt an unusual, insatiable desire to bite. His flesh, his soft supple baby fat called out to her aching stomach and demanded union. She stood up quickly.

“No.” she whispered. “Please god, no.” She ripped off the bandages and looked down at her wounded hand. The blood vessels next to the blackened incision had ever so slightly blackened up her vein like a mild case of tetanus. What had she cut her hand on again?

Jeremy sat next to the kitchen table, mindlessly muttering the gibberish of a 3 year old and coloring outside the lines of his favorite dinosaur book. She watched him for a moment, knowing that if she did not act quickly, her maternal instincts would be overcome by her insatiable hunger. Of course, she could just give in – if whatever was inside her hand did to Jeremy what it had done to her….

Her indecision was broken by her son’s innocent inquiry.

“Mommy, let’s play the gun game again.”

“Okay, sweetie.”


By: morebrainsplx.

Roulette


During your day, there are probably a half a dozen moments where you can’t see, if only for a split second.

Not like blinking, of course, that’s far too quick .

Just that moment when you’re taking off your shirt, or wiping your face with a towel.

That brief instant where you’re plunged into darkness.

Every time this occurs, you’re playing roulette. A game.

Unbeknownst to you, of course.

Every time that happens there is something waiting, eagerly, to pull you into that darkness.

That only happens if you lose, of course.

One day you might open your eyes to find that you’re not where you were before.

There are unsolved missing person cases every week.

Those people? They lost.

By: JHubbbb


I had a dream last night. It was the kind that seems real right up to the point where you wake up.

Some things were strange about it…certain things were really strange about it, but it never occurred to me that it might not actually be happening. I’m still not prepared to say that it didn’t happen. I’m not spiritual and I don’t really understand stuff like that. I just feel like I’ve been somewhere and now I’m back, and I know something really happened when I woke up…and I think while I was asleep too.

I went to bed last night with a strange feeling. We all remember times when we felt like we were being watched, but this was more than that. I felt like there was someone there with me, but still I couldn’t keep from falling asleep.

I don’t exactly remember the beginning of the dream. The first thing I remember was starting at my house and walking. I was just walking down the road. All of my neighbors’ houses were gone. I was just on a long, empty road and there was no one around but me. I don’t remember what I had been doing at my house before, but I may have been there a while before I started walking. I just recall feeling a strong urge to walk.
I felt okay walking down that road. It was cold and dark and I felt a little lost, but I wasn’t afraid–not like I had been in my room.

I don’t know how long I was on that road. It felt like a long time. I mean like days long, but I never felt tired and I just wanted to keep walking.

The road changed after a while. It had been straight and nondescript the whole time, but eventually I reached a bend and then a fork in the road. When I reached the fork, I wasn’t alone anymore. A familiar voice called out to me from the side of the road.

“It’s good to see you,” the voice whispered. “I’m just sorry to see you here.”

I turned to face the voice, knowing who I would see. It was an old friend from my childhood–someone I haven’t seen in years. He looked just a little different from how I remembered him, but not by much. He was older than when I saw him last, obviously, but he seemed at least a few years younger than me somehow–even though we’re supposed to be the same age. He was also very pale. Unbelievably white, in fact, and he had deep circles around his eyes that were solid blue, as were his lips.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I’m here to warn you,” he replied.

Naturally, I was all ears.

“There’s a man in your house right now,” he explained.

“What do you mean there’s someone in my house? I was just there…I think.”

I didn’t actually know how long ago I had been there. I wasn’t sure how long I had been walking.

“You don’t understand,” my friend stammered with apparent urgency. “He’s really in your house right now.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was curious.

“Who is he?” I asked him.

“He’s the Cold Man. He comes to people at night when they’re afraid.”

The Cold Man? I’d never heard of anyone like that before. I wanted to know more, so I asked, ”What does he do?”

“He waits to be noticed, then he makes his move. You know that chill you feel on your back when something really scares you? That’s not just nerves. That’s him standing behind you.”

“What for?” I wondered. “What does he do once you notice him?”

My friend looked down and away. He wouldn’t answer that question.

“Just don’t let him in,” he cautioned.

“What do you mean?”

“He can be close forever,” my friend explained. “He’ll walk around your house at night and even stand in your room while you’re asleep…like he is in yours right now. He can know where you are. He can even be looking right at you, but he won’t find you unless you let him.”

“How does he find you? I mean, how do you ‘let him?’”

My friend looked to either side of the road like he was worried that someone might overhear. He leaned in very close and whispered, ”If you see him, if you hear him, or if you ever start to feel suddenly very cold…don’t move. Don’t talk to him. Don’t acknowledge him. Don’t ever let him in”

“I don’t understand,” I admitted. “How do I get rid of him?”

“You can’t,” my friend replied in a small, shuttering voice. “Look, I’m out of time.”

“‘Out of time?’” I repeated, not sure what he meant exactly.

My friend shook his head. His eyes were wide and he was shivering. Off in the distance I noticed a dark figure creeping up behind him, but something kept me from speaking.

“My time is up,” he stammered. “Just whatever you do, don’t let him in, and whatever you do…don’t answer it.”

Something pulled my friend into the darkness and suddenly I couldn’t see him anymore. Before I could follow after him though, I was startled awake by a loud noise. I was sitting in my room, fully dressed with my shoes on. I could swear I wasn’t dressed when I went to bed. My shoes and legs were covered in dust, my feet were sore, and I could hear a ringing noise right next to me. In the confusion of waking up from such a vivid dream, I didn’t immediately recognize it. I felt so cold.

Then, I looked down and saw my phone. That was the source of the ringing. Remembering my friend’s words, I didn’t answer it. Eventually, it stopped ringing.

The room was cold as ice. The feeling that I was being watched was as strong as it had been when I had fallen asleep. I could hear something moving inside my closet, but I dared not move. I just closed my eyes and waited. Eventually, I heard footsteps walking away, still from inside the closet. It was as if they were walking down some unseen hallway, though my closet is small and I couldn’t see anything unusual in there.

When the footsteps got far enough away, the cold lifted.

He didn’t get in this time. If my dream was true–if the thing in my closet was who I think it was–I must never let him in. I think he’ll be back tonight though. That’s when he’s supposed to come, as my friend told me.

I don’t know what happened to my friend, but I just hope people will remember his warning. If you start to feel cold while reading this, don’t be alarmed. If you hear something in your house, just ignore it. You can’t afford to let him find you. Don’t let the Cold Man in.

By: smilingjacks


Have you ever been taking a shower while alone in the house and felt like something was moving around behind the curtain?

Or watching you?

Did you look up?

Did you catch the very vaguest hint of eyebrows or a tuft of matted, greasy hair above the curtain rod?

That’s not a good idea.

It doesn’t really like it if you see it.

It likes it the most when you’ve got shampoo on your hair, and your eyes are shut tight so your eyes don’t sting.

Or even better, when there’s soap and bubbles all over your soft, pink face.

It likes that the best, because your eyes are clenched so tight, and even if you did want to open them, like, if you heard a soft scratching against the plastic shower curtain, or a rasping of claws on bathroom tile, or the gentle splatter of drool or cum or… god knows what… well, you wouldn’t open your eyes because it’d burn.

Right?

Right.

Don’t open your eyes.

Because if you ever see its face, catch its eyes…

Well. It’ll notice.

It was warm for a December afternoon in Hutchinson, Kan., when Katie came home from work in 2008. Katie’s ride dropped her off across from her duplex, and as she stood in the street, her ride moving slowly away, she knew something wasn’t right.

“I noticed two boys standing in my driveway,” she said. “One had longer dark hair and the other had his hood up so I couldn’t see him very well.”

The teenagers, about 15 or 16 years old, seemed to be watching her – Katie felt they were waiting for her. She steeled herself and walked nervously across the road toward her porch. The boys had lurked around her neighborhood for months, but they’d never been so bold as to stand this close to her home.

“I had seen them before, lingering in the yard, but they always left before I got out of my ride’s car,” Katie said. “I had seen them late at night as well standing across the street when I would go outside to have an occasional late-night cigarette.”

But, although pangs of unease told her to run, their boldness angered her. She stopped and asked them why they were on her property.

“They told me they needed to use a phone and that the neighbors would not let them in,” she said. “That was when I noticed their eyes – they were coal black. Just black. No white and not even a hint of iris or pupil.”

Fear shot through her, but as evenly as she could, Katie told them she didn’t have a telephone. Katie walked up her porch steps and began to unlock her door when the boy in the hood spoke.

“He asked if they could come in for a glass of water,” she said. “I turned to look at them again thinking maybe my mind was playing tricks. But no, when I turned and looked into their eyes they were pitch black as the first time.”

These children with dead, black eyes had spoken softly to her, emotion and vocal inflection absent from their words. As she looked at these boys, whose long hair and hooded sweatshirts she felt hid more than skin, she knew she had to get away.

“I felt panicked and fearful but also very vulnerable and cold,” she said. “It was like I wanted to let them in but I knew there was evil present. I had felt uneasy before seeing their eyes but now it all came out.”

Then one boy said something that turned her fear into complete terror.

“The hooded one then told me they couldn’t come in unless I told them it was OK and that they hoped I would because they were thirsty,” Katie said. “I opened my door and darted inside. At this point I shut the door and locked it.”

She dropped onto the couch, her breaths coming in short, heavy gasps, when something tapped on the window behind her head.

“One of the boys stood there staring through the glass,” Katie said. “I remember his words very clearly; ‘just let us in, miss. We aren’t dangerous, we don’t have anything to hurt you with.’ I was beyond frightened at this point.”

Katie jumped off the couch and ran through the duplex, checking doors and windows to make sure they were locked.

“I did wonder if they really couldn’t come in unless invited but I didn’t want to find out,” she said. “I sat in the living room silently waiting for a sign that they had gone.”

When her boyfriend came home a short time later, the black-eyed teens were still at the house.

“(He) asked if I knew who the two boys outside were and I said ‘no,’” Katie said. “He told me they had been standing in the driveway when he pulled up but walked away when he stepped out of the car.”

He didn’t notice the boys’ eyes, but “they gave him a strange feeling.”

Katie later asked her neighbors if the black-eyed children had asked to use their telephone like they had claimed. The neighbors noticed the teens standing in Katie’s driveway, but never spoke with them.

Although it’s been more than a year since Katie turned the black-eyed children from her door, she knows they’re still around.

“I still see them every now and then standing across the street watching,” she said. “But they have not approached again.”


By: Jason Offutt

Roadwork



When Conner arrived at the gas station, he exited the car with a speed that surprised even him. He took a few quick steps, almost at a run, before turning back towards the car. Under the garish sodium lights of the service station, the little blue sedan looked a sickly greenish gray. It looked squat and malign in its stillness. The little throbbing headache at the base of his skull seemed to diminish with every step and he began to catch his breath.

He took the phone from his pocket and raised it high into the night sky, waving it from side to side like a signal flag. Nothing. The signal meter defied him by remaining empty. Not even a flashing roaming message. Conner scowled at the little phone and thrust it back into his pocket.

He glanced around at the station, two solitary pumps and a closed convenience market. An isolated island of pale yellow light in the dark of the North Carolina forest, the silhouettes of the trees bit sharply into the starry night sky, surrounding him like a ring of teeth. The grating hum of electricity mingled with the crackling of insects from the woods beyond, drifting in the warm summer night air.

Jutting from the side of the shuttered market was a scraped and listing pay phone, its metal stalk visibly bent from some long ago impact. Conner approached it, digging a quarter from his pocket, and gripping the scarred plastic handset. For a moment, nothing happened, and the sense of isolation deepened, like the ground being pulled out from under him, and the panic returned. A series of quick clicks bit into his ear and the dial tone chimed. His fingers felt numb as he dialed.

Even at a few hours past midnight, Reynolds answered on the first ring.

“Yes?” Reynolds’ rolling baritone was silky, and unmarred by the late hour. “Who is this?”

“S’me. Conner.” He was unable to keep the quaver out of his voice, and he had a sudden urge to look back towards the car, suddenly afraid that it might have moved, or left him there all together.

“This isn’t the phone I gave you.” Reynolds liquid voice darkened, almost imperceptibly.

“It’s a payphone. Ain’t got signal out here. Middle of fucking nowhere. Listen Ren, I-”

“Is something the matter, Conner?” Conner bristled at the mild, calculated condescension in the older man’s tone, and inhaled slowly, measuring his next words with caution.

“Well… Shit. I don’t rightly know, Ren, but I got a real bad feeling about this.”

“Where are you?”

“Service station. Just got off the freeway. Bout to head south through Natahala.”

“And what is the matter, Conner?”

“Like I said, there’s something fucked up about this one. Didn’t like the guy I picked the car up from, don’t like whatever it is that’s in the fucking trunk. I know this sounds fucking stupid, but it’s giving me a headache. I feel like I can smell it, but I know I can’t. Something just feels rotten about it. I mean rotten, rotten.”

There was a long silence on the other end, and Conner knew that Reynolds was unmoved. Even as Conner said the words, he knew how stupid it sounded.

“Conner,” the old man said at last, “We’ve worked together for a long time. I like you. But you’ve never given a shit about what you deliver. What’s the strangest thing I’ve had you carry?”

“The heart.” Conner answers without hesitation, seeing the white styrofoam cooler steaming with ice, strapped in the front seat like a babies car seat.

“Yes. You also once delivered several pounds of heroin. Did you know that at the time?”

“Not ‘till after the fact.”

“Because it’s better that way, isn’t it, Conner.” Reynolds paused, the smooth rhythms of his voice already calming the younger man. “It’s better if you don’t know. The man you picked the car up, in his own way, is as trustworthy and reliable as you are. I understand why you might bristle at him, given his unfortunate looking visage, but he is like you. A trusted contractor, and discrete. I employ you both, for your discretion. Do you understand Conner?”

“Yessir.”

“Good. I think you understand why I’m offering so much more for this delivery, and why it has to be late at night, and on the backroads. Our client this time has specific instructions, and we’re not getting paid to wonder why. We’re not getting paid to pry.”

“I understand.” It galled Conner, how stupid he’d sounded, how stupid he’d been, panicking, and calling Reynolds late in the night.

“I know you do. And I know this one is odd, son. I do. I hope you believe me when I say that it makes me as uncomfortable as it makes you. I’d do it myself, but no one is as good as you. I’m smart enough to know when to trust the best.”

“Thank you, Ren.”

“No, Conner, thank you. Now, get back on the road. When you drop off the car, the client will have his own men to take care of the package. And then you can sleep, and you won’t have to work for a year. All for one nights drive.”

“Okay. I gotcha.”

“Conner. I trust you wouldn’t, and forgive me if this is insulting, but, don’t open the trunk okay? It wouldn’t help, the package is locked up anyway. And it needs to stay locked because the client wants it locked.”

“Of course, Ren. Look I’m awful sorry for calling, I guess I just got spooked something fierce.”

“Not at all. That’s what I’m here for. Now, get on the road Conner. And call me when it’s done.”

Reynolds hung up before Conner could reply, and he returned the handset to the cradle.

Keys in hand, Conner returned to the car, driving himself forward even as his newfound confidence waned as he approached. The phantom odor, more like a memory of a scent than an actual smell returned, something sweet and corrupt. As he turned the key to start the engine, the gentle pain in the back of his head returned, rising slowly. He gritted his teeth, and pulled out of the service station.

The Natahala national forest closed around the two lane road, and the darkness swallowed the service station behind him. Conner tried to focus on the destination, the route laid out, the starry sky outside. Anything but the trunk. It worked, for a few minutes.

Conner’s blood coursed with caffeine, and a tiny dose of some high grade speed, just enough to keep him awake, but still, after a half hour on the dark road, his eyes began to flutter. At first, they simply felt dry, and he batted his eyes to wet them. But they began to stay closed longer, seeming to stick at the zenith of each blink. The tires hit the yellow reflectors of the center line, and with a sick jolt of adrenaline, he realized he’d been drifting.

Ahead, the headlights illuminated a hundred yards of road, and picked out reflectors for another hundred. The glowing dots chased out in front of him like tracer bullets, outpacing the lit road, and marking his path into the darkness. They curved upward ahead, signaling a rise in the road before it could be seen.

Conner focused on the reflectors, letting them swim by him like the gentle dripping of water. He watched the phantom line of glowing points dip and rise with the road, and then, with numb disbelief, watched it whip upwards, above his line of sight, twisting skyward. Conner thought absurdly of a sharp upward rise, wondering if the car could take such a steep ascent.

Then the line whipped like a snake, striking across the night sky, and his foot struck the brake with all the force that his terror could muster. The car slid to the right, and he corrected, pulling back onto the road, and jerking to a halt. From the trunk there was a hollow and dull thumping noise, and Conner’s heart surged.
Ahead, the road was perfectly flat, the yellow reflecting lights fixed back in reality. With the car no longer in motion, Conner’s guts sang to him to leave, to flee into the relative safety of the dark woods. His hands clutched the steering wheel, bloodless in their intensity. From the trunk, came another small thud, and Conner’s heart seemed to stop.

Conner was out of the car before he knew it, the keys rattling in his grip. The fear had become something like a manic curiosity now. If he could simply see the thing in the trunk, he could move on, could start driving, could do another line and stay awake long enough to dump the fucking thing and just sleep.

The trunk opened with greased efficiency. The smell caught him first. It was the phantom smell from before, but now it felt cloyingly real, clinging to his nostrils. Putrid meat. Dead dog in the hot summer road, burst belly and cloudy eyed rot. He gagged, choking on the intensity.

When he blinked the tears from his eyes, he could see what was inside, but could not understand at first. Shiny emergency blankets, silvery on one side and gold on the other, reflecting the trunks meager light, were wrapped loosely around a large, man sized bundle.

Conner’s hands were peeling back the metallic sheets before he had time to think, the drive to know almost painful, even as his mind screamed what he already knew: he was carrying a fucking corpse.

Beneath the first shining layer was an woolen army blanket, sodden in black and oily fluids. The smell was even stronger now. Conner debated, briefly, stopping there, but he reached out, and peeled back the blackened sheet, feeling the wet fluids adhere to his slender fingers.

The corpse was naked to the waist, and horridly disfigured. One arm ended in a shredded stump; an unmistakable bruised and pierced field, a buckshot wound, patterned the grey and sunken chest. The head was cracked open, one hand sized chunk of skull, clotted and matted with thinning gray hair, lying next to it. Black and rotten teeth grimaced through a frozen rictus of pain. One dull, dark eye stared up it him.

Around the neck, was a black leather collar, cinched tight against the mottled grey skin. What looked like metallic wires in delicate filagree curved across the leather, tracing a circuit board like design. At the clasp was a small metal box, where the wires met and joined, encircling a small green LED light that winked rhythmically.

Conner stared, disbelieving for some time. The silent forest surround him, and his eyes held fixed on the corpse, the dead hobo with an electric collar in the trunk. He wanted to be angry, he knew he should be terrified, but it simply didn’t make sense, and he could muster no single emotion, despite the hundreds vying for release. The headache pulsed sharply, and it pushed him out of his trance, where he found himself staring off into the woods.

He shut the trunk, after wrapping up the body and wiping off his hands. He found himself back in the drivers seat, staring ahead at the flat road, his breathing oddly calm. He was tired again, and the nameless dancing fear was far at the periphery.

It was simple now. He had to deliver the car. That was all there was to it.

He sped now, against his own rules and instincts, taking the forested roads with reckless velocity, music cranked loud to hammer him awake. It didn’t work. The drowsy fog seemed to tug harder at him now, and the ticking regularity of tall trees, and the rhythm of the white reflective paint on the road beat out a tattoo of hypnotic regularity.

It was a while before he came to realize that the radio was no longer on. There was only the steady lulling white noise of the engine, the hiss of the tires peeling away from the asphalt. And the knocking from the trunk.

A steady beat of impacts. Sharp raps. Fists on metal.

Conner closed his eyes tight, grinding his teeth together. The headache took on a new pitch, a sudden sharpening, and a chill spread across his body. He pressed the accelerator as if he could speed himself bodily away from the trunk and it’s cargo, but he felt it speeding with him, pursuing him with a matched intensity.

When he opened his eyes, his heart leapt into his throat. The forest was gone. He was on a four lane highway, but the terrain was foreign to him. He resisted the urge to stop sharp again, tried to quell the hammering in his chest, but he could settle the panicked animal desperation.

Everything was wrong. Despite the massive road, he was the only driver in either direction. There were no road signs. No mile markers. He’d lost time on long drive before, but he always stayed on course, coming out of the trance precisely where he wanted to be. And he’d never been lost. Conner knew every thoroughfare and backwoods trail for 100 miles in every direction.

But he could not tell where he was. The clock on the dashboard proclaimed that he’d lost mere minutes. He’d been a dozen miles from any road of this size.

It’s not fair, he thought, and then repeated it again, aloud. His voice was pinched and thin. A child’s protest.
“That’s not possible.”

The unbroken field of blacktop and reflective plastic and paint rolled away beneath him and behind. The trunk was now silent, but still lingered malignant behind him. He grabbed the telephone beside him, and flipped it open. Nothing.

Conner only had one course of action that he could see. Take the first exit, find another service station, reorient, deliver the fucking car. The little thread of hope, woven by as solid a plan as he could muster tugged at him, and he pushed the little blue sedan even harder. Together, driver and passenger hurtled down the road.

He felt a surge of elation, as up ahead, an orange sign broke the monotony of the phantom freeway. It resolved from the gloom as he approached, tall black letters reading ROADWORK AHEAD.

It wasn’t what he’d hoped for, but it was a change, and something to break the impossible blankness of the unknown road.

Ahead, the left lane was blocked off by a sloping line of bright orange traffic cones, pushing Conner one lane over. The line continued, disappearing into the dark. Conner strained to see the lights and hear the sound of construction vehicles, the late night shift adding a fresh layer of tar. Nothing.

The line of cones veered again, blocking of the next lane. Conner merged with it, feeling his hopes seep away into the dark. The line moved again, forcing him into the far right lane.

Finally, as he understood it would be before he even saw it, the plastic traffic cones blocked of the last lane, and then the shoulder, one bright orange line, bisecting and blocking any further progress.

Conner slowed, ingrained instincts to obey all rules of the road screaming as they tried to process this logical contradiction. It didn’t take long for him to decide. He knew he didn’t want to be out here, alone, and unmoving, with the thing in the back. The thing that might not be dead. If he was rolling, he was at least getting closer to being done with it all. He gunned the engine, brought the car back up to speed and plowed through the line of cones.

They folded beneath his wheels, tossed high into the air, and illuminated by the red of his brake lights as they bounced off the road into the night. Everything in Conner’s career had been focused on not drawing attention. He’d not been pulled over since he was caught joyriding at age 13 with a phone book beneath his seat, and a tin can tied to his foot to reach the pedals. He’d made a career of escaping notice, but now he found himself wishing to see flashing blue and reds lights behind him.

He didn’t know how he’d explain driving into a roadwork zone, speeding, or the hideous wreck of flesh in the trunk. He didn’t care. He’d give anything to see another person. If he could just reach Reynolds, hear that calming voice…

Ahead, the four dotted lines of reflective paint vanished. The four lanes evaporated into a featureless plain of smooth black tar. Conner felt empty, beyond shock. Hot tears welled up in his eyes. Without the lines of the road, he suddenly felt he was drifting, veering of the road. Impulsively, he turned sharp to the right. The smooth field of blacktop spread away into the distance of his headlights.

“Fuck this.”

The sound of his own voice shocked him, causing him to leap slightly, and he let his foot of the pedal. The car drifted to a stop. He opened the door, and stepped out, onto the black plain. The brittle pain in his head flared as he did, but he knew that if he could just get away from the car, he could think straight.

He picked a direction and began to walk. The night sky was starless, the horizon featureless. He looked behind him, once, seeing the pool of bright light where the car still sat. His head throbbed, and he picked up his pace, jogging now.

The night air was clean and sweet, and although the throbbing in his head still continued, he felt refreshed by the freedom of being on his own two feet.

After what felt like several miles, walking blind across the asphalt field, he began to worry if Reynolds would ever hire him again. Such a relatively mundane concern, absurd in his current situation, hooked him like an anchor.

He was hallucinating, he realized. Although he couldn’t tell where his senses became unreliable, he knew that was the only possible answer. And sooner or later, he would stop. And he’d likely never work as a courier again, would likely have ruined Reynolds business with his strange, wealthy client that paid to have the corpses of transients shipped across backwoods roads, but so fucking what? With a dry chuckle he realized that Reynolds would be better off without that sort of client even if the old man didn’t see it that way at first, because who knows what the client would ask of him next? And hell, he’d find work again, even if he had to uproot and find a new backyard to get familiar with, because he was the best goddamn driver there was.

Up ahead, he saw a light, a tiny deviation in the darkness, and he began to run, a smile spreading across his face. As he approached, the skin on the back of his neck seemed prickle, and the icy point of the headache pushed deeper. He knew what he was looking at, but he still couldn’t accept it.

It was the sound that made it real. The engine he heard first, then the other sounds, the chirping ring of his cellphone on the front seat, the bleating of the car’s open door alarm, and then at last, the steady tapping from the trunk.

He didn’t want to look at it, wanted to turn away and run off into the dark forever, rather than confront the car and its evil fucking cargo just a few feet in front of him when it should be miles away.

He picked one errant thought out of the confused and desperate whirlwind of his mind: The phone. It was still ringing. He pressed in closer to the car, feeling its presence like a thick fog, blacker than the darkness around it. It seemed to yield to his incursion, allowing him in to shut off the engine and grab the phone.

He clicked the phone open and pressed it to his ear, trying to ignore the noises from the trunk.

“Hello?” he whispered into the receiver.

“Conner.” It was Reynolds’s voice, but something was wrong. The sharp precise diction, the smooth tone, some indefinable quality was gone. “Conner, listen to me.”

“Oh Jesus, Ren, I think I’m in a lot of trouble.”

“Did you unlock the package?”

“Fuck no, sir, but I don’t think that matters.”

“You have to check. As long it’s still locked, nothing else matters.”

“I don’t think I can look in there. I think it’s still alive.”

“Conner. You must.”

Conner felt the heat rising in him again, the paralyzing anger at the absolute bullshit unfairness of it all, and he yowled wordlessly at the sky, before shakily approaching the rear of the car.

He slid the key in, fingers trembling uncontrollably, and swung the trunk open. The smell hit him, but it had changed, the rot had gave way to some predator musk that put Conner’s hair on end.

The silver blankets were shredded and pushed aside. The thing inside was almost unrecognizable. The shredded arm was now a thin and reedy limb, pink and newborn with too many jointed elbows. The buckshot wound was almost invisible, and Conner watched in horror as one of the few remaining holes disgorged a small lead ball before closing up around it.

Both eyes stared out at Conner, one shrunken and glistening, but filled with malevolent light. It grinned, revealing not the black and rotted teeth he’d remembered, but a shark’s grin.

Conner found himself on his back, not remembering falling, scuttling feebly away from the car. The headache was suddenly gone, and a confusing flood of stimuli crashed against the beachhead of his senses.
He was still in the woods.

The car was pulled off to the side of the road. In the sudden painless clarity, the broken parts of the last hours fell into place. He remembered opening the trunk that first time seeing the body. He remembered stripping the collar from the corpse, tossing it into the woods. He remembered wondering why he’d done it even as his fingers closed around it.

He remembered forgetting. He remembered wondering why he’d found himself staring off into the woods.
He still couldn’t find his footing, could only crawl away from the open trunk, the thing now rearing upward, silhouetted by the wan light of the trunk’s single bulb. One of the too long limbs, with the impossible joints slid out, a spider emerging from a drain.

The phone was still in his hand, and he saw, without any real surprise, that it was still searching fruitlessly for a connection. He tossed it away, using his hands to pull himself upright.

It was out now, crouched and waiting. Its dark eyes flickered in the moonlight.

Conner raised himself slowly to unsteady feet. The thing mirrored him, extending to its full and horrid height, the bloody scraps of pants clinging to it’s pale and now unmarked frame.

Disgorged of its hideous cargo, the little car now looked like sanctuary, like hope, like freedom. But the thing stood between him, and any chance of escape. It leaned forward toward him, the shark teeth glistening with spit.

Conner began to laugh, a hopeless and mournful sound, his limbs locking in fear as it reached out for him, its spider legged hands curling around his arms. Its touch was cold, and the knobby fingers felt like the tightening of vices.

The thing laughed with him.

Credited to Josef K. (Follow up of Exit)

Exit


I know this road better than I know myself. I know each of Interstate 85’s 250 odd miles; I know that it takes me an average of 3 hours and 26 minutes to drive west, from Charlotte to Atlanta, and an average of 3 hours and 29 minutes to make the same trip going eastward. I know the price of gas at a dozen stands, and the closing hours of each fast food shack and greasy diner. I know the curves of each low hill and I know each stand of pine and oak trees. I know the stretching dark of the long winter nights and the wet heat of the summer breeze. I know these things well because they are the totality of my existence now.

I know the names of each exit, westward and east. Batesville, Poplar Springs, Spartanburg. They tick through my head as I pass, but the Silver Creek Road exit is never among them. In three years of this endless loop, it has never appeared again. If I ever begin to doubt that it will, then I have nothing left.

The Silver Creek Road exit doesn’t exist on any map, or at least, it no longer does. It may have once, but like the road itself, it has been razed from the earth and from all memory and record. At the beginning, I spent long anxious days poring over old surveying maps and neighborhood planning documents, searching in vain for any sign of the road, or the exit I know I had taken. When there was nothing left in the libraries and city halls to comb through, no meek county official left to interrogate, wide-eyed and frothing, then I began the drive.

I’ve been through two cars, and have burned through my savings and now survive off a stack of rapidly vanishing credit cards. I have no address to receive bills, and no intention of paying, and have been filling my trunk with small plastic gallon jugs of gas, while the cards are still accepted. When this filthy and battered Oldsmobile gives up the ghost at last, I suppose I will have to learn to hitchhike.

I first took the Silver Creek Road exit three summers ago, on that last night that I was with Bobbie. I have in my head just a few frozen frames of that ride left, her black curls bouncing like springs in the evening breeze, her gapped toothed and freckled smile, and the slow summer crossing into night.

We’d made that drive together a dozen times, between our apartment in Atlanta and her brother in Charlotte. There was nothing remarkable that night. We simply ran low on gas and took the first exit we came across. I remember vividly passing beneath the green and sparkling white letters of the exit sign, and onto the sharp curve of the road.

The street turned perpendicular from the light and noise of the highway into inky darkness of the pine trees. Nothing remarkable to separate it from a hundred other country roads, but as the lights of the car penetrated the darkness, a vague and trembling unease passed through me. The tall rustling pines seemed black even under the blue white of the headlamps, and the road began to rapidly degrade, becoming pocked and uneven just a few dozen yards in.

All the roar and glare from the highway seemed swallowed up behind us, and there were no lights ahead of us for as far as we could see. My insides felt tight and knotted, and I turned to Bobbie. She had her skinny legs tucked to her chest and looked at me, quizzically, one eyebrow raised, with a small crooked smile. Her small bravery seemed to dissipate the chill that had been steadily rising in me.

I looked forward to the road, I felt a sudden sharp pressure on my chest. Stretching out in front of the wan light of the headlamps, the road ended. There was a small field of shattered asphalt slabs, and then the forest swallowed up every trace under a blanket of rotting pine needles. Something twinkled brightly between the trees, and I strained to pick it out of the darkness. It was the smooth chrome of a bumper, attached to a pitted and rusting car, completely enclosed by the towering pines.

A wave of panic and disorientation crawled down my scalp and my knuckles went white on the wheel. Bobbie placed her hand on my shoulder and gently squeezed once.

“Cal,” she said, firm and evenly, “we need to turn around now, honey.”

There was a tremulous quality to the last word, as the surreal darkness seemed to further constrict around us. I heard her take a little gasp of air. I began to turn the wheel when I realized how narrow the road had become. It had been two lanes when we started, I was sure of this, but the forest seemed to be pressing against both sides of the car, far to narrow to turn around. Blood pounded in my temples, and I threw the car into reverse. The boughs of the trees scraped against both sides, soft whispering scratches from the needles and the soft thuds of thicker branches.

Bobbie held her hand on my knee, calming and reassuring even as panic threatened to overwhelm me. I could see the highway moments later, a thin cloud of hazy illumination over the rise behind us, and the forest seemed to part like curtain. Bobbie released her held breath and giggled softly, and I felt a wave of elation wash over me. I turned to her to share relieved smiles, and I locked with her dark eyes when the siren sounded, once and sharp in the silence, and bright blue and red strobes flashed through window.

The police cruiser was parked in the center of the road, crouched low and silent like a predator. The familiar red and blue flicker bathed the street in weird crooked shadows. As I turned off the engine, there was the slam of a car door and I could hear the heavy thud of boots on the road, pacing towards us.

The comforting normalcy of the sight of a police officer began to drain away as he approached in the dark. He carried no flashlight, and I saw his gloved hands hanging straight at his sides in the side mirror as he walked towards me. He was dressed in thick winter wear, with his high collar turned up, and his hat pulled low. He approached the window, and as he leaned straight from the waist to fix his black and beady eyes on mine, I realized just how thin and tall he was.

“License and Registration.” His voice was muffled and thick with a strange and choked drawl, almost unintelligible, and his lips seemed to move in manner counter to the shape of his words. The summer night air around him seemed to grow even warmer. There were no sounds, no wind in the pines, no chirp of insects.

I was mesmerized by the strangeness of what seemed, for all the world, to be an absurd imitation of a man. For the second time in as many minutes, I wondered fleetingly if I was dreaming. I could see now that he had no badge, and was simply dressed in unremarkable black clothes.

The overwhelming fog of dread and panic seemed to condense all at once around me, and singular animal command to flee, at once, drove my hands forward towards the keys.

He was quicker. One black gloved fist slammed into my temple, and a shower of stars exploded over my left eye, and the world tipped sideways.

I remember him dragging me from the car, the shocking heat in his grasp seeming almost to burn. I remember hearing Bobbie’s screams and seeing in dizzy glimpses her brief flight, before being swept into those inhumanly long and slender arms. One glove came off in the struggle and I saw the pale white hand, like an immense knobby spider, each leg tipped with a black and curved talon. The world swam around me, wild and burning, and I struggled to move my limbs.

Bobbie was limp in his arms as he approached me again, and I struggled weakly to my feet. Our eyes met in the red and blue strobe; he looked nothing like a man now, his once pale mockery of humanity was stretching and distending away into some unthinkable shape. He did a very human thing then, and smiled, lips peeling back to reveal rows of thin white needles.

I was running before I knew it, bolting dizzy and weaving down the road. I was vaulting across the shoulder of the highway when my rational mind clawed it’s way to the surface. Coward! it screeched at me. My legs shuddered to stop, and sudden painful guilt flooded my lungs like fluid and stole my breath. Bobbie’s face loomed in my vision and I felt a profound and clear shame pressing down on me.

That’s when the car struck me, sliding on locked and screeching tires. I was tossed into the concrete median, striking the back of my skull. I woke up three days later, wrapped in plaster and flooded with morphine.

Gaffney, Blacksburg, Kings Mountain. The exits pass by, each one decreasing the chance of seeing Silver Creek Road exit on this go around. It was impossible to accept in those first few days of maddening research that Silver Creek Road had simply vanished, and so I made the drive myself, carefully reading each sign. When it failed to manifest itself, I made the drive again, this time at night. And then again.

Sometimes there’s a zen-like quality to the repetition, the familiar patterns of predictability and order. The immutable order of the land, the locked procession of towns and trees is comforting as it continues to grind my hope away like a millstone. Most days, I can believe and accept that Bobbie is gone. There is always that shadow of doubt, that crystalline thread of hope, but it feels hollow in my hands now.

There is one thing I must believe: if it appeared to us once, it will to me again. And if I can find it, that pale horror in a man’s skin, I will kill it. If the bullets fail, I need only a few moments to ignite the trunk’s cargo, and to lure murdering thing to the me.

I swear to the stars, I will never stop looking.


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