H.P. Lovecraft, first published in the November 1919 edition of The Vagrant; translated into modern English, otherwise exactly the same.
Considering I will die tonight – I am writing this under significant distress. I am broke and at the end of my drug supply; it is the only thing that makes life bearable. I cannot stand this torture any longer; I will jump out of this attic window and into the dirty street below. Do not think I am weak or a degenerate just because of my addiction to morphine. When you have read these hastily scrawled words, you might begin to see why my only options are to forget or to die, but you will never be able to fully understand.
Our cargo ship was attacked by a German sea-raider on one of the most secluded parts of the Pacific. It was at the beginning of the Great War, and the Hun’s naval forces were still at full strength. Our ship was a noteworthy prize, and the crew were treated with fairness and consideration as war prisoners. Our captors soon grew too comfortable, and five days later, I managed to escape in a small boat with enough food and water to last a good a while.
When I was finally free, I had no idea where I was; I have never been a good navigator. Based on the sun and stars, I guessed that I was somewhat south of the equator, but I did not know the longitude, and there was no island or coast in sight. The weather was fair, and I drifted aimlessly under the scorching sun for countless days while waiting to see land or a ship, but neither appeared. I became depressed as I floated alone across the endless, blue sea.
The change happened while I slept, but I will never know how; though my sleep was filled with troubled dreams, it was uninterrupted. When I finally woke, it was to find myself half-sucked into a slimy swampland of hellish, black sludge that extended as far as I could see, and my boat was grounded in the distance.
Though one might expect my first reaction to be shock at the extremely surprising change of scenery, I was actually more terrified than anything; there was a sinister quality in the air and putrid soil that chilled me to the very core. The ground was littered with rotting fish and indescribable things that stuck out from the nasty mud. Mere words cannot express the unspeakable horrors found in the absolute silence of vast, empty spaces. There was nothing to see or hear except for an endless sea of black slime, yet the landscape’s monotony and total stillness filled me with a nauseating fear.
The sun was blazing, and the cruel, cloudless sky was almost black – as if it were reflecting the inky ground. As I crawled into my stranded boat, I realized there was only one theory that could explain my situation. Through some kind of volcanic eruption, a portion of the ocean floor must have been thrown to the surface – exposing areas that had remained hidden for millions of years. The new land was so large that I could not hear the surging ocean no matter how hard I listened. There were no birds eating the dead things, either.
I sat in the boat thinking and sulking for several hours; now that it was laid on its side, the boat offered some shade from the sun. As the day progressed, the ground became less sticky and seemed like it would dry enough to travel for a short time. I slept little that night, and the next day, I packed my food and water in preparation for a journey; I planned to set out on foot in search of the missing sea and possible rescue.
On the third morning, the soil was dry enough to walk easily. The stench of the fish was maddening, but I had much bigger concerns and boldly continued my adventure. All day, I marched west using the highest mound on the rolling landscape as my guide. That night, I made camp, and the following day, I continued walking toward the mound; it hardly seemed any closer than on day one. By the fourth evening, I made it to the bottom and realized the mound was much taller than it appeared from a distance. Too exhausted to climb up – I slept in the hill’s shadow.
I do not know why my dreams were so wild that night, but I woke in a cold sweat when the half-full moon was high above the eastern plain. I decided to stay awake; the things I saw were too horrible to relive, and in the moon’s glow, I realized how unwise it had been to travel by day. Without the parching sun’s glare, my journey would have cost less energy; now, I felt quite able to make the climb that discouraged me at sunset. Retrieving my pack, I started up the mound.
I have said the unbroken monotony of the rolling plain was horrifying, but I was even more frightened when I reached the summit. Down the other side, I saw an immeasurable pit, but the moon was not yet high enough to light up its black crevices. It felt like I was on the edge of the world – looking over the rim and into an infinite chaos of eternal night. Mixed in with my terror were odd memories of Paradise Lost and Satan’s hideous climb through the realms of darkness.
As the moon rose higher, I began to see the valley’s slopes were not quite as perpendicular as I imagined. Ledges and rock protrusions provided fairly easy foot-holds for climbing down, and after a few hundred feet, the drop lessened gradually. Urged on by an impulse I cannot explain, I scrambled down the rocks and stood on the gentler slope beneath – gazing into the black depths where the light had yet to reach.
Suddenly, I noticed a huge object on the steep slope opposite of my position, and it gleamed white in the moon’s rays. I assured myself it was only a gigantic piece of stone, but I was aware that its shape and location were not Nature’s doing. A closer inspection filled me with sensations I cannot express. Despite its enormous size and the fact it sat at the bottom of the sea since the world was young – I knew without a doubt it was a statue; living and thinking creatures had worked on – and perhaps even worshiped – the massive object.
Though dazed and frightened, I still felt a certain thrill of scientific delight as I examined my surroundings more closely. The moon – now near its highest point – shined weirdly and vividly above the towering peaks surrounding the valley; it revealed a body of water flowing at the bottom – winding out of sight in both directions and almost lapping my feet on the slope. Across the chasm, the waves washed the base of the ancient statue, and I could see traces of inscriptions and crude sculptures. The hieroglyphics were unknown to me, and unlike anything I had ever seen in books; they mostly consisted of conventional aquatic symbols such as fish, eels, octopi, crustaceans, mollusks, and whales. Several characters obviously represented marine-life unknown to the modern world, but I witnessed many of their decomposing bodies along my journey.
Thanks to their enormous size, a group of statues were plainly visible on the other side of the valley. I think these things were meant to resemble men; the creatures appeared to be worshiping some kind of monolithic shrine that was also beneath the waves. I dare not speak of their features in detail; the mere thought of it makes me feel faint. They were more grotesque than even Poe could imagine; their general shapes were unquestionably human despite having webbed hands and feet, wide, flabby lips, bulging eyes, and other unpleasant features. They were also carved out of proportion with their background; one of the creatures was in the process of killing a whale that was only a little larger than himself.
After a moment’s thought, I decided they must be the imaginary gods of some primitive tribe – one whose last descendant died ages before the first Neanderthal was born. This unexpected glimpse into the past was far beyond what any anthropologist could dare to imagine. I stood there contemplating this while the moon cast strange reflections on the silent waters before me.
Then, I suddenly saw something giant and repulsive emerge from the dark waters. Only a slight ripple indicated its rise to the surface. The nightmarish monster darted to the monolith and flung its enormous, scaly arms around it while bowing its hideous head and crying; I think I went mad.
I do not remember much of my frantic climb up the slope or delirious journey back to the boat. I believe I sang a lot and laughed when I was unable to sing. I have partial memories of a big storm happening at some point after reaching the boat; I know I heard thunder and the other sounds seemed to also be from bad weather.
The next time I woke, I was in a San Francisco hospital; I had been brought there by the captain of an American ship that found my boat in the middle of the ocean. I said many things in my delirious state, but no one paid any attention to my words. The people who rescued me knew nothing about the landmass in the Pacific, and I decided not to bother them with it. Eventually, I asked a respected professor who specialized in ancient societies a few questions about the Philistine legend of Dagon, the Fish-God – but I gave up soon after his conservative beliefs became obvious.
At night, especially when the moon is half-full, I still see that thing. I tried morphine, but it only provides temporary relief, and it has turned me into a hopeless slave. Now that I have written a full account to inform or amuse my fellow man, I will end it all. I often ask myself if it could have been pure fantasy – a heat-stroke induced hallucination as I laid raving in the boat after my escape – but I always see the same hideously vivid vision in reply. I cannot think of the deep sea without shivering at the nameless things that may be crawling on its slimy bottom – worshiping their ancient stone idols and carving their own disgusting images on giant slabs of submerged granite. I dream of a day when they might rise above the waters to drag the puny remnants of mankind down in their horrible talons— of a day when the land will sink, and the dark ocean floor will rise among universal chaos.
The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as if some giant, slippery body is moving against it. It will not find me. God, that hand! The window! The window!
Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1842; translated into Modern English, otherwise exactly the same.
(Narration coming soon)
I was sick to death of the agony; when they untied me, and I was allowed to sit, I felt like I was losing my mind. The dreaded death sentence was the last thing I heard. After that, the sound of the interrogating voices merged into one dreamy, unrecognizable hum. It infused my soul with the idea of revolution – perhaps due to the way it sounded like a mill-wheel – but I only heard it for a brief period. For a while, I saw terrible things! I saw the thin lips of the black-robed judges. They were whiter than the paper I write on and grotesquely thin; they all wore the firm expression of one who is absolutely certain of their beliefs, and they showed a stern contempt for torture. Their lips squirmed with deadly commands as they passed judgment over my Fate. I saw them form the syllables of my name and shuddered when no sound followed. For a moment, I also saw the soft and nearly invisible movement of the black curtains that wrapped the walls. Then, I saw the seven tall candles on the table. At first, they seemed like white, slender angels who would save me, but suddenly, I became very nauseous; every inch of my body felt like I had been electrocuted. The angels became meaningless ghosts with flaming heads, and I realized they would be no help. Next, I heard a rich, musical note and thought of how peacefully the dead must rest. The thought crept up gently and took a long time to complete, but just as I began to really consider it – the judges magically vanished. The tall candles sank into nothing, and the black darkness prevailed; all sensations were swallowed up in the mad, rushing fall into hell. Then, silence, stillness, and night were the only things left in the universe.
I felt faint but did not completely lose consciousness. I will not attempt to define or describe what little remained, but all was not lost. In the deepest slumber— no, in delirium— no, in death— no, even in the grave, all is not lost; otherwise, man cannot be immortal. When waking from a deep sleep, we break through the silky web of some dream, yet a second later – we forget what it was about. There are two stages to waking. First, is in the mental or spiritual sense; second, is in the physical sense. Once awake, we can usually recall impressions of the dream; these impressions are clear memories of the gulf beyond, and that gulf is— what? How can we tell its shadows apart from the ones we see in death? If the impressions from the first stage are not remembered immediately, they come to us spontaneously, and we wonder where they came from. A man who has never felt that madness will not see strange places and familiar faces in the embers of a fire or imagine sad visions floating in the air; he will not wonder about the smell of a random flower or grow confused over the meaning of a song.
Among frequent attempts at trying to remember any part of mine, there were moments I remembered dreaming of success; there were very brief periods where I imagined myself in the future, and that is how I knew it could not be real. These shadowy memories are of tall figures that dragged me down in silence— down, down, still further down, until I became horribly dizzy at the mere idea of continuing. My unnaturally still heart also warned of a vague horror. Then, everything suddenly stopped – as if my tormentors had reached their limit and needed a break. After this, I remember a flat, damp area, and the rest is a chaotic memory trying to hide forbidden things.
I woke to my heart beating loudly in my ears followed by a silent pause, and a tingling sensation spread through my body. For a long while, there were no thoughts – merely an awareness of my existence. Then, very suddenly, my thoughts returned, and I was consumed by terror as I tried to understand my situation. It resulted in a strong desire to fall back into oblivion, but was soon followed by a surge of motivation and a successful attempt at moving. Now, I remembered the trial, the judges, the black robes, the punishment, the sickness, and the delirium; with great, concentrated effort, I was able to vaguely recall what happened later that day.
So far, my eyes remained closed. I was untied and laying on my back; I reached out my hand, and it fell heavily onto something hard and damp. I struggled to keep it there for several minutes while trying to imagine what it could be. I dared not to look even though I wanted to; I dreaded seeing the objects around me. It was not that I feared looking at horrible things, but I feared there would be nothing to see. With a wild desperation, I opened my eyes quickly, and my worst fears were confirmed. The blackness of night surrounded me, and I struggled to breathe. The intensity of the darkness was crushing, and the air was unbearably dense. I continued to lay quietly and tried to think logically. I thought about the trial and attempted to discern my location. It seemed like a very long time had passed since my sentence was given, but I did not think myself dead for even a moment. Such an uncertain belief only happens in works of fiction, but where – and in what – condition was I? Those sentenced to death usually died at the inquisition burnings, and one of these had been held on the same night as my trial. Had I been returned to my dungeon to wait for the one that is several months away? I immediately knew that could not be. Victims were in immediate demand. Plus, my dungeon and all the condemned cells in Toledo had stone floors, and they were not pitch black.
A scary thought suddenly made my heart race, and for a brief time, I once more fell into a state of delirium. Upon recovering, I immediately rose to my feet – my entire body shaking. I reached my arms out blindly in all directions and felt nothing, yet I feared taking a step in case I found the walls of a tomb. Sweat ran from every pore and stood in big, cold drops on my forehead. The suspense was agonizing and grew to be unbearable; cautiously, I moved forward with my arms extended – straining my eyes in hopes of finding any faint ray of light. I continued for many paces, but everything was black and empty. I breathed easier; it was obvious that I had at least escaped the worst fates.
As I continued to step forward cautiously, I suddenly remembered a thousand vague rumors about the horrors of Toledo. Strange things have been said of its dungeons; I had always considered them to be myths – too ghastly to repeat above a whisper. Was I left to starve in this underground world of darkness? What even worse fate might await me? It would be a harsher death than the usual bitter executions they perform; I knew my judge’s character too well to doubt it. The how and when were the only thoughts that distracted me.
My outstretched hands finally found a smooth, stone wall. It was slimy and cold, but I followed it along, stepping carefully and wondering what brilliant idea made me try in the first place. This process did nothing to help determine the size of my dungeon; I made a complete lap back to where I started without being aware of it. Since there were no unique features, I looked for the knife that had been in my pocket, but it was gone, and my clothes had been exchanged for a coarse, woolen robe; I had wanted to use the blade to mark my starting point. There was an easy solution, but my initial panic made it seem impossible to do any other way. I tore part of the robe’s hem and placed the strip of fabric by the wall; I thought it would be impossible to miss while feeling my way around the cell, but I either underestimated the dungeon’s size or my own weakness. The ground was wet and slippery; I staggered forward for some time until I tripped and fell. I was too tired to get up and soon fell asleep.
When I woke and reached out my arm, there was a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water. I ate and drank greedily – too exhausted to care how it got there. Then, I resumed my lap around the prison, and finally returned the strip of cloth. I had counted 52 paces before falling, and I counted 48 more after. In total, that is 100 paces, and – assuming two paces equal one yard – I figured the dungeon to be 50 yards in circumference. However, I found many angles in the wall and could not guess the shape of the vault; I could not help thinking of it as a vault.
I had few clues and no hope of learning anything, but a vague curiosity prompted me to keep trying. Giving up on the wall, I decided to cross the dungeon’s floor. At first I went with extreme caution; although the floor seemed solid, it was covered with slime. Ultimately, I did not hesitate to step firmly as I struggled to cross in as straight a line as possible. I went 10-12 paces this way when the scrap of cloth became tangled between my legs; I tripped and fell hard on my face.
During the confusion after my fall, I laid on my back, not understanding what I saw. My chin rested on the prison’s floor, but not my lips or anything above them; my forehead was soaked in a clammy sweat, and I could smell the peculiar stench of rotten fungus. I reached forward and shuddered to find myself at the edge of a round pit; I had no way to determine its size. Feeling around the bricks at the edge, I was able to remove a small piece and drop it into the hole. For many seconds I listened to it bounce off the stone walls as it fell; finally, there was a sullen splash of water followed by loud echoes. At the same time, I heard the quick opening and closing of a door from above, and a faint beam of light suddenly flashed through the gloom and faded away.
It became clear what they had planned for me, and I congratulated myself for the timely accident that allowed me to avoid it. One step further, and it would have been the end. There was a choice between a physically horrible death or a mentally horrible death, and I had been marked for the latter. My nerves were a wreck from all the suffering I had endured; I trembled at the sound of my own voice and was now a perfect subject for the awaiting torture.
Shaking all over, I felt my way back to the wall; I decided to die there rather than risk the terror of the pit. My imagination created many horrors in the dungeon. If my mind were in a better state, I might have had the courage to end my misery immediately by jumping into the hole, but in that moment, I was the king of cowards. The fact that it was a slow death was the only thing I remembered reading about the pit.
My anger kept me awake for many hours, but eventually, I slept again. Upon waking, I found another loaf of bread and a pitcher of water nearby. I was consumed by a burning thirst and emptied the pitcher in a single drink. It must have been drugged; I hardly drank any before becoming unbearably tired and falling into a deep, death-like sleep. I do not know for how long, but when I woke, my surroundings were visible. Due to an unknown soft, yellow glow, I was able to see the full prison.
I had been greatly mistaken about its size; it was no more than eight feet wide. For several minutes this fact troubled me greatly. What could be less important than the size of my dungeon? My mind tends to focus on insignificant details, and I tried to discern how I misjudged the dimensions by so much. Then, I realized the truth; during my first attempt, I counted 52 paces before falling and must have been only a couple of steps away from the torn fabric. I had almost completed the lap when I fell asleep; considering my calculations were almost double the actual size, I must have walked back the way I came after waking. In my confusion, I failed to realize the wall was to my left when I started and to my right when I finished.
I was also fooled about its shape. I found many angles when feeling my way around and assumed something very unlikely; waking from a deep sleep in total darkness has a strong effect on one’s senses. The angles were only a few small, sporadic indentations; its actual shape was square. What I mistook for stone were huge plates of iron or a similar metal, and the indentations were where the plates connected. The metallic dungeon was filled with hideous and repulsive devices inspired by the superstitious monk’s burial chambers. The walls were covered with menacing skeletons and other frightening images. The shapes of these monstrosities were clear, but the colors were faded and blurry from the damp atmosphere. In the center of the stone floor was the round pit I had almost fallen into.
It was difficult to see these things due to my poor condition. I was now lying on my back, and a long strap held me in place atop a low, wooden platform. The bond wrapped around my limbs and body several times, and only my head and left arm were able to move; with great effort, I was able to feed myself when given food. To my horror, the water was gone, and I was consumed by an unbearable thirst. The food reeked of spices that would make me even more thirsty; removing the water was yet another method of torture.
Looking up, I inspected my prison’s ceiling. It was 30-40 feet high and built like the walls. My attention then focused on a single, painted panel; it showed the Grim Reaper, except – instead of a scythe – he held a picture of a huge pendulum like we see on antique clocks. There was something about the machine’s appearance that made me inspect it carefully. When I looked straight up at it – I realized it was moving. It moved in short, slow swings, and I watched it for several minutes – partly from fear, but mostly from curiosity. Finally, I grew tired of observing its dull movement and looked at the rest of my cell.
I heard a slight noise and looked down to see several enormous rats crossing the floor. They came out of the pit which I could see to my right. While I watched, dozens hurried out with ravenous eyes – attracted by the smell of meat. It required great effort to scare them away.
There was no way to track the time, but nearly an hour later, I looked up again. What I saw confused and amazed me. The pendulum was swinging nearly a yard wider at a greatly increased speed, but the fact that it had lowered was the most disturbing part. The end of the crescent-shaped glittering steel was roughly a foot long from point to point, and the bottom edge looked sharp as a razor. It seemed bulky and heavy, but higher up, it thinned and connected to a hefty brass rod that hissed as it swung through the air.
There were no more doubts that I faced the monk’s ingenious tortures. The inquisitors knew I discovered the pit – whose horrors are reserved for bold rebels such as myself; it is comparable to hell and regarded as the worst of all their punishments. Being trapped and ignorant of what is to come is an important part of the torture. I avoided falling into the hole by accident, and throwing me into the abyss would be no fun for the demons. Now, a different, milder death awaited me. Milder! I half-smiled at the word choice despite my agony.
For many long, long hours of indescribable horror, I counted the steel pendulum’s rushing swings. Inch by inch it slowly lowered – down and down it came! Days passed; it might have been many days – it swung so close, I could feel its pungent wind. The sharp steel’s smell forced itself into my nostrils, and I begged heaven for a quicker descent. I grew frantic with anger and struggled to force myself up – into the frightening blade’s path. Then, I suddenly calmed and lay smiling at the glittering blade – like a child smiles at a shiny object.
There was another brief period of delirium; upon waking, there was no noticeable descent in the pendulum, but it might have been longer. I knew the demons noticed my lapse of consciousness, and they could have easily stopped the blade. I felt indescribably sick and weak, as if I were starving. Even during the agony of that time, my body needed food. I painfully reached out as far as my bonds allowed and grabbed the small bit of food left by the rats. As I put it in my mouth, I realized something that made me happy – even hopeful. Yet what business did I have to hope? I felt joy and hope, but I also felt the happy thought vanish before it fully formed. I struggled in vain to remember it. My long suffering had nearly eliminated my ability to think clearly; I was an idiot.
The pendulum swung horizontally across my body – aimed to strike near my heart. First, it would slice into my robe, then, it would retreat and come back again… and again. Its swing now ranged thirty feet or more and would be strong enough to shred the iron walls, but the cutting of my robe would take several minutes. I paused at this thought – not daring to think of what would come next, but I considered it persistently as if that would stop the pendulum’s descent. I forced myself to think about the strange sensation and sound the blade would make as it passed across the robe; I thought about all these pointless things until my teeth were on edge.
It crept down steadily, and I took an erratic pleasure in comparing its descent with its velocity. To the right – to the left – far and wide – screaming at me like a cursed spirit with the stealthy pace of a tiger! I alternated between laughter and howling – depending which thought became my focus.
Down – unavoidably, relentlessly down! It swung within three inches of my chest! I struggled violently, furiously, to free my left arm; it was only loose from the elbow down. With great effort, I could reach the nearby plate and my mouth, but no farther. If I could have broken the bonds above my elbow, I would have attempted to stop the pendulum by catching it; I might as well have attempted to stop an avalanche!
Down still – consistently and inevitably down! I gasped, struggling and convulsing at every swing as my eyes followed it with a desperate eagerness; they reflexively closed at the descent, but death would have been a relief! Still, my whole body shook at the thought of how slight the descent would be that came before that first, glistening strike across my chest. Hope is what made my nerves quiver; the desperate kind that whispers to the condemned – even in the dungeons of the Inquisition.
In 10-12 more swings, the steel would connect with my robe. My soul was consumed with despair, but then, I realized the strap was the only thing holding me in place. The blade’s first strike would cut the bond – making it possible to free myself – though, the blade would be horrifically close. Any wrong movement would be deadly! Also, it seemed likely that the torturer’s minions had not considered or planned for the possibility! Was there a chance the strap was in the pendulum’s path? In my last, frustrated hope, I struggled to lift my head enough to see my chest. The strap wound tightly around my limbs and body in all directions except for where the blade would strike.
I dropped my head back, and an escape plan suddenly flashed through my mind. Earlier, I hinted that parts of one were beginning to form while I ate. Now, the plan was complete; it was weak, insane, and dangerous – but still complete. Though nervous and filled with doubt, I began immediately.
For many hours, the area around me had been swarming with rats. They were wild, brave, and starving; their red eyes glared at me as if they were only waiting for me to go still before attacking. “What food are they used to eating down here?” I thought.
Despite my greatest efforts to stop them, they ate almost all of my food. I was constantly waving my hand over the dish, but once they grew accustomed to the movement it stopped working; in their hunger, the vermin frequently bit my fingers. With the spices that remained, I thoroughly rubbed the strap wherever I could reach it; then, raising my hand away from the floor – I laid entirely still.
At first, the starving animals were startled and terrified at my sudden stillness. They retreated in alarm – many into the well – but only for a moment; I was right to depend on their hunger. Seeing that I remained motionless, a couple of the bravest jumped onto my platform and smelled the strap. This seemed to be the signal for the others to come forward. They rushed over in hordes – clinging to the wooden frame, and leaping onto me by the hundreds. The movement of the pendulum did not bother them at all; they avoided its swing as they focused on my tasty bonds. More and more swarmed over me in heaps, writhing on my throat, and their cold lips found my own. I was suffocating under their weight; the world has no word for the level of disgust that swelled within me, and my heart felt deeply chilled, almost clammy. Yet, I felt that the struggle would be over in a minute; the strap was noticeably loosened. It must have already been severed in multiple places. With inhuman determination, I continued laying still.
My calculations proved correct, and my efforts were not in vain. Finally, I was free; the shredded strap hung loosely from my body, but the pendulum’s swing had already cut into my chest. It had split the robe’s fabric and made two more passes – sending sharp shots of pain through every nerve – but it was time to escape. A wave of my hand scared the rats away; then, my movements were steady, cautious, and slow as I slid out of the straps and away from the blade. For the moment, I was free.
I was free from the blade but not from the Inquisition! I had barely stepped onto the prison’s stone floor when the hellish machine stopped moving, and some invisible force pulled it up into the ceiling. It was a lesson I took to heart; my every move was surely being watched. Free! I had only escaped one agonizing death to endure another – perhaps one even worse. At that thought, I nervously inspected the iron bars holding me prisoner and noticed something unusual – something I did not notice at first. For several minutes, I busied myself in vain with random assumptions, and – for the first time – realized where the yellow light was coming from. It came from a half-inch wide crack that extended around the entire cell at the bottom of the walls – which were completely separate from the floor. I struggled to look through the opening, but could not see anything.
As I rose from trying, I immediately understood the purpose of the chamber’s alterations. I saw the distinct outlines of figures, but their color was blurred and hard to describe. These colors were now intensely bright and gave them a menacing, ghoulish appearance that might have frightened someone with even stronger nerves than my own. Wild, ghastly, demonic eyes glared at me from a thousand directions, all gleaming with a fire I could not believe to be imaginary.
I could smell the vapors of heated iron, and the suffocating odor spread through the prison! A deeper glow settled into the eyes glaring at me, and I panted, gasping for breath; there was no doubt what my persistent, demonic tormentors planned now! I retreated to the center of the cell, away from the glowing metal. As I thought of the fiery end to come, I was relieved to remember the pit’s coldness. I rushed to its deadly edges and strained to see down below. The glare from the burning roof lit its darkest depths, but – for a wild moment – my eyes refused to understand what I saw. Finally, it wrestled its way into my soul until I could not deny logic any longer. Oh, what I would have given for a voice to speak! What horror! With a scream, I rushed away from the edge and buried my face in my hands, weeping bitterly.
The heat rose rapidly, and I looked up once again, shaking with fear. There had been a second change in the cell. Like before, I failed to understand what was happening at first, but I was not left wondering for long. The Inquisitor’s revenge had been rushed by my escape, and the King of Terrors would have no more delay. The room had been square; I saw that two of its iron angles were now small and the other two were large. The frightening difference quickly increased with a low, rumbling moan, and the room suddenly shifted into the shape of a diamond as the walls closed in. They did not stop there, and I did not want them to stop; I would have pulled those red walls to my chest like a blanket of eternal peace. “Death,” I said, “any death but the pit!” Fool! I should have known the burning walls’ purpose was to push me into the pit! Could I stand against its heat or pressure? The diamond grew flatter and flatter so fast that I had no time to think. The center fell just over the pit; I shrank back, but the closing walls pushed me forward. Finally, there was no foothold left on the prison floor for my burned and writhing body to stand. I stopped struggling, but the agony in my soul found comfort in one loud, long, and final scream of despair. I balanced on the edge and looked away—
There was a conflicting hum of human voices, a loud blast of trumpets, and a harsh grating like a thousand thunders! The fiery walls rushed back! An outstretched arm caught my own as I fell, fainting, into the abyss; it was General Lasalle. The French army had entered Toledo; the Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies.
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 following was recorded in New York City during a group session on Friday, August 13, 2021.
Hello everyone, I’m Jamie—
Hi Jamie! [light applause]
[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…
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.
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 thathad 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 makeroom 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? Thatwas 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…
Whew, I’m sorry this is taking so long, but that was basically it—
[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.
[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!
[deep breath] I’m so sorry… Would it be alright if I stopped for a minute? I could really use a bathroom break…
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]
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.
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]
That’s alright, you’re doing great; just take it nice and easy. [thunder] we’re all here for you.
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 rememberher name, becauseshe 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 expensiveof 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 enjoymy 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?
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?!”
Whoa, easy there; that’s all in the past, now. Do you need a moment? [thunder] It’s ok if you do.
No-sir, I’m just ready to finish this; then I want to chain smoke a whole carton of cigarettes, haha…
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!
Really? That actually would be a huge help… as long as I wouldn’t be getting anyone into trouble.
No trouble at all; you guys sit tight, and let me see what I can rustle up. [recording stops]
[lights cigarette] Wow, thank you, Father; [exhales smoke] I hadn’t realized how badly I needed this.
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.
[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’twant 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]
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!
[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!
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]
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]
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.
Edgar Allen Poe, originally published January 1843; translated to Modern English, otherwise exactly the same.
Who’s ready to hear another phenomenal narration by my amazing friend, Danie Dreadful?YouTube
It is true! I had been – and am – very, dreadfully nervous, but why would you say that I am crazy? The disease had sharpened my senses – not destroyed or dulled them. Above all was the acute hearing; I heard all things in the heavens and on the earth, and I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I crazy? Listen! and observe how sanely – how calmly – I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how the idea first entered my mind, but once it was there – it haunted me day and night. It was not because of an objective or hatred; I loved the old man. He had never wronged or insulted me; I had no desire for his gold. I think it was his eye! Yes, that was it! One of his eyes was like a vulture’s; it was pale blue and covered with film. Whenever it fell on me, my blood ran cold; very gradually, I made up my mind to take his life and be rid of the eye forever.
Now, this is the point where you think I am crazy. Madmen know nothing, but you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded with caution and foresight; no one could have guessed my intentions when I went to work! I had never been kinder to the old man than the week before I killed him. Every night – around midnight – I turned his doorknob and opened it very gently! When I had an opening big enough, I put in a dark, closed lantern before sticking in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I stuck it in! I moved very, very slowly, so the old man would not wake. It took an hour to place my head in far enough to see him lying on his bed. Ha! Would a madman have been this smart? Then, when my head was in the room, I opened the lantern with extreme caution to avoid the creaking hinges; I did it just enough for a single, thin ray to fall upon the vulture’s eye. I did this for seven long nights, but the eye was always closed, making it impossible to do the job; it was not the old man who irritated me but his Evil Eye. Every morning, I went into his room with confidence and spoke to him fearlessly – calling him by name in a friendly tone, and asking how his night was. He would have been very insightful to suspect that every night – just at twelve – I watched him sleep.
On the eighth night, I was even more cautious than usual when opening the door. A clock’s minute hand moves faster than mine did. Never before had I felt the extent of my own power and wisdom. I could hardly contain my feelings of victory. There I was, opening the door little by little, and he had no clue of my secret actions or thoughts. I laughed at the idea, and he may have heard me; he moved suddenly, as if startled. You may think that I withdrew – but no. His room was pitch black; the shutters were closed for fear of robbers, and – knowing he could not see the open door – I kept pushing on it steadily.
My head was in, and I was about to open the lantern when my thumb slipped on the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up, crying out. “Who’s there?”
I stayed quite still and said nothing. I did not move a muscle for a whole hour, and I did not hear him lie down. He was sitting up in the bed, listening – exactly as I have done night after night – listening to the signs of imminent death.
Then, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief – oh, no! It was the low, muffled sound that comes from the bottom of the soul when it is filled with anguish; I knew the sound well. Many nights – at midnight – when all the world slept, it came from my own chest; it deepened with dreadful echoes and distracting fears. I knew what the old man felt and pitied him, although I laughed in my heart. He had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he rolled in the bed, and his fear had been growing ever since. He tried to convince himself it was nothing, but he could not; he tried thinking, “It is only the wind in the chimney, or a mouse crossing the floor, or a cricket chirping.”
He tried to comfort himself with these thoughts, but his efforts were in vain. All in vain, because Death’s black shadow had already consumed its victim, and it was the sorrowful influence of the unseen shadow that caused him to feel my presence in the room.
When I had waited patiently for a long time without hearing him lie down, I decided to open a very thin slit in the lantern. You cannot imagine how stealthily I opened it until a single, dim ray – like a spider’s web – shot out from the crack and fell upon the vulture eye.
It was wide open, and I grew furious at the sight. I saw it perfectly – a dull blue, covered with a hideous film that chilled me to be bone; I could see nothing else of the old man since the ray of light fell directly on that damned spot.
Did I not say that you would mistake acute senses for madness? Then, I heard a low, quick sound – like a watch makes when wrapped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the old man’s heart beating. It increased my fury just as the beating of a drum inspired a soldier’s courage.
Even then, I remained motionless, scarcely breathing. I held the lantern steady, keeping the ray of light trained on the eye. Meanwhile, the hellish beating of his heart increased, growing quicker and louder every second. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder every moment! Do you understand? I have told you that I am nervous, and I am. At that late hour of the night – among the dreadful silence in that old house – this noise drove me to complete terror. I stood still for several more minutes, but the beating grew louder! I thought his heart would burst, and a new worry gripped me; the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man’s time had come; with a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leapt into the room! He only shrieked once; in an instant, I dragged him to the floor and pulled the heavy bed over him. Then I smiled happily, glad the deed was done, but – for many minutes – the heart continued its muffled beat. This, however, did not bother me; it would not be heard through the wall. Eventually, it stopped; the old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, cold dead. I placed my hand on the heart and held it there for several minutes. There was no pulse; he was dead, and his eye would no longer trouble me.
If you still believe I am crazy, you will not think so after I describe the wise precautions I took when hiding the body. As the night wore on, I worked hastily but in silence. First of all, I dismembered the corpse by cutting off the head, arms, and legs.
Then, I removed three planks from the living room floor and deposited everything between the joists. Next, I replaced the boards so perfectly that no human eye – not even his – could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash – no stains or blood whatsoever. I had been too cautious for that; all was done in the tub – haha!
When I finished these chores, it was four o ‘clock and still dark as midnight. As the bell announced the hour, there was a knock at the door. I went down to open it with a light heart – after all, what wasthere to fear now? Three men entered and introduced themselves as police officers. During the night, a shriek was heard by a neighbor, and there was suspicion of foul play. A report was filed at the police station, and the officers were sent to search the premises.
I smiled; what was there to worry about? I welcomed the gentlemen, saying the shriek had been my own – caused by a dream – and I mentioned the old man was visiting the countryside. I took my visitors all over the house, telling them to search well. I led them to his chamber and showed them his valuables – secure and undisturbed. In the excitement of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room – inviting them to rest – and placed my own seat directly above the hidden corpse.
The officers were satisfied; my demeanor had convinced them, and I was completely at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerfully, they chatted about familiar things. Though, before long, I felt myself getting pale and wished they would leave. My head ached, and there was a ringing in my ears, but still they remained. The ringing became more distinct as it continued – and I talked more to be rid of the feeling – but it persisted and grew louder. Finally, I realized the noise was not in my mind.
There is no doubt I grew very pale, but I talked faster with a louder voice. Still, the sound increased – and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound – very close to the sound a watch makes when wrapped in cotton. I gasped for breath, yet the officers did not hear it. I talked faster – more intensely, but the noise steadily increased. I stood, arguing insignificant matters in a high voice with wild gestures, but the noise increased. Why would they not leave? I paced with heavy strides – as if infuriated by the men’s observations, but the noise continued increasing. Oh God! What could I do? I ranted, raved, and swore! I threw my chair, and it struck the boards, but the noise rose above it all and still increased. It grew louder, louder, andlouder, but still the men chatted – smiling pleasantly. Was it possible they did not hear it?… Almighty God!… No, no!… They heard!… They suspected!… They knew!… They were mocking my terror!… This is what I thought, and what I still think, but anything was better than that agony! Anything was more tolerable than their ridicule! I could not bear those hypocritical smiles any longer! It felt like I must scream or die! Now – again!… Listen! Louder, louder, louder!
“Villains!” I shrieked, “mock me no more! I admit it! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
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!
⚠️TRIGGER WARNING⚠️ This story involves strong implications of sexual assault.
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.
I’m honored to introduce the finale of the On Nightmare’s Edge series written specially for the exclusive use of my good friend Nightmare’s Edge. He owns it, and it may not be used in any way/shape/form without his express written consent! No exceptions!
Here’s the link to his narration, he does fantastic work - make sure to sub while you’re there!
Hey, Night Crawlers! Fuck, Eddie and I missed you guys! Today is Day One of the “sorry I left you hanging again” marathon. The Feds and I have differing opinions regarding the channel’s effect on Turner. I believe crazy is crazy; they believe it fuels her psychosis. Basically, she enjoys the attention and will continue seeking more. Actually, do you know what I think?
I think she should do something extreme; something to grab the world’s attention! Seriously, if she set herself on fire, I think she’d top a million views inside a week; [mutter] hahaha, I hope hell is real. Wouldn’t that be the perfect ending, though? Her name would be etched into the annals of history!
What all this boils down to is – it’s been four weeks since I shot Andy, and Page hasn’t done a damn thing. Police are doing everything to track her down, but she’s a ghost. You’d think someone with her appearance would be easy to find, but every lead is a dead-end. They can’t stay with us forever. Most are already gone; in a few hours, we’ll only have one patrol car in the driveway.
Obviously they’ll continue searching; she’s a wanted fugitive. Shit, when they do get her… what’s to stop her from escaping again? I can’t take much more of this… the thought of her being free when Aiden goes to college makes me sick; the thought of him not going because of her makes me equally sick… maybe more.
I almost stopped going to the support meetings when my protection detail was forced to chaperone. It’s difficult to speak freely with outsiders in attendance. It’s one thing to share my pain with strangers experiencing the same loss, but sharing with people who go home to a loving spouse is… uncomfortable. I know this sounds horrible, but it also breeds a bit of resentful jealousy.
Anyway, onto the actual reason for tonight’s stream – I haven’t been idle over here; I’ve been recording almost everyday! As my apology for yet another extended absence, you’re getting a new story every night this week! I hope to do streams before most, but I’ve learned to exercise caution with scheduling statements; life often makes differing plans. Tonight’s story is Melting Icarus. If you like it we’ll do the sequel when I push you tomorrow; let me know what you think in the comments!
Monday, Day 2:
Peek-a-boo, Night Crawlers, guess who fucking sees you! Not me, because I’m not a psycho stalker – only a less-evil-than-most cryptid who wants to innocently tickle those inner fears.
Speaking of which, it seems like I did just that with Melting Icarus, so – as promised – Avenging Icarus is next. I’m glad you’re enjoying it; honestly, it might be my new favorite Pasta!
Alright, now that the business end is taken care of, I’m ready to address the elephant in the room. Yes, I saw the Page Effin Turner channel. The Feds were all over it, but the profile picture was used by several news networks; it’s incredibly easy to obtain. Furthermore, the IP address has been traced; yes, the owner is clearly disturbed but essentially harmless. I’m not allowed to divulge their name, but they don’t live in the United States; they’re also disabled and require assistance to leave home.
The best thing we can do is ignore it. Please, do not give them views or dislikes; you may think the dreaded thumbs down hurts, but it’s still engagement – and that will encourage this person. That being said, most of you want to see it purely out of morbid curiosity. I can’t blame you; that’s the twisted personality quirk bringing you here in the first place. Considering you guys keep a roof over my head, I’m going to save everyone a little time with a quick rundown. You’re not missing anything, I promise.
Let’s start with her channel description; it’s pretty short, I’ll read it to you:
At the request of my good friend and creative partner, Gregory Jones, I created a channel. I look forward to bringing you - the viewer - more amazing content from the hit series, On Nightmare’s Edge! As co-creator and author to the written series, I am proud to announce the complete set’s publication is underway and coming soon… Spoiler Alert: It includes the never-before-seen fifth and final installment!It’s gonna push you right over the edge!
That’s too pathetic even for Turner. I’d be pissed that someone used my name, but I guess karma is a bitch. Hell, I’m surprised there’s not more than one… oh well, onto the video itself.
The static noise of an old radio is the only sound. There’s no music or talking, and the backdrop is a white poster-board. Crayons were used to hastily scribble a rainbow at the top and trees across the bottom, but the key figure is a small house drawn on the right. It’s labeled “Greg’s House” and meant to appear far off in the distance.
In the opening scene, a Lamb Chop puppet sits in the center; young viewers won’t be familiar with Lamb Chop’s Play Along, but it’s a bad kid’s show from the 90’s staring a sock puppet named Lamb Chop. Only, this one has been slightly altered.
Its black eyes are replaced with the big, red buttons normally found on its torso, but one hangs loosely by a thread. You know they’re the same ones due to holes left by their removal… in case there’s any doubt – a sharpie was used to replicate blood.
Soon, the puppet stands, and the backdrop is replaced – poorly but effectively conveying Lamb Chop’s walk through the woods. This poster is decorated the same except for a horribly drawn cave to the right, and my distant house is to the far left. The lamb turns toward the dark cavern, and after a short pause, turns back; slowly, its mouth spreads wider and wider into an eerie smile.
The final scene is colored brown around all four sides; we’ve entered the cave. To the right, an open book sits atop a podium with short, yellow lines decorating the space around it; the remainder is colored black. Basically, it’s the only light in the darkness, and Lamb Chop is intrigued. The puppet proceeds to stare at the display for five solid minutes before returning its attention to the audience and giving us a final sickly, wide smile.
I didn’t skip through the pointless five minutes either; I watched the entire thing just in case something was spliced in – but there’s nothing. If your curiosity still demands to see it, I understand… but please don’t engage, okay?
Thanks Crawlers, I can always count on you.
Oh, and shout out to the person doing the channel – I’m sorry for your struggles. Life is hard… I know; if you ever want advice on making real content, send me an email. Creating can be a wonderful outlet if you’re willing to give it a chance.
Anyway, that’s it – I’ll release the hostage now. Here’s Avenging Icarus, and don’t forget to visit the Community tab; cast your vote for which story pushes you next!
Tuesday, Day 3:
Yo, Crawlers! Check me out, I’m back for the third stream in three days! So far so good, huh? Admit it – you thought disaster would strike the first night without protection, and I’d disappear again. Is that close to the mark?
I knew it! Because I did too! Yet, this morning, Bill and Ted were still sitting in their cruiser – grumpy but breathing.
Haha, no, those aren’t their real names; the younger one is a fan, and it turned into a joke.
There’s something I want to share before discussing tonight’s story. The real Page must not appreciate being snubbed out of the spotlight because she mailed another letter… well, poem… I guess.
Yes, Lady, in the actual mail; it was sent from California again.
[sarcasm] That’s weird though, don’t you think? Considering she’s living in a cave out back? You know, the one no one has ever seen in the decades my family has lived here?
Why yes, Disco, I will read it to you. I assure you it’s her best work. Seriously, this is gonna be tough to beat! I’ll put it on the screen; you have to see the spelling to fully appreciate it. Are you ready? Okay [clears throat]
Then, on the back, at the bottom, barely legible – “I informed you thusly.”
Bitch’s brain be broke; bleh, try saying that five times fast. Seriously though, is that a murder/suicide threat, or… what else could it be, right? Hey, look! I narrated something she wrote! Do you think this means she’ll leave me alone?
Why can’t you guys just let a man dream? [bark] See, you upset Eddie; now he demands Walk-Walk. Here, take The Midnight Man and let me get this dog out before he pisses on my chair again – push ya later!
Wednesday, Day 4:
Sup, Crawlers? I’m 4 for 4 but barely. [bark] Eddie says hey. [away from mic] Lay down, man.
Sorry if your volume was up, but I couldn’t keep him out; he’s being persistent today. He’ll be easier to deal with when the boys are back from school, but I can’t address that video with them here. It’s naive to think they won’t see it, but dissecting it while they’re home seems… wrong.
Yep Lore, that’s exactly why, I said ‘barely’, but then I decided fuck that! I’m sick of hiding; I’ll be damned if that video stops me from streaming!
The Feds don’t necessarily believe it’s genuinely Turner now, but it’s certainly not the original suspect. The possibilities are being investigated by multiple agencies; at the very least, this is a serial killer.
I don’t know Stu, if a guy ‘happened upon’ something like that – what kind of person uses it this way instead of reporting it?
Wait – let’s get everyone caught up; I’ll to break it down in hopes—
Oh, that was faster than usual… okay – Disco said the channel is already terminated, but I’m not surprised… all things considered…
So, yea – there were no kiddy drawings or puppets, just actual footage. It was ten minutes, and the scenes were spliced together from multiple recordings made over a span of… I don’t even know how long.
It starts off as a collage of “Welcome to (x) state” signs – the ones people always pose with on vacations; they’re listed in geographical order like it was an actual road-trip. The list makes a trail from Indiana to California and back to Michigan. It totals thirteen different states; remember that number. To help you visualize this – the lines on the map show the indicated route. Clicking through each frame was incredibly tedious, but let this be a lesson in the dangers of obsession.
With a black screen comes the sound of a lock clicking open and a metal roll-door going up. After it closes behind us, a flashlight is turned on, and we see the inside of a storage unit. The lighting is too dim to see much beyond the beam, but the tour is fairly thorough.
First we’re shown a pile of bloodied clothing; nothing unusual – every newb can drench old clothes with corn syrup. The camera pans across the soiled rags in concert with the light and comes to rest on a mountain of shoes – the summit of which is inches below the ceiling. A close-up reveals much of the footwear still contains part of their owner… and you want to think, ‘this must be another ARG’ except it’s just so graphic…
Before you can give it more thought, a new distraction is on the screen. We moved to the next display – a wall with 12 missing person’s flyers hanging in a neat 3×4 block. As we continue along the wall, we see it’s covered in repeating segments of this design – but the others are altered by various filters; it must have taken days for one person to do… maybe weeks. I think it was meant to be artistic.
Next, the shot pans past a cot in the far corner and takes us to several stacks of storage bins. It’s hard to say how many, but this absolutely qualifies as a fuck-ton. The camera is set atop a nearby tote and angled to the correct viewpoint before a smaller bin is centered in the screen. When it’s finally opened, we see twelve drivers licenses inside; a gloved hand arranges each one neatly for the audience.
The ID’s belonged to the missing persons, and tiny X’s are scratched over their eyes. This is also where you should notice they are from twelve of the thirteen states plotted on the map. Can you guess which one was missing? Yes, Michigan!
Binky the Clown’s laugh plays in a loop while the lid is replaced on the small tote. Then we move to a box at the back of the room; almost like the filmer can hear us thinking ‘but those were too many shoes for twelve people.’
By now, some viewers were already Googling the names to discover these are real missing people but not me; I was glued to the screen, nervously awaiting the next reveal. I didn’t come to my senses until three more totes spilled into the floor. It was madness; you could never count them all…
If it was possible for one person to be responsible for all these disappearances, they would be the most prolific serial killer in history… but it has to be something else. After the first box, there’s only a few visible enough to read, but some expired before Turner was even born. So what’s the deal?
No, Livers, that can’t be it; pictures of the first twelve were analyzed by experts. Plus, the first man – from Indiana – went missing ten months ago, and the last woman – from Missouri – went missing only six weeks ago; the other timelines match perfectly as well. Someone who actually does that doesn’t need to bluff.
Hold on guys, those are good theories, but let me tell the rest; not everyone has the whole picture yet… [grumble] since they kept their promise not to watch.
After the third tote, the scene fades to black, and we hear a thunderstorm. The rain is hard, but the wind is overwhelming. The first flash only illuminates a brief shadow of forest scenery, but the frozen image is too blurry for identifiable features. There’s no doubt it is meant to represent my house, but it’s probably darkened specifically to disguise any features discrediting the possibility. There’s a few more flashes as thunder roars, and rain obscures the scenery until we’re once again left in darkness.
The final scene opens with the storm effects dampened; we’re now inside the cave. It’s dimly lit by candlelight, but one brightly illuminated spot waits in the back. As the camera moves closer, various things are seen to either side; there’s a mattress, bottles of water, cans of food, and a wooden crate with books stacked on top. There’s no question this person spends much of their time here; the ‘lived-in’ look is too good to be staged.
At the far end of the surprisingly spacious area, we learn what warrants the extra lighting. It’s a poor man’s version of Professor Snape’s potions lab and an altar that puts Page’s to shame; actually, that’s an understatement… this is closer to a shrine. No – better yet, it’s a colossal monument!
At first, you don’t understand what you’re looking at; it’s merged with the entire wall. Unlike Turner’s, this one consisted solely of bone. The first pieces were driven into the cave’s bedrock like pegs, and the rest is built from their foundation. Anyone who blindly stumbled across this would assume it’s an ARG… I’ve never seen the sheer quantity—
Ah, yes! Lady nailed it – it’s comparable to the Paris Catacombs. There are 206 bones in the human body, and I bet that wall has plenty of each. They don’t seem to be in a particular order; it’s total chaos yet somehow… symmetrical.
Wait, I misspoke before! Another material is utilized in this thing; some of the bones are tied together with red string. Blood stains are abundant, but I think that’s how they were naturally… received rather than decoration.
In front of this monstrosity is a table overloaded with flasks, beakers, strange herbs and other things I can’t identify. Next to it is a cauldron… as in an actual from-a-fairytale witch’s cauldron! Cold, charred firewood sits beneath it, and a foul, green residue clings to its rim. Last, but certainly not least – to the right – is a wooden podium holding an open book; it’s the kind with slats to hold the pages open. We are given a closeup before the final fade-out, but it’s written in Ancient Greek.
Luckily, I was able to forgo the hours on Google by learning the translation from Agent Robins. They haven’t been able to identify the source book, but it’s estimated to be several hundred years old. The first page is titled Knot of Fate, and beneath is a crude illustration of two human figures standing with arms and legs apart like on medical charts. They’re hopelessly entangled; a rope weaves around their genderless bodies, and a mass of tangled knots fill the space between them.
The remainder of that page and the next seem to be instructions for the ritual. There’s nothing written about the results, but – whatever it does – costs 13 human sacrifices and a not-insignificant amount of personal blood. Our guy already has twelve; did the countless people murdered beforehand not count?
This is about to be a major buzzkill, but I can’t read the rest of the instructions to you…
I know, but I’m a magnet for crazy and feel like it would be a poor idea to convey something this dark through my channel. The last thing I need is for some troubled teen to hear it and decide they wanna try. We live in a world where kids eat tide pods; for fuck’s sake, anything is possible!
Look, if you really want to know what it says there’s probably fifty channels with breakdowns already posted, but we’ve covered the highlights. After a long list of items – all of which are extremely difficult to acquire – it details cooking instructions for a potion. Once you finally have that, there’s a list of prerequisites to fulfill before the ritual can even begin; it’s insanely convoluted.
Besides, we need to wrap this up; if you still want to talk about theories, now’s the time.
That’s what I personally think, Lady; this goes beyond one person. This is a cult or family or… I don’t know, but they’ve been at it for decades. My mind isn’t even capable of grasping the number of lives affected by these people.
Hmm, I don’t know, Livers; yes, it’s physically possible a dumping ground could exist for gangs or organizations to share… you mean—
Oh, I see. Like, the underground community in John Wick. Eh, I feel like those are the types to destroy a body completely…
Well, touché, these guys would clearly be the occult version, haha okay.
Anyone else? We can do one more; then it’s time for Goblins, Ligers and Snares (Oh My!) I normally avoid long titles, but this was too clever to pass up.
I don’t know, Lore; I’m going back and forth on that. On one hand I feel like Page must be connected to the group, but it feels wrong… I’m not sure how to explain it… I just don’t see her as a team player.
I’ve been pulling my hair out over different theories all morning; it’s time for a break. Let’s stop here before I’m bald, haha, and hopefully I’ll be back to push you tomorrow.
Thursday, Day 5:
[Posted 7:30pm: Nightclub Suicide]
Friday, Day 6:
[Posted 7:30pm: Rivers of Sand]
Saturday, Day 7:
[loud/giddy] Night Crawlers! Holy shit, you have no idea how long I’ve waited for this! I asked everyone to be here for a major announcement and you guys did not disappoint. There’s 1,000 people here, and we’ve added five thousand subs in just a few weeks! Tonight’s video is my thank you. I know some of your time zones are inconvenient, but I promise, this is worth it. Buckle up buttercups, this is gonna take a while.
Before we begin, I have a quick apology to make… I’ve been lying to you since returning from my hiatus, but after the explanation – I think you’ll forgive me. As you all know, Turner was analyzing every word I said, and we wanted to use that against her. A long con was our only hope; let’s break each stream down, and set the record straight.
Haha, many of you are expressing surprise at my cheerful demeanor, but I assure you there’s an excellent reason. I’m beyond cheerful; shit, I left chipper in the rear-view mirror! I, ladies and gents, am downright giddy! Please, hold your questions til the end while I regale you with my triumphs.
The first stream was a short “I’m back” statement claiming Turner was a ghost; that was to instill a false sense of security. We didn’t know her location yet, but we did know she was close by; nothing could convince us she left town. Baiting her into starting a YouTube channel wasn’t planned, but the IT guys had a field day with it.
I was nervous about lying – especially live – but being the object of a stalker’s obsession can instill a desperate yet effective confidence. I was given key phrases to say, but nothing that could constitute as a script; Agent Robins worried it wouldn’t sound natural. I was annoyed at the time but can’t argue with the results.
I almost canceled the whole ruse when I mentioned the support group; it wouldn’t be unlike Turner to target them… mainly Sarah. She was my biggest lie of all… well, not at first. Everything I said about our relationship was true in the beginning… but we had our first date the week before that stream and it was… ugh, I hate sounding this way, but it was magic as fuck.
Thank you, everyone, I knew you would be supportive… though I do hope you understand my reluctance to share further details. It’s a new relationship and scary as hell for both of us… so, yea…
Ok, this isn’t a romance channel; let’s get to the horror! While I genuinely recorded extra videos as a way of apology, they also served a second purpose. It was an excuse to stream every night; Page can’t resist new content, and the longer she was distracted by tv the better.
Announcing Turner’s channel was tricky but sorta fun. I received a link from Reddit user PT666. The account was brand new and is now deleted, but please don’t give me crap about clicking a shady link; it was clearly to YouTube. Did my hopes immediately set on the idea of her actually using it for suicide? Yea, totally… but I tried to rein in the rogue fuckers.
The IT squad is amazing, I can’t say that enough; maybe I should’ve made an effort to learn the real name of their unit… hmm. Anyway, they were reasonably sure the channel was legitimately Turner because of specific hacker techniques she used; not so much what she did, but how she did it. Behind the basic VPN, she led us to an actual disabled person in Canada. She needed to believe her trick worked; the hope was to make her comfortable while we continued tracking a real location.
We walked a delicate line by giving the videos attention, but it prevented others from engaging with her; although it may not seem like it – most people come here to lurk. The bulk of views are from people bored browsing. They might be tempted to see what the fuss is, but if I condense a summary into what they’re already watching – most won’t bother. Plus, we hoped Page would continue uploading; each video gave IT more to work with.
Yes indeed, Lady; the system was working well… a little too well as we would soon discover. Sorry, I shouldn’t jump ahead; I want to tell this just right.
The invitation to email me was impulsive, but that was a bust. I wanted to ask how she worked the puppet; the real Lamb Chop always sat, but Turner’s stood without revealing her arm. Overall, the video looked like a kid made it, but if you focused on the puppet – her control was eerily natural… especially the creepy smile; that shit gave me chills.
The first video was clearly saying, “Howdy, neighbor! I found a cave on your property and moved right in.” I was positive it didn’t exist; between family and investigations – there isn’t a square on the grid that hasn’t been searched a dozen times. Regardless, this was Page fucking Turner; she doesn’t say anything without a sneaky double meaning to throw in your face.
There was a catch, I just needed to find it; my obsession became so strong, I recorded both videos in order to analyze it without letting the views increase. I think years of torment have entitled me to some pedantic pettiness. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have an epiphany until it was too late, so let’s pause this part and move on to day three.
I said the poem came from California because that’s what Page wanted us to believe. The postage marks were faked; it was definitely delivered in person. That meant we had a picture of whoever left it! Right? Nope, she stole the SD card!
It was up really high, too; she must have climbed the tree. I used a 10ft ladder to get it up there and even then it was a stretch! Plus, the card slot is on the back; that means she took it down and replaced it. Most people would keep it or trash it at that point.
Don’t feel bad Lore, I didn’t understand why either… although, Lady is only half right. It’s true, the ‘mailed from California’ ploy would be ruined, but she didn’t steal the card that night; it was gone long before. She knew I wouldn’t check without reason due to the inconvenience.
Yup, I’m afraid so, Disco; we soon learned she passed through quite regularly… to get… well, home; she was a busy little psycho. We put a new card in but never got anything from it; once everything was in place – she bunkered down and got serious.
By the fourth stream, I was barely holding it together; I couldn’t ignore Turner’s new video, but I was afraid of revealing too much. That morning, six officers disguised as hunters searched the property again; it’s the best way for heavily armed men to walk about inconspicuously. More of Page’s witchy totems were scattered throughout the forest; some hung in trees, and some were balanced atop piles of rocks.
I somehow resisted the urge to immediately destroy them; we didn’t want her to know we saw anything. That was before we understood how thoroughly secluded she was [shudders]. The totems weren’t there two days before, but suddenly, they numbered more than fifty. The fact she continued to move freely about my property – after such extreme precautions – was too much for my mind to comprehend.
And fuck, that video, right? I can finally tell you how it happened, but I’m adding an extra disclaimer that this is viewer discretion highly-fucking advised, okay? It’s fine if you don’t want to listen; the next story will be up in a couple hours.
Okay, so. You’ll hear why later, but here’s how Page completed her sacrificial duties. You know – in order to complete what we thought to be a ritual called Knot of Fate. We were slightly off; apparently it’s a curse and doesn’t have an exact translation, but it’s closer to Tangled Destiny… or so I’m told.
I’m glad you asked, Lore; the reason she crossed state lines was purely tactical to avoid police detection; it’s pretty disturbing how simple it was. Using a fake identity, she bought a car online and hit the road. She filmed the whole journey for “the sake of history” but didn’t think to start a channel until I opened my fat mouth. Batty bitch even bought souvenirs!
When ready for a victim, she pretended to be an Uber driver until someone was too drunk to check the app; it’s surprising how normal she looks in a face mask and makeup. Much like my old friend, Rick – these people mistook her small, fragile appearance as non-threatening; in our world, there’s no such thing.
Eventually, someone always crawled into the backseat, and Turner drove off like she knew where they were going. On the rare occasion someone complained, she cheerfully apologized and corrected course. Once they were safely on the road, she’d offer the passenger a bottle of water and wait for the drugs to take effect.
I asked what she did if they refused the drink, but she said it only happened once – on number six. It took her by such surprise, she drove the woman all the way home and found another. The survivor’s original driver got five stars… I really can’t even.
Once unconscious she injected them with enough horse tranquilizer to ensure they wouldn’t wake up before the sacrifice could be completed. She claimed the drug choice was based on ease of access but didn’t elaborate further. The only shred of solace the families have is knowing their loved ones didn’t suffer; considering the exceptionally mortifying methods employed, it is something.
The usual routine consisted of locating a new subdivision and borrowing an empty house. In the basement, she was able to use lights without fear of a passerby. The broad strokes include candles, an extremely complicated symbol, and a prayer – which must be in Ancient Greek – to whatever the hell she worshiped as very precise cuts are made.
When the deed was done and the messes were cleaned – she googled local papers to suss out where the gangs frequent. After dumping the bodies into said gangster’s territory, she got the hell out of dodge. Turner was sodisgustingly proud of herself. What terrified me most is how someone so calculating, so seemingly intelligent – could be so far off the deep end.
I also asked about the storage unit, but it was the one thing she wasn’t eager to discuss. The Feds shut me out of the investigation, but I was able to learn they still haven’t found the place. Since Page already had twelve people, they assumed she was in Michigan – but they recently expanded the search radius. The mystery behind that shrine is shaping up to be darker than anything I’ve seen, and it might be years before we know more.
As you all know, this was the last stream; I had a feeling it would be. The last three videos were ready to go, so my brother posted at 7:30 until told differently. Page knew that video would cost her the channel, but she posted anyway because she was already finished with it.
The Final Showdown:
Okay, this is it – what you’ve all been waiting for; the following occurred between Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning. I could feel it in my bones; something was about to happen. The boys were at school, but I wasn’t taking chances.
I successfully embodied the character of each overly paranoid whacko in the Pasta catalog; the game was afoot. Firmly picturing the walls with literal ears, I packed a couple of suitcases without saying a word. After paying cash for a cheap – yet safe – hotel room, I left the luggage behind and drove to the boy’s school.
After giving Aiden the hotel key, I followed to ensure they arrived safely… and this is where I had to make one of the most difficult choices of all – who kept Eddie. I know, it seems like an easy choice, right? Technically, yes, because I always knew Ed was staying… but I also know that if I were a neutral third-party – that the tactical decision was to keep him where actual danger was most likely to occur. But they’re my kids… so, fuck tactics.
The hotel absolutely does not allow dogs, but with the agreement to be discreet and pay double – exceptions were made. I waited until I was leaving to say training pads were in the suitcase, but there wasn’t anywhere to walk a dog anyway.
I made sure they understood how important it was not to tell anyone their location. They’re not stupid, but I felt better saying it. The packed pop-tarts, lunchables, and snack-foods wouldn’t make the most nutritious dinner, but their young bodies could endure it under the circumstances. Thankfully they only needed to spend one night there.
I truly thought I outsmarted her this time; all day I played it cool. Then at 4:00, I tweeted “Early weekend start with the boys! No stream!” – I even ordered three large pizzas like on real movie nights!
All the while I was making sure the windows were still nailed shut and adding tinfoil for food measure—
Yes, Lore, tinfoil – because I was sick of thinking I saw her peeking in.
No, why would you think that’s a joke? Every time I passed a window there’d be this fucking spot in the corner of my eye; it was literally making me even crazier! Besides – that’s what the cameras are for, fuck those windows.
Oh, Lady I’m actually really happy you mentioned ADT, this is perfect timing. Okay so you guys remember she got all the special attention for her complete domination of the security system hacks, yea? So, apparently no, she wasn’t special; don’t get me wrong, she was a decent hacker, but nothing close to what we thought.
I don’t understand the technical side but I’m sure it’s explained in one of the reports coming out. I can’t stand those Hollywood ass-fucks. They couldn’t wait a few days to announce a sequel, nope; within a matter of hours it’s everywhere.
Sorry, didn’t mean to go on a tangent, but essentially, hacking your way into full access of ADT’s system – alone – from a random location, would take skills of an impressive magnitude. Blackmailing an employee and receiving direct access to my personal account is another matter entirely. This would have been discovered had the guilty man not been a long-time, trusted technician; he effortlessly erased what meager traces remained after each login.
I’m neither gladdened nor saddened by the fact he’s facing a divorce and jail sentence in the near future; he – and his family – are merely more victims left in the wake of Turner’s destruction. Am I bitter of all we suffered purely because a man couldn’t keep it in his pants? Of course I am, but I’m also very tired and feel like he’s suffering adequately without my attention.
Where were we before all that? … Ah, thanks, Stu; By sunset on Thursday, I felt like my house was a fortress. Bill and Ted were outside doing their thing, and I was strutting around like GI Joe with my lucky psycho hunting knife. Even with both guns, the blade made me feel the safest. Not as safe as Eddie, but he was exactly where he needed to be.
After receiving the pizza – I set it in the kitchen, used the bathroom, and started a podcast before fixing a plate. I was starving; those five slices were the first thing I ate since breakfast. They also came very close to killing me. I felt the first warning when I suddenly transitioned from drowsy to intoxicatingly delirious.
I tried to stand but fell, slamming my elbow into the coffee table on the way down. The now purple bruise testifies to the forceful impact, but I only felt a numbing tingle. I admit to having a sizable party streak in my younger days, so while my memories are fuzzy for this portion – I remember being higher than a fucking kite.
Who knows how much time passed before Turner was standing before me; I wouldn’t have checked the footage even if the cameras were recording. I do remember she was incredibly annoyed I ‘ate too much’ – she practically had to drag me downstairs; the intention was for me to be groggy but semi-functional.
I was aware of losing the guns, but my arms were useless, dead weights. Fortunately, I was numb when rolling down the last basement steps; it’s a damn miracle no bones were broken. Upon impact with the concrete floor, I blacked out entirely.
After a few hard slaps, I woke to a familiar sensation. My clothes were drenched in sweat, my heart was hammering, and my mouth was completely numb, but underneath the rising terror and panic, euphoria was creeping to the surface.
A frantic look at my surroundings revealed I was tied to a support column in the basement; the crazy bitch installed one of those castle-dungeon-wall-loop-things to the post! Not only that, the psycho had black war-paint all over her face in some kind of tribal design!
I wasn’t willing to speak first; when we made eye contact, we stared each other down. Casually, she reported that I ingested a generous dose of cocaine; considering it’d been twenty years since my last ingestion, it combated the Special K rather effectively. Overall, I was lucky; had she used the normal dosage, the fourth slice would have been fatal.
It took a while for any conversation of substance to form. I was awake but slow-witted; she made coffee to speed the process, and I hate that it actually tasted good. Though… it isn’t surprising she knew how I prefer it… probably saw me make it 100 times [shudder].
When I was finally coherent enough to appreciate the depths of my fucked-ness, I learned quite a lot. Remember our creed? Right – ‘Hell no, fuck ho-bos.’ Turns out, I never lost mine; crazy bitch planned every bit from day one! Well, not the breaks where she was locked up or healing – but yea, basically all the rest.
The attic nest was always a failsafe for the increasing chance of discovery over longer periods of time. Regardless of caution, the odds were statistically poor considering it was a four family household with a dangerous guard dog. I’ve debated leaving this suspicion out… but I’m just gonna say it…
So, she made this comment about spreading her smell around the house to blend with our family scent – ultimately becoming invisible to Eddie.
Side note: “family scent” is a thing for pets, you can Google that shit.
My initial reaction was ‘holy hell is that why he was slow to notice all those times’, which prevented me from seeing… this other possibility…
A common way animals spread their scent is through urination. Do… do you guys remember when I ended that stream by saying I had to walk Eddie “before he pissed on my chair again?”
Well… the thing is, he was always a really good boy about going outside until the whole intruder thing started. When we found accidents we’d scold him but not too bad; the vet thought he was either traumatized or marking his territory because we felt threatened… likely a mixture of both. It happened on and off over the years, but the worst occasions line up with Page’s timeline…
[horrified] I’m trying to ask if y’all think that crazy bitch was pissing in my house! … [sob] Why?
[sigh] We should pick up the pace, we’ve been here longer than expected… I don’t know how to say this next part without sounding ridiculous… but everything I’ve said has been ridiculous; so, who cares anymore.
Remember when I said there was a catch with the cave in the woods? The moment she corrected me, I understood my mistake. She said I shouldn’t have thought of it as a cave but a tunnel! That bitch has been tunneling under my property like bugs fucking bunny all these years; there’s an access door under the basement steps!
Guys, there aren’t enough emojis in the world; just stop trying.
Honestly, those were works of art; engineers are still going through them to shore up the walls. Due to all the cold cases surrounding Turner – multiple agencies are searching for evidence. How terrible am I for being a little excited at the prospect of having escape tunnels under my house when this is over? I don’t see the point of collapsing them if they’re safe, and she can never use them again.
Haha, don’t worry Lady, I’m getting to that part. We talked for a long while, but I was efficiently attached to that beam for the duration. She was too smart to unlock the bar herself; instead, she tossed me the key. I was so curious of the tunnels I might have gone in even without being held at gun-point.
They were everything she claimed. Not too tall or wide – because materials were limited – but extremely long, and the potion lab is in her living quarters. These spaces are almost 7ft in height and consist of three ‘rooms’ roughly the size of an average den. Besides the one used for witchcraft, there’s a storage and lounging area. That’s where her bed and normal books were kept. Maybe she was a dwarf in a past life; there’s clearly some kind of mountain-person-history there.
She claimed the tunnels extend to her first shelter in the forest – and I have no doubt they do – but there hasn’t been a chance to fully explore; I was never meant to live past the cauldron room. Somehow she managed to get enough concrete down there to pour a 12×12 slab; that’s where she drew her insanely detailed curse symbol. Once she was ready for me to lay on that thing, shit got real.
Basically, I told her it didn’t matter how many guns she had. There’s no way I was gonna lay down and let her carve me up just so! Then she said my sons’ hotel room number… and said a man named Chill was ‘keeping them company’ in case I decided to be difficult.
Isn’t it crazy how a few words can hold power to sway our strongest resolve? I took three full steps before coming to my senses… why in the ever-loving fuckballs did believe that statement? Then, finally, something went my way; she called the Goon on speakerphone as proof. On the fourth call, a very angry man answered; I’d trade my left nut to have the audio recorded, but I can give you the basics.
Chill was paid to break into the hotel room of two defenseless children; he knew nothing about a pit bull or senior baseball player. It was difficult to hear when she took him off speaker, but the screams were loud enough to learn he was missing two fingers and probably had a fractured skull. Unfortunately, he was already across state lines at the time of that call and has not been captured.
The guy didn’t try to be stealthy; he announced himself by kicking in the door – intent on snatching two small children. Instead, The Good Boy took him down, and Aiden swung his bat until Chill begged for mercy.
Me too, Lady, but despite what I would have done, Conner was crying and Aiden was scared; they just wanted it to be over with. Once they called off the dog, that guy crawled out of there crying and apologizing. They tried to call right away but my phone was in the living-room; when police learned I wasn’t answering, Bill and Ted were asked to check inside.
To catch up to their entrance – I need to jump back once more. Turner knew she was fucked. What incentive is a gun if you can’t use it without ruining your little voodoo curse? I saved the craziest part for last because this is the kind of shit you can’t make up.
You wanna know what her Tangled Destiny curse does? With the power of some “Ancient God older than the Olympian’s” – she was going to “bind our life forces together” which means if one of us dies—
HA! I knew someone was gonna say it, thanks Disco. No, the other doesn’t die – no, no, no; her whacked out magic is ass-backwards. It keeps them alive! The only way to kill the Bound is if they die simultaneously. It’s insanity, right? But wait, it gets so much better. When her plan to get me into her little circle thing failed – she got hilariously desperate… I can laugh at this now, anyway.
Page dropped both guns and kicked them to the other side of the room. I was so shocked that even her freaky smile and war-painted face didn’t scare me; I felt powerful now that the cocaine was in full effect. Then she said she would get me into the circle by force and stepped inside.
Next, she revealed a large hunting knife, reminding me of my own – still tucked into my boot. With the guns out of reach, there was no reason not to use it. I was sad she seemed indifferent to the revelation, but I couldn’t hesitate; this was finally my moment.
I lunged forward, fully expecting her to dodge or counter – at which point we would engage in a duel to the death – but that didn’t happen. She just stood there… smiling… laughing as the blade sank into her abdomen and my hand crushed the wrist of her knife arm. Our eyes remained locked as her blade clattered to the floor; Slowly, dreamlike, I pulled the knife upwards and felt the sickeningrip of flesh until metal collided with bone.
Before I tell you the rest I’m going to explain what really happened so no one rains on my parade because we’re still celebrating, and fuck anyone who doesn’t wanna join.
This bitch knew it was game over and decided to inflict whatever last bit of psychological torture possible. Sinking to her knees, she removed something from her pocket and threw it at my feet; every last breath was used to explain how the curse really worked.
The item she threw was a Michigan state driver’s license for Maria Sanchez. Once my face showed I understood the implication, she revealed I was never meant to be number thirteen, Maria was. The only thing left was for the Curse-er – Page – to have her own blood spilled inside the sacrificial circle by the Curse-ee – me – which was now complete. Essentially, this means she will soon rise from the dead and plague me for eternity, but unfortunately for her, that shit is bunk.
If I thought for two seconds it were true, I would have shot myself then and there – which is probably what she was hoping for – but we live in the real world. So I watched her die with a smile on my face, then ran upstairs to find Bill calling for backup.
And now you know why I named this stream Final Cut.
Six months later…
Alright Night Crawlers, listen up – we gotta make this quick; Sarah will have all your hides if I’m late for date night. I just wanted to introduce part three of The Eternal Night series, Months of Night… and while I’m here anyway I might as well tell you about this trippy dream real quick. I’m clearly still adjusting to the fact Aiden abandoned us for the big, scary college world; [sniffle] hah, sorry, just a joke in case he’s listening.
So, the dream – I was at the cemetery, visiting Amber’s grave, but all of a sudden – I realize I’m actually looking at Page fucking Turner’s tombstone! If that wasn’t bad enough it got dark and stormy but I couldn’t leave; I was just stuck in place and hearing weird noises from everywhere. Then, when I can finally take a few steps forward, I trip and face-plant it across the psycho’s grave. As I try to get up, a hand shoots out of the ground and grabs my face! Ugh, it sucked—
… Hold up, let me ban this fool real quick; we don’t play that shit anymore.
Can you believe people are still doing that? How long do you think that loser lurked around with their display name as Page Turner waiting to make a remark like that? We don’t exactly discuss her often. [mocking] “Are you sure it was a dream?” What a douche. Oh well – push you later, Crawlers.
I’m so sad Halloween is over, but I’m more sad we found another kitten. It’s a girl this time, nothing but bones and desperate for attention. On and on it goes. Until one day I finally catch the person doing it. Then you’ll all wonder why I disappeared without saying a word. It’ll be because I’m in jail for murder.
I have been working on my blog layout. I feel like I have too many posts to continue with one menu option. I wanted to let you all know I am aware of this and taking steps to improve. That being said, I’m bombing with the theme options. Ideally, I would like to have four categories:
Classics Translated (Re-written may give the wrong impression)
I know I have few items belonging to the latter categories, but I’m planning for the long term. My main focus will remain on my original theme, but I want to continue developing our cult. What started as a joke is growing into something beautiful, and I would like to see where it takes us. I don’t intend to write horror or classics regularly, but I have a passion for both and would like to post them when the mood strikes. Again, I can never thank you all enough for your tremendous support.
Today, I would like to properly begin explaining my time living is Rose-yard, a very dangerous subdivision in the middle of my hometown. If you’ve read earlier posts, you may have seen a few references to the “dangerous duplex” already. I briefly mentioned a desperate move after my parents smelled weed in my room, but the details were rushed as they weren’t the focus of our topic. I lived there 2-3 months before Crook and I bought his sister’s house. A surprising amount of drama happened in that short time, but to do it justice let me start by telling you a little about the home first.
In case any aren’t familiar with Duplexes, they’re basically one house divided into individual apartments. The one we’re focused on is somewhat well-known where I’m from due to the man who lived there before me. We will get to him in a moment, let’s start with Mickey. He was my coworker at the restaurant, and I considered him a close friend until he robbed me on multiple occasions. As you see on the map, he lived in the left side.
Mickey was an Irish boy with the frizzy, bright orange hair of a true ginger. He kept it braided in a single ponytail which ran down the length of his back, and only wore tight black jeans with plain colored shirts. If he was awake, he wasn’t sober. He was on a cocktail of cocaine, meth, more pills than I can name, and drank heavily on top of it all. I truly don’t know how he survived. His girlfriend (Mona) looked exactly like him; people thought they were twins, but she fed me free donuts so I was fond of her.
On the right side, where I would eventually live, was Booker. Fair warning, his story is tragic. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, but where I’m from they say that for anyone who behaves… well, dangerously insane. The problem with Booker wasn’t solely his mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, he had it rough, but his problems were exacerbated by the copious amounts of meth he injected.
Even more difficult was his financial situation. Meth can be an expensive drug when you need large quantities on a daily basis. Booker, ever the entrepreneur, began cooking his own. For all his quirks, he must have been good at it because he sold a lot and never blew up the house. A small bar opened off the highway next to Rose-yard and it became his office.
As time passed, Booker grew comfortable with his habits. People largely ignored him, considering him a harmless nuisance. One night, he set his sights on a girl at the same time as another local tough guy; only this one was well liked. As the competition grew heated, threats were made, and both men agreed to take it outside. The two exited the bar followed by a crowd eager to watch a fight.
As Booker instead walked to his truck, he was ridiculed. People taunted him for cowardice. No one knows if the insults changed his mind, or if his original intention was always to retrieve a gun. Regardless, he returned to shoot the other man in the head, killing him instantly.
Booker fled the scene, returning home. Police arrived quickly and found him in the attic, attempting to destroy his meth lab. After the arrest, they proceeded to make several large holes in each wall of the apartment. To answer the question of my regular readers, yes. They say the bar and home are haunted now. I can’t confirm the house is haunted based on my time there, but I absolutely could believe it’s cursed.
Skipping ahead to my move-in, we will jump to the part where I ask Mickey to please inform the landlord, “If he lets me move in today, he doesn’t have to fix the holes. And that I’ll pay all cash.” I don’t know how things are done in the real world, but in my messed up corner it’s called “getting shit done.” I was given the green light within the hour and ready to face my next obstacle.
When I go into my crazy place – that mental snap where the world goes fuzzy and my autopilot is stuck on self destruct mode – my brain doesn’t actively think or plan. Instead it understands the Now. The present moment in which we currently live. Nothing exists before and nothing will come after. You do what you must to stay alive in the Now. No more, sometimes less.
New home secured I understood my possessions needed to be relocated. After receiving my keys, I stared politely as Landlord explained there would be no rental contracts; I live there as long as I pay and will leave when I can’t. Pleased he appeared to understand how I live, I paid him to speed his departure. I then emptied my car to maximize space for moving. Preparing to make my first drive, a paranoid sensation washed over me.
I didn’t mind the holes in the wall. I already knew what posters would hang where. What I did mind – and should have expected – was the broken glass in the back door. The shattered pane was the bottom corner next to the doorknob, clearly done to facilitate a break-in. Unable to leave with such a security risk, I repaired it the way I was taught to fix everything – with duct tape. After a few layers on both sides and surprisingly less cuts than expected, it was acceptable.
I made several trips – loading my car to capacity each – all with my mind utterly blank. It wasn’t until I was making the last trip for the day that I realized furniture would never fit into my car. The hour grew late and I wished to avoid confrontation over my coming and going while Dad tried to sleep. I resolved to return with my bed and leave the rest until morning. I didn’t understand my dilemma until I stood staring at the bed, ready to remove the sheets. Unwilling to ask for assistance, I packed my pillows, filled the car once more, and went home to sleep on Booker’s leftover smelly couch.
In the interest of staying honest, I’m going to admit I carried my plan through without hesitation or guilt. We need to take a short recess so I can explain Chris. We shared a study hall the previous year and he drove a large truck. I developed a crush on him as we talked more and more in the classroom, bonding over our shared outcast status. He was probably the sweetest, most innocent guy I’ve ever known, but we weren’t suited for each other. He was a hopeless romantic who dreamed of moving to Tennessee and having five children. Obviously that did not appeal to me on any level. Okay, back to the story.
Last round of unpacking completed, I decided to text Chris. I initiated a ‘just wanted to chat’ conversation that quickly evolved into bragging about my new home. With some carefully phrased questions I learned he was also newly single and feeling the burn of rejection. I lured him into my web with little effort. “You know, if you’re really bored you could come hang out here. First I just have a few more trips to make before I’m finished moving… it’s really hard when you only have a small car…”
“Hey! I have a big truck! What if I came with you? We could finish in half the time!” Chris suggested, all own his own.
“Aw, you would do that? I hadn’t even thought of that! You’re my hero!” I said in my best distressed damsel voice.
Chris arrived within the hour. Not only did we finish in two trips, he stayed with me to assist in cleaning. The house was more disgusting than you imagine. “I don’t mind at all. Dad owns a septic business. It’s going to be mine one day so I’m use to this kind of stuff. As long as I have soap to wash my hands after, I’m fine.” He happily assured me as he scrubbed the disgustingly brown toilet bowl.
Making a mental note to find soap before he realized I didn’t have any, I continued unpacking. As the hour grew late, my brain realized I did not want to spend another horrifying night alone in that place. When you live in a neighborhood like that, in a house where only a thin wall separates you from people who never stop partying til sunrise, everything goes bump in the night.
“Wow, I didn’t realize how late it got. The day really flew by once you were here… too bad you can’t stay the night. I don’t want you to leave now, haha.” My heart hammered as I waited for his response.
“Seriously? You’d let me stay? All night?!” His innocence was adorable.
“Of course. I love having you around.” I genuinely did like and appreciate him. I’m not a complete monster. Yes, I initiated all this so he would help me move, but I liked him a lot. I was normally too shy to be so brazen, but needing him gave me courage.
When he agreed to stay I assumed we would sleep together. Men tend to have expectations in these kinds of situations, and in his case, I was okay with that. I knew he was a virgin, but still expected him to try. We shared a bed and talked a little before falling asleep, but he was too shy to make a move. I think it made me like him even more. We were officially dating before the next day ended, but that is when things turned sour.
As I returned to work and he to school, I learned what true clinginess was. He texted me every second we were apart. The only time he wasn’t texting was when he went into class, but even then I would receive, “I’m out of math now, I miss you so much.” He would talk for the five minute break, then say, “The bell for science rang, I’ll talk to you in 50 minutes.”
At first I thought it was cute, even enjoyed it. No one had ever paid me so much (positive) attention. I assumed things would normalize once we had time to settle into the relationship, but they didn’t. After two weeks things were getting worse instead of better. I didn’t know how to tell him, “I really like you, but I’m losing my mind. I can’t watch tv, play a game, or read a book because there’s never a time you aren’t talking. I can’t keep staying awake all night because the only free time I have is when you sleep.” I was too shy and it sounded cruel. When he mentioned the Tennessee and kids dream, I broke up with him as gently as possible. He took it surprisingly well, but I never saw him again. Now that Chris is out of the way, let’s talk about what being in Rose-yard alone was like.
I was completely alone until Crook moved in later. I only owned one tv which meant there wasn’t one in my bedroom. Sleeping without one proved terrifying and impossible. As I laid in the pitch black darkness on my third night, I heard doors opening all around me. Reminding myself it was on Mickey’s side was useless. I imagined burglars pulling duct tape off the back door and creeping into my room. I stared into the dark opening of the hallway, seeing human shapes there; waiting for me to fall asleep. I quickly resigned myself to sleeping on the couch full time.
Early the next morning, I woke to someone violently banging on my front door. I’m not proud of my behavior, but when I’m rudely pulled from a sound sleep I react poorly. I had no more control over my actions than an alcoholic in withdrawal. All fear of the dangerous neighborhood forgotten, I ripped my door open in a rage. I was face to face with a short, plump, blonde woman; fist raised, ready to begin the next round. I’m not going to type all the curses I threw at her, but if you want a truly accurate account, insert “fuck” after each word I say. I apologize, but I’m a tiny, weak woman. Cursing is my human way of intimidation. I can’t fluff my hair out like cats, but I can curse like a sailor.
“What the hell is your problem?” My voice was low and cruel. I wanted my face to exude pure hatred, and I think it did. The woman hesitated, unsure how to respond.
“I… I’m sorry if I woke you, but I need to talk to Mickey. Right now.” She looked past me as if expecting to see him.
“Yea, you did wake me! It’s 7:00 in the morning and a psycho is trying to beat down my door for someone who doesn’t live here! That is Mickey’s side.” I pointed to the other door as I prepared to slam my own.
“I know, but he won’t answer. I wanted to ask if you could try to wake him. Can you call him or knock on his wall or… something?” She asked me this as if it were the most reasonable thing in the world, but didn’t understand she wasn’t speaking to me. She was speaking to the demon who possesses my body when I’m unable to Adult.
“Hell no you didn’t just tell me that! You know?! What is wrong with you? Do you seriously expect to beat down someone’s door first thing in the morning and have that person help you?” Again, I prepared to slam the door, but she caught my attention once more.
“Wait, please! I’m Tyler’s mom!” She put her hand against the door and spoke faster. “That’s Tyler’s truck parked in your back yard, and I heard Mickey has been selling parts off it. If he gives me the keys and the money he made, I won’t call the police.” The woman misunderstood the situation greatly. The satisfied expression on her face told me she thought I cared if Mickey got into trouble.
I continued speaking with her because I wanted to enjoy seeing that smug expression vanish when she learned the truth. “Lady, I couldn’t care less what happens to Mickey or that truck. The only thing I cared about was sleep, but since you ruined any chance of that let me tell you a little something about Tyler. Do you even understand why that truck is back there? It’s because the girl who lived here before Booker was his girlfriend. When she broke up with him, your little psycho beat the shit out of her. Then when she wouldn’t forgive him, he decided to drive that truck into her kitchen. The house is so high up he went under the house instead of into it. Now the truck is totaled. If you want to call the cops go for it, but if I have to open this door again, it’s going to be with a gun.” I successfully slammed the door on that final note. I didn’t own a gun, but thought it sounded intimidating.
Through the peephole I could see her making a call. She yelled “Okay then, I’m calling them right now.” through the door, but I don’t know if she really did. No police came, but they rarely did in that neighborhood.
When I woke to more knocking at 4am the next morning, I feared it would be routine. This time, two extremely large men stood outside, knocking on both doors. They looked angry and I didn’t open it, but I watched them through the peephole. I tried to call Mickey, knowing he was awake by the sounds coming through my wall, but he wouldn’t answer. Unfortunately I would grow use to the sounds of their tantric sex parties, but my only concern at that moment was to rid myself of the angry men on our porch.
As I typed a message to Mickey, Mona text me first. It read “Stay inside and don’t call the cops no matter what.” That was never a good sign, but I didn’t understand why they thought I would call the police. I wasn’t suicidal (that they knew of), but it became clear when Mickey finally went outside. Since I was awake anyway, I indulged the curiosity, staying at the peephole to watch.
“Look who decided to open up! Where you been at white boy?” the taller one said as they closed in on a Mickey.
“I’ve been right here…” Mickey was more difficult to hear. He spoke softly unlike his friends. Whatever he said, the men clearly weren’t pleased.
“You think you get to ignore us? You think you something special? Like you can just take whatever you want we ain’t coming for yo ass?” The shorter man with gold teeth began poking Mickey in the chest, pushing him back against the house. They stood so close, their noses almost touched.
I could see Mickey, staring at the ground, lips moving, but couldn’t hear his response. When he finished talking he began digging through his pockets. He held out wads of crumpled bills which were promptly snatched from his clutches. Even without physically seeing how much it was, I knew it had to be very little. They were clearly tips from work, meaning the majority were dollar bills.
“What is this shit? I know this ain’t all you have! Where the rest? Up your damn nose prolly. Whatcha think D? Think we can take our shit right out of his nose?” I covered my mouth to stifle my scream. Very quickly, the one with gold teeth grabbed Mickey’s braid, yanking his head back to bounce off the wall.
“It’s all I have. I can get…” is all he had a chance to say. The man called D cut Mickey’s words short with a punch to the stomach. My eyes darted to the door, expecting to see friends rush to his aid, but no one came.
As Mickey tried to regain his breath, the short one threw him to the ground. Both began kicking him all over while D informed him, “This your last warning bitch. Everyday you don’t pay, this is gonna be worse! You hear me?”
Mickey, curled into fetal position, could only shake his head in agreement. The men spit on him before leaving, then his friends came to help. One eye already swollen shut, he walked inside with them. A few minutes later, he returned, gently knocking on my door. Checking to make sure he was alone, I let him in, eager to hear the explanation.
“I just wanted to make sure you were ok…” He stood by the front windows, watching the road.
Only wanting his story, not small talk, I set his mind at ease. “Don’t worry I didn’t call the cops, no ones coming.”
Relief washed over him and he took a seat. “I was suppose to pay them today, but I ran into a few problems. If you ever see those guys again, just make sure your doors are locked and stay inside, you understand?” He said these things casually, as if he weren’t just beaten up on our porch.
“Yea, I mean that kind of goes without saying. But why do you owe them money? Is that their cocaine?” I was surprised further by how calmly he prepared the line he was now snorting from my coffee table.
“Yea, but it’s really good stuff. Here, I thought it’s the least I could do after the crazy bitch from yesterday, and now you had to wake up even earlier because of this shit.” He arranged a smaller line and offered me a rolled up bill with which to snort it.
Being young and upset about missed sleep, I took it gratefully. I couldn’t help but laugh at the $100 bill I was snorting it with. I don’t know how much money he owed those guys, but I can’t help feeling they may have been slightly kinder had he paid with it instead of tip money.
I did indeed see the men once more. Of course it was at a rare time I was genuinely home alone. Mickey and Mona were at work, and my music was playing loudly enough to be heard from outside. It was roughly 5:00pm when the loud bangs sounded at the door. Looking through the peephole I saw them with the same angry expressions and knew Mickey never paid them.
I dialed 911 but hesitated over the call button. If I went through with it, not only would police never arrive in time, but those men would know I was the only person who could have called. I desperately wanted to stay off their radar. I kept watch, deciding if they attempted to enter – I would run out the back door and down the street. Instead, I tried to call Mickey and Mona but neither answered.
The one with gold teeth pounded against my door while D worked on the other. Finally, D kicked Mickey’s door hard enough to break it open. “There we go. Time to make our money back! Stay on that door.” D indicated mine. “If someone come out, take their phone.”
That’s all I needed to hear. I value my phone more than life. I moved the couch against the door, terrified he would decide to simply kick it open anyway. Then I continued stacking everything I could lift onto the couch. I almost threw up when I remembered how easy it would be for them to open the back door. You guys know those paracord bracelets? I use to have one until I used it to tie one end around the door knob and the other to the fridge.
As I did these things, I text Mickey and Mona several warnings and updates, but after finishing the back door I saw the men were gone. Mickey’s door remained wide open, but the men were nowhere in sight. I was too afraid to open the door, but I looked out each window several times and couldn’t find them.
Mickey eventually returned my call. He apologized and thanked me profusely for not calling the police. Apparently he had a large drug cache hidden inside and was desperate to check on it. Thankfully he didn’t want to tell me where, but even if he had I still wasn’t willing to open my door. This incident scared Mona badly enough to borrow money from her father. She paid the drug debt under the condition they agreed not to do business together anymore. Everyone seemed fine with her terms.
A few days after this incident, I left for work in a rush, forgetting to lock my door. Desperate not to lose more time, I called Mickey. He said he would lock the door, but after hanging up I realized I also forgot my cigarettes.
Turning around, I made it home in time to see Mickey exiting my apartment. I only had to wonder why he felt the need to go inside for a few seconds before he saw me and shoved his hands into his pockets. I was still too naive to accept a close friend would blatantly steal from me, but even if I had, I would have been too afraid to confront him.
Had I realized in that moment he stole the amulet I wore to every tennis match I ever played – I would have blacked out and burned the house down with both of us inside, but I didn’t. Instead, I chastised myself for being a paranoid asshole. Sadly it would take loaning him $250 on top of later discovering my amulet was gone before I learned I wasn’t just paranoid that time. He actively stole from me every chance he had, only to deny it later.
Now you should all have a decent idea of what it was like to live there. Next time we discuss Rose-yard I’ll be able to get straight to the good stuff. I’m not sure when that will be, but we’ll get to it eventually. I would like to stop here so I have time to tell you about one more idea I want to implement.
Last month, I mentioned the horrible poems I wrote in high school. I have several notebooks filled with the cheesiest emo girl stuff you’ve ever seen. In the OCD interest of having all my work in one place, I wanted to find a way to post them here without losing all my followers. I think I have found a way to do that. Obviously I can’t post them on their own, but I could write one at the bottom of every normal post.
I feel like that will complete my goal without fear of new readers seeing them first and never clicking on stuff again. I freely admit I know nothing about poetry; not how to write it or how to judge it. With the exception of Poe’s The Raven and Blake’s The Poison Tree, I don’t even like poetry. Mine were simply the byproduct of a sad, depressed teenager who desperately wanted the pain to stop. No more. I strongly recommend you only read the poems at the end if you want a laugh. If you’re cruising for good poems, this is not where you want to be.
That being said, thank you all once again, LGFN forever! Remember, be safe out there. Sometimes they really are out to get you.
You are so predictable, But god, you just seemed so sensible. Why shouldn’t I love you? Why can’t I trust you? Why not settle down? Why not take a chance? Why shouldn’t we hold hands? You promised you were right, You promised I was wrong.
I wanted to stop running, But now the pain keeps coming. Now the thought of you makes me sick. Why was it you I had to pick? Why did you have to be my one shot? Why was it me you forgot? Why did you give me hope? Why did you take it away, For a reason you’ll never say?
It’s not fair, it’s not right. Why is it you I have to fight? You were suppose to be different, You were suppose to show me how, But you were wrong, and I’m alone now.
I knew I shouldn’t love you, I knew not to trust you. I knew not to settle down, I knew it was wrong to take a chance. I knew not to hold your hands!
Why didn’t I keep running? This pain wouldn’t be coming, But I did and it is. Now I’m alone, forever and always, On my own, for the rest of my days.
I hope this final installment of the JustNoMil duology finds you well. The week is flying by, so with your permission I would like to dive right in today. We’re going to start with the first Valentines Crook and I were able to spend together. We were two years into the relationship, but he was on a rig for the first one. The second year, he returned from a two week hitch February 13th. Normally I don’t buy into Valentine’s Day unless it precedes the word ‘massacre,’ but we were excited for this one.
Upon arriving, Crook was unable to keep his special plans secret any longer. The fact he planned anything while at work was impressive. “I was trying to surprise you, but it’s harder keeping the secret now that I’m home. I made reservations at Haunted Hotel.” His voice was filled with pride. Securing a reservation anywhere on Valentines was difficult, but he succeeded with one of the best.
If you read Calling All Ghosts, yes. That’s the place. He knew I’m not big on romance, but wanted to show the effort. Hoping (correctly) a spooky theme would make the holiday more enjoyable, he called in a favor to reserve the best haunt-themed food in town.
As if her spidey-sense detected our happiness, Effie called intent to ruin it. “Hey Sweetie, I just wanted to make sure you got home safe.” Her sobs sounded more genuine than usual. I suppose practice makes perfect.
“Yea, I’m fine. What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Crook shifted into worriedson mode seamlessly.
I assumed she was trying to force him to feed her animals, but that was only a secondary reason for calling. “Oh… I’m fine… you don’t want to hear me cry about my pitiful life. I’m just so depressed about Valentines Day. I’d rather kill myself than spend another one alone…”
You could tell she was desperate by how quickly she brought out the big guns. With Crook’s blindness to the manipulation tactics I memorized in a month, Effie successfully invited herself to our dinner in under 5 minutes. Was I so angry I nearly blacked out? Obviously. Did I make a scene? No. I knew he would get defensive if I tried to explain what Effie was doing. Instead, I took deep breaths. Reminding myself, you hate this crap anyway. It’s only for dinner, just a couple hours. The rest of the day is ours. We’re going to watch anime, smoke weed, and eat Chinese takeout because that’s what gives life meaning.
That mantra got me through the night and next morning. At noon, my happy place was burned to the ground when Effie arrived, unannounced. I stared at her through the window, willing her to disappear, but eventually I was forced to open the door. I motioned for her to have a seat, explaining Crook was still catching up on his sleep.
Effie was having none of that. She walked straight down the hallway, into our bedroom, and shrieked “Wake up Sweetie! Mommy is heeeeeeeere!”
I remained on the living room floor, struggling to breath as a panic attack consumed me. I became deaf to all but my own thoughts. She went in our room. There’s someone in our room, what’s wrong with you? Get in there and killit!She’s going to sit on your bed! Move!
Faintly, distant noises began filtering through the static. I heard sounds that were either dresser drawers or blunt force trauma. Realizing the moans of pain were coming from myself, I assumed it was the former.
Eventually, I see them exit the bedroom, arm-in-arm. Crook disheveled and confused; Effie grinning ear to ear, still talking. “I’m so excited we’re spending the day together. This is the best Valentines ever!”
I physically bit my tongue, terrified to speak. I could already feel the angry tears forming. I knew if I tried to talk, only unintelligible squalls would emerge. The one thing preventing a full meltdown was my invisibility. Effie was only interested in feeding her delusion, and I didn’t fit into her script. I tuned her out, pouring all my focus into tv for the next several hours.
We were 20 minutes away from leaving for dinner when another knock sounded at the door. I opened it to be greeted by a dozen red roses; Crook’s last surprise. Before I could react, Effie pushed past me, squealing like Miss Piggy, and took my flowers.
Smelling the roses, she met my gaze. I’m not sure what emotion she mistook fury for, but I still get angry thinking about how she said “Oh Crook, you shouldn’t have! But it’s not fair to buy me all these beautiful roses!” Looking at me as if I were a homeless person begging for spare change, she gave me the card and one rose. “Here, don’t feel left out.”
(This always bothered me, think about it. Since she handed me the card… she knew, right? Deep down on a subconscious level she can never admit to… she had to know, right? I think she knew.)
I looked to Crook, (still naive enough to think he might correct her) but he stared at his feet, tail tucked between his legs. I threw the card (open for all to read) on the table next to Effie, and finished preparing for dinner.
Seated at the only 3-top in the restaurant, Effie ordered for all of us. When I told the waiter to change my order, she glared at me as if slapped. I held my tongue as she requested a vase for her roses, but I finally understood why she insisted on bringing them. It wasn’t enough to claim them, she needed other people to see; they made it feel real. When I didn’t react to her prompts clearly fishing for a compliment, she became sullen.
From that point forward, she complained about the food and service nonstop. The only complaint I had toward dinner was Effie’s company, but I digress. It was the longest dinner of my life, and we still weren’t free of her. Having refused to drive herself “to a date” we were stuck with her until she sobered enough to drive herself home. After the first pot of coffee, I thought she was faking. It wasn’t the first time she tried to spend the night, but it was thankfully the last.
Thus ended the worst Valentines of my life. For the next and last story regarding Effie, I will discuss her arm/shoulder surgery. Do you know what’s worse than a paranoid, codependent hypochondriac? A hypochondriac who actually has something wrong. I don’t have kids, I’ve never cared for one under 7 in my life, but I would take on five toddlers before going near Effie again.
At this stage, we were years into our relationship, and I was savvy to all Effie’s tricks. When we learned she was genuinely in need, I had no problem visiting her in the hospital or caring for her animals. When she was able to finish recovery at home, I was a fantastic sport. I even walked her to the bathroom a few times (it’s not like I had to go in with her).
What I did have issues with, was how she treated us while we were helping. Each day we did our usual chores, and before leaving we asked, “Is there anything else you need? You’re sure? Because we’re about to go home.”
Every single day she said, “No, I’m fine thanks.” Without fail, 10 minutes after being home, she called Crook, begging him to return.
If I had to guess, I think she preferred him to visit without me (I sure did) knowing he would be easier to manipulate. Let me be clear, after the first week, she was fully functional for everything except lifting or certain movements with her arm. We knew she would use us as long as possible, but even if she didn’t have a walker, there was absolutely no reason she could not walk unattended.
With that understood, here’s what happened three weeks into her recovery. As with every other day, we performed our morning chores, asked if she needed anything else, and went home. We only had time to sit down with a fresh bowl before the phone rang.
“Can’t we just ignore her this once? Just until we finish smoking?” I begged.
“I’m sorry, I just need to make sure she hasn’t hurt herself. I’m not going back today, I’m sick of it too.” Crook answered the phone. It was one thing to lie to me, I could understand that, but it was infuriating when he lied to himself. Let me break their conversation down the easy way as we near our conclusion.
Effie: Hey Baby, can you bring Mama something to eat? I finally have an appetite and I’m craving my favorite pizza place.
Crook: But… they’re right across the street. The doctor said you should be trying to get out now. It might be good for you to go.
Effie: I don’t care what that quack said! He can’t feel my pain! I’ll never make it!
Crook: Okay, fine. If you aren’t ready to drive, just have it delivered.
Effie: Ugh, I can’t get out of my chair to make it to the door! Why are you arguing with me? I’m starving!
Crook: Fine! When did they say it would be ready?
Effie: I haven’t ordered it. Tell them to make sure all these very picky details are correct or you’ll send it back. I absolutely can’t eat it if it’s not right.
Crook: I’ll never get all that straight. Could you at least call the order in? Then I’ll just pick it up and bring it to you.
Effie: No, they don’t like me, they always do it wrong on purpose. See if they’ll get it right for you.
Crook: Fine, I’ll be there soon to get the money, then I’ll go grab your food.
Effie: You can’t even buy your mother one meal while I’m starving to death?!
Crook: Yea, sorry.
People, my blood boiled. I could almost see the bubbles under my skin as the heat simmered throughout my body. I stared at Crook in disbelief, speechless, wondering if his balls would ever drop.
When Crook delivered her food, it was indeed wrong. He insisted she asked forolives, Effie insists she said no olives. I don’t know who was correct, I didn’t hear it firsthand, but I have two equally plausible theories.
Crook subconsciously got it wrong on purpose, sick of Effie’s shit.
Effie didn’t have anything else to complain about, and olives were the first thing she thought to use.
As an adult possibly speaking to impressionable teens, I won’t say what I would have done to the food, but if you’re familiar with the movie Waiting, you have a pretty good idea. The important thing is, these stories are home where they belong. There’s still the matter of my notebooks, but as far as online publications go, I think these were the only ones. Now I can spend the week fully submerged in all the glorious horror of Halloween. I think I’ll go listen to some CreepyPastas while I decide what to write next. Maybe I should start taking requests.
Oh yea, can’t forget the sign-off. You all be safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.
Cat Update: #12 has shown me his dingleberries, he is now Heathcliff. He no longer hides under the truck when we go outside but will not receive our pets. There is territory trouble with Percy and Lily, but we’re making daily progress.
If anyone is a fan of the subreddit JustNoMil, this one goes out to you. For those unfamiliar, MIL is mother-in-law, and Reddit has a fantastic community where people discuss their personal experiences. I highly recommend it, they have some gems. Bestie, who has relatable in-laws, introduced me to it knowing Crook’s mother was prime writing material. I posted a four part story about her six years ago, but can’t get into my old account. I want to bring them home to the rest of my crazy.
My only-child syndrome has clearly evolved to a new level. I now see my stories as living things, each in need of my loving protection. Maybe it’s more god-complex or OCD, but either way this needs to be done. They were fairly short, but typed in the subreddit’s speak. Written correctly, they’re too long for one post, but I think I can get it done in two. Back then, I was apparently too embarrassed to admit certain details. That and other deviations will be corrected in this improved telling of my MIL series.
Crook’s mother reminds me of a ginger Aunt Effie from Mama’s Family, so that’s what we’ll call her. We had a traditional meeting, Crook introduced us after our third date. She was kind, seemed normal, asked the usual questions. Was she a little chatty from the wine? Sure she was, but it was Friday night; nothing to raise red flags. By night’s end, I believed we would have a fairly decent relationship. Let’s call it the foolishness of youth.
Effie owned a large, beautiful house (I dreamed of one day inheriting), 5 dogs, and 6 cats. Roughly five minutes from her home, she owned a barn with 4 horses. Like so many others, she too habitually mixed wine with Xanax. As we learned with Amy, that can be a dangerous combo.
The short time Crook still lived with Effie, I gave no thought to him caring for her animals. It made sense; she was older, single, and Crook was being a good son. The first red flag didn’t wave until we moved in together. We transported all our possessions into one home over the course of one very long, hard day. When we finally stopped, we spread a blanket on the floor, plugged in a tv, and laid back, exhausted. Within 10 minutes, Effie called.
“Hey Sweetie, you fed the horses today, right?”
“No, I told you I wouldn’t be able today… remember? We’ve been moving stuff all day, we literally just sat down for the first time.”
“You did not tell me! It’s already dark out, they must be starving! You gotta get over there!” Effie shrieked loudly enough for me to hear perfectly. I was not pleased but remained silent.
“Yes. I did. You’re only five minutes away. You could feed them and be home in less than 30 minutes. I’m over 30 minutes away, and I’d have to get gas. I’m sorry, but do you think you could please handle it?”
“Oh I really don’t feel good, not tonight. I’ll end up hurting myself trying to lift those heavy feed bags…” Effie whined.
It was a long, painful conversation to hear, but at the end, Crook lost. For what it’s worth, he didn’t ride horses, didn’t much care for them at all, but knew they wouldn’t eat if he didn’t acquiesce. Effie rode them a few times, but otherwise simply enjoyed the status of ownership. After returning home, Crook showed me texts he sent, informing her to make future arrangements for the horses. As it were, he could no longer make the drive on a routine basis. He did not receive a reply.
I’m sure most of you have guessed, but she called the next evening with the same question, “Have you fed the horses yet?” Each day they had the same argument with the same result.
I stopped being a good sport after the first day but stayed silent, too timid to rock the boat. That all changed when Effie upped the ante. She grew bold in her demands, adding the cats and dogs to her list.
“Are you serious? It’s bad enough I have to waste time and gas to care for the horses you have nothing to do with but won’t sell; now you want me to come to your house – while your there – so I can clean the litter, feed, and water 11 animals?!” Crook paced, furious. “Well, it’s too bad. I’ve already fed the horses, and I’m not getting back out tonight.”
It was a lie, he hadn’t fed the horses, but she would never know. Each day he still deluded himself into thinking it the last. Never once did he consider feeding them early, as if doing so could further encourage her behavior.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner, but my back started hurting. I can’t handle the animals tonight, I need your help.” Effie cried, complaining of new aches and pains with each excuse Crook gave. She had two litter boxes, neither of which had been cleaned since we moved.
For almost three weeks, this new pattern continued. It evolved into Crook going straight to her house after work, making him 2-3 hours late getting home each night. We began fighting, both our limits stretched to the breaking point. Finally, he agreed to put his foot down. He didn’t have the balls to say a forceful “No!” but compromised by felling Effie we would be out of town for a week.
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to be over two hours away. If you can’t take care of your animals, maybe you should think about finding new homes for them.” Crook spoke kindly, but it didn’t matter.
Effie responded with shock and rage. The tears were instant, her cries deafening. “I can pay your gas. You could just wake up a little earlier and…”
“No! Do you hear yourself, do you know how crazy that sounds?!” He came close to losing his temper but reigned it in. “Please Mom, can you please take care of your animals for a week? I can’t handle this anymore, I need a break.”
We all needed a break. Effie pulled every emotional manipulation in the book, but Crook held strong. After an hour of being called an “ungrateful son whose abandoning his single mother and fur siblings to rot” she finally ended the call with, “Fine, I’m going to call you everyday to let you know everything is done… so if you haven’t heard from me by 6pm, something’s wrong.” She likes to hang up before you can respond. It’s her last line of defense; making poorly veiled insinuations something terrible is about to befall her and it’s your fault.
After no contact all week, she called us the morning we were due to return. “I’m alive, even though you clearly don’t care. I could have been dead and you wouldn’t know since you didn’t check on me once! My back is killing me now, I can’t move anymore. Feeding the horses and bending over that litter is just too much, I need your help. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast yesterday because I can’t get out of my chair except to crawl to the bathroom.” She poured the guilt trips out like they were rehearsed, nary a breath taken.
Her act won her a visit from both of us. I don’t remember why, maybe we had to go somewhere before. Not only did we have to order, pay for, and deliver her food, the house reeked of litter left untouched for a week. I refused to participate in the chores on sheer principle. I almost ignored her when she called for me, but forced my feet to move anyway.
Seriously though, 6 cats, 2 litter boxes, 1 week, the smell. I know my fellow cat servants will all need a moment to shake it off, don’t worry, take your time. We’ll wait… * happy thoughts * … Okay, you good? Great.
She skipped the pleasantries and got straight to business, a trait I normally admire when it isn’t in lieu of delusional rants. “Can you believe he did that to me? Of all the ungrateful! I mean, the one time I need him. You have no idea how much I sacrificed for him! For him to just… Icould have died!”
I resisted the urge to point out she was always in need. It was made easier by the fact she didn’t give me an opportunity to speak. She ranted for two hours while Crook tended her animals and cleaned. When he finally finished it was close to 8:00 and my happy place didn’t provide enough protection to stay any longer. Only severe Southern Hospitality Code of Ethics training held my feet in place and mouth closed as Effie tried to prevent us from leaving.
“Oh Honey, please don’t go. I’m afraid of being here alone in this big, old house. What if something happens and I can’t get to a phone? Please, why don’t y’all stay the night?” She cooed like a witch with a poisoned apple.
After another brazen display of emotional manipulation, Crook agreed. With a sad look and ‘what can you do’ shrug, he said “Just tonight.”
I can’t even. “That’s fine if you want to stay.” I smiled wide, careful to keep my voice non-threatening. “But we have animals and things to do at our house too. I’m going home, let me know if you want me to pick you up tomorrow.” I was already walking to the door, desperate to put distance between myself and Effie.
Fearing (correctly) Crook wouldn’t stay if I didn’t, she threw her Hail Mary. “You two should just move here! It makes so much sense! It’s a big house, plenty of room for my future grandkids, and think of all the money you’d save!”
Nothing raises my hackles faster than the threat of extra roommates. It was too much for my rookie, adult brain to handle. “There’s no way that’s happening. If you need any tips on how to handle your household, all you have to do is ask, but I can’t stay here any later. Crook are you coming or staying?”
That was the moment she started hating me, but it was worth it. Crook came home, and the confrontation won us a week of no contact. It seems a week was her max tolerance for accumulating litter.
Now we’re jumping ahead to the first time I went to work with Crook. If there are new readers today, I quit my job to travel with him because I was too codependent to be home alone for a week. Yes, I acknowledge the crazy, but this isn’t the post for dissecting my inability to cope with separation anxiety.
In the time we are skipping, Effie proved herself capable of caring for her animals when forced. For 6+ months, Crook’s drill site was only an hour away, but 12 hour shifts on top of the drive left little room for sleeping or eating. When all was said and done, he cared for the animals his week off, and Effie fended for herself when he worked. Did they try to con me into carrying the torch while he worked? You bet. Did I ever agree? No. Principles and all that.
Keeping in mind Crook still cared for her animals half the time, he proposed Effie care for our two cats while we were away. I had doubts. “I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of their litter not being cleaned for a week. She’ll say she did, but she still won’t scoop her own… no way she’s going to clean ours. Plus Gambit throws a fit if we’re even a few hours late, he’ll lose his mind if it’s a week!” I was baffled he couldn’t understand the certainty I felt.
“She really is getting better. It’s only one box for two cats, just let me talk to her. I promise, if I’m not 100% certain she’ll do it, we can call your parents.” Considering that a victory, I secretly sent my parents a few preemptive texts preparing them for the situation.
Unwilling to trust his “certain” faith in Effie, I listened to their conversation. It started worse than I expected. “Hey Ma, you got a sec? I wanted to talk to you about going to Nice City next week. We would need to leave Saturday and wouldn’t be back until Monday night, but…”
“Oh! That sounds lovely, but who would we get to take care of the horses?” Effie began listing prospects.
“No, wait! Mom, no, not you, us. I need you to feed our cats while we’re gone. You would only need to come once a day, Sunday-Sunday.” Crook explained carefully.
“I know that… I was just teasing. Gosh, you live pretty far to make that drive everyday… What do I get?” She giggled, playfully.
Crook clamped a hand over my mouth as I tried to scream into the phone. “I know it’s far, I have to do it all the time. Remember? I was hoping we could make it an even trade, you know? I do all your animals when we’re home, you do ours when we’re away.”
The silence was thick with tension, but it was my turn to prevent Crook from speaking hastily. By that time, I mastered the art to her manipulations. At first, her silence was genuine. I could hear her brain whirling, deciding what to wish for as she weighed the deed with our need, but she long ago settled that matter. Now the silence was her power. She imagined us sweating, eagerly awaiting her answer. As seconds ticked by she saw us turning worried, anxious, desperate. What else might we freely offer in that moment?
Well, I wasn’t a rookie anymore. We remained silent until finally, after I had to restrain Crook twice more, she sighed deeply, ensuring it was audible to us. “I mean. I guess. You seem determined to hold anything you do for me over my head, so fine. After I struggle my way through all your daily chores at the barn, I’ll drive all the way to your house.” She added a few sniffles for good measure.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it! Please don’t forget the litter, it’s super important, Mom. K-thanks-bye!“ I was genuinely proud of Crook. I didn’t believe Effie would do litter, but I honestly thought she would handle the food and water. We added a second litter box to help delay the inevitable, but Crook would do no more. He was certain she would really do it this time.
Noon Saturday, we settled into our hotel, pleased with the pictures from our scenic drive. While unpacking, we see Effie has text us the same message. “I’m not feeling well today, I’m going to the ER. If you don’t hear from me in a few hours, something bad happened.”
Checking the time, we see the text was sent over two hours ago. Do you see the genius in this? We had to play her game. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t know if she fed our cats. She was very much willing to bail if it suited her dramatic scene.
Crook called, but got voicemail. It wouldn’t be as dramatic if she answered. She wanted him assuming the worst. He tried a text, “How are you feeling?”
Receiving no immediate response, we find a place for lunch. Assuming she would call when satisfied with suspense level, we had a lovely day shopping followed by a nice dinner. Upon returning to our hotel that evening, we had not heard from her. I feared for our cats’ well-being more than hers. The likelihood of that day being the one she wasn’t crying wolf was too minuscule for even my bad luck.
Crook begins to legitimately worry for Effie which angers me further. Her charade was terrible for many reasons, but making your son believe you might be dead was plain cruel. I did my best to reassure him but had to contact my parents. I should have called sooner, but all I could do was not waste more time.
They were understandably annoyed at the late hour, otherwise agreed without fuss. After arriving at our house, they confirmed food bowls were empty. In attempt to comfort Crook, I hypothesized Effie may have fed the cats but wanted us to wonder. Learning she truly had concocted this charade to avoid the task rather than mere attention seeking angered me most. Thankfully, my parents volunteered to assume the weekly duties, ensuring the remaining days went smoothly.
Once I knew our cats were safe and comfortable, my rage faded quickly. I realized we were truly free. For one entire week, I would have no work, cleaning, responsibilities, or contact with Effie to dread. I was so happy, I shot off one last text. “Just wanted to let you know you’re off the hook. My parents took care of the cats and will continue to do so the rest of the week.” I thought it would give me great pleasure to ignore anything she may later reply.
She didn’t wait 10 minutes before calling. I answered, putting it on speaker for Crook to hear his healthy mother. “How dare you be worried about cats when I’m dying! Neither of you care about me at all! I’m pulling onto your street right now, but I guess I’ll turn around. Thanks for making me waste a trip for nothing!”
Taking advantage of her need to inhale, I interjected “How are you driving? I thought you were in the hospital… you know, dying?”
She hung up and we had no further contact until returning home the following Sunday. Against my wishes, Crook answered. Once again she felt bad and needed help with the animals. Also against my wishes, he agreed to go when she turned on the water works.
Do you think she cleaned her own litter boxes while we were away? If you do, you’re wrong. Her cats were finally fed up, they mutinied. Piss and shit were everywhere. The walls, floors, shoes, beds, you name it – covered! Crook cleaned it all. None of the animals had food or water. I’m grateful to my parents. Had our cats been in such a position, I would probably still be in jail.
Alright! It feels good to have those condensed into one. I’ll get the final section out soon. Hopefully in time to resume my struggle in trying to get another Halloween story out before my excuse to write scary stuff is gone for a year. Thank you all, and remember, be careful out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.
A few things before I begin. Regarding my unintentional cat rescue situation, it happened. We’re back at 12. Friday, as I paced, writing, robe securely caped, I looked outside to see an orange cat eating on our porch. I racked my brain for the name of this cat, baffled I couldn’t remember. When I was finally able to face reality, I tried to approach, but no luck. This morning, it was hungry enough to accept food, but I didn’t get a glimpse of gender. Looks like a new game is afoot. Death to all who abandon their pets.
Regarding my name, I have realized ‘Dubbed’ is a poor alias, which led me to the thought, hey, pen name! Long story short, I wanted it to be fun, and what’s more fun for a writer than Page Turner? I know what you’re thinking, why not Paige? Right? It’s because Paige is a common first name, and Turner is a common last name. There’s probably a ton of them, and it makes me wonder how often people don’t believe it the first time they meet. I bet it’s annoying, plus Page is shorter and I’m lazy.
Lastly, as of late, I’ve drifted away from acknowledging my own toxic traits. Instead, other people have been the focal points of my stories, and tonight is no different. To make things squaresies, I’m going to admit something I’m deeply ashamed of but can’t stop. Deep breath. The way I embody the hillbilly cliche is… I eat my steaks rare… with ketchup. When you finish cringing, we can begin.
We’re talking about Giddy Up western store again. More precisely, my final few months employed there. We didn’t have time to discuss the credit system in our last chat, but any employee or ‘playmate’ could take anything without paying. Instead, we wrote a ticket, signed it, and put it in a basket with dozens more. It got out of hand fast, but there was nothing Don could do.
I’m sure you remember Don; older guy, ran his wife’s dead sister’s store into the ground? You see, Donnie boy thought he was being clever. Not only was it cheaper to pay his playmates in merchandise, he thought “they’re paying monthly” sounded believable. Unfortunately, he didn’t consider how it would look when his “charge accounts” became a stack totaling thousands but never actually received payments.
Even worse, he didn’t realize actual employees would want to utilize the same benefits. It’s Psychology 101, of course people want what others have. Our merchandise was marked up 1.65, it added together quickly. Remember, Jane and Sara are our managers, Liz and Phoebe (from Rain Showers) are other workers like myself. That should be all you need beforehand, now let’s get into how this mess played out.
We set the scene on a warm Monday morning when Don introduces his newest pet, Cindy. This one was truly a piece of work. She wore skirts with no underwear, and we saw her noonie often. Why one would feel a need to brag about deep throating skills, I’ll never understand, but I hear ecstasy is a heck of a drug to do regularly. Personally I’ve only tried it a handful of times, but much as I appreciate a good high, it just isn’t my thing. If you can use it responsibly, props.
Normally, his new girls waited a few weeks before taking free clothes, but Cindy was clearly special. “Hey Gurlz! What’s up!” Cindy arrived her second day, late and stoned on a pharmaceutical cocktail.
“Tell me this bitch ain’t come in here wearing pajamas.” Sara muttered.
Exasperated, I glanced up. “Yea, that’s exactly what it is.” I turned away, refusing to acknowledge it further.
“I can’t take another day of this.” Sara began texting Don. I didn’t get my hopes up, knowing even her voice would be ignored in favor of a playmate.
We sat quietly until Don’s reply. “You kidding me?” She cursed under her breath, glaring at the message.
“What?” I was afraid to know.
She turned to Cindy, “Mista Don said go pick an outfit. Shouldn’t be wearing pajamas to work. Act like you got some sense.” Sara shook her head. Adding, “Ugh, white people! Oh… no offense.”
“Nah, that’s fair.” I shrugged.
Cindy clapped gleefully, “Really? Yay! Thank you, I didn’t have any clean clothes this morning.” When she finished playing Fashion Montage, she was decked out in $389.99 (before tax) worth of merchandise.
“It was ballsy to include the ostrich boots.” Liz grumbled, angry Cindy was wearing the boots she wanted but couldn’t afford. “I mean, it’s bull! She’s been here two days! Does Don know she got boots?!”
“I text him when she was trying them on. He said start her a ticket.” Sara answered exasperatedly without looking up from the calculator.
“I don’t see why you all don’t just start a ticket. You guys hide all this stuff in the back until you can afford it, why? Take it home today, pay later. Not like he can tell you no. What’s he gonna do? Admit they are paying him, just not with cash?” I was being sarcastic. I didn’t even look up from whatever phone game held my attention back then.
“…Why don’t we do that, Sara?” Liz asked.
“… Because I hadn’t considered it. I mean… I am going to pay. I ain’t gonna be like all them. But it would be nice to get those new jeans before Friday… I’ll do it if y’all do.” Sara said
“Oh I already know what I’m getting.” Liz agreed. “What are you getting? You gotta find something too.”
“Ew, I don’t want none of this redneck junk.” I replied, enduring the slaps I knew were coming. My distaste for country-life still baffled them, but they enjoyed teasing me about it.
“Hey! If y’all are doing that, I got stuff I need for my sister’s birthday.” Jane shared my preference for Hot Topic, but came from the same hillbilly breed as the rest of us.
“See, even Jane is, you have to find something.” Liz pressed.
“Fine, fine. Actually, if we’re serious, Hubby could really use some new Red Wings…” Go big or go home, as they say.
“This store won’t make it another year the way he going. That new girl just showed up in pajamas on her second day. What happened? She’s going home in over $400 worth of clothes and a day’s pay! I’m serious.” Sara was already filling in her ticket.
Mob mentality is a strange thing. Before I knew it we each had our own tickets, though mine substantially lower. Try as I might, nothing appealed to me. When Don arrived, Sara and Jane casually asked if they too could “charge a few items.”
Don agreed after a slight hesitation, but weeks passed before he understood how far it went. At that point it was too late to complain. He couldn’t figure out how to tell some to pay up when so many with longer, higher debts never made payments. It was then he realized the store, and subsequently his entire lifestyle, could very well be coming to a tragic end.
“We have got to figure out a way to make more money.” He complained on a day when he and I were co-existing peacefully.
“Everything in your store only appeals to one demographic, why don’t you try buying some Pacsun and Hot Topic? Set it up in the clearance room, there’s plenty of space back there. Me and Jane could run it.” Again, it was sarcasm. I pitched the idea every few months since beginning work there, but never was it taken seriously.
“I don’t know, hell. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.” Don pondered.
“Really? Because I can bring some magazines for you to look at tomorrow…” Jane pounced like a cheetah. I silently cheered her on, stunned.
Hell, don’t we have a bunch of that stuff laying around? We got stacks of dealership magazines somewhere. More of it’s coming in the mail every day, we ought to.” Don grumbled, nodding his head in the general direction he wished us to search.
For once no one complained. We went about the task enthusiastically and were rewarded for our efforts. Whose familiar with BUDK? They sell all kinds of weapons. Swords, knives, blow darts, you name it. Full disclosure right away, I didn’t buy arsenals of battle ready weapons as you will immediately realize when I share the costs. The knives are real, but the swords would take great effort to cut.
“Ooo! Now this is what we need! I’ve never heard of the place, but look at all these weapons! Tasers, mace, samurai swords, they’re… they’re beautiful!” I threw the magazines on the table, saving them for later, and continued my search.
I hadn’t realized Don picked them up until he asked, “Y’all think we should get some mace and tasers? Lots of women might wanna carry one in there purse, look, there are pink ones!” Don held the magazine to Jane.
“Yea, I know I would.” Jane took the magazine, flipping through as Don and others watched over her shoulder. All seemed interested.
I stood back, afraid to break whatever magic spell was creating this miracle. They can’t be serious, I’m not that lucky. Even when Jane took the necessary information to contact the company, I expected nothing. The next day, when they asked my help choosing items for our first order, I threw myself into the task with vigor.
“This is just torture, look at all this stuff I can’t afford! I’ll go broke trying to buy everything we order.” I complained to the girls. Only Sara, Jane, and Phoebe were present. Don and his playmate were on their daily breakfast run.
“You looking at the wrong price. That’s what they want us to charge regular people, we pay the dealer price, look.” Sara pointed to a smaller number. Each item listed a recommended sale price in large, bold print, but underneath, much smaller, were our dealer prices.
“That can’t be. It says $16 for this $80 Ichigo’s Zangetsu… what’s the catch?” My brain couldn’t comprehend such a thing.
“How you think we suppose to make money? They dealer prices.” Sara rolled her eyes and I decided not to push my luck.
An hour later, our order was ready. We started small with mace, tasers, pocket knives, and Zangetsu. The wait seemed forever, but the ship time was only a few days. I was disappointed with its smaller size, but reminding myself of its low cost, a new addiction was born. Upon receiving my $60 at closing, I returned $20 to Don and took my new prize home.
The tasers sold well, and Don asked us to make a new order. Before I knew it, I added an Alien Vs. Predator battle axe with detachable knife for less than $20. I was highly impressed, but when it came time to pay, I couldn’t stop thinking about my measly $175 ticket piled amongst others who owed 10x my current total.
“We have rent due, can I charge this one?” I asked Don afterbeing paid.
He waved me off, knowing he couldn’t say no. Our fancy hunting knives sold like hotcakes, but the more money we made, the more dates Don arranged. None of us complained, we long ago accepted Giddy Up’s fate. The other girls charged boots and Cruel Girl jeans while I expanded my weapons collection.
For our next order, we found truck nuts in all colors and sizes. The ones that lit up were returned by angry customers who were pulled over for their flashing lights, otherwise they sold better than anything in the store. I found a lovely Kit Rae dagger; I’ve never seen the show, but again, pretty and cheap.
Around this time, Don angered Cindy by not having cash when she wanted it. For revenge, she shared their texts with us the next morning. Phoebe, Jane, Sara and I gathered to see the words in print as she read aloud. For your convenience, I will add punctuation and correct spelling, but know the real text was enough to give a Grammar Nazi an aneurysm. These are people who couldn’t distinguish between or/are, won’t/want basics.
Don: Can we meet tonight? I’m having a hard time with the store and family right now. It feels like everything is falling apart, I really need someone to talk to.
Cindy: Poor baby, usual place?
Don: Yea, thanks darlin’. I’m already here, I didn’t know where else to go.
Cindy: Okay, I’m with Baby Daddy, be there in an hour.
Don: Oh. Okay. Well, please hurry, I need somebody so bad right now.
Cindy: Do you have an extra $100 with you? We’re low on diapers and formula, I can tell Rick I’m going to the store or something.
Don: I didn’t bring money, I can’t get more cash without Kay seeing the bank statements. You know I’ll take care of you tomorrow, someone always pays cash. Maybe we can sneak those Montana Silversmith earrings ;).
Cindy:You don’t have ANY money?!
Don: I will tomorrow, you know I’ll make it up to you. We don’t have to do nothing, I just need someone to talk to. All this stuff going on makes me wish I was dead…
Cindy: I’m sorry, the baby has a fever. Rick wants me to stay while he goes shopping. Wanna hang out tomorrow? I can say you need me to work late.
Don: Wow, I see how it is. I actually thought you cared about me, but I guess you only care about my money. Maybe I should just kill myself.
Cindy: Don’t be like that, I got a sick baby. See you tomorrow.
Don: You’re nothing but a liar and con-artist! Just like all the others! Don’t even bother coming in tomorrow.
Cindy: Are you firing me for not coming to see you after hours when I have a sick baby?
We think that’s when Don understood the great power texts hold. He never responded to that message. The next morning, Cindy arrived early for the first time. “Anyway, I just thought you ladies would be interested. I’m afraid I may be coming down with a cold, does anyone mind if I take a sick day?” It was rhetorical, she was already gathering her possessions, knowing she would never return. She blackmailed Don with those texts for a long time, at least as long as the store was open. I doubt he could afford it after.
Don didn’t come to work that week, citing flu as the reason, but we knew better. None of us were brave enough to say anything directly, but the tension when he came around was at a new high. We all grew bolder with our charge tickets in the following weeks. Mine, still drastically lower, never topped $1,000, but some of the other girls came close to $5,000. I bought nunchucks, and tried to learn how to use them via YouTube. Several bruises later they were for display only. I bought a chain whip for no reason other than wanting to say I owned one. Same goes for the crossbow which was cheap and broke a few years ago.
Liz bought a blowgun first, but I got one on the next order, unable to tolerate someone owning a weapon I didn’t. Along with several styles of throwing knives, I found a nifty thing I can only think to call a pocket throwing star. Last but not least, I’m sad report I can’t find my weird chakram. I searched all over Google before I found a picture, but I believe it was labeled as a Soul Calibur rip-off. All of which is moot to me, I just thought it looked neat and it’s genuinely sharp. I have the scar to prove it. Remember the cousin I talked about in Breakfast of Champions? He stabbed me with it on accident. Well… technically it was on purpose, but not with malice… more like a test.
After officially beginning work for Hubby’s aunt (Slushy), I happily resigned. The store was open a few more months before it closed down, but the drama was far from over. Next time we discuss this time period, I’ll tell you about convincing Sara to hire a different cousin who just moved back into town. I was completely unaware she developed a drug addiction, I honestly do feel poorly about what it put the girls through.
Honorable mentions include Urahara’s Benihime, Naruto kunai, Kill Bill samurai swords, and a taser made to look like a Nokia brick-phone. My nephew, who I haven’t had a chance to tell you about, has inherited most of these. He’s 19 now and currently living in another state, but I’ve asked him to send pictures. I figure we have a 20/80 chance he’ll remember, but if he does, I’ll add them later. He is Hubby’s oldest sister’s son, and was 7 when we met. He is my mini-me, my prodigy, and I love the little stinker to hell and back, but holy cow did he have a shit childhood. That’s going to be a longer story I don’t want to write sober, but absolutely worth telling.
I know my last few posts were on the longer side so I wanted to keep this simple. Plus I ran out of internet again and waiting on Hubby’s hotspot makes publishing difficult. I haven’t decided the next topic yet, but I hope to have at least one more Halloween theme before the holiday is over. I appreciate all of you who take the time to indulge my Blogger fantasies, and remember, stay safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.