Edgar Allan Poe, first published in the November 1846 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book; translated to modern English, otherwise exactly the same.
I endured endless insults from Fortunato for as long as I could, and now, I have sworn revenge; you would not expect someone of my temperament to utter such a threat, but – in the end – I would be avenged. That was a fact, and I knew I must punish him without feeling guilty. A wrong can only be set right when the victim dominates their aggressor. I continued to smile, and he did not realize I was smiling at the thought of his murder.
You must understand that I did not say or do anything to warrant his ill-will. Fortunato was a man to be feared and respected, but he had a weakness; he prided himself on his knowledge of wine. Like other Italians, he did not care for paintings or jewels, but he was serious about old wines. That was something we had in common; I was also knowledgeable of Italian vintages, and I added to my collection whenever I could.
One evening, during the madness of carnival season, I encountered my friend. He greeted me warmly but only because he had been drinking too much. The man was dressed like a jester; he wore a tight, striped outfit and a cone-shaped hat with bells. I was so pleased to see him, I thought I would never finish shaking his hand.
“My dear Fortunato, you are looking remarkably well today, but I have tasted the Amontillado around here, and I doubt it’s authentic.” I said.
“How? Amontillado? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”
“I have my doubts,” I repeated. “Plus, I was fool enough to pay full price without consulting you first, but I couldn’t find you, and I was afraid of losing a bargain.”
“I have my doubts…”
“And I must satisfy them…”
“Since you are busy, I will go ask Luchresi. If anyone can help me – it’s him.”
“Luchresi cannot tell the difference between Amontillado and Sherry!”
“Yet some fools say his taste is a match for your own.”
“Come on, then; let’s go!”
“To your vaults.”
“No, my friend; I won’t impose on you. I can see you have a previous engagement. Luchresi—”
“I have no engagement; now, come on!”
“No, that was not the only reason for my reluctance. I can also see you are suffering from a cold, and the vaults are terribly damp.”
“Let’s go, anyway! The cold is nothing, and this is Amontillado! I insist; Luchresi simply cannot help.”
Fortunato took my arm, and I managed to endure his touch as we hurried to my palace. I put on a black, silk mask and pulled my cloak tightly shut.
None of the staff were home; they were all out, enjoying the holiday. I told them I would not return until the morning and gave them strict orders not to leave the house. I knew it would ensure their departure the moment my back was turned.
Retrieving two torches, I gave one to Fortunato before leading him through several suites and into the vaults. I cautioned him to be careful as we descended a long, winding staircase, and – at the bottom – was the entrance to the Montresors’ catacombs.
My friend was walking unsteadily, and it made the bells on his hat jingle. “The wine?” He asked.
“It’s farther ahead, but look at the white web-work gleaming on the cavern walls.” I said.
He turned towards me and looked into my eyes with two, filmy orbs that highlighted his intoxication. “Potassium Nitrate?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “How long have you had that cough?”
My poor friend found it impossible to reply for several minutes as he endured a coughing fit.
“It’s nothing,” he finally said.
“Come, we must go back.” I said this assertively. “Your health is too important. You are rich, respected, admired, and loved; you are also happy – like I used to be. You would be missed, and I could not bear to be responsible. Besides, there is Luchresi—”
“Enough! The cough is nothing; it will not kill me.” He said.
“True…” I replied; “I had no intention of scaring you, but you should exercise the proper precautions. Here, this Medoc wine will keep us safe.” I opened one of the bottles and placed it before us. “Drink.”
He raised it to his lips, leering and paused only to give me a friendly nod – making his bells jingle. “I’ll drink to the dead resting around us.” He said.
“And I, to your long life.”
He took my arm once again, and we continued forward. “These vaults are extensive.” He said.
“The Montresors were a large, important family.” I replied.
“What is your coat-of-arms, again?”
“A human foot on a field sky blue; it crushes a raging serpent whose fangs are buried deep into the heel.”
“And the motto?”
“No one attacks me with impunity.”
“Good!” he said.
The wine sparkled in his eyes, and the bells continued to jingle. I, too, was growing warm from the drink; we passed through long halls with piles of skeletons and wine barrels – into the far depths of the catacombs. I paused again, and – this time – I was the one to boldly seize Fortunato’s arm.
“The Nitrate!” I said. “Look – it’s increasing! It’s hanging from the vaults like moss; we’re below the river, and drops of water trickle down to the bones. Come on, let’s get back before it’s too late. Your cough—”
“It’s nothing!” He insisted. “Let’s keep going… But first, let’s have another sip of the Medoc.”
I gave him a glass of De Grave, and he emptied it in one gulp. His eyes flashed with a fierce gleam, and he laughed before throwing the bottle with a gesture I did not recognize.
I looked at him in surprise, and he repeated the same, grotesque gesture.
“You don’t understand?” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
“Then, you are not in the brotherhood.”
“You are not a Mason.”
“Sure I am.” I said.
“You? A Mason? Impossible!”
“A Mason indeed,” I replied.
“Then prove it with a sign,” he said.
“It’s this.” I answered by producing a trowel from beneath the folds of my cloak.
“You’re joking!” He exclaimed, slowly backing away. “But let’s get the Amontillado, now.”
“So be it.” I said, putting the tool away and once more offering him my arm. He leaned on it heavily, and we continued our search for the Amontillado. We passed through a row of low arches leading deeper into the earth and arrived at a crypt where the foul air reduced our torches to a dull glow.
At the far end, there was a smaller crypt; three sides were lined with human remains stacked to the ceiling just like in the Paris catacombs. On the fourth side – the bones were thrown carelessly into a pile, and we noticed a recess in the exposed wall. It did not appear to serve any specific purpose; it was merely an empty space between two support columns and backed with a solid granite wall.
Fortunato lifted his dull torch in an attempt to see inside the dark recess, but the feeble light was not strong enough. “Keep going,” I said. “The Amontillado is here somewhere. As for Luchresi—”
“He is an idiot,” my friend blurted as he took an unsteady step into the nook, and I followed close behind. He quickly reached the end and was confused to find the path blocked. It took only a moment to chain him to the iron rings fixed in the granite wall. They were roughly two feet apart; a short chain hung from one and a padlock from the other. I threw the links around his waist, and it only took a few seconds to secure it; he was too surprised to resist. When finished, I stepped out of the small space.
“Pass your hands over the walls, and you will feel the Nitrate; it’s very damp. Once more, I would like to implore you to return with me… No? Then, I have no choice; I must leave you… But first, I’ll do what I can for you.” I said.
“The Amontillado!” My friend exclaimed, still in shock.
“True – the Amontillado.” I said, returning to the pile of bones. Throwing them aside, I uncovered the stones and mortar hidden beneath. With these materials and my trowel, I worked to cover the nook’s entrance.
I had only laid the first row of stone when I noticed Fortunato had sobered a great deal. I could tell by the low moan coming from the back of the nook; it was not the cry of a drunk man, and soon, he fell into a long, heavy silence.
I laid the second, third, and fourth rows, but then, the chain began rattling furiously. The noise lasted for several minutes, so I took a short break and sat on the pile of bones in order to enjoy the moment properly. When the clanking finally stopped, I resumed my work and finished three more rows without interruption. The wall was almost level with my chest. I paused once more and held up the torch to see the figure inside.
His sudden outburst of loud, shrill screams seemed to knock me back a few steps, and – for a brief moment – I hesitated, trembling. Drawing my sword, I swung it through the air and felt reassured; I placed my hand on the solid, catacomb wall and felt satisfied. Returning to the nook, I replied to Fortunato’s yells with an even longer, louder scream of my own, and he grew silent.
It was now midnight, and my task was almost complete. I finished three more rows and a portion of the next; there was only one stone left to insert. Struggling with its weight, I had it halfway into position when a low laugh erupted from the nook, and my hair instantly stood on end. It was followed by a sad voice that sounded nothing like the noble Fortunato.
“Hahaha! Hehehe! This was indeed a very good joke— an excellent one! We will have many rich laughs about it at the palace— Hehehe! Over our wine— Hehehe!”
“The Amontillado!” I said.
“Hehehe! Hehehe! Yes, the Amontillado! But isn’t it getting late… Everyone is probably waiting for us— including my wife. We should go.”
“Yes, let’s go.” I said.
“For the love of God, Montresor!”
“Yes, for the love of God!” I said. I grew impatient waiting for a reply and yelled his name into the darkness, but there was no answer. I called again, but still – there was nothing. I dropped the torch through the last opening, but his only reply was the jingling of bells.
My heart was growing sick from the damp catacombs, and I hurried to finish my task. Forcing the last stone into position, I plastered it, and re-stacked the bones against the wall. For the last fifty years, no mortal has disturbed them; may they rest in peace.
I have something special for you today! Remember the big announcement I was dying to make? Well, this is it! The Dark Side of Gaming now has a sister! Below you’ll find a link to the first episode of – The Dark Side of YouTube!
Swamp Dweller has put together top tier team for this one, and I still can’t believe I’m part of it. Yes, you hear Swamp’s name and automatically know it’s legit, but then I tell you Autumn Ivy is the host and the fireworks begin! Joey Sourlis is doing sound, and while I wrote this script – any episodes I don’t write will be done by SinisterDarkSoul – in other words, you’ll never be disappointed!
If you enjoy the true, dark and disturbing – this show was made for you!
I don’t have too much on the update front. There’s a couple of other projects I haven’t announced that should be coming out soon, but I will likely not be able to publish a classic this weekend. Romulus had a surgery and will need our full attention in the coming days. I haven’t reached a point where I can discuss it yet, so I appreciate your understanding in my vagueness. Thankfully, his vet assures he’ll make a full recovery and that’s really all that matters anyway.
I don’t want to keep you from the video any longer, so I’ll conclude this with a big, fat thank you for being here and let you be on your merry way!
Ambrose Bierce, first published in 1891; translated to modern English, otherwise left exactly the same.
Hi there readers! This one is really dark. A young boy is lost in the forest during the aftermath of a Civil War battle. I simply want to give fair warning to any who may wish to avoid gore and child endangerment. If either of these topics bother you, please Google a quick description this story before proceeding. Otherwise, thanks for being here, and I hope you know how amazing you are!
One sunny, autumn afternoon, a child strayed away from its home and entered the forest unnoticed. The boy came from a long line of adventurers and conquerors; he was happy for the chance to explore. From their earliest generations, his ancestors made their way over two continents, across the great sea, and into a third; war was their heritage.
The child was six-years-old and the son of a poor farmer. His father had been a soldier when he was a younger man; he fought against naked savages and followed his country’s flag south into civilized cities. He loved military books and still possessed a warrior’s spirit. The boy understood enough to make himself a wooden sword that he carried proudly – even if it was hardly identifiable to others. He often practiced with it in a sunny clearing while defeating invisible enemies, and this day, he found himself on the edge of a wide, shallow stream. The rapid waters blocked his advance against a foe that somehow flew across with ease, but the inspiring warrior would not be defeated. Instead, he found a place where the boulders were grouped close enough to jump across; then, he was finally able to defeat the enemy. With the battle won, protocol demanded returning to base, but like many great conquerors, he could not deny his lust for war.
Continuing from the creek, he suddenly found himself facing an even stronger enemy. A rabbit appeared on the path; it sat upright with its ears at attention, causing the child to scream and flee in an unknown direction. He yelled for his mother – crying and stumbling as his tender skin was torn by the cruel foliage. His little heart raced in terror; he was breathless, blind with tears, and lost in the forest! For more than an hour, he wandered through the tangled undergrowth until he was too tired to continue. A few yards from the stream, he laid down in a narrow space between two rocks and sobbed himself to sleep while still grasping his toy sword; it was no longer a weapon, but a companion. The birds sang merrily above his head, the squirrels ran from tree to tree, and somewhere far away was the sound of strange, muffled thunder. Back at the little plantation, men were hastily searching the fields, and a mother’s heart was breaking for her missing child.
Hours later, the boy woke at dusk and rose to his feet. He felt the evening chill in his bones, and he was frightened but no longer cried. After struggling through the undergrowth, he came to a more open area; on his right was the creek, and on his left was a gentle slope decorated with sporadic trees. A thin, ghostly mist spread along the water, and it scared him away. Instead of crossing back over the stream, he ran toward the dark, gloomy forest.
Suddenly, he saw a strange object moving ahead of him and mistook it for a large animal; he was not sure what kind, but thought it might be a bear. He had only seen pictures of them, and – being unaware of how dangerous they are – he vaguely wished to meet one. Then, something in the object’s shape or the way it moved told him it was not a bear after all, and his curiosity turned into fear. The boy remained still as it slowly came closer, and he grew braver when he saw the thing did not have long, menacing, rabbit ears. It is possible his mind was half-conscious of something familiar in the way it struggled along awkwardly, but before it was close enough to positively identify – he saw that others were following it.
There were many more approaching from both sides; the whole area was covered with them – all heading toward the stream. They were men, and they were crawling; some only used their hands as they dragged their legs along, and some only used their knees as their arms hung limply at their sides. Some tried to stand but fell back down; they did nothing the normal way, and the only thing they did have in common was the direction they traveled.
Some were alone while others were in pairs or small groups; they came through the gloom – occasionally pausing while others crept past. They came by the hundreds from as far as he could see, and the infinite forest was black behind them; the very ground seemed to be moving toward the creek. Occasionally, some men that paused would die, and some made strange hand gestures, grabbed their heads, or raised their palms to the sky like men do in church.
The child did not notice all of this, but it is what an adult would have observed; the boy only saw men crawling like babies. He was not frightened of them, but they were dressed in strange clothes. He walked among them freely, going from one to another and looking into their faces with childish curiosity. Each one was remarkably white, and many were streaked with red. Their color – and perhaps their disturbing behavior – reminded him of a clown he saw at the circus last summer, and he laughed as he watched them. These maimed and bleeding men crept along as ignorant of him as he was to their ghastly situation. To the boy, it was a merry spectacle. He had seen his father’s slaves do similar things while pretending to be horses for his amusement. Next, he approached one of the crawling men from behind, and jumped on his back.
The man fell flat to the ground, struggled to rise, and violently threw the small child to the ground. Then, he turned to show the boy his missing lower jaw; there was a great, red gap fringed with hanging shreds of flesh and splintered bone between his upper teeth and throat. His unnaturally shaped nose, absent chin, and fierce eyes made this man resemble a vulture covered in the blood of its food. He rose to his knees and shook his fist at the boy; terrified at last, the child ran to a nearby tree, climbed up, and looked at the situation more seriously. As he watched, the mass continued forward like a swarm of black beetles – dragging themselves slowly and painfully down the slope in absolute silence.
The haunted landscape began to brighten. Beyond the stream, a strange red light was shining, but the trees blocked out the view of its source. The eerie glow gave the creeping men monstrous shadows that imitated their movements on the grass, made the metal in their clothing sparkle, and tinted their faces with a red hue that highlighted their horrible injuries. The child instinctively turned toward the growing spectacle and moved down the slope with his mangled companions. He easily passed them in just a few moments, and – wooden sword still in hand – positioned himself in the lead where he solemnly directed the march; slowing to match their pace, he occasionally turned to ensure his soldiers did not fall behind. Surely, such a leader has never before had such followers.
As they marched closer to the water, they began to see various items scattered on the ground, but the boy did not think they were important. There were tightly rolled blankets bound with string, heavy knapsacks, broken rifles, and other things retreating troops often leave behind. The lowlands near the creek were trampled into mud by men and horses, and an older, more observant person would have noticed these footprints pointed in both directions; the ground had been passed over twice.
A few hours before – thousands of these desperate, wounded men and their more fortunate comrades had charged into the forest. They divided into battalions and swarmed past the sleeping child on every side; some had almost ran him over, but their loud noises did not wake him. They fought a battle very close to where he lay, yet he never heard the roar of their muskets or the captain shouting commands. He slept through it all, holding his little, wooden sword tight, but he was completely ignorant of the great struggle happening around him as countless sacrificed themselves for victory.
The fire beyond the tree-line on the other side of the creek was spreading, and the ground beneath its canopy of smoke glowed eerily. It turned the thin line of mist over the stream into golden vapors while the boulders gleamed with streaks of blood; those with less serious injuries had stained them when previously crossing, and the child crossed them eagerly as he continued toward the fire.
Standing on the opposite bank, he turned around to look at his marching companions. The stronger ones were already swimming across – pushing themselves to the limit with their faces plunged into the water. Three or four lay motionless and appeared to be headless; the boy’s eyes widened in wonder – even his naive ignorance could not accept such a situation. In reality, they had drowned; after drinking their fill – the men did not have enough strength to lift their heads out of the stream. Behind those, the open areas of the forest showed the child as many figures in his grim army as he started with, but not nearly as many were moving. He waved his cap for encouragement, and smiling, he pointed his weapon at a pillar of fire’s guiding light.
Confident of his forces, the boy entered the tree-line, easily passed through the red light, climbed a fence, and ran across a field – occasionally turning back to check his soldiers’ progress as he approached the burning ruins of a house. Everything was destroyed! Not one living thing could be seen, but he did not care about that. He enjoyed the spectacle and happily danced along with the wavering flames. He ran around collecting fuel, but every object was too heavy for him to throw, and the heat prevented him from getting closer. Frustrated, he flung his sword into the fire as an act of surrender to nature’s superior forces; his military career was finished.
When he turned away, he saw some buildings that looked oddly familiar – as if he had seen them in a dream. He was staring at them in wonder when the entire plantation and surrounding forest seemed to pivot. His little world spun, and he recognized the burning building as his own home!
For a moment, he stood frozen in shock at the realization, then he ran stumbling halfway around the ruin. There, easily seen by the light of the fire, was a dead woman; her white face was turned upward, her hands were clutching fistfuls of grass, her clothes were torn, and her long, dark hair was tangled with clotted blood. Most of her forehead was torn away, and her gray brain was protruding from a jagged hole in her temple that overflowed with frothy, crimson bubbles; it was the work of a shell.
The child moved his little hands in wild, uncertain gestures. He uttered a series of gibberish and indescribable cries that sounded like a cross between a chattering ape and a gobbling turkey; it was a startling, unholy sound. The boy, who was a deaf mute, stood motionless – his lips quivering as he looked down at the wreckage.
I’m honored to introduce part 3 of the On Nightmare’s Edge series written specially for the exclusive use of my good friend Nightmare’s Edge. He owns it, and it may not be used in any way/shape/form without his express written consent! No exceptions!
Here’s the link to his narration, he does fantastic work - make sure to sub while you’re there!
I hope all my Night Crawlers feel as good as I do this evening! The fact we have 317 people in the chat is mind boggling enough, but if you would’ve told me we’d eventually hit 10k subs – even a year ago – I wouldn’t have believed it! That being said, I wanted to offer a quick thank you to everyone and a big welcome to our newcomers!
It was also great to see a positive response to A Story of Strife; it’s been a long time since I was that nervous about a premiere, but with encouragement from family and friends – I decided to take a chance. Over the next few months I’ll see if we can get another one up.
As for tonight, it’s time for our live Sunday classic! This week, I’ve modernized The Monkey’s Paw; it’s one of my personal favorites and it had hundreds of requests.
Would you make a wish with the paw? Let me know in the comments!
Since everyone is eager to get started, here we g— [gunshot / shattering glass]
What the fu— [ multiple gunshots / woman’s scream / chair falls]
Amber! [footsteps running away / dirt-bike]
Several weeks later…
[ice clinking] For those of you who don’t use Twitter, I’m sure you’ve been wondering just what the fuck. Me too [huff]! Ohh, Life is such a bitch, ain’t she?
To put it simply, Amber is dead; I’m now a… widower. So. [sips drink]
Yep, those sounds were gunshots; cameras recorded the whole goddamn thing! The shooter was a man… tall… leather motorcycle outfit… huge, black helmet with a visor… [chugs drink]
Still ain’t caught the sum-bitch. I know what you’re thinking, and Turner remains locked away – snug as a poisonous bug – but police are combing through her correspondence to see if she’s involved. Apparently she has a following of sickos who enjoyed her work. Had I known sharing my story would get her famous… I’d never… not for a million subs, not ever!
Fucking bitch… [pours drink] oh, and if you haven’t noticed, I’m off the wagon – the wagon is fucking dead. [chugs] I don’t know when I’ll post what… but since the boys are staying with my sister, I got drunk enough to tell you what happened that night.
You’ll remember the kids were visiting my parents in Florida – thank goodness – and Amber was downstairs with a glass of wine and a movie, waiting for me to finish that stream. The bastard walked his bike down the driveway, opened fire into the front of the house, then drove away. Monsters are real… never doubt that.
Eddie was in the upstairs hallway, waiting outside my door, and judging by the empty wine glass… we think Amber was probably going for a refill when… it happened. The bullet tore through her chest, and she bled out onto our floor… right in front of me.
Everything is a blur after that; I don’t think I could remember if I tried… it’s not like I was sober for any of it. Telling the boys was the worst thing I’ll ever do in my life… that and the funeral. We all must endure planning a loved one’s funeral at some point, but I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy… so many tedious details… none of which matter.
I’m on a first name basis with police; Detectives Andy and Juan are running the investigation; they’re good men, but I lost hope of catching the prick early on. The dirt-bike was abandoned in a parking lot across the state line, but yielded no tangible leads. Now, it’s two weeks later, and we still have no fingerprints, DNA, or suspects.
I’d happily spend the rest of my life in jail if I could just get my hands on Turner… but that’ll never happen… bitch isn’t even in the same state anymore. I don’t care what the cops do or don’t find – she is involved! You guys see that, right?… Did I tell you that her lawyer tried to contact me on her behalf?! Said she wanted to apologize! Ha! [sips] [barks]
[spill drink] Damnit, Ed! Ugh, well… that’s it, anyway. [grumble] Now you know. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but I’ll update on Twitter in a few days…
Three weeks later…
Hello, Night Crawlers. I know it’s early, but there are reasons for that.
Thank you for your unwavering support and patience; your condolences and well-wishes have been an immeasurable comfort.
It’s best to do this during school hours… for now, at least.
I wanted to be sober, and while I’ve been better since the boys came home… I still can’t trust myself.
I have an update on the investigation.
Lady Nopeingham and Lily Livers spoke to a few friends, and now the online sleuthing community is investigating our case! These guys are A-class and each one has solved multiple murders. Their channels are linked in the description; I hope you’ll check them out.
Honestly – at first… I was upset, and the detectives were furious. You know how I feel about strangers poking around in my personal life… plus I was certain they wouldn’t find anything… but then they did! There’s a moment when the asshole tilts his head to reveal a small neck tattoo, but we couldn’t get a decent image; Sleuth-Scope Steve could! After a few days on the internet – someone emailed a valid tip!
Casey Devon and his girlfriend saw the same weird symbol on a busboy down in Kalamazoo. They were in a dive-bar on the way home to Indiana and happened to see Steve’s video the night before. What are the odds? Finally, something went our way!
The detectives thanked Steve for his tip, but still wanted him off the case; I, on the other hand, was sold. I welcome and thank their community from the bottom of my dead, shredded heart. My renewed hope for catching this bastard has given me one more reason to wake up in the morning.
Juan and Andy ran a background check on the man; Davy Richardson is a convicted felon who has worked at the Gorilla Grill for two years. They weren’t eager to share more, but I learned he did ten years for armed robbery and sexual assault. There was no apparent correspondence between him or Page, but that doesn’t mean anything; even if they didn’t exchange letters, he still could have done it because of her – like some kind of psychotic tribute! Since his release, he hasn’t caused trouble; his parole officer considers him rehabilitated, but I really feel like this is the guy; I feel it in my bones!
I think Eddie can sense it, too; he’s been in better spirits the last few days; his depression runs as deep as our own. Each night, he crawls onto her side of the bed… often whimpering softly in his dreams… just like Daddy. We aren’t ashamed of our man-cuddles; the nights are lonely, cold, and endless. Conner is still sleeping on the cot in Aiden’s room… it’s so hard to see them suffer; they’re having terrible nightmares, but nothing seems to help.
Sorry… I have a hard time staying on point these days. The detectives interviewed Davy; he prattled off a worthless alibi, but it only took two hours to tear it apart. At that point, they secured a search warrant; unfortunately, no one was home. Like myself – you probably aren’t surprised… but the plain-clothed officers responsible for watching him were very surprised!
This is not a friendly neighborhood where civilians are eager to help police; the few who spoke only did so to further impede the investigation. That was three days ago, and no one has seen or heard from Davy since. With the help of Steve and his friends, there’s hope he’ll be spotted soon; we’re fairly certain he fled the state, but the internet’s reach is limitless! Eventually, he must show his face somewhere!
Thanks again for taking the time to listen! If you can spare a moment to check out those links – we appreciate every share; you never know when it will reach that one person who can help! Hopefully, I’ll be back to push you again soon!
Two days later…
It feels weird to record this offline… but I can’t risk Turner hearing it, and I’ve come to rely on this outlet. I’m not sure when you’ll really see this, but it’s been two days since my last stream. I hope these don’t become legitimate Lost Tapes, but if someone finds these years later – it’s absolutely because I’m dead. [sigh]
It happened… she’s out; she escaped! How the hell does someone escape a max security psych-ward in real life?! With help, for starters! It was Davy, right? It all lines up; it must be him!…
My first instinct was to ship the boys back to Florida, but what if she went there instead? I would be two-thousand miles away – completely useless!… Why don’t I go too, you ask? Thanks, great question!
What happens when she follows us, and it gets my parents killed as well? When I’m finished here, we’re going to a hotel… though, it’s only a temporary solution. The cheapest place that allows dogs is more than we can afford, but with help from family – we have the funds for a week’s stay. If they don’t find Turner before that… I don’t know.
I’ll be watching the cameras nonstop… and some police officers will be inside – hopefully making it look like we’re home. They even drove us to the hotel so both vehicles would be there… now you see why I couldn’t record live.
Why can’t this be over; why can’t we grieve in peace? Hasn’t she taken enough? What’s the price for not narrating a terrible story? I’d send her my own ear in a box if I thought it would appease her! If two boys weren’t depending on me – I would have broken long ago… sometimes, I dream of disappearing into the forest when Conner graduates from college…
Three days later…
Hopefully, this is my last non-live recording; it’s been three days since the first part. They won’t share specific details – but the detectives say they have reliable information that Turner and Richardson are laying low in San Francisco. FBI agents are in the area investigating further, and they’re confident in deeming it safe for us to return home. Please excuse me while I chuckle at their assurances… but we’re at least going to finish the week here.
I would stay the extra nights regardless, but for the record, Steve and his fellow sleuths are less than convinced of their whereabouts. They haven’t found anything new, but they’ve already done more than I can ever thank them for; I’m just grateful they’re still searching.
One thing I can rest assured of is that I won’t sleep a wink tonight. Each time the police leave – that witch bitch waltzes her Crazy back into my life and she… just fuckingfucks it! Oops… I’ll need to edit that one out – geez it’s easy to get carried away when no one’s listening… I’ve never wanted to throat punch a bitch so bad… fuck. Ugh, [muttering] ok – be serious man – you can’t keep pulling this shit and expect to stay over 10k. Shake it off fuck-face; you got mouths to feed, and work-leave only goes so far.
[deep breath] If nothing happens, we’ll go home in two days. Don’t get me wrong; I hope like hell she is in California… but when have I been that lucky? Maybe if I kill myself she’d leave the boys alone… worth considering at least… I think it would cross any parent’s mind – especially after losing a spouse… but I couldn’t do that to them; they would never forgive me. They might not forgive me as it is… and I can’t blame them; it’s my fault their mother is dead.
Anyway, that’s it for now, hopefully you’ll hear this in a few days.
Four nights later…
Good evening, Night Crawlers. Has everyone had a chance to listen to the video I posted last night? On the bright side, they’re officially notLost Tapes! If you did see it – I’m sorry for forgetting the edits, but you’ll understand why momentarily; if you didn’t see it – we went to a hotel for a week and police believe Page and her goon are in California.
Tonight, I mostly wanted to check-in with everyone to say I recorded The Monkey’s Paw – it’ll be up in a few hours; the wait is over! I also want to share a little surprise we received in the mail yesterday. So many bills and condolence cards are piled up – I was ripping stuff open without looking… then I found an old-fashioned ransom note; the letters spelled “Stay Tuned!” – I got you a picture.
There was nothing else with it, and I called the police right away. They confirmed it was mailed from San Francisco which only further proved their theory… but I can’t help feeling it wouldn’t be that difficult to have a letter sent… Besides, she clearly has no issue with crossing the country on a whim! Even if she is in California, that doesn’t mean she plans to stay there. Sooner or later, she’s gonna come back, and we aren’t capable of hiding indefinitely.
She probably intends to make her little stories into a trilogy, but I guess we’ll have to Stay Tuned to find out, ha! Tell you what, though – if she does send a new story, I’m gonna read every damn word!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoy tonight’s video; I’ll push you later!
It’s really never going to stop is it? I know there should be a new story today, but I… I just couldn’t…
Thank you, Lady. I’m so sorry all… this ruined our collaboration; I was really excited about your story. Hopefully, we’ll have another chance to work together, but your video is amazing and I linked it in the details!
As for tonight’s stream, all I can tell you is what happened since we last spoke. The next night I woke at 3am from a horrifying nightmare and couldn’t fall back asleep. In the dream, I got out of bed to look for Eddie and heard a strange sound upstairs. It was almost like a grandfather clock or a dog running on concrete – but softer, padded taps…
The house was in complete darkness, and when the kitchen light failed to turn on – I realized we lost power. A bright flash of lightning illuminated the room for a split-second, and a torrential downpour ensued as thunder shook the ground. I was only wearing boxers and didn’t have my phone; using the walls as a guide, I stumbled my way to the utility room.
Another lightning flash cast an eerie blue shade onto everything, and I could see a flashlight on the shelf above the dryer. I even remember cursing as I stubbed my toe while trying to reach it…
The beam was weak, but it allowed me to maneuver without the wall. I called for Eddie as I crossed the den and paused at the base of the stairs… that’s when I heard the sound again. Patters… that’sthe best word… and it was coming closer! I shone the light in time to see a shadow dart across the opening and into the hallway before stopping. It seemed too short to be a person but too large to be a dog.
I crept to the middle landing, shining the light in every direction, but saw nothing. All remained silent as I carefully continued my ascent, and the moment my foot touched the top step – the brightest flash of lightning yet revealed a brief glimpse of true horror…
Have you ever been on one of those rides that drop you from high up? Or fell from a great height while playing VR? You know that feeling where you lose your stomach? That’s what I felt; I still remember it perfectly. It was Page… but she was bent over in a backwards crab-walk like some kind of Exorcist bullshit! She was even paler than usual and her eyes moved in different directions while saliva dripped from her open mouth…
I tried to scream but no sound came out as she bum-rushed me from the darkness. The patteringwas the last thing I heard as a tangle of bony limbs mowed me down, and rotten fingers wormed into my mouth while stepping across my face. When a heel pressed firmly into my manly-bits, I finally awoke.
That dream bothered me enough to start sleeping in Conner’s room while he’s bunking with Aiden… I wanted to be closer to them; the thought of those stairs between us was driving me insane! I wish there was a way to express how real it all felt. This was beyond anything I’ve experienced, and I’m not exactly a rookie when it comes to nightmares. It hasn’t faded like the others, either; now, with what happened last night… it’s like some sort of creepy forewarning.
To avoid confusion, I think it’s best to tell you everything in the order it occurred. At 3:08, the security footage shows one small person walking down the driveway in night vision goggles! Care to guess who? Hmm? Do you have a clue? Yea, fucking Turner!
She had a laptop and did something to our security system! Even ADT can’t figure it out, but they’re so appalled by the footage – we’re getting free service for a year. Honestly, that’s going to be a huge help on our finances; that part is appreciated…
Page busted the basement window, and crawled inside without waking a soul. Once upstairs, she went straight to my bedroom like she’s walked the path a thousand times.
To understand this next part you need to know I have a body pillow in the bed for particularly bad nights… my therapist recommended it. Turner stood over it – surely assuming it was me – and stabbed it! There was no hesitation; she just lifted a huge hunting knife above her head and mercilessly plunged it into my fake wife’s chest!
She immediately pulled the covers back to discover her folly; you can hear a few escaped giggles as she struggles to control her laughter. I find it more difficult to see the humor considering the strike was meant to end my life… I hate to be an Edgy Downer but there it is.
Next she began climbing the stairs, and that’s when Eddie started barking. They were his deep Danger Barks – I was instantly awake and on full alert. The boys did exactly as practiced and hid in the closet before dialing 911. While getting the gun, I saw Page on the monitors – responding to the noise by sheathing her knife and retrieving her own firearm. At first, it was trained on Aiden’s room; she seemed more afraid of the dog than me, but upon hearing my movements – she became indecisive.
Just as I was ready to confront Turner, I noticed she had her laptop open again. This time, she watched it while pointing her weapon at Conner’s door… she was looking at me through our cameras – using them to aim! I dove to the side – fearing the bullet would come any moment, but the only shots fired were to our cameras. I held my breath waiting for the sound of Eddie’s whimper, but the barking continued unimpeded, and I shook with relief.
After sitting up, I noticed several screens were blank; she didn’t want me to see which way she went. Thankfully, ADT also agreed to replace the destroyed cameras. I’ve never been at such a loss for what to do… I wanted to give chase, but if a gun was trained on the door – waiting for me to open it… only a few more shots would remove Eddie from the equation and leave the boys defenseless; it was too risky. On the other hand… she knew help was on the way and couldn’t afford to wait long…
These thoughts battled each other in my mind until the blue flashing lights recalled me to reality. Officer Davis was first on scene again – Juan and Andy close behind… but there was no sign of Turner.
I hate questioning good fortune… but why didn’t she shoot Eddie? Obviously, I’m grateful, but it seemed like the tactical choice from her perspective. When she had the gun pointed low at Aiden’ door, tears instantly streamed down my face because I knew what was coming… but it didn’t happen…
Like I said… I’m not complaining; the police are back, and the FBI has joined them. We finally feel a little safer; hopefully, we can actually get some sleep tonight.
Anyways… I’ll try to get another story ready by Sunday, but it won’t be a classic. Sorry again for the delay. Push ya next time.
Hello Night Crawlers, it’s good to see our numbers back over 300! I have a long way to go before things can be on a strict schedule again, but for now we can try to make weekly uploads. Magic Mortimer is ready to go live as soon as we’re finished here, and since there’s new information to share – I decided not to premiere it.
Some of you may already know what I’m going to say if you watched the news, but please don’t spoil it for others; having something good to share is such a rare treat!
Whatever Page did to hack our ADT got the government’s attention in a serious way; this time the police didn’t leave. They’re rotating two teams of local and state police on 12-hour shifts, and a team of FBI agents are supervising around the clock. Having so many people in the house would normally make me anxious, but there’s been a few nights where I’ve actually slept!
The police and cyber-sleuth community are officially in agreement that Richardson and Turner never had direct contact before this happened. As far as anyone can tell – Davy learned about her through my channel and became obsessed.
You know how storage buildings put your shit up for auction if you don’t pay the bill? Davy had one under an alias, and it was auctioned off two nights ago. The buyers recognized the fugitive from the news in old photos and called the cops. There were love poems and fan art clearly dedicated to Page, but it didn’t match the handwriting of anything Turner actually received.
I haven’t personally seen any of these items, but from how they’re referred to amongst the officers… they sound as disturbing as you imagine… maybe more so.
The unit was overflowing with random garbage, but one of the most important clues turned out to be an old date-book. It held many useful tidbits; so far, four cold cases have been solved with its help. It also contained the address of a man named Marv… who coincidentally lived not thirty minutes away from me if you could drive straight through the forest; on the road it’s closer to an hour.
Considering the storage facility was located in Ohio – the Feds thought it worth a look. Marvin Daniels died five years ago, and his shack has been rotting away in the middle of the woods ever since. Three Agents drove out there – expecting to find nothing – but a fresh deer carcass hanging in a nearby tree indicated someone was living there.
Shots were fired before they could make it to the door – forcing the men to retreat and call for backup before initiating further contact. Miraculously no one was injured in the clash, and Richardson ceased fire when the SUV was no longer in sight.
After a five-hour standoff, tear-gas was shot into the shack, and Davy emerged – weapons blazing. His official cause of death is suicide-by-cop – and since no agents were injured – I’m not ashamed to feel gleeful at the bastard’s death; I only wish it were slower…
Every inch of the surrounding area was searched, but the best trackers couldn’t find Turner. We know she was there at some point because they found more witchy idols and another voodoo altar made from bones. They’re still trying to identify the human remains, but the severed head was a male’s. A fishing pole stood mounted to the wall with the decomposing skull on its hook, and a severed hand was secured to the reel. There were also two small, hot bombs; experts believe they were designed to be attached to an animal and remotely detonated.
I won’t rest easy until Page is dead, but for tonight, I choose to focus on the fact my wife’s murderer is gone… and that there are two bombs that can no longer harm our family. If you want to see pictures of the evidence, I’ve linked Steve’s newest video below.
Otherwise, I hope you enjoy Magic Mortimer; thanks for listening, I’ll push you later!
Hey Crawlers, judging by how many are here, you’ve probably figured out that a surprise stream means something big happened. I’ll give Turner one thing – the bitch has infinite patience; she was never going to show herself while the Feds were here. Finding that storage unit was a fluke! She had every intention of laying low until we were alone, and her goon’s death wasn’t going to change that. Finally – the agents agreed with me.
Coordinating a loud, flashy departure of all the personnel and vehicles was more complicated than it sounds. It couldn’t be too obvious… Page might be bat-shit crazy, but she isn’t stupid. Dozens of boxes were carried to the SUV’s, but each one was empty. All the equipment remained in place and a team of special agents watched for any attempts to hack the Wi-Fi. First the Feds cleared out, then the rest trickled away that evening until only Juan and Andy remained.
We took the opportunity to move their car into the garage. While the others lurked nearby – we waited for the cover of darkness to sneak the boys out in Andy’s stead. Aiden is almost seventeen now – and tall for his age; with Conner laying in the back – it would appear as if both detectives left.
I didn’t want to wait for her to come to us; the invasion of our family’s home was vomit inducing, but it was our only option. The hope was to capture Turner before she came close enough to fire a weapon; the curtains were closed, and we stayed away from the windows as an added precaution.
At 2:28am – she made her move. Andy’s phone rang, and we learned something with green and red lights flew over the house and was now hovering above us. It remained still for roughly thirty seconds before shooting straight up and out of sight. We believed she was scouting the location – confirming the coast was clear – it made perfect sense…
We had no idea what was happening as we heard reports of the drone’s collision course. It raced toward us at top speed and crashed into Conner’s window. The glass shattered, and it exploded on impact; had anyone occupied the room at that time – they would have died. Or, had the device flown into the middle of the room instead of being stopped by an entertainment center – the entire house might have burned down.
The smoke detectors wailed into the night while fire and rescue trucks rushed to the scene. Once again, their flashing lights created a false daylight as they surrounded my home. The range for her to operate the drone was limited; search teams scoured the area confident of success, but I knew they wouldn’t find her.
After being cleared by the paramedics, they wanted me to join the boys at the safe-house… but I needed it to be over! She almost burned down our family home; it needs weeks of repairs before we can go upstairs at all! I didn’t even have the gun – just a hunting knife I’ve been keeping on my belt – but I snuck off anyway.
I knew she wouldn’t be too far; she couldn’t miss the show, and I feel like she’s one of those people who must watch her fires burn. First, I crept towards the backside of the house where the trees are most dense – always scanning the area ahead before proceeding. Hesitating at an extremely dark patch where the lights didn’t reach, I hunched even lower and slowly crawled my way across – knife in hand.
Seconds later, the snap of a twig from above froze me in place. Looking up, I saw nothing but an empty tree, and a soft scratching sound baffled me until my eyes began to blur; then, the bark moved! It was only a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity while trying to discern the shape. After finally understanding what I saw, I screamed.
It was Page… upside down, hugging the tree, and wearing the most realistic bark-camo I’ve ever seen. She even had on a face mask and brown-painted eyelids… she looked like a real-life cryptid… it takes the term “Nightmare Fuel” to a new level…
When I started to scream she… she just… dropped. Our heads connected first, and we fell to the ground in a painful tangle of limbs. I continued screaming like a woman while she cackled maniacally. My head ached and spots danced in my vision; I lashed out with the knife, and felt the satisfying rip of flesh before succumbing to unconsciousness. The last thing I heard was her furious screams being drowned in gun-fire.
Upon waking in the back of an ambulance – I learned Turner escaped and tuned the rest out, but a muddy footprint tells me I took a boot to the face as she fled. Her blood was all over me, though we aren’t sure where I stabbed her; the CSI guys said it’s not enough blood loss to kill her, but she’s definitely hurting. She’ll probably see it as one more scar for the collection; I wonder if she even feels pain…
Back at the safe house, I found a note in my pocket when changing clothes. This one said, “I wouldn’t kill a dog for no reason, jackass! I’m not a monster!” Fuck that bitch.
We haven’t decided what to do next, but I’ll try to update you about a new video soon… push ya later.
I know, I know, a next day surprise stream means it’s huge. Well, sort of… this is just going to be a short and sweet update. The Feds got a call from a hospital four hours away; we now have surveillance footage confirming Turner was there. She ducked out before authorities could be contacted, but she did receive treatment for the stab wound. Apparently, my knife went into her mouth and tore through her cheek; she has half of a Joker smile now…
I’m not sure how I feel. Part of me is happy for any suffering I can repay, but another part is extremely disturbed about disfiguring a woman’s face. That probably sounds strange considering I’ve shot her twice now… and yes, I do wish she were dead… but I was trying to protect my family! This was up close… and personal… it feels sadistic… but it was an accident… I only meant to kill her! Ugh, I’m making this sound even worse.
The important thing is – we all know that injury will do nothing to sway her actions… she’ll come after me harder than ever… and all I can do is wait.
While we’re here anyway, there will be a story on Sunday called Periwinkle; I used a blanket fort like the good ole days, but I’m ready to go home. This safe-house is cramped and has a funny smell we can’t get rid of.
[sigh] That’s all for now – see? Short and sweet! Push ya later!
[humbled] Night Crawlers; it’s a new dawn of a new age. No one is here, but I don’t care; this news can’t wait another second. If you haven’t heard – ding-dong motha fuckers; the bitch is dead! Hell, even The Good Boy is celebrating with his own rack of ribs!
[softer] Unfortunately, it’s a somber day as well… good men died while protecting my family, and that is a debt one can never repay. It isn’t much, but I have started a fundraiser for the grieving families; the links can be found below.
I don’t know how she found us, but yesterday morning, a drone flew two circles around our safe-house before disappearing into the sunrise. Snipers were put on alert and reinforcements were called in, but nothing more happened until 2:00pm when a loud, Ford pickup stopped in the middle of the street.
Silently, we watched a small woman hop out of the passenger side and wave goodbye as the driver continued on his way. Page fucking Turner hitched a ride to our safe-house wearing a clumpy winter coat and a bloody patch across half her face. Somehow she looked more terrifying each time I saw her.
Halfway to the door, she was met with two agents yelling for her to get on the ground. Slowly, she raised her hands; the right was curled around a small object; the left revealed a bomb strapped to her torso. The item she held was a deadman’s-switch!
They didn’t know if it was enough explosives to blow up a house or a street, but all attempts to stop her failed. Juan and Andy tried to get us through the back door before she made it inside, but she caught us in the kitchen. She ignored the officers completely and removed her coat; we collectively held our breaths as it slipped over the detonator and onto the ground.
Next she removed her bandage to show us her angry, red smile. I know Joker smiles are overdone and creepy in our community… but shit… I think half of one looks much scarier… especially in real life. If, and only if, you have a strong stomach – you can find a picture from the hospital footage, but I doubt it exists anywhere else; there certainly won’t be any new ones.
Eddie was losing his mind; when we locked him in the bathroom, I thought he would break the door. Page held our full attention but had only one goal. After removing the gun, she threw her bag to me; inside was the story – Stay Tuned. She must have felt invincible at that moment… the only thing she cared about was forcing me to make a video; everyone else was mere distraction.
She wanted us to be left alone to record in peace and didn’t seem to care what would happen after that. I was just happy to see the boys taken away; a heavy weight was lifted at the sight of them driving away with an agent.
The detectives were walking out of the door when she stopped them; a sudden suspicion changed her mind. As if hearing my thoughts – she worried I would try something up if we were left alone. My choices were few at that point, so I began recording.
It’s a little strange though… seriously, think about it; Turner was obviously a very intelligent, capable person… but she wrote like a grade-schooler! [sigh] It didn’t matter… I was on page three when they grabbed her.
Juan had one arm around her neck, and a death-grip on her left arm; Andy threw himself onto her lap and both hands clamped onto her right – securing the detonator. They screamed in unison for me to fetch reinforcements, and that’s exactly what I did.
Page cursed me in a language I didn’t recognize while struggling against the detectives’, but I never spared her a glance. Once outside, the officer-in-charge escorted me past the barricades as a SWAT team prepared to enter. Their lead man was only a few feet away from the door when the house exploded. Andy and Juan were the only fatalities, but there were dozens of injuries.
The only ray of light in this abysmal pit of darkness is the fact Turner is finally dead. I feel like I can finally grieve for Amber properly now. From here on – this will be a new start for our family… and I hope you know that includes my Night Crawlers!
Periwinkle is still ready for tomorrow, but after that I’d like to resume our regular schedule. Also, please don’t forget to take a look at those links. That’s it for now; I can’t wait to push you tomorrow!
6 months later…
Hey Crawlers of Night, I know it’s been a long time since an unscheduled stream – but don’t worry, it’s nothing major. I just wanted to address these ridiculous pictures going around; mainly to assure you all it isn’t me. I’m not sure who is photoshopping pictures of The Bitch into all my stuff, but it’s getting old.
They’re trying to make it look like she’s still alive; the artist clearly wanted her face to appear healed, but the fake scar is a red, jagged mess. I’m a reasonable guy, and there’s a chance you meant well – after all, this is a horror channel – so if you stop now, there’s no hard feelings.
I mean, props on your work and everything. The way you started off with just her face in the background and then brought her closer in each picture is a nice touch! If this wasn’t such a horribly traumatic experience for me – I might even use some. While, yes, the scar was obviously bogus, it’s a perfect score on the Creepy Meter – especially paired with the dark circles beneath her eyes. Basically this is a thanks, but fuck no.
Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say; take care everyone, and don’t forget we have a big announcement this Sunday, stay tuned!
W.W. Jacobs, first published September 1902. Translated into modern English, otherwise exactly the same. Chapters separated by page breaks.
My good friend, Nightmare’s Edge, did an amazing job narrating this modern translation. If you’d rather sit back and listen, here’s the link!
Outside, the night was cold and wet, but in the small living room of Laburnam Villa the blinds were closed and the fire burned brightly. Father and son played chess. The father knew radical strategies, and put his king into enough danger to earn comment from the white-haired old lady knitting peacefully by the fire.
“Listen to the wind,” Mr. White said, seeing a fatal mistake and wanting to prevent his son from noticing.
“I’m listening,” the son said, grimly surveying the board as he stretched out his hand. “Check.”
“I should hardly think he’d come tonight,” the father said, hand poised over the board.
“Mate,” the son replied.
“That’s the worst part about living so far out! Of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live, this is the worst. The pathway is a bog, and the road’s a disaster. I don’t know what people are thinking. I suppose because only two houses on the road are occupied, they think it doesn’t matter.” Mr. White yelled with sudden, unprovoked anger.
“Never mind, dear. Perhaps you’ll win the next one.” His wife soothed.
Mr. White looked up sharply, just in time to see a knowing glance between mother and son. The words died away on his lips, and he hid a guilty grin in his thin, grey beard.
“There he is.” The son said as the gate banged loudly, and heavy footsteps approached the door.
The old man rose to open the door with friendly haste and was heard sympathizing with the guest. The guest complained so much that Mrs. White said, “Tut, tut!” coughing gently as her husband entered with a tall, burly man, with beady eyes and a pink complexion.
“Sergeant-Major Morris!” he said, introducing him.
The sergeant-major shook hands, sat by the fire, and watched contentedly as his host poured whiskey and put a small, copper kettle on the fire.
With the third glass, his eyes got brighter, and he eagerly began telling a story about a visitor from distant lands. He squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of wild events and brave deeds of wars, plagues, and strange people.
“Twenty-one years of it. When he went away, he was a thin youth in the warehouse. Now look at him.” Mr. White said, nodding at his wife and son.
“He doesn’t seem to have taken much harm.” Mrs. White said politely.
“I’d like to go to India myself, just to look around a bit, you know.” The old man said.
“Better off where you are.” The sergeant-major said, shaking his head. He put down the empty glass, sighing softly before shaking it again.
“I would like to see those old temples, mystics, and jugglers. What was it you started telling me the other day about a monkey’s paw or something, Morris?” The old man asked.
“Nothing. At least, nothing worth hearing.” The soldier replied hastily.
“Monkey’s paw?” Mrs. White asked curiously.
“Well, it’s just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps.” The sergeant-major said offhandedly.
His three listeners eagerly leaned forward. The soldier absent-mindedly put his empty glass to his lips, then set it down again. His host filled it for him.
“To look at, it’s just an ordinary little paw, dried as a mummy.” The sergeant-major said, fumbling in his pocket. He removed something and held it out. Mrs. White drew back with a grimace, but her son took it, examining it curiously.
“And what is special about it?” Mr. White inquired as he took it from his son. After examining it, he placed it on the table.
“An old mystic put a spell on it. A very holy man. He wanted to show fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it.” The sergeant-major explained.
His manner was so serious, the family became aware their light laughter bothered him somewhat.
“Well, why don’t you have three, sir?” The son joked.
The soldier regarded him in the way middle age tends to regard presumptuous youth. “I have.” He whispered, his blotchy face whitened.
“And did you really have the three wishes granted?” Mrs. White asked.
“I did.” The sergeant-major answered, and his glass tapped against his teeth.
“And has anybody else wished?” The old lady persisted.
“The first man had his three wishes, yes. I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That’s how I got the paw.” The soldier answered in tones so grave, a hush fell over the group.
“If you’ve had your three wishes, it’s no good to you anymore, Morris. What do you keep it for?” The old man finally asked.
The soldier shook his head. “Fancy, I suppose,” he said, slowly. “I did think of selling it, but I don’t think I will. It has caused enough mischief already. Besides, people won’t buy. Some think it’s a fairy tale; and those who do think anything of it want to try it first and pay me after.”
“If you could have another three wishes, would you use them?” The old man asked, eyeing him keenly.
“I don’t know,” said the soldier. “I don’t know.”
He took the paw, dangling it between his forefinger and thumb, and suddenly threw it into the fire. Mr. White, with a slight cry, stooped down and snatched it out.
“Better to let it burn.” The soldier said, solemnly.
“If you don’t want it, Morris, give it to me.” Mr. White said.
“I won’t. I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don’t blame me for what happens. Throw it in the fire again like a sensible man.” The soldier said grimly.
Mr. White shook his head and examined his new possession closely. “How do you do it?” he asked.
“Hold it up in your right hand and say the wish out loud, but I warn you of the consequences.” The sergeant-major said.
“Sounds like the Arabian Nights. Do you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?” Mrs. White joked as she rose to set the supper.
Her husband drew the talisman from his pocket, and all three burst into laughter as the sergeant-major, looking alarmed, caught him by the arm. “If you must wish, wish for something sensible.” He said gruffly.
Mr. White dropped it back in his pocket, placed the chairs, and motioned his friend to the table. During supper, the talisman was partly forgotten. Afterward the three sat fascinated, listening to a second installment of the soldier’s adventures in India.
“If the tale about the monkey’s paw is as exaggerated as those he has been telling us, we won’t make much of it.” The son joked, closing the door behind their guest who had to catch the last train.
“Did you give him anything for it?” Mrs. White inquired, regarding her husband closely.
“A little. He didn’t want it, but I made him take it. He again urged me to throw away the paw.” The old man admitted, blushing slightly.
“Not likely! Why, we’re going to be rich, famous, and happy. Start by wishing to be an emperor, father; then you can’t be ordered around by mother.”
He darted around the table, chased by the angry Mrs. White who was armed with a rag.
Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it suspiciously. “I don’t know what to wish for, and that’s a fact,” he said, slowly. “It seems to me, I’ve got all I want.”
“If you only paid off the house, you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you? Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that’ll just do it.” The son suggested, his hand on his father’s shoulder.
The father, smiling shamefully at his indulgence, held up the talisman. His son sat down at the piano and struck a few impressive chords, his face solemn as he winked at his mother.
“I wish for two hundred pounds.” The old man said clearly.
A fine crash from the piano greeted the words, interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him.
“It moved! As I wished, it twisted in my hand like a snake.” He cried, looking at the object on the floor with disgust.
“Well, I don’t see the money, and I bet I never shall.” His son said, picking it up and placing it on the table.
“It must have been your imagination.” His wife suggested, regarding him anxiously.
He shook his head. “Well, never mind. There’s no harm done, but it gave me a shock all the same.”
They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes. Outside, the wind was higher than ever, and the old man jumped nervously at the sound of a door banging upstairs. An unusual and depressing silence settled upon all three, lasting until the old couple retired for the night.
“I expect you’ll find the cash in a big bag in the middle of your bed, and something horrible squatting on top of the wardrobe, watching you pocket your ill-gotten gains.” The son joked as he said goodnight.
The old man sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last face was so horribly ape-like, he gazed at it in amazement. It got so vivid, he felt for a glass of water to throw over it. His hand grasped the monkey’s paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat and went to bed.
Next morning, as the bright, winter sun shone over the breakfast table, he laughed at his fears. There was a dull wholesomeness about the room that it lacked the previous night. The dirty, shrivelled little paw was placed carelessly on the mantle, doing little to inspire belief in its powers.
“I suppose all old soldiers are the same. I can’t believe we listened to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you?” Mrs. White said.
“Might drop on his head from the sky.” The son said sarcastically.
“Morris said the things happened so naturally you could call it coincidence if you wanted.” The father said.
“Well, don’t spend the money before I come back. I’m afraid it’ll turn you into a mean, greedy man, and we will have to disown you.” The son said as he rose from the table.
His mother laughed, followed him to the door, and watched him down the road. Returning to the breakfast table, she laughed at her husband’s credulity. Though this did not prevent her from rushing to the door at the mailman’s knock, nor from rudely referring to retired sergeant-major’s drinking habits when the mail included a tailor’s bill.
“I expect our son will have more of his funny jokes when he comes home.” She said as they sat at dinner.
“I dare say, but aside from all that, the thing moved in my hand. That I’ll swear to.” Mr. White said, pouring himself some beer.
“You thought it did.” The old lady soothed.
“I say it did! There was no mistake; I had just—- What’s the matter?” Replied the husband.
His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a man outside. He was looking at the house with uncertainty, as if trying to decide whether to enter. Thinking of the two hundred pounds, she noticed the stranger was well dressed and wore a new, glossy silk hat. Three times he paused at the gate before walking away again. The fourth time he stood with his hand on it, then with sudden resolution flung it open and walked up the path. At the same moment, Mrs. White hurriedly removed her apron, placing it beneath her chair.
She brought the uneasy stranger into the room. He stared at her nervously, listening impatiently as the old lady apologized for the appearance of the room and her husband’s garden coat. She then tried to wait patiently for him to explain his visit, but at first he was strangely silent.
“I– was asked to call. I come from Maw and Meggins.” He finally said, stooping to pick a piece of cotton from his trousers.
The old lady started. “Is anything the matter? Has anything happened to my son? What is it? What is it?” She asked, breathlessly.
Her husband interrupted. “There, there. Sit down, and don’t jump to conclusions. I’m sure you haven’t brought bad news, sir.” He said hastily, eyeing the man wistfully.
“I’m sorry–” began the visitor.
“Is he hurt?” The mother demanded wildly.
The visitor bowed in confirmation. “Badly hurt, but he is not in any pain.” He said quietly.
“Oh, thank God!” The old woman said, clasping her hands. “Thank God for that! Thank–“
She broke off suddenly as she understood his sinister meaning, and saw the awful confirmation in the man’s averted face. She caught her breath, turned to her slower-witted husband, and laid her trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.
“He was caught in the machinery.” The visitor explained in a low voice.
“Caught in the machinery.” Mr. White repeated, dazed. “Yes.”
He sat, staring blankly out the window. Taking his wife’s hand between his own, he pressed it as he had in their old courting-days, nearly forty years ago.
“He was the only one left to us. It is hard.” He said gently, turning to the visitor.
The man coughed as he stood and walked slowly to the window. “The firm wished me to convey their sincere sympathy with you in your great loss,” he said without looking round. “I beg you to understand I am only their servant and merely obeying orders.”
There was no reply. The old woman’s face was white, her eyes staring, and her breath inaudible. The husband’s face wore the same look the sergeant might have carried into his first battle.
“I was to say that ‘Maw and Meggins’ deny all responsibility.” The man continued. “They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son’s services, they wish to pay you compensation.”
Mr. White dropped his wife’s hand, rose to his feet, and gazed at the visitor with a look of horror. His dry lips shaped the words, “How much?”
“Two hundred pounds,” was the answer.
Unconscious of his wife’s shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put his hands out like a blind man, and dropped to the floor in a senseless heap.
In the huge new cemetery two miles away, the old people buried their dead and returned to a house filled with shadow and silence. It was all over so quickly they could hardly accept it at first. They kept expecting something else to happen– something to lighten this load that was too heavy for old hearts to bear.
But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation– the hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes mistaken for apathy. Sometimes they hardly said a word because now they had nothing to talk about. Their days were long and weary.
It was about a week after this the old man woke suddenly in the night, stretching out his hand to find himself alone. The room was in darkness, and the sound of muffled crying came from the window. He sat up and listened.
“Come back, you will be cold.” He said, tenderly.
“It is colder for my son!” The old woman said, weeping more.
The sound of her sobs died away in his ears. The bed was warm and his eyes were heavy. He dozed fitfully, then slept until his wife’s sudden, wild cry woke him with a start.
“The paw!” She cried wildly. “The monkey’s paw!”
He jumped up in alarm. “Where? Where is it? What’s the matter?”
She came stumbling across the room. “I want it,” she said, quietly. “You haven’t destroyed it?”
“It’s in the den, on the mantle.” He replied in wonder. “Why?”
She cried and laughed together, bending over to kiss his cheek.
“I just thought of it!” She said, hysterically. “Why didn’t I think of it before? Why didn’t you think of it?”
“Think of what?” He questioned.
“The other two wishes! We’ve only had one.” She replied rapidly.
“Was that not enough?” He demanded fiercely.
“No, we’ll have one more. Go get it quickly, and wish our boy alive again.” She cried, triumphantly.
The man sat up, flinging the sheets from his quaking limbs. “Good God, you are mad!” He cried, horrified.
“Get it! Get it quickly, and wish– Oh, my boy, my boy!” She panted.
Her husband struck a match to light the candle. “Get back to bed. You don’t know what you are saying.” He said unsteadily.
“We had the first wish granted, why not the second?” The old woman argued feverishly.
“A coincidence.” The old man stammered.
“Go get it and wish!” His wife cried, quivering with excitement.
The old man turned, regarding her, and his voice shook. “He has been dead for ten days, and besides he– I did not want to tell you, but– I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how about now?”
“Bring him back! Do you think I fear the child I nursed?” The old woman cried, dragging him toward the door.
He went down into the darkness, feeling his way to the den, and then to the mantle. The talisman was there, and before he could escape the room, he was seized with a horrible fear the unspoken wish might bring his mutilated son to him. Catching his breath, he realized he could not find the exit. With the creepy thing in hand and his brow cold with sweat, he felt his way around the table, groping along the wall until he found the small door.
Even his wife’s face changed as he entered the room. It was white, expectant, and seemed to have an unnatural look upon it. He was afraid of her.
“Wish!” She cried in a strong voice.
“It is foolish and wicked.” He hesitated.
“Wish!” His wife repeated.
He raised his hand. “I wish my son was alive again.”
The talisman fell to the floor, and he regarded it fearfully. Then he sank into a chair, trembling. With burning eyes, the old woman walked to the window and raised the blinds.
He sat until chilled by the cold, occasionally glancing at the old woman looking out the window. The candle burned below the rim of the candlestick, throwing pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls until it expired with a last flicker. The old man felt an unspeakable sense of relief at the talisman’s failure and crept back to bed. A minute or two later, the old woman followed, silently and without emotion.
Neither spoke, but lay listening to the ticking of the clock. A stair creaked, and a squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall. The darkness was oppressive. After working up his courage for some time, he struck a match, and went downstairs for a candle.
At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to light another. At the same moment, a quiet and stealthy knock sounded at the front door.
The matches fell from his hand, spilling to the floor. He stood motionless, not breathing until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and swiftly fled back to his room, closing the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house.
“What’s that?” The old woman cried, sitting up.
“A rat,” the old man said in shaking tones— “a rat. It passed me on the stairs.”
His wife sat up in bed, listening. A loud knock echoed through the house.
“It’s our son!” She screamed. “It’s our son!”
She ran to the door, but her husband arrived first, catching her by the arm, and holding her tightly.
“What are you going to do?” He whispered hoarsely.
“It’s my boy!” She cried, struggling mechanically. “I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go. I must open the door.”
“For God’s sake don’t let it in!” The old man cried, trembling.
“You’re afraid of your own son! Let me go. I’m coming, son; I’m coming.” She cried, struggling.
There was another knock and another. The old woman broke free with a sudden twist and ran from the room. Her husband followed to the landing, calling after her pleadingly as she hurried downstairs. He heard the chain rattle and the bottom bolt slide slowly and stiffly from the socket. Then the old woman’s voice, strained and panting.
“The bolt,” she cried, loudly. “Come down. I can’t reach it.”
But her husband was on his hands and knees, groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing got in. A barrage of knocks reverberated through the house, and he heard the scraping of a chair as his wife put it against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came back slowly, and at the same moment he found the monkey’s paw, frantically breathing his third and last wish.
The knocking stopped suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in the house. He heard the chair removed and the door open. A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and his wife’s long, loud wail of disappointment gave him the courage to run past her, to the gate. The flickering street lamp shone on a quiet and deserted road.
For full effect, please wear something comfortable, and imagine yourself lost in a dark forest. I think you’ll find a cabin just ahead.
Welcome, friend. Come on in, it’s storming out there. We’ve lost power, but it’s dry and warm inside. Grab a blanket and join us by the fire before you freeze, we got plenty of room. It’s not safe to be wandering around in the dark. Not out here where the closest town is five miles away. You won’t see any cell towers, I can promise you that. No WiFi out in these woods either. Folks in town like to call it a lake, but make no mistake, this here is all swampland. If you get lost, you’re likely to end up as gator bait… orworse.
Never you mind though, you’ll be safe here. Long as we have this fire, we can ride the storm out til morning. I’m Alex, and that pretty thing in the green sweater is my wife, Trish. Our nephew, Ethan, is the shy fella staring at his feet like he wasn’t raised with manners. Personally, I think he was dropped on his head before he had that wiry mop of curls to cushion his fall. Now, what did you say your name was?
Great, nice to meet ya. I won’t ask how you came to be out here all alone on a night like this. It’s none of my business, but I hope you won’t take offense to an old soul’s ramblings. I was just about to educate the young one on some local history when we heard your knock. I’m not embarrassed to say I nearly jumped out of my skin, but you’re not one of them. I could tell soon as I saw you.
Tell me, do you believe in ghosts? You know, spirits? Ah, that’s ok, what better time to learn? Nobody knows how it started. Before Columbus sailed across the ocean, the Indians already knew to stay away. Not even Braves ventured into these woods, afraid of Bad Medicine as they called it. The first white settlement – no, not Roanoke – the first settlement. Few people heard of it, no historians ever came, that’s for sure. Unlike Roanoke, there was no one to come looking for these folks. You know what? Let me start from the beginning, we have plenty of time.
The year was 1565, decades before Roanoke. Peasants weren’t allowed to hunt, all game was property of the Nobles. When times grew hard, desperate men – mostly outlaws and laborers – decided to take their chances on the ocean. They heard sailor’s tales of paradise where the land is open and fertile. A single, stolen ship carrying men, women, and children fled Europe in the dead of night, never to return.
The journey was treacherous, and many perished along the way. The dead were thrown overboard with little ceremony until food rations ran low. In the end, fifty-eight survivors made it to the New World. Desperate to be away from the smell of death, they went ashore as a group. The sandy beach was empty, and the surrounding woods were vast. Their leader was a large man named James Smith. He and First Mate Grant Cooke led their people into the forest. They cleared land and built a settlement near the lake; it really was a lake back then. The water was clean and clear; not green and smelly like it is now.
Nothing strange happened in the first year, almost like something waited until they were trapped. Letting them get nice and cozy while they scrapped the boat for parts; while they built their homes and planted their crops. They had no need for law or politics, but James held the final word on all decisions. Until the 13th month, those usually amounted to where to plant this or build that. Then a little girl, Ester Jones, vanished. Her disappearance was the first of many terrors to befall the community. I can tell you their whole story, you see, Pappy Grant kept a journal.
As we sat to supper, loud, desperate knocking sounded at the door. I instructed Martha and the children to continue eating as I rose to greet our late visitor. Knowing only ill tidings come at such a time, I relinquished my meal to the hounds. Indeed, I was met with the despairing sobs of Widow Jones. Her girl, Ester, failed to return from picking berries. The young ones never ventured far, but even so, they always stayed together.
I made quick work of speaking with the children as James gathered men. We ventured into the forest with one hour of light remaining to us. Unable to burden the women with our true findings, we blamed wolves as the culprits. I will record our true findings here in case – God help us all – a true account is useful to future generations.
The children confirmed their location in the west woods, past old man Herbert’s farm. They departed together, but Ester returned alone to retrieve a lost ribbon. The dogs delivered us directly to the berry patches at which time they turned circles, whimpering. Ignoring all calls to heel, they tucked tails and ran home. Our best hunting dogs, known to challenge bears, behaved as if whipped!
It was then we felt the weight of the silence. No birds sang, no insects stirred, and no winds blew. From the safety of my home it seems foolish to say, but it felt as if we were being watched. James summoned our best tracker, William Reed, to determine Ester’s trail.
In minutes he discovered the lost ribbon, but as he retraced the child’s steps he became visibly distraught. After confirming his findings with the Owens brothers, he reported the following:
“The children came down the path, scattering in front of the bushes. Ester is the oldest among them, making hers easily discernible from the others. You can see where she turns back, and this is where she kneels to search. Here are markings left by her hands and knees, but that is where her trail ends. It is as if she is standing before us, invisible.” William waved his arm through the space as if to prove she truly was not there.
Joshua Owens confirmed the analysis adding, “There are those capable of disguising a trail, but it is impossible to erase one. Maybe a giant bird came and scooped her up.” He said the last in jest, but looked up as he spoke. “What… is… that?”
Following his line of sight, I became aware of a white and red object caught in a tangle of limbs above us. William set to work climbing, and in minutes was directly below it. He crossed himself, nearly falling when he released his grip to do so. We watched, breath held, as Reed untangled the item.
Once brought for further inspection we could not deny it was cloth torn from the child’s dress. More disturbing than its location was the dark crimson stain which covered the white material. If she climbed, footprints would lead to the tree, and its bark would show signs.
Suddenly William ran to the next tree, studying its branches. Understanding his logic, we searched high in surrounding treetops until Horace Wright discovered the child’s location. As he spoke, he stumbled forward, losing his supper in a violent reaction to the grotesque sight awaiting us.
There, tangled in the branches were the remains of little Ester. Out of respect to the deceased’s mother, I shall not describe the horrible manner in which she surely perished. I suspected large cats, for they often hide their prey in this manner, but Reed was quick to rule it out. Again, easily visible tracks would remain. I developed a terrible coldness in my bones that still has not left me. I fear it never will.
We debated how to proceed as the last light faded. Anything short of bringing the child home for proper burial would be a disgrace, yet for her poor mother to see this fate… how little remained… she has already lost so much. I found myself imploring the men to spare Mrs. Jones this additional pain, suggesting we bury the child beneath the very tree in which she was found. I truly believed it kinder to carry home a tale of instant, painless death.
It took little convincing and was a relief to us all. Widow Jones is a kind, caring woman and our hearts ache for her loss. I am forever shamed to have failed her daughter in both life and death. With torches freshly lit, William climbed the tree easily as the first. Upon reaching the remains, a deep, guttural roar emanated from the darkness. It sounded like no beast I have heard before, causing every hair on my body to stand erect. James ordered William out of the tree at once.
Descending quickly, clutching Ester’s small, shredded shoe, Reed jumped the last four feet. Another roar followed, this time from above, closer and angrier. It was accompanied by the sound of branches cracking under the weight of something heavy. It required all my resilience to stand fast as we braced for the unknown terror to attack.
We held our torches high, but the light would not reach more than a foot away. Dancing flames should have illuminated the clearing, but the darkness was almost tangible. Even more strange was the temperature. The warm, summer night bit into us with a harsh, winter wind.
No man spoke, we merely huddled together, staring into the impenetrable darkness, waiting. How to describe the sound of that beast as it stole Ester from us a second time… alas, I cannot. I can only tell you of the shame we felt as we stood in place, for the monster went without haste, mocking our cowardice. It is my greatest shame, mortally wounding to my heart and pride.
When all fell silent once again, James commanded we return to the village at once. We eagerly agreed, ready to leave that horrid place. As we approached the path home, William surged to the front, insisting we were entering the wrong trail. I spoke harshly, anxious to be on our way, walking with my torch aloft to show no other path existed.
Reed led us to the place he believed our true path to be, but nothing was there. He walked between the two locations, listing the ways he could tell the difference. If he was correct, the path we walked daily was overgrown with weeds as if unused for years. It was a twisted root which several men recalled stumbling over that convinced us.
It was a slow journey as we struggled through the thickets, but we made it home safely thanks to Reed’s keen eyes and knowledge. I cannot stop wondering where the other trail would have taken us had he been less observant. Unfortunately, we were only able to return Ester’s shoe to Mrs. Jones. May she find comfort knowing the child is with her father in a better place.
Until tonight, our greatest fear was being discovered by outsiders. Should the Crown ever learn of our Paradise, he will surely want it for his own. We are prepared to defend ourselves to the last man should the occasion call for it. Alas, I believe we can rest easy in that regard. After what I have witnessed this night, I am certain whatever plagues us is no mortal man. We are resolved to explore the strange path in full tomorrow. I shall record my findings here upon our return.
What’s that, friend? Of course, the bathroom is down the hall, second door to the right. You go on ahead, we need to add a few logs to the fire anyhow. Oh, and if you hear a tapping at the window, just ignore it. Best not to pay them any attention, but whatever you do, don’t open the curtains.
…There, perfect timing! The fire is… oh my! Are you alright? I say, you are pale as all get out! Here, sit down, I think we’re in for a long night. I guess you peeked… I tried to warn you, but they say seeing is believing. There, there. I know it can be upsetting, but you really are safe in here. We don’t have a vehicle, but if you like, I can walk you to town come sunrise. Until then, maybe it’s best I continue the story.
June 15, 1566,
I write in the early morning hours, before the sun has yet risen. May God have mercy on my soul. By my hand James is dead. What have I done? It should have been me! I will never be half the man he was. Martha, if you or the children should one day read these words, I shudder to know what you will think of me, but I must keep going to ensure a record of what has happened here survives. Whatever evil is in these woods has made me murder my closest friend, I must do all I can to prevent others from the suffering similar fates.
At dawn we armed ourselves with every available weapon, intent to traverse the strange, new path. To our astonishment, the trail had vanished. The foliage was so dense, it would have taken several men most of the day to recreate what we saw the previous night. We explored where possible, venturing further than ever before, but found nothing. Wishing to be well away before nightfall, we returned home to find the women gathered and waiting for us.
They were terribly panicked, all speaking at once. After learning what transpired, I cannot say I blame them. We have taken the safety of our homes for granted, we have forgotten these are strange lands of which we know nothing.
As instructed, the women remained in the village, keeping the children close at hand. Martha invited Mrs. Jones to join her in our home, not wishing her to be alone at such a time. It required much persuasion. Mrs. Jones preferred to grieve in solitude, but in the end, agreed for Martha’s sake.
Shortly after morning chores were complete, Nathaniel, our youngest, cried out. Martha discovered him by the staircase, pointing at Mrs. Jones. The woman was attempting to unlatch the door but panicked and clumsily. Martha tried to intervene, blocking her way, but was roughly pushed aside.
Mrs. Jones began screaming, “She’s out there! They lied to us, look, see for yourself! My girl is alive, move! We must go get her! She cannot swim!”
Martha regained her feet and ran to the window, unsure what to expect. At the same moment she laid eyes on the ghost of Ester Jones floating above the lake, Mrs. Jones freed the last lock. My wife was left to watch helplessly as Mrs. Jones ran to her daughter.
Martha called after her in vain, continuing to give chase even after Mrs. Jones disappeared beneath the water, never to emerge. I shall thank God each day she did not enter those murky depths herself. I have no doubt she would be lost as well.
Several others report strange tappings at the windows and voices calling from the forest, but no sightings upon investigation. Thankfully no one else was lost, for we now fear each incident as deadly. It was then James recalled the Gypsy ancestry of old man Herbert. None of us know his true name, but his knowledge has been invaluable since fleeing our homeland. Whatever shame exists in his past is of no consequence here. Now, it seems, his knowledge may save us once again. We absorbed his every word, which in summation:
“If the legends are based in fact, I fear we may have something far worse than mere ghosts among us. You see, spirits are souls of the departed. They are what remain of those who perish but cannot pass to the other side. They can be a nuisance, but they cannot physically harm us. Malevolent ghosts may attempt trickery, such as what befell Mrs. Jones; but had she not run into the lake, she would still be among us now. As for the forest, I am certain we are dealing with something far more insidious than a spirit. It may even hold dominion over the ghouls, I do not know for certain. I do know whatever stalks those woods is something much worse… possibly a demon. Either way we do not possess the tools or skills to defeat it.”
The remaining light of day was spent fortifying our homes. We burned sage as the Gypsies do to combat evil spirits, but I have seen no evident results. Nothing else of note happened until nightfall, after we locked ourselves indoors. It was agreed no one would leave the safety of their home until morning, but that is the precaution which became our undoing.
Hours passed without incident until the shutters rattled violently as if someone were trying to gain entry. We first checked the children, finding them huddled together under the blankets. Without opening the curtains, I barred the window with the wardrobe. With the heavy oak furniture in place, the noises stopped at once, leaving a pause of silence before a devastating crash sounded from downstairs. I bade Martha to bar the door behind me as I ran toward the sound.
I descended the stairs with pistol drawn, foolish man that I am. Mr. Herbert warned our mortal weapons could do no harm to spirits and little if any to a demon of substance, but I was a weak coward. I thought only of protecting my family upstairs, disregarding all warnings of the spirit’s trickery.
My first sight upon reaching the bottom step was a ghastly image. A corpse reached through the glassless window, shutters torn asunder, attempting to unbar the door. He was pale white, but not transparent. His face and arm bore deep, wide gashes, the worst being across his throat. It caused his head to tilt at an odd angle as if it would fall off any moment. When the thing saw me, he abandoned his effort with the door in favor of clambering through the small opening. I did not think. I did not hesitate. I fired my one shot straight into his center.
I was surprised when the ghoul fell backwards, into the dirt. Fearing the injury as deception, I approached slowly, cautiously, wasting precious seconds as the best man I ever knew lay dying. The full weight of my folly crushed me as I rushed to his side, but he would hear no words of apology. With his dying breath, he tried to absolve me of my crime, blaming his death upon the devil’s trickery. Let his last words serve as further warning, so others may avoid repeating our deadly mistake.
“I never looked outside until I heard the crash. I saw a dead man. His head nearly severed, standing before your open window. When he attempted entry, I shouted a warning, but feared you would not hear. I should have known better. Should have listened to the old man. It fooled us, my friend. I followed, thinking it the demon of substance due its actions, but I fear that was its intent all along. I lost sight of it only a moment, yet when I peered inside, I saw you lying on the stairs, unconscious. The monster no longer in sight, I feared the worst for Martha and the children. I am sorry my friend. I’m afraid I have failed you. No! You will not let evil win by sewing doubt into your heart. Come sunrise, you must assume leadership. Tell them I died at the hands of malevolent forces beyond our control, nothing more. You must swear it.”
The fool was as stubborn in death as ever in life. I will honor his wishes as I must, but once our people are free of this curse, I shall insist another man be chosen to lead. I do not deserve the honor or respect, but I shall not break my word. Martha and the children were able to find sleep when nothing more occurred after my return. I feel as if I have seen too many horrors to ever enjoy sleep again. Sunrise is only an hour away, at which time the village will wake and I will be forced to feign shock and ignorance upon “discovering” our true leader’s corpse.
So, you see, friend, as long as you ignore them, you’re perfectly safe! I know it can be a lot to process, especially if you’ve spent your life believing this kind of stuff only happens in movies, but you’re handling it better than most. Why, I’ve seen people run right out the front door into death’s arms after hearing less! I knew I had a good feeling about you.
How many, you ask? Oh, don’t worry yourself with the minor details, I sure don’t. Who knows where my visitors come from or why? You shouldn’t be surprised if you find your own memories a little… fuzzy… while you’re here. I find it’s best not to force it, there’s still so much we don’t know about these strange woods. You just keep ignoring those sounds outside, nothing is really coming down the chimney, not with that fire roaring. They tend to get more desperate as dawn approaches, but they’re harmless long as you don’t pay them no mind.
Time can work a little differently here, especially on a stormy night like this, but I think we have enough time to finish our story. You can tell this is where Pappy Grant starts losing his marbles a little bit, but you really can’t blame the man.
June 17, 1566
It has been days since I last wrote of the events which plague us. When we fled our homeland, never did we dream it possible to find ourselves in worse positions than we started. I rue the day I set sight upon these cursed shores. This is our last night sleeping on these hellish grounds, and I will never step foot upon its soil thereafter.
I made the burial of our dead the highest priority, refusing to discuss matters of business until all were at rest. James was not the only casualty of that horrid night – three women, two men, and one child met similarly violent ends. All were blamed on the demon of the forest, but I fear I am not the only man who succumbed to ghoulish trickery. I am mortified to find myself grateful James’ wife and child died before our voyage, for I know my facade would crumble before them. Oh how the people begged me to take his place! It sickens me how they mistook my reluctance for modesty! I am no man, I am as much monster as the things that stalk our nights.
For only after nightfall do we suffer their torments. Had Martha not seen the ghost of Ester Jones with her own eyes, I would discount the incident as a grieving woman’s delusion. Aside from the feeling of being watched, which I freely admit is possibly paranoia, there have been no occurrences in the daytime. Perhaps the sage held some effectiveness after all, but that is merely guesswork.
I took no chances in learning this. No, the moment burials were complete, I set about moving all the women and children into the church-house under guard of a dozen men. I told them if anyone tried to leave they were to be held by force if necessary. I was determined not another soul would be lost. It comes as no surprise I should fail that endeavor as well!
Old Herbert says these otherworldly beings are most often confined to the land on which they reside. He believes we have invaded something’s territory. Whether we woke something which slept orit lured us here we do not know; but if we leave, it should not follow. Many legends make note of natural boundaries, such as rivers or mountains. I conceived a plan! I would not battle the devil, that is a fool’s game, and I was done playing the fool! Let it have this piece of land, we hope to never see it again!
I commissioned William Reed and Joshua Owens to travel into the south forest with provisions for three nights. Their mission was to find new land, beyond the forest, past the river we have never crossed. They would be well past the river before nightfall, a position many envied. They should return tomorrow to lead us to our new encampment. We have salvaged all we can and are prepared to travel in the morning. How terrible it will be to tell Joshua his brother has died.
I was so sure of my ability to protect them, so cautious! All slept in the church-house that night, crammed together over every square inch. We slept in shifts, always keeping eight men on guard. I slept soundly as eight of our best men, Martin Owens among them, vanished silently into the night. We followed their tracks far as we dared, but knew them lost to the forest. I cannot fathom what false visions could lead eight men placidly to their demise, but find myself preferring ignorance.
Another day passed without incident as we continued dismantling our homes. We built wagons to increase our supply capacity, knowing there will be no chance to return later, but we only have enough men to pull two. With Reed and Owens away, forty souls remained under my care. None openly blamed me for our losses, for none wished to wear the burden of leadership, but I could feel their disappointment as another day slowly faded to night.
We decreased the number on guard to four, having each man tied to a man who slept. The hope was, if a man on guard became entranced by deceit, he would rouse the sleeping man in his attempt to leave. I was to take watch before sunrise, believing it to be the most dangerous. Instead, we all woke to smoke and flame engulfing the church-house.
The doors were barred from the outside. Panic ensued as men tried to break through to no avail. The dry wood burned like kindling as smoke filled our lungs. Mothers threw children through the small windows, but few were able to follow. Thankfully, Betty Davenport kept her wits about her. As others lay gasping and crying, she ran to the wagons, retrieving two axes and a mallet. Enlisting the help of Susan Collins and her son, Timothy, they were able to open one of the doors. It was too late for many, Herbert is dead and his knowledge with him, but twenty-two of us survived thanks to their bravery.
James’ ability to put our people wholly first in his heart was a defining trait of his leadership, but I found myself unable to meet the same standard. Amidst the chaos, I was consumed by worry for only my family, useless to the others. How much shame can one man carry?
We discovered a single, small set of footprints leading to the forest though we are unable to determine their owner. Many of the dead were burned beyond recognition, but knowing which hand the devil used to do his deed is irrelevant. Had we not needed to bury our dead we would have fled across the river this day. As it is, we are a broken people, but we keep moving for sake of the surviving children.
Mine is the only intact family, and I can feel the unspoken resentment brewing in my grief-stricken fellows. I do not blame them, but I fear it is not by luck we are spared. I fear I have become a special project for the evil in this place. Nothing I do will stop it. We will lose more tonight. They understand we mean to leave, and they want to keep us. If Reed and Owens do not return, I will take those who remain beyond the river anyway.
We have decided not to sleep this night. We have filled every available container with water and barricaded ourselves indoors, spread among the remaining houses. Hopefully we will be less dangerous to one another. At the very least we should not be taken by surprise.
June 19, 1566
This will be my final entry, damn these records. I write only to report William and Joshua returned. We were not alone in this New World. All this time a primitive tribe of dark-colored men lived just beyond our borders. The ten of us who survived the night were met with fear and reverence as if we were some otherworldly beings descending upon them. Imagine! Perhaps it for the best they fear us, for they speak not a word of English. With great difficulty we attempt to understand each other by acting out charades. Whatever they think of us, they have fed us and provided shelter so I am grateful beyond words.
I have burned down every timber in that wretched village, but the flames died before reaching the demon’s forest. Martha and Elizabeth are dead. I was miserably accurate in my premonitions. Of course, the blame is solely and completely of mine alone for I fell asleep against all efforts. I woke to Martha strangling Nathaniel, Elizabeth already lost. She insisted the undead were risen, attacking the children. I tried to tear Nate from her grasp, but she had a grip of steel. I tried reason, but her eyes were rolled backward and I could see the life slipping from my son.
I killed her. I had to kill my wife. I revived Nathaniel just barely, though he will wear the marks on his neck for some weeks to come. Of course, that is nothing of the mental anguish he will suffer as a result of his father killing his mother as she tried to strangle him after murdering his sister. Perhaps his recovery would be best served by my absence.
I will destroy that evil place if it is the last thing I do upon this earth. I believe answers lie beyond that missing trail, so that is where I shall go.
August 30, 1574
My name is Sly-Fox but it used to be Nathaniel Cooke, and today my tribe recognizes me as a man. I have received my father’s journal, which he left in the care of Chief Hawk-Eyes. My father returned to the Cursed Woods daily despite our tribe’s insistent warnings, and it proved to be his end.
That forest is full of Bad Medicines. All know death awaits those who seek its power. Father was determined to see them destroyed, but the place drove him mad. He left every dawn and returned every dusk for two weeks before he disappeared forever.
Chief Hawk-Eyes adopted me as a son, and I am happy traveling with the Cherokee. Maybe I will write of my life one day as father did, but now is the time to count coup and earn my place among the hunters.
Yep, those last dozen settled with the Cherokee and life went on. Sly-Fox grew to be a respected man of their tribe and had a family of his own. Over the decades as more white men came, he grew worrisome in his old age. He tasked his sons to return him and their people to that first place they fled beyond the river.
As the country grew, many tried to settle this area by the lake, but none stayed. With each new sacrifice, the land was poisoned, turning the soil infertile and the lake putrid. When survivors fled to Jamestown, they were welcomed without question. As wars for territory savaged the countryside around them, they remained just out of its reach, always in the grips of their own, private war.
So that’s how our little town was founded! I can even point to where they built the first house if you like. Though, let me tell you, it was over a century before they allowed a bridge across the river. They worried something terrible might decide to use it, but nothing has so far. Anyway, I think the storm is finally over if you’re ready to hit the trail…
You know, I was starting to think you weren’t going to ask why we live here instead of in town. Most people start wondering pretty early in the night, before they get a chance to know us. Not everyone is kind as you are, they don’t understand not all spirits are bad. Why, if it weren’t for the likes of us, there wouldn’t be so many to make it to Jamestown in the first place. Now come on, let’s get you out of here before the next rains come. I can’t cross the river with you, but I can see you to the bridge. I’ll show you some… huh? Are you sure? It be no trouble t’all. Well, alright then, if you insist.
It’s been a pleasure, y’all come back now, ya here!
I’m so sad Halloween is over, but I’m more sad we found another kitten. It’s a girl this time, nothing but bones and desperate for attention. On and on it goes. Until one day I finally catch the person doing it. Then you’ll all wonder why I disappeared without saying a word. It’ll be because I’m in jail for murder.
I have been working on my blog layout. I feel like I have too many posts to continue with one menu option. I wanted to let you all know I am aware of this and taking steps to improve. That being said, I’m bombing with the theme options. Ideally, I would like to have four categories:
Classics Translated (Re-written may give the wrong impression)
I know I have few items belonging to the latter categories, but I’m planning for the long term. My main focus will remain on my original theme, but I want to continue developing our cult. What started as a joke is growing into something beautiful, and I would like to see where it takes us. I don’t intend to write horror or classics regularly, but I have a passion for both and would like to post them when the mood strikes. Again, I can never thank you all enough for your tremendous support.
Today, I would like to properly begin explaining my time living is Rose-yard, a very dangerous subdivision in the middle of my hometown. If you’ve read earlier posts, you may have seen a few references to the “dangerous duplex” already. I briefly mentioned a desperate move after my parents smelled weed in my room, but the details were rushed as they weren’t the focus of our topic. I lived there 2-3 months before Crook and I bought his sister’s house. A surprising amount of drama happened in that short time, but to do it justice let me start by telling you a little about the home first.
In case any aren’t familiar with Duplexes, they’re basically one house divided into individual apartments. The one we’re focused on is somewhat well-known where I’m from due to the man who lived there before me. We will get to him in a moment, let’s start with Mickey. He was my coworker at the restaurant, and I considered him a close friend until he robbed me on multiple occasions. As you see on the map, he lived in the left side.
Mickey was an Irish boy with the frizzy, bright orange hair of a true ginger. He kept it braided in a single ponytail which ran down the length of his back, and only wore tight black jeans with plain colored shirts. If he was awake, he wasn’t sober. He was on a cocktail of cocaine, meth, more pills than I can name, and drank heavily on top of it all. I truly don’t know how he survived. His girlfriend (Mona) looked exactly like him; people thought they were twins, but she fed me free donuts so I was fond of her.
On the right side, where I would eventually live, was Booker. Fair warning, his story is tragic. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, but where I’m from they say that for anyone who behaves… well, dangerously insane. The problem with Booker wasn’t solely his mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, he had it rough, but his problems were exacerbated by the copious amounts of meth he injected.
Even more difficult was his financial situation. Meth can be an expensive drug when you need large quantities on a daily basis. Booker, ever the entrepreneur, began cooking his own. For all his quirks, he must have been good at it because he sold a lot and never blew up the house. A small bar opened off the highway next to Rose-yard and it became his office.
As time passed, Booker grew comfortable with his habits. People largely ignored him, considering him a harmless nuisance. One night, he set his sights on a girl at the same time as another local tough guy; only this one was well liked. As the competition grew heated, threats were made, and both men agreed to take it outside. The two exited the bar followed by a crowd eager to watch a fight.
As Booker instead walked to his truck, he was ridiculed. People taunted him for cowardice. No one knows if the insults changed his mind, or if his original intention was always to retrieve a gun. Regardless, he returned to shoot the other man in the head, killing him instantly.
Booker fled the scene, returning home. Police arrived quickly and found him in the attic, attempting to destroy his meth lab. After the arrest, they proceeded to make several large holes in each wall of the apartment. To answer the question of my regular readers, yes. They say the bar and home are haunted now. I can’t confirm the house is haunted based on my time there, but I absolutely could believe it’s cursed.
Skipping ahead to my move-in, we will jump to the part where I ask Mickey to please inform the landlord, “If he lets me move in today, he doesn’t have to fix the holes. And that I’ll pay all cash.” I don’t know how things are done in the real world, but in my messed up corner it’s called “getting shit done.” I was given the green light within the hour and ready to face my next obstacle.
When I go into my crazy place – that mental snap where the world goes fuzzy and my autopilot is stuck on self destruct mode – my brain doesn’t actively think or plan. Instead it understands the Now. The present moment in which we currently live. Nothing exists before and nothing will come after. You do what you must to stay alive in the Now. No more, sometimes less.
New home secured I understood my possessions needed to be relocated. After receiving my keys, I stared politely as Landlord explained there would be no rental contracts; I live there as long as I pay and will leave when I can’t. Pleased he appeared to understand how I live, I paid him to speed his departure. I then emptied my car to maximize space for moving. Preparing to make my first drive, a paranoid sensation washed over me.
I didn’t mind the holes in the wall. I already knew what posters would hang where. What I did mind – and should have expected – was the broken glass in the back door. The shattered pane was the bottom corner next to the doorknob, clearly done to facilitate a break-in. Unable to leave with such a security risk, I repaired it the way I was taught to fix everything – with duct tape. After a few layers on both sides and surprisingly less cuts than expected, it was acceptable.
I made several trips – loading my car to capacity each – all with my mind utterly blank. It wasn’t until I was making the last trip for the day that I realized furniture would never fit into my car. The hour grew late and I wished to avoid confrontation over my coming and going while Dad tried to sleep. I resolved to return with my bed and leave the rest until morning. I didn’t understand my dilemma until I stood staring at the bed, ready to remove the sheets. Unwilling to ask for assistance, I packed my pillows, filled the car once more, and went home to sleep on Booker’s leftover smelly couch.
In the interest of staying honest, I’m going to admit I carried my plan through without hesitation or guilt. We need to take a short recess so I can explain Chris. We shared a study hall the previous year and he drove a large truck. I developed a crush on him as we talked more and more in the classroom, bonding over our shared outcast status. He was probably the sweetest, most innocent guy I’ve ever known, but we weren’t suited for each other. He was a hopeless romantic who dreamed of moving to Tennessee and having five children. Obviously that did not appeal to me on any level. Okay, back to the story.
Last round of unpacking completed, I decided to text Chris. I initiated a ‘just wanted to chat’ conversation that quickly evolved into bragging about my new home. With some carefully phrased questions I learned he was also newly single and feeling the burn of rejection. I lured him into my web with little effort. “You know, if you’re really bored you could come hang out here. First I just have a few more trips to make before I’m finished moving… it’s really hard when you only have a small car…”
“Hey! I have a big truck! What if I came with you? We could finish in half the time!” Chris suggested, all own his own.
“Aw, you would do that? I hadn’t even thought of that! You’re my hero!” I said in my best distressed damsel voice.
Chris arrived within the hour. Not only did we finish in two trips, he stayed with me to assist in cleaning. The house was more disgusting than you imagine. “I don’t mind at all. Dad owns a septic business. It’s going to be mine one day so I’m use to this kind of stuff. As long as I have soap to wash my hands after, I’m fine.” He happily assured me as he scrubbed the disgustingly brown toilet bowl.
Making a mental note to find soap before he realized I didn’t have any, I continued unpacking. As the hour grew late, my brain realized I did not want to spend another horrifying night alone in that place. When you live in a neighborhood like that, in a house where only a thin wall separates you from people who never stop partying til sunrise, everything goes bump in the night.
“Wow, I didn’t realize how late it got. The day really flew by once you were here… too bad you can’t stay the night. I don’t want you to leave now, haha.” My heart hammered as I waited for his response.
“Seriously? You’d let me stay? All night?!” His innocence was adorable.
“Of course. I love having you around.” I genuinely did like and appreciate him. I’m not a complete monster. Yes, I initiated all this so he would help me move, but I liked him a lot. I was normally too shy to be so brazen, but needing him gave me courage.
When he agreed to stay I assumed we would sleep together. Men tend to have expectations in these kinds of situations, and in his case, I was okay with that. I knew he was a virgin, but still expected him to try. We shared a bed and talked a little before falling asleep, but he was too shy to make a move. I think it made me like him even more. We were officially dating before the next day ended, but that is when things turned sour.
As I returned to work and he to school, I learned what true clinginess was. He texted me every second we were apart. The only time he wasn’t texting was when he went into class, but even then I would receive, “I’m out of math now, I miss you so much.” He would talk for the five minute break, then say, “The bell for science rang, I’ll talk to you in 50 minutes.”
At first I thought it was cute, even enjoyed it. No one had ever paid me so much (positive) attention. I assumed things would normalize once we had time to settle into the relationship, but they didn’t. After two weeks things were getting worse instead of better. I didn’t know how to tell him, “I really like you, but I’m losing my mind. I can’t watch tv, play a game, or read a book because there’s never a time you aren’t talking. I can’t keep staying awake all night because the only free time I have is when you sleep.” I was too shy and it sounded cruel. When he mentioned the Tennessee and kids dream, I broke up with him as gently as possible. He took it surprisingly well, but I never saw him again. Now that Chris is out of the way, let’s talk about what being in Rose-yard alone was like.
I was completely alone until Crook moved in later. I only owned one tv which meant there wasn’t one in my bedroom. Sleeping without one proved terrifying and impossible. As I laid in the pitch black darkness on my third night, I heard doors opening all around me. Reminding myself it was on Mickey’s side was useless. I imagined burglars pulling duct tape off the back door and creeping into my room. I stared into the dark opening of the hallway, seeing human shapes there; waiting for me to fall asleep. I quickly resigned myself to sleeping on the couch full time.
Early the next morning, I woke to someone violently banging on my front door. I’m not proud of my behavior, but when I’m rudely pulled from a sound sleep I react poorly. I had no more control over my actions than an alcoholic in withdrawal. All fear of the dangerous neighborhood forgotten, I ripped my door open in a rage. I was face to face with a short, plump, blonde woman; fist raised, ready to begin the next round. I’m not going to type all the curses I threw at her, but if you want a truly accurate account, insert “fuck” after each word I say. I apologize, but I’m a tiny, weak woman. Cursing is my human way of intimidation. I can’t fluff my hair out like cats, but I can curse like a sailor.
“What the hell is your problem?” My voice was low and cruel. I wanted my face to exude pure hatred, and I think it did. The woman hesitated, unsure how to respond.
“I… I’m sorry if I woke you, but I need to talk to Mickey. Right now.” She looked past me as if expecting to see him.
“Yea, you did wake me! It’s 7:00 in the morning and a psycho is trying to beat down my door for someone who doesn’t live here! That is Mickey’s side.” I pointed to the other door as I prepared to slam my own.
“I know, but he won’t answer. I wanted to ask if you could try to wake him. Can you call him or knock on his wall or… something?” She asked me this as if it were the most reasonable thing in the world, but didn’t understand she wasn’t speaking to me. She was speaking to the demon who possesses my body when I’m unable to Adult.
“Hell no you didn’t just tell me that! You know?! What is wrong with you? Do you seriously expect to beat down someone’s door first thing in the morning and have that person help you?” Again, I prepared to slam the door, but she caught my attention once more.
“Wait, please! I’m Tyler’s mom!” She put her hand against the door and spoke faster. “That’s Tyler’s truck parked in your back yard, and I heard Mickey has been selling parts off it. If he gives me the keys and the money he made, I won’t call the police.” The woman misunderstood the situation greatly. The satisfied expression on her face told me she thought I cared if Mickey got into trouble.
I continued speaking with her because I wanted to enjoy seeing that smug expression vanish when she learned the truth. “Lady, I couldn’t care less what happens to Mickey or that truck. The only thing I cared about was sleep, but since you ruined any chance of that let me tell you a little something about Tyler. Do you even understand why that truck is back there? It’s because the girl who lived here before Booker was his girlfriend. When she broke up with him, your little psycho beat the shit out of her. Then when she wouldn’t forgive him, he decided to drive that truck into her kitchen. The house is so high up he went under the house instead of into it. Now the truck is totaled. If you want to call the cops go for it, but if I have to open this door again, it’s going to be with a gun.” I successfully slammed the door on that final note. I didn’t own a gun, but thought it sounded intimidating.
Through the peephole I could see her making a call. She yelled “Okay then, I’m calling them right now.” through the door, but I don’t know if she really did. No police came, but they rarely did in that neighborhood.
When I woke to more knocking at 4am the next morning, I feared it would be routine. This time, two extremely large men stood outside, knocking on both doors. They looked angry and I didn’t open it, but I watched them through the peephole. I tried to call Mickey, knowing he was awake by the sounds coming through my wall, but he wouldn’t answer. Unfortunately I would grow use to the sounds of their tantric sex parties, but my only concern at that moment was to rid myself of the angry men on our porch.
As I typed a message to Mickey, Mona text me first. It read “Stay inside and don’t call the cops no matter what.” That was never a good sign, but I didn’t understand why they thought I would call the police. I wasn’t suicidal (that they knew of), but it became clear when Mickey finally went outside. Since I was awake anyway, I indulged the curiosity, staying at the peephole to watch.
“Look who decided to open up! Where you been at white boy?” the taller one said as they closed in on a Mickey.
“I’ve been right here…” Mickey was more difficult to hear. He spoke softly unlike his friends. Whatever he said, the men clearly weren’t pleased.
“You think you get to ignore us? You think you something special? Like you can just take whatever you want we ain’t coming for yo ass?” The shorter man with gold teeth began poking Mickey in the chest, pushing him back against the house. They stood so close, their noses almost touched.
I could see Mickey, staring at the ground, lips moving, but couldn’t hear his response. When he finished talking he began digging through his pockets. He held out wads of crumpled bills which were promptly snatched from his clutches. Even without physically seeing how much it was, I knew it had to be very little. They were clearly tips from work, meaning the majority were dollar bills.
“What is this shit? I know this ain’t all you have! Where the rest? Up your damn nose prolly. Whatcha think D? Think we can take our shit right out of his nose?” I covered my mouth to stifle my scream. Very quickly, the one with gold teeth grabbed Mickey’s braid, yanking his head back to bounce off the wall.
“It’s all I have. I can get…” is all he had a chance to say. The man called D cut Mickey’s words short with a punch to the stomach. My eyes darted to the door, expecting to see friends rush to his aid, but no one came.
As Mickey tried to regain his breath, the short one threw him to the ground. Both began kicking him all over while D informed him, “This your last warning bitch. Everyday you don’t pay, this is gonna be worse! You hear me?”
Mickey, curled into fetal position, could only shake his head in agreement. The men spit on him before leaving, then his friends came to help. One eye already swollen shut, he walked inside with them. A few minutes later, he returned, gently knocking on my door. Checking to make sure he was alone, I let him in, eager to hear the explanation.
“I just wanted to make sure you were ok…” He stood by the front windows, watching the road.
Only wanting his story, not small talk, I set his mind at ease. “Don’t worry I didn’t call the cops, no ones coming.”
Relief washed over him and he took a seat. “I was suppose to pay them today, but I ran into a few problems. If you ever see those guys again, just make sure your doors are locked and stay inside, you understand?” He said these things casually, as if he weren’t just beaten up on our porch.
“Yea, I mean that kind of goes without saying. But why do you owe them money? Is that their cocaine?” I was surprised further by how calmly he prepared the line he was now snorting from my coffee table.
“Yea, but it’s really good stuff. Here, I thought it’s the least I could do after the crazy bitch from yesterday, and now you had to wake up even earlier because of this shit.” He arranged a smaller line and offered me a rolled up bill with which to snort it.
Being young and upset about missed sleep, I took it gratefully. I couldn’t help but laugh at the $100 bill I was snorting it with. I don’t know how much money he owed those guys, but I can’t help feeling they may have been slightly kinder had he paid with it instead of tip money.
I did indeed see the men once more. Of course it was at a rare time I was genuinely home alone. Mickey and Mona were at work, and my music was playing loudly enough to be heard from outside. It was roughly 5:00pm when the loud bangs sounded at the door. Looking through the peephole I saw them with the same angry expressions and knew Mickey never paid them.
I dialed 911 but hesitated over the call button. If I went through with it, not only would police never arrive in time, but those men would know I was the only person who could have called. I desperately wanted to stay off their radar. I kept watch, deciding if they attempted to enter – I would run out the back door and down the street. Instead, I tried to call Mickey and Mona but neither answered.
The one with gold teeth pounded against my door while D worked on the other. Finally, D kicked Mickey’s door hard enough to break it open. “There we go. Time to make our money back! Stay on that door.” D indicated mine. “If someone come out, take their phone.”
That’s all I needed to hear. I value my phone more than life. I moved the couch against the door, terrified he would decide to simply kick it open anyway. Then I continued stacking everything I could lift onto the couch. I almost threw up when I remembered how easy it would be for them to open the back door. You guys know those paracord bracelets? I use to have one until I used it to tie one end around the door knob and the other to the fridge.
As I did these things, I text Mickey and Mona several warnings and updates, but after finishing the back door I saw the men were gone. Mickey’s door remained wide open, but the men were nowhere in sight. I was too afraid to open the door, but I looked out each window several times and couldn’t find them.
Mickey eventually returned my call. He apologized and thanked me profusely for not calling the police. Apparently he had a large drug cache hidden inside and was desperate to check on it. Thankfully he didn’t want to tell me where, but even if he had I still wasn’t willing to open my door. This incident scared Mona badly enough to borrow money from her father. She paid the drug debt under the condition they agreed not to do business together anymore. Everyone seemed fine with her terms.
A few days after this incident, I left for work in a rush, forgetting to lock my door. Desperate not to lose more time, I called Mickey. He said he would lock the door, but after hanging up I realized I also forgot my cigarettes.
Turning around, I made it home in time to see Mickey exiting my apartment. I only had to wonder why he felt the need to go inside for a few seconds before he saw me and shoved his hands into his pockets. I was still too naive to accept a close friend would blatantly steal from me, but even if I had, I would have been too afraid to confront him.
Had I realized in that moment he stole the amulet I wore to every tennis match I ever played – I would have blacked out and burned the house down with both of us inside, but I didn’t. Instead, I chastised myself for being a paranoid asshole. Sadly it would take loaning him $250 on top of later discovering my amulet was gone before I learned I wasn’t just paranoid that time. He actively stole from me every chance he had, only to deny it later.
Now you should all have a decent idea of what it was like to live there. Next time we discuss Rose-yard I’ll be able to get straight to the good stuff. I’m not sure when that will be, but we’ll get to it eventually. I would like to stop here so I have time to tell you about one more idea I want to implement.
Last month, I mentioned the horrible poems I wrote in high school. I have several notebooks filled with the cheesiest emo girl stuff you’ve ever seen. In the OCD interest of having all my work in one place, I wanted to find a way to post them here without losing all my followers. I think I have found a way to do that. Obviously I can’t post them on their own, but I could write one at the bottom of every normal post.
I feel like that will complete my goal without fear of new readers seeing them first and never clicking on stuff again. I freely admit I know nothing about poetry; not how to write it or how to judge it. With the exception of Poe’s The Raven and Blake’s The Poison Tree, I don’t even like poetry. Mine were simply the byproduct of a sad, depressed teenager who desperately wanted the pain to stop. No more. I strongly recommend you only read the poems at the end if you want a laugh. If you’re cruising for good poems, this is not where you want to be.
That being said, thank you all once again, LGFN forever! Remember, be safe out there. Sometimes they really are out to get you.
You are so predictable, But god, you just seemed so sensible. Why shouldn’t I love you? Why can’t I trust you? Why not settle down? Why not take a chance? Why shouldn’t we hold hands? You promised you were right, You promised I was wrong.
I wanted to stop running, But now the pain keeps coming. Now the thought of you makes me sick. Why was it you I had to pick? Why did you have to be my one shot? Why was it me you forgot? Why did you give me hope? Why did you take it away, For a reason you’ll never say?
It’s not fair, it’s not right. Why is it you I have to fight? You were suppose to be different, You were suppose to show me how, But you were wrong, and I’m alone now.
I knew I shouldn’t love you, I knew not to trust you. I knew not to settle down, I knew it was wrong to take a chance. I knew not to hold your hands!
Why didn’t I keep running? This pain wouldn’t be coming, But I did and it is. Now I’m alone, forever and always, On my own, for the rest of my days.
Once upon a time, there lived a prestigious family named Green. The family gained fortune buying failing businesses and making them profitable. After placing a trusted manager, it was time for the next one. Papa Green and Momma Green dedicated their lives to building a solid foundation on which Baby Green could continue their legacy.
The years passed, and Baby Green turned into Junior Green. When Momma Green suffered a brain aneurysm, she left her Green men behind. Each handled the loss differently, but Junior turned to drugs as a coping mechanism. When Papa Green reached retirement, he gave Junior the keys to the kingdom. Whether due to love blindness, old-fashioned ignorance, or pure lack of options, Papa Green was clueless about Junior’s addiction.
One by one, with heavy hearts, the Green advisors resigned. Close friends distanced theirselves as Junior shat on the family’s reputation. Junior, desperate to hide his failures, tried to replace the advisors with friends. Drugs were not the worst hinderance to their abilities, (certainly didn’t help) as none had experience or training in the positions to begin with.
For the first few years of Junior’s reign, he was able to keep the illusion of success by selling assets. Papa passed away never knowing Junior dismantled his legacy piece by piece. With the influx of life insurance money, Junior buried himself in drugs and prostitutes. It wasn’t until he sold the last asset that his advisers suggested they may be in trouble.
“But if we don’t have nothing else to sell, how are we going to buy stuff?” One advisor asked as he looked around the kitchen table. Like himself, the other advisors were still nursing headaches from the night before.
“Oh… I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it. What should we do?” Junior replied, wiping fresh powder from his nose and rubbing it on his gums.
“Well, I guess we could do like your pop and buy a business. Isn’t that how he got all his money?” The advisor suggested, digging cocaine boogers from his nose.
“Yea it is, but how much does something like that cost? Do we even have enough to do that?” Junior looked hopefully to the accountant.
“Uhh. Probably. I mean, I can go check and find out. Maybe a cheap one, nothing fancy.” The pant-less accountant picked up his Irish coffee, and stumbled away from the table.
** Ok, so I may take some liberties with dialogue, but it is important going into this knowing Junior’s drug use and actions are indeed, fact. Guys, never ever do acid without a sober babysitter. Just don’t. **
On the other side of town, 7 year old Past Me was listening to Dad explain why Uncle has to sell his store. Uncle owned the store 10 years, but Dad only became his partner a few years prior. Business was failing, and this was the only option left. The only buyer interested, Junior, had a questionable reputation, but there simply wasn’t anyone else. My family, descended from professional snake-oil salesmen, took great care in the contract details. The key points being:
Dad would receive a very generous severance pay if fired.
If Junior attempted to sell the business, he must give Uncle first chance to purchase it.
With the safety measures securely in place, Uncle temporarily retired to a life of collecting antiques. Though he didn’t know it yet, he was collecting inventory for his future business. Inventory that allowed him to collect boxes of original slave documents and various old writings. Documents that sold for thousands, yet he couldn’t give a few pages to a niece who loves collecting antique books. Sure, I have two pages, but I had to pay for them. I can’t even read them, they’re cursive, but I enjoy looking at them. It’s fun to think about what path they followed in order to land in my possession.
Back to Green…
Mr. Green, unable to afford anything else, let his newly hired legal advisors thumb through the contract. Upon signing, he chose a manager at random, and left for happy hour. Wanting to celebrate his first successful business deal, Junior thought acid would make a great gift for guests attending his open house party. A way to let them know he appreciated their efforts, he didn’t want to be one of those guys who turned into an asshole once he became successful. That’s the state of mind Junior was in when he took his first hit of acid.
I think that’s why, when a giant, deadly snake tried to bite his female companion, he acted instinctively, without reserve. He was their leader, they were in his home, depending on his protection. Without hesitation or concern for his own safety, Junior retrieved his machete. With a single swing, he removed the head from the snake.
** People who aren’t from here question why a machete was on hand. Don’t. We all have machetes, I can literally reach one from where I sit now. **
Blood erupted from the snakes limp, spasming body as its head rolled away into darkness. Guests screamed in confusion. Junior tried to calm them, “Don’t worry! It’s fine now, there was a snake, but I’ve killed it. See, it’s dead.” but he wasn’t sure if he could be heard over their panicked cries.
He tried to hold the snake’s dead body aloft for all to see, but as he tried to lift it higher, he felt a strange tug at his waist. As he experimented with the odd tugging sensation, he began to feel a painful throb in his lower abdomen. “Did the snake bite me, you think? Something’s starting to hurt awful bad down there. It’s burning.” Junior stared down at the headless snake, perplexed.
“Oh shit man! We gotta get you to the hospital! Who can drive?” A random man stumbled toward Junior, but kept a safe distance. No one wanted to get any closer to the… dead snake.
“Where’s the head? Can they reattach it?” Junior’s soon-to-be ex asked.
“Pshh, no way, that shit’s gone forever.” A man next to her stated as he took a long drag from his bong.
“Let’s call an ambulance.” Someone suggested.
“No way! Cops will come!” Another replied. A chorus of agreement followed his statement.
“Shit, come on, I’ll drive him. Maybe the bastard will make someone else manage that damn store.” The randomly chosen manager stepped forward to grab one of Junior’s arms. “Well, someone help me get his ass in the car, least you could fucking do. I know ain’t none of you sorry bastards gonna come with me.”
Another chorus of agreements followed as a few men stepped forward to help move Junior.
“Do you think it was poisonous? Don’t they gotta see the head to know?” Junior asked the men helping him to the car, still not understanding he cut the head off his penis, not a snake.
“Uhh… nah man, they can tell with just the body… it’s cool.” One told him as they loaded him in the car.
“Do you think we should put his seatbelt on?” The manager asked.
“You gonna reach across him?” The first asked in return.
“Hey, Junior, put on your seatbelt we’re leaving.” The manager said as he got into the driver’s seat.
Before noon the next day, Junior’s new name was ‘No Weenie Houdini’. The “How’d you make it disappear?” jokes were endless. When people hit rock bottom, they react in one of two ways. They either wake up, and take steps to get their life back or they double down on the drugs and plow forward. Junior chose to double down and plow forward.
I’ll FF through Junior spending the year trying to stay afloat by pilfering into our store’s profits. His lackey began keeping cash sales, and it didn’t take long for Junior to become desperate enough to sell. Uncle bought his store back at severely reduced cost with funds to spare. He reopened as an antique shop, and has thrived ever since. Thankfully, my family would never again have business dealings with Junior.
Junior was unable to find anyone willing to do business with himself or associates. There was no one in town who didn’t know he was No Weenie Houdini. All he could do was go out with a bang. Maybe psychologists can speculate why a man with Junior’s history would choose to do acid again, but I won’t try.
Surely enough, late into the night, that darn snake came back for revenge. Junior, so overcome with rage at the snake’s audacity, hacked away at the creature with the fury of a madman. He made sure there was nothing left, its body was smashed beyond recognition. The snake was gone for good.
The trip to the hospital was remarkably similar. The entire appendage was removed this time. Though he was a rare visitor, he made an occasional appearance in the real world. He was twice dubbed No Weenie Houdini, and secured a permanent exhibit in the gossip mill museum. “When’s the next encore?” being one of the most popular one-liners.
Junior adjusted to life on disability and goodwill. He now spends his days wandering around town, trying to warn people about the conspiracies happening all around us. If you ask nicely, he’ll make you a tin foil hat, but never let him see your cell phone or he’ll know you’re with them. No one knows who them are, but trust me, you don’t want to be with them.
During my time working at a western store, I saw him often. He took special interest to make sure I knew how much danger I was in. “You gotta think girl, always think. See with your eyes! Not what their eyes.” He’d always stand way too close when warning me.
“Alright, I’ll remember that.” I said exasperated.
“I’m not kidding girl, they’re watching you. I can prove it to you! What blood type are you?” His sprayed spit with each word.
“O positive.” I guessed, naming the first type I thought of.
“Nah, they’re lying to ya. You go get checked. You’ll see. They lying. You got the rare blood.” He whisper-spat.
“Cool, I’ll do that.” I said, taking another step back.
“They had to do it girl, they had to. Twas the only way. You’d be dead like the rest if they hadn’t smuggled you away with yer nurse-maid. They’ll be calling you home soon now that you’re of age. I hope you’ll remember me when they do.” He said with a wink and nudge.
“Aw, did you watch Anastasia again, Junior?” I tried to ask without making a face, but probably failed.
“SHH, shush! Are you crazy?! Keep your voice down!” He yelled loudly. “You cannot let them know you know they know! If they know you know they know you know, they’ll come for you!”
I guess he frightened himself. He dropped the items he planned to purchase and ran from the store as he said the last bit. Go figure.
By time my turn to deal with him came back around, he was preoccupied with the aliens living on the golf course. They were infiltrating our schools by taking over teacher’s bodies. Soon, they would take the children and fully integrate into the bedrock of our society. I think he watched The Faculty and got a little too into it. I have no clue why he went with the golf course, but who am I to question drug induced delusions?
Remember kids, say no to drugs and alcohol. If life is painful, weed will make you feel better and I can safely guarantee it will not be a prevalent cause should you cut off your genitalia.