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My car won’t start. Oh god, my car won’t start.

It’s okay. Breathe. One, two, three. Breathe. One, two, oh god it still won’t start.

They must all know where I am now. My white car sticks out like a ray of sunshine in the darkness of the surrounding twilit forest.

I’ve got to get the word out. That is, if I don’t make it out of this. Whoever gets this message, if you ever find yourself on a road called Bilderberg Road, do not stop driving.

I did. And now my car won’t start and someone’s fingers are beginning to wedge my door’s window down.
I called the cops. When they hung up on me, I called my parents. I told them I loved them. Then I hung up. I didn’t want them to hear me sobbing and screaming any more than they had to.

Now, you’re all I’ve got left.

Not sure how much time I’ve got until that window gets low enough for them to reach in for me, so I’ll try to make this fast.

My day started like most days – uneventful. I’d been under some stress from work, with several large project deadlines looming just on the horizon. I thought it might do me some good to step out of the office before the shit really hit the fan. Enjoy some nature while I still could. The woods were only a few miles away from the office, after all. And it was the perfect place to decompress.

When the work day was over, I hopped in my car and took off, heading straight for the trees.

I know the forest roads well enough. I’ve lived here for a few years and am no stranger to the calm, curving sweep of the roads that wind through the large oaks. Sometimes, on the weekends mostly, I’ll wake up before the sun rises and head out to the forest with my sketchpad and attempt to draw the forest’s dawn. You know, that brief moment when the sun hits the trees through the mist and its rays dapple across the fallen leaves. I’m not that great of an artist, but I’m good enough to make myself smile. And that’s what counts, I guess.

Anyway, so as I was taking my after-work cruise, I noticed a dirt road branching off from the paved street, with a street sign I’d never seen before. “Bilderberg Road” was all it said. Sounded interesting enough. I thought maybe some new folks had moved into the woods. There were a few cottages and B&B’s that dotted the forest. Maybe these were its newest residents.

I turned down Bilderberg Road and drove slowly for a while. The road was pitted with bumps and holes and felt like it was in disrepair despite it being so new.

A half hour eased by and the sun began to lower below the tips of the trees. It was time to go home. I love the woods, don’t get me wrong. But being there as the sun sets always feels different than being there when it rises. The darkness is different. The gloom more imposing. And the bears would be waking up soon. Last thing I needed was to accidentally hit one with my car.

I pulled onto what little shoulder there was and swung my car around too quickly. I heard something crack beneath me and then everything stopped working. My lights shut off, my steering wheel stuck, and the car refused to turn back on.

I wasn’t worried. Not yet, at least. There were still a few hours of evening daylight and, if worst came to worst, I could hoof it back to the main road and hitchhike into town. Or I could call AAA and relax while they came to my rescue. I opted to go with plan B.

I rang them up and explained where I was to a receptionist who sounded like he’d just woken up. A truck would reach me within an hour or two. But most likely two. Great. I suppose I was fine with it. Two hours gave me time to walk the road a little bit more. Maybe run into whoever just moved in.

I hopped out of the car, put on my sneakers, and started walking. As long as I stayed on the road, there was no chance of getting lost. And even then, my internal compass was usually on point. But as I was walking, I couldn’t shake the uncertainty of the coming dusk. I wouldn’t say I was afraid of the dark, but I’d read so many ghost stories and skinwalker legends on this website that it was impossible not to think about the coming darkness that way. I took a breath. One, two, three. Breathe. Then another.

Up the road ahead of me, a brown paper bag lay crumpled in the dirt road. A little odd, I thought. And discouraging.A new road and there’s already litter. I kicked the bag off to the side. At least it was biodegradable.

Then I saw it.

It was through the trees up ahead. A large, brightly painted brick house. It stood staunch in the trees like a boulder in a stream, and looked as though it had once been out of place, but the moss and constant falling of leaves had assimilated it into its surrounding greenery. A small curl of smoke rose through the chimney that stretched high above the second floor and the lights in the windows were all lit.

Though the sun would be setting in an hour or so, I decided to say hello. The AAA driver would call me, anyway, and it was only a five-minute jog back to my car. I stepped up to their front door, a large oaken thing, and gave it a friendly knock.

“We’ve no one left,” an old voice called out from inside.

“Hello?” I called back. “I’m a neighbor. Sort of. Just wanted to stop by and say hello!”

The door opened a crack and a bloodshot eye blinked out at me. “Let me see your hands,” said the old voice.

Weird. I showed her my hands. “I just wanted to say hi. Welcome you to the neighborhood. Er, community, I guess.”

“Shut the door, Alma!” another voice, this one a man’s, yelled from deeper in the house.

“They haven’t got a bag,” Alma, the woman at the door, shouted back.

I tried to peek past Alma. “Sorry, is this a bad time?”

“It’s almost night,” Alma said. “What do you want?”

“Just to say hi. My car-“

“You should go home.“ She looked past me, into the groves of trees. "It’s almost night.”

“I realize that. But my car broke down a little ways away. I was just out for a walk when I spotted your house. Thought I might welcome you.”

“So you’re not… selling… anything?”

I laughed. “No. Just trying to be friendly.” My text message ringtone chimed from my pocket.

Alma’s face brightened, as though a grand idea had just come to her. “Oh, well if that’s all!” She opened the door wide and beckoned me in. The old woman looked every bit as stereotypically grandmotherly as you could imagine. A pink shawl was draped across her flowery shoulders and her white hair was twirled up in a fluffy bun.

“Pardon the mess,” she said, ushering me through the well-lit hallway. “The grandchildren are out back.”

Down the hallway, an older, large man dressed in flannel came barreling around the corner and ground to a stop. “What the hell are you doing, Alma?” he roared. “Who’s this?”

Alma patted my arm. “A neighbor.”

“Sort of,” I said. “I live back in the city.”

The old man looked confused. “How’d you wind up here?”

“Was just out for a drive when my car broke down. I saw your house and thought I’d be neighborly.”

The old man and Alma exchanged a look. It almost seemed like hope and I wondered how long it had been since they’d seen anyone other than their grandchildren.

“Well,” the old man said, his demeanor completely changed. “Pleasure to meet you. I’m Marty.”

We shook hands and he led me into the den, where they had a roaring fire going. The room was a large one, filled with books and hunting trophies and overstuffed furniture. Clutters of newspapers and magazines from all different years piled up around its edges and a few newspaper articles hung from the walls, beside the severed heads of wild game. On one of the recliners rested a shotgun.

“Please, have a seat,” Marty said. “It’s almost night, after all. You must be tired.”

He scooted a few miscellaneous papers off the couch and patted the cushions. Then he snatched the shotgun from the recliner and smiled at me. “Just giving it a cleaning,” he said as he propped it up on a pair of pegs jutting from above the fireplace.

He brushed off his jeans and eased himself down onto the recliner as Alma reappeared with a plate of cookies, which she placed down in front of me.

“Freshly baked,” she smiled.

“Oh, thanks!” I said.

“So,” Marty said, “Just out for a drive, eh?”

I nodded, my mouth full of warm cookie. “I come through here every so often to clear my head. I’ve never seen your road before, so I thought I’d check it out.”

“Our road, you say?”

“Bilderberg Road.”

“Ah, Bilderberg Road. Yes. That would be us.”

“Yeah. So I was cruising down the road and my car hit something and just died.”

“Cars have a tendency to do that.”

“Yeah, I guess. So I called triple A and they said they’d be here pretty soon.”

“How soon, would you say?”

“Not sure. What time is it?”

“It’s almost night.”

“Well, yeah.” I pulled my cell out of my pocket to check the time and had a few text messages and missed calls. I flicked open the phone. “Sorry. People have been texting me,” I said to Marty, hoping I wasn’t being too rude.

“Oh, no problem at all. Right Alma, dear?”

“Not anymore, sweetie.” She smiled back and shuffled off.

I scrolled through the messages. All of them from AAA.

Can’t find Bilderberg Road on GPS.


Please call. Bilderberg Road not on maps.




“Huh,” I said.

Marty poured himself a glass of whiskey and took a sip. “What’s wrong?”

I shook my head. “Guess there’s bears or something outside tonight. Bunch of warnings about not leaving the car.”

“Well, it is almost night, after all.”

“Yeah. Which reminds me. Alma said your grandkids were out back?”

“All eight of ‘em. And their folks, too. Hence the mess in here.”

“Shouldn’t they think about coming in? Sounds like it’s not a good idea to be outside tonight.”

“Oh, it definitely isn’t.” He set his drink down. “Alma, would you tell the kids to come inside,” he called.

Alma giggled from the other room.

The feelings of unease started to chill my skin again. Something about these people, as friendly as they were, made me uncomfortable. It was almost hunger in their eyes as they looked at me. “Mind if I use the restroom?” I asked.

“Not at all. It’s just down the hall there.”

I stood slowly and took a few breaths. One, two, three. Breathe.

When I got to the bathroom, I closed and locked the door. Then I dialed AAA.

“Hello, you’ve reached triple A. My name is Ryan, what can I do to make your day fantastic?” said the same sleepy operator.

“Hi,” I said, “You guys were just texting me about not leaving my car. I’m on Bilderberg Road.”

“Texting you about the car. Hold please.”

Someone knocked on the door. “Everything alright in there?” came Alma’s voice.

“Yep. Great. The tow truck called about my car.”

“Ohhh,” she said, and shuffled off.

The line clicked back on and Ryan said, “Hello?”

“Hello? Yes?”

“Yeah, my supervisor wants to talk to you.” Then the line clicked and a new voice started whispering loudly into the phone.

“Do not go outside,” said the supervisor. “Do not speak to anyone. Do not, for any reason, leave your car.”

“Wait, what?”

“Do not be alarmed. The police are… on their way.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I can’t tell you. Not over the phone.”

Then the line clicked off and I sat there on the toilet staring at my phone for a minute. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I stood up and looked around.

“Everything alright, dearie?” came Alma’s voice again.

I looked out the window, into the darkening forest. “I uh…” A line of fifteen small, white crosses stood tall against the shadowed trees. “Alma?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Where are your grandchildren?”

“Well, sweetie,” she said slowly, like she was talking to one of her little ones, “It sounds an awful lot like you’ve found them. How about you come on out of there. It’s almost night, after all.”

I punched 911 into my phone and climbed into the bathtub.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?”

“I’m trapped.”

“You’re trapped where?”

“I’m-I think some of your officers are on their way out to me. But, I want to make sure.”

“Where are you? Tell me where you are.”

“I’m on Bilderberg Road. The street’s name is Bilderberg Road.”

“… Bilderberg Road?”

“Yes. I’m in a brick house owned by these two old people and one of them has a gun. They have a graveyard behind their house.”

The operator sighed. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”


“You say you’re on Bilderberg Road?”

“Yes! You take the road through the forest and there’s a small dirt road that leads off the main one.”

“I’m aware. And I apologize, but there’s nothing I can do.”

“What the fuck do you mean-“

The connection cut off and I found myself staring at my phone again.

What the hell do they mean there’s nothing they can do? They’re the police, for fuck’s sake!

“Sweetie, it’s time to come out now,” Alma said through the door.

A weapon! I thought. I need a weapon. I looked around the bathroom, but the closest thing to a weapon that I could find was a bundle of soaps. No mirror to break into shards. No towel rack to rip off the wall. And the window was too small to crawl through. Or was it?

I pushed against the glass, hoping it would open outward, when I saw something moving in the woods, just beyond the graves. A bear? No…something else. Something human.

“I’ve got my shotty aimed at the door, kid,” said Marty. “Come on out and we won’t hurt you.”

“I’m sure,” I yelled back.

“Never hurt a soul in my life.”

“Then how do you explain the graves in the back yard?” The window didn’t budge. I slumped to the ground.

“Wasn’t us that hurt ‘em. It was them.”

I shook my head. “Them?”

The gun cocked. “Come on out.”

I pushed myself up and took a breath. One, two, three. Breathe.

I pushed open the door. One, two, three. Breathe. I wanted to fly. Or fight, even. But my mind betrayed me, and my body went completely numb.

Marty stood in the hallway, his shotgun raised, Alma right beside him. They didn’t look at me the way I’d expected. There was no bloodlust. No rage. There was just…greed. I felt like a fucking poker chip.

“Sorry about this, kiddo,” Marty said. He tipped the gun towards the front door. “It’s almost night.”

“What’s going on?” I said as terrified tears raced down my cheeks.

“Oh, honey,” Alma said, patting my arm again. “You were the answer to our prayers.”

“I don’t…”

“We ran out. It took years and years, but we eventually ran out.”

“Of what?”

“Sons. Daughters. Granddaughters. Brothers and sisters. Every one of ‘em. We had nobody left to give.”

Marty poked my chest with the gun. “Go on. Towards the door, now.”

I took a few slow steps back.

“When you came knocking, I had this here shotgun pushed so far back in my mouth, I almost choked on it.”


“Alma was goin’ to make arsenic cookies. But we settled on something less painful. That is, until our ‘neighbor’ showed up.”

“There was no arsenic in the cookies, don’t worry,” Alma said reassuringly.

We reached the door and Alma opened it. “From the bottoms of our hearts, we thank you.”

“For-for what?”

“Darlin’ you just bought us years.”

Marty swung his gun up and caught me in the gut. I crumpled to the ground, my breath blown out of me, and Alma shoved me out the door and onto their brick stoop. The door swung shut behind me and a loud click locked it from within.

I tried to breathe, but the pain was too much and I could only suck in small, sharp breaths. Then, from the woods around me, figures started to emerge. Dark, humanoid. No. Human. They were men and women, all dressed in business attire, with suits and skirts and ties.

Only, they all wore bags on their heads. Every one of them. Brown paper bags with no holes for their eyes. They moved towards me slowly, their heads twitching back and forth, like they were listening for something. And they hunched over as they stepped silently through the leaves, their fingers stretched wide, ready to latch onto…oh god.

I held what little breath I had and pushed myself up, the adrenaline in my system overriding the pain.

“Just let them do what they came here to do, kiddo,” Marty said through the window beside me, where he and Alma stood, smiling. “They paid a lotta money for this.”

Then I ran. I ran as hard as I could, fighting the stabbing cramp in my gut. One of the people lunged for me and I dodged right, their clawed fingers grasping for my shirt. My car wasn’t far. Five minutes if I jogged. Yet, as I ran, more people kept pushing their way out of the trees. All of them wearing the bags. Some stained, others with branches or leaves protruding from them. All of them pale, with their fancy clothes and their long, reaching fingers.

I leapt past another one and lunged for my car door as a dozen more emerged from the woods ahead of me. I slammed the door shut behind me and hit the lock button as many times as I could.

“What the fuck is going on?” I breathed to myself as I pushed back against the seat. They had swarmed my car, but they weren’t being violent with it. In fact, they seemed to be stroking it. Holding my car tenderly. When one of them scratched a diamond ring across the window, the others turned and beat her ruthlessly. And all the while, they never made a sound. Only the rustling of paper bags. The swish of cloth. The clack of expensive jewelry.

It’s been half an hour now. My car won’t start. It still won’t fucking start. I was hoping that they wouldn’t make it inside the car by the time the sun came up, but the fingers are almost all the way through the wedge they’ve made. I tried kicking at them and punching them and burning them with the cigarette lighter, but they just come back. And every time they come back, my window gets a little lower. Fractions of fractions lower, but still. There’s nothing left for me to do.

If you’re reading this, then send whatever help you can to Bilderberg Road. If you can. I don’t know why nobody else can help me.

Credits to: Colorthebooks

Sitting in my new house, I couldn't get used to living there. I spent a long time at my old apartment. Seven years I was at the same place, saving up my money and going to college. It was close to the school and I got comfortable. Guess you could say I got stuck in a rut. Then I finally finished school and got a job. Everything just sort of clicked for me. It was awesome, I never really thought it would all happen so fast.

When I was moving in, it felt great. The place was huge, looking back, I don't really know why I wanted such a big place for just myself. At the time, I was only thinking about money and the fact that it was close to my work. It wasn't an old house, it looked like it was built in the nineties or early twenty-first century. Streaming along the floors and ceilings were etched designs of ornamental soldiers and ships. They may have even been handcrafted. Solid white, with a glossy sheen which, during the day, reflected brightness off the hardwood floors and linoleum.

The appliances and furniture were extremely modern. I'm guessing newer than the house itself, but maybe not. However, the fixtures appeared outdated. There was a fuse box in the basement that looked very much older than the nineties. This time gap I found especially bothersome. I was worried about the wiring in particular. Everything else was too perfect though; it was well within my budget and I could even walk to work, so I went through with the agreement.

I still had boxes on the floor and was in the middle of figuring out where to put all my stuff when night came. It had been a long day, and I fell asleep quickly. The radio was blasting, it always relaxed me to sleep since I was a student. An old habit from my days in the dorm rooms, when other people were intent on keeping me awake by being rowdy at midnight. There was a lot to be done the next day situating my belongings. I drifted into a nap on the couch in the living room.

What transpired that first night I cannot explain easily. Mostly, I was made uncomfortable, jarring awake in my sleep with regularity. Nobody could have been in the house. The doors were all locked securely, even the windows had been latched. Making themselves present throughout the early morning hours were startling sounds, which allowed me no peace. They were mostly centered around the upstairs area, but at one point, I swear that someone was talking right next to me, which stopped as soon as I bolted upright. This was unsettling to say the least. I had no intention of simply adjusting, and I walked down the stairs into the basement. There would be much less noise, I presumed, but something hit me as I laid down. The radio was turned off, and it had been since the first time I was aroused.

"You're trying to hurt us!" I heard.

I was stunned to my very core. Scanning the room for a moment, I knew it had not originated from far away. There was no way I was going to sleep in the cellar. My groove had been smashed. Immediately, I grabbed my bedding, and made my way to the upstairs. This notion was not particularly logical, but it was a large house, and I assumed the hushed whispers would be lost to the expanse. Not remembering earlier, when the upstairs had been the source of the babel, all my focus was on getting some rest. Things digressed when I got into one of the bedrooms, where I gently dozed off soon thereafter. I'm not sure how long I had slept before, once again, I was stirred.


The closet door slammed. Instantly, I went into a panic and jumped out of the room. In the hallway, I looked back at the room. It wasn't morning yet, the darkness was still dominating my vision, still I could tell there was blackness lingering on the ceiling huddled in a corner. A shape, that's the best I can describe it, with strands stretching from the form that pooled above the door across the room.

Making my way down the stairs, I heard the sound of footsteps darting around the living room. I was frightened at the thought of even moving past them. Looking at the clock, I noticed the time was 2:34 and it was no wonder I felt tired. I turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, and my heart stopped at what I saw. Standing at the front door, where I was planning on exiting, stood a lifeless figure. Angular in stature, it suddenly faded a moment after. Distressed as I was, I made it to the porch and decided I would never come back.

I had to pay the rent for that month, but I kept my job, and luckily I was able to afford a new place. There's not even the possibility in my mind of telling anyone about that night. Let's just say that I prefer crowded apartments now. I asked the landlord, "Why is that place so nice, for so cheap?"

He said to me, "The wiring is a little fucked up."

About a week later, authorities found him slashed and gutted in the basement. I heard about it on the radio. The police came looking for him after his family filed a missing person's report. Apparently, not one of them would enter the place until there was nine of them at the ready. They could hear the voices which I knew to be from the basement saying, "He was gonna hurt us."

It’s not easy being a kid these days. Just when I finally made some friends, my parents told me we’d be moving again. I hated moving, but my parents assured me that I’d have fun and make new friends where we were going. The next day we boarded a giant ship which led me to question where we were going. I ask my parents but all they said was that it was a better place than here. I shrugged it off and examined the ship. It was nothing like I had ever seen before. Although I have never seen a boat or ship of any kind, I was sure that this one was new.

There were no sails or wood at all… it was all metal. The inside was more massive than the outside. Blinking lights, all sorts of metal objects, and men in weird steel suits! It felt like a dream! Like I went to the future! I wanted to explore it, but my parents told me to stay put in our room. With nothing to do, I decided to just sleep the entire trip until we reached land. Maybe things over there are as cool as this boat…

The next day, my parents woke me up and told me we reached our destination. I was excited to see how the city looked! When we exited the ship, I was shocked to see where we had ended up. It was… a city but… it was all metal. It was definitely like nothing I have ever seen! I couldn’t see the sky though… it was pitch black outside. I tried to ask my parents about it but they quickly led me into the complex. We walked from the station to a train station. We needed to take the train to get to our new home. While we were boarding, I could’ve sworn I heard a loud, booming voice. I couldn’t make out what it was saying from the loud screeching of train tracks as we left the station. I knew the trip was going to be long so I decided to rest my eyes again. Can’t wait to meet the other kids here…

A few hours later, I was awoken by an abrupt halt. We arrived. As we exited the train, there were thousands of people walking around and talking to others. We maneuvered through the packs of people and stacked luggage and walked the rest of the way to the apartments. Just as we walked, I saw other kids running around and playing. I wanted to go too but my mother kept me close to her side. She reassured me I could go play once we got home and unpacked.

On that note, I looked all around the establishment. It was definitely bigger than the boat we came on and way more metallic. I still couldn’t see the sky… or the sun for that matter. I told myself it may just be night since we did leave in the morning. After what felt like miles of walking, we finally made it to the apartment. While my parents checked in at the front desk, I snuck away to explore the building.

As I walked, I heard a little girl singing… Eager to meet someone new, I hurried toward the singing. It was coming from one of the rooms on the second floor. I quickly ran up the stairs and through the halls. As I neared toward the source, I found a room with the doorway half open. I crept inside and slowly walked to the source. I knelt down and looked through a crack in the doorway. It was a little girl… probably younger than me. She was combing and brushing a doll’s hair. As I opened the door, I suddenly hear a loud creak. It was the floorboards.

As it creaked, the little girl looked at me and started to yell and scream really loudly. As she screamed, I heard bulky steps coming toward the room. I ran right out of the room thinking that her father had her. As I ran down the stairs, I bumped into my parents. I could tell they were mad at me for wandering off, but they let me off with a warning.

They then led me to the elevator and told me our room was on the fifth floor. As the stood and waited, I couldn’t stop thinking about the little girl. I really hope I didn’t scare her or anything… I just wanted to make a friend. The elevator suddenly came to stop on the fifth floor. Our room was at the far right of the hallway; just a few steps from the elevator.

We quickly entered to find a room filled with light, it also had red and white wallpaper, and red carpeting. My parents told me to take my luggage to the room on the right and unpack. A few minutes after packing, I felt tired and weary from all the excitement of the day. I decided to take a quick nap and jumped into bed. I couldn't wait to meet all the other kids tomorrow…

As I woke up the next day, I noticed the lights were off. I quickly fumbled around for a light switch and instead found a flashlight. I turned it on and looked around the house. Seemed like my parents were still asleep so I decided to explore the apartment complex some more. I knew I would be punished if my parents knew I was walking around in the middle of the night but I was just too excited.

I practically ran out of the room shivering with excitement. I slowly walked down the stairs all the way to the second floor. I remembered what had happened yesterday and wanted to try to apoligize and make at least one friend. I slinked my way to the room and to my surprise the door was open. Once inside the room, I carefully made sure not to step on any creaky floorboards this time.

I opened the little girl's door and peeked inside. She wasn't asleep... but... still playing as before. I made my way into the room and made my presence known. She quickly turned around and stared at me intently. "I'm sorry about yesterday," I said nervously. "I'm new here and only wanted to meet some of the other kids here."

The girl didn't say anything and just kept staring at me. I found this weird but disregarded it and asked, "Can I play with you?"

At the sound of the word, the little girl grinned widely and happily said, "Okay!"

We played for what seemed like forever and I had quite a lot of fun. As we were playing, she suddenly stopped and looked up with a depressing look on her face. I asked, "What's wrong?"

She stood up and said, "Daddy doesn't want me to play with you anymore...."

She pointed past me and I slowly followed her finger. To my horror, a big man in what seemed to be a metal suit looked down at me. I tried to escape but the metal man grabbed me and threw me across the room into the hallway, against the wall.

The next day, I woke up in what seemed to be a hospital. My head was throbbing and my parents rushed to my side. They scolded me for running off at night but were relieved that I was safe.

As my parents comforted me, a doctor and an important looking man came to my side. "You should be more careful, young lad! You're lucky you weren't killed!" said the important looking man.

"Those Big Daddies don't show any mercy... oh and welcome to Rapture, my boy," he said with a big, creepy grin.

I was glad to be moving. I never liked my city. It was too loud for me anyways.

I looked around at my family members in the car. My parents up front, were chatting cheerfully away at what our new town will be like. My father, who was driving the curves of the street carefully, was offered a lawyer position at the town that paid him double what he made back in the city. My mother, an antique store owner, was happy to be able to open up a bigger antique shop in our new town. My brother, sitting quietly beside me, had his headphones plugged in his ear as usual. He was only a year older than me, a senior in high school. He was the only person in the car that felt bitter about our move.

The move into our new house went by quickly. The mover trucks came the next day and we got down to business. It took us about two weeks to fully move into the house.

The house was big and beautiful. My father was so happy we could afford it. My mother loved the fact it was so old. Her antique geek side loved everything about the house. My brother never really spoke since we got there. He just shuffled around the house in the sour mood he took on since he heard we were moving. Myself? I thought it was pretty rad. My room was huge and I was able to put everything in its place. It didn't even matter that the floorboards were creaky.

The house was the last house on a large street, far away from the city. Beside us, was another large house; and beside that was another. All three houses were very aged, and there was a tremendous amount of space between them. My father loved the amount of acres we had. He had plans to build a nice shed and bring in some farming material. "We have to fit in with the rest of the town, don't we?" he always joked.

Fast forward. It was our fourth week into the house. The summer air was dry and the sun beat down into the window of my room. It was an absolute beautiful day, and I was excited to go into town. I got up and had breakfast. My mom baked muffins and fed us bacon. I always loved her cooking. I got upstairs and hopped into the shower. I cranked the radio up high and sang loudly as I showered. I was in an excellent mood.

I hopped out of the shower and started to towel dry my hair. Suddenly, I heard a tapping at the bathroom window. A bird? No. That couldn't have been it. My bathroom window was somewhat small, and it was the faded ones. You know, those kind of windows that you couldn't see outside of. I opened the window a bit and found a tree branch hitting itself against the window. I glanced behind it.

Rain. Lots of it.

It was so ugly outside. Where did the beautiful sun go? That dry, crisp air was replaced with a gloomy, sad atmosphere? Despair continued to wash over me as I continued to look outside as I got dressed. Our day plans were ruined.

Everyone stayed inside that day. We found things to do. We cleaned the kitchen, and reorganized the living room to look better. My brother even helped for the first time. "We'll go to town tomorrow. This is probably just a summer storm," my dad reassured me. I got into bed that night, praying we could go out tomorrow.

The next morning hit me like a ton of bricks. I woke up in a daze, sticky with sweat. The sun shined in my room, leaving a rainbow pattern on my ceiling. It was another beautiful day, but I felt terrible. Cold sweat ran down my legs and my head was pounding. I decided to sleep a little longer. I hoped if I woke up again, maybe the headache would pass.

I woke up three hours later, and still felt sick. Something felt different though. I glanced out the window. It was pouring again. It was worse than yesterday. Fog stuck to my window and I couldn't see more than three feet away from the house. Raindrops hit the leaves on the trees violently, causing them to thrash about. Our plans were ruined once again.

Just like yesterday, we stayed inside. We found more things to do. We dusted the shelves, we mopped the floor, we even rearranged the living room again.

The fourth day. Rain would not stop hitting our roof. It was disgusting outside. We had no connection to the outside world. We hadn't even had time to hook up our cable or our internet. It was too dangerous to go into the city, let alone have them come out to us. The roads were slippery and it was starting to flood. The rain felt like it was draining my energy. I started staying in bed longer.

The sixth day came. The rain still poured. Thunder greeted us with a cackling laugh. We were running out of food in the house and my brother started to get more angry. We needed to get out, but we were trapped. The roads were flooded and we still had no connection to the outside world.

We ran out of ways to rearrange the living room.

I rolled out of bed around one in the afternoon. I felt so gloomy lately, I hadn't any energy to get out of bed. I sipped some orange juice and made myself some toast. My mother had stopped making breakfast.

My father paced around the house. He was nervous for himself and our future. He hadn't gone into work since we got there. He was scared he would be fired; but his coworkers were stuck inside due to the storm, right?

The eleventh day came, and nothing seemed to get better. The trees became bare from the wind. The sky was a murky, dark blue tint. We were all miserable. The last of our food sat on our kitchen table. We were so hungry, we needed to eat. We sat around the island and finished off what we had left.

Finally, the fourteenth day came. My brother never came out of his room anymore. He just laid in his bed, his eyes never blinking. As always, his headphones were plugged into his ears. I don't think he noticed his battery died two days ago. My father was lying on the couch. He did not move, he did not make a sound. He had been lying there for a while then. Was he taking a nap? I'd never witnessed a grown man napping for that long. Myself? I sat beside my mother on the kitchen table. Her body felt cold and her eyes were shut. She laid her head down an hour ago and had stopped responding to my questions. I had been living off the crumbs I could find in our garbage. Gross, I know—but what was I supposed to do?

For the next few days, I sat beside each individual family member and talked to them. I talked to them about everything. My fears and anxieties about the new school year, and the friends I hoped I would make. They never talked back, just listened. It felt good to be listened to. I was sick, skinny with hunger. The house started to smell bad, but from what? We had no food left... what could be rotting? I tried to ask my mom what we should do. She never answered.

The rain still poured, it never did stop.

I needed fresh air. I needed to get away from that awful stench. Where could I go? It was a disaster outside. I shuffled to the door. I could barely hold myself up anymore. I turned the knob and opened it. The door creaked powerfully and the floorboards underneath me creaked as I stepped outside to the front porch. I suddenly felt like I was in water. Everything was dripping all around me, almost like the world was melting. It was like I had dove into the ocean. I took a few more steps, until I was off my porch and on the grass. It felt slimy with the rain. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. The air was damp but it felt good going through my dry nostrils. I opened my eyes and—


It was liked I stepped into a whole different world.

The rain was gone. Actually, it was like it was never there. The trees were back to normal, with their crisp, green leaves. The road was no longer flooded and our grass was back to a nice and bright green. Finally, the sky was light blue and the sun was shining down on my face. I was confused, to say the least. It was hauntingly rainy before. Now, it looked like a drop of rain hadn't hit the floor in weeks. With the last energy I had in me, I shuffled to where the road started. I turned around and my dry, red eyes grew wide. In front of me, stood our new house but it didn't look like the house that was there in the beginning.

It looked rotted. It slumped down, almost like it couldn't hold up its own weight any longer. I remember seeing it move up and down, almost like it was taking deep breaths. I swear my eyes were playing tricks on me. Water dripped from every part of the house and the windows looked steamed, water droplets forming in them. The wood on the roof was starting to peel.

I had no energy left. Just like the house, I couldn't hold itself up anymore. I knelt to my knees. I laid my head down on the warm road. It felt good against my cheek and I could hear the house creaking loudly. I slowly closed my eyes.

"Excuse me, miss? Excuse me?"

I heard a voice. I didn't have the strength to open my eyes.

"Does she have a pulse?"

I felt a cold finger press against my neck.


"Do you think she'll make it?"

"Let's hope to God she does."

I opened my eyes to find myself in a hospital bed. I was so weak, so skinny. I could barely keep my eyes open. A doctor stood at the corner of the room and he was speaking to a female nurse.

"I can't believe she made it," the nurse sighed.

"Yes, it was a miracle. She's in critical condition," he said, scribbling things down in a notebook.

"Poor girl, did you hear the sheriff? Her whole family died of starvation." She shifted her weight. She looked uneasy.

"I just don't get it. They never even left the house when they got there. It's like they wanted to starve themselves." He glanced over at the window.

"Did you hear the rumors? The sheriff went and investigated the fact that no one heard from them since they moved to town. Everyone was buzzing about them, but they never showed up anywhere. I believe people were getting worried." She shifted again. "He found her family stuck to the floorboards of the house. He said it almost looked like the roots of a tree were going into their veins." She hesitated and brought her voice down to a whisper. "They said the house was draining all their energy."

"That's a load of bullshit," the doctor's voice chimed in. A little too high, I supposed. The nurse shushed him. "It's bullshit just like the other stories of the family before them," the doctor whispered.

"Yes, but don't you think it's weird that it's the second time this has happened? We're lucky the girl survived."

"Maybe this time, we can get some answers," the doctor replied.

I bobbed my head to the side lazily. It felt good to be around people again. It had been such a long time since I had heard other humans speak outside of the house. I bobbed my head up again and forced my eyes open.

"Oh, look. She's awake," the nurse announced. Her expression changed and a smile played across her face. "Good morning. How ya' feeling?" I blinked my eyes and shook my head back and forth. "It seems you're still groggy? That's alright, we'll get you feeling in top shape soon enough," she happily said. I blinked again and nodded as my head fell down. I felt so weak.

I looked down at my narrow wrists. My veins popped out, a circuit of dark blue lines running up my arm. Then, in my dazed state, I noticed my veins throbbing. I focused and lifted my wrist closer to my face. Protruding out of a vein was a tiny splinter, exactly the same color as the floorboards of my new house.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
You’ve been reading “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité, written nearly 100 years ago in 192

To the one I'll end up with,

Love is not easy. It never will be. So I hope that you can find your love for me in your heart, for when the time comes that your mind couldn't process your love for me, I know that your heart will.

Love is just not about happiness. It is also about sacrifice, compromise, and a lot of other unpleasant things. So let's make a very firm foundation of love, trust, and respect so that when the going gets tough, we will give it a good fight.

I hope that you won't give up on me. I do not wake up at the right side of the bed all the time. Believe me, I have mood swings and it will drive you crazy. The good side that you see often is only half of who I am. I hope that you'd stay when you get to see the other half of me and believe me, it is not pleasant at all. I hope that you'd understand my insecurities and assure me that you are mine. I tend to get jealous; not that I don't trust you, it's just that I am afraid to lose you, I am afraid of losing someone that I love, I am afraid of getting hurt. I am afraid of a lot of things and I hope you'd banish that fear. I cannot say all of the bad things about me, I guess, it is for you to find out and I hope that when you do, you'd still think that I am worth the stay.

Make me believe, please. Understand that someone broke my heart into tiny pieces and although I took my time putting myself all together, the scar will be there. Mend that scar. Make me believe in love again because, honestly, right now, I don't. Make me believe in love, make me want to love all over again. Make me believe that we could last a lifetime, because someone fucked up the meaning of "forever" for me. Give me a reason to wake up and look forward to each day, because right now, I don't even know why I need to wake up anymore.

I loved someone so much and I thought that person is my greatest love. Surpass that. Be the one who is even greater than the greatest love that I had.

I hope that when God lets you in my life, I am ready. I want you to come at the right time because I don't want to give you the burden of healing me. Trust me, I am trying to heal myself right now and I am not just trying, I am trying very hard.

And if ever you are meant for me, I hope you are meant to stay. I am already in the stage of life where all I want is something serious and something that would last.

And if ever you turn out to be the person who shattered my heart into pieces, my greatest love, I hope this time you already know my worth. I hope this time you are meant to stay.

“Anna, would you like some more tea?”

A stuffed lion, several worn dolls and a teddy bear with a missing eye sat in a congenial group on the attic playroom floor. The early autumn sun slanted through the little windows, making the air hot and still and illuminating the drifting dust motes. She picked up a chipped cup and poured the imaginary tea.

Downstairs her family was busy preparing for their departure. The furniture lay under white shrouds. The shutters were closed. Mother’s voice echoed through the house, ordering the servants to attend to last minute tasks.

“Violet,” she admonished, “You always eat too many scones.” The doll slumped in silent attrition. She poured more tea.

The trunks were loaded, the locks checked and rechecked. Mother and her brothers and sisters and the servants climbed into the four waiting carriages, amid much commotion, and rattled away. The sun was slanting low through the little attic windows and dusk was filling the playroom when she noticed the fading light, the unusual silence.

She stood up and listened. The house was quiet as the grave. She went to the window. The driveway was empty. She’d been forgotten.

She ran to the door, twisted the knob in a panic. It refused to budge. They hadn’t realized she was in here, her racing mind thought, and they had locked her in when they locked up the house. She beat against the door with her tiny bird-like fists, screamed, cried, but no-one came.

The playroom was almost dark now, her tea party guests indistinct lumps on the floor amid the growing shadows. She fumbled her way across the room until she found the doll cradle. There was an old baby blanket inside. She went to a corner of the playroom and wrapped the blanket around herself, a huddled, frightened ball. Eventually she fell asleep.

“The worst part about it all,” the docent says as he leads the party down the narrow hall to the playroom, “is that the door wasn’t locked at all.”

He turns the knob, throws open the door. He relishes this bit of drama, considers it a fitting end to the tour of the historic house. The visitors crowd into the charmingly antique room, furnished with relics from the past. A cradle, some teacups, a teddy bear with a missing eye. The late summer sun slants through the little windows, making the room hot and still.

“The knob was merely tricky, hard to turn. Sometimes it got stuck. The door was unlocked when they found her, poor thing.”

She sits in a corner, invisible. She waits to be found. When she is alone, she has tea parties.

Credits to: bottlerocket23

By Byron Kastilahn

Re: Your Biggest Fan

I’ll admit
This wasn’t my plan
But I’ve always been
Your biggest fan
It was a dare, you see
Email the actor
Of your favorite movie
They said,
“There’s no harm in tryin’”
And when I got your response
I was practically dyin’
But the content of your response
Your fiendish, conniving plot
You dirty
Dirty boy
“I can’t accept your love.”
You told me
“I’ve already got someone”
My good friend
My beautiful
Beautiful friend
Why did you respond
In the very first place
And I thought
“It must be a mistake.”
You’re playing with me
Toying with me
Being, “naughty”
I love naughty
Naughty boys
That’s why I’m typing this
On my Android
Right outside your house

Signed: Your Biggest Fan

Back in the late '80s, I worked for a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory in the American Southwest. A set of sprawling cities-within-cities, the DOE lab complex employs thousands of people, with work ranging from computer science, physics, and chemistry, all the way to important infrastructure jobs like construction or security. I worked on mainframes at the time.

Like any secure government facility, this particular complex had a set of colorful local legends that over-dramatized the "mysterious" work we performed. People were convinced that the labs held evidence that aliens had visited us in the '50s, or that we'd developed a neutron bomb capable of wiping out cities without destroying any buildings, or that we were sitting on cold fusion technology, but were keeping it a secret to protect the interests of big oil. These are all completely false. In reality, the labs were run much like any other company - we had timecards, deadlines, department meetings, and boss's day lunches, just like everybody else. Despite (or perhaps because of) the reality of mundane lab work, staff often got a kick out of perpetuating these myths. While on a lunch break, I was once asked if I'd ever been to the flying saucer hanger. "Which one?," I replied, "We've got our own fleet."

More interesting, and often much more dark, were the stories that circulated between scientists and lab staff within the walls of the complex. One such rumor posited that physicists had briefly made contact with humans from the distant future, and that the transmission was I.B.D.: "Interesting, But Disturbing." Another popular rumor held that we'd created a biological agent so virulent that the labs had been forced to quarantine an entire building, raze it to the ground, and bury the rubble in the desert, along with its deceased inhabitants. My favorite story: Button Head is watching you.

In those days, the halls of every building were plastered with information security awareness posters, usually featuring a red-faced villain wearing a trenchcoat. Beware of your Adversary - protect your secrets! The enemy is always watching! Always dispose of sensitive documents in a burn bag! It's likely that Button Head was a mishmash of popular alien myths and the pervasive atmosphere of cold war paranoia, and embodied the idea of an "insider threat." The Button Head legend went something like this:

When working late at night, be on the watch for Button Head, who prowls the laboratory halls after sundown. He can only get you when you're alone. He doesn't have a mouth to speak or ears to hear, but his eyes do more than see, and he's always watching.

According to witnesses, Button Head looked like a person from far away, but had a featureless, roundish head, with a pair of deep holes in the center of his face. Nobody ever said what Button Head was watching for or what he would do if he ever caught you alone. It was typically the older lab veterans who would bring up Button Head, along with hushed stories about the mysterious disappearance of several night-owl employees over the years.

During a retirement party, I'd jokingly asked the guest of honor if he'd ever seen Button Head.

"I saw it once, in one of the old warehouses way south of the tech area," he replied, cracking a forced smile. "I remember the smell, most of all."

"So is he an alien, or just a regular old ghost?"

The smile quickly drained away. He paused, looking like he might confess something important, but stopped short of it, muttering: ", it's much worse than that."

A few months later, I was pulling a late night in one of our mainframe rooms, performing some maintenance work with a coworker, a contractor named Gary. Gary, a bald, pudgy, diabetic Mormon, was a salt-of-the-Earth type with an easygoing demeanor. He had an "abbreviated" sense of humor, but didn't have a mean bone in his body, and was a good colleague. The mainframe room was in the largest single-story building in the complex, with around twenty crisscrossing halls that seemed to stretch on to infinity. After working hours, most of these halls would fall pitch dark. Hall D, our mainframe hall, was still lit, but every other hall was a catacomb tunnel, with only the faint glow of the occasional vending machine to illuminate the faraway corners of the building. The mainframe computer room itself was large, but was stuffed with IBM System/370s and noisy, fridge-sized cooling units. It wasn't Feng shui or anything, but we loved playing around with computers so much that we didn't mind.

At around 9 or 10 that night, Gary left the room for a bio break, leaving me alone at my terminal. 30 minutes later, the lights flickered off. This was a frequent occurrence in the aging building, which was why we armed ourselves with flashlights for the late shifts. I noticed that Gary hadn't returned from the men's room, and as I felt the call of nature myself, I grabbed my EverReady and headed out the door to check things out. That's when I first noticed the smell. I tell folks that it smelled like "Mint gum and roach poison," but there was an indescribable and subtle sickness to it; I've never smelled anything like it since. It was the scent of something horribly unclean and unnatural combined with a potent, artificial sweetness.

I left mainframe room and hurried toward the men's room, which was two darkened hallways over. I made it five paces when I saw him, or it, or whatever it was; standing in front of the exit doors at the far end of Hall D was what looked like a man wearing a gray jumpsuit. Both it and I remained motionless as I trained my light down the hall. Seconds later, it broke into a speedwalk straight for me. It was still a few hundred feet away, but I could tell something was clearly wrong by the way it walked - it had an impossibly fast gait, like people from old newsreel clips - and by its head, which looked like an enlarged, lumpy orb. When its face came into view, I sprinted back into the mainframe room, which thankfully had a mechanical pushbutton lock.
The face was utterly unrecognizable. It was just a scattered set of abscesses and holes.

After slamming the door shut and backing toward the desks, a figure appeared in the small frosted safety window. It was quiet for a moment, and then it spoke:

"It's Gary. Let me in. I just saw something."

I couldn't hear it perfectly over the drone of the fans, but something wasn't right about the voice. It sounded like Gary, but as if he were leading some sort of spoken word chant with dozens of other voices. It instantly dawned on me that Gary knew the lock combination. I was paralyzed with fear, and didn't respond. At this point, the smell was so strong that it almost hurt to breathe. It spoke again:

"It's Gary. Let me in. I just saw something."

It sounded like an identical recording of what I'd heard seconds ago. My heart sunk when I realized that there weren't any other exits to the room. I backed up toward the machines, quietly hoping that the thing would go away and that the lights would come back on. A deep buzzing sound came from the other side of the door, followed by more words from the thing in the hall:

"Hello? Honey?"

The voice had the muffled pitch of a telephone receiver, but it was clearly my wife. It sounded like she was at home.

"Hon, is that you? Is everything ok?"

I was in a state of confusion, despair, and shock. I summoned the courage to approach the door, aiming my light through the window. "THE POLICE HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED," I yelled. This was impossible, as the mainframe room wasn't technically office space, and thus had no phone. I heard something that sounded like liquid being pulled up through a novelty straw, and then a splattering sound. A thick, white fluid slowly spilled out onto the vinyl tile from underneath the door.

The smell was nearly unbearable. I began yelling for help. I could hear the thing fumbling with the pushbutton lock. The splattering continued, and the dense, white syrup kept pouring in from beneath the door. I remember retreating to the back corner of the mainframe room, and then nothing else.

Hours later, A pair of MPs found me curled up in a ball and sopping wet in the rear corner of the mainframe room. My wife, who had received a call at 10:30 from someone she believed to be me, called the base police at midnight after I didn't return home. The guards didn't find any sign of forced entry, and there was no sign of Gary, or the white liquid. The next morning, my manager told me that Gary had terminated his contract earlier that week, and wasn't even scheduled to come in that day. I never saw him again.

My wife and I moved to California a month later.

Even though I work from home these days, my pulse still quickens when I walk down a darkened hallway. What stays with me the most is that strange, awful smell; It's probably just my brain playing tricks, but I swear it still wafts in through my windows some nights.


I was hesitant to call the police after that crazy whatever-she-was left my apartment, but my girlfriend wouldn’t have it. Police were at our place in about 20 minutes. Took our statements, woman’s description, and told us to immediately call should anything else happen.

But my mind was set on something else. My commander. He told me not to talk to her. And I did. And now I’m waking up in bed with her, and how the fuck did she even get into my flat, shit man, too many thoughts.

The next day I went to my commander’s office.

“Sir,” I said very carefully – you need to understand that losing this job, no matter how shitty it was, definitely wasn’t on my to-do list - “Sir, we need to talk.”

He looked up at me from his desk and I swear to you, I swear he already knew. His face lost all the emotion. He didn’t even ask what was happening. “Sit,” he said as he leaned back in his chair.

“Sir, I…” I was having a hard time confessing to breaking the rules of the Guard.

“You spoke to her. You responded.” He said as he leaned towards me. “Didn’t you.”

“Well, I just asked her to move, that’s all.”

“No, not the Queen’s Guard command. Did you say anything else to her?”

“I did.” ** If you remember, besides me yelling “MAKE WAY FOR THE QUEEN’S GUARD”, I did say “Ma’m, will you please…”**

“God damn it, son. God fucking damn it.”

This was the first time I heard my commander curse.

“Sir, who is this woman?”

“I’m going to file for your immediate removal from the guard,” he brushed me off as he opened his desk to look for something.

“Sir?” I asked, not believing I was about to lose my job.

“Don’t worry, I’ll find you something else to do. But your days in the Guard are over. Expect the transfer within a week.”

“Sir, but I was just…”

“That is all, son, you can leave now.” He said, not even looking at me.

I was pissed. But then again, if I was going to keep the paycheck without having to stand in the street and deal with tourists/crazy fucking creatures, I was fine.

The new schedule came out and, what do you know, I was only scheduled to work one shift that week. That was really handy because I was supposed to babysit my 7 year old niece visiting from Birmingham, and I had already planned out the whole weekend with her.

Thursday came with no further incidents with the mouth-wide-open bitch. My girlfriend had finally calmed down. She left back to Amsterdam that morning and in a good mood. Life was getting back on track.

My shift that day was 6-10pm in front of St. James Palace. There are usually two of us working there, but for some reason, I was scheduled to work alone from 9-10. Here’s how the spot where I worked looks. The little wooden post is where we’d stand in case of a storm. “Ok, buddy, hang in there, almost done,” my fellow guard said at 9:02 pm, as he marched back inside.

“One more hour. One last hour of this damn job and I am free. God, it feels good…” I thought as I stood still in front of my post. Night was unusually quiet, but it was starting to rain, so I guess it was to be expected. 9:30pm. Still light rain, still boring as fuck. Almost there. 9:45pm. Rain was picking up, so I decided to spend my last few minutes in the post.

I turned around.

I shouldn’t have.

There she was.

If I were a writer, I’d use all these descriptive tools to paint a picture of how horrifying that woman looked that night. Let me tell you, this was the single most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a child getting killed by a land mine.

The woman was standing at the door of the post. She wore a white dress that was nearly shining in the dark. But her face, fuck man, her face. She wasn’t looking at me, which somehow made it even fucking worst. She was looking at the sky or whatever the hell was up there, and her eyes went so far up I could only see bottom of her pupils. Her mouth was so wide open, I was now nearly sure it wasn’t possible for a human to do this.

There is something surreal about standing in front of someone who doesn’t act rationally. Like, if you’re getting mugged, you know they want your money. Shit, if you’re getting shot at, you know they want to kill you. But the true mental horror is in not knowing what in the fuck she wanted from me.

9:49. Ok, 11 minutes of this and I can finally…

She took a step towards me. Then another one. At about two feet from me, she stopped.

She started leaning. That fucking lean. Her face stopped just short of mine. At first her head started shaking slowly, but started to move increasingly fast. It was a small kind of shaking, as I said before, kinda like when you get out of the shower into an air-conditioned room and start shaking. The pupils were so high up, I could barely see them. Her head was now trembling so fast I was wondering how it was possible. And that mouth, man, that mouth was so unnaturally, un-fucking-humanly open. I swear I saw corners of her lips starting to bleed because her skin wasn’t able to support the opening.

No sound.

The street was silent, probably the most silent I’ve ever seen it. And the worst part is, it was night time. I know I do this a lot, but just imagine it one more time – you’re standing motionlessly in the middle of the street, and there is this bleeding-wide-open mouth woman an inch from your face, doing whatever the fuck she’s doing, and not a soul in sight. And no sound, whatsoever.


Come the fuck on.

And then, as if she heard my thought, her pupils dropped back and looked straight at me. I nearly jumped back. She closed her mouth, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d rather she kept it open. Her jaw started rapidly opening and closing, as if she were biting something invisible. Her teeth were hitting each other so hard, I was sure they’d break.

That was it for me, I couldn’t take it anymore.

I took a step back and screamed “JUST FUCKING STOP ALREADY!”

And she did. Teeth stopped clenching, mouth closed, and she stood back up from the leaning. She took a step towards me and, for the first time ever, smiled.

“4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4 ,3 ,2 ,1” she started whispering, never losing the smile.

“What is that, what the fuck is that?” I begged. I was ready to grab her, shake, her, anything, just for an answer. What the fuck did she want from me, right?


“What the fuck!” came from behind me.

My commander.

He ran up to me, disregarding the crazy bitch in front.

“Did you talk to her?”


“DID YOU FUCKING TALK TO HER?” he yelled, louder and while grabbing my uniform. He didn’t even pay attention to the woman.


“Jesus Christ… What number?” he said while finally letting me out of his fists.

“Sir?” I answered confused as you can imagine.

“What was the last number she said? What was it? Was it a zero?”

“No, I think she stopped at a 1… But why…?”

All this time, the woman just stood still and looked at us with a smile. Then, she took a step towards us. She slowly walked in between my commander and me.

“Don’t say a thing to her, not a fucking thing,” the commander said with obvious fear on his face.

The woman turned from me and towards him. She got into his face, and even from behind, I could see her mouth being wide open.

“Go, just go,” the commander said as he looked at me. He was avoiding acknowledging her. I heard her teeth clenching.

“I can’t just leave you,” I said.

“Go, and don’t come back here. I’ll take care of this.”

You know, I like to think of myself as brave, but at that moment, all I wanted to do is leave. I hope you can’t blame me for that. So I started running away.

“And never talk to her again!” the commander yelled as I got away.

Now, I know a lot this stuff sounds like bullshit, and you’re right, it really does. Sure, looking back at it now, I could’ve arrested her, hell I could’ve even killed the bitch, and so could’ve the commander. But you know what? When you find yourself in a situation as impossible and as unreal as that one, you don’t act rationally, you don’t think logically as you would in a normal situation. I went home, took a cold shower (after making sure my doors were locked) and I collapsed on the bed.

In the morning I texted my shift buddy to see if commander was ok and his “Yeah, why wouldn’t he be?” text back meant he made it. That’s all I needed to know, I was out of that life.

My niece came in town on Friday and I had her for the weekend. Running around a seven year old will make you lose your mind, let alone leave time to think about some crazy woman harassing you. Besides, I was done with that job – that morning I got transfer papers.

I spent the whole day taking the kid different places she liked. Shit was exhausting. Saturday morning I made us some breakfast as we watched cartoons for the good part of it. Then we put in a Catwoman movie and my niece dressed as her – she loved her for some reason (movie was a complete trash). I guess I wasn’t used to having to take care of the kids because I fell asleep on the couch, already exhausted.

My niece woke me up.

“Uki,” she said, that’s what she calls me, “Uki, let’s play.” She was holding my old pair of walkie-talkies. I used to love those as a kid, so I couldn’t say no to her.

“Sure, let’s see if these old things work. Go outside of the house, I want to check the range on these babies.”

Her face lit up as she ran out.

I turned the walkie-talkie on and started playing with it. Static noise was there, meaning the batteries worked, it was only a matter of finding the right frequency.

“Ashley? Ashley, do you copy, over?” I tried a few times.

I finally heard something.

“Ashley, do you copy, I repeat, do you copy, over?”

“Hero” was all I heard at a low volume.

“Ashely, you punk, you need to say over when you’re done.”

“H…” I heard again.

“This damn thing,” I thought. Too lazy to go out, I took the batteries out, blew at them, as if that ever does anything, and put them back in.

“Ok, Catwoman hero, do you copy now, over?”


I dropped the walkie-talkie.

That wasn’t Ashley’s voice. That wasn’t “Hero” I thought I heard.


I ran outside and immediately started fucking hating myself for letting the child go out on its own. Ashley stood in the yard, holding a radio, squeezing it hard. In front of her stood that same woman, bent over and all the way down to my kid’s face.

“Zero, zero, zero, zero, zero” was what woman frantically repeated in Ashley’s traumatized face.

Yeah, when some freak harasses me, I can control myself. But a child, my cousin?

I lost it. I ran towards the woman and tackled her with enough force I was sure I’d hurt her. As soon as I hit the ground, I got up and grabbed Ashley. “Are you alright?” I yelled, “Did she touch you?!” I didn’t even realize how hard I was shaking her, probably scaring her even more.

Ashely was now crying so hard, she couldn’t even answer.

“Let’s go in,” I said as I turned towards the woman. She was still lying on the ground, facing down.

As soon as we got into the house, we went to the window. The woman started standing up. She turned towards us.

“I’m calling the police,” I told terrified Ashely as I picked up my cell. “Don’t worry baby, it’s going to be alright.”

The woman took a step towards the window. Then another one. Her nose was bleeding and she was visibly hurt as she was limping, but it didn’t seem to matter to her.

I’ll admit, I was nearly frozen from the rush of adrenaline I had. We just stood there at the window, watching this freak approaching us.

“Police are on the way,” I told my niece who was still crying.

The woman walked up to the window.

She… She wasn’t looking at me anymore. She leaned towards Ashley’s face. Poor little thing grabbed my hand and was squeezing it way too hard for a 7 year old. That fucking thing, bitch, woman, whatever she was, leaned all the way to the window. Only a piece of glass was separating her from Ashley. As I was about to take my niece into another room, far from this thing, the woman opened her mouth, but immediately closed it into a smile. Then again. It was fucking impossibly strange. As she’d open her mouth, her pupils would shoot up towards the back of her head, only to immediately come back followed with a smile. She was now alternating inhumanely fast in between a smile and a gaping mouth paired with nearly pupil-less eyes.

“Let’s get out of here,” I told Ashley as I picked her up and took her to my room.

Police arrived about 15 minutes later. They started scanning the neighborhood and actually caught a woman who matched my description. I was due at the police station for identification, but first I had to drop Ashley off at the train station. Her mum wanted her back immediately after what happened, and I couldn’t blame her. I took her to the station, where I arranged for the staff to watch her until her destination.

A very pleasant conductor promised he’d watch her whole trip. He took Ashley’s hand and promised to show her all the cool parts of the train. Finally, the kid smiled.

As train was getting ready to leave, conductor put my niece on the stairs. “Say bye to your uncle,” he said, “we’re about to leave.”

“Bye Ashley, tell your mum to call me when you arrive, ok?”

She didn’t respond to me, which was understandable. The kid was probably still fucking terrified, hell, I was still terrified.

As the announcer said all boarding was complete, conductor opened the door for them to get inside the train.
Ashley didn’t move, though. She looked up at the conductor.

“Let’s go now,” he said.

Ashley opened her mouth, looking up at the man.

“We have to get in now, we’re about to start moving honey,” he said again. “Let’s go.”

As he entered the train and Ashely followed, I heard her say “10 9 8.”

I am planning to write about what happened to Ashley at some point, though her family prefers it is kept private.


This happened to my brother-in-law two years ago. I am telling the story exactly the way he told me it. He appeared very genuine when telling it, and, you know what, after all that's happened to me, I have no reason not believe him. And as for you, well, you be the judge.

I was in the English army, you know? Two tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. My mom absolutely hated the life I chose, and I can’t really blame her. But you know what? The fucked up part is that the biggest horror I’ve ever experienced wasn’t in one of those shitty eastern places, no, it was in the very center of European “civilization”, London.

After I finished my third tour, I was awarded by the army. Apparently, surviving fighting Taliban in the mountains is reason enough to be honored. They offered me a spot in Queen’s Guard. I’m not sure how much you know about that, but in England, it’s a pretty big deal. And I hated it. I was permanently stationed at home, and as a reward for my “bravery” I was now standing in front of buildings motionless while annoying Chinese tourists tried to make me laugh. I wanted out, but the honor of the position, combined with my mother’s happiness that the biggest danger I could ever face would be an Asian tourist, I had no choice but to do it. Only if I knew I’d be safer in some cave in Kabul…

So I was stationed to work at the Tower of London few shifts a week. Shifts were usually 2-3 hours long, depending on how many people worked that day. Gotta tell you, that job gets old quickly. Drunk people who try to mess with you along with annoying tourists who think they’re the first ones ever to try to make you laugh, you just want out of your own skin. But it was a job, and it paid, so I shut the fuck up and did it.

Now, this one day, this one day in 2012 started boring as any other day. I had a few French guys trying to mess with me (god they’re the worst, and you can’t do shit unless they threaten you), then I had a group of drunk Russian chicks which wasn’t so bad. The heat was just starting to melt that fucking hat into my skull when a huge group of tourists showed up. Some sort of a guided tour, I assumed. They all did their standard spiel, pictures, “funny” faces, jokes, etc. They all had their cameras out, and they all wore same t-shirts, some Big Ben tour bullshit. All but one. I noticed her standing in the back, just staring at me. She was a good looking woman, probably early forties, really dark long hair and somewhat pale, which made me think she was English. She did seem to be the part of the tour as she stood with all of the others.

After the group finally took enough pictures and realized I wasn’t gonna laugh, they started moving on. Except the pale woman who stayed and kept watching me. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of people doing all kinds of stupid stuff to get a reaction out of me, but this was a new one. Not only that, this lady was committed. Two hours and hundreds of tourists later, she still stood in the very same spot, just staring at me. The day got pretty hot and there was no way she was comfortable, but I shit you not, she was calmer than I was. She wasn’t smiling which was strange because I assumed she was trying to make me react. About thirty minutes later, when the crowd around me slowly died out, she took a slow step towards me. Then another one. “Here we go, joke incoming” I thought as she took her sweet time walking up closer.

She stopped about two feet away from me. She was looking straight into my eyes. Tilted her head to the left, then to the right, which I assumed was her attempt at making me laugh. Then I realized this woman wasn’t here to joke around. Still standing at two feet away, she started leaning towards me. There was something just so fucked up about her mannerisms that made me extremely uneasy. She never lost an eye contact with me. She kept leaning towards me while her feet never moved. Her face stopped just short of touching mine and her position seemed unnatural at that point. Her head started slowly shaking, like when you get out of the pool or a shower and are freezing, you know?

And then, then she scared the fucking shit out of me. I had people screaming in my face, I even had a moron trying to fight me, but what she did was by far the worst. She opened her mouth as if she were about to let the loudest scream at me, but nothing came out. Nothing. She just stood there, leaned at an unnatural angle, inches from my face, letting a fucking silent scream or whatever that was out of her wide open mouth. And the speed of her shaking increased. Now, I’m not gonna lie, even though it was really hot that day, I started feeling cold and goosebumps ran under my uniform. I finally got myself together and started marching away from her – we are allowed to do a 10-step march occasionally.

When I got to the end of one way, I stopped and closed my eyes. I just wanted her to be gone when I turned around. As I made a 180 degree turn, I instantly froze. She was right in front of me; leaned all the way to my face, mouth open even wider, head now shaking uncontrollably. I was so taken aback, I was unable to react. Noise, screaming, and other stuff I can deal with, but this silent creepy fucking behavior was honestly intimidating me.

“Make way for the Queens Guard!” I yelled. We are allowed to say that when someone is in our way. She didn’t react, but she did lean farther to about an inch from my face.

“MAKE WAY FOR THE QUEEN’S GUARD” I yelled even louder, hoping my voice wouldn’t break.
She had absolutely zero regard for my orders. Unwilling to deal with the bullshit any longer, I stepped back and pointed my bayonet at her. That was our last resort for annoying tourists.

She immediately closed her mouth and leaned back into a normal human position. I wasn’t going to wait for her to do whatever she was about to do, so I started marching around her. When I got back to my post, I turned around and stood still. I couldn’t see her in the corner of my eye which gave me a huge relief. “Jesus, this fucking job” I thought to myself “I’m gonna have to look into…”

“10, 9, 8” someone whispered in my right ear. It must be her. She was behind me.

“10, 9, 8” whispers came from my left side. Goosebumps were at an all-time erect now. Hilarious, isn’t it? Combat vet, killed more people than he’d ever want to admit, is now scared to hell of some batshit tourist lady.

“10, 9, 8, 10, 9, 8, 10, 9, 8” she sped up her whispering. Then walked in front of me. “10, 9, 8, 10, 9, 8” she was now whispering incredibly fast. Actually, whispering doesn’t describe it properly. It was like yelling, but in a whisper tone, if that makes any sense. It was surreal. She leaned towards my face again, whispering those fucking numbers franticly.

I was about to break my orders. I couldn’t take it anymore. There was something fucked up about this woman, and I couldn’t deal with it.

“Ma’m,” I spoke in a voice of the biggest scared pussy, “Ma’m will you please step…”

And then, a huge group of loud tourist ran up to us. The crazy woman leaned back, still looking at me. She whispered “10, 9, 8” one more time while never losing an eye contact. Then she walked away, as slowly as she moved around me. It was so strange watching her slowly disappear into the crowd. All that was left was a strange feeling of something unnatural. That, and a group of life-saving Asian tourists. Never thought I’d be so happy to see a Nikon-snapping Chinese guy.

After my shift was done, I went into our base and told the story to a couple of guys. They all had some experience with creepy people, but never on this level. When our shift commander came, guys jokingly told him how I was “abused” on duty. He wanted some laughs, so he asked for the full story. But when I started telling what happened, he quickly lost his smile.

“Stop, stop,” he said. “Did you talk to her?”

“Sir?” I asked intrigued.

“Son, did you or did you not speak to this woman?”

I wasn’t gonna lose my weekly pay over breaking that stupid no-talking rule, so I lied. “Of course not, sir.”

He seemed to calm down. “Good. And if she ever comes back, never talk back, understood? And that goes for all of you.”

Joking atmosphere quickly died out in the break room. I was puzzled, but I was even more tired, so I decided to go home and sleep instead of worrying about crazy fucking tourists.

Next few shifts went by as boring as they were supposed to be. Woman was nowhere to be seen, and since my girlfriend was about to visit me all the way from Netherlands, I forgot about the incident.

Tuesday night around 3am, I was awoken by loud banging at the door. For some strange reason, the first thought that crossed my mind was that fucked up woman from a week ago.

“Babe, would you mind peeping through the hole to see who it is?” I lazily mumbled as I gently pushed my girlfriend. She was dead asleep; I swear nothing could wake her up. Semi-conscious, I stumbled through the hallway and to the door. “Who is it?” I muttered while peeking through the hole, but it was too dark outside. That sobered me up. “Who is it?” I asked again, but the only answer I got was louder banging.

“Fuck it” I thought as I took a deep breath and opened the door.

There are about million things I’d rather see standing in front of me at that moment. And there was only one person I did not expect to be at the door.

My girlfriend.

I was supposed to pick her up tonight.

I nearly lost all control of my legs. Thousand things raced through my mind which was having trouble comprehending what in the fuck was happening.

“Thanks for picking me up at the Heathrow, asshole,” my girlfriend said as she slammed the carryon on my chest. I was still speechless.

“So, I travel all the way from Amsterdam to see you, and you forget? Really?”

I wasn’t hearing it. I knew I was half asleep when I got up, but there WAS someone in my bed. I wasn’t dreaming for fuck’s sake.

“Stay here” I mumbled as I handed her the bag back.

“What’s wrong?”

“Just stay here.”

Not knowing where I got the courage to walk to the bedroom, I slowly made my way.

I know what you’re thinking – in movies and books, guy walks into the room and boom, its empty, right? I fucking wish.

I walked into my room and it was completely dark. But I could hear breathing. Heavy breathing. My pulse was so high I was sure I was gonna pass out, but I flipped the switch.

“7, 6, 5, 7, 6, 5” whispers came from the corner of the room where she stood. That same fucking woman. She stood almost glued to the corner of the room, her back to the wall. She was looking straight at me. And though I was sure I lost the power of speech, I managed to squeeze out a “What the fuck”.

“7, 6, 5” she said as she took the first slow step towards me. Her mouth was always wide open, as if she were letting out that damn soundless scream. Every step she’d make, she’d close her mouth enough to say “7, 6, 5”.

I couldn’t move. Nothing in this world existed besides this woman slowly walking towards me. What a creepy and unsettling feeling. Like, I wasn’t physically afraid of her, right? I could take her down – and was ready to. But this kind of fear was something foreign to me. Seemed like I was afraid for my, shit, I don’t know, soul? You know what I mean? I knew she couldn’t hurt me physically, but I was stills scared. Not to mention I fucking somehow slept in the same bed with this whatever the fuck she is.

She came incredibly close to me. The familiar lean. An inch from my face. My breathing was so irregular and loud, it was the only noise in the room.

“7, 6, 5.”

Suddenly, something about this had a strangely familiar feeling.

“WHAT THE FUCK?!” scream came from behind me.

My girlfriend.

I snapped into reality, turned around and grabbed my girl. “Run!” I yelled as we escaped the room. We ran to the kitchen where I grabbed one of those “As seen on TV” steel-cutting knives. My girlfriend was just silently weeping at my side, unable to even ask questions.

I could hear footsteps. First, I saw her shadow, then I saw her calmly walking through the hallway. Her mouth was now so unnaturally wide open, and she wasn’t looking at me anymore. She was looking at the ceiling as she slowly made her way to the door. Her head was shaking very fast. It was abso-fucking-lutely surreal, I’m telling you. I mean, just imagine, this woman, who creeped you out a week ago, is now walking through your place at 3 in the morning, staring at the ceiling with mouth impossibly wide open. Not to mention you slept next to her for who knows how long.

When she finally walked out, I ran to the door and slammed it. Girlfriend was still unable to speak. When we got ourselves together, I was afraid she’d think I cheated on her with this woman, but she didn’t. She saw that horror walk through out hallway and she knew something was wrong.

I was terrified, but I didn’t let it show. The scariest part of everything was that I had a job that required me to stand still and not react to my surroundings. I told my girlfriend about my experience with this fucked up woman, but I didn’t mention her “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5” whispers. I didn’t want to scare her any further.

Because , what could those whispers be if not a countdown?


I am sorry if I ramble.

I’m awake now, semi-sober, and ready to finish this for you guys, the internet, and whoever cares to hear it.

I didn’t find out that Mr. Mays had passed away until a couple months after the funeral service. Initially, I was going to seek out his family in order to send my condolences, but it wasn’t as if Mr. Mays and I were best friends or anything like that; so, I refrained. I continued through my college career and graduated a year or so after our bar meeting.

Graduating with English as my major wasn’t a mistake, but it wasn’t exactly something that landed me any sort of immediate jobs after college. Now, I had saved a pretty solid amount of money while I was in school and decided that I deserved a bit of a vacation, if you will. I took my spare cash, got together with my college buddy Steve, packed up and hit the road, aiming for somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. I had lived near Littleton, Colorado when I was younger and remembered loving the area, so this destination was as good as any.

The trip was a success. We made it somewhere around Estes Park, Colorado and found a cheap cabin that we rented for about a month. The days were filled with lounging, hiking, and generally things that involved little-to-no work on our parts. After our rental was through, we packed up again and headed on our way back east.

Sometime during this trip, we had met up with a couple Estes Park natives in one of the local bars. We never typically “hung out” with them or anything like that; we just had conversations now and then over drinks and food. One night, these guys were paying their tab and packing up to leave awfully early; they were usually there until the wee hours of the morning. When we questioned them about it, they told us that they were headed to a little get-together with some friends of theirs, and they invited us. Having nothing else to do, we hopped in the car and followed them to the party.

The party itself was very low-key, and ultimately inconsequential to this story; however, the important thing about it was that at some point in the night, we were all sitting around the fire and swapping ghost stories. At this point in my life, I wasn’t as much of a ham as I was in my younger years. But, with a little bit of encouragement, I started on a couple of stories that I remembered telling in my youth. Eventually, I made it to Mr. Mays’ story about “The Showers.” Every time that I had told it after hearing it from Mr. Mays, I had spiced it up a little bit. But, out of some sort of subconscious respect for my former teacher, I went straight into the version that he told my class in my sophomore year of high school.

The group enjoyed my stories for the most part, “The Showers” being the mutual favorite among the partygoers. Steve and I left for the cabin at around five in the morning, and he asked me about that story on the drive home. I told him all about Mr. Mays, that class, my love for everything horror-related and whatnot, and he suggested that we tried to find the place on our return trip to New York. Initially I was reluctant simply because I didn’t feel like aimlessly wandering through Nebraska for days, looking for some old farm building that was probably demolished at this point. But, a couple of days before we left Colorado, I told Steve that it sounded like fun. We weren’t going to be able to do another trip like this for a long time, so I figured that we might as well make the best of it. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought of it as a little tribute to Mr. Mays, a guy that, in retrospect, helped me realize that I wanted to be a writer.

Anyway, we left Colorado and made the long, boring, and barren drive to Broken Bow, Nebraska, or “Hell on Earth” as Mr. Mays had put it. We found a motel in town and hung around for a couple of days, venturing out a hundred miles or so in any given direction each day after that. I had remembered Mr. Mays telling us that it was somewhere outside of Broken Bow, but I don’t think he got any more specific than that.

We tried asking the townsfolk if they had any information about The Showers, but we were usually met with blank stares or eye-rolling when we told them what exactly this place was. The only person who seemed to know anything about it was an older lady that worked at a gas station on the outskirts of town. I don’t recall her name, but this woman was just one of those cheerful old people, very helpful and generally interested in what anyone had to say to her. Steve had started talking to her at checkout and she asked about our license plate, commenting about the fact that we were very far from home. We had nowhere in particular to be, so Steve and I ended up talking to this woman for about fifteen minutes, at which point we brought up our hunt for the place known as “The Showers.”

Initially, the name didn’t ring any bells with the woman which made sense, seeing as Mr. Mays had just given it the name after his experience there. But, when I began to describe the details that I remembered from his story, the friendly old woman interrupted me. Her tone was not scornful or mean in any way, but she became very terse and deliberate with her words from that point on.

“People don’t deal with anything relating to that sort of business around here anymore,” she told us. “That was all a long time ago.” Following her statements, she attempted to be cheerful again, excusing herself to the restroom and wishing us the best on our return trip to New York.

Steve and I returned to the car without a word. Both of us were thinking about what the lady had said. Again, she didn’t seem to be angry at all, she just didn’t want to hear another word about it. We were driving back to the hotel before Steve said something. “I mean, if I had to live in a place associated with an urban legend or something like that, I would totally mess with anyone who asked about it,” he said. “I mean, eventually you’d just get tired of people asking about it and so you’d just try to scare them to get them to shut up, wouldn’t you?”

I agreed with Steve and kept driving, but the whole experience wasn’t sitting right with me. If this was some sort of well-known legend in the area, why did no one else in the town seem to know anything about it? But, I managed to shrug it off. Mind you, neither of us was scared of finding The Showers; this little excursion on our road trip was more like a scavenger hunt, a cap-off to an overall relaxing vacation. Steve and I were basically like tourists, hunting for the site at which a famous movie was filmed or something like that. We went into the whole situation with little to no expectations and a fleeting hope that we would be able to find this place.

We spent another day in Broken Bow before we took our next trip out to try to find The Showers. Nebraska isn’t as terrible of a place as people make it out to be, but it really isn’t all that exciting. We found a bar and spent some time there, and that was just about the extent of our activity on our “day off.”

When we did get back on the road, we decided that we would attempt to stay off of main roads for as much of the day as we could. I knew that there was no way that this place was going to be off of the highway and I remembered some detail about a dirt road in Mr. Mays’ story, so we went looking for those. This was a fairly futile effort; most of Nebraska is dirt roads.

It was seven in the evening when we came upon a small, but thick forest. I use the term lightly, but for Nebraska, this place was like an oasis. The trees were full and thick, shrouding most of its insides in darkness. The sun was setting and even though we had run into a few of these random crops of trees, we agreed that this one showed more promise than any of the others. There wasn’t really a road, but there looked to be a path where a dirt road might have been at some point, so we drove along that. If the car was able to handle the Rocky Mountains, a dirt path in Nebraska would give us no trouble.

We moved slowly and carefully along this trail, making sure to clear any fallen trees in the road or rocks that would render the car useless, when the sun finished setting. It was pretty dark in this place during the day, but when night came, it was something else entirely. I had an inkling at this point that we had found the right place, but I didn’t want to jinx it, so we continued onward. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the little bits of light that managed to penetrate the canopy in this miniature forest actually did make it look as if the tree branches were trying to grab the car, just like Mr. Mays had mentioned in the story. I’m still convinced that he made up the part about the animal eyes, though; the most aggressive creature we saw in the woods was a dead rabbit on the side of the trail. It didn’t have any obvious signs of death; it just looked like it had simply lay down and never bothered to get up.

We drove around in the darkness for quite a while before we found a clearing. We had to move several smaller clusters of branches out of the way before, but right in front of our exit was a giant, dead, monster of a tree. There was no way we were moving this one, so we got out and turned on the bright headlights in the hopes that it would illuminate the area in front of us. There was a feeling of excitement mixed strangely with fear when I saw what lay fifty feet beyond the clearing.

There, lit partially by the headlights from the car and the little bit of light from the crescent moon, was what appeared to be an old barn house. This wasn’t a typical farmhouse, it was larger than the barns that I had seen in films and didn’t have any sort of crest. It basically looked like a small warehouse. I wasn’t entirely sure at this point if this was the place we were looking for, but this was definitely the closest we had come.

I moved through the brush until I was roughly twenty feet from the entrance, at which point all of the growth seem to stop. I don’t know if the owners had done something to the soil, but the whole structure had a border around it that was clear of any sort of plant life. I approached the entrance to the building, a large sliding door, as Steve came up behind me with two flashlights in hand.

“So you were just going to run off into that place in the dark?” he laughed.

I gave a half-hearted chuckle and grabbed one of the lights from his hand. Mine was a little, but pretty bright flashlight; it was the kind that hikers would most likely fasten to their backpacks, just in case they were stranded at night. It worked well enough. I grabbed the metal door with both hands, holding the flashlight with my mouth, and gave it a tug. It moved slightly, creaked a little bit, but there was no way I was doing this by myself. Steve came up from behind, set his flashlight on the ground, grabbed the door, and said “one, two…three!”

We pulled at the door with all that we could muster. Once we had managed to move it a couple of inches, it must have latched back onto its track because it slid very easily, stopping hard with a loud and echoing thud when it was completely open. Steve picked up his flashlight and walked behind me; I had already moved inside.

The inside of the structure was exceptionally bare, almost troublingly so. I wasn’t entirely sure how far we were from the nearest home or small town, but there wasn’t even the slightest bit of evidence that anyone had been in this building for years. There were no broken beer bottles or empty bags of chips; there weren’t even any animal droppings or eager plants that managed to grow here. The room was expansive, larger than your average farm, but not the warehouse-sized monstrosity that I believed Mr. Mays had described in his story. I was sure that it was simply a holding area for farming equipment or something similar at some point.

Disappointed, I wandered near the entrance while Steve ventured into the expanse of darkness. As I was running over the details of the story in my mind, something struck me like a sack of bricks; in Mr. Mays’ story, there was a silo near the barn. I ran outside, my eyes adjusting easily because at the very least it was brighter outside. I looked in all directions, running around the perimeter of the building. Surely, if there was ever a silo near this place, there would be some evidence of it somewhere. But, despite my hopes, there was nothing but a cluster of thick bushes on one side, brush and dirt everywhere, and the forest that we had come from.

I walked back into the building, frustrated and tired. Steve was still excited, eagerly running around the inside of the building. “Even if I could just find a showerhead or a pipe,” he said. “Then we’d know it was true. Just keep looking with me.” I didn’t want to ruin his excitement; I had told Steve the story several times, but obviously he didn’t realize that this just wasn’t the place. The building was weird, yes. It was out of place and oddly pristine, but it wasn’t the location of The Showers. I let him explore for a little bit before I called him over.

“This was probably as close as we are going to get, man,” I said. “But this isn’t it. Remember the silo?” His face went from excitement to disappointment in an instant, much like a young child who didn’t get the presents he wanted on his birthday. I patted him on the shoulder. “This is still pretty cool, though. I mean, we could still tell people that we found it.” I was reverting back to my old habits quickly.

Steve laughed. “Yeah, man, I guess we could. It is definitely creepy enough. We should get some pictures as ‘proof,’ you know?” I agreed with him. “I’m gonna go grab the camera really quick,” he said as he bolted out the entrance of the building. I was left alone in the building.

It was very quiet when I was alone in there. I could hear the faint sound of Steve running through the brush and to the car, but once he was far enough away, everything was quiet. I remember not even hearing wind or the chirping of crickets as I walked deeper into the dark, flashlight in hand. I was convinced that there had to be something. As I approached the far corner of the room, the sound of my feet scratching against the dirt was interrupted by a soft, hollow thud. I stopped, trying to figure out what it was. I put my foot down hard against the ground and heard it again. I stomped one more time, realizing that the floor that I was standing on was covering something hollow.

I walked to the wall of the room, looking carefully at the floor to try to spot any holes or gaps. As far as I had known, it was solid ground that this thing sat atop, so I was convinced that I had found a hatch or a basement or something. I heard Steve coming back through the brush as I shouted, “Steve! Come over here, it’s hol-“ As I went to say the word “hollow,” I hopped a little bit, hoping to recreate the sound so that he would be able to hear it upon entering the door. The second that my feet made contact with the floor, I felt it give out beneath me.

The memory of the fall is fuzzy, but I do recall hearing wood splinter. I remember seeing the light from Steve’s flashlight falling away into complete darkness. It wasn’t a long fall, but I must have fallen in a terrible position because I know that I lost consciousness for several seconds at least.

When I woke up I was staring at a bright light. For an instant I had thoughts about approaching the fabled “light at the end of the tunnel.” I was angry at myself. “You died in Nebraska, Jack? Wow, you do know how to fuck up.” My self-deprecation in the afterlife was interrupted by what sounded like Steve’s voice.

“Jesus, Jack! Jack, can you hear me? Dude, wake up. Please, wake up,” he screamed.

I managed to lift my head up off of the floor just enough for him to celebrate. The pain in my head was immense, but it was outweighed by the pain shooting through my knee. I knew I had a concussion, but the pain in my knee was just so much more pressing. I looked around until I found my tiny flashlight, then sat up and reassured Steve. “I’m okay, I just hurt my knee; I bumped my head too, really hard.”

“Thank fuck, man. I thought you were dead. Imagine that, though, dying in fucking Nebraska. It’d be awful.” His words made me laugh a little bit, but I stopped myself; the slightest shaking hurt my head and made me incredibly dizzy. “I guess, a rope?” said Steve.

“What?” I asked, quietly.

“Should I go get a rope to get you out of here, or do you see a ladder?” I looked around the walls that sat in front of me; they were smooth cement. There was no way that I was climbing out of here. “Yeah, get the rope,” I told him. “It’s buried under all of our stuff. I think it might be in my red climbing bag, but I’m not sure.” Steve nodded, telling me to hang in there and that he would be back in a little bit, and then he ran off.

The silence that followed was uncomfortable. After the sound of Steve’s feet scraping the floor above me faded away, I was only able to hear that buzzing that occurs in total silence intertwined with the pulsing in my head. I pushed myself over to the nearest cement wall and braced myself against it, resting and breathing deep in an attempt to calm myself. The cement was unnaturally cold against my back. It was summer, so I only had a t-shirt on, but it felt like ice even through that. Again, this observation was primarily made after the fact. In the moment, it just felt good to lean against something.

I sat there, waiting for Steve in this underground basement, and I began to feel uneasy. I felt like an idiot for falling down here; I felt pain from my injuries as well. That all seemed to fade into one emotion in an instant when I heard what I could only identify as breathing, somewhere to my left. I convinced myself that it was my injured mind playing tricks on me for a few moments until my mind decided to rapidly replay Mr. Mays’ story. When I had first heard it in that classroom years before, I was more impressed than I was scared. But now, sitting in a dark basement in the middle of Nebraska, I felt something that I hadn’t felt in a long time; it couldn’t even be summed up in the word “fear.” As I sat there, I felt all-encompassing dread.

I pointed my flashlight to my left, the direction from which I thought I heard the sound. The light didn’t reach the other wall; it was too far away. But, I was comforted to see absolutely nothing there. I breathed deeply for a couple more seconds before I heard another noise in the darkness. It was very quick, and I cannot be sure that it wasn’t my own body moving around without my noticing; but I thought that I heard a scraping sound not ten feet in front of me. It sounded like the noise your feet make when you are walking across a dirt-covered floor. Before I could react, I heard the breathing to my left again, closer this time. There was no way this was real. I hadn’t seen so much as a spider web in this building and now I was convincing myself that something next to me was breathing?

I was angry at myself for getting so worked up. I told myself that the human brain is constantly hallucinating. I told myself that while in silence or darkness, the brain will make sounds to fill the gap, or make you think you see things that aren’t there. I channeled my inner-skeptic in order to calm myself; it worked. It worked until I saw a flash of something in front of me. I can’t be entirely sure what it was, but I heard the accompanying sounds of feet scraping against the floor and I began to swell with dread. I decided that the best course of action at this point was to turn off my flashlight, assuming that if they couldn’t see me, they couldn’t get to me, whatever “they” might be.

I turned off my flashlight and was left in complete and total darkness. The bulb of the flashlight faded as it cooled and I put it into my pocket, simultaneously pushing back against the cold cement wall in an attempt to stand. I managed to get up on my feet, well, foot, and found that I couldn’t stand to put any pressure on my injured knee. I limped to the corner, humming to myself, trying to break the deafening silence. I called for Steve, as loud as I could manage, but heard no response. He was probably in the back of the car, still hunting for the rope. There had to be a ladder or something, somewhere.

I continued to hum and my heartbeat, which had been beating almost out of my chest, slowed to a manageable rate. I moved along the cement wall, keeping my whole body against it and the weight off of my injured knee. I had traveled what I guessed to be about ten feet when my head made contact with something in front of me. I tumbled to the ground. My concussion must have amplified the pain, because it was blinding. I reached both hands to my forehead when I felt something warm and wet with my fingers. I searched for a cut anywhere on my forehead, but couldn’t find one. I desperately searched for my flashlight as I sat up and tried to get back against the wall.

I grabbed the light in my right hand, bracing against the wall with the other. I turned it on and pointed it into the darkness where I was just lying. The floor was wet, but the dirt had muddled the color of whatever the liquid was. I tried to get my eyes to focus on the puddle, tried to convince myself that it was my blood when I saw another drop fall into the puddle.

Words lack the ability to describe the way I felt when I heard the “drip” noise again, and saw yet another tiny ball of liquid fall into the puddle. I think I knew, even then, exactly what the source was, but I was endlessly trying to convince myself that I was wrong. I lifted the flashlight up and pointed it at the source of the liquid. What stared back at me was a pipe that protruded at least a foot out from the cement wall. The metal was rusted and cracked; little bits of the liquid began to seep from them. At the end of the pipe was a simple showerhead, aimed down towards the ground.

You know that feeling when your stomach drops? In this case, I think mine literally did, because I vomited immediately. It got all over my shoe, but that wasn’t the least bit important at the time. I ignored the pain in my knee and shuffled along the wall as fast as I possibly could. I heard noises, but I can’t be sure if it was just the sounds of my own movement or something around me. I managed to duck under the next showerhead. This one was higher up on the wall, and seemed to be leaking the same liquid that the other one was. I felt like I was moving along something infinite. Every now and then I would have to duck or move under another metal bar, another showerhead. They began to pour more profusely, but the liquid was too thick to come out easily.

The room began to smell. I remembered immediately the way that Mr. Mays had described it. I grabbed my shirt and put it over my nose, trucking onward, but it didn’t stop the smell for an instant. It smelled like vomit; it smelled like shit; it smelled like burnt hair; it smelled like rot.

I was still moving against the wall when I fell into some sort of outlet. I hit the dirt ground hard, adrenaline coursing through my veins; the pain still managed to break through, though. My flashlight was still in my hand; I aimed it and examined my surroundings. Sitting in front of me was a doorway. There was a door there, though it looked aged now. It had a nice little design on it, a doorknob, and a knocker that looked like a snarling demon. Red paint was peeling from it, flaking off and falling to the ground in front of me. I clumsily rose and busted through the door, narrowly missing a piece of hanging sheet metal in front of me. I was crawling now; there was no way that I could run. The walls and ceiling were lined with metal, the kind that you would see on the roof of a farm. Large pieces of wood seemed to brace the sheets, holding this makeshift tunnel together. I couldn’t risk sliding against that and possibly cutting myself on the metal, or hitting the wood and causing a cave-in. So I crawled.

I pulled myself for what felt like miles, running into walls every now and then because the path seemed to curve like a snake. I had no idea where I was in relation to the hole that I had fallen through, but I told myself that there was an exit at the end of this. Had I not been crawling, I would have surely hurt myself far worse. There were parts of the tunnel in which the ceiling dipped down to maybe three feet above the ground. It hadn’t caved in, because the ceiling still lined it. Someone had built it like this. This, again, is in hindsight. I didn’t care at the time. I kept telling myself there was nothing behind me, but I swore that I heard feet scraping only a few inches behind my own.

My jeans would brush against my legs every now and then, making it feel like someone was touching me, and even now, I still can’t completely convince myself that someone wasn’t. I crawled and crawled until I reached an upslope. With joy I looked ahead of me; there was a cellar door. The door was made of wood; I knew this because I could see light through them. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought it might have been the light from the car’s headlights. Besides all of that, I was just so immensely happy to find an exit.

I crawled all the way to the door and threw my shoulder into it. It budged, but didn’t open. I began to scream, but I my throat seared with pain. The most I could manage was a harsh crying noise; it sounded like a dying animal. I collapsed in exhaustion and pain, my eyes staring up at the slits of light before me. I was so close to being out of here; I could taste it.

It was in that moment of silent defeat that I heard a noise that was, without question, something moving in the tunnel. It sounded like something was being dragged across the floor. It would move, pause for a second, and then move again. I had nothing left in my stomach to throw up, but I began to gag. I gathered myself slightly and tried to steady my hand enough to focus the flashlight into the tunnel.

What I saw, I can still not rationalize. I know what I saw, but I cannot convince myself that it was actually there. I can’t stop telling myself that I was hallucinating. I saw a child in a dirty sleeping gown. The gown was stained with something dark and brown, with occasional splashes of a deep red. The child was extremely frail, like the pictures that people might see of a holocaust victim. I could only make out one eye, brightly reflecting the light of my flashlight. In between huge tufts of long, dirty hair. It reached down beyond the fingertips of the child, which were caked with dirt. The boy, or girl, I’m not entirely sure which, moved towards me with difficulty. It wasn’t breathing hard, but it seemed that every movement of every muscle took every ounce of strength the child had. The thing that froze me, though, was the eye. It was only visible because it was reflecting my flashlight, but even in that glint, I could feel anger, or deep hatred, or something like it. This is the point in which the English language really lacks the right words to explain the situation. I could tell that this child meant me harm. Whether it was a hallucination or not, the thing was getting closer. I started to cry. It was getting closer and closer when I heard a voice from behind me. “Hey, Jack,” whispered the voice. It was Steve, I was certain.

I tried to talk back, fully intending to say, “Open this up and get me out right now.” However, given my current state, I am sure it just sounded like garbled nonsense. I clawed at the door, pushing against it with everything that I had and finally breaking eye contact with the child. As I did this, the flashlight rolled down the slope, coming to rest somewhere near the child’s feet.

“What do you see?” the voice asked.

“What are you talking about?” I closed my eyes.

I remember hearing a reply along the lines of “Just look at it. Tell me what you see,” but my own screams of frustration drowned it out.

I was mumbling like a maniac when the voice told me, calmly, “Rest for a second, I’ll get it.” The statement took a second to settle in, at which point I closed my eyes tight.

“Steve, just do it please. Please, just get it open please,” I whimpered. “Just get me out of here.” My voice was beginning to get louder. “Steve, god dammit, open the fucking wooden door.” I opened my eyes for a split second to see nothing but black hair, dangling in front of my face, a small glint of light hidden in the mess of tangles. I slammed my eyes shut and screamed with every ounce of energy I had, “Open the fucking do-“ The door behind me gave way, and I fell onto the dirt, taking in a breath of fresh air. My eyes were still closed, but the first thing that I did was scramble to find the cellar door and close it. Once I had done that, I took a deep breath and opened my eyes.

I saw the barn in front of me, illuminated by the headlights of the car. My head was pulsing with pain. I was covered in dirt and liquids that I didn’t even care to know the origin of. My knee was, at the very least, dislocated. But despite all of that, I was out of the tunnel. I took a deep breath, buried my head in my hands, and said “Steve, why didn’t you just fucking open the door?”

I waited for a response, but none came. “Steve, seriously,” I began, “I was fucking clawing, screaming for my life,” I said as I looked behind me. My stomach must have been on the verge of falling out of me at this point, because it shifted again. The only thing behind me was the large mass of bushes that I had seen while examining the perimeter or the building. I was angry. “Steve, this is not the fucking time. Come out of the fucking bushes.” I was getting ready to stand up when I heard a yell from the front of the building.

A flashlight bobbed up and down in the semi-darkness. Steve was running into the open door of the structure, yelling my name and telling me not to worry. I must have lost consciousness at that point. When I woke up, Steve was standing over me, desperately trying to wake me up. His words were almost incoherent, at least to my ears.

He helped me to my feet and began to walk me to the car. As we walked away, I saw my flashlight sitting just outside the cellar door, the light was fading.

Steve brought me back to the car and then drove me to the nearest hospital. I fell asleep, but he told me that he drove around for an hour before he found a main road. I don’t think I ever told him the whole story. I believe he thinks that I was just injured from the fall. He never really asked about it, and we didn’t stay in contact for much longer. It’s not like we deliberately parted ways, we just sort of stopped hanging out after that trip and went our separate ways.

I have never been able to fully understand what happened that night. There are many things that I can explain away as being hallucinations, but there are still many things that don’t make sense. The showerheads were there and they were leaking something. The door was real, the tunnel was real. Most everything else can be semi-rationalized if I can convince myself that I had a very bad concussion, a very, very bad concussion. But the one thing that I couldn’t have imagined was that cellar door was locked, and then it suddenly wasn’t.

I am still as skeptical as I have ever been, but I believe in what happened to me at The Showers. I’m not a hermit or a social retard because of this. I drink a lot, but I am still functional. But, I will never return to Nebraska; no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. I don’t watch horror movies either; there is absolutely nothing entertaining about being so desperately scared. That’s it, really. There is no typical ending for my story. I was changed by my experience, yeah. But, there is no way to change anything about it or “fight back” against it. I can’t even convince myself that I wasn’t just seeing things. Believe me; I’ve been trying for years.

Prior to this, there was really no way to find any information on The Showers. The legend didn’t extend outside the classroom of Mr. Mays. No one told stories like this to keep children away from a certain place or to scare them; it just wasn’t known. I guess that’s really the point of this whole story. I want people to know, first hand, what this place is like. Maybe it is a drunk’s rationale, or the kid inside me wanting to spread these kinds of stories again. I don’t know; I don’t care. But, it’s out there now, for people to mold and warp to their needs. Most importantly, it’s finally out of my head.

It’s getting late and I’m getting another drink. Cheers.


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