Horror Fiction

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


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

I Found Something Disturbing in Aokigahara Forest


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


This story contains much talk of suicide.

Hello Dweller of Swamps,

It’s strange to finally write this after months of meticulously crafting the perfect letter with which to grab your attention, but sadly those hours were in vain. It’s impossible to express the entirety of what happened without including some rather embarrassing details, but I can’t keep this to myself any longer. Hopefully, you can see past my mistakes and consider reading this to your viewers. There is no defense for my intentions, but I would like to conclude this preface by saying that I am a different person now.

My name is Parker, and I’m a 21-year-old manic depressive, bipolar, college dropout; I’m also a snob and all around asshole. This isn’t a cry for help – it’s an explanation. You see, I’ve been coming to The Swamp since 2018; it’s one of few pleasures in my pathetic life. Any tale where someone suffers more than myself is a treat, but here… I don’t know, there’s something special about the atmosphere; I’ve nearly convinced myself I’m visiting a real place. Did I cross a line from loyal fan to obsessive psycho? Probably, but listen to my whole story before passing judgment.

Eventually, listening wasn’t enough anymore; I wanted to “keep the show going daily” – to hear my words shared with everyone here in the Swamp! The problem? I was a boring nobody, and apparently, so was my family; there wasn’t a single haunting or stalker among us. Finally, I decided to create a work of fiction, but they were dull; even if you read them, they’d be immediately forgotten. No, if I was going to lie, it was going to be something memorable!

After trashing a dozen more drafts, the entire world stopped. My sister died, and I experienced real pain. The previous depressions were nothing compared to the new torments of daily life. Leslie was walking to her car after work when some shitbag just… grabbed her, but that’s not the story I’m here to tell; it’s only the catalyst.

I’ve always wanted to die; not in a ‘I can’t take it anymore’ dramatic way; in a ‘this is pointless and I don’t wanna’ passive way. After Leslie, it became the bad kind. Wanting justice kept me going at first, but when the shitbag went down shooting, that was gone too.

There’s a calmness that comes with the decision to die; the pain finally stops because it doesn’t matter anymore. It felt like my mind was clear for the first time, and I understood exactly what I wanted to do. Opening a new doc, my fingers danced over the keys as words practically wrote themselves. In minutes, three perfect paragraphs introduced myself as a adventurous hiking enthusiast; I explained my love for this channel and lifelong desire to visit Aokigahara – Japan’s Suicide Forest. It was far from finished, but a beautiful beginning.

Next, I bought a plane ticket (round-trip to support my claims), got a passport, and packed my bags. The plan was nearly flawless; I would write of my daring adventures, and when the audience was captivated with my unbelievable discoveries, I would deliver the clincher – the “returning tomorrow, will update soon!” Of course, that was never going to happen. Later, when my body was discovered… Well, you get the idea.

There was a chance details about my true personality would surface, but most people want the mystery; they’ll overlook a few discrepancies if the story is good enough, and I thought mine was. I researched the area to ensure no claims contradicted the legends too much and found the subject fascinating. In 2003, a record breaking 105 bodies were discovered; in 2010, over 200 suicide attempts were made! Due to the drastic increases, they won’t release the numbers anymore.

In the year 864, Mount Fuji erupted and where the lava flowed, Aokigahara eventually grew. Halfway up the mountain, one can see the forest from high above the treetops; that breathtaking view is the reason it was named, Jukai, or Sea of Trees. Unfortunately, the surrounding villages were poor and starving; it was common for families to abandon their elderly in the woods and call it mercy. Many of them committed suicide rather than face weeks of starvation and exposure.

This brings us to the Onryo – vengeful spirits capable of causing physical harm. Many claim these malevolent beings are responsible for most – if not all – of the forest’s deaths and disappearances; even experienced hikers tend to lose their way. Now, the public trail ends with ‘No Trespassing’ notices and warning signs. Those who are determined to die simply venture forth and do it;. if they’re unsure, they tie a ribbon in the trees to guide their possible return.

Sometimes, locals volunteer to perform suicide checks and know what it means to find one of those trails. In case you’re wondering, I took camping gear, but only to support future claims. We can skip the swank hotel, weird toilets, and actual trauma of public transportation. I’d rather jump to where fantasy and reality diverged.

Once I learned what it’s like to travel in a crowded city – I knew multiple trips were out of the question. Instead, I took everything on the first day. Finding reception at the bottom of the mountain seemed preferable to another round trip. Plus, it fit my narrative better – “I was just camping, but things were so scary I came down to send this!” At least, that’s what I told myself.

It wouldn’t matter why I went back afterwards – people always make dumb decisions in those situations. Let everyone speculate I forgot something, or maybe I was forced. The important thing was to steer them away from suicide. I didn’t care what went in its place – Onryo, Yakuza, Aliens – pick your poison!

From the moment I arrived, things were more difficult than anticipated. The insects were drawn to me like they smelled a foreign delicacy in my blood, and the weight of my gear increased with every step. When the trail split in two, I stopped for a much needed break. The signposts were in Japanese, but a passing elderly couple spoke English well enough to help. They exchanged worried glances after noticing my tent; I insisted my interests lay only in camping, but it’s doubtful they believed me.

I’m still in awe of the forest’s beauty; it’s amazing what nature can do when the trees aren’t cut every 10-20 years! If you leave the trail – even before the forbidden zone – it’s practically guaranteed you’ll get lost. I stopped for a few more breaks along the way and reached the end in roughly two hours. A small barrier with numerous warnings offered no challenge in preventing my entry, but that’s what marks the point of no return for so many.

My first glimpse revealed tattered ribbons of all colors and sizes blowing in the breeze. I worried my line would be too easily seen if it started within view of the trail but then noticed a uniquely shaped tree in the distance. Halfway there, a blue, uncut ribbon could be seen stretching into the dense foliage ahead; it inspired a combination of fear, curiosity, and regret. Turning back, I found a new landmark to the right; when sure no others were nearby, I started my own red lifeline.

It was a solid hour before I found a suitable place for the tent. It was the lightest available, but as the clouds gathered overhead, the choice felt regrettable. Not checking the weather is a perfect example of the basic things I overlook in laziness. I set up between two huge trees and hoped heavy rocks would help against the wind; there was nothing to do against flooding except hope it didn’t happen.

It wasn’t until resting inside that I heard the sporadic patter of raindrops and realized the trees blocked most of it. Luckily it never rained hard enough to be more than a nuisance, but the soothing sounds lulled me to sleep. Nightmares are a common theme in the forest’s legend, but that’s true for most haunted places. Regardless, bad dreams are ineffective threats against those of us intimately familiar with night terrors… as long we realize we’re sleeping.

One moment I was resting comfortably; the next – footsteps were crunching in the distance. I rose to look outside, fully expecting a deer or bear. My ears couldn’t discern how many legs it walked on – just that it was heavy. The sound stopped instantly when I unzipped the flap; taking a few cautious steps forward, I scanned my surroundings. It was then I realized Aokigahara was a serial killer’s paradise, but it was too late for new worries. Besides, I was there to die; if someone wanted to help – why complain?

I turned and felt urine stream down my leg. Standing not five feet behind my tent was the elderly couple from before… except now they looked like zombies! They weren’t ghostly apparitions but solid bodies! Their faces were chalk-white and peeling; the woman’s neck had a jagged red slash, and her husband was missing a portion of his skull.

With a sickly, rotten smile, the man – in perfect English – asked, “Are you sure you’re only here to camp? Is there anything you’d like to talk about? We’re wonderful listeners.” As he spoke, they advanced from both sides, and I stumbled backwards.

“Oh don’t be frightened dear,” his wife added, “We only want to help; we have a grandson your age! Or we did… until he left us to rot, the sorry, selfish bastard!” Her voice became deeper with every word until it no longer resembled a human’s.

I retreated faster and soon fell flat onto my back. Twisted roots and rocks jabbed painfully into my skin, but there was no time to stop for the stars dancing in my vision. The couple’s approach grew louder with each step, and their cold, iron grips would come any second. I flailed, desperately propelling myself backwards, but my clothes snagged in several places. Finally, when I thought my heart would fail from pure terror, I jolted awake to a loud clap of thunder.

Outside in the cool, fresh air, I noticed my clothes were soaked in sweat. Once changed, I started a fire and wondered at the possibility of staying awake for the rest of my life; having one of those dreams at night was something to avoid. A phantom-pain lingered from the imaginary fall, but as a lifelong hypochondriac, I’ve learned to ignore most aches and ailments.

In a blatant act of rebellion, my brain showed me awful things waiting in the forest – creeping closer by the minute. I didn’t care about the story anymore, but I was trapped. If I fled in the dark – every branch would be fingers, every animal would be demons, and every cold breeze would be the Reaper’s breath.

Shadows darted about in the corner of my eye, but I was paralyzed. The trance was only broken when a figure suddenly lunged into the clearing; I turned my head in time to catch a glimpse of a pale, angry woman before she vanished. Taking advantage of my regained mobility – I dove into the tent. I felt a cold certainty that’s what They wanted, but my anxiety grew in tandem with the darkness; staying outside wasn’t an option. I felt naked and exposed; countless eyes were watching, waiting… but for what? The whispers hinted suicide, but I wasn’t ready to admit I heard them yet.

Things were almost calm during the first hour; writing seemed like a good distraction, but it was difficult to focus. It wasn’t until accidentally dozing that I heard real footsteps – several. The firelight cast tall, exaggerated shadows onto the tent, and they grew taller with every step. There were at least six, maybe more; I thought they would force their way inside, but they circled me like vultures! Round and round they went, slowly, never stopping or talking, but – occasionally – they showed me things.

I could hear, smell, and feel everything; most husbands granted their wives quick, painless deaths before committing suicide, but sometimes they tried to survive out there. Either way, death always came, and the men were always furious when it did. Their rage and hate poured into the land, strengthening its curse with every fresh infusion of fury.

What’s interesting is how the same children who left them on the mountain were in turn abandoned by their own offspring years later. The Onryo never forgot, and their sons were greeted accordingly. The practice of abandoning the weak may have ended, but its victims remain – and they hate us, all of us.

The visions continued until all meaning of time was lost; my head ached and my eyes grew heavier with each passing minute. I had drifted off for only a moment when the sound of tearing fabric startled me. Inches from my ear, a long, black fingernail poked through a small hole, and I screamed in surprise. The finger was immediately replaced by a glazed, blue eye. Gripped by panic, I leapt away from the tear, covered it with my pack, and sobbed as the circling footsteps resumed. I stayed that way until dawn, when all fell gloriously silent.

There were no retreating footsteps into the forest; they vanished mid-stride as if never there. I opened the flap wide enough for a peek but saw nothing. The gray light of morning filled me with renewed determination; it was imperative to finish my business before sunset, but I was no longer sure what that entailed. Not wanting to trust any decision made under duress, I reassessed my situation from the beginning.

The real doubts began with my letter to you, Mr. Dweller. It was nothing compared to the nightmare of reality. After much soul searching, the file went into the trash bin where it belonged. When I decided to visit Aokigahara, no part of me expected to witness any form of supernatural activity; now that I had – it would practically be criminal not to share it with the Swamp, right?

Admitting I might want to live was too scary; that would mean returning to my miserable existence of everyday life. It was easier to postpone the suicide rather than cancel, but my priority was getting the hell out of that forest. My gear was packed in ten minutes, and leaving the tent behind was an easy decision; no matter how long I lived, there would be no more camping in my future.

Following my red line back to its starting point, I remembered the stranger’s blue ribbon. My intention was only to take a few pictures – for the story – but then it was clearly older than I first assumed. The chances of finding a corpse at the other end were extremely high. Seeing a corpse wouldn’t bother me half as much as a living person would. I could be like the YouTubers and claim it was to give closure to a grieving family – or that it was the right thing to do – but I was chasing a story.

After twenty minutes, the sound of rushing water alerted me to a stream beyond the cliff-side, and the terrain was much better for walking. The forest’s beauty, made it easy to forget the previous night’s terror and the morbidity of my current objective. Lost in another fantasy, I wandered past the ribbon and into an old campsite. A gray tent was flattened beneath a large tree limb, and personal effects were scattered throughout the area.

Initially, I worried a person was inside the tent when it was crushed, but that wasn’t the case. After a brief inspection of the belongings, I noticed a yellow ribbon leading further into the woods. The dead woman was at the end of a much shorter hike. She’d been there long enough for the rope to eat through her decomposing neck; the noose still hung from the tree, but her head and body lay separately on the ground. Taking a picture was horrible, but no one would believe me without evidence.

Her icy, dead stare gave me chills; I couldn’t look directly at her – only through the camera. With my finger over the button, I took a few more steps and waited for the auto-zoom. When the shot came into focus, I screamed and fell hard on my ass.

The woman’s face was back to normal – her lips slightly parted; in no way could she be described as smiling. Yet, when the picture came into focus, that’s exactly what she was doing. Her terrifying grin stretched ear-to-ear, her lips were blood-red, and her eyes were suddenly aware and full of hatred. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her or she might make that face again, but I desperately needed to see that picture.

After several minutes spent blindly running my hands over the ground, I finally found it. The sad, broken remains of my phone only displayed the soft glow of nothingness; we can fast forward past my tantrum. Without a phone, there was no way to judge time, but I knew it was early enough to be safely locked in my hotel room before nightfall.

When retracing my steps through the ruined campsite, I heard a strange, gargled cry – like someone was drowning – and instinctively ran towards the sound. Looking down from the cliff’s edge, I froze at the sight below. It wasn’t water flowing through the stream but blood and bone! Skulls littered the banks, and spines stretched far beyond my sight. My head began to spin, and I sank to my knees knowing another vision would soon assault my senses.

Skeletal Stream

Countless people jumped from that very spot, and countless more were all but pushed. I watched them in an endless loop; so many people – just like me – were surrounded by a horde of ghoulish figures taunting and poking them until they fell. Death wasn’t always instant – some only suffered broken bones; those begged for help until their heads sank below the surface. They were the same gargled cries which led me there in the first place.

I only returned to my senses when leaned forward, hovering at the tipping point. It was my own doing, but not my conscious doing; it required all my willpower to carefully lean back and avoid panicked movements. When there was a comfortable distance between myself and the cliff, thunder boomed overhead, and the sky was quickly growing dark. That’s when I remembered my laptop; it had a clock, but with a little luck – my phone would appear on the Wi-Fi options!

At first, I assumed it must be on American time – because why else would it say 5:15pm? The battery was over half full, but the power died when I opened the Wi-Fi settings. When pressing the power button, the light blinked and died. If it was almost 6:00, that meant I missed the sun’s entire journey across the sky while I was… what? What could account for so much time?

The answer hit me, and I almost lost the little food in my stomach. It hadn’t felt long at the river, but my muscles were weirdly stiff when I returned to my senses. As if confirming my worst fear, the bottom of the sun dipped just behind the mountain’s back and a long shadow fell across the land. That’s when the whispers returned, but it was hard to distinguish the outside voices from my own while crying in the dirt. “Kill yourself now; forget the story. You can’t spend another night out here.” No matter who said it – truer words were never thought.

After repacking the computer and finding my flashlight, panic finally consumed me; I ran without looking back. The headless woman would be there; there’s no way to prove it, but she would. A painful stitch in my side soon forced me to a stop. The flashlight wouldn’t have enough battery to last all night, but if I didn’t turn it on until it was pitch black – it should have enough power to make it to the public trail. The plan was to walk until the light dimmed, then start a fire next to the path.

If nothing else, having a plan granted me several minutes reassurance. I genuinely saw myself making it out of there and being a better person for it – like one of those life-changing experiences you see in a movie where the main character is an entirely different person at the end. All I needed to do was walk back to the blue ribbon; even I couldn’t get lost in the short space between it and the public trail!

The ribbon was gone; I followed it when fleeing the river, but it wasn’t there anymore. As if answering my screams of frustration, a violent wind blew, and a wall of dirt hit my skin like a thousand needles. Underneath the howling wind and crunching leaves there was another sound – whispers – floating to my ears off the cold breeze. They were secrets and knowledge, questions and answers, promises and threats – all for my ears alone! When the trees were calm once again, I opened my eyes in time to watch the last blue tatters fall to the ground.

Instead of being consumed by terror, I felt relieved… The whispers were pleased, and so was I, but immediately upon that realization, was the now familiar feeling of waking from a trance; those feelings hadn’t been my own, and the appropriate response of panic began in earnest. Thinking the trail must be close, I used the flashlight and kept moving in the same direction.

Fun fact: Walking in a straight line is impossible without a guide; you’ll always make a circle. Feel free to Google it; I didn’t believe it either, but it’s an interesting read.

I pointed the flashlight into the cluster of trees and took three deep breaths before proceeding. The light bounced with my unsteady movements, and the whispers begged me to look for their faces – to follow them home – but if they were trying to lure me right – I needed to go left; that’s when the old couple returned.

The moment the light fell on their rotting faces, I came to an abrupt halt, and they laughed at my fear. “You think he’ll wet his pants again?” The man asked his wife.

“Oh, hush, that doesn’t count! That was a dream… wasn’t it?” The woman teased.

“No telling, he was soaked clean through afterwards, who knows what fluids came from where.” The husband answered, and they both laughed.

My eyes only glanced away for a second, and my head never moved an inch, yet they halved the distance between us. Despite every conscious effort to avoid it, I yelped and fell once again. Standing no more than five feet away, they cackled maniacally while the whispers in my head turned to screams, “there’s only one way to end it!” They warned.

Consumed by panic, I struggled to my feet and ran around them while (hopefully) staying on course. When their wild, mocking laughter was gone, I slowed to catch my breath. Turning the flashlight off at that moment was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but every second of battery power was precious. In the dark, my breaths were loud and jagged; it felt like the sound would carry for miles.

As my heart began to slow, a soft whisper spoke into my ear, so closely I felt breath on my neck. “Come play with me.” It was a child’s voice that time, and before a chill ran the length of my spine, small fingers brushed the tips of my own! I frantically fumbled with the flashlight, nearly dropping it before finding the switch. It was on for only a brief instant, and immediately began to dim. As the beam slowly faded, faces began to appear between the trees, watching and smiling.

A whimper escaped my lips as I banged the flashlight against my palm – causing it to flare back to life for short spurts, only to immediately dim again. The pale faces in the forest blinked in and out of existence with the light – appearing closer with every flash, and the whispers promised, “soon!”

My entire system shut down; I collapsed and between loud, wracking sobs – apologized for every horrible thing done to the spirits in life or after. Somewhere in the corner of my desperate brain, I remembered the only paragraph involving “how to appease” an Onryo. They want justice; for many reasons – that wasn’t feasible here, not in the traditional sense, but I promised to share their story with as many others as possible. Then, I repeated it a second time; part of me hoped if I kept talking, I wouldn’t feel hands reaching from the darkness.

The words did nothing to appease the Onryo, but something appreciated the sentiment. The next time the light roared to life, it stayed on. Most of the faces were gone, and the ones that remained were beyond the beam’s reach. Rising unsteadily to my feet, I was surprised to see the clouds had parted; the moon and stars were shining brightly.

I wasn’t foolish enough to let my guard down; there was still a heavy tension in the air, but it was possible to breathe again. Forcing myself to move slowly, I turned in a circle, hoping to see anything familiar. On my third pass, I finally saw it; the end of a blue ribbon tied around a tree. The rest was torn away, but that one beautiful scrap remained; I ran to it – the possibility it would vanish was too real.

Halfway there, a cold, steel hand clamped around my ankle, and I face-planted, hard. If not for the mouth full of dirt and leaves, my scream would have surely woken the dead – though, to be fair, most were already awake. As I tried to rollover, a heavy weight fell onto me; it felt like a knee was pressing into the center of my back with two hands on my shoulders. My terror was complete; I couldn’t move or think. No air was getting through, and my vision was going black, but everything was just… blank.

I thought the distant voices were hallucinations until whatever held me down suddenly vanished with the appearance of multiple flashlights. Fortunately, the hotel manager was always suspicious of my reasons for camping at Aokigahara; when I hadn’t returned that day, he reported me as missing. The officials refused to start the search until morning, but the manager said he had a “bad feeling”; he’s friends with a few of the locals who volunteer there, and convinced them to come immediately.

So yea, I definitely owe that guy my life. There’s a lot I’ll never know about what happened out there, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. What you believe is up to you, but I have a theory.

Suicide was viewed differently in Japanese culture; in the Feudal Era, the act of Seppuku was an honorable way to take one’s own life. It was most often carried out with a short blade to the abdomen – ensuring an especially agonizing death by disembowelment. There were a variety of reasons – usually to restore lost honor or to prove one’s loyalty, but the important thing is – it wasn’t the shameful, cowardly act most Americans view it as. They had a special name and honored traditions to show it was not for the weak.

Many poor souls were happy to die; they saw it as putting extra food in their children’s mouths and freeing their caretakers from an unnecessary burden. They expected their sacrifice to be honored and remembered – not forgotten on the mountain with their rotting corpses! So, I promised to remember – to pass their story on to all who would hear it. I think that’s why some decided to let me leave; not out of kindness or mercy, but a desperation to be known. I’m not sure if that conveys the profound life lessons I learned, but if nothing else, please try to be less judgmental towards others; not everyone is raised with the same ideals or opportunities, but we all bleed.

Anyway, that’s my story. Even if you don’t use it for the channel, I don’t care; the fact you saw it is plenty. Most importantly – thanks for all the shitty nights you’ve gotten me through. Whether you knew it or not, I think you might have saved a few lives when you started this channel. It’s not just that you provide quality entertainment; it’s that you include us – all of us – in every episode. You created a second home where all your friends are welcomed like family. I hope you knew that.

PS: Sorry again for being such a dick before.

Horror Fiction

Infinity Game Guide (Pt. 3)

Part 3 of the Infinity Game series

Now a CreepyPasta

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

Table of Contents:

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

1. A Quick Word:

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

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

Sorry again… let me start over.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Mirward History:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Reflection Conversing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P: Hold on, what—

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

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

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

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

C: Clarify; biological or caretaker?

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

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

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

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

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

C: Your answers are disappointing.

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

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

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

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

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

C: Deal.

P: So, your people are called Infitialis?

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

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

C: You can be terribly naive.

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

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

P: Oh no… was Mom…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

C: Time’s up, blow the candles out.

P: What happens when— [thud]

C: Now! Move! [thud, thud]

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

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

4.Derick’s Infinity Game:

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

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

Derick’s Sketch

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

May 3, 1832

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

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

May 5, 1832

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

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

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

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

[unspecified amount of time later]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 15, 1832

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Agreed.” The man stated simply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Game Genie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 4

Horror Fiction

My Infinity Game (Pt. 2)

Part 2 of the Infinity Game series. 

Now a CreepyPasta

My good friend Danie Dreadful did a phenomenal job with the narration, and she was kind enough to make the FAQ and Inventory section look incredibly cool; You can hear it on YouTube, Podcast, and Spotify!

Hey everyone! I can’t believe the overwhelming response to my last post. When I started this thread, I didn’t expect anyone to read it – I just thought it would be one of those cool things for if I disappeared. You know, one of those documentaries where the only leads are the victim’s strange blog? But then it’s so strange, most people think it’s a hoax?

When that Danie Dreadful chick wanted to narrate it – I thought she was joking, but considering ninety percent of you think it’s fiction… I suppose that makes more sense. It’s okay, I’m not offended – if it helps spread the word – sure, it’s fiction. Besides, it’s pretty cool to hear your own words done up all fancy, and she has a great voice.

Anyway, the reason I’m back is because I have a… “sequel” for you. I did it; I went to the Mirror World and want to share new information! Thankfully, we can get right to the point this time; if you haven’t read my first post – check it out or you’ll be completely lost.

Since I intended to share this experience – I took a tape recorder, but it wouldn’t even turn on. Yes, I know there’s the whole “no electronics” thing, but there has to be a limit there… well, so I thought, but it’s a theory in progress. The point is – I will endeavor to record this experience in its entirety regardless of that setback.

Beforehand, I tried to think of all that could go wrong; never trust yourself to think clearly in a pinch. As a result, I wrapped red duct-tape around my arm rather than the traditional band. It sounds like any color will work, but for a detail so simple – why risk it?

I almost took a gun but thought better of it when plagued by images of a warped, pistol-toting reflection. I wasn’t positive that’s what would happen, but again – not worth it. Even so, I was hesitant to go defenseless; in the end I settled for leaving a broken taser next to our circle. Filling a pack with basic survival supplies was common sense but also vital; the full inventory is listed at the end.

As for who I played with – I brought along my bestie. We met in kindergarten, and she’s the closest thing I have to a sibling. All my life – I’ve been somewhat of a screw-up, but Jess is the responsible one; she’s been adulting at a pro level since we were sixteen.

Obviously, when I approached her about this whole affair, she thought I was joking… or having one of my episodes… but eventually, she came to understand I wouldn’t settle down until it was out of my system. Ever the loyal friend she played along as we gathered supplies, and only when I informed her of our location did she falter.

I had to explain it several times, but eventually she acquiesced – eager to get it over with. If you understand the game, the logic is simple; Mom started in her quaint little neighborhood which equaled a demolished slum-hole in Mirward.

Side note: The name Mirror World kinda sucks… so I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve taken to calling it Mirward.

Following that logic, doesn’t it seem feasible one might find a better entry point by placing their mirrors in a less homely location? That’s why I booked a room at the motel on 6th street. I had unusual difficulties communicating the desire to rent nightly instead of hourly – but these were the preparations worth extra effort. I couldn’t begin to guess how long my trip would take, but interruptions were unacceptable. Eventually, my credit card ended the discussion.

I’m fairly certain no one saw us lugging the big mirrors inside, but if they did – they’ve probably seen stranger things around there. The setup was easy after that; with the taser in place, I presented a list of rules to Jess. They were typed bullet points – laminated and everything – answering any questions she was liable to have in simple terms. For any who wish to use it, a revised copy is at the end, or a PDF is available upon request.

Ignoring her mockery of my bulky attire, I tried to review the rules aloud once more. After I left, she would be forced to act accordingly, but I wanted her to at least grasp the basics. Bouncing off the mirror three times didn’t help either… but on the fourth try, I was rewarded by the sound of beautifully dying laughter.

I fell to my knees from the sheer shock of it; not only was the cold enough to steal your breath, but the whole experience left a dizzying sensation. Several minutes passed before I felt steady enough to stand, but I couldn’t dawdle. Now that I was in the Lobby – the clock was ticking.

As imagined, Jess wore a shocked expression that filled me with a warming satisfaction. One last time – I warned her, “Please mind the instructions… she really is coming…” before removing my pack to free the skateboard. Every second mattered, and while I hadn’t used it much since high school – a few weeks of practice did wonders. I soared down the infinite corridor in absolute wonder – waiting for the click of an opening door to reveal the exit.

Enough time passed to make me wonder if I missed something, but finally, it happened. Coming to a less than graceful stop, I turned to face my reflection. I feel like I can be real with you guys… it was trippy as fuck. She was me! I know mere words can never accurately convey the emotions instilled by such an encounter, but every base instinct screamed, “This is not ok!”

I almost talked to her… all my mental preparations vanished when the moment of truth came, and it almost ruined me before ever leaving the Lobby. When she was sure I wouldn’t speak – Flection chick broke the silence.

“Welcome! I’m so glad you made it! From the moment you found your Mother’s journal, I knew it was only a matter of time!” She grinned slightly wider than natural, giving her… my… face an unsettling appearance, but she also spoke like an old friend. It really did make me want to talk – I had a thousand questions.

“Oh, come now, we don’t have to worry about all those silly rules! You aren’t here to play the game; you’re here to learn… right?” She was so convincing I wanted to believe her… but I guess that’s the whole point…

“Aww, you think I’m lying… well, I can’t blame you for being cautious. Go ahead then – I certainly won’t try to stop you; we can talk after you’ve poked around.” If nothing else, she was polite, but I couldn’t help noticing she skated towards Jess.

Oh, and for the record, I take the skateboard as proof that bringing a gun would be unfortunate.

Alone again, I took a deep breath before proceeding. The open door held nothing but impenetrable darkness, and I kept a healthy distance while accessing my own on the opposite side. The cold knob turned easily beneath my hand, and light spilled into the dim corridor; as I passed through – both doors could be heard shutting behind me.

The hotel was almost exactly as hoped. Suddenly I was in a lavish, swanky room, and although no evil old guy awaited my arrival – there was a beautiful woman. She wore a black evening gown, and her hairdo looked expensive as hell, but I couldn’t stop looking at her ridiculous shoes; they looked like Dorothy’s ruby red slippers were turned into stilettos.

“Good evening, would you care for a drink?” She asked, leaning against the bar and sipping a cocktail… I know it’s silly to point out, but she had her pinky extended; that says a lot about a person – human or not.

Endlessly I’ve debated if speaking to one of those is allowed, but I couldn’t make myself test the theory; this game doesn’t exactly come with extra lives. For the time being it’ll remain a mystery. Regardless, she couldn’t be trusted; while keeping her in sight, I scanned the room for my taser.

“Looking for this?” She stepped aside to reveal an obviously new taser placed atop the bar, and I stared angrily.

“I’m sure you were proud to think of it, huh? The smart ones are my favorite, but it’ll take a lot more to make waves around here.” She was picking at her nails and sounded bored.

My inner smartass was in complete turmoil – itching, begging to be freed, but I bit my tongue until it bled to keep all witty retorts inside.

“Did you know the clever ones break the hardest? It’s because they’re so sure of themselves…” She sighed happily, as if recalling fond memories, and I began to squirm under her penetrating gaze.

Writing the taser off, I began inching towards the exit – ready to run if she advanced a single step.

“Are you trying to be stealthy in your attempt to reach the door? You needn’t be; violence is beneath my station. Besides, I haven’t finished my cocktail yet…” With that, she turned her back to me and resumed drinking. I kept her in sight while creeping closer to the exit, and only when outside with the door firmly shut did I look away.

At a glance, the parking lot appeared void of life, but I was doubtful of the assessment. Before – several blocked-up cars littered the streets, but now there was an assortment of lovely options!

I hoped to have a weapon before this stage, but there was still no sign of life so I skated to the closest vehicle. It was a mustang, and I was only a few feet away when the shrill barking exclusive to chihuahuas filled my ears. The three-legged beast raced toward me, tongue lolling behind in a stream of foam.

I tried jumping onto the car, but the mutt caught my ankle and pulled me backwards. Luckily, it was small, and a single kick propelled it far, but the creature wanted more. Quickly, I shed my outer layer and held it up like a matador; when the dog leapt, I used the coat to pin it down. Heart hammering, I fought desperately to end the incessant barking – terrified of what attention it might draw.

Once blissful silence was restored, I realized the larger problem – what to do next. Zombified or not; the idea of killing a dog was too unsettling. A car was right there and plenty more to choose from; I scooped the deformed runt into a ball and tossed the bundle inside, but the coat was a lost cause. Thankfully, all my layers had duct-tape – including my skin – and I assure you, the pain of removal was completely worth the reassurance.

The mongrel emerged from its wrapping like an angry hornet and resumed barking. At the sight of its beady, red eyes, I fled to the next vehicle with renewed motivation for locating a weapon. My ankle could wait for attention; it felt sore, but I knew the skin was unbroken. The dogs in Mom’s journal were the main reasons I wore steel-toed combat boots, two layers of socks, and three pairs of pants.

At a BMW, I learned that anything with a computer chip wouldn’t crank; the electronics thing got me again. To be fair, I suspected it was too good to be true when the keys were in the ignition, but I digress, it wasn’t a total loss – I found a tire-iron in the trunk and confirmed my ankle was whole if bruised.

Next, I chose an older model Saturn, but of course, the keys were nowhere in sight. That meant it was time to look for a clue; a hide-a-key box beneath the bumper would be too easy, but I had to check anyway. Finally, I noticed the parking space was labeled, “Reserved for C. Perkins” and sat across from Pierce & Perkins Law Offices.

Gripping my meager weapon tightly, I crossed the street, wary for sounds of pursuit. Opening the door slowly, I hoped to remain silent but cringed with terror when a bell chimed above my head. Seriously though, who the hell uses a physical bell anymore?!

The entrance was a reception area with a hallway on the left and desks on the right. Sounds of movement in the back stirred me to action, and I dove from sight just as footsteps entered the room. The sound of a stifled yawn confused me at first, but then I remembered something else from Mom’s journal! The Mirror Master said his “pets” were nocturnal; most of them were still sleeping!

Side note: The name Mirror Master also sucks; henceforth I will refer to him as the Boss.

I was blind beneath the desk as the footsteps drew closer, and for the first time, I became genuinely frightened. All the smug surety that enveloped me evaporated the instant those shoes stopped next to my hiding place. There was no room to swing, but I positioned the tire-iron for a jab.

Any hope I had for not being discovered was dashed when the thing sniffed the air in deep, grunting breaths – like it smelled me. Willing myself not to scream when the inevitable head appeared, I waited… but decaying, spindly fingers came first; they were covered in dirt with jagged nails and curled around the desktop’s edge.

I almost panicked and struck the hand, but controlled myself a moment longer. A slight whimper escaped my lips when greasy strands of black hair dangled into view, and tiny bugs could be seen crawling through it – nesting. The thing’s breaths were growing heavier, as if excited to find me, and I thought my heart would fail.

When the face was finally before me, I didn’t aim my strike; the fact the tire-iron went through its eye socket was a one-in-a-million lucky hit that would never happen again – but it saved my life. I was frozen in place by shocked awe as the corpse slumped forward and fell heavily to the ground. Fluids leaked from more than its head as I tried to crawl around it, but the stench seeped into my clothing and was there to stay.

Standing up, my knees felt weak but I had to keep moving; too much time was wasted, and I still needed keys. Down the hallway were three doors. One was a bathroom, and the other two were labeled with nameplates. I didn’t dare open Pierce’s office, but Mr. Perkins had a set of keys in his desk drawer. Still fearing his partner, I left quietly without further delay.

Outside, I was dismayed to see the sun had definitely made progress crossing the sky; it was almost at its highest point. Not having a way to track time was the hardest part; I highly recommend learning to use a sundial before making the journey; I’m learning on YouTube.

Hearing the Saturn roar to life instilled me with a proud sense of accomplishment, and the fear from minutes before was forgotten. Now, maybe you’ve been wondering, “Where would your boss fight be if you don’t want a wish?” I wondered that myself during the weeks of preparations, and after considering several possibilities – a school seemed the best bet.

I didn’t want to repeat Mom’s mistake, so instead of making the long drive to the university – I decided to try the much closer community college. Of course, if I guessed wrong, I wasn’t going to risk a second location; I fully intended to be home long before it got dark.

The road conditions were decent for the first few miles if I drove in the center, but then potholes grew as the pavement shrank. I knew what was coming next, but couldn’t let myself panic. Three miles away from the college, I was met with a roadblock; the barricade had a “Road Closed” sign in the center, and a “Detour” sign pointing left.

Now, keeping in mind the directions are reversed in Mirward – the only thing to the left was the river, but I didn’t see any problem with the road ahead; besides, the roads were shit everywhere, but this was the first time any notice was given. Suspicious, right?… Getting past the barricade required driving onto the sidewalk which put me extremely close to a cluster of antique shops.

I was scraping by with barely an inch to spare, when glass suddenly exploded next to my face. I reflexively punched the gas and the car surged forward. At the sight of more creepy fingers clasping the window frame, I slammed onto the breaks, and cried in relief when a severed hand fell limply onto the pavement.

Behind me, two zombies were approaching fast – one clearly the hand’s owner. I dove back into the car, eyes locked forward, and steered around the worsening road conditions while trying not to panic at the loss of my window. Aside from the obvious cuts to my arm, I felt a few more on my face and neck. At the next intersection, I parked in the center and carefully removed the shards from my skin – you never know when another chance will arise. Luckily nothing warranted wasting time with the first-aid kit.

The moment I feared came one block away from the college. The road was destroyed, leaving only one narrow path in the center, and I could already see things moving in the ditch to the right. The sun was officially at its highest point, and the image of an hourglasses was brandished into my mind.

I was torn between speeding across – which… you seem like a smart group, so I’m sure I don’t need to explain the risks there – or continuing my slow and steady pace. Before you condemn my actions, let me remind you my driver’s side window was now shattered, and my only weapon was a tire-iron that I was already pushing my luck with. Do you see why I might feel the extra push toward a final sprint? Just one more left turn and I would meet the Boss! Well, I don’t mind telling you; it was a fucking disaster. Always, always choose slow and steady; but what’s done is done.

While lining up for a straight shot, I envisioned several zombie creatures emerging too late to matter. I didn’t anticipate their movements to be burrowing, but had I gone a little slower, I might have noticed the cracks spreading through the road before it crumbled beneath me. The airbag broke my nose, and the car was totaled, but no major bones were broken, and I missed the long drop by a few feet.

At the sound of an approaching horde, I clambered out of the window and up the opposite embankment. A car door was ripped open just as I made it to the top, but I dared not look back. Tears blurred my vision as I sprinted between a vape-shop and liquor store, but on the other side lay sweet victory.

Wiping my face, I scanned the area patiently before emerging from my dark corner, but the low growl came from behind me. It wasn’t the sound of a chihuahua this time – it was the sound of a large, undoubtedly zombified dog. Never try to outrun animals; they’ll always win. Instead, I leapt atop a dumpster and screamed when it shook with the animal’s collision.

This time there was room to swing; I really didn’t want to, but I focused on its yellow, third eye, snake-like tongue, and foaming mouth as I did what was necessary. Black blood sprayed with every strike, and I cried apologies with each impact. Killing dead people was one thing, but I hoped to avoid the animals; a cat may very well be the death of me in the next game.

My nose was swollen; I could see it from the corner of my eyes and the visual obstruction bothered me more than pain or mouth breathing. Mom escaped with a few scratches, and here I was – not even at the halfway point and barely standing. I entered the college without further confrontation, but the sun was moving at an uncomfortably rapid pace.

Once inside, I was able to use the skateboard and help myself to a protein bar. I wasn’t completely sure where the Boss would be, but if I didn’t find him after a single pass-through – I would be forced to leave anyway; there wasn’t time for a second location… there wasn’t even time to get home if I didn’t find a vehicle close by…

That’s when my reflection decided to show her face; she waited for me at the bottom of a stairwell, and I felt foolish for not expecting her. “You look like shit! I mean… I know this place can be rough, but I honestly expected better from you!”

I glared angrily as she looked me over, but she was blocking the steps, and I didn’t want to get too close. “You made decent time, but at what cost? Do you understand you’ve ruined our nose? No! Of course you don’t, you never care how we look!”

I’m not sure if that display was part of her act, but of all I experienced in Mirward, Flection Bitch was unquestionably the most terrifying. I don’t pretend to understand the Boss; maybe he’s a demon, or wizard, or something else entirely – but there’s nothing more dangerous than an enemy who knows you.

“You’re more intelligent than most of the livestock – fine, bravo; but you’re missing the bigger picture – I am too! We’re the same! We should be working together!”

I raised an eyebrow at that and scolded myself for letting her see my curiosity. If she thought I would agree to a timeshare she was delusional, but it’s more likely she was simply stalling – a point I communicated via glancing out of a nearby window.

She understood the gesture and replied accordingly. “Ugh, you think I’m stalling now… fine. You’re going upstairs next? Great, I’ll go ahead, just listen while we walk.”

I was hesitant to follow her anywhere, but had to go up regardless. As long as I stayed a few yards back, I could diverge paths when needed.

“I can’t read your mind; I know it seems like it, but it’s only because we are the same. Everyone in your world has a counterpart here, and they’re all the same people living in different realities. Obviously, your world is far more pleasant – which means we tend to grow bitter on this side. We can see everything you do through mirrors. Every time you look into one, I’m staring back, but what you don’t see is how I’m still there after you look away. It’s the same for all of us.”

She knew she had my attention, but I didn’t understand why she removed a flag from the wall; it was one of those shorter kinds that sit in a bracket. I raised my tire-iron defensively as she snapped the pole over her knee, but the makeshift spear wasn’t for me; it was for the zombie exiting a nearby classroom.

“I can’t stand interruptions, and we’re almost there so listen close. You’ll never learn everything in this one visit – not without making a wish – and if you die, I die. Your little friend isn’t easy to fool either – meaning I have a proposition… I will help you get home, but in exchange – I want you to do some research before returning.”

It’s amazing how hard it is to stay silent once you’re in the middle of a conversation, but I managed. As we climbed another flight of stairs, I almost wished she could read my mind – that’s how badly I wished to communicate my offense. If she knew so much, she should be aware of the limited knowledge available on Mirward. My ignorance wasn’t a result of laziness; for months, I interviewed every source I could find!

“I see by your indignant expression that you misunderstand… again. You see the end of the hall? The Boss is inside.”

The door she indicated was labeled “Dean”, and before stepping away – she retrieved a folded piece of paper from her pocket.

“You didn’t know where to look – put this somewhere safe… it’s a list of books you’ll find helpful. I know you don’t believe me yet, but you will. I won’t bother you again for this trip – call it a show of good faith – but when you leave here, use the faculty parking exit. If you take a left at the bottom of the stairs on the first floor – you’ll go straight to it; a blue car will be waiting, but this will still be the hardest part.”

“Shocked” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt at that moment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I trusted her, but even if she was playing a long con – it still meant she had to help me home this time. Besides, I was in bad shape with a long way to go; if she was willing to let me pass unmolested… well I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. When she was well out of sight, I shoved her note into my pocket before opening the Boss’ door.

The room was well lit and the Boss was sitting at a large, oak desk. Since arriving in Mirward, so much had happened that I forgot about his appearance… I couldn’t help but giggle at the sight.

“I honestly could not decide if I liked or loathed you, but now… I’m leaning toward loathe. How can someone who thinks so highly of herself be so immature?” Oh, he was disgusted, but I didn’t care; that was the closest to a real-life Spider-Man I would ever get.

“You guys keep saying that… do I really come across as that conceited?” I always thought myself humble… but it was such a relief to finally speak!

“Absolutely. Now, get on with it – what do you want? Make a wish and get out, I do not relish this form.” He examined his costume, and a careless movement sent web-string flying across the office; I felt like I could die happy.

“Oh, I thought you knew… I don’t want anything… I just came to… umm, you know… check this place out.” I couldn’t help but stare at my feet. Even through the mask his gaze felt like a thousand eyes.

“You are a complete imbecile.” The polite but firm tone vanished, and only malice remained. It frightened me so badly, I almost blurted out a wish for money.

Instead, I inched towards the door while apologizing. “You’re absolutely right, I’m very sorry for wasting your valuable time; I’ll let myself out.” Obviously, that didn’t work.

“I strongly recommend reconsidering your actions, child! To think I respected your mother! How such a… brat… came from her – I shudder at the thought!” He screamed hard enough for spit to fly through the mask, and I froze in place.

“You’ll get no argument from me—” I tried.

“Silence! You want to learn, you say? Fine, let’s try a mental exercise, shall we? You’ve read your mother’s words… were you surprised by my friendly demeanor? Perhaps, due to my reputation, you envisioned a vile creature – but then my charming grace led you to believe… differently. Am I close? A simple nod will suffice.”

Close enough anyway; I nodded affirmation with my mouth slightly agape.

“Excellent! Now, based on how things turned out for your mother – a woman I was amused by – how do you suppose your story might end? You – a disrespectful brat?”

“It’s just… I’m sure I’m wrong – sorry again – but umm… your endgame seems to be getting a soul… and… I thought since you went to all this trouble of the elaborate setup… that maybe you couldn’t just… take one…? Besides, most legends agree that souls are a free-will thing…”

“It’s been a long time since someone like you has come along. Do you know what your problem is? It’s youth. You young ones have these tiny, insignificant epiphanies – and you’re so pleased with yourselves – you fail to see anything beyond that simple fact! You are correct – to an extent; I cannot take your soul by force, but I can do quite literally anything else.” The mask suddenly conformed to his face beneath, and the terror of it was indescribable.

Mom saw fangs, but she didn’t see the twisted shape of his ears, the long slant to his eyes, or his lack of nose. As he closed the gap between us, the mask began to fade entirely, so that by time our faces were inches apart – the only thing I saw was his pasty, bluish gray skin.

His breath was cold and visible as he spoke. “I’m feeling hungry today, so I’ll give you one, last chance. Do you want to make a wish, or do you want to die?”

I knew without a shred of doubt he was serious. For all my planning, I overlooked the most obvious detail; my intentions never mattered – the game is still the game. Worst of all, he was right about me; I was so proud, so busy patting myself on the back – I missed everything else.

I nodded vigorously without knowing what I would wish for, but the moment I did – Spider-Man stood behind his desk once again.

“Rotten brat – take a look outside, it’s getting dark much faster than usual; you’ll be lucky to make it back alive!… Well, then? Spit it out!” He was screaming again.

Before I tell you what happened next, I want you all to know I fully believed I would die there. No matter how I looked at it – there was no way out. My game was over, and soon Jess would open that horrible note in the sock drawer. It wasn’t a matter of selflessness, but it was now so dark outside – there was no point in wishing anything for myself.

“I want Jess to have a long, happy, normal life and to live as if I never dragged her through this. I want her to follow the instructions I left and move on… peacefully.”

“You saw that movie didn’t you?” He asked blandly.

“What… huh?”

“Don’t play dumb; you thought a selfless wish would negate the deal, didn’t you?” His tone was extremely accusatory, and frankly, offensive.

“Holy shit, does it?”


“Then give me the contract – as you pointed out – I’m in a hurry!” I’m a sore loser, I admit it, but I thought he was stalling me with false hope. Turns out he was talking about some really old move called Bedazzled, but that’s not important since it had absolutely no bearing on my situation.

A thick scroll appeared in his hands, and with a snap of his fingers it unrolled into a pile at his feet. A quill suddenly manifested in his other hand, and remembering the blood signature, I extended my finger – tensed and waited for the jab. I watched in slow motion as his arm darted forward, and the sharp tip made contact with the soft pad of my finger. Nothing happened.

Once again, the Spider-Man facade vanished, but I struggled to stifle a laugh at the confused expression left in its place. The Boss was no longer towering above me, but hunched over my finger in an utter state of dismay. Three more times he jabbed my finger with increasing strength and speed, yet nothing happened.

“What are you?! Why does your existence plague me?!” His anger returned with the briefest glance at my smile, and all fears of laughing were gone.

“What do you mean, what? I’m obviously human; you—” I was just as confused as he was. It was a shame we didn’t have time to discuss it.

“Get out! Out, you damn, heathen!” He yelled while shooing me away.

I was moving, I assure you; when he said those words my paralysis was over.

There was hardly any light remaining, and I had more questions than when I came, but all that mattered was leaving. I turned left on the first floor, and didn’t have time to wonder if it was a trap. Doors were opening all around me, and nothing good was coming out of them.

I was skating down a long hallway and saw the exit at the end, but there were several more classrooms to pass. My legs began to shake and I almost fell over twice, but only seconds remained before I would be surrounded. Finally, as I burst through the last door standing between me and freedom, a hand grabbed the back of my shirt, and pulled.

The skateboard rolled away and was never seen again, but it served me well. Before I could catch my breath, the hand lifted me high into the air, and my feet dangled above the ground. Pretending to swing the tire-iron, I pulled my arms from the sleeves – which is why you never button-up – and fell back to the ground; I rolled a comical distance before daring to rise, but the blue car was immediately noticeable.

I tried not to let hope carry me away… it was still likely a trap, but it was my only option; there were no others to choose from, and zombies were closing in fast.

This time the keys were in the ignition and it cranked… there was also a gas mask in the passenger seat with a note that said “wear me or die” – so I wore it… then I took it off because I couldn’t see Jack shit, but I kept it handy.

Remembering the road destruction on the way in, I took a longer route back, but along the way I found no more opposition. It was like the zombies were on strike. Several buildings were in flames, and I thought for sure they were ambushes, but I passed each one without incident. Just when my hopes began to rise, I pulled into the motel to see three giant zombie dogs.

I had to run over two before the third fled, but I parked as close as possible to the entrance. Done with the driving portion of the game, I put the strange gift on once more and entered. The whole place was filled with a thick, white smoke; regardless what it was, the mask surely saved me.

No one confronted me on the way to my room, but the beautiful lady was waiting with a mask of her own. It’s interesting she would need one… but she was furious at my appearance. Apparently, violence was no longer beneath her station, and she made one hell of a scary sight in that big mask and elegant gown.

In her anger, she charged at me, and I jumped over the couch to reach my taser. I turned to meet her and heard the satisfying zaps of contact when it connected with her midsection. She fell to the floor with a heavy thud, and immediately, a chorus of doors erupted outside – more were coming. There was no hesitation in my sprint to the exit; I dove into the Lobby and slammed the door behind me, cutting off all sounds of pursuit.

The cold of the infinite corridor hit me like a punch to the gut, but I was so grateful it didn’t matter; struggling with each, painful step, I began my long, wheel-less trudge to the mirror. It felt like an eternity before Jess was finally in view, but once she was, a new burst of energy surged through me. I ran the rest of the way, holding my right arm up to point at the red tape.

You won’t be surprised to hear she’s furious with me; more so since hearing my side of things. It would have been wise to edit out a few details, but she can always tell when I’m lying, and I was too eager to share anyway. I would also like to take this time to thank all of you as well; it is an honor to share this with your community!

As for the note from my reflection – it was a short message followed by a list of reading materials and where to find them. I do not think it wise to reveal the list – some of the texts are dangerous – but I will copy the rest below; I’m sure you will be equally confused by the contents as myself.

‘What you know is incomplete; do not return until you learn the rest. I could not tell you more before your meeting with the Master, but now, you will understand the truth.’

It makes no sense, but I’m going to find these books and keep you updated. I do not recommend anyone playing the Infinity Game for any reason, but if you do – please be safe! Below are the FAQ’s and inventory list I previously mentioned – or comment with your email if you would like the PDF’s. Until next time, friends.


  • Where the hell did you go?!
    • I told you, Mirward! Now, grow a pair and stand firm!
  • Why are you back so soon?
    • If tape is on left – it’s not me! Don’t move; she can’t hurt you!
    • If tape is on right – move; I’m in a hurry!
  • Does it really know the future?
    • I don’t know, but it’s irrelevant; it’ll say anything.
  • You suck! Why would you do this to me?
    • Think of my other prospects. That’s why.
  • How do I contact you? It’s an emergency!
    • You seriously can’t. If you leave the circle – I’m dead. If you have to leave anyway – destroy the mirrors first.
  • Why did the mirror suddenly shatter?
    • I’m dead, sorry. Destroy the second mirror immediately; then seek further instructions in my sock drawer.
  • I have to pee…
    • Without leaving the circle or touching the mirror, retrieve the bucket hidden behind the silver one… sorry again.
  • How long is this going to take?
    • No clue, but at least several hours. Don’t try to hold it; just use the bucket.
  • Something else is coming, what do I do?
    • Break the mirrors and save yourself, I’m already doomed.

Full Inventory

🚫Never take something you cannot afford to lose🚫

  • Skateboard (straps easily to outside)
  • Protein bars / water
  • Matches
  • First-aid
  • Paracord bracelet
  • Compass
  • Gorilla glue
  • Screwdriver
  • Pocket knife
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Face mask
  • Eye drops

Part 3

Horror Fiction

Para-Hunt: Episode 101

⚠️Fair Warning to all ⚠️ 

This is only horror in the loosest sense. It’s a comedic paranormal thing. Super big thanks for guest star appearances by my favorite demon, CREEPYFACE and others ❤️‍🔥

Now a CreepyPasta


Is it ready?

3… 2… 1…

Welcome back, Creepers! It’s your demon host, CREEPYFACE, and this is Episode 101 of Para-Hunt! Me and the Crypters are coming at you live from Backwoods, Louisiana! Tonight, we have ourselves a lovely trio of Hunters planning to check out a local cemetery. As usual – their mission statement is to “record evidence of the paranormal” so let’s see if they can pay the piper! Can you imagine if they learned half the horror community was actually what we claim to be?!

Their channel is Buster of Ghosts, and a link is in the description if you want to look. They’re doing okay for themselves with 10k subs, but let’s see if that number doesn’t go up after tonight! If this is your first time tuning in – we rank all teams by Class A-D, and like to use this portion of the segment to give you a little background on who we’re following. Overall, we’re ranking these guys as C-Class; when exploring they only use spirit box apps. In the beginning, they stayed around their Texas hometown, but lately they expanded their travel radius.

I’ve skimmed through their top ten videos, but found no legitimate encounters so we have the honor of popping another cherry! I don’t think these guys are pants-wetters, but I’ve been fooled before; let’s just hope they don’t turn out to be cheaters, huh?

Here’s their homepage; the tall ginger in the middle is Eric, the blonde to his right is Chloe, and the thicker guy in the hat is Travis. The girl should be especially fun – she screams every time a door slams. Now, as you can see – they wrote this nice, long bio about growing up in a small town and bonding over a shared love for the supernatural, but here on Para-Hunt we like to go behind the scenes! That’s right, it’s time for our resident Shadow-man to do his thing!


And just like that – we’re on location! Our new friends are still at the hotel; let’s see what they talk about when they think the cameras are off…


Did you do any research before suggesting this place?! Please tell me we didn’t drive four hours based on a random YouTube video!


What difference does it make? It’s not like we’re ever going to find real ghosts! Besides, did you see how big it is? It’s an easy episode of exploring; all we have to do is mention a few temp drops and strange noises.


The man has a point – remember when we explored that abandoned hotel last October? It was full of squatters, but we didn’t learn that until the next day – after gaining 200 subs overnight!


And what do you think will happen if viewers find out we’re cheating? It was one thing to take chances early on, but we have too much to lose now; sponsors are finally beginning to notice us!


We aren’t cheating; don’t be so dramatic! It’s not like we’re paying kids to run around slamming doors anymore!


I don’t understand how you can be so ignorant when—


Come on, guys, don’t fight; we got a long night ahead. Besides… these big channels must be doing something extra… there’s no way they’re getting all that footage on the up and up.


Uh-oh, sounds like there’s trouble in paradise! Before we cut back, do you think we should give them a little taste of what we have in store for later?…

You bet we should! How about the book on that table?…


The shit?!


Ooo, that made a nice smack! Told you the girl was a screamer, and did you see how high they jumped?!…

Oh, look, time for the blame game!


I’m sick of you two setting up these stupid pranks! I swear to God if you put this into the video – I’m gonna be pissed; it’s not funny anymore!


I had nothing to do with that one!

Shit bruh, please tell me you’re recording because that was amazing! How did you do it?


That’s not cool; I’m fine with adding some prank clips to the videos – they play well with the audience, but even I’m tired of you trying to convince us they’re real…


Dude, whatever! I—


Wow, they got riled up fast! Let’s give them some time to cool down, shall we? I’ll keep an eye on our friends while you guys explore the cemetery.


And we’re back at… where’d that sign go?… Ah! Cypress Bayou Cemetery. Our Hunters learned of a Weeping Woman; it’s said her cries of anguish are heard throughout the graveyard – even during the day.

While me and Lucy grab some info, Helen will take you around for a Banshee’s eye view so you can see how big this place is.


Here we go; hold on tight! Who needs drones when you have a Queen of Troy? Cypress Bayou is aptly named indeed; I guess that’s Louisiana for you, although this is my first time back in some seventy odd years.

Look at those beautiful mausoleums; I love the intricate stonework and marble plaques! This place definitely has some great stories to tell… and the groundskeepers clearly take pride in their work – those rose bushes could win competitions! The paths are all paved, and lined with flowerbeds; a girl could haunt this place for eternity!

I hope our Hunters aren’t too disappointed by the lack of homeless population, hehe… but that just means we should step up to fill the void, right? Whew, this place is huge… okay, final stretch, and the coast is clear; let’s get lower and do a proper flyby!


Did you enjoy the ride? The pamphlet says the earliest graves date back to the 1600’s, so there must be a few locals willing to help us out. If we take the path on the left, we can head towards the oldest residents and maybe find something interesting along the way.

Haha, Potter Pan wants to know where Quasi is. You must be a first-timer; welcome! Everyone’s favorite mascot is still in the van – the sun has only just set; he needs a few minutes to wake up or he’ll be grumpy all night.

What’s this I spy ahead, ladies? Doth my demonic eyes deceive – or do we see our first potential of the evening? Lucy, it’s your turn; go get us an interview – this is definitely your people.

While she makes the introductions, let’s see if anyone has another question…

Nightmare’s Edge, what up?! Glad to see you back, but no, our Chernobyl vacation was delayed by this detour. Don’t worry though, we’ll be flying most of the way so it won’t take much longer.

Lily Livers, my favorite cannibal! I’m glad you asked; we’re actually on our way to Mississippi to check out a place called the Deadlands, but we saw those Hunters and decided to have some fun.

Oops, I’ll have to tell you the rest later; Lucy is waving us over, we must have a new friend!


Everyone, this is Lady Nopeingham! She’s also passing through, but was kind enough to stop and chat a moment.

Lady Nopeingham:

Do these Hunters seem like the types to give blood donations?


Honestly, no… not really…

Lady Nopeingham:

Hmm… do any of you have the power to override the Free Will clause?


No, sorry…

Lady Nopeingham:

Shame. Oh well, enjoy your evening; I must be on my way.


Okay, wow she left fast; moving on, then.

Uh-oh… is that the sound of a certain gargoyle coming in for a landing? Quick, turn your volume down before the [thud]… never mind.

Whoa, whoa, easy there fella; come on, you’re gonna knock me over. Tell you what, let’s cut back to Shade while we get Quasi over to the entrance. I feel like this is a good group to play Moving Statue with!


Welcome back! As you can see we’re on our way to the cemetery, and they’ve just gone live. Do… do you think we should give them a quick shadow-man flash and see if they notice?


I hope everyone is as excited as we are! The locals refuse to go there after dark because—


I had a feeling we should…


but we’ll take y’all there so we can find out together!


Oh my gods! They didn’t see, HA! Oh-oh, look, their viewers are trying to tell them!


Hey, wait a second… why are the comments going crazy? I can’t read from back here.


Shut up; y’all are messing with us; hold on let me scroll up, they’re trying to scare us – saying a shadow person just appeared in the back…

Wait, shit… oh my God! Oh my God!


What the hell is going on?!


Wait, wait… wait…


The fuck, man! You just watch the road before we end up as ghosts!


I’m fine!


No way, it’s… they photoshopped… more are sending… oh my God!


Ugh, looks like we got another Repeater… this could take a while. Anyway, make sure Quasi is ready to go, we’re about five minutes out!


Ahh, good fun, good fun. Welcome back, so here we are at the oldest crypts available, and we’ve made some new friends… including, yes, the Weeping Woman herself! Joining us on tonight’s Hunt will be:

  • Jane Tarver: 1605-38, CoD: Childbirth
  • Peter Reed: 1756-79, CoD: Redcoats
  • Duncan Miller: 1798-40, CoD: Outlaw

As usual, we’ll pair each one with a Hunter and see who gets the most ParaPoints! Here’s a quick rundown of how to score for the new folks:

  • Double-takes – 5pp
  • Screams – 10pp
  • Runaways – 15pp
  • Quitters – 20pp

But the most important rule of all is: do not give them anything too tangible! If they really see you – it’s back to zero! Any questions?…

Ah – Runaways flee the place they’re standing but not the location. Quitters say “fuck the team” and go straight to the car alone.

The Hunters should be here by now; let’s get this party started with another Banshee view!


The Game is my favorite part, I hope you’re all equally excited!… Ah there’s our little Hunters! Excellent; they noticed Quasi, hehe.


So, who do you think we should pair? You want to put the ladies together this time?… Cool, then Eric can be with Duncan and Travis with Peter. We’ll follow along to serve as referees and make sure you don’t miss any of the good stuff!


I wish we had a drone so y’all could see how huge this place is, but we found these maps at the entrance. See how the paths are everywhere? They’ve been expanding this place for almost 500 years!

Since there’s so much ground to cover, we’re going to split up and meet at this far corner. That’s where the first graves were dug and therefore has the highest chance for activity.


I hate when we split up; the spirit box said my name last time…


That’s the whole point, haha; come on, let’s get going!


Are you guys ready?!


These graves up front are all from the last ten years, but I guess that makes sense. I’ll let y’all in on a little secret… I chose this path because it’s the one from that video… the Weeping Woman thing…

Anyway, I know Chloe doesn’t want us to talk about it because she’s still expecting to see prank footage, but at the hotel—


Wait, he missed the gargoyle… oh, I know!


Hold on…


5pp for Duncan!


Did y’all hear that? The bushes? Seriously, I’m not even joking – I heard it right where that stupid statue is! Ugh, it’s exactly like the one by the entrance; how many of those things do they have? Shit… that thing is tripping me out…

Damn, I sure did forget the spirit box – thanks, y’all.


This might be the nicest cemetery we’ve seen yet… ugh, except for those ugly gargoyles. There’s another one, look; just like the one by the entrance. I could understand if—






10pp for Jane!


Oh my God, why me?… I know y’all heard that…

Okay, y’all are right; whew, this is why we’re here. It’s time for the spirit box… hold on, the app is loading.


I’ve been looking forward to this; I’ve never seen one, but Ms. Lucy says I can speak to her when she turns it on. I’m very intrigued.


Hello… is… is someone here with me?


… Yes…


Hooo kay, umm, are you the one called the Weeping Woman?…


… … Yes…


[deep breath] Were you murdered?


… … No…


… huh…


I wonder how the others are doing; you guys would tell me if one of them was messing with me, right? Because if I find out they’re making these weird noises, I might not be a good sport about it. Especially since that stunt in the hotel room… that shit was all Eric! Just you wait… he’s got a clip and he’s saving for who knows what special little moment.

Damn, look at that – it’s another gargoyle; someone around here bought those things in bulk is all I can figure…


Okay, let us give this a try…


Holy shit! What was that?! Did you see? It was like an orb shot across the path! Someone tell me— yes! It’s on film; oh my God, I can’t wait to show those assholes!


5pp for Peter!


Hell yea – know what? I’m actually gonna use the spirit box tonight, holy shit!

Okay, umm, hello… will you talk to me? I can hear you with this… umm device.


Help me! Help me! It hurts!


Fuuuck, dude! No!…

I dropped everything; I’m sorry, oh my God! [sobs]


Haha, oh snap; I thought he was gonna run for sure! 10 more for Peter!


Umm, can I do something to help you… like… move on?


… … … Die


Shit, I really don’t wanna be alone anymore…


Okay, I’m not proud of my actions back there… throwing my drink onto that statue – creepy or not – was vandalism; and that’s not cool. That being said, I think we need to get everyone back together now and just get out of here…

I haven’t turned around; we’re clearly going in the same direction… but look at this next gargoyle… it’s wet, and there’s ice cubes on its feet! What the—


This kid is jumpier than horny hare; I think I might breathe into his ear a smidgen.


—how? Can anyone tell me— [squeal]


Damn, son! That sounded like a little girl! 10pp for Duncan, but that might deserve bonus points later.


This isn’t possible; it was the wind – nothing else… and maybe the path circled back somehow! I was moving fast…

Here, let’s look at the map again…


How upsetting you suppose he’d be about losing that there map?

I reckon we best find out, then.



We have a runaway; 15pp for Duncan!


[sigh] … was it a plague?


… … No…


Geez, what else is there… did you… die in childbirth?


… … Yes…


… Oh, seriously? I mean, that’s horrible; I’m sorry to hear that… I just didn’t expect that to be it…




[screams] Shit! No – wait; please don’t do that! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you… can I help you somehow?


10pp for Jane!


… … No…




This place is weird y’all, I don’t like it… and I don’t know what the deal is – because I’m not going any closer to it – but the last couple statues were all vandalized… umm… in the same way… almost like there’s only been one this whole time…

No way – I’m not doing the app again; you can all forget that!


See how carelessly he moves? He’s liable to fall any moment… it would be a shame to miss such an opportunity…



The hell; there’s nothing—

My ankle! Fuck this!


Hot Damn; 15pp to Peter!


Eric! Chloe! Hurry up; let’s go!


Uh-oh, he seems to be in a hurry… maybe we can speed him on his way with a little push…


Shit, shit, shit

My shoulder, y’all – what’s back there – something pushed my shoulder! [choke]


5pp to Peter


Was that Travis? Finally… yo I’m coming!

We’re almost there; they can call me crazy all they want as long as they do it in the car!

Bruh, no!… We came for ghosts; you feel me? Not gargoyles!


Damn, running outta time… let’s see… oh I know! How about a nice pass-through to cool him off?


[gasp] guys… oh my God what was that?!

Travis! Chloe! Please!


I can’t believe I thought the girl would be the crier… either way… this guy sure can run, and that was definitely a double-take so that’s a 20 pointer right there!


Ugh, what are they screaming about? I’ve finally got something and they’re going to ruin it with their bullshit… probably just trying to scare me.


Excuse me, Ms. Lucy!?

I don’t wish to frighten my new friend anymore. I believe our meeting was destiny; we are the best of friends now! She wishes me to come live with her so that we may be together forever!


Of course dear, I’m very happy for the two of you; feel free to behave as if the cameras weren’t even here.


Damn! Why does this stupid app have to stop working right when we catch up to the guys?!


Thank God, there’s Chloe! Come on, we gotta—


Looks like the gang’s back together! While we tally the final scores, you guys enjoy one final performance.


It doesn’t matter right now, we can tell you in the—

Fuck, what’s that sound?


It almost sounds like… flapping?


No! No, no, no, no… look up, look up! Do you see it? It just landed in the tree I swear to God! You see the shape at the very top?!



Buster of Ghosts:



Well guys, it looks like our trio is calling it quits. We want to say a big thank you to all our guests tonight and a congratulations to Jane for finding a new home! We wish the new friends all the best!

As for the final scores:

  • The ladies came in 3rd with 20pp
  • Peter came in 2nd with 35pp
  • And tonight’s champion is Duncan with a whopping 50pp!

Great job, everyone, and thanks so much for your participation!

As for next week, we’ll be stopping over in a little town called Cotton Hills. We’ve heard whispers about that spot I mentioned earlier – the Deadlands… and I don’t want to spoil anything, but trust me, it’s worth checking out…

Anyway, that’s it for tonight, Creepers! Until next time, all hail the Dark Lord!

Horror Fiction

The Cursed Settlement (Pt. 5)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Now a CreepyPasta
Dirge Lake

Hullo! Looks like these flurries will be another blizzard soon. Come on, let’s get you to the cabin before you freeze over. When this storm blew in, I knew you must be on the way. We’re thrilled to have you back with us so close to Christmas!

… It’s no trouble at all; the neighbors have been restless the last couple days. Figured I ought to play it safe, so I grabbed an umbrella and hit the trail. I’m glad you made good time; thanks to those thunderheads it’s gonna be full dark out here soon.


… … … …. Brrr! We’re home, family!

… … Here ya go, Ethan! Good job with the fire, you earned yourself first use of our newfangled portable battery. It’s the dawn of a new day with this long-lasting puppy!

… … Thanks again, friend! You discovered something that actually motivates the boy; we never thought we’d see the day. Here’s the one you left with us last time. So, is the person who invented these things super famous?

… … How can you not even know their name?!

… … … Alright… Trish is right, we better get started. I can’t keep talking through sun-up. Get yourself settled while I set the scene. If you wanna hear the daily drivels of Jamestown life, we can go back when we finish the good stuff. For now, I suspect you’d prefer to hear the juicy bits.

… … What can I say, stories are my sixth… well… seventh sense? Besides, it’s adorable how you breathers are fascinated by death. You got all the time in the world to be dead later – go out there and live! Visit a library, get hot water from a faucet, buy food for weeks at a time; the possibilities are endless!

… … Whoops got excited again, sorry… anyway! We’re going to skip all the way to 1752 tonight. Such a long time passed; our descendants stopped believing in the boogiemen. With each generation, the population increased, and more land was needed. Eventually, the stories came to be known as tales concocted to prevent children from playing near the river.

… … Yep, you guessed it! Our genius legacies decided to expand to Dirge Lake. They built a bridge and everything.

… … No, their bridge was later destroyed. The one there today was built in the early 1900’s by the government. Locals fought it every step of the way, but you know how it is with infrastructure.

… … Ethan, if you don’t want to hear it, put in your headphones.

… Sorry, he’s just touchy because he was one of the geniuses. To be fair, it wasn’t his fault; his father was to blame. The boy is descended from James, but great nephew is a mouthful. He was only eighteen when that mess happened; he didn’t know any better. It’s harder to accept this… lifestyle at that age.

… It’s kind of you to be concerned, but don’t worry; look, he’s already lost in Spider-Man.

… Haha! No, the boy is far too lazy to write. We’ll be reading my own great grandson’s journal. Nicky was a chip off the ole block; that boy done me right proud… you know – once he got over his skepticism. He was only twenty-one himself, but he was lucky enough to make it out alive.

… … The weird part is, me and Trish had a front row seat for the whole ride.

… Believe me, we tried our best to stop them, but there’s only so much we could do. Sometimes, kids gotta learn the hard way.

… … You don’t just die and pop up the next second as we are now! Goodness no, it took almost twenty years just to poke stuff. I don’t think anyone could hear us for nearly a century – even then it was barely above a whisper. Appear in human form? With substance? Converse for extended periods? Psh, you’re talking more than two hundred for this swagger.

… … Well, if we had gotten mixed up with the demon and its blood sacrifices, sure, we probably coulda sped things up a bit – but being dead is no reason to drag other people down.

… … Hmm… maybe you’re right… I think laziness does run in the family!

… … We had the hang of things well enough to help a few, but even now we don’t go near the demon’s nest.

… … We’re drifting to the mumbos and jumbos again; all that will come out in the story natural-like. I’ll fill in some missing blanks as we go, but Nicholas did a fine job, especially for a young-un!

Now, you’d think so much time passed that it would take a minute for things to kick off – but nope! They were being watched from the first tree down to the last person out, you better believe that!

April 12, 1752

After nearly a year, we are finally moved to our new homes. I cannot help but laugh at how this space was avoided for silly superstition! Though, I do wonder if the water was once genuinely clear… it would be fascinating to discover the true cause of such a transformation. Regardless, it is teeming with fish; you can hear them splashing about at all hours.

As for reports of the land’s deterioration – it is honestly not so bad. The soil is more suited to farming across the river, but that hardly means it is uninhabitable. With a little extra care and irrigation, our crops will grow. Since the removal of dead trees and shrubbery, Dirge Lake is uniquely picturesque; very unlike that of traditional scenery.

We are surrounded by a forest of large, twisted trees whose branches reach out in strange curvatures, bending at odd angles. I have never seen their like. Thick, gray moss hangs down in sheets, accenting the greenery in a somehow beautiful, gloomy way.

I cannot express how wonderful it feels to sit in my own home, writing my own memoirs. Silence is a glorious thing I have rarely experienced in such entirety. When I am ready to start a family, I must add additional rooms to retain a private space.

Hopefully, by that time, these strange notions will cease; I believe the old stories have affected me in a small way. The moment I began this entry, an odd sensation overcame me. It is as if someone stands looking over my shoulder. I expected the feeling to fade, but it grows worse. There is a tickle at the back of my neck, and a chill down my spine.

At least I have the comfort of knowing I am not alone in my paranoia; Ethan thought he heard a man call from the forest, and my sister claimed to see a disfigured face in the window. Father would enjoy a hearty laugh if he read these words, but it is worth noting how easily the power of suggestion can manipulate one’s senses. I am sure others follow our example but keep the matters private.

If dangerous wildlife is nearby, it will not take long to dispatch; the farmhouse is no longer secluded from neighbors. In case of attack, help is not far away, but I do not believe such an event will truly take place. Much time was spent in the area during preparations, and nothing was seen to justify such concerns.

Damn! Clumsy oaf! One careless slip, and now there is a strike across the page!

Alas, that is enough foolishness for one night; I am eager to retire. Tomorrow will be a long, hard day. The Hampton’s crop restorations begin at sunrise. I volunteered because farming is vital for the community, and not at all for reason to be near Kenneth’s lovely daughter… although, if I were ready to begin courting, she would make me a lucky man indeed.

April 13, 1752

It was a mistake to indulge such nonsense last night. These wild ideas of monsters and demons have taken root in my brain, and now they blossom into pure madness! I’ll not have it; there are no such things as ghosts or spirits! Do you hear the insanity of those words?

One must take stock and look at the situation as a whole – outside one’s single, small-minded existence. Which is more likely? That a silly wives tale rings true? Or that – being aware of such tales – my mind warps situations to fit the narrative? Any who chooses the former clearly has no respect for science. We are no longer in the dark ages; one must adapt to the modern world, or it will leave them behind.

I digress, I should not become flustered over such trivial mishaps. If nothing else, these anecdotes may amuse my grandchildren some day; I must admit, from the comfort of home, the situation does seem humorous. Even the boys at the lake had a scare when placing the fish traps, but their incident is easily explained; in the process of stealing supper, alligators destroyed their nets. My experience was more confounding.

Alice fetched us from the field when lunch was ready. She and her mother prepared enough food to feed the volunteers, and tables were set outside to accommodate our large number. While preparing my plate, I heard Mrs. Hampton calling for her youngest, Florence. The child was assumed to be in her room, and as a gentleman, I offered my assistance.

After ascending the stairs, I turned right and followed the long hallway to the open door on the left. Florence’s room was brightly decorated with flowers, and the child stood at her window, seeming not to notice my presence. She turned when I spoke and came a few steps closer. When I relayed her mother’s message, she inched forward a little more.

Thinking it a game – I extended my arm, asking if I might escort her as a proper lady, but she did not find the offer charming as envisioned. No matter what I tried, there was no further reaction; she merely stood there, expressionless.

My stomach begged for the delicious smells wafting through the open window. Losing patience in my hunger, I resigned to the knowledge she would soon grow bored and follow. Upon returning, I informed Alice of my less than successful efforts, but she appeared confused and gestured toward the stables. I nearly choked when I saw Florence riding atop her father’s shoulders.

I believe, if nothing else, my fellows would describe me as a sane, reasonable, man; one who is not easily shaken or deceived. Yet… I cannot explain how this happened, and no matter how I replay the scene – I do not understand where I am mistaken. You must picture it precisely as I state, for I wish others to appreciate the magnitude of this riddle.

From leaving the child’s room to seeing her at the stables, few minutes passed. We dined in clear view of the home; never was it out of sight. The barn was at my back, with forty yards of open field between structures. I would have considered it an impossible task to move from one to the other without my seeing – yet it happened.

I am simply baffled. Even more that the child played her part so well; that alone is a worthy feat, but the sheer logistics behind getting her to the stables are on another level entirely. Florence did not act alone! The plotting was Kenneth’s doing – of that, I am sure.

It is not that I am a poor sport. The illusion was artfully done and masterfully executed; there is no denying that; I simply wish to know how – but they will not reveal their methods. In fact, they will not admit to trickery at all! They insist I saw a different child; the notion is absurd! Even if multiple ten-year-olds were roaming about – one could hardly mistake her golden curls and blue eyes!

Damn if this is not my own doing for showing interest in the details. Had I remained aloof, their bragging would be endless; now it is more fun to leave me in ignorance. Perhaps sleep will bring clarity: it is a theory worth testing.

Whew, and I thought I was long winded! I forgot how philosophical that kid used to be. Anyhow, no matter; I just wanted to make a quick notation for the sake of accuracy. Do you know what a doppelgänger is?

… … I had a feeling. There’re quite a few misconceptions about them, but just keep in mind they are not in any way, a ghost. They’re two completely different breeds.

… … Eh, think of them as low-level demons. They used to be human, but when passing to the other side – they landed in the unpleasant place. On rare occasions – one finds its way home but needs a new “identity” to be free. Okay, back to it.

… … Sigh… see Trish, give one little tidbit and now it’s twenty questions. Settle down, friend, we got all night.

April 14, 1752

It was another day of strange occurrences. If tomorrow is not better, we may have to reevaluate our position. While I do not relish the notion, I must admit the necessity. Ken Hampton may be a crafty devil, but I cannot believe he would force the stresses of this night upon his family by choice… honestly, I no longer know what to believe.

At dusk, all others departed, but I dallied in the stables. Florence’s soft voice startled me from thought as she extended her family’s invitation to supper. I accepted gratefully if not suspiciously, but is that surprising after the ruckus of last night?

It was not likely I would fall for the same trick twice! I kept the child in sight, watching for any sign of co-conspirators. As we left the barn, someone hiding in the trees shouted a gargled cry for help, but unwilling to traipse through the forest, I quickened our pace.

While impressed with Florence’s feigned fright, I am almost certain it was Donald’s voice. Even if slurred speech concealed his identity; the girl’s brother was supposedly on a hunting venture and not expected to return for several days. A likely story indeed. If that were not enough, Mrs. Hampton shrieked an ear-splitting scream at the sight of us.

She was descending the steps with Mr. Hampton close at heel when we entered through the foyer. Penelope’s cry shook me, sewing doubts in my previous perceptions. Without speaking, the couple rushed upstairs. When they returned, I could see the loss of color from their pale faces… I cannot conceive how one fakes such emotional response.

Perhaps what began in jest

Blast! How have I ruined yet another page! The damned pen has a mind of its own! No more of this; I have no opinion on the matters! I simply state the facts as they occurred; let others determine what lies in truth! Now, be gone whatever foul force foils my hard work!

The Hampton’s claimed to see Florence in her room only seconds before, but they could not argue with the sight of her before their eyes. The lost, confused looks they wore were admittedly familiar, but it is a hard concept to accept. At Kenneth’s suggestion, we all sat to dine, recounting each event in precise detail.

Mr. Hampton explained they were dressing for supper when Florence appeared in the doorway. She reported my acceptance of the evening invitation, and Penelope instructed her daughter to likewise prepare. She watched as the child ran into her own room. When the parents passed her door moments later, the girl was brushing her hair.

Not wishing her to dally, they paused in the hall. They insist they did not continue down the stairwell until Florence trailed behind; then, seconds later, they saw her in my own company. I have never been so utterly at loss for explanation; I feel as though all I once believed has been called into question.

Ethan continues facing challenges at the lake. Not only have they lost more nets, but a horse was taken. Its cries were heard through the village as it was dragged from shore. When the first men arrived, they saw the beast’s head disappear beneath the choppy waters. It seems as if our next priority will be hunting the alligators before a child is lost.

I grow increasingly wary as I ponder these circumstances. Once again it instills the sense I am not alone. Twice now I have glanced over my shoulder, expecting to find a visitor. It is overwhelming how strong the sensation grows. I believe I am at my limit; it is time to retire in preparation for another early start.

April 15, 1752

It was a somber day; good men have died. Late in the night, the Hampton’s woke to the sound of agonizing screams and frantic banging. Kenneth quickly recognized the familiar voice begging entry and rushed to unbar the door. He gasped at the bloody sight crumpled before him as he struggled to drag Judd Crawley inside.

Once across the threshold, the injured man fought assistance, demanding every entry point be secured. Ken humored Mr. Crawley, latching the door before further examination. A dark, crimson trail marked their passage through the home, but it was already too late.

With aid from Penelope and a newly lit fire, they were able to see the horrifying extent of Judd’s injuries. Had the man survived, it would have been without his left arm or leg, but he soon lapsed into unconsciousness, dying minutes later. His shoulder remained attached by only a few bundled nerves, his knee twisted at a nauseating angle, and puncture wounds bore deep into his thigh, exposing the muscle and tendons beneath.

Mr. Crawley never said what attacked him, and I am beyond speculation (lest another page be marred), but most assume a bear. Mrs. Hampton is terribly distraught Florence witnessed the gruesome sight. The curious child was caught spying from the balcony, poking her head between the bannisters. Alice ran to her sister, but the girl was already gone. My considerate, future wife found the little one pretending to sleep soundly in bed and considered her work finished.

Worried for Donald’s safety after multiple nights alone in the dangerous forest, we have formed a search party which will depart at first light. It is vital I rest soon, but there is more I must write while memory is fresh. Unfortunately, Judd’s was not the only death suffered.

This evening, I was told of the Johnson family’s tragedy. What they have endured these last days is unimaginable… even more so that it was kept secret. Not that I blame them; I myself had much the same instinct. Although, it is doubtful I have the fortitude to remain silent if faced with true adversity. Their tale is so unusual, I wish to record it precisely as told.

Edmund and Grace Johnson are a young couple with a frail six-year-old son. Benjamin has always been sickly and therefore does not play about with other children. As they have since been unable to conceive, the boy is without siblings and prone to loneliness. None were surprised when he developed an imaginary friend; it is a common enough thing. The parents were merely pleased at the sound of their son’s laughter.

The boy developed this “friendship” during the first night in his new home. By the next noonday meal, he was insisting a plate be prepared for Mister Long. At first the parents found it endearing and encouraged the boy’s imagination. They asked questions about his new companion, finding the answers odd but harmless.

Over the course of that day, they learned Mister Long is 842 years-old and wears a black dress which covers his feet. He is bald with stark, white skin, a crooked nose, and uneven, yellow eyes. The imagery is admittedly disturbing, but stranger still is what happened next.

After putting the child to bed, Edmund and Grace sat at the kitchen table, discussing the odd descriptions of Mister Long. During this conversation, Mr. Johnson stated the price of a dog worth distracting the boy from such hideous ideas. The moment those words were spoken, Benjamin’s shrill cry rang through the house.

The parents rushed to his aid, confused and terrified. As they burst through the door, a dark mass seemed to disappear through the wall, and items in the adjoining room could be heard crashing to the floor. Grace held her son as Edmund searched the home, but nothing was found.

They waited until the following morning to question the child. He was incapable of expressing what transpired but understood why. Somehow, Benjamin was aware of the dog jest. He repeated Edmund’s words verbatim, claiming Mister Long perceived it as a threat. I have personally been inside the Johnson home, and I can bear witness the rooms are situated far apart.

Their son relayed progressively sinister messages until the Johnson’s terror came to a climax just before dawn. Once again, they woke to the sound of Benjamin’s desperate screams. As they charged in, a solid, black form could be seen enveloping their son’s body, choking off his agonized wails.

The mortified parents lunged forward, but an invisible force propelled them backwards. They watched, paralyzed, as the malignant mass warped into an almost humanoid shape, and black, wispy tendrils forced Benjamin’s lips apart, opening his mouth far past its human limit. The snap of his jaw echoed in the small room, earning fresh shrieks of agony from the helpless parents.

As the form slowly forced itself into the boy, his throat tripled in size. In a last act of desperation, Edmund screamed into the cold darkness, offering his own body in exchange.

The black mass left the child like that of a snake leaving its den. Faster than human eyes could track, it flew across the room, forcing itself into Mr. Johnson. Grace watched in horror as her husband’s body turned into a purple, bulging nightmare.

With a sudden realization she was no longer held in place, the determined mother acted without hesitation. Returning with Edmund’s rifle, she pulled the trigger before the possessed man could rise to his feet. The stench of sulfur filled the room as Grace carried her son away from the carnage.

Mrs. Johnson has moved back to Jamestown Proper to be with her mother and says the boy has no memory of the tragic events – something she considers a blessing, no doubt. I do not pretend to know what plagued the small family; I only document the facts in hopes of one day reviewing these pages as a true man of science. Perhaps then I will understand what piece this puzzle misses. For now, all I can do is rest in preparation for tomorrow’s search.

It is definitely time for a break.

… … No way, Mister Long is not a doppelgänger or demon; we think he’s a strangely powerful ghost, but it’s hard to be sure. He was here long before the first settlement, and I doubt anyone ever finds a way to get rid of him. Who knows what kinda tricks he’s picked up since this story.

… … Haha, it’s not a dress, it’s a cloak. The kid didn’t know what to call it, and Nicky was a bit too shook up to think anything of the detail.

… … Actually, the advice came from yours truly; we felt really bad for that poor kid. We weren’t very good at communicating yet but putting all our energy into yelling instructions got the job done… sorta.

… … It was honestly the only way to save Benji, and it was still Ed and Grace’s decision. We only gave them ideas, the choice to act was all their own. Trust me, most parents would have done the same; I know we would.

… … … Hell, we also stalked the shit out of every man intent on searching the woods. You know well as us that Donald fella is long dead; there was no point watching more die on a hopeless mission. It’s surprising what you can do to someone’s food if you hover round the kitchen long enough.

… … Those answers will come in due time; you’ll find out more soon enough. So… umm… while we’re on a break anyway, I couldn’t help noticing the bulge in your pack there…

… … … … … Thank the cricket I don’t need to breathe; I think we’re about to find out if ghosts have tears. The Stand, IT, and Needful Things are my favorites! It’s like you knew!

… … … They did?! My family is the best!

… … Hey, that means you too, ya know! I’m speaking for all of us when I say you’re every bit a member! If you’ll have us, that is…

… … No wonder you were so eager to get back before Christmas! You sly thing!

… … Okay, I know, I know; I’m doing it again. Though, in my defense I think you only hindered the process by distracting me. I don’t know how you expect me to sit here reading this drivel while those babies are waiting.

… … That’s not my fault! You shoulda told me to mind my own damn business!

… Fine, at least let me hold them.

… Well, what are you waiting for? Sit your ass down so we can get to it.

April 16, 1752

I want nothing more to do with this vile place. I will need a few days for planning and preparations, but by this time next week I shall be far away from here. I woke an hour before dawn, feeling nauseated but determined to participate in the search for Alice’s brother. If the worst happened, she would need a reliable friend close by to ensure no dishonorable fiends try gaining advantage of her grievous state.

By some strange coincidence, four members of our search party also fell ill. In the end, only five of us entered the woods. To collect more men would only delay us longer, and if Donald lay injured, each passing hour further decreased his chance of survival. With all of us armed, our numbers should have been sufficient, but I never dreamed… in all my wildest imaginings… I could never have conceived such possibilities.

It was a clear, sunny day when we entered the forest, but an hour into our hike – dark, foreboding clouds rolled across the sky. Joe Harper and Travis Miller decided they would pursue a secondary trail to speed the search. I am as sure they are dead as I am of the cowards’ intent to return home, but they were never seen again.

Kenneth, Ethan, and I marched two miles deeper into the foreboding woods. I still do not understand how it could become so dark during the brightest part of day. Had I not known better, I would have believed it the middle of night!

While stopped to prepare our torches, a torrential downpour broke loose from the skies; not even the forest’s thick canopy could protect us from the rain. Finally, after much struggling, we managed to keep one flame lit under the protection of two men’s coats. Stumbling along awkwardly, we became lost, unable to tell which way was home with our limited vision.

We were not fools, we knew it better to stand in place than wander about aimlessly, and that is precisely what we did. For hours we searched our small area until finally, the torch-light reflected off a shiny, metal object tangled in the branches above. Ethan retrieved the item with great difficulty, and we were crestfallen to see it was unmistakably Donald’s pocket watch.

It was impossible not to connect his treasured keepsake’s location with that of the old stories. A tree-hopping demon seemed less of a drunkard’s ramblings as we failed to locate any signs of a climber upon the bark. Even if Donald found need to conceal himself, there were at least three nearby trees with limbs better suited to a man’s reach.

As we followed the new trail, rain continued to fall in sheets of cold, fat droplets, soaking every layer we wore and chilling us to the bone. We huddled together, seeking the warmth of our meager flame, but it felt as if ice formed on our very souls. That is when we heard something enormous barreling through the forest, approaching at inhuman speed.

I do not know how to describe the cacophony of noises as giant limbs snapped beneath a heavy weight, and thousands of leaves crackled in unison as they fell to paint the forest floor; all the while thunder boomed overhead as lightning illuminated our surroundings in brief flashes of eerie blue light. I did not see Kenneth die, but I heard his screams long enough to know it was not a quick death.

We ran blindly through the maze of trees until I tripped, falling hard into a tangle of roots and losing our only meager source of light. Ethan stopped to help me up, and we saw it was Donald’s mutilated corpse over which I fell. My cousin was quick to regain his composure, dragging me by the arm until I resumed independent function. I do not know if I could have stopped were the situation reversed, so complete was my terror; selfish bastard I am, I thought of nothing but survival.

I did not know where we were or if we ran in the right direction, I only thought to flee the sounds of pursuit that gained on us with every step. My brain could not accept when the giant beast sprung forward, blocking our escape entirely. I was frozen, mouth agape, struggling to take in the gruesome sight before me with the blessedly small light of day remaining.

That creature! It is exactly as described down to the last, disturbing detail. Lesser men may remove their own eyes at such a sight, but I cannot let Ethan’s sacrifice be in vain. I only live thanks to the bravery of my dear cousin – who without thought or care for his own life, threw me from the demon’s path as he advanced on the evil beast. Judging by the sickening squelch that sounded with the rifle blast, I can safely assume the brave man’s one shot aimed true.

My heart broke into pieces at the horrible noises to follow, but I could not look back, lest I be next. One moment I was crashing through the forest, drowning in misery, and the next – I was home, standing in bright, warm sunshine. Somehow, I found my way to the other side of Dirge Lake, near Jean Kirby’s home, and not a drop of rain had fallen. If I had not tripped, forcing us to waste precious time… Ethan would be here now.

I reported the horrible experience as we gathered in the Hampton home for the final time. I will never forget the look on Alice’s face as I broke the tragic news. Upon relaying the last, gruesome details, several others came forward with their own unexplained experiences.

Theresa Harper left her home to fetch a pail of water from the lake when a single, sharp cry rang out. Her husband followed her tracks to the water’s edge, but no prints existed to indicate where she next went. In the grand scheme of things, it is not surprising she was never found.

Bonnie McEntire complained her daughter talked to the empty corner of her bedroom on a nightly basis, and she was not the only one.

Simon Clovers, the man who witnessed the horse die at the lake, admitted to seeing tentacles wrapped around the animal’s head as it was pulled under.

As Dan Freeman recounted his experience of seeing a deer walk on its hind legs, Phillip Matthews said he too witnessed such a sight. Panic broke out as several people began talking in unison, but Uncle Nelson quickly remedied the chaos by reminding all that we stood in Mrs. Hampton’s den on the night she lost her husband and son.

Needless to say, we are ready to admit our folly, and will leave this place tomorrow. Personally, I will take great pleasure in watching the bridge burn once the last man is across. Then I shall make very serious considerations into the type of man I wish to be and do whatever necessary to become that vision. If I am lucky, perhaps I will have half Ethan’s bravery and integrity.

Aw, it’s ok, friend. Do you need a tissue? Look, if it makes you feel any better, Trish babies the absolute shit out of that boy. I know we like to joke, but honest, we’re all quite happy here together.

… … … Scout’s honor. I mean come on, just look at him! He’s so lost in whatever he’s watching, he doesn’t give a single fig about how he got here. Now perk up, it’s time for the last entry.

April 19, 1752

I refuse to let that place drive me mad! Now that survivors are safely back in Jamestown, I have decided to go east – to college, where I will become a man of science. When properly educated, I will unravel these mysteries; until then, I can only record the events in preparation of that later date. Perhaps by then, the elders will trust me enough to reveal the demon’s name. If the legends are true, I must admit there is no reason to divulge the information at present.

The day after I returned from the Cursed Woods, all of Jamestown assisted in our move. Our dead were transported so they may be buried with their families, and every wagon was overloaded with the children of desperate parents. Most could not afford to leave all possessions behind, but they could not take chances knowing what happened to the Johnson boy and now poor Florence.

Alice was in her room when she heard her mother’s pained scream. She discovered her sister wielding a kitchen knife with proficiency beyond that of a small child. I know she will likely never forgive herself, but her quick actions saved Penelope’s life. Her mother’s wounded shoulder bled freely but was not lethal.

Somehow, amidst the chaos, Alice noticed her sister had no reflection in a mirror. She describes her actions as help from a guardian angel, for she does not understand how she knew that to mean Florence was beyond saving. Grabbing a nearby fire poker, she put an end to the being posing as her sister, and now her mother will make a full recovery… physically speaking, of course.

I personally escorted the grieving women across the bridge to safety, but it will be a long road to recovery after their heavy losses. Throughout the days ahead, I came to learn more horrific tales of those lost due to our ignorance. Just as my forefathers warned, we slaughtered our own the moment we expressed our plans to escape. Part of me still suspects the events of the last week are a nightmare, but with each passing day, my hopes of waking fade.

Clyde Parker shot his wife and children in their sleep and witnesses report seeing him enter the forest, but he has not been seen since. Jim Williams lost his hand when Mrs. Williams woke him with a hatchet. He killed her as their children screamed, and he has not spoken a word since. If not for his eldest son, we would not know what transpired.

Each family now has a similar tale. All told, twenty-six souls were lost because we believed our intellect superior to those before us. The number would surely be higher had our neighbors not so graciously assisted our retreat. I believe my time away will be good for mind and soul; it is my greatest wish to return as a man who is capable of providing Alice with the life she deserves.

I know Nicky got off to a rough start, but none of us are half as smart as we think at twenty-one. Hell, he wised up faster than most, and he did go on to be quite the man of science.

… … … I’m glad you agree; people tend to forget how hard it is to believe this stuff when you weren’t raised with it.

… … Course he did! The Cooke men always win their lady’s heart! Hmph, as if you had to ask.

… … I tell you what, the hardest part of the whole ordeal was making him mess up the journal. Broke my heart to see those beautiful pages stained with stray ink, but it was for the greater good.

… … Hmm, I guess the info on doppelgängers was a little sparser than I remembered… must have confused it with the next part, my bad. It’s okay, we’ll get there.

… … … One more thing before you go, can I ask you something? I’ve seen it referenced in movies, but don’t quite understand… are you familiar with the YouTube? I think that’s how you say it… one of these phones has a picture—

… Oh, good, so you’ve heard of it!

… … … … … … … Well, that sounds neat as hell! Golly, I wish we could get internet here! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! Our lives are infinitely more entertaining since you came along… but there’s so much we miss out on.

… … … Sure, we have plenty of extra phones we’ll never use, why? You need one? We have a wide assortment to choose from.

… Yea, most are new, but—

… … … … Ethan! Bring every phone, now! Our best friend is going to fill them with YouTube downloads! Move your ass!

… … … I don’t know… I… think… this is what it feels like to be speechless… what do you recommend?

… … … … … You mean… there’s entire channels dedicated to people reading scary stories?!

… That sounds a little too good to be true…

… … Who’s your favorite? You clearly have excellent taste.

… … Dark Somnium? Okay, he sounds like a winner. Did you know Somnium is Latin for dream? I like the clever ones, yes, load me up with all his best!

… … What do you mean it’s not just stories and sound effects?

… … How can it also be a community?

… … Dark Family? My, that does sound like a dream, doesn’t it?

… … Aww, but I won’t be able to talk with them… ah, well. Maybe someday. I’m just excited to hear new stories.

… … I know I said it last time but spare me one last sappy moment. I truly wish you the happiest of holidays, my own, special Dark Family. As always, we shall eagerly await your next visit.

Part 6

Horror Fiction


Big thanks to Lady Nopeingham for use of her awesome character! Do you guys enjoy your horror narrated? You should check her out on YouTube … if you’re brave enough…

Now a CreepyPasta

This is going to sound weird, I know, but please, bear with me. I wanted to ask the paranormal community for help with my haunted house, but I was afraid of Reddit trolls. I tend to trust too easily and felt I wouldn’t have time to sort out which responses were genuine. I figured there must be a dozen other places to tell my story, preferably one kids didn’t use; and indeed, there are.

Out of several search results, I chose Blewit. The description read, “Want Reddit without the misfit trolls? That’s us!” It seemed like the typical knockoff that always follows a popular brand. Aside from the blue logo and “kool” points instead of “karma”, there was no difference. Just to be safe, I read a few recent posts to gauge the community’s sincerity. I was very pleased with what I saw; everyone was kind, courteous, and several users claimed to receive helpful guidance. I made an account, joined the b/haunted forums, and told my story.

Below is a copy of my original post, but things have escalated drastically since.


Hi, I am thirty-three, live alone and have always been a die-hard skeptic. I am a very logical person, I believe in science and facts; that is to say, I don’t come to you lightly. I moved to the country to save money, but I’ve always preferred the quiet life. When I found this big house in the forest for such a low price, I knew there had to be a catch.

I didn’t have extra time or money to spend on major repairs if all the electrical needed to be replaced or it didn’t have central air; that’s the kind of deal-breaker I expected. Instead, I learned the previous occupants died horribly last year. Martin Hayes murdered his wife and son before committing suicide. I can’t tell you the relief I felt; I struggled not to show my excitement as I negotiated the price even lower.

Three weeks later, I was settled into my new home and loving everything about it. The first two days were quiet, but Friday night, I was on the couch when soft, persistent knocking sounded at the door. It startled me, because I don’t have neighbors, and I would have seen headlights had someone came down the driveway.

I stole a glance through the peephole, careful not to make my presence known. It was dark, but not pitch black; I could see well enough to know nothing was there. My heart raced, and I thought it would burst. Trying to find the light-switch, I abandoned stealth as my hand fumbled along the wall. Finally, with a soft click, the front steps and driveway were brightly lit.

The knocks stopped instantly, and all was silent. Leaving the light on, I checked the locks, but when nothing else occurred, I returned to Netflix. While preparing for bed, the incident was almost forgotten. It is important you know my bedroom is on the second floor, and that no trees are near the windows, because that is where it next occurred.

After drifting off, the sound of nearby tapping startled me. Unable to remember if the upstairs windows were secured, I leapt to my feet and screamed at the sight of a distorted face, but it was only my reflection. I pressed my phone’s flashlight to the glass, illuminating the ground below. There is nothing that would allow someone to reach the second floor, nor so much as a bush to conceal their location, but the yard was empty.

This afternoon, there was more knocking as I worked at my desk. The office has a perfect view of the front door, but the moment I approached the window, it stopped; once again, no one was there. Feeling braver in the daytime, I looked around, searching for any sign of a visitor. When I still found nothing, I drove a few miles in each direction to confirm there were no neighbors in walking distance.

Upon returning to the driveway, I saw the brief image of a face watching me from an upstairs window. My blood froze; I’ve never experienced such fear. It quickly disappeared behind the curtains, but there is no mistaking what I saw. It simply isn’t possible for someone to be there. After a thorough search of each room, I began writing this. I don’t know anything about the supernatural; please, will someone help me?

—CountryHaunts13, Saturday 3:11pm


Do you see how simple the matter was in the beginning? I hope you can hear the sincerity in my words. You must understand… I was already terrified my ignorance would be used against me. I could not stand the thought of sifting through dozens of responses knowing ninety percent would be fake. Now that my fears are reality, it is that much more difficult… though I no longer need advice. I simply wish to warn you of the dangers on that shady website.

I finished my work and ate dinner before the next round of knocks began. Immediately checking Blewit, I was delighted to see three comments, one of which was actual advice. The username, Lady Nopeingham, was from the original posts I reviewed. Whoever she is, she seemed to be the most helpful person in the community; I secretly hoped she would respond to me as well.


Lady Nopeingham 4:07pm:

It sounds like the previous residents decided to stick around. Ghosts are like dogs defending their territory. You must show them you’re the alpha. Next time, open the door, and firmly state your grievances. This will intimidate it, thereby ending inconvenient behavior. Whatever you do, never treat it with respect.


I breathed a sigh of relief at such a simple solution; I worried it would call for something extreme, like an exorcism, but this was something I actually excel at. Though, obviously, it wasn’t. If it were, I would not be here now, on a completely different site with worse complaints.

Please, if you are kind enough to still be here, do not waste your time correcting this advice. I’m afraid it is a lesson I have already learned, as you will soon see over the course of my following posts.



I want to thank you all for your kind words of support, especially Lady Nopeingham, whose advice gave me great comfort. That being said, I worry I may have inadvertently made the situation worse. Within an hour of seeing your message, the knocks returned. I tiptoed to the door, ripped it open, and screamed, “This is my house now, asshole! Get the fu—!”

My words were cut off as a blast of freezing air rushed past, leaving me breathless. I slammed the door and stumbled to the bedroom, feeling safer upstairs. When nothing more happened, I began to relax – somehow convincing myself the experience to be normal… but I now see how foolish that was.

I retired early, feeling confident of a peaceful rest, but soon the frantic cries of a child penetrated my sleep-deprived brain. I shot up, too confused to think, but moved instinctively. The wails intensified as I stepped into the hall, covering my ears in attempt to dull the noise. The sounds were coming from the boy’s old room. Trevor Hayes was only six when his father strangled him, but he watched his mother die first.

Learning details of the tragic event was clearly a mistake, but I can’t erase the knowledge now. Still following your advice, I tried to be firm, but found it difficult to scold the poor child’s restless spirit. Even so, the noise did not stop until I entered his room; after which, I was finally able to return to bed.

Two hours later, loud, violent bangs shook the door on its hinges. Furiously stomping across the hardwood floor, I hesitated at the memory of my previous encounter. Instead of opening it, I unleashed my rage on the closed door, kicking it and screaming obscenities. Was that a good thing to do? Or should I have opened it?

At some point during my tantrum, the knocking stopped. When I finally calmed, all was blessedly silent. Nothing else woke me, but random cold spots are now a common occurrence. It is not a heating issue; it only lasts a few minutes… but it worries me. I’m alone and frightened, please, is there anything else you can tell me?

—CountryHaunts13, Sunday 8:23am


I didn’t have to wait long for a response. It seems once the Lady finds a new victim, she doesn’t stray far. Unfortunately, I was still imagining a kind, elderly woman; one who was lonely and lived for these conversations. Oh, she lives for them alright! Hardly ten minutes passed before my phone chimed with a new message.


Lady Nopeingham 8:32am:

The blast of cold air was, in fact, a sign of success. You certainly did not, for example, permit the spirit entry; that would be ridiculous. You are likely experiencing increased activity due to multiple spirits. If that is the case – continue asserting dominance. Don’t worry, you’re doing great! Remember, be harsh; show no mercy! This will help them understand they are not welcome.

Do you have sage in your home? Ghosts are highly attracted to it; in fact, there are some who prey on the unaware by recommending it as a repellent. If anyone suggests burning sage, cease all contact immediately! They mean you harm!


Are you still with me? Lady’s words filled me with confidence; my own naïveté churns the stomach. Being so grateful for someone to share my experience with, I didn’t think to ask obvious questions… like, why did she feel the need to point out I didn’t “permit the spirit entry” when such a thought was never expressed? Can anyone tell me that?

I bet you can, but don’t bother; the answer is already known. The worst part is someone else did recommend burning sage and I blocked them because of Nopeingham… it’s all so depressingly typical of my luck. Needless to say, a very long, very unpleasant update was close at hand.



I must thank you for the warning. I did have sage – which I threw out immediately – but it hasn’t seemed to help. I followed your advice, but conditions continue to worsen. Is there anything to explain the strange reactions I am experiencing?

After removing the unwanted herbs, I tried to continue my work in the office. Soon, the knocking returned, and I screamed in surprise. It sounded like someone was trying to break down the door; I fully expected the wood to splinter, but by some miracle, it held strong. My mind was blank with terror, I struggled to form words, but finally managed, “Eat shit… ghost bitch!” Pathetic, I know.

Instead of being intimidated, it seemed to grow angrier; the door flew open with a loud bang, bouncing off the wall so hard it slammed shut again! After a few minutes of silence, I thought it was over, but no. Loud footsteps clacked down the hall, like a woman in high heels. I almost fainted when the sound matched perfectly with the appearance of a shadow beneath the door!

It stayed there for several minutes – not knocking, just standing – before continuing on its way. At the end of the hall, where I clearly heard it go – there is nothing but a linen closet. When able to force my legs into action, I ran; I wanted out of the house, but most importantly, I needed to purchase a few things.

I definitely couldn’t afford any of it, but if this doesn’t qualify for the emergency savings fund, what does? After installing the cameras and motion sensor flood lights on each side of the house, I felt a little more confident; honestly, they were needed anyway, especially in the country. What surprised me was the lights triggering every five minutes. I reviewed the recorded footage from my tablet but never saw what set them off.

I’m glad the cameras are outside. Last night was the worst night of my life… I couldn’t watch the video even if it were recorded. At least this way I might eventually come to think of it as a nightmare. My exhaustion finally caught up to me; I fell asleep immediately upon trying, but I’m not sure what woke me. Only that I wish it hadn’t.

I was lying flat on my back, covers down to the waist and paralyzed. I panicked at the realization, but I was helpless. Studying the shadows on the ceiling, I tried to discern each shape. In movies, when someone said, “It felt like I wasn’t alone”, I used to call bullshit. I didn’t understand how a mere presence could possibly affect another, but now I do.

I can’t find the words to express how, but I knew I wasn’t alone. No matter what logic I implore, I can’t deny I felt it. I struggled to see in each direction. With great effort, my head moved just enough to bring the room into view. At first, nothing seemed out of place. The doors were still closed, the laundry baskets were nearby, and the tv hung silently in the corner, over the chair full of clothes.

That’s when I remembered I didn’t have time to empty the dryer, and my heart stopped working. Until that moment, it throbbed, painfully, but at the realization I couldn’t identify the strange form, it came to an abrupt halt. My eyes bore into the shadowy corner, willing it to take the shape of something innocent, but what small hopes I possessed were brutally ripped away when the figure moved.

He stopped at the foot of my bed, looking down on me with the most hate-filled eyes I’ve ever seen. I recognized his black hair and pudgy, bearded face from articles I found on the Hayes family. Martin’s ghost bore the same thick glasses and jagged chin scar, but even without those features, I will never forget his dark, brown eyes of pure evil.

The chest pain increased with every second my heart refused to beat; I almost hoped it would kill me before anything else could. The seconds stretched into an endless eternity where time held no meaning as the twisted, dead man’s apparition glared into my very soul. Finally, his thin smile parted, exposing rotted teeth as his tongue licked around his peeling, chapped lips; I watched in horror as one hand slowly came to rest on my foot.

Even through several blankets, it felt like a solid block of ice moving up my leg with his each deliberate step. In the terrible moment his hand reached my waist, transferring from sheet to skin, I blacked out from pure terror. Unfortunately, I regained consciousness almost immediately as the dead fingers crawled up my shoulder, coming to rest on my neck. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I silently begged for death. When the hand suddenly clamped around my throat, I thought my wish would be granted. My chest burned with a fire I never imagined possible as the world faded around me.

This morning, my throat feels raw, and it hurts to speak. Somehow, there are no physical marks, but I would almost prefer it. This is making me feel crazy; I don’t know what to do! I don’t have anywhere else to go, and I can’t waste money on a hotel room. Please, Lady Nopeingham! Anyone! I beg you, help me!

—CountryHaunts13, Monday 7:02am


Do you see what she did to me?! That dark, evil temptress of night— do you?!

Of course you do, forgive me. It’s just… her next response… there’s simply no words. That was my last update on Blewit, though I didn’t yet know it.


Lady Nopeingham 7:08am:

Oh, you poor, poor dear! How dreadfully terrible! Your tears cause me anguish, and in no way sustain me. Worry no more, my friend, I will be with you every step of the way until we have seen this nightmare through!

Yes, it is obvious now. You first encountered the young boy and his mother, but now you face the murderous fiend himself. We must proceed with caution, but I have complete faith in you. Are you familiar with pentagrams? They are symbols of protection. I will email you a picture; do not waste time with an internet search.

With ink, draw the image in each room as you experience activity, especially the wall above your bed. This will ensure deep, peaceful rest. Best of luck, dear Jamie, I eagerly await the next update.


It’s worse I believed her after such an obvious mistake, but I was so frightened by the dangers at home, I didn’t see the obvious red flag of my name in her response —that’s how completely she held my trust… that demon banshee of hell!

I wasted no time in opening her email and with a jumbo sharpie, I drew pentagrams in each room. Once again wrapped in a blanket of false security, I ate breakfast and worked in the office for a few hours before deciding to take a nap. I’ve slept so little in the last few nights; I could barely keep my eyes open.

I had such a vivid nightmare; I may never sleep soundly again. In the dream, I was Martin Hayes; I not only saw everything from his perspective, but I also genuinely believed myself to be him. Even though I knew nothing of this family before moving here, I possessed all the dead man’s memories. It is not an exaggeration to say I would have preferred the role of victim.

I never knew such pure, blind, rage existed, and it’s unlikely I will ever feel clean again. My soul has been marred by something black and evil that will never leave me. The longer I am awake, the more finer details fade, but the emotions will haunt me forever.

Martin was forced to work late that fateful night, but it didn’t stop him from opening his flask at the usual time. Unfortunately, he then crushed a coworker’s foot via forklift, costing him the job entirely. He went to a bar, and his foul temper worsened with each drink. By time he arrived home, poor Helen never stood a chance.

Events would have unfolded the same regardless, but the fight started when his dinner was not waiting on the table. Helen recognized the dangerous look in his eyes, and with a sadly sincere, desperate apology, she begged forgiveness. The terror on her face is still vivid enough to make me nauseas, but it is nothing compared to what came next.

Fully aware of the small boy watching from the doorway, Martin grabbed his wife by the hair, pulling her to the ground. I can still feel her brunette locks tangled in my fingers as she was dragged into the kitchen. Trevor screamed for his mother as Martin straddled her crumpled body and began punching.

I’ve never been in a fight before… it’s nothing like tv… you never think of punching someone as painful, but it is. I felt my knuckles splitting wider as Helen’s bones shattered from each impact. It didn’t stop until her face was no longer recognizable. I can’t believe such damage could be caused by fists alone…

The sound of retreating footsteps earned Martin’s undivided attention. His resentment toward Trevor was indescribable; the boy was too expensive, always wanting something new and outgrowing his clothes, but no more! He found his son hiding beneath the bed and pulled him out roughly.

The child’s screams were cut off by two large hands at his throat. Martin stared into Trevor’s wet, brown eyes as he choked the life from him. He felt no remorse after, and did not place his neck in the noose until a week later, when the first police cruiser appeared.

I awoke screaming. Nothing about that experience was dream-like; I don’t pretend to know how it is possible, but I am certain events unfolded exactly as seen.

That is when I decided to do my own research, as I should have from the beginning. It took hours, but with the decision to never sleep again, I had nothing but time. The information was as conflicting as I feared, but enough sites agreed on the basic facts. The knowledge you have not only lived your worst fear, but facilitated it at every step, is a burden I hope none of you ever bear.

I logged into Blewit, ready to give Lady the ass chewing of a lifetime but was surprised to see a new message from her. The time indicated she sent it ten minutes before, but I don’t understand how.


Lady Nopeingham 5:28pm

I am greatly saddened by your loss of faith. I have done my all to assist you at every turn, yet you doubt my intentions. You speak as if I am some vile creature who only wants to suck out your life essence to prolong my own! While that is not the case, rest assured, if it were – there would be no higher honor! I cannot fathom a more noble cause for one’s soul to be dedicated.

If you wish to proceed without further assistance, I am afraid that is your prerogative. It’s not as if angry, evil spirits allowed me to pinpoint your location – and the pentagrams are certainly not an invitation to retrieve fresh blood donations, don’t be absurd, Jamie! I will expect a heartfelt apology when I see you tonight. Until then, try to get some rest, you look terrible.


Obviously, after copying each message, I deleted my Blewit account and apps. Lady Nopeingham is clearly a sick, deranged individual, and I am having no further contact. She must be a hacker! That must be it; I bet she gained access to my cameras somehow! I can fix that problem!

… … I went inside only to unplug the Wi-Fi. Once I finish this last part, I’ll disable cellular data as well. I have spent several hours in my car, putting this information together – all the while dreading this very moment. I am not ready to discuss the last incident, but I can delay no longer.

Before going to bed, I scribbled over each pentagram, hoping to negate their effects, but the plan was unsuccessful. I was not roughly roused from sleep as with previous incidents. This time, a faint scratching sound stole its way into my dreams before I understood it to be real. Forcing myself to sit up, I tried to determine its source. I swung my feet to the floor, and a cold hand clamped around my ankle.

The bone felt like it would snap in the steel grip, and nails dug deep into my skin. Warm, sticky blood spilled beneath my feet as I struggled to free myself. I tried to stand but was pulled down, slamming painfully into the floor. I screamed, flailing in desperation as my body was dragged backwards. I didn’t know what would happen if it pulled me all the way under, but surely nothing good.

Finally, I felt a kick connect with something hard. Ignoring the resulting throbs that shot up my leg, I scrambled away from the bed without looking back. After fumbling my way through the door, I raced downstairs to be greeted by the pale, translucent figure of a small boy. The prominent bruises on his neck remained even in death, but my sympathies have been wholly replaced by fear.

Trevor and I stared at each other, unmoving until the sound of pursuing footsteps could be heard descending the stairs. I had no choice but to run past him if I did not want to face Martin again. For some strange reason, I believed the man to be the only one with ill intent. I suppose that confirms my complete ignorance of the subject matter, even now.

At the last moment, the child extended his small hand. I was moving too fast to dodge away when his dead, cold, fingers went into my stomach before solidifying. No word known to humans will ever be strong enough to describe the pain and fear. I was oddly fascinated by the lack of blood, but that was probably from shock.

How I went from standing to lying on my back is fuzzy, but I somehow came to be paralyzed in that state as three ghostly figures stood above me. My bladder voided itself as Helen came to kneel by my head and placed both hands into my mouth. If I had to describe the taste of her fingers as she forced my jaw open – I would guess a mixture of dirt, maggots, and rot.

How my heart continued to beat, I do not understand, but death would have been kinder than what came next. I watched in absolute horror as Martin faded from a solid man to a ghostly image before shifting into a foul, black cloud of smoke. Please understand, I say “smoke” to give you an accurate image, but the substance was completely solid as it forced its way down my throat.

I thought I would suffocate when it cut off all airflow, but I remained conscious for every miserable second. How my jaw was not dislocated is equally puzzling… nor do I know how long I laid there. When the last wisps of smoke were gone, so were Helen and Trevor. I was left alone, laying in a crumpled, soiled heap at the base of the stairs.

It is clear I cannot stay here anymore; I know that. I plan to remain in the car until morning, then I will pack a bag and go to my sister’s. I don’t care how much money I lose in selling this place, but I will never enter that house again. When I find an apartment, I can hire movers or buy new stuff.

I think I will be safe if I stay outside. After I am settled in at Jessie’s house, I will let everyone know I made it out safe. I feel better just knowing this will be the last night I spend here.

—HauntedSoul666, 3:00am

This is Jamie’s sister! I don’t know what you sick people are doing, but whether this is some kind of weird role playing game or just a bunch of delusional psychos, you’ve gone too far! You’ll be hearing from the police soon; I’m showing them every word of this madness!

Do you understand you pushed a real, living human-being to commit suicide?! Was that your intention?! I was the one who found the body! Jamie was in the bathtub, wrists sliced, water still running, and printed copies of this thread strewn all over the place! Are you children capable of comprehending the lives you destroyed? Our parents will never recover! Do you even care?!

I will make sure each and every one of you pay for this if it’s the last thing I do! Especially you, Lady Nopeingham…

—HauntedSoul666, Thursday 5:17pm


Alert: 1 unread message

Lady Nopeingham 5:23pm

I am heartbroken to hear this tragic news! I fear there has been a terrible misunderstanding, perhaps we should meet in person. I can explain everything, including what really happened to our poor Jamie. I will pay a visit tonight, and show you how very innocent I am. See you soon.


Horror Fiction

The Settlements Continue (Pt. 4)

Narrated by Dark Somnium on YouTube, Spotify, & Podcast 

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Now a CreepyPasta
Dirge Creek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 10, 1679

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11, 1679

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 29, 1679

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 30, 1679

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

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

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

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

May 31, 1679

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… Yes dear, you’re right.

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

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

June 1st, 1679

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

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

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

Copied from the journal of James Cooke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

June 2, 1679

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 5

Horror Fiction

The Growing Settlements (Pt. 3)

Part 3 of The Settlement Settlement series.

Now a CreepyPasta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 30, 1677

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… What’s a battery… brick?

… It does what?!

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

… That should keep him nice and quiet.

January 31, 1677

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 1, 1677

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 3, 1677

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No moon or stars could be seen from beneath the forest canopy, but they feared the torch would reveal their location. Light held low, hearts thudding, they retreated away from the place their friend was killed. They could see hardly a foot away, but they did not pause, focusing only on the next step ahead.

The sound of their heavy breaths broke the silence, adding another unsettling layer to the atmosphere. Greg has always claimed he felt the thing’s eyes before he heard it return. They were barely fifty yards from salvation when a shadow streaked by their right, then across their path.

Mr. Jones says its outline was visible for hardly a second, but he is certain it was almost seven feet tall, and its head and back were disproportionate to the rest of its body. The sight cost him a moment’s hesitation, but Ronald sprung forward. As it had with David, the beast shot through the trees, giving chase.

The screams were heard by all in the village. Greg escaped as his friend died in agony. Nothing more could be done for the dead; all efforts of a morning search were called off. Janice had to be physically restrained to prevent her from entering the forest. Her mind has never been quite right since, but considering the terrible events of the following morning, that should not come as surprise.

Damn, yet again I have stayed at this desk too long. The rest will have to wait.

Holy smokes folks, we got a live one! Assume positions!

… … … … … … Whew, Trish, it’s clear! You can bring our friend out now.

… I am terribly sorry for the rude interruption. It’s been a long time since my mother-in-law was so riled up. I think she’s just curious about you, but don’t worry, I don’t plan on doing any introductions.

… That’s kind of you to say, but I feel just awful about this mess. You went paler than a bucket of white paint when that door flew open. Most can’t get inside at all, but we tend to be persistent in this family. Don’t you worry though, I promise, this time I’m sure she won’t be back tonight… probably not for a while.

… Haha, you and your specific questions. Hey, it’s getting pretty late, we better get back to it or we won’t even have time to finish the next entry.

February 4, 1677

Today, I visited James to discuss his travel preparations. He believes they will be ready to leave a few days earlier than estimated if the weather continues to warm. I am both worried and excited about the upcoming expedition, but I fear for my brother’s life most. I cannot imagine how I will cope with the anxiety for such an extended period.

Last night, I had a frightfully vivid nightmare. Like my predecessors, I believe dwelling on these morbid topics are affecting my mind. It was so real; I can almost still smell the blood. In my dream, I was part of the fourth settlement. Three men and I were deep in the Cursed Woods, hunting. I have never seen them, yet I knew them in the moment. After a long day, we packed our meat and began the hike home.

We walked for hours as day faded to dusk, long after we should have returned. There was only one trail where we hunted, we could not understand how we became lost. Then an argument erupted; two wished to turn back in search of familiar surroundings, myself and the other were determined to continue forward. Eventually, exhausted and frustrated, we split up.

If I were truly in such circumstances, I have no doubt I would retrace my steps to familiar territory, yet in the dream, the idea was unthinkable. It grew darker by the minute, and we could not afford further delay. I thought of my family’s worry if I were forced to camp overnight and walked faster.

Eventually, we saw a soft, orange glow ahead. In my mind, I knew we should run away, but my feet carried me against my wishes. I assume the same was true for my companion; he walked alongside me, equally entranced by the mysterious lights growing brighter at our approach.

The path we walked opened into a small, dead clearing. Not one blade of grass grew within the circle; only a stone altar stood in the otherwise empty clearing. The source of the light seemed to be dozens of glowing… I do not know how to convey… orbs or sacs hanging in the surrounding trees. They were the size of watermelons, but soft, and oozing thick liquid. They writhed as if something moved inside; my innards tangled at the sight.

I saw my partner walk forward, hand outstretched, mouth open. I wanted to scream for him to stop, but I only watched. I still feel the bile that rose in the back of my throat when he touched one only for it to burst. A foul, yellow liquid covered the man, and I could hear the sizzle of his skin beneath his screams of agony. I covered my eyes but could not look away as the substance reduced him to a puddle. Long as I live, I may never lose the image of it.

There was a slight rustle in the tree directly above, and before I could move, it dropped from the branches, landing behind me. I felt the vibrations in the ground and heard the crunch of leaves as it landed. I willed my feet to flee but lost all control of bodily functions.

I was helpless as I felt hot, putrid breath on the back of my neck. A single claw lightly touched my head, traced down to my shoulders, and around my throat before stopping. With barely a pause, two rough, bony hands squeezed my head until I thought my skull would shatter. The pressure was so intense, my vision blacked out. The last thing I heard before waking, drenched with sweat, was “You are too weak.”

It seems foolish to be so disturbed by a mere dream, but I do not have it in me to write more this night. At least Trish should be pleased.

February 6, 1677

A short break is exactly what I needed. I feel refreshed and eager to write again. The morning after Ronald and David were killed, the village woke to a stable boy frantically ringing a bell, shouting for the doctor.

When the boy was calm enough to communicate, they learned the body of Janice Burns was in the loft, concealed beneath the hay. Two men were dead, and she never left the stables. Her clothes were ripped, and she bore the marks of being strangled, but she was not sexually violated. The already divided community became hostile, some trading blows amidst the arguments. I cannot imagine their position. In a place with so much evil, how is one know when it is truly the work of man?

A few days later, Jeffery Morris returned home to find his wife missing. This time they left no stone unturned in the search. She was found in the church house, her body left lying on a pew in much the same condition as Janice. The only difference was the skin beneath her nails. Knowing the murderer was marked, each man was inspected.

When Marcus Dean’s arms bore deep, red scratches, he claimed it happened while clearing thorn bushes from his land. When his story fell apart, he wept, begging forgiveness, claiming evil spirits forced his hand. Several witnesses say the man showed no signs of remorse before caught, but even guilty, I do not know if he deserved his fate.

The man was already disliked in the community; he had no family and few he could call friend. The two factions of believers and non-believers were both crazed with fear and anger. It is difficult to get clear answers regarding how the decision was made – I believe all parties feel guilt for their actions – but it was decided Marcus would be the test to prove if monsters are real.

Fearing the lake monster least, as it is theoretically confined to the water, they tied Mr. Dean’s hands and feet. Putting him on a small raft, they gave him a makeshift paddle, stating he would go free if he made it to the other side.

No one spoke as the man awkwardly rowed. The only sound was the splash of his oar and a slight shuffle as repositioned himself. He could only row on one side for a few strokes before he began turning, and each time he changed sides, he almost lost the paddle.

He was near the center when something large splashed in the water behind him. His head snapped sharply to the side, looking for the source, but the water went still before anything more happened. Rowing faster, the raft rocked side to side with his clumsy, panicked movements.

In mid-stroke, Marcus’ paddle froze. He could be seen struggling to pull it from the water, but it appeared stuck. Another splash sounded as the oar was ripped from his grip. The resulting waves pushed Dean away, and the crowd gasped as pale, grayish-blue tentacles shot from the water, wrapping the screaming man and pulling him under. He never resurfaced. It was a long time before anyone moved, but when they did, they returned to their homes silently.

As my forefather once wrote, I do believe the demon understands when the people have decided to leave. They gathered in the morning and agreed they could be ready to go in two days. With Marcus deceased, they did not believe themselves to be in immediate danger so long as they avoided the lake and forest. That assumption cost them dearly. Like so many before them, brother was turned against sister, husband against wife, and no one was safe.

Helen Atkins smothered her baby before disappearing into the forest. John Newman was stabbed to death by his wife, and their son vanished in the chaos. Eric Smith, only seven at the time, hid in a closet as his father murdered his sister and mother before his footsteps could be heard leaving the house. Each survivor holds a similar tale.

When the sun rose on the second day, seventeen people lived. They did not pause to bury the dead; they left Dirge Lake with what possessions were already prepared and did not look back. When the wagons rode into Jamestown, they were welcomed and guided to the homes built in their anticipation. Some of our men returned for the livestock left behind, but since that day, no one has crossed the river.

There is no telling what may live there after so many years, but I hope James will return with new knowledge before we find out. Discovering how and why some are affected and some are not, is almost as vital as destroying the demon. Why do some seem to sleepwalk into the forest while others suffer from delusions? Some have experienced both. Is it the work of more than one creature? Or do the results depend on the victim? These questions burn within me, but I am helpless to discover the answers.

March 11, 1677

Finally, I can write something more interesting than the daily drivel! James and a small contingent of men have left for the Great Mountains! The long wait for his return officially begins! I already feel as if I will crawl out of my skin with worry, but it cannot be helped. If his expedition is successful, it could save countless lives in the future. I should not get my hopes up, but my imagination runs rampant, and I am at its mercy.

That entry babbles on a bit longer, but the relevant parts are over. Next time we can skip ahead to when the fifth group arrives. Boy, did those folks give me a run for my money! But we don’t have time to get into it now. The suns coming up and we shouldn’t press our luck any—

… Hold on there, friend! Let me clean my ears out before you repeat yourself. It sounded like you said you brought presents? Thank you gifts?

… Aw, shucks, you shouldn’t have! I noticed your pack was a little bulgy this time, but you know me – always respecting others’ privacy. Bless my oddly corporeal soul, I am on pins and needles! What is it?

… Oh my word! Those are Stephen King books! Real ones! Ones where the battery doesn’t die! Yes, please, let me give ‘em a good whiff!

… Really?! You bet! You feel free to bring me any books you were gonna donate. In fact, do you need cash? We have lots just sitting in a dresser. You could update your digital library and donate the old ones!

… That’s just silly, Trish. I’m not scaring our best friend. Look, that’s the face of… err… umm… hey, I know! Let’s get you on the trail! Can’t risk anything happening to you, can we pal? I Thank ya kindly and will anxiously await your next visit. Come back real soon, now! Real, real soon!

Part 4

Horror Fiction

The Infinity Game (Pt. 1)

My good friend Danie Dreadful did an amazing job narrating this one, please go show it some love so she’ll want to do the sequel too! YouTube or Spotify or Podcast

Now a CreepyPasta

Has anyone ever played the Infinity Game? The one with mirrors? Most people don’t know it’s a game, they just think it’s a cool visual effect. Maybe it’s different for me, being raised by witches. Not Halloween witches, but the ones who practice Wicca. You can Google it if you really want to learn about them, but I’m here to talk about the game.

Most people don’t understand what it’s capable of. They have no idea they’re standing at a locked door or what’s on the other side. It’s almost like Wizard of Oz. If you can find your way to the Mirror Master, you’ll be rewarded with a wish; but getting there is not an easy journey… and you want to choose your words carefully.

To play, you need at least one other person, two standing mirrors, five black candles, a stick of chalk, warm clothing, and a red armband. The red band is the most important thing to remember. It’s not required to get in, but you shouldn’t leave without it.

While in the Mirror World, you must be wary of your reflection. Its only goal is to take your place in the real world – meaning you will be trapped forever. It cannot kill you, instead it will attempt to trick you. Never, ever speak to it. It will be dressed like you, except its armband will be on the left. Whoever you have waiting in the real world will be responsible for ensuring it doesn’t get out. Choose someone you trust.

Only your reflection can take your place, but everything else you meet will try to kill you from sheer spite. If you die in there, your soul will be trapped, and the mirror through which you entered will shatter. Make sure your friend is aware a shattered mirror indicates they should immediately destroy the other one as well. Though unlikely, there are a few entities powerful enough to use this situation to their advantage. To be safe… make sure the friend isn’t easily manipulated.

Now that you have all the supplies, draw a pentagram on the floor with space for the mirrors in the center. Then put the lit candles on each point of the star. When everything is in place, the reflection will appear as a never-ending hallway.

Stand between the mirrors and focus only on the infinite corridor. Soon you will notice a shadow far behind your reflection. Focus on that, letting the world around you fade. Do not look away or blink. Slowly begin to inch forward, but do not be afraid of bumping into the glass. Think of it as platform nine-and-three-quarters: you must know it’s going to work. When you feel a drastic temperature drop, you can look at your surroundings. You are officially inside the Mirror World’s lobby… though, I suppose it’s more like a bridge. It’s what connects the two places, but my family calls it the lobby.

This is where you must proceed with extreme caution. The Mirror World is a backwards replica of ours. Not only does that mean left is right; it also means beautiful, thriving cities are dead and crumbling. If you are unable to enter, do not leave the game unattended. Remove the mirrors immediately. The things that live there can’t be described as “alive”, but they are desperate.

My mother was supposedly the only person to successfully return after seeing the Mirror Master. Growing up, I was told no one has ever met him; but when Mom (Ellen) died two months ago, I found her diary. My amazement grew with each passage as she described her own experience with the Infinity Game. Her first entry is from six months after having her first-born, John. He was sickly and doctors said he wouldn’t live to see his first birthday. She was aware of the game’s dangers, but she didn’t care, not if it could save her son.

I will copy the relevant entry here. Let it serve as warning to any who wish to play – even the winners lose.

From the Diary of Elle Pierce:

I hoped to never open this diary again. I purchased a new book for the start of our new lives, but instead of writing on crisp, clean pages, I continue here. The tear-stained memorial to the darkest six months of my life was to be buried under decades of beautiful memories, yet here I am.

I won the stupid game; we should be far away from this place, beginning anew, not… here. There is only hate and pain left in my heart. Everyone told me not to go, but I didn’t have a choice. Each time someone said, “you can always have more children” my heart ached with fury.

I was prepared to risk my own life, but not for this. Not to feel the joy of knowing my son would survive, only to have it ripped away again. I thought I would be different, but now I write this only to warn others. I hope that vile creature never wins another soul.

I entered easily, feeling the temperature drop as if exiting a heated room into an Arctic tundra. I always imagined a chill in the air, but this was cold enough to see my breath. Behind me was a mirror, and in it I saw Thomas. He appeared to be in shock; his mouth hung open, as he waved. It would have been funny under different circumstances.

I think the strange hallway is an in-between place. Both sides are lined with identical, white doors, and I didn’t know which to choose. I couldn’t see the end of the hall, it still appeared infinite. I tried the closest doors, but they were locked. There were no keyholes, just solid knobs.

I walked down the corridor, feeling more nervous each time I looked back to see Thomas farther away. There was no way to track the passage of time; electronics won’t work there. I don’t know how long I walked before I heard the soft click of a door opening, but I no longer saw home when I turned around; instead, I saw my reflection. She was wearing her armband on the left, just as the legend said.

I know I should have been afraid, but I found it comforting. It meant the stories were true, that John had a real chance at surviving. I would have gladly traded my own life for his, but that’s not how the game works.

My reflection called to me, “Are you lost? You need to go this way.” She indicated the open door where she emerged. I knew not to respond. I remained silent as she tried again. “Hello? What’s wrong, are you deaf or just rude? … Fine, I don’t care if you want to spend eternity trying to open locked doors.” She shrugged and began walking in Thomas’ direction.

I could not follow, I had to trust my husband to tell the difference. She would return when she failed to deceive him. I couldn’t go the way she recommended but wanted to look inside. I walked back to the open door, keeping a healthy distance. Standing in the center of the hall I tried to peer inside, but it was too dark to see anything.

I wasn’t even outside yet, and I was already cracking under the pressure. Were the other doors all really locked? How long before something worse found me? It was then I realized, why do they call this a game? “Game” implies there’s a way to move forward, clues to follow…

That’s when I understood how literal the stories were. If everything is backwards, shouldn’t I go to the door opposite the one indicated by my reflection? I reached for the other doorknob, holding my breath as I felt it turn beneath my hand. It opened effortlessly though I know it was locked before.

It opened to reveal our kitchen, where Thomas and I chose to set the mirrors. The light was dim, everything was reversed, but it was also filthy. Worse – instead of finding my husband, I found a horrifying, twisted, old man. His back was hunched, his teeth and nails were yellow, and his red face contorted in hatred.

I was frozen with fear as his icy gaze bore into my soul. “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?!” He screamed, spit flying from his mouth.

In my terror, I couldn’t remember if it was against the rules to talk to anyone besides your reflection, but I didn’t want to risk it. I took a few steps to my left, hoping to get to the door before he could block my exit.

“Don’t you dare ignore me, tramp!” The old man croaked in a raspy, hoarse voice. He reached under the table, retrieving a long, metal cane. Thankfully he was slow as he looked.

I ran around him, through the swinging door to the den. He was still cursing me as I continued out the front door. At the end of the driveway, I noticed my surroundings. The neighborhood was in ruins; the yards were dead, and the houses were all abandoned.

It was my neighborhood, but it looked like a ghost town. None of the cars worked; each one had busted windows, popped hoods, or slashed tires. It was midnight back home; it should have been noon there, but it looked like dusk. I understand why our reflections are so desperate to trade places.

For some reason I felt confident the old man wouldn’t follow me outside. Something gave me the idea his part of the game was to guard that kitchen door for when I needed to get home. I didn’t stay to test the theory, but now I’m pretty sure I was correct.

I was never told where to go once I made it this far; the stories were all vague in that regard. The only thing I knew for certain was that it would get worse before it was over. That’s when I realized how desperately I needed a working vehicle, for speed and protection.

I resigned myself to look for a bicycle when I remembered the mechanic who lives three houses down. Every weekend, his garage door is open, and he can be seen working on an old car. It was hardly more than a body and wheels last time I saw it. If everything is opposite… wouldn’t that car be in working condition here? Yes! It was. The damn thing made me truly believe I could do it.

Hope is dangerous. If something is too good to be true, it probably is. I was so excited by the sight of the pristine, red car, I forgot to be wary of danger. A strange creature I almost mistook for a dog stood between me and victory. It was of similar size and color to a German Shepard, but its mouth opened sideways to reveal extra rows of teeth. I don’t know if its eyes were located elsewhere or it just didn’t have any, but the ears looked hard, almost like rounded horns. I couldn’t discern a nose either, but I’m sure it had one; I could hear it sniffing my scent.

It gave me a headache to look too closely, like my brain was rejecting the very sight of it. My eyes frantically searched for anything to use as a weapon, but there was nothing nearby. My heart sank as I realized it would come down to a race I held no chance of winning. Stealing a quick glance at my surroundings, I saw the only chance was to run for the door and hope it’s unlocked. Otherwise, I would be eaten by a dog monster.

I tried to mentally prepare myself when a long, high-pitched whistle turned the creature’s growls to whimpers. It wasn’t pleasant to my ears either, but I enjoyed seeing its effect. The noise continued until the dog-thing ran out of sight. I didn’t see the source of the sound at first, but I didn’t have to wait long.

My reflection walked into view, smiling proudly. She stopped several feet away but remained silent. I was confused until I almost asked why! My mouth opened wide, froze, then slowly closed. She hoped I would talk without thinking. Plus, if I die this quick, she can’t escape. In her own way, she’s more terrifying than the monsters.

“Uh-oh, almost had you that time, haha! You might want to find yourself a weapon before you run into anything else. Hey, do you even know which way to go?” She spoke like we were best friends.

I was too afraid to shake my head or shrug; it seemed like the kind of place that thrived on loopholes. Instead, I stared at her feet, willing her to say a direction so I could go the opposite way.

“You look lost, do you need a map? I could draw one for you… come on, just nod or something; I’m trying to help!” She stomped her foot in frustration.

To me, that was confirmation about the loopholes… or maybe she could read my mind. Either way, I wasn’t trying it.

“Be that way! I don’t care if you want to live or not, but it’s a shame the kid has to die just because you won’t ask for help.” She shrugged and began walking away.

Those words hit me like a freight train at the time, but now that the words carry the added weight of truth, I feel as if they will crush me. Controlling my temper as she left was one of the most difficult parts of that nightmare. So many times, I wondered if punching her counted as communication, but John’s life was not worth the risk. That is when I vowed to break every mirror I saw for the rest of my life. A vow I have thus far made good on.

When she was well out of sight, I discovered my next obstacle would be to find keys. The car was locked, but the house was not. Knowing something would be inside, I took a large crowbar from the garage. I crept in the back door, staying low. I was in an empty kitchen, hoping for a nice key-hook by the door, but couldn’t be so fortunate.

The room smelled of the rotten food on every counter and flies were swarming something that looked like raw meat. I choked down the vomit threatening to erupt and focused on John. This experience was nothing compared to the idea of losing him.

I made my way into a den with a broken tv and rough-looking leather furniture. From where I stood, a recliner was directly in front of me with a couch on either side, all angled toward the television in the center. Small, dirty tables sat on each end of the couches, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw car keys atop one by the recliner.

Forgetting my fear, I reached down quickly, only to scream myself hoarse when a cold, skeletal hand shot out from the chair, grasping my wrist. It had a grip of steel; for a moment I thought it would break my arm. I lashed out desperately with the crowbar, making contact with whatever was on the other side of that recliner. The instant its grip released, my hand closed around the keys, and I ran for the car.

It was pure luck the dog-monster hadn’t returned, because I didn’t stop to check before flying outside. As soon as the car door closed, I hit the lock button three times and performed a thorough inspection of the back seat. Satisfied there were no unexpected passengers, I was ready to go. There was a horrific moment of fear the car still wouldn’t start as I inserted the key, but it roared to life like it was brand new. Hell, it probably was.

It really is just like King’s Quest. Find a clue, find an item, solve a puzzle, escape danger, advance, repeat to the boss fight. Careful Elle, your nerd is showing. Look at me, I made a joke. Never thought that would happen again.

I went to the end of the driveway and hit the brakes, realizing I didn’t know which way to go. In a game, when there’s multiple paths, they usually all come out to the same place… or one is a deadly trap with no escape. Of course, you usually know your destination…

That’s when it hit me! If I’m playing a game where the goal is to cure a sick boy, where would the boss fight take place? A hospital! You would want the best doctor with the best equipment! I turned left, toward the best hospital in the state. When John was born, we moved three hours away from our hometown to be near it. Fifteen minutes away was the closest residence we could find, and it seemed good at the time, but now it felt like hours.

I didn’t know what the roads would be like, but I knew it wouldn’t be good. I could have never imagined the level of destruction as I saw that day. Our normally smooth, paved streets were filled with large potholes, some big enough to get stuck in if I wasn’t careful. The buildings were in various stages of demolition; none looked to be inhabited, but I’m sure they were. The beautiful plants and trees that once lined the medians were brown and dead.

I kept careful watch on my surroundings, worried something would come charging from a dark alley as I slowly steered around potholes. Luckily, it only happened once, close to the halfway point. I was preparing for another tight squeeze when I heard a scraping sound from behind. In the rear-view mirror, I saw another deformed-looking man. This one was younger with long, greasy hair and burned skin. The sound was from the steel bat he was dragging, and one of those weird dog-monsters tagged along like his pet.

If the roads were decent, I could outrun them easily, but I knew they would catch me if I drove into the middle of that bad patch. I slowed down even more, letting them get a little closer to the decent section of the road. I don’t think they are capable of intelligent thought; they did not hesitate when I began reversing, nor did they make any attempt to move when I ran them down. I aimed for the man, considering him the main threat, but the beast was only stunned.

There was a moment I thought it was over when the car stalled on top of the corpse, but the wheels found traction when the beast collided with the rear-end. I’m not sure how he avoided going under the wheels as I flew backwards, but it wasn’t touched. I shifted into drive and punched the gas, trying once more for the dog-monster but still missing.

Going fast as I dared, I ran over the man once more… just to be sure… before coming to a cautious stop. I hated not knowing what the dog-thing was doing but felt fairly certain it ran away to lick its wounded pride. I didn’t doubt I would see it again, but that was a problem for later.

I made it to the hospital without further attacks, parking in front of the main entrance. The sight of it did not inspire confidence. It was in worse condition than anything I had seen yet. That’s when I realized I made a terrible mistake. Everything is opposite… the best hospital would be the worst. I needed our world’s worst hospital.

I jumped back into the car, making my way to the free clinic on 3rd. If my theory was right, it would probably hold the cure for cancer. A flock of zombie birds attacked the car at one point, but they didn’t cause much damage.

I knew I’d made the right decision the moment I entered the bad side of town… well our world’s bad side. In this world, it was full of lavish manors; the clinic was immaculate and double its normal size. I parked on the curb and ran for the entrance. It was starting to get darker, but I didn’t understand how. There should have been hours of daylight left. Then, once again, as if reading my mind, the Bitch was back.

“Gosh, are you just now getting here? You better hurry; time is running out fast.” She teased.

I had never heard of a time limit. I ached to taunt her with the obvious failures to deceive Thomas. If she was still there, it meant she couldn’t fool him; the thought filled me with strength. I turned my back on her and walked inside, but she followed.

“You know that right? That when it gets dark – the hourglass stands empty? Well, not literally, but I like the expression. Anyway, I just wanted to check, because it seems like most people from your world are ignorant to that detail.” She said nonchalantly.

The more I considered it, the more it made sense. Most games do have time limits… and being in this place after dark does have a sort of “game over” vibe. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ask questions and I had to keep moving. I thought she would leave again, but she continued to follow at a careful distance.

“Don’t mind me, I just want to see the big climax. Your sweetie was too smart, there’s no point chatting with him anymore.”

I didn’t give her the satisfaction of looking back. Seeing a map of the hospital, I stopped to study the layout. Of course, I needed the top floor. It couldn’t be right here on the ground floor, no, heaven forbid. I walked to the elevator, but noticed my reflection was gone. The doors chimed and slid open, I put one foot inside, but pulled it out quickly.

Did I really want to walk into a metal box in a bizarro world where there’s no one to help if I get trapped inside? I looked around and saw a nice, open stairway. The empty elevator closed behind me as I made my way to the stairs. I held onto the rail all the way up – losing because of a fall so late in the game would be too insulting to live with. I’m glad I did too, because my reflection jumped out screaming, “boo” the moment I reached the top.

I wonder if anyone has tried to murder their reflection… I’ll have to look into that one day. I held my crowbar at the ready as I passed her, it felt glued to my hand after so much time. My reflection was tailing me a little closer, getting desperate, I’m sure. When I reached the reception desk for the children’s ward, she took a seat in the waiting area.

She grinned when she saw me watching, giving me two thumbs up and a wink. “You go girl! I’m rooting for you!”

More confused than ever, I went through the double-doors in search of the doctor… or Mirror Master I guess… terrible name. They had no imagination back in the day. I would have named him the Greedy Gremlin… okay maybe that’s not much better, but it is better.

He wasn’t hard to find. I stood in a dark hallway and bright lights shone under the swinging doors ahead. I’d come too far to stop then. I could feel my heart thumping in my ears with every step. When I walked into the light, it was so bright I had to shield my eyes. Then, with the snap of someone’s fingers, they faded to normal indoor lighting.

The only person in the room was the doctor I see on tv… the one on the ridiculous commercial with that annoyingly catchy tune. I can’t remember his name… you know, the really fat, bald guy with glasses? It’s not important, it wasn’t how he… she… it looked anyway. It threw me off though, and the surprise must have shown on my face.

“Ahh not what you were expecting? Me either. Who is this anyway?” The doctor asked, examining his own appearance.

“You… you don’t know who you are?” I stammered.

“Ugh, of course I know who I am, girl! I appear however one’s mind is comfortable seeing me… but it’s usually not… this.” He cringed.

“What, wait… how could…” I tried to ask.

“No, you aren’t here for magic lessons, and I don’t give them anyway. You came here because you want something desperately enough to risk your life for it. I find that utterly delicious, so tell me, what do you want.”

“You mean… I just tell you… and you, do it? I don’t have to… I don’t know, solve a riddle or kill a monster?” I couldn’t believe it could be so simple.

“Oh! I’m sorry! Was finding me too easy for you? Were my pets not vicious enough, my dear? Well, worry not! For next is the best part yet. The longer you are here, the darker it gets. The darker it becomes, the more pets you’re likely to see. Most of them are nocturnal, but they’ll be awake and ready for breakfast any moment now.” He was a lively talker; his voice was booming with pride and his hand gestures were all over the place.

I could only stand there, horrified and speechless.

“Come now, what’s your wish? Weren’t you listening? You should probably pick up the pace.” He grinned, and his teeth were no longer the normal teeth of the tv doctor, but sharp, brown fangs.

“My son is dying. I want you to cure him.” I tried to keep my voice steady.

“My, that’s a tricky one. Money, love, fame, – those things are easy; murder is the easiest, but life? That is very tricky indeed. It disrupts the natural order.” He was enjoying himself.

“Please, I’ll do anything.” I begged.

“Well… there is this one way it could work… if, you’re sure; there is no turning back.” He paused, stretching the suspense until I vigorously shook my head in agreement.

“Very good then.” With a snap of his fingers, a scroll appeared in one hand and a pen in the other. It was the kind of pen you dip into ink, but I never saw one before that moment. “Sign here, please.” One flick of the wrist and the long scroll opened, falling to the floor between us.

I picked up the bottom end, eyes scrolling over the millions of tiny, printed words jammed together on the paper. At the very end was a “sign here” line.

“If I sign this, it’ll cure my baby? He will be in – and stay in – perfect health?” I would not see my son cured of one sickness only to fall ill the following week.

“Absolutely! In fact, with this contract, your boy will be immune to all disease.” He assured.

My heart sang at the words, and if the cost of saving John happened to be my own life – as I suspected – it was a price I’d happily pay. I reached for the pen, and with a stab too fast for my eyes to see, the doctor pricked my finger. A large drop of blood fell onto the paper, and with another snap, the contract vanished.

“It’s been a pleasure doing business! By the way, to cure your son, I had to borrow half his father’s remaining lifespan. Tootles.” The doctor disappeared with a final wink. I hope I never see his wretched face again.

His words made my blood run cold, but I couldn’t stop to do math right then. Terrified of what would be chasing me, I ran back to the waiting room area. My reflection was waiting for me at the doors, smiling. I shoved on the doors with all my strength, but she had me locked in. I used my adrenaline to smash the glass door to the reception counter with my crowbar.

My arms and legs were cut getting through, but I didn’t have time to worry about blood loss. I flew over the counter, ignoring the shocked look of my reflection. As I made my way down the stairs, I saw several more zombie-looking people coming out of various rooms. I almost didn’t make it back to the ground floor when a kid with no legs managed to grab my ankle. The only thing that saved me was the crowbar catching the rail I tumbled.

When I finally made it to the entrance, I saw the car was turned onto its side and several more zombie and dog-things were waiting close by. Remembering the hospital map, I decided to take a chance on the ambulance bay. I was betting they owned at least one junked out ambulance that would run in this world. If they didn’t, I would likely have died there. Not even someone with machine guns could survive on the streets now.

I cried when I saw it. There was one ambulance that appeared in working condition and I was lucky enough for the keys to be inside. I still checked in the back to make sure it was empty, but that almost got me killed too. I slammed the back doors just in time to avoid one of the dogs jumping in. The ambulance rocked side to side from things trying to get in as I strapped myself into the driver’s seat.

It was my first time driving anything bigger than a car; I think it would have been a bumpy ride under normal conditions. There were several times I thought the ambulance would tip over. The worst was close to the end. I was almost back in my neighborhood when I heard the roar of another engine before it crashed into my bumper. I went off road, missing a huge crater by inches, before regaining control.

The truck driven by my reflection reversed to follow. I did something desperate. I waited for her to get right behind me, almost touching, and accelerated. As I hoped, she too sped up, trying to position herself to force me into a fishtail. At the last possible second, I closed my eyes and swerved away, once again coming dangerously close to flipping over.

Behind me, the Bitch couldn’t react in time. The truck she found was pointed nose down in a deep crater, its back end hanging out at a steep angle.

My house was surrounded by hideous creatures. Most didn’t appear human or animal. I couldn’t tell what the warped things were supposed to be. Some of them had several limbs… or appendages… some had none. One looked like a huge floating eyeball, and another looked like a snake with two heads. I didn’t see a way inside; I couldn’t believe I came all this way just to lose here. At the very least, I wanted to kill as many as possible before I died. That’s when a plan occurred to me.

I reversed to position myself for a straight shot through our den. The house was now termite infested anyway; even if we didn’t have the huge windows, I’m sure the walls would have been weak enough to drive through. I felt like I was operating a tank as two of the creatures fell beneath the wheels. It was a strange sight as the walls crumbled around me, and the sound was terrible, but I didn’t stop to enjoy the view.

When the ambulance couldn’t go farther, I climbed out the passenger window and dove through the kitchen door without looking to see what followed. The moment I saw the kitchen, my eyes searched for the old man, but he saw me first. Pain blossomed behind my eyes as something struck me over the head. I fell to the ground, dazed, but managed to keep a grip on the crowbar. I feigned unconsciousness until the old man grabbed one of my ankles. I sat up, swinging wildly, and enjoyed the wet smack of contact. His black blood sprayed, and I wasted no time getting to my feet.

As I made it to the exit, more creatures burst into the room. I rushed through the door, hoping it locked behind me. I held my breath as the door shook furiously, but nothing was able to follow. I breathed a sigh of relief and began feeling my injuries in earnest. I had several deep gashes on my arms and legs, my head was bleeding freely, and my wrist was swelling.

Grateful to still have the armband, I began making my way to the mirror entrance. I only made it a few steps when I heard the soft click of another door behind me.

“I hope you didn’t expect to be rid of me that easily.” Her voice no longer sounded like mine. It was deeper, distorted.

I turned to see she now had the same ghoulish-zombie appearance as those other things. Did she always look that way? Did I only see me because that’s what I expected? Like the doctor? I hope someone solves the mysteries of that place one day. There are still so many unanswered questions.

I ran for my life, focused on Thomas and John. I heard her footsteps gaining as she screamed at me. “Have you figured it out yet? Wait up, I’ll explain it to you! If you divide the lifespan in half, it means they have the same amount of time to live! Do you get it? Wait up!” She cackled an evil, dark, laugh. It sounded unnatural in her garbled voice. Humans should not be able to make the sounds her laughter made.

I was so focused on the light at the end of the corridor, I didn’t understand what she was telling me. I heard her footsteps closer with every step but couldn’t look back. Her howling laughter followed me all the way home. When Thomas saw me, his eyes lit up with relief, then fear and anger as he saw my appearance and that of the thing chasing me. I saw him step away from the mirror, allowing me to exit.

I went through the mirror like an Olympic diver. The second I was out, I turned to see Monster-Me collide into the glass, bouncing off like rubber. Now that I was back, the doorway was closed for her. Before she could rise, Thomas shattered the glass. He also shattered the second one to be safe, but for the record, we could have simply blown out the candles and erased the pentagram.

It wasn’t until several hours later, after I explained everything to my husband, that we understood what she was trying to tell us. If they had the same amount of time to live; they would die at the same time. I was devastated. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle losing both at once. We are so young… I thought we would still have many years… I never dreamed… I couldn’t believe…

Thomas and John passed away two weeks later. John was crying in the night; Thomas felt badly for my lack of sleep… so he took the baby for a drive. It calmed John… and it was only a few times around the block… but this time a drunk driver ran a stop sign.

See? It was all for nothing.

My mother met my father four years later. It took a while for her to have a normal life again, but I always felt like we were a happy family. She was a terrific mom; I had no idea such terrible things were in her past. Dad didn’t know the full story either; only that she had a husband and baby killed in a wreck before he met her. I can’t blame her for not wanting to tell me, she knows how much I love a challenge.

While no, I don’t think I’ll visit the Mirror World anytime soon, it would be nice to learn more about it. Like she says, there’s still so much we don’t know, and personally, I have a long list of questions. Besides, it sounds fine if you don’t make a wish, right? I’ll just leave this here for now in case anyone else knows anything.

Part 2