Classics Translated

The Pit and the Pendulum

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.

Horror Fiction

Born on 13

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


The CreepyPasta

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

EIT 0-3-7


JAMIE:

Hello everyone, I’m Jamie—

GROUP:

Hi Jamie! [light applause]

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

[group laughs softly]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[group laughs]

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

[group commiserates]

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

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

Alright, everyone, take five. [recording stopped]


FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

[group commiserates]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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


JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

[group chatters quietly as they leave]


SPECIAL AGENT PAUL CLARK:

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

Test Results: Success

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

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

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

[Recording Stopped]

Classics Translated

Bluebeard

Charles Perrault, originally published 1697; translated to Modern English, otherwise exactly the same. 


This story was adapted specially for Classics in the Rain with the wonderful Danie Dreadful. Enjoy Bluebeard in its full glory with this fantastic narration!

There was once a man who had fine houses, a great treasure, embroidered furniture, and gold-plated coaches, but this man was unlucky enough to have a blue beard; it made him so frightfully ugly that all the women ran away from him.

One of his neighbors – a highborn lady – had two daughters who were perfect beauties. He wanted to marry one of them and let her choose which it would be. Neither of the women would have him; they sent him back and forth from one to the other, unable to bear the thought of marrying a man with a blue beard. Adding to their aversion was the fact that he had already been married to several wives, and nobody knew what happened to them.

To win their affection, Bluebeard took them, their mother, and a few friends from the neighborhood to one of his country houses where they stayed for a whole week.

The time was filled with parties, hunting, fishing, dancing, and feasting. Nobody went to bed; they all spent the night celebrating and joking with each other. Everything went according to plan, and the youngest daughter began to think the man’s beard was not so blue after all, and that he was a very nice gentleman.

They were married as soon as they returned home. About a month later, Bluebeard needed to travel to the country for at least six weeks due to very important business matters. Not wanting his wife to be lonely, he suggested she take some friends to the country house and enjoy herself.

Original art I found

“Here are the keys to the two big rooms where my best furniture is stored. These keys are to the good silver, which are not for everyday use, and this one opens the safe containing my gold; these are for the jewelry cases, and this is the master key to all the apartments… Now – as for this little one here – it is the key to the ground floor closet at the end of the great hall. Open them all; go into each and every one of them – except for that closet. I forbid it. If you do open it – I will be greatly angered and resentful.” He said.

She promised to obey his exact wishes. Then, he hugged her, got into his coach, and left on his journey.

Her friends and neighbors did not wait to be invited; they were impatient to see the rich furniture, but they were too frightened of her husband’s blue beard to visit while he was there. They ran through all the rooms, and each was finer than the last.

Finally, they visited the two great rooms with the most expensive furniture. They could not sufficiently admire all the beautiful paintings, beds, couches, cabinets, tables, and full-length mirrors; some were framed with glass, others with silver, and they were the most magnificent they had ever seen.

In the meantime, the wife did not waste her time looking at all these fine things because she was impatient to open the closet on the ground floor. Her curiosity was so strong, she descended the black staircase with no thought to how rude it was to leave her guests, and – in her hurry – she nearly fell and broke her neck.

She paused at the closet door, thinking about her husband’s command and considering what the consequences might be if she disobeyed, but the temptation was too strong to resist. Trembling, she opened it with the little key, but it was too dark to see anything clearly. After a few minutes, her eyes began to adjust; the bodies of several dead women were laid against the walls, and the floor was covered with dried blood. These were all the previous wives of Bluebeard; he married and murdered them one after another. She thought she would die of fright, and the key fell from her hand.

She retrieved the key, locked the door, and went upstairs to recover in her room, but she was simply too frightened. Noticing the key was stained with blood, she tried to wipe it off, but it would not come out; she even tried to wash it with soap and sand, but that did not work either. The blood remained because it was a magical key, and she could never get it clean; when the blood was gone from one side, it reappeared on the other.

Bluebeard returned from his journey that same evening; he received letters on the road stating the business matters had ended well. His wife did all she could to convince him she was happy about his speedy return.

The next morning, he asked for the keys; her hand trembled so badly that he easily guessed what happened.

“Why is the key to my closet missing?” He asked.

“I must have left it on the table upstairs.” She said.

“Bring it to me at once.” Bluebeard demanded.

After several back and forths between them, she was forced to bring him the key. Bluebeard carefully examined it before asking, “Why is there blood on it?”

“I do not know!” The poor woman cried, paler than death.

“You do not know!” Exclaimed Bluebeard. “I know exactly what happened! You went into the closet, did you not? Very well, madam; you will go back and take your place among the ladies you saw there.”

At this, she threw herself at her husband’s feet and sincerely begged his forgiveness – vowing to never disobey again. She was so beautiful she could have melted a rock, but Bluebeard’s heart was harder than any rock!

“You must die at once, madam,” he said.

“If I must die, give me time to say my prayers.” She answered, her eyes bathed in tears.

“I will give you seven minutes, but not one second more.” Bluebeard replied.

When she was alone, she called to her sister, “Sister Anne, I beg you, go to the top of the tower, and see if my brothers are coming. They promised they would be here today; if you see them, give them a sign to hurry.”

Anne went to the top of the tower, and the poor wife cried out from time to time, “Anne, do you see anyone coming?”

“I see nothing but a cloud of dust, the sun, and the green grass.” Her sister replied.

Meanwhile Bluebeard held a great sword in his hand and called to his wife as loudly as he could, “Come down now, or I will come get you.”

“One moment longer, please,” his wife said; then, very softly, she cried out, “Sister Anne, do you see anybody coming?”

“I see nothing but a cloud of dust, the sun, and the green grass.” Anne answered.

“Come down quickly, or I will come get you.” Bluebeard cried.

“I am coming,” his wife answered; then she cried, “Sister Anne, you do not see anyone coming?”

“I see a great cloud of dust approaching.” Anne replied.

“Are they my brothers?”

“No, my dear sister, it is a flock of sheep.”

“Are you coming down?” Shouted Bluebeard.

“One moment longer,” his wife said; then she cried, “Sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?”

“I see two horsemen, but they are still far away.” She said.

“Thank God,” the poor wife replied joyfully. “It is my brothers; I will give them a sign to hurry.”

Then, Bluebeard yelled so loud, it shook the whole house. The frightened wife came down in tears, her hair in disarray, and threw herself at his feet.

“This means nothing; you must die!” Bluebeard said. Taking hold of her hair with one hand and lifting the sword in the other, he prepared to remove her head. The poor lady turned to him, and – with pleading eyes – asked for one final minute to compose herself.

“No, explain yourself to God,” he said, ready to strike.

At that moment, there was such a loud knocking at the gate that Bluebeard stopped suddenly. The gate was opened, and two horsemen entered. Drawing their swords, they ran directly to Bluebeard, and he knew they were his wife’s brothers; one was a soldier, and the other was a musketeer. He immediately ran to save himself, but the brothers captured him before he was off the porch. They ran their swords through his body and left him on the ground. The poor wife was almost as dead as her husband; she didn’t even have enough strength to stand and welcome her saviors.

Bluebeard had no heirs so his wife inherited everything. She used part of it to marry Anne to a young gentleman who loved her, and another part was used to buy captaincy commissions for her brothers. The rest she used to marry a very worthy gentleman who made her forget the bad time she had with Bluebeard.

Classics Translated

The Tell-Tale Heart

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
Illustration by Harry Clarke

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 was there 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, and louder, 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!”

Horror Fiction

The Original Fools



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



The CreepyPasta




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Haunted April

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.

Horror Fiction

Final Cut (Pt. 5)

⚠️ATTENTION⚠️

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!

Now a CreepyPasta

Photo by Lady Nopeingham

Sunday, Day 1:

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.


The First:

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.


The Second:

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.


The Third:

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.


The Fourth:

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 so disgustingly 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 sickening rip 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.

Horror Fiction

Stay Tuned… (Pt. 3)

⚠️ATTENTION⚠️

I’m honored to introduce part 3 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!

Now a CreepyPasta

Photo by Lady Nopeingham

Now…

I hope all my Night Crawlers feel as good as I do this evening! The fact we have 317 people in the chat is mind boggling enough, but if you would’ve told me we’d eventually hit 10k subs – even a year ago – I wouldn’t have believed it! That being said, I wanted to offer a quick thank you to everyone and a big welcome to our newcomers!

It was also great to see a positive response to A Story of Strife; it’s been a long time since I was that nervous about a premiere, but with encouragement from family and friends – I decided to take a chance. Over the next few months I’ll see if we can get another one up.

As for tonight, it’s time for our live Sunday classic! This week, I’ve modernized The Monkey’s Paw; it’s one of my personal favorites and it had hundreds of requests.

Would you make a wish with the paw? Let me know in the comments! 

Since everyone is eager to get started, here we g— [gunshot / shattering glass]

What the fu— [ multiple gunshots / woman’s scream / chair falls]

Amber! [footsteps running away / dirt-bike]

[dead air]


Several weeks later…

[ice clinking] For those of you who don’t use Twitter, I’m sure you’ve been wondering just what the fuck. Me too [huff]! Ohh, Life is such a bitch, ain’t she?

To put it simply, Amber is dead; I’m now a… widower. So. [sips drink]

Yep, those sounds were gunshots; cameras recorded the whole goddamn thing! The shooter was a man… tall… leather motorcycle outfit… huge, black helmet with a visor… [chugs drink]

Still ain’t caught the sum-bitch. I know what you’re thinking, and Turner remains locked away – snug as a poisonous bug – but police are combing through her correspondence to see if she’s involved. Apparently she has a following of sickos who enjoyed her work. Had I known sharing my story would get her famous… I’d never… not for a million subs, not ever!

Fucking bitch… [pours drink] oh, and if you haven’t noticed, I’m off the wagon – the wagon is fucking dead. [chugs] I don’t know when I’ll post what… but since the boys are staying with my sister, I got drunk enough to tell you what happened that night.

You’ll remember the kids were visiting my parents in Florida – thank goodness – and Amber was downstairs with a glass of wine and a movie, waiting for me to finish that stream. The bastard walked his bike down the driveway, opened fire into the front of the house, then drove away. Monsters are real… never doubt that.

Eddie was in the upstairs hallway, waiting outside my door, and judging by the empty wine glass… we think Amber was probably going for a refill when… it happened. The bullet tore through her chest, and she bled out onto our floor… right in front of me.

Everything is a blur after that; I don’t think I could remember if I tried… it’s not like I was sober for any of it. Telling the boys was the worst thing I’ll ever do in my life… that and the funeral. We all must endure planning a loved one’s funeral at some point, but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy… so many tedious details… none of which matter.

I’m on a first name basis with police; Detectives Andy and Juan are running the investigation; they’re good men, but I lost hope of catching the prick early on. The dirt-bike was abandoned in a parking lot across the state line, but yielded no tangible leads. Now, it’s two weeks later, and we still have no fingerprints, DNA, or suspects.

I’d happily spend the rest of my life in jail if I could just get my hands on Turner… but that’ll never happen… bitch isn’t even in the same state anymore. I don’t care what the cops do or don’t find – she is involved! You guys see that, right?… Did I tell you that her lawyer tried to contact me on her behalf?! Said she wanted to apologize! Ha! [sips] [barks]

[spill drink] Damnit, Ed! Ugh, well… that’s it, anyway. [grumble] Now you know. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but I’ll update on Twitter in a few days…


Three weeks later…

Hello, Night Crawlers. I know it’s early, but there are reasons for that.

  1. Thank you for your unwavering support and patience; your condolences and well-wishes have been an immeasurable comfort.
  2. It’s best to do this during school hours… for now, at least.
  3. I wanted to be sober, and while I’ve been better since the boys came home… I still can’t trust myself.
  4. I have an update on the investigation.

Lady Nopeingham and Lily Livers spoke to a few friends, and now the online sleuthing community is investigating our case! These guys are A-class and each one has solved multiple murders. Their channels are linked in the description; I hope you’ll check them out.

Honestly – at first… I was upset, and the detectives were furious. You know how I feel about strangers poking around in my personal life… plus I was certain they wouldn’t find anything… but then they did! There’s a moment when the asshole tilts his head to reveal a small neck tattoo, but we couldn’t get a decent image; Sleuth-Scope Steve could! After a few days on the internet – someone emailed a valid tip!

Casey Devon and his girlfriend saw the same weird symbol on a busboy down in Kalamazoo. They were in a dive-bar on the way home to Indiana and happened to see Steve’s video the night before. What are the odds? Finally, something went our way!

The detectives thanked Steve for his tip, but still wanted him off the case; I, on the other hand, was sold. I welcome and thank their community from the bottom of my dead, shredded heart. My renewed hope for catching this bastard has given me one more reason to wake up in the morning.

Juan and Andy ran a background check on the man; Davy Richardson is a convicted felon who has worked at the Gorilla Grill for two years. They weren’t eager to share more, but I learned he did ten years for armed robbery and sexual assault. There was no apparent correspondence between him or Page, but that doesn’t mean anything; even if they didn’t exchange letters, he still could have done it because of her – like some kind of psychotic tribute! Since his release, he hasn’t caused trouble; his parole officer considers him rehabilitated, but I really feel like this is the guy; I feel it in my bones!

I think Eddie can sense it, too; he’s been in better spirits the last few days; his depression runs as deep as our own. Each night, he crawls onto her side of the bed… often whimpering softly in his dreams… just like Daddy. We aren’t ashamed of our man-cuddles; the nights are lonely, cold, and endless. Conner is still sleeping on the cot in Aiden’s room… it’s so hard to see them suffer; they’re having terrible nightmares, but nothing seems to help.

Sorry… I have a hard time staying on point these days. The detectives interviewed Davy; he prattled off a worthless alibi, but it only took two hours to tear it apart. At that point, they secured a search warrant; unfortunately, no one was home. Like myself – you probably aren’t surprised… but the plain-clothed officers responsible for watching him were very surprised!

This is not a friendly neighborhood where civilians are eager to help police; the few who spoke only did so to further impede the investigation. That was three days ago, and no one has seen or heard from Davy since. With the help of Steve and his friends, there’s hope he’ll be spotted soon; we’re fairly certain he fled the state, but the internet’s reach is limitless! Eventually, he must show his face somewhere!

Thanks again for taking the time to listen! If you can spare a moment to check out those links – we appreciate every share; you never know when it will reach that one person who can help! Hopefully, I’ll be back to push you again soon!


Two days later…

It feels weird to record this offline… but I can’t risk Turner hearing it, and I’ve come to rely on this outlet. I’m not sure when you’ll really see this, but it’s been two days since my last stream. I hope these don’t become legitimate Lost Tapes, but if someone finds these years later – it’s absolutely because I’m dead. [sigh]

It happened… she’s out; she escaped! How the hell does someone escape a max security psych-ward in real life?! With help, for starters! It was Davy, right? It all lines up; it must be him!…

My first instinct was to ship the boys back to Florida, but what if she went there instead? I would be two-thousand miles away – completely useless!… Why don’t I go too, you ask? Thanks, great question!

What happens when she follows us, and it gets my parents killed as well? When I’m finished here, we’re going to a hotel… though, it’s only a temporary solution. The cheapest place that allows dogs is more than we can afford, but with help from family – we have the funds for a week’s stay. If they don’t find Turner before that… I don’t know.

I’ll be watching the cameras nonstop… and some police officers will be inside – hopefully making it look like we’re home. They even drove us to the hotel so both vehicles would be there… now you see why I couldn’t record live.

Why can’t this be over; why can’t we grieve in peace? Hasn’t she taken enough? What’s the price for not narrating a terrible story? I’d send her my own ear in a box if I thought it would appease her! If two boys weren’t depending on me – I would have broken long ago… sometimes, I dream of disappearing into the forest when Conner graduates from college…


Three days later…

Hopefully, this is my last non-live recording; it’s been three days since the first part. They won’t share specific details – but the detectives say they have reliable information that Turner and Richardson are laying low in San Francisco. FBI agents are in the area investigating further, and they’re confident in deeming it safe for us to return home. Please excuse me while I chuckle at their assurances… but we’re at least going to finish the week here.

I would stay the extra nights regardless, but for the record, Steve and his fellow sleuths are less than convinced of their whereabouts. They haven’t found anything new, but they’ve already done more than I can ever thank them for; I’m just grateful they’re still searching.

One thing I can rest assured of is that I won’t sleep a wink tonight. Each time the police leave – that witch bitch waltzes her Crazy back into my life and she… just fucking fucks it! Oops… I’ll need to edit that one out – geez it’s easy to get carried away when no one’s listening… I’ve never wanted to throat punch a bitch so bad… fuck. Ugh, [muttering] ok – be serious man – you can’t keep pulling this shit and expect to stay over 10k. Shake it off fuck-face; you got mouths to feed, and work-leave only goes so far.

[deep breath] If nothing happens, we’ll go home in two days. Don’t get me wrong; I hope like hell she is in California… but when have I been that lucky? Maybe if I kill myself she’d leave the boys alone… worth considering at least… I think it would cross any parent’s mind – especially after losing a spouse… but I couldn’t do that to them; they would never forgive me. They might not forgive me as it is… and I can’t blame them; it’s my fault their mother is dead.

Anyway, that’s it for now, hopefully you’ll hear this in a few days.


Four nights later…

Good evening, Night Crawlers. Has everyone had a chance to listen to the video I posted last night? On the bright side, they’re officially not Lost Tapes! If you did see it – I’m sorry for forgetting the edits, but you’ll understand why momentarily; if you didn’t see it – we went to a hotel for a week and police believe Page and her goon are in California.

Tonight, I mostly wanted to check-in with everyone to say I recorded The Monkey’s Paw – it’ll be up in a few hours; the wait is over! I also want to share a little surprise we received in the mail yesterday. So many bills and condolence cards are piled up – I was ripping stuff open without looking… then I found an old-fashioned ransom note; the letters spelled “Stay Tuned!” – I got you a picture.

Photo by Nightmare’s Edge

There was nothing else with it, and I called the police right away. They confirmed it was mailed from San Francisco which only further proved their theory… but I can’t help feeling it wouldn’t be that difficult to have a letter sent… Besides, she clearly has no issue with crossing the country on a whim! Even if she is in California, that doesn’t mean she plans to stay there. Sooner or later, she’s gonna come back, and we aren’t capable of hiding indefinitely.

She probably intends to make her little stories into a trilogy, but I guess we’ll have to Stay Tuned to find out, ha! Tell you what, though – if she does send a new story, I’m gonna read every damn word!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoy tonight’s video; I’ll push you later!


Next week…

It’s really never going to stop is it? I know there should be a new story today, but I… I just couldn’t…

Thank you, Lady. I’m so sorry all… this ruined our collaboration; I was really excited about your story. Hopefully, we’ll have another chance to work together, but your video is amazing and I linked it in the details!

As for tonight’s stream, all I can tell you is what happened since we last spoke. The next night I woke at 3am from a horrifying nightmare and couldn’t fall back asleep. In the dream, I got out of bed to look for Eddie and heard a strange sound upstairs. It was almost like a grandfather clock or a dog running on concrete – but softer, padded taps…

The house was in complete darkness, and when the kitchen light failed to turn on – I realized we lost power. A bright flash of lightning illuminated the room for a split-second, and a torrential downpour ensued as thunder shook the ground. I was only wearing boxers and didn’t have my phone; using the walls as a guide, I stumbled my way to the utility room.

Another lightning flash cast an eerie blue shade onto everything, and I could see a flashlight on the shelf above the dryer. I even remember cursing as I stubbed my toe while trying to reach it…

The beam was weak, but it allowed me to maneuver without the wall. I called for Eddie as I crossed the den and paused at the base of the stairs… that’s when I heard the sound again. Patters… that’s the best word… and it was coming closer! I shone the light in time to see a shadow dart across the opening and into the hallway before stopping. It seemed too short to be a person but too large to be a dog.

I crept to the middle landing, shining the light in every direction, but saw nothing. All remained silent as I carefully continued my ascent, and the moment my foot touched the top step – the brightest flash of lightning yet revealed a brief glimpse of true horror…

Have you ever been on one of those rides that drop you from high up? Or fell from a great height while playing VR? You know that feeling where you lose your stomach? That’s what I felt; I still remember it perfectly. It was Page… but she was bent over in a backwards crab-walk like some kind of Exorcist bullshit! She was even paler than usual and her eyes moved in different directions while saliva dripped from her open mouth…

I tried to scream but no sound came out as she bum-rushed me from the darkness. The pattering was the last thing I heard as a tangle of bony limbs mowed me down, and rotten fingers wormed into my mouth while stepping across my face. When a heel pressed firmly into my manly-bits, I finally awoke.

That dream bothered me enough to start sleeping in Conner’s room while he’s bunking with Aiden… I wanted to be closer to them; the thought of those stairs between us was driving me insane! I wish there was a way to express how real it all felt. This was beyond anything I’ve experienced, and I’m not exactly a rookie when it comes to nightmares. It hasn’t faded like the others, either; now, with what happened last night… it’s like some sort of creepy forewarning.

To avoid confusion, I think it’s best to tell you everything in the order it occurred. At 3:08, the security footage shows one small person walking down the driveway in night vision goggles! Care to guess who? Hmm? Do you have a clue? Yea, fucking Turner!

She had a laptop and did something to our security system! Even ADT can’t figure it out, but they’re so appalled by the footage – we’re getting free service for a year. Honestly, that’s going to be a huge help on our finances; that part is appreciated…

Page busted the basement window, and crawled inside without waking a soul. Once upstairs, she went straight to my bedroom like she’s walked the path a thousand times.

To understand this next part you need to know I have a body pillow in the bed for particularly bad nights… my therapist recommended it. Turner stood over it – surely assuming it was me – and stabbed it! There was no hesitation; she just lifted a huge hunting knife above her head and mercilessly plunged it into my fake wife’s chest!

She immediately pulled the covers back to discover her folly; you can hear a few escaped giggles as she struggles to control her laughter. I find it more difficult to see the humor considering the strike was meant to end my life… I hate to be an Edgy Downer but there it is.

Next she began climbing the stairs, and that’s when Eddie started barking. They were his deep Danger Barks – I was instantly awake and on full alert. The boys did exactly as practiced and hid in the closet before dialing 911. While getting the gun, I saw Page on the monitors – responding to the noise by sheathing her knife and retrieving her own firearm. At first, it was trained on Aiden’s room; she seemed more afraid of the dog than me, but upon hearing my movements – she became indecisive.

Just as I was ready to confront Turner, I noticed she had her laptop open again. This time, she watched it while pointing her weapon at Conner’s door… she was looking at me through our cameras – using them to aim! I dove to the side – fearing the bullet would come any moment, but the only shots fired were to our cameras. I held my breath waiting for the sound of Eddie’s whimper, but the barking continued unimpeded, and I shook with relief.

After sitting up, I noticed several screens were blank; she didn’t want me to see which way she went. Thankfully, ADT also agreed to replace the destroyed cameras. I’ve never been at such a loss for what to do… I wanted to give chase, but if a gun was trained on the door – waiting for me to open it… only a few more shots would remove Eddie from the equation and leave the boys defenseless; it was too risky. On the other hand… she knew help was on the way and couldn’t afford to wait long…

These thoughts battled each other in my mind until the blue flashing lights recalled me to reality. Officer Davis was first on scene again – Juan and Andy close behind… but there was no sign of Turner.

I hate questioning good fortune… but why didn’t she shoot Eddie? Obviously, I’m grateful, but it seemed like the tactical choice from her perspective. When she had the gun pointed low at Aiden’ door, tears instantly streamed down my face because I knew what was coming… but it didn’t happen…

Like I said… I’m not complaining; the police are back, and the FBI has joined them. We finally feel a little safer; hopefully, we can actually get some sleep tonight.

Anyways… I’ll try to get another story ready by Sunday, but it won’t be a classic. Sorry again for the delay. Push ya next time.


That Sunday…

Hello Night Crawlers, it’s good to see our numbers back over 300! I have a long way to go before things can be on a strict schedule again, but for now we can try to make weekly uploads. Magic Mortimer is ready to go live as soon as we’re finished here, and since there’s new information to share – I decided not to premiere it.

Some of you may already know what I’m going to say if you watched the news, but please don’t spoil it for others; having something good to share is such a rare treat!

Whatever Page did to hack our ADT got the government’s attention in a serious way; this time the police didn’t leave. They’re rotating two teams of local and state police on 12-hour shifts, and a team of FBI agents are supervising around the clock. Having so many people in the house would normally make me anxious, but there’s been a few nights where I’ve actually slept!

The police and cyber-sleuth community are officially in agreement that Richardson and Turner never had direct contact before this happened. As far as anyone can tell – Davy learned about her through my channel and became obsessed.

You know how storage buildings put your shit up for auction if you don’t pay the bill? Davy had one under an alias, and it was auctioned off two nights ago. The buyers recognized the fugitive from the news in old photos and called the cops. There were love poems and fan art clearly dedicated to Page, but it didn’t match the handwriting of anything Turner actually received.

I haven’t personally seen any of these items, but from how they’re referred to amongst the officers… they sound as disturbing as you imagine… maybe more so.

The unit was overflowing with random garbage, but one of the most important clues turned out to be an old date-book. It held many useful tidbits; so far, four cold cases have been solved with its help. It also contained the address of a man named Marv… who coincidentally lived not thirty minutes away from me if you could drive straight through the forest; on the road it’s closer to an hour.

Considering the storage facility was located in Ohio – the Feds thought it worth a look. Marvin Daniels died five years ago, and his shack has been rotting away in the middle of the woods ever since. Three Agents drove out there – expecting to find nothing – but a fresh deer carcass hanging in a nearby tree indicated someone was living there.

Shots were fired before they could make it to the door – forcing the men to retreat and call for backup before initiating further contact. Miraculously no one was injured in the clash, and Richardson ceased fire when the SUV was no longer in sight.

After a five-hour standoff, tear-gas was shot into the shack, and Davy emerged – weapons blazing. His official cause of death is suicide-by-cop – and since no agents were injured – I’m not ashamed to feel gleeful at the bastard’s death; I only wish it were slower…

Every inch of the surrounding area was searched, but the best trackers couldn’t find Turner. We know she was there at some point because they found more witchy idols and another voodoo altar made from bones. They’re still trying to identify the human remains, but the severed head was a male’s. A fishing pole stood mounted to the wall with the decomposing skull on its hook, and a severed hand was secured to the reel. There were also two small, hot bombs; experts believe they were designed to be attached to an animal and remotely detonated.

I won’t rest easy until Page is dead, but for tonight, I choose to focus on the fact my wife’s murderer is gone… and that there are two bombs that can no longer harm our family. If you want to see pictures of the evidence, I’ve linked Steve’s newest video below.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy Magic Mortimer; thanks for listening, I’ll push you later!


Wednesday…

Hey Crawlers, judging by how many are here, you’ve probably figured out that a surprise stream means something big happened. I’ll give Turner one thing – the bitch has infinite patience; she was never going to show herself while the Feds were here. Finding that storage unit was a fluke! She had every intention of laying low until we were alone, and her goon’s death wasn’t going to change that. Finally – the agents agreed with me.

Coordinating a loud, flashy departure of all the personnel and vehicles was more complicated than it sounds. It couldn’t be too obvious… Page might be bat-shit crazy, but she isn’t stupid. Dozens of boxes were carried to the SUV’s, but each one was empty. All the equipment remained in place and a team of special agents watched for any attempts to hack the Wi-Fi. First the Feds cleared out, then the rest trickled away that evening until only Juan and Andy remained.

We took the opportunity to move their car into the garage. While the others lurked nearby – we waited for the cover of darkness to sneak the boys out in Andy’s stead. Aiden is almost seventeen now – and tall for his age; with Conner laying in the back – it would appear as if both detectives left.

I didn’t want to wait for her to come to us; the invasion of our family’s home was vomit inducing, but it was our only option. The hope was to capture Turner before she came close enough to fire a weapon; the curtains were closed, and we stayed away from the windows as an added precaution.

At 2:28am – she made her move. Andy’s phone rang, and we learned something with green and red lights flew over the house and was now hovering above us. It remained still for roughly thirty seconds before shooting straight up and out of sight. We believed she was scouting the location – confirming the coast was clear – it made perfect sense…

We had no idea what was happening as we heard reports of the drone’s collision course. It raced toward us at top speed and crashed into Conner’s window. The glass shattered, and it exploded on impact; had anyone occupied the room at that time – they would have died. Or, had the device flown into the middle of the room instead of being stopped by an entertainment center – the entire house might have burned down.

The smoke detectors wailed into the night while fire and rescue trucks rushed to the scene. Once again, their flashing lights created a false daylight as they surrounded my home. The range for her to operate the drone was limited; search teams scoured the area confident of success, but I knew they wouldn’t find her.

After being cleared by the paramedics, they wanted me to join the boys at the safe-house… but I needed it to be over! She almost burned down our family home; it needs weeks of repairs before we can go upstairs at all! I didn’t even have the gun – just a hunting knife I’ve been keeping on my belt – but I snuck off anyway.

I knew she wouldn’t be too far; she couldn’t miss the show, and I feel like she’s one of those people who must watch her fires burn. First, I crept towards the backside of the house where the trees are most dense – always scanning the area ahead before proceeding. Hesitating at an extremely dark patch where the lights didn’t reach, I hunched even lower and slowly crawled my way across – knife in hand.

Seconds later, the snap of a twig from above froze me in place. Looking up, I saw nothing but an empty tree, and a soft scratching sound baffled me until my eyes began to blur; then, the bark moved! It was only a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity while trying to discern the shape. After finally understanding what I saw, I screamed.

It was Page… upside down, hugging the tree, and wearing the most realistic bark-camo I’ve ever seen. She even had on a face mask and brown-painted eyelids… she looked like a real-life cryptid… it takes the term “Nightmare Fuel” to a new level…

When I started to scream she… she just… dropped. Our heads connected first, and we fell to the ground in a painful tangle of limbs. I continued screaming like a woman while she cackled maniacally. My head ached and spots danced in my vision; I lashed out with the knife, and felt the satisfying rip of flesh before succumbing to unconsciousness. The last thing I heard was her furious screams being drowned in gun-fire.

Upon waking in the back of an ambulance – I learned Turner escaped and tuned the rest out, but a muddy footprint tells me I took a boot to the face as she fled. Her blood was all over me, though we aren’t sure where I stabbed her; the CSI guys said it’s not enough blood loss to kill her, but she’s definitely hurting. She’ll probably see it as one more scar for the collection; I wonder if she even feels pain…

Back at the safe house, I found a note in my pocket when changing clothes. This one said, “I wouldn’t kill a dog for no reason, jackass! I’m not a monster!” Fuck that bitch.

We haven’t decided what to do next, but I’ll try to update you about a new video soon… push ya later.


Thursday…

I know, I know, a next day surprise stream means it’s huge. Well, sort of… this is just going to be a short and sweet update. The Feds got a call from a hospital four hours away; we now have surveillance footage confirming Turner was there. She ducked out before authorities could be contacted, but she did receive treatment for the stab wound. Apparently, my knife went into her mouth and tore through her cheek; she has half of a Joker smile now…

I’m not sure how I feel. Part of me is happy for any suffering I can repay, but another part is extremely disturbed about disfiguring a woman’s face. That probably sounds strange considering I’ve shot her twice now… and yes, I do wish she were dead… but I was trying to protect my family! This was up close… and personal… it feels sadistic… but it was an accident… I only meant to kill her! Ugh, I’m making this sound even worse.

The important thing is – we all know that injury will do nothing to sway her actions… she’ll come after me harder than ever… and all I can do is wait.

While we’re here anyway, there will be a story on Sunday called Periwinkle; I used a blanket fort like the good ole days, but I’m ready to go home. This safe-house is cramped and has a funny smell we can’t get rid of.

[sigh] That’s all for now – see? Short and sweet! Push ya later!


Saturday…

[humbled] Night Crawlers; it’s a new dawn of a new age. No one is here, but I don’t care; this news can’t wait another second. If you haven’t heard – ding-dong motha fuckers; the bitch is dead! Hell, even The Good Boy is celebrating with his own rack of ribs!

[softer] Unfortunately, it’s a somber day as well… good men died while protecting my family, and that is a debt one can never repay. It isn’t much, but I have started a fundraiser for the grieving families; the links can be found below.

I don’t know how she found us, but yesterday morning, a drone flew two circles around our safe-house before disappearing into the sunrise. Snipers were put on alert and reinforcements were called in, but nothing more happened until 2:00pm when a loud, Ford pickup stopped in the middle of the street.

Silently, we watched a small woman hop out of the passenger side and wave goodbye as the driver continued on his way. Page fucking Turner hitched a ride to our safe-house wearing a clumpy winter coat and a bloody patch across half her face. Somehow she looked more terrifying each time I saw her.

Halfway to the door, she was met with two agents yelling for her to get on the ground. Slowly, she raised her hands; the right was curled around a small object; the left revealed a bomb strapped to her torso. The item she held was a deadman’s-switch!

They didn’t know if it was enough explosives to blow up a house or a street, but all attempts to stop her failed. Juan and Andy tried to get us through the back door before she made it inside, but she caught us in the kitchen. She ignored the officers completely and removed her coat; we collectively held our breaths as it slipped over the detonator and onto the ground.

Next she removed her bandage to show us her angry, red smile. I know Joker smiles are overdone and creepy in our community… but shit… I think half of one looks much scarier… especially in real life. If, and only if, you have a strong stomach – you can find a picture from the hospital footage, but I doubt it exists anywhere else; there certainly won’t be any new ones.

Eddie was losing his mind; when we locked him in the bathroom, I thought he would break the door. Page held our full attention but had only one goal. After removing the gun, she threw her bag to me; inside was the story – Stay Tuned. She must have felt invincible at that moment… the only thing she cared about was forcing me to make a video; everyone else was mere distraction.

She wanted us to be left alone to record in peace and didn’t seem to care what would happen after that. I was just happy to see the boys taken away; a heavy weight was lifted at the sight of them driving away with an agent.

The detectives were walking out of the door when she stopped them; a sudden suspicion changed her mind. As if hearing my thoughts – she worried I would try something up if we were left alone. My choices were few at that point, so I began recording.

It’s a little strange though… seriously, think about it; Turner was obviously a very intelligent, capable person… but she wrote like a grade-schooler! [sigh] It didn’t matter… I was on page three when they grabbed her.

Juan had one arm around her neck, and a death-grip on her left arm; Andy threw himself onto her lap and both hands clamped onto her right – securing the detonator. They screamed in unison for me to fetch reinforcements, and that’s exactly what I did.

Page cursed me in a language I didn’t recognize while struggling against the detectives’, but I never spared her a glance. Once outside, the officer-in-charge escorted me past the barricades as a SWAT team prepared to enter. Their lead man was only a few feet away from the door when the house exploded. Andy and Juan were the only fatalities, but there were dozens of injuries.

The only ray of light in this abysmal pit of darkness is the fact Turner is finally dead. I feel like I can finally grieve for Amber properly now. From here on – this will be a new start for our family… and I hope you know that includes my Night Crawlers!

Periwinkle is still ready for tomorrow, but after that I’d like to resume our regular schedule. Also, please don’t forget to take a look at those links. That’s it for now; I can’t wait to push you tomorrow!


6 months later…

Hey Crawlers of Night, I know it’s been a long time since an unscheduled stream – but don’t worry, it’s nothing major. I just wanted to address these ridiculous pictures going around; mainly to assure you all it isn’t me. I’m not sure who is photoshopping pictures of The Bitch into all my stuff, but it’s getting old.

They’re trying to make it look like she’s still alive; the artist clearly wanted her face to appear healed, but the fake scar is a red, jagged mess. I’m a reasonable guy, and there’s a chance you meant well – after all, this is a horror channel – so if you stop now, there’s no hard feelings.

I mean, props on your work and everything. The way you started off with just her face in the background and then brought her closer in each picture is a nice touch! If this wasn’t such a horribly traumatic experience for me – I might even use some. While, yes, the scar was obviously bogus, it’s a perfect score on the Creepy Meter – especially paired with the dark circles beneath her eyes. Basically this is a thanks, but fuck no.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say; take care everyone, and don’t forget we have a big announcement this Sunday, stay tuned!


Part 4

Classics Translated

The Yellow Wallpaper

My very good friend, Danie Dreadful was kind enough to narrate this one. I highly recommend her full experience; she does truly amazing work and has many other stories available (including my Infinity Games😉). YouTube, Podcast, Spotify 


Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published January 1892 in The New England Magazine. Translated to modern English, otherwise exactly the same.

It is rare for ordinary people like John and myself to secure a colonial mansion. A haunted house would be pure, romantic bliss — but that is asking too much of fate!

Still, I’m proud to say there is something strange about it. Why else would it be so cheap? Why has it been empty so long? John laughs at me, but one expects that in marriage. John is extremely practical. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and openly scoffs at talk of the paranormal.

John is a doctor, and perhaps — (I would not say it to a living soul, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) — perhaps that is one reason I do not recover faster.

He does not believe I am sick! What can I do if a respected physician and my own husband assures everyone there is nothing wrong except a temporary anxiety — a slight hysterical tendency?

My brother is also a respected doctor and says the same thing. So I take phosphates or phosphites — whichever it is, tonics, walks, air and exercise, and I am forbidden from “work” until I have recovered.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas. I believe enjoyable work combined with excitement and change would do me good, but what am I to do? I wrote for a while in spite of them; but it does greatly exhaust me. I have to be so sneaky, or I am met with heavy opposition.

Sometimes, I think if I had less restrictions and more socializing, my condition would— but John says the worst thing I can do is to think about my condition… and I admit it always makes me feel bad. So I will leave it alone and talk about the house.

It is the most beautiful place! It stands all alone, far back from the road, a full three miles from the village. It makes me think of English places you read about, because there are hedges, walls, gates that lock, and many separate little houses for gardeners and staff.

There is a delicious garden! I never saw such a garden — large, shady, full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long, grape-covered pergolas with benches beneath them. There were also greenhouses, but they are all broken now.

I believe there was some legal trouble about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for years. I’m afraid that spoils my haunted theory, but I don’t care. There is something strange about the house — I can feel it.

I told John one moonlit evening, but he said what I felt was a draft and closed the window. I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is because of this anxiety, but John says if I feel that way, I will neglect proper self-control. I take pains to control myself — in front of him, at least, and it makes me very tired.

I don’t like our room at all. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the veranda, with roses all over the window and the old-fashioned, colorful hangings! But John would not hear of it. He said there was only one window, not enough room for two beds, and no room close by in case he wanted to use another. He is very careful and loving, hardly letting me move without special instruction.

I have a schedule that accounts for each hour in the day. He takes care of everything for me, so I feel deeply ungrateful not to value it more. He said we only came here for me, because I was to have perfect rest and air. “My dear, your exercise depends on strength, and your food depends on appetite; but you can breathe air all the time.” So we took the nursery at the top of the house.

It is a big, airy room, nearly the whole floor, with windows all around, and air and sunshine galore. I think it was a nursery first, then playroom and gymnasium; the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings in the walls. The paint and wallpaper look as if a boys’ school used it. The paper is stripped off in big, wide patches all around my headboard, and in a place lower down, on the other side of the room. I never saw worse wallpaper in my life. One of those long, flamboyant patterns committed every artistic sin.

It is dull enough to make it difficult to follow, yet noticeable enough to constantly annoy and draw attention. When you follow the lame, uncertain curves for a little ways, they suddenly commit suicide — plunging off at outrageous angles, destroying themselves in impossible contradictions.

The color is horrid, almost revolting; a smoldering, unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is a dull, yet vivid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others. No wonder the children hated it! I would hate it too if I had to live in this room for too long.

Here comes John, I must put this away, — he hates for me to write a word.

We have been here two weeks, and I haven’t felt like writing since that first day. I am in the hideous nursery now, sitting by the window, and there is nothing to stop me from writing as much as I want – except lack of strength.

John is away all day, and some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious, but these anxiety troubles are dreadfully depressing. John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.

Of course it is only anxiety. I feel guilty for not performing wifely duties! I meant to be a big help to John, providing real rest and comfort, but instead I am a burden! Nobody would believe how hard it is to do what little I can — to dress, socialize, and clean. It is fortunate Mary is good with the baby. Such a dear baby! Yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so anxious. I suppose John was never nervous in his life.

He laughs at me so much about this wallpaper! At first he agreed to re-paper the room. Later he said I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for an anxiety patient than enabling such whims. He said after the wallpaper it would be the heavy bed frame, then the barred windows, then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on.

“You know the place is doing you good, and really, dear, I don’t want to renovate the house just for a three month rental.” He said.

“Then let’s go downstairs, there are such pretty rooms there.” I said.

Then he took me in his arms, called me a blessed little goose, and said if I wished, he would go down to the cellar and white-wash it as well. Though, he is right about the beds, windows, and things.

It is an airy and comfortable room, and I will not be silly enough to make him uncomfortable just for a whim. I’m growing quite fond of the big room, except for that horrid paper. Out of one window, I can see the garden, the mysterious, deep-shaded pergolas, the wild, old-fashioned flowers, bushes and gnarly trees.

Out of another, I get a lovely view of the bay and a private wharf belonging to the estate. A beautiful, shaded lane leads there from the house. I always think I see people walking on these many paths, but John cautioned me not to indulge fantasy. He says with my imagination, an anxious disposition is sure to cause excited fantasies, and that I should control myself to keep them in check. So, I try.

Sometimes, I think if I were well enough to write, it would relieve the flow of ideas and allow me to rest – but I get pretty tired when I try. It is so discouraging not to have any understanding about my work. When I really recover, John says we will ask Cousin Henry and Julia over for a long visit; but he says he would rather put fireworks in my pillowcase than let me have those stimulating people around now.

I wish I could recover faster, but I must not think about it. This wallpaper looks as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! There is a recurring spot where the pattern sags like a broken neck, and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the disrespect of it. Up, down, and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where two sections don’t line up, and the eyes are a little uneven.

I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! As a child, I used to lie awake getting more entertainment and terror from blank walls and furniture than most children found in a toy store. I remember the kindly wink of the knobs on our old bureau, and one chair that always seemed like a strong friend. I used to think if any of the other things looked mean, I could hop into that chair and be safe.

The furniture in this room is only a little unpleasant, we had to bring it all from downstairs. I suppose when this was used as a playroom, they had to take the nursery things out, and no wonder! I never saw such messes as the children made here. As I said before, the wallpaper is torn off in spots, and it’s incredibly sticky — they must have had determination as well as hatred. Then the floor is scratched, gouged and splintered, and the plaster is dug out here and there. This great heavy bed looks as if it has been through the wars, but I don’t mind a bit — only the paper.

Here comes John’s sister. She is such a dear girl, so considerate of me! I must not let her find me writing. She is a perfect, enthusiastic housekeeper and wants no better profession. I truly believe she thinks it’s the writing that made me sick! When she is out, I can write next to the window and see her coming from a long way off. One overlooks the shaded, winding road and country. A lovely country, too, full of large elms and velvet meadows.

This wallpaper has a kind of sub-pattern in a different shade; a particularly irritating one that can only be seen in certain lights, and not clearly even then. In places where it isn’t faded, when the sun is just so — I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and obvious front design.

There’s Sister on the stairs!

Well, the Fourth of July is over! The people are gone and I am exhausted. John thought it might do me good to have company, so we had mother, Nellie, and the children down for a week. Of course, I didn’t do a thing. Jennie sees to everything now, but it tired me all the same. John says if I don’t recover faster, he will send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.

I don’t want to go there at all. I had a friend who was in his care, and she says he is just like John and my brother, only worse! Besides, it is such a hassle to go so far. I don’t think it would be worth going for anything, and I’m getting dreadfully anxious and upset. I cry most of the time and at nothing. Of course, I don’t when anyone is here, only when I am alone. I am alone a good deal now. John is very often kept in town by serious cases, and Jennie is good to leave me alone when I want her to.

I walk in the garden or down the lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, and lie down a good deal. I’m getting really fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper. Perhaps because of the wallpaper. I think about it so much! I lie here on this great immovable bed —it is nailed down — and follow that pattern around by the hour. It is good as exercise, I assure you.

I start at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been touched, and determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion. I know a little about the principle of design, and know this was not arranged by any laws of radiation, alternation, repetition, symmetry, or anything else I ever heard of. It is repeated by sections, but not otherwise.

Looked at one way, each strip stands alone, the fat curves and flourishes waddling up and down in isolated columns of foolishness. But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of visual horror, like seaweeds caught in the waves.

The whole thing seems to go horizontally too, and I exhaust myself trying to distinguish where its going in that direction. They have used a horizontal strip for decoration that adds to the confusion wonderfully. There is one end of the room where it is almost intact, and when the candlelights dim, and the low sun shines directly upon it, I can almost see the pattern — the endless horrors seem to form around a common center and rush off to steep plunges of equal distraction.

It makes me tired to follow it. I guess I will take a nap. I don’t know why I should write this. I don’t want to. I don’t feel able. I know John would think it absurd, but I must somehow say what I think and feel — it is such a relief! Though, the effort is getting to be greater than the relief. Half the time I am awfully lazy and lie down a lot. John says I must not lose my strength, and has me take cod liver oil, lots of tonics, ale, wine, and rare meat.

Dear John! He loves me dearly and hates to have me sick. I tried to have an earnest, reasonable talk with him, telling him how I wished to visit Cousin Henry and Julia, but he said I wasn’t able to go. I did not make a very good case for myself, I was crying before I finished.

It is getting very hard to think straight. Just this anxious weakness I suppose. Dear John gathered me in his arms, carried me to bed, and sat reading to me until it tired my head. He said I was his darling, his comfort, all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and stay well.

He says only I can help myself out of it, that I must use willpower and self-control, and not let silly fantasies run away with me. There’s one comfort, the baby is well and happy, and does not have to stay in this nursery with the horrid wallpaper. If we had not used it, that blessed child would! What a fortunate escape! I wouldn’t have an impressionable little child of mine living in such a room for all the world.

I never thought of it before, but it is lucky that John kept me here after all. I can stand it so much easier than a baby could. Of course, I am too smart to mention it to them anymore, but I keep watch of it all the same. There are things in that paper that nobody else knows or ever will. Behind that outside pattern, the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very many.

It is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I began wishing John would take me away from here! It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so smart and loves me so much. I tried last night. The moon was out, shining all around just as the sun does. I hate to see it sometimes, it creeps so slowly, always coming in one window or another.

John was asleep and I hated to wake him, so I kept still and watched the moonlight on that wavy wallpaper until I felt creepy. The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, as if she wanted to get out. I got up softly, wanting to feel it, to see if the paper did move, and when I came back John was awake.

“What is it, little girl? Don’t go walking about like that, you’ll get cold.” He said.

I thought it was a good time to talk, so I told him I was not really improving here, and that I wished he would take me away.

“Why darling?! Our lease will be up in three weeks, and I can’t see how to leave before. The repairs are not done at home, and I cannot possibly leave town yet. If you were in any danger, I could and would, but you really are better whether you can see it or not. I am a doctor, and I know. You are gaining weight and color, your appetite is better. I feel much better about you, dear.”

“I don’t weigh a bit more; and my appetite may be better in the evening when you are here, but it is worse in the morning when you are away!” I said.

“Bless her little heart! She will be sick as she pleases! Now let’s improve the daytime hours by going to sleep and talking about it in the morning!” He said with a big hug.

“And you won’t leave?” I asked gloomily.

“Why, how can I, dear? It is only three more weeks, then we will take a nice trip for a few days while Jennie is getting the house ready. Really dear you are better!”

“Better in body perhaps —” I began, and stopped short. He sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say another word.

“My darling, I beg of you, for my sake, our child’s, and your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish notion. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?”

Of course I said no more on the subject, and we went to sleep before long. He thought I was asleep first, but I wasn’t. I laid there for hours trying to decide whether the front and back patterns moved together or separately.

Viewing a pattern like this by day makes it appear disorderly and law-defying, a constant annoyance to a normal mind. The color is hideous, unreliable, and infuriating, but the pattern is torture. You think you have mastered it, but just as you start following it well, it turns a back-flip and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples you. It is like a bad dream.

The outside pattern is an elaborate, flowing design, reminding me of a fungus. If you can imagine a toadstool in joints, an endless string of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless complexities. That’s only sometimes!

There is one defining oddity about this paper, a thing nobody seems to notice but myself – that it changes with the light. When the sun shoots in through the east window — I always watch for that first long, straight ray — it changes so quickly I can never quite believe it. That is why I always watch.

By moonlight, I wouldn’t know it was the same paper. At night, in any kind of light – twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all, by moonlight – the outside pattern becomes bars! The woman behind it is real as can be. For a long time, I didn’t realize what the thing behind that dim sub-pattern was, but now I am quite sure it’s a woman. By day she is subdued, quiet. I believe it is the pattern that keeps her so still. It is puzzling, it keeps me quiet for hours.

I lie down so much now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I can. Indeed, he started the habit by making me lie down for an hour after each meal. I am convinced it is a very bad habit. I don’t sleep, and that breeds dishonesty because I don’t tell him I’m awake — Oh, no!

The fact is, I am getting a little afraid of John. He seems very odd sometimes, and even Jennie has an inexplicable look. Occasionally, it strikes me, just as a theory, — that perhaps it is the paper! I watched John when he didn’t know I was looking, and suddenly entered the room on innocent excuses. I’ve caught him several times looking at the paper! Jennie too. I caught Jennie with her hand on it once.

She didn’t know I was in the room. I asked her in the most restrained manner possible, in a very quiet voice, what she was doing. She turned around looking quite angry, as if she had been caught stealing, and asked me why I would frighten her so! Then she said the paper stained everything it touched, that she found yellow smooches on all our clothes, and wished we would be more careful! Did that not sound innocent? I know she was studying that pattern, and I am determined that nobody will figure it out but myself!

Life is much more exciting now than it used to be. You see, I have something more to expect, to look forward to. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was. John is so happy to see me improve! He laughed the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wallpaper.

I shrugged it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wallpaper — he would make fun of me. He might even want to take me away. I don’t want to leave until I have figured it out. There is one more week, and I think that will be enough. I’m feeling so much better! I don’t sleep much at night, it is too interesting to watch developments, but I sleep a good deal during the day.

Daytime it is tiresome and confusing. There are always new shoots on the fungus, and new shades of yellow all over it. I cannot keep count of them, though I have tried. That wallpaper is the strangest yellow! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw — not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old, foul, bad yellow things.

There is something else about that wallpaper — the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we’ve had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here. It creeps all over the house. I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, and lying in wait for me on the stairs. It gets into my hair. Even when I ride, if I turn my head suddenly — there is that smell!

Such a strange odor! I have spent hours trying to analyze it to find what it smelled like. It is not bad at first, very gentle, but quite subtle and the most enduring odor I ever met. In this damp weather it is awful, I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me. It used to disturb me at first. I seriously considered burning the house down to reach the smell, but now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that is similar, is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.

There is a funny mark on this wall, low down, near the baseboard. A streak that runs around the room. The long, straight, even smooch goes behind every piece of furniture, except the bed, as if it was rubbed over and over.

I wonder how it was done, who did it, and why. Round and round and round — round and round and round — it makes me dizzy! I really have finally discovered something. Through watching so much when it changes at night, I have finally figured it out. The front pattern does move — and no wonder! The woman shakes it! Sometimes, I think there are a great many women behind it, and sometimes only one. She crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.

In the bright spots she keeps still, and in the shady spots she takes hold of the bars, shaking them hard. She is always trying to climb through, but nobody could climb through that suffocating pattern. I think that’s why it has so many heads. They get through, then the pattern shuts them off, turning them upside down, and making their eyes white! If those heads were covered or removed, it would not be half as bad. I think that woman gets out in the daytime! Privately — I’ll tell you why. I’ve seen her!

I can see her out of every window! I know it is the same woman because she is always creeping, and most women do not creep during the day. I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and she hides under the blackberry vines when a carriage comes.

I don’t blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping in daylight! I always lock the door when I creep in daylight. I can’t do it at night, I know John would suspect something immediately. John is so strange now, I don’t want to irritate him. I wish he would take another room! Besides, I don’t want anybody to get that woman out at night but myself. I often wonder if I could see her out of all the windows at once, but turn as fast as I can, I only see out of one at a time.

Though I always see her, she might be able to creep faster than I can turn! I have watched her sometimes way off in the open country, creeping fast as a cloud’s shadow in high wind. If only that top pattern could be gotten off the other one! I mean to try it, little by little. I have found out another funny thing, but I won’t say it this time! It is not good to trust people too much.

There are only two more days to get this paper off, and I believe John is beginning to notice. I don’t like the look in his eyes. I heard him ask Jennie a lot of professional questions about me. She had a very good report to give. She said I slept a good deal in the daytime.

John knows I don’t sleep well at night, but I’m so quiet! He also asked me all sorts of questions, pretending to be loving and kind. As if I couldn’t see through him! Still, it’s no wonder he acts that way after sleeping under this wallpaper for three months. It only interests me, but I feel sure John and Jennie are secretly affected by it.

Hurray! This is the last day, but it is enough. John is staying in town overnight, and won’t be out until this evening. Jennie wanted to sleep with me — the sly thing! I told her I would definitely rest better alone. That was clever, when really I wasn’t alone at all! As soon as it was moonlight, that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern. I got up and ran to help her.

I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we peeled off yards of that paper. A strip about as high as my head and half around the room. Then, when the sun came and that awful pattern began to laugh at me, I declared I would finish it today!

We leave tomorrow, and they are moving the furniture back where it came from. Jennie looked at the wall in amazement, but I happily told her I did it out of pure spite of the vicious thing. She laughed and said she wouldn’t mind doing it herself, but I must not get tired. How she betrayed herself that time, but no one touches this paper but me — not alive!

She tried to get me out of the room — it was too obvious! I said it was so quiet, empty, and clean now that I would lie down and sleep all I could; and not to wake me even for dinner. I would call when I awoke. Now she, the servants, and the things are gone, and there is nothing left but that nailed down bedstead. We shall sleep downstairs tonight, and take the boat home tomorrow. I quite enjoy the room, now that it is empty again.

How those children destroyed this room! This bedstead is fairly gnawed, but I must get to work. I have locked the door and thrown the key down into the front path. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t want anybody to come in until John. I want to astonish him. I’ve got a rope up here that even Jennie did not find.

If that woman does get out and tries to escape, I can tie her, but I forgot I cannot reach far without anything to stand on! This bed will not move! I tried to lift and push it until I was exhausted, then I got so angry I bit off a little piece at one corner — but it hurt my teeth. Then I peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It sticks horribly, and the pattern enjoys it! All those strangled heads, bulbous eyes, and waddling fungi scream with mockery!

I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be a deserving exercise, but the bars are too strong to try. Besides, I wouldn’t do it. Of course not. I know that would be improper and possibly misunderstood. I don’t even like to look out the windows — there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast. I wonder if they all came out of the wallpaper like I did, but now I’m securely tied by my well-hidden rope — you won’t get me out there on the road!

I suppose I will have to get back behind the pattern when night comes, and that is hard! It is so pleasant to be out in this big room and creep around as I please! I don’t want to go outside. I won’t, even if Jennie asks me to. Outside, you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow. Here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot get lost. Why there’s John at the door! It is no use, young man, you can’t open it!

How he yells and pounds! Now he’s crying for an axe. It would be a shame to break down that beautiful door! “John dear! The key is down by the front steps, under a plantain leaf!” I said in the gentlest voice,

That silenced him for a few moments. Then he said — very quietly, “Open the door, my darling!”

“I can’t. The key is down by the front door under a plantain leaf!” Then I said it again, several times, very gently, slowly, so often that he had to go and see. He found it of course, and came in, stopping short by the door.

“What is the matter? For God’s sake, what are you doing?!” He cried.

I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder. “I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jennie. I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” I said.

Now, why would that man have fainted? He did, right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!

humor

JustNoMil (Pt. 2)

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 worried son 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 kill it! 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 for olives, 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.

  1. Crook subconsciously got it wrong on purpose, sick of Effie’s shit.
  2. 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.

Here is Hannibal pretending to be a flower. For cat tax.
Horror Fiction

The Deadlands

Check out this exclusive CREEPYFACE narration here - both parts now available. 

This one has also been translated to Spanish by Relatos D Pesadilla and the links can be found in my YouTube playlists!


Now a CreepyPasta
The Deadlands

In a town kept alive by retirees and tourists looking for a cheap scare, we knew a place hidden from their money was bad news. Plebes are paraded around in horse drawn carriages through the dead of night. If there’s a storm, all the better. In the dim glow of our gas street-lamps, we tell them stories – grinning each time a passenger shakes with fright. As long as they stay on the safe, paved streets of downtown, they’ve nothing to fear. If they knew what was really out there, beyond those city limits, they would jump in their fancy cars and never look back.

It’s when you drive past the city limits things become less… rehearsed. What used to be cotton fields far as the eye could see were now dried-up wastelands, unusable to the living. Over the years, our ancestors built further and further away, desperate for distance, but unable to leave entirely. A forest grew around the 300 acre area known as the Deadlands, but not even an insect crossed Mother Nature’s well drawn line.

The Deadlands were born in the Civil War aftermath. Losing did nothing to sway the opinions of ignorant Southerners who believed slaves were their God-given rights. In a world where tractors were not yet invented, farming seemed daunting. Cotton, ironically prickly, is painful to harvest. Days turned to weeks, and the sight of freed slaves settling into new lives taunted the rednecks relentlessly. In their world, White Supremacy and religion were one in the same, it was fact, unquestioned.

Five families owned the majority of our state’s cotton supply. On their wealth, the town of Cotton Hills was founded, and on their heinous actions it was doomed. Where their property lines merged, each man donated 60 forested acres to the relocation of freed slaves. Thus the 300 acre plot of death was created.

The town formed a posse to deliver every black man, woman, and child. Guard towers were built, each connected by fences of barbed wire, and any who attempted escape were killed on sight. Eventually, some tried to carve out a life for their families. Primitive shelters were erected, men hunted, women homesteaded. They did okay at first, but as more people were thrown into what whispers already called the Deadlands, resources exhausted quickly. Friends who once worked side by side killed each other to feed their children.

After 20 years, the few who remained were so malnourished, so barbaric, they no longer appeared human. Few original guards remained, most being replaced with stronger sons. Sons with ambitions, and the desire to make their own names. One fateful night, while the old guards slept, their younger counterparts entered the Deadlands, intent to win their freedom with blood and fire. They set out to burn every acre, and kill any who crossed their path. Fifteen men entered, but only one returned, smoke and flame billowing in his wake. He was spotted as he crawled from the tree-line, one leg missing below the knee. The remaining guards gathered, waiting to see how far the man would make it.

When he was finally within ear-shot, David Grayson called to the man, who he now saw was the eldest son of the late Jake Abernathy. “What happened boy, tell us quickly.”

Abernathy moaned in pain but continued crawling until he was only a few feet away. Several men aimed their guns, ready to fire should he attempt to cross the boundary. With a knowing look of defeat, the wounded man dropped his elbows, and with his loudest cry yet, rolled to lie flat on his back. Coughing blood with each strained word, he managed to say, “We just… wanted out. To… to live normal lives… why… stay? We killed them… all. But the huts… there was crying… like a baby.” The old guards sat still and quiet through a longer coughing fit, too frightened to turn away, but all sharing the same thought. No way they could be having babies in there.

They jumped when Abernathy resumed talking. “So many… barely human… all dead. We were… leaving. All of us… they came from above… but what… killed us?”

For several minutes, the only sound to be heard over the crackling flames were the man’s wet, dying breaths. The old guards’ trance was soon broken by something large rustling through the flaming treetops. They ran, hid until morning, and left the Deadlands forever. Whether a cowardly excuse to leave or the good of humanity, the men returned to their families, warning all to stay away. None doubted their words.

Now, we future generations are warned as children, raised with proper fear and respect. Maybe we hate our ancestors for their crimes against humanity more than we fear a legend, but the result is the same. It’s not a place kids dare each other to go, no clubs enter for initiation, no ghost hunters investigate, no Christians pray for it. No one has tried to enter for over 100 years, but occasionally, something tries to escape. The evil merely resides within, sleeping – hungry, always waiting. Unfortunately for Todd and Linda, they knew none of this.

“I think this vacation is exactly what you need while you’re getting better. I checked this place out, and we couldn’t have found a quieter town. It has one of the lowest populations in the country and only old people and ghost hunters go there.” Linda sat in the passenger seat, reading from her phone as she and Todd entered the last stretch of a long drive.

“Yea, sounds great.” Todd knew Linda was trying to be supportive, but hated how she said getting better. He couldn’t stand being coddled; why couldn’t she just say addiction? Was that so hard? It wasn’t his fault he got hurt at work, he didn’t know what the pain pills were doing to him until it was too late. He went to rehab – horrible as that was – yet he was still consumed by the siren’s call every waking moment of his miserable existence. But that’s not the point. He learned to live with that – he can resist the urges now – but what he can’t live with, is Linda’s desire to talk about it incessantly.

“I don’t think we’ll do the ghost tours, there’s no reason to put you through unnecessary stress… but they have tons of hiking trails. It says one leads to abandoned train tracks with a real antique caboose! Now, doesn’t that sound quaint! Oh Honey, do you think we could do that one first?” Linda turned her phone to Todd, showing him the pictures.

After a short glance Todd turned back to the road, trying to force a smile lest Linda notice his annoyance. What 30 year old says ‘quaint’ anyway? “I’ll look when we get to the hotel, sounds great though.” Using all his willpower, he forced a smirk on his face, and Linda sat back, placated.

Shortly after 6pm they reached their Holiday Inn, exhausted from a twelve hour drive. “How about we order pizza and watch a movie tonight? I want you well rested for another early start!” Linda cooed, already googling the local pizza options.

Todd knew with sickening certainty the moment where he snapped on Linda would come, but he was beginning to worry he would enjoy it. “I think I’ll be fine regardless,” he replied through gritted teeth, then forced himself to add cheerfully, “but you read my mind, movie and pizza sound great.”

Linda’s hurt look faded as quickly as it appeared, leaving Todd to wonder if he’d really seen it in the first place. Most of Todd’s patience was born from guilt. He put Linda through hell with his mood swings and temper tantrums. He never hit her – and thanked the god he pretended to believe in for that mercy – but he had wanted to. At his worst, he wanted to grab her head, force her mouth shut, and keep it that way – but he didn’t. That’s what mattered. He still got the shakes when he thought of that all-consuming rage. In the end, it was the reason he agreed to rehab.

Logically, Todd knew he and Linda had a happy marriage. They never fought before the accident. The addiction was to blame; they were its victims – both trying to cope however they could – grasping at straws to find a way back to their old lives. His wife was only trying to help.

Keeping that thought firmly at the forefront of his mind – he sat and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Let’s see what we got.” Todd leaned over to view the options. “Oh, you want to get P’zones? We’ll find an old movie and pretend we’re back in college.”

When Linda met his gaze, her eyes gleamed. “That sounds like the best idea ever! A zillion times, yes! Please!”

Todd felt his first genuine smile in longer than he could remember. Linda’s silly use of her old catch phrase – once used to accept his proposal, and now reserved only for him – made him feel, a zillion times, yes, like things might be okay. After a magical evening that truly had felt like old times, they slept soundly in each other’s arms.

The alarm rang at 7:00, and they pried themselves apart to prepare for the day ahead. Both walking on eggshells to preserve the previous night’s magic, they spoke in soothing tones through breakfast. As they exited the elevator in full hiking gear at 8:30, they bumped into an older gentleman who resembled Yosemite Sam.

His name-tag identified him as Richard Davenport, Manager. “Ah, G’morning folks.” He greeted them – also sounding like Sam “I say, lovely weather for a hike! Which trail have you chosen? Might I suggest Buffalo Bill’s Bluff? You begin just east of the river, but it takes you to a clearing on the bluff that makes a beautiful picnic spot.” Mr. Davenport waved a chubby hand over his head, as if painting the scene.

“That sounds lovely!” Linda replied. “Let’s do that one tomorrow, Hun! Can we?” Without waiting for his answer she faced Mr. Davenport once more. “But today, we’re going on this one. With the train caboose.” Linda held out her phone, the trail’s website loaded to her favorite pictures. She watched the manager’s face turn from bright pink to deathly pale.

“You okay, sir?” Todd asked, concerned how quickly the man drained of color. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. We didn’t end up in one of those haunted hotels did we?”

“Ha. No, my goodness, no. I chose a Holiday Inn to separate myself from that part of the town.” Mr. Davenport stammered, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket to mop the sweat from his brow. “No, you’ll find no ghosts here, folks. But that trail is a different story, people get lost, it’s not safe. Please, choose anywhere else. They’re a dime a dozen here, all safe, public property maintained by the city. All except that one.” He pointed to Linda’s phone, pictures still displayed. “It’s privately owned by a family that moved here last year. They set that train to attract tourists, but they don’t know what they’re doing!”

“Really? But it doesn’t say anything about being haunted on the…” Linda began pressing buttons on her phone, ready to enter a full blown debate, but Todd cut her off.

“It’s okay Hun, we can check into it some other time. We better get going or we won’t have time for breakfast.” Having already eaten, he hoped she took the hint to play along. She did.

Once safely in the parking lot where they couldn’t be overheard, Todd explained. “That’s how these small towns operate – by sticking together. They probably hate the idea of outsiders horning in on their local legends. Look around, these people don’t have much else. I haven’t even seen a Walmart since we crossed the state line.”

Linda noticeably relaxed. “You really think so? I didn’t want to admit it, but he kinda creeped me out.”

“I promise. Think of it this way. In a town known for hauntings, don’t you think these people would plaster their website with ghost stories if it was part of their gimmick? But they didn’t, did they? In fact, that old man didn’t say anything about ghosts until I made it clear we weren’t here for that.” Todd, seeing Linda’s perk restored, was pleased with himself.

“Hey! You’re right! They don’t, and he didn’t!” For only a second did Linda allow herself to think but what if it’s not a gimmick. Then, imagining the photos she would later post on Facebook banished the thoughts completely. “Wow, we’re never telling anyone I almost fell for a redneck ghost story.” The young couple shared a laugh as they passed a sign informing them they were “now leaving the city limits.”

As they drove, the GPS indicated a left off the highway. The road they followed turned from a black top, to gravel, to dirt in the span of 20 miles. “Wow, we must really be out in the sticks now.” Todd noted, driving slower to appreciate the scenery around them. “We don’t have anything like this in the city, I don’t think I’ve seen so many trees in my life – not in one stretch.”

“I know, it’s so beautiful! I think I could live here.” Linda said, rolling her window down to breathe the fresh air. “You smell that, Hun? That’s clean air!”

The road ended in a large clearing with a parking sign in the center. Beyond that loomed a small, wooden shack with “WELCOME” painted above a glass window. To the right, a brightly colored post marked the trail entrance, and a matching post to the left marked the exit. After gathering their equipment, the couple headed to the shack first.

“Huh, it looks empty.” Todd announced, face pressed to the glass as he peered inside.

“I’m sure it is… there’s no other cars here and look – they have a donation box. Do we have any cash?” Linda asked, knowing they didn’t but feeling guilty.

“Uhh, not in the last 5 years.” Todd laughed, shaking his head. “Oh well, I’m glad we have the place to ourselves. Does the website say how long the trail is?”

“It’s supposed to be four hours. No tricky terrain, just watch for snakes. Hey, we might have time for the bluff today after all.” Linda answered excitedly, skipping toward the entrance.

“Wait for me!” Todd called, running to catch up.

In the first hour, they walked without a break. Linda took pictures by the dozen, but having no signal for Facebook, resigned to save that pleasure for later. Todd walked slowly, enjoying the scenery and not thinking about pills for a change. As he felt his throat going dry, he noticed a fallen tree that looked perfect for a quick rest.

“Hey Lin, you wanna stop for a water break? This looks like a good place to sit for a minute.” Todd was already digging through his pack.

“Sure, I could go for a power bar.” Linda settled next to Todd, laying her head on his shoulder as he drank deeply. “I love it here, we should go to places like this more often. Just listen to all those birds, it’s like nature’s music.”

“Definitely! I guess being raised in a city, I never gave this stuff much thought, but yea. I dig this, we should make hiking our new thing. I wouldn’t want—” Todd’s words were cut off as they heard a shrill cry to their right.

“What the hell was that?! Was that a person?!” Linda’s nails dug into his arm, her eyes frantically searching for the scream’s source.

“No. No, it wasn’t a person.” Todd cleared his throat and tried to sound less terrified. “I think it was a deer. The doe are supposed to sound like humans or something. Danny told me that after one of his hunting trips. Whatever it was, I think it’s finished now. Come on, let’s go see that train.”

They hiked another hour before coming to the caboose, strange cry nearly forgotten. “I should have known they’d put it in the middle – those crafty devils – that’s one way to make sure people do the whole trail!” Linda took pictures from every angle. The selfies took 15 minutes followed by another 20 posing her husband every way she could think. “Ok, that should do! I cannot wait to go through these!”

“You sure you got enough? You only took a few hundred.” Todd teased, slightly flinching at his wife’s playful punches. The woman wore rings, if she caught you just right, those puppies could sting.

“You’re just a mean, ole bully.” Linda joked in a mocking child’s voice, but their flirting came to an abrupt end with the sound of a large animal barreling through the trees.

Both stood frozen, holding each other tightly as the sound drew closer, louder. The trees, thick around them, blocked their view. Mentally tracking its location by sound alone, they flinched when the animal should have burst through the clearing, but nothing came. The noise stopped as suddenly as it began; only silence followed.

“I’m starting to think Mr. Davenport wasn’t so crazy after all.” Linda whined, voice thick with fear.

“No, that’s silly; there’s no such thing. He got in our heads is all.” Despite the hammering of his own heart, Todd tried to seem brave. At least one of them needed to keep a cool head. “Everything is fine, I promise. Look, we’re at the halfway point. We’ll walk to the exit without any more breaks, and this will all make a great story for Facebook, okay?”

“I say yes, a zillion times, hell, fucking yes!” Quickly, they once again donned their packs, and continued forward.

Only minutes after resuming the trail, trees grew denser than ever. The path appeared to shrink, becoming darker, twisting and turning to restrict their lines of sight. The couple clasped hands, neither willing to admit the feeling of being watched, but they felt it intensely. They progressed from a steady pace to almost jogging without noticing until Linda fell to the ground, screaming.

Todd, unsure if her high-pitched wails resulted from agony or terror, kneeled next to her. “What was it? Are you okay? Talk to me, please! What happened?!”

Linda sat up, pulled her legs to her chest, and scanned the ground around her. “Where’d it go? What was it? Did you see? Did you see? Something grabbed my ankle. Where’d it go!?”

Her words struck new fear into his heart. Something… grabbed? “Hold on, grabbed you? Like a hand? You’re sure you didn’t just trip, I mean we were moving pretty fast?”

“Yes! A hand grabbed me!” She quickly shot her hand out and grasped Todd’s ankle in a vice-like grip. “See! Do you think you could mistake this feeling?”

“I believe you, I was just… hoping… that’s all. Do you need a second? We shouldn’t have let ourselves get so worked up, we need to be more careful.” Todd stood, offering his arm to Linda.

Taking hold, she pulled herself up, but collapsed once more upon standing. “I think it’s broken, I… I can’t walk on it. Why is this happening to us.” She sobbed, dropping her face into her hands.

“It’s going to be fine, here, let’s take a look.” Linda winced as he removed her shoe, but it had to be done. “It’s dark under these trees, can you shine your light? The shadows are playing tricks with my eyes.” He stared, unable to accept what he was seeing, but when the flashlight illuminated the purple bruise on his wife’s ankle, he gasped in shock.”

Terrified, Linda sat forward and instantly regretted it. Wrapped around her now swollen ankle was a perfect handprint. Well… perfect if your fingers were skinny as knife blades and your thumb was twice as long. She inhaled deeply, preparing for another scream, but Todd clamped one hand over her mouth, and the other over the light. “Eeem! Mmm! Grmm!” She hummed, staring daggers into her husband.

“Shhh! Please! I know, but if something is out here, maybe we shouldn’t draw more attention with loud noises.” He whispered close to her ear, relieved to remove his hand when he felt her struggles cease.

Carefully, Linda turned the light off, and returned  the otherwise useless phone to her pocket. “What are we gonna do?” Her voice was barely audible.

“We’re going to get back to our car, drive to our hotel, lock ourselves in, and order take out. Because I am starving. You’re going to lean on me, and we’ll hop out of here if we have to, but we are getting out.”

Linda collected herself, dried her tears, and prepared to stand. After a dozen attempts, they conceded it was a poor plan. “I’m sorry, I just can’t! What are we going to do?”

Still catching his breath, Todd was lost deep in thought. He knew he couldn’t carry Linda the rest of the way, he would never lift more than 100 pounds again thanks to his accident and that idiot forklift operator. That only left one other option. Not brave enough to suggest it, he stalled. “I left my phone in the car, let me see yours.”

Linda glared again, hurt and impatient. “Don’t you think I’ve tried that?! There’s no service out here!”

“We have to try something, we can’t just sit here and hope someone comes along to help. I’ll climb a tree, maybe I can text 911 or something.” She didn’t budge. Todd took a deep breath, “Look… it’s either that or I have to leave you here while I go for help. Neither of us want that, can I please see your phone?” Todd held his hand out, waiting. 

Tears filled Linda’s eyes anew as she handed him the phone. “Please, not that, I can’t be here alone, anything but that.”

Todd shook his head in agreement, and began searching for a signal. Linda dragged herself to the center of the path, propping her pack up as a back rest, staying alert for any movement in the dark forest. When Todd returned, it wasn’t with good news. “Ok, there’s no signal right here, but I know if I can get out from under all these trees I can at least get a text out. I saw a tall one I could climb easily just before we got to the train…”

Linda stopped him there. “No way, that’s back where that noise was! It’s too dangerous! And too far away, what if something happens?”

“Hun, we don’t have a choice, it’s this or walk ahead with no idea how far I’ll have to go. At least this way we know where I’m going.” He tried to sound confident, hoping to ease her worry.

Linda didn’t like it, but knew it was their only option. “Promise you’ll be careful and come back fast.”

“I promise, and I love you.” Todd kissed her forehead, loaded his gear, and walked away. As he reached the curve that would hide Linda from his sight forever, he stopped for one final wave goodbye.

Todd jogged at a steady pace and returned to the train clearing in good time. Stopping at the tree-line to catch his breath, he felt his stomach lurch. Something seemed different, but what. Making his way across the clearing slowly, cautiously, he scanned the area for any sign of movement. It wasn’t until he passed the caboose, the spot with the little step ladder Linda made him pose on, that he understood what was wrong. His heart leapt into his throat, almost choking him as he remembered how the sun had glinted off the caboose, into his eyes. There was no sun.

It was gloomy under the thick treetops where forest closed over the path, but this was wide, open skies. It was dark, nighttime without stars. If they were storm clouds, they were the blackest he’s ever seen. His mind raced, a storm like that would be on the news everywhere, and Linda checked the forecast at least 50x the night before. It should be a clear, sunny day. But, it can’t be dark already…

“No, it can’t be, we’ve only been here a few hours, this should be the brightest part of the day.” Todd muttered to himself, digging through his pockets. He dropped the phone between the tracks twice without managing to see the time, but even as he stared, mouth agape, at the brightly lit phone, he couldn’t believe it. The screen was technicolor and shattered.

Todd’s stomach lurched again and he thought about pills for the first time that day. So overwhelming was the craving, he momentarily forgot Linda. It wasn’t until the phone rang, that he realized the full extent of this new dilemma. He repeatedly swiped his finger across the bottom, hoping the phone’s other functions remained intact, but screamed in anguish when the ringing stopped. He sat on the ground, rocking, muttering. “What have I done, how long have I been gone? I’d do anything for a few pills. What will I say? How do I explain.”

A loud, piercing scream penetrated his skull. Phone forgotten, Todd leapt to his feet. “Linda?! Linda!” He screamed her name, not knowing if she could hear him, just wanting to stop his thoughts.

It was another deer, it wasn’t her. Is what he was trying to think.

It was her, and you know it. For that matter, you knew the first wasn’t a deer either, but you can’t ignore it this time. Don’t panic, after all, she’s going to scream every time a cricket chirps. Especially now that it’s dark… oh no. It’s dark! If I had pills, I’d crush some up right now and snort one big line. How long have I been gone? What must she think?! How can I explain this… or her phone? Is what he knew.

Moving fast as he dared in the dark and soaked in cold sweat, Todd focused every ounce of his willpower on returning to his wife. The longer he walked, the more anxious he became, and his junky monkey clawed his back furiously. He called to Linda, expecting to see her around each new curve. Only when he reached a clearing with blackened remnants of tall wooden structures did he stop to assess his location. Taking a deep, steadying breath, he visualized every step when leaving the train area.

“Was there more than one path? I didn’t walk toward the entrance, but I didn’t see Linda either. I’ve never seen this clearing, or I would have remembered these… What are these? Burned down deer stands? I want some pills so bad. Well if people hunted here, maybe a cabin with a phone is nearby. Maybe Linda fell asleep… I coulda passed right by her if she did.”

It felt strange hearing his voice break the silence, as if he were in a library, offending other patrons. “Stop being stupid, there’s no one out here. You’re alone in Hicksville USA. You need to man up right now, find a phone, and get your woman to safety. Linda is out there, in a strange place, alone in the dark, depending on you. This is not the time to bitch out, son. Forget the damn pills!” Todd’s inner voice became that of his father’s. A few slaps to the face helped him regain the illusion of control.

With his second wind coursing through him, Todd steeled himself, marching forward as if he could see farther than five feet ahead. He passed the ruined guard towers he mistook for deer stands and hair stood on the back of his neck. Continuing beyond the line of burned and rotted tree stumps from which an Abernathy once emerged, legless and dying, he began to shiver from a sudden temperature drop. Afraid to acknowledge the feeling of being watched had returned – stronger than ever – he desperately called for Linda until his legs shook and throat ached.

“Oh man, what am I doing? I’d sell my soul for a few pills. There’s nothing out here, everything’s dead, there’s not even grass.” He whimpered, teeth chattering as much with fear as cold.

Todd tried desperately not to think of ghosts. If there’s one thing all haunted stories universally agree upon, it’s that chills inevitably precede every encounter. “Nope, screw this. I’m going back the way I came, no way I’m finding a phone out here. There had to be another path; that hotel guy said people got lost here… I was so scared I ran off without the phone. Yea, I ran down the wrong path, hell, the paths are probably marked, this is for beginners! That’s it! I just have to get to the train, and then I’ll find Linda in no time.”

So relieved was he at the prospect of turning back – all fear of Linda’s anger evaporated. He would spend the rest of his life making it up to her. The moment he turned around, a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky, momentarily allowing Todd to see his surroundings clearly. His knees almost gave out, but somehow, he managed to stay up right.

Due to their long feet and snout-like mouths, he wanted to believe a pack of rabid coyotes were blocking his retreat – but he couldn’t reconcile that hope while thinking, ‘they’re bald… standing on two legs… and, were those… wings? Or were they extra long arms bent wrong at the elbow? They’re thin as these dead trees, what the hell are they?’ At the moment it didn’t matter; neither did the rain that now soaked him to the bone. What mattered, was running.

He could only go forward. Running as he hadn’t since high school track, he couldn’t get their image out of his mind. ‘Those eyes, they were red. If I looked back now, I would still see their eyes, glowing in the dark. I wish I could die high. Oh Lin, I’m so sorry.’ Another bolt of lightning lit the sky, and Todd saw a small hut only fifteen feet ahead. Ignoring the stitch in his side, he ran with renewed vigor. ‘Please be unlocked, please be unlocked, I don’t want to die.’ Lunging the last few feet, he collided with the door and scrambled for the knob. Tears of joy spilled over when it turned easily under his grip.

He threw himself inside, risking a short glance into the darkness before slamming the door shut. “Holy…” he pressed his back to the door, slid to the ground, and dug his feet in for leverage as the impact of several creatures threatened to break in. He almost lost his hold when the lights came on and the old man spoke.

“Here, move aside.” A deep, rattled voice of a lifetime smoker instructed while placing a thick, wooden beam across the door. “Don’t worry, that‘ll hold ‘em. Come sit and have some coffee, keep a lonely old man company won’t cha?”

Todd stared, stammering but unable to speak. The tall, old man shook his bald head as if disappointed, but not surprised. He poured two cups of coffee, and placed them at the table, waiting patiently. When no more creatures tried to break in, Todd found his voice. “What are they? My wife is out there – on the trail. I have to get to her.” He rose on trembling legs, body aching for the warm coffee despite everything else.

“On the trail you say? Ahh, she’ll be fine for now. It’s you who wandered away. Took a wrong turn at that train is my guess.” The old man let a hint of disappointment out when he said Linda would be okay, but Todd was too rattled to notice.

“How do you know that, who are you? Is this your trail, Mister?” Anger raced through him at the prospect.

“Oh my heavens, no! I’ve been here longer than you’ve been alive. No, I have nothing to do with it, but it’s brought me some visitors since it opened, so I can’t complain.” The old man mused, clearly enjoying himself.

“Then who are you? What the hell are those things out there?” Todd tried to keep his voice even, but couldn’t.

“I’m nobody anymore, I just stay in my cabin. Sleeping mostly, waiting. It’s them you gotta worry about.” The old man pointed his cane toward the door, indicating the creatures outside. “They’re hungry, it seems you’ve riled them up; they are Vetti. They’re normally solitary creatures – extremely rare – but special circumstances culminated to create this horde.”

“You’re crazy!” Todd interjected.

Making no effort to hide his amusement, the old man smiled wide, exposing his yellow, rotted teeth. “My dear boy! If I’m crazy, you’re absolutely mad! Those Vetti were humans once you know. Are you familiar with Harpies at all? No? Shame. You see, when humans suffer terrible anguish, when they’re tortured for years, and there’s no end in sight, most develop a seething hatred; an overwhelming desire for revenge, for inflicting their pain upon others. In the most extreme cases, after they die, their souls reek of that hatred and pain, it’s like catnip to the Harpies… and when they come for it… well, you get the point.

“No, I don’t, what happened here? You’re not making sense!” Todd rose to his feet quickly, getting a head rush and feeling dizzy. His hand pressed to his forehead as he fell to his seat. “I don’t feel so good. Please old man, speak plainly, I’m begging you.”

“I’d love to sit around shooting the shit, I really would, but it looks like that coffee is kicking in. I’m afraid we’re out of time.”

The last thing Todd saw was the old man rising from his chair, eyes glowing red. With a snap of his fingers, the brightly lit room returned to darkness. He unlocked the door, opening it wide, “Come brothers, it is time!” He announced, arms held high in victory. “Tell me, which of you will take this vessel and venture forth?”

From the darkness, one Vetti came to stand before the others, snout pointed high, wings stretched open, strutting. The two entered the cabin alone. Several bloody hours and ear-splitting screams later, Todd emerged from the cabin, eyes glowing red. The other Vetti, not yet possessing their own vocal cords to communicate with, were still able to speak to their brother telepathically. What will you do first? They eagerly inquired.

“Find Linda, of course.”