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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

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