Horror Fiction

The Current Settlers (Pt. 8)

Part 8 of the Settlement Series!

The CreepyPasta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Trish] You’re doing it again, dear.

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

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

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

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


April 5, 1696

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

[Trish] Maybe skip that part, dear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Trish] Volume, dear.

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

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

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

… … I don’t know how many more.

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

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

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

[Ethan] Actually, I have an idea.

… An idea on how to calm our friend down?

[Ethan] Sort of!

… Nope; sit down and zip it.

[Ethan] but—

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

[Trish] Dear…

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

[Trish] Dear…

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

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

[Ethan] Seriously, I have a plan.

… Please, boy, I’m serious, too.

[Trish] It’s a good plan, dear.

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

[Trish] Dear…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… I don’t like it.

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

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

[Ethan] You got it, uncle!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

… No, darling; just me.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ground shakes with loudest roar yet]

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… … [muttering] How considerate of you…

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horror Fiction

Infinity Game Confessions (Pt. 4)

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

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

The CreepyPasta

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

Hey Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you really?” She seemed surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casey’s Reply:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horror Fiction

I Work for the National Park Service; Something Disturbing is Going On (Pt. 1)

🚨ATTENTION🚨

This is a Swamp Dweller exclusive; he owns all rights to this story and it cannot be used in any way/shape/form. Here are the links to YouTube, Podcast, & Spotify. If you haven’t heard his work, I highly recommend checking him out! I’m (still) binging the podcasts, and he uploads so often that new viewers will be hard pressed to run out of content!

Nohope, Washington

Hello Mr. Dweller,

I work for the National Park Service in Washington and found your channel last week. The fact you created a safe place for people to share these stories is amazing, and I’m finally ready to tell mine. My family would worry themselves sick, and friends would never believe it – but maybe the good people here in the Swamp will. At this point, I’m frightened not only for the park guests, but for myself and my partner as well. It would be an honor – and truly appreciated – if you would consider reading this to your viewers.


I can’t risk saying the park name or personal details; we were specifically warned not to discuss this outside of work, but I’ll lose my mind if I don’t tell someone. I’m not a Ranger – my crew only works at night; we’re called “park attendants” because it sounds friendlier than security guards. We were hired to patrol from 6:00pm to 6:00am after a series of strange… incidents.

Now, don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying we’re from one of those fancy ex-military security firms – not even close. We’re just regular people – the kind hired when the mere presence of a body is enough to deter would-be vandals. Most of the others are like me – middle-aged men with large physiques – but there’s a few women and college kids, too.

On my first night, I reported to the visitor’s center where Ranger Rick introduced me to the other “attendants” and prepared us for the tour. We weren’t meant to cover the entire park – only campsites, lodges, and connecting trails – but it’s still a huge area. They wanted to make sure guests knew we were there; our purpose was to reassure them as much as it was to scare assholes or pick up trash.

Their advertisement made it sound like they wanted to keep pranksters away from campers – nothing implied danger. Rick said someone was walking around the sites and lodges – just out of view – at all hours of the night, whistling. Hikers hear it as well; despite numerous complaints, no one had ever caught a glimpse of the source… or so they claimed.

Do you see how easy it is to blame these occurrences on human mischief? There was nothing to indicate anything… unnatural. It wasn’t until speaking with guests that a hint of something sinister arose.


Rick’s tour ended by 9:00, and then we received our assignments. I’ve never been an anxious person, but walking those unfamiliar trails alone – in the dark – had me on edge. My route covered half the campsites – most of which were occupied – but the trails and vacant sites were pitch black on that starless night. Armed with only a reflective vest, flashlight, and pepper spray, my journey began.

The first path led to Campsite A, and walking beneath its canopy of trees was like entering a different world. Being out there has a way of making the impossible seem not only possible, but probable. There was absolutely no reason to feel that way, but my pace steadily increased from speed-walking to jogging.

It was the soft glow of firelight ahead that suddenly made me feel foolish; the change happened so fast it was like pressing a button. I stopped to listen for any sound that might justify my panic, but there were only insects to be heard. After turning a few slow circles with the flashlight, I attributed the incident to first-day jitters and resumed my route at a normal pace.

As Ranger Rick requested, I introduced myself to the campers; we couldn’t specifically ask if they experienced anything strange, but we provided opportunities to share concerns. The theory was that guests might witness something important yet deem it unworthy of reporting – especially if it required hiking back to the visitor’s center. More often than not, that theory was proven correct, and it’s obvious when someone wants to talk. They’re more hesitant to answer and can’t quite look you in the eye; they don’t want to see your expression change when you hear their wild claims.

The family of four who occupied Site A weren’t shy about anything; they were on vacation all the way from Mississippi, and the father – who dwarfed me in size – was quite vocal. The night before, they woke to footsteps at approximately 1:30; something on two legs was shuffling around their campsite.

Not wanting to spotlight himself in the dark clearing, Jim waited until the person was close before leaping out of the tent. He was armed with a Smith & Wesson .45 and his wife with a shotgun; they had waited to take action in hopes of letting the stranger get close enough to see his face, but – not only was there no retreat – there was no-body. At the very least, they expected to hear a frenzied escape or to catch a glimpse of the perpetrator’s back, yet the couple was met with nothing.

After several minutes passed in silence, they returned to their sleeping bags only to have the footsteps pick up exactly where they left off a few yards away. Jim described it as playing Red Light/Green Light with a ghost; had I known how preferable a simple haunting would sound only days later – I might have quit that very night.

Eventually, they left the tent open and alternated sleeping until dawn. When asked why they didn’t report it, Jim said he planned to do more than that if it happened again, but wouldn’t elaborate further. I felt confident for the family’s well-being knowing they were prepared, though it did nothing to quell the rising doubts for my own safety.

Forcing my feet onto the next long, winding trail was a challenge, but even more difficult was approaching the second group of campers; I was horrified by what they might say, but all was well on their end. In fact, Site E was the only other group to report anything unusual. Four college guys were studying away from their loud dormitories; that might sound like bullshit, but they had books everywhere. These weren’t rowdy frat-jerks; they seemed like genuinely good kids, and if nothing else, I have no doubt they believed what they said – it wasn’t made up for laughs.

I’m sure they had booze and who knows what else, but they were sober when we spoke. Those fellas told their story in clear, concise points; it was obvious they discussed it amongst themselves at great length. Their visit was normal until the night before when they woke to long, high-pitched whistles. Each time someone spoke, the noise stopped; when it didn’t happen again, they fell back to sleep. The third alarm occurred at 3:03 and stopped the moment they emerged from their tents – each convinced of the other’s guilt. When it happened again at 5:05, they gave up on resting and began the day.

After more coffee than one should ever consume, they hiked to the river for a day of exploring before finding a trail that circled back to camp. Unfortunately, they underestimated the distance of their final path and were still a full mile away when it grew dark. Your phone light might seem bright in the bedroom, but they’re infuriating in the woods.

The one who did most of the talking, Pete, was the first to hear anything strange; he stopped suddenly, signaling the others to follow suit. The sound of someone taking a few more steps before also coming to an abrupt halt was unmistakable. One of the boys called out a tentative “hello”, but before he could say more, Pete silenced him with a sharp tug on the arm. Pulling the others along, he listened intently for the sound of pursuit; it came almost instantly, and everyone heard it.

The faster they moved, the faster their pursuer moved, but as they grunted from painful cramps, and their breath became ragged – they noticed no similar sounds of exertion were coming from the rear; only that steady stride – gaining inch by inch. That’s when the other three realized what Pete had noticed before – whoever (or whatever) was chasing them didn’t need a flashlight.

Then, the whistling began – similar to a higher yet slower rendition of the London Bridge. None of those boys were in excellent shape, but Michael was a heavyset asthmatic. The shock caused him to gasp in surprise, triggering a full-blown attack. Pete’s voice shook as he described what it was like to drag his friend along with those heavy footsteps gaining close enough to smell rotting meat. It was at the last second – when the would-be assailant descended on them – that it vanished. They were at a complete loss to explain what happened, and I certainly didn’t have any suggestions. It’s hard to excuse yourself after a story like that, but I had to keep making the rounds.

I went by once more before the end of my shift, and they were packing. One of the tents had four long claw marks over the entrance, but they wouldn’t stop to discuss what happened. After a rushed apology, they were gone; I wasn’t far behind them, but I was only in time to see their van speed away. Had I caught them in the parking lot – outside of the scary forest – they might have shared what happened, but I’m just glad they got out safely… if only I could do the same.

It’s fine and dandy to scream at movie characters to run for it, but in real life – people need money. Most of us don’t have the luxury of quitting our jobs on a whim; I’m looking for new work, but I’m stuck here until I find it. That’s why I said “yessir, boss” when Rick asked if I’d be back for more.


In the warm light of day, I felt like the world’s biggest chump; I was ashamed of myself – of me, a grown ass man turning yellow as chicken piss over walking some park trails in the dark! Everything made so much more sense in the daytime; ‘I let first day jitters get under my skin, and got all worked up over some paranoid hillbillies and drunk college kids’, there was nothing else to it. Any asshole can go out into the woods and whistle while they terrorize innocent people!

That night, I was responsible for two of the lodging areas. We aren’t allowed to bother guests in their cabins – only to show our presence by patrolling the blessedly lit sidewalks. All of my earlier righteous anger powered me through the night’s first dark path, but I found myself stalling before the second; the next trail sent a shiver racing down my spine, and the temperature felt several degrees colder.

I walked another lap around the lodges hoping someone would call for assistance or provide a reason for further delay, but none came. There’s no way to explain what it was like to make myself enter that trail; it felt like waves of pure evil were wafting on the breeze, but I couldn’t very well hop on the radio and request an escort either. Teeth gritted, I concentrated on how ridiculous I would later feel, and that helped a lot. The air was a little lighter, and my heart was trying to crawl out from my clenched ass cheeks when I heard it; footsteps matching my stride – following me from somewhere on the left.

My immediate reaction was to speed up, but then I thought of those college boys and how the footsteps vanished when the moment came to face them. Stopping went against every instinct, but I forced myself to stand still; the whistler also came to a halt. It was still half a mile to the lake lodges – too far to run. After an internal pep talk, I turned and marched back the other way; fantasies of catching a crazed homeless person filled my mind, and I focused the flashlight on where it sounded like the bastard stopped.

I’d gotten so worked up, my only fear was what I might do to the guy for making me look foolish. When a stick snapped near the light’s beam, I crawled into the brush, swatting aside thorny vines and bramble as I searched. Finally, the light caught movement ahead, and I peeled back one last branch before screaming my throat raw. The area beyond was covered in blood, and the only visible part of my stalker was one horrible, glowing red eye lost in a clump of pitch-black fur; the rest of it remained hidden, and my legs carried me away without conscious instruction.

People Watching

There were no sounds of pursuit as I ran back to the first lodge area and waited for reinforcements under a street lamp. Thankfully, none of the blood was human, but there wasn’t so much as a bone shard left of the animal; who knows how many that thing has been killed! None of the local predators are known for that level of brutality; not even cats play with their food to such an extent. After describing the creature – my bosses claimed it was a bear! I’m far from an expert, but on my son’s life – that wasn’t the eye of any regular animal! I can’t get it out of my mind; every night I see it in my sleep like a brand on my soul.

Maybe this is karma; my wife loves the ghost and demon shows, but I had something smart to say for every overused line in the script. The retorts for “it still haunts my dreams” were particularly snappy, yet – here I am – lucky to sleep four hours a night. The next morning, they installed trail-cams and had a full surveillance system scheduled for the following week. It sounded great for investigative purposes, but they were little comfort to those of us in the war-zone.


The next few shifts were gloriously peaceful, but disaster was waiting around the corner; I suspect many details were omitted in the official version, but on my night off, one of the other attendants was killed. They say he died a hero, but Tyler was 21 – he wasn’t trying to be anyone’s hero! A couple reported their son missing only half an hour into his shift, and he radioed for help; while waiting for backup, he and the parents searched for the boy just off-trail. The dad found a toy in the brush about fifteen yards away and tried to run in that direction.

Worried the man would also become lost, Tyler had him wait with his wife and took it upon himself to chase after the kid. He was only 10-15 minutes ahead of the others when they finally arrived and began the official search. For forty minutes they called to the missing boy and Tyler before encountering a wall of fog. It was solid white beneath their flashlights except for a small shadow figure walking towards them; I can only imagine how terrifying that sight must have appeared.

When the child emerged, he was alone and unresponsive to questions; two attendants escorted him back to the trail while the rest remained to search for Tyler. By then, the actual Search & Rescue had arrived and taken control. Apparently it was too dangerous to enter the fog; instead, a perimeter was set and guarded until it was clear enough to proceed. It was the first time I’d heard of Search and Rescue carrying weapons or guarding anything, but nothing surprises me anymore. The weather didn’t clear until dawn, and by then, the only thing left of Tyler was DNA. If the lost kid ever provided information, no one deemed it necessary to tell me; I’m not sure he and Tyler even crossed paths that night.

Until then, I never told my wife exactly how dangerous the job could be, but hiding the death of a coworker proved too challenging. I hate that she thinks I’m living out some Stephen King story about killer mist, but it’s preferable to a whistling monster that might attack me anywhere at any time, right?

The next night we started working in pairs. I was partnered with Amy – she’s in her 30’s with a wife and two kids; we instantly clicked, but I would prefer a teammate with less to lose – or an asshole. That probably sounds horrible, but now, it’s not only my life at risk – it’s someone I care about; my stress limit was already maxed out.

I’m grateful to not be alone anymore, but there’s always a little awkwardness when you’re plunged into potentially life-threatening situations with a stranger. Of course, our initial responses were to finally discuss the insane things we’d experienced on our patrols, but can you imagine what that was like? Picture yourself walking down a dark, dense trail with only a flashlight and the person you met a few hours ago. The mood is already tense, yet now you begin to relive horrifying memories… Can you see where I’m going with this? I shared what happened with the red eye, and she shared her own moment of terror, but that was all for a while.

In truth, I expected Amy’s story to fall short of my own in terms of sheer fright, but it was quite the opposite. She was patrolling the route I had first, but it didn’t turn bad for her until after midnight. She had already spoken to the campers once, and the only report logged was a complaint of someone whistling on the trail we nicknamed Crow’s Foot.

It was actually her third lap when she heard screaming at Site B. She radioed the office while running and emerged from the trail’s end less than sixty seconds later – in time to see the back of something massive, fury, and black hulking over a small shape on the ground. The moment her light came near the creature, it vanished; she described it as someone donning an invisibility cloak… which is apparently a Harry Potter thing but self explanatory nonetheless.

When the light fell to the motionless form left behind, Amy saw it was a child, and ran to it instinctively – as I’m sure any parent would. It was a young girl, curled into the fetal position, her eyes squeezed shut. Nearby, her parents were calling; Amy drew a deep breath to answer, but something suddenly yanked off her feet. She tried to scream, but a wet, hairy hand covered her mouth. In her gasping attempts to receive oxygen, the smell and taste of spoiled meat assaulted her senses. Just as she thought she would lose consciousness – the parents appeared; the monster disappeared as it had before, and Amy fell hard to the ground.

A warped version of Ring Around the Rosie, was the only tune whistled to the Meyers family, but Amy didn’t hear it. Needless to say, those kinds of stories weren’t being shared with us lowly attendants, and it scared me to think what the others might have experienced. I thought about Tyler a lot that night, too.


Three days later, the fancy surveillance system was finally installed, and they asked us to watch for any trail-cams that may have been overlooked. We thought it was weird at first – wouldn’t you want as many eyes as possible out there? Then we realized they didn’t like the fact that just anyone could walk up, and pop out the SD card; it would be a nightmare if the wrong person saw something… unnatural. We were assigned to the last cluster of campsites – the area farthest from base; if any were forgotten, it was one of those.

We checked every spot along our route and found one at the very last campsite. The camera was in a tree, and with a little teamwork, we got it down no problem. As I turned back to the trail, Amy cut me off; she was digging in her bag and wore a devilish grin that made my stomach flutter with anxiety. When she pulled out one of those mini Chromebooks, I knew we were in trouble.

“Are you sure you want to see what’s on there?” I asked, knowing full-well I didn’t!

“I am” was her only answer at first, and I held my tongue; she was fully focused on her task. Of the numerous pictures taken, the last three were the only ones of interest. The first showed an image of the creature from behind; it walked on two legs and was carrying a deer carcass over its shoulder – the biggest buck I’ve ever seen!

The second was nothing but forest so we assumed the monster moved on; when Amy scrolled to the third, she dropped the computer, and we both screamed. It was that damn eye again, looking directly into the camera lens like it was doing a retinal scan! I closed the screen as I picked up the laptop, but the images were still clear in my mind.

Amy apologized meekly as she accepted the laptop and removed the SD card. She’s been having the same nightmare since her encounter with the creature. Every night, she returns to the moment she saw it standing over the little girl and forgets it’s only a dream. This time, when the light falls on the hulking monster, it doesn’t vanish; it turns to face her with its piercing red eyes glaring through knots of black, matted fur. It has less hair around its lips and chin; the mouth is easier to describe as a quarter-sized hole, but it expands and contracts in order to eat and whistle.

The first time she dreamed it, that was where it ended, but it goes a little farther each night. After Amy has time to comprehend its horrific features, it begins walking towards her; she wants to run, but her legs won’t move. That morning, she woke when the creature was only three feet away. She had hoped to see something different in real life, but I knew that eye had been enough to confirm her worst fear. I wish there was something I could do to help, but I’ve never felt so worthless in all my life.

We were a nervous wreck for the remainder of the shift, but we had a pretty slow night. Luckily we were able to leave the camera on Rick’s empty desk; had he been there, he would have known we looked the moment he saw our faces.


That brings us to what happened last night – the reason I finally decided to sit down and write this. We were working the lake lodges again, and it started as another slow shift, but at 1:15 our radios crackled to life. A thirteen-year-old girl went missing from Campsite D, and all employees were ordered to join the search. I’m sure we weren’t the only team thinking of Tyler; it was impossible not to – especially if you knew what was out there!

Even so, it’s still a missing kid – we hurried off in that direction, but we were far away; it was doubtful we’d arrive in time to do much. Because of our significant distance, we were extremely confused as to how a thick mist seemed to be forming all around us. It started low – crawling across the ground – and spread faster than a fog machine. We ran both ways, but within minutes, our trail ends were completely blocked by solid white walls of fog.

Venturing off-trail wasn’t an option; Amy and I felt certain that’s what it wanted us to do, anyway. Instead, we held hands and tried to distract ourselves with mundane conversation as a haunting rendition of Ring Around the Rosie filled our ears. It wasn’t coming from any one direction, but from everywhere; there were no forest sounds left – no birds or insects – just whistling.

Soon, we felt the ground shake with the creature’s heavy steps; we would die if we didn’t move, but we were equally certain of our doom if we tried to walk the trail. I froze under the pressure, and Amy pulled me into the bushes. Thanks to her, I’m alive to write this now; the creature didn’t appear from the direction its steps indicated, but the one in which I wanted to flee.

It passed us by without a glance – probably focused on the young girl thrown over its shoulder – and Amy lunged forward as if to intervene. It took all my strength to hold her back; the kid was already dead. The way her head hung against the creature’s back was… wrong. There was no reason for us to die with her.

It only walked a few yards further before leaving the trail and settling down to eat. The sounds we heard over the following half hour will play in my head for as long as I live. Bones were snapped, organs were squished and the monster made a horrible slurping sound when it drank her blood. When it was finally over, we heard it walk deeper into the forest, and the fog began to dissipate.

We crawled from our bushes, tears streaming down our faces; we were filthy but alive! Every second inside that fog felt like hours; we ran into Search & Rescue a few minutes later and explained what happened. They couldn’t say any of it to the young girl’s parents, and ultimately chose to let them think we’re still looking. It makes me sick to think of them sitting by the phone – praying it rings but dreading it at the same time; they deserve closure – they need to grieve. This one has me really upset; those poor parents will end up moving here just to keep searching, and it’ll be for nothing.

I’m also worried about Amy; thinking of how far her next dream might go is terrifying. Surely it can’t actually kill her – it’s not like Freddy Kruger possessed Bigfoot, right? I’m going to call her before tonight’s shift – just to check-in. After what we went through yesterday, I don’t know how I’ll force myself to go back tonight; I’ve never been this frightened in my entire life.


Well, Mr. Dweller, that catches you up with where I am now, but if anything new happens, I’ll be sure to send an update. Thanks again for letting me get this off my chest; you take care, we’re always rooting for ya!


Part 2

Horror Fiction

The Last Settlement (Pt. 7)

Pt. 7 of the Settlement series. 

Now a CreepyPasta
The Cursed Woods (1888)

Hey, hey! Welcome back; come on in! The rain is pouring, and the fire is roaring; soon as we saw those storm clouds, we doubled the wood supply. It can do this all week, I’m just glad the snow is gone.

… … … You bet, friend – we’ve been watching YouTube since you left; the last phone didn’t die till yesterday!

… … … Fantastic, thanks for charging the other battery; it’s like having the ole geny back! That Somnium guy is incredible, isn’t he?! Can you imagine if we had sound effects for the journals?!

… … … Wait, you wanna what?!

… … … Pft, a guy like that wouldn’t wanna read my chicken scratch… would he?

… … … Wow, if you think he’d like ‘em I’ll give you a copy of Pappy Grant’s journal!

… … I wrote them… how else would I make copies?

… … … We have lots of spare time, and those babies are too valuable not to. Plus the originals have all the “thee and thou” nonsense; trust me – you want the copy. Oh, and we’ve acquired a few more phones since your last visit… do you think you could—

… … … Great, you’re the best kind of good people! Ethan, get everything together!

… … What do you mean, why? Why wait?

… … Don’t mind us; he’ll have you loaded up lickity-split. Oh goodness, where are my manners? Here, take a blanket; it must be fifty degrees in here. Later, I have questions about those CreepyPasta things, but for now, we should get started.

… … … … Yep, this was the last group; calling a bunch of outlaws “settlers” is a stretch, but ‘The Last Settlement’ sounds catchy, doesn’t it?

… … … It was a complicated situation; there wasn’t much our people could do. If they came here, they were liable to get shot; if they didn’t, the demon might acquire a body.

… … … Tonight’s tale took place in ‘88; we’re gonna mix things up and tell it from two perspectives. The first author is Joshua’s great, great grandson, Thomas. That boy was a wild one – born in 1856. He had a hard time choosing just one lady, but Margaret managed to settle him down. When was that, Trish?

… … … … That’s right; he did a bit of traveling in ‘91 and came home a married man, but we’re talking about his bachelor days. Most of his time was spent hunting and trapping, but he had a strong love for the written word. It’s a shame we were never given a chance to speak.

… … … The second author is me again!

… … We were a far cry from the stamina we have now, but I was able to write a bit each day.

… … Don’t get sidetracked; we can talk about how I got the journals here another night. Back then, I didn’t have blank paper… so I carved the story into the bottom of these very floors.

… … … I couldn’t write where just anyone would see it; you never know what people might do.

… … … I’m glad you asked! When the French left, we caved-in the basement entrance and made a home away from Breather drama. We made new rooms when we were bored, but they filled fast once we started collecting lost supplies.

… … … Yep, they could burn this place down and build a Costco, but we wouldn’t lose anything important. Hell, I wish they would! Can you imagine living under – not just a grocery store – the Supreme Daddy of grocery stores?!

… Oops, I rambled anyway; let’s get started before it happens again!


September 5, 1888

Those Cursed Woods have remained silent for almost ninety years, yet today the fishermen saw smoke rising from the forest. It was gone within minutes and likely from passing travelers; I cannot imagine any would choose to live in such an awful place.

Years ago, curiosity overtook my better sense, and I ventured there alone; the place was not fit for habitation, and conditions have certainly worsened since. Storms converted most homes to rubble, and those remaining lack roofs or walls. The ground is bare of grass, and if there are fish in that cesspool of a lake – I will eat my hat!

If smoke is sighted again, I shall accompany the Sheriff to investigate. Is it horrible to wish for the opportunity? Our town is dreadfully boring; any break in the monotony is a welcome reprieve. I have dreamed of holding the enchanted bow since childhood; it was used by my great, great grandfather, Joshua Cooke. As a boy, I spent many hours refining my archery skills – hoping to follow in his footsteps.

We should wait not one day more; that the demon remains confined is nothing short of a miracle! How long should we expect such luck to hold? Sleep will undoubtedly be elusive this night; perhaps I will begin the day early. If my work is finished quickly – I might join the fishermen after lunch… just in case.


September 6, 1888

My mouth has landed me neck deep in the muck this time; Father always says “show caution with desire”, and now his meaning is clear! I believed the Elders might be swayed to action if I were to… “discover” heavy activity at the old settlement, but the truth is far worse; even I hesitate to return! There will be a meeting tomorrow morning, and I am expected to recount my experience to all.

I traveled to Dirge Lake. Instead of finding a cold trail, I witnessed four outlaws and six horses; we should proceed under the assumption there is a rider for every horse – maybe more. I am exceedingly fortunate to have escaped without notice!

Bishop King and Kitty Bang (those absurd names) were recognizable by their wanted poster, but the other faces were unfamiliar. One was tall and fat with a shaved head; the other possessed dark hair and was quite young. They were outside playing cards and arguing.

It was difficult to hear their words, but there was mention of a bank robbery, and they have planned for an extended stay. We must all proceed with due caution – especially at night. The food is sparse in that area; eventually, they will need supplies, and we provide the closest solution.

We should locate the posse hunting these men; they have the necessary force for confrontation, and would likely welcome additional volunteers. News of the robbery will travel quickly; we would not be long upon the road before learning which town was assaulted. If I were to propose such action, the Elders would be obligated to honor a majority vote.

That concludes today’s findings; may tomorrow bring better news!


Last Cabins by the Lake

Now, let me tell you what was actually going on over here. Eight outlaws were laying low after a robbery down south; they started as ten, but two died during the escape. You don’t want to know what happened to the horses, but rest easy knowing we turned those six loose that very night.

Our home was a fortress compared to the rest, but they found two more good enough to stay dry. At first, we thought the woman named Kitty was a hostage, but that lady was pure evil. She was dating Bishop, the leader; he was a great chess player, but it’s hard to respect a man who can’t control his temper. The lovebirds stayed here while the rest split between those other two.

Dinky was only 17 and not very bright; his fire wasn’t burning five minutes before Fatso doused it. I’m surprised they didn’t hear his cursing in Jamestown. As for the rest- Red was half Indian, and a decent man; he wasn’t with those fellas by choice, but no one wanted to hire him for honest work. He had a sick mother back home and damn near got his head blown off for refusing to shoot at the posse; he wouldn’t trade one life for another, but if robbing white men facilitated medicine costs, so be it. That was hard logic to argue with in those days.

Marco was a middle-aged Spaniard with a bullet in his leg, and Hops was an old man running from a murder charge; he got shot twice – once in the shoulder and once in the gut. Flint was in his 40’s, obsessed with fire, and covered in horrible burn scars. He tied himself to the saddle after being shot in the back and wasn’t aware of his head wound until they stopped here. It was only a graze, but he lost too much blood. Even with a doctor, he would’ve died.

Splitting the money was the biggest problem. The shares grew with each dead body, and that was hard for those boys to ignore. Paranoia spread through the group like wildfire, but none would risk leaving; they were stuck together.

I didn’t catch the names of the two that died during the robbery, but one was killed in the bank; the other was shot out of his saddle and dragged.

… … … Oh sure, if your boot got caught in the stirrup… well, unless the horse stopped – it was a bad way to go. Alright, back to Tommy!


September 7, 1888

Men were dispatched to make inquiries in nearby towns. It is disappointing not to be among them, but no matter; I simply have additional time for preparations. Our town also holds stake in this situation; allowing others to blindly enter the Cursed Woods would be disgraceful and cowardly! They may not believe my warning, but it will save precious time when they witness something unspeakable.

I am equally disturbed by the personal betrayal from my own blood! After the meeting, my father distracted me while others retrieved the enchanted weapons! Apparently, I have not “matured” enough to be trusted with their location!

Despite this, they have asked me to carry the bow. While I am confident in my ability, the pressure of having a single arrow is overwhelming. When Joshua Cooke was forced to leave two behind – I did not consider how many remained; it was a foolish oversight, but my resolve is unshaken.

The weapons are even more beautiful than imagined; I cannot fathom the hours of delicate work required to produce such magnificent pieces, but the real mystery is what makes it glow. When in total darkness, they produce enough light to guide one’s way. Whatever magics are behind the effects would be highly desirable; imagine if one could eliminate the need for lanterns!

My brother-in-law, Douglas, will carry the dagger; he is a large, bear of a man, and if any hold a chance of using the close-ranged weapon, it is he. Of course, Mother and Margaret are cross, but our honor will allow no alternative. There are times when a man must put fear aside and protect his people. When I eventually marry, I do not wish for my children to be born with only a river separating us from hell!

Alas, that is all at this time.


Tommy didn’t have much to say that day, but I sure did. Do you need a drink or snack before we start my account of the 7th?

… … … … Oh, you’re right, it is louder than usual outside, but they always get like this when it’s so close to their… holiday.

… … … It’s nothing fancy – think of it as a reunion. They just kind of gather and… hang out.

… … Why does anyone hang out? They build a few campfires, chant a little, and go home; no biggie.

… … … Hmm? No, no, no – not “chant” I meant “chat”. We don’t know what about – we stay downstairs.

… … … Worry not – we got you covered. Those phones you’re taking have calendar alerts; it was the boy’s idea. All you gotta do is stay away that one night, and everything will be gravy!

… … … Hey, that’s what friends are for; now let’s get back to those squatters. The three of us made a game of it; there were no points, rules, or winners – only losers. Basically, we were creative when screwing with them, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t do most of the screwing to themselves! Although, Gale genuinely wasn’t part of the game; she dropped in of her own accord as she’s prone to do.

The three injured guys were sharing the cabin farthest from the lake. The others reasoned if the wounds didn’t kill them – starvation or bullets would. Food was too scarce to share, and if they were discovered, it’d be every man for himself.

We were planning to visit Dinky and Fatso, but we knew real trouble was coming when Gale emerged from the forest. You could tell she was having a bad day because her hair was in flames. She floated through the wall of the injured men’s cabin, and within seconds, the first screams erupted. She thinks every man is Trish’s dad. Honestly, Patrick was a wonderful father and friend, but he was a downright awful husband; the man couldn’t keep it in his pants – that’s what got him killed, too!

Anyway, we rushed in – couldn’t have been thirty seconds behind her – and even I was mortified! Gale was squatting over Flint – straddling his chest; her bones bent at sharp, impossible angles, and her mouth was over the man’s remaining eye… sucking. It was the worst sound we’ve ever heard; it took longer than you’d think, but soon, it was just another gaping hole.

With her hanger-pains satiated, Gale visited with Trish as if having afternoon tea. Hops whimpered with a blanket over his head, and Marco alternated between screams and prayer. Dinky and Fatso came, but too late to see a ghost; they saw the terrified, eyeless face of their dead partner and ran for Bishop.

The fearless leader didn’t believe in spirits, but he was pleased to have another man down. Kitty laughed; that woman had a bucket of loose screws rattling in her brain! When the arguments ended, the body was buried in a shallow grave and promptly forgotten.

Hops and Marco tried to warn everyone of the “eye-sucking demon witch” but to no avail. Despite their injuries, the men dragged their pallets into a shared corner and slept in shifts. The poor guys were so rattled they didn’t notice they were out of food, and I didn’t want to be there when they did. Instead, we followed Fatso and Dinky.

They were hiding in their hovel; it had four walls, but half the roof was caved in, leaving only the front portion accessible. It was barely tolerable for sleeping, but to avoid Bishop, they gladly endured the cramped, pungent space. Red moved into a barn loft the previous night. No one could access it without climbing through a noisy pile of rubble. It’s too bad he didn’t know what happened to the previous occupants.

Anyway, Fatso theorized they would be killed after the injured guys were out of the way, but that was slightly off the mark. Kitty only wanted Chubs dead. Dinky was easily manipulated, and that was valuable to her; there wouldn’t be a reason to kill him unless the food situation worsened – which is why Red was vital; if not for his knowledge – they’d all starve. Don’t misunderstand – they still considered him a deadman but after returning to civilization.

It was almost enough to pity the fellas, but then they swapped stories about their experiences attacking women. While Fatso was describing the final moments of a young lady, Trish was getting closer. The look on her face was worse than any Demon – wasn’t it, Ethan?

… … Trish went through the crate-table, stopped in front of the lard ass, and raised her foot over his Jimmy Johnson; we had to look away, but the sound he made! I’ve heard tamer death wails! He didn’t know what the hell happened, but Dinky did. For a moron – he had surprisingly good instincts when it came to ghostly business; it’s a shame he sounded like a raving lunatic.

The more he talked, the angrier Fatso became. It was tempting to let them fight it out, but to end the argument quickly, I pulled Dinky’s knife from its sheath and pointed the business end at his business. They ran out screaming – probably like those poor girls they were mocking – and straight to the Boss-man.

I would love to take credit for timing this to interfere with the couple’s mating ritual, but it was a happy coincidence. Regardless, their interruption was received poorly, and matters escalated quickly. In the end, Dink and Fatass fled as bullets sprayed the ground around them.

Things were mostly quiet until the early hours of morning, but Thomas has the telling of this incident – having received Red’s firsthand account. That’s another thing Tommy and I had in common – he had a sense for good people; he’d have loved you, friend.


September 8, 1888

I have made a new friend; we met after the noonday meal, when I discovered him emerging from the river. Here, I shall call him R; his mother is ill, and the cure is absurdly expensive. It is no wonder he resorted to acts of thievery; charging such prices for life-saving medication is simply criminal! If it were my own mother, what might I do? Of course, that is assuming he speaks the truth; think me a fool if you wish, but I believe he is. That he spoke honestly of his experience at the old settlement, there is no doubt.

Ignorant of its history, he slept hidden away in a loft. Last night, he woke to the piercing cries of an injured animal. His first thought was of a deer, but as the fog of sleep dissipated, he realized it sounded… wrong. As it grew louder, he crawled to the window and peered out. There, standing in the moonlight not twenty feet away, was an enormous buck with a coat black as pitch. Its tremendous antlers tangled together in the center to form a solid knot of bone; its haunches were slick with blood and deep, gaping wounds revealed the muscles beneath.

Head raised, it emitted another distorted cry as it rose to stand on two legs. R gasped in horror, and the beast’s head turned sharply in his direction. It came for him, but slowly; my friend readied his weapon, put his back against the wall, and held his breath when the creature’s heavy steps pounded beneath him. It knocked over his hastily stacked climbing crates and growled at the offensive noise, but luckily failed to understand their purpose. After thrashing about for several long hours, it finally returned to the forest.

At sunrise, R packed his meager possessions and left without a word to his former companions. Fortune favored us both that it was I who discovered him. In hopes of catching a thief, I paid special attention to the river trails, but imagine my surprise to see this lone, dark man crawling ashore! He hurried to conceal himself in the brush and watched the opposite bank carefully. It was curious he did not fear exposure from our side but his own. When certain none followed, he stripped his wet clothes. When his holster was safely hanging over a branch, I stepped out to introduce myself.

We each had valid cause for wariness and quickly agreed to move our discussion indoors. In no time, I found myself inviting him to the use of my spare room until he might journey home safely. As he held no stolen currency , there was no evidence with which to prove his guilt – or some such technicality. Additionally, there are no others to care for his mother should he fail to return.

There will doubtless be more to report soon!


I know what you’re thinking, friend – and any other time, I’d figure the kid was being played for a sucker, too – but it really wasn’t like that with Red. The only thing he wanted besides medicine was to be left the hell alone, and I think we can all identify with that to some degree. We knew he made it across the river, but not what happened on the other side. I had faith though, and I kept right squirreling away his cash.

… … Sure did! Every night, I took a little more from the stash and set it aside.

… … … Those banks had plenty of money; it only seemed right they should help an old lady.

… … … For whatever reason, we can take inanimate objects through floors or walls, but nothing organic. When Red left, I worried he’d never get the money, but it worked out.

… … … We’ll circle back to that – it’s hard enough to stay on point without the extra distractions. The outlaws piecing together Red’s disappearance was like watching those Three Stooges skits… except with more stooges.

Most didn’t notice his absence until there was no lunch – then he became the top priority. When he was nowhere to be found – Bishop decided to interrogate the injured. Marco and Hops gave exactly zero shits about Red, but they cared deeply about food. After a round of pointless arguments, all agreed on one thing – the man was dead; they couldn’t fathom another reason someone might abandon money.

The lovebirds stormed out – their concerns were eating and plotting an extra murder. You’d think the others would understand that and consider an alliance – but nope. Both Hops and Marco’s wounds were infected; the stench in their cabin was enough to gag a ghost, and the noises they made were inhuman. The men stood in awkward silence until Dinky and Fatso left.

They were imbeciles, but preferable to absorbing anymore death-rot. They surprised us by entering the forest to find vines and branches suitable for fishing; all we could do was watch from a distance. The resulting poles were an odd sight, but technically functional. I don’t know where they got the hooks, but if that lake still had fish – and only fish – they would have caught a few.

We kept our distance from the water but stayed to watch the excitement. Bessie – the baby Kraken everyone is calling a Lake Monster – is pretty tame when she’s full, but she’s wiley when hungry.

… … … Oh, I don’t know how long their infancy is; they’re extremely rare and live thousands of years. All I can say for sure is – we’re extremely lucky the parents don’t return.

… … … No, they only leave the ocean when giving birth. If an adult remained in a single location, they would throw the whole ecosystem out of whack. They stay on the move; towards the end of their lives, they’ll find a mate and travel to a place like this. The young are left to grow and mature until they can survive in the open – at which point they’ll naturally migrate to the ocean.

Yep, Bessie was plenty hungry that day. Both men were standing almost knee-deep in the water, and Fatso’s bait wasn’t in for sixty seconds before something nearly snapped the line. He pulled hard as he dared, but the branch was cracking. Dinky threw his own to the bank and rushed deeper into the slimy muck – wrapping the vine around his arm along the way; he was almost waist-deep when he called for a shirt – we assume to use as a net.

Fatso took two steps before falling backwards and losing his pole. We couldn’t hear what Dink was saying, but his lips were moving when it happened. The arm tangled in the vine was pulled hard; the kid’s words briefly turned to screams before being abruptly silenced. The water churned and grumbled, but the only scraps of fabric surfaced.

Chubs was out of the water before the last air bubbles popped, and he was promptly greeted by the Bishop and Kitty. They were hiding nearby – hoping to steal food – but were once again forced to reevaluate their plans. When shooting blindly into the lake didn’t yield results, the fearless leader really lost his shit. Without speaking, he walked straight back to Hops and Marco’s hovel.

Kitty and Fatso were trailing several yards behind, and froze in their tracks when the gunfire resumed. Bishop mercilessly emptied his weapon into the wounded men and ordered the others to “start cooking”.

… … … Of course they did, most people would. They had weeks before it would be safe to leave; as far as they knew, anyhow. I’m sure they would think differently if they knew how soon it was going to hell. Possessing no interest in cannibalism, we went home for a quick rest.

Fatso moved in with the lovebirds hoping to find safety in numbers. In truth, having them in one place made our lives easier, but they’d had a rough day, and we like to play fair; we meant to stick to the basics. After supper, there were loud noises and moving objects, but then the fat one started running his mouth about a teenager!

Her father was an innkeeper in Massachusetts; Fatso rented a room, hid in the girl’s closet, and waited. That night, he stole her away to a secluded area in the woods where she suffered for hours before he abandoned her corpse to the local wildlife. The way he described her desperate pleas for help was too much… I couldn’t hear another word!

I’ve always been a cautious man; this is a dangerous world, and you never know what’s lurking in the dark. That’s why – despite being fairly certain those three would die soon – I couldn’t stop thinking ‘what if’, ya know? When it’s a matter of whether someone’s daughter is safe in her own home, is there a sure enough bet? I don’t think so.

A knife was left on the table, and I picked it up before I knew what was happening! Time stood still, and everyone fell silent, mesmerized by the “floating” knife. With one enthusiastic thrust, all my worries faded. Mr. Fat’s dingle would now only dangle; blood sprayed the ceiling, and his screams were triple what they were when Trish kicked him… not that it was a contest.

Kitty hid in our old bedroom, but Bishop helped him stop the bleeding. We were surprised by his generosity until we realized he was keeping his meat fresh; there was no cool place to store it while finishing their Marco steaks. The mood was deader than we are, so I took a few extra bucks for Red, and we called it a night.

Is it just me, or do these stories get longer every time?

… … … I tend to agree, friend, a story can never be too long, but if you want to finish this tonight – we should get on with Tommy’s next entry.


September 9, 1888

It is a miracle R escaped when he did. Three hours ago, Gerald Miller returned with news that his fellows learned the posse’s location; all should arrive before dusk tomorrow. When they do, we can inform them that five men and one woman remain in hiding. With luck, we will depart on the morning of the 11th.

R wishes to join the manhunt, but it is too risky. One false move and he would go straight to the hangman! Though I cannot force him, I advised he remain as my guest until the old settlement is cleared. Prisoners are rarely taken alive in these situations; there would be none left to recognize him if he waited a few days more. For his mother’s sake, I hope he will see reason.

These next days will decide our very futures, and I have prepared a score of new arrows for the occasion. It is best to avoid explaining the uniqueness of our true weapons if possible. The dagger and arrow will remain concealed unless needed, and – though it was painful – the bow’s intricate designs are hidden beneath a coat of mud. The urge to clean it is almost unbearable, but it is a necessary evil.

Douglas has likewise prepared the dagger’s hilt, but it is not his primary weapon. Unless confronting the demon directly, the blade need never leave its scabbard. Margaret continues to hold anger in her heart, but I cannot condemn her feelings. The father of her children – the man they depend upon for shelter and meat – is leaving for battle and may never return. Our country has seen enough war… I was still a lad when it ended, but I will never forget what it was like.

Occasionally, survivors passed through and told their stories. Entire towns were burned, and people were thrown into the streets while their family homes were given away. Some stayed in Jamestown, but many wished to travel farther north. A few neighboring villages were destroyed, though we were fortunate to never see battle in our streets. Of all our men who joined the fight, only nine returned; fortunately, Father was one of them.

It seems I am drifting from topic. There is much to do in little time, my brain has amassed everything into a jumble. Hopefully, a good night’s rest is the remedy.


It’s been a long night, but we’re finally on my last entry!

… … Keep in mind – we weren’t sure if the folks in Jamestown knew people were still here, and – if they did – we damn sure didn’t expect them to know who they were.

On the morning of the tenth, Fatso was crying on the floor, and the lovebirds were arguing. There was no denying the place was haunted; Kitty wanted to leave, but Bishop refused. There was nowhere else to hide, and neither could enter a town without being recognized. Instead, he buried the knives and unloaded their guns. He did it as much for his partners as he did for us; men like that don’t trust their own mothers.

Then, Mr. Macho taunted us – he said without the weapons, we were no worse than angry toddlers! He spat at our “tantrums” – said to “do our worst”! Well, challenge gleefully accepted, dear sir! He’s lucky I didn’t have white glove to bitch slap him with.

Whew, that man always got me a special kind of riled. Anyhow, we couldn’t sit on our hands after that, but little did we know that Ethan already struck; I couldn’t have been prouder if he was born directly from my own loins! How he kept a straight face when Kitty said she was going to fetch the jerky – I have no idea, but I’m glad he did. Their reaction was priceless, but not knowing it was about to happen? Epic!

He went back the night before and stole their entire food supply – granted, it was already turning sour, but it would have kept them going for days. Fatso was barely conscious for everything else, but when Kitty screamed you could almost see his attention focus. For all the man’s faults – stupidity wasn’t one of them. Before that, there was a chance he could make it out alive; no matter how slim – it existed, but with the food gone, so was his last hope.

I can’t fault him for his logic. He was injured, defenseless, and knew the couple would kill for food. It surprised us all when Bishop cracked Kitty’s skull with a log, but he said it was only a matter of time before she tried it first. He couldn’t see it, but we shook our heads in agreement along with a wide-eyed Fatso.

Chubs wasn’t fooled; he understood it was only postponing the inevitable, but it gave him more time to think and heal. Based on the waves of pride and greed radiating from Bishop, we’re fairly certain there was an added factor of wanting to keep the largest meat source for himself. To avoid seeing what he did with his lover’s corpse, we stayed behind while she was dragged to the shed.

The moment Fatso was alone, his eyes searched the room suspiciously. It was a look we’ve grown to know well; every time we meet a skeptic – they get that look when gathering the courage to communicate. We sat next to him as he stared at the ceiling; they always think we’re floating, go figure. Barely above a whisper, he asked, “is someone here with me?”

I almost answered; one day, I’m going to whisper into someone’s ear just for kicks, but we held our tongues. If you let them think they’re in control – they’ll be nagging you for parlor tricks til sun-up. Of course, when we don’t answer – they assume it’s because we can’t, which inevitably leads to, “knock once for no and twice for yes” as Chubs did.

We gave him a few seconds to feel stupid and knocked twice; if for no other reason, it’s funny to see their reaction. Even when they reach that point – no one actually expects a response, and he was no exception. If he coulda heard us laugh, he’d have been redder than the log used to bludgeon Kitty!

… … … Aw, I’m sorry darling; I didn’t think it counted as insensitive since she was already an evil bitch before she died. You remember what she did to that lost couple last week, don’t you? If we wouldn’t have crushed those SIM cards before giving our friend the phones – a SWAT team would be breaking down their door tomorrow!

… … … Sorry for the interruption, friend; yes, that’s correct, Kitty still haunts these parts but she’s more Banshee than Ghost nowadays.

… … Whoa, that’s way too complicated for tonight, but you’ve heard about her new husband – remember Mr. Long?

… … Sure, just remind me to tell you next time. Now, let’s wrap this up.

Fatso tried to sell us his soul, his body, and anything else he thought we might want if we’d only kill Bishop and let him leave in peace. Under normal circumstances, we probably would have assisted in his escape, but it was hard to forget what he did to those girls; furthermore, if his injury healed – he wouldn’t necessarily be harmless. In fact, anyone he hurt from then on would be our fault!

So, as you can see, our hands were tied. I only knocked once to indicate our refusal, but my darling prankster of a wife added an additional knock. The fat man’s eyes shined brightly with false hope, and we had to smile.

Don’t think us too horrible, friend; Trish was already seeing people’s memories sometimes, and he told every one of those poor girls he wouldn’t hurt them if they played along. Plus, we had his victims to think about. With deaths like that, you can bet your knickers they were ghosts. That means part of their spirit was tied to Lard-ass, and they couldn’t have it back until he was gone.

His tone changed fast once he considered the deal made; he wanted us ready to do it on his signal when Bishop returned. When he came back twenty minutes later, Fatso unleashed all the aggression he’d suppressed since coming here. It was like seeing one of our books brought to life! We were on the edge of our seats, waiting for Bishop to snap, but he didn’t; he only stood there, silent and motionless.

At first, we thought he was letting Chubs get it out of his system before exploding, or maybe he was more concerned with his food supply than a mouthy deadman; then we recognized his stiff posture and forced speech. He was exhibiting signs of Demonic Exposure!

We didn’t expect them to go into the Cursed Woods. With the exception of the fishing attempt, Red was the only one who ventured in – and he wasn’t exactly the Demon’s type. Four out of seven dipshits were already dead, and damnit, that crooked pecker wasn’t screwing us this late in the game! If the Demon got its claws on him again, we were in deep shit.

Fatso’s rant wasn’t funny anymore; even we were scared. Then it happened – he shut up, but he wore a disgusting grin to let us all know exactly how pleased he was with himself. The tension was so thick we saw it as a cloud of black smoke. Bishop spoke in a quiet but forceful tone; he asked what suddenly changed to make the fatass think he was invincible…

Friend, I wish you could see the shit-eating grin Chubs had when he answered, but you’ll have to take my word for it when I say it was a gloriously satisfying display of Karma.

Fatso boldly proclaimed he was now our Master! Did he forget he was a blubbering mess thirty minutes prior? When we didn’t leap into action, our master lifted the bloodied log and yelled “catch” before throwing it into the wall. Haha, I don’t care who you are – that was funny.

Both men stared at the fallen log for several silent seconds. Then, Fatso cursed, demanding we honor our agreement, and Bishop retrieved the log manually. While they settled personal matters, we went to find Gale. The time for games was over – there was work to do before night came and lured the psychopath back into the forest.

When we returned with Gale – Fatso was no longer recognizable and Bishop was gone. We raced to the forest and followed a trail of his clothes, but we didn’t find him. He was naked somewhere; we’ve never been more confused. After Tommy’s last entry, you’ll see what happened, but don’t expect to understand why.


September 11, 1888

I have seen strange things this day. I would almost trade my very soul to know what transpired before our arrival, but I fear it is a mystery we will never solve. R was finally in agreement to stay behind, and our people returned with the promised company; All was progressing as planned.

We departed with the sunrise and made good time crossing the river. Then, we began the slow, stealthy crawl to the houses near Dirge Lake. There was no sign of the outlaws or horses; we feared they moved on but waited before advancing. It was possible they ate the animals in desperation – especially if we guessed their numbers correctly.

We watched for hours with no activity before the Sheriff signaled the first group to advance while we stood ready to provide cover fire. Five men raced across the clearing, and one was shot. We could not discern where the shooter was, and panic quickly ensued. The remaining four did not know whether to continue or retreat, and the hesitation cost another life.

Our eyes desperately searched every window, but we saw nothing. I felt a terrible certainty many more would perish before discovering their location, but then I spied something strange beneath a large oak tree. I did not immediately understand the blurry mass was man-shaped, but the longer I stared, the more details I noticed. It was the visage of a young man, perhaps a teenager, and he was pointing into the tree above him.

I’m not sure what made me trust him… I know it is foolish, but he had a kind face. I turned my aim away from the houses and fired into the treetops. A deafening scream silenced all additional shots, and I watched in amazement as a naked man fell to the ground. Correction – he wore chaps, a hat, and a gun-belt, nothing more. He was hit in the shoulder, but rose as if he felt no pain. As he attempted to raise his weapon, he was promptly filled with additional bullets.

We recognized the man as Bishop King and recovered most of the stolen money, but no other bodies were found; we fear the others have escaped. The visiting Sheriff has quit the search; they have recovered enough funds to ensure their people will not starve. I agree with his decision; surely their wives will as well.

There was a time not long ago when such an ending would fill me with disappointment, but now I am glad more good men were not lost. It is one thing to read of battle, but it is another to stand shoulder to shoulder with friends, knowing you or they may drop any second. It seems I still have much to learn, perhaps it is time to see what else this wide world has to teach.

Damn, the time! I wish to send R home with proper farewells and a gift for his mother; this journal is more demanding than any wife!


Holy cow, we’re finally done! The end! Alright, I know you’re ready to burst, but I ran my mouth too long so make them snappy. If I gotta fight the Demon over you – I will, but it won’t be with a smile.

… … … Of course nobody fought the Demon. We keep saying its still out there, and it’s unlikely that changes anytime soon. This is real life, friend. It’s happening now; we can’t help it’s not over yet. Did you forget this isn’t one of them stories with a neat little ending? Believe me, I wish it was; then some hero could come along and finally be rid of the sucker.

… … … Ah, I see what you’re asking. It’s all about territories with us. This house is our domain like the Cursed Woods is the Demon’s and the lake is Bessie’s; at night – the other ghosts roam about everywhere else.

… … … Ha, goodness no. The myth about spirits doing their haunts at night comes from the fact most prefer a nocturnal lifestyle, and therefore recharge during the day.

… … … Glad you reminded me! This is my favorite part. I accepted I wouldn’t get to share the money with Red, but this route was the fastest way for him to get home; when he came back – we left the cash where he wouldn’t miss it!

… … It gets even better! The following year we met Red once more; he was moving to Jamestown with his recovering mother! Isn’t that great?

… … Goodness no – he couldn’t stop to chat! He had to get that sweet lady into her new house.

… … Well, like I said – it’s just a theory, but we think Bishop went bat-crap crazy and hid. I’ll admit, we didn’t think to look in the trees; when you see a trail of a man’s clothes leading into the Cursed Woods – you assume the Demon ate him, what else can I say?

… … … Oh don’t worry about us, friend; you can explain CreepyPastas next time. We got plenty of new stories left to keep us busy and a slew of ones we want to hear again. Right now, our only concern is seeing you safely to that bridge and not seeing you again until the… festival ends.

… … … Look, I know we had some laughs tonight, but don’t forget how dangerous this place is. Mark the calendar in your phone when you get home, too; I can’t stress how important it is to stay away that night – even we couldn’t guarantee your safety!

… … … I never want you to think you aren’t welcome, but there’s no such thing as too careful around here.

You too, friend. See ya next time, and be sure to make me one of those Gmail things – it would be nice to have my own YouTube account. If we ever get internet out here, we’d like to pay our respects to Mr. Somnium and Family; until then I’ll leave to you to pass along our sentiments.

Horror Fiction

The National Park Service is Hiding Something

🚨ATTENTION🚨

This is a Swamp Dweller exclusive; he owns all rights to this story and it cannot be used in any way/shape/form. Here are the links to his narrations on YouTube, Podcast, and Spotify. If you haven’t heard his work, I highly recommend checking him out! I’m binging the podcasts, and he uploads so often that new viewers will be hard pressed to run out of content!

Hey Swamp,

I’ve been a fan for a long time and knew you had to hear this! Last week, my cousin from Alabama disappeared. We weren’t close, but his brother went missing last year, and his parents couldn’t handle going through his things. Mom and I flew out to help and found some crazy stuff on his computer. He posted two audio recordings to the Park’s website – both of which were immediately removed – but the files were still on his laptop. Honestly… I don’t know which is more disturbing, but I can tell you one thing, Nate was no actor. I’ve transcribed everything in hopes you might read it. Thanks for the amazing work you do, keep it up!


[feedback] Whoa, hold on. [tap, tap] Okay, it’s working now. [clears throat]

[hesitant] Hello, my name is Nate; I’m twenty-six and I’ve been a Park Ranger in Alabama for almost a year. If you’re hearing this, I’m either dead or missing… [light cigarette] hopefully, dead. I recorded this message three days ago, but didn’t make it back in time to cancel the upload. This is a confession, a warning, and a farewell. Please, don’t look for me.

I was the black sheep in my family. There’s no excuse or trauma to blame; my parents were great, my older brother, Eric, wasn’t a bully. I’m just… a lazy klutz, if I’m being honest – and why not – there’s no reason to lie. Most people won’t believe a word of it anyway – hell, I barely do.

It’s important you understand I’m not a paranoid loon locked in a basement; my world revolves around logic and facts. I never believed in Santa or thought a monster was under the bed – not once. This is so you understand I’m not exaggerating; I don’t scream “ghost” when a door slams, and I don’t see things from the corner of my eye.

Each denial you’re about to have – I had; each question you’re about to ask – I asked. I’m going to start at the beginning, but even then, it may not be enough. That’s okay; you can believe me later. If you ever find yourself lost in the woods, something you learn here just might save your life.

It began in April of ‘21; my drinking was out of control, and I was on thin ice with my boss and girlfriend. It felt like I was past the point of no return, idly waiting for the end. Looking back, it sounds pathetic – I should have stopped drinking; I could have apologized to Jen when it mattered, we would have— [sigh] well… shoulda, coulda, woulda, am-I-right?

Let’s put aside the lies I told in order to continue drinking and focus on the key details. As you can see, I’m a straight shooter; I’m not here to bullshit, so I’ll admit – I deserved to get fired. Bartending is a horrible career for a budding alcoholic, and I’m shocked it didn’t happen sooner. Unfortunately, Drunk Nate couldn’t understand that, and he made a scene…

Normally, if someone breaks a window and steals a $600 bottle of scotch – police are contacted; when you live in Nowhere, AL – parents are called, and money is exchanged. Unfortunately, it was the last straw for Jen; my stuff was packed and waiting when I finally stumbled home. Not that I remember – that’s just what I learned upon waking in my childhood room.

These events were what led to my exceedingly fragile sobriety. If I didn’t want to spend life asking “Do you want fries with that?” I had to work with my brother; no one else would take me. Park Ranger life suited Eric; he was made for the outdoors. Me – not so much, but it meant a place to live for the summer. They like having staff on site for the busy season, though people with families are generally displeased with the idea.

A few white lies and blatant acts of nepotism later – I was starting my first day on the job. I was exactly fourteen days sober when Eric gave me the grand tour – and I do mean grand; we barely covered our territory before quitting time. The whole first week was dedicated to learning my way around; he didn’t start easing me into the weird stuff until the second week, and that, friends, is where this story really begins.


Happy Trails

Remember, at this point – I’m still a barely-functioning alcoholic desperately resisting temptation every second, and I didn’t play it off well. Eric saw me struggling and did his best to help; he tried to distract me with shoptalk – I was expected to know a few basics – but even he was bored. It didn’t seem unreasonable to think he would stretch a few details to get my attention.

Until then, my lessons consisted of which hikes and berries were dangerous; now, it was what to do when someone goes missing. Not “if” mind you – “when”. How often do you think people disappear in a state park? Not lost – missing – as in never seen again? Because I thought two per year was an extreme guess, but it was insanely naïve.

Last year – in our park alone – 138 people vanished. It was hard to wrap my head around that number; how could so many disappear in one place without being all over the news? Well, a couple things contribute to this, but the answers are far from satisfying.

Our statistics are nothing compared to the bigger parks – which would make sense if those places were getting the expected attention, but they’re not. Some of their numbers are triple ours, yet there’s hardly a word to be found! There’s a surprising amount of reasons people won’t report a disappearance, but those with active warrants or lacking citizenship are the most common. Personally, I’d prefer jail or deportation, but [light cigarette] to each their own. The point is – even if we ignore those – there’s more than enough to justify an investigation. You’ll learn the rest as we go; I have much to say and precious little time.

Eric saw my skepticism and showed me the Lost & Found cabin. Some of the stuff in there dates back to the ‘70’s; that’s fifty years of missing people’s crap! Inside, he went to the more recent finds and opened a bin labeled “D. Hill 7/19”. It contained reports from the Dylan Hill disappearance. That July, a family of four drove up from Montgomery for a week of camping; their son was nine and the girl, six. They checked in on a Sunday morning and chose the campsite closest to the welcome center; families always do because it feels safer.

On the third day, Mike Hill rushed into the office – frantic – saying his son disappeared. He and his wife were adamant Dylan vanished; he wasn’t abducted, he didn’t wander off – he vanished. Sherri was preparing lunch while Mike watched the kids. They were never out of sight until Dylan ducked behind the tree-line of a particularly dense area. Even before his sister caught up – Mike was on his feet. When interviewed, he said it was the darkness of the thicket that initially bothered him. There were dense patches everywhere, but none so dark as where his son entered.

Over the next weeks, Park Rangers assisted with Search & Rescue operations while doing their best to comfort the grieving family, but they knew it was too late; the ones who seem to vanish into thin air are never found.

You probably think what I thought – that the parents were responsible and coached their daughter to lie, right? It’s technically possible, but the kid was six; I read the transcript from her interviews, and kids aren’t that good at lying. Even if one could keep a straight face – they couldn’t handle a convoluted story, especially not for several weeks under intense pressure.

When asked if she or her brother had met anyone else at the park, she claimed someone with “backwards arms” and “long feet” stood outside their tent the night before. Eventually, it was determined she saw a man, but her imagination invented a monster after losing Dylan.

It seemed like a reasonable explanation until I heard similar reports from other guests. It’s not always a kid, and there aren’t always creature sightings, but when there are, it’s always with the same description. People from all over have described an emaciated animal with long, canine-like feet, no hair, and strangely bent arms – or possibly wings, but I’m jumping ahead a little.

I didn’t believe a word about monsters; I thought it was a gag for newbs. My first personal experience was two weeks later when a woman went missing. It was June 5th, and I had just moved into a staff cabin the week before. Being sober was still a bitch, but there were whole hours I didn’t think about drinking. Having my own place helped immensely, but Bethany Anderson almost pushed me clear off the wagon.

This is what made me understand lives were resting in my hands; if I missed a sign or clue… [shudder] I wasn’t built for that kind of pressure. My focus should have been on her, but it was on a rabid monkey relentlessly clawing my back. That’s also the day I found an AA group; if nothing else, it worked for fear of returning.

Beth and her boyfriend were camping for a long weekend, but they got separated on a hike. Grady claimed they were only apart for a few minutes, but when he walked back to join her – she was gone. The trail didn’t diverge at any point, and everyone she knew agreed that she wasn’t the type to wander off. Her partner believed a tall, deformed man took her. There were several times on the first night when they heard rustling nearby; they assumed it was an animal, but each time they tried to discern the source, it stopped – like someone didn’t want to be found.

That night, Grady crept out of their tent to relieve his bladder and saw a dark shape standing several feet away. It was so thin, he thought it was a tree – especially with the awkward angles of the protruding limbs. Then, it bent drastically near the base and leapt into the trees. The man possessed enough sense not to investigate. When he later relayed the events to Beth, she disregarded it as a dream.

After enjoying a normal morning, she convinced Grady to go on that fateful hike. He hasn’t meant to walk ahead. She was next to him moments before, and thinking she stopped for a photo – he turned back right away; unfortunately, it was already too late.

Obviously, the police thought his entire story was fabricated. If there was any way he could have known about those other cases, I’d think the same – but these people were from Florida! They weren’t locals who happened to know a few stories, and they damn sure didn’t hear in on the news!

It was a miserable two weeks before Search & Rescue left, and four more before the Anderson family flew home. I’ll never forget the sound of the mother’s wails; I heard it in my sleep – and not in a metaphorical way – her cabin was close enough to literally hear it. That’s when I got serious about my training. Maybe there was nothing I could’ve done, but if there was a chance to help the next one, then yea, I was ready to get off my ass.

Cue the training montage; I worked harder than I’d ever worked in my miserable life! The funny part is that’s what got me past the worst drinking urges. I don’t think the cravings will ever fully stop, but I experience entire days without temptation.

By August, I felt like a real Ranger; I was trusted to work without supervision, and my co-workers no longer saw me as Eric’s screw-up little brother – I was part of the team! Life was too good, I should’ve known disaster was coming.


[light cigarette] On Friday, August 13th, everything went to shit; I think the date was coincidental considering how often it happens, but you never know. It was my last two weeks living at the park, and if I didn’t find an apartment soon – I’d be back with my parents which is obviously not ideal.

There’s a kitchen in the welcome center where we have lunch, and that day, I ate with Eric and Teri; she’s a been a lifer and could fill a book with all the strange shit she’s seen. The main reason I didn’t have an apartment yet was laziness; the research alone is a long, tedious process. I avoided it by asking if anyone knew of a good place to rent, and surprisingly, Teri did.

It was a small house only ten minutes away, but the landlord was leaving town the next morning and wouldn’t return for three weeks. Instead of living with my parents for a week like a reasonable person, I was an impatient asshole. The world would end if I didn’t immediately get those keys, and – as usual – Eric went out of his way to help. He was scheduled in the welcome center with Teri, but she agreed to cover for him.

When we finished the last task, I was an hour ahead of schedule, but before I could feel too relieved, our radios crackled to life; there were multiple reports of a bear near Campsite C. They wanted us to investigate, and if that was my worst delay – everything would have been fine.

We drove to the location figuring the animal was long gone but couldn’t risk tourists crowding one for a selfie. After scanning the area, we left the trail and advanced slowly; we only needed to ensure it wasn’t loafing nearby. It made sense to spread out, but there was no more than 15-20 feet between us; plus, I glanced over often to match his pace, and it was never difficult to see him.

Not until he vanished, that is… I still don’t understand how it happened. How can he be there one second, and gone the next?! I called his name, but there was no answer. Bear forgotten, I walked to the last place I saw my brother. I had always felt safe at work – like Rangers were off limits to the misfortunes that fall upon our guests. We’re only here to restore order afterwards – a maintenance crew, if you will – but when my eyes fell upon the void left by Eric’s absence, that illusion crumbled.

It was foolish not to radio for backup. I ran blindly into the forest without caution nor care. It’s a wonder I didn’t disappear as well, but I felt like my only hope was to find him immediately – before a report solidified the event as real. Deeper and deeper I barreled through the woods, ripping my clothes and scraping my arms in the process. I mistook my shock for reason and continued screaming for my brother.

I’m not sure how long it took to reach the clearing with the strange snowman rock, but seeing it was like waking from a trance. I had no clue where I was; the full weight of my situation sank in, and my stomach lurched painfully. Eric was likely dead, our ATV was abandoned at Camp C, and I would return alone, beaten, and without an explanation for… anything. Even if other Rangers believed me – I’ve seen firsthand how badly the police need closed cases.

That’s when I learned the radio was dead, and my phone was in the ATV. When something genuinely terrifying happens – the resulting fear is so intense that the possibility it could grow worse is unimaginable. It can always be worse; that much, I guarantee.

Wandering aimlessly is the worst thing you can do when lost. Unfortunately, it’s hard to stay put while your world is ending. I tried retracing my steps, but nothing looked familiar. Eventually, I rounded a curve to see my path blocked by what I thought to be another strange rock formation. It was big, and trees grew around it to form an almost hidden alcove; had I approached from a different angle, it would’ve been invisible.

Unhappy Trails

There was an almost… hypnotic quality; it reminded me of something, but I couldn’t place what. I was so consumed with identifying this foreign, yet familiar shape, I didn’t realize my feet were taking me closer. My knees went weak as I saw only part of the formation was rock; the rest was… flesh. The realization only came as its top half suddenly stood to its full, breathtaking height. Before, it was merely crouching behind the boulder; now, it was staring into the depths of my very soul… I could feel it inside of me.

My limited reserve of composure evaporated as I fled into the forest once again. The urge to look back was intense, but I resisted. With a loud, guttural roar came the clear sound of flapping wings; the image of that thing soaring above was enough to keep me going well beyond my normal limit. I didn’t notice the familiar surroundings until I emerged onto a trail near E Camp.

I was quickly spotted by a fellow Ranger who informed me it was almost 7:00! That’s when I noticed how low the sun had sunk, and how close I was to being lost out there in the dark. Eric was still missing obviously, and search efforts were already underway. I was forced to recount my story to the police before speaking with friends. Despite what they suspected, the evidence was only circumstantial, and I was asked not to leave town. Mr. Davis, my boss, believed me and was kind enough to let me keep the cabin while I wait for the other place.

My parents were an absolute wreck and also allowed a cabin while the search continued; everyone put in an extra show of effort just for them. Watching Mom suffer is the hardest part of this madness; if she loses me too… I can’t think about that. None of this concerns them anyway. The parts you – whoever ‘you’ are – need to know happened after I finally made it home that night; well, Saturday morning, technically.

The unexpected knock at my door was timid but frightening. It froze me in place while I imagined that creature waiting on the other side; had Teri not called out, I wouldn’t have moved. It had started to rain, and flashes of lightning lit the sky; I invited her in and fetched a clean towel. She dried off while the coffee brewed, and we talked for hours as the storm raged outside. Not only did I recount my story, but she told me much more about the disappearances than Eric had. I’m not sure if he knew or not; it’s possible he didn’t want to scare me more than necessary.

Maybe it’s a testament to my selfishness that I only cared about research when it concerned my own brother, but it never occurred to me before that moment. Teri showed me more subreddits, YouTube channels, and podcasts than I could count as she explained something people refer to as the “Missing 411”. I’m going to do my best to pass that knowledge on to you, though there’s not enough time to read every piece of evidence I’ve uncovered over the last several months. The best I can do is point you in the right direction, but hopefully anyone who hears this will decide to stay the hell away.

If one types “Missing 411” into Google, a plethora of films and documentaries appear; a cursory glance leads one to believe these are fictional horror stories. If you skim a few articles, it starts sounding like some grand-scale human trafficking ring, but if you’re willing to take a deep dive something much more sinister rises to the surface.

To put it simply, monsters – or some prefer “Cryptids” – are real; if you can’t accept that basic fact by now, there’s no point in listening to the rest. You can’t look at the Missing 411 as a whole; that’s a rookie mistake full of false leads and deadly misconceptions. Yes, as records of the missing are gathered from across the globe, there are many commonalities, but this is not a singular mystery with a singular answer; it is a collection of thousands, probably millions!

Every case must be considered individually to determine what’s at fault; it’s common for large forests and mountain ranges to house multiple creatures. Whether this be Skinwalkers, Wendigo, Dogmen, or – as in our case – Vetti, it’s vital to prepare for the right creature. Please understand those are just a few examples; it would be impossible to list all the known Cryptids. That’s why the best course of action is to avoid them completely.

[alarm clock] Damn, I’m almost out of time; I must tell you about the Vetti before it’s too late. Teri and the other lifers were only able to identify it two years ago when she found one of the missing. She was alone in a remote area of the park when it happened. Some kids left their trash behind, and a chip bag was tangled in the bushes just off-trail. When she retrieved it, she noticed a candy wrapper a little further in – so she got that, too. Then she saw a water bottle, and it wasn’t until the following soda can that she realized how far away the litter had taken her.

Realizing her mistake, she turned back to see Jason Fuller – a Ranger who disappeared six years prior – blocking her path; he was injured and filthy, yet not a day older. Teri struggled to avoid the word “zombie”, but that’s exactly what it sounded like until she relayed their brief conversation. He claimed to have escaped captivity and asked her to return with him so they might help the “other hostages”. Teri said pure malice exuded from him in waves. Too frightened to refuse, she asked him to lead the way.

The thing wearing Jason’s skin gave a sick, evil grin and walked past her. She held her breath as his rotting stench wafted in her face, and the moment his back was turned, she fled. The sound she describes coming from him was eerily reminiscent of what I’d heard only hours before. She was barely able to make it to her ATV before he was on her heels.

She reported the incident at base-camp, and the old-timers filled her in just like she did for me – except she had provided a missing link in their information. Knowing what hunts you can be the difference in life and death. That night, twenty-seven men went into the forest; only sixteen returned, but Teri was told she wouldn’t see Jason again.

There are hundreds of Cryptids with information available, but we got stuck with a rare one. Most monsters are born as what they are, but Vetti are created. They begin as humans; when someone suffers unimaginable anguish – the type bred from years of brutal torture or a life of enslavement – they become consumed with fury and hatred. When they are finally granted the sweet release of death, their souls are doomed to wander the Earth as vengeful spirits. They know nothing but the desire to share their endless pain with others, and that pain is like catnip to Harpies. Yes, Harpies are real, but I don’t have time to make this a double creature-feature; you can research those for yourself.

Information on what the Harpies do after locating the spirit is vague, but whether it merges with or transforms the spirit – the end result is a Vetti. These things exist purely to cause misery; they should be avoided at all costs. Destroying one is extremely difficult, but barring a few exceptions they normally hunt alone. Their bloodlust isn’t the most dangerous aspect of these creatures; they can do much worse than kill. No one is sure of the commonality between victims, but on rare occasions – such as with Jason Fuller – the corpses are possessed.

I know my brother is dead; that’s not why I keep studying and searching. I need to confirm Eric’s body isn’t being used, and to put whatever I do find out of its misery. If I die in the process, so be it, but I’m taking that thing with me. If I can take it down with hollow points, I’ll let fire take care of the rest. I have a shovel, two cans of gasoline, plenty of ammunition, and a few blades for good measure. If I don’t make it back, I’m sorry; I wish I had been a better son and brother.


Posted one hour later:

Sorry to worry anyone who heard that… unusual message before; I was rehearsing for a play! Everything is fantastic here. Please come for a visit, and let me show you around our beautiful park. Remember, ask for Nate!

Horror Fiction

Infinity Game Guide (Pt. 3)

Part 3 of the Infinity Game series

Now a CreepyPasta

My extremely talented friend, Danie Dreadful, has done another amazing narration! I highly recommend the full experience for this series! Links: YouTube, Podcast
Romulus is voiced by the beautiful and talented Emmy, Princess of Dread!

Table of Contents:

  1. A Quick Word
  2. Mirward History
  3. Reflection Conversing
  4. Derick’s Infinity Game
  5. The Library

1. A Quick Word:

Hey everyone, sorry this took longer than expected, but I was a little freaked out that first week. The smartest really do break hardest. My game was over; do you get that?

Not losing my soul was already miraculous, but I was still dead; the only reason I’m alive is a multitude of freak occurrences; I played absolutely no part in my survival! For all my cocky plans – I went in there with the ignorance of a toddler!

Sorry again… let me start over.

Hey guys, thanks for your concern; I’m doing much better now. Originally, I intended to go back before posting, but I’ve discovered so much it’s probably best to leave a record before round two. If you’re disappointed – don’t be; your time isn’t wasted. Among these chapters you’ll find “Derick’s Infinity Game” – it can be followed easily as a stand-alone without aid of the informative sections. The name speaks for itself, and while it wasn’t listed on the reading materials – the journal was delivered with another purchase I’ll discuss shortly. There’s no doubt the author visited Mirward; he may be the only true winner… if you can ignore the fact he still lost his soul…

It was short enough to type in its entirety, and if I live long enough – I’ll transcribe the others books. They’re very old; the pages are brittle and crumbling. Laying in bed with my tablet would be a vast improvement. I wanted to scan them, but they came out black; I tried different books until my scanner stopped working completely. Through family contacts I met a special librarian who says it’s an ancient spell; something about ‘chaotic consequences’ if the masses were aware. These posts are probably not okay, but a hive-mind is invaluable. Even if you weren’t participating – the process of organizing my thoughts is extremely helpful. Besides, this is just a silly CreepyPasta, so… no harm, no foul, right?

Only two books were originally in English – I found those and a translated copy of another on eBay; the rest are in a special library. I have even less patience than all of you; with expedited shipping the wait was still eternal. Jess stayed mad for a few days, but eventually, her curiosity prevailed; she officially acknowledges she’s on the team! That’s a huge win, you’ll see.

These are the kinds of books that require several reads before understanding their message, but I’ll do my best to condense what I’ve learned. Obviously, this summary doesn’t convey a fraction of the actual texts, but today’s goal is to share information and answer the most common questions.

The best solution for simple updates seemed to be a subreddit. Unfortunately, ‘InfinityGame’ was already in use, so I ended up with ‘HauntedUniverse’. I’m stretched for time while finishing this entry, but I’ll Google how to use it as soon as possible. Alright, if I missed anything we can explain as we go; if you want a snack, smoke, or drink – get it now.


2. Mirward History:

Over the centuries, Mirward was given many names across many cultures, but the most commonly used translate to “Opposite World” or “Backwards Place”. Flection chick was right about one thing – I wouldn’t have found any of this without her. Also, to avoid saying “Flection chick” more than I already have – she will henceforth be referred to as Casey… because that’s my middle name and apparently what she prefers.

Mirward’s existence was originally discovered through dreams, leaving each culture to create their own explanations for it. The resulting theories varied, but ‘gateway to hell’ is unsurprisingly the most popular. In case you’re asking, “but how does one dream such a specific ritual?” I’ll answer that here instead of sticking it into the conclusions where I found it. Asking why Mirward exists is like asking why the universe exists. Speculate all you want, but no one’s getting a definitive answer.

Much like our ancestors discovered fire, the supernatural creatures of Mirward made their own discoveries. At some point, the strong learned to communicate with our side; from there, it became a “manipulative dream entity” trope. Slowly but surely, people learned the rules, and went a little farther with each attempt.

The chapter titled Travel Alone is particularly important; it details attempts at group entries, and they’re frighteningly close to my original plan. I mistakenly believed the right team would make things easier; more eyes, weapons, and brains – all the strategic advantages of any co-op. Instead, it sounds like the game’s difficulty increases in correlation to the number of participants.

The Romans sent eight men; after one soldier entered, no more could follow – the door was closed. The first soldier was recalled, and all were tied together. This allowed everyone to enter, but the expedition was a total failure. After five hours, only one returned; his report resulted in the termination of group efforts. They walked for hours before eight doors simultaneously flew open, and they were surrounded. These were not the type of guys to use their words; they were Romans! The survivor claimed they fought in self defense, but the author theorizes the men became disoriented and cut each other down; I have to agree it’s the likelier scenario.

After the seven were lost, only elite warriors were chosen for solo expeditions. Each took aggressive action when their reflections appeared; at least… it’s assumed they did – though technically, we’ll never know what happened to those who didn’t return.

Of the two who did return – both claimed to feel ill upon killing their reflections; though… in reality, only the first man murdered his double. For the remainder of his short life, that soldier was a shadow of his former self. A week later, he was discovered hanging from a tree. Clearly, we can officially add “don’t harm reflection” to the list of rules.

The second man was captured and sentenced to death after murdering eleven people; the soldier who entered Mirward never came home. Instead, his bitter reflection emerged to wreak havoc. In total, he killed seven women, three children and one man before finally being discovered.

Side note: Many believe this is where Doppelgängers come from, but – while, one certainly can’t be faulted for the conclusion – it’s incorrect. We don’t have time to delve into their actual origins, but this isn’t it.

In the 1800’s, four soldiers played in Italy. Two entered while the others stood guard, but when their reflections emerged from different doors, they were forced to make a decision. Choosing poorly, they proceeded through the door opposite of the senior officer’s double.

When that same man died moments later, the mirror through which they entered broke apart. The guards thought both men were dead but soon heard the second soldier screaming for help, calling from the broken remnants. He was able to report what transpired, but there was no way out. His family was brought to the site, and it seemed the poor man was doomed to slowly waste away in the darkness… but that was not so.

Suddenly, he stopped speaking and began to whimper; loud, heavy footsteps were heard by all. Each thud landed closer until the vibrations were also felt in our world. At the sound of the soldier’s dying screams – the commander kicked the candles clear of the pentagram, ending the game. All fell instantly still and silent, even the grieving widow.

Eventually, most cultures followed the Roman’s example and let Mirward fade into legend, but there’s a few exceptions where people were driven to learn more. Those with a preference for the dark or strange will always be fascinated by its mysteries – as any of you can surely attest. Now, let’s put a pin in history and talk about my conversation with Casey.


3. Reflection Conversing:

This is how I learned to talk with Casey. Don’t worry, I’m not blindly trusting her… but things have definitely gotten complicated. Plus, I read this book several times and it’s accuracy has been heavily vouched for. Let me explain the how first – then there’s a transcript of our actual conversation.

Technically, I started talking to her the moment I came home; there’s no doubt she’s listening. There’s reflective surfaces everywhere. Wherever you are right now, look around; I bet you’re surrounded. You’ll never play the Infinity Game with a pair of shades or windows, but your reflection is there, right? Wave hello; I’m sure they’ll wave back!

I was already in the habit of talking to myself, but knowing someone’s actually there has me halfway to certifiable. If my posts stop suddenly – someone may have to help me escape a psych ward; you guys should know the risks before digging deeper because this shit isn’t getting any safer. If I’m being completely honest – I think something is stalking me, but I don’t have time to get into that today.

The prospect of an actual conversation with Casey was intriguing, but I didn’t get cocky. I’m embracing the fact I can’t be the smartest person in the room anymore. Apparently, it’s safe to speak to them when we occupy our own dimensions but never when visiting the other. This can be complicated but hang in there; I think I’ve got an easier way to explain it than the book.

We can’t talk to them because we don’t belong in Mirward; to do so would be forfeiting pieces of our soul to our reflections. Think of the energy we use to interact with others as “life force” or “essence” – as we use it on a daily basis, it’s constantly regenerating. The younger and healthier – those full of ‘life’ – replenish quickly while the sick and elderly recover at a slower pace. This process doesn’t happen outside our own dimension; eventually, we’d wither away.

The same is true for our doubles; the consequences are equally dire if they speak or move independently when appearing in our world. That’s why no angry reflections are screaming at us each time we look into a mirror. It’s only when we open a singular – let’s say ‘window’ – that we may freely converse.

I’ll say one thing though – I have a much higher appreciation for how bad their lives are. I barely survived hours of a silent existence. Can you imagine living in a shit-hole and spending your entire life modeling for some jerk who looks just like you? Although… what about poor people? Wouldn’t their reflections be living large? I’ll have to ask Casey later, I don’t know how I didn’t think of that until now. See – this is the hive-mind in action; best tool ever!

The ritual isn’t too different from the one used to enter Mirward; you need one standing mirror, two white candles, a small knife, and chalk. In a dark room – and only when alone – place the mirror against a wall. With the chalk, trace around its edges ensuring there are no gaps; both participant’s essence would leak out. It’s unclear what – if any – the consequences of that are, but there’s no reason to learn. Next, align the lit candles with the edges of your chalk-line, but please don’t start a house fire. See how liberally I used bold words in these instructions? It’s for a reason, I’m begging you – exercise common sense.

There’s no incantation; once everything’s in place, you’ll need a drop of blood on each dominant hand’s fingertip. I understand most people’s first instinct is to prick their fingers, but I don’t have words strong enough to convey how much that wasn’t happening. Walking around with cut fingers for a week would be akin to torture; instead, I cut a moderate incision into my arm. Touching each finger to the bloody wound, I placed my hand flat against the mirror’s cold surface as Casey did the same.

When we pulled our hands away, five bloody fingerprints remained; Breath held, I watched for any signs to indicate the ritual succeeded. Just when I thought it didn’t work, Casey laughed; working with someone who possesses my sense of humor has proven… educational. Once past the witty banter – which I won – much was learned. Casey shares my need to understand things.

While she knows more of our world than we do of hers, certain aspects elude her comprehension. We agreed to trade question for question; I know it sounds naive to automatically believe her answers, but we genuinely are alike at our cores; it’s absolutely unthinkable to cheat during a quest for knowledge. The karma risk alone is mortifying!

Remember how I wanted to use a tape recorder last time? Well, there was no reason not to here! There was a horrible moment where I thought it would be dead air or only my side of the conversation, but there was nothing to worry about. As evidence, the audio is worthless – it sounds like I’m having a batty conversation with myself – but as an aid, it’s glorious!

Below is a transcript for your convenience. The following conversation began at midnight on Sunday, February 13, 2022. It begins with the first question asked; Casey’s responses are indicated with a “C” and mine, a with “P”.

P: Are we allowed to talk to the other… “people” on your side?

C: You could; humans shouldn’t. They won’t waste as much essence as if their reflection were sucking it up, but the ship’s still leaking.

P: Hold on, what—

C: Why do you all require caretakers for the first 18 years of existence?

P: We mature at a depressingly slow rate and would otherwise die; even with these safeguards, it’s sometimes not enough. Why did you categorize me as… not human?

C: Because we’re half-breeds… how did you not realize that? Wait! That’s not my question! Only your mother was human, happy? Why do mortals consume mind-altering substances?

P: Life hurts; different drugs help different aches, and whether mental or physical - there’s a flavor for everything. What… species is my dad?

C: Clarify; biological or caretaker?

P: They’re the same person! [extended silence] Biological, please.

C: You would use the word demon - an otherworldly creature with supernatural abilities - but technically he is an Infitialis. Regardless, his existence began on my side. That means you’re - rather we’re - half-breeds. Now tell me, this Politics thing—

P: No, don’t waste your breath; I know what you’re trying to ask but I have no clue how to explain that ridiculous shit.

C: Fair enough; why are so many people obsessed with food? I understand the need for sustenance - it’s one of the universal constants - but I’m curious why some dedicate their lives to it.

P: Oh… um… I guess it’s the same answer as the drug question. Unless, you’re talking about chefs and cooking shows - some people just enjoy the hobby. Who knows why?

C: Your answers are disappointing.

P: Sorry… but for someone who’s always looking over my shoulder, I expected you to understand more of the basics…

C: Yea, your shoulder; I’m well versed in anime, Star Trek, and Minecraft; not economics, sociology, or congress!

P: Okay, I see your point, but even you just admitted I can’t accurately answer those questions. Besides, if we’re so much alike - how are you interested in that junk?

C: It is not dull, common-knowledge on this side!

P: Oh, right. Damn. Ok, how about this - you answer my questions and I’ll trade each answer for a Netflix documentary.

C: Deal.

P: So, your people are called Infitialis?

C: [sigh] No, that’s our word for Demon; pay attention, we don’t have much time left.

P: Wait, we’re being timed with this, too?!

C: You can be terribly naive.

P: Um, ok… ok, ok, ok… how did Mom… I mean - did she go back to Mirward again?!

C: No, your father was the one to cross over. Elle met him only once and had no reason to doubt his species.

P: Oh no… was Mom…?

C: He was a one-night-stand if that’s what you mean.

P: That’s totally what I meant… wait, is that why Boss dude couldn’t take my soul?!

C: Correct. Why is sex is a taboo subject in your culture; it’s ironic for an act in which all indulge.

P: People are sensitive about activities performed in the nude; it’s honestly not worth half the trouble it causes.

C: Is your lack of sexual activity a choice? I thought it was the inability to find a suitable mate.

P: You’re hilarious; I suppose you guys don’t exactly pair off and have fam—

C: Time’s up, blow the candles out.

P: What happens when— [thud]

C: Now! Move! [thud, thud]

I reached for the candle in a panic, knocking it over; hot wax covered my fingers as I rushed to extinguish the small flame. Instantly, the room fell silent, and an immense pressure evaporated. It’s hard not to connect those loud thuds with the ones heard by the Italians in the 1800’s.

We were able to talk roughly fifteen minutes, but the book didn’t warn of a time limit – only not to do it more than once in a 24-hour period; I would have prioritized questions differently. After a twinge of fear and guilt toward my probably salty reflection, I started a documentary on capitalism before studying my notes; fair is fair. For the record – everything Casey said has checked out. I want to learn more about the ‘Infitialis’ word, but right now all I can tell you is it’s Latin for negative; so yea, I’m confused too.


4.Derick’s Infinity Game:

This was mailed with the history book and probably why you’re here. Please understand this is all the information. I couldn’t find any public records of this man or his descendants; we’d need a private investigator or historian to track that stuff down, and my hands are kinda full. I can’t tell what type of boat he’s on anymore than you can. It sounds like he was employed on a ship and expected to be gone roughly six months; anything more is speculation.

On the last page Derick sketched some of what he saw in Mirward, but I haven’t witnessed these particular… creatures. Jess did amazing work with the enhancement, and if you’re reading the blog post you’ll see the picture below; those on different sites can view it with the Imgur link, but it’s not vital to the story. Although… on the left appears to be the severed head of Oogie Boogie; it’s definitive proof Tim Burton played the Infinity Game, and it’s pretty clear what he wished for.

Derick’s Sketch

Disclaimer: I know I said ‘transcribe’ but this is dated in 1832, and the author was… unaccustomed to writing. Most of you probably wouldn’t enjoy the old-timey phrasing so, with the exception of using modern language, spelling corrections, and enough grammar to make it legible – this chapter is the journal of a man named Derick Price.

May 3, 1832

Beverly bought this damn book as something to do on the boat! I left it behind on purpose, planning to swear it forgotten six from now. As long as there’s a few souvenirs to distract her – she’d forgive me quick enough. Of course she stuffed it into my pack! Crafty woman, I just might fill these pages to spite her! God knows I’ll miss the nag, especially at night!

I wonder how many card players are aboard. If I talk my way into the right games, I could double – maybe triple – my salary! Though, if I go home with too much… Bev’s liable to get suspicious… but shore-leave should resolve that! Guess I’ll need to lose this journal before then, too; the only reason she wants me to write is so she can snoop the second my back’s turned!

May 5, 1832

Those bastards cheated; that’s the only explanation! I knew Carl was a scumbag the moment I laid eyes on his pointy rat-face! He and Dalton are probably splitting the pot this second – laughing their asses off at the chump!

Tomorrow night there’ll be a proper game in the kitchen, and this time I’ll catch the crooks red-handed; however they’re doing it – I’ll have my revenge and my money! The pissers are lucky Mr Sims came when he did; ten more seconds and they’d be licking the bottom of my boots!

Maybe I shouldn’t wait… maybe I should sneak into their rooms tonight. The longer they have my money, the more they’re liable to spend! If I play it smart, I could get rid of Carl completely… throw his body overboard and make it look like Dalton double-crossed him…

But first it’s time to burn this journal to ashes! Sorry, Bev!

[unspecified amount of time later]

I’m dreaming; this ain’t real, it ain’t real. Maybe if I write it down I can figure out how the scam worked. This is a con, it’s gotta be. I just need to think a minute. I don’t know where I am; I don’t know how they did that trick with the mirror or where they found a man who looks like me… or how he knew all those things… damnit!

Ok, I waited a few hours to make sure everyone was asleep. After leaving my bunk… I was walking up the ladder… but fell— no, I was pulled! Someone grabbed my leg… and hit me in the head; that’s why my skull is pounding! Then they must have put me on a different boat while I was unconscious!

I woke in a long hallway; it stretched farther than I could see. The door was rigged to look like a mirror somehow… except I couldn’t see myself; instead, it was Dalton and Carl. They had guns and said to walk until my twin came inside; this twin would supposedly kill me if I spoke for any reason… it made no sense! Then I was to exit through the door opposite from where he entered… ‘course I didn’t intend to do it… not until I saw him.

Next is the strangest part of all. They said I can’t be released until I find a man called the Owner; if “asked politely” he’ll give me a million dollars. Can such a sum even be carried by one person – surely they don’t expect me to return with a banknote? Even if the claim is true, they wouldn’t let me live! Regardless, my only option was to walk away.

Once out of those bastards’ sight I tried every door, but they were locked. It was almost thirty minutes before the creak of hinges made me scream like a girl… it was me standing there! Not a look-a-like, not even a twin; me – down to every mole, wrinkle, and scar! The only difference was a dirty rag tied to his left arm; that’s when I noticed an identical rag sewn to my own right sleeve. I don’t understand why it’s there but it was difficult to focus on anything besides the man… there’s a… wrongness to him – beyond his appearance.

When he spoke, it was with my voice. At first, my silence was the result of shock, but as he grew angry – I grew terrified; eventually, he left – walking in the direction of Carl and Dalton. I stood between the two doors knowing it pointless to continue down the hall; I don’t remember inching closer to his door, yet suddenly, my hand was reaching for it!

Something wasn’t right about that room… I could feel it before my fingers touched the door’s wooden surface. It’s already cold here, but the air from that room was like being naked in a blizzard; I jerked my hand away from the darkness. Nothing was visible beyond its border, not even the ground. I crossed the hallway and dove through the opposite door just to get away from that horrible void.

The room I entered is where I sit now, and what I saw is the reason for these words. I’ll likely die here and wish to leave a record. I can’t imagine where my body will be found or if this will find Beverly, but if it does – I’m truly sorry, my dear. Others will discount these claims as those of a madman, but you’ll know my sincerity. I’m a man of many faults, darling, but superstition ain’t one of them.

I’ve been a terrible fool; there are – without a doubt – sinister creatures on our Earth. My love, do you remember the summer I worked in the mines? And how I once described finding a small, malformed skeleton in the old tunnels? That’s the closest comparison for what I saw upon entering this room. It stood upright and was only a few inches shorter than myself, but it looked every bit of that damned skeleton! It wore a horrifyingly wide smile – you wouldn’t think the expression possible without skin – and the damn thing was holding the head of… something – but it’s covered by a white hood; I’ve no urge to peer inside. I suspect the body is contained within the bulging, dirty sack lying in the corner.

Well, my dear, as you probably suspect, the creature wished to add my head to its collection; it dropped its trophy and lunged. A wild chase ensued, but eventually, the devil leapt onto my back; its fingers found purchase in my scalp, temporarily blinding me as blood streamed down my face. It struggled to maintain its hold in the midst of my chaotic flails, and I reached back desperately – securing a grip on one frail arm; it snapped easily, but the remaining hand dug its claws deeper. Slightly calmer, I reached back once more and was able to grab its head. With two fingers hooked in an eye socket, I ripped the skull free.

As the bones fell and scattered across the floor, I finally took notice of my surroundings; that doorway led me to a living area – a large, nicely furnished one with tables, chairs, and shelves… yet there are no windows. There’s only one other door, but I’ve been too afraid to peer outside; instead, I sat to write this entry. Now, unfortunately, I must go.

May 15, 1832

I simply cannot believe my life contained such good fortune; more than the existence of supernatural beings and worlds – it’s truly a marvel what money can accomplish! I’m writing this from the finest hotel in Louisiana, and have a reservation through the week. My first instinct was to return home, but then I realized the uniqueness of my position. Just once, it would be nice to do things the smart way. I plan to write everything that’s happened and carefully consider every option.

After the last entry, I paced in front of that exit for nearly twenty minutes before loud, violent knocks shook the door. I planned to retreat into the hall when my legs resumed working, but the door broke long before that could happen. Monsters – skeletons of all shapes and sizes – were coming to tear me apart! Seconds before reaching their goal – a deep, gruff voice shouted, “Stop! Be gone!”

I wept with relief as the creatures fled, yet remained frozen as the voice continued in a less hostile tone, “Please don’t shit yourself, the smell is disgusting, and we have much to discuss.”

My paralysis was cured as I finally laid eyes on the newcomer – my long-deceased father. Previous fears forgotten, I leapt to my feet – hurrying to embrace him, but was rudely halted midway.

“No! I am not who you think! You traveled far beyond the Earthly limitations of which you are accustomed; it is the unusual circumstances of that travel which bring me here. This game has a complex set of rules; accidental participation is exceedingly rare but possible. Until now, those instances were direct results of the player’s own nefarious – or simply moronic – actions, but your case warranted special consideration.

I failed to find my voice; those words left me in more confusion than ever. His penetrating gaze burned into my soul, but I don’t believe the intimidation was intentional. After a few silent moments, the man sighed with exasperation and motioned to the smaller table. He claimed his true appearance is unsettling – and I’ve no doubt it’s true – but once seated I was able to speak.

I told him everything, including my intentions for Carl and Dalton; my fear was too great to lie. After a moment’s consideration, the man reached into his coat and removed two pre-filled pipes. I eagerly accepted; it wasn’t unusual in light of everything else, and the tobacco smelled wonderful. I was still breathing, but far from safe. No part of me expected the mysterious man’s help – especially not the million dollars, but I’ll never forget a word he said.

“Listen Price, I’m gonna do things differently with you – and I hope you’ll see it for the lucky break it is – but first, let me explain what you stumbled into; it would be extremely unfortunate to misunderstand the gravity of your situation. See, we are not currently in your world; we’re in my world. Normally, people come to play my game; if they win – they choose a prize; if they lose – they die. High stakes for high rewards – a fair and wonderful challenge that has served me well for thousands of years!”

The man began pacing and waving his arms in exaggerated gestures. “Tradition is undervalued these days, but it instills values and structure. Do you understand why this situation is particularly irksome to me? Two greedy, idiotic thieves are trying to cheat my game, interrupt my time-honored traditions! I’ll admit, this particular idea is a first, and it had potential; had they the foresight to choose their target wisely and communicate the actual rules – who knows.”

I let the thinly veiled insult pass without comment; there was no time for distractions. “One of those men carried your unconscious body in and left before you woke; personally, I would have selected a target based on skill-set, kidnapped his family, and given a thorough account of the rules to avoid the mishaps you encountered. Even then, it would ultimately fail during contract negotiations, but a damn fine plan nonetheless.”

The man paused his pacing and took several puffs from his pipe in quick succession as he pondered the thought in earnest; with nothing more than a shrug to signal the end of his internal debate, he resumed pacing. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it; this is a business – and souls are the currency – but payment isn’t due until after death. Normally, even people who know the rules find it difficult to complete the game, but that’s by necessity. If everyone could sit and chat, I would never have a break! Hordes of people would come, and not a fraction would sign the dotted line, no sir; in fact, most would come just for a story to tell friends!” He chuckled, but our eyes met, and Father’s stern expression returned instantly.

“The point is – you, my friend, stumbled upon an extremely fortunate combination of spite and hunger. Normally, I would leave you to perish, but it is a slow month. That is why I am breaking my own rules by offering you the deal of a lifetime with no hidden strings!” The man grinned ear to ear, exactly as a parent does when presenting their child with the perfect Christmas present.

Trying to hide the skepticism in my voice, I chose my words carefully. “It sounds like a very generous offer, and I thank you kindly for your willingness to spare my life… but I don’t quite understand.”

“I am not willing to negotiate price; as I stated – business is slow, but you have two options. You can trade your soul for anything you desire – perhaps revenge and wealth for example – or you can refuse and take your chances. Do think carefully as all decisions are final.” His smile revealed the tips of sharp, pointed teeth – definitely not a feature copied from Father’s appearance.

“I didn’t believe in souls before today, and I got no use for the damn thing; I want revenge on those assholes more than anything, but even if I had weapons, how could we get both before they ran or killed me? How long have I been here? What if they aren’t there anymore?” The ‘wealth’ comment erased any doubts regarding the worth of my soul, but the rest presented a genuine obstacle.

“Oh, my dear man, you’re still underestimating my abilities. There will be no difficulties in fulfilling the contract, we need only agree to the terms. You already know what I expect; tell me your greatest desires.” With this the man sat across from me and waited.

I was already imagining the house we would buy. “I want Carl and Dalton dead… but I want them to know what’s happening and why…”

The man nodded in agreement, his wicked smile returning. “Yes, excellent start! Come now, what else?”

“I want to be rich… really rich… like the kind of rich where I live off the interest alone. I want my family to stay healthy and have everything they need no matter what hard times come through this messed up country!” It was hard to imagine having any of these things; as I spoke, I realized the magnitude of my request.

“Agreed.” The man stated simply.

My doubts were plain on my face. “I understand it is a difficult concept for a skeptic, but rest assured your desires are basic. Yes, there are a few things you’ll need to do on your end to maintain the stipulations, but nothing outlandish. For instance, you will need to choose a profession – otherwise your wealth may derive from somewhere… unsavory. How do you feel about farming? It’s particularly profitable in the South.” He raised a questioning eyebrow.

Farming sounded fine; I could think of nothing else and his use of the word ‘unsavory’ instilled new paranoia. “Yes, farming would be great… but how will I get off the boat?”

“Shortly after your arrival, the ship was forced to dock for repairs; you should disembark immediately – do not collect your belongings. I have helped where possible, but my influence over your world is limited. Regardless, once you are finished with our friends, no one will notice your departure.” This is when he reached beneath the table to retrieve a black, leather bag.

“As for the best part – once you see them – show those fools this bag of money; they will instinctively look around to ensure they are still alone, and that is when you will open fire. Your bullets will pass through the doorway, but not theirs. As an added bonus, your shots will be silent to those on the other side. Don’t worry about their dying too quickly, either; aim for the torso, and I promise, that gun will provide the desired effects! There’s only one more thing to remember; that gun is not for your world; it belongs here. When finished – place it on the ground and leave; I want you to enjoy a long, fruitful life, but our deal is negated if you forget that final step.”

At times the man was almost friendly, but there was nothing but malice in his final statement; it was enough to make me question our entire arrangement, but if I failed to comply – I’d die anyway. Heart heavy with doubts, I agreed. With the snap of his fingers, the longest paper I’ve ever seen appeared. The contract was written in tiny, barely legible writing; it began on the small table, but extended into a heaping pile on the floor. Knowing resistance was futile, I reached for the quill. The signature was not in ink but blood; the quill was not for writing but stabbing. Once my finger bled onto the paper, the contract was “signed” and I was free to leave.

The man borrowing Father’s face said one more thing before disappearing. “That money will be enough to start a farm anywhere you choose, and your crops will always thrive. Derick, I truly hope we don’t see each other again; never forget, this was a once-in-a-lifetime circumstance.” Then, with a wink, he was gone.

He was true to his word; Carl and Dalton’s jaws dropped and their eyes immediately confirmed we were still alone. I gut-shot both – they never even tried to return fire… maybe the shock was too much. Once they were dead, I escaped onto dry land minutes before the ship departed. They likely didn’t discover the bodies until morning, and though I removed the candles in hopes no one could repeat the ritual – I do wonder what was thought of the scene.

In the short time since, I’ve eaten like a king and slept in beds for royalty. I yearn to share the news of our wealth with Beverly, but how will I ever explain myself? How can I expect anyone to believe that which I could not? What terrible things will she suspect if I return with a fortune? That is why I felt the need to organize my thoughts here, but a solution still evades me. The hour grows late, perhaps sleep will lend better clarity.

Sadly, that was Derick’s last entry; whatever he decided to do, he didn’t write about it in this journal. Maybe we’ll find more one day, but for now this update is turning into a book so let’s cover this last section and call it a day.


5. Game Genie:

It’s finally time to explain the Library and cheat codes – the main reason I haven’t returned to Mirward yet; it would be reckless to go without more study. For starters, it’s not a library; it’s The Library – get it? You won’t find it on a map or Google, either. Think of it like Hogwarts – muggles aren’t getting in. Honestly if I ever get a chance to be the Librarian, you’ll likely never hear from me again; I’m pretty certain that place is Paradise.

It’s too large to explore in one visit, but it’s unquestionably the greatest library in history. When the Librarian boasted to possess a copy of every text ever written – I didn’t doubt her claim. It would be harder to believe any were missing; the sheer volume is indescribable. Each floor has shelves twelve feet tall, and all are overflowing with books. Each time I reached the end of an aisle, a new one began around the corner.

The current Librarian can be a little tricky to deal with, but we’re super tight now; she’s letting me come back tomorrow, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about afterwards. This is where I found the really rare books; the one-of-a-kinds aren’t allowed to be removed or reproduced – meaning I can’t finish the other books until I go back. The best part is my cuddly research assistant, Romulus.

If I was allowed to take my phone inside, you guys would have tons of adorable pictures for this part! He’s a dark tabby cat, very dapper, and understands people language; every time I spoke, he always responded! When I asked him to direct me to the 16th century books, he said, “Meow” and led the way! When I asked if he wanted to come home with me, he said, “Meh” and licked his booty! I can’t wait to give him the presents I bought! And oh my gods – his toe beans!

Oh, shit, I was talking about books, sorry; the one I’m most interested in is called “Game Genie” and anyone familiar with that term will be intrigued. For those who aren’t familiar – and I’m sure better versions exist now – they were devices used to facilitate cheating. I had one for Super Nintendo; it was a cartridge you inserted into the machine, and your game was then inserted to the Genie. When powered on, you’re prompted to enter codes for the desired buffs. These usually prevent death or provide unlimited funds pending the game, but you get the point.

If it’s possible to open a backdoor into Mirward, a whole new world of possibilities will open. I wish there was time to tell you everything about the Library now, but I’ve been at this since 4am; I could write through the day and still not tell you everything. I’m sorry, but this will be an ongoing effort; there simply isn’t enough time in the day, and now that Jess is fully involved she’s enforced a rather strict schedule. It’s for the best; but patience has always been my kryptonite.

The biggest hurdle is funding; unfortunately, I must maintain a day job to continue my investigation, but I’m fully committed to solving the mystery of the Infinity Game. Tomorrow, I’ll spend the entire day at the Library, and our next actions will be determined by how well that visit goes. I’ll also need to speak with Casey afterwards, but with our time being so limited – I feel it’s better to do that at the end of a research session.

I know this is a lot to take in, but hopefully you understand why I felt the need to do this “educational update”. When this is published, I have a few normie issues to deal with – such as the disgusting state my home has fallen into while I’ve been buried in research – but then I’ll Google how to use that subreddit I mentioned; hopefully it’ll make regular updates more feasible. Alright, wow; I guess that’s finally it for now – until next time!


Part 4

Horror Fiction

The Settlements Continue (Pt. 4)

Narrated by Dark Somnium on YouTube, Spotify, & Podcast 

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Now a CreepyPasta
Dirge Creek

Ooo weee, come in, come in! I’m glad you’re here early; it’s shaping up to be a bad one out there. The wind has a bite even I can feel. We might have a blizzard on our hands in a few hours. Make yourself comfortable, I’ve had a fire going each night since you left… although, if I had any sense I’d only bother when it stormed.

… I don’t rightly know why, but the weather has been that way ever since the last bunch tried to live here. It’s like… this place’s version of a welcome party.

… Gosh, hard to remember when the last settlement came… What was it, Trish? 1870’s? 80’s? It’s one of those, but I’d have to look to be sure. Don’t worry, we’ll get to them in due time. Tonight, we’re going to skip ahead a couple years so I can tell you about the fifth settlement and what my brother learned in the mountains.

… No, unfortunately he returned after the refugees arrived, but I think you’ll be pleased with the story. It should answer a few more of those technical questions you’re so fond of.

… Absolutely not; you don’t have to worry about Trish’s mom. Gale had a run-in with some campers a few days ago. She’ll be sleeping it off a while longer.

… Not sleep in the way you understand it, but close enough. Oh, before I forget, here’s your battery thing. I can’t thank you enough for the extra phone time.

… You brought us another one? You are the truest of friends! Well, if you’re all settled in, we can get started.


May 10, 1679

There is little I have written in the last two years that does not induce sleep, but now I find myself regretful of complaint. Often, I have resented the dull happenings here, as if new settlers would somehow justify my brother’s absence. Had I not been so consumed by desire to fill this journal with new information, he would be here now. Sometimes, I dream James returns safely, his journey successful; other times, his corpse returns, and the once confined evil spreads across the river to devour us all.

How long does one hold hope in their heart before it is time to move on? Should we risk more lives by sending another group in search of the first? It shames me to admit relief the decision does not rest on my shoulders, but the fact remains, something must be done.

This morning, a small group of weary travelers wandered into our village. They looked defeated; their clothes were torn, they carried no supplies, and had not eaten for days. As chance would have it, I was speaking with Tim when they arrived, and we were first to greet them.

We offered the starving men food to break their fast and heard their tale. Three weeks ago, their village was burned to the ground by a Comanche War Party. The survivors followed the river, searching for a safer location to rebuild. Yesterday, they discovered the abandoned settlement at Dirge Lake and thought it a gift from God. The men we met were searching the surrounding areas when they discovered our town.

My brother and I launched into desperate explanations as to why it unwise to remain there, but I fear we only succeeded in appearing as madmen. With the offering of food to carry to their people, they waited whilst I gathered supplies. As I collected any useful items we could spare, I implored others to greet the newcomers and share their own tales.

Unfortunately, I only worsened the situation, for they were gone upon my return. The moment they saw our darker-skinned residents, they called us fools, and left without further delay. Their parting sentiments expressed the desire we reap what we sow in trusting the devil’s own. I cannot help but appreciate the poetic irony of their words.

We should not blame the travelers for their fear. I cannot fathom what it must be like to watch your home burn as your people die around you… but if they do not heed our warnings, I fear they will be doomed to repeat the same fate.

Tim has ordered a wagon be filled with supplies, and at dawn, we will begin the difficult process of crossing the river. Doctor Gordon and Eric Newman will accompany us. Perhaps if wounds are treated and bellies are filled, they will be more amenable to conversation. With any luck, tomorrow’s entry will document our success.


May 11, 1679

I do not know why I hoped to appeal to desperate men with reason. They readily accepted our gifts but remained reluctant to speak with us. We congregated in the church where we could address the people as Doctor Gordon saw to the injured. The wounds were minor; those with serious injuries perished in the first few days of travel. Even so, the physician worked at a slow pace, providing us more time to explain the peril of their current situation.

The men who appeared to be the leaders remained for the duration of our visit, actively engaging in the debate. Others came and went in a constant rotation, never speaking. It quickly became apparent they wished to hide their true numbers from us. At first, it was argued we were ignorant to the danger from our own people, and we were invited to join them. We continued in that manner until all wounds were treated, but as we prepared to leave, we noticed a frail, young lad hiding in the corner. Several men shouted for the boy to go, but at our continued insistence, they allowed him to be examined.

While all suffered from early signs of starvation, the lad, Daniel, is naught but bones. It is clear he has been in this condition much longer than three weeks. After failing to answer the doctor’s questions, a gray-haired man by the name of Frederick Barnes explained the child to be a mute orphan in his care since the loss of his parents two years ago. He then offered the boy as payment for the wagon of goods, claiming him stronger than he appeared. Thankfully I managed to hold my tongue as Tim accepted this proposal without displaying disgust.

When it became clear neither party would bend to the other’s wish, we returned home, disheartened. Before departing, we made it known they remain welcome should their resolve falter, but our words fell on deaf ears. How long will it be before the killing resumes? How will we know when it does? It is clear they do not relish the idea of our friendship; we can only hope pride does not prevent their seeking help when it is needed. Although… after speaking with Daniel, I do not feel guilty in expressing my own wishes that certain men do not make it to Jamestown.

On the walk home, we shared our lunches with the lad. Aside from hoping to ease his fear, the doctor says it is urgent to increase his weight. Daniel eyed us suspiciously as he ate, but it was clear he understood our words and listened closely. Imagine our surprise when the boy we believed mute showed an aptitude for speech even I envy.

A sickness ravaged their village two years ago, when the boy was only eight, and his parents were among the first to perish. A cruel uncle took him in for a short time, which is where he learned it was better to be thought mute than risk words that incur beatings. Three months later, the uncle was killed by a man to whom he owed a large debt, and that is when the child began living in the woods. When desperate, he performed odd jobs in exchange for food, but he was not treated kindly.

The day the War Party came, Daniel was in a tree, hiding from an angry farmer. He saw the large group coming over the horizon, ignorant to who they were or what their purpose may be. As they drew closer, he became fascinated by their painted faces and how they moved without making a sound. When the men were almost visible to the village, they dropped to their bellies. Suddenly, nothing remained but a field of tall grass.

It wasn’t until they crawled past Daniel’s hiding place that he began to understand their intentions were nefarious. His fascination turned to fear as he watched the strangers disperse through the village, silent as shadows. Flaming arrows were shot into homes, and black smoke filled the air. He described the screams as animalistic, and while men died quickly, he is still too young to understand why the women suffered so much longer… or why the scalps were removed afterwards.

Even after witnessing the War Party’s departure, Daniel was too afraid to leave the tree. It wasn’t until the next morning, when other survivors emerged from the forest, that he descended. Little could be salvaged, and those without living family remained unburied when the villagers set out in search of new land. The boy followed at a distance for the first two days, afraid he would be abandoned if discovered. Instead, they put him to work and resumed his beatings. I did not share my suspicion that he was kept for more sinister intentions, but I am sure my companions thought much the same.

Gordon has adopted the boy, wishing to keep close watch over his health. The doctor’s own son did not survive infancy, and his wife never again conceived. It warms my heart to know they will make a fine family. At our return, many were angry upon learning the results of our failed venture. Some are advocating for drastic measures, arguing we should remove the newcomers by force if necessary; thanks to the lad, we now know they only number forty-six. I, however, believe that would only serve to reinforce their assumptions of our character. Even if it were a morally acceptable response, women and children are present. Tim would never allow such fiendish actions. It seems all we can do is wait.

I do not believe there were any arguments we could have used to change the newcomers’ minds, for they know they do not have the resources to build from scratch. To happen upon an empty village as they have, must truly feel like a blessing. I only hope they have time to recover from their journey before they must battle the evils of their new home. Perhaps when they experience the Cursed Woods firsthand, they will wish to reopen discussions regarding Jamestown.

I should retire for the night. This is the most I have written in years, but I should not press Trish’s patience. I have a feeling I shall soon spend many hours with this journal.


Hope you don’t mind a quick break, but we should tend the fire. I don’t think we’ve had a blizzard like this in fifty years! Good thing I stacked the logs in the kitchen, because that door ain’t opening til the sun is up.

… Yes indeed, we aren’t taking any chances after Gale’s little outburst. Besides, Christmas is just around the corner, and I don’t think I could face eternity knowing I let my best friend’s soul get sucked into a black existence of endless suffering. Talk about ruining the holidays, am-I-right?

… What was that? Hold on, I can’t hear you from the kitchen. I’ll be right back.

… … … One more second, friend. Ethan, get off your lazy ass, and grab some of these logs! Can’t you see my hands are full?! Here we are, centuries later, and he still has no manners. I shake my head in derision at you, boy, but you can’t see it because I’m carrying this damn stack of wood!

… … …. … … … Ah, let’s see, where were we?

…. … Yes, of course, the day we brought Daniel home. I hope you believe me when I say it is a kindness to fast forward a bit. Our time is best served by skipping to the next entry regarding the fifth settlement.


May 29, 1679

It has finally happened. This afternoon, a traumatized young woman stumbled into our village. How she crossed the river with an infant… in her state… I cannot imagine, but they are recovering at the Newman residence until permanent accommodations can be arranged.

It seems we exacerbated her fears in our frenzied welcome. Those present when she arrived rushed to her side, eager to hear news, but it did not appear so innocent from her perspective. The women were quick to remedy our folly, taking her into their inner folds and tending to the child. We men were left to wait out of doors as our wives learned her name and reasons for flight.

Our guest’s name is Rebecca Hughes, and her tale is enough to give me chills. It is one thing to read of events long past, but it is quite another to know these horrible things are happening as you sleep soundly in the neighboring village. Perhaps removing the settlers by force would not be the extreme measure I previously believed… but again, the decision does not rest with me.

Trish, knowing I would wish to record every detail, was kind enough to take notes as the girl recounted her daring escape. Since exhausting their limited provisions, her people have struggled for each meal. Even though the lake is green, it still holds many fish. Yesterday, at dawn, four men swam into the slimy waters with two large nets.

Those who have read these journals will know what came next as surely as I did when hearing those words. Rebecca and the other wives watched from the shore as their husbands divided into pairs and chose their positions. They caught several fish quickly, doing much to raise their spirits. As moods lightened, sounds of laughter filled the air.

It was Rebecca’s husband, Gilbert, who first yelped in pain, but he thought his leg cut by debris. Then his partner, Jameson, shrieked in surprise, dropping the net in his frantic flails. He spun in circles, kicking about wildly as he yelled claims of something slimy wrapping around his ankle.

Gilbert admonished him for the panic, insisting it was only seaweed which entangled him. The other pair began swimming toward the commotion, unsure if their fellows needed assistance. As they hurried across the lake, Jameson calmed his erratic movements. All seemed peaceful once again, and their friends were returning to original positions when Andrew Foster was pulled under.

He was gone instantly, and the resulting ripples disappeared as quickly as Mr. Foster himself. The remaining three stared at the empty space, dumbfounded for several minutes before the wails of Andrew’s wife spurred them to action. The men took turns diving into the murky depths until Jameson also failed to emerge.

Rebecca blames herself for Gilbert’s loss; she begged him to swim ashore when Jameson did not return. Her desperate pleas freed him of his terrified stupor; he lunged forward and screamed as he was roughly yanked beneath the surface. The last man, Terrance Fulton, was able to escape as the lake monster (for we know the truth) devoured Mr. Hughes. The incident compelled some to finally consider our warnings, but most believe a predatory fish at fault.

The information we find truly troubling are the conditions under which Rebecca was forced to flee. The Fultons also wished to depart, but Mr. Barnes forbade any from leaving. He deemed each person vital to their survival, and that to abandon the settlement would be akin to murder. The man’s methods of control are sickening. Rebecca left home in secret just before dawn, and it is a miracle she made it here.

Timothy has called for a meeting to discuss what actions, if any, should be taken in effort to assist those held against their will. We may outnumber them, but they are frightened, desperate people; few things are more dangerous.

My head throbs from weighing the choices in my mind. Perhaps a good night’s rest will lend clarity to the situation. Tomorrow, I will write of what has been decided.


May 30, 1679

We will not cross the river. I thought myself in favor of lending aid, but now I am certain Tim was right to refuse. I considered only the human obstacles we would face, failing to acknowledge the ghoulish deceit I have spent so many hours studying in that first, old journal. There would be no way to ensure we did not fight amongst ourselves as we struggled to free people who may ultimately decide they did not want our help. Would the Fultons still wish to join us if we were forced to harm their friends in the process?

There is simply too much at risk on both sides. All we can do is welcome any who make it this far and defend our homes against those who would seek to do harm. We think it is unlikely men of their nature have the courage to face us in real confrontation, but Tim has arranged night sentries for the foreseeable future. If they serve no other purpose, Trish tells me Rebecca is most comforted by their presence.

Our new friend is opening up to the women more now that she is rested and her grief for Gilbert has set in as reality. The poor girl is in good hands with Mrs. Newman; she can mourn in peace knowing she and her child are safely away from danger.

It is difficult not to dwell on thoughts of James as I write at this desk each night. Perhaps it would be wise to retire early; I desperately require the additional sleep.


May 31, 1679

I am fortunate for taking the extra rest; much has developed during the course of this day. We have new arrivals from the settlement who were able to tell us of events since Rebecca’s departure.

After discovering her missing, Frederick ordered everyone indoors while he and two men scoured the forest. It is unknown if they truly searched, for upon their return they reported discovering Mrs. Hughes body; or more accurately, what remained of it. He spun a tale that strongly implied any others who dare leave would likely meet the same fate.

I do not consider myself a man of violence, but I find myself plotting various ways of preventing Mr. Barnes from reaching Jamestown. If he survives a few more nights – rest assured dear, future reader – he will crawl on his knees before us, pleading for shelter; but for now, I must bide my time and relay what horrors next plagued the settlement.

A farmer moved his family into the old Brown residence, and it seems they fell victim to the same strange creature as the previous tenants. Once again, the elders refused to elaborate on their knowledge of this monster, but they are quick to correct any who refer to it as a demon.

George Miller and his wife, Bethany, moved into the farmhouse with their five children immediately upon arrival. They added additional rooms, and with help from neighbors, put much work into preparing the land for new crops. In that time, nothing thought to be unnatural occurred until last night.

After supper, as Bethany and her three daughters sat knitting, the boys prepared an evening fire. It was the eldest son, Jack, who was tasked with retrieving extra wood. When he did not return, they assumed he found need to chop more. When he still did not return, George sent his other son, Jonathan, to check the cause for delay.

The younger lad was gone mere seconds before he burst through the door, white as a sheet and breathing heavily. He spoke in a rush, reporting Jack to be calling for help from the forest. Mr. Miller leapt from his chair, retrieved two rifles, and thrusting one into Johnathan’s hands, they ran outside. Stopping to light the torches, George called to his other son but did not receive answer.

Bethany stood at the door with her daughters, watching nervously as her husband stalked the tree line, searching for signs to indicate Jack’s passage. Finally, they heard footsteps to their right. Instructing Jonathan to hold position, Mr. Miller cautiously made his way through the brush.

Moments later, the snap of a twig inches to his left made George drop his torch, and the fire extinguished with a loud hiss. In the same instant, he discharged his weapon, and the sound of his retreating footsteps could be heard. Jonathan called to his father, but before he could do more, the burly man emerged from the tree line. Without pause, Mr. Miller grabbed his remaining son and dragged him along in his desperate flight.

Once all were inside, George barred the door, ignoring his family’s frightened questions. He proceeded to latch the shutters while shouting for the others to follow suit. When no more could be done to secure their position, he reached for his pipe with trembling hands. After dropping it for the third time, he broke down into tears.

Unable to cope with another moment’s wait, Bethany slapped her husband’s face. When the man was finally able to communicate, his family crumpled at the news of Jack’s death. In the forest, when the twig snapped, George was able to take in one horrendous sight before the torch extinguished. He saw a creature so tall, its head was lost in the darkness above; its body was that of man, but covered in a thick, deer-like hide. It had two arms and legs as humans, but the arms were so long, its fingertips brushed the ground.

At such a description, I am not sorry to lack its facial features. What stuck clear in the grieving father’s mind, was the image of his son’s severed head. The creature held it aloft, as if offering Mr. Miller a gift. The family hugged as they cried but wails of grief quickly evolved to screams of terror as loud, heavy footsteps were heard outside.

All sounds in the home ceased as the steps seemed to pace across the porch. Bethany held her daughters close as George stood, motioning for Jonathan to follow. Careful to make no noise, they steadied their rifles, training them on the door. When the steps next passed, they halted at the entrance.

Loud bangs shook the door, bending it further inward with each strike. Hearts pounding, the terrified family waited with breaths held, expecting the wood to splinter any second. After several minutes of this, a distorted child-like voice of indistinguishable gender said, “help, dad” before retreating steps could finally be heard leaving the premises.

After two silent hours, Bethany put the girls to bed. She and George remained on guard, and Jonathan dozed near the fire. No one stirred as the creature crept alongside their home, and they were not sure if they truly heard the short but sharp crack of a shutter torn from its hinge; but chaos ensued when the loud shattering of glass and shrill screams pierced the night.

The screaming continued as all rushed to the girls, weapons at the ready. Two children sat huddled in a corner, pointing to the broken window. Bethany was first to notice Elizabeth’s absence. She forced her way past George, screaming for her youngest child. Glass forgotten, Mrs. Miller knelt, peering under the bed, but nothing was there. Bloody streaks trailed across the floor as she continued her desperate search. When she reached the corner where her remaining daughters cowered, she shook them violently, demanding answers.

The eldest, Laura, barely spoke above a whisper when she reported a giant deer-man reached through the window and carried her sister away. George, forced to drop the rifle, restrained his wife when she continued shaking the frightened child. He released her moments later when Bethany ceased struggling, but she knocked him to the ground at first opportunity.

Taking the gun on her way out, Mrs. Miller ran from the home, screaming for her lost children. Her husband gave chase, pleading for her return, but stopped short at the door, too frightened to continue. He thought it was so the children would not be orphans, but now he is unsure if that was his true motive. After a sleepless night, he and his surviving children fled at dawn with all they could carry. They did not tell anyone of their departure, knowing they would not be allowed to leave regardless of the reason.

I am glad those three children have an intelligent father, for there is no doubt they would be orphans… or worse… had he pursued his wife. Even more certain are the actions Mr. Barnes would have employed at the discovery of his intentions.

Goodness, the time! It seems I have fallen effortlessly into my old habits. Perhaps when these endeavors are finished, I will finally come around to writing that poem for my beautiful wife.


That was a mighty hectic three days! Next is the part where James finally comes home, so this is the last good place for a break if you’d like to stretch your legs a bit.

… That sounds mighty fine! Some good old-fashioned popcorn would be lovely. It’s been a coon’s age since I smelled that buttery goodness! Trish, could you be a dear fetch a pot?

… … Mmm mmm, the sound of them kernels popping sure does take me back. Tell you what I’d like to try – popcorn balls! We was watching a movie a few months back where some folks made ‘em. They looked like sweet, gooey balls of pure delight!

… Yes dear, you’re right.

Sorry, friend. Let myself get riled again. Anyway, I guess we should get back to our story; let’s focus on that instead of all that howling outside.

… Psh, nothing to worry about, probably just the wind… almost surely. You just relax and eat your snack; I got this.


June 1st, 1679

My brother has returned, and they lost only two men on the journey. Despite all the hardships we have endured, I am jubilant this night! James is well, and we now have new information that will certainly prove vital. I could hardly believe my eyes at the sight of his thin, bearded face. There was a fine celebration with a feast I will still feel the weight of come morning.

We received no new settlers this day, and I am almost grateful, for I have much to write. It is almost a shame to dampen such high spirits with talk of the wicked things James learned in the Great Mountains, but it is a task that should not be delayed. My brother, ever the wise man, kept a journal, documenting his experiences each night. He claims it was to free himself of my hassling upon his return, but I know he jests. He understood the importance of this journey and would not undertake even the smallest task without his very best efforts.

I must return his journal when I am finished, but I will transcribe his conversation with the Mountain Elders here; it is best if multiple copies of the knowledge exist.


Copied from the journal of James Cooke:

I thought the hardest part of our arduous journey behind us when we reached the Great Mountains, but the last several months spent proving ourselves to these strange people has been more difficult by far. Thankfully, our patience and efforts have finally been rewarded this day. They revealed to us a passage leading deep inside the mountain and showed us their true village.

When their ancestors first came to these parts centuries ago, they were pursued by a superior tribe. Crawling in the brush, desperate to lose their enemies, they stumbled upon a small opening in the mountain. Surprised to find a tunnel which opened into a large cavern, they quickly hid their people inside. As the years passed, they dug new pathways to expand their home. It was there, deep in the heart of the mountain, the Elders gave us the information we sought.

They sat in a round cave with only one entrance. Torches lined the walls, and a dozen people sat solemnly. When I attempted to relay the information given by the Shaman, Kawani, they surprised me further by already knowing his words. The frail woman who spoke sat in the center of the Elder’s circle, staring into space; noticing her strange, white eyes, I realized she was blind.

I only note the fact due to the number of times she claimed to “see” Kawani when they spoke. The Shaman was a descendant of their tribe, and therefore able to commune with them in death. Even with my experience in the unnatural, I found this concept difficult to accept; yet I must believe it true, for there is no other way she could possess such knowledge.

I know it will trouble my brother to learn we cannot express the demon’s name via written word. We are only able to communicate it verbally, and even then, only when absolutely necessary. The reason is still difficult to comprehend, but I will do my best to explain a concept of which I understand little. Even so, I fear it will not do justice to the long, elegantly delivered, account I received.

Normally, when we die, our souls pass on to the Spirit World to be at peace, but there are exceptions. Ghosts are the souls who, for a variety of reasons, cannot pass on to the Spirit World at all. Each individual’s circumstance is unique, making it impossible to fully document each possibility, but I am fairly certain Alexander already has information regarding this topic.

When a truly vile, evil person dies, their soul can never be at peace; instead, it is pulled to a different realm of the Spirit World, one where they remain in a state of pain and terror, always aware of their suffering. It is in this realm, demons are born. They are physical creatures, formed as a byproduct of Hate and Chaos. They devour the tormented souls, becoming more powerful with each consumption. They can never be destroyed, only banished, back from whence they came.

Long ago, a mortal performed a ritual to summon a demon to the Cursed Woods. Man, by nature, is fallible in his greedy desire for wealth and power. Even those with good intentions often fall prey to the belief they hold some unique quality that entitles him to stand above his fellows. It is exactly that trait upon which the beast will prey.

Demons are capable of influencing dreams of the weak minded, employing masterful manipulations to achieve their goals. They promise to fulfill their victim’s greatest desires, yet are somehow able to maintain the illusion of honesty… I do not understand how one can think such a creature would honor an agreement. The easiest way to banish the entity requires the summoner, therefore it will dispose of that person immediately.

Without aid from the one who brought the demon forth, we must use an alternative method. I was gifted with a beautifully carved bow, and three special arrows. The runes carved into the shafts reminded me of the ceremonial dagger our father passed down to Timothy. The Elders confirmed either would harm the demon, but the bow allows for attacking from a distance.

The creature can only be banished in its true form; if it has taken possession of a human, it will be forced from its shell, but not injured. Once it is truly wounded, the weapon must not be removed, and great effort should be made to avoid physical contact with the demon, even in that state. It should then be burned to ashes, which will be scattered into a body of salt water, never fresh.

I think what frightens me most, is knowing the demon does in fact continue to grow stronger with each victim it takes. I pray we can be rid of it before a fifth settlement comes to pass. It is unfortunate I cannot write its name down, for it is a difficult word. Our language does not possess all the sounds necessary to convey it correctly, but the Elders say it is still too risky. There are few things more powerful than a true name, especially when written.

Ink does not fade away as the sound of a voice; it remains, as would the power it infused within the demon. I must make sure to stress this point to my well-meaning brother, that he cannot for any reason, commit the name to paper. I should not even speak it more than once when I return.

My back screams in protest at the thought of the journey home. My desire to travel has been filled; I hope to never leave Jamestown again. What I have seen and learned here was worth the effort, but I miss my family dearly. I pity whoever will be charged with use of this fine bow. I greatly desire to keep it, but the price of ownership is far too high.

——————————

I envy James’ experience with the Elders; I yearn to see their mountains and caves, but I know I could not endure years away from Trish and the children. The demon’s name is indeed difficult, but even if I were allowed to write it, I do not know how I would spell such strange sounds.

My hand throbs from exertion, and I must wake with the sun. With this new information, it would be a monstrous act to abandon the victims at Dirge Lake. When the demon is gone, perhaps it will finally make a good place to settle. I would be remiss to behave as if this will be an easy undertaking, but I feel as if we have come too far to fail.

If I do not return tomorrow, dear family, know I cherished you more than life, and I do this to secure your futures; may our children never experience the horrors of the Cursed Woods.


June 2, 1679

In all my life, I have never experienced such horror as what we saw this day. We arrived at Dirge Lake, but there was not a soul in sight. We felt a dark presence watching as we knocked on several doors and peeked through windows. Finally, when no one came to greet us, we entered the church.

The stench was overwhelming; it penetrated anything we used in attempt to cover our faces, there was no escaping the smell of death. Mutilated bodies were posed all around us. Two young girls sat in the front row, hands severed at the wrists, but clasped together in their laps. Behind them, a man and woman sat together, their heads placed on the wrong bodies. Everywhere we looked was more of the same.

After confirming no survivors remained, we wished to leave quickly. The floor was slick with blood, and in my hurry, I fell to my knees. After seeing my hand rested on someone’s intestine, I proceeded to lose my breakfast. We knew we were too late; they were all dead, but we had to try anyway.

When we had a moment to collect ourselves, we searched every home for survivors, but only found more gruesome murders. The things done to the poor children were beyond horrendous… but knowing we could do no more for the dead, we discussed the larger issue at hand. Most wished to return home, reasoning there was no point facing the demon if none were left to save, but I could not be satisfied until I saw the corpse of Frederick Barnes.

The two men who were always with him were found dead in the church, their… members… removed and inserted into their mouths, but I needed to know their boss was also gone. I do not mind admitting that what little courage I possessed fled from me at the gruesome sights we beheld, and yes, I was willing to abandon plans of fighting the demon for as long as possible; but I would never sleep soundly again without knowing Mr. Barnes was deceased.

We found him outside, dead but animated as the demon’s new husk, watching us from tree line. When we saw him, he emerged with the most hauntingly sinister smile I have ever seen. He told us to get off his land, still pretending to be Frederick, but we stood our ground. We tried to position ourselves to obscure the demon’s view of Timothy, but he saw my brother ready an arrow and understood our intentions.

He moved with inhuman speed, but somehow, Michael Stephenson shielded Tim, buying valuable time. We rushed to aid Michael, but his skull was crushed instantly. As the demon turned to locate my brother once again, Henry Davenport leapt onto his back, securing the last moment we needed. Unfortunately, it came at a great cost, for the creature reached his arms back in a disturbingly unnatural way to break our friend’s neck effortlessly.

Suddenly, an arrow plunged deep into Frederick’s chest, knocking him to the ground. We descended upon him, watching as black ooze gushed from the wound. The creature laughed maniacally until only a hollow shell remained. When the last drop of the tar-like substance was soaked into the ground… or evaporated, I am not sure which, we wasted no time in leaving.

I have had enough adventure in my life. I hope no one enters those Cursed Woods again, but if they do, may it be long after I am gone. Trish made me promise I would not cross the river again, and I eagerly agreed. If it were not out of concern for my brother, I would not have put her through the worry of going today. The only thing I want now is to sleep for a few days.


Good grief, look at the time! The sun has been up for hours! See, this is what happens when you shut the world out. I don’t even remember hearing the storm stop… uh-oh.

… … Whew, thank goodness! Thought we might be snowed in, but you can crawl over that little mound no problem. I was worried we’d have to shoot you out the chimney for a second. Anyway, one day you should remind me to read James’ journal. That tribe in the mountains accidentally opened a cavern that still had something ancient living in there, and all sorts of shenanigans ensued; it sounded like quite a time.

… I’m starting to think you’re never going to be satisfied. No matter how much I read, you want to hear more. Well tough cookies, because we have barely scratched the surface. If you want to know more, we’ll pick up with the sixth settlement later, but we have to skip the rest of my journals to do that.

… Huh? What makes you think I died over here? Nah, the plague got us, but I couldn’t just leave my journals behind, could I?

… … Goodness, no. I didn’t bring them here… no, we can’t get into all that, you’ve stayed too long as it is. That part of the story isn’t even interesting, hell I’m not sure if it qualifies as anecdotal! Just set that brain of yours back to pondering the new stuff you did learn.

… I’m glad you enjoyed it! I hope we see you again before Christmas, but if we don’t, you have just the merriest one, ya hear. Now, go on, scoot.


Part 5

Horror Fiction

The Growing Settlements (Pt. 3)

Part 3 of The Settlement Settlement series.

Now a CreepyPasta

Beautifully narrated by The Dark Somnium: YouTube, Podcast, Spotify
The Cursed Woods (1677)

Hello there! Look what the cat dragged… oh my! Are you alright?! Hurry, get inside!

… You need to get here earlier if you’re gonna pay regular visits! Just because you’re safe inside doesn’t mean you can be roaming around outside all willy-nilly. Judging by the mud on your clothes, am I right to assume those scratches are from a fall?

… Thank Jiminy! We won’t have to deal with another infection. Trish can help you get cleaned up. We find a surprising amount of first aid kits and have to keep everything. I can’t stand to let the forest get cluttered. Having a demon for a neighbor is no reason to neglect lawn care.

… That’s right, I did promise to read from my journal, didn’t I? I’m happy to oblige, but I warn you, there’s more than usual; we won’t be able to finish it tonight. Unlike my predecessors, I have a fondness for talking… as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Hush now, Ethan! I hear you snickering over there. You just enjoy that iPhone before it dies.

… Huh? No, he can’t use it in the traditional sense, but that one has a bunch of movies downloaded. We love movies! If we woulda seen one of those back in my day, there’d have been a witch hunt for the ages! Anyway, I can see you’re ready to get started, but let me catch you up first.

My father didn’t enjoy his title, but he was the head honcho for over twenty years. I never had the burden myself, thank the good cricket, but my brother, Timothy, did. The position wasn’t guaranteed through blood – that barely got your name in the hat. You had to be respected by the community, and that wasn’t earned lightly. When it became clear Uncle Snake’s sons wouldn’t fit the bill, Tim proved himself capable.

Dad taught us to read and write. My brothers hated it, but my sister and I wanted to read everything. There were precious few books in Jamestown back then. Paper and writing tools weren’t exactly common either, but I’d write in the dirt just to have something new to read.

… Sure, we had a school, but not like you think. Surviving was the most important thing to learn. What’s safe to eat and drink, hunting, farming, and the like.

… No, I never got bit by the travel bug. Too many people decided to go exploring and never came back. Who knows if they settled somewhere or died… either is likely. Plus, Trish was in Jamestown. I asked Ms. Patricia Mayfield to dance when she was sixteen and haven’t been able to calm my racing heart since!

… Hell’s bells, woman! I’m trying to be romantic! Can’t you let me set the mood for our friend? Atmosphere is a key component to good storytelling!

… As I was saying, my heart raced until the day we died. Now – obviously – the racing is metaphorical, but it’s there all the same. We were married next spring and started our own little family.

… Yes, thanks for getting me back on track. A few months after I was born, another group of settlers came looking for the third group! They’re the first thing I wrote about, in fact.

When father died in ‘77, I found a hidden stash of new journals. I don’t know where or when he collected them all, but I was so happy I could hardly stand it. They were better than gold, and I wanted to fill every one of them. Course I couldn’t, but I made sure they stayed in the family. Now we have journals full of our history, and I can’t tell ya how happy I am to have someone to share it with.

… Aww shucks, don’t thank me. Really, I should be thanking you! Well, I’ve probably wasted enough time rambling. I wrote my first entry the night I found the books so we should be ready to get started.


January 30, 1677

I cannot believe I am writing in my very own journal! There are only a few worn pages remaining in the one father continued, and the whole thing is ready to fall apart. It seems a better idea to begin my writings on crisp, new pages. A trunk full of books may be the most magnificent scent in all this world. If not for the burden of family, I would surely never leave my desk again.

I wish I could begin this book with an account of what happened to the second settlement, but sadly my knowledge lacks the ability to do it justice. It is most unfortunate that Father never found time to write of them, for now only their descendants remain. Eventually, I may be able to collect information from the relatives, but it will be difficult to confirm the accuracy.

For that reason, I believe it best to first document the fourth settlement. There are still survivors who can give me first-hand accounts, and no more time should be wasted in recording their story.

They came in 1645; this time only eighty people survived the voyage. The ship was attacked by pirates six weeks before they arrived. Twenty-nine people died in the fight, but the assailants retreated when they lost too many of their own.

When the travel-weary colonists found the third settlement abandoned, they sent scouting parties to search the surrounding areas. Our people were extremely uneasy when the new arrivals came into Jamestown. This was only two years after my uncle’s incident; the men lost to that venture had families who still grieved.

The scouts explained they were looking for the lost colony; many of the newcomers were their kin. Someone from the previous group was able to get a letter detailing how wonderful their new home was onto a merchant ship. Of all the times for correspondence to make it across the ocean… alas, as a result, more came to join them. Funding, travel, and many other factors culminated in a delayed arrival.

Father and those who had relatives in the new group accompanied the scouts back to Dirge Lake; it was hoped a fourth settlement could be prevented if the warnings came from their own. Father once told me he could see the difference in the lake from his previous visit. The green film now covered the water’s surface, and the grass grew in sparse patches. He tried to stress these facts in his warnings, but most decided to stay.

Peter Evans was too old for the hike, but his younger sister, Pamela, was the first family he had seen since the death of his children. Her husband was killed by the pirates, but her son and his family were well. Pamela returned with Peter that evening, citing herself too old and heartbroken to face the trials of resettling – demon or not. Her son would not be swayed.

Ethel Kingston was too frail to make the hike, but her eldest daughter, Sally, went in her stead. Ethel’s niece had died in childbirth, and her husband was killed by the pirates. The baby, having no other family, was given to Sally.

The only others to come to Jamestown that night were the newly widowed Emma Granger and her daughter, Anna. Mrs. Granger hoped to be taken in by her brother-in-law, but he was a victim of the lake monster.

There were no other family reunions; the remaining were given the bad news of their loved one’s demise. Once sure no others could be convinced, father got our people across the river before nightfall. They say everyone watched for their return in great anticipation, letting out a collective sigh of disappointment at the sight of the small group. The Grangers were taken in by the Richardson family until a home could be built. In preparation for the future arrivals, new land was cleared, and homes were built over the next several months.

It also served to keep minds occupied. They no longer feared solely for others. Now they also had to worry the demon would choose another escape tool. Meanwhile, the fourth settlement, excited to be on dry land, wasted no time in restoring the village.

My, how quickly the time flies as these pages fill! I should end this here. It would be unfortunate to have Patricia cross with me on my first night as a writer. Perhaps I shall try my hand at a love poem once I gain some confidence with the pen.


I swear to you, I remember the moment I wrote that line; I was thinking to myself, ‘I wish there was a way to convey a wink through the written word.’

… Ethan, I don’t care if the battery died, don’t interrupt story time! You should know better; we knew people who were hanged for less! Sorry bout that, friend; it’s almost torture having a drawer full of phone chargers but no electricity.

… Yes indeed, I did tell you the power was out on your first visit, and technically that’s the truth. It’s been out for three years since the ole generator went kaput.

… Why are you rifling through your bag? You looking for something?

… What’s a battery… brick?

… It does what?!

… You sure you don’t mind? Wow, Ethan! Thank our kind friend for restoring the movie magic!

… That should keep him nice and quiet.


January 31, 1677

I may not have long tonight. Trish was not pleased with my absence at the children’s bedtime nor my lateness to our own. If I do not want to bunk with the boys, I will need to retire much earlier. I thought of this journal all day, and how Father not only documented the events that happened but sought new information as well.

I have indulged fantasies of meeting the Shaman in the Great Mountains, but I do not dare make the journey myself. I could petition Tim to send a small party. It is truly the wisest strategy; sooner or later, the demon will escape, and when it does, we will likely be the first to fall. If not in our lifetime, our children’s.

Yes, I will go to him first thing in the morning. Now, back to the fourth colony. They had a fraction of the work previous settlements endured. The forest had less time to grow back, leaving smaller trees to clear, and many homes only needed repairs before they could be moved into and cleaned.

The earliest complaints were in the second month. In the dead of night, Matthew Brown and his wife, Harriet, woke to fast, heavy banging at the front door. Matthew dressed and rushed downstairs, nearly tripping on the steps in his haste. He could not fathom a reason someone would be so far out as his farm, but the knocking stopped as he reached the landing. A sick feeling in his stomach made him retrieve his rifle before slowly approaching a window.

Pressing his back against the wall, he turned his neck to peer outside. There was nothing near the door. Moving to the other side, he saw only darkness. Matthew maneuvered to the opposite window, stepping in front of it and almost losing his stomach when a face stared back. He screamed, and his reflection with him.

Harriet came to stand by the window, startling him anew. Feeling foolish, Matthew steeled himself and unbolted the door. Lantern held high, he stepped outside. They heard someone calling for help from the forest, but said it sounded “unnatural” as if a child who did not know our language were trying to use the word.

Unsure what to do, Matthew called out, asking what was wrong. The voice went silent for a moment, then in the same, odd cadence, replied “Hello” twice more. Harriet ran indoors, trying to pull her husband along, but he was rooted in place.

He called out again, asking their name. After another pause, the voice choked out, “help, hello, something wrong” while growing deeper with each word. Not waiting to hear more, Matthew joined his wife and locked the doors. Nothing else happened that night, and no one believed their tale in the morning.

Harriet says they believed the village was haunted by the ghosts of the dead. After she came to Jamestown, she shared her experiences with the elders. They believe, as Kawani had warned, another evil entity has been attracted to the demon’s power. They will not tell me what this new creature is; claiming to speak or write the name would only increase its strength. Whatever it is, they act as if they are familiar with its kind.

I hope to learn more on this matter. Though, I wonder how many of these abominations can coexist… is there no chance one might kill another?

Tarnation’s, the time! Damn my fool brain, I shall bunk with the boys yet!


February 1, 1677

Once again, I found myself thinking of this moment all day. I have fantastic news! Tim has agreed to my request! I am not comfortable with our brother, James, leading the expedition, but I know he stands the greatest chance of success. My conscience can rest easier knowing he chooses this dangerous path freely, with excitement.

They will leave as soon as the weather turns warm, and the journey will be long, difficult, and dangerous. I will not let myself dwell on possible negative outcomes, but the venture will take months with optimistic estimations, years at worst. If we are lucky, they may return with valuable information before a fifth colony tries to settle Dirge Lake.

Returning to matters of the fourth settlement, I spoke with Tim’s spiritual advisor regarding Harriet Brown’s claim. Like the elders, he became angry, refusing to speak on the matter. Whatever it is – he too, fears it more than the ghosts, lake monster, and demon combined. If these creatures came to the demon, drawn by it, does that mean they are not likewise confined? Perhaps I should desist further attempts to identify it.

Instead, I’ll continue with the colony’s next tragedy. It was a few weeks after the happenings at the farm when four hunters walked into the Cursed Woods, and none returned. When a search party was formed, they only found scraps of bloodied clothing.

The men were a heavy loss to the small community. Every person has a part to play, and storing food for the winter is a key element to survival. Desperate to find reason in the chaos, they blamed a bear for the deaths. Pamela Mayfield’s son was one of the deceased hunters. A single good thing I can write concerning this incident is that her daughter-in-law and grandchildren joined her in Jamestown.

The following month is when Matthew Brown disappeared. His wife said they had only begun letting down their guard when their new dog leapt from its blanket, barking savagely. Seconds later, loud, desperate banging shook the door in its frame. The farmer retrieved his rifle while Harriet soothed the dog. It continued to growl low in its throat, hair and tail standing erect.

“Who goes there?!” Matthew shouted. The knocking stopped, but there was no answer.

The hound let out a slight whimper but remained on guard. Harriet was trying to pull her husband away when a series of sharp bangs came from the kitchen. Matthew rushed through the house to see the shutters flapping wildly. After securing them in place, a crash, guttural scream, and more furious barking sounded simultaneously.

He returned to see the door standing open, his wife frozen in shock, and the dog missing. He ran outside, calling its name. This snapped Harriet from her stupor, and she begged Matthew to return. He refused, stating they could not afford to lose the expensive hound. Its future puppies would be too important to their livelihood.

She watched in horror as her husband ran into the forest, rifle in one hand, lantern in the other, calling for a dog that would turn out to be hiding in the bushes aside the house. Harriet discovered it whimpering after it was too late to recall Matthew. She and her pet were the last ones to escape before things became truly perilous.

The elders insisted on personally inspecting each new resident for signs of possession, but it was a small price to pay. Some have told me they would have traded their souls for shelter across the river if that were the price. Most expressed relief with their interrogations, finding comfort in how seriously the matter was considered.

I do not know much of the world outside, but I have learned enough to understand I would live nowhere else. Alas, I once again retire. I must wake with the dawn tomorrow. There are weeks remaining in winter, yet our own food stores run low. I will need to forage before another blizzard snows us in.


I tell ya, you can’t appreciate today’s luxuries without understanding what it was like having mouths to feed before grocery stores. Now that’s something, ain’t it? Grocery stores? Boy, would I love to go into one! Just for the experience. No, wait, better yet, fast food! That would be a treat!

… I know you’re ready to hear more, but I thought you might need a break. Besides, the fire has gotten a little low. The movies are spoiling that boy. If it gets any darker in here something really is liable to come down the chimney – and it won’t be Santa. Last time it took us weeks to get rid of the smell and stains.

… Well never mind all the how’s and what’s. Hold yer hopping horses while me and the potato sack throw some more logs on. Won’t take but a minute, then I just need to check a little something outside.

… … … There we are. Sorry about all the commotion out there. Got a little dicey for a second, but it’s fine now. Trish’s mother popped by – she’s having one of her spells again, but I don’t expect she’ll be back tonight.

… Oh, that’s too long of a story to get into tonight, but if you ever see a tall woman with wild, fire-red hair and a missing eye – run away. She has good days and bad, but you don’t want to get close enough to find out which she’s having. Here, let’s get back to the story.


February 3, 1677

I missed one night of writing, but it feels like weeks. Yesterday, I departed before the sun was fully risen. Game is scarce in the winter, but I could not return without meat. There is no greater shame for a man than failing to feed his family. I procured enough food to carry us safely through the last snows, but I had no energy remaining for the journal. I was barely able to remove my shoes before collapsing into slumber.

When I am finished telling of the fourth settlement, I do not know what I will have to write about. The everyday life in Jamestown is hardly of any interest. My eyes grow heavy at the mere thought of discussing crops or chronicling births and deaths, but what else is there?

After Harriet Brown fled, the small village remained quiet for nearly a week until the next occurrence. Shortly after nightfall, Ronald and Janice Burns knocked on every door in search of their missing daughter. A thorough inspection of the village revealed Julia’s last known whereabouts to be the stables, but it could not be determined where she next went. Puzzled over her disappearance, heated words were exchanged regarding the next course of action.

Her parents were adamant she would never stray far, especially alone, but the forest was the only place not yet searched. Many agreed to a morning search, but only Ronald’s two closest friends agreed to immediate action.

The three men ventured into the dense, dark woods. Thorny brambles tugged at their legs as they called for Julia. The torches were difficult to maneuver through the low hanging vines and limbs, but they refused to turn back. Hoping the young girl could not have traveled far, they planned to go only a little further before turning to circle the settlement’s perimeter.

They came to a sudden halt when the loud snap of a broken branch sounded to their left. Standing back-to-back, two men held their torches high while the third aimed his rifle in the direction of the noise. There was only silence as they waited. Ronald called for Julia, but no answer came. They walked a few yards more until the treetops overhead began to shake violently, despite the fact no wind blew.

Coming to another stop, they could only stare up in horror as a giant, black shadow moved from tree to tree above them, circling the three men. David Sullivan dropped his rifle to the ground and fled in terror. The thing in the trees stopped quickly, turning away to chase David like a cat with a mouse.

Greg Jones and Ronald stood frozen in terror; the trees following their friend’s trail shook as the beast chased him down. He was out of sight when David’s death wails were heard, but that did not make it easier to hear. After the screams fell silent, the two men woke from their trance.

No moon or stars could be seen from beneath the forest canopy, but they feared the torch would reveal their location. Light held low, hearts thudding, they retreated away from the place their friend was killed. They could see hardly a foot away, but they did not pause, focusing only on the next step ahead.

The sound of their heavy breaths broke the silence, adding another unsettling layer to the atmosphere. Greg has always claimed he felt the thing’s eyes before he heard it return. They were barely fifty yards from salvation when a shadow streaked by their right, then across their path.

Mr. Jones says its outline was visible for hardly a second, but he is certain it was almost seven feet tall, and its head and back were disproportionate to the rest of its body. The sight cost him a moment’s hesitation, but Ronald sprung forward. As it had with David, the beast shot through the trees, giving chase.

The screams were heard by all in the village. Greg escaped as his friend died in agony. Nothing more could be done for the dead; all efforts of a morning search were called off. Janice had to be physically restrained to prevent her from entering the forest. Her mind has never been quite right since, but considering the terrible events of the following morning, that should not come as surprise.

Damn, yet again I have stayed at this desk too long. The rest will have to wait.


Holy smokes folks, we got a live one! Assume positions!

… … … … … … Whew, Trish, it’s clear! You can bring our friend out now.

… I am terribly sorry for the rude interruption. It’s been a long time since my mother-in-law was so riled up. I think she’s just curious about you, but don’t worry, I don’t plan on doing any introductions.

… That’s kind of you to say, but I feel just awful about this mess. You went paler than a bucket of white paint when that door flew open. Most can’t get inside at all, but we tend to be persistent in this family. Don’t you worry though, I promise, this time I’m sure she won’t be back tonight… probably not for a while.

… Haha, you and your specific questions. Hey, it’s getting pretty late, we better get back to it or we won’t even have time to finish the next entry.


February 4, 1677

Today, I visited James to discuss his travel preparations. He believes they will be ready to leave a few days earlier than estimated if the weather continues to warm. I am both worried and excited about the upcoming expedition, but I fear for my brother’s life most. I cannot imagine how I will cope with the anxiety for such an extended period.

Last night, I had a frightfully vivid nightmare. Like my predecessors, I believe dwelling on these morbid topics are affecting my mind. It was so real; I can almost still smell the blood. In my dream, I was part of the fourth settlement. Three men and I were deep in the Cursed Woods, hunting. I have never seen them, yet I knew them in the moment. After a long day, we packed our meat and began the hike home.

We walked for hours as day faded to dusk, long after we should have returned. There was only one trail where we hunted, we could not understand how we became lost. Then an argument erupted; two wished to turn back in search of familiar surroundings, myself and the other were determined to continue forward. Eventually, exhausted and frustrated, we split up.

If I were truly in such circumstances, I have no doubt I would retrace my steps to familiar territory, yet in the dream, the idea was unthinkable. It grew darker by the minute, and we could not afford further delay. I thought of my family’s worry if I were forced to camp overnight and walked faster.

Eventually, we saw a soft, orange glow ahead. In my mind, I knew we should run away, but my feet carried me against my wishes. I assume the same was true for my companion; he walked alongside me, equally entranced by the mysterious lights growing brighter at our approach.

The path we walked opened into a small, dead clearing. Not one blade of grass grew within the circle; only a stone altar stood in the otherwise empty clearing. The source of the light seemed to be dozens of glowing… I do not know how to convey… orbs or sacs hanging in the surrounding trees. They were the size of watermelons, but soft, and oozing thick liquid. They writhed as if something moved inside; my innards tangled at the sight.

I saw my partner walk forward, hand outstretched, mouth open. I wanted to scream for him to stop, but I only watched. I still feel the bile that rose in the back of my throat when he touched one only for it to burst. A foul, yellow liquid covered the man, and I could hear the sizzle of his skin beneath his screams of agony. I covered my eyes but could not look away as the substance reduced him to a puddle. Long as I live, I may never lose the image of it.

There was a slight rustle in the tree directly above, and before I could move, it dropped from the branches, landing behind me. I felt the vibrations in the ground and heard the crunch of leaves as it landed. I willed my feet to flee but lost all control of bodily functions.

I was helpless as I felt hot, putrid breath on the back of my neck. A single claw lightly touched my head, traced down to my shoulders, and around my throat before stopping. With barely a pause, two rough, bony hands squeezed my head until I thought my skull would shatter. The pressure was so intense, my vision blacked out. The last thing I heard before waking, drenched with sweat, was “You are too weak.”

It seems foolish to be so disturbed by a mere dream, but I do not have it in me to write more this night. At least Trish should be pleased.


February 6, 1677

A short break is exactly what I needed. I feel refreshed and eager to write again. The morning after Ronald and David were killed, the village woke to a stable boy frantically ringing a bell, shouting for the doctor.

When the boy was calm enough to communicate, they learned the body of Janice Burns was in the loft, concealed beneath the hay. Two men were dead, and she never left the stables. Her clothes were ripped, and she bore the marks of being strangled, but she was not sexually violated. The already divided community became hostile, some trading blows amidst the arguments. I cannot imagine their position. In a place with so much evil, how is one know when it is truly the work of man?

A few days later, Jeffery Morris returned home to find his wife missing. This time they left no stone unturned in the search. She was found in the church house, her body left lying on a pew in much the same condition as Janice. The only difference was the skin beneath her nails. Knowing the murderer was marked, each man was inspected.

When Marcus Dean’s arms bore deep, red scratches, he claimed it happened while clearing thorn bushes from his land. When his story fell apart, he wept, begging forgiveness, claiming evil spirits forced his hand. Several witnesses say the man showed no signs of remorse before caught, but even guilty, I do not know if he deserved his fate.

The man was already disliked in the community; he had no family and few he could call friend. The two factions of believers and non-believers were both crazed with fear and anger. It is difficult to get clear answers regarding how the decision was made – I believe all parties feel guilt for their actions – but it was decided Marcus would be the test to prove if monsters are real.

Fearing the lake monster least, as it is theoretically confined to the water, they tied Mr. Dean’s hands and feet. Putting him on a small raft, they gave him a makeshift paddle, stating he would go free if he made it to the other side.

No one spoke as the man awkwardly rowed. The only sound was the splash of his oar and a slight shuffle as repositioned himself. He could only row on one side for a few strokes before he began turning, and each time he changed sides, he almost lost the paddle.

He was near the center when something large splashed in the water behind him. His head snapped sharply to the side, looking for the source, but the water went still before anything more happened. Rowing faster, the raft rocked side to side with his clumsy, panicked movements.

In mid-stroke, Marcus’ paddle froze. He could be seen struggling to pull it from the water, but it appeared stuck. Another splash sounded as the oar was ripped from his grip. The resulting waves pushed Dean away, and the crowd gasped as pale, grayish-blue tentacles shot from the water, wrapping the screaming man and pulling him under. He never resurfaced. It was a long time before anyone moved, but when they did, they returned to their homes silently.

As my forefather once wrote, I do believe the demon understands when the people have decided to leave. They gathered in the morning and agreed they could be ready to go in two days. With Marcus deceased, they did not believe themselves to be in immediate danger so long as they avoided the lake and forest. That assumption cost them dearly. Like so many before them, brother was turned against sister, husband against wife, and no one was safe.

Helen Atkins smothered her baby before disappearing into the forest. John Newman was stabbed to death by his wife, and their son vanished in the chaos. Eric Smith, only seven at the time, hid in a closet as his father murdered his sister and mother before his footsteps could be heard leaving the house. Each survivor holds a similar tale.

When the sun rose on the second day, seventeen people lived. They did not pause to bury the dead; they left Dirge Lake with what possessions were already prepared and did not look back. When the wagons rode into Jamestown, they were welcomed and guided to the homes built in their anticipation. Some of our men returned for the livestock left behind, but since that day, no one has crossed the river.

There is no telling what may live there after so many years, but I hope James will return with new knowledge before we find out. Discovering how and why some are affected and some are not, is almost as vital as destroying the demon. Why do some seem to sleepwalk into the forest while others suffer from delusions? Some have experienced both. Is it the work of more than one creature? Or do the results depend on the victim? These questions burn within me, but I am helpless to discover the answers.


March 11, 1677

Finally, I can write something more interesting than the daily drivel! James and a small contingent of men have left for the Great Mountains! The long wait for his return officially begins! I already feel as if I will crawl out of my skin with worry, but it cannot be helped. If his expedition is successful, it could save countless lives in the future. I should not get my hopes up, but my imagination runs rampant, and I am at its mercy.


That entry babbles on a bit longer, but the relevant parts are over. Next time we can skip ahead to when the fifth group arrives. Boy, did those folks give me a run for my money! But we don’t have time to get into it now. The suns coming up and we shouldn’t press our luck any—

… Hold on there, friend! Let me clean my ears out before you repeat yourself. It sounded like you said you brought presents? Thank you gifts?

… Aw, shucks, you shouldn’t have! I noticed your pack was a little bulgy this time, but you know me – always respecting others’ privacy. Bless my oddly corporeal soul, I am on pins and needles! What is it?

… Oh my word! Those are Stephen King books! Real ones! Ones where the battery doesn’t die! Yes, please, let me give ‘em a good whiff!

… Really?! You bet! You feel free to bring me any books you were gonna donate. In fact, do you need cash? We have lots just sitting in a dresser. You could update your digital library and donate the old ones!

… That’s just silly, Trish. I’m not scaring our best friend. Look, that’s the face of… err… umm… hey, I know! Let’s get you on the trail! Can’t risk anything happening to you, can we pal? I Thank ya kindly and will anxiously await your next visit. Come back real soon, now! Real, real soon!


Part 4

Horror Fiction

The New Settlements (Pt. 2)

Part 2 of The First Settlement

Now a CreepyPasta

Beautifully narrated by The Dark Somnium: YouTube, Podcast, & Spotify

Looky here! Trish! Ethan! Our friend is back!

Shame it had to be another cold, stormy night like this. Just once I’d like to enjoy some company under the warm sun, but I guess that’s not how this place works. … Goodness, where are my manners? Come on in here before something catches your scent. I’ll let you get settled while we fetch the firewood.

… So, tell me, what brings you back to our humble neck-of-the-woods? Curiosity got the better of you is my guess. You probably want to hear more about this place, am I right?

… Ahh, no. Sly-Fox had little patience for writing. What you heard was his only entry in Pappy Grant’s journal, but don’t be disappointed. We have more to read thanks to one of his grandsons.

Sly-Fox died in 1611, and his sixth grandson, Wise-Owl, was born in 1617. Jamestown was a growing village, and while a majority were Cherokee, the population grew more diverse with every failed attempt to settle the Cursed Woods. After experiencing so much grief and terror, they had no concerns for trivial matters of skin color or culture. Shared loss brought shared acceptance.

As Wise-Owl grew, he began to travel, yearning to see the world. With his lighter skin, he found himself accepted in most white settlements if he dressed differently and used the name Samuel Cooke. At the age of twenty, he married his wife, Sarah, and started a family.

His father died six years later, and the eldest son, Striking-Snake, became Chief. The brothers were opposites, but mostly worked well together. The older prided himself on brute strength and speed, while the younger was known for intelligence and resourcefulness.

Samuel began writing when his brother decided to master the Cursed Woods. They tried to discourage the stubborn man, but he was all antsy to prove himself. I think you’ll enjoy the story, though. At the very least, it’ll answer a few of the questions rattling around in that skull of yours.


November 2nd, 1643

It is a good thing I continue this journal. Its knowledge must not be trusted to oral history alone. If only it were possible to duplicate these words for more to read; all people should know these texts and heed their warning. I often wonder how many cursed places exist in the world but fear I would not like the answer.

I care deeply for my brother, but the man is a fool! Since the first settlement in 1565, two more attempts have been made to inhabit that cursed place across the river. All met violent ends; it is as if the evil grows stronger with each life it takes. I do not understand why Snake believes he is destined to conquer the abominations. He thinks he will build a bridge to expand Jamestown after the land is cleansed; it is lunacy.

My brother has taken five of his best men into those woods this day. I have a cold dread in my gut that not all will return. One of the men is a highly respected Shaman. If he returns from this ill-conceived venture, I hope he will allow me to record some of his knowledge here. He may be able to provide useful insight into what those things are.

One-hundred and three Spaniards built the second village in 1612, but only fourteen survived to see Jamestown. My father warned them to no avail until they threatened his life. Nothing happened for three months, but then two children disappeared, and the search party was never seen again. A few came to us after that. Most believed the monster could be killed, but survivors eventually fled with attitudes properly adjusted.

In 1635, a British colony of ninety-one souls arrived. I accompanied my father on his visit, bearing gifts, seeking friendship to earn their trust. We hoped to be taken in earnest when we begged them to build elsewhere. We offered the help of our people to ease the burden of relocation, but they would not hear it. They called us superstitious savages and bid us a rude farewell.

They lasted almost a year before the final nineteen came to Jamestown. The men shared their horrors in great detail, and over the next few days, I will leave record of it here. Perhaps, together with my great grandfather’s accounts, these words will not be taken so lightly. I only hope my brother’s tale will not end the same. Some think I am foolish to waste my time with these endeavors, but I shall prove them wrong.


November 3rd, 1643

My brother’s group returned intact. I am grateful for their safety but fear a lucky venture has filled them with unfounded confidence. This morning, he departed with ten men. Their intentions are to stay until the demon is vanquished. I shall be restless with worry. First, I must tell of my conversation with the Shaman, Kawani. I stole him away upon their return and believe his knowledge vital. I began by showing him the passage of old man Herbert’s words from so long ago. He was able to expand upon the information more than I dared hope.

The statements regarding the spirits of the deceased are accurate enough, though there are exceptions. While one alone cannot cause physical harm, they grow stronger under certain circumstances – such as gathering in groups or feeding on a demon’s energy. Kawani is certain the entity of the Cursed Woods is a demon, for the spiritual activity surrounding the area suggests it is very old and powerful. He says he can destroy it if he is able to see its face and learn its name.

His confidence was unwavering. I asked if the demon were killed, would the ghosts be gone as well, but the answer was less encouraging. Perhaps some would finally be able to pass on, but each spirit would be a unique case. Plus, there will still be the matter of the thing in the lake. The demon is the most vile and deadly entity; therefore, it must be destroyed first. If it remains, more sinister creatures will be drawn by its power. Kawani was called away before we could speak further. I hope he survives long enough to learn more.

One day I hope to record details of the second settlement, but for now I will begin where memories are freshest. The third colony named the area Mallard Lake, though it is now known as Dirge Lake. Perhaps our warnings instilled some caution, for they lived six months without incident. The survivor I speak to most often, Peter Evans, says they rarely found need to enter the Cursed Woods. Instead, their trouble began in the lake.

On a cloudy, summer day, three boats of six people rowed to the center of the lake and began fishing as usual. They waited quietly, hooks in the water, until there was a loud thwack as something collided with the middle boat. Its passengers gripped their seats, rocking from the impact as water splashed over the sides. One man shouted, jumping to his feet, when something slimy touched his hand.

“It was only a fish, sit down before you put us all in the water.” Peter shouted.

At the same instant, the boat was struck again, and the man fell overboard. He came to the surface sputtering, yelling something about his leg, but the words were cut off as he was suddenly pulled under.

The man’s brother, who was in the lead boat, dove into the water. The others watched with bated breath as seconds ticked by. Finally, the second man broke the surface, gasping and pleading for help. Others reached to him as he desperately swam for safety. They pulled him up, and a pasty, gray-blue tentacle slapped the side of the boat, barely missing its target.

“Get to shore!” Several screamed in unison. Fishing gear was left to fall where it may as they scrambled to rowing position. The lead boat was hit hard before the first paddle touched water. The resulting waves spread across the lake as three more sickly, pale tentacles came out of the water to wrap around the boat. The monster pulled it apart easily as a child’s toy. Two men were pulled under as the rest were rescued.

The remaining fifteen made it safely ashore. Survivors from the lead boat claimed they saw more than tentacles. They say the monster had a large, round head, several beady eyes, teeth like a saw, and a long, thick body; it’s as if a snake with octopus tentacles had a spider’s head. To the men’s credit, they did not try to hunt it, they merely stopped using the lake.

Nothing more happened for several weeks. Just as life resumed a sense of normalcy, disaster struck in the night.

Blast, Sarah calls for me. I must end this here for tonight.


… Of course, this is a fine spot to take a break. We’ll stoke the fire, and I’m sure you remember where the bathroom is. Don’t forget to leave those curtains closed!

… Well, judging by how loud they are now, I take it you ignored them just fine! Great job, you’re a natural! I tell ya, I have always been an excellent judge of people, and you, my friend, are damn good people. Oh! I just remembered!

Trish, where are the supplies those hikers left behind last week? … Excellent, Ethan, why don’t you be polite and pour our guest a drink? Good lad!

I hope you like wine. We can’t partake ourselves, but it looks like a fine year. I believe the owner intended to propose judging by the fancy ring hidden in his socks. Baby, show our friend that beautiful rock on your finger. Yep, you have no idea how hard it is to get nice things out here.

So, how’s the drink?

… Wonderful! You’re welcome to keep the bottle; someone should enjoy it.

… Anyway, if you’re ready, we’ll continue our story. Things are about to get interesting, much more interesting than all these questions about hikers.


November 5, 1643

I did not have a chance to write yesterday for I went to Dirge Lake myself and only returned this afternoon. I could not withstand another moment wondering. I arrived before the sun reached its highest point, finding Tom and Little-Hawk at their temporary camp. I was relieved to see it set beyond the forest borders but could not rest easy so close to a demon’s lair.

Unwilling to go further, I waited for Snake’s return. His face was full of disappointment when they came for the noon meal. I noted only seven were present but did not have to wait for explanation. They lost Echo the night before, which explained the silence of Tom and Little-Hawk.

At dusk, they discovered a path believed to be the very one searched for by our great grandfather. Kawani believes the demon itself waits at the end, in the Heart of the forest. They entered the trail single file with Echo at the rear. After forty yards, a thick fog seeped through the forest and wound between each man, restricting their sight even further.

The Shaman stood at the lead with Snake and called a halt to the procession. Though I have yet to learn the exact methods of his technique, Kawani performed some kind of ritual involving the burning of certain herbs as offering to kinder spirits. The fog cleared, leaving only blood splatters where Echo once stood. He died without a sound. Knowing the path would not be there in the light of day, they left colorful markings before retreating to camp.

Both Tom and Little Hawk refused to enter the woods again. They returned to Jamestown with me earlier today. I do not think it will be long before the others realize they should have followed. The eight who remain plan to traverse the trail while tied together. I think it will only serve as a greater hindrance, but they will not listen to reason.

I was only able to speak with Kawani briefly, but he informed me he’s had disturbing dreams since entering the Cursed Woods. He believes the demon is seeking a vessel so it may travel beyond its territory. He is certain that land is more prison than home. I do not know if I find this information comforting or terrifying, for I see no way humanity could survive such a thing roaming about freely.

The Shaman is still unable to identify the creature in the lake. His inability to label it seems to trouble him deeply, but the demon remains priority. He believes once he has seen its face, he will be able to call upon his ancestors to learn its name.

I shall write about the third settlement before I retire for the evening. It seems I was about to tell of the night Peter Evans’ wife, Judith, perished. Life has a way of carrying on that makes us forget our past traumas. The incident at the lake was buried in the back of their mind, nearly forgotten as Peter lay in bed with his wife all those years ago.

Peter and Judith were almost asleep when a loud creak sounded in the hallway. Thinking it one of the children, Peter walked quietly to the door, opening it suddenly to catch the sneak red-handed, but no one was there. The hall stood empty, and no sounds of retreat betrayed a child’s escape.

Puzzled, he returned to bed. The moment his feet left the floor, two loud knocks banged against the door. Judith let out a short gasp of surprise. Peter ripped it open in anger, but once again, the hall stood empty. Furious, he donned his robe and marched downstairs. Each child slept, doors and windows were locked, and the home was once again silent. More confused than ever, he returned to the bedroom.

He saw Judith crouched in the corner, pointing at the closet and muttering of something inside. Peter approached it with caution, stomach churning with venomous butterflies. As he reached for the knob, the door rattled on its hinges, and his heart tried to flee his chest.

He only hesitated a moment; he ran from the room but was back in seconds. He turned the knob slowly, standing to the side with the mallet raised over his head. The door swung open, hinges creaking loudly, scaring Peter enough to swing the weapon. The weight carried him through the hanging clothes and into the closest floor. After a few moments of flailing in panic, he realized the closest was empty.

Judith rose to her feet, leaning on the wall for support as her shaky legs carried her to the closet. She paused by the window, gripping its ledge for support. “What’s happening, Peter? Are these the ghosts those primitive people warned us of?” Her voice quivered with fright. She turned, looking out the window, and screamed loud enough to wake their neighbors. She ran from the room, terrified.

Peter only saw a glimpse of the corpse in the window before she disappeared. He says it was a child, soaked as if fallen into a lake. Her long, black hair draped over her face, and the dark bruises of large hands were prominent on her neck. He only stood frozen an instant but was returned to reality when Judith’s screams were cut off with a sickening series of dull thuds.

Swallowing the hard lump forming in his throat, Peter forced his legs to carry him downstairs. Judith lay in the floor, neck broken. In her haste to flee, she tripped on the steps. The children were woken by her screams and discovered the sight moments behind their father.

I fear that is all I can withstand this night. Writing of such morbid things is giving me unpleasant dreams. It does not help I must live each moment wondering of my brother’s fate.


November 6, 1643

Two more of Snake’s expedition returned this afternoon. I am pleased to report my brother still lived at the time of their departure, but three more are dead. Now only Snake and Kawani remain to slay a demon older than recorded history. Bear-Trapper has reported all he can, but it is not much. To learn more, I must once again go myself. I have not yet found the courage to inform Sarah.

The seven men returned to the area with the mysterious path, but none of their markings remained. They could not distinguish where the trail once existed. Forced to wait for dusk when the path is revealed, Kawani prepared himself with incense and incantations. When they later embarked on the hidden trail, they used a length of rope to ensure none could be separated.

As I predicted, it only served to cost more men their lives. Had they not been lashed together; two additional men would not have been carried through the tree-tops by a ravenous demon. They were lucky the fourth man was able to cut the rope before more were lost.

Snake and Kawani wanted to press forward, but the other two refused. In the end, all returned to camp, though Snake would not come home. He insists he and the Shaman are still capable of killing the demon. The man has never been able to concede defeat. For our mother’s sake, I must try to save him. Regarding the third settlement, I will finish their tale this night, for I do not know if I will live past tomorrow.

There were some who believed Peter murdered Judith, for no similar deaths occurred immediately after, but nothing could be proven. Roughly two weeks later, Reverend Michael delivered an unusual Sunday sermon regarding the book of Revelations. The calm in his voice accented the horror of his words as he explained the end times were upon us. The congregation listened in stunned silence as the speech finally concluded; at which point he merrily announced the afternoon picnic behind the church.

Normally, everyone would attend, enjoying the chance to socialize, but not that week. Many felt disturbed by the Reverend’s words and simply wished to go home. Though it started on a sour note, it soon turned into a lovely afternoon. The clouds covered the sun, and a cool breeze blew as families ate and laughed.

After eating, when the tables stood empty and punch bowls were drained, children played while adults gossiped. The children were the first to get sick. The only two doctors fell sick shortly after. The Reverend poisoned himself as well as his congregation, leaving the survivors no way to seek justice for the fifty-six lives taken.

With less than thirty people remaining, chaos ensued as several men argued to be heard. Many did not wish to settle in a “village of heathens” as they called us, but others only wished to bury their dead before fleeing. By working together on the shared goal, the unpleasant digging was completed before nightfall. Those who wished to stay ignored any words of caution, believing the only monster to be lying dead in an unmarked grave.

Those who wished to come to Jamestown locked themselves indoors, waiting for sunrise. Most accounts of this final night are similar in detail. Peter’s is the only unique experience, for he lost his children at the picnic. Suicidal and drunk, he fell unconscious early in the night and did not rise until morning. He says he considered living a fate worse than anything they could have inflicted at that point.

Harold Jenkins was twelve when this night transpired. He lived alone with his father after the poisoning of his mother and sister. They barricaded the bedroom door and window, but as the hours passed, they grew tired and began to doze. Harold remembers dreams of walking corpses breaking into their house, killing his parents. He tried to protect his sister as they huddled together behind his bed.

Harold only had his father’s rifle and little ammo. His sister begged him to shoot her before the monsters could take her. Even though he is no longer a child, it is still unnerving to hear him speak of her urgency. He only describes it as a dream now, as an adult; at the time, he insisted the vision was real. He claimed to feel hot tears fall onto his arm as she pulled at the gun to prevent him from wasting more ammunition.

Finally, as the undead closed in and skeletal hands reached for his sister, he shot her in the chest. She was blown backwards, slamming into the floor. He tried to turn the gun on himself when a pair of hands wrapped around the barrel, pulling it away. Before he could react, a sharp, intense pain bloomed across his face. When his vision refocused, the horde of undead were gone. Only a rifle and Harold’s father, mortally wounded, remained. He died begging the boy to stay awake at any cost.

Others lost loved ones to the forest, such as the Kingston family. They were one of few remaining couples, and two of their four children still lived. The two older children attended the picnic with friends, but the others returned home due to a sick baby. After putting the children to sleep, Ethel and Bill stayed awake in the den.

Late into the night, Ethel was stirred from snoozing by the sound of light footsteps. Seeing Bill fast asleep, she granted him a swift kick on her way to check the children. She met the four-year-old in the hallway, just outside her door. When she questioned the child’s actions there was no answer. Lifting the child into her arms, Mrs. Kingston returned her to bed, making sure the baby still slept before leaving.

Entering the den, she saw Bill’s empty chair. Assuming he woke, she began to explain the happenings with their daughter. When the also empty room was in her full view, she called for her husband; again, there was no answer. She continued searching but was overcome with a dreadful certainty upon discovering the front door ajar. She saw his bare footprints leading away from the house. She prepared to follow but stopped at the sight of her daughter once again in the hallway.

Ethel spent the remainder of the night holding her daughter with one eye always on the baby. Bill Kingston was never seen again, but his wife and daughters survived the night.

When the sun rose on the next day, nineteen people emerged from their homes with sleepless, drooping eyes. Carrying little more than the clothes on their backs, they crossed the river to Jamestown. They were welcomed without question, free to speak in their own time. Eventually, they all talk, for keeping such darkness inside is poison to the soul. If nothing else, they speak to hear others confirm they are not crazy, to know they are not alone.

That concludes the story of the third settlement. I must sleep now, for tomorrow feels as if it will be a long, trying day.


… I agree, friend! I think ole Sammy is begging for trouble! That wine sure has loosened you up; if I didn’t know better, I’d think you was having fun.

… Aw, come on Trish, I’m just messing around. Maybe the alcohol is contagious. It makes sense, don’t it? We can feed— er, I mean, feel, yea that’s the word — their emotions, can’t we? So why can’t that include a good buzz?!

… Hold on a second, friend, it isn’t like that at all. Not feed like ‘taking in for sustenance’ more like ‘emphatically influences our emotions in a very literal way’, can you see the difference? Don’t get inside your head about it, we can’t help it any more than you can help converting oxygen to carbon dioxide, but we don’t go judging you. We aren’t like those guys who go around blaming their heinous actions on the victim’s fear and anger, nope, not this family.

… That’s okay, we know you didn’t mean nothing by it, it’s just a sensitive issue for us. Now, let’s forget about all the technical mumbo jumbo and get back to that Shaman fella. I think we have just enough time for one more journal entry.


November 9th, 1643

I write this to record what transpired in the Cursed Woods on the evening of November seventh through the early morning hours of November eighth. I have much work to do as the new Chief and will no longer have time for these personal indulgences. It is no matter; I have lost all passion for the written word anyhow. The only reason I bother with this conclusion at all is to detail the last knowledge imparted by Kawani.

I traveled alone, for others believed Snake already dead. I knew I would not be able to live with myself if I did not try to bring him home. I left in the early morning hours, but the closer I came to my destination, the more intensely I felt eyes upon me. I told myself it was imagination. I felt as if I were being watched because I expected to feel it. It is a common complaint through the journal.

I was surprised to find both men in camp, sharpening spears. Brother said he was expecting me, but I should dash any hope of swaying his decision. He was confident his warrior’s prowess combined with Kawani’s medicine would triumph now that the ‘distractions’ were gone. We have known those dead men since childhood, it boiled my blood to hear them labeled as distractions. Not that it matters now.

Snake excused himself for meditation before I could give him a piece of my mind. Finding myself alone with Kawani, I implored the Shaman to share all he learned. He was eager to do so, for his dreams had grown worse since we last spoke. He too tried every effort to convince my brother to abandon his quest, but the man will not hear it.

Kawani believed the demon’s possession of Striking-Snake to be unavoidable. In fact, it had likely already begun. His dreams showed the demon wearing my brother’s skin as it returned to Jamestown in his place. Our little village would not satisfy it, nothing would. The Shaman has seen its bottomless pit of hunger, and it would consume the world.

Most importantly, he wants us to know there are Shaman stronger than he in the great mountains far to the west. The dreams also showed him the demon’s true appearance. He believes another Shaman may be able to tell us its name. I did not have the heart to tell him there would be no others foolish enough to attempt such a quest, but I will record the description all the same.

The demon is almost seven feet tall, with a drastically humped back. Its skin has a sickly yellow tint with oozing pockmarks. The head is elongated, the eyes are bulbous and glowing, taking up half its nose-less face. Its mouth is the width of its head, appearing as if its jaw would fall off if not for the jagged sinew stretching between its lips, connecting the sides of its gaping, black, vortex-like mouth. Its elbows bend the wrong way, and it has the long feet of a hound.

Only love for my brother held me there after hearing this description. I still shudder at the image and look forward to immediately forgetting it upon closing this journal for the last time. We talked of what I must do if the worst were to happen. I would be Jamestown’s last hope should Kawani fail in his duties. What kind of world do we live in where a man is driven to hope a Shaman kills his brother, so he does not have to?

Snake did not return until just before dusk. I entered the Cursed Woods with them, agreeing to go as far as the demon’s path but not one step upon it. The air was thick with tension, and I felt suffocated by the silence. As often as I imagined the quiet described during the search for Ester Jones, never had I come close to understanding the totality of it. I know it sounds an odd phrase, but the silence was deafening. That is the only way to convey the sensation. It instills a deep unease, as if activating a primal alert system within us.

The feeling of being watched was no longer a mere sensation one could pass off as paranoia. It became indisputable fact the longer we walked beneath the canopy of trees. I could feel those giant, glowing eyes boring into me, prodding at my soul the way one does a pig before slaughter. The scrutiny reached a climax as we came into view of the demon’s path. My brother did not even pause to say goodbye. Kawani barely spared a glance back, maintaining his focus on Snake.

I watched them traverse the path until the fog concealed them from me. I waited; eyes locked on the trail for any sign of their return. I have no way of knowing how much time passed, only that there was no moon that night. When the sun fell behind the horizon I was left in total darkness. It occurred to me then that Kawani may not have factored in dangers from other entities while the demon was occupied with him. There were moments I thought I would die of sheer fright, but although slowly, time continued moving forward.

I heard faint footsteps before I saw the soft glow of the torch. After what felt like hours later, Striking Snake’s face became visible as he drew closer. My heart found new life as it resumed its maximum speed. This would be the moment of truth. Without speaking, I followed him out of the Cursed Woods. Only once returned to the relative safety of the campfire did I dare speak.

Being casual as possible I asked if Mary and I could have the pleasure of hosting a celebration in his honor. He heartily agreed, showing signs of his old, boisterous self for the first time since father died. He clapped me on the back, nearly knocking me over in his excitement, and we began packing for home. He said there was no point waiting for morning now that the dangers were gone.

Though he expressed deep regret at the loss of Kawani, he would not go into further details, only that he died a hero. Before we could extinguish the fire, I realized my wedding band was no longer on my finger. Anxious to be on our way, we searched for it on hands and knees. Situating myself behind Snake, I steeled myself as I cut my brother’s dead throat with the Shaman’s ceremonial dagger.

Thick, black ooze poured onto the ground. The demon barked a dark, sinister laugh as its blood soaked into the earth. When I stepped back, it turned to face me with my brother’s glassy eyes until the husk fell to the ground, empty. I stared at his corpse well into the daylight hours, still unable to move. Eventually, thoughts of Sarah and the children spurred me into action. I do not have the luxury of wallowing in pain or pity, I have others I must care for. I must make sure no one ever gives the demon a chance to escape again.


… Nope, sorry. That’s really all he wrote. Wasn’t that enough? Besides, it’s getting light out. It’s about time to hit the trail, trust me. If you spend too much time around here, you’ll start losing your marbles. I like ya far too much to see that happen. Tell ya what, next time you drop in, I’ll read ya my own journal, how’s that?

… Why sure I did! You don’t become a spirit without being alive at some point.

… Okay, you got me. Yes, Samuel was my father, I took up the pen in my thirties.

… Well, I can’t tell ya why without explaining a whole mess of other stuff first. If you want to hear this story proper-like, it’s gonna take a few visits. You can’t just cram centuries worth of history into a couple nights of storytelling.

… That’s right, you come back anytime. We aren’t going anywhere; I can promise you that much. Now, are you sure you’re sober enough to make it alone? It’s really no trouble, it would do the boy good to get out more.

… Alright, I won’t pester you about it, I’m no nag. You just be safe out there. Remember, sometimes they really are out to get ya.


Part 3

Horror Fiction

The First Settlement (Pt. 1)

Now a CreepyPasta. 

Beautifully narrated by The Dark Somnium: YouTube, Podcast, & Spotify

For full effect, please wear something comfortable, and imagine yourself lost in a dark forest. I think you’ll find a cabin just ahead.

Welcome, friend. Come on in, it’s storming out there. We’ve lost power, but it’s dry and warm inside. Grab a blanket and join us by the fire before you freeze, we got plenty of room. It’s not safe to be wandering around in the dark. Not out here where the closest town is five miles away. You won’t see any cell towers, I can promise you that. No WiFi out in these woods either. Folks in town like to call it a lake, but make no mistake, this here is all swampland. If you get lost, you’re likely to end up as gator bait… or worse.

Never you mind though, you’ll be safe here. Long as we have this fire, we can ride the storm out til morning. I’m Alex, and that pretty thing in the green sweater is my wife, Trish. Our nephew, Ethan, is the shy fella staring at his feet like he wasn’t raised with manners. Personally, I think he was dropped on his head before he had that wiry mop of curls to cushion his fall. Now, what did you say your name was?

Great, nice to meet ya. I won’t ask how you came to be out here all alone on a night like this. It’s none of my business, but I hope you won’t take offense to an old soul’s ramblings. I was just about to educate the young one on some local history when we heard your knock. I’m not embarrassed to say I nearly jumped out of my skin, but you’re not one of them. I could tell soon as I saw you.

Tell me, do you believe in ghosts? You know, spirits? Ah, that’s ok, what better time to learn? Nobody knows how it started. Before Columbus sailed across the ocean, the Indians already knew to stay away. Not even Braves ventured into these woods, afraid of Bad Medicine as they called it. The first white settlement – no, not Roanoke – the first settlement. Few people heard of it, no historians ever came, that’s for sure. Unlike Roanoke, there was no one to come looking for these folks. You know what? Let me start from the beginning, we have plenty of time.

The year was 1565, decades before Roanoke. Peasants weren’t allowed to hunt, all game was property of the Nobles. When times grew hard, desperate men – mostly outlaws and laborers – decided to take their chances on the ocean. They heard sailor’s tales of paradise where the land is open and fertile. A single, stolen ship carrying men, women, and children fled Europe in the dead of night, never to return.

The journey was treacherous, and many perished along the way. The dead were thrown overboard with little ceremony until food rations ran low. In the end, fifty-eight survivors made it to the New World. Desperate to be away from the smell of death, they went ashore as a group. The sandy beach was empty, and the surrounding woods were vast. Their leader was a large man named James Smith. He and First Mate Grant Cooke led their people into the forest. They cleared land and built a settlement near the lake; it really was a lake back then. The water was clean and clear; not green and smelly like it is now.

Nothing strange happened in the first year, almost like something waited until they were trapped. Letting them get nice and cozy while they scrapped the boat for parts; while they built their homes and planted their crops. They had no need for law or politics, but James held the final word on all decisions. Until the 13th month, those usually amounted to where to plant this or build that. Then a little girl, Ester Jones, vanished. Her disappearance was the first of many terrors to befall the community. I can tell you their whole story, you see, Pappy Grant kept a journal.


June 13, 1566

As we sat to supper, loud, desperate knocking sounded at the door. I instructed Martha and the children to continue eating as I rose to greet our late visitor. Knowing only ill tidings come at such a time, I relinquished my meal to the hounds. Indeed, I was met with the despairing sobs of Widow Jones. Her girl, Ester, failed to return from picking berries. The young ones never ventured far, but even so, they always stayed together.

I made quick work of speaking with the children as James gathered men. We ventured into the forest with one hour of light remaining to us. Unable to burden the women with our true findings, we blamed wolves as the culprits. I will record our true findings here in case – God help us all – a true account is useful to future generations.

The children confirmed their location in the west woods, past old man Herbert’s farm. They departed together, but Ester returned alone to retrieve a lost ribbon. The dogs delivered us directly to the berry patches at which time they turned circles, whimpering. Ignoring all calls to heel, they tucked tails and ran home. Our best hunting dogs, known to challenge bears, behaved as if whipped!

It was then we felt the weight of the silence. No birds sang, no insects stirred, and no winds blew. From the safety of my home it seems foolish to say, but it felt as if we were being watched. James summoned our best tracker, William Reed, to determine Ester’s trail.

In minutes he discovered the lost ribbon, but as he retraced the child’s steps he became visibly distraught. After confirming his findings with the Owens brothers, he reported the following:

“The children came down the path, scattering in front of the bushes. Ester is the oldest among them, making hers easily discernible from the others. You can see where she turns back, and this is where she kneels to search. Here are markings left by her hands and knees, but that is where her trail ends. It is as if she is standing before us, invisible.” William waved his arm through the space as if to prove she truly was not there.

Joshua Owens confirmed the analysis adding, “There are those capable of disguising a trail, but it is impossible to erase one. Maybe a giant bird came and scooped her up.” He said the last in jest, but looked up as he spoke. “What… is… that?”

Following his line of sight, I became aware of a white and red object caught in a tangle of limbs above us. William set to work climbing, and in minutes was directly below it. He crossed himself, nearly falling when he released his grip to do so. We watched, breath held, as Reed untangled the item.

Once brought for further inspection we could not deny it was cloth torn from the child’s dress. More disturbing than its location was the dark crimson stain which covered the white material. If she climbed, footprints would lead to the tree, and its bark would show signs.

Suddenly William ran to the next tree, studying its branches. Understanding his logic, we searched high in surrounding treetops until Horace Wright discovered the child’s location. As he spoke, he stumbled forward, losing his supper in a violent reaction to the grotesque sight awaiting us.

There, tangled in the branches were the remains of little Ester. Out of respect to the deceased’s mother, I shall not describe the horrible manner in which she surely perished. I suspected large cats, for they often hide their prey in this manner, but Reed was quick to rule it out. Again, easily visible tracks would remain. I developed a terrible coldness in my bones that still has not left me. I fear it never will.

We debated how to proceed as the last light faded. Anything short of bringing the child home for proper burial would be a disgrace, yet for her poor mother to see this fate… how little remained… she has already lost so much. I found myself imploring the men to spare Mrs. Jones this additional pain, suggesting we bury the child beneath the very tree in which she was found. I truly believed it kinder to carry home a tale of instant, painless death.

It took little convincing and was a relief to us all. Widow Jones is a kind, caring woman and our hearts ache for her loss. I am forever shamed to have failed her daughter in both life and death. With torches freshly lit, William climbed the tree easily as the first. Upon reaching the remains, a deep, guttural roar emanated from the darkness. It sounded like no beast I have heard before, causing every hair on my body to stand erect. James ordered William out of the tree at once.

Descending quickly, clutching Ester’s small, shredded shoe, Reed jumped the last four feet. Another roar followed, this time from above, closer and angrier. It was accompanied by the sound of branches cracking under the weight of something heavy. It required all my resilience to stand fast as we braced for the unknown terror to attack.

We held our torches high, but the light would not reach more than a foot away. Dancing flames should have illuminated the clearing, but the darkness was almost tangible. Even more strange was the temperature. The warm, summer night bit into us with a harsh, winter wind.

No man spoke, we merely huddled together, staring into the impenetrable darkness, waiting. How to describe the sound of that beast as it stole Ester from us a second time… alas, I cannot. I can only tell you of the shame we felt as we stood in place, for the monster went without haste, mocking our cowardice. It is my greatest shame, mortally wounding to my heart and pride.

When all fell silent once again, James commanded we return to the village at once. We eagerly agreed, ready to leave that horrid place. As we approached the path home, William surged to the front, insisting we were entering the wrong trail. I spoke harshly, anxious to be on our way, walking with my torch aloft to show no other path existed.

Reed led us to the place he believed our true path to be, but nothing was there. He walked between the two locations, listing the ways he could tell the difference. If he was correct, the path we walked daily was overgrown with weeds as if unused for years. It was a twisted root which several men recalled stumbling over that convinced us.

It was a slow journey as we struggled through the thickets, but we made it home safely thanks to Reed’s keen eyes and knowledge. I cannot stop wondering where the other trail would have taken us had he been less observant. Unfortunately, we were only able to return Ester’s shoe to Mrs. Jones. May she find comfort knowing the child is with her father in a better place.

Until tonight, our greatest fear was being discovered by outsiders. Should the Crown ever learn of our Paradise, he will surely want it for his own. We are prepared to defend ourselves to the last man should the occasion call for it. Alas, I believe we can rest easy in that regard. After what I have witnessed this night, I am certain whatever plagues us is no mortal man. We are resolved to explore the strange path in full tomorrow. I shall record my findings here upon our return.


What’s that, friend? Of course, the bathroom is down the hall, second door to the right. You go on ahead, we need to add a few logs to the fire anyhow. Oh, and if you hear a tapping at the window, just ignore it. Best not to pay them any attention, but whatever you do, don’t open the curtains.

…There, perfect timing! The fire is… oh my! Are you alright? I say, you are pale as all get out! Here, sit down, I think we’re in for a long night. I guess you peeked… I tried to warn you, but they say seeing is believing. There, there. I know it can be upsetting, but you really are safe in here. We don’t have a vehicle, but if you like, I can walk you to town come sunrise. Until then, maybe it’s best I continue the story.


June 15, 1566,

I write in the early morning hours, before the sun has yet risen. May God have mercy on my soul. By my hand James is dead. What have I done? It should have been me! I will never be half the man he was. Martha, if you or the children should one day read these words, I shudder to know what you will think of me, but I must keep going to ensure a record of what has happened here survives. Whatever evil is in these woods has made me murder my closest friend, I must do all I can to prevent others from the suffering similar fates.

At dawn we armed ourselves with every available weapon, intent to traverse the strange, new path. To our astonishment, the trail had vanished. The foliage was so dense, it would have taken several men most of the day to recreate what we saw the previous night. We explored where possible, venturing further than ever before, but found nothing. Wishing to be well away before nightfall, we returned home to find the women gathered and waiting for us.

They were terribly panicked, all speaking at once. After learning what transpired, I cannot say I blame them. We have taken the safety of our homes for granted, we have forgotten these are strange lands of which we know nothing.

As instructed, the women remained in the village, keeping the children close at hand. Martha invited Mrs. Jones to join her in our home, not wishing her to be alone at such a time. It required much persuasion. Mrs. Jones preferred to grieve in solitude, but in the end, agreed for Martha’s sake.

Shortly after morning chores were complete, Nathaniel, our youngest, cried out. Martha discovered him by the staircase, pointing at Mrs. Jones. The woman was attempting to unlatch the door but panicked and clumsily. Martha tried to intervene, blocking her way, but was roughly pushed aside.

Mrs. Jones began screaming, “She’s out there! They lied to us, look, see for yourself! My girl is alive, move! We must go get her! She cannot swim!”

Martha regained her feet and ran to the window, unsure what to expect. At the same moment she laid eyes on the ghost of Ester Jones floating above the lake, Mrs. Jones freed the last lock. My wife was left to watch helplessly as Mrs. Jones ran to her daughter.

Martha called after her in vain, continuing to give chase even after Mrs. Jones disappeared beneath the water, never to emerge. I shall thank God each day she did not enter those murky depths herself. I have no doubt she would be lost as well.

Several others report strange tappings at the windows and voices calling from the forest, but no sightings upon investigation. Thankfully no one else was lost, for we now fear each incident as deadly. It was then James recalled the Gypsy ancestry of old man Herbert. None of us know his true name, but his knowledge has been invaluable since fleeing our homeland. Whatever shame exists in his past is of no consequence here. Now, it seems, his knowledge may save us once again. We absorbed his every word, which in summation:

“If the legends are based in fact, I fear we may have something far worse than mere ghosts among us. You see, spirits are souls of the departed. They are what remain of those who perish but cannot pass to the other side. They can be a nuisance, but they cannot physically harm us. Malevolent ghosts may attempt trickery, such as what befell Mrs. Jones; but had she not run into the lake, she would still be among us now. As for the forest, I am certain we are dealing with something far more insidious than a spirit. It may even hold dominion over the ghouls, I do not know for certain. I do know whatever stalks those woods is something much worse… possibly a demon. Either way we do not possess the tools or skills to defeat it.”

The remaining light of day was spent fortifying our homes. We burned sage as the Gypsies do to combat evil spirits, but I have seen no evident results. Nothing else of note happened until nightfall, after we locked ourselves indoors. It was agreed no one would leave the safety of their home until morning, but that is the precaution which became our undoing.

Hours passed without incident until the shutters rattled violently as if someone were trying to gain entry. We first checked the children, finding them huddled together under the blankets. Without opening the curtains, I barred the window with the wardrobe. With the heavy oak furniture in place, the noises stopped at once, leaving a pause of silence before a devastating crash sounded from downstairs. I bade Martha to bar the door behind me as I ran toward the sound.

I descended the stairs with pistol drawn, foolish man that I am. Mr. Herbert warned our mortal weapons could do no harm to spirits and little if any to a demon of substance, but I was a weak coward. I thought only of protecting my family upstairs, disregarding all warnings of the spirit’s trickery.

My first sight upon reaching the bottom step was a ghastly image. A corpse reached through the glassless window, shutters torn asunder, attempting to unbar the door. He was pale white, but not transparent. His face and arm bore deep, wide gashes, the worst being across his throat. It caused his head to tilt at an odd angle as if it would fall off any moment. When the thing saw me, he abandoned his effort with the door in favor of clambering through the small opening. I did not think. I did not hesitate. I fired my one shot straight into his center.

I was surprised when the ghoul fell backwards, into the dirt. Fearing the injury as deception, I approached slowly, cautiously, wasting precious seconds as the best man I ever knew lay dying. The full weight of my folly crushed me as I rushed to his side, but he would hear no words of apology. With his dying breath, he tried to absolve me of my crime, blaming his death upon the devil’s trickery. Let his last words serve as further warning, so others may avoid repeating our deadly mistake.

“I never looked outside until I heard the crash. I saw a dead man. His head nearly severed, standing before your open window. When he attempted entry, I shouted a warning, but feared you would not hear. I should have known better. Should have listened to the old man. It fooled us, my friend. I followed, thinking it the demon of substance due its actions, but I fear that was its intent all along. I lost sight of it only a moment, yet when I peered inside, I saw you lying on the stairs, unconscious. The monster no longer in sight, I feared the worst for Martha and the children. I am sorry my friend. I’m afraid I have failed you. No! You will not let evil win by sewing doubt into your heart. Come sunrise, you must assume leadership. Tell them I died at the hands of malevolent forces beyond our control, nothing more. You must swear it.”

The fool was as stubborn in death as ever in life. I will honor his wishes as I must, but once our people are free of this curse, I shall insist another man be chosen to lead. I do not deserve the honor or respect, but I shall not break my word. Martha and the children were able to find sleep when nothing more occurred after my return. I feel as if I have seen too many horrors to ever enjoy sleep again. Sunrise is only an hour away, at which time the village will wake and I will be forced to feign shock and ignorance upon “discovering” our true leader’s corpse.


So, you see, friend, as long as you ignore them, you’re perfectly safe! I know it can be a lot to process, especially if you’ve spent your life believing this kind of stuff only happens in movies, but you’re handling it better than most. Why, I’ve seen people run right out the front door into death’s arms after hearing less! I knew I had a good feeling about you.

How many, you ask? Oh, don’t worry yourself with the minor details, I sure don’t. Who knows where my visitors come from or why? You shouldn’t be surprised if you find your own memories a little… fuzzy… while you’re here. I find it’s best not to force it, there’s still so much we don’t know about these strange woods. You just keep ignoring those sounds outside, nothing is really coming down the chimney, not with that fire roaring. They tend to get more desperate as dawn approaches, but they’re harmless long as you don’t pay them no mind.

Time can work a little differently here, especially on a stormy night like this, but I think we have enough time to finish our story. You can tell this is where Pappy Grant starts losing his marbles a little bit, but you really can’t blame the man.


June 17, 1566

It has been days since I last wrote of the events which plague us. When we fled our homeland, never did we dream it possible to find ourselves in worse positions than we started. I rue the day I set sight upon these cursed shores. This is our last night sleeping on these hellish grounds, and I will never step foot upon its soil thereafter.

I made the burial of our dead the highest priority, refusing to discuss matters of business until all were at rest. James was not the only casualty of that horrid night – three women, two men, and one child met similarly violent ends. All were blamed on the demon of the forest, but I fear I am not the only man who succumbed to ghoulish trickery. I am mortified to find myself grateful James’ wife and child died before our voyage, for I know my facade would crumble before them. Oh how the people begged me to take his place! It sickens me how they mistook my reluctance for modesty! I am no man, I am as much monster as the things that stalk our nights.

For only after nightfall do we suffer their torments. Had Martha not seen the ghost of Ester Jones with her own eyes, I would discount the incident as a grieving woman’s delusion. Aside from the feeling of being watched, which I freely admit is possibly paranoia, there have been no occurrences in the daytime. Perhaps the sage held some effectiveness after all, but that is merely guesswork.

I took no chances in learning this. No, the moment burials were complete, I set about moving all the women and children into the church-house under guard of a dozen men. I told them if anyone tried to leave they were to be held by force if necessary. I was determined not another soul would be lost. It comes as no surprise I should fail that endeavor as well!

Old Herbert says these otherworldly beings are most often confined to the land on which they reside. He believes we have invaded something’s territory. Whether we woke something which slept or it lured us here we do not know; but if we leave, it should not follow. Many legends make note of natural boundaries, such as rivers or mountains. I conceived a plan! I would not battle the devil, that is a fool’s game, and I was done playing the fool! Let it have this piece of land, we hope to never see it again!

I commissioned William Reed and Joshua Owens to travel into the south forest with provisions for three nights. Their mission was to find new land, beyond the forest, past the river we have never crossed. They would be well past the river before nightfall, a position many envied. They should return tomorrow to lead us to our new encampment. We have salvaged all we can and are prepared to travel in the morning. How terrible it will be to tell Joshua his brother has died.

I was so sure of my ability to protect them, so cautious! All slept in the church-house that night, crammed together over every square inch. We slept in shifts, always keeping eight men on guard. I slept soundly as eight of our best men, Martin Owens among them, vanished silently into the night. We followed their tracks far as we dared, but knew them lost to the forest. I cannot fathom what false visions could lead eight men placidly to their demise, but find myself preferring ignorance.

Another day passed without incident as we continued dismantling our homes. We built wagons to increase our supply capacity, knowing there will be no chance to return later, but we only have enough men to pull two. With Reed and Owens away, forty souls remained under my care. None openly blamed me for our losses, for none wished to wear the burden of leadership, but I could feel their disappointment as another day slowly faded to night.

We decreased the number on guard to four, having each man tied to a man who slept. The hope was, if a man on guard became entranced by deceit, he would rouse the sleeping man in his attempt to leave. I was to take watch before sunrise, believing it to be the most dangerous. Instead, we all woke to smoke and flame engulfing the church-house.

The doors were barred from the outside. Panic ensued as men tried to break through to no avail. The dry wood burned like kindling as smoke filled our lungs. Mothers threw children through the small windows, but few were able to follow. Thankfully, Betty Davenport kept her wits about her. As others lay gasping and crying, she ran to the wagons, retrieving two axes and a mallet. Enlisting the help of Susan Collins and her son, Timothy, they were able to open one of the doors. It was too late for many, Herbert is dead and his knowledge with him, but twenty-two of us survived thanks to their bravery.

James’ ability to put our people wholly first in his heart was a defining trait of his leadership, but I found myself unable to meet the same standard. Amidst the chaos, I was consumed by worry for only my family, useless to the others. How much shame can one man carry?

We discovered a single, small set of footprints leading to the forest though we are unable to determine their owner. Many of the dead were burned beyond recognition, but knowing which hand the devil used to do his deed is irrelevant. Had we not needed to bury our dead we would have fled across the river this day. As it is, we are a broken people, but we keep moving for sake of the surviving children.

Mine is the only intact family, and I can feel the unspoken resentment brewing in my grief-stricken fellows. I do not blame them, but I fear it is not by luck we are spared. I fear I have become a special project for the evil in this place. Nothing I do will stop it. We will lose more tonight. They understand we mean to leave, and they want to keep us. If Reed and Owens do not return, I will take those who remain beyond the river anyway.

We have decided not to sleep this night. We have filled every available container with water and barricaded ourselves indoors, spread among the remaining houses. Hopefully we will be less dangerous to one another. At the very least we should not be taken by surprise.


June 19, 1566

This will be my final entry, damn these records. I write only to report William and Joshua returned. We were not alone in this New World. All this time a primitive tribe of dark-colored men lived just beyond our borders. The ten of us who survived the night were met with fear and reverence as if we were some otherworldly beings descending upon them. Imagine! Perhaps it for the best they fear us, for they speak not a word of English. With great difficulty we attempt to understand each other by acting out charades. Whatever they think of us, they have fed us and provided shelter so I am grateful beyond words.

I have burned down every timber in that wretched village, but the flames died before reaching the demon’s forest. Martha and Elizabeth are dead. I was miserably accurate in my premonitions. Of course, the blame is solely and completely of mine alone for I fell asleep against all efforts. I woke to Martha strangling Nathaniel, Elizabeth already lost. She insisted the undead were risen, attacking the children. I tried to tear Nate from her grasp, but she had a grip of steel. I tried reason, but her eyes were rolled backward and I could see the life slipping from my son.

I killed her. I had to kill my wife. I revived Nathaniel just barely, though he will wear the marks on his neck for some weeks to come. Of course, that is nothing of the mental anguish he will suffer as a result of his father killing his mother as she tried to strangle him after murdering his sister. Perhaps his recovery would be best served by my absence.

I will destroy that evil place if it is the last thing I do upon this earth. I believe answers lie beyond that missing trail, so that is where I shall go.


August 30, 1574

My name is Sly-Fox but it used to be Nathaniel Cooke, and today my tribe recognizes me as a man. I have received my father’s journal, which he left in the care of Chief Hawk-Eyes. My father returned to the Cursed Woods daily despite our tribe’s insistent warnings, and it proved to be his end.

That forest is full of Bad Medicines. All know death awaits those who seek its power. Father was determined to see them destroyed, but the place drove him mad. He left every dawn and returned every dusk for two weeks before he disappeared forever.

Chief Hawk-Eyes adopted me as a son, and I am happy traveling with the Cherokee. Maybe I will write of my life one day as father did, but now is the time to count coup and earn my place among the hunters.


Yep, those last dozen settled with the Cherokee and life went on. Sly-Fox grew to be a respected man of their tribe and had a family of his own. Over the decades as more white men came, he grew worrisome in his old age. He tasked his sons to return him and their people to that first place they fled beyond the river.

As the country grew, many tried to settle this area by the lake, but none stayed. With each new sacrifice, the land was poisoned, turning the soil infertile and the lake putrid. When survivors fled to Jamestown, they were welcomed without question. As wars for territory savaged the countryside around them, they remained just out of its reach, always in the grips of their own, private war.

So that’s how our little town was founded! I can even point to where they built the first house if you like. Though, let me tell you, it was over a century before they allowed a bridge across the river. They worried something terrible might decide to use it, but nothing has so far. Anyway, I think the storm is finally over if you’re ready to hit the trail…

You know, I was starting to think you weren’t going to ask why we live here instead of in town. Most people start wondering pretty early in the night, before they get a chance to know us. Not everyone is kind as you are, they don’t understand not all spirits are bad. Why, if it weren’t for the likes of us, there wouldn’t be so many to make it to Jamestown in the first place. Now come on, let’s get you out of here before the next rains come. I can’t cross the river with you, but I can see you to the bridge. I’ll show you some… huh? Are you sure? It be no trouble t’all. Well, alright then, if you insist.

It’s been a pleasure, y’all come back now, ya here!


Part 2