Classics Translated

The Dream

W. Somerset Maugham, first published May 1924; translated to modern English, otherwise left exactly the same. 

In August of 1917, I was required to travel from New York to Petrograd for work, and I was told to go through Vladivostok for safer traveling. I arrived in the morning and passed a dull day as best I could; the Trans-Siberian train was scheduled to depart at 9:00 that evening. I ate alone at the station restaurant, but it was crowded so I shared a small table with a funny-looking man. He was a tall, stout Russian, and his pudgy stomach forced him to sit a ways back from the table. His small hands were buried in rolls of fat, and his long, dark, thinning hair was brushed across his bald forehead while his sickly, clean-shaven face and double chin made him look naked. His nose was a funny little button on a mass of flesh, and his black, shining eyes were too small, but his big mouth was red and sensual. His black suit was shabby; it looked as if it had never been cleaned or pressed.

Our service was bad; it was almost impossible to get the waiter’s attention, so the Russian and I started talking. He spoke with an accent, but it wasn’t heavy, and his English was fluent. He asked several questions about me and – since my job required a certain level of caution – my answers were true but vague. I said I was a journalist, and he asked if I wrote fiction. When I answered, “only in my free time,” he began talking about Russian novelists. He was clearly an intelligent and educated man.

By now, we had finally gotten our cabbage soup, and my companion offered to share the small bottle of vodka he removed from his pocket. I do not know whether it was the liquor or the talkative nature of his race that made him share these things, but – without prompting – he told me a good deal about himself. He was noble-born, a lawyer, and a radical. Some trouble with the police had made it necessary for him to spend much of his time abroad, but now he was on his way home. Business had detained him at Vladivostok, but he expected to leave for Moscow in a week, and he would be charmed to see me if I were ever in the area.

“Are you married?” He asked.

I did not think it was any of his business, but I said yes, and he sighed a little. “I am a widower. My wife was Swiss – from Geneva – and a very cultivated woman. She spoke perfect English, German, and Italian; of course, her native language was French. Her Russian was above average, and she only had a slight accent.” He said.

He called to a passing waiter and asked how much longer until the next course. The waiter replied in a reassuring tone, hurried on, and my friend sighed again. “Since the revolution, the wait time in restaurants has been terrible.”

He lit his twentieth cigarette, and I looked at my watch – wondering if I should have a real meal before smoking.

“My wife was a very remarkable woman,” he continued. “She taught languages to the daughters of noblemen at one of the best schools in Petrograd. For a good many years, we lived together on perfectly friendly terms, but she had a jealous temperament; unfortunately, her love became a distraction.”

It was difficult for me to keep a straight face. He was one of the ugliest men I had ever seen. Sometimes, there is a certain charm in fat, red-faced, jolly men, but this gloomy obesity was repulsive.

“I do not pretend that I was faithful to her; she was not young when we married, and we were together for ten years. She was small, thin, and had a bad complexion with a bitter tongue. She was a passionately jealous woman and could not bear for me to be attracted to anyone else. She was not only jealous of other women but also of my friends, my cat and my books. Once, when I was out, she gave away my favorite coat – but I can be just as petty. I will not deny that she was boring, but I accepted her bitter personality as an act of God; I gave no more thought to rebelling against it than I would against bad weather or a head-cold. I denied her accusations as long as possible, and when it became impossible – I shrugged my shoulders and smoked a cigarette.

“The scenes she constantly made did not affect me very much; I led my own life. Sometimes, I wondered if it was passionate love or passionate hate she felt for me. There seems to be a very fine line between love and hate.

“We might still be together now if a very curious thing had not happened. One night, I awoke startled by my wife’s piercing scream and asked her what was the matter.

“She had a frightening nightmare in which I tried to kill her. We lived at the top of a large house, and the spiral stairs left a wide, open space in the center. In her dream – just as we arrived on our floor – I grabbed her and tried to throw her over the railing. It was a six-story fall to the stone floor below and meant certain death.

“She was very shaken. I did my best to soothe her, but for the next few days, she continued bringing it up, and despite my laughter, I could tell she was bothered by it. I could not help thinking of it, either; this dream showed me something I had never suspected. She thought I hated her – that I would be glad to get rid of her; she knew she was insufferable, and eventually, it occurred to her that I was capable of murder. Men’s thoughts are unpredictable; we think of ideas we would be ashamed to confess. Sometimes, I wished she would run away with a lover, and other times – for a sudden, painless death, but never – not ever had I thought to intentionally rid myself of an intolerable burden.

“The dream made an extraordinary impression on us both. It frightened my wife – making her more tolerant and a little less bitter – but when I walked upstairs, it was impossible not to see the railings and think of how easy it would be to make her dream come true. The rails were dangerously low; one quick push, and it would be done. It was hard to put the thought out of my mind. Then, months later, my wife woke me one night. I was very tired and exasperated.

“She was white and trembling from having the dream again. She burst into tears and asked me if I hated her. I swore by all the saints of the Russian calendar that I loved her, and she finally went back to sleep. It was more than I could do – I was left lying awake. I kept seeing her fall over the stair-rails and hearing her shriek before slamming against the stone floor; it made me shiver.”

The Russian stopped, and beads of sweat stood out on his forehead. He told the story well, and I listened closely. He poured the last of his vodka, and swallowed it in a single gulp.

“And how did your wife eventually die?” I asked after a pause.

He took out a dirty handkerchief and wiped his forehead. “By an extraordinary coincidence. Late one night, she was found at the bottom of the stairs with her neck broken.”

“Who found her?”

“She was found by one of the other tenants who came in shortly after the accident.”

“And where were you?” I cannot describe the cunning, malicious look he gave me; his little, black eyes sparkled.

“I was spending the evening with a friend. I did not come home until an hour later.”

At that moment, the waiter brought us the meat we ordered, and the Russian began shoveling enormous bites into his mouth. I was surprised; had he genuinely just admitted to murdering his wife? That obese and sluggish man did not look like a murderer; I could not believe he would have the courage. Perhaps he was making a joke at my expense…

In a few minutes, it was time to catch my train. I left and have not seen the man since, but I have never been able to make up my mind whether he was serious or not.

Classics Translated

The Body-Snatcher

Robert Louis Stephenson, first published 1884; translated to modern English, otherwise left exactly the same. 

Every night, the undertaker, the landlord, Fettes, and myself went to the George Tavern in Debenham. Sometimes, more came, but – rain or snow – the four of us would be in our usual arm-chairs. Fettes was an old Scotsman; he was educated and owned a fair amount of property since he did not spend money on many things. He came to Debenham years ago when he was still young and was eventually accepted as a local. He developed a reputation for being an alcoholic and was well-known for spending his time at the George instead of church. Every evening, he would drink five glasses of rum and loudly rant vague, radical opinions while slapping the table for emphasis. The greatest portion of his visits were spent drunk and depressed with a glass in his right hand. We called him the Doctor because he was supposed to have some medical knowledge and had been known to set a fracture or reduce a dislocation in a pinch, but beyond these minor details, we did not know anything about his character or background.

On this dark, winter night it was past 9:00 when the landlord arrived. There was a sick man in the tavern – a respected business owner suddenly collapsed from a stroke on his way to Parliament, and the man’s even more respected London doctor came as soon as he received the telegraph. It was the first time such a thing happened in Debenham; the new railway had only just opened, and we were all moved by the event.

“He’s here.” the landlord said after filling and lighting his pipe.

“He who?” I asked. “It’s not the doctor, is it?”

“It is.” Our host replied.

“What’s his name?”

“Doctor Macfarlane.” The landlord said.

Fettes was far past his third drink and fairly intoxicated. He was staring around dumbly and nodding off until hearing Macfarlane’s name. He repeated it to himself softly, and then said it aloud with much more emotion.

“Yes, that’s his name – Doctor Wolfe Macfarlane.” The landlord said.

Fettes instantly sobered and became very serious. His eyes widened, and his words were loud and clear. We were all stunned by the sudden change; it was like seeing a man rise from the grave.

“My apologies,” he said. “I’m afraid I have not been paying attention to your conversation. Who is Wolfe Macfarlane?”

Then, after the landlord answered him, he said, “it cannot be – it can’t… but I would like to see him face-to-face.”

The undertaker gasped. “Do you know him?”

“I hope not!” Fettes replied. “But he has a strange name; it’s too fancy. Tell me, landlord, is he old?”

“Well, he’s not a young man, that’s for sure; his hair is white, but he looks younger than you.” Our host answered.

“He is actually three years older, but,” Fettes slapped the table, “rum and sin are what aged my face. Perhaps Macfarlane has an easy-going conscience and good digestion. Conscience! Listen to me – talking like I’m a good, decent Christian! But no, I’m not; I never spoke poorly of him, though Voltaire might have if he’d been in my shoes.”

“I assume you do not share the landlord’s good opinion of the doctor.” I remarked after a somewhat awful pause.

Fettes paid no attention to me.

“Yes,” he said, suddenly, “I must see him face-to-face.”

After another pause, a door on the first floor was slammed and footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs. “That’s the doctor; you can catch him if you hurry!” The landlord exclaimed.

The door to the old George Inn was only two steps away from the tavern. The wide, oak staircase almost ended in the street; there was room for a Turkish rug between the threshold and last step but nothing more. This small space was lit up brilliantly by the light on the stairway, the porch-lamp, and the warm radiance of the bar-room window; the George advertised itself brightly to passers-by in the cold street. We trailed slightly behind and watched Fettes meet Macfarlane face-to-face. The doctor was alert and vigorous; his white hair set off his pale features, and he was richly dressed in fine fabrics. He wore a gold, jewel-covered pocket-watch and a broad, lilac-speckled tie but carried his fur coat over his arm. His appearance left no doubt of his social status, and it was surprising to see our bald, dirty, pimpled bar-fly confront him at the bottom of the stairs.

“Macfarlane!” He said somewhat loudly.

The great doctor stopped short of the fourth step; he seemed surprised – if not slightly insulted – to be addressed in such a way.

“Toddy Macfarlane!” Fettes repeated.

The London doctor almost staggered. He stared at the dirty man for a brief second – shot a frightened glance behind him – and then whispered, “Fettes! It’s You!”

“Aye, it’s me! Did you think I was dead, too? It’s not so easy to forget our history.” Fettes said.

“Hush, hush!” The doctor exclaimed. “This is so unexpected; you look terrible – I hardly recognized you at first! I am overjoyed to see you, but we must say goodbye for now; my carriage is waiting, and I cannot be late for the train. Give me your address, and I will get in touch soon; we must do something for you, Fettes. I fear you are in a bad way, but we’ll figure it out like the good old days.

“Money!” Fettes cried. “Money from you?! The money I got from you is lying in the rain where I left it!”

Dr. Macfarlane had felt superior and confident, but this adamant refusal confused him all over again. A horrible, ugly look flashed across his face. “My dear man,” he said, “do as you please; it was not my intention to offend you. I will leave you my address, however—”

“I don’t want it – I don’t want to know where you live.” Fettes interrupted. “I heard your name and feared it might be you; I wanted to know if there was a God after all, and now, I’m sure there isn’t. Begone!” He remained standing between the stairs and doorway – forcing the doctor to walk around him.

Macfarlane hesitated at the thought of being humiliated, but there was a dangerous glimmer in his eyes. He noticed the carriage driver was watching the unusual scene from the street, and then he caught a glimpse of our little group huddled by the bar. The presence of so many witnesses convinced him to flee; he tried to squeeze by Fettes – brushing against the wall as he darted towards the door like a snake – but the Scotsman grabbed his arm. “Have you seen it again?” Even though he whispered, his words were painfully clear.

The rich, London doctor cried out sharply as he pulled away and ran out with his hands covering his head. Before any of us thought to make a move – the carriage was already rattling toward the station. The episode was over like a dream, but it had left proof of its existence. Later, a servant found Wolfe’s fine, gold glasses broken on the doorstep, and that very night – we all stood by the window with a sober Fettes looking pale and determined.

“God save us, Mr. Fettes! What in the world is going on? You have been saying strange things.” The landlord was the first to regain his senses.

Fettes turned to look us each in the face. “See if you can hold your tongues. Macfarlane is not a safe man to cross; those who did have already come to regret it.” Then he said goodnight and left into the black night without even finishing his third drink.

The three of us returned to our usual places by the big, red fire and four, clear candles. As we discussed what happened, our initial shock soon changed into curiosity. We stayed in the old George later than ever, and before leaving, each man had his own theory he was determined to prove. Suddenly, our worlds revolved around digging through our condemned friend’s past in order to discover his secret. It is nothing to brag about, but my theory was better than the others; I am probably the only man alive who could tell you this unnatural chain of events.


In his younger days, Fettes studied medicine in Edinburgh and was a quick learner. He was always polite and courteous in the presence of his teachers, and they quickly recognized him as an intelligent student who listened closely. As strange as it sounded when first hearing it – he was quite popular and pleased with his appearance in those days. At that time, there was an anatomy professor whom I will refer to by the letter K since his name is well known. He skulked through Edinburgh’s streets in disguise while the mob from that serial killer’s execution screamed for his partner’s blood; he was partly known for his own professional career, and partly because of a rival college professor. The students used his name as a swear, and many believed Fettes was on the road to success when he became one of the man’s favorites. Mr. K enjoyed a social lifestyle as an accomplished teacher; he liked a sly illusion as much as careful preparation, and Fettes deserved recognition in both regards – by his second year, he was a semi-regular teacher’s assistant.

Being in charge of the theater and lecture-hall were his main duties; he was responsible for making sure they were clean, keeping the other students in line, and handling the corpses they received. This last part was a very delicate ordeal. Mr. K housed him in the same building as the dissecting-rooms; after a night of turbulent pleasures – while his hands still shook and his sight was still blurry – he would crawl out of bed in the black hours before dawn to deal with the dirty, desperate thugs who supplied the bodies. He would open the door for the men who are now infamous throughout the land and help them with their tragic burdens; he paid their sordid prices, and stayed with the dead after they were gone. Then, he would sleep for another couple of hours to refresh himself for the next day.

The young man was completely unaware of those outside his small world. He was incapable of caring about another’s fate or misfortune, and he constantly fell victim to his own low ambitions. Though he was often cold and selfish – he had just enough self-control to stop himself from becoming a drunk or getting into legal trouble. Most of that motivation stemmed from how highly he valued the opinion of his professor and classmates; he had no desire to fail and enjoyed success with his studies. Everyday, he performed magnificently for Mr. K and rewarded himself with nights of loud parties.

The shortage of bodies was as troubling to him as it was to his teacher. The large class kept running out, and it was necessary to replace them no matter how unpleasant or dangerous the consequences were. Mr. K’s policy was to never ask questions; he told his assistants it was for the sake of their consciences. He used to say, “they bring the bodies, and we pay the price.” The professor did not allow himself to understand they were murder victims; he would have been horrified if those actual words were ever spoken aloud, but the casual way he discussed such a dark matter was offensive in itself.

Fettes often noticed the bodies were unusually fresh, and the thugs delivering them always wore ugly, threatening looks. He began putting things together in his mind but did not want to believe it. He only had three duties – taking what was brought, paying the price, and averting his eyes from any crime evidence.

One November morning, his silence was put to the test. He had been up all night with a throbbing toothache – pacing his room like a caged animal or throwing fits on his bed. Not long after he finally fell into an uneasy slumber, he was forced to receive a new delivery. The moon was bright, the wind was bitter cold, and the town still slept, but the day would soon begin. The thugs arrived later than usual, and they seemed more eager to leave than ever. Fettes led them upstairs, and their grumbling, Irish voices sounded like a dream; he leaned against the wall, dozing, as they removed the body from its sack. He had to shake himself awake to find the men’s money, and that was when he saw the dead face. With a slight gasp, he took two steps closer and raised his candle.

“God Almighty! That’s Jane Galbraith!” He cried.

The men said nothing, but they moved closer to the door.

I’m telling you, I know her,” he continued. “She was alive and healthy yesterday. It’s impossible for her to be dead; you should have gotten this body fairly.”

“Sir, you’re completely mistaken.” One of the men said – but the other glared at Fettes menacingly, and demanded the money immediately.

It was impossible to misunderstand the threat or exaggerate the danger. The young man’s heart failed him; he stuttered some excuses, counted out their pay, and watched his hateful visitors leave. As soon as they were gone, he hurried back to confirm his doubts, and there were a dozen unmistakable features he could use to identify the girl; they had been joking together only the day before, and now she had wounds that were clear signs of violence. He panicked and ran to his room where he seriously considered the weight of Mr. K’s instructions and the danger to himself; in the end, he was still sorely confused and decided to wait for advice from the older class assistant.

This was a young doctor, Wolfe Macfarlane; he was clever and dishonest – all of the reckless students favored him. He had traveled to study abroad, and his manners were agreeable but a little forward. He was a master on the stage and equally skilled with ice-skates or golf-clubs; his fine clothes were bold, and he rode a strong trotting-horse to complete his glorious appearance. The positions he and Fettes held required them to work closely together, and they became friends as a result. When bodies were scarce, they would drive Macfarlane’s wagon to a country cemetery where they could desecrate some lonely graves and deliver their prize to the dissecting-room before dawn.

On that particular morning, Macfarlane arrived earlier than usual; Fettes met him on the stairs, told him the story, and showed him the previous night’s delivery.

Macfarlane examined the marks on her body. “Yes,” he said with a nod; “it looks fishy.”

“Well, what should I do?” Fettes asked.

“Do? Do you want to do anything? I would think the less that’s said, the better.”

“Someone else might recognize her,” Fettes objected. “Everyone knows who she is.”

“Let’s hope not,” Macfarlane said. “If anybody does – you’ll simply say you didn’t, and that will be the end of it. This has been going on too long. If you say something now, you’ll get K into horrible trouble, and the two of us will be in the same boat. How would any of us look? What would we say for ourselves? We know one thing for certain – that all of these bodies have been murdered.”

“Macfarlane!” Fettes cried.

“Come on! You’ve surely suspected it yourself!” Macfarlane sneered.

“Suspecting is one thing—”

“—And proof is another. Yes, I know; and I’m as sorry as you are about this,” Macfarlane said, tapping the body with his cane. “The best thing for me is not to recognize it, and I don’t.” He added coolly. “You can, if you want; I won’t tell you not to. I think most well-traveled men would make the same decision, and I believe that is what K would expect from us. Why do you think he chose us for his assistants? It’s because he didn’t want old wives.”

His tone was effective, and Fettes agreed to do as Macfarlane said. The unfortunate girl’s body was promptly dissected, and no one seemed to recognize her.


One afternoon after work, Fettes went to a popular tavern and saw Macfarlane sitting with a stranger. He was small, dark, and very pale with coal-black eyes. Though he looked like a refined, intelligent man – he proved to be vulgar and stupid. While his control over Macfarlane was remarkable; he barked orders like a Colonel, became enraged over minor inconveniences, and insulted the people serving him. This very offensive person was named Gray, and he took an immediate liking to Fettes; he bought him drinks and praised him with unusual compliments. If a tenth of what he claimed was true – he was a loathsome scoundrel, but the young Scotsman’s pride was tickled by the experienced man’s attention.

“I’m a pretty bad fellow myself, but Macfarlane is, too; I call him Toddy.” Gray remarked, “Toddy, order your friend another glass and shut the door. Toddy hates me. Oh yes, Toddy, you do!”

“Don’t call me that ridiculous name.” Macfarlane growled.

“Listen to him! Did you ever see boys play the knife game? He would like to do that over my entire body.” Gray said.

“We doctors have a better way than that,” Fettes said. “When we dislike a dead friend, we dissect him.”

Macfarlane looked up sharply, unimpressed with the joke.

The afternoon passed, and Gray invited Fettes to join them for dinner. He ordered a feast so delicious that the whole tavern took notice, and afterwards, he forced Wolfe to pay the bill. It was late when they left; Gray was very drunk, Macfarlane was sobered by his anger, and Fettes went home with his worries temporarily replaced by the various liquors singing in his head.

The next day Macfarlane did not come to class, and Fettes smiled – imagining that he was still suffering in Gray’s company. As soon as class ended, Fettes went searching for his companions but returned to his room and went to bed early when he could not find them.

At 4:00AM he woke to the well-known signal indicating a body delivery. At the door, he was shocked to find Macfarlane with one of those long, ghastly packages he knew so well. “What? Have you been out alone? How did you manage?” He cried.

Macfarlane roughly silenced him – insisting they get to work. When they got the body onto the table upstairs, Macfarlane started to leave but hesitated. “You better look at the face,” he said in a strained tone. “You just better…” He repeated as Fettes only stared at him in wonder.

“But where did you get it… and how?” Fettes cried.

“Look at the face,” was his only answer.

Fettes was filled with many strange doubts. He looked from the young doctor to the body, and back again until – at last – he did as he was told. He had almost expected to see this, yet the shock was cruel. To see the lively man he left at a warm tavern the night before now lying naked and rigid on that table bothered even his conscience. A Latin phrase meaning ‘it’s my turn to die today – yours is tomorrow’, echoed in his mind; two people he knew had ended up on those icy tables, but they were only secondary concerns. Wolfe was his priority; he was completely unprepared for such a thing and could not face his friend. He was absolutely speechless and dared not look into his eyes.

Macfarlane was the one to speak first. He quietly approached from behind and laid his hand gently but firmly on Fettes’ shoulder. “Richardson can have the head.” He said.

Richardson was a student who had been anxious for a head to dissect. When there was no answer, the murderer continued. “Speaking of business, you must pay me; the books must be balanced.”

Fettes found the ghost of his own voice. “Pay you!” He cried. “Pay you for that?!”

“Yes, of course – you must. You dare not take it for nothing; it would put us both at risk. This is another situation like Jane Galbraith’s. The more things that are wrong – the more lies we must tell to hide them. Where does old K keep his money?” Macfarlane replied.

“There.” Fettes answered hoarsely, pointing to a cupboard in the corner.

“Then give me the key.” Macfarlane said calmly, holding out his hand.

There was a moment’s hesitation, and then it was done. Macfarlane could not suppress a nervous twitch of immense relief as he felt the key between his fingers. He opened the cupboard and retrieved the pen, ink, and paper-book to pay himself.

“Look here,” he said, “there is the payment – proof of your good faith, and the first step to your security. Now, you only have to keep it. Enter the payment in your book, and then your part is done.”

The next few seconds were agony for Fettes, but in weighing his fears it was the easiest to endure. Anything seemed preferable to an argument with Macfarlane at that moment. After setting down his candle, he entered the date, description, and transaction amount with a steady hand.

“And now, it’s only fair that you should keep the money. I’ve had my share already. By the way, I’m ashamed to speak of it, but there’s a rule of conduct in this case. When a man has a few extra coins in his pocket – there should be no splurging, no buying expensive text-books, and no paying off old debts; borrow – don’t lend.” Wolfe said.

“Macfarlane,” Fettes began hoarsely, “I have put my neck in a noose to help you.”

“To help me?” Wolfe cried. “Oh, come on! As far as I can see, you did what you had to in self-defense. Suppose I got into trouble – where would you be? This matter of Mr. Gray is clearly related to the case of Miss Galbraith. You can’t start something like that and then stop; you must keep going, and that’s the truth. No rest for the wicked.”

The unhappy student’s soul sank into a horrible pit of despair at fate’s treachery. “My God! What have I done? When did I start? I only wanted to be made a class assistant – where’s the harm in that? There were others who wanted the position; would they be where I am now?” He cried.

“My dear man,” Macfarlane said, “you are such a child! What harm has come to you? What harm can come as long as you stay quiet? Do you know what this life is? There are two kinds of people – the lions and the lambs. If you’re a lamb, you’ll eventually be lying on one of these tables like Gray or Jane Galbraith; if you’re a lion, you’ll live and drive a horse like K and myself – and like every man with any wit or courage. It’s hard at first, but look at K! You’re clever, you have spunk; K and I like you. You were born to lead the hunt, and three days from now you’ll be laughing at all this anxiety.”

With that, Wolfe left to get home before daylight, and Fettes was left alone with his regrets. He understood the miserable danger of his situation, and he was dismayed to find there was no limit to his weakness; each concession had pushed him closer to becoming Macfarlane’s helpless accomplice. He would have given the world to be a little braver, but he did not realize there was still time to be brave; Jane Galbraith’s name in the record-book kept him quiet.

Hours passed; the class began to arrive, and pieces of Gray were handed out to students without remark. Richardson was happy with the head, and before class ended, Fettes trembled with relief to see how close they were to safety.

For two days he watched the evidence disappear with increasing joy. On the third day, Macfarlane appeared. He said he had been sick, but he was filled with energy when he instructed the students. He gave particularly detailed advice to Richardson who was very encouraged by the praise.

Before the week’s end, Macfarlane’s prophecy had been fulfilled – Fettes got over his fears. He arranged a story in his mind that built his courage and allowed him to look back on the events with an unhealthy pride. He saw little of his accomplice; they met in class and received their orders from Mr. K together. Sometimes, they spoke a few words in private, and Wolfe was always very kind and jolly – but it was obvious he avoided any reference of their shared secret. Even when Fettes whispered that he had become a lion and left the lambs, Macfarlane only smiled and signaled for him to hold his tongue.

Eventually, Mr. K ran low on bodies yet again, and the pair were forced to work together. They were getting anxious; this teacher expected to always be well supplied. That is when they heard of a burial in the Glencorse graveyard. The place has not changed much over the years; it is located on a crossroad – far from the residential areas and buried deep in the foliage of cedar trees. The only sounds that disturbed the silence around the rural church were the neighboring sheep, two small streams on either side, wind blowing through huge, flowering chestnuts, and a bell that rang every Sunday.

Grave Robbers could not be deterred by the sanctities of church; it was their job to desecrate the old tombs. They preferred country neighborhoods – where love is more tenacious, and entire parishes are related – for their ease and safety. It takes time to dig up a grave with only a haunting lamp-light to see by. The coffin must be forced open, the outer wrappings torn off, the clothing removed, and then comes the hours of rattling around in a wagon on moonless backroads.

Fettes and Macfarlane were planning to go after the grave in that quiet, green resting-place like two vultures swooping down on a dying lamb. At midnight, a farmer’s sixty-year-old wife – who had only been known for good butter and great conversation – would be carried to the city; her place in the family plot would be empty forever, and the most intimate parts of her body would be exposed to every curious student.

Late one afternoon, the pair set out on their mission; they wrapped themselves up in cloaks and took along a large bottle of liquor. The cold, dense, lashing rain was non-stop, and sometimes, the wind would blow, but the sheets of falling water blocked most of it. Even with the bottle it was a sad and silent drive to Penicuik where they planned to spend the evening. They stopped to hide their tools in a bush near the churchyard, and again at the Fisher’s Tryst to sit by the fire and balance their nips of whisky with a glass of ale. When they were finished, the wagon was put away, the horse was fed, and the two young doctors sat in a private room having the best dinner and wine the house offered. The bright lights, the warm fire, and the rain beating on the window made the meal even more enjoyable. With every drink, the men grew friendlier to one another, and soon, Macfarlane handed a little pile of gold to his partner.

“A thank you; having a friend along will make our time here pass quickly.” He said.

Fettes pocketed the money and applauded the sentiment. “You are a philosopher,” he cried. “I was an ass until I met you. Between you and K – by the Lord Harry – you’ll make a man of me yet!”

“Of course we will,” Macfarlane happily agreed. “I tell you, it took a man to back me up the other morning. There are some big, brawling, forty-year-old cowards who would have turned sick, but you kept your head – I watched you.”

“Well, why not? It didn’t concern me. There was nothing to gain on the one side but, on the other I could count on your gratitude, you see?” Fettes boasted, slapping his pocket so the gold pieces rang.

Macfarlane felt a touch of alarm at these unpleasant words. He may have regretted teaching his young friend so well, but he had no time to interrupt as Fettes continued his rant.

“The great thing is not being afraid. Between you and me – I don’t want to hang – that’s only practical. Hell, God, Devil, right, wrong, sin, crime – these are all curiosities that may frighten boys, but men – like you and me – despise them. Here’s to the memory of Gray!”

By now, it was growing late. As requested, the wagon was brought around with both lamps shining brightly, and the young men paid their bill before setting off. They announced they were heading for Peebles and drove in that direction until they were past the last houses; then, they extinguished the lamps before turning down a backroad toward Glencorse. The only sound was that of their own passage and the relentless, pouring rain. It was pitch-black; occasionally, a white gate or stone would guide them for a short distance, but mostly they advanced one, slow step at a time as they stumbled to their isolated destination. In the sunken woods that traverse the graveyard – the last glimmer of light failed them, and it became necessary to re-light one of the wagon’s lanterns. Under the dripping trees and surrounded by huge, moving shadows – they arrived at the scene of their unholy labors.

They were both experienced at their job and proficient with the shovel; they were hardly at it for twenty minutes when they were rewarded by a dull rattle on the coffin lid. At the same moment, Macfarlane hurt his hand on a stone, and carelessly threw it over his head. The grave they stood in was close to the edge of a steep bank above a stream, and the lamp had been propped against a nearby tree to help brighten the area. Purely by chance, the stone’s aim proved true; there was a crash of broken glass, and everything went dark as the lantern bounced loudly down the bank – occasionally colliding with trees. A few stones were hit along the way and rattled behind it until they were all stopped by the stream. Then, all was silent once again. They listened for any hint of sound, but there was only rain to be heard; it was now fully at the wind’s mercy and falling steadily over miles of open country.

They were so close to the end of their miserable task, they decided it was best to finish in the dark. The coffin was broken open, and the body was placed in the sack and carried to the wagon; one man also got in with it to hold it in place, and the other led the horse by groping along walls and bushes until they reached the wider road by Fisher’s Tryst. They rejoiced over the faint glow there like it was daylight, and after getting the horse to a good pace – they merrily continued towards town.

They were both soaked to the skin, and as the wagon jumped among the deep ruts, the body that sat propped between them fell onto the men. Each time the horrid thing made contact with one – he instinctively pushed it away, and the process began to anger both parties. Macfarlane made a rude joke about the farmer’s wife, but it came out hollow and was dropped in silence. Still their unnatural passenger bumped from side-to-side, and the head would lay on their shoulders while the drenched sack flapped coldly on their faces. A creeping chill began to possess Fettes’ soul. He stared at the bundle, and it somehow seemed larger. All over the country-side, the farm dogs greeted them with tragic howls, and his mind was filled with a paranoia that some kind of unnatural miracle had occurred – that the dead body had undergone some kind of change.

“For God’s sake,” he said, making a great effort to speak. “For God’s sake, we need a light!”

Macfarlane seemed equally affected; though he did not reply, he stopped the horse, got down, and proceeded to light the remaining lamp. They had gone no farther than the crossroad to Auchenclinny. The rain still poured, and it was difficult to make a light in dark, wet conditions. When the flickering blue flame was finally transferred to the wick, a wide circle of misty brightness surrounded the wagon, and the two young men could see the thing they brought along with them. The rain conformed the rough sack to the body’s outline underneath; the head and shoulders were distinct, yet something almost spectral caught their eyes.

For some time, Macfarlane stood motionless, holding up the lamp. The body looked like it was wrapped in a wet sheet, and Fettes’ face went white with an impossible fear flooding his brain. Another minute passed, but his partner spoke first.

“That is not a woman.” Macfarlane said in a hushed voice.

“It was a woman when we put her in.” Fettes whispered.

“Hold that lamp, I must see her face.” Macfarlane said.

As Fettes took the lamp, Wolfe untied the sack and pulled it down. The light fell onto the dark features and smooth-shaven cheeks of a very familiar face – one often seen in both of these young men’s dreams. A wild yell rang into the night as each leapt into the road. The lamp fell to the ground with a crash, and the horse bounded off toward Edinburgh at a gallop – terrified by the commotion. The wagon’s sole occupant was the long dead and dissected Mr. Gray.

Horror Fiction

Killers for Sale

🚧Trigger Warning for S. Assault🚧


The CreepyPasta

[Auctioneer]

Greetings!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Lawrence Edwards]

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

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

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

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

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

[Auctioneer]

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

[Lawrence Edwards]

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

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

[Auctioneer]

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

[Lawrence Edwards]

Sick piece-of-shit!…

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

[Auctioneer]

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

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

[Lawrence Edwards]

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

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

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

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

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

[Auctioneer]

Yessir, I can…

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

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

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

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

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

[Lawrence Edwards]

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

[Auctioneer]

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

[Lawrence Edwards]

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

[Auctioneer]

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

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


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

[Jason Laird]

… Dad?

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

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

Well?

[Auctioneer]

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

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

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

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

[Jason Laird]

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

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

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

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

[Auctioneer]

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


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

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

[Shelly Perkins]

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

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

[Auctioneer]

Frank; two-second contact, please… Excellent.

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

My apologies, Ms. Perkins; please, continue.

[Shelly Perkins]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Auctioneer]

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

[5 minutes later]

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


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


[Saturday]

[Auctioneer]

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

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

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

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

[Shelly Perkins]

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

[Auctioneer]

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

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

[Shelly Perkins]

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

[Auctioneer]

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

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


Classics Translated

Chickamauga

Ambrose Bierce, first published in 1891; translated to modern English, otherwise left exactly the same.




Hi there readers! This one is really dark. A young boy is lost in the forest during the aftermath of a Civil War battle. I simply want to give fair warning to any who may wish to avoid gore and child endangerment. If either of these topics bother you, please Google a quick description this story before proceeding. Otherwise, thanks for being here, and I hope you know how amazing you are!

One sunny, autumn afternoon, a child strayed away from its home and entered the forest unnoticed. The boy came from a long line of adventurers and conquerors; he was happy for the chance to explore. From their earliest generations, his ancestors made their way over two continents, across the great sea, and into a third; war was their heritage.

The child was six-years-old and the son of a poor farmer. His father had been a soldier when he was a younger man; he fought against naked savages and followed his country’s flag south into civilized cities. He loved military books and still possessed a warrior’s spirit. The boy understood enough to make himself a wooden sword that he carried proudly – even if it was hardly identifiable to others. He often practiced with it in a sunny clearing while defeating invisible enemies, and this day, he found himself on the edge of a wide, shallow stream. The rapid waters blocked his advance against a foe that somehow flew across with ease, but the inspiring warrior would not be defeated. Instead, he found a place where the boulders were grouped close enough to jump across; then, he was finally able to defeat the enemy. With the battle won, protocol demanded returning to base, but like many great conquerors, he could not deny his lust for war.

Continuing from the creek, he suddenly found himself facing an even stronger enemy. A rabbit appeared on the path; it sat upright with its ears at attention, causing the child to scream and flee in an unknown direction. He yelled for his mother – crying and stumbling as his tender skin was torn by the cruel foliage. His little heart raced in terror; he was breathless, blind with tears, and lost in the forest! For more than an hour, he wandered through the tangled undergrowth until he was too tired to continue. A few yards from the stream, he laid down in a narrow space between two rocks and sobbed himself to sleep while still grasping his toy sword; it was no longer a weapon, but a companion. The birds sang merrily above his head, the squirrels ran from tree to tree, and somewhere far away was the sound of strange, muffled thunder. Back at the little plantation, men were hastily searching the fields, and a mother’s heart was breaking for her missing child.


Hours later, the boy woke at dusk and rose to his feet. He felt the evening chill in his bones, and he was frightened but no longer cried. After struggling through the undergrowth, he came to a more open area; on his right was the creek, and on his left was a gentle slope decorated with sporadic trees. A thin, ghostly mist spread along the water, and it scared him away. Instead of crossing back over the stream, he ran toward the dark, gloomy forest.

Suddenly, he saw a strange object moving ahead of him and mistook it for a large animal; he was not sure what kind, but thought it might be a bear. He had only seen pictures of them, and – being unaware of how dangerous they are – he vaguely wished to meet one. Then, something in the object’s shape or the way it moved told him it was not a bear after all, and his curiosity turned into fear. The boy remained still as it slowly came closer, and he grew braver when he saw the thing did not have long, menacing, rabbit ears. It is possible his mind was half-conscious of something familiar in the way it struggled along awkwardly, but before it was close enough to positively identify – he saw that others were following it.

There were many more approaching from both sides; the whole area was covered with them – all heading toward the stream. They were men, and they were crawling; some only used their hands as they dragged their legs along, and some only used their knees as their arms hung limply at their sides. Some tried to stand but fell back down; they did nothing the normal way, and the only thing they did have in common was the direction they traveled.

Some were alone while others were in pairs or small groups; they came through the gloom – occasionally pausing while others crept past. They came by the hundreds from as far as he could see, and the infinite forest was black behind them; the very ground seemed to be moving toward the creek. Occasionally, some men that paused would die, and some made strange hand gestures, grabbed their heads, or raised their palms to the sky like men do in church.

The child did not notice all of this, but it is what an adult would have observed; the boy only saw men crawling like babies. He was not frightened of them, but they were dressed in strange clothes. He walked among them freely, going from one to another and looking into their faces with childish curiosity. Each one was remarkably white, and many were streaked with red. Their color – and perhaps their disturbing behavior – reminded him of a clown he saw at the circus last summer, and he laughed as he watched them. These maimed and bleeding men crept along as ignorant of him as he was to their ghastly situation. To the boy, it was a merry spectacle. He had seen his father’s slaves do similar things while pretending to be horses for his amusement. Next, he approached one of the crawling men from behind, and jumped on his back.

The man fell flat to the ground, struggled to rise, and violently threw the small child to the ground. Then, he turned to show the boy his missing lower jaw; there was a great, red gap fringed with hanging shreds of flesh and splintered bone between his upper teeth and throat. His unnaturally shaped nose, absent chin, and fierce eyes made this man resemble a vulture covered in the blood of its food. He rose to his knees and shook his fist at the boy; terrified at last, the child ran to a nearby tree, climbed up, and looked at the situation more seriously. As he watched, the mass continued forward like a swarm of black beetles – dragging themselves slowly and painfully down the slope in absolute silence.

The haunted landscape began to brighten. Beyond the stream, a strange red light was shining, but the trees blocked out the view of its source. The eerie glow gave the creeping men monstrous shadows that imitated their movements on the grass, made the metal in their clothing sparkle, and tinted their faces with a red hue that highlighted their horrible injuries. The child instinctively turned toward the growing spectacle and moved down the slope with his mangled companions. He easily passed them in just a few moments, and – wooden sword still in hand – positioned himself in the lead where he solemnly directed the march; slowing to match their pace, he occasionally turned to ensure his soldiers did not fall behind. Surely, such a leader has never before had such followers.


As they marched closer to the water, they began to see various items scattered on the ground, but the boy did not think they were important. There were tightly rolled blankets bound with string, heavy knapsacks, broken rifles, and other things retreating troops often leave behind. The lowlands near the creek were trampled into mud by men and horses, and an older, more observant person would have noticed these footprints pointed in both directions; the ground had been passed over twice.

A few hours before – thousands of these desperate, wounded men and their more fortunate comrades had charged into the forest. They divided into battalions and swarmed past the sleeping child on every side; some had almost ran him over, but their loud noises did not wake him. They fought a battle very close to where he lay, yet he never heard the roar of their muskets or the captain shouting commands. He slept through it all, holding his little, wooden sword tight, but he was completely ignorant of the great struggle happening around him as countless sacrificed themselves for victory.

The fire beyond the tree-line on the other side of the creek was spreading, and the ground beneath its canopy of smoke glowed eerily. It turned the thin line of mist over the stream into golden vapors while the boulders gleamed with streaks of blood; those with less serious injuries had stained them when previously crossing, and the child crossed them eagerly as he continued toward the fire.

Standing on the opposite bank, he turned around to look at his marching companions. The stronger ones were already swimming across – pushing themselves to the limit with their faces plunged into the water. Three or four lay motionless and appeared to be headless; the boy’s eyes widened in wonder – even his naive ignorance could not accept such a situation. In reality, they had drowned; after drinking their fill – the men did not have enough strength to lift their heads out of the stream. Behind those, the open areas of the forest showed the child as many figures in his grim army as he started with, but not nearly as many were moving. He waved his cap for encouragement, and smiling, he pointed his weapon at a pillar of fire’s guiding light.

Confident of his forces, the boy entered the tree-line, easily passed through the red light, climbed a fence, and ran across a field – occasionally turning back to check his soldiers’ progress as he approached the burning ruins of a house. Everything was destroyed! Not one living thing could be seen, but he did not care about that. He enjoyed the spectacle and happily danced along with the wavering flames. He ran around collecting fuel, but every object was too heavy for him to throw, and the heat prevented him from getting closer. Frustrated, he flung his sword into the fire as an act of surrender to nature’s superior forces; his military career was finished.

When he turned away, he saw some buildings that looked oddly familiar – as if he had seen them in a dream. He was staring at them in wonder when the entire plantation and surrounding forest seemed to pivot. His little world spun, and he recognized the burning building as his own home!

For a moment, he stood frozen in shock at the realization, then he ran stumbling halfway around the ruin. There, easily seen by the light of the fire, was a dead woman; her white face was turned upward, her hands were clutching fistfuls of grass, her clothes were torn, and her long, dark hair was tangled with clotted blood. Most of her forehead was torn away, and her gray brain was protruding from a jagged hole in her temple that overflowed with frothy, crimson bubbles; it was the work of a shell.

The child moved his little hands in wild, uncertain gestures. He uttered a series of gibberish and indescribable cries that sounded like a cross between a chattering ape and a gobbling turkey; it was a startling, unholy sound. The boy, who was a deaf mute, stood motionless – his lips quivering as he looked down at the wreckage.

Horror Fiction

Born on 13

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


The CreepyPasta

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

EIT 0-3-7


JAMIE:

Hello everyone, I’m Jamie—

GROUP:

Hi Jamie! [light applause]

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

[group laughs softly]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[group laughs]

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

[group commiserates]

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

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

Alright, everyone, take five. [recording stopped]


FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

[group commiserates]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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


JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

JAMIE:

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

FATHER PAUL:

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

[group chatters quietly as they leave]


SPECIAL AGENT PAUL CLARK:

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

Test Results: Success

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

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

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

[Recording Stopped]

Classics Translated

Bluebeard

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Original art I found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are they my brothers?”

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

“Are you coming down?” Shouted Bluebeard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classics Translated

The Tell-Tale Heart

Edgar Allen Poe, originally published January 1843; translated to Modern English, otherwise exactly the same. 

Who’s ready to hear another phenomenal narration by my amazing friend, Danie Dreadful? YouTube
Illustration by Harry Clarke

It is true! I had been – and am – very, dreadfully nervous, but why would you say that I am crazy? The disease had sharpened my senses – not destroyed or dulled them. Above all was the acute hearing; I heard all things in the heavens and on the earth, and I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I crazy? Listen! and observe how sanely – how calmly – I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how the idea first entered my mind, but once it was there – it haunted me day and night. It was not because of an objective or hatred; I loved the old man. He had never wronged or insulted me; I had no desire for his gold. I think it was his eye! Yes, that was it! One of his eyes was like a vulture’s; it was pale blue and covered with film. Whenever it fell on me, my blood ran cold; very gradually, I made up my mind to take his life and be rid of the eye forever.

Now, this is the point where you think I am crazy. Madmen know nothing, but you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded with caution and foresight; no one could have guessed my intentions when I went to work! I had never been kinder to the old man than the week before I killed him. Every night – around midnight – I turned his doorknob and opened it very gently! When I had an opening big enough, I put in a dark, closed lantern before sticking in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I stuck it in! I moved very, very slowly, so the old man would not wake. It took an hour to place my head in far enough to see him lying on his bed. Ha! Would a madman have been this smart? Then, when my head was in the room, I opened the lantern with extreme caution to avoid the creaking hinges; I did it just enough for a single, thin ray to fall upon the vulture’s eye. I did this for seven long nights, but the eye was always closed, making it impossible to do the job; it was not the old man who irritated me but his Evil Eye. Every morning, I went into his room with confidence and spoke to him fearlessly – calling him by name in a friendly tone, and asking how his night was. He would have been very insightful to suspect that every night – just at twelve – I watched him sleep.

On the eighth night, I was even more cautious than usual when opening the door. A clock’s minute hand moves faster than mine did. Never before had I felt the extent of my own power and wisdom. I could hardly contain my feelings of victory. There I was, opening the door little by little, and he had no clue of my secret actions or thoughts. I laughed at the idea, and he may have heard me; he moved suddenly, as if startled. You may think that I withdrew – but no. His room was pitch black; the shutters were closed for fear of robbers, and – knowing he could not see the open door – I kept pushing on it steadily.

My head was in, and I was about to open the lantern when my thumb slipped on the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up, crying out. “Who’s there?”

I stayed quite still and said nothing. I did not move a muscle for a whole hour, and I did not hear him lie down. He was sitting up in the bed, listening – exactly as I have done night after night – listening to the signs of imminent death.

Then, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief – oh, no! It was the low, muffled sound that comes from the bottom of the soul when it is filled with anguish; I knew the sound well. Many nights – at midnight – when all the world slept, it came from my own chest; it deepened with dreadful echoes and distracting fears. I knew what the old man felt and pitied him, although I laughed in my heart. He had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he rolled in the bed, and his fear had been growing ever since. He tried to convince himself it was nothing, but he could not; he tried thinking, “It is only the wind in the chimney, or a mouse crossing the floor, or a cricket chirping.”

He tried to comfort himself with these thoughts, but his efforts were in vain. All in vain, because Death’s black shadow had already consumed its victim, and it was the sorrowful influence of the unseen shadow that caused him to feel my presence in the room.

When I had waited patiently for a long time without hearing him lie down, I decided to open a very thin slit in the lantern. You cannot imagine how stealthily I opened it until a single, dim ray – like a spider’s web – shot out from the crack and fell upon the vulture eye.

It was wide open, and I grew furious at the sight. I saw it perfectly – a dull blue, covered with a hideous film that chilled me to be bone; I could see nothing else of the old man since the ray of light fell directly on that damned spot.

Did I not say that you would mistake acute senses for madness? Then, I heard a low, quick sound – like a watch makes when wrapped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the old man’s heart beating. It increased my fury just as the beating of a drum inspired a soldier’s courage.

Even then, I remained motionless, scarcely breathing. I held the lantern steady, keeping the ray of light trained on the eye. Meanwhile, the hellish beating of his heart increased, growing quicker and louder every second. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder every moment! Do you understand? I have told you that I am nervous, and I am. At that late hour of the night – among the dreadful silence in that old house – this noise drove me to complete terror. I stood still for several more minutes, but the beating grew louder! I thought his heart would burst, and a new worry gripped me; the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man’s time had come; with a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leapt into the room! He only shrieked once; in an instant, I dragged him to the floor and pulled the heavy bed over him. Then I smiled happily, glad the deed was done, but – for many minutes – the heart continued its muffled beat. This, however, did not bother me; it would not be heard through the wall. Eventually, it stopped; the old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, cold dead. I placed my hand on the heart and held it there for several minutes. There was no pulse; he was dead, and his eye would no longer trouble me.

If you still believe I am crazy, you will not think so after I describe the wise precautions I took when hiding the body. As the night wore on, I worked hastily but in silence. First of all, I dismembered the corpse by cutting off the head, arms, and legs.

Then, I removed three planks from the living room floor and deposited everything between the joists. Next, I replaced the boards so perfectly that no human eye – not even his – could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash – no stains or blood whatsoever. I had been too cautious for that; all was done in the tub – haha!

When I finished these chores, it was four o ‘clock and still dark as midnight. As the bell announced the hour, there was a knock at the door. I went down to open it with a light heart – after all, what was there to fear now? Three men entered and introduced themselves as police officers. During the night, a shriek was heard by a neighbor, and there was suspicion of foul play. A report was filed at the police station, and the officers were sent to search the premises.

I smiled; what was there to worry about? I welcomed the gentlemen, saying the shriek had been my own – caused by a dream – and I mentioned the old man was visiting the countryside. I took my visitors all over the house, telling them to search well. I led them to his chamber and showed them his valuables – secure and undisturbed. In the excitement of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room – inviting them to rest – and placed my own seat directly above the hidden corpse.

The officers were satisfied; my demeanor had convinced them, and I was completely at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerfully, they chatted about familiar things. Though, before long, I felt myself getting pale and wished they would leave. My head ached, and there was a ringing in my ears, but still they remained. The ringing became more distinct as it continued – and I talked more to be rid of the feeling – but it persisted and grew louder. Finally, I realized the noise was not in my mind.

There is no doubt I grew very pale, but I talked faster with a louder voice. Still, the sound increased – and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound – very close to the sound a watch makes when wrapped in cotton. I gasped for breath, yet the officers did not hear it. I talked faster – more intensely, but the noise steadily increased. I stood, arguing insignificant matters in a high voice with wild gestures, but the noise increased. Why would they not leave? I paced with heavy strides – as if infuriated by the men’s observations, but the noise continued increasing. Oh God! What could I do? I ranted, raved, and swore! I threw my chair, and it struck the boards, but the noise rose above it all and still increased. It grew louder, louder, and louder, but still the men chatted – smiling pleasantly. Was it possible they did not hear it?… Almighty God!… No, no!… They heard!… They suspected!… They knew!… They were mocking my terror!… This is what I thought, and what I still think, but anything was better than that agony! Anything was more tolerable than their ridicule! I could not bear those hypocritical smiles any longer! It felt like I must scream or die! Now – again!… Listen! Louder, louder, louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “mock me no more! I admit it! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Horror Fiction

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

Final Cut (Pt. 5)

⚠️ATTENTION⚠️

I’m honored to introduce the finale of the On Nightmare’s Edge series written specially for the exclusive use of my good friend Nightmare’s Edge. He owns it, and it may not be used in any way/shape/form without his express written consent! No exceptions!

Here’s the link to his narration, he does fantastic work - make sure to sub while you’re there!

Now a CreepyPasta

Photo by Lady Nopeingham

Sunday, Day 1:

Hey, Night Crawlers! Fuck, Eddie and I missed you guys! Today is Day One of the “sorry I left you hanging again” marathon. The Feds and I have differing opinions regarding the channel’s effect on Turner. I believe crazy is crazy; they believe it fuels her psychosis. Basically, she enjoys the attention and will continue seeking more. Actually, do you know what I think?

I think she should do something extreme; something to grab the world’s attention! Seriously, if she set herself on fire, I think she’d top a million views inside a week; [mutter] hahaha, I hope hell is real. Wouldn’t that be the perfect ending, though? Her name would be etched into the annals of history!

What all this boils down to is – it’s been four weeks since I shot Andy, and Page hasn’t done a damn thing. Police are doing everything to track her down, but she’s a ghost. You’d think someone with her appearance would be easy to find, but every lead is a dead-end. They can’t stay with us forever. Most are already gone; in a few hours, we’ll only have one patrol car in the driveway.

Obviously they’ll continue searching; she’s a wanted fugitive. Shit, when they do get her… what’s to stop her from escaping again? I can’t take much more of this… the thought of her being free when Aiden goes to college makes me sick; the thought of him not going because of her makes me equally sick… maybe more.

I almost stopped going to the support meetings when my protection detail was forced to chaperone. It’s difficult to speak freely with outsiders in attendance. It’s one thing to share my pain with strangers experiencing the same loss, but sharing with people who go home to a loving spouse is… uncomfortable. I know this sounds horrible, but it also breeds a bit of resentful jealousy.

Anyway, onto the actual reason for tonight’s stream – I haven’t been idle over here; I’ve been recording almost everyday! As my apology for yet another extended absence, you’re getting a new story every night this week! I hope to do streams before most, but I’ve learned to exercise caution with scheduling statements; life often makes differing plans. Tonight’s story is Melting Icarus. If you like it we’ll do the sequel when I push you tomorrow; let me know what you think in the comments!


Monday, Day 2:

Peek-a-boo, Night Crawlers, guess who fucking sees you! Not me, because I’m not a psycho stalker – only a less-evil-than-most cryptid who wants to innocently tickle those inner fears.

Speaking of which, it seems like I did just that with Melting Icarus, so – as promised – Avenging Icarus is next. I’m glad you’re enjoying it; honestly, it might be my new favorite Pasta!

Alright, now that the business end is taken care of, I’m ready to address the elephant in the room. Yes, I saw the Page Effin Turner channel. The Feds were all over it, but the profile picture was used by several news networks; it’s incredibly easy to obtain. Furthermore, the IP address has been traced; yes, the owner is clearly disturbed but essentially harmless. I’m not allowed to divulge their name, but they don’t live in the United States; they’re also disabled and require assistance to leave home.

The best thing we can do is ignore it. Please, do not give them views or dislikes; you may think the dreaded thumbs down hurts, but it’s still engagement – and that will encourage this person. That being said, most of you want to see it purely out of morbid curiosity. I can’t blame you; that’s the twisted personality quirk bringing you here in the first place. Considering you guys keep a roof over my head, I’m going to save everyone a little time with a quick rundown. You’re not missing anything, I promise.

Let’s start with her channel description; it’s pretty short, I’ll read it to you:

At the request of my good friend and creative partner, Gregory Jones, I created a channel. I look forward to bringing you - the viewer - more amazing content from the hit series, On Nightmare’s Edge! As co-creator and author to the written series, I am proud to announce the complete set’s publication is underway and coming soon…
Spoiler Alert: It includes the never-before-seen fifth and final installment! It’s gonna push you right over the edge!

That’s too pathetic even for Turner. I’d be pissed that someone used my name, but I guess karma is a bitch. Hell, I’m surprised there’s not more than one… oh well, onto the video itself.

The static noise of an old radio is the only sound. There’s no music or talking, and the backdrop is a white poster-board. Crayons were used to hastily scribble a rainbow at the top and trees across the bottom, but the key figure is a small house drawn on the right. It’s labeled “Greg’s House” and meant to appear far off in the distance.

In the opening scene, a Lamb Chop puppet sits in the center; young viewers won’t be familiar with Lamb Chop’s Play Along, but it’s a bad kid’s show from the 90’s staring a sock puppet named Lamb Chop. Only, this one has been slightly altered.

Its black eyes are replaced with the big, red buttons normally found on its torso, but one hangs loosely by a thread. You know they’re the same ones due to holes left by their removal… in case there’s any doubt – a sharpie was used to replicate blood.

Soon, the puppet stands, and the backdrop is replaced – poorly but effectively conveying Lamb Chop’s walk through the woods. This poster is decorated the same except for a horribly drawn cave to the right, and my distant house is to the far left. The lamb turns toward the dark cavern, and after a short pause, turns back; slowly, its mouth spreads wider and wider into an eerie smile.

The final scene is colored brown around all four sides; we’ve entered the cave. To the right, an open book sits atop a podium with short, yellow lines decorating the space around it; the remainder is colored black. Basically, it’s the only light in the darkness, and Lamb Chop is intrigued. The puppet proceeds to stare at the display for five solid minutes before returning its attention to the audience and giving us a final sickly, wide smile.

I didn’t skip through the pointless five minutes either; I watched the entire thing just in case something was spliced in – but there’s nothing. If your curiosity still demands to see it, I understand… but please don’t engage, okay?

Thanks Crawlers, I can always count on you.

Oh, and shout out to the person doing the channel – I’m sorry for your struggles. Life is hard… I know; if you ever want advice on making real content, send me an email. Creating can be a wonderful outlet if you’re willing to give it a chance.

Anyway, that’s it – I’ll release the hostage now. Here’s Avenging Icarus, and don’t forget to visit the Community tab; cast your vote for which story pushes you next!


Tuesday, Day 3:

Yo, Crawlers! Check me out, I’m back for the third stream in three days! So far so good, huh? Admit it – you thought disaster would strike the first night without protection, and I’d disappear again. Is that close to the mark?

I knew it! Because I did too! Yet, this morning, Bill and Ted were still sitting in their cruiser – grumpy but breathing.

Haha, no, those aren’t their real names; the younger one is a fan, and it turned into a joke.

There’s something I want to share before discussing tonight’s story. The real Page must not appreciate being snubbed out of the spotlight because she mailed another letter… well, poem… I guess.

Yes, Lady, in the actual mail; it was sent from California again.

[sarcasm] That’s weird though, don’t you think? Considering she’s living in a cave out back? You know, the one no one has ever seen in the decades my family has lived here?

Why yes, Disco, I will read it to you. I assure you it’s her best work. Seriously, this is gonna be tough to beat! I’ll put it on the screen; you have to see the spelling to fully appreciate it. Are you ready? Okay [clears throat]

Then, on the back, at the bottom, barely legible – “I informed you thusly.”

Bitch’s brain be broke; bleh, try saying that five times fast. Seriously though, is that a murder/suicide threat, or… what else could it be, right? Hey, look! I narrated something she wrote! Do you think this means she’ll leave me alone?

Why can’t you guys just let a man dream? [bark] See, you upset Eddie; now he demands Walk-Walk. Here, take The Midnight Man and let me get this dog out before he pisses on my chair again – push ya later!


Wednesday, Day 4:

Sup, Crawlers? I’m 4 for 4 but barely. [bark] Eddie says hey. [away from mic] Lay down, man.

Sorry if your volume was up, but I couldn’t keep him out; he’s being persistent today. He’ll be easier to deal with when the boys are back from school, but I can’t address that video with them here. It’s naive to think they won’t see it, but dissecting it while they’re home seems… wrong.

Yep Lore, that’s exactly why, I said ‘barely’, but then I decided fuck that! I’m sick of hiding; I’ll be damned if that video stops me from streaming!

The Feds don’t necessarily believe it’s genuinely Turner now, but it’s certainly not the original suspect. The possibilities are being investigated by multiple agencies; at the very least, this is a serial killer.

I don’t know Stu, if a guy ‘happened upon’ something like that – what kind of person uses it this way instead of reporting it?

Wait – let’s get everyone caught up; I’ll to break it down in hopes—

Oh, that was faster than usual… okay – Disco said the channel is already terminated, but I’m not surprised… all things considered…

So, yea – there were no kiddy drawings or puppets, just actual footage. It was ten minutes, and the scenes were spliced together from multiple recordings made over a span of… I don’t even know how long.

It starts off as a collage of “Welcome to (x) state” signs – the ones people always pose with on vacations; they’re listed in geographical order like it was an actual road-trip. The list makes a trail from Indiana to California and back to Michigan. It totals thirteen different states; remember that number. To help you visualize this – the lines on the map show the indicated route. Clicking through each frame was incredibly tedious, but let this be a lesson in the dangers of obsession.

With a black screen comes the sound of a lock clicking open and a metal roll-door going up. After it closes behind us, a flashlight is turned on, and we see the inside of a storage unit. The lighting is too dim to see much beyond the beam, but the tour is fairly thorough.

First we’re shown a pile of bloodied clothing; nothing unusual – every newb can drench old clothes with corn syrup. The camera pans across the soiled rags in concert with the light and comes to rest on a mountain of shoes – the summit of which is inches below the ceiling. A close-up reveals much of the footwear still contains part of their owner… and you want to think, ‘this must be another ARG’ except it’s just so graphic

Before you can give it more thought, a new distraction is on the screen. We moved to the next display – a wall with 12 missing person’s flyers hanging in a neat 3×4 block. As we continue along the wall, we see it’s covered in repeating segments of this design – but the others are altered by various filters; it must have taken days for one person to do… maybe weeks. I think it was meant to be artistic.

Next, the shot pans past a cot in the far corner and takes us to several stacks of storage bins. It’s hard to say how many, but this absolutely qualifies as a fuck-ton. The camera is set atop a nearby tote and angled to the correct viewpoint before a smaller bin is centered in the screen. When it’s finally opened, we see twelve drivers licenses inside; a gloved hand arranges each one neatly for the audience.

The ID’s belonged to the missing persons, and tiny X’s are scratched over their eyes. This is also where you should notice they are from twelve of the thirteen states plotted on the map. Can you guess which one was missing? Yes, Michigan!

Binky the Clown’s laugh plays in a loop while the lid is replaced on the small tote. Then we move to a box at the back of the room; almost like the filmer can hear us thinking ‘but those were too many shoes for twelve people.’

By now, some viewers were already Googling the names to discover these are real missing people but not me; I was glued to the screen, nervously awaiting the next reveal. I didn’t come to my senses until three more totes spilled into the floor. It was madness; you could never count them all…

If it was possible for one person to be responsible for all these disappearances, they would be the most prolific serial killer in history… but it has to be something else. After the first box, there’s only a few visible enough to read, but some expired before Turner was even born. So what’s the deal?

No, Livers, that can’t be it; pictures of the first twelve were analyzed by experts. Plus, the first man – from Indiana – went missing ten months ago, and the last woman – from Missouri – went missing only six weeks ago; the other timelines match perfectly as well. Someone who actually does that doesn’t need to bluff.

Hold on guys, those are good theories, but let me tell the rest; not everyone has the whole picture yet… [grumble] since they kept their promise not to watch.

After the third tote, the scene fades to black, and we hear a thunderstorm. The rain is hard, but the wind is overwhelming. The first flash only illuminates a brief shadow of forest scenery, but the frozen image is too blurry for identifiable features. There’s no doubt it is meant to represent my house, but it’s probably darkened specifically to disguise any features discrediting the possibility. There’s a few more flashes as thunder roars, and rain obscures the scenery until we’re once again left in darkness.

The final scene opens with the storm effects dampened; we’re now inside the cave. It’s dimly lit by candlelight, but one brightly illuminated spot waits in the back. As the camera moves closer, various things are seen to either side; there’s a mattress, bottles of water, cans of food, and a wooden crate with books stacked on top. There’s no question this person spends much of their time here; the ‘lived-in’ look is too good to be staged.

At the far end of the surprisingly spacious area, we learn what warrants the extra lighting. It’s a poor man’s version of Professor Snape’s potions lab and an altar that puts Page’s to shame; actually, that’s an understatement… this is closer to a shrine. No – better yet, it’s a colossal monument!

At first, you don’t understand what you’re looking at; it’s merged with the entire wall. Unlike Turner’s, this one consisted solely of bone. The first pieces were driven into the cave’s bedrock like pegs, and the rest is built from their foundation. Anyone who blindly stumbled across this would assume it’s an ARG… I’ve never seen the sheer quantity

Ah, yes! Lady nailed it – it’s comparable to the Paris Catacombs. There are 206 bones in the human body, and I bet that wall has plenty of each. They don’t seem to be in a particular order; it’s total chaos yet somehow… symmetrical.

Wait, I misspoke before! Another material is utilized in this thing; some of the bones are tied together with red string. Blood stains are abundant, but I think that’s how they were naturally… received rather than decoration.

In front of this monstrosity is a table overloaded with flasks, beakers, strange herbs and other things I can’t identify. Next to it is a cauldron… as in an actual from-a-fairytale witch’s cauldron! Cold, charred firewood sits beneath it, and a foul, green residue clings to its rim. Last, but certainly not least – to the right – is a wooden podium holding an open book; it’s the kind with slats to hold the pages open. We are given a closeup before the final fade-out, but it’s written in Ancient Greek.

Luckily, I was able to forgo the hours on Google by learning the translation from Agent Robins. They haven’t been able to identify the source book, but it’s estimated to be several hundred years old. The first page is titled Knot of Fate, and beneath is a crude illustration of two human figures standing with arms and legs apart like on medical charts. They’re hopelessly entangled; a rope weaves around their genderless bodies, and a mass of tangled knots fill the space between them.

The remainder of that page and the next seem to be instructions for the ritual. There’s nothing written about the results, but – whatever it does – costs 13 human sacrifices and a not-insignificant amount of personal blood. Our guy already has twelve; did the countless people murdered beforehand not count?

This is about to be a major buzzkill, but I can’t read the rest of the instructions to you…

I know, but I’m a magnet for crazy and feel like it would be a poor idea to convey something this dark through my channel. The last thing I need is for some troubled teen to hear it and decide they wanna try. We live in a world where kids eat tide pods; for fuck’s sake, anything is possible!

Look, if you really want to know what it says there’s probably fifty channels with breakdowns already posted, but we’ve covered the highlights. After a long list of items – all of which are extremely difficult to acquire – it details cooking instructions for a potion. Once you finally have that, there’s a list of prerequisites to fulfill before the ritual can even begin; it’s insanely convoluted.

Besides, we need to wrap this up; if you still want to talk about theories, now’s the time.

That’s what I personally think, Lady; this goes beyond one person. This is a cult or family or… I don’t know, but they’ve been at it for decades. My mind isn’t even capable of grasping the number of lives affected by these people.

Hmm, I don’t know, Livers; yes, it’s physically possible a dumping ground could exist for gangs or organizations to share… you mean—

Oh, I see. Like, the underground community in John Wick. Eh, I feel like those are the types to destroy a body completely…

Well, touché, these guys would clearly be the occult version, haha okay.

Anyone else? We can do one more; then it’s time for Goblins, Ligers and Snares (Oh My!) I normally avoid long titles, but this was too clever to pass up.

I don’t know, Lore; I’m going back and forth on that. On one hand I feel like Page must be connected to the group, but it feels wrong… I’m not sure how to explain it… I just don’t see her as a team player.

I’ve been pulling my hair out over different theories all morning; it’s time for a break. Let’s stop here before I’m bald, haha, and hopefully I’ll be back to push you tomorrow.


Thursday, Day 5:

[Posted 7:30pm: Nightclub Suicide]


Friday, Day 6:

[Posted 7:30pm: Rivers of Sand]


Saturday, Day 7:

[loud/giddy] Night Crawlers! Holy shit, you have no idea how long I’ve waited for this! I asked everyone to be here for a major announcement and you guys did not disappoint. There’s 1,000 people here, and we’ve added five thousand subs in just a few weeks! Tonight’s video is my thank you. I know some of your time zones are inconvenient, but I promise, this is worth it. Buckle up buttercups, this is gonna take a while.

Before we begin, I have a quick apology to make… I’ve been lying to you since returning from my hiatus, but after the explanation – I think you’ll forgive me. As you all know, Turner was analyzing every word I said, and we wanted to use that against her. A long con was our only hope; let’s break each stream down, and set the record straight.


The First:

Haha, many of you are expressing surprise at my cheerful demeanor, but I assure you there’s an excellent reason. I’m beyond cheerful; shit, I left chipper in the rear-view mirror! I, ladies and gents, am downright giddy! Please, hold your questions til the end while I regale you with my triumphs.

The first stream was a short “I’m back” statement claiming Turner was a ghost; that was to instill a false sense of security. We didn’t know her location yet, but we did know she was close by; nothing could convince us she left town. Baiting her into starting a YouTube channel wasn’t planned, but the IT guys had a field day with it.

I was nervous about lying – especially live – but being the object of a stalker’s obsession can instill a desperate yet effective confidence. I was given key phrases to say, but nothing that could constitute as a script; Agent Robins worried it wouldn’t sound natural. I was annoyed at the time but can’t argue with the results.

I almost canceled the whole ruse when I mentioned the support group; it wouldn’t be unlike Turner to target them… mainly Sarah. She was my biggest lie of all… well, not at first. Everything I said about our relationship was true in the beginning… but we had our first date the week before that stream and it was… ugh, I hate sounding this way, but it was magic as fuck.

Thank you, everyone, I knew you would be supportive… though I do hope you understand my reluctance to share further details. It’s a new relationship and scary as hell for both of us… so, yea…

Ok, this isn’t a romance channel; let’s get to the horror! While I genuinely recorded extra videos as a way of apology, they also served a second purpose. It was an excuse to stream every night; Page can’t resist new content, and the longer she was distracted by tv the better.


The Second:

Announcing Turner’s channel was tricky but sorta fun. I received a link from Reddit user PT666. The account was brand new and is now deleted, but please don’t give me crap about clicking a shady link; it was clearly to YouTube. Did my hopes immediately set on the idea of her actually using it for suicide? Yea, totally… but I tried to rein in the rogue fuckers.

The IT squad is amazing, I can’t say that enough; maybe I should’ve made an effort to learn the real name of their unit… hmm. Anyway, they were reasonably sure the channel was legitimately Turner because of specific hacker techniques she used; not so much what she did, but how she did it. Behind the basic VPN, she led us to an actual disabled person in Canada. She needed to believe her trick worked; the hope was to make her comfortable while we continued tracking a real location.

We walked a delicate line by giving the videos attention, but it prevented others from engaging with her; although it may not seem like it – most people come here to lurk. The bulk of views are from people bored browsing. They might be tempted to see what the fuss is, but if I condense a summary into what they’re already watching – most won’t bother. Plus, we hoped Page would continue uploading; each video gave IT more to work with.

Yes indeed, Lady; the system was working well… a little too well as we would soon discover. Sorry, I shouldn’t jump ahead; I want to tell this just right.

The invitation to email me was impulsive, but that was a bust. I wanted to ask how she worked the puppet; the real Lamb Chop always sat, but Turner’s stood without revealing her arm. Overall, the video looked like a kid made it, but if you focused on the puppet – her control was eerily natural… especially the creepy smile; that shit gave me chills.

The first video was clearly saying, “Howdy, neighbor! I found a cave on your property and moved right in.” I was positive it didn’t exist; between family and investigations – there isn’t a square on the grid that hasn’t been searched a dozen times. Regardless, this was Page fucking Turner; she doesn’t say anything without a sneaky double meaning to throw in your face.

There was a catch, I just needed to find it; my obsession became so strong, I recorded both videos in order to analyze it without letting the views increase. I think years of torment have entitled me to some pedantic pettiness. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have an epiphany until it was too late, so let’s pause this part and move on to day three.


The Third:

I said the poem came from California because that’s what Page wanted us to believe. The postage marks were faked; it was definitely delivered in person. That meant we had a picture of whoever left it! Right? Nope, she stole the SD card!

It was up really high, too; she must have climbed the tree. I used a 10ft ladder to get it up there and even then it was a stretch! Plus, the card slot is on the back; that means she took it down and replaced it. Most people would keep it or trash it at that point.

Don’t feel bad Lore, I didn’t understand why either… although, Lady is only half right. It’s true, the ‘mailed from California’ ploy would be ruined, but she didn’t steal the card that night; it was gone long before. She knew I wouldn’t check without reason due to the inconvenience.

Yup, I’m afraid so, Disco; we soon learned she passed through quite regularly… to get… well, home; she was a busy little psycho. We put a new card in but never got anything from it; once everything was in place – she bunkered down and got serious.


The Fourth:

By the fourth stream, I was barely holding it together; I couldn’t ignore Turner’s new video, but I was afraid of revealing too much. That morning, six officers disguised as hunters searched the property again; it’s the best way for heavily armed men to walk about inconspicuously. More of Page’s witchy totems were scattered throughout the forest; some hung in trees, and some were balanced atop piles of rocks.

I somehow resisted the urge to immediately destroy them; we didn’t want her to know we saw anything. That was before we understood how thoroughly secluded she was [shudders]. The totems weren’t there two days before, but suddenly, they numbered more than fifty. The fact she continued to move freely about my property – after such extreme precautions – was too much for my mind to comprehend.

And fuck, that video, right? I can finally tell you how it happened, but I’m adding an extra disclaimer that this is viewer discretion highly-fucking advised, okay? It’s fine if you don’t want to listen; the next story will be up in a couple hours.

Okay, so. You’ll hear why later, but here’s how Page completed her sacrificial duties. You know – in order to complete what we thought to be a ritual called Knot of Fate. We were slightly off; apparently it’s a curse and doesn’t have an exact translation, but it’s closer to Tangled Destiny… or so I’m told.

I’m glad you asked, Lore; the reason she crossed state lines was purely tactical to avoid police detection; it’s pretty disturbing how simple it was. Using a fake identity, she bought a car online and hit the road. She filmed the whole journey for “the sake of history” but didn’t think to start a channel until I opened my fat mouth. Batty bitch even bought souvenirs!

When ready for a victim, she pretended to be an Uber driver until someone was too drunk to check the app; it’s surprising how normal she looks in a face mask and makeup. Much like my old friend, Rick – these people mistook her small, fragile appearance as non-threatening; in our world, there’s no such thing.

Eventually, someone always crawled into the backseat, and Turner drove off like she knew where they were going. On the rare occasion someone complained, she cheerfully apologized and corrected course. Once they were safely on the road, she’d offer the passenger a bottle of water and wait for the drugs to take effect.

I asked what she did if they refused the drink, but she said it only happened once – on number six. It took her by such surprise, she drove the woman all the way home and found another. The survivor’s original driver got five stars… I really can’t even.

Once unconscious she injected them with enough horse tranquilizer to ensure they wouldn’t wake up before the sacrifice could be completed. She claimed the drug choice was based on ease of access but didn’t elaborate further. The only shred of solace the families have is knowing their loved ones didn’t suffer; considering the exceptionally mortifying methods employed, it is something.

The usual routine consisted of locating a new subdivision and borrowing an empty house. In the basement, she was able to use lights without fear of a passerby. The broad strokes include candles, an extremely complicated symbol, and a prayer – which must be in Ancient Greek – to whatever the hell she worshiped as very precise cuts are made.

When the deed was done and the messes were cleaned – she googled local papers to suss out where the gangs frequent. After dumping the bodies into said gangster’s territory, she got the hell out of dodge. Turner was so disgustingly proud of herself. What terrified me most is how someone so calculating, so seemingly intelligent – could be so far off the deep end.

I also asked about the storage unit, but it was the one thing she wasn’t eager to discuss. The Feds shut me out of the investigation, but I was able to learn they still haven’t found the place. Since Page already had twelve people, they assumed she was in Michigan – but they recently expanded the search radius. The mystery behind that shrine is shaping up to be darker than anything I’ve seen, and it might be years before we know more.

As you all know, this was the last stream; I had a feeling it would be. The last three videos were ready to go, so my brother posted at 7:30 until told differently. Page knew that video would cost her the channel, but she posted anyway because she was already finished with it.


The Final Showdown:

Okay, this is it – what you’ve all been waiting for; the following occurred between Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning. I could feel it in my bones; something was about to happen. The boys were at school, but I wasn’t taking chances.

I successfully embodied the character of each overly paranoid whacko in the Pasta catalog; the game was afoot. Firmly picturing the walls with literal ears, I packed a couple of suitcases without saying a word. After paying cash for a cheap – yet safe – hotel room, I left the luggage behind and drove to the boy’s school.

After giving Aiden the hotel key, I followed to ensure they arrived safely… and this is where I had to make one of the most difficult choices of all – who kept Eddie. I know, it seems like an easy choice, right? Technically, yes, because I always knew Ed was staying… but I also know that if I were a neutral third-party – that the tactical decision was to keep him where actual danger was most likely to occur. But they’re my kids… so, fuck tactics.

The hotel absolutely does not allow dogs, but with the agreement to be discreet and pay double – exceptions were made. I waited until I was leaving to say training pads were in the suitcase, but there wasn’t anywhere to walk a dog anyway.

I made sure they understood how important it was not to tell anyone their location. They’re not stupid, but I felt better saying it. The packed pop-tarts, lunchables, and snack-foods wouldn’t make the most nutritious dinner, but their young bodies could endure it under the circumstances. Thankfully they only needed to spend one night there.

I truly thought I outsmarted her this time; all day I played it cool. Then at 4:00, I tweeted “Early weekend start with the boys! No stream!” – I even ordered three large pizzas like on real movie nights!

All the while I was making sure the windows were still nailed shut and adding tinfoil for food measure—

Yes, Lore, tinfoil – because I was sick of thinking I saw her peeking in.

No, why would you think that’s a joke? Every time I passed a window there’d be this fucking spot in the corner of my eye; it was literally making me even crazier! Besides – that’s what the cameras are for, fuck those windows.

Oh, Lady I’m actually really happy you mentioned ADT, this is perfect timing. Okay so you guys remember she got all the special attention for her complete domination of the security system hacks, yea? So, apparently no, she wasn’t special; don’t get me wrong, she was a decent hacker, but nothing close to what we thought.

I don’t understand the technical side but I’m sure it’s explained in one of the reports coming out. I can’t stand those Hollywood ass-fucks. They couldn’t wait a few days to announce a sequel, nope; within a matter of hours it’s everywhere.

Sorry, didn’t mean to go on a tangent, but essentially, hacking your way into full access of ADT’s system – alone – from a random location, would take skills of an impressive magnitude. Blackmailing an employee and receiving direct access to my personal account is another matter entirely. This would have been discovered had the guilty man not been a long-time, trusted technician; he effortlessly erased what meager traces remained after each login.

I’m neither gladdened nor saddened by the fact he’s facing a divorce and jail sentence in the near future; he – and his family – are merely more victims left in the wake of Turner’s destruction. Am I bitter of all we suffered purely because a man couldn’t keep it in his pants? Of course I am, but I’m also very tired and feel like he’s suffering adequately without my attention.

Where were we before all that? … Ah, thanks, Stu; By sunset on Thursday, I felt like my house was a fortress. Bill and Ted were outside doing their thing, and I was strutting around like GI Joe with my lucky psycho hunting knife. Even with both guns, the blade made me feel the safest. Not as safe as Eddie, but he was exactly where he needed to be.

After receiving the pizza – I set it in the kitchen, used the bathroom, and started a podcast before fixing a plate. I was starving; those five slices were the first thing I ate since breakfast. They also came very close to killing me. I felt the first warning when I suddenly transitioned from drowsy to intoxicatingly delirious.

I tried to stand but fell, slamming my elbow into the coffee table on the way down. The now purple bruise testifies to the forceful impact, but I only felt a numbing tingle. I admit to having a sizable party streak in my younger days, so while my memories are fuzzy for this portion – I remember being higher than a fucking kite.

Who knows how much time passed before Turner was standing before me; I wouldn’t have checked the footage even if the cameras were recording. I do remember she was incredibly annoyed I ‘ate too much’ – she practically had to drag me downstairs; the intention was for me to be groggy but semi-functional.

I was aware of losing the guns, but my arms were useless, dead weights. Fortunately, I was numb when rolling down the last basement steps; it’s a damn miracle no bones were broken. Upon impact with the concrete floor, I blacked out entirely.

After a few hard slaps, I woke to a familiar sensation. My clothes were drenched in sweat, my heart was hammering, and my mouth was completely numb, but underneath the rising terror and panic, euphoria was creeping to the surface.

A frantic look at my surroundings revealed I was tied to a support column in the basement; the crazy bitch installed one of those castle-dungeon-wall-loop-things to the post! Not only that, the psycho had black war-paint all over her face in some kind of tribal design!

I wasn’t willing to speak first; when we made eye contact, we stared each other down. Casually, she reported that I ingested a generous dose of cocaine; considering it’d been twenty years since my last ingestion, it combated the Special K rather effectively. Overall, I was lucky; had she used the normal dosage, the fourth slice would have been fatal.

It took a while for any conversation of substance to form. I was awake but slow-witted; she made coffee to speed the process, and I hate that it actually tasted good. Though… it isn’t surprising she knew how I prefer it… probably saw me make it 100 times [shudder].

When I was finally coherent enough to appreciate the depths of my fucked-ness, I learned quite a lot. Remember our creed? Right – ‘Hell no, fuck ho-bos.’ Turns out, I never lost mine; crazy bitch planned every bit from day one! Well, not the breaks where she was locked up or healing – but yea, basically all the rest.

The attic nest was always a failsafe for the increasing chance of discovery over longer periods of time. Regardless of caution, the odds were statistically poor considering it was a four family household with a dangerous guard dog. I’ve debated leaving this suspicion out… but I’m just gonna say it…

So, she made this comment about spreading her smell around the house to blend with our family scent – ultimately becoming invisible to Eddie.

Side note: “family scent” is a thing for pets, you can Google that shit.

My initial reaction was ‘holy hell is that why he was slow to notice all those times’, which prevented me from seeing… this other possibility…

A common way animals spread their scent is through urination. Do… do you guys remember when I ended that stream by saying I had to walk Eddie “before he pissed on my chair again?”

Well… the thing is, he was always a really good boy about going outside until the whole intruder thing started. When we found accidents we’d scold him but not too bad; the vet thought he was either traumatized or marking his territory because we felt threatened… likely a mixture of both. It happened on and off over the years, but the worst occasions line up with Page’s timeline…

[horrified] I’m trying to ask if y’all think that crazy bitch was pissing in my house! … [sob] Why?

[sigh] We should pick up the pace, we’ve been here longer than expected… I don’t know how to say this next part without sounding ridiculous… but everything I’ve said has been ridiculous; so, who cares anymore.

Remember when I said there was a catch with the cave in the woods? The moment she corrected me, I understood my mistake. She said I shouldn’t have thought of it as a cave but a tunnel! That bitch has been tunneling under my property like bugs fucking bunny all these years; there’s an access door under the basement steps!

Guys, there aren’t enough emojis in the world; just stop trying.

Honestly, those were works of art; engineers are still going through them to shore up the walls. Due to all the cold cases surrounding Turner – multiple agencies are searching for evidence. How terrible am I for being a little excited at the prospect of having escape tunnels under my house when this is over? I don’t see the point of collapsing them if they’re safe, and she can never use them again.

Haha, don’t worry Lady, I’m getting to that part. We talked for a long while, but I was efficiently attached to that beam for the duration. She was too smart to unlock the bar herself; instead, she tossed me the key. I was so curious of the tunnels I might have gone in even without being held at gun-point.

They were everything she claimed. Not too tall or wide – because materials were limited – but extremely long, and the potion lab is in her living quarters. These spaces are almost 7ft in height and consist of three ‘rooms’ roughly the size of an average den. Besides the one used for witchcraft, there’s a storage and lounging area. That’s where her bed and normal books were kept. Maybe she was a dwarf in a past life; there’s clearly some kind of mountain-person-history there.

She claimed the tunnels extend to her first shelter in the forest – and I have no doubt they do – but there hasn’t been a chance to fully explore; I was never meant to live past the cauldron room. Somehow she managed to get enough concrete down there to pour a 12×12 slab; that’s where she drew her insanely detailed curse symbol. Once she was ready for me to lay on that thing, shit got real.

Basically, I told her it didn’t matter how many guns she had. There’s no way I was gonna lay down and let her carve me up just so! Then she said my sons’ hotel room number… and said a man named Chill was ‘keeping them company’ in case I decided to be difficult.

Isn’t it crazy how a few words can hold power to sway our strongest resolve? I took three full steps before coming to my senses… why in the ever-loving fuckballs did believe that statement? Then, finally, something went my way; she called the Goon on speakerphone as proof. On the fourth call, a very angry man answered; I’d trade my left nut to have the audio recorded, but I can give you the basics.

Chill was paid to break into the hotel room of two defenseless children; he knew nothing about a pit bull or senior baseball player. It was difficult to hear when she took him off speaker, but the screams were loud enough to learn he was missing two fingers and probably had a fractured skull. Unfortunately, he was already across state lines at the time of that call and has not been captured.

The guy didn’t try to be stealthy; he announced himself by kicking in the door – intent on snatching two small children. Instead, The Good Boy took him down, and Aiden swung his bat until Chill begged for mercy.

Me too, Lady, but despite what I would have done, Conner was crying and Aiden was scared; they just wanted it to be over with. Once they called off the dog, that guy crawled out of there crying and apologizing. They tried to call right away but my phone was in the living-room; when police learned I wasn’t answering, Bill and Ted were asked to check inside.

To catch up to their entrance – I need to jump back once more. Turner knew she was fucked. What incentive is a gun if you can’t use it without ruining your little voodoo curse? I saved the craziest part for last because this is the kind of shit you can’t make up.

You wanna know what her Tangled Destiny curse does? With the power of some “Ancient God older than the Olympian’s” – she was going to “bind our life forces together” which means if one of us dies—

HA! I knew someone was gonna say it, thanks Disco. No, the other doesn’t die – no, no, no; her whacked out magic is ass-backwards. It keeps them alive! The only way to kill the Bound is if they die simultaneously. It’s insanity, right? But wait, it gets so much better. When her plan to get me into her little circle thing failed – she got hilariously desperate… I can laugh at this now, anyway.

Page dropped both guns and kicked them to the other side of the room. I was so shocked that even her freaky smile and war-painted face didn’t scare me; I felt powerful now that the cocaine was in full effect. Then she said she would get me into the circle by force and stepped inside.

Next, she revealed a large hunting knife, reminding me of my own – still tucked into my boot. With the guns out of reach, there was no reason not to use it. I was sad she seemed indifferent to the revelation, but I couldn’t hesitate; this was finally my moment.

I lunged forward, fully expecting her to dodge or counter – at which point we would engage in a duel to the death – but that didn’t happen. She just stood there… smiling… laughing as the blade sank into her abdomen and my hand crushed the wrist of her knife arm. Our eyes remained locked as her blade clattered to the floor; Slowly, dreamlike, I pulled the knife upwards and felt the sickening rip of flesh until metal collided with bone.

Before I tell you the rest I’m going to explain what really happened so no one rains on my parade because we’re still celebrating, and fuck anyone who doesn’t wanna join.

This bitch knew it was game over and decided to inflict whatever last bit of psychological torture possible. Sinking to her knees, she removed something from her pocket and threw it at my feet; every last breath was used to explain how the curse really worked.

The item she threw was a Michigan state driver’s license for Maria Sanchez. Once my face showed I understood the implication, she revealed I was never meant to be number thirteen, Maria was. The only thing left was for the Curse-er – Page – to have her own blood spilled inside the sacrificial circle by the Curse-ee – me – which was now complete. Essentially, this means she will soon rise from the dead and plague me for eternity, but unfortunately for her, that shit is bunk.

If I thought for two seconds it were true, I would have shot myself then and there – which is probably what she was hoping for – but we live in the real world. So I watched her die with a smile on my face, then ran upstairs to find Bill calling for backup.

And now you know why I named this stream Final Cut.


Six months later…

Alright Night Crawlers, listen up – we gotta make this quick; Sarah will have all your hides if I’m late for date night. I just wanted to introduce part three of The Eternal Night series, Months of Night… and while I’m here anyway I might as well tell you about this trippy dream real quick. I’m clearly still adjusting to the fact Aiden abandoned us for the big, scary college world; [sniffle] hah, sorry, just a joke in case he’s listening.

So, the dream – I was at the cemetery, visiting Amber’s grave, but all of a sudden – I realize I’m actually looking at Page fucking Turner’s tombstone! If that wasn’t bad enough it got dark and stormy but I couldn’t leave; I was just stuck in place and hearing weird noises from everywhere. Then, when I can finally take a few steps forward, I trip and face-plant it across the psycho’s grave. As I try to get up, a hand shoots out of the ground and grabs my face! Ugh, it sucked—

… Hold up, let me ban this fool real quick; we don’t play that shit anymore.

Can you believe people are still doing that? How long do you think that loser lurked around with their display name as Page Turner waiting to make a remark like that? We don’t exactly discuss her often. [mocking] “Are you sure it was a dream?” What a douche. Oh well – push you later, Crawlers.

Horror Fiction

…And, We’re Back (Pt. 4)

⚠️ATTENTION⚠️

I’m honored to introduce part 4 of the On Nightmare’s Edge series written specially for the exclusive use of my good friend Nightmare’s Edge. He owns it, and it may not be used in any way/shape/form without his express written consent! No exceptions!

Here’s the link to his narration, he does fantastic work - make sure to sub while you’re there!


Now a CreepyPasta

Photo by Lady Nopeingham

Yesterday…

…And we’re back in five… four… three… two… one…

[talk-show host] Greg, tell us your thoughts about the movie; the release is only three days after the anniversary of your wife’s death. How are you coping? Do you plan to go see it?

I’m not here to talk about that; I’m here to promote my book, Days of Night… remember? That movie has nothing to do with me; why can’t you people let me heal in peace? [recording ends]


Now…

Sorry Crawlers, but I can’t listen to another word; it’s making me sick. I wasn’t supposed to be recording, but I wanted you to hear what a dick that guy was. How much do you want to bet they don’t air my response? What’s wrong with people? Do they have no shame? Ever since Stay Tuned went viral, this shit has been nonstop… and for the record, no – obviously I don’t plan to see a movie based on the worst parts of my life! Would anyone?!

The producers asked me to be a consultant, but there isn’t enough money in the world to make me relive that nightmare – especially for entertainment! …Then they wanted to pay me for an interview, but it doesn’t matter how many zeros are in their offer – the answer will always be a resounding no! We could desperately use the money, but I’ll stand my ass on a street corner before I have anything to do with people who are immortalizing that psycho bitch’s name.

The boys are taking it the hardest… Aiden is the stoic, silent type… but Conner… 13 is already such a hard age. He has no idea how to handle his emotions; everything hurts, and he doesn’t understand why. He thinks he’ll feel this way forever because Amber is gone, but I can’t find the words to explain how different things will be in just a few years – let alone the rest of his life. Anytime he does make progress – something like this movie happens and sends him back start!

I wrote formal requests to every person participating in that shit-show – begging them to reconsider – but the only response came from the schmuck playing me. Completely ignoring the subject matter, he invited me to lunch so that he might better understand my character. I almost said yes – just so I could punch him – but ultimately decided it was an inappropriate risk for a single parent.

Actually, the credit for that decision goes to Sarah… who knows where I would be right now if not for her. Joining that support group was the best advice I ever took… so thanks again, Lady; it’s a little scary to think how close I was to not going.

Ha-ha, Disco; it’s not like that at all. This is a group specifically for those who have lost a spouse; her husband died last year, and neither of us are eager to try again soon. That’s one of the main reasons we hit it off… it’s amazing how many people think of it as a single’s mixer, but we’re actually going for the support. Hell, I’m 30 days sober right now – if that’s not proof it’s working then I don’t know what is!

Alright Crawlers, it’s getting late so the much anticipated sequel, Weeks of Night is officially live! I hope you all enjoy; push you next time.


One week later…

Hey, hey Night Crawlers, how is everyone tonight?

Good, that’s what I like to hear; nice crowd too, we’re almost to 700 – that’s not shabby at all! I wasn’t around much last week – and I’m sure you all understand why – but I almost had one of my old surprise streams on Thursday. In the end, I decided to wait for our usual night so more people would be here.

Most of you are aware the previous days have been rough for our family…. between the anniversary and the movie, we’re all a little on edge; even Eddie is tired. That being said, I’m having trouble in the patience department… as in I don’t have any.

For those who weren’t here six months ago – some jackass photoshopped a series of pictures featuring myself and the Psycho. They took several selfies from Facebook and added Turner behind me. In the first shots, she’s far away; then she gets progressively closer until her face is merged on top of mine. It’s the cliche ghost picture trope; whoever did it couldn’t even come up with something original.

When that happened, I tried to be a good sport and kindly asked whoever was doing it to stop; to my surprise, they actually did… until now. The photos started reappearing a few days ago – and it’s possible the original troll has nothing to do with it – but they are the same pictures.

At least… they started with the originals – now a new one has been posted. Whoever is doing it copied the merged faces idea and used it on a photo where my arm is around Aiden’s shoulder; then they added a slash across his throat and a bloody knife in my hand! If you wanna mess with me – fine, fair game, I know I put myself out there – but my family is off fucking limits!

It’s bad enough I’ll carry scars from that Bitch for the rest of my life – bad enough my darkest days are immortalized on the big screen for all to see – but now I have to deal with images of Ghost Page haunting me for eternity? I’m sorry, but fuck that… come on, people! Please, whoever is doing it – I’m begging you, please; just give it a rest, okay?

[sigh] Sorry guys, I didn’t mean to get so riled up; thank you for the kind offers, but no – I don’t want any of you to get involved! You never know who you’re dealing with, and I wouldn’t forgive myself if something happened to one of you. Someone who does this kind of thing – especially with children – is clearly unstable. I’ve given everything to the police, but there isn’t much they can do yet.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight; I appreciate the chance to vent, but now it’s time for The Rain Dancers! Hope you enjoy; I’ll push you later!


Thursday…

Yo, Crawlers, looks like you got the notice for an early stream! That’s great, thank you for being here! We’re doing it today because I’m taking the boys camping; tomorrow morning we’re leaving for a long weekend with nature. It’ll be nice to recharge away from civilization while the hype from that movie dies down.

If you haven’t seen the new picture yet, you will soon; another one is making the rounds. This time it’s me standing behind Conner with my hands on his shoulders; they photoshopped it the same cut-throat way as Aiden’s! Who does that? They’re kids!

We’re long overdue for a vacation anyway, plus it’s Aiden’s senior year… my time for this kind of stuff is almost up. Wow, that’s a scary realization! Alright, let’s get Haystack’s Revenge live before I freak myself out even worse. Push you next week!


Monday night…

We’re back… … … … … …

Sorry… I just don’t know how to begin… I know my announcement was vague, but the important thing is that most of you are here. If anyone has made contact with the Poster of those pictures – cease all communications immediately! This is not some troll in his mother’s basement or a douchebag kid; that person is unstable and dangerous!

If they responded to you, please forward all messages to the police. Their contact information and the case number are listed in the details below. You’ve probably guessed our camping trip was a disaster, but that’s a gross understatement.

We didn’t go far; there’s a popular site an hour away, but no one uses it this time of year. Once we got off the highway we never saw another car; we had the whole place to ourselves. The trails, the creek, the grills – it was like our own private paradise. The hike from the parking area normally takes about thirty minutes, but we took our time and enjoyed the scenery. It was the first time Conner smiled all year; believe it or not, I think we were happy there for a minute. Eddie was acting like a puppy again; I don’t think he sat still until bedtime.

By Friday evening, we had both tents up and a nice fire going. For dinner, we roasted hotdogs and told ghost stories… their idea not mine, I swear. It was a good day… probably the first one we’ve had since… last year.

After eating, we settled into our tents; I took the small one and the boys shared the other. Eddie preferred to sleep under the stars; a guard dog’s work is never done. I slept peacefully, without nightmares – another first – until shortly after 4am when The Good Boy’s low, warning growls woke me. I respond to that sound like women to a baby’s cry; I was outside, gun drawn in under 60 seconds.

The fire was low, but enough to see there was no immediate threat in our camp. I pointed the flashlight into the dark forest where Eddie was staring, but the trees were too dense; Sasquatch could have stood there and I wouldn’t have seen it. At the time, I thought it was a bear or wolves, but now I’m not sure. After a few minutes, Ed settled down, and I was happy to take that as an all-clear. When we woke again a few hours later, I’d forgotten it even happened.

The boys slept until breakfast was ready, then we went down to the creek to wash up. The weather isn’t quite warm enough to swim yet, but Eddie didn’t mind; he swam around with the goofiest smile, and I swear, he splashed us on purpose. We were there for maybe 30 minutes and the walk was five each way – yet we returned to find our food ransacked.

It genuinely looked like a bear’s doing; the ice chest was turned over, the meat was gone, and everything else was scattered across the clearing. A trail of trash led straight back into the section of woods Eddie was growling at the previous night. We didn’t bring anything to hunt or fish with, but I couldn’t stand to call off the whole weekend when it was going so well. Aiden is seventeen now… there was no reason he couldn’t handle things while I ran to a store.

I left Eddie behind as an added precaution, but it wouldn’t take more than three hours to grab supplies. On the hike to the car, I kept a fast pace – trying not to dwell on unpleasant thoughts – but that proved impossible. They always sneak up when I’m alone; I was replaying the night of Turner’s death in my mind when I thought I heard footsteps behind me.

I came to an abrupt stop, and so did they; just to be sure, I waited a few minutes while scanning the area but saw nothing. Thinking it was my paranoia or an animal, I continued the hike. The moment I started walking again, so did the footsteps! That’s when I knew I was imagining it; instead of wasting more time, I walked faster… and so did they. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer; without pause, I turned around mid-stride in an attempt to catch this trail stalker. It was a very awkward movement; I nearly busted my ass, but luckily no one was there to see.

It was maddening to progress to auditory hallucinations when we were having a pleasant weekend. Once again I resumed walking, but this time there were no steps behind me. Is it weird that the silence worried me more? It made me wonder if someone really had been there, but decided not to press their luck after a close call. That is the depth of my paranoia; even when the scary shit stops, I can find a way to keep it going.

I felt a little better in the parking lot when I saw no other vehicles had arrived, but then an illogical worry for the boys set in;. The worst part happened before I even got out of the campgrounds; I had to make a loop to get back on the road, and when I passed by the trail I’d just emerged from… I saw Andy standing in the brush! You guys remember the detective that died saving my life, right? He was clear as day but still as a statue… I thought it was another nightmare.

I didn’t want to, but I reversed for another look; if that was a real person I mistook for a dead friend – I couldn’t leave the boys alone. My eyes weren’t off the man for more than two or three seconds, but he was gone. Shaking and soaked in sweat, I unholstered the gun and got out. No one was there.

Unsure whether to be relieved or frightened by the worsening hallucinations, I resigned myself to continuing with the original plan. Besides, the boys had cell phones and Eddie; at that moment, they were technically safer than me. Still, I tortured myself with gruesome scenarios the whole way to the store. What started as fear of a crazed hermit evolved into a clan of inbreeds.

The store was a little farther than I remembered, but I was back with the groceries before noon. It wasn’t easy carrying the supplies alone, but it was well worth the effort. Besides the non-perishables I left behind in case of another emergency – we now had extra lights and large pocket knives for all.

The boys had cleaned the campsite so we left Eddie to his new bone and prepared lunch. I tried to sound casual when asking if they had fun on their own, but Aiden wore a knowing look. He’s a sharp kid; nothing gets by him… but Conner answered cheerfully and I was able to breathe again. Hearing him talk like his old self was worth every miserable second of delusional paranoia.

The boys were always typical brothers… they love each other, but most of the time, they aren’t very fond of each other’s company. The dynamic changed when we lost Amber; while I was drowning my sorrows, Aiden was stepped up to take care of Conner. He grew up faster than any kid should, and that’s why I have to show him we’ll be ok if he goes off to college in the fall. He has too much potential to waste here.

I told the truth when he questioned me later. There was no sugarcoating it; I spoke to him like a man and admitted, “yes, there were rough moments on the trail – but no, I don’t feel like I need a drink.” Honestly, I think it was a breakthrough for us; he was surprised but pleased. I felt a rush of pride as he stood a little straighter and his chest swelled with confidence.

Before we set out on one of the nature trails, I put the ice chest to the far side of our clearing – away from the rest of our possessions. There was absolutely nothing in there that should attract wildlife. The only meat we had was two more packages of hotdogs, and those went inside a small cooler I bought specially for this; it was easier to throw that into my pack than it was to replace more food. The trail was only two hours there and back; we didn’t need to take much anyway.

We got tons of great pictures; Eddie would run ahead of us, barking – telling us to hurry, but then he’d get impatient and run back just to do it all over again. The boys horsed around, giggling like girls, and I wanted to freeze that moment forever.

At the end of the trail is another section of the creek and a decorative plaque that tells you which way to go for what. We were having so much fun, I wanted to see what the options were while we ate our snacks… I never even saw the actual map. Taped on top was another photoshopped picture. Vomit instantly filled my throat as I stared at that monstrosity and contemplated its implications.

It would have been bad enough if it was one already circulating the web… I mean, what are the odds of that in the middle of nowhere, anyhow? Especially when no one knew where we were camping? I chose that place specifically because it’s farther away than the one we normally use. Technically, it doesn’t take a genius to guess the next image would be of Eddie, but to know where to put it?!

Even if these things were at every campsite in the state – it rained two nights ago; it had to be placed there afterwards, or it would have been ruined. Remembering Fake Andy’s earlier appearance, I discreetly signaled Aiden to come over. It broke every fatherly instinct in me not to hide it, but he’s more than earned that respect.

His expression darkened for only a moment before he composed himself. No, it wasn’t a hallucination, and yes, he also thought we should leave. I was still deciding what to tell Conner when he began walking our way, asking what we were looking at. If left to me, he would have walked right up to it, but Aiden made the decision by shoving the photo into his pocket. Without missing a beat he showed his brother the map and told him the other paths were too long for today. As a parent, it’s a little terrifying to see how proficient of a liar he is, but given the circumstances I couldn’t complain.

Now that my focus was no longer on that horrific picture, I realized Eddie was standing alert, hackles raised. My blood ran ice-cold; there was no doubt someone else was out there. Aiden noticed the dog’s stance seconds later, and one look at our pale faces told Conner that something was very wrong.

We made a lot of progress towards repairing our relationship, and I didn’t want to ruin it with an obvious lie… so I said, “we think someone else is out here, but it’s strange that they’re hiding” — all of which was true. For an emo teenager, the mere presence of another person is enough to be on guard, and it had the desired effect on his demeanor.

All of our hackles were officially in raised position as we carefully began our return hike. After the decision was made to immediately break camp, we didn’t speak unless necessary. Eddie kept stopping to watch our backs but we never saw anything. It took every ounce of self-restraint not to break into a run when Conner stopped to examine something hanging from a tree. One of those witch-idol-things was tied to a low hanging branch over the trail – another treat we can thank the movie for. There’s no way we missed it the first time; someone put it there after we passed.

On sheer reflex I slapped his hand away. I couldn’t stand the thought of him touching something the latest psycho touched. How many more Page Turner fans can there be? Or is someone just trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame?… The thought struck a chord, and I was suddenly certain we would return home to find a YouTube video of ourselves being chased through the woods. I’m surprised that hasn’t happened… yet.

It took twice as long to get back to camp, but – if we packed quickly – we had just enough time to make it to the car before dark. The Good Boy stayed on top of the kids while we collapsed the tents, and I didn’t care if a few things got left behind; my only concern was being in that car before sunset. Three times, I stopped to listen to bird-calls that sounded suspiciously human… but again, was it real or paranoia? The boys didn’t seem to notice… except for Eddie; his ears perked a notch higher each time it happened. If they were man-made… that meant more than one person…

It takes a lot to scare me nowadays, but fear for one’s children never dulls. Every sense was hyper-aware as we began our trek back to the parking area. We were pushing our luck with the sun, but if we kept a steady pace – there was still a chance; if not… we would be running through the dark forest. This must be how Sydney Prescott feels; no matter how many times you kill these fuckers – more keep coming.

I tried not to think about the continuing psychological damage being done to my sons and instead, focused on getting their bodies home intact. The light began to fade when we were halfway, but we couldn’t run forward blindly. To make matters worse, more critters were running around; in stories, people always say, “…I could tell it was something on two legs” by sound alone – but I don’t hear the difference.

When we finally made it out of those woods, a few tears of relief were shed by all… until they became tears of sorrow and rage. The front tire was completely flat, we couldn’t leave until I changed it. Upon closer inspection, I found a long nail… and yea, normally that’s a common issue, but hear me out. Aside from the incredible timing, I’ve driven over nails before… it shouldn’t have lost air that fast… not when it’s still plugging the hole.

My personal theory – which cops don’t believe – is that someone put the nail in, then unscrewed the cap to flatten it.

Thank you, Disco! I also believe my credibility with the police should be higher, but since Turner is dead – they think I’m suffering from PTSD and imagining everything. They’ve hinted my life in the Horror industry is likely a contributing factor, but I was doing this long before Psycho made her debut. Damn, look how late it’s gotten; it’s almost over, I promise.

We shined our lights back on the trail and saw two shadowy figures merging with the thick brush. Before we had time to comprehend the image – our fear peaked when headlights appeared; the giant vehicle turned into the lot and slowly crept closer, tires crunching against pavement. Soon, it was close enough to identify as an RV, and it stopped right next to us. The tinted window rolled down to reveal an older man in a Hawaiian shirt and straw hat.

His cheerful disposition did nothing to relieve my suspicion; that was after the basic greetings were exchanged, and he noticed our tire. When his wife’s head appeared behind him, I began to breathe a little easier but stayed on guard; then he parked alongside us, and his grandchildren helped with lighting as we changed the flat.

As it turns out, Fred and family are on vacation; they drive that RV across the country, and whenever it starts getting late, they find a campsite to park at. They intended to spend a few days there, but after I explained our experience, they decided to move on. Once we finally hit the road, we made it home without incident. Who knows how things would be if it weren’t for that family; I only wish there was some way to repay their kindness.

[sigh] Alright, that’s it; go to bed, horror junkies, you had your fix. I’ll have a great story ready for Friday!


Wednesday…

Everyone, this is an emergency; thank you for coming on such short notice! I put out notices for all my Michigan friends to be here; Whether you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, I don’t care – I need them all. Conner is missing; he never came home from school yesterday… we don’t even know where he slept last night. I now have an account for every social media platform, and the usernames are in the description below.

Please, I’m begging you from the depths of my soul, please share my posts. All the information we have is there. As soon as I’m done here, I plan to hang fliers and search any place I can think to look.

Due to our family’s history, we cannot officially rule out a kidnapping, but we found a letter in his room stating his intentions to run away. Normally, kids come home on their own, but we don’t have a normal situation… if the wrong person finds him…

I can’t lose him too, I just… can’t. Please, every share increases the chance of someone seeing him. Thank you so much; I’ll update as soon as we know more.


Saturday morning…

I’m recording this at 2:30am on Saturday morning; it’s the first time I’ve been home longer than five minutes. First, I want to thank everyone who helped spread the word about Conner. With all the shares we received, I doubt there’s a single one of you who isn’t already aware of what happened, but this is mostly for me; this is how I process my pain now.

Wednesday, I hung fliers all over town, talked to every person on the street, and drove to my son’s favorite places. The cemetery’s groundskeeper saw him that morning – sitting at Amber’s grave – but not when he left. I gave the man my thanks and cell number, promising a reward if he called when Conner returned. There was no doubt the boy would eventually try, only if he would succeed.

Hoping he couldn’t pay for an Uber, I decided to try the bus-stop. The closest was three blocks over; definitely close enough to walk if needed. I had one foot inside the bus when my phone rang; if your child is missing, you can’t afford to reject a call no matter how briefly. Stepping away from my only lead, I answered the strange number.

It was the hospital; the world stopped as a woman’s distant voice confirmed I was the father of Conner Jones. I didn’t want to answer; no good news ever came that way. She had to repeat herself a few times before I was able to understand. My mind kept drifting to what it would be like to plan a child’s funeral, but then the word ‘ICU’ made it through the fog.

Dead kids didn’t go to ICU… then I realized who does go, and the fog re-thickened. I was running to the car at full speed when I noticed the woman was repeating herself again. It took a few more tries, but eventually I came to understand Conner was involved in a hit-and-run. A nurse happened to be in a coffee shop nearby and saw everything. She’s the only reason my son survived; he would have bled to death in the street without her. That’s another person I owe my life to… I’m gonna need to make a list.

Aiden met me at the hospital, and now that Conner is awake we’re taking turns coming home to recharge. By some miracle, none of the damage is permanent, but the kid is on a painful road to recovery. His left leg is broken in two places, and they had to perform surgery to stop his internal bleeding. If no complications arise, they plan to release him Monday.

Camera footage showed a black Camry with tinted windows running a red light and swerving suddenly. The actual incident wasn’t recorded, but multiple witnesses say the driver initially stopped, got out to check on Con, then took off. It almost sounded like an accident until two witnesses claimed the car swerved into Conner. I didn’t want to believe that… but let’s be real; it’s exactly what I was afraid of. I’m lucky he’s alive… maybe I should quit the channel… things are never going to change…

I don’t know, that’s all I can handle for now.


Saturday night…

[muttering] Ok, breathe Greg… breathe, breathe, breathe… [long exhale] I need everyone to listen carefully. I’m adding this part in at 11:50pm, same day.

A few hours ago, I went to relieve Aiden when Conner suddenly looked sick and asked for the clothes he was wearing when the accident occurred. He remembered something new; he woke up for a few seconds… while lying in the street. He felt someone’s hand in his pocket… and turned to see a small, dark haired woman with a jagged scar across her face…

When they made eye contact… she winked and asked him to make sure I got her letter. I was already digging his clothes out of the bag they gave us. Until that moment, I hadn’t been able to look at them, but now there was proper motivation. Someone ran my son down in the road, then shoved a note into his pocket before fleeing the scene! Here, I’m gonna read it to you:

When I saw him sneak away, I knew you would be worried sick! I am returning him with kindest regards! P.S. Part four of our hit series is awaiting your review at—’

Well, I’m not going to read the link, but the title is …And We’re Back. You know what, whoever you are? If you wanna tell me your name, I’ll gladly narrate your story – that’s a promise – but you’ll want to drop the Turner act; no one is buying it. I watched that house blow up not two minutes after I walked out! There was nothing left of that bitch to bury!

If anyone feels the need to reach out after this, I recommend an email; if I see any strange faces on my property it’s not going to end well for them.


Sunday night…

I didn’t want to jinx it by saying anything, but Conner was doing so well he got released a day early. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have him back home where he belongs.

Now, Aiden is the one sleeping on the cot. He wants to stay close to Con in case he needs something in the middle of the night. Eddie hasn’t left his side once; it killed him not to be allowed in the hospital. We brought him along for the ride home, but Aiden had to sit between them to keep the dog from jumping on any broken bones.

We had a peaceful evening watching movies and eating pizza, but a sense of doom is hanging over our shoulders; we know it’s only a matter of time before the next disaster strikes. For the next few weeks, I’m only going to record after the boys are asleep, so I’ll let you kno—

[stream ends]


Tuesday

Good morning, Night Crawlers… or it may be afternoon when you’re hearing these words… I hope you’ll forgive me for not doing this live; I’m not up for answering questions yet. We’re still processing everything, but since we got cut off Sunday, I want to explain what I can. Basically, our stream ended because we lost power; the weather was clear – I thought a breaker tripped.

The only sound was that of the creaking stairs as I descended into the basement with nothing but a flashlight. I can’t remember the last time we went down there – it was months ago at the very least. I almost fell when a spiderweb wrapped my face but I managed to stay upright until reaching the bottom.

That’s when I saw him; you know those small, rectangular basement windows at ground level? When I stumbled, the light shined directly onto ours, and my legs crumpled. For the briefest second, Andy’s face was there, looking right at me; then he vanished into darkness as the light fell away with my collapse. I scrambled to rise and illuminate the glass once again, but no one was there.

Think about that for a second, though. It was his face – in a basement window… which meant someone would have needed to lie on the ground. I’m sorry, but that sounds weird even for a crazy person… plus it was a deadman’s face. That all adds up to a hallucination in my book… but I’ve been fooled before; Shit, I’d be willing to believe the deceased detective had an evil twin at this point.

When flipping the breakers failed to restore power, I knew something was wrong. I checked on the boys and gently shook Aiden awake to put him on alert; Eddie also dutifully stood guard, pacing restlessly, uneasy at another division of our forces.

Calling ADT was my next task, but the phone said ‘No Service’… we live in the middle of nowhere; it’s not uncommon… but turning airplane mode on and off usually gets the bars back for whatever reason. Except this time it didn’t work… after three tries it still read ‘No Service’. It was the same story with Aiden and Conner’s phones; we were completely cut-off.

Obviously, red flags would be flying high for all by now, and mine were no exception. Guys, I was done, you hear me? We woke Conner, carried him to the car, and then realized every tire on both vehicles was slashed. The experience taught me you can always feel more hopeless; there isn’t a point where you max out… how has this become my life? My insides contorted as I imagined a knife sliding across my Achilles’ tendon and we retreated back inside.

We were trapped; there was nowhere else to go. It’s maddening… nothing like a game at all… constantly terrified you’ve missed something… wondering if you’re gonna be alive in the morning… if there’s something more you can do… will help come?

It was extremely difficult to move Conner around – he’s in a full leg cast – but the safest place was the downstairs bathroom. It doesn’t have any windows so we threw a blanket in the tub and laid him in there. It was hard to convince Aiden to stay, but I refused to have him out there in even more danger. Eddie nipped my hand as I left – his way of saying, “why won’t you be Good Boy and stay where I can protect you, dumbass?”

After everything that’s happened in this house, I’ve lost all previous attachment – but never had it looked so sinister. The only reason we haven’t moved out is financial; we’re more than ready to find a nice, quiet neighborhood… one where they can hear you scream.

I couldn’t decide what to do or where to start; the gun felt like it weighed 100 pounds as I reminded myself to stay off the trigger. Shadows moved in every corner and I felt another wave of hopelessness wash through me. I wanted to scream, “here I am” and get it over with… but the boys… I had to keep it together for them…

A light breeze blew past, sending a sharp chill down my spine. How did the wind blow inside? Continuing down the hall, I gaped in horror as the open front door came into view. It swayed eerily in the soft glow of my distant light, but I dared not rush over carelessly. Instead, I forced myself to take slow, deep breaths as I scanned the den with my light.

A short cry escaped my lips when the beam revealed a slender man sitting on the couch… and a long whimper as he turned to face me; it was Andy! He sipped from a flask, and the urge to take it almost overpowered better judgment. Before I could move or think, he reached forward; I almost shot him for the alarming movement, but he was only turning on a brighter light. The entire room was illuminated, and we appeared to be alone.

There was no doubt it was my old friend, but I could see how differently he looked now. The warm smile he used to wear no longer touched his eyes, and the aging lines on his face had tripled since we last met. Basically… he was tired as fuck. I was under no delusions as to the reason for his visit; one rarely abandons an entire life – family, career, the whole works – for noble reasons. My only concerns were how and why – both of which he was happy to answer.

I won’t make you suffer through an extra twenty minutes of dialogue trying to describe my array of emotions at the realization that Page fucking Turner still walks this Earth, but I will relay what actually happened the night of the safe-house explosion. Andy was in no rush; he relished the chance to finally share his accomplishments.

He hated his job and his family – then Turner came along with wads of cash and a plan. Most of you probably think what I thought – they were screwing, right? Well, he denied that… saying he just wanted out. Page paid off his gambling debts, and received full access to my case files; that’s how she knew everything!

Getting me out of the house was part of the plan, but Juan took matters into his own hands before we could finish recording, and Andy was forced to stay in character. After I left, they killed the one man who actually tried to help me and escaped from a bedroom window. Once clear, they remotely detonated the real device which was hidden long before the scene began.

Several times, I had to remind myself to breathe during his cliche Villain Reveal, but through gritted teeth I managed to ask what their current ‘plan’ entailed. With a sickening smile, he explained there was no reason to rush now that the power was out and the signal jammer cut any chance of communication… but this part was a recent addition. We were never meant to return from our camping trip, but the family that appeared ruined their scene.

The whole time we spoke, my gun was pointed at his chest, but he never flinched… I had to ask why. That’s when he drew my attention to Turner’s absence and strongly implied shooting him would be the same as shooting my boys… but that didn’t sit right with me…

I think he mistook my silent calculations for submission… because he went on to say it was really Amber I stabbed the night I gave Page half a Joker’s smile. It was more of an impulse than anything… if I wouldn’t have already been aiming at him… maybe… but it doesn’t matter; what matters is that my finger squeezed the trigger before he finished his sentence.

His face went white with shock as he fell against the couch, and I was glad he had time to understand what happened before his eyes glazed over in death. That’s when the windows exploded as a machine gun sprayed the front of our house. The fancy light Andy brought was destroyed and the room was again shrouded in darkness. Thankfully, I was standing near the kitchen and able to get behind the wall but not unscathed; a bullet grazed my arm during the initial blast, and one pierced my calf as I dove from the room.

I pointed my gun at the door – hoping Turner would want to see her handiwork – but she always was a smart psycho. My arm fell limply to the floor as an engine roared to life and headlights painted the walls yellow. There was a brief second I thought she was driving into the house, but finally the lights receded as she turned away.

I crawled to the bathroom and cried with joy to find the door free of bullet holes. There’s been too much tragedy in our lives to keep lying; I told them everything after finally speaking to the police. All our old friends were on the way, but none of them believed my claims about Andy until they saw his body; there was no arguing with that kind of evidence.

I should still be at the hospital but left against medical advice a few hours ago; I couldn’t take it anymore… I needed to be here, with my kids. We have our federal protection team back for now, but who knows how long they’ll stay this time. At least Turner won’t show her freaky face until they’re gone.

I just want to focus on recovery and spend more time with my kids… so unfortunately, I won’t be recording for a few weeks. I’ll post updates on Twitter, but everything else is going to be quiet for a while. I need to process everything that’s happened… thank you for your support and understanding in this matter. I’ll push you guys when I’m healed up.


Part 5