Horror Fiction

The Darkest Secret in an Altered History

This story is a Midnight Chills exclusive; it may not be used in any way/shape/form for any reason. Click here to enjoy the full experience! 

Every night, when I’m on my rounds, giant, orange clouds suddenly roll across the sky until all the stars are hidden from view. I can tell they’re orange because the constant flashes of lightning make them glow bright as day. If I weren’t so frightened, I could appreciate the eerie beauty of it, but soon, the clouds begin turning black, and the booming thunder rattles my bones.

That’s when the portal opens; it’s too perfect to be formed by nature, but I watch as the clouds break apart to leave a large void in the center, and strange, white strands pour forth to create this… hole. It’s darker than black inside, and in the back of my mind, I know it’s the gateway to Oblivion; that’s when I wake up soaked in a cold sweat.

I have one goal in life – to be content. I don’t care about riches, fame, or success – only paying rent. Why the universe chooses me for its random acts of chaos is a question I ask myself each night while lying awake. I’m a lot of things, but crazy isn’t one of them; my luck isn’t just bad – it’s statistically impossible. Most of the time, I feel like my life has been scripted for a movie – like I only exist to entertain some faceless audience.

I suppose context would be useful in this situation – sorry about that… I’ve never been much on writing. Anyways, I’m Luke – a thirty-year-old security guard with a proclivity for random trouble; nice to meet you.

The company I work for doesn’t like having their name thrown around, but I’m paid a very nice salary to babysit a warehouse full of shipping containers. I’m not sure what’s in them, but I have a pretty good guess. From everything I’ve seen over the past three years, I’m almost positive this is a holding facility for patent pending technology.

Honestly, even if they’re holding dead bodies, proof of aliens, or some other shocking conspiracy – I don’t give a damn. There’s only three things I gotta do to stay away from bartending:

  1. Complete my rounds every two hours
  2. Don’t leave before your relief shows up
  3. Never open a container

As long as I follow those rules – I get a cozy job with benefits and tons of downtime. The night shift can get a little spooky since the building makes strange noises, but it’s only settling; being alone in the middle of nowhere just makes it feel a little sinister. It bothers a couple of the other guys, but I don’t mind.

Until last week, there were six of us working solo eight-hour shifts. We only see each other at the time-clock, but I knew something terrible happened when I came in that day. Our boss was here instead of Brian, and none of us had seen Mr. Cabrini since the day we were hired.

I understand some people are curious, but losing a gig like this because you couldn’t resist looking into a box is plain pathetic. Plus, they have cameras everywhere; Brian knew that, but the idiot thought he could erase the tape and blame a malfunction. Needless to say, he was fired on the spot. I focused on appearing outraged and disgusted while yessir’ing my heart out, but a few things didn’t add up.

When Mr. Cabrini seemed content that I wouldn’t make the same mistake – he hopped in his helicopter and flew away; the man doesn’t even trust pilots. That’s when my mind really started going into overdrive. I shouldn’t care, but the logistics of this just aren’t making sense.

We’re over an hour from the nearest gas station, and the closest town is almost two hours further. How early did Brian look in that container? Let’s assume someone is monitoring our cameras around the clock and spotted him right away… What happened from there? Even if Cabrini hopped into a helicopter immediately, it would have taken hours to reach the warehouse. Did they let him snoop around until they could catch him red-handed; did they call him and say, “freeze, buster”? I had to know.

When my shift finally ended, John was the one to relieve me, and he already knew about Brian. We were careful of what was said on site, but soon, we were all in a group chat discussing – not what could be in the container, but – management’s reaction; if that makes us sound like a bunch of women, so be it.

In the beginning, we thought it was funny how offended these rich guys were over a dumbass seeing one of their toys; Brian probably has no clue what he saw. Don’t get me wrong – he deserved to be fired – I just think the dramatics were a touch over the top.

We all tried contacting him over the next few days. A couple of the others were growing curious, but I was prepared to hang up if he tried to say what he saw; I simply wanted to know how they fired him… But he never answered…

I wasn’t surprised at first; I wouldn’t have been in a chatty mood, either, and we weren’t exactly close. Eventually, John drove to Brian’s house hoping to corner the man and be done with it… We thought he was just embarrassed… I know that sounds terrible, but we never dreamed he might be dead!

He was killed in a car crash on his way home from the warehouse… His wife and two sons are still in shock, and his parents are staying in town for the foreseeable future to help as best they can; the rest of us pitched in for a donation towards funeral expenses, but I wish we could do more. Obviously, we didn’t ask about work; we wouldn’t have even if we thought she had answers… It’s a hell of a coincidence though, isn’t it?

The place where it occurred isn’t a high traffic area. The only witness is a corner-store’s low quality security footage, and the police say a white van clearly ran a stop sign. It collided with the driver’s side of Brian’s small car, and both vehicles came to a stop outside of the camera’s view. Thirteen minutes later, a truck pulled onto the scene and dialed 911. First responders arrived soon after, but they were too late to save Brian; meanwhile, the abandoned van was filled with paint and tequila.

The police are investigating this as a hit and run, but we think that’s how it was meant to look. The detective didn’t care about the circumstances from work; in his mind, a van full of illegal immigrants fled the scene of an accident to avoid deportation. His only concern is finding the driver – which yea – that’s obviously the place to start, but it might not end there! Maybe we are jumping to conclusions – maybe this is a mother of coincidences – but they should at least look into the possibility there’s more!

Well, that’s it; that’s my story. I guess I’m asking if you guys think we’re overreacting or if I should get the hell out of dodge. It’s really hard to see myself letting go of this place… I mean… even if they are murderers – everything was fine until Brian peeked…

Ugh, see? This is why I need help!


Two days later:

Hey again, this is Luke the security guard… I hope you remember me because I don’t have time to retype my first post. I’m on a new account because Reddit has decided my other one doesn’t exist anymore; it’s over five-years-old, yet I can’t even get through the Forgot Password options. I wanted to link the first post and see the new comments, but I can’t find it, either! How could my entire profile have been deleted?!

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to dwell on that mystery. So much has happened, I don’t know where to begin… The company hired a man to replace Brian, and we think he’s a spy. So far, Romero has met John, Tobin, and myself; during the shift change, he asked each of us a ton of personal questions. Maybe he’s a curious guy who tries too hard when it comes to making friends, but it doesn’t feel that way when a six-foot-two, three-hundred pound man is looming over you; it feels like he’s deciding whether you get to live or die. Needless to say, we didn’t add him to the group chat.

Tonight, I’m on the midnight to 8:00 shift; I listen to true crime podcasts when I work nights, and it’s especially enjoyable when there’s a good storm for ambience. It’s been raining all day, but the weather turned severe an hour ago. The lightning is near constant, the thunder shakes the ground, and the wind sounds like it’s trying to tear the building in half. Mr. Cabrini obviously cares a great deal for whatever we’re guarding, and I don’t see him storing it in something that would fall apart easily.

As for the electricity – there are enough generators here to power the warehouse for 48 hours after an outage; that’s why I’m extremely surprised to be typing this in the dark. Everything went black after the loudest boom of the night; I’m fairly certain a transformer blew, but I don’t understand why the generators aren’t working.

One thing is for sure, though; Someone is definitely monitoring those cameras 24/7. The second we lost power, my phone rang. “What in the hell is going on over there?!” A loud, gruff voice screamed in my ear. “Why aren’t the generators doing their damn jobs?!”

Thank goodness he could see those as well, or he would probably think I sabotaged them. A team of technicians will be here soon, but there’s absolutely no way to monitor me before they arrive. Mr. Cabrini’s voice remained confident, but he was clearly terrified of what I might do.

With his arsenal of threats rendered useless, he turned to flattery. “I’m glad it happened while our best man was on the job; it’s about time we look into getting you a raise! I feel a little guilty over the whole thing… He didn’t need to bribe me; I was never planning to snoop… It happened by accident…

I was excited about the raise and decided a power outage was no excuse to skip rounds – especially when I have a flashlight. A few minutes later, I was in the holding area with my heart plummeting into my stomach like an Olympic diver. A blue container’s door was open, and I felt like someone kicked my feet out from under me. What was I supposed to do? How could someone have opened it without being seen? If they were lucky enough to get away with it, how could they forget to close it?! How does this happen the one time the cameras are off? I stood there for a solid five minutes, terrified the power would kick on the moment I was in front of the box.

I eventually forced myself forward, but instead of approaching the door from behind and slamming it shut like an intelligent person might have – I walked directly to the opening. Before my hand could reach the door, a bright, orange light flashed from within the container. Though it nearly blinded me, I caught a glimpse of the contents before my vision flooded with spots; there was nothing…

Would anyone believe I found it that way? Would it matter if they did? Should I keep my mouth shut? What if it’s all a test? What could have made that flash if not a camera?! I’m not sure what kind of camera has an orange flash, but something made that light! Oh well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough; it won’t be too much longer before I hear the helicopter…


9:00AM…

Ok, now, I’m scared; my phone has no service – I can’t even get these posts to upload – the storm is down to a steady rain, but the technicians never arrived, and Rick is over an hour late to relieve me. I feel a little better since the sun rose, but I don’t know what to do; I can’t sit here all day trying to call Mr. Cabrini… I’m absolutely terrified of what he must think… Not one word of this bullshit is believable! Where the fuck is Rick! How could he and the technicians just not show up?!

You know what? I’m screwed no matter what; I’m at least going to find out what it was all for. I should probably be conserving my battery, anyway.


2:00PM…

If I don’t calm down, I really am going to die here… I had no clue how desperate my situation actually is until I walked through the rest of the warehouse… I hadn’t made it past the first few containers before, but now…

I knew something was wrong the moment I stepped through those double-doors; the boxes have never been moved since I started working here, yet suddenly, their numbers have doubled, and some are black! They’re only supposed to be blue and red! It’s like I’m in an entirely different building. I’m not sure how I worked up the courage to open a container after that, but I wish I hadn’t.

Maybe I should have tried another blue one, but I went straight for a black. It was caked in thick layers of dust, and the door was nearly rusted shut. I thought it was locked at first, but it finally began to creak open a little more with each pull. Inside was a sleek, metal box I couldn’t help but relate to a coffin. The lid was much heavier than it looked and crashed to the floor with an ear-splitting echo loud enough to drown out my scream.

Inside was a… shit, how do I describe that thing? It was humanoid in the sense it had two arms, legs, eyes, and ears… but everything else was just… wrong. Its skin was a pasty gray/green covered in a strange pattern that was either scales or a tattoo, but I wasn’t going to touch it to find out which. The eye lids split vertically, and the nose was only two small slits in its face. A cloth was covering it from chest to thighs, and I had no desire to see beneath it.

It must be an alien, right? I mean, I’m in Nevada, so what the fuck else is it going to be? I’m suddenly much less concerned with people figuring out where this place is; if I make it out of here – there’s no way I’m ever coming back. Bartending wasn’t that bad. Maybe I’ll check myself into a psych ward and spend the rest of my days in a padded room… That kinda sounds like heaven…

So, this is the part where you’re wondering, “why the hell are you still there?! Hit the road, dumbass!” Right? Well, I ran outside to do just that only to find my car gone! What am I going to do? I can’t call anyone, I can’t go wandering through the desert, but I have to face it; no one is coming…

Maybe I should do myself a favor and—

Shit, shit, shit… I was writing in the office area, but now I’m hiding in the bathroom. I clearly heard a metal door creaking – it was unmistakable. Those doors are way too heavy for one to randomly open by itself. Why? Why the hell is this happening?!

Oh god no, please, no! I can hear footsteps out there… It doesn’t sound like shoes on concrete; it’s closer to the slap of bare, wet feet. There’s no entrance where it came from… only those damn boxes… Oh god, it’s getting closer; I really am going to die here…


6:00PM…

That was the longest thirty minutes of my life. There’s no way I’m spending another night in that warehouse; I don’t care what’s in the desert or how far I walk. Who— or what— ever was walking around stopped right outside the bathroom and stood there for several minutes – sniffing. It sounded like a congested dog trying to get the scent of its meal. If it was the same thing as I saw in the container, I’m sure that’s exactly what it would think of me as – food.

The door doesn’t lock; all I could do was sit with my feet against it while bracing my back to the wall. My eyes were glued to the knob, waiting for it to turn… but, it didn’t. The wet feet returned to the containers, and that was it. As I pulled the door open to a crack, I worried it was a trap; that the alien was only pretending to leave. This time, I was halfway right. The main room was empty, but the double-doors leading to the storage area were wide open, and four sets of glowing, yellow eyes watched me from the darkness.

I didn’t wait around to see how they reacted; I ran outside and just kept going. When I got this job, I had to be driven to the location for the first week because the road ends twenty miles before reaching the warehouse; a series of landmarks gets you the rest of the way. Running into the desert was probably suicide, but I would rather be here than locked in a dark building with those things. I was hoping to find a camera crew that would tell me I’m on Scare Tactics, but I think I ran far enough to disprove that theory.

It was just after 2:00 when I hid in the bathroom, and it’s almost 6:00 now; this is the first time I’ve stopped, and I don’t think I can go one step further. I wasn’t able to find the first two landmarks, but I’ve found the third. It’s a giant rock formation and huge relief; I almost turned back several times, but now I’m positive I’m heading towards the road. If I survive this, I never want to be near sand again. The wind blows constantly, and thousands of tiny grains shoot through my clothes and into my skin; these rocks are the only shelter I’ve seen since coming outside.

The sun is setting, and while I’m desperate to find help, I feel like wandering through a desert at night would be extremely dangerous. I’m frightened of sleeping in the open, but I’ve been awake for twenty-four hours; I’m so exhausted my eyes won’t stay open much longer regardless of how I feel—

Fuck my life, what now?!

Either I’m hallucinating or several figures are walking towards me… they aren’t coming from the warehouse… they’re coming from the opposite direction! They must be hikers or campers! I want to call out, but with everything that’s happened, that may not be a good idea. They haven’t seen me yet – I’ll wait to see their faces before they see mine…


Five days later…

I don’t have much time; I’m escaping tonight, and my battery is down to fifteen percent, but I’m surprised it turned on at all. I want there to be a record in case I don’t survive; hopefully, it will find its way back to my world even if I’m not the one to deliver it…

There’s no way to say this without sounding crazy, but the multiverse theory is true! I’m in an alternate universe right now; the people of this world have created doorways to other realities, and I’ve been trapped here ever since approaching that open container the night of the storm.

I was right about that group in the desert; they weren’t people! They wore scarves around their faces – exactly like someone in the desert needs to wear. When I saw those, I thought they must be humans… But my mind only saw what it wanted to see…

They spoke kindly… sympathized with my situation… had a camp nearby… and a phone with signal! I didn’t even notice them surround me when we started walking, but there was nowhere to run, anyway. I realized something was wrong when their camp was actually a large, stone tower looming in the distance. I stopped in my tracks and was immediately grabbed from behind. Two of them dragged me the rest of the way. Their bodies were unnaturally hard and solid; it was like struggling against a steel straight jacket.

After that, they didn’t speak kindly anymore – in fact, they didn’t speak at all. No matter what I said or how I struggled – I was still dragged to the top of the tower. What I thought was a solid wall was actually a doorway; it split down the middle and slid open at our approach just like at a supermarket. None of the escorts followed me into the new room, but someone in a black robe and faceless, white mask already stood waiting inside.

The doors slid shut behind me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to open them again. The figure remained so still, I was beginning to wonder if it was a statue when it suddenly stepped forward. Every instinct within me wanted to shrink back into a corner, but I forced myself to stand in place; there was no chance of escape, and I hoped to die with some form of dignity.

When we were only six feet apart, the figure asked, “have you figured it out yet?” I shook my head. The man sounded very familiar; I was positive I knew his voice, but my mind wouldn’t let me accept it until his mask was removed.

He was me, and he greatly enjoyed my reaction to seeing him. “Be honest, could you recognize my voice? Most think it’s familiar, but people don’t understand how different they sound outside their own head until they hear a recording… or meet an alternate universe’s version of themselves!” He laughed.

I barely understood what he told me about this place and what’s going on, but I’ll do my best to explain it. Everyone needs to know about this before it’s too late.

There was a vast difference between this world and our own when the Dinosaurs went extinct. In this world – not all of them died. A cluster of Raptors were able to survive, and just as we evolved from apes – another species evolved from the Raptors. I can’t pronounce what they call themselves, and I wouldn’t know how to spell it if I could, but the first half of the word sounds like Retarious.

They thrived as the alpha species and continued evolving to become what I saw in that coffin. When the cavemen finally came along, the Retarious enslaved what they saw as an inferior race; over the centuries, humans continued to evolve and eventually rebelled against their overlords. The wars lasted for centuries and millions died until a tenuous truce was finally called.

The peace lasted for a short time, but new wars were always started and the cycle would go on to repeat itself throughout their history. Only in the last century have the Retarious pushed humanity to their final breaking point. Most humans live under peaceful subjugation – like Fake Me – and are provided with comfortable lives in return. Their problem is the planet itself.

Global warming has had a major impact on the Retarious; the last thirty years have been especially brutal. They’ve lost a quarter of their population since 1990, and their numbers are still dropping rapidly. I believe this universe is in even worse shape than our own. I tried not to show surprise when Fake Me mentioned three volcano eruptions in the last year; I don’t want him to think ours is any better.

Apparently, I’m a brilliant scientist in this universe; when he got going with the technical talk I couldn’t follow half of what he said, but I understood enough to know how important it is to escape. Fake Me has dedicated his life to studying the multiverse theory and believes this world is too far gone to save; their only hope is to find a better one in another universe.

Now that he knows how to open portals between worlds, he only needs to keep checking them one after another. He says I can go home as soon as I’m willing to show him which container I came from. The ones in the old warehouse were thought to be duds, so he was especially fascinated by me. Overall, he questioned me for what felt like hours before finally leaving, but I wasn’t going to waste battery just to see the clock. Speaking of which, I’m down to five percent – fuck.

They feed me once a day – when Fake Me comes in for evening chats and asks if I’m ready to cooperate. I always refuse, and then I’m left alone for another twenty-four hours. My bathroom is a bucket that hasn’t been emptied since day one, and I’m so used to the stench I don’t smell it anymore. Most of my time is spent pacing, and even though the doors seem to open automatically for Fake Me, they haven’t budged at all for Real Me… until tonight.

I learned it by accident – I paced by like always, only this time, it started to open! I leapt back so fast I fell on my ass; if they realize they left it unlocked I’ll never get a chance like this again. I’m hoping their sleep schedule is similar to humans, and they don’t feel the need to leave guards outside. If they do…


The next morning

I’m home, guys! Holy shit, I’m really home; I can’t believe I made it! Or how easy it was! I kept finding reasons to procrastinate – leaving this record, writing letters to my family – but when my phone finally died I didn’t have any more excuses! I marched right out of the tower and into the dark desert without seeing a soul. I worried about finding my way back, but it was a clear, beautiful night with a full moon, and the moment I saw that ugly warehouse in the distance – I ran for it. I didn’t care what was inside. I mentally mapped out where my container was, but I didn’t need the extra seconds; it was completely silent inside – no monsters, no footsteps, no open containers.

When I opened the blue one, I saw more of the portal form this time; it’s exactly like a miniature version of what I saw in my dreams. If I weren’t so exhausted – I would have a lot of questions about how that’s possible, but my brain feels like mush. As badly as I want this to be over – deep down – I know it’s not. There’s no one at the warehouse in my world, either, and the power is still out… But this is definitely my universe because my Reddit account and car exist once again.

I drove for twenty minutes – just far enough to be away from the warehouse but still have a clear view in every direction. I want to get this story posted before anything else has a chance to happen… especially since I’ve just realized something terrifying…

My escape really was easy… Do you guys think maybe it was too easy… could I have been followed? If you live in Nevada, please consider getting out of the area for a while; I sure am.

Horror Fiction

The Backroad’s Maintenance Tunnels (Pt. 2)

Part 2 of The Backroads. 

Part 1

Hey again…

Since that last post actually went through, I should probably let everyone know what happened. Consider it a public service; if you find yourselves getting lost on any backroads – just stop and GPS your way home before it’s too late. You get nothing from that place… except PTSD.

Fuck’s sake where do I even start? Well, with the Station, I suppose. You know you’re a lost cause when you start thinking of a shitty convenience store as home… Though, to be fair, getting drunk everyday was a big help… I freely admit I was half belligerent writing that last post, and I understand that what I’m about to tell you sounds crazy – but this is what happened.

I don’t think I mentioned it before – I didn’t mention a lot of things – but that last store constantly played some weird radio station over the speakers, and I couldn’t figure out how to shut it off. The music was unsettling… there was never any singing, just instrumentals… The tunes were slow – almost soothing in the mornings, and then, they would become more upbeat in the afternoons, but at night, they would play dark, bone-chilling symphonies… Those were far beyond simple elevator music… Those sounded like Satan’s personal orchestra.

I was usually relieved when the woman came on to talk – she was the same one from the gas pumps. A monitor hanging in the back corner would turn on to show her reports, but I couldn’t change the channel or get it to turn on any other time. She usually doesn’t appear after the evening news, but I guess it makes sense there would be a final call… Though, the haunting rendition of Breakfast at Tiffany’s was almost more than my fragile heart could bear until it was interrupted by an Emergency Broadcast; then, Olivia O’Neal was back with another special announcement.

Greetings Grass Grovers; thank you for choosing Last Stop Station. The store will be closing in ten minutes. Please gather your final purchases and calmly proceed to the exit in single-file. There is no need to shove or shout. The Cleaners will not arrive until 12:01 AM. Sirus be with you.

It was hard to focus on what she said; I was too busy looking at her eyes. I could have been hallucinating, but it looked like they had turned black. I don’t know what color they used to be, but they were definitely normal eyes all the other times I saw her— not pitch-black orbs.

I was hoping it would end quickly – like a shot to the head – there one second and gone the next… Hell, the only time I tried to eat a bullet, I couldn’t pull the trigger; I kept talking myself out of it and ended up stashing the gun under the counter. I couldn’t get rid of it, but I didn’t want to look at it anymore, either…

At 11:59, I was racing the clock to drink myself unconscious and thought I had succeeded when everything suddenly went dark, but it only lasted for a second. Just as quickly, a silent, red siren descended from the ceiling, and the strobing light made me so dizzy, I puked all over my shoes.

I glanced at the clock in time to watch the last five seconds tick down, and – at the stroke of midnight – the siren receded into the ceiling. The lights came back brighter than ever, and while spots were still dancing in my vision – the automatic doors slid open; I almost puked again as several white, blurry blobs entered the Station and split off in every direction.

Seeing them file in was a sobering moment, but I was too far gone to articulate sensible speech while panicking. I tried to ask who they were – what they wanted – but there’s no telling what I actually said, and they were never going to talk, regardless.

They advanced, and I retreated; when I backed into the counter, I went over and continued crawling for as much distance as possible. My vision was finally clearing, and I felt a slight relief upon realizing the intruders were only humans wearing some kind of hazmat suits and not Stranded. I’m not sure why, but I’ve named the one who came at me, Al.

He was the only one to acknowledge my existence; none of the others even glanced my way. Some were restocking shelves while others were cleaning, and that’s when I remembered the thing about “Cleaners” arriving at 12:01.

Have you ever seen a movie where they check for radiation with little machines that click and beep. Well, these guys had some that looked like they were from the 50’s. I thought they were little radios at first; they had handles sticking out of the top with a few dials on either side, and there was a detachment that looked like a microphone without the mouthpiece.

I couldn’t help but let out a slight yelp when Al finally had me cornered. I begged him not to hurt me, and it took several seconds to realize – he wasn’t; he was scanning me. After his machine failed to detect whatever it was looking for, he put it away and reached towards me. Not in a fast or threatening manner – but casual – and placed both hands on my hips…

When I felt his fingers close… I just… I thought— Ugh, it’s not important what I thought, but I screamed for real that time. Every head in the Station turned to stare; they didn’t seem angry – only creepy. All the machines were turned off by this point, so there was complete silence when Al replaced his hands on my hips, and – in one, smooth motion – pulled my shirt over my head. I’m not sure why I lifted my arms… I guess it was a reflex…

After dropping my shirt onto the ground, Al tried to unbutton my pants. I was outnumbered more than 10 to 1, and there was no question those people meant to have their way. I salvaged what little dignity remained by throwing my own pants to the ground; it was my only choice.

I think I would have been ok if it had ended there, but I found new depths of unexplored terror when my pants were added to the pile yet Al was still coming back for more. More?! All I had left were socks, shoes, and boxers! Even my gun and bag were being added to the pile.

I threw my socks and shoes at their feet in a desperate attempt to keep my boxers and began walking towards the exit, but I barely made it three steps before being detained. Two men took hold of my arms while a third stripped away my last shred of humanity…

I was scanned and cleared once more before being pushed outside. It hadn’t felt like I went anywhere, but the Station was suddenly in a warehouse with enough lighting to imitate the sun. The surrounding metal walls were a perfect fit – as if they were built after the Station was placed there. It felt like being on the set of a movie studio.

My car was still parked next to the pump, and a team of Cleaners were busy going through it. I was considering a way to get one of them alone – finding clothes was my top priority even if it was one of those weird suits. That’s when I noticed what was beyond the parking lot – a wide, concrete path… I could follow it to the right or to the left. There were no doors, just trimmed openings in the walls, and – when standing on the path – I could see for miles in either direction with no end in sight.


I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully I didn’t have to wonder for too long. As I looked to the left once more – what I thought to be a solid wall opened up into a doorway. It scared me at first, and I was prepared to run in the other direction when a man suddenly stepped out and waved me over. It was comforting to see he wasn’t dressed like a Cleaner, but that’s not what made me trust him; I trusted him because he wore the same look of terror I imagined wearing myself.

His eyes searched the tunnels like something could appear any second, and I wasn’t ready to learn what put that terror on his face. When I was close enough, he pulled me through the door and slammed it shut.

I found myself in what I can only describe as an Amazon warehouse; it was like the mother of all Sam’s Clubs, and we were surrounded by shelves of trash bags and paper towels. I didn’t know what to say, so I opted for standing silently with my hands awkwardly covering my junk.

“Here, man. Use this for now, and I’ll take you to grab some clothes before we split. I’m Doug, by the way.” He ripped open a box of industrial-sized trash bags and tossed one over.

I wrapped it around my waist and introduced myself as he led us through endless aisles of random supplies. Occasionally, he paused to put something into his bag, but we never stopped for more than a few seconds. He was thin and a few inches taller than me with long hair pulled back into a man-bun, and he wore an orange shirt with white and blue flower-print board-shorts; I’d think he were my age, but his deep voice made him sound older. His pack was the kind campers take on week-long excursions, and it looked like it couldn’t fit one more item without bursting a seam.

I had countless questions but no clue where— or how – to begin. Finally, I settled for, “where are we?”

“That’s a pretty loaded question, my friend. If you’re here, you must have stayed in a Station past the midnight countdown – which means the Cleaners came and took your clothes away. That was the worst part for me, but it doesn’t look like you fought back – smart man. Check this out.” He lifted his shirt to reveal a nasty, circular, burn scar slightly larger than a quarter.

When a Cleaner reached for his pants, Doug punched him in the head; this resulted in a second Cleaner producing what appeared to be a police baton – but it was actually something closer to a cattle-prod. Doug described the sensation as being electrocuted with a branding iron, and it instantly rendered him unconscious. When he woke, he was lying in a concrete pathway just beyond the Station’s parking lot, and his entire body felt like it was on fire; knowing he couldn’t stay there – he began crawling through the tunnel.

“Exactly how long have you been here?” The realization he had been trapped there long enough for that wound to heal added a new layer of fear to the situation.

“No telling; it’s too easy to lose track of time around here. You’ll try to count the Sundays for a while, but it’s impossible. There’s no windows to know if it’s day or night, and if you get a new watch or phone – you’ll find they’re useless in most places. Watches don’t work at all, and phones seem to change at random pending your location.”

It was difficult to appreciate the magnitude of his words; a sea of clothes racks were just ahead, and walking through a store naked can be terribly distracting. “Are we alone here? Are there more Cleaners? What about the Stranded?! Please tell me those other things—”

“We’re alone for now.” He cut me off before I could talk about the real monsters. “All the Cleaners are out prepping the Stations for another week of service, and we’ll be long gone before the first groups return. I only come here once a week to restock supplies, and – sometimes – I pick up bits of information along the way. On this occasion, I heard there was another Quitter in the Tunnels and decided to see if I could catch your eye. I wouldn’t have come out or shouted to you, though; nothing personal – I just can’t take those kinds of risks… Anyway, put on some clothes, and don’t leave this spot; I’ll be back in sixty seconds.”

“Wait, no—.” I didn’t have a clue what he was doing; I thought he was leaving me, but I had to get dressed before chasing after him. There was no telling when – or if – I would have another opportunity. I grabbed the first of everything I saw in my size and dressed as quickly as possible. In the end, I had an electric blue version of Doug’s Station shirt, a gray and red version of his shorts, and black flip-flops. I still can’t believe there wasn’t a single pair of jeans. It all looked typical of what you expect to find in the gas stations off busy interstates that sell unusual souvenirs to travelers.

I was debating on what to do about Doug when I saw him headed back with an extra bag slung over his shoulder. “Here – pack some extra clothes.” He tossed me the pack before continuing. “Sundays are the only day it’s safe to enter the Hub; essentially, this is where the Cleaners live, and if you’re caught in their home – they’ll put you on the shelves, too. I promise, you don’t want that…” He cringed just thinking about it, and I didn’t press the issue.

“But how do we get out? I’ve been away from home for too long; my family must think I’m dead!”

“Sorry, man; you may want to say goodbye to your old life. It’s easier that way; some people even choose a new name, but we all grieve differently. Just do what feels right for you.”

“But what is this place?! It doesn’t make any sense? Where are we?!” I didn’t care if my voice was cracking – I needed real answers.

Doug checked his watch for the hundredth time and let out a long, deep sigh. “I’ll tell you what I’ve heard, but it’s up to you whether or not to believe it… Plus, we’re almost out of time, so keep moving or get left behind.”

That was fine; after everything I had experienced – I thought I was ready to believe anything

“Have you ever heard any of the Game legends? The ones where you do something incredibly dangerous for a chance to win something from the devil? It’s usually a wish or some kind of fortune, but there’s a ton of them; the Infinity Game and Midnight Game are fairly popular, for example.”

“Like Bloody Mary or Candyman?” I did not like where this was going.

“Well, sort of… you’re on the right track, but those are fake and only for a scare. The ones I’m talking about are all too real. The first thing you need to accept is that demons exist; they come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s a group of elite that are uncontested in power – almost god-like. Souls are the currency, nourishment, and fuel that sustain their powers, but collecting them can get a little tricky. A demon can’t simply take a soul by force – it must be freely given, and even the humans who don’t believe in souls tend to get protective when asked point-blank to part with one. So, what do they do? They create a situation that makes you want to give it away. You follow me?”

“Uh, sort of… you mean it’s like the Devil’s Crossroads or the thing with the golden fiddle?”

He considered that for a moment. “Closer… but they haven’t done things that way for decades. Business was slow – people weren’t buying into it anymore. You know what they say about things too good to be true… But if you add an element of challenge – something to balance the effort with the reward – then, people believe it.”

“So, somewhere in this maze of madness – you’re saying there’s a demon who will send me home in exchange for my soul?!” It was a shitty deal, but one I was prepared to take; that’s how badly I missed my family.

“Pft, hell no, man. This game isn’t active; it’s just a relic of the past no one bothered to shut down. There was no rhyme or reason to getting here – it was practically based on chance; the asshole running it made himself a new game where suckers alternate turning left and right in order to play. I don’t know what happens after that, but it’s clearly more lucrative than this place. Now, we’re just stuck here while everything essentially runs on auto-pilot.”

It took me a few minutes to respond… It’s not that I didn’t believe him; no other explanation fit the scenario. I was just shocked. “…Does that mean the Cleaners are the only danger down here?”

I knew it was too good to be true when I said it, but… I don’t know – what else do you say at a time like that? He could have simply said no; he didn’t have to laugh…

“Ha, I wish! This place wouldn’t be half bad if—” He stopped suddenly and reversed, pulling me with him; the sound of footsteps could be heard in the distance, and they were getting louder. The aisle we were on contained packs of bottled water lined beneath the bottom shelf, and Doug rushed to clear a space among them. I helped as soon as I understood his intent, but I never thought we would actually fit; thank goodness I was wrong.

There was a four-foot space behind the stack, and it ran the full length of the aisles we were sandwiched between. Once we crawled under the shelf, we pulled the water back in to cover our entrance and waited in silence as the Cleaners continued to draw closer. That’s when we realized there was another sound mixed in with the footsteps – one we couldn’t quite identify until it was only a few yards away… It was the sound of something wet and sticky being dragged across the floor, but nothing was distinguishable between the small cracks of our hiding place.

Doug already knew what it was; I could tell by the look on his face – but he only shook his head at my curious stare. We waited until they were well out of our vicinity before crawling out, and the thick blood streaks confirmed the fear I wouldn’t acknowledge.

“Why didn’t they just kill me right away if this is the endgame?” I didn’t expect to get an answer, but there actually was one.

“Because they weren’t programmed to kill humans collected from Stations – they’re meant to strip us for conversion. When the game was still active, it was crawling with low-level demons who would take the humans away once they were naked; nobody knows exactly what was done to them, but when they came back – they were Cleaners. They don’t speak; they just do as they’re programmed – no exceptions.”

“Then why did they kill whoever this was?! There’s no way someone survived that much blood loss…”

“That person must have been in here – getting supplies like we are… every Tunnel connects to this place; it’s the Supply Hub. In here, Cleaners are only programmed to re-stock loose items, and, as far as they can tell – humans are basically livestock, so they’re taken to meat processing…”

With each shocking revelation, I became slightly more numb to the panic. I had already reached that very point less than 24 hours before, but when I survived the countdown – it restored a sliver of hope. Then, I saw people in hazmat suits like some kind of officials, and – for the briefest moment – I thought they were there to help.

I wanted to crush that sliver of hope when my clothes were taken, but Doug appeared, and the damn thing grew; it took a minute for everything he said to really sink in and snuff the hope out at its roots. Part of me just wanted to assess the easiest way to die and get it over with. “How big is this place? What else is out there?”

“It’s endless; don’t you get it? We aren’t on earth – we aren’t even in the same universe! We’re basically in limbo; you can look behind every door, but you’re never going to find a way out. No matter what kind of room you stumble across, you’re still in the Tunnels – never forget that.” He showed a little emotion with the last sentence, and I realized he had probably been an entirely different man before that place.

We turned down an aisle of garden supplies, and there was an EXIT sign above a rusty door on the back wall. Doug took one last look around and handed me a pair of shears before removing a large hunting knife that had been concealed beneath his shirt. “Sorry we didn’t have time for a real weapon, but this is better than nothing.”

“Are guns the only thing they don’t stock in this place? Or are you just really good with that thing?” I nodded towards his knife while trying to find a comfortable way to wield my shears.

“Oh, there’s plenty of guns and ammo… But you don’t want to use it. Some of the low-level demons stayed behind to play Alpha. If they hear a gunshot, they call for backup, and everyone comes running… We’ve lost a lot of good people that way, and now, we avoid firearms completely. Never forget – they don’t have the power to grant big wishes, but that won’t stop them from saying they do—.”

“Wait – ‘we’? So, you’re with a group? How many? We could probably take down the Cleaners without guns! If we can take over the Hub—”

“Don’t talk that way – it’s suicide; you think it hasn’t been tried? You think you’re the first person desperate to get home? There were seven people in the group that found us, but today – there’s five – and not one of them are the same! Within the first year, each of the original seven died – along with quite a few others – and most of it can’t even be blamed on demons!” He was whispering, and I could barely make out his words over the creaking door, but there was no mistaking that tone.

We crept out, and we were in an identical tunnel as before – endless in each direction. “I’m sorry about your friends…” I didn’t know what else to say.

“Listen, I’m going to tell you the most important rule to survival; never let them see you. They won’t tolerate humans running loose in their deranged kingdom. Once they know you exist – the entire pack won’t rest until they’ve hunted you down, and – Jesse – they don’t need to sleep…”

That struck some life back into my terror. “So what else is down here?! Where are we supposed to hide when we can’t be in the Hub?”

“The other rooms; I’m going to show you how to find them. Look at where we just came from – do you see the door’s outline? Your eyes will get used to spotting the straight lines faster than you think. You’ll want to pick something close to a Hub entrance, but never stay in one place too long… And if you ever see a thick, black, slimy residue or smell rotten meat – leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible; that means a demon is nearby.”

That time, his choice of words was unmistakable; I wasn’t being invited to join the group. I’m not a particularly sensitive or petty man, but the prospect of being alone in those tunnels… I couldn’t process it. “Oh, I get it… I guess I didn’t make the cut for your exclusive club, huh?”

The face he made in return was raw and powerful; I almost wanted to apologize, but it was hard to feel sympathetic under the circumstances. Then, his words cut me to the bone. “No disrespect – you seem like a nice guy, but I don’t trust strangers anymore. All I have left is my wife, and no other man is ever going near her again. Ok? Whether you understand it yet or not – you’re fucking lucky to be alone!”

It didn’t take a detective to put those pieces together, and it was an impossible point to argue; I wouldn’t have trusted him, either. There was only one thing left to say… “Got any more tips?”

“Play the odds; the Tunnels are endless. We don’t know how many demons are out there, but as long as you keep moving, you probably won’t run into one. If you bunker down in one place – something will eventually stumble across you. When we change locations, we walk six hours before looking for the next Hub entrance; then, we check the doors closest to it for a place to rest until the next Station Clean. And be very careful about who you trust. New people show up every week, and even good people can do horrible things when they’re desperate.” His words brought back memories of Rob, but I pushed them down deep where they belong.

“Wait… But how do I keep track of the days… And when we first met… you said you heard there was a new Quitter… What did that mean? Who did you hear it from?” We were walking side by side with our heads close together – whispering in hushed tones, but I had to restrain myself from shouting at the end. I was being expected to process too much too quickly, and the threat of a full-blown panic attack was looming ever closer.

“Every room plays the same radio channel you heard in the Station; I’m not sure why it doesn’t work in the Hub, but I guess the Cleaners don’t need it… And we are Quitters; we stayed in the Station because we wanted to quit playing without making it through the final level. It’s practically a Game Over screen… As for who told me about you… Well, there are a few people who want to put the Cleaners out of their misery, and they don’t care if they die in the process; they tend to take extreme risks like stealing Cleaner uniforms and infiltrating their ranks… If one ever approaches you with both hands palms up – that’s the signal. Try to help them if you can; they’re doing good work. I know I would want to be put down if it were me.”

I was trying to commit each word to memory, but I could only think of walking those dim Tunnels alone; so much so that I nearly missed the fine, door-shaped cracks next to where Doug had stopped. “I guess this is where we go our separate ways… Thanks for everything, really. I’d already be dead without you. Do you mind demonstrating how these things open before I go?” My voice came out less steady than I hoped.

“Just push.” The wall opened like a swinging door with the slightest effort, and he gave me one last warning. “Don’t forget about the sludge; if you need to escape – run through the closest door and immediately find a different exit. Then, find another door and another exit. Do it at least 4-5 times. All the Tunnels are straight; the only way to change direction is by cutting through a room… And good luck.”

We shook hands before he disappeared into what looked like a 90’s hotel lobby, and I caught a glimpse of his wife as the door closed. She had a jagged scar across her throat, and that’s when I knew Doug had been right; I was lucky to be alone.


I wandered the endless Tunnel for hours hoping I’d have the willpower to resist running away when I finally crossed paths with a demon. I wasn’t interested in living out the rest of my life in a monster’s playground, but I was still terrified of dying. Since I wouldn’t be able to hang or shoot myself, I hoped a demon could take the matter out of my hands…

Never underestimate your survival instincts, folks. I continued walking under the dim, blinking lights, and the first time they went completely dark – I thought something was coming; all my big talk vanished as I began throwing myself into the wall, searching for a door. In that moment, there was no remembering ‘but this is what I wanted.’ I was in a full panic – running off pure instinct and fighting to survive with everything I had.

Then, the lights suddenly flickered back to life, and there was nothing in sight. As it turns out – this was a fairly common occurrence in the Tunnels. I wasn’t too worried about failing my first test though – after all, what chance did I stand out there alone? I didn’t expect to make it another day – let alone weeks! Though, it seemed like a lot longer… It was Thursday, June 16th, when I got lost on the Backroads, and I came home yesterday, August 11th. That’s just under a month, but it felt like years.

Those rooms really could be anything, and they were completely random. The first night, I stayed in a rundown bowling alley, but they had things from the past and present – fantasy and reality – nothing was off limits. I’ve slept in the Millennium Falcon, and I’ve slept on benches in bus stations; when you have no one to share the good things with – stuff like that loses all meaning fast.

I was leaving the White House yesterday when I noticed clumps of black sludge staining the walls ahead and dripping from the ceiling. The first spots were only twenty to thirty feet away, and they extended at least that much further. The lights near it were going out, and the ones still lit were dimming by the second, but at the very edge of the darkness, I could just make out a tall, humanoid shape…

I threw myself into the closest room – which happened to be an old rubber factory – wound my way through broken machinery, and found the other exit. The new Tunnel was clean, but I went through a bank, airport, and carnival, too; when I entered the third clean Tunnel – I walked ahead a few yards and chose one more door… I had no clue if the shape I saw really was a demon or if it saw me, but the fresh terror I felt at the prospect erased any lingering notions of running into one on purpose.

Though, with the way things turned out, I should probably be thanking the damn thing; that last door led outside! It wasn’t like the Station or airport where the small, outdoor areas were still under a roof – there was an actual sky, and it looked exactly like the Paved Streets of the Backroads! The fresh air was absolutely delicious, and I took my time searching for the exit; in fact, I was still searching two hours later. At one point, I even let myself believe I was actually out of the Tunnels, but that hope was squashed when I reached the crossroads.

Dark clouds rolled across the sky, and it grew darker by the second as I advanced; I knew it was different from the Backroads then, and I knew I should turn back, but I couldn’t. The door was gone and there was nothing but miles of deserted highway behind me.

A bright flash of lightning revealed a dark figure in the center of the crossroads. There was something about the way it stood – facing me – that made it seem like it was waiting to speak. The one in the Tunnel had been hunched over like a rabid beast – waiting to strike out for its next meal… Or maybe that’s what the new one wanted me to think… Either way, I walked right up to him because I was fairly certain he only wanted to talk… because of how he was standing… Damn, that sounds really bad when I hear it out loud…

… Sorry, I’m getting pretty tired; I’ve been at this a while, now… It’s hard to describe, but I drew a picture… It was like looking into a human-shaped black-hole. Where its face should be was only a vortex of even blacker swirls, and looking at it was like falling into a bottomless pit. Yet, somehow, it kinda sounded like Samuel L. Jackson when it spoke…

It said it was the original game owner and still preferred to operate in the old ways when possible. It wanted to know if I’d be interested in trading my soul for being with my family again, and boy – was I interested! All it took was a simple prick of the finger, a few drops of blood on a dotted line, and we were good to go!

With a wave of its hand the sky cleared, and a new door suddenly appeared behind us. It opened onto my front yard, and I ran through it without another glance at the demon. Everything looked and smelled exactly how it should, and my wife’s car was in the driveway. She knew there was more to my story than getting lost, but she gave me time with the kids before making me explain, and I appreciated that. I also appreciate the fact she doesn’t know about my Reddit account…

I did my best to tell her what happened, but now, she wants me to see a psychologist. She’s been on the phone all day trying to schedule one around the police visit; an officer was supposed to stop by to speak with us so we can officially close the missing person’s report, but I guess he’s running late. I’m not complaining, though, I never want to leave this house again. Call it PTSD or whatever you want – I just have this overwhelming sense of dread that something awful will happen the second we try to go somewhere…

This whole thing really messed up my dad, too; he didn’t sound like himself, and even my mother-in-law seems shaken by the ordeal. I feel horrible for the trouble I caused everyone, but— Shit, I gotta go; there’s another problem. My wife called the police station and they’re saying the cop already came by, but nobody answered the door! Can you believe this crap? Then, the call dropped in the middle of their conversation, and now the lines are busy! What a joke!

Horror Fiction

The Backroads

The Dark Somnium has done another amazing job on this narration - please check it out for a phenomenal experience! 

Do you want to hear it in narrated in a female voice? Got you covered there, too. Lady Spookaria did a wonderful narration!


The CreepyPasta

Thursday

Today is Thursday, June 16, 2022, and I don’t know where I am. I’m parked on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, and I’m not even sure this is still Louisiana. I haven’t had a bar of service all day, I’ve been driving for nine hours, and the only thing I want to do is sleep, but I’m afraid to close my eyes. Staring at this screen is only making it worse, but I need the distraction; none of this makes sense.

My house is a thirty minute drive to town if you take the highway, but in any other direction – you can ride the backroads for hours; most aren’t even on the map. When I was younger, Mom would take me riding on summer evenings, and we always found new routes to explore. That’s also how I learned to drive, and after getting my license, I started going more often. Sometimes, I would bring friends, but for the most part it’s something I enjoy doing alone – especially after Mom died; she was killed by a drunk driver six years ago.

I’ve never seen a house or more than a handful of other vehicles out here; it’s perfect for camping. I’ve stayed overnight more times than I can count and always felt perfectly safe; it’s almost like being the only person in the world. The only difference with this trip was that damn tunnel.

Life has been hard lately, and only having one job on the books doesn’t help. There was nothing on this wedding’s menu that could be cooked the day before, so, instead of doing anything productive – I convinced myself to go for a drive… which was clearly a mistake.

There’s a beautiful, crystal-clear pond that became my go-to place for quick trips or days I brought someone along. It’s not very far, and I know every road in between… or thought I did…

Leaving the pond, there should only be two ways to go – back home or further into nowhere – but then I saw a third option! While turning the truck around, I found myself staring at a paved road hidden behind the tree-line. While it’s understandable to miss when driving past – I’ve been to that pond a thousand times and always turn around in the same place; this shouldn’t have been my first time seeing it, but I was too excited to think more of it.

A closer look revealed only shrubs and weeds blocking the way, so I decided to drive straight through. A new path so close to home was too big of a deal to pass up; of course, that feels incredibly ignorant to say now

I got through the brush easily, and after a mile it cleared up again, but six miles after that – I knew it was time to turn back. That’s when I finally saw the end of the road. Ahead was an overpass with what looked like old train tracks, and what I thought was a dead-end was actually a tunnel running beneath it.

At first, it looked too small to drive through. I only wanted to get my headlights close enough to see inside, but then the road did keep going; I could see daylight at the other end. The tunnel itself was damp, and the air smelled musty, but it was completely empty. When I came out of the other side, the road stretched ahead for miles with occasional turns-off’s on both sides.

It should have been impossible to get lost by going straight; I should have been able to turn around at any point and drive directly back to the pond. I still don’t understand why that isn’t the case…

I had hoped to find a landmark to use on the next visit, but after an hour of nothing but random cut-offs – I realized how late it was and finally turned back. Everything looked exactly the same as far as I could tell; I have no clue where I went wrong, but an hour and a half later I was still cruising with no sign of that tunnel. If anything, I was driving even faster than before; it doesn’t make any damn sense! I drove for another thirty minutes before stopping completely. I had to pee and needed time to think without wondering if I was headed even further away from home.

If I had made even a single turn – I could believe being lost, but the idea of turning back after driving in a straight line felt… unnatural. It would mean hours of retracing my steps only to turn around again when that didn’t work. How many hours would be wasted covering the same ground? But then, there’s no choice because something is obviously wrong! It’s maddening!

I’m still stuck in that hellish thought-loop, but I couldn’t just stay on the side of the road. In the end, I turned around once again – this time going much, much slower. The only way I could imagine getting lost was if the road had split somewhere when I wasn’t paying attention.

I came to a rolling stop at every turn-off and even got out a few times, but there was absolutely no chance I merged off any of them. By the time I made it back to my original stopping point – the sun was starting to set, and my brain fed me whatever I needed to hear to avoid turning back a third time. I figured Mom and I had only been able to spend so much time on the backroads because we took the small, curvy trails that never really led anywhere; now, I was traveling in a straight line – it had to lead somewhere.

All I needed to do was make it to the next town – or maybe not even that far if I could find a spot with cell service – but now it’s almost midnight, and I stopped because the road suddenly ended… or, at least the pavement did. There’s nothing but a long, dusty trail left, and there’s no chance of finding a signal that way; I need to wait for morning and check out some of the cut-offs. Nothing about this—


Friday

I wonder if I’ve been reported as missing… I’m sure I have; how could I not be? Surely, the backroads are the first place they’ll look, right? I’m sure it is… Sweet fire-shits, I thought I was going to die last night.

I was lying across the backseat, writing, when I heard something moving around in the forest. I assumed it was an animal until it broke through the tree-line, and the unmistakable sound of a shoes scraping against concrete made me drop the phone.

There was a half-second of euphoric relief as I imagined myself being rescued by a kindly, old farmer before my body went numb with dread. People volunteering with search parties didn’t wander through the woods alone at night – without flashlights! This person hadn’t driven there, either; I would have heard an engine.

I didn’t know what the hell to do; my first instinct was to jump in the driver’s seat and run for it, but then I imagined bullets flying through the windows… It seemed reasonable to think a person skulking through a dark forest would be armed. I wanted my pistol from the glove compartment more than anything, but my arms refused to obey. The footsteps were moving slowly like someone was checking out my truck, and when they turned to walk along the passenger side – my body finally moved.

Without the phone’s light it was too dark to see anything, but as I slowly inched forward – the footsteps paused next to the front, passenger door, and my heart stopped along with them. I hesitated with my hand on the glove compartment’s handle wondering if the light would come on when I realized something that shot chills down my spine. I hadn’t locked the doors after using the bathroom…

Instead of fumbling for the controls, I felt for the knob and gently pushed it down. At the same instant, the dull thud of a locked handle being pulled broke the night’s silence like a gunshot, and there was no further caution in my movements. I ripped open the glove compartment, grabbed my gun and racked one into the chamber as the sound of several footsteps fled back into the forest.

There had been nothing to indicate multiple people were outside, but there was no mistaking it, now; feet were skidding across the pavement as others were already tearing through the thick brush, and I threw myself into the driver’s seat. The headlights came on just in time to reveal the last two figures vanished into the darkness.

I was in tears with relief over the fact I had turned around before parking, and it wasn’t because of forethought but fear; just looking at that long, dirt road made my stomach clench. As for the group of crazies… I don’t know, it might be time to entertain the possibility that I’m the one who’s crazy…

I only caught a quick glimpse as I sped away, but those people resembled terminal cancer patients with animalistic movements. They were sickly thin and hunched over like gorillas but moved with deceptive speed. Thanks to the adrenaline, I was wide-awake and traveling faster than I should have been, but I wanted as much distance between myself and those… people… as possible.

After driving a few miles, my brain slowly began formulating coherent thoughts again. I think it’s safe to say my new friends don’t have motorized transportation, but I drove for almost an hour before stopping. If I didn’t close my eyes, I was going to fall asleep at the wheel, and – if I wreck – I’m dead. There were three hours before dawn, so I set an alarm, passed out, and was somehow still alive when it sounded.

I woke to a foggy morning, and the long road ahead served as a bleak reminder of my situation. Mother Nature called, and I was starving, but luckily there were a few basic supplies in the truck. After eating two power bars, I somehow managed to stick with water instead of downing the bottle of whiskey – and thank goodness, or I wouldn’t have it now!

The shit I’ve seen today is enough to make that gun look mighty appetizing. All goddamn day I kept on driving straight down that same road – the way I should have been going in the first place. I didn’t care if it took twelve hours to find the next town – I wasn’t going to start turning down a bunch of random roads that could take me in circles.

By 9:00, I had seen nothing but trees and grassy clearings. My stomach was growling louder than my music, and I was barely containing my anger when a familiar beeping sent me soaring over the edge. When I finally regained a modicum of control – my throat was raw and my face looked as red as it felt; the gaslight was on, and the possibility of dying out here became very real, very fast.

When I came around the next curve, I thought I was hallucinating. A small gas station suddenly appeared in the distance, but there was no way I had driven farther than yesterday, and I definitely hadn’t passed it without noticing. As I came closer, my heart sank when I realized it was abandoned. There were no other cars, lights, or signs – just old pumps and a dark store.

I parked anyway – just to think for a minute – and continued to be surprised. The building looked like it hadn’t been touched in twenty years, yet the pumps looked as if they were installed last week. I got out to stretch my legs, and the one next to me turned on – including its tv!

It shouldn’t have been possible, but that hardly matters in this place. Whether I was hallucinating or not, I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. Even more astonishing than the fact it worked was the woman on tv. She was giving a local news and weather report like what you would see at a normal gas station.

“It’s a beautiful, sunny day on the Paved Backroads! The last of the morning’s fog will be clearing up shortly, and we’ll have a high of 98 this afternoon. Those transitioning to Dirt Roads should show due caution as we’ve had significant rise in Stranded sightings. Thank you for choosing Last Stop Station; until next time – safe travels!”

I didn’t understand half of what she said, and there was plenty more I can’t remember. If I find another one, I’m going to have my phone ready to record; thank goodness I have a car charger or I wouldn’t even have that by now.

After refueling I decided to take a look at the store; I was completely out of food and on my last bottle of water. I would have taken anything that wasn’t poisonous, but I was shocked to find water, soups, and canned fruit – simply there for the taking. While those were fully stocked – there were no snack foods, soft drinks, or random accessories. If the can’s sell-by dates weren’t so recent, I would think that stuff had sat there for years.

There was nowhere to cook the soup, no phone and no cash register, either. Everything about that store was just… off, but as strange as it was – I didn’t want to leave; it was nice to finally stretch my legs and to be out of the truck longer than a bathroom break. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to waste time hanging out in an abandoned gas station. In the end, I compromised by staying long enough to eat. I tried not to pin my hopes on someone else stopping by, but I found myself watching the road more than I care to admit.

My original idea was to find a makeshift pot and build a fire, but then I remembered some of my camping gear was still in the truck! With my hot-plate – the only hard part was opening the cans with a dull pocket knife.

As expected, no one came, but I couldn’t waste any more time there. At that point, I expected to spend the rest of the day on the road and convinced myself to take some supplies; before I knew it, I’d robbed the place blind, and I hope the police come looking! They won’t, but I can dream.

I felt better with a full meal on my stomach and a truck full of free supplies, but it’s hard to keep a cool head when you’re coming up on your second night of being lost in the middle of nowhere. I eventually drove straight into the sunset until once again being forced into a sudden stop when the pavement ended. The way forward was yet another long, dusty trail, and this one inspired the same cold dread as the last.

Logic told me the weird, pale people couldn’t be way out there, too, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I turned back and drove for another hour before stopping for the night. After eating a can of peaches, I started writing, and now, I can’t stop thinking about that lady on that little tv. She was talking about these roads like they were their own town or something, and I want to hear that part about being stranded again; maybe I’m not the only one who’s had this happen.

Either way, I’ve had enough for one day; I need more than a few hours of sleep. Staying on this road isn’t an option anymore; tomorrow, I’ll need to choose one of the cut-offs.


Saturday

There’s no question – I’m not in Louisiana anymore; I’m not even in the real world. I met someone this afternoon. I don’t think he’s real; he’s either a hallucination or a demon – I’m just not sure which. I had essentially chosen a cut-off at random when I couldn’t find the gas station again, and twenty miles later there was a man walking along the shoulder.

I was almost too afraid to stop, but he got on his knees in the middle of the road – begging. In the end, I needed someone to talk to more than I cared about the possibility of being murdered. He claims to know a little about what’s going on here, and though his story is completely unbelievable – I can’t come up with an alternative.

He doesn’t know how or why things are the way they are, but he got here by driving through a tunnel just like I did, except he was in Pennsylvania. If he hadn’t told his story first, I wouldn’t have believed him; it sounds too much like my own. The only difference is what happened after he ran out of gas. Since he started a quarter tank – he had no idea anything was wrong yet.

A service station appeared around the next curve – exactly as it had for me – and based on his description it sounds like the same one. The pump’s tv came on, and after a brief weather report, there was another confusing public service announcement.

“…And don’t forget to stock up for tomorrow. As usual, our Stations will be closed for Sunday – no exceptions. Please ensure all persons are cleared from the premises by no later than 11:59PM, and thank you for choosing Last Stop Station; until next time – safe travels!”

After filling his tank, he went inside to find a nearly empty store and only then realized there were no other cars or people in sight. Since the pump worked, he reasoned the store must be open, and worried something may have happened to the clerk. Rob went outside to search for a signal, and when he was unsuccessful – he noticed the store was at the bottom of a steep rise.

There was no trail, but he was able to make it up fairly easily; unfortunately, he still couldn’t get reception. Determined to drive back to town, he made his way down the slope only to find the store and his car gone! He swears he walked in a straight line and found the road easily, but it was empty. If it weren’t for my own experiences these last few days – I couldn’t have believed it, but now I definitely do… Assuming Rob is actually real, of course.

He had no choice but to start walking, and he headed in the direction he believed would take him to town. Several hours later, he still hadn’t seen another car or store, and the sun was beginning to set. That’s when he ran into Bonnie and Clyde… at least, that’s what they called themselves. They were stopped at their own gas station, and Rob ran straight inside to tell his story, but the couple didn’t want to hear it.

Clyde held Rob at gunpoint while Bonnie loaded their van; the couple wouldn’t give him a ride, but the man was willing to answer a few questions while he waited. Based on what this guy told Rob, there are three stages to the Backroads – each more dangerous than the last. The Paved Streets are the outskirts and make up Stage 1. The Dirt Roads are Stage 2 and lead deeper into the maze – while Stage 3 is tire tracks in the grass, and the heart of the maze. The entrance can be found almost anywhere in the world if you venture deep enough into nowhere, but the exit can only be found in Stage 3.

Gas Stations only appear when a vehicle is low on fuel, and they disappear the moment you leave. Had Rob climbed the hill before filling his tank – he would still have a car. Thank goodness I have the camping gear, or I would have made the same mistake when trying to heat my soup.

The only exception to this rule is Sunday; if you run out of fuel while the store is closed – you’ll have to sit there until it reopens. Anything that was inside when it disappeared will still be there except for people. We don’t know what happens to them, but Clyde said there used to be four people in their group. The other two decided to see where the place went when it disappeared, but when it came back – only their bags and clothes were left behind.

The stores supposedly have beer and junk food in Stage 2, and that alone has me interested. I finished my whisky last night, and I don’t think I can handle this place sober. I would already be on my way now if it wasn’t past midnight.

Compared to the last two stages, the Paved Streets are fairly safe until the transition to dirt; that’s where the Stranded like to lurk and what Rob was on his way to becoming before I found him. The ones who lose their vehicles can’t make gas stations appear and eventually turn to the forest for shelter; they hide deep in the dark woods during the day, and only come out at night. The lucky are able to join an existing group or form their own. They need enough members to ambush travelers, but not too many to feed. Those who are rejected get eaten, and those who try to survive alone – starve. Eventually, they begin to look like the ones I saw, and had I been asleep with my doors unlocked – I would have become their dinner.

As for Stage 2 itself, Rob only knows that something hunts the roads at night, and when he asked Clyde about the final Stage, the man went white as a sheet and refused to answer any more questions. As the couple got back into their vehicle, they apologized for their drastic behavior stating they simply couldn’t risk taking on a stranger. Rob is bitter about it, but I don’t blame them. If I hadn’t been alone and desperate, I would never have stopped.

From what it sounds like, people try to find the exit in Stage 3 and the ones who survive the failure resolve to a life on the Paved Streets. I’ve been thinking about it all evening, and I would rather die than live the rest of my life out here. The fact I don’t want to spend six days a week inside a gas station upset Rob pretty bad. We argued for three solid hours until I pretended to agree with him. He repeated his same argument with slightly different wording like I was simply too stupid to understand; I was sick of it, but more importantly, I was starting to suspect Rob would crack me over the head and steal the truck if he didn’t get his way.

Since the Stations will be closed tomorrow, I made sure to run out of gas this evening. I told Rob three times to let me get my phone ready before he got out, but the bastard didn’t listen. Before I could put the truck into park, he jumped out and rushed into the store. I heard the tv start the second his door was open, but he was completely oblivious. I panicked and missed whatever it was saying while fumbling with my phone. The only part I got recorded was the, “…until next time, safe travels” bullshit.

I’m grateful for the information Rob has shared, but I’ve decided to go ahead alone. I wish I would have thought to leave him at the Station this evening, but I can’t waste another day waiting for them to reopen; I don’t feel safe sleeping while he’s around. Tomorrow morning, when he uses the bathroom, I’ll just… drive away… I don’t know what else to do.

For now, he’s either asleep in the backseat or really good at fake snoring. My instincts are screaming for me to stay awake, but I feel like someone poured salt into my eyes, and staring at this screen is only making them worse. I need to find another way to keep myself up.


Sunday

Rob is dead; I was right about that bastard. Have you ever noticed how crazy ideas sound less crazy in the dark? I kept imagining Rob in the backseat – awake and waiting for me to fall asleep; then, he would sit up, put his belt around my neck, and pull. It bothered me so much, I decided to retrieve my gun. I kept it beneath my leg until dawn and tucked it into my waistband when it was finally time for breakfast.

Rob snored the entire night; as I entered the forest to relieve myself, I was feeling fairly foolish. ‘No shit the man is afraid of going deeper into this hellhole! If I’m this terrified – how must he feel after what he’s been through? I’m the monster – walking around with a gun and planning to leave a man for dead just because he disagreed with me!’

I was fully convinced to abandon my cruel plan until I returned to see Rob in the driver’s seat. The passenger window was down so I had a perfect view of him from the tree-line; he was frantically searching for the keys which were tucked securely into my pocket. I didn’t know what he might do if confronted, so I made plenty of noise coming through the last of the brush.

When I made it to the truck, he was opening a can of fruit like he hadn’t just been trying to leave me behind. I made soup, but avoided taking anything vital out of the truck. I planned to leave him some food and water, but I was ready to take off as soon as he stepped away… Only, he didn’t go; we were both waiting for the other to let down their guard, but Rob lost patience.

He revealed the crowbar he’d stashed nearby and calmly explained I would be staying behind since, “I’m determined to kill myself anyway.” My mind went blank; it’s one thing to imagine it, but it’s nothing like reality. I was calm and steady as I told him to take the truck; I even threw the keys to him. There was no thought behind it – only instinct. When he turned to walk away, I drew my weapon and fired without warning. The first shot went into the center of his back, and he made a horrible sound as he fell.

I hurried closer but hesitated before making the final shot. Part of me wanted him to fully understand what happened. When he began coughing out blood, I ended his suffering with one more to the head. At least he won’t become one of the Stranded now…

I thought it would feel different – like it would change me – but this place had already done that. I don’t care that Rob is dead; I only did what was necessary to survive. The funny thing is – he was right. We should have stayed on the nice, Paved Streets where it was safe; there’s much worse things out here than death.

After leaving Rob’s corpse behind, it took five hours to find the next Dirt Road. It was a long, miserable day, but – just to be safe – I turned back to waste some gas. My heart was set on getting into a Station with beer at midnight.

I didn’t know what kind of trouble I was going into, and honestly, I didn’t care. At 12:03, I drove onto the Dirt Road, and my high beams revealed a horde of Stranded behind the tree-line; I didn’t slow down, and they didn’t come out. They only want easy targets. Unfortunately, I miscalculated how quickly the gas light would turn on.

Less than twenty minutes later, I was still going when a loud roar rattled my windows followed by the shrill cry of captured prey. Reality began to set in as I realized how foolish my plan had been. Moments later, a low rumble of thunder sounded, and only when it was joined by the violent cracks of breaking limbs did I understand it wasn’t thunder after all. Whatever hunts these roads at night found me.

I heard it break through the tree-line but couldn’t force myself to look in the mirror; I knew it would be game over if I did. The roads are much smaller in Stage 2, meaning I had to drive slower. My full focus was on navigating the curvy roads as quickly as possible without losing control; I didn’t even hear the low fuel light, but when that bright, beautiful gas station appeared around the next bend – I almost crashed into the pump.

Parking as close to the door as possible, I threw myself from the truck without even turning off the engine. I was inside and under the counter for a solid ten minutes before realizing everything had gone quiet. Very carefully, I crawled to a window and peered outside. It looked like several Stranded had been fused together to form this thing. Only its head was visible in the Station lights; the rest was thankfully concealed in a sea of darkness. Its shape was far smaller than expected after hearing the sounds it made, but its face was the most grotesque thing I’ve ever seen; its mouth was lost beneath masses of pasty, white skin that looked like pure scar tissue, and I can’t get the look of its single, glassy eye out of my mind. There was only a gaping, black hole left where the other used to be. Apparently the Stations work as safe zones; I knew it saw me, but it didn’t come any closer.

After vomiting, I worked up the courage to test my theory and stepped outside to turn off the truck; the figure still didn’t move. That made me feel safe enough to finally look around the store. I helped myself to a six-pack of Coors and Cheetos and tore through the junk food like a death-row inmate; I’m not ashamed to admit I’m fairly drunk.

I wonder if it’s possible to fill up with just enough gas to be on empty before nightfall… That may be my only chance to make it to Stage 3; there’s no way I could have outran that thing all night. Hell, that’s a brilliant idea! If it works – I could use that strategy the whole way home; it would give me an entire week to search before the store is closed again! Holy shit! I finally see a light at the end of this miserable tunnel; I’m going to get a very good night’s sleep and hit the road at first light!


Next Saturday

I guess I dropped the ball on keeping a record of my time in the Backroads, but… too bad. No one will ever see this anyway, and this has been the worst week of my life. The things I’ve had to do to survive are unspeakable; I only opened this to say I’m quitting. If someone finds this one day, great; if not, I don’t really care.

My plan to only fill half the tank worked great, but it took three days to find a grass trail; once I did – I never dreamed I would survive long enough to find another store, but now that I have – I’m not leaving; the creatures in this stage don’t give a damn if it’s night or day – they’re hungry. I would rather face the devil himself than walk out that door again; there are things out here that make the one-eyed monster look like a kitten – I’m done!

Today is Saturday, and it’s almost midnight; I’m going to hit upload even though I know it won’t work, but – just in case – my name is was Jesse Palmer. Fuck the Backroads.


Part 2

Horror Fiction

Killers for Sale

🚧Trigger Warning for S. Assault🚧

If you prefer narrations, Nightmare’s Edge brought together a phenomenal cast for this one!!



The CreepyPasta

[Auctioneer]

Greetings!

Welcome to the Sweet Mercy Web Auction! I hope everyone is having a wonderful night – or day, pending your time zone. Thank you for joining us! Please, do not be alarmed by our costumes – it’s important to conceal our identities in order to continue helping good people like yourselves. Here, at Sweet Mercy, we know you’ve been through hell, and I won’t waste your time by beating around the bush; our Product is killers. Our goal is to provide a semblance of closure to families who have suffered the ultimate tragedy. When a murderer is released on a technicality or police drop the ball – that’s where we come in. Once our investigators confirm the accused is guilty – our extraction team transports them to one of our secure facilities.

We eliminate the risk of unanswered questions by ensuring full, legitimate confessions are made beforehand, but don’t take my word for it – the complete series of interrogations is available for download at no cost to our special Guests. They make fantastic therapy aids!

Now, let me give you a quick rundown on site navigation. Obviously, our main video feed is in the center; the row of blue boxes beneath are you – our Guests – and the green row above it features an equal number of our returning Benefactors. On the right-hand side of your screen is where the bidding history will appear, and on the left you’ll see tonight’s Product along with his background information; he can see and hear us, too, haha. We find many Guests wish to confront them directly.

We understand most of you are unable to afford the auction, but we believe the victim’s families have a right to be here. Not only will each of you have free access to the winning Benefactor’s live-feed Saturday night – one lucky family will even be allowed to participate!

Ahh, that got you sitting a little straighter! You will each have a chance to tell us your story, and at the end there will be a short break while the Benefactors choose who they wish to sponsor; if your Benefactor has the highest bid – you get to visit our operation in person! Pun absolutely intended!

Tonight, we have thirty-four-year-old Carl Anthony Bateman. He was born in Boston, had an abusive childhood until leaving home at seventeen, and has been a burden on society ever since.

Between June and December of 2019, he brutally attacked four women. Tonight – two of those four women have families here to confront their killer, and our third Guest actually survived her terrifying ordeal!

Bateman’s first victim was Julie Edwards; she had just finished her Sophomore year of college. Benefactors, let’s hear what her parents have to say! Helen, Lawrence – you may begin when ready.


[Lawrence Edwards]

Umm, h-hello; I won’t pretend to understand any of this “dark web” mumbo… It took us four hours just to get this weird browser working. Last month, if someone had told me I’d be sittin’ on this thing bawling my story out to people wearing tribal masks – well… shit. Just listen to that sentence… But it’s worth every second to see that sorry som-bitch get his. Looks like he’s had a rough go of it, and we thank ya for that…

We thought your invitation was a scam – it sounds like the plot of some twisted movie, but I wouldn’t know how to tell one way or another. It certainly looks real, and right now maybe that’s enough… so long as you aren’t asking for money… I don’t think Helen is up to saying very much, but I can speak for the both of us when it comes to seein’ that bastard pay.

I’m glad he’s watching. Do you have anything to say, Bateman?!… No?… I didn’t think so… Hell, I wanted you taken alive so I could say something to you in court, but this is even better. Late at night, when we wish we had died with our baby – your suffering is what will lull us to sleep, and I’d love to be the one making you pay.

We’re from Tennessee; Julie was in Boston for college. We wanted her to come home for the summer, but she wanted to work and rent an apartment with one of her friends. Her roommate, Erin, was with her for part of that last night… June 14, 2019 was a Friday; they had gone to some bar with a few other girls… Apparently, they went there pretty often – their Instant Gram things were full o’ the place.

As the night went on, Julie’s so-called-friends left with various boys, and no one felt the need to make sure my daughter got home safely. I suppose that’s where this shitbag saw her—

[Auctioneer]

I’m sorry to interrupt, sir, but according to our interrogations, you were misinformed on that detail. By Mr. Bateman’s own admission, he first saw Ms. Julie leaving campus two weeks prior to the night in question.

[Lawrence Edwards]

Guess I shouldn’t be surprised; those detectives certainly weren’t right about much. They couldn’t even collect the god-damn evidence without contaminating our only chance of finding the bastard. I imagine we’ve been told plenty of easy answers; why should police work for the truth when it’s usually the same story anyway? They don’t care what really happened – they only care what time they go home at night. I’m sorry if that ruffles any feathers; I know there’s good ones out there, but none of ‘em were working Julie’s case – that much is certain.

It was past midnight when cameras showed Jules leaving the bar. She preferred walking – her apartment was only a few blocks away… though, I suppose that part doesn’t matter if he already knew where she lived. The police said there was no forced entry… do you know how he got inside, sir?

[Auctioneer]

He was able to make a copy of her key; Bateman entered the apartment shortly after their departure and hid inside the coat closet. It was his third time doing so, but Ms. Edwards wasn’t alone when she returned on the previous occasions. Once everyone was asleep, he was able to leave undetected.

[Lawrence Edwards]

Sick piece-of-shit!…

How can you be sure he was tellin’ the truth ?

[Auctioneer]

Oh, he started with plenty of lies – they all do. Most information gathered during torture is false, but we’ve perfected our technique. While yes, our Guests enjoy seeing them suffer – it also breaks their spirit so they’re easier to manipulate when the real interrogations begin. We spare no expense to create a believable environment for the Product to think— Well, I’m not allowed to say that part…

You’ve probably seen a version of “truth serum” on tv, but real life is a little different; very specific conditions must be met for reliable results. We have a wonderful team of Psychologists and Physicians who explain it much more elegantly in the full video, and – at the end – they present you with a full, factual report. I assure you Mr. Edwards – I would never repeat anything that was less than 100% certain.

[Lawrence Edwards]

I think I understood most of that; so far you’ve been more reliable than the police, anyway. I’m sure we’ll be watching that video as soon as this is over… but as for what happened next… I, umm… whew, I don’t know if I can, uh… Julie was just such a sweet girl…

Why her? Huh, bastard – why her?! The autopsy report paints a detailed picture, but I’m starting to realize I didn’t know as much as I thought. I’m not sure if I can handle more, but I owe it to my baby to listen. She didn’t deserve this, and she sure as shit didn’t deserve to die alone. I want everyone to know what this pile of human waste did to get his rocks off; if it were up to me, I would make him feel exactly what his victims felt – step by step – stopping just before it killed him so I could do it over and over. Yea… I like the sound of that…

It wasn’t enough you blindsided her and tied her up – no, you had to go the extra mile! She wasn’t going to wear that costume voluntarily – certainly not for you! We were eventually told she was dressed like a character from a kid’s show called Sailor Moon. For some reason I felt compelled to look it up, and it left me even more confused. Apparently, it’s common to sexualize cartoon characters; what the hell is wrong with people?! I saw something titled SpongeBob Squirt Pants! I don’t care what consenting adults do to get their jollies, but you can’t tell me kids don’t see that stuff!

He strangled her when it was over; the bonds on her wrists and ankles tore her skin as she struggled to— when he was—

I-I’m sorry, I can’t… Can you… since you know more than us anyway, can you please just tell us what really happened that night?

[Auctioneer]

Yessir, I can…

Minutes after she returned home, a call from Erin was placed on speaker while Julie stood only feet from the coat closet where Bateman was hiding. He would have figured it out anyway, but their conversation confirmed your daughter would be alone for the night.

Approximately thirty minutes later, the strip of light beneath the door went dark, and Bateman waited a few moments longer before quietly emerging from the closet. The apartment was dark except for a soft, yellow glow at the end of a hallway, and music could be heard playing over the sound of running water.

Julie didn’t hear the bathroom door open, and she didn’t see the shadow growing on the shower curtain; she only noticed Bateman’s presence when the curtain was violently ripped away. He left her no chance to react; as she opened her mouth to scream, he stepped forward, punching her across the jaw. Her head snapped backwards – impacting the tiles as she fell and leaving her unconscious.

Bateman moved her to the bed where he quickly dressed her as Sailor Moon before binding her hands and feet. The costume was purchased specifically for this occasion, and he took the time to style Julie’s long, blonde hair in the character’s likeness. She regained consciousness before his work was done, but she was unable to move due to the restraints. He ignored her cries until finished – then he gave her the same two options he would later present to his future victims; ‘play along and live, or try to escape and die.’ Julie was unfamiliar with Sailor Moon, but – seeing it as her only chance of survival, she chose to play along.

In the first scene, Bateman chose the role of Prince Demando for himself as—

[Lawrence Edwards]

Wait! I don’t know if we can hear that part right now… I— we can’t… After that… the autopsy listed her cause of death as asphyxiation… is that accurate? Did he force her to live through all of those horrible things only to choke her in the end?

[Auctioneer]

Yes, I’m afraid so. Ms. Edwards was subjected to various role-playing scenarios for several hours before being strangled during the final… act.

[Lawrence Edwards]

I want to make that monster bleed; every single night, I dream of doing hideous, unspeakable things to him, and I’m disgusted by what he’s turned me into. You people have already given us more than we dared hope for; I don’t know what these other folks have been through, but even if we don’t get to be there in person – what you’ve done for us is more than enough. From the bottom of our broken and battered hearts, thank you.

[Auctioneer]

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards; we know it isn’t easy to hear these things – especially from strangers – but you’re among people who understand this pain all too well. Each and every member of our team has been affected in a similar way; we take this work very seriously, and our main goal is to provide some semblance of comfort during these difficult times. Whether you find peace in knowing this man will never hurt another soul or simply in his harsh punishment makes no difference; we all grieve differently and heal at our own pace.

Benefactors! Are you ready to hear from our second Guest?


After committing his first murder, Bateman was overcome with paranoia, but when no detectives appeared at his door over the following weeks – that paranoia slowly turned into confidence. Then, on October 2nd, 2019, he decided to do it again. This time his victim was nineteen-year-old Natalie Laird. Tonight, her father and two brothers are here with us; Mr. Laird, you may begin when ready.

[Jason Laird]

… Dad?

Uh, hey everyone, I’m Jason, this is my brother Tony, and I don’t think Dad is as ready as he thought… Is it alright if I ask a question instead?

Thanks. I want to believe this is real, but how do we know that’s a live feed on Bateman? Or that you guys even have him? He hasn’t reacted to anything that’s been said; I want to see him hold up four fingers… without any “camera glitches”.

Well?

[Auctioneer]

Mr. Bateman! We warned you about this! The young man is speaking to you!

Have it your way; Frank – one second contact, please.

My apologies, Mr. Laird. Carl’s microphone is muted, but the person you see entering the room is our head of security, and the device in his hand is a cattle prod; I’m sure Mr. Bateman will be more amenable to your request momentarily—

Ah, yes, four fingers. Is that satisfactory, or would you like him to sit up and look at the camera? Please, don’t hesitate to ask; we understand your skepticism completely, and we’re happy to oblige any reasonable requests to put your mind at ease.

[Jason Laird]

N-no sir, I think that does it… thank you…

So… you’re saying if we talk about what happened to Nat – one of those rich people might decide to bid on our behalf?

Yea… I think I can see what you’re doing, but everything else aside – our concern is knowing he can’t hurt anyone else. Beyond that, he deserves whatever he gets.

Natalie was a private person, though; she wouldn’t want everyone knowing what that bastard put her through… I know the details are all on the download anyway, but we haven’t decided if we’re going to watch it… or which parts we’ll watch if we do… We would appreciate it if you didn’t recount Nat’s final moments here as well… I’ll live with what I saw for the rest of my life, and despite how they feel right now – I don’t want my father or brother to be plagued by the same images.

[Auctioneer]

Absolutely, sir, that is entirely at your discretion… Though, you must never blame yourselves for the actions of a monster! You’re a very bright, well-spoken young man, and I’m sure you have great things ahead. Thank you for your time.


With reports of a second murder, warnings of The Cosplay Killer flooded local news networks, but his identity remained a mystery. Then, on the morning of November 4th, Vanessa Jordan’s body was discovered by her boyfriend after failing to appear for a breakfast date. Andrew spoke to CNN saying he wasn’t yet aware of the recent killings, and struggled to process every aspect of the grueling scene. Though he did not recognize the popular Pokémon character, Misty, I’m sure it’s a likeness he won’t soon forget; his chilling call to 911 is included in our final report.

Benefactors, since there is no one here to speak on Vanessa’s behalf, we will move on to our third and final Guest. She is the only survivor of Mr. Bateman’s madness – please welcome Michelle Perkins.

[Shelly Perkins]

Hey, you can call me Shelly; I didn’t think this would be real, either, but there he is. That’s a face I’ll never forget – even without the red jumpsuit…

Look at me, bastard!… No, don’t glance and turn away; I want you looking right at me for every word of this… I said look at me!

[Auctioneer]

Frank; two-second contact, please… Excellent.

Mr. Bateman, next time it will be three seconds.

My apologies, Ms. Perkins; please, continue.

[Shelly Perkins]

Oh, I don’t mind a bit; feel free to zap him anytime he looks away. If you people want a story in exchange for a chance to do it myself – fine by me. I’m glad the Laird’s don’t want to go, and I’m sorry to Mr. Edwards, but nobody deserves this more than I do.

The first time l saw Bateman was when he appeared outside of my sociology class… he got way too close just to compliment my shirt! I suppose the fact it had Inuyasha on it is relevant – that’s another anime— err, cartoon – like Sailor Moon and Pokémon. He said he noticed it before class – like it was normal to wait around for an hour just to compliment a stranger’s shirt! I tried to say thanks and walk away, but he followed me; I didn’t want him to know which dorm was mine so I walked to a coffee shop. Thankfully, a few friends from drama club were there, but when I tried to point out my stalker – he was gone. Thirty minutes later, we left as a group, and there was still no sign of the psycho. That was a Tuesday; by Friday, I forgot he existed entirely.

Midterms were over and everyone was ready to go home for Christmas break. They were all on edge because of the Cosplay Killer. If he had been attacking blondes or looking for a certain type – everyone would have dyed their hair and lived their lives, but no one knew who he’d choose next. Julie was blonde like Sailor Moon, Natalie’s hair was pink like Sakura’s, and Vanessa was a ginger like Misty. Apparently mine is black like Kagome’s… isn’t that right, Carl?

Oh – Kagome is one of the main characters from the Inuyasha cartoon – I’ll try to keep those parts simple. Even if it kills me to call it a cartoon – this isn’t the time for an anime lesson.

Anyway, I stayed in that night. Pretending to live alone was nice, and my dorm felt like a safe place… Most people didn’t even lock their door, but I always did.

I was up late watching YouTube when there was a soft knock at the door… It wasn’t uncommon; plenty of others were staying through the holiday, and college kids aren’t known for their love of grocery shopping. I thought one of the stoners was looking for snacks again…

The moment I saw that creep’s face, I knew I made a terrible mistake. I tried to slam the door, but he pushed back, and it hit me hard enough to blur my vision. The struggle was brief; I only remember flashes, but it ended with him beating my head against the hard floor, and everything going black. There were no dreams, only oblivion; when I did regain consciousness, it was like waking from a deep sleep until memories of the attack flooded back.

My head ached like it was being split in half; as I became more aware, I could hear Bateman moving around but didn’t want him to know I was awake. Still thinking we were in my dorm, I hoped to make a run for the door… I wish I had looked around first. As I tried to rise, I noticed several things at once.

We weren’t in my dorm; we were in a dingy basement. I was also dressed like a slutty school girl – which is the easiest way to describe Kagome’s costume – and around my ankle was a fuzzy handcuff attached to a metal bar anchored into the concrete floor. The chain was loud, and he heard my movement immediately.

He was wearing a red jumpsuit with a large beaded necklace like the Inuyasha character… I’ve had a hard life, but I’m a survivor! When I saw the sick look in his eyes and that disgusting grin, I made a decision to play along – no matter what. I had hoped my knowledge of the show would allow me to convince him the cuffs were unnecessary, but sadly serial killers are harder to manipulate than it looks in the movies…

But I didn’t give up! Oh, no! I “played-along” for the worst three hours of my existence as he systematically ruined my life and a beloved childhood memory at the same time. It’s no surprise this was the only way he could get a woman; he’s infinitely more disgusting naked. Thankfully, his whopping four inches didn’t do much tearing as he assaulted me – that made things a little easier. Then, it finally happened; if he wanted to act out one of the biggest scenes of the series – he had to uncuff me. By then, he was in such a hurry to unlock it – he dropped the key twice in the process.

It took every ounce of my restraint not to run right then; he was watching me for any sign of defiance, and I knew I would die before I let him get that cuff on me again. Another part of my soul withered as I swallowed my vomit and forced myself to play along for a few more minutes. We were standing with my back against the wall, and within arms reach – the liquor bottle was still right where I set it. I bit my lip until it bled to keep from gagging as I waited for him to get… lost in the moment, and I ran my fingers through his nasty, oily hair to position my hand as closely to the shelf as possible.

As his eyes began to roll back, I grabbed the bottle and brought it down on his head with all my strength; it didn’t break, and he didn’t fall to the floor like I imagined. He only groaned and staggered a few steps back as he looked at me with the blackest hatred I’ve ever seen. I knew how quickly he would catch me if I ran… instead, I charged at him like a bull and hit him over the head once more. The impact reverberated up my arm to my shoulder, but I hardly felt it; my sole focus was on Bateman. He was on the ground and bleeding, but whether he was really unconscious or faking it – I couldn’t be sure.

That’s when I noticed how close he had fallen to the handcuffs; my heart was beating in my throat as I approached, but somehow I got the cuff around his wrist. He began groaning again as it clicked shut, and I ran from the room without looking back. I didn’t notice or care that my only articles of clothing were a see-through blouse and a skimpy, green skirt with nothing underneath – my only thought was finding an exit.

Had I been thinking clearly, I would have bashed that psycho’s brains in until only a pile of mush was left. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur to me until Bateman was already screaming to be released. By then I had reached the top of the basement stairs which led to a dark kitchen; I couldn’t see anything. Using the wall as a guide, I began making my way through the strange house until my hand found an open doorway.

At the end of the hall, two windows let in just enough light to identify the front door. My hands were still shaking as I pulled it open and threw myself over the threshold. Once outside, my hopes were crushed yet again by the sound of footsteps racing up the basement stairs; I shut the door softly as I heard his first infuriated scream. There was just enough starlight to see I was on an abandoned house’s creaky porch. I had no clue where I was, and the few other houses also appeared empty. The only car on the street had to be the one Bateman drove, but it was locked.

I kept moving further away; I wanted to melt into the darkness and become one with the night. There was less than fifty yards between me and the murder house when a spotlight shined a few feet to my left; I dropped to my stomach and managed to roll behind a tree just as the beam passed by, but he wasn’t giving up. Bateman’s voice was dripping with malice as he alternated between threatening me with vile, disgusting things or promising to take me home. Any tenuous grip that man had on reality was long gone. He waved the light around in random, jerky motions, leaving me no time to move or check his position without the risk of being seen.

I focused on looking for the best direction to run, and that’s when I noticed space for a culvert had been dug alongside the road. It was nothing but an overgrown ditch now, but I laid flat and crawled through the tall grass; it was my only chance.

When the light passed back the other way, I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t know what lay at the end of that long, abandoned road, but there was no turning back. In the ditch, I felt like everything had to be ok; I’d come too far to die. Daydreams of returning to that house with police kept me going as my body burned from the itch of a thousand bug bites in places that already hurt too much to think about.

It felt like hours later when I realized the light was gone, but I was still too afraid to leave the ditch. Even at the end when there was nowhere else to crawl, I stayed in place to examine my surroundings. In front of me was a real road with painted lines, and a single light shone in the distance to my left; that’s where I headed.

Once out of view from that street, I felt safe enough to stand. Two cars passed by before I made it to those distant lights; I should have flagged them down for help, but I hid from both – convinced it was Bateman. When I finally did make it to the light source, I cried tears of joy to see it was a normal house, and several more were further down the street.

Unfortunately, I looked more frightening than the actual psycho… the first house wouldn’t even open the door, the next two slammed them in my face, and finally, the fourth was kind enough to listen to me through a closed window. She was a little old lady… I can’t blame her for being suspicious, but eventually, we were able to come to an agreement; she called 911 while I made myself as small as possible in a dark corner of her porch. Once help was on the way, she felt safe enough to let me inside.

It took almost forty minutes for help to arrive, but when it did – I made sure the police understood exactly which house I escaped from. In my terror, I had imagined Bateman was still out there looking for me, but he was gone. I met with a sketch artist, and finally, a week later, they found Bateman. He had no criminal record, but there was no doubt about his guilt; the bastard admitted to it immediately before requesting a lawyer, and you guys know the rest.

[Auctioneer]

Yes… Mr. Bateman would have spent the remainder of his life in a comfortable institution had he not escaped. Clearly, the state of Massachusetts could not be trusted with his care, and fortunately, they now believe he’s dead.

Ms. Perkins, thank you for sharing your story with us; I know you’re all ready for the main event, so without further delay, please enjoy this short video while the Benefactors make their final decisions.


Alright, now that we have a break with our audience, let’s see how they feel about tonight’s Guests! It’s astounding how much more people will say when they think they’re speaking to a small, intimate group, but that Laird boy might be a little too smart for us, eh? I like him, but it’s a good thing you all are the ones actually deciding which Guest will get their private meeting!

Please turn your attention to the poll and cast your vote now! Who will have the taste of sweet revenge on Saturday? Will it be the grieving parents or the courageous heroine? I don’t often choose favorites, but it’s hard not to when we have a firecracker like Shelly!

While the votes are coming in – Benefactors! Are you ready to hold the auction?

For those joining us for the first time, we’ll replay the footage for the Guests who will think it’s happening live. This way, the audience always wins!


And, we’re back! Thank you, Guests, for your continued patience, and now – the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, Benefactor #3 is a parent like yourself; they would be honored to bid on your behalf.

Laird family, Benefactor #1 saw a bit of their younger self in Jason. Since he has declined the prospect of seeing Mr. Bateman in person – you may potentially choose someone to go in your stead.

And last but certainly not least, Ms. Perkins. It’s no surprise Benefactor #2 – who once survived a similar attack – is overjoyed to be your sponsor.

My only question is – are you ready to start the bidding?!

[5 minutes later]

—going once! Going twice! Sold! For 3.5 million to Benefactor #2! Wow, what a rollercoaster! Ms. Perkins, pack your bags because we’ll be seeing you Saturday!


Well guys, that’s it for tonight, but before we go – don’t forget to download “The Crimes of the Cosplay Killer” for just $49.95! Or if you would like to pre-order “The Punishment of the Cosplay Killer” at the same time, you can add both to your Sweet Mercy collection for a mere $89.95! Those who reserve their copies today will also receive special behind-the-scene footage from Warehouse 66!


[Saturday]

[Auctioneer]

Hello, Shelly, it’s so nice to finally meet you in person! So, over the last few days, we’ve discussed what you’d like to see happen here, and I think you’ll be pleased with the work we’ve done.

Considering we do this full-time, we already owned most of the items you requested, but the gynecologist chair was a wonderful addition to our collection. We’ve named it Perkins; I think it’s going to be a fan— er, Guest favorite.

Oh, watch your step – one of the technicians hasn’t finished putting this one together yet; you strap the subject’s arm to that piece – then you turn the lever to twist.

Now that you’ve seen the theater, let’s go get Bateman; I thought you’d like to see his new forever home… And don’t worry about the other prisoners – they’re here for the same reason, but they’re completely harmless. Judging by our recent conversations, I assume you aren’t squeamish…

[Shelly Perkins]

Ha, no you don’t have to worry about— Holy shit! Are his eyes gone? Whoa, there’s so many of them!

[Auctioneer]

You seem surprised. Most people have the same idea – that it’s better to keep them alive. The only problem is – we can’t tell the future. What if something happens and they get away? Then we would be responsible for letting these dangerous animals lose into society! That’s why we remove their eyes and castrate them before they’re transported to Sweet Mercy Zoo. Even if they were to get out of their cells – they’d have no idea where to go next, haha.

Obviously, that doesn’t include Carl; we didn’t want to be presumptuous. You’ll find him exactly as you saw him on the livestream, but we have surgeons standing by in case you need assistance or the subject gets a little too close to death.

[Shelly Perkins]

That’s brilliant; I can’t wait to get started!

[Auctioneer]

I love your enthusiasm! You should consider a career with us. We’re always looking for people who truly understand the importance of our work, and the pay is marvelous!… Just something to think about…

Ah, here we are, Mr. Bateman, your date has arrived!


Horror Fiction

The Current Settlers (Pt. 8)

Part 8 of the Settlement Series!

The CreepyPasta

[upset] I knew it! I knew you’d come today of all days. Damnit, we gotta get you out of this forest!

… … One day a year – one! And it’s the day you show up! I knew it, I tell ya! Ugh, it’s too late… we’d never make it to the bridge; hurry up – come inside. [door slams/locks]

… … … What do you mean you have no clue how you got here?! You have your pack and everything!

… … … I’m not sure I understand how you could be compelled to pick it up, but we don’t have time to chat. There’s a horde of evil outside, and more are on the way. We don’t even know what half of those things are anymore. Based on what we do know – ignorance is probably a blessing, but we can speculate later.

[Trish] We need to open the floor, it’s our only chance.

… You’re right; there’ll be nowhere left to hide once it begins. We could make a hole under the bed… Once our friend is behind the barrier, it’ll be like every other year.

… … [walking to bedroom] We’ll have to explain later, but I’m sure you remember my telling you about converting the basement, yes?

… Good. Long story short – there’s also a few magical protections around it. We couldn’t have survived without them.

… … [defensive] I’ve been brutally honest about how dangerous this place is, I’m not sure why you look surprised.

… … It’s amazing yet frightening how many questions you have in the face of certain death. Stand back, please. Come on, Ethan, help me move this thing.

… … [bed slides across floor] You’re gonna be just fine, friend, we’ll get through this together. I’m surprised they haven’t smelled you, but maybe they’re too preoccupied… or lulling us into a false sense of security…

… … [wood creaking] I’m only planning for every possibility, but those guys aren’t exactly known for their patience. If they knew you were here – we wouldn’t be considered much of a threat. It’s more likely they’re too busy to notice. These rituals have been happening for centuries; they probably can’t remember the last time one was interrupted—

[wood cracking] Whoa, hold on, boy! Just because the bed will be covering it doesn’t mean we can rip the boards in half! It would be nice to lay them back in place afterwards. Once our pal is safely hidden, we’ll make it look like this room hasn’t been touched since those kids with the tie-dye van.

[Ethan] The ones who thought we were all acid hallucinations?

… Yep, but this time – we stay quiet and lay low; there shouldn’t be any problems. I bet we can even manage a few stories to help pass the time; how’s that sound?

… … Hah, I thought that part would be well received. [board set aside] Alright, it’s time.

… … Don’t worry, friend, Ethan will lower you nice and slow; he’s stronger than he looks. You’ll be on the ground and taking the grand tour before you know it.

… … … … [shout/echo] See? No problem at all. You two go ahead; we’ll get this mess cleaned up and be with you in a few.

… … [distant/fading voice] See, Trish? I told you it was best to keep the height a surprise.


Great news, family! We’re officially bunkered down, and the ritual has begun. Only something fairly extreme could stop them now, and we aren’t giving them anything but distance; tonight, we don’t exist!

… … Thank you, friend, I’m glad you like it! This is my real library; the original journals, every book, and all our downloaded entertainment are right here. I often worry they aren’t safe enough, but I fear no amount of precautions would make me feel differently.

… … … Oh my! I was so worried about the ritual I’ve been a terrible host! I’m ashamed of myself, truly I am. You haven’t had a chance to say more than two words since you got here; hell, I didn’t even ask how you’ve been since your last visit!

… … …Well, “gracious host” is probably a stretch, but it’s kind of you to say so – I do try – but no more about me; what’s the big news? You’re grinning ear-to-ear, and the curiosity is killing me.

… … You… I mean… I know you said you were going to email Mr. Somnium, but… Are you trying to tell me he actually responded? As in he read it?

… … … He wants to narrate it? For his actual channel? When?!

… … It’s already done?! Are you screwing with me, friend? Because this is a cruel joke to play on an old man no matter how long ago his heart stopped—

… … … [whisper] Sweet cricket… okay… don’t sugarcoat it; what did people think?

… … … Shut up! I’m not crying! You’re crying! Holy, sweet mother of all crickets… You even took pictures of the comments? You, my friend, hold the special power of restoring one’s faith in humanity.

… … … Shush, everyone; of course I want to hear it, but we need to be quiet – no unnecessary risks, remember?… But don’t worry, friend – you’ll be across that bridge before you know it!

… … Hell yea, I’m positive! And – once you’re home – would you have time to pass along a message to our Dark Family? It should be heart-felt, yet stoic – humble but not desperate; maybe I should draft a few key points. First impressions are every—

[Trish] You’re doing it again, dear.

… Oops… umm, enough of all that; we’re in for a long night. What would you like to hear about next? The Mountain Settlement, maybe? How about the Civil War or the Revolution?

… … … [disappointed] Really? Firsthand accounts of America’s entire history are at your disposal, but you want to know how Trish and I got here? You’re one strange cookie, my friend, but that’s the main reason we like you so much. Alrighty then, I aim to please! Hang tight while I find the right journal; we’ll need to go back to a couple weeks before we died.

… … … [shuffling books] Oh, yea, those are the Weapons; Those have been down here since the ordeal with the outlaws. It’s kinda nice not having anyone else to meddle in what we do with our own family heirlooms.

Ah, here we are, [wipes off dust] I only hope you aren’t too disappointed. When you get bored we’ll switch to a different journal; until then – sit back, relax, and try to ignore any strange noises. Now that the Ritual has begun, they can’t leave the circle… Well, they could, but they’d be forced to start over which would be extremely inconvenient.


April 5, 1696

It has been a hard day – the kind that makes me long for the years I could work without pain in my back. If not for the grandchildren, my fields would be empty this season. It seems like only yesterday I was teaching their fathers how to plant and plow, yet now, I ramble incessantly like the old men we mocked in our youth. Even when there is actual news to speak of, I somehow default to writing the same, dull drivel as always.

Bill Sanderson returned from a business trip two days ago, and today, his entire family is ill. The doctors were only notified when his children failed to attend class for a second morning; Ms. Harvard sent one of the students to the Sanderson home, and the lad went for help upon finding the family confined to their beds.

No one dares speak the words we all know to be true, but— [woman’s scream]


… … [exasperated] Damn, that one was loud.

… … [hesitant] Well, um… it sounds like they’ve brought out a sacrifice…

… … … I can understand why you might be upset, but we didn’t see a reason to worry you when there’s nothing we can do to help that poor soul.

… … I know it’s hard to hear; in the beginning, we wanted to help, too, but you gotta trust us. Our first time hearing it, we rushed into the middle of them like fools; they had some poor girl – must have been between 17-20 – and she—

[Trish] Maybe skip that part, dear.

… Right. The point is – they almost ate us, and if you go running out there, I’m not sure we could save you at all, but we’d try. The one thing I am certain of is that we would be consumed either way. [whining] Please don’t get us eaten before I can hear Mr. Somnium read Pappy Grant’s journal! Please!

… … Yes, exactly! The demon himself is smack in the middle of it all and growing more powerful as we speak! He’s surrounded by every evil thing this place has to offer; We can’t help them in the same way you can’t walk on the ceiling.

… … … [whining] Aw, why aren’t you understanding this, friend? Yes – killing the demon would mean an end to the sacrifices, and this place would finally stop attracting new monsters, but—

… … … [sigh] Yes; it would make it possible to deal with other creepies and crawlies as well, but—

… … … Because we can’t! Even if the demon wasn’t surrounded by his minions – we wouldn’t stand a chance!

… … … Tell me you did not just point to the Weapons. [louder] No, better yet – tell me what we did to make you hate us? Why are you trying to re-kill us?

[Trish] Volume, dear.

… … [softer] It’s a moot point, anyway. The girl is dead by now, let’s not dwell on what we can’t change. I’m sorry, but if y’all don’t mind, I’d like to continue read— [man screams]

… … [annoyed] Oh, Jiminy-friggin-Cricket! Yes, I heard it! [throws down journal]

… … [exasperated] Yes, I know it was a man that time.

… … I don’t know how many more.

… … I swear, I don’t know; they don’t hunt for a specific type or number of sacrifices, but if an opportunity presents itself in the months leading up to the ritual…

… … Yea, I’m afraid so; they’ll use as many as they find. There’s no maximum limit, and the more lives they take – the more powerful the ritual becomes.

… No, please! Don’t touch the Weapons!

[Ethan] Actually, I have an idea.

… An idea on how to calm our friend down?

[Ethan] Sort of!

… Nope; sit down and zip it.

[Ethan] but—

… Sit! [clap] Zip! [clap] We are survivors! Do you understand what that means? It means we survive! We keep going; we record the story! Just now – finally – that story is making it to the outside world. We can’t let it end here. If we can get the rest of it out there, real help will come! People who know what they’re doing – hell, maybe someone with a YouTube channel—

[Trish] Dear…

… Right. The point is – someone who isn’t us! We have two choices. We can go out there – become dinner – and let the world forget about that one random story, or we can be strategic; we can forfeit the battle to win the war and enjoy victory together – as a family. Then, when it’s time to deal with the other unfriendly inhabitants, maybe some of those Paranormal Investigators will visit! I don’t think I’d be comfortable with Ghost Hunters; I know you said it’s not the same kind of hunter but—

[Trish] Dear…

… Right, sorry. Can we please just go back to reading? If they had another— [man screams]

Well, that was obviously the same one as before— Wait a second, friend! You do realize those Weapons are useless in our hands, right? They wouldn’t work even if we could land a hit; that means you would have one shot with only a dagger to fall back on!

[Ethan] Seriously, I have a plan.

… Please, boy, I’m serious, too.

[Trish] It’s a good plan, dear.

… [heartbroken] Aw… you too? But… how do you already know what it is? Why are none of you concerned with—

[Trish] Dear…

Fine, fine, fine; go ahead, Ethan. Take your time and explain in as much detail as possible.

[Ethan] Since the entire horde of bad guys are confined to the ritual circle – no one is guarding the Demon’s Path. Those egg sacs have been incubating for ages; tonight will probably be enough to put a few more monsters into the world. Unless something happens to them…

… Ok, since we’re completely ignoring my strategic plan for victory – let’s hear it. How do you propose we bypass the fact they’ll smell our flesh-and-blood pal the moment we stick our heads out of the hole? You know – the one we hid under the bed that happens to be the only exit for someone incapable of passing through solid objects?

[Ethan] Um, actually only two of us need to go. Technically, they could burst the sacs with a regular crossbow. The only reason I never have before is because the demon would know it was one of us, and we never had a way to fight back until now. Don’t you see? This is why our friend was brought here! It’s fate! We could make a real difference! The demon will feel what happened and rush over in a blind rage; he’ll pass straight by the lake! Someone on the roof could probably get a clear shot…

… … Oh, and our friend is suddenly an archer now, eh? Hell, let’s pretend that part is true – you realize the demon won’t simply be strolling by, don’t you? Even our eyes can barely keep track! That’s a vital detail since a miss would mean we all suffer fates worse than second deaths! Dying the first time was bad enough, thank you very much!

[Ethan] I could do the aiming, and I remember the demon’s name well. You know I can make that shot; let me have revenge… Imagine if Jamestown could really expand; how long do you think it would be before they brought in some electric poles? Surely WiFi wouldn’t be far behind…

… Damn you, boy. Taunt me with sweet dreams all you want, but none of those things would matter if we weren’t around to enjoy them.

[Trish] We can destroy the eggs much faster than the demon can break their circle; we could be back before they need to shoot. If the worst happens – one of us will get our friend to bridge while the others stay behind… We can pack the journals now as well – then, our story will live on, and your plan will still work. What do you think?

… I think it’s horrible! It doesn’t change a thing about how it will end. Besides, have you noticed how long it’s been since— [woman screams] Oh, come on!

[Ethan] Please, we don’t have much time; you know full well they’ve barely gotten started. This has gone too far! Once the demon is dead, we’ll be the last thing on anyone’s mind. Most of them will run scared back to their dens, and some will move on to darker pastures entirely. While that’s happening, Trish can get our friend back to safety, and we’ll go after the hostages!

… I don’t like it.

[Trish] That’s a shame dear… Based on what mother saw, I could have used your help. Oh well, sit tight – we’ll return as quickly as possible; try not to worry.

… [grumble] You can be a cruel woman sometimes… Ethan, listen to me very carefully; don’t extend a single hair beyond the protection barrier until we’re finished, you got that? Then it’s straight into position; do not overestimate the amount of time it will take him to break the ritual’s circle! We’ll clear the path for you on the way out.

[Ethan] You got it, uncle!

… Alright, let’s get it over with. If it’s the last thing I do – I’ll fit in some “told you so’s” before going loudly into that dark, eternal night.


[Trish] We’ll stay underground as long as we can and come up by the path’s entrance.

… Are you going to explain what happened with Gale? I didn’t want to worry our friend anymore than you two already have, but she clearly saw something that shook you up.

[Trish] Last week, she was having a good day and said this year wasn’t like the others. The demon was angrier after the French settlement than we realized. In our grief over lost friends and enchanted arrows, we failed to realize that several of the sacs were destroyed as well. Rather than replacing them – he poured everything into what was left—

… We should be close, let’s go up… And they’re supposed to hatch tonight? Is that what you were saying?

[Trish] You’re right; we’re here… But no – those eggs hatched ages ago. However, the results were so promising – he tried something new. This time he divided everything equally between two sacs. They’re already massive, and when the 24 sacrifices are dead – there will be two more extremely dangerous monsters loose in our forest.

Twenty-four? How? It’s never been more than a dozen!.. And wow, this place really has gotten dismal. I remember when it was impossible to see more than a few yards into the tree-line, but now there’s hardly any green left in the forest!

[Trish] The bulk of the sacrifices are boy scouts; they weren’t camping here – their bus broke down. The repairs were going to take a few hours, so their troop leader suggested bringing the restless kids for a hike. The worst part is – they never told anyone what happened; no one knows they came here. When the repairs were complete, those who stayed with the bus drove down to retrieve the others; they had no clue what they were driving into… Of course, there are probably a few other sacrifices mixed in; surely they aren’t all with the scouts.

… [pouty] I just wanna go home and listen to my story… Geez, the ground is so hard and black it feels like concrete…

[Trish] If we can end the reign of terror, you’ll have eternity to enjoy all the stories you want, dear. Now, move your ass; my baby is practically alone back there. Is your crossbow ready? I think I see the first one ahead – look up and to the right. Mother said these were bright yellow instead of orange – that has to be one of them.

… Yea, that’s it; the other is on the ground to the left, do you see it? We should stand back; that gunk inside could still hurt us… Or we could turn around and go home now – no harm done.

[Trish] Wow, they really are massive!.. Wait – did you mean ‘no harm doneaside from tonight’s 24 sacrifices?

… [sigh] Are you ready? We shoot on three… One… I love you… Two… Three! [both shoot, sacs burst with liquid explosion]

… [ground shakes and rumbles with guttural roar] Go!


… [panicked] Can you feel that? The air is heavier; it’s like walking through deep water.

[Trish] Yes, and we need to go faster.

… No, darling; just me.

[Trish] What’s in that vial? Did you try brewing potions again?

… It’s just something I’ve been saving for an emergency. Don’t worry, if the worst happens, the enchantment will weaken overnight; you’ll be able to free yourself by morning. [cork pops]

[Trish] Alex, no; we don’t have time to argue; you don’t— [Trish sucked in/Alex corks bottle]

… It’s ok to be mad; I can handle that, but not losing you. I’m sure you’re frustrated that I can’t hear what you’re saying, but if it’s any consolation – I can feel your displeasure loud and clear. Hopefully, I’ll be back for you— [frightened] Oh no; the air is getting even heavier… [sweeps leaves aside] Ok, ok… Ok, hun, you’ll be safe here, and I’ll be right back… [covers bottle with the leaves]

[speeds away, muttering to self] Alright, ole boy, – she’s safe – totally, completely safe, yessir. Now, you’re gonna bottle up that loud-mouthed nephew and hope to hell the demon is satisfied with only one savory morsel… And that our friend skews towards flight rather than fight…

[gasp] There they are – thank Jiminy! They’re on the roof; all I need to do is drag— [earth shakes and rumbles with a roar like thunder] No, please no, not when I’m this close!


[Ethan] This is it! Remember – just like we practiced; don’t panic… keep your eyes closed… body relaxed… mind clear… and—

[confused] Hey, why is uncle— Shit! [shoots arrow] No!

[everyone screams, demon screeches, arrow thuds into tree]


… … [panicked] I’m not gonna make it… Oh, no! No, no, no! It only scratched the bastard!… Holy mother, he’s looking right at them! The arrow! It’s so close; I have get to it… [pulls arrow from trunk]

… [screaming] Oi! Hey, look at me, asshole! Yoo-hoo! [whistles]

Crap, he’s really coming! Even uglier than I remember… Looks like a tall Quasimodo caught leprosy and went into the final stages of liver failure… Oof! My throat… Jiminy, he’s a big mother… lucky I don’t need to… breathe… just need… arm… free… legs are already gone…

[strained] Boy! Catch! [arrow whizzes through air, thuds into roof]

[mutters to self] Thank goodness, it got through… Wow, everything is going all wonky… sorry, fam


[Ethan] Bastard! He’s absorbing Alex! We have to shoot before there’s nothing left! [pulls arrow free, Alex groans in the distance] Hold on, we’re coming! [bow-string tightens]

[Ethan whispers] Are you ready?… Now! [fires arrow] Say it!

[demon screeches in agony, drowning out all other voices]

[Ethan, yelling over the demon’s wails] Alex! Uncle!… Why isn’t he reforming?! Stay here, I need to get down there!


… … [voice confused, disembodied] Is it over?… Is this where the dead go when they die?… Or is this a black void unique to the demon’s victims? Maybe I’m being stored away until needed… At least Trish is safe, and I thinkyes! Before everything went dark, that bastard took an arrow in the neck! I remember hearing the start of his name before the sound was cut off by screaming. It’s too late for me, but surely my boy got our friend away from this place. The demon is still dangerous even in this condition. [Ethan calling in the distance]

… … … [voice slightly more focused] Was that Ethan calling for me? No, it was too close; maybe I’m hallucinating after all… [woosh]


[Ethan yelling over demon’s continued screams] Uncle, if you can hear me – I found your dirty bottle trick lying next to what was left of you. Hopefully, I got all of you, but… umm… it looks like I’m stuck… Alex, I can’t move my legs… [whimper] He’s… g-ot me… I g-guess this guy r-really doesn’t want to die… I’m gonna throw you while I can still move my arms— [shocked gasp, dagger stabs into demon’s foot]

[demon roars in guttural agony as the ground rumbles with the force of an earthquake]

[Ethan] Holy shit! You stabbed him! No; don’t pull it out! We need to go; get on my back! [leaves rustle in the wind as the group flees] Alex, where’s Trish— Oh, right, he can’t answer…

… … … [angry and frustrated] I can answer; you just can’t hear me! What the hell is happening out there?! I can’t see or sense anything! We better be headed away from the demon with our friend in tow, or I swear before the sweet cricket I will find a way to tan your hide! [bangs loudly on the bottle walls] Ugh, you best find a way to hear me, boy! Hello?!

[Ethan continues speaking] —Yes, I’m positive Alex is in this bottle; here, you can hang onto it. Oh, wait! [hears light tapping on glass] Do you hear that? This is fantastic; I must have gotten all of him! Hey, Uncle – tap once for yes and twice for no; do you understand? [single tap] Is Trish safe? [single tap] Whew, thank goodness. Uncle! You won’t believe it! Our friend came out of nowhere and stabbed that bastard in the foot, haha! I think this is really it! He was falling apart as we fled! I’m trying to get us to the bridge – then we can find a way to get you out of that bottle.

… … … What do you mean ‘find a way’? Open it!— Wait, what are you two saying out there? No, no, no! [frantically bangs on glass] No way, friend! You are not staying one second longer! We can check on the sacrifice hostages after you’re safe! Ethan, don’t you dare listen to that nonsense! Get your ass to the bridge! And open the damn bottle! [continues banging on glass]

[Ethan] Sorry, friend, but I can’t take you to the ritual circle; Alex would kill me. Just listen to him in there – he’s going nuts!… Whoa, what are you doing?! Sit still or we’re gonna— [everyone falls to the ground, glass bottle breaks]

… … … Holy Cricket, that’s better! Now – we were all human once – let’s talk about this like reasonable folk.

[ground shakes with loudest roar yet]

… …. [disbelief] It really happened… He’s gone… Even after everything… I just didn’t believe it… But, damn, can you feel it, too? The air is normal again! The looming sense of dread is— actually… it’s stronger than ever… Let’s get Trish before we do anything else…


… … [hysteric] How?! How is it empty?! It shouldn’t have weakened that fast! How is she gone?! [sobs/smashes bottle]

[Ethan] Wait… Calm down and focus for a second… Do you feel that? There’s another fight happening, and she’s definitely part of it… [demanding] I’m going now! Are you coming, friend? Or do you want to stay here and argue with Alex?… Great, let’s go!

… No, umm… [defeated] ugh, wait up. Damnit, Trish! Why’d she have to go over there alone!

… … I know, friend, you don’t need to remind me. I’m clearly surrounded with ‘kind souls’ but, you see, we are a family of survivors, and avoiding danger is the key to being a survivor. This expedition is in direct conflict with our mission statement; she’s breaking the prime directive – that’s not ok!

[Ethan, patronizing] There, there, uncle; we can have a court martial after we help her. For now, we need to hurry! We should find a vantage point before showing ourselves. If it looks too dangerous, one of us will rush our friend to the bridge while the other helps Trish. Fair enough?

… … It’s not like I have any choice in the matter! You three have been forcing my hand all night anyway, so come on! Let’s go before it’s too late!


… … [shock] Are… are you two seeing this? It’s absolute chaos down there… [children shouting war cries] and it looks like… is Trish leading a platoon of boy scouts?

[Ethan] Hell yea, she is! Look! Everyone must have fled; only the Walker is left! Geez, where did they get all those weapons? It’s been ages since I’ve seen a mob like that – some of them are actually carrying pitchforks!

… … Don’t stand there gawking, boy! That Walker isn’t going to wait by idly while they fill it with holes! Why would she do this?!

… … Friend, if we survive this ordeal – remind me to explain the definition of a rhetorical question.

[Ethan] It won’t fight outnumbered either; I think it’s waiting for— [hostages screaming in the distance]

… … … Yep, you saw it right, friend. It waited for one to come within reach and fled with him. It’s safe for you to come down with us now; [leaves crunch beneath feet] we need to get everyone back to the cabin and calmed down so we can discuss what story you’ll tell the police.

… … Well, of course I mean you; who else is gonna take them? Their last chaperone was just carried off by the Walker and none of us can cross the bridge. We can’t send a group of traumatized kids off on their own.

… … I have no clue what you’re supposed to tell them – we haven’t discussed it yet!

[Ethan, yells over chaos of frightened boy scouts] Trish! Over here!

[Trish] You’re all here! I’m so relieved! When I was able to free myself, you three were fleeing towards the bridge – so I came straight here.

… … [muttering] How considerate of you…

[Trish] What was that, husband? Did you say something?

… … [perky] I love you, and I’m delighted you’re safe…

[Trish] You’re such a dear. [whispers] Don’t let the children know we’re ghosts; I don’t think their fragile minds could handle it.

… … Fair enough; I suppose we’ll take the long way home, then.

[Trish] Actually, I’ve had a rather long night, and so has our friend. I think it’s best if we go ahead while you and Ethan bring the boys along behind us. We’ll make sure your path is clear, of course.

… … [monotone] Of course… Come on, Ethan, you heard the lady. Round ‘em up…


[Trish] —I can’t believe the demon was finally defeated! So, you went right up to the monster and stabbed him in the foot?!… You really are amazing, my friend, and I know you’ll understand why we had to make this little detour… We need to get any demon goop left behind into this jar. [unscrews lid] We’ll burn it in the fireplace, and then you can take the ashes with you… [closes lid] There, that’s all of it; we better get moving.

[Trish, nonchalant] Oh, you don’t remember what my brother-in-law learned from the Mountain Settlement? The ashes must be spread over salt water – never fresh. Do you see any salt water in our territory? Alex doesn’t want to think about it yet, but you and I know better than to wait, don’t we?… I knew I could count on you! I can never repay you for saving my boys, [cabin door creaks open] but you’ll always have a home with us. Although, I’m sure you’ll be hearing those words in abundance over the coming months. Those children are probably assumed dead; the news crews will be rolling in before lunch – I guarantee it! [distant chatter] Oh, shh, they’re almost here! I’ll put this in the fire and get the ashes into your bag discreetly. Once you’re safely across the bridge – I’ll let the boys know we have everything under control.

… … … [several pairs of footsteps file across the wood floor] That’s right, this way fella’s; y’all are safe now. You’ll be home with your families in no time. We’re just gonna have a little chat to make sure everyone is on the same page while we wait for the sun to rise; then, our friend is going to take you all to see some nice policemen! How does that sound?

… … [exasperated] Come on, guys. We’ve been at this for over an hour; I don’t think you understand what’s waiting for you on the other side of that bridge. Do you know what it means to be national news?

… … I didn’t think so; it means you can say goodbye to your privacy for a long time, my little friends. You boys have had multiple agencies searching for you across multiple states; you’re already national news, but with our story – people will leave you alone when the next tragedy strikes. With the truth – your names will be synonymous with this event for the rest of your lives. The story for this place is older and darker than you can fathom, and I promise – you boys don’t want this shadow looming over you forever… So, what’s it gonna be, kids? Were you lost and found? Or kidnapped and rescued?

… … That’s a great choice, guys! I knew you looked like a reasonable bunch; I got a sixth sense about these things. Now – how many people found you?

… … That’s right! Only our friend! You boys are gonna be just fine – chins up, now! Remember – you’re all traumatized children; don’t be afraid to cry if they ask uncomfortable questions. As for your chaperones – you got separated; how should you know what happened? They’ll come down here to poke around and look for the bodies, but it won’t trouble us any. There’s nothing left to find, and we’ll be settled in with our new stories!

… … [sarcastic] Haha; yuck it up. Yes, I only want to listen to my story; is that so much to ask?! I’m sure they’re desperate to go home, too!

[Ethan] He’s right guys, and look – there’s a hint of sunlight out there! How about it? Are you ready to finally get out of here?

… … See! I told you they were reasonable chaps. My friend, I eagerly await your next visit when we’ll have time to thank you properly. Until then, we wish you the safest travels, and don’t forget – you deserve every reward they give you!

[Ethan opens creaking door] Hey, everyone, come take a look at this… What the hell is that?!

… … [door softly clicks shut] Umm… ok, on second thought – let’s go ahead and wait for the sun to fully rise… Anyone up for a quick game of charades?

Horror Fiction

Born on 13

This story is dedicated to Patricia, the one boss who truly did treat her employees as family; I owe her more than I can express, and I deserved none of it. She saved even more cats than people; if ever a soul truly deserved paradise, it was hers. 


The CreepyPasta

The following was recorded in New York City during a group session on Friday, August 13, 2021.

EIT 0-3-7


JAMIE:

Hello everyone, I’m Jamie—

GROUP:

Hi Jamie! [light applause]

JAMIE:

[clears throat] Um, well… this is my first time… so, I’m sorry if I sound nervous. It feels a bit strange to just stand up and start telling my story to a room full of strangers…

FATHER PAUL:

Take your time; try to remember – everyone in this room has been exactly where you are. You’re among friends, now. No one is here to judge or label – only listen. No one you see here will ever repeat a word.

JAMIE:

Yessir, thank you. Um, I suppose a little background would be helpful. To understand why I’m here, now – on Friday the 13th – you need to know it’s my birthday. I was born in ‘82, just after midnight during the worst storm of the year. My extremely superstitious mother didn’t even want kids, but between her Catholic upbringing and Dad’s actual desire for children – abortion wasn’t an option. My family isn’t from New York; we lived in a tiny town I guarantee you’ve never heard of.

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna bore you with a whiny rant about my childhood – I just want to convey that I was fully aware of the stigma surrounding my birthday from a young age. When I grew into an angry, rebellious teen, I decided to own that stigma. If it was unlucky for everyone else – it was good luck for me, and I made sure everyone knew it. If someone doubted me, I’d step on every crack, walk under any ladder, and pick up all the pennies on tails they wanted to drop.

In reality, nothing actually happened, but when people are looking for signs, they tend to find them – even if they have to create them. Of course, the more attention I got, the more I wanted to pull my own stunts. I’d try anything; I’d steal from a teacher’s desk, cheat on tests, or jump from the top of the monkey bars. Kids would watch me all day. If the final tally indicated bad luck – I made it into a big joke; if it was good – I thoroughly enjoyed a big round of pompous “told you so’s”.

[group laughs softly]

Haha, yea… I was a snarky little thing… Each year, I grew a bit bigger and braver, but not necessarily wiser. My stunts grew out of hand when I was old enough to drive. I won’t bother telling you about the countless times I almost went through the windshield, but I must have used a lifetime’s worth of luck on that alone. Instead, I’ll just skip to the scare that had a real impact on me.

There are only two cemeteries in my hometown – one for the rich, one for the poor. The city council didn’t want another graveyard in their fancy streets – if poor people wanted a cheap place to bury their dead, they would have to find space on their side of town. The only problem was, they were already packed in like sardines; rows of shotgun houses lined every street for miles until there was barely a foot between the last one and the forest. Eventually, volunteers cleared the land to make room for a new cemetery, but free, unorganized labor is rarely impressive.

I wish there was time to tell you the full story behind it, but essentially, they did the bare minimum every step of the way; you can’t blame them, they just wanted a place to bury their dead, but the end result was one extremely creepy cemetery. Since the first volunteers began the work near their own homes – they were very conscientious of how close the bodies would be. Wanting as much distance as possible, they cleared just enough space for a single-lane road before starting the real work. Today, that road is called Cemetery Drive; it’s almost a mile long and has no street lamps.

The whole situation made for a popular local legend. Back in the day, kids were dared to walk down Cemetery Drive with only a flashlight, but it was a little different by my teen years. Then, the challenge was to drive 10mph with the windows down and no headlights. So, on Friday, July 13th, 2001 – that’s exactly what I did. When six of us drove two cars out there, it felt like we were a big group, but I left my passenger behind with the others to do the dare alone.

That was before smartphones or livestreams; I could have cheated, but it gave me a rush to do this simple thing that terrified everyone else. The first half of the drive was exhilarating; the temperature was perfect, and the dim moonlight cast just enough glow to keep my car on the road. The trees were giant, looming shadows – swaying in the wind as if waving me on. As a skeptic, I felt safe in the knowledge there were no actual ghosts, and now, I can equate it to a VR experience. It was the thrill of being in a horror movie without the risks. Unfortunately, in my cliche, child-like naivety – I failed to understand how dangerous the real people around us were.

I should have seen the cemetery gates any second, but I stopped at the sound of footsteps. I couldn’t tell what kind, but I automatically assumed it was an animal. While listening, I realized it was walking at an unusually slow pace – even for something that was frightened… But if it’s afraid – why is it coming towards me? That was my thought process as I sat there, squinting into the darkness. Finally, when gravel crunched not three feet away from my driver’s window – I threw the car into reverse and switched on the headlights simultaneously.

My heart stopped mid-beat; there was a filthy, hairy man right next to me! He was dressed like a bum except for the night-vision goggles, and he lunged for me as I mashed down the gas pedal; the car flew backwards, and I watched in horror as the guy’s fingertips grazed the edge of my lowered window before falling away. When I couldn’t see him anymore, I did the scariest 3-point turn of my life and never looked back.

That night watered all the planted seeds of resentment I’d collected over the years until they bloomed into thriving sprouts of hatred, but I didn’t know how to ask for help. I thought the only way to make it stop was to move away and start fresh. Earning money was my only chance, and I didn’t have four years to waste at some college just for the possibility of a higher earning potential. Besides, I’m not particularly gifted in the intellectual department, haha…

[group laughs]

Whew, I’m sorry this is taking so long, but that was basically it—

FATHER PAUL:

[kind, patient] No, no – it’s your turn to speak, that’s why we’re here. You listened to Ray and Martha tell their stories; surely yours can’t be any worse, can it? Trust us, this is the first step to healing.

JAMIE:

[awkward chuckle] Yessir, of course… Um, [clears throat] right, so, I drove to New York with my graduation money and took any job I could find. I started flipping burgers during the day and bartending at night while sleeping in my car whenever I wasn’t on the clock. Forty days later, I moved in with a guy from the diner when he was looking for a roommate, and life was pretty good for the first time in… well, ever. I didn’t mention my birthday and no one asked; over the years, when it became necessary to show my driver’s license – it was rare for someone to notice the date; on those occasions, I shrugged it off, saying I was born on a Saturday, and no more was made of it.

I had a few relationships over the years, but nothing serious; I’ve always been happier alone, and it let me focus on work and saving money. At 25, I was able to afford my own studio apartment. It wasn’t fancy, but it was a nice, normal building in a safe area. [voice rising] You know how rare that is!

[group commiserates]

[deep breath] I’m so sorry… Would it be alright if I stopped for a minute? I could really use a bathroom break…

FATHER PAUL:

Umm… [clicks tongue] yea… I think we could all do with a little break. Tell ya what – this big, old building can be tricky to navigate for newcomers; let’s see if we can’t get Mr. Sumpter to show you the way. [chairs slide, footsteps echo across the room, and a heavy door creaks open]

[distant] Bill, can you escort our friend to the bathroom, please? Wouldn’t want anyone getting lost! [unintelligible reply] Good, take your time; we’re gonna stretch our legs a bit and freshen up the coffee. [door shuts and footsteps return]

Alright, everyone, take five. [recording stopped]


FATHER PAUL:

Feeling better now, Jamie? You seem to have regained a bit of color. Please – feel free to finish your coffee before continuing; we have all night. [booming thunder] Oh goodness, it sounds like the storm is getting worse, too… Well, all the better that we’re settled-in here, I suppose.

JAMIE:

Yessir… much better now, thank you. [sips coffee and chair slides]

[clears throat] So, umm, I was really proud of that apartment, ya know? I lived there for five years and was never once late with a payment… In fact, I was paying my rent the day the old manager had his heart attack. One second we were having our usual small-talk – the next, Roger was grabbing his chest. I didn’t know what to do – I called 911, but when they were loading him into the ambulance, it seemed wrong to let him go alone.

He didn’t have any family, so I told them he was my father; when the doctors left me in a waiting room, I went through his phone hoping to find anyone who could tell me what to do. That’s when I came across Patricia Birman’s name. I knew she was the building owner; we had met a few times over the years, and she seemed like a kind lady. No matter what, she would need to know what happened. Our phone call was brief; once I told her Roger was in surgery, she was there within the hour. That’s how she was; she’d drop everything if someone was in trouble.

We waited for three hours, talking about anything and everything to pass the time. As it turns out, she also lived in her car for the first few months after moving to the city. One thing led to another, and I emailed her a copy of my resume right there. She made arrangements to stay in town until Roger recovered, and she wanted to hire me at one of her restaurants… That’s when the doctors came to deliver the bad news. The old man had held on for so long, we just assumed he was going to pull through.

In the end, Mrs. Birman stayed on as manager for six months, but she needed help. What started out as answering a few questions turned into me becoming the assistant manager; I quit my other jobs and poured my soul into learning everything I could from Patricia. There was no reason for her to give me that opportunity, but she said it was more important to find someone trustworthy. She believed if someone was really willing to put in the work – they could learn anything; the trick was finding a person still willing to work nowadays, hah. Gosh, I admired her so much… [deep, shaky breath]

FATHER PAUL:

That’s alright, you’re doing great; just take it nice and easy. [thunder] we’re all here for you.

JAMIE:

Right… anyway, after those six months, she started letting me handle the office alone while she traveled – don’t forget, she still had several other businesses to run. I’ve never owed someone so much in my life; aside from a very generous salary – with benefits – she let me move into a single for half its price! I’m sure you’ve all had bosses feed you the same bullshit line I’d heard a thousand times before – “we’re a family here”, am-I-right? That lady – Patricia Birman – you remember her name, because she meant it! [sniffle]

Life was too good; disaster was around the corner – I just didn’t know when or where it would strike. That fear never went away, but the years passed, and I eventually became the manager; I even got upgraded into a two-bedroom! Hell, I even upgraded my car – but I couldn’t let down my guard. Sure, most people wouldn’t think much of my used Nissan and low-income complex, but they were my greatest achievements! If I never accomplished anything else – if I had grown old and died alone in that little apartment – I would have died happy!

For the longest time, I would lie awake at night – wondering when fate would realize I didn’t deserve happiness and bring it all crashing down. Then, three months ago, Patricia decided to renovate one of her other complexes; they were still considered “cheap” by city standards, but they were the most expensive of the cheap places… if that makes sense. They were much nicer than mine – let’s put it that way; the location wasn’t better, but it wasn’t worse either, and that’s good enough. Most people in the city can spend their entire lives waiting for that kind of luck! I really did know better… [sniffle]

Well, the point is that during the renovations, she discovered Margie’s drug stash hidden in the office air vent. When Patricia said she needed an experienced manager, I tried to decline – that’s how sure I was – but then she included more money and a budget for an assistant! She didn’t want to trust a property that large to a new hire; she preferred having me run that one while she trained someone new for my place. She even offered to throw in psych coverage to learn why I’m reluctant to accept good things for myself, hah… [slow exhale]

Who could say no to that? Not someone like me, that’s for sure. I decided just once, I was going to enjoy my good fortune – just once. The first six weeks were boringly standard. Patricia hired Lacy, a single mom, as my assistant; she’s lived at the apartments for over seven years and already knew most of the other tenants. We got along well enough, but sometimes she needed to leave work unexpectedly or bring her son to the office… It made things difficult if we were busy, that’s all. Peter is autistic, so I couldn’t really complain without seeming like a heartless piece of trash, ya know?

[group commiserates]

Honestly, if that was the price for my abundance of good fortune – great – bring it on. My apartment came with appliances, a digital thermostat, and WiFi; I treated Peter like absolute royalty – I wasn’t giving Karma anything she could even flinch at, but I knew it couldn’t be that easy.

Pete was a laid back kid, and his school was due to start back soon; he did alright around strangers as long as there weren’t more than two or three. Overall, things were better than ever until ten days ago when that elusive other shoe finally dropped. I didn’t even see it coming – it just randomly fell from the sky and flattened my sorry ass. The babysitter canceled for some reason or another, and I didn’t even get to sit down before the kid was at my heels. “Do you wanna see a magic trick?”

It took me by surprise; mornings were usually for his headphones and tablet while the office was actually busy, but he and Lacy were both flashing these proud, wide smiles as they waited for my “yes” – as if I had a choice.

“When’s your birthday?” It was almost a whisper.

I just wanted to get some coffee, so I told him… “8/13/82” and didn’t think twice about it… I couldn’t even remember the last time someone asked.

Apparently, the kid is able to tell what day of the week any date is – even a future one. Well – his little eyes went wide, and sure enough, “that’s the bad day!”

[loud] Ho! I knew it, and I said so! “Yep, it sure is, little man! Can’t get much worse, can it?— Oh, wait, yes it can! I’ll bet you didn’t know it was at midnight or during a terrible storm, did ya? Huh?!”

FATHER PAUL:

Whoa, easy there; that’s all in the past, now. Do you need a moment? [thunder] It’s ok if you do.

JAMIE:

No-sir, I’m just ready to finish this; then I want to chain smoke a whole carton of cigarettes, haha…

FATHER PAUL:

It’s just us old night-crew dogs here, I think we could get away with letting ya have a smoke; We’ll call it a reward for how well you’re doing!

JAMIE:

Really? That actually would be a huge help… as long as I wouldn’t be getting anyone into trouble.

FATHER PAUL:

No trouble at all; you guys sit tight, and let me see what I can rustle up. [recording stops]


JAMIE:

[lights cigarette] Wow, thank you, Father; [exhales smoke] I hadn’t realized how badly I needed this.

FATHER PAUL:

I told you, Jamie, that’s what I’m here for; my only job is to help you process what’s happened with as little trauma as possible. Now – when you’re ready, feel free to continue at your own pace.

JAMIE:

[hits cigarette] You’re a good man, Father – better than a place like this deserves – but I’m ready now.

Basically, I made a fine ass of myself snapping at the boy like that; I felt even worse when Lacy agreed with how ridiculous the superstition is, and Pete had already lost interest. I was beginning to think the city people wouldn’t care about a silly date the way the country bumpkins do. I was so ashamed of yelling in front of the kid – I found myself sharing the whole story with his clearly annoyed mother.

I told her about my superstitious upbringing, the kids at school, and what ultimately happened on Cemetery Drive. She seemed unsurprised about the children’s reactions but repulsed by the adult’s behavior. Friday the 13th is something she’d always thought of as a game; I don’t think she was capable of understanding how serious some folks take it. [hits cigarette] That’s why she didn’t see anything wrong with telling her friends about my little breakdown… Still, there’s a reason hotels and planes don’t use the number; it’s not because they’re afraid of bad luck – it’s because they don’t want to hear the customers’ incessant bitching!

By the next morning, everyone in the complex knew, and Lacy had a front-row view of the carnage. To be fair, she tried to intervene at first; each time someone came in to gawk – she sent them away in a less-than-gentle manner. Sure, it wasn’t every single person, but it was at least seventy percent that would quicken their pace or suddenly become very busy with their phones – anything to protect themselves in case I had the audacity to attempt conversation. If someone did speak to me – it was a child, and a horde of their friends were always nearby – pointing and giggling; [hits cigarette] talking to the jinx apparently meant seven years of bad luck which made for a wildly popular dare.

If I had less to lose, I would have given those kids a real reason to be afraid, but my options were rather limited; I had to settle for completely ignoring them which only made the little shits braver. They started throwing rocks and covering my car in toilet paper! I even got a ticket because they covered my tag, and I left without noticing! I came home furious; this was Monday evening, and the whole, miserable week was ahead; I was dreading my birthday to the point I decided to call Patricia and tell her everything. When the groceries were put away, I sat on the couch – finger hovering above the call button when I heard a noise coming from my bedroom. [hits cigarette]

I had started keeping a golf club handy and crept down the hall with it. Pausing at the entrance, I heard my closet door click softly shut; my first instinct was to pretend I hadn’t heard and text 911, but then I began to analyze the situation. [hits cigarette] I believed the intruder was one of the kids who vandalized my car and wanted to deal with them personally. With the assistance of a shotgun app, I stepped into the room – trying to sound intimidating when I made the pumping noise and yelled, “if you come out with your hands up, I won’t shoot through that door!”

I crept closer, golf club raised and ready; I didn’t intend to hit the kid, but I wanted to swing it over his head – just to give him a proper scare. Then Darren walked out, hands raised and shaking with a piss trail running down his pants! That dirtbag was almost twenty and still in high school because it took him three tries to pass each grade! Don’t misunderstand, I’m not mocking him for being stupid; that’s not what made him a dirtbag – his personality did that. Darren was the epitome of bully cliches; he treated everyone like shit – even his parents. I can’t tell you how many times he was brought home by police, or I saw him torturing some other kid around the complex. His behavior grew worse every year; it was only a matter of time before he really hurt someone. [hits cigarette]

When he saw I didn’t really have a shotgun, his pale, frightened face turned to one of rage and embarrassment; he glared at me with a scowl of pure hatred – I know the look well since I’m usually the one giving it. [put out cigarette] I was so angry; my chest went tight, and it was suddenly hard to breathe. I wanted to scream, but he opened his mouth and pushed me past my limit.

“I shoulda known; if a jinx like you had a gun you’d have blown your own head off by now!” The urine soaked intruder screamed indignantly.

I just… couldn’t take it anymore… I screamed something to the effect of, “what the fuck are you doing in here?!” I don’t understand how he had the balls to do anything short of begging me not to call the police…

Instead of answering my question, he tried to walk past me! He was going to leave and just get away with it! Then, I knew what would happen if I called; he would already be at home, and his parents would simply say he’d been there all night. It wouldn’t matter what the cops believed or how much they hated Darren; without physical evidence – he won.

All the rage I’d been holding back exploded… [deep breath] It felt like I was watching everything in a movie; suddenly, the club was swinging through the air, and it connected with the back of Darren’s head. Bright, red blood decorated the wall, ceiling, and my face. I was surprised by how wide the spray actually was; it didn’t seem like so much could come from one impact. On TV, the kid would have been dead already, but he started groaning almost immediately; the bastard didn’t even get to his feet before he started threatening me again! He was cursing me like a dog – saying I’d be in jail when he finished telling everyone how I drugged and kidnapped him! Next thing I knew, the club was swinging again.

When I finally came to my senses… [loud sob] it… it was too late. He was gone, and the whole room was wrecked; I think he tried to get away at one point. I have flashes of him trying to pull himself up with my dresser, and I swung high – breaking the mirror instead… but eventually… I didn’t miss… All that was left was a pile of disfigured meat and bone on a wet, red floor… and my vomit…

Twenty scenarios played through my head as I thought of how to explain myself. There was no way to involve the police without going to prison; trying to get away with it was my only choice. That no one heard the screaming was a miracle unto itself; I took it as a sign and started the clean up. First, I filled two trash bags and took them to my usual dumpster; I didn’t want to be seen making multiple trips back-to-back, and when I took three more several hours later, it was in the opposite direction.

If the kid ran his mouth about what he planned to do, I didn’t know how long it would be before someone came looking, but I couldn’t panic. Every two hours, I flushed small slices of organ and blood down the toilet. There was just so much; you wouldn’t think there could be any blood left in the body, but I was washing it down drains most of the night! I packed the bones in a tote for a weekend camping trip; anything left by then would go to the wildlife. If everyone could have simply left me alone, the last traces of Darren would have been gone when I came back from holiday!

[whimpers] the world is a far better place without him, anyway! I’m not some psycho serial killer; I’m not some wild animal who got a taste for blood! I just want my life back! [hyperventilating]

FATHER PAUL:

Hey there, take it easy; remember – slow, easy breaths. This is why you’re here; if you don’t tell us what happened, we won’t know how to help. [thunder] Believe me, Jamie, all we want to do is help. You’ve done so well and come so far, please don’t quit on us now!

JAMIE:

[snotty sniffle] Yessir; I just… I don’t understand what happened next. I didn’t have time for work, but my birthday was coming up, and I had all these vacation days saved… I knew everything would be ok if I could only make it through the weekend. I might have guilt-tripped Lacy a bit to make her more agreeable, but it was an emergency!

Everything was going according to plan on Wednesday and Thursday, but today— shit, of course it would be my birthday, wouldn’t it? I was making another dumpster run before the public restroom rounds when Patricia called. She wanted me to stop by for a special birthday lunch, hah! I couldn’t say no, either. She knew damn well I didn’t have any other plans, so – I cleaned myself up and went there instead.

I poured my entire being into holding myself together for the visit; I didn’t want to disappoint her after all she’d done for me! [choking sobs] When I got there, she had my favorite cake waiting, and I almost broke, but I didn’t; I held it together for her!

It happened when she was standing over the cake, knife in hand; she got a funny look on her face… It was like one side stopped working and suddenly, she was falling forward. I didn’t even have time to get out of my chair! [whimper] The blade… it went into her… there was so much blood… again! [sobbing]

I didn’t know what to do; who would believe me? Me! I pulled the knife out… I wanted to save her, but I saw it in her eyes, she was gone, man – gone! I don’t remember what happened next, I really don’t. Suddenly, police were there, and they said someone called them because of all the screaming, but that’s a lie; Patricia never screamed, and I said so! Then, they tried changing their story to say I was the one screaming! Can you believe that?

I tried to tell them what happened, but they wouldn’t listen; they wouldn’t even let me speak! Next thing I know, they’re throwing me in here, and I just wanted to go home!

FATHER PAUL:

Yes, Jamie; I can certainly understand your frustration. Also, I’m terribly sorry, but it seems like we’re out of time. [doors open] You remember Mr. Sumpter, yes? He’ll escort you from here. We all wish you the very best! [fast footsteps approaching]

JAMIE:

Wait, what? Hold on, it’s Bill, right? Please, don’t put your hand on me, I can… Wait! [chair falls, scuffle] Wait, what’s going on? I’m not finished! [voice becomes distant] Father? Father Paul?! [door slams]

FATHER PAUL:

Alright, great work everyone; I’ll see you back here on Monday morning!

[group chatters quietly as they leave]


SPECIAL AGENT PAUL CLARK:

This is Special Agent Paul Clark, and that concludes Experimental Interrogation Technique 0-3-7 on subject Jamie Reynolds.

Test Results: Success

Detailed Summary: Though the Subject was hesitant to participate at first – witnessing two undercover officers confess to similar crimes without repercussions seemed to put the Subject at ease. The vital component is believability; the Subject must be introduced to the controlled environment as early as possible after detainment. Furthermore, the addition of thunder ambience did seem to have a positive effect on the Subject’s willingness to remain.

While the Subject did not confess to the murder of Patricia Birman, the Subject did confess to the murder of a young man who was thought to be a runaway. When the autopsy revealed Mrs. Birman died of natural causes, a murderer might have been released back into society had it not been for this special technique. Records indicate the deceased was ill for a long time, but had apparently not shared the news with those close to her. Though, after reviewing her messages, we believe this to be the reason the Subject was invited to her home this morning.

It’s a shame how many killers will walk free when this method is eventually ruled unconstitutional to utilize on citizens… Regardless, it will still see plenty of use, but further studies are required before false confessions can be guaranteed.

[Recording Stopped]

Horror Fiction

Voodoo Karen

Hey guys, Lady Spookaria did a great job narrating this one! Check it out on her YouTube channel here for the full experience! 

The CreepyPasta

Hello there, my name is Katie; I found this community because I have a story to tell, and I think it’s one you will appreciate. I’m forty, and I have lived in a small town near New Orleans for my entire life. I’m very well known and respected in the community. Obviously, I can’t tell you exactly who my husband is, but we can call him James here; trust me when I say he is a very important man. I’m no mere housewife, either; I organize all of our church’s fundraisers and volunteer at the homeless shelters. Since we never had children, I’m also very generous to the orphanage every Christmas, and we have two rescue dogs.

I don’t mean to brag, but my background is relevant; without it, you can’t fully appreciate how far I have been pushed in order to reach this point! I am a good person, but I will not be a victim! This is 2022, we live in the age of “see something, say something” after far too many hard lessons were learned. If we see something, it is our responsibility, our duty, to say it loud and clear! If no one will listen, then you have to scream it! If they still won’t listen… Well, that’s why we’re here.

Yesterday began like any other day; after breakfast, James left for the office, and I got ready to run a few errands. The weather was perfect for Sonny and Cher – my pups and the singers! We were listening to I Got You Babe with the windows down when we pulled into the grocery store. We never shop at Walmart or Sam’s Club; sure, I could have the groceries delivered to my vehicle, but we believe it’s important to support our local businesses. That’s just one more reason this entire thing is so upsetting.

Oh, and don’t worry about Sonny and Cher; I would never leave my babies in the car. They rode in the top of the buggy and got plenty of attention; everyone stopped to look at their adorable sweaters when we passed.

We were in the store less than ten minutes when I stopped in produce; the buggy was never more than two feet away at most, but I turned to get one of those plastic bags from the dispenser; the apples were right there – it took less than thirty seconds – yet when I turn back, a small boy was jerking his hand away from my purse! I couldn’t believe it! I was speechless! Then, he had the nerve to ask if he could pet my dogs! He was giggling – grinning ear-to-ear, thinking he was so clever!

Well, those tricks don’t fool me, I saw what he tried to do, and I said so! “I know exactly what you were doing; where are your parents!” That scared him, alright!

He wasn’t giggling anymore; I could see the gears turning in his little brain. I was almost ready to find his mother myself when she emerged from frozen foods. I’m not an unreasonable person; I understand even the best parents can’t keep an eye on their child every second, but especially not one so young. Since no real harm was done, I only wanted a simple apology in order to teach the boy a lesson; his next target might not be so forgiving!

Do you know what the mother – the adult – did? She tried to convince me he was telling the truth! Instead of swallowing her pride for five seconds and admitting her son made a mistake – she behaved more childish than the seven-year-old; she had the audacity to call me a Karen! I see the Karen jokes online, I don’t live under a rock. She was trying to turn the whole thing around on me; in fact, it was becoming fairly obvious she put her son up to the whole thing. She’s running a scam by teaching her child to steal from strangers, and if he gets caught, they have a little routine worked out.

I called her out for it right there in front of everyone, and that’s when I noticed the way she was holding her phone. She was recording everything, and I wanted to slap the smug smile off her face when she saw that I noticed. “I don’t know what you’re so happy about; do you think you can edit the footage to make me look like the bad guy? I have every camera in the store at my disposal! Do you have any clue who my husband is?!” I was screaming by the end.

“I don’t have to change a thing.” She muttered and continued to record in hopes I would do something foolish.

That’s when I saw Ricky (the day manager) headed our way; I’ve known the man for over eight years, and never had a single bad experience. I was beyond shocked when he offered to give me store credit for the inconvenience – like he didn’t even care the boy tried to steal. It wasn’t about the money, those people should be banned from the store! Over my dead body was that woman going to get away with it! She was probably planning to pull the same stunt all over town! Someone had to do something!

I gave her one more chance to apologize, and asked her (nicely) to delete the recording before I called the police. You know what she said?! “Go ahead, racist!” Can you believe that? Did she think more lies would help? Was she trying to scare me? I still don’t know.

When the police came, they separated us to hear our stories; I could see her little phone held up for every second. Obviously, they weren’t going to arrest her, but they needed to keep an eye on that one; who knows what she’ll have the boy doing in another ten years, but that was a worry for later. The immediate priority was making her delete the video. People can do a lot with recordings now, and I did not give that bitch permission to film me; you won’t be surprised to hear the officers couldn’t even do that much!

The video went on to be edited exactly as I feared, and by time that bitch was done – the only parts left were when she goaded me into screaming; it was seen by hundreds of thousands of people – including James – before the day ended. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. I demanded the security footage from the grocery store; it’s the least they can do after allowing this to happen. They didn’t want to give it to me at first, but when I reminded them who my husband was – they changed their tune real quick; now, my copies will be ready for pickup by the time I return from New Orleans; I have some special shopping to do in the city, and since I can’t talk about it at home, I came here where others can appreciate the poetic justice! I’m going to purchase a voodoo doll! I’ll give an update this evening.


I’m back! It might sound crazy to some of you, but if you lived near New Orleans, you’d believe in it, too. I’ve seen what these dolls can do. This is the first time I’ve had enough reason to use one myself, but I still need to be careful. I’ve decided not to post the store’s security tapes; it’s better to let everyone think I don’t care… just in case. Considering how easy it is to buy and use a doll, it would be wiser to let Karma have the credit.

It didn’t come with instructions, but the nice lady who sold it to me was happy to demonstrate how it works once I told her the full story. I’m glad, too, because I always thought you needed to attach something that belongs to the person you want to curse; I didn’t realize I needed to use my own hair, but it makes sense that only the owner should be able to use it. After all, accidents happen, and we’re not trying to kill or maim anyone; I only need to picture the woman’s face when I use it!

Maybe I’ll start with her mouth; she needs a hard lesson in common courtesy! Next will be those thieving hands, and Child Protective Services will be contacting her shortly. Who knows what conditions they live in to behave that way. If they get the boy away from her quickly enough, maybe he can still be saved. If not he’ll be moving on to armed robbery before his 18th birthday, you mark my words! Even the woman who sold me the doll said to be ruthless with it. I’m going to get this thing ready, be back soon!


There’s something very wrong with the doll… I followed Madam Voya’s instructions to the letter! Either she sold me bad merchandise or she’s an idiot who doesn’t know how her own products work! Either way you better believe I’m going right back first thing tomorrow morning! If she thought she could rip me off because I live outside the city, then she was sorely mistaken!

I filled my mind with that trashy, thieving woman from the grocery store and put a piece of duct tape over its mouth. Yet, suddenly my mouth was stuck closed; I couldn’t even scream! I pulled the tape off in a panic and pieces of fuzz were ripped from the doll just as skin was ripped from my lips! They’re bleeding and sore; it hurts to eat or drink!

I’m going to bed; I want to be well rested for tomorrow. I plan to be waiting outside that damn shop when it opens, and I’m not leaving until I have a full refund, new doll, and an apology! I’ll be back tomorrow evening to let you know how it went, then my vengeance will finally begin!


What began as an act of community service has turned into my worst nightmare. Rest assured, my life won’t be the only one ruined; if they think they’re going to get away with it, they’re sorely mistaken!

Last night, I put the doll on my dresser before going to bed. Falling asleep was easy, but I woke to a horrible pain around midnight – like someone smashed my head against the wall. I sat up, screaming in the dark, and James turned on a lamp; he was standing near the dresser, confused and frightened by my outburst. He can never know what I’ve done.

The doll was lying on the floor, knocked down as my husband stumbled by in the dark; he hadn’t even noticed it, so I told him it was only a nightmare. After he came to bed, and the lights were off once again, I collected the damn thing on my way to the bathroom. It was safe under the sink until James left for work this morning.

In the shower, I found a nice lump on the back of my skull. I decided to put the doll in a bag stuffed with padding and left it on the bed while digging through the closet. There were only a few small things in the way, but in the seconds it took to move them, Sonny and Cher thought they found a new toy. I knew what was happening the moment I felt their hot breath against my face; they didn’t come when called, and I was moving as fast as I could when it happened.

Teeth closed around my ankle and pulled hard; I fell as I was clearing the closest. My body was jerked side-to-side as Cher enjoyed herself, and it only stopped when Sonny’s jaw clamped onto my wrist. Then, they played tug-of-war; I thought my hand would be torn away, but they finally heard their names through my frantic screams and dropped the doll.

I’m not entirely certain what happened next; I understand Sonny and Cher aren’t to blame… everything just went black… but the dogs are fine, absolutely fine! In fact, they’re napping in their kennels now…

Anyway, I was shaking like a leaf while wrapping my wrist and ankle – not from pain or fear, just good ole rage. I still had to get back to New Orleans so I gritted my teeth and pushed through it. You northerners might not understand what G.R.I.T.S actually stands for, but it’s “Girls Raised in the South” and we mean mother-fucking-business!

I didn’t dare leave the doll behind; I packed it up as planned, and buckled the bag into my backseat. Less than an hour later, I was standing in front of Madam Voya; Her face was expressionless as I showed her each injury, “Do you remember telling me to ‘be ruthless’? Well?! I hope you have excellent insurance; you’re going to pay every doctor and therapist bill that comes from this along with compensation for all the pain and suffering you’ve caused!” I could feel the red heat in my face as I yelled.

“Had the doll worked properly, would you also be held responsible for the injuries it caused?”

The first hint of emotion to touch her face was a smirk, and I barely contained my anger. “Save your mind games for the idiots who usually traipse through here. This is a business! You sell merchandise, and I have paid you; nothing else matters! Now, are you going to fix this or do I need to call the police and Better Business Bureau?”

Her eyes grew wide and fell to the floor; in a much softer voice, she said, “I will need to see the doll in order to identify the defect and unbind you.”

I placed it on the counter between us and she seemed to study it carefully, even going as far to check it under a magnifying lamp. After several minutes she said, “this is very strange; have you seen the intended target since you began? Is it possible these things are happening to her as well?”

That took me by surprise; once it harmed me, I didn’t see a reason to check social media, but it only took a few seconds to confirm. As I clicked Ms Jackson’s Facebook profile, Madam Voya leaned over to see as well. In that moment I had completely forgotten my circumstance; my entire focus centered on the loading page until the smell of burning hair reached my nostrils, and my whole scalp burned.

The doll was left under the lamp’s heat and catching fire; I reached for it, but the Madam was faster. She feigned shock and apologized in an almost groveling way, but I didn’t believe a word of it. The only thing that mattered was undoing whatever trick she was playing. I gave her a very simple choice; she could either release me from her dark magic or I could call the police.

“I will fix the issue right away; it is a very easy process,” or so she claimed.

She retrieved a crystal from beneath the counter, closed her eyes, and chanted while tracing it over the doll’s surface. I could feel its tickle every place it touched, but I didn’t trust anything the woman did. For all I knew she was strengthening my tie to the doll, and I finally understood exactly how foolish it was to go there alone. I had no way to know what her actions were truly capable of.

When she finished the crystal routine, I planned to snatch the doll at the first opportunity and run, but she must have sensed my intention. With one hand still on the doll, she put the crystal away and retrieved a knife instead. “That should do it! Let’s try a test before you drive all the way home again, shall we, Karen?” The grin she wore was pure evil, and her eyes sparkled with sadistic delight.

With the knife raised above her head, I reached across the counter and shoved her backwards. She only stumbled a few steps, but it was all I needed. I grabbed the doll, ran to my car, and had just enough time between cranking and reversing to see Madam Voya in the window, laughing maniacally. As my wheels spun in reverse, I flipped her off screaming, “my name is Katie!”

I flew down the interstate without glancing at my speed and continued the pace after my exit. I didn’t realize what I was doing until sirens filled my rearview mirror. Of course, my streak of horrible luck continued; I understand I was speeding, but the officer was clearly a rookie on a power trip. I can’t begin to fathom why they would let someone that inexperienced work alone.

He was unnecessarily rude from the moment of contact and forced me to step out of the car before I could say a word! I was only trying to explain my situation; he needed to understand this was an emergency, but he wouldn’t listen! The more I tried to explain, the more he interrupted; then he tried to perform a sobriety field test! Never in my life have I been so insulted! “Do you have any idea who my husband is?! Do you understand you’re already fired?! I advise you to get out of my face or call your superiors!” I’ve never been so furious in all my life; I spit the words out like venom.

He did neither; he arrested me! Can you believe that! He said I threatened him! He took my phone without letting me make a call and had the car towed without letting me retrieve my doll or purse! I was in a holding cell for four goddamn hours before I spoke to anyone with a semblance of intelligence. My phone call to James was orgasmic. Within the hour I was free and the officer – who suspiciously had the same last name as Madam Voya – was on unpaid leave; even the reckless driving charge was dropped. See, I wasn’t bluffing about my husband.

The next problem is the towing company; they were already closed when we located my car so we have to wait for morning to get it back. The doll should be safe locked inside, but I’ll feel better when I have it in hand. I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place – Google how to reverse the curse. Madam Voya will rue the day she saw my face when I’m rid of that thing once and for all; I’ll be back tomorrow with another update – then you’ll see!


Ohh, that Voya is a crafty, crafty bitch alright; I probably don’t have much time left, but I plan to use what I do have very wisely. Once I publish this account of her transgressions, I will dedicate the remainder of my life to ending hers. I’ll die happy as long as she goes first; and if there’s any time left over, maybe I’ll pay Ms Jackson a visit, too.

As you can probably guess, the doll was gone; my car was actually vandalized during the night, and the doll was the only thing missing! Can you believe that? I can.

I can’t be certain what they did with it, though judging by the putrid smell trapped in my nostrils, the bugs crawling over my sticky skin, and the painful, itchy bites they leave behind, I would guess they covered the doll in something similar to honey and left it in a dump or sewer. It feels like the bugs are burrowing deeper and deeper into me; it’s only a matter of time before they begin breeding inside my body and I would like to be dead before any eggs hatch.

If I’m able to complete my goals before dying, I’ll try to post one more update. If not, thank you for being here. Remember me, friends; remember the injustices done to me and report this to anyone who will listen. If Voya and Ms Jackson are still out there, they are a danger to society and must be stopped at any cost. Please, don’t let them get away with my murder! I am Katie, not Karen!

Horror Fiction

Infinity Game Confessions (Pt. 4)

 As always, Danie Dreadful has done a phenomenal narration of this story. If you want the full experience please hop over and check it out. Don’t forget to subscribe, she also narrates our Classics in the Rain and many other amazing tales!

I owe a huge thank you to Cat Lionheart (link to his steam and twitch). He has helped me with the actual Wiccan details I lacked, and is also a fantastic writer himself. I highly recommend checking him out; you can find his books on Amazon with this link. If you notice a few discrepancies with the finer details of the supernatural, they were changed for story purposes. Cat’s information is always incredibly fascinating and reliable. That’s why the Librarian is named after him and based on his personality.

The CreepyPasta

Romulus is voiced by the beautiful and talented Emmy, Princess of Dread.

Hey Everyone,

I’m sorry for disappearing on you again, but this is my first day off from the new Library job; the place I was working fired me when I stopped going. The list of stuff I need to tell you is getting out of hand, and it feels like I’ll never catch up. I’m not complaining; I appreciate the hell out of you guys for reading these – but the real world is becoming as dangerous as Mirward so my time is stretched thinner than ever. Can we just dive in?

Let’s start with why I mentioned a stalker in the other post. The first time I noticed people staring at me was one week after playing my Infinity Game. Even then, it took a few more weeks to recognize the same handful of people; one person won’t appear two days in a row, and the same person never visits too many different places. That being said, none of them had approached me at that point, so I never did more than passively acknowledge their existence. For now, just be aware this is stewing in the background; it’s going to come up again in a big way.

I’m not allowed to talk about where the Library is located, what it looks like on the outside, or how to enter, but after catching up with Romulus and giving him all those treats, it was time for work. Cat (the Librarian, not Rom-Tom) showed me to a table where she was nice enough to have gathered the books I needed… though she claimed it was only so I wouldn’t make a mess doing it myself. She always says fun, snarky things like that, but it’s just her way of showing affection; if she genuinely hated me, I would already be dead… or in the dungeon like that guy who spilled his coffee.

Romulus joined me with a loud “Mrowr”, and we worked undisturbed until noon when my alarm reminded me to eat. Hoping Cat would entertain a few questions during lunch, I returned to the ground floor and hovered nearby as she typed at her computer. With a quick glance over the rim of her glasses, the Librarian said, “no” before returning her attention to the monitor.

“Yes ma’am, thank you.” I was walking away when the clacking of the keyboard suddenly stopped, and I turned back hopefully.

“Are you going to the observatory? Don’t. The floors were just waxed.” Cat resumed typing before she finished speaking.

“Yes ma’am…” Hopes crushed, I turned back in the direction of my table. The observatory is located at the top of a tower, and it has a wide, spiral walkway instead of stairs aren. I love lying on a table to look at the sky through its domed, glass ceiling while I eat, but disobeying the Librarian isn’t something to joke about.

Most of my lunch was shared with Romulus, but afterwards, we worked another three hours before a loud thud and sharp cry echoed through the enormous building. Worried for Cat, I followed the sound back to her desk and towards the observatory. When closer, I could hear her deep, gasping breaths and feared the worst. Sprinting the last stretch, I turned a corner to find a crumpled Librarian lying at the base of the observatory ramp, hands covering her face – laughing hysterically.

“And I warned you not to go up there!” Her leg was broken; I don’t know how the hell she wasn’t screaming, but if she used magic I need to learn that spell ASAP.

Her only options all involved accepting my help; I’m sure that was torture. Apparently, there are doctors who specifically care for not-always-fully-human clients, and I got to call one! While we waited, I found a rolling-cart and wheeled Cat to the closest lounge area.

The doctor arrived within twenty minutes, though I’m not sure if it was a man or woman… They were in their 60’s, had a neutral voice, and rounded torso. Cat made me leave for the exam, and the legitimately concerning medical questions regarding my parentage were once again placed on hold. It would be nice to know if I should avoid hospitals; if I get rushed to the ER, will I be at risk of dissection? I need to know these things!

When the doc finally came out an hour later, they said Cat was asking for me. I rushed in without asking my question – which I learned was the intention when a very stoned Librarian exploded with laughter. “That’s one way to avoid your questions! Hey, Romulus was looking for you! Drop some food and scoop his litter while you’re there, would you?” She pushed herself to a sitting position and tried to catch her breath.

“I did that hours ago; do you need anything else? Food or something?” I couldn’t very well ask any questions after that.

“Did you really?” She seemed surprised.

“Well he sure can’t do it himself!” An accidental stomp of irritation slid past my wall of composure.

Whether her decision was drug induced or some combination of guilt and pity – I’m not sure, but Cat thanked me; more importantly, she offered to answer one question. I was speechless; there were too many choices to pick just one, but if I didn’t hurry she could change her mind… or pass out. That is exactly the kind of pressure I crack under.

“Do I have any special powers?” Damnit; the word vomit left an embarrassing taste in my mouth as I waited for her to laugh and shoo me away.

“Probably. Couldn’t know for sure without a few tests… Or you could just try a bunch of stuff and see if anything works.” She shrugged – brow furrowed in concentration, her slur barely noticeable.

She seemed to be giving the answer serious thought, and I was afraid to break the magical moment by speaking; especially if there was a chance I actually did have powers! “Whatever you do, don’t try to fly; that’s the last one you wanna figure out by trial and error!” She added, bursting into another round of laughter.

When I asked what would be ok, all I got was, “Romulus likes a fresh blanket before bed; they’re in the bottom drawer. If you want to come back tomorrow, I suppose that would be fine. Goodnight.”

It was best to quit while ahead. As you know, I’ll eventually lose my job and working at the Library will become official, but that pales in comparison to the other things I need to tell you so we probably won’t go into that too much more today.


All my spare time in the Library was dedicated to Infinity Game research – including the Game Genie. Guys, I was right – there’s a way to cheat time and a few other things, but I’m still in the process of translating how! There’s also a Co-op Mode, but I’m struggling with how to utilize the information. I’m sure you remember the horrible examples that clearly warn against having multiple players in one game. Well, there’s actually two ways around this. One is a sanctioned two-player option the Boss added, and the other is a loophole he can’t really do anything about.

If you want to play a single game with two people, you will only need one additional person to guard your mirrors in the real world. The pentagram will need to be a little larger to accommodate the extra participant, otherwise the setup remains the same. When ready to begin, the two main players should stand back-to-back in the center – each facing their own reflection; it’s best if their steps are synchronized to enter simultaneously.

Once inside, the watcher must immediately step between the mirrors; one person is enough to block the way for both. From the Lobby, the players will see two mirrors side-by-side, and it’s vital they only exit through the one they entered. Aside from these points, everything else is the same. If both teammates make it to the Boss, they each get a wish.

Now for the multiplayer oversight. Technically this will let you play with an unlimited number of people – well, as many as you can convince to try, at least. It might be easier to give you an example with this one, but I want to start by saying this should never ever be combined with the official two-player method… ever

Let’s say you have twenty people in a huge, empty warehouse. They would draw ten pentagrams and split into teams of two for ten individual games. Each player who enters the Lobby will be alone with the usual setup, but once they exit into Mirward, they’ll all be in the same place; the rest of the game will proceed as normal and survivors are welcome to make their wish.

My problem with this being a possibility is the fact I don’t trust anyone else enough to play with them. Sure – there’s Jess – but I refuse to get her killed. I don’t think she would want to go, but that’s not a risk I’m willing to take. There’s no point in mentioning it to her unless we meet someone else worth considering.

While we’re on Mirward updates, I’ll add what I’ve learned from new conversations with Casey. I haven’t been able to talk to her as much as I’d like, but it’s better than nothing. Now that I’m aware of the strict time limit, I try to focus on the most important questions. The thing you guys have pointed out most is the fact Casey seemed perfectly eager to sell me out in the beginning; she still tried to manipulate Jess and only helped me when all her efforts failed. That’s obviously a very good point and probably my largest source of distrust. Below was her response, and it sounded honest to me, but please, formulate your own opinions.

Casey’s Reply:

Of course I had evil intentions! I wanted the whole life for myself just like everyone else; I’ve never pretended to be a saint. Although, when that wasn’t possible, I decided on a long con – like you suspected; if I couldn’t get you in the first game, I probably could have by the third… Then I realized how much better our real plan would work if we actually did it. What we’ve put together is genius – much better than anything one of us could do alone! Let’s not be like those idiots who double-cross each other at the very end and lose it all – let’s just fucking win!

See what I mean? She has a fair point. Did it make me trust her? No. But I think there’s a legitimate chance she could be telling the truth, and – at the very least – she’d need to behave until the end.

Oh, and I know this isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme, but for the record – it’s confirmed; the armband doesn’t need to be red. Though I recommend bright, flamboyant colors.

You’ll remember the next question from last time; when we were discussing the unfortunate living conditions in Mirward, it seemed like the reflections of poor people would live in luxury, but that turned out to be wrong. Their homes are physically nicer, and that’s about it. There’s no such thing as a safe neighborhood or happy family; they don’t have laws or governments. Their world is policed by power, and demons – or Infitialis, as they’re called over there – often have the most.

Learning these things was enough to make me stop playing; the Library can teach me all I want to know without ever being in danger. I was even trying to think of a way to tell all of you, but then I found out what happens to the souls taken by the Boss – as in what happened to my mother’s. Quitting isn’t an option, guys.

Did you know reincarnation is real? There’s no time to go over the hundred scenarios that could develop under different circumstances between life and rebirth, but that’s how the process usually ends. There’s very few exceptions to the rule, but since the one requirement for being reborn is a soul – you can see how selling one might cause a hiccup in the system.

It’s not like she ceased to exist – that dipshit owns her, like a dog taken from the streets! I’m not sure exactly what I thought happened to her, but it revolved around being eaten; it seemed like souls were a food source for demons. Well, technically, I suppose they are, but it’s different than how our own bodies take in nourishment – there’s no waste to expel. Imagine if it were possible to swallow a chicken whole, and it stayed alive inside of you… Okay, that’s admittedly not the best metaphor, but that is the actual concept. The animal would basically act as a battery for your energy or – in the demon’s case – powers.

My mother is his unwilling puppet; the list of possibilities went on for an entire chapter and were too depressing to finish in one sitting. By owning a soul that belongs to our world, he can do all sorts of things – even lead unsuspecting victims to their doom. You’ve probably heard stories where cries for help lure people into an abandoned home or a forest; though Skin Walkers are blamed for the bulk of forest incidents in America – the Demon’s Lure is much more common.

Most of you probably know the true story behind Anabelle – the possessed doll; two roommates thought they were allowing a child to enter the vessel – but surprise! That’s actually a pretty common trick. The Boss can’t just visit our world on a whim; he’s bound by the same rules we are. I wonder if he has a reflection… I’ll have to add that to my list of questions.

After my third day at the Library, Cat offered to answer one more question. This time, I was prepared. “How do I save Mom’s soul?”

She didn’t laugh at that one. “You can’t, I’m sorry.” She really was, too.

“Why? Demons can take souls, and I’m half of that, aren’t I?”

With a sad sigh she adjusted her glasses and sat up. “Yes… but what do you think a soul is? You can’t touch one; it won’t be laying around for the taking. They must be bound to an object – like a crystal – and that takes a vast amount of energy. Even full-fledged demons barely have enough power to negate death and bind the soul… Look, I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, but if there was a way to do it, I would tell you.”

“Let’s pretend I have that energy and a bag of crystals; what would be my next step?” I had tunnel vision, nothing could sway my focus.

“Any powers you might have don’t apply to this situation; they’re like muscles, and you’ve never used yours. On the extremely rare chance you possess the potential for those abilities… I don’t know where to begin… the years it would take to condition your mind and body alone are incalculable. Not to mention the fact you would be killed immediately upon trying to steal a soul from a demon. How about you ask a different question?” She was trying to be gentle, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

“What exercises can I do to help that particular muscle grow?” Of everything Cat said, it seemed like step one would be figuring out if I have any special abilities to begin with. It doesn’t matter how long it takes; if I need to spend the next twenty years meditating four hours every day, that’s what I’ll do, and – believe me – I’ve been meditating.

This time her sigh was much longer before she began. “Come here, and give me your hand.”

“Neat! Are you going to read my palm?” Her eye-roll said no, but I’m not sure what else to call it.

“I need silence,” and that’s exactly what she got; she only looked at my open palm for a few seconds before placing her own directly above it and closing her eyes.

I had to bite my tongue when a look of shock, confusion, or fear (I’m not sure which) crossed her face; it was gone almost immediately, and she pretended it didn’t happen when I asked about it. What she did say wasn’t much and created a list of new questions. “Did your mother cast any spells on you as a child? Did you ever take part in or witness any kind of ritual she may have performed? Think very carefully.”

The sudden seriousness to her tone was concerning, but the number or actual rituals I was involved with before the Infinity Game could be counted on one hand. I only went with Mom if it was something basic, and she couldn’t find a babysitter. Cat waved the idea off – she was fishing for something specific, I just don’t know what yet.

“Come back tomorrow, I want to run a few tests before saying anything for certain.” Well, my curiosity was successfully peaked. I wanted nothing more than to race home and return with the sunrise, but as always – fate had other things in mind.


It’s time to talk about the stalkers again; there are five routes I use to get between work and home. Since I can’t drive straight to the Library – each day involves parking my car at a different location and utilizing public transportation for the rest of the way. I assigned each route a number, and – to keep it random – I let the die (geez, that’s the singular for dice?!) decide which way to go. Sixes are rolled again, but five-sided dice aren’t really a thing. On this particular day, I rolled a three and turned south.

Route 3 isn’t too bad; it’s no Route 5, that’s for damn sure. From the Library to the subway is four blocks, and there aren’t many people on those particular streets at night. I usually feel safer once I lay eyes on the current stalker; it makes me feel better to keep track of them, but I didn’t see anyone on the first two blocks. By this point they were basically a permanent fixture; if I didn’t see them, it wasn’t because they weren’t there. The idea they could be getting smarter was terrifying.

When a greyhound bus passed by, I broke into a run and crossed the street behind it. If the stalker was close, they would need to hurry. I went in the opposite direction hoping their concern with my deviation would outweigh caution, and it worked a little too well. Once around the corner, I came to an abrupt halt and turned back to watch the street. It appeared within seconds, but I couldn’t see a face, and what I did see didn’t look human. It was a short, sickly thin figure shrouded in a black veil; only the shape of skeletal legs could be discerned beneath, and one bony finger was lifted, pointing in my direction. When it noticed me looking that way, it suddenly became blurry – like I was seeing a VHS recording – and when it was clear again, there was a suddenly woman standing in its place. That’s new.

A car I hadn’t noticed passed between us and I took the opportunity to run. I went down three more blocks, taking random turns through back alleyways before stopping to check my location. My train left in five minutes, but there was no way to get there in time. It was already dark, and my car was at least an hour away; I felt exposed standing in the open and resumed walking to contemplate my options. I couldn’t call Dad, or Jess; they weren’t exactly in the area, and I also didn’t want them near me if my stalkers weren’t even human.

I’ve always considered myself a cautious person because it sounds better than paranoid, but there’s no sugarcoating how it felt out there; every person could have been another one of those ghoul things, and that’s exactly how I treated them. I must have looked insane, but that’s something I’ve grown used to over the years. The alleyways all had looming shadows at their entrance, but the dark spaces between the cars parked along the curb were just as sinister; I stayed in the center of the sidewalk with my eyes darting each way and my arms tucked in like someone was waiting to drag me away.

It wasn’t too long before I ducked inside a Chinese restaurant and sat myself in the back corner. No one else came in during the time it took to eat an order of honey chicken, and I could finally think straight again. Luckily, there was still time to catch the next train – why that notion never occurred to me originally I can only blame on pure panic.

My anxiety tried to spike when I was back outside, but it was nothing like before. When the subway station was in sight, I could have cried with relief, but the feeling was short-lived. Leaning over the rail, pretending to look at his watch, was the first stalker I had ever noticed. I froze in place, not knowing if I should keep going or turn back – both options sounded horrible, but there would be more people on the subway. The moment I resumed walking, the man casually descended before me. I almost ran away then, but I felt a horrible certainty he would be right behind me either way; at least on the subway, I was guaranteed a few witnesses.

The platform was crowded; the stalker was standing against the wall with his face in a newspaper, but it was him. The train before mine came, and people poured out in a wave as the next bunch climbed in. Had I noticed how empty the platform would be, I would have hopped on and taken my chances with its destination; instead, I was stuck there with a stalker and one very old lady with shopping bags looped around her walker. It would be fifteen minutes until my ride came, and I decided waiting on the street would be safer than a nearly empty subway station.

The moment I tried to leave, a heavy thud made me jump, and I looked back to see one of the old lady’s bags had fallen. Cans were rolling across the platform, and she had a look of utter anguish on her face as she worked to position herself around the walker. When I looked towards the man, he surprised me by maintaining eye contact instead of looking away; he gave one firm shake of his head before nodding towards the stairway – as if saying “don’t help; go up to the street.”

The problem with this entire incident is that I didn’t have time to think; it was happening too fast. The old lady was bracing herself to retrieve the first can, and it was sad as hell; the only explanation I could think of for the stalker’s behavior was that he might want to eat her – how should I know what ghouls do for their jollies? She certainly seemed like an easy target… so yea, I helped her, and I chose fucking poorly.

“I’ll get it ma’am!” I jogged over, keeping one eye on the man as the lady thanked me and launched into a dialogue about her grandson not having time to do her shopping that week. I smiled and nodded politely while gathering her cans, but she herself held none of my attention. I never reacted until the man lunged forward, and by then it was almost too late. I didn’t wait to see his intentions – I dove forward on sheer instinct as if my body was being controlled by someone else.

The instant I turned to look for the stalker, a gray blur was flying at me, and I was back on the ground, struggling for breath as my vision blurred from the impact. I could see well enough to know the old lady was the one strangling me, but she was much stronger than she looked. Her fingers were ice-cold bars of steel as I tried to pry them from my neck, and her weight was crushing my chest. We couldn’t have been that way more than a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

When she was suddenly removed, I began choking for air, and my throat was on fire; frantically wiping the tears from my eyes, I crawled backwards – away from the two blurry figures who were still fighting. I was more confused than ever; the old lady was in full ghoul-form, and the man wasn’t completely human either. He definitely didn’t resemble the others; I couldn’t see clearly enough to give an accurate description, but he was much larger. They were moving so fast my eyes couldn’t keep track, but it ended with the man grabbing the ghoul’s throat in one hand, and with the other, he hooked his fingers beneath her jaw-bone – ripping off her head. The creature disintegrated into a black smoke cloud and evaporated as a new crowd of people came downstairs.

They were flooding the platform, but not one person seemed to suspect anything unusual had occurred. Suddenly, the man was standing over me with his hand outstretched; he was tall with short, black hair and resembled Robert Downey Jr a little. For some reason, I took his hand; the moment we made contact, time froze and the world faded away. We were no longer on the subway but in a small, white room with a table and two chairs.

“Don’t worry, we didn’t really go anywhere; this is so we can talk privately; when we’re finished, no time will have passed out there.” He took a seat and the second chair slid away from the table for me to do the same.

“Are you telling me we’re communicating telepathically? While frozen in the instant you were helping me to my feet?” I can’t begin to describe the thoughts racing through my mind; there was too much to process.

“Yes, very good. I’m sorry about your mother, by the way. She was a wonderful woman.” His smile seemed sincere, but I still didn’t know who or what he was.

“Right… and how did you know Sandra?” I tried to sound casual and probably didn’t.

“If you’re going to test someone, try to do so with information that isn’t available to the public. Had I done the research to know your mother is dead, I would certainly know her name was Elle; would you like to try something else?” He didn’t say it in a demeaning way – it sounded like a genuine offer.

“I’d still like to know how you knew her.”

“This may be hard for you to hear, but technically, I’m your father.”

“Shut the fuck up!” I accidentally spit the words out in a disbelieving laugh. “I mean… that’s a little hard to believe.”

He wasn’t phased by my outburst, but he looked at me the exact same way I look at puzzles, and that was slightly unnerving. “There’s a lot of her in you. Yes, I suspected it would be difficult for you if we met before you were ready, but I had little choice. I even waited to see if you could handle it alone, but I think you would have died without help.

My hand went to my face and the burning sensation was rekindled as I felt bloody, inflamed scratch-marks trailing from my cheek down to my neck. “I guess so, but why? Why are they after me? Why do you suddenly care?”

“You’re asking questions that don’t have simple answers, but simple is all we have time for. I can only hold this state for so long in your world so listen carefully. The entity you call ‘the Boss’ has known exactly what you are since your visit to… ugh, what do you call it? Mirward?” I nodded and he continued, “once he has a Halfling’s scent it’s a simple matter to identify their Sire; unfortunately for you, he and I have a rather sordid past.”

“I’m sorry, what?” I was torn on whether or not to believe a word of it.

“To be fair, you made it much worse by playing his game. I’m impressed you’ve done as well as you have, but by our standards you’re still in diapers. Those things were only keeping an eye on you at first, but now that you’ve been spending time at the Library and having those little chats with your reflection – they’re kicking things up a notch.” He was talking faster; it was everything I could do to keep up with his words.

“They know about the Library and Casey?” I’m not sure why those were the items to stick out, but they were.

“Yes, Page, the extremely powerful demons are aware of the extremely powerful witches.” He was beginning to doubt my intelligence. “We need to get moving, but don’t trust strangers for any reason; they can only assume the appearance they had in life, and demons can only appear as the souls they own. Pack some bags to take with you tomorrow, and use the shortest route; I’ll be watching. Don’t leave the Library again until I give you a signal; it’s the only place you’ll be safe while I handle things with that little troll directly.”

“Does the Library have a magical protection like Hogwarts?” I asked louder than intended.

“Uh, well… yes, but more importantly the Librarian is the only one around with enough power to keep you alive in my absence.” He stood, reaching his hand to me.

“A witch can be that powerful?! With a broken leg?!”

A look of shock crossed over his face. “She’s not just a witch… and I seriously doubt she… you know what, never mind. Yes, she’s that powerful – even with a broken leg. Let’s go.”

I didn’t have a choice; he reached across and grabbed my hand before I understood what he was doing. We were suddenly back in the subway, and I was being pulled to my feet. Everything was how we left it, and we boarded the train a few minutes later. He wouldn’t answer anymore questions – not even when I asked his name. He only said one more thing before leaving me at my car; “You’re lucky; if you were human those scratches would have already dissolved your face. Tomorrow, ask the Librarian for a tonic.” Then he vanished before my eyes.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I met my biological father.


Holy crap it’s getting late… ok, I know you guys require a certain level of flow and elegance with your stories, and you’re a top tier audience of fine people who deserve nothing less, but I really can’t stress how desperate I am to convey this last part before I have to post and run. One day – if I live through all of this – I swear I’ll make it up to you with one full length saga of all the little details I missed. Until then, I’m going for ‘get the information out before I’m murdered.’

After a very paranoid, sleepless night, I packed a few bags and had a wonderfully boring trip to the Library. It took an insanely long time to explain everything to Cat, but her only reaction was, “might as well work you full-time then.”

She wouldn’t answer any questions about her own abilities, but her leg was snapped in half, yet she was good as new in less than two weeks; there’s definitely a story in there. As for me, I spent the majority of that day being used like a lab rat while she poked and poisoned me. I drank foul liquids, had my blood drawn, and performed dozens of odd tasks. That Librarian has a brutal poker face; I could never tell if the results were good or bad, and she never gave any indication before moving on to the next.

I’m not sure what I expected… maybe a list of powers I would develop and how to use them, but that was naive even for me. What I actually learned was surprising nevertheless. Growing up, I was taught demons are entities born from vast quantities of pain, rage, and hatred; that’s it – end of story, but apparently there are higher level Daemons that have always existed. My father happens to be one of those.

They aren’t well known in our world; they normally operate on a much larger scale than possessions or “hauntings” for lack of a better word. If these guys are involved, it’s because something huge is in the works – like the Holocaust. They don’t waste their time planning or creating tragedies, (humans can manage that part just fine) but they’re drawn to it and can influence those involved – sometimes worsening and prolonging the situation.

It’s extremely rare for them to reproduce, and when they do, it’s always with a human. There are less than ten of us known throughout history, but most are killed before maturing because our blood is… let’s just say it’s valuable; not by itself, though… so don’t get any ideas. The point is – that’s the reason we’re hidden here. The parent doesn’t traditionally reveal their identity until they’re forced; my situation was particularly unique, but normally it happens because humans eventually notice when someone stops aging.

When the Age of Maturity is reached, we’re expected to “come home”. At that time, there is a complex ritual to “shed our human half”. I’m not going to lie – I was excited about everything until that point. I don’t care if Demons have a bad reputation; I’m not evil – I don’t want anyone to suffer – I just want superpowers! I’m so afraid of Karma, I was thinking about doing a weekend vigilante type thing, but there’s no way I’m going to that place. Unfortunately, there are no records of anyone finding a way around it… except for the ones that died, obviously.

The bright side is that I should have years to figure it out; I shouldn’t stop aging until my thirties. In the meantime, there are more immediate problems at hand. I still need to save Mom’s soul above all else, and I’ve put off Mirward for too long. The next trip won’t be about visiting the Boss; it’s more like a scavenger hunt. The plan is to visit their Library; Cat and I are interested to see if there are differences in the actual books. There’s a locked section I’m not allowed into where the most powerful Light Magic books are located. There’s a chance Mirward’s section might contain new information regarding the Darkest Magic… or it could be a rat’s nest of shredded paper in a condemned building – there’s no way to know without looking.

Alright guys, I’m out of time. Hopefully, I’ll be making the trip Mirward this weekend; I’ll do my best to get an update to you faster, but no promises. Since I still can’t leave the Library, Cat is going to be my guard. There’s a special room in the basement for dangerous rituals, so theoretically, I shouldn’t have to go outside after the Lobby. The hope is to go directly from the basement to the restricted area and back – before anything “wakes up”.

That should do it for this one; at least we got through the basics. Oh, and in case you weren’t aware – that Danie Dreadful chick narrated my second and third updates as well. They sound really cool; if you wanna check them out, the links have been added to their respective posts, and I suppose that means she’ll read this one, too. Huh… so… that kinda means I have the power to make her say anything, doesn’t it? Damn… I wish I would’ve realized sooner. I’ll try to remember for next time, until then, be safe out there; sometimes they really are out to get you!

Horror Fiction

Easter Memoria

This story is dedicated to Coach Freeman; she was one of those special teachers who touched the life of every student she taught, and the best damn coach anyone could ask for. Rest In Peace, we love you always. 


The CreepyPasta


My amazingly talented friend, Danie Dreadful, did another phenomenal job narrating this one. If you haven’t subscribed to her yet, make sure you do; there’s going to be a lot more where this came from! Here’s the YouTube link.
Mr. Easter

Easter is always the first Sunday following the full moon after the spring equinox. Sounds a little weird, doesn’t it? This holiday’s origin varies depending on your chosen religion, but that’s not important for what I’m here to talk about. Instead, I’m going to tell you something that used to be common knowledge, but was scrubbed from history due to global mass murders and suicide.

Long ago, Easter was celebrated on the full moon; it’s the only day Easter Memoria can be performed. Yes, memoria – as in Latin for memory; it allows you to remember everything – including past lives – until sunrise. When the night ends, so does the spell; you might remember flashes or a name, but most is forgotten. The concept sounds great at first, but it’s extremely dangerous. It’s not like watching a movie; these memories are as real as what you did yesterday.

When we die, our souls either hang around as a ghost or pass on. Explaining every aspect of both possibilities would fill a book, so we’re going to ignore the complexities of ghost life completely. Passing on also has quite a list of subcategories, but our focus is on when a soul enters a new vessel.

There’s a lot of fear and misconception about being reincarnated as something terrible, but don’t worry; people are people, just like dogs are dogs, and no, that doesn’t mean Hitler is back. The truly evil souls never make it past the Bad Place, but drunk drivers and rage killers… Eventually, they’ll return; it’s an important distinction.

Deep inside – at the core of our souls – lies the essence of who we are, but when our slates are wiped clean through the process of death and rebirth, we’re forced to start fresh with a new family, body, and brain – sometimes gender or race. Every aspect influences who you ultimately become; it’s entirely possible for a serial killer to have been a surgeon in the past or vice-versa.

Another common belief is that our souls stay around the people or places we share a connection with; that one is absolutely true and played a big part in why the ritual was banned. When it comes to our loved ones, we can see beyond their physical appearances and recognize them for who they were in our past. It made for many heartwarming reunions, but it ruined even more lives. Eighty percent of married participants were having affairs; parents who lost a child would kidnap them when they were reborn, and good people were murdered for past mistakes. That’s only a few of the problems, but they were enough to start our Easter Sunday tradition. Of course, that was only the beginning; it took centuries and countless of executions to get where we are today.

Now, let’s switch gears and think about what it’s actually like to remember all those past lives. Aside from inducing a terrible headache, most people agreed the good memories weren’t worth the trauma endured afterwards. The mind still suffered extreme emotional damage, and nothing can change that. For example, if someone were shot in a previous life, they might suffer crippling panic attacks around guns even if they aren’t consciously aware of the reason.

With the points made so far, you might wonder why people would still do it or how they made use of the knowledge. That part is simple; if you have a private place and way to take notes – you’re all set. Thousands of years ago, there was a decent chance one might remember burying a fortune or any number of useful secrets. With today’s ability to record and travel – the possibilities are limitless. You can probably see where this is going… I did it last year. Thanks to the cameras, I learned more than I bargained for, but I’d like to take you through a summary of what I learned; it will help me organize my thoughts while deciding my next steps.


The Ritual Room

Some people might be curious about how it was done so I’ll start with that, but it’s nothing complicated. First on the list was finding a quiet, indoor location without mirrors. I used our family’s cabin in the woods and drove out three days in advance.

The room can only be illuminated with yellow candles; no other light source is allowed. The number doesn’t matter, but I didn’t relish the thought of sitting in the dark. There was enough to worry about without adding a possible house-fire, so while I did fill the basement with tiny flames – it was done in the safest possible way. Anything with a screen – such as phones or laptops – will effectively taint the ritual, so I used security cameras and put tape over the red lights.

Next, I placed several bowls of rosemary around the room and scattered the rest of my supply onto the floor; traditionally it’s used for multiple reasons, but here it’s to open the mind to lost memories.

Then it was time to fill the room with sentimental possessions. Our basic tastes don’t change much regardless of lifestyle; this can include anything from the foods we eat to the entertainment we prefer. Have you ever seen an old movie or book and felt a connection; almost like you were meant to know it? That’s the sheer bliss of rediscovering a previous love. This step relies mostly on instinct, but it’s easier after the first year since you’ll know what to bring for future rituals. A few examples of my items include a copy of Homer’s Odyssey, pictures of loved ones, and a poster of Van Gough’s Starry Night.

The final step is a doozy; Peyote (pay-oh-tee) is a cactus with a fascinating history, but due to possible mind-altering side-effects, I’m not comfortable detailing step-by-step instructions for this part. If you want to know more, it’s very easy to Google.

Once a comfortable nest was built in the center of my most treasured possessions, there was nothing more to do except have a good night’s rest. The following morning, I ate well, took it easy, and began lighting candles around 4:30; an hour later the full moon was already showing itself. After consuming the recommended Peyote dosage for my size, the meditations began, and it was off to the races.


Prime Memoria

It’s extremely important for the mind to be relaxed; any stress or anxiety will delay the process from starting, but once it does start there’s no stopping it. It’s difficult to describe what it was like, so bear with me. It’s not like opening a floodgate; it happens gradually – starting with the most recent life, then the one before and so on until sun-up. No one has ever been known to reach the end – er… beginning – but that’s probably for the best. The headaches are barely tolerable after a single night; any longer could be deadly. Plus, where exactly would it end? Were we all dinosaurs at one point? I honestly don’t want to know.

Anyway, in the beginning there was only a slight pressure in my skull and it was easy to call out what I saw as memories of being a little girl in the 50’s surfaced. A sense of dread formed while realizing there was hardly thirty years between that date and my birthday, but then I was distracted by moving into a new home at age six. The concern for dying young was nothing compared to the absolute horror that washed over me at remembering that house. The following is everything I know about my tragically short life as a girl named Bethany.

From the moment I saw my pink and white nightmare of a bedroom, something about it made me queasy. It and my parents’ rooms were on the opposite sides of the home, and they never heard me cry. For the first few weeks, I had terrible dreams but couldn’t remember them after waking. My bed was placed in a corner, and the only way I could fall asleep was by pressing my back against the wall. That way, I could make sure the closet stayed shut, no spindly fingers crept from beneath my bed, and no shadows stood outside the window. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked until the nightmares suddenly evolved.

One night – as I was finally drifting off – fingers began lightly caressing my back in the same way Mom sometimes would. In my half-dreamy state, it took a moment to register how wrong the situation was. There was no room for anyone to be between the bed and wall; plus, the fingernails were too pointy. They would break skin at the slightest encouragement, and I knew that’s exactly what they would do if I moved or spoke.

I could only lay there frozen in horror as the nails slowly dragged across my skin, and I shivered beneath them. Hours passed, and my tiny bladder emptied, but I still couldn’t move; it was like being a helpless spectator in my own body. Finally, when the first rays of sunlight beamed through the curtains – a single finger ran through my hair and whispered, “we meet again” before departing.

My initial instinct was to run away, but I imagined a hand reaching from beneath the bed just as my feet touched the floor; it would grab my ankle and pull me under – that was a fact. Dad found me in urine soaked sheets a few hours later and got me cleaned up, but he didn’t believe my story. Later that night, I begged to sleep somewhere else, but the best I got was Mom’s offer to sit with me as I fell asleep. Nothing happened while she was there, and I quickly passed out from pure exhaustion.

It was several hours later when I woke to sharp fingernails trailing down my back, and once again I was completely paralyzed. Hot tears spilled over my cheeks and onto the pillow, but I couldn’t wipe them away. We stayed like that all night until those slim rays of sunshine finally banished the monster. I felt its cold breath in my ear when it teased, “see you tonight,” and – as if a switch were flipped – the tears began in earnest. My body convulsed under the forceful sobs, and I struggled for every breath.

I was still crying when Mom came in hours later; once again, I told my story, and although they didn’t believe it – they were convinced I did. That night, I slept on the couch, and nothing happened; it became my routine for several weeks until Dad decided enough was enough. The back scratching resumed that very night, and this time it was accompanied by the stench of spoiled meat. When the glorious dawn finally came, the fingernails dug into my skin like hooks, and a gruff, menacing voice spat, “you can’t avoid me” before disappearing.

I cried harder than ever before, and later found five red punctures in my skin. The experience bred a healthy resentment towards my parents; I understood only that someone was hurting me, and they didn’t make it stop.

Here, I quit talking to the cameras and simply lived in the moment – forgetting my present life and purpose. I had prepared for assaults and murders – not ghost and demons; I wanted to get off the ride but it was stuck upside down, and there was no surviving the fall. In real life, I was hugging my knees, rocking and whimpering; there was no talking until I – Bethany – was eighteen and getting the fuck out of that house.

For a time, I managed to escape my nightly tormentor by moving. It took three months for the bitch to find me, and I got five deep cuts trailing between my shoulder blades as a greeting; they were next to the five triangular scars from my first transgression. There was a strip of unmarked skin on the right that would look even worse next time…

It was obvious she wasn’t attached to the house – only to me – and life was hard in general. After years of slowly losing my mind, college wasn’t really an option. A woman’s best-case-scenario was to marry a good husband and hope for sons. As if things weren’t bad enough, I had zero interest in men; being a lesbian in the (now) 70’s wasn’t a viable option – especially not in the south. For the first few years, I lived in an apartment, but each time a roommate moved out, the witch grew bolder during our alone-time.

A few months before turning 25, I hopped on one of those hippy buses traveling across the country; it didn’t matter where I was as long as people were nearby, and I wasn’t sober. Most of the time, we didn’t even know what state we were in, and we only paid for three things – drugs, gas, and sometimes food. When we were sick of being on the road we camped in the woods until supplies ran low. People were always coming and going, but there were a few like myself who stuck around. It wasn’t a bad way to live except for the fear of being found… and the overwhelming need to know “why me?”

After two years on the road, I hardly thought of the witch anymore – drugs worked miracles in that regard. Staying in one location longer than two weeks made me nervous, but those times were exceedingly rare. The day she found me, my guard was completely down. I never gave a second thought to the states we would cross on the way to Florida, but somewhere in the middle of Georgia – probably near my hometown – I fell asleep.

It started as a dream; I was very young, and lying next to Mom as she gently rubbed my back. Soon, my eyes began to droop, and she hummed a soft melody while her fingernails grazed my skin under her firm caress. I was drifting away completely when the hand stopped, and my world exploded. Time slowed as claws tore through my back and into my ribcage. Somehow, the witch’s voice found a path through the fog of agony and into my ear; “found you!” She cooed as her claws ripped downward, and blood filled my throat; her cold, putrid breath was the same as before.

Suddenly, my eyes opened wide with shock, and my senses were flooded with chaos; my head throbbed from the screams of those around me and approaching sirens. The brief instant my vision cleared, I saw the twisted remains of our bus and had just enough time to wonder… Did the witch cause the crash or merely take advantage of it? Knowing what I do now, I’m sure it was the former, but we’ll get to that.

In the real world, every camera stopped recording simultaneously when I tried to describe the witch; I think I saw her true form in that final moment, but I can’t be sure now. That’s when I carved “never again” into my arm; when the cameras come back on, there’s a bandage tied around the wound, and I’m still shaking from the memory of dying as Bethany. I would have sold my soul to quit before the next one started, but I barely had time to catch my breath.

Fun fact: When people actually do sell their souls, it’s not to Satan like in the movies – hell it’s not even to the same entity. It’s usually a demon, but as far as the owner is concerned… Well, let’s just say reincarnation is off the table. Trust me folks, never sell your soul.


The Carter House

Now, it was the early 20’s, and all I could do was brace for impact. The only consolation was how little my brain can hold at once; the slight pressure evolved into a full blown headache as new information poured in, and the old was pushed out. Unfortunately, the bad memories stick hardest, and even when they’re gone, they leave behind a nasty residue. What little I said over the following hour was mostly gibberish; when I finally calmed enough to speak coherently, I was being drafted into World War II, and soon, the screams began anew.

Something haunted me in that life, too; something worse than the war. I survived two years in battle before going home with a Purple Heart, yet the worst of my reactions happened long after being discharged. Based on the few understandable things said, my death wasn’t natural or any longer than Bethany’s. Thankfully, whatever happened was enough to scare me straight; I suddenly became very serious and managed to compose myself before the next round.

The time between death and rebirth varies from years to decades pending each person’s situation; it’s impossible to know when someone will be reincarnated. That being said, a definite pattern was beginning to emerge as I was plunged into the late 1880’s – the same timeframe as the two before. It’s even more concerning when you take my current age of 28 into consideration.

My childhood as Charles began well enough; my parents were farmers, we lived in a grand antebellum home, and I was the youngest of five. My siblings weren’t cruel, but they were several years older and held no interest in me. Much of my time was spent at the creek behind our house; it was only a ten minute walk through the forest, and I enjoyed skipping rocks across its surface.

At age 8, I was trying to build a dam when another boy leapt from the woods on the opposite bank. I was so excited to meet someone my own age, I answered all of his questions and asked a slew of my own. His name was Daniel, and he lived on the other side of the forest. We played together until dusk and agreed to meet again the next day. For the next two weeks, I woke early, hurried through my chores, and rushed to the creek.

Then came the Fourth of July; every year, the town threw a huge celebration. Such events were taken very seriously in the days when there was literally nothing else to do. The idea someone might wish to stay home was practically unthinkable, yet that’s what Danny claimed – stating his family didn’t like the loud noises or crowds. I was disappointed, but my parents were suspicious; being antisocial wasn’t just frowned upon, it was downright sinister. They already thought it was odd someone moved into the old Carter house – the only home on that side of the creek, apparently – without their knowing, but shrugged it off as a consequence of a secluded farm life.

When the celebration began, I joined the other kids, and we played while the adults gossiped. It was surprising to learn not one other child knew Danny, but I still wasn’t concerned until the next day, back at the creek. We were only there for a few minutes when my two brothers appeared; judging by their facial expressions, they were there for something I would find extremely unpleasant. Sure enough, Eric (the oldest) said they were tasked with inviting Daniel and his parents to supper.

My brothers were almost triple our size, and not easy to handle when provoked. I countered each smartass remark Danny threw with groveling apologies and promises to invite his parents myself; when they ignored Daniel’s remarks – a temporary relief washed through me. If nothing else, I wouldn’t be forced to watch them kill my only friend, but they still continued across the creek. Danny ran ahead, disappearing into the dense forest, leaving me to awkwardly follow my siblings.

We walked for almost 45 minutes before finally coming to the old Carter House. It needed a fresh paint job, but structurally, it wasn’t that bad. There was no sign of my friend, and I stood far back as Eric knocked on the front door. When no one answered, he walked around back; a few minutes later the door opened, and John – who was still on the stoop – walked inside. My heart raced as I imagined the various ways they were sabotaging my only friendship. It’s hard to say how much time actually passed before Eric called for me from a second story window, but it felt like hours.

The moment I crossed the threshold, two things happened. First, I realized the house was empty; no one had lived there for years. Second, John grabbed my wrist and pulled me to the ground. Once pinned, Eric began the interrogation. “Why wouldn’t you admit he was imaginary before we came all the way up here?” They demanded.

I was naive enough to think we had the wrong house, but there were no others in the area. The only logical conclusion was that Daniel lied to me, but why? That’s when I realized my brothers didn’t ignore him at the creek; they genuinely hadn’t seen him. It was too much for me to comprehend, but I had plenty of time to think about it after Eric and John locked me in the basement. They said if I tried hard enough I would find a way out… I couldn’t believe they really abandoned me. When their laughter faded into the distance, the silence was absolute.

Every spooky tale my siblings ever told filled my mind, and then I heard it; the front door opened… Someone came inside, (thud) but it didn’t sound like my brothers. There were no taunts or jeering, and as the footsteps continued into the house, (thud) I could tell it was only one person; (thud) one person who was moving extremely slow, (thud) and had loud, heavy footsteps (thud). When they were directly above me, dust showered onto my face, (thud) and I struggled not to cough. Wiping the grit from my eyes, I moved beneath the staircase and positioned myself behind the few boxes there (thud). I sat, desperate to control my breathing as each thudding step reverberated through my body, (thud) and finally, they came to a stop at the basement door (thud).

As the doorknob turned, I clasped my hands over my mouth to stifle a scream, but my whimper was surely heard. The door creaked open on rusty hinges, and it lasted for so long I wanted to leap from my hiding place and finish it myself. Had I the presence of mind to remember what an orgasm was – I would have recognized the euphoric sensation I felt when the beautiful sound of brass meeting wall announced the end of that damned creaking!

Then the steps resumed, (thud) and slowly made their way down the stairs (thud). Shielding my eyes from the fresh shower of dirt, (thud) I waited anxiously for my tormentor to come into view (thud), but they stopped before reaching the bottom (thud). In the small gap between treads, a tall shadow could be seen looming on the wall, and for a moment, I thought it had eyes, but on the next glimpse, they were gone. Finally, when I thought the tension would suffocate me – a young, familiar voice spoke. “You never learn do you?” It was Danny.

Relief was my immediate reaction, though it was quickly pushed aside for embarrassment – which was actually just a precursor for fury. I decided whatever was said should be done face to face, but upon trying to stand, I noticed my pants were soaked in urine; the blood-boiling rage threatening to consume me suddenly vanished and – in the end – shame was the prevailing emotion.

When I didn’t respond, Daniel took a few more steps and stopped at the bottom of the staircase. Between the treads, all I could see now was the black outline of his body; it was too dark to make out any features, but from my position on the floor, he appeared much taller than he should. After a long, tense moment of silence, he spoke again, “Over and over, we play this game, but you’re just as clueless as ever.” It was almost a sigh.

Had I understood what he was trying to say, I might have answered, but nothing made sense – not his words, not the house, not why my brothers couldn’t see him – nothing! Whew, it’s getting harder to talk about this… what he said next… I thought I was going to die right there in that basement.

“How many times will you fall for the same trick? How often have I told you? I can look however I want!” As he spoke, his voice was changing – becoming the high, shrill voice of an old woman… or more specifically, an old witch. I didn’t recognize it at that moment, but yea, it was the same one who tormented Bethany. Of course, for now, it was enough that I watched my only friend’s shape grow taller and thinner before my eyes.

Despite my best efforts a loud groan escaped my throat, and the thing I once called Danny cackled the most sinister, maniacal laugh I’ve ever heard. Even now, a year later, echoes of that laugh haunt me; it only stopped when the loud bang of the front door surprised us both. At the sound of my brother’s taunts, I wept openly with relief, but the witch had one more thing to say before vanishing. “I’ll see you soon, Charlie boy!” It used Daniel’s voice, and left behind a horrid stench of rotten meat.

Seconds later, Eric burst through the door; apparently, it had never been locked. I could have left right behind them had I bothered to check. Mom sent him to fetch me when they returned alone; in exchange for not telling her they left me behind, he agreed to help me hide the shame of my wet trousers.

My entire world changed that day; there was no more Danny at the creek, only the witch in my dreams… except sometimes they weren’t dreams. For seven years, I periodically woke to light scratches on my back, but those were the least damaging encounters. Sometimes, I woke to pebbles being thrown at my window; if I looked outside, Daniel would be there, pale and black-eyed. Sometimes, he morphed into a monster that I can only describe as an evil Chewbacca.

At eighteen, I joined the military; it was a hard, miserable life, but it was preferable to being tortured in my own home. As an adult, it was easy to convince myself the witch’s cryptic remarks were meaningless – just another psychological warfare tactic – but sometimes, late at night, a voice in the back of my mind made me wonder if there wasn’t more to it; I should have listened.

I did well in my chosen career, and life improved slightly when I was no longer at the bottom of the pecking order. The first time I returned home was over a decade later, after my thirtieth birthday; my success in the military made me mistake foolishness for bravery. One of the first things I did upon returning was mock the witch; sitting on my old bed, I said all the things I was too afraid to say as a child. Nothing happened; it was almost disappointing until I realized how silly it sounded to have expected anything else.

I thought no more of her as I enjoyed reuniting with family; Eric and John kept me awake with talk and liquor late into the night. When I finally stumbled upstairs, my head was swimming with their finest homemade reserves, and I was unconscious before my boots were off. The next thing I knew, there was a burning, itching sensation spreading down my spine; it felt like ants were in the bed.

Still half delirious, I reached back to scratch, but something grabbed my wrist in a cold grip of steel. It didn’t feel like flesh and bone at all; my mind struggled to shake the sleep away, and upon remembering my location, I understood what was happening. Thinking that monster would show itself when challenged was simply moronic; of course it would wait until I was most vulnerable.

“Did you miss me?” It used Daniel’s voice – pulling my arm down painfully as it leaned forward to whisper in my ear. If its cold, putrid breath weren’t bad enough, an oddly dry, pasty tongue licked around my earlobe before plunging all the way inside. Just when I thought my arm would break from the pressure, I was flipped over onto my back and face to face with the ugliest creature I’ve ever seen. It was humanoid but with dark green skin that was covered in sores and boils; though it appeared frail in size, it had me pinned as effectively as if I were strapped to the mattress.

“Do you remember me yet?” It smiled wide, and its black tongue slowly ran across two rows of sharp, yellow teeth as drool dripped onto my chest. Every drop burned into my skin like acid; I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out.

“You better hurry; we’re almost out of time and then you’ll have to start all over again in the next life!” It threw its head back and laughed that insane, maniacal laugh. I didn’t have to wonder about the last remark for too long; I saw thick clouds of smoke floating by the window in the same instant I smelled it. Our house was on fire, and my whole family was asleep on the upper floors. I poured my entire being into trying to scream; I didn’t care about myself – I only needed to wake the others, but it was no use.

Thankfully I can’t physically remember the details of burning alive in that moment, but I’ll never enjoy a bonfire again. Last time I went near one, I collapsed the moment I smelled the smoke. There’s actually a lot of things I can’t enjoy anymore, but for now let’s get this last part over with. Recounting these experiences has been less therapeutic than hoped, but they’re helping me organize my thoughts so I’m trying to see this through.


Easter Egg

The splitting-pain in my head was now a full-blown migraine; trying to sit-up was impossible, my skull was filled with cement, and I genuinely wondered if I would die. I know at least two more lives played out while I was half comatose, but the details are lost. They were no doubt strikingly similar to the others; the important thing is that I was able to save what is likely the most vital piece of information from my entire existence.

When I finally had enough control to talk to the camera again, I wasn’t sure of the date, but it was still the 19th century. This time I was a woman named Penelope, and yet again my romantic preference skewed towards women; it was dangerous in the 70’s, but downright deadly in that era. Though I was never brave enough to pursue my true interest, I couldn’t force myself to be with a man, either. Unfortunately, being single wasn’t much safer – it was practically scandalous by age twenty.

I made it to 25 before my father arranged a marriage, and I ran away three weeks before the ceremony. There was no chance of escape in my hometown; it was small, and everyone knew me. My chance came when we journeyed to the city. On the first day, I feigned weariness from travel and stayed at the inn while my family enjoyed the shops. When they had enough time to be well away, I walked out with nothing but a bag of meager supplies; no one even noticed. My only regret was never learning my family’s reaction. Did they think I was taken? Did they suspect the truth? I have no idea.

Getting through the streets was easier than my best expectation once I pinned my hair and put on a hooded cloak. When the city sounds were nothing but fading noise, I felt happiness for the first time in decades. Kicking off my shoes, I ran and jumped like an elated child; it was pure ecstasy. I intended to go as far as my legs would take me; there was enough food in my bag to last a week if I was careful. Beyond that I didn’t have a clue.

When the sun began to set, I searched for a place to spend the night. Wandering along a high cliff-face, I stumbled onto a small recess, barely big enough to crawl through. I thought it was a crevice, but was shocked to find it opened into a large cavern! The sparse light remaining was dedicated to starting a cozy fire in my new home; it was easy once I’d gathered the wood and lit a few torches. With the cave illuminated, I could see another opening in the back wall; it was a tunnel – almost four feet wide, and high enough to stand.

I walked for roughly a mile and was almost ready to turn back when the passage suddenly veered left. I was only planning to look around the curve, but it was impossible to stop once I saw what lay ahead; the tunnel continued for another 30-40 yards before opening into a second cavern. It was too dark to see well, but something in there was emitting a soft, purple glow; I had to know what.

This, my friends, is a tragically perfect example of ‘curiosity killed the cat’; deeper and deeper I traipsed into the lion’s den – because why not? I was very familiar with monsters; they’re people – humans, like you and me. They live in my home and in yours; they live next door and in the streets, but there were no people in my heavenly cave!… Now, let me tell you what was

With the torchlight I could see the walls were covered in some kind of fleshy, pink membrane, and the strange light was coming from dozens of colored eggs. They stood on intricately designed pedestals and cast their strange glow on the boulders surrounding their nest. I thought it was the most marvelous sight in the world; how they came to be never crossed my mind. I leaned in closely with the torch – only wanting to see them better – but the very second the light fell on them… They erupted into flames.

Once the first ones were burning, the rest soon followed, and the entire cavern became bright as day. In the same instant, the things I mistook for boulders formed grotesque faces with bulbous black eyes and curved needle-teeth. Now that I could see clearly, I noticed thousands of thin tendrils all over the cave-floor, connecting the creatures and eggs. Their deep, guttural moans made my bones shake; the only thing I wanted to do was crawl out of that cave and get married in three weeks. Covering my ears, I hastily backed away from the hungry flames, but I collided with something.

Cold, hard arms lifted me high into the air, and no amount of kicking or pleading was going to save me. During the walk, my captor showed me things; it wanted me to understand what was done, and what price I would pay. I was helpless as visions of our planet’s darkest secrets raced through my mind.

Long before the first white man came to America, the entity was worshiped as a god. When other nations tried to settle their land, his followers rapidly dwindled until none remained. Though the creature killed many of these invaders – they refused to submit; instead they chose to flee or return with an angry mob. Over the centuries, circumstances only worsened until those caves – and eggs – were are all that remained.

The eggs weren’t conceived in the traditional sense, but born of tormented souls. When enough malice and hatred are collected into one being – it’s morphed into a horrible abomination. Those eggs were like little incubators; they grew until the transformation was complete, then a new nightmare was unleashed into our unsuspecting world. Monsters that, today, people call Cryptids – but it takes centuries for those eggs to hatch, and I had just destroyed 42 in seconds.

I’m being primed for one of those eggs; my soul is marked. Each time it finds me, it thinks of new, creative games, and – each time it kills me – it takes a piece of my soul for the incubator. I don’t know why it hasn’t come for me yet, but I’ve never known about Easter Memoria before meeting him like I have this time… or… wait… maybe that’s what it wants me to think; maybe it’s already in my life! What if my being raised around people with this knowledge was part of its master plan?

I need to get the fuck out Georgia, now. If I can find a safe place to do the ritual just one more time… I think there’s a reason those cameras cut out when Bethany died; it has to mean something. This revelation might just give me a fighting chance; if I’m able to update this one day – I will.

Thank you all so much for listening… Wish me luck.

Horror Fiction

The Original Fools



My wonderful friend, Nightmare’s Edge has narrated this with a few extra dark additions you won’t find the written posts - I like to call it the Nightmare Cut! Here’s the link to it on YouTube, don’t forget to subscribe!



The CreepyPasta




⚠️TRIGGER WARNING⚠️
This story involves strong implications of sexual assault.
Fool Origins

Did you know April Fools dates back to the 1500’s? Its origins revolve around France switching to the Gregorian calendar. People who were slow to learn of the change still celebrated New Years according to the Julian calendar – meaning April 1st – which resulted in their mockery. In the 1800’s, it spread through Britain, and before you know it, here we are.

Those statements are true, but the French switching calendars has nothing to do with our April Fool’s day. It just sounds better than the truth – especially for a fun-filled holiday enjoyed by millions. Historians will never say different; look what happened to the guy who ruined Pluto. That being said, I think the CreepyPasta community would appreciate knowing what actually happened.

Approximately 10-20 years before France changed calendars, a small mountain village was suffering an especially cold, brutal winter. The only road leading in or out was impassable during the snowy months, and the closest city was several day’s journey. If they didn’t find a new food source, they would all starve before the ice melted. A meeting was called, and no suggestion was too outlandish, yet they adjourned with little hope.

The first to exit stopped suddenly, noticing a stringless marionette on the stoop. It wore a black, hooded robe; the face bore a cruel expression, and a tightly wound scroll in its lap. Upon closer inspection, they saw the note was tied with hair, and the writing was a deep crimson. The message itself:

I am the Chaos in Darkness and Commander of the Dead. On the First of every April, you will bring a boy aged between six and eight to the North Peak cave. The child will enter alone. Harvests will be bountiful, and winters comfortable. A wagon of wheat and corn waits in the stables. Payment must not be late. Failure to comply will incite my Wrath.

Obviously, no one believed it until they saw the food, and even then, most remained skeptical. “But how would anyone bring a wagon up the pass?” Believers argued.

“It was already here!” Skeptics shouted. Regardless, their hunger left little choice.

“There’s not one of us who isn’t half starved, no one could conceal this much for so long!” Believers insisted.

“Does it matter? That cave is a maze of dark tunnels and dangerous drops! What child do you propose we sacrifice?” Skeptics exclaimed. Despite a few noticeable hesitations, all agreed it simply could not be done, and life moved on.


The snow melted, spring came, crops were planted, and fish were caught. April 1st passed with little notice; a few doomsayers were anxious, but – as a whole – most had forgotten about the strange letter until the morning of the 2nd. A quarter of every farmer’s crops were destroyed, torn from the ground and trampled by something which left enormous, clawed footprints.

The villagers argued until the sun set and rose again, but were no closer to agreement. Farmers guarded their fields through the night, and on the morning of the 3rd, not one more crop was lost. Instead, half the river’s fish were dead, floating downstream, and the winds carried their rotten stench through the town square; still, no concessions were made.

The believers wouldn’t have a majority vote until fifteen of their new cattle were found slaughtered on the morning of the 4th. An angry mob hiked the treacherous path to the North Peak Cave; twenty feet beyond the entrance was a narrow tunnel, forcing them to advance single-file. At a cautious pace, they proceeded another thirty feet before reaching a sharp turn. Suddenly, the lead-man fell back, violently pushing past his fellows; as others saw around the corner, they too, screamed for retreat.

Once the regretful heroes returned, they described a humanoid, skeletal figure with the head of a horse and a sickle for an arm. An eerie orange glow illuminated the creature and the monstrous stone face it stood beneath. The carving’s mouth was ajar and producing the same strange light, but none dared cross the great chasm to investigate.

That’s when they suggested an orphan, and even the skeptics held their tongues. Thanks to the previous famine, many children were left homeless. Soon, a seven-year-old was discovered begging at a bakery; one man earned his trust by claiming to be an uncle, and the desperate boy gladly followed his new guardian. At the cave entrance, the little one was sent inside to wait while his “new uncle and friends gathered wood.”

As the men fled, a loud, gut-wrenching scream shook their resolve, but not enough to save the boy. His wails turned to muffled sobs and faded into the distance as the frightened villagers ran. Upon their return, no questions were asked, and no answers were offered; again, life moved on.


Each person doubled their efforts to conserve. Jars of preserves filled cellars, new crops were planted, and no more disasters befell the secluded mountain village. Men who traveled to the city for summer work returned with half their wages in grain, and in fall, special care was taken with the harvest.

Despite having more food than ever before, many were still traumatized by the previous winter. Those with the means to do so left town before the first snowfall, but most had nowhere to go. Each morning they feared disaster would strike, yet each night they slept in warm beds with full bellies.

“It must be the Demon’s promise!” They rejoiced; yet, as weeks turned to months, their happiness began to fade. Dreading another April sacrifice, many felt disappointed by the fair weather and prayed for misfortune – for any excuse to refuse the creature’s demands – but by February’s end, it was clear their prayers would go unanswered.

Every parent held their children a little closer at night. The torturous “what if’s” were endless; no mother could sleep – no father could rest – until the next child was chosen. They needed to see him, to know he was real and the burden would not fall on their own; if no boy met the age requirement, who would take his place? Someone would – of that there was no doubt; none were foolish enough to believe differently.

On March 3rd, the search began; every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother and sister were looking for a boy between 6-8 to ensure their own family never saw the inside of North Peak cave. By the fifth day, tensions were running high. Children were hidden away, changing their appearance, and lying about age. Word had spread to every villager’s ear – even the homeless knew to flee, but the children had no way off the mountain.

It was March 10th when a suitable boy was found in the woods. He understood why they took him and tried to escape many times over the following weeks. Even so, tempers cooled with the relief, and lives mostly returned to normal until the morning of April 1st.

The sacrifice was thrown into the cave upon refusing to enter. His cry grew sharper with the soft thud of impact, and the guards listened closely at the entrance. Scuffling steps were heard, followed by a sharp gasp and shrill cry. At that sound, they knew it was safe to leave.

Filled with the knowledge their crops would flourish, farmers expanded their fields, and ranchers increased their livestock. A bustling summer led to an astonishingly successful harvest, and all openly praised the Dark Savior. Winter was now a time for rest and relaxation, not fighting for survival. When the roads filled with snow, life moved happily along.


Spoiled by their new way of life, the search for the next boy began immediately; no one wished to revisit the previous year’s panic. When January came and still no child was had, talks of searching the city began. Many were uneasy about involving the outside world; if authorities intervened, what might the captured man – or men – say? One doesn’t need to believe in demons to believe others believe. No matter how favorable the chances – comfortable winters were too valuable to risk.

On February 1st, a manhunt was organized to search the mountainside; villagers checked behind every tree and under every rock, but no child was compatible. After weeks of heated argument, the inevitable was finally accepted. A child from the lowest class would give their life for a greater cause; the few who spoke out were easily silenced and the law no longer applied to enemies of the Dark Savior.

In total, six children were thrown into North Peak cave. The seventh was meant to be a young boy named Vincent. His parents died that January, and his last relative was an ailing grandfather. Though the elderly man was small and frail, his mind remained sharp; his grandson turned six only the month before, and those were the days when each child’s birth was carefully documented. Their circumstance was dire, and they had neither the strength or resources to flee.

The grandfather made a desperate attempt to save the last of his family line. On April 1st, a small figure presented himself at the mountain’s base, and the Honor Guards escorted him to the top. It was no longer a treacherous climb but a proper trail – cleared and raked for easier travel. So long as the sacrifice walked willingly, there was no reason to crowd or hassle the doomed soul.

The seventh year was perhaps the easiest trek of all; the small procession journeyed at a slow but steady pace, and not once did the sacrifice attempt to run – which could almost be considered tradition. The guards could hardly believe when he entered the cave without so much as a look back. Their shock was likely the reason they lingered slightly longer than usual; they’d only begun to turn away when a furious shout echoed inside. “How dare you! I know your face, Felix Felonious!”

Hearing the wildly unpopular man’s name, those outside began to creep further. Next was the old man’s cry for help, and the men recognized it immediately; understanding what geezer attempted, they rushed forward, hoping rectify their mistake. Truly no fate could be worse than ending the generous agreement.

Except, when the Honor Guards entered, the only thing they saw was the village idiot bashing in the old man’s brains – no demon. Two men cautiously crossed the chasm – a risk they were happy to take under the circumstance. What few questions remained were answered with a grotesque figure crafted from human and animal remains; string and adhesive held it together, but barely. Though it was falling apart with age, the witness descriptions were a perfect match.

The guards holding Felix at the entrance had no trouble detaining him; the challenge was keeping him alive as they processed the true depths of his actions, and – as a result – their own. The village was in an uproar when they returned – even the women and children screamed for blood. The boy’s grandfather was dead, but his sacrifice was not in vain.

No more children were lost; although natural disasters and hard winters would come, the people were better prepared. They would never see a year quite so dire as the one permanently etched into their memories. They tried to hide the horrible secret, but – as it always does – word slowly spread to the city and beyond. The yearly tradition of embarrassing one another with elaborate pranks spread far and wide as each country adopted the fun-filled holiday.


The poor villager’s only solace for years of manipulation, was the horrible torture Felix endured after a full confession. It wasn’t hard to fool him; his worst fear had come to fruition, and he was desperate to see a way out. They could not change what was done, but they could damn sure learn from it.

Felix – more than anything – was a sick opportunist; a very lucky – yet disturbed – opportunist. His childhood was spent playing alone in the woods. By entering the forest from his backyard and mapping game trails, he eventually discovered a way down the mountain; it was purely by chance, and his own special secret. The path involved many narrow ledges and steep drops; he worried its use would be forbidden if his parents knew.

As Felix grew and became more adept at traversing the difficult terrain, he began climbing the mountain as well. At 16, he found a second way into the North Peak cave; it bypassed the dangerous dead-drop of the main entrance and allowed access to the spacious caverns beyond. Soon, he knew its tunnels as well as the forest.

When the village hovered on the brink of starvation, Felix almost revealed the way down, but if only a small amount of food were found – a deadly confrontation would ensue. The frozen trail was even more treacherous than normal; each step was tested before shifting his weight, and the caution paid off when he finally reached the bottom.

It was late, and the sun was setting. While preparing a fire, he noticed a figure approaching from the distance. It was two men with a wagon; when they were close enough to hail, Felix raised a hand in greeting and recognized his neighbor’s son. Luca began a city apprenticeship the previous summer, but was worried for his parents. Food donations were collected, and he swore to deliver every grain if he had to carry them up the mountain by hand; Luis, a fellow apprentice, offered to assist.

Felix happily shared village news while filling himself with corn but quickly realized his mistake. If he led Luca and Luis up the mountain, all would learn of his secret trail. He truly appreciated the young men, but not enough to spare their lives. After convincing them the wagon must be left behind, it was agreed three men could carry the sacks if they formed a chain up the steep slopes.

Not wanting the horses to suffer when their masters failed to return – Felix offered to tie them near the river, when in reality, he set them loose. Hiking up the mountain was far more difficult than coming down, but separating Luca from his friend proved little challenge.

Near the summit – light fading – they formed their final chain with Luis at the bottom. Luca was positioned at the top, and while his back was turned, Felix reached for the next sack; in the brief moment both held it, Felix pushed forward. Luis fell back with a panicked cry, and went silent when his head connected with the ground. Luca – unsuspecting of foul play – rushed to his friend’s side; as he knelt to help Luis, Felix snapped his neck from behind.

He worked well into the night – hauling each sack into his cellar one by one. When the food was safely stowed – Felix returned for the bodies. Once loaded onto a sled, they were hauled to the caverns. Too exhausted for the return hike home, he slept through the afternoon. Upon waking, he saw the bodies were preserved by the cold and filled his stomach. After packing enough for dinner, what remained was buried for later.

Upon finally returning home, three men stood at his door. They were talking amongst themselves, and one pointed to the stables; the others nodded and began walking in its direction. Quickening his pace, Felix called out a greeting. To his great relief, the gentlemen stopped, but when they turned – he recognized Luca’s father and uncle. The third was a farmer and friend of their family’s.

Baffled by their presence, Felix simply asked, “How did you know?”

Taking Felix’s unsocial reputation into consideration, the boy’s father thought he was referring to the town meeting; Francis – months away from learning of his son’s disappearance – replied “We happened to be in town when it was announced.”

There was an awkward silence as Felix carefully processed those words. If it was already announced to the village, killing his visitors wouldn’t help. His only hope was to dispute their claim, but first, he needed to know what that claim was. “Then why don’t you tell me?” He stated dryly.

Annoyed with his rude neighbor, Francis informed Felix he could attend tomorrow’s meeting at noon or stay home, and that most preferred the latter.

Finally understanding his mistake, Felix was flooded with noticeable relief. “I will most assuredly be in attendance; thank you gentlemen kindly for the visit!” He replied with a gleeful tip of the hat.

Mouths agape at the sudden change of character, Francis and company returned the gesture with slight nods before departing in silent confusion.

After tending to his own food stores, Felix loaded an old wagon with what remained. The idea to pretend it was a demon’s gift came in stages. He genuinely wanted to share it with the village – it would disrupt his daily life if they all starved – but he needed a way to do so without assuming any risk. Eventually, Francis would learn of Luca’s disappearance, and that it occurred while attempting to deliver a wagon of food.

Claiming it came from a demon simply amused him, but then he thought of the young boy in his stables’ loft. Had he returned only a few minutes later, he would be chained in a dungeon! Had the child been alive and called out upon hearing their voices, what then? How would he explain? He couldn’t… not those remarks from a child; not paired with those wounds. The thought alone was enough to turn Felix’s stomach.

It was the first time he had a boy in the village, but that year’s winter yielded so many orphans – he simply couldn’t resist. He’d been without company since a city-trip in June, and despite knowing he should at least use the cavern – his house was much closer. Normally, Felix couldn’t risk being with anyone for longer than a single night, but the comfort of his secluded home offered tempting scenarios. The warmth of another body in his own bed was a pleasure he’d never known and could not easily forget. To honor his lost companion, a shrine was built over his grave – deep in the caverns.

That’s when he realized the “demon” should be paid for its service, and cut an incision into his upper thigh. Using the blood as ink, he wrote a letter to the villagers explaining the terms; next, he exhumed a horse that was eaten the previous week, and – after making a few alterations to an old marionette – he was ready to prepare the cavern. With the horse’s skull, he began the hiked up the mountain yet again.

It only took a skeleton, sickle, string, adhesive, candles, and a few pieces of orange glass to create his demonic lair. He installed the animal’s head onto the human skeleton and placed his creation beneath the giant stone face he had slowly carved over the years. He never expected anyone else to see it, but the idea gave Felix immense satisfaction.

He delivered the food in the dead of night, and ensured he was last to arrive at the meeting. Placing the letter would carry the most risk, and he couldn’t fully relax until it was finished. There was still some concern the wagon would be discovered early, but when that didn’t happen, Felix began to feel invincible. He sat smiling quietly until the first battle between skeptic and believer began.

To maintain his normal character, he silently and indifferently listened from the back. When they finally located the food, Felix lined up with the rest, behaving as if his starvation hadn’t ended the night before; no one suspected a thing – at least – not from him. He was disappointed no one inspected the cave, but he left his creation up; knowing they’d check eventually, he performed regular maintenance as it continued to decompose. The look it created combined with the rotting stench only made it more convincing.

In his best estimations, Felix thought he might get one or two boys at most. He knew weather and harvests were beyond his control, but he felt his chances for the first were fair – if he could pull off a few destructive feats. Anticipating their reluctance to sacrifice a child, he chose April to allow extra time for preparation.

He was almost afraid to employ his smithing skills lest it cast suspicion, but the idea was too tempting to resist. Soon, a heavy pair of iron, monster-shaped shoes were strapped to his feet. They were tested only once before use – around the cave’s north entrance – but the rain washed them away overnight.

The hope was for their sight among the destroyed crops to prevent the need for further action. Felix understood his urges were wrong – he didn’t enjoy causing pain; he didn’t want to poison the river or slaughter those cattle, but they didn’t give him a choice. There were times in the past when fish were found floating; no one drank the water then, and he was confident they wouldn’t now.

The cattle were the easiest trick to manage, but the most difficult for his conscience. As a man who has known hunger, it was sacrilege to waste so much meat, but it was necessary to maintain every facet of the illusion. If prime cuts of beef were removed from even one carcass, suspicions would shift to the motives of man. Thankfully, it ended there, and he wasn’t forced to burn the silo.

When his fellows finally found the courage to suggest an orphan – as all knew they eventually must – Felix dared hope he could choose his favorite. It’s true there was no shortage since the famine, but only a handful were the right age. Three to be exact, and he preferred the red-head often found begging at the baker’s; his heart and stomach throbbed in unison as he led the others to him.

When little Edward went willingly with the men, Felix could hardly maintain the expected mournful disposition. He forced himself to walk home before beginning a hurried trek up the mountain, and arrived only seconds before the boy. There was no time for the black robe he acquired specially; instead, he approached quietly while the boy’s eyes were still adjusting to darkness.

In a state of disbelief, he placed a long, cold hand atop Edward’s shoulder, eliciting a shrill cry of terror from the boy and a warm shiver of anticipation from himself . Frightened the villagers would suffer a change-of-heart, Felix quickly clamped his hand over the boy’s mouth, and only muffled sobs could be heard.

It wasn’t his intention to frighten the boy; he genuinely hoped they would become friends. Pulling Edward into a hug, he whispered in his ear, “It is only me, Felix, the iron-worker; you remember me, don’t you? I bought you bread once.”

At that, the child eased his struggles, and turned to see the familiar face. Edward asked for his uncle, but upon learning the truth – hot, fresh tears flowed freely. Felix held him as the boy’s body convulsed with violent, and his own convulsed for entirely different reasons. He vowed to be all the child would ever need – a father, brother, friend… and more – so convincingly he even fooled himself.

He’d often fantasized about that first meeting, but when the moment came he lost all words and the truth – as Felix had come to see it, anyway – spilled from his mouth. “Single men are not allowed to adopt, but I fooled the villagers.” He proudly boasted to the now beaming child.

Infused with confidence, he held little Eddie close and carried him across the dangerous chasm with practiced ease. The boy giggled in delight at the fake Demon and excitedly agreed to never leave the caves. “Just for now.” Felix promised; “Besides, it’ll take you a few weeks to learn your way around the tunnels and to your cave.” He added nonchalantly, hands roaming freely.

He was patient at first; the boy’s mere presence was exciting, and – once past the admittedly poor introduction – their conversations were fulfilling in a way he never knew was missing. Felix was unshakable in his conviction; ‘Edward would never be like the poor boy from his stables’, he thought. ‘He could control himself now’, he decided and this child was likely his last chance for a special friend. Kidnapping was too risky, and when the upcoming winter was filled with hardship, there would be no more sacrifices.

The 16th century man could never fathom how basic psychology would aid in his plan, but it was the reason for his success. Due to the paranoia created during that first, deadly winter, and the appearance of a “demon”, villagers essentially created a self-fulfilling prophecy by taking extra care in everyday life.

Felix dared not hope for his luck to hold, but the more people came to believe in the Demon, the more he caught himself fantasizing a world of ‘what if’s’. For instance, what if they greeted new arrivals as a family? They would share the same story, and elicit a good scream for the growing legend; it would be the children’s parting gift to the cold world that shunned them so cruelly. Then, they could drink and be merry; the nights would be for play and the days for resting!

Felix could see it no other way. Thus every year, a new boy joined their merry band; even those ripped from parents arms decided to stay. Great fun was shared, and their love for one another was second only to their Father’s. That’s what Felix believed, and you can too, if you’d prefer a happy ending.

If you want the truth – the only thing those boys saw in that cave was a wild, naked man surrounded by the dead little children who came before – their bodies bruised and broken, but their faces carved into wide, eternal smiles; then life moved on.