Lunes, Enero 30, 2012

Ultimate Creepypasta Marathon Post

Don't mind me, I'm just dumping a long list of stories you should totally read before bedtime.


DISCLAIMER: These stories belong to their respective authors (cited or otherwise).

I used to be fearless 

I used to be fearless.
Horror movies never really scared me. Scary books had no effect. Haunted houses are meaningless. I was never a child who slept with the covers over their face, or with a night light. As a little girl, I never felt the need to crawl into bed with my mother after having a nightmare. I never really had nightmares to begin with, and the few that I did, most would never consider a nightmare at all.
I’ve simply never been afraid of what goes bump in the night. Our home security system kept away fears of very real humans with dark intentions, as did our Rottweiler, aptly named Killer. As for threats outside the home, well, who could be afraid in a nice, white, upper class community? I’ve lived in a bland bubble all my life, never knowing what fear is.
So why should I ever be afraid of the dark?
Up until this moment, I haven’t been. I saw it as childish and illogical. Of course, I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m writing this to you now as a warning because it’s too late for me. I know that now, and it’s brought on a surreal sort of calm…When I finish warning you, it will be all over. So forgive me if I’m being long-winded…I enjoyed life a bit more than I was once willing to admit.
It all started with what I thought was a virus. I had been linked to a video called “Girls and Boys Come Out to Play.” It sounded harmless enough. I thought it was an art student’s film, perhaps. The person who had linked the video promised it was very good. Well worth watching.
I can’t remember the video. All I can remember is the feeling it brought up. It wasn’t fear, but it was close. I was uncomfortable. I was unnerved. I was also vaguely ill.
From then on, things only got worse. The background on my computer had changed to a picture of a disturbed looking young woman who stared at me from a black abyss. Every now and then, and growing more frequent by the day, strange noises would emit from my computer, even when the sound wasn’t on. Screaming, strange laughter, grinding noises…
At the time, I was annoyed; the fear hadn’t settled in quite yet. Then, the faces started popping up, like those ridiculous ‘screamers’ that scared my friends in high school. Yet these were different. They looked real. They were the faces of the dead; and they had died violent deaths.
I wish I could say that I stopped using the computer, but I couldn’t. My job requires me to use my computer frequently. What was I to do? I had no other computer available to me.
I tried to take it in to have the virus removed, but no one could help me. They said there wasn’t a virus. They said the computer was fine.
Meanwhile, it got worse. The faces weren’t just popping up; they would stay. And with those horrible, rotted eyes, they would hold my gaze. I couldn’t look away from them and their terrible, mocking grins. And oh, God…the smell. My computer forever had a vague stench of death around it.
I thought I was going crazy. I thought that perhaps someone was messing with me. The people at the computer repair place didn’t know what they were talking about. Something was wrong, but I knew that it had to be something very real that just had to be fixed.
So I got a new computer. Everything was fine for a while, but then it all came back, and in full force. Now there were voices. Now there was screaming. Now, the rotted faces showed their stinking bodies. I could see every maggot, every fly, every pus-filled crevice…And they were calling to me. Telling me that soon, very soon, I’d be joining them. They were so angry that I had tried to get rid of them, and now they would make me pay.
I didn’t know what to do. Ignoring the problem wasn’t working. I thought maybe it was the fault of a friend from work. Perhaps it came from the emails they had been sending me? I never thought it was the video. Not for a second. After all, that just wasn’t logical.
I was at the end of my rope. Today, I unplugged the computer and began packing. I would go on vacation, clear my head, and pray that everything would be back to normal.
A few minutes ago, I realized it would not. The power went out, and for the first time in my life, I felt true fear. I had no idea that in a few moments, it would become mind-numbing.
I stumbled through the house, looking for a flashlight, when I saw that something was still giving off light.
The computer.
The unplugged computer was on, and the woman in the background was moving. Beckoning me over.
I couldn’t help myself. I sat down across from her with the darkness caving in all around me. And then the woman, like all of the other images I’ve seen before, began to rot away. The whole scene rotted away, and then the screen went black. And without light, without a means of seeing my reflection, I saw her behind me for the briefest of moments, a bloody and rusted knife in hand. The computer came back to life, and my old background had returned.
But I know it’s not over.
So I’ve decided to come here. I know you all like to be scared, right? Well, take it from someone who has only very recently known fear: it’s not always worth it, and not everything is fun and games.
Of course, you probably won’t believe me. Why should you?
The thing is…I haven’t been completely honest with you. There was no video. It was a story. A story quite similar to this one, though with subtle plot differences and perhaps better story telling. I know all of you like stories that might give you a good scare. That’s probably why you started reading mine.
Now that you’ve read this, you’ll share my fate. I know it’s cruel, and perhaps unfair, but it has to be done. I just hope that you can take comfort in knowing that when I’m the woman haunting your computer, I’ll be a bit more gentle. If I can, I’ll use a blade that’s a little less dull. Pictures of those who came before us who are a little less grotesque. Sounds that are a little less alarming.
But then again, you DO like to be scared, right?
Don’t worry. I won’t ask you to repost this story five times. Nothing will save you. After all, nothing could save me.
The power is still out. And I know, behind me, the woman is waiting for me. I’ll see you very soon.
Goodbye for now.

--
A Ghost Story by SFC_HeadShot.

I was an American male on the loose in Belgium in the late 80’s. The tiny village I lived in was called Cambron-Casteau and was only a few kilometers north of the French Frontier. The town was truly nondescript and an ancient abbey remained the only interesting feature it possessed. The abbey’s remains stood on fifty acres of land just beyond the town with a great house, a tower, forests, lakes and catacombs! The latter caught my attention as soon as I learned of them. I investigated the tunnels both historically and physically. Originally, it seems monks in the late 1500’s connected the abbey to the church in nearby town of Lens with underground tunnels, and may even have gone as far as Mons. This is no small feat as Mons rests twenty kilometers from the abbey and Cambron-Casteau. It then appears that Hitler could not leave something like an underground tunnel alone and had it walled up during Belgium’s occupation because too many of his soldiers got lost trying to chase out the resistance fighters. There was evidence of this down some of the underground corridors where a newer wall ended all forward advances or a room was filled floor to ceiling with a pile of rocks. Despite the diminished area of the tunnels they still held my attention and I soon knew every available inch. When I was not in the catacombs I was walking through the abbey’s forests or around the lakes till the late afternoons. It was on one of these lazy Sunday walks that my life changed… forever.
Call me paranoid if you wish, but the late 80’s in Europe was no time for an American to walk around alone. It seems the Nazi Party was not quite as dead as we had been lead to believe and chance encounters with young skinheads became a very real possibility and a very real danger as well. For this reason, I took to carrying a certain semi-automatic friend of mine under my coat on my left side to give a would-be assailant .45 reasons to rethink his position. I will not discuss my occupation at the time, or why I could get away with this, suffice to say that I could, and leave it at that.
I was walking around the largest of the abbey’s lakes late on a Sunday afternoon when I saw a woman about two hundred meters from me near one of the entrances to the tunnels. I could tell she wore a dress, but she had some kind of cloak over it hiding any details of the garment. I did notice her figure, but few other details. There was no obvious evidence that she was in distress or needed assistance, it was just a feeling I got as I walked toward her, and she moved toward the catacomb door. Reflexively I adjusted the comforting chunk of finely milled steel under my left arm, reassuring myself it was still there even though I knew it was. By the time I reached the door to the tunnels she had disappeared inside with only one glance back at me as I approached. The late afternoon sun was casting many long shadows and I was too far away to see her face clearly, save for her eyes. Her eyes simultaneously bothered me and drew me to her. Loose stones crunched underfoot as I left the paved trail for the gravel road to the catacomb entrance. I did not notice at the time, but she had made no noise on the gravel. My approach to the door had been from the side and I did not actually see her open the door to go in. When I reached the door I had to grasp and engage the metallic thumb latch and swing the door wide on rusty hinges. It never entered my conscious mind that I hadn’t heard the hinges when she went in, but my subconscious was pulling double duty trying to keep me alive by taking over my right arm and moving my hand to the butt of the heavy Colt 1911A1 in my shoulder rig. I had been in these tunnels often enough to know where I was. The entryway beyond the door had two exits. The one on my right led to the greatest area of tunnels. The exit in front of me was little more than a rubble-covered stairway that branched to two separate short passageways that both dead-ended. As I paused for my eyes to adjust I heard a faint indeterminate sound from the direction in front of me. My eyes had not yet righted themselves, but I moved forward anyway… I knew these tunnels… she may need me!
As I moved my eyes cleared and I noticed a feint glow like a match up a tunnel that I knew stopped at some of the Fuhrer’s masonry. When I rounded the last bend I saw her. She had her back to me and she starred at the wall. Her hair was long and straight and the deepest raven black. Her curves were not the kind to get lost in a crowd either. As I stood there memorizing every inch of her she began to turn to me. Her face was a mask of death! There were no eyes in the sockets of her dried skull as she looked at me. There was no skin on the bones of her hands as she raised them toward me. What happened next I pieced together later. My instinctual reaction was to bring up the gun in a perfect weaver stance and dump the entire clip into… it. I also started to back away at the same time and fell. This must have been what I had done, for when I came to my senses I was laying on my back in the pitch dark. I fished a Zippo out of my pocket and surveyed the area. I found no woman, no blood, no appreciable time had passed according to my watch, no rational reason that I could see before and now it was dark, and no real desire to stay in the tunnels one second longer. I quit the catacombs before anyone came to investigate the shots and hurried home. At home I discovered some unnerving facts. I had cut my head when I fell. When I washed the blood out of my hair, I found the most startling gray streak over both of my temples that had not been there mere hours earlier. I really wanted this to just be some kind of horrible dream, but the more time passed; the more I began to remember. This seemed totally opposite to a normal dream that one would usually forget by the end of the morning coffee. This dream was getting more vivid as time passed.
I remembered a sharp pain in my gut and coughing or… no… choking! Yes, that was it… Choking! I was gasping for air! I could not breathe and my poor, sweet little girl, the child I clutched in my arms, dead… My husband… my husband had been taken away and must surely be dead also. My…
WHAT!?!?!?
I nearly fell. What was I thinking? I did not have a child, much less a husband?! Then I saw her. She was standing right next to me… in my own house! She was not the skeleton she had been, her smooth skin was the palest white and now looked as it must have… in life. A little shorter than me, jet black hair, even in death she was beautiful. She was pulling her hand back as if she had been touching my shoulder.
I understand now. The SS must have caught her and other resistance fighters in the tunnels when they walled them up. All she wants is a decent burial. This is not too much to ask. I’m leaving now with a pick and a shovel to do the right thing. The labyrinth beyond the walls is unmapped. I do not know where she died. I only hope she stays around long enough to lead me back out of the tunnels when my work for her is done. If she does not, however, I leave this testament to any who come looking for me that they may at least have a clue as to where my body may lay…

--
Nonexistence

Do you ever wonder how scary death is? Think about it; it’s the one thing that we truly know absolutely nothing about. Some people may cite religious beliefs of an afterlife and others might claim they just focus on life, but it’s really something that is totally and utterly foreign to us. And what if the religious people are wrong? What if death really is nonexistence… that it’s simply over once the brain dies? Terrifying, huh? Of course, the reasoning goes that you won’t notice it, since you won’t exist.

But…Let’s say a certain someone could expose you to nonexistence. Let’s say this person could actually let you experience the state of not existing and more importantly, let you remember it. He’d probably be able to get you to agree to anything in order to avoid that fate. Tangentially, for certain people near death, their brain activity sometimes ceases completely for about three seconds and then returns, only to shortly die in a more conventional fashion.

As another aside, many hospital orderlies have noticed a man wearing a suit that they have never seen in any catalogue or on any person before. Interestingly enough, when you ask them about the suit they will struggle for a moment, then reply that it’s hard to describe, but they are sure they haven’t seen it before. Ask them about the man however, and they will freeze up, spasm violently and reply, “What man?”
--
The Last Thing you remember

A gunshot shatters your blissful state of slumber. Blood stains your sheets and crimson runs from the walls and ceiling, and you notice from the blurred vagueness that is your peripheral vision, a body slumped over the foot of your bed. Somebody has been murdered in your room.

Despite the early hour, and the shock of your discovery, you desperately muster the strength to search for the last place you put the phone; you have to call the police before it’s too late.

As you frantically search under cushions, beneath stacks of papers and old CD’s, you realize something is wrong. Suddenly, you feel weak, decrepit, frail, a frailness that brings on intense and unwanted dizziness. You clench your teeth as you search for the phone, but your pain continues lurch at your bones and nag at you. The pain becomes intense, and your vision blurs, and you keel over in pain onto the floor. You are immobile due to the raging and unknown pain clawing at your insides. Helpless.

You sense a living presence in your room now, your sheets rustling, and now footsteps. The debilitated corpse that once lay helpless on your bed, you realize is moving of its own volition. It is alive.

In your last moments of consciousness, your last breath of air, you manage to grasp at your stomach, and you feel torn skin, and then raw flesh. And then nothing. There is a gaping hole there.

These are the last things you remembered.

Please Come

A 15-year old boy in a small town in Maryland sat down at his computer after getting home from school one day. He turned it on and logged into an instant messaging program, and was then surprised to receive a message from a classmate of his, who had been absent that day.

It consisted of two words; “please come”. Confused, the boy sent a reply, asking why he’d been absent that day. After two more messages and fifteen minutes with no response, he decided to get on his bike and head over to his classmate’s house. It was a short ride, only about five minutes away.

When he got to the house, he found the door was unlocked. Inside, partially dried blood was splattered over the walls and floors, and an unrecognizable figure was crumpled against the far wall. It was missing an arm and a leg, and bloody streaks on the floor lead away from the body and into the kitchen. The boy slammed the door closed, and immediately called 911 on his cell phone.

When the police arrived, they found three corpses, as well as tracks leading away from the house from the back door. The forensics report concluded that the entire family, the boy’s classmate and his parents, had been killed sometime the previous night.
--
Turn off the light when you leave

In Finland there is an old but still inhabited yellow apartment, situated in a small city near an important railroad. Almost all of the people living there are over 70 years old and in fact it seems that younger people simply won’t stay there for longer than a year.

If you live there you will soon notice several unusual things. In the basement the words “TURN ON THE LIGHT. TURN OFF THE LIGHT WHEN YOU LEAVE” are written next to every light switch. It’s unusual to remind somebody of something so obvious, but here it is of critical importance.

People who forget something in the basement never return to pick it up. If you offer to go and retrieve it for them they will stop you from doing so.

There is one door there; between some storage doors that has no numbers on it. Instead the door has a worn-out nameplate on it. The people in the flat will tell you to leave that door alone. It is said that people who have peeked in the keyhole have seen very unsettling things.

The wires and pipes in the basement look amazingly old, yet still the house has perfectly functioning water, electricity and phone lines.

The laundry room, which is in the basement, must be reserved if you want to use it. If you go there without reserving a time first you will at first get weird looks and some scolding. Then people will more ominously and angrily warn you.

These things may seem minor but those, usually the young ones, who have got too curious or failed to follow the rules, have ended up dead, crippled or insane. Usually people say that these incidents were the result of drug use or alcoholism, but some of the freak accidents cannot be explained by anything.

How do I know this? I used to go and help my grandmother who lived in that apartment and I have seen several times how ambulance has dragged away young people who have missed an arm, sometimes some other parts also. The worst case was when I found a corpse that looked like an explosion victim in the laundry room. His guts were spattered all around the room and his left arm was sitting on top of the washing machine.

Before her death my grandmother told that she knows what’s behind these incidents. After the 2nd world war there was a shortage of apartments and one war veteran who had lost his left arm was given a rudimentary room in the basement for no cost if he would help people to do laundry and help the janitor. He did, but eventually someone insulted him way or another. The veteran killed that youngster and himself. Ever since his spirit has been there, harshly punishing those who fail to follow the rules of his home. After telling this she told me that I should never ever return to the apartment as I knew too much.

As I left the apartment for the last time I could see the figure of an old, old man missing his left arm staring at me, reflected on the large glass panel on the door to the stairway…
--
The Alternate’s Death 
You know when you’re falling asleep, and you suddenly get the feeling that you’ve tripped? You’re body lurches forward in an instant, ready to protect you instinctively from injury. You can almost SEE the ground rising to meet you. This occurs when the boundaries between you and the “you” in an alternate universe are weakest.
This is the feeling that happens when another “you” dies.

--

The Argument

You’re the manager for a small store. You hired one of your friends, and you just found out that he’s been stealing from the register, stealing stock, abandoning his post to visit with his girlfriend in the back room while he’s the only one on duty, and the argument you had with him at the office just didn’t settle it for you. You pound on his door. When he opens up, he goes pale, soils himself, and staggers back, gasping for breath.

It doesn’t impress you, really; you figure he just thinks you’re showing up with the cops, until you step through his door and glance to the side, where you get a good look at yourself in the mirror.

Or at least, the parts of you that are still recognizable after that shotgun blast that your friend gave you at the end of that argument.

--
Nails by astharot

They say that the hour of three A.M. is the time when spirits can become active, and I’m sure of that. My apartment was always a little too quiet for one in the city, especially at night. No drunk shouting in the street at that time, no sound of car horns and alarms could penetrate the dark at that particular hour. It’s like my apartment was high on a platform, surrounded only by a dense fog that the sharpest of hawk eyes couldn’t penetrate. I was usually attempting to sleep at that time, after bleaching my skin in the pure electric light of my computer screen. Emphasis on the phrase attempting, because from that stems this tale. I advise you, if you’ve been here long enough to find it, you’ll soon discover of what I’m talking about. I should really tell you anyway, just so you know you’re not insane. I know I’m not.
Every night for the past four months that I decided to make this apartment my home, a strange sound would pierce the strange blur that surrounded my home– or maybe just my mind. I have searched the apartment many times for it, but behind the hollow-sounding ivory walls and hard pine floors, I couldn’t find any source. The sound, at first, was like scratching. If you have fingernails, drag them along a table. Like that. It was slow, and every time I heard it, I froze up. It wasn’t as dramatic as anything like ghostly moaning or anything like that, but it still scared me so much I reverted back to childhood and stuck my head under the blanket.
During the day I worked at what could possibly be the most boring place on earth, a factory that stamped out cans. They didn’t even need workers, but I really didn’t care. It paid the bills, and getting to sit around until someone needed help fixing a machine wasn’t too bad. I sort of miss it. There was always something bad happening though; in retrospect, I feel as though it was following me. For instance, a man’s hand ended up being caught in the stamping machine under a sheet of aluminum. The crunch was sickening, it sounded like a dog chewing upon a bone. That same splintering sound.
Every night, I would retire from this slightly gory boredom to my apartment, back to my beloved computer. The cycle was always the same. Work, computer, scratching sound. I never really thought to ask anyone about it, I would usually forget about it by morning.
But one day I didn’t. I sat there in my folding chair at work, surrounded by the drab, bleak grey concrete walls, a long ignored cigarette that was gradually becoming one trembling tower of ashes in my grasp, trying to think of a way to discover whatever this thing was. Why wouldn’t I just follow it? Get my nerves together and find the continual source of fear for me. It made me cold just at the thought, but I knew I had to do it.
So that night, I turned off the computer as usual, but then took one extra step. I grabbed a flashlight. It would be faster than dashing across the room to my light switch. ‘It could even be mice,’ I thought to myself as I slipped into bed, wearing the hero’s garb of any sleepy man; a pair of boxers and socks. At least if I ran crying out of the building, a few people could get a laugh.
The clock slowly began to head towards three o’clock. My heart began to pound nervously. Like a sword I held the turned-off flashlight to my bare chest. The necklace around my neck felt strangely cold, even though I had at least three comforters on. Oh, the joys of a particularly cold winter. Closing my eyes, I heard the scratching. Slowly it got louder. My hand began to shake, but I kept my eyes shut. Why wasn’t I turning on the light? Why wasn’t I looking? Because there was a new sound. A tinkling, strange shaking, like a maraca full of metal instead of beans or beads.
A loud thunk against my door made me leap up. Turning on the flashlight, I managed to run to the light switch and flick it on as well. With an icy, trembling hand, I opened the door.
What I saw will never leave my mind. There was the source of my fear, the thing that had somehow invaded my home. An oddly small, waif-like creature, like a starving child with skin that was too pale. It was like a corpse dropped in water, for its skin was tinged with blue. Every vein was visible. Oh, how I wanted to gag at the sight. But it gets worse. Strategically placed in this demented creature’s flesh, long metal nails were embedded. Through the tips of its fingers and toes, sticking out of its neck and shoulders, down its chest and out of its eyes. They were everywhere. How loudly I screamed, I didn’t know. Would anyone hear it through the fog surrounding my house? Would I hear it? I couldn’t stop staring. The dried, cracking blood against that decaying flesh brought up my earlier meal, and a gushing hot river of vomit poured out of my mouth onto the ground.
I backed up as the creature took a step. Its lank hair was missing in chunks, and as it stepped closer, its feet dragged upon the floor, the nails in them making…a scratching sound. Why I had to keep my room in a state of continual chaos, I don’t know, but the mess was astounding. Of course I fell. Scrambling back, I stared in horror at the dead thing.
It didn’t move right, I realized. It didn’t just walk. Its motions were snappy and disjointed, and one foot dragged behind it while the other advanced towards me. In its hand, there was a heavy, rusted hammer, dripping with what I hope was water. It was slightly rust-colored. I couldn’t bear to see it, but in the other, there was a plastic grocery bag that sagged and poked out with the weight within it, like if someone hung a porcupine from a diaper. I felt the wall against my back. The creature moved forward; I was paralyzed with fear at the sight of it. It was so grotesque. In front of me, it stopped. I noticed the puncture marks upon its tiny calves where the nails were, and I felt a strange sense of pity.
The bag in its hand split a little, and the sight of what was within made me let out an audible, and most likely bile-scented groan. A nail jutted out. I cried out loudly as the thing pounced upon me, as I felt the first nail go into my eye, it was worse. Through the blood blocking my vision, I could see its tiny mouth pull back in a widely-toothed smile, the nails in its lips making them split and gush rotten black blood down onto me. I moaned in pain again as another nail entered my second eye. Blindly I swatted, but it was to no avail. Perhaps it would be over soon. Perhaps death would be better than being tormented by this rotten thing. But still, the nails entered. Still I cried out loudly, especially when I was dragged. I couldn’t see where, but damn, it hurt.
It’s gone now, the nailed child. I don’t know where it went, but I know somewhere, it will be coming out at three o’clock. And so will I.
I think you ought to check your clock, because it looks like this bag in my hand is about to split.
I’m so excited to see you.

--

Hazards in buying a used car by Tekkactus

A 1998 powder blue Ford Taurus isn’t anyone’s choice for a vehicle, but it was what I ended up choosing at the lot. It wasn’t a bad car; not too many miles, recently replaced tires, and it was cheap. My only real complaint is that the previous owner had seriously gone overboard with air fresheners; the whole interior reeked of vanilla and pine. The dealer, real nice guy, said he was cutting me a deal. Told me that they were having trouble moving this one off the lot, explained that no one seemed to be interested. I guess I’m less picky than average, because the car looked fine to me, so a check and a handshake later I was driving home. That’s when the strangeness started.
I hadn’t noticed it during the complimentary test drive I had been given, but there was a lump in the padding of the seat, right in the small of my back. It wasn’t enough to make driving uncomfortable, so I assumed the foam was coming loose under the fabric and let it go. The car was a decade old, after all. For about two weeks I drove the car like that, to and from work, picking up groceries and stuff like that. The lump was pushed to the back of my mind, and I had pretty much gotten used to it. Then it moved.
At first I thought I was imagining things; foam padding doesn’t squirm around, obviously, and it had just been the slightest feeling on my back that set me off. But no, as I kept driving it became clear that the seat had shifted, it definitely felt different against my spine. At this point I thought maybe this is what was wrong initially with the seat; that maybe the loose foam had shifted when I first got the car. Once I got home, I decided, I would examine it in more detail.
By the time I got into my driveway the lump was downright irritating, so I hopped out of my seat and began to probe the fabric with my fingers. Whatever was in there, I quickly noticed, it wasn’t foam padding. The consistency was thicker than foam, almost gelatinous, and there was hard pieces inside it that felt almost like stone. I couldn’t make it out at the time, but the shape of the thing was familiar, too. Confirming my suspicions, I also noted for the first time a long seam in the seat that someone had stitched up. The previous owner must have stuck something in there. I hopped back in to take the car to the dealer and complain. This is the sort of thing a salesman should tell you, you know? Maybe they just didn’t know about it; I hadn’t seen it at first, either.
I was about halfway to the dealership when the thing in the seat began writhing around. Not a shift like before, but actively crawling underneath the fabric. If you can imagine the feeling of something worming its way across your lower back, you can probably replicate my reaction. The number on the speedometer doubled.
I nearly ruined those recently replaced tires swerving into the dealership parking lot. It didn’t take long to find the man who had sold me the car, and even less time to grab him by the shirt sleeve and stammer out what had happened. He was surprised by my story but strangely receptive (more than I would be if some punk teenager started rambling about squirming car seats), and came back with me to the car, pulling out a pocket utility knife as we walked. As we cut the fabric of the seat open, the stench that spewed out almost literally knocked us back out of the car, but what we smelled didn’t make either of our stomachs turn nearly as bad as what we saw.
Inside the seat, under the fabric, we found a half-rotten human hand.
--

The Blood Mirror 

There is rumour of a great palace unfound deep in the deserts in Egypt. A massive complex of four-thousand rooms protects the single most prized possession of ancient Egypt. The Blood Mirror.
It is said every thousand years, a great hero of mankind must make his way down to this mirror, and stand before it in pick blackness at 19:06 June 6th (6/6 – at 6:66) and behold their own death. Their own image appears to slowly distort, screaming a horrible silent scream as their teeth and skin melt away leaving streams of blood to run down the mirror and pool at the bottom.
Gazing into this pool of blood on the other side of the mirror of their own blood will allow them to view the Antichrist’s birthplace, which they will then scream out in horrible screams of pain for an hour and six minutes, before their heart stops.
If the Antichrist isn’t stopped, all of mankind is doomed to an even worse fate.

It has been exactly 940 years from June 6th since this last happened, the next date is 2066, but the location has been lost. The hero will find this place, but we must be there to hear his screams, or we are lost…

06/06/2006
--
Scribblings in the Wall 

These bizarre instructions were found etched into the wall at the bottom of an old well, somewhere in rural Germany. They have been translated to the best of my abilities:
Somewhere in Europe, there is an empty field of grass. Amongst the long, unkempt grass is a wooden hatch in the ground. The hatch guards an old storm shelter, but this is not your destination. In order to gain access to the alternate opening, you must spill your own blood over the doors. You will awaken at the edge of field; the doors will now be made of rusted iron. You may now enter the hatch.
There will be a long, narrow shaft stretching deep into empty darkness. You must climb down a ladder fixed to the northern wall, keeping your eyes upward at the opening.
If you are to glance downward into the darkness, then return your gaze upward, you will find yourself ten rungs away from where you started. If you look any longer downward, the echoing sound of someone climbing up the ladder will reach your ears, and a rotten, weather-beaten version of yourself will pull at your legs until you fall.
After an undetermined amount of time climbing down; your feet will reach a floor. Keep facing upwards, if you look at your feet; there will be no floor. You must now choose your path.
LEFT
Reaching into the darkness to your left, you will feel a cold metal plate mounted on a concrete wall. Keep your hand on this plate, within the course of ten minutes it will rise to an excruciating heat and your hand will be burned. Do not remove your hand until the plate cools once again and lights click on. You may now turn around.
You will find yourself in a long corridor, there will be a door corresponding to each year of your life on both sides. At the opposite wall will be a door marked ‘PRESENT’. If you enter this door, you will find yourself ahead in your life to three minutes before your death. You must find the door marked with the year that you found most fortunate. Should you pick the wrong door, you will relive that year, but every space in which you did not stand will be torn away to reveal fire beneath. When the year finishes, you will be back at the door, as if you had not opened it.
If you are to pick the correct year, you will enter an enormous space of undetermined size. Darkness will surround all but a straight line through the room. The door behind you will cease to be there if you check behind you. You must follow the lit path through this area for one hundred minutes. Along the way you will regularly encounter loved ones, trapped in rusted metal torture devices. They will beg and scream for you to help them. You must ignore their pleas and keep moving. If you help even one of these people; the exit door will vanish and never reappear.
Should you reach the end of this area, there will be a scratched door with your name engraved upon it. Enter this door and you will awaken in the storm cellar, the original form of this place. You may now leave.
RIGHT
Reaching to the wall on your right will yield different results. You will feel a warm, moist wall of soft flesh. Keep feeling around until you feel a hole in the wall, plunge your hand into it. After thirty seconds, you will be bitten and blood removed from your wound. Keep your hand there until the pressure stops. Your eyes will suddenly adjust to light you never noticed before, you may turn around.
You will see a long corridor paved with pulsing skin, flesh and muscle. On both sides of this corridor, you should see torn openings that stretch inwards deeply. Cool air will gently flow from each opening rhythmically as if it is breathing. At the end of the hallway, you will see a door marked with your mother’s name, awkwardly incorporated into the wall of flesh.
Never enter this door.
You must look for the opening from which hot air is breathed. If you enter the wrong opening, the tunnel will never end and you cannot return.
Should you enter the correct opening; the tunnel will become gradually wider and more humid. There will be hands pushing through from both sides, stretching the wall trying to reach you. Keep away from them, and do not turn around. Every so often you will find an ideal sex partner, sitting in the centre of the tunnel. They will beg you to stay with them, ignore them. If you stay with them, they will devour you from the waist up.
After one hundred minutes in this place, you will reach a hole leading to a far narrower tunnel, enter this hole and crawl as fast as you can. The hands can now reach you and will caress you gently from behind the thin flesh. If you stop, they will drag you down.
As you progress the light will gradually fade and your heartbeat will become louder until it reaches an almost deafening volume. Open your eyes; you will be lying in the foetal position on the floor of the storm shelter. You may now leave.
If you chose the left path; you will receive complete financial security until you die, but your hand will throb painfully once a day.
If you chose the right path; you will be considered popular and charismatic by everyone you meet, but you will be plagued by nightmares of the tunnel.
If you attempt this ritual twice, you will never awaken from those nightmares.

-- 

The Abandoned Convenience Store 

Get on any passenger bus that travels a long distance; Greyhound is usually a good pick. Anything that’s on the road for longer than 24 hours. Get a window seat facing west, and then stare at the sun, waiting until sunset. Just before the sun touches the horizon, close your eyes. Hard. Do not turn away, don’t look at anything else. Cover your ears if you have to. After a while, you’ll notice that the bus has stopped moving. That’s the signal that you can open your eyes. When you do, you’ll see a gas station, illuminated only by a few flickering florescent lights. There will be no sun, no moon, and no stars in the sky. The convenience store will have its windows boarded up, but the sign will say ‘Open.’ If you feel you can’t go through with it, get back on the bus, return to your seat, and fall asleep. You’ll wake up at sunrise the next day, well on your way to wherever the bus was going. If you enter the store, the door will slam shut behind you. You will spend an unknown amount of time there, living out your worst nightmares made real. If you survive the ordeal without going mad, you will awake back on the bus, as it reaches its destination. Nothing will ever scare you again. Some say that after this ordeal, anything else simply pales in comparison. Others say that all that room contains is all the fear you will ever feel in your entire life and exposing yourself to it all at once keeps you from feeling any more. This, however, can only be done once. There are some exceptions to the ability, as well…

--
The Static 

If you are watching television, and the signal cuts out to static, turn the TV off immediately. If you watch the static on TV for long enough, the static will suddenly pause. All sound in the room will cease; even the white noise of the TV itself will disappear. If this happens you must not look away from the screen. You will probably not notice at the time, before you lose your gaze on the TV, your body will freeze as well. Time around and with you have paused completely. Specks of the black and white dots slowly come to life, creeping slowly in seemingly random directions. Not static as you know it, but organizing themselves into a moving picture again in front of you. As the static returns to normal, and the white noise of the TV comes back, you will regain control of your body. You must never watch that television again. It will only play static, even when unplugged. If you watch the static any longer, these same events will reoccur, but with disastrous results. What exactly happens is unknown, as it is obvious that anyone that has been unfortunate enough to experience this has disappeared. It is rumoured that if one continues to watch the static again, or during their experience, looks away, the white and black specs will slowly start to move again, but you will not. Your eyes will then be permanently fixated on the screen as you watch the picture come back to life, and what seems to be your station’s signal return. You learn soon this is not the case, as all sound is still absent, and the picture on the TV shows a familiar surrounding: the room in which you sit. The only thing you see next is movement on the TV, as you see yourself from behind, and subsequently, the cause of your disappearance.

--
The Post Office 

In the panhandle of Oklahoma, along the interstate, there is a lone brick building marked “Post Office No.56″, and is marked with tape at the door as “Closed”. The building has no doors, and looks like a small box of bricks from a distance. The door is always locked, and will never budge, no matter how hard you try.
Every July 7th, if you are positioned to the west of the building with the door opposite of where you stand, your nose will begin to bleed. If you drink some of the blood, one of your teeth will fall out.
Take the tooth and go to the door. The tape will no longer be there, and the building will have one small eye shaped window.
If you go to the window and place the tooth in it, the door will click open. Do not look in the window. Never look in the window.
When you open the door, a slow salty breeze will blow out, and the entire room will be pitch black. Enter the room and shut the door. You will wait 10 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on the last time you saw your parents.
After the time is up, a single shrill scream will sound. If you flinch, you will wake up in your bed, sweating. If you don’t flinch, close your eyes quickly and start running. You will run for about 4-7 minutes depending on how fast you are, and then you will hit a wall. Do not open your eyes.
The ground will feel warm, and your eyelids will see the colour red. Do not open your eyes. Just feel around until you find a ring on the floor. The ring will be cold as ice. Pull on the ring and a trapdoor will open. Enter the trapdoor.
After doing this, you will fall through the roof of an office tile in a building in downtown Tulsa, in a bathroom stall. In the toilet will be a wallet and a gold ring. Take the gold ring, do not touch the wallet.
--
Seven Year Weblog



(9/3/06 10:29 pm) Reply Internet Explorer 3



When using Internet Explorer 3 for Windows (Google around for a version that works on Windows XP), enter this in the address bar (do not copy-paste, you must input it with the keyboard): for-you://gratitude-and-remembrance



Wait ~ 40 seconds. You will feel strange. Don’t fight the feeling, or you will be jerked out of it, and you have only one chance to do this.



A weblog will appear. It will contain events that will happen for the seven next years of your life.



Add /admin/ to the address bar. Try to guess the password your future self would have chosen. There is always a way – discovering it is never out of your reach even if it’s a meaningless string of letters.



Once you have access to the admin, you can delete any post you want, and that event will never happen to you.



However, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES you are to edit a post. JUST DON’T.

You have only one hour to do it: after that the connection will be lost.
The Unmentionable Bargain 

There’s a small, inconspicuous building called “Padraic Willoughsby and Co.” in the industrial district of Birmingham, UK. Most of the time, its doors are locked and the windows are draped. However, on February 29th of every leap year, there will be a small plastic container outside the front door containing business cards. On the front of the card it says in large capital letters, “PADRAIC WILLOUGHSBY AND CO. ENGLAND’S THAUMATURGICAL SPECIALISTS”. On the back, in nearly illegibly small type it says “The blood of the innocent.”
Any night after midnight one can come to Paidraic Willoughsby and Co. and slide their card through the door, and the door will instantly unlock. Inside there is an empty room with white walls. No light reaches this room, except for a small sliver from the other end of the room. When you approach this room you will find that it is actually another door. When you knock on it, a voice will ask “What makes a man become exalted?” and you must respond with the phrase on the back of the card: “The blood of the innocent.” The door will open and you will come into another room, a kind of lounge. Inside it you will find around 5-10 people, depending on the night, sitting around smoking and drinking brandy, all in late Edwardian period dress. There is absolutely no conversation at all in this room and, it is nearly silent except for the phonograph which plays the exact same record over and over, ad infinitum. If you attempt to speak to one of the patrons, they will promptly ignore you and pretend as if you were not there.
Towards the south wing of the room you will find a large, round table, slightly different from the others. On it will be a quill pen and a document. The document shows all of your personal information: name, birth date, place of residence, criminal record, greatest fears, etc. At the bottom of the document is a long line that asks for your signature.
No one knows what happens if you sign it.
--
Deeper Darkness 

There is a moment each leap year, at exactly three minutes past three on the morning of February twenty-ninth. If you possess the courage, await that moment in darkened room, with no other present. At that moment, the darkness will deepen. If you were to hold your hand directly before your face, you would not see a thing. But you must not do so. No, for that would be to waste the moment. Instead you must reach out, into that impenetrable darkness.
And it will reach out to you.
An unseen hand will grasp yours. You must not flinch away, nor tighten your grasp. To do so will only slough away more of the decrepit flesh that covers it, and anger its unseen owner. Remain perfectly still, as the withered fingers move over your palm, tracing unknown patterns. Do not move an inch as it crawls slowly up your arm. And most of all do not even breathe as it caresses your face, touching what cannot be seen.
Should you remain still through this, the hand will be withdrawn and a voice will speak, so close you can feel its breath on your face, smell the scent of decay it carries. It will ask you for one simple piece of information: your name. Answer truthfully. Answer truthfully, and the presence will retreat, leaving only a whisper in the air as the darkness lifts. “It is done.”
From that day on, untold good fortune will be yours, and mysterious power. You will lack nothing, and have everything. But in a year, perhaps two, you will feel your skin begin to decay, and smell the sweet smell of death upon your breath…

--
The Well 

If you ever find yourself in LA’s Old China town, head into the square, past the statue of sun Yat-sen, past the hip, ultramodern toy store called “Munky King” and look for an import store next to what used to be a wishing fountain. Go into this store ad head all the way straight back, you’ll see a selection of weapons, Look for a weapon called a Jiujiebian, a sort of multi-sectioned whip. It MUST have exactly nine segments, no more, no less. This will be called the “chain of night” and as of now, there are 48 notches in its handle. It will cost you 29.95. Then after that, go outside and wait till dark, as the moon rises, take a quarter from your pocket and cast it at the wishing well. As it lands focus on that spot exactly and slowly chant under your breath: “by the circles of lao-tzu, the void inside of matter, I call forth the spirit that lingers here!” this phrase is best said in the original mandarin, but the spirit will understand a sincere supplicant regardless of language. A girl will step out of the bottom of the fountain, about nine years of age. She will ask you: “Where has my mother gone?” you must respond with: “She has long since gone from earth, but look to the sky, and see her there!”
This spirit is not that of a little girl, but of a bog-hag, cursed to obey this one command regardless of who says it. At this moment, you must attempt to strike the girl with your Newly Acquired Jiujiebian. She will then snarl and attempt to fight back. Should you win, all the money ever thrown into the fountain will await you. If you fail, all that the folks in Chinatown know is that a bloody Jiujiebian lies at the door of the import store with a new notch in its handle. To date, there are 48 notches in the handle. 
--
I’m Your Problem Now 

On any night with a crescent moon, open Winamp or any other music program you might have on your computer that has a shuffle program. Empty your mind and keep clicking the forward button. If you’re rather unlucky a song named “I’m your problem now.mp3″ will start playing. For the first minute it will be completely silent.
Close your eyes when the screams start and DO NOT OPEN THEM FOR ANY REASON. Horrible imagery will fill your mind, of corpses and unimaginable evil. This will happen as a full seven minutes of this song’s horrible symphony of screams and sounds continue.
If you make it through those torturous seven minutes, you will wake up on a bench in a deserted greyhound station. A faceless man at the other end of the station will offer you a cigarette. If you don’t accept it, your eyes will open and the song will be gone and no time will have past. If you choose to accept it, however, this man will divulge to you the secrets of life.
After you’re done smoking, take the ticket out of his pocket and board the bus coming into the station. You will awake back in your house, and exactly twelve minutes will have passed since you started listening. The problem is that anyone who’s survived the song goes insane from the information they’ve just learned.
Be warned, should you succeed; through any polished surface–be it mirror, wood, or window–your reflection will always be watching.

--
Moonlight Films 

In many stores and establishments that provide videos of a less than appropriate manner, there is a business card.

Some stores keep it well hidden, locked in a safe, and will deny its existence. Others will show you if you ask for it by name. None will have it displayed in the open.

On this card is a name, Moonlight Films and a contact number. It’s always a local number.

Go to any payphone in any city and dial the number. The answer will be prompt but all you will hear is silence. Wait for thirty seconds. Then you will be served.

A dry, monotone male voice will ask you one question; “Is the road from life to death dark?”

If you answer with anything but the correct reply, he will hang up on you. If you fail the first time, I’d suggest not trying again.

The correct response is “It is moonlit.”

If his question is answered properly, the man will say one address in your city and then hang up.

Go to this address and you will find that it is a small, dingy apartment. The carpet will be dirty, the wallpaper flaking and wrinkled, the windows cracked. It will smell of tobacco smoke and decay. On the stained old coffee table there will be a paper bag. On this bag your full name will be printed in red sharpie.

Open the bag and you will find an unlabeled video tape. Take it and place exactly $10.99 in the bag then leave.

You can watch the tape if you like, but you don’t have to. I warn you, it’s not pleasant. You will see a room or chamber papered in desiccated skin, the furniture will be crafted from flesh and bone. But all of it will be alive. The tape will last approximately 32 minutes and will depict the murder of a person and the subsequent crafting of their body into another animated furnishing.

You have rented the tape for one week. You must return it to the apartment by sliding it through the mail slot when the time is up. After that, never return to the apartment, never return to the store you received the contact number from, and DEFINITELY don’t call the number ever again.

I’d also suggest you not keep the tape more than a week. The owners will not be satisfied with a mere late fee, and a good home can never have enough accessories.

--
The Houseboat 

In a private terminal at the Port of Boston there is a houseboat. This houseboat has been anchored there, permanently, for at least 50 years. The eccentric owner has maintained all fees and taxes and is in good standing with the Port Authority.
Still, even if the owner wasn’t financially responsible, no one would ask them to depart. Despite the owner’s friendly, hospitable, if odd nature, there is a persistent air of unease around the boat and the area of the Port surrounding.
Very few people have taken the owner up on offers of hospitality, but those who do recount a wholly unbelievable tale: When you step into the houseboat, it’s as if you’re sent backwards 50 years in time. Looking out windows depicts a cityscape of antiquity and the television receives live broadcasts of programs of the era (including news programs). If you look out the open door, you see the city as it stands today. When the door closes, you can see the 50 year old skyline through the port opening.
Some visitors who spend time with the owner notice something particularly disturbing: an almost uncanny resemblance to their host, despite obvious age differences. Though this is odd, the owner is friendly and trustworthy (ignoring the air of unease most feel), so it isn’t surprising if casual friendships build between a guest and the proprietor.
All this would, of course, be very strange and worthy of note, but dismissed as some form of elaborate hoax or illusion, if it weren’t for one additional detail. Whenever someone elects to spend the night in this houseboat after an evening of conversation and a few drinks, they are never heard from again.
When the guest awakens in the morning, the owner is nowhere to be found and suddenly, the city skyline never changes back to its contemporary appearance when exiting the boat. Under the bed there is a briefcase full of $100 bills with a letter stapled to a list.
The letter simply reads, “You have 50 years to follow these instructions if you wish to free yourself from this hell. The clock is ticking. Get to work.”
--
The Classified Ad



Every year, for an unknown number of years, an ad is published in the New York Times Classifieds section. The advertisement is short and lists a seemingly mundane household appliance: a refrigerator, a vacuum, a piece of furniture. A select number of people in the U.S., and indeed the world, search for this advertisement, which contains three keywords seemingly unusual for a simple ad. Once found, these people wait exactly one week for a second ad in the NY Times, also ostensibly a normal–if strangely worded–ad, but combined with the first, provide both a code key and message.



The code, when completed, is a series of numbers, which correspond to the Washington, D.C. Yellow Pages, and page number, column, letter number, etc., and this in turn creates a text message. The text of the message is vague, but contains the following information: soon, a gathering will be held in Washington, D.C. The searchers are instructed to bring a fellow guest to accompany him/her to the gathering. The destination is a very old hotel in Georgetown, an establishment dating back to the time of the founding fathers.



Sometimes searchers are instructed to bring a scientist, such as a physicist or biologist. Other years the instructions are to bring along an engineer or a doctor; the requested person is always a professional of some kind.



The seekers and their guests are admitted to the restaurant on the appointed night only after giving a password, also in the message, to the masked maître waiting at the entrance. What follows after that is unclear and there are conflicting accounts. The general consensus is that the seekers are rewarded for solving the puzzle, and are made wealthy for the rest of their lives, provided they remain silent about what they discovered. The fate of the professionals is unknown.

--
Her Protection 


In every major town and city, there is a house of which no official record exists, and whose windows have been boarded up for longer than anyone around can remember. The previous occupants, if there ever were any, are untraceable, and no organization or individual will ever lay claim to the plot on which it stands.

Nevertheless, when you break in–always through a back, ground-floor window; you must never touch the outer doors–you will see amongst the dust the signs of inhabitants long gone. A flattened cardboard box, an overturned child’s cot, balding patches on the carpet where the pile has been worn away. Invariably there will be an orphaned double mattress in the master bedroom. What you will not see, however, are rats and cockroaches, or animal waste. Vermin know better than to come here.

These are Her sacred spaces.

The first time you visit, bring only what you need to help you enter the house. Then locate the master bedroom, stand in the centre, and draw an unbroken circle in the dust around your feet. Make it about a metre in diameter to be safe.

Face the doorway and say aloud; “I wish to make a sacrifice. Will you welcome the offering?”

Then leave as quickly as possible. You must not return until night has next fallen.

This time, bring nails, a hammer, an empty litre bottle, a sharp, sturdy knife, and a torch. Enter the same way you did last time. Remember the mattress in the master bedroom? Someone will be sleeping there. Don’t worry about waking them up; She has taken care of that for you. Turn the sleeper over onto their back and cut their jugular vein, making sure to collect as much blood as you can.

You will need to pour a little of the blood onto the floor of every room, including this one, but make sure you have some left at the end. When you’ve finished, leave by the same way you entered and close up the boards again. (This is what the hammer and nails are for.) Walk home. Speak to nobody on your way. When you get there, tip some of the remaining blood into your right hand and smear it over your door handle before you enter. Then go to bed.

If there is any blood left, you must pour the rest of it onto any pavement in the city, but do not allow it to be poured down a drain. The knife you must never use again, and should bury. Do not trouble yourself with covering your tracks. When you next leave your house, the blood on your door will be gone, and the murder you have committed will have no repercussions. From the moment you leave Her temple, DNA evidence will never again implicate you; law enforcement will creep around your footsteps without touching them. On cameras, your face will show up a blur.

You are under Her protection now.

Just make sure you get the right house.

--
The Smooth Black Stone



At the edge of the Pacific Ocean, on some abandoned beach in the tropics, there is a large, smooth rock that sits just beyond the reach of the highest tides. It is not cracked or marked in any way, and the smooth black stone reflects even the faintest of light. It’s curved and formed in just such a way that if you are very careful, you can climb on top of it from the side, and stand on a flat area at the top.



If you stand on the rock when the moon is full and shining, and the water is at its highest point, you can see something in the sea below you. A faint shimmer of light, a flash of something you can’t quite identify. It gets brighter, easier to see as you kneel down and lean closer, over the edge of the rock.



Once you are leaning out further than would probably be safe, your left leg will slip on the slippery stone, and you will fall forward into the light. There is no splash, no sound; you simply disappear into the ocean.


No one knows what happens after you disappear. But there are some who claim to have fallen off the same rock, what seems like a lifetime ago. According to the earthly calendar, they were gone for one day, then washed up on another beach, sometimes half a world away. But their eyes are hardened, and they rarely speak anymore, only occasionally muttering of fiery paths and gibbering demons.

The Socratic Method



A secret society meets once every three years at a small diner in West Virginia. To join, you must come to the American Grill diner located in Cricket at 9:30 PM on September the twenty-first. The only uniform is a heavy overcoat and a green tie. Order an “Eggs and bacon platter with coffee.” The waiter will tell you that the breakfast menu is unavailable, reply, “Well, just the coffee then.” You’ll be allowed to stay after closing time for the meet. The meeting itself is a meeting of minds and philosophy regarding immortality. The society is called “The Socratic Method.” They hoist their mugs at the beginning and end of the meeting and say “Death to Socrates.” It’s rumoured a little hemlock is added to the first cup, and an antidote to the last.



Gai Kao



There are times in one’s life where one feels unsafe. Insecurity permeates their being, and despite their best efforts they cannot quell the fear that builds within them. They seek some form of solace; a refuge against the tumultuous and unpredictable storms that seek to overwhelm them. Some weather the storm stoically, holding to some deep-rooted faith, divine or otherwise, that this moment will pass. Others lose what vestiges of their sanity remain, their paranoia evolving into madness…a thunder of sorts to match the lightning of this overpowering gale. But there is a third option, one known to only a few. The Taiwanese call it the Ritual of Gai Kao.



To engage in this age-old rite, you must first be riding the waves of sadness driven before this chaotic storm. When you feel you are at your most desperate, seek out a place that is often frequented by many people at once. The patio of a coffee shop, a bowling alley, an RV park…any place where the traffic of humanity has left the residue of souls. These are places of great power, and will aid greatly in your efforts. It is also easier to do just prior to 8:24 PM on October the 26th, as that is when the Kao is at his greatest strength.



Once there, sit calmly and engage in a mundane activity. Reading the newspaper, stirring your coffee, something like this. Do NOT speak to anyone, or your efforts will be in vain. You must be in a meditative state, engaging in only such mindless activities so that your mind can focus on the worry at hand.



Soon you will become keenly aware that the sounds of the world have dulled. The crappy coffee shop music is gone, the sound of crashing pins has faded, the engines of vehicles lost in the void. At this point you MUST look down. This symbolizes the approach of Gai Kao, the spirit of security, and to not show your reverence by averting your gaze will result in the most dire of consequences. From this point on you must do EXACTLY what I say. Do not deviate; I will tell you what will happen later if you do.



After a few moments, you’ll hear a heavily-accented voice bid you to raise your eyes. When you do, you will be looking straight into yellow, slitted reptilian eyes. Everyone else who was in the room will be gone; you will be the only one who can see this creature. Do NOT gasp in fear, and do NOT speak. The creature will have a yellowish-green, scaly hide and speak around a gross, oversized tongue in its mouth.



The creature will engage you in a few lines of small talk. Do not speak unless you are answering a question. If he deems you worthy, he will then tell you the remedy to all of your current problems. He will know you as well as you know yourself, though whether he is reading your thoughts or not are unclear. Feel free to ask clarifying questions during this time, but always begin your statement with “Great Kao”. NEVER, EVER thank him for his answers, or he will depart.



After he has addressed your every worry, he will begin to speak of non-sequitur events once more. This is important: DO NOT LISTEN. He will talk of things that interest you, offer to discuss real-life events, anything to get your attention. Instead, avert your eyes as before and wait for the noise of the room to return. Once this occurs, you may look up to find the room just as it was and no time will have passed. You may then go forth, and feel comforted.



But be warned! Should you in ANY way deviate from this process, and the Kao will put upon you a curse. This is a curse of degeneration; you will slowly regress the evolutionary path. You will sprout hair from your knuckles and brow. Your teeth will go awry as your jaw reforms and your forehead takes a Neanderthal-like appearance. This is an insult from the Kao; a cut at your humanity and an insult to your intelligence.



If done correctly, your every care will be comforted and you will once again feel joy. However, from that day on you will feel the Kao’s presence upon you. He will observe you to note your contentment. You will never shake his gaze. The gaze of those large eyes. It will always feel like somebody’s watching you…and you get no privacy…
--------
The Decaying Mall by Royal-Sovereign

There is a dead mall somewhere in Virginia that is in an advanced state of decay. For one reason or another, the mall still stands — there have been several plans, some of them quite elaborate, to revitalise the area, many of them calling for the original building’s demolition…but none of them have ever come to pass.

It is quite a shame, a sorry thing to look at today. In its heyday in the 1970′s and early 80′s, the mall was jam-packed, the place to be on the weekends, especially Saturday nights. It was upscale, fashionable, and always a happy place to go.

Years went by, and bigger, better malls opened around the city. The mall slowly started losing tenants, until today it is completely empty. If you go in it nowadays, you will be astounded by the vast emptiness — every step you make and every word you speak will echo loudly. Where once scores of people did their shopping, met for lunch, and got together, there is now only eerie silence. Over the years, the happy, upbeat feeling of the place has darkened, more and more, until now many people avoid it — but can never tell you exactly why.

The story would end here, were it not for a very curious rumour: it is said on certain Saturday nights throughout the year, something very strange happens. If you go to one of the entrances of this mall, it will be unlocked. Push open the door, and it will give way — and you may enter.

Near a bench right in the entrance will be a shadowy figure — casting a shadow that obscures than the darkness around it. This shadowy figure can be spoken to — call out to it: “I know your secret, and the secrets you keep.” Where once there was shadow, there will appear a face — a radiantly pale, withered old man’s face, with black holes for eye-sockets.

“No,” he will respond in a voice that will be like the slithering of maggots, “for I know yours.”

He will then ask a question — the question will be about your life, or rather a detail about your life, something that happened many years ago. The question he poses will be one you should know the answer to — but so obscure, it will be difficult to answer at first, if you can answer it at all.

You will be forced to answer — you simply won’t be able to respond with “I don’t know”.

If you get the answer right, the shadowy man will thrust a box into your hands, before dissolving back into the darkness. Open the box, and there will be a note, on which will be written the name of the person you were meant to marry or fall in love with. Only rarely is it the person you think it will be.

If you get the answer wrong, your body will be found the morning of the following Sunday, at the entrance to the mall you came in, mutilated and eviscerated so badly no one will be able to identify the body.
--
Don’t Let the Cold Man In by smilingjacks


I had a dream last night. It was the kind that seems real right up to the point where you wake up.

Some things were strange about it…certain things were really strange about it, but it never occurred to me that it might not actually be happening. I’m still not prepared to say that it didn’t happen. I’m not spiritual and I don’t really understand stuff like that. I just feel like I’ve been somewhere and now I’m back, and I know something really happened when I woke up…and I think while I was asleep too.

I went to bed last night with a strange feeling. We all remember times when we felt like we were being watched, but this was more than that. I felt like there was someone there with me, but still I couldn’t keep from falling asleep.

I don’t exactly remember the beginning of the dream. The first thing I remember was starting at my house and walking. I was just walking down the road. All of my neighbors’ houses were gone. I was just on a long, empty road and there was no one around but me. I don’t remember what I had been doing at my house before, but I may have been there a while before I started walking. I just recall feeling a strong urge to walk.

I felt okay walking down that road. It was cold and dark and I felt a little lost, but I wasn’t afraid–not like I had been in my room.

I don’t know how long I was on that road. It felt like a long time. I mean like days long, but I never felt tired and I just wanted to keep walking.

The road changed after a while. It had been straight and nondescript the whole time, but eventually I reached a bend and then a fork in the road. When I reached the fork, I wasn’t alone anymore. A familiar voice called out to me from the side of the road.

“It’s good to see you,” the voice whispered. “I’m just sorry to see you here.”

I turned to face the voice, knowing who I would see. It was an old friend from my childhood–someone I haven’t seen in years. He looked just a little different from how I remembered him, but not by much. He was older than when I saw him last, obviously, but he seemed at least a few years younger than me somehow–even though we’re supposed to be the same age. He was also very pale. Unbelievably white, in fact, and he had deep circles around his eyes that were solid blue, as were his lips.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I’m here to warn you,” he replied.

Naturally, I was all ears.

“There’s a man in your house right now,” he explained.

“What do you mean there’s someone in my house? I was just there…I think.”

I didn’t actually know how long ago I had been there. I wasn’t sure how long I had been walking.

“You don’t understand,” my friend stammered with apparent urgency. “He’s really in your house right now.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was curious.

“Who is he?” I asked him.

“He’s the Cold Man. He comes to people at night when they’re afraid.”

The Cold Man? I’d never heard of anyone like that before. I wanted to know more, so I asked,”What does he do?”

“He waits to be noticed, then he makes his move. You know that chill you feel on your back when something really scares you? That’s not just nerves. That’s him standing behind you.”

“What for?” I wondered. “What does he do once you notice him?”

My friend looked down and away. He wouldn’t answer that question.

“Just don’t let him in,” he cautioned.

“What do you mean?”

“He can be close forever,” my friend explained. “He’ll walk around your house at night and even stand in your room while you’re asleep…like he is in yours right now. He can know where you are. He can even be looking right at you, but he won’t find you unless you let him.”

“How does he find you? I mean, how do you ‘let him?’”

My friend looked to either side of the road like he was worried that someone might overhear. He leaned in very close and whispered,”If you see him, if you hear him, or if you ever start to feel suddenly very cold…don’t move. Don’t talk to him. Don’t acknowledge him. Don’t ever let him in.”

“I don’t understand,” I admitted. “How do I get rid of him?”

“You can’t,” my friend replied in a small, shuttering voice. “Look, I’m out of time.”

“‘Out of time?’” I repeated, not sure what he meant exactly.

My friend shook his head. His eyes were wide and he was shivering. Off in the distance I noticed a dark figure creeping up behind him, but something kept me from speaking.

“My time is up,” he stammered. “Just whatever you do, don’t let him in, and whatever you do…don’t answer it.”

Something pulled my friend into the darkness and suddenly I couldn’t see him anymore. Before I could follow after him though, I was startled awake by a loud noise. I was sitting in my room, fully dressed with my shoes on. I could swear I wasn’t dressed when I went to bed. My shoes and legs were covered in dust, my feet were sore, and I could hear a ringing noise right next to me. In the confusion of waking up from such a vivid dream, I didn’t immediately recognize it. I felt so cold.

Then, I looked down and saw my phone. That was the source of the ringing. Remembering my friend’s words, I didn’t answer it. Eventually, it stopped ringing.

The room was cold as ice. The feeling that I was being watched was as strong as it had been when I had fallen asleep. I could hear something moving inside my closet, but I dared not move. I just closed my eyes and waited. Eventually, I heard footsteps walking away, still from inside the closet. It was as if they were walking down some unseen hallway, though my closet is small and I couldn’t see anything unusual in there.

When the footsteps got far enough away, the cold lifted.

He didn’t get in this time. If my dream was true–if the thing in my closet was who I think it was–I must never let him in. I think he’ll be back tonight though. That’s when he’s supposed to come, as my friend told me.

I don’t know what happened to my friend, but I just hope people will remember his warning. If you start to feel cold while reading this, don’t be alarmed. If you hear something in your house, just ignore it. You can’t afford to let him find you. Don’t let the Cold Man in.



The Smiling Man in Black



When I was younger, I lived with my father and his mother. I was the only child, a girl at that, and my father was very protective of me. My grandmother, on the other hand, hated me. At first, she would just yell at me and shove me around when dad was at work. It escalated, quickly after he started working longer house to make ends meet. I rarely saw my father at that point. For 4 years, she did things I can’t even bring myself to really think about, not enough to write it. For those 4 years, I prayed and prayed for release. I prayed and wished for her to die. To God, to whoever would listen. My dad probably would have believed me if I’d had a chance to talk to him, but she’d made me feel as though I were an abomination over the years that, I couldn’t bear it anymore. After she killed my kitten and made me bury it, at the age of 13, I attempted suicide by hanging myself inside my closet.



Apparently, I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing and the bar in the closet that I tied myself to fell on my head and knocked me the fuck out. I pulled myself up and headed to sneak into the bathroom without the monster cunt to catch me and give me another beating. As I left my bedroom, I caught a whiff of something very fucking rancid, like vomit, burning flesh, and blood, mixed together, warm. I knew all of these smells fairly well, considering what my grandmother did to me, and I thought for a moment it might have been my imagination, or her making something disgusting for me to eat to torture me more. While I recognized the separate smells in a way, I’d never smelled something like this.



As I got closer and closer to the stairs overlooking the living room, which was right across from the bathroom, I started to hear something. Faintly, I remember hearing it a few feet back, but suddenly it seemed so much louder. My head was pounding, my heart was pounding, and all I could hear was gurgle, smack smack, squish squish, RIIIIIIIIIP. The mere idea of peeking over the stairs and into the living room was suddenly so profoundly frightening that I almost just went back into my bedroom, but strangely enough, it was amazingly easy to just do it anyway.



What I saw in the living room will never leave me for as long as I live, in more than one sense.

My grandmother was lying on the ground. There was someone wearing black kneeling over her. They were both covered in blood. The person’s head was moving rhythmically over its hands, which held what I realized was some organ in her body. The person didn’t look up, and I was scared silent.



There was so much blood. So, so much blood.



The sound of gnawing, the smacking mouth, the snapping of her organs at they were ripped from my grandmother’s body (what was left of it), the brutally grotesque sight of her chest cavity having been torn open, of her body being consumed little by little filled me with terror I had never known before. I didn’t know what to do. It ate her body, slowly, seeming to enjoy every bite it took, its body swaying and moving so unnaturally that I couldn’t even think it was human.



I couldn’t stop watching; I couldn’t run away, the sheer terror of it choked the scream I would have let out. It stopped, I stopped. It looked up at me after what seemed an eternity, releasing the contents of its mouth. Gory pieces and blood, some brown at that point, covered most of its face. What I could see of the face, it seemed to be male, very pale in patches. Where eyes were supposed to be were black pits, pits that seemed to dilate, expand and retract. He had no lips, but his mouth twitched, like some kind of hologram going in and out, slowly smiling, the smile expanding beyond normal human ability. I vomited and fainted.



I woke up; my father was home and worrying over me. My grandmother’s body was gone along with all of the blood. “Where’s grandma? Where is she?” I kept asking him, until I had to stop, from the look in his eyes. He told me her heart was bad, and she was “in heaven now”. I couldn’t believe it. That was impossible, right? Did I imagine that whole thing?



At her funeral, on the way to her burial site, I saw the man again. He looked more human, but I knew it was him. I remembered that smile. That day, I smiled back.



I still have dreams about that man; sometimes I think I see him in public. Even when I don’t see him, I can feel him there. He’s always there, watching me.
---

Bottle by mngamojemo


My damnation came in the form of a bottle.

No, not like that.

When I was a child my best friend lived next to a little junkyard. Great place for a kid to hang out, a junkyard. Full of mystery and exciting discoveries, and if you find anything nice nobody minds if you take it, except your parents, obviously. Well, not my friend’s mom. Most of their bowls and plates came from that junkyard. But anyway.

One day a bunch of us were hanging out, dismantling a car. Some of us might have been interested in the parts, I just thought breaking stuff was great. When we’d got the engine strewn everywhere we set to work on the interior. Under one of the seats was a little glass bottle, full of some green, bubbly liquid.

Curiosity trumped hygiene in those days. I uncorked it and sniffed it. The smell was pleasant, minty, a little floral. One kid, Jackie, dared me to drink it. It was a double-dog dare. I had to.

The taste was also pleasant, and it warmed me on the way down. My body was filled with a strange, pleasant tingling. Nothing else happened, not until that night.

First effect, I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t needed sleep since. It’s all right. I get a lot done.

Second effect, a month later. I started to cough things up. I was playing alone in the woods and I hacked up blood. Then there were chunks in the blood. Then I was puking. The entirety of my coiled long intestine came snaking up as I sat there quivering, tears on my cheeks, struggling to breathe, literally puking my guts up. My mouth seemed to unhinge like a snake’s to accommodate my lungs. My heart was on my sleeve. The bloodstain would never have come out if I hadn’t abandoned the clothes I was wearing. The police searched frantically for a missing person, but never found a thing.

I wasn’t empty when I finished, though. New organs built up inside me. I could feel them, I could see them when I closed my eyes, nameless lumps and spirals springing out of nothing.

Third effect. Two months later. I began to crave the water. I can’t possibly describe the feeling of thirsty skin, but it was a desperate thirst. I left my parents’ house one night and walked and walked until I came to a swamp. I moved in. The murky, bug-filled waters feel like home now, as they did all those years ago. I sit under the water, watching the fish and salamanders get eaten by herons, looking at the surface waiting for my prey.



I’m sure you know what the fourth effect was. I’m typing this on the cell-phone of my latest victim. She was delicious. She smelled like fresh melons.
--

The Man at the Crossroads



There is a certain road near the Everglades in Florida, which, if you drive down it alone in the rain, day or night, you will suddenly have a very real feeling of being completely lost. Your radio will turn to static, your CDs will skip, and your tapes will play slower than normal. If you try to find a map in your car, it will have mysteriously vanished. If you continue forward down the road for more than a minute, you will find that you can’t turn around, and everything behind you is pitch dark. There are no other roads and no other cars. Continuing down the road, you will come upon a fork with no signposts. In the middle of the fork, there will be a man, covered head to foot in various pieces of clothing. The only skin visible will be around his eyes, which will be bright green. You must get out of your car, but do not turn it off or close the door after you. You must approach the man, but stop at least three feet away. You must stand there silently, waiting for him to speak first. If you break the silence first, you will find yourself back on a main road, but you will die within 24 hours. If he speaks first, he will ask you what you require. Tell him that you need to know which road will take you to your destination. He will then ask you what you will offer him in exchange for his assistance.



If you offer him a ride, he and your car will disappear, and you will become the new guardian of the crossroad. If you offer him an umbrella, he will take it and stab you through the chest. If you offer him your love, he will take your heart still beating from your chest and eat it, condemning you to walk the earth without a heart, insane from the pain and loss. You must offer him your loyalty and kneel before him. If you do this, he will close his eyes and bow in return, extending a hand to whichever path will lead you back to safety. If you try to run from him, you will be dead before you reach your car, and your body will be found back in your car in some random location.
--
A Painted Christmas



Patrick Finn arrived home from his Christmas conquests, beating out the snowstorm by mere miles, mere minutes. He felt not only the foreboding presence of a hazardous blizzard, but also that of something else. Something darker. It felt as if it resonated not only within his soul, but also within the souls of those around him, within the very ground itself. Patrick had never bothered to check, but he was sure that beneath the grass and soil of Winter Harbor, Maine, therein hungered a gaping mouth or a chasm yearning for the flesh of the innocent, and anchored to the physical world only by a desire to seem normal. It had not yet been appeased because the residents of Winter Harbor were all but innocent.



Patrick had moved to Winter Harbor hoping to escape the despondency and despair he had felt in his hometown, Belmont, Maine. So far these feelings had only amplified, magnified, by both the wintry death that he felt tiptoeing in the town’s midst and the lingering scent of paint that seemed to permeate every building in the city. It was as if the town was constantly being repainted in some sort of halfhearted attempt to cover something up. Still, he felt it necessary to stay, so as not to make matters worse for his wife, whom he barely saw anymore, and his son, who always seemed so distant. He and his wife were going through a rife time in their marriage and their son was feeling its effects. It was akin to what one may feel after a tumultuous earthquake. Patrick felt that he had to make it up to his son, so he went out and bought him the most expensive and extravagant thing he could his hands on this late in the shopping season, a brand new video game system. He had assured his son that, even though he had acted out often this year, Santa would bring him something good. Throughout these charades, Patrick felt empty at the prospect of shipping for a boy that he knew nothing about, a boy whose existence was forgotten every so often.



On the Eve of Christmas, Patrick arrived home before the snowstorm and quickly crept into the garage to wrap the present and place it under the tree. It was in this garage that he often felt abrupt changes, as if within its small space, it contained secrets beyond human comprehension. The musky smell of the old holiday decorations coupled with the omnipresent scent of fresh paint, varnish, and gasoline all seemed to meld into one personified force, whispering sweet nothings to Patrick as he exited his car. This caused him to shudder heavily, as if beset by a fit of delirium tremens. He shrugged off the dull headache and dry mouth before quickly and sloppily wrapping the gift. Following this, he slipped it under the tree and began to creep upstairs. He couldn’t help but grimace at the thought that he was as far from Santa as humanly possible.



As he reached the top of the landing, Patrick glanced over at the clock. It read 11:49. He stood there, as if to wait for some fleeting childhood feeling that may accompany the arrival of Christmas. It did not come, as he soon found. Nor did cheery music, nor the scent of evergreens and cookies. Just deafening silence and that damnable scent of paint. It was everywhere, he couldn’t escape it. The arrival of yet another disappointing Christmas struck Patrick like a blow to the face. He fell to his knees then subsequently onto his stomach. He couldn’t tell if he had passed out or not.



Suddenly, a loud sound in his son’s room jarred Patrick awake. He quickly got up and stumbled into the room. The popping sound he had heard made him wonder what made it, and when he finally found out, he was confused even further. A large, black humanoid, adorned with goat horns and a tongue that writhed like a snake, stood before him, clutching his son. Patrick stood dumbfounded, seemingly incapable of recognizing not only the creature, but anything else before him.



“What do you want?” Patrick asked. Innately, he knew that the creature wanted something.



The creature smiled, licking his lips.



“Thine tender fruit, not spoiled by the worms of new but by the tree that bore it… ripened not into ambrosia but a rotten, hollow core…”



Patrick stared at the creature. Sweat began to collection on his brow. He felt as if his brain itself had been lit afire. He couldn’t breathe.



“I… I can’t say I understand…” Patrick stammered out.



The creature smiled again.



“Not by love of a dying star can a planet be adorned, but by the eruption of its most sacred peaks? I desire the treasures from which you hope to find salvation. The gift to your boy. It is a gift for me, now.”



Patrick couldn’t understand why the creature would want the game system, but he felt it necessary to give it up. He quickly bolted downstairs, grabbing the box and, clutching it tight, he sprinted back up to his son’s room. The creature, upon his arrival, thrust Patrick’s son to the floor and held out one long, beckoning hand. As Patrick handed over the present, he couldn’t help but feel as if he were Faust himself, exchanging an eternity for one single moment of gratification. The creature licked his lips once more and disappeared in the time it took Patrick to blink.



When he was sure he as alone, Patrick fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around his son. He expected a “thank you,” an “I love you,” something. He heard nothing. He looked down. He found that his son was withering away, becoming the very shadows that inhabited the night around him. Patrick knew at that moment that he was entirely alone, swallowed finally by the chasm beneath his feet. He stumbled to the garage before sitting down, embracing his solitude and his communion with the musky smell of paint that seemed to beckon invitingly.
--
High Frequency by Chris Phoenix

The most amazing and the most horrible thing just happened to me. I’ve stumbled upon a discovery of a lifetime, but at the same time I wish I could undiscover it.

I was actually just tampering around with some music programs creating ambience tracks. You see, ever since I was 12 or so I’d play music when I went to sleep…it kind of helped to calm my nerves like a lullaby, however much you could consider music by The Verve, or Everclear “lullabies.” Well in recent years I’ve really gotten big into ambient music, as it helps me clear my mind, focus my creative energies, like a meditation. No, I’m not a Buddhist, I don’t see it as a spiritual thing and I don’t try to focus my “chi” I just like to clear my head sometimes and I think ambience helps.

Well lately I’ve been making my own ambience and I’m quite satisfied with it, but I found different types bring different images, especially to the subconscious, sleeping brain. I hypothesized it had something to do with the pitch, and the frequency. I made a number of different tracks, all of them very long, and each one at a different frequency. I found that the lower frequencies tap into my darker thoughts so I tried dealing with higher frequencies and my next few nights sleeping my dreams were a confused jumble of images.

I tried higher frequencies but they just gave me a headache the louder it got until I went to the threshold, just below twenty thousand hertz. It started out there, as a low hum in the back of my brain, and slowly crept higher. Half the track was all but inaudible, but I was satisfied with it. That evening I threw it on as I went to bed.

I awoke staring at the stars. At first I thought I was dreaming that I was lying in an open field stargazing, but I could feel the bed beneath me, bedsprings creaking as I moved. I sat up on the edge of the bed and looked around the room…and though I could see the floor, and the walls, I could also see through them to the ground beneath. I could see the neighbor’s houses, and at the same time I could see through them. I could still hear the ambience, just slightly, but I could also hear the heater moaning overhead. The sound kept growing louder, like wind through a tunnel.

I didn’t remember putting the track on loop but it was still playing despite the fact that it seemed to be dawn. I watched as light spilled across the sky, staining it blood red with unnerving rapidness. With the light came shadows, stretching out from the bases of trees and growing out of bushes. Out of those shadows poured living blankets of crawling and squirming insects, the black pool of vermin spread and slowly flooded the yard as I watched. As the rippling pools expanded I could see what looked like limbs moving under their depths, the flailing arms of a drowning victim lost in a sea of roaches and centipedes…crickets and spiders.

I watched these pools expand to the edges of the house and then they began to filter inside. I watched them pour into cracks under the doors and through the edges of slightly cracked windows. They filled the walls and filtered through the ceiling. I could see the shapes inside the growing sea of bugs more clearly then, as they splashed up, gasping for air. Constructed of bugs but flailing to get free of the bugs all at the same time, their hands reached out to me as their dark, empty eyes begged my assistance. I wrapped my blanket tighter around me, knowing any minute they’d be on the bed with me. Their chirping and rustling and squeaking and buzzing noises filled my head, and I could not escape it even with hands over both ears. Then I heard the voices, singing softly like sirens on a distant shore. Their words had significant meaning I knew, but the language was ancient, melodic but utterly unhuman in nature. It grew louder but remained just as distant, and it cut through the constant buzz of the bugs like a warm knife through butter.

Then it was a symphony…and I understood those voices weren’t singing to me…no, they were singing to one another. I was merely listening in. Every so often one voice would end in an agonized shriek that would startle the others to silence…then the rest would carry on only seconds later. I looked up at the blood-red sky, covering my ears with my hands and I screamed in an attempt to drown out the noise. It only got louder…no, closer. They were closing in on me, climbing up the wall to the ceiling, blotting out the sky. I could feel the tiny legs crawling over me, up my torso and my neck, into my ears and gaping mouth, and as they crawled down my throat I coughed. I woke up coughing, and almost fell out of the bed.

It was all a dream, I realized. Thank god, it was all a dream. I went and I checked the track I had playing…it had ended. The soft hum of the heater turned off, and once again I could hear the crickets outside. Not just the crickets, but all the crawling creatures as they rustled and chirped and wriggled. And the voices…they were there all along, singing in the distance. Every few minutes I can hear their shrieks, blood-curdling cries loud enough to make me jump out of my seat. It wasn’t a dream, it was their dreams. It was the song of the sandman, echoing in their minds.

I went back to bed hoping it would go away. I didn’t put the music back on, the racket outside my walls was enough to serve as my ambience this time. But when I awakened again it had only gotten worse. The sunlight crashed down like a million cymbals, crashing and clamoring as if a concert were being played inches from my head. People were out and about, talking and thinking…and doing all of it very loudly. Neighbors were mowing lawns and the highway, a good five hundred feet away from my house, was flowing with traffic. I could hear it all, and it was only the beginning of a skull-splitting headache that has as of now accosted me for three weeks straight.

I hid myself away in the day, but at night it was equally unbearable. Whatever frequency my brain had focused in on when I was sleeping had slowly changed, and my brain had changed with it apparently…it had followed it into previously unknown territory. I can’t sleep at night now, or I dream their dreams. When I’m awake I simply hear them…their conversations, their groggy ramblings, their terrified mutterings. But when I sleep, I tune into all of their dreams at once. I feel their joy, but I also feel their pain. I’ve thought about seeing a doctor, I really have, but I watch television, and I know what they’d do to people like me. Freaks like me. Scientific oddities, such as me.

No, no…I’ve got to solve this myself. It’s dusk now, and the crickets are singing their song again, I can hear every single bug as it crawls over every single blade of grass. And of course the sky has taken on that blood red hue. I know what I must do.

I was just pondering the effects of a similarly amplified sense of taste. Do you think I’d be able to resolve that situation the same way, or would I be put off by my sensitivity to the metallic taste of the barrel? No matter…the song must end now. The cicadas are crying. It’s time to sleep.

Sleep is for the weak.

I never claimed to be strong.

Daddy’s Little Angel by Chris Phoenix

She has her mother’s bright blue eyes, Daddy’s Little Angel does. And the most beautiful smile you’ve ever seen. She could melt an iceberg, she could. Everyone that knows her just loves her to death, and I’m so proud to call myself her father. She’s a gift from above; I know it, which is why I must protect her, no matter what the cost!

Some people just don’t understand.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. Some nasty little girl was teasing Katie, my Little Angel, and she just wouldn’t leave her alone. She was saying nasty things, saying how poor she was and saying she was dirty and such. She just had the filthiest mouth; little girls shouldn’t be so nasty. Well she followed Katie home that day throwing dirt at her and telling her to take a bath in it. Well my Katie showed her what’s what, yes she did! And Daddy couldn’t be more proud. I don’t think anyone should hurt a child, even if they don’t mean it! Don’t get me wrong! But Katie never did anything to anyone, and I love her to death.

You’ve gotta understand.

I was only being a loving father when I hid the body. You see we live in a very rural area, and that nasty mouthed little girl clearly had no business following my Katie in the first place. But I know no one would understand, and I just can’t let anything happen to my Little Angel!

Of course that’s when my wife came home and saw that our little girl had a few bruises. Can you believe she actually glared at me? As if I’d ever so much as think of hurting my Little Angel! Of course I was upset, but the sweetheart that she is, Katie set her on track sure enough. She told her how the filthy little girl harassed her and wouldn’t leave her be. And I tell you, that lit my wife right up, she was so angry. I had to restrain her, she was gonna call her parents then and there. It was nine in the evening!

Well, I finally talked her down, even though she was furious with me that I hadn’t handled it sooner. Of course by then she just didn’t trust me to settle it no matter what I told her. I said I’d do it first thing after work the next day but no, no! She insisted she’d call them herself the next day. Even Katie pleaded with her not to call her parents, she said she’d be so embarrassed at school if everyone found out she’d run home and told mommy.

Of course we both knew we couldn’t explain that the filthy little girl had gone “missing” after their little scuffle, now could we? I mean, she’s my wife and I loved her, but she just wouldn’t understand. But she just sent Katie straight up to bed and wouldn’t hear another word from me on the matter, her mind was made up. And she’s a very headstrong woman (it’s part of her charm, you see) so there’s no arguing with her once she’s made up her mind on a matter.

Well after that I went to tuck the Little Angel in and read her a bedtime story, and she begged me not to let mommy call the filthy girl’s parents, but I told her how persistent Mommy is, and that she wouldn’t listen to me. Of course that didn’t sit well with Katie at all. She knew that Mommy wouldn’t understand…and neither would her schoolmate’s mommy, no, especially not her. I told Katie I would think of something, and I promised that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her…but Daddy’s Little Angel is clever. Daddy’s Little Angel already had her mind made up.

I shoulda understood.

The next day I came home to see my wife lying at the bottom of the stairs in a crumpled bloody heap. There was so much blood, and it had long since dried into the carpet when I got home. She had never made it to work that morning. The official story was that she had taken a nasty fall down the stairs and cracked her head open like an egg on her tumble…but as I look into Katie’s eyes, so empty, so emotionless. No, no, no! Daddy’s Little Angel did not hurt anyone that didn’t try to hurt her first! She’s special…

Anyhow, there was a funeral and the whole family showed up. Katie couldn’t have been more bored; she just sat there staring into nothingness as the eulogy was given. When it came time to view the corpse she barely gave it a glance. I like to think she’s coping with the loss her own way. Daddy’s Little Angel loved her mommy more than anything.

It was just before the burial the next day that an investigator showed up at the door. It was Katie that answered as I was rushing to get ready. I rushed to the door as this man was questioning my little girl, gently scooted Katie outta the way and stepped up to the door.

“May I help you?” I asked, trying to sound polite.

“I need to ask you some questions about the circumstances of your wife’s death,” the investigator said.

“Who are you?” I think some of my frustration was coming through, but it might have been my self-consciousness.

“I’m sorry,” he said with a laugh. “Detective Kimble, local PD. I just got the results back from the autopsy, and the blunt trauma your wife suffered, and the bloodstains found on the carpet don’t exactly match up. I was wondering if you could give me a little more insight…”

“Well I’d love to, Detective, but as I told the responding officers, I only found the body when I came home from work. I wasn’t here to see it happen.” The detective tried to speak again, I think, but I cut him off. Frustration was filling me. “If you’ll excuse me, we have a burial to attend.” I grabbed Katie’s hand and walked her out the door, locking it behind me. I glanced back to see that the detective was watching me as we drove away.

Katie was silent the entire trip there and back, and as soon as we got home she retreated to her room. The poor baby has it so rough, all this death surrounding her. I shampooed the carpet the best I could to get the stains out, and fixed up dinner for us. We ate in silence, and it filled me with pain to see her suffering. I’ll never forget, just before she got up to take her plate to the sink she looked at me and smiled so softly. Oh my little Angel has the sweetest smile you ever did see.

A couple days passed, and I thought things were getting back to normal–well as normal as they could be, without my beautiful wife to come home to–when it happened. You see I rush home each day to meet Katie as she’s coming in from school, but yesterday I was lost in thought and took my time getting home. You see, the day before my wife’s sister suggested that she come over and bring Katie’s cousin to visit, and I couldn’t refuse. So I had to get in the mindset…I had to show her we were coping.

The house was quiet when I got there, but that wasn’t as unusual as Daddy’s Little Angel tends to keep to herself and spends most of her time in her room playing with her dollhouse. She’s always so clean, and always so quiet, I couldn’t have asked for a better little girl.

I walked up to check Katie’s room and it was empty. I then proceeded to check the rest of the house and found her nowhere, until I came to the door leading to the cellar. Odd, it was cracked. I pushed it open and started down the stairs. I could see the light spilling across the floor at the bottom of the staircase, illuminating a small puddle of blood just a foot from the bottom step.

“Just hand me the gun,” a voice said softly. “I’ll get you out of here, take you somewhere safe.”
I rushed down the stairs and found Katie standing a mere two feet away from Detective Kimble, who sat bound with rope and bleeding from the head. I approached my daughter and eased the gun from her hands as the detective seemed to eye me with the most dreadful gaze anyone’s ever given me in my life. I took the gun in my hands, and was surprised at how natural it felt, though I’d never held a gun in my life. The exhilaration that filled me as I lifted the gun and watched the detective’s face contort in horror almost sickened me.

“Why have you come,” I asked him as I aimed the gun at his head.

“Your wife’s death was not an accident,” he replied.

“I was at work when it happened, and Katie was at school. It’s been deemed an accident. What did you hope to find here?”

“The coroner stated that she died in the early morning, around the same time you leave for work.”

“I loved my wife!” Unconsciously I began to pull the hammer back.

“If you kill me, the police will know where to look,” Kimble pleaded. “There’s no way out of this. Do the right thing. Do it for your little girl!”

“If only you understood…”

I put a bullet in his head. It’s all I could do. Of course I knew he was right, I knew the cops would come soon, looking for him. I turned to my girl–she stood staring at Kimble, vacantly–and I told her to run and get the tarp from the corner. She did. Daddy’s Little Angel is so good; she even helped me wrap the body.

And I carved.

My sister-in-law showed up that night with her husband and kid, as she said she would…and dinner was ready by eight thirty. I really think they loved it, my new recipe. I think they’ll be back for more.

--

A Campfire Story, Of Sorts by David Feuling at www.ss-comic.com:

December 10th, 2003

My frozen hands tremble as I fumble to work my little butane lighter. The tips of my fingers are raw and bloodied already, and I wince in pain with every failed attempt to spark a flame. Finally, I achieve a jittery fire which impatiently dances atop the lighter. I carefully lower it to my pile of kindling, and the fire cautiously creeps out and spreads until it is a healthy size. I watch it for a while, tending to it until it’s strong. Now, there is enough light to see around me, and enough heat to survive the night.

Here, deep in the forest, with everything frozen and quiet, the only light and sound comes from my fire. It is the whole world to me right now. It dances and sings in a raspy, crackling voice to me and I am happy to enjoy its company. I can almost imagine that I can hear it whispering and babbling happily.

“It’s so cold.”

I must be tired. I’m hearing things. The popping and sizzling of the fire is really beginning to sound like words. Maybe I’m just lonely out here. Maybe I just really want someone to talk to, so I’m hearing coherence in the chaos of the fire. I could have sworn I heard it say –

“It’s so cold.”

There it was again, softer this time. I lean closer to the blaze and its warmth caresses my face, setting me at ease. I’m listening intently now, anxious for what I’ll hear next.

“If you let me die tonight, you‘ll die tonight.”

There was no mistaking it. It said it clearly, albeit in the raspy, singsong voice of a fire consuming wet branches. Yet even as the words become clearer, they become softer, drawing me in closer to make out the next statement. The warmth splashes over me as I inch my face closer, and the frost that had settled in my bones begins to thaw. The fire is speaking constantly now, chattering quietly to itself, and I can only pick out bits of words and portions of sentences.

“Get closer. Watch closely. If I die, you die. I’m the only thing keeping you alive. Pay attention!”

The fire ends its tirade with a loud snap of burning wood and then is quiet. I lean in even closer, eager to receive whatever secret is coming next. The heat is no longer pleasant. It sears me as the flames playfully lick at my face. The fire is being coy, teasing me with its silence to see how long I will wait on it. The smoke reaches into my nostrils and the embers float carelessly from the heart of the fire into my eyes, which are now welling with ash. I don’t care. I just want to hear what comes next.

“Get closer. Pay attention. Watch closely, now more than ever…”
December 17th, 2003

“In other news, the charred body of an unidentified man was found deep in the mountainous forests east of the city. Investigators have stated that the man appeared to have caught fire while sitting by his campfire and, inexplicably, did not appear to have made any effort to extinguish himself. His burned remains were found, frozen in position by the icy temperatures, leaning over the ashes of a long extinguished fire. In what is most perhaps the most bizarre detail of the grisly scene, the man is reported to have been found with an ‘expectant’ smile still on his face.”

--

The Tundra by David Feuling

The native villagers around these parts say that there’s a stretch of tundra just north of here that is occupied by benevolent spirits. These spirits grant insight and warning to whoever visits them at night, once the sun has disappeared entirely and left the world in jet darkness. I drove out to the middle of the frozen expanse of ice and waited, hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever commanded these people’s reverence. They send their children out, bundled in furs to keep from freezing, on the eve of their 15th birthday to seek an audience with these spirits. Once they have achieved this, the children run home to their parents to share the news. From then on these children are considered adults in the village. Engaged couples visit this tundra on the night before their wedding. The entire village stays up all night awaiting their return, as it is upon their return that the couple either decides to proceed with their marriage, or to abandon it. The elderly visit the tundra whenever they are sick or ailing, and often make their condition worse by staying all night in the cold. When they return, however, it is most often with an air of sheer serenity.

So I waited, curious to see what phenomenon might inspire people so powerfully. I waited for hours, bundled in my parka and sitting on the hood of my pickup. I waited until I felt that I was going to freeze to death, even in my thick clothing.
I heard the spirit before I saw it. A crunching of snow in the silence made me jump off my truck and spin around. A hunched, gray-skinned man stood a few meters away. Sad, yellowed eyes stared back at me, set inside a skull from which sprouted only a few greasy hairs. He breathed heavily, with a rattle that shook his fragile ribcage, and one of his arms looked as if it had been messily broken and then neglected, allowing it to knit back together imperfectly. Badly scarred flesh marred his splayed legs. The man stared at me for perhaps ten seconds, breathing in the frigid air and exhaling a sickly dribble of steam, before disappearing when I blinked my eyes.

I spun around, looking for the man, but he was truly gone. Approaching where he had stood, I found a pair of bloody footprints in the snow. Frantic with fear, I got into my pickup and headed for the village as fast as the ice would allow. A few villagers were waiting for me when I arrived, knowing that I had gone out and curious as to what might happen. I hastily got out of my truck and, approaching the nearest villager, I demanded, “What is so benevolent about these spirits? What is so insightful? How do these spirits help you?”

“What did you see?” he asked, the look on his face now mirroring the fear in mine.

“I saw a man, horribly disfigured and desperately sick!” I screamed into his face, and the rest of the villagers around us backed away a step. “Why? What does that mean?” I begged him.

“The spirits show only one thing,” the man explained. “They show their visitors, a year in the future.”
--
Failed Rituals by Chris Stewart

I really wish I had left that fucking light switch alone. Who would have thought the flick of a switch could mean the difference between life and death. Actually everyone’s thought that. That’s why I turned it on. Stupid little rituals that we take from childhood. The light will chase the monsters away, the blanket over your head will save you from the boogie man. And you just get more of these rituals as you get older. As long as you lock the doors and turn on the home security system, you can rest your head happily in your cozy little fortified home. No killers or psychos, monsters or boogie men.

But it doesn’t work. None of it. We always slip up somehow. The one time you forget to lock that door. That’s when they get you. I would have been sound asleep if I hadn’t been woken by the loud slam as the front door blew open. I stumbled out of bed and down the hall to see it swinging back and forth. I moved quickly down the hall to secure it. A moment of panic swelled inside of me. My home felt like a crime scene. It wasn’t my safe little sanctum anymore.

Despite the overwhelming feeling of intrusion, there was no sign of disruption. Just the door. Just my careless mistake. I couldn’t comprehend it at first. It had to be a burgler or some psycho. I looked around the rest of the house. Checking every cupboard, every crevice. Nothing. I felt stupid but relieved. I just wanted to get back to bed, to forget this whole embarrassment. I flung myself back down on my bed, closed my eyes for just a second. I sat back up. There was no way I’d fall asleep unless I double-checked that I locked the door this time. I mean I was sure I had done it this time but I felt this was justified paranoia.

I got to the door and twisted the handle roughly about a dozen times, each time feeling the resistance of the lock. I smiled. Safe. I turned on my heels to go back to bed. But it was just a glimpse, a flicker of something in my peripheral vision that sent me swinging back into a panic. A shadow from the kitchen. I rushed in only to be confronted by my normal kitchen, bathed in moonlight. I sighed, questioned my sanity and decided that this, the longest night of my life must end. I went towards the bedroom once more. Another odd shadow crossed my path. As a shiver travelled down my spine, my tired mind braced apathetic denial and decided that it was probably the neighbours’ cat passing by the moonlit window.

I sat wide awake in my bed. Trying to lull myself to sleep. Counting in my head until I might eventually nod off. But every time I closed my eyes that feeling of intrusion was still there. The hands of something unseen looming above my head. Every creak and every shadow filled my mind with the dread of my childhood. Those nights after being tucked in by my parents. Those same fearful thoughts of lurking terror. But it was nothing… right? More creaks. More movement in the shadows. I turned and pushed my face into the pillow. I felt something brush passed my foot which stuck awkwardly out from under my blanket.

I jolted upright, looking deeply into the darkness. Swirling shadows. The monsters. The boogie men. I felt around sheepishly for my phone. The dull light of the screen could put me at ease. Nothing on the nightstand and when my fingers roamed around the edge of the bed, instinctively I retracted them for fear of the unknown. I was alone but in the shadows I saw them, the monsters. Inky abominable beasts.

It was the only thing I thought could help me. I lunged from the bed directly at the switch. My palm slammed down on it and the room erupted into light. My eyes burned momentarily and I glanced round the room. Empty. Safe. Just paranoia. I shook my head and hit the switch once more. Climbing into bed in the pitch black. No shadows without my night vision. But now I hear them. I can’t see them now. I don’t know what they want but I know I can’t leave. The rituals have failed. They’re on the other side of this blanket and all I can do now is hope that they’re gone in the morning.
--
Photoslash

Sean’s house was covered from head to toe in family photographs. Some from family retreats to Ireland, others showing lost family relatives. Most of these photographs would include Sean in them, so it was only natural that he would look at them from time to time. However, one day he noticed something rather strange about the pictures: His mother seemed to have a red face in all of the photos. Rather shocked by this, he immediately ran downstairs to ask if anyone had done something to the pictures. They all answered no; even his mother, whom was quite worried. Later that day Sean’s mother went to the hospital due to horrific 3rd degree burns caused by a grill catching fire for an unknown reason.

Sean’s father decided to stay at the hospital that night and thought it best to send Sean home with his big brother Thomas and little sister Maria. As Sean walked into the house he caught glance of the family photograph in which he noticed the change to his mother’s face, and found that Maria was not in the picture.

He ran upstairs to her bedroom only to find that she was nowhere to be seen. Alarmed by these strange events Sean called the police. Sean informed them that his sister had been kidnapped and that someone was in his house, possibly vandalising his family’s belongings. The phone immediately went dead, and as Sean went to put the phone down he caught a glimpse of an animal in the corner of his eye. He rushed out of the safety of his room to go and find the beast, but what he found was far worse.

The mangled bodies of his family lie in the corridor in front of his room, their faces frozen in a state that almost makes him vomit. And then it struck him. All the photographs had been removed from the walls, except for one which was a picture of Sean, with his face scribbled out.

The next day his two best friends went to visit him, because he was not answering his phone and was not at school all week. As they arrived, they noticed that the door had been left open. So they let themselves in, and were never seen again.

--

The Most Beautiful Thing in the World

There is a certain website online that seems to serve no purpose. The website is completely black, with nothing to click on, no links, nothing. It is said that if you logged on at exactly 2:59 AM, an image labelled themostbeautifulthingintheworld.jpg will be uploaded and having seen it, you will vanish, never to be seen again. Some say that the picture contains the portrait of a person, whereas others say that the picture is in fact something terrifying. Whatever the case, at exactly 3:00 AM an image will be uploaded that makes you wake up instantly in your bed as if awoken from a dream.
--
The End

On his way home that night, as he walked through town, a man stepped out of an alley in front of him. He tensed to defend himself, but the man just stood there. Looking him over, he realised the man looked like a hippie. Something of a comedy caricature of a hippie, really. Long unwashed hair and beard, sandals…and a sandwich board reading ‘THE END IS NIGH’. That, he thought, was unusual, even for a hippie.

“You want something?” he asked.

“The world’s ending,” said the hippie. “I need your help.”

He stepped around the hippie and kept walking. High as a kite, he thought to himself. The hippie started walking after him, and fell into step beside him.

“Please, I need your help,” said the hippie.

“Look, man, I’m really not interested,” he said, and kept walking.

The hippie leant against a wall, watching him walk away. The hippie wasn’t all that disappointed; lots of people gave this kind of response. Another skeptic, he thought to himself, fingering the ragged holes through the middles of his hands.

--

The Church Cellar

In the small town of Stull, Kansas, there once stood an old one room chapel on top of a hill, surrounded by graves. Beside the church was a cellar that was very difficult to find, as its doors had grass grown upon them. In front of it church was great tree that was always bare. None of the town’s members could recall ever having seen a leaf upon its branches.

In the towns earliest years, well before the civil war, there were several farming families that lived there. The minister’s daughter had fallen madly in love with a boy from nearby, but had her heart broken when that young man was discovered to have impregnated a certain flirtatious townsgirl. The two were married, and all the while the reverend’s daughter saw them, happy together, and her hatred brewed until after 9 months of painful endurance, that despise boiled over. Shortly after the young couples child was born the minister’s daughter went to their house.

They greeted her cheerfully but noticed, all too late, how she eyed the child blood-thirstily. She slit the throats of those two who’d made her life so miserable and then dragged their bodies, along with the newborn child, up the hill to the church. She put the bodies in the cellar and left the baby there, between their bodies, to starve to death. She locked the cellar shut and hung herself on the tree in front of the church. The bodies in the cellar were not found for three weeks.

From that day on leaves never grew on that tree. If you walk the graveyard late at night you can just hear the sound of a baby’s chilling cry. The townspeople burnt down the tree many years ago, in the hopes of putting the minister’s daughter’s spirit to rest. And more recently the church collapsed onto itself, burying the already difficult to find cellar.

Many have looked for its doors, but the few who have found them and ventured beneath its depths have seldom returned, with the exception of a few who came back to the sunlight after 3 weeks beneath- starved nearly to death and covered in blood that was not their own.
--
The Eisenhower State Phenomena

Little known fact, is that the Eisenhower Interstate system is built over major ley-lines. Rumour has it, that if specific conditions are met, weird phenomena will occur.

Phenomena of the First

The first sign of this phenomenon is that you will lose ALL radio reception, and devices such as MP3 players, Discmen, tape decks and other music players will cease functioning. Your heater will begin to only dispense cold air, regardless of setting. After the first mile of this, you will notice a fog growing at the edges of the road, and you will see no exits, regardless of whether they were supposed to be there.

If you continue on, you will begin to see the occasional pedestrian. Some of them will gesture that they would like to hitch a ride. Under no circumstances should you stop for them, no one has ever stopped and survived. If you see lights approaching from behind, and it is a hearse, do NOT let it pass you. No matter what. After 13 miles, the phenomenon will end, and you will be safe.

Phenomena of the Second

Investigated by the witnesses after they read instructions they found in a book, left behind in a rest stop bathroom. Participants must mix a shot of whiskey, a drop of their own blood (One drop for each participant), a pinch of salt, and a small amount of used engine oil. Mix with water from a rest stop fountain in a glass bottle, and smash it on the interstate in the evening or morning. If the instructions were followed correctly, the way will become densely foggy. An unmarked exit will appear, and if you pass it by, it will be closed to you for six years. If you take the exit, go left and under the interstate.

Half a mile down the road, is an old gas station. Inside, it is said that a full glass of the coffee sold there, will keep you awake all night, and the other food and beverages are purported to have various properties themselves.

Pay the proprietor only in metal coinage, no bills, no checks, and no cards. There are also some arcade machines near the back of the store, as well as an old fortune telling wizard in a glass case. He knows how you will die. Accept no sexual favours that are offered to you while there, and do not anger anyone. Your life depends upon it.
--
Childhood Superstitions

When I was 8, I stayed up late at night watching television. My mother always told me never to turn on the television exactly at 4:44 am. If you ever did, you would hear clicks and heavy breathing in the next room; if you do check, a black shadow with red eyes will glare at you.

They also told me if I wore another person’s glasses, I will see that person’s death. It’s true. I put on my mother’s glasses, and since then I’ve always been a little fearful of my father.

--

The Antarctic Bar

At the bottom of a 50-meter high glacier, exactly two kilometres from Antarctica, lies the frozen remains of a long-forgotten civilization. The exact location of the glacier is unknown, only that it is two kilometres from the shore of Antarctica. Upon finding said glacier, one is to approach it on the snow bank and touch the side of the ice with the palm of their hand. The important thing here is to touch it with your bare skin. If you hold your hand on the ice for 5 minutes then speak the words, “I see and believe.” you will seemingly disappear from existence, your whole life erased from memory and transcripts. What happens next, you are in a rather swanky 80s cocktail bar, but there are a few stipulations: You must live the next 50 years in this bar; you are granted 5 free drinks from the bartender, no more. If you attempt to break the quota of drinks, you are immediately executed on the spot by the rather brawny bouncers. If you manage to wait the whole 50 years, you will reappear in your original life, and granted one single wish, which you must take immediately on your return. Needless to say, very few have actually waited the 50 years.
--
One of Them

Any night, around 10 or 11 pm, take yourself to a flat, open area where you can walk in a straight line for two minutes or so without running into anything. Once there, face in the direction you plan to walk, with your arms at your sides and your hands relaxed. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath. At precisely 11:09 and 20 seconds, start walking. Be sure to take one step every second, no more, no less. Do not open your eyes, and do not hesitate. Count your steps in your head as you go. On the one hundred and eleventh step, say the word “One” out loud, and stop. Your breath will catch in your throat, and your hair will stand on end. For the next ten seconds, you will be unable to move a single muscle in your body, no matter how hard you try. After these ten seconds, you will be able to move and breathe again – however, you will then start to feel the sensation of cold metal claws seizing each of your fingers by the base and plucking them clean off of your hand. It will not hurt. You will surely be horrified, but do not open your eyes, and do not move. If you move or open your eyes, all that anyone will ever find of you is your two fingerless hands, severed cleanly at the wrist. Once the claws have stopped, and all of your fingers have been plucked off, stay still for another ten seconds. It may help to count. After these ten seconds have passed, you may open your eyes. You will find that your fingers are still quite firmly attached to your hands. Go home immediately, and go directly to bed. Speak to no one for the rest of the night, and enter no building that you do not consider your home.

The next day, you will have become One of Them. Once per day, as long as there is even a sliver of sunlight, you may point at someone and speak the word “One.” That night, he will face the same trial that you faced. If you see that person the next day, you will know that he, too, has become One of Them. If not, then do not be alarmed if you do not feel hungry the rest of the day. 
--
The Tracing

Next time when you’re lying in bed and the moon is new, when you’re at the moment where you’re almost asleep and your eyes are closed…try listening for the sounds. More specifically, sounds that shouldn’t exist in our realm. At this point, you’ll notice the world around you change, but don’t you dare open your eyes or make any movements.
If you lay right where you are, with your eyes closed, you’ll feel something trace a finger, a claw, or perhaps something even worse, across your forehead. The moment it stops tracing, you’ll wake up and it will be morning. Within that new week, you will die.

However, depending on what was traced on your head, you’ll either enter a paradise of a world, or you’ll enter an evil world of torture.

So…do you want to find out what’s on the other side?

--

The Day Everything Clicked

The great geniuses throughout history had one startling thing in common, they all went through a day where everything clicked, everything seemed to make sense, and everything they did from that day on was perfect. This is a very rare phenomenon, but cherish it if it happens to you.

There is an opposite side to this coin, however, where one will have a day that is so devoid of feeling, so depraved, that every day from that point on they will be slowly deteriorating into a physical manifestation of pure insanity. If you start to have one of these days, kill yourself immediately, for after 24 hours you won’t be able to die. You’ll just roam the world getting worse and worse…

--

The Orchard Cemetery

Outside of my city, there is an apple orchard, with a small cemetery at the end of it with only about 5 or 10 graves in it. If you visit the cemetery, it is customary to leave a small offering by the largest headstone, even an apple from the orchard will do. If you do not, every night you go to sleep that week, you will see an old man in your dreams.

On the first night, he will appear to be a normal balding old man. He will tip his hat to you and walk away.

On the second night, he will have a knife in his right hand. He will tip his hat to you, and walk off once more.

The third night, he will lick the knife, and laugh, before disappearing.

On the fourth night, he will appear closer to you than before, and lick his knife once more.

On the fifth, he will be practically on top of you.

On the sixth, he will appear as a skeleton dressed in rotted rags, still holding the knife, still making the licking motion.
No one knows how long this continues or how it ends, the victims have all either gone back by then and made an offering, or they have died of heart attacks in their sleep.

--

Focus

Did you ever see one of those videos where you are asked to look for, or follow a specific thing throughout the video? Then, at the end, they reveal that as were watching, something large and intrusive moved around in plain sight and you never even noticed it. It’s frightening how often that happens, like how I just moved from the doorway into your room as you read this.
--
Olfactory

They say that the olfactory senses (the sense of smell) is the sense closest linked to memory. Go on eBay, or to a high-end antiques dealer. Find an item made a good amount of time before you were born that was hermetically sealed, vacuum packed or tightly packaged in some way. Make sure you are in surroundings of completely neutral smell with little or no wind. Open the package. The smell should hearken back to your collective subconscious or memory of a past life. 

If you are successful in choosing the right item, with the right smell, you will have at least a memory flash, or likely a memory flood of years before you were born.

--

The Homeless Man

Somewhere in New York City there is an old homeless man missing both his legs from the knees down, whose spot along the streets is the corner of Lexington and East 21st, near Granmercy Park. Approach him after nightfall, give him some change (NO pennies, NO dimes) and ask him, “What did you see on the other side?” He will then tell you all about his travels to other realms and times, where he lost his legs, how he lost his money.

It is up to you whether to believe him or not, but as you listen you’ll find yourself being drawn in with every story. You must stay alert, or the old man will notice your inattentiveness, and with a scowl he will stop imparting his wisdom; he will chase you as fast as he can, tottering on his stubs. The other reason why you must stay alert is to check the time. Before midnight you must interrupt him (do NOT let him finish whatever story he’s telling you at the moment) and say “I’ve heard enough, old man. Good day and good luck”, then walk away.

Make at least two left-hand turns around the block before going about your business. You must do this, because anyone who has stayed to listen past midnight is never seen again, at least not in this particular plane of existence. 

--

I need some Bread and Cereal too

You get a phone call from your Mother. Since her car has been in the shop, she asks you to go to the grocery store and pick up a few odds and ends for her. Bread, milk, cereal, and chicken breasts.

After writing down a small list you reluctantly get in the car and pick up the items at the store. The lady cashier makes an odd remark to you, “You know, we’re in no danger of a milk shortage.” Upon arriving at her house you knock several times. No answer. You decide to try the door. It opens. You place the grocery bag on the counter. Strange. There seems to be six other grocery bags, each with identical contents. In a couple, the chicken and the milk have gone bad. “Mom,” you call out, but no answer. You make your way through the kitchen and into the living room. Sitting on the couch, with her head cut off and neatly resting on her lap, is your Mother.

Naturally you call the police who come over to investigate. They mention that she has been dead for nearly a week. Furthermore, the police psychiatrist is at the scene and talks to you after you give your initial statement. Sitting on the front steps, you overhear the psychiatrist talking with the crime scene investigator. “It’s not uncommon for people suffering from schizophrenia to get locked into a series of repetitive behaviours,” he says.

You think to yourself, “They can’t be talking about me. Schizophrenia? Nah. Repetitive behavior? Do they think I did this?” Suddenly your cell phone goes off. “Hello?”

“Hi hun, it’s me. Could you stop at the store and pick up some chicken and milk. Ohh, and I need some bread and cereal too.”

“No problem Mom. I’ll be right over…”
--
The Cute Waitress

You just moved into your new apartment, in a very big city. After a year of this life, you have almost given up hope of making any friends; be it at work or any other means. You feel very lonely. After looking for a peaceful place to spend your time, you find a quiet diner on the outskirts of town. The waitress is very attractive. Also, she seems to be the only employee there, ever. You never see anyone else eat there either, ever. The place is perfect for you.

Making love to her becomes a routine. You go there every night for dinner, and then to see her.

You eventually make other friends, and eat at the diner less and less. After some time you stop going completely.

At a bar with your best friend, you tell him about the fun you had with the waitress at the diner. He says he absolutely must see her. You take him there one night, but the building is in a state of ruin. The front door barely opens. The grimy insides of the diner are disgusting, and, behind the counter, is the mouldy corpse, reeking of pus and rot.

When the police come to the scene, they interview both you and your friend. You are shocked to hear that the body is of a runaway girl from another province. The police tell you this is a homicide, and that she was also raped dozens of times, after she was killed. The police say they can get a match for DNA and eliminate you as a suspect. You are suddenly very worried.

--

Eternal Dream

Have you ever wondered about what happens when you die?

Well, something does. Your body dies, but your conscience lives on.

The night you die, you will be in an eternal dream. You will live that dream for all eternity, and it will be like reality.

Whatever you dreamed that last night will be what you are going to be “living” in for eternity, and you will never wake up again, in the comfort of your house.

Let’s hope you don’t have a nightmare that last night.
--
The Growths

I’d had them ever since I was a kid.

I can remember being incredibly self-conscious about them, hiding them in my pockets under books and bags. The kids at school never said anything to my face, but I knew they were laughing behind my back.

I remember asking my parents to take me to the doctor, to get them checked out. The growths on my hands seemed to be the elephant in the room back then, since they’d just say I was fine and change the subject. But I knew better.

I had tried to remove them as a child, but without avail. Scissors, knives, potato peelers; trying to cut or scrape them off was always a lost cause because I couldn’t continue once the pain kicked in.

But today was different. It’s amazing how numb you can get with a couple of tourniquettes and a bottle of Jack Daniels. I was originally planning to use a sharp knife, but figured that trying to slice through the tough flesh of the growths would be too arduous in my drunken state. I opted for the slightly more technological plan B.

I had to hurry though. I was already pretty light-headed and was starting to feel dizzy. My hands and forearms, nearly blue from the lack of circulation, couldn’t wait much longer either. The whirring of the blender helped to put me in a sort of trance–ready to do what I had wanted to do since I first looked down at my strange deformities.

I shoved my left hand in first. The immediate sensation of sharp blades slicing through flesh was jarring, but I was surprised at how well the alcohol was working–I expected it to hurt more. I could hear the sharp metal churning and cutting, working perfectly as planned. I pressed my hand down harder. All those bad memories, all of the embarrassment–all of those horrible things were now nothing more than a thick red pulp.

Breaking from the feelings of ecstasy, I pulled out before the blades hit knuckle. I smiled, taking a good look at my new hand. As for the growths–well, five down, and five to go.
--
Arthur

You volunteer at the mental health clinic. Given the dangerous nature of the residents, they assigned you the rooms of the less violent patients. The suicidal. Those who hear voices. Those that don’t say anything at all.

You become close to a mute man named Arthur. He is a rapt listener, willing to nod his head for hours as you tell him the story of your life. You mention your past, your present. The people involved in both. Your hopes for the future.

And Arthur just nods.

After several months of listening, you figure that you owe it to Arthur to get him out of the clinic. He can’t be happy sitting in a room by himself nodding at interns every day. You talk to the supervisor of the clinic. You argue that he isn’t harming anyone. That he grooms and feeds himself with no problems. That perhaps his condition is a physical aliment.

The day comes when your arguing pays off. The supervisor has agreed to let Arthur go. You rush to his room to tell him the news. “You’re free!” You shout. “Isn’t that great?”

And Arthur just nods.

You write your name and address on a piece of paper. Hand it to him. “I’m going to miss having someone to talk to.” You say. “But now you can write me. I can learn all about you. Like why they were so insistent in having you in here, pal. I had to fight Dr. Thanner everyday to get you out.”

He looks at you and takes the paper. Just nods.

You go home, feeling good about yourself. You brag to everyone you can tell, friends, family, classmates, co-workers, about how you came through for Arthur. You even fall asleep with a smile.

That night, your eyes snap open. Screams, unearthly screams wake you up.

Then you see them. Your mother. Your father. Your friends. Your classmates. Your co-workers. Lying on your floor, their blood soaking into your carpet. Your walls stained with carnage. Their heads bashed in, their eyes missing from their sockets. Everyone you know dead or dying.

You whimper and see a man standing in the doorway.

It’s Arthur, holding the piece of paper you gave him.

Your entire body shaking, you choke out. “Are you here to kill me?”

And Arthur just nods.
--
The Letters

You were out of town for the weekend. When you came back to your apartment, your mailbox was stuffed full. At least 30 letters. Letters with no return address, several of them felt soggy and heavy, as though they were recently wet, or perhaps contained a liquid. All of the letters have your name and address written on them, and many of them had your name scratched all over them in red in. They don’t smell nice, they smell like rotting meat and old garbage and you’re reluctant to take them back to your room, but curiosity gets the better of you. You manage to cart them all back to your room, you dump them in your kitchenette sink because you don’t want them smelling up the rest of the apartment.

You grab one that doesn’t seem damp and isn’t covered with writing, and open it up. There are pictures inside. Pictures of people you don’t know, with their eyes torn out, teeth missing, unhinged jaws hanging open, throats ripped out. You’re horrified and yet you can’t help but wonder what’s in the rest of the letters. You open more, and more to discover increasingly gruesome photos of dead people. Piles of bodies with limps missing, splayed open corpses on operating tables with their vital organs removed, hanged bodies that have been gutted and bled dry. Some of the soggy letters had blood and other fluids in them.

The more letters you open, the more you notice that not all of the people are strangers. Some of them were people you see at work, others people you went to high school with. By the time you get to the last few letters, the pictures are of the mutilated bodies of your close friends and family members.

Eventually you reach the last letter. You don’t want to know what’s in it, but it’s not like you have a choice now. You peel the letter open, and it’s a picture of yourself. Not dead, eyes intact, no limbs missing. It’s a picture of you entering your apartment building earlier that day, shortly before you collected your disgusting letters.

As you hear a door elsewhere in your apartment open, you black out.
--
The Pendant

You jolt awake to some noise off in the distance. You look at your red lettered clock: 3:21. You hear it noise again. Someone’s knocking on your door.
There’s no reason to be afraid, you remind yourself, but you can’t imagine any reason why
someone would be up this late. You quietly walk over to the door.
“Hello?”
Knock, Knock, Knock
“H-hello? Are you home?”
Knock, Knock, Knock
“I… Please be home… Hello?”
She mumbles something
“I need your help!”
Knock, Knock, Knock
You recognize her voice and look out the window. It’s your neighbor, she’s wearing her pajamas and some shining pendant around her neck. She sees you.
“Oh!”
She looks afraid at first, and then puts on a worried smile.
“I.. can I use your phone? I need to come in.”
Why can’t you use your phone?
“Mine is Brok-”
She pauses.
“…I think someone’s inside my house”
You pause for a moment to look at the fear on her face.
When you open the door it slowly dawns on you…
Whoever it is isn’t inside her house, he’s behind her, and what’s shining by her neck isn’t a pendant.
--
The Stalker by SugarD

Leslie sat on the barstool, sipping a margarita. She’d hit a run of bad luck in the past few months. First her boyfriend Ricky left her, then she lost her job. She got a new job, but not as well paying, of course. So she had to move out of her house and into a cramped apartment. Her cat, Muffin, died. Her mother was ill, and needed her support, even though she couldn’t support herself. With all that bad luck, its little wonder that she let that guy sit next to her, buy her a drink, the same old routine. The fella’s name was Geoffry. He seemed nice enough, even if he was kind of a dweeb. He wore horn-rimmed glasses with a blue button down shirt, he wasn’t nerd-skinny, exactly, but he was kind of on the thin side.

They talked for awhile, and then she left the bar. The next day, as she was walking home from work, Leslie saw Geoffry again, standing at the bus stop a block away from her office building. “Hi, Leslie! Hey I was thinking maybe we could head down to the bar tonight. I really had fun last night.” She politely declined, and he said, “Okay, well, I’ll see you again.”

She left for work the next day, and guess who she saw? Geoffry was standing right there about a block from her house. “Hi Leslie! You wanna hook up tonight? I was thinking maybe a movie?” She politely declined, and went about her work. When she got home, she had a new message on the answering machine. [Hi, Leslie! It’s me, Geoffry. I just thought you might’ve changed your mind about the movies. Don’t make me keep asking, just call me, bye!]

The next morning, Leslie left for work. Geoffry was standing outside her door. “Hi Leslie! Why’d you stand me up last night, huh? I just want a chance, Leslie, we can try, right?” After 3 days of annoyance, Leslie caved. “Fine, Geoffry, we can try. Why don’t you come over for dinner tomorrow night? We’ll see how it goes, okay?”

Leslie sure was having a bad run of luck. Ricky was in hysterics when he left her, her cat was dead, and now Geoffry too. What was left of his corpse was found a week later…
--
The Real Monsters

When I was a little boy, I was afraid of monsters. They always lurked in the dark places where the light didn’t reach. It didn’t matter how many times my father shone a flashlight into the dark corners of my closet: I knew, the moment that the light was gone, the monsters would come back.

And they always did.

When I grew up, I learned why: the real monsters don’t hide in dark corners and closets. The real monsters are the ones that live behind your eyes, in the darkness of your mind, and it takes more than a flashlight to send them away.

You’ll find what you’re looking for in my basement. She’s still alive, but the others are long dead. (I’ve kept their teeth in Ziploc bags in my file cabinet. Maybe you can identify them from dental records.) She hasn’t eaten in days, and she’s lost a lot of blood, but she might still live if you hurry.

All I ask is that you leave the light on when you go. This prison cell is very dark, and I’m afraid that the monsters will come out when you leave.
--
The Dolls

As a child, I was always quiet, and my conversations with others would always end up awkward. Because of that, I always preferred to be alone growing up, which probably explains my strange obsession with toys, being as old as I am. They never talk. They just stare. I have to say though; being alone in an apartment full of figurines can be creepy sometimes.

However, being with my girl for almost two years, she understands my obsession well, but with this much, she would probably be shocked when she first sees them.

That night, she was more than excited to see my house. As we approached the door, she could barely contain her excitement, so without further delay, I swing the front door open. “Make yourself at home.” I say to her, “it’s kind of messy, but it’s more comfortable than it l-” her face was in shock, then absolute terror as she started to scream.

I tried to calm her, but it just got worse. I was puzzled. Was she afraid of my toys? “I understand it’s a bit strange, but is it that horrifying? I take a quick look in my house but there’s nothing horrific. I had to calm her down, as the neighbours were starting to come out. With a quick impulse, I quickly drag her in my house as I try to ease her mind. Her screaming just got louder and louder. At this point, I had no choice but to put my hand over her mouth. She watched me in terror with tears rolling down her face. I turn around and they were all staring at me as well.
I’m alone again. I placed her doll on the top shelf above all the others I have dated. Her look made me feel depressed, so I made it face the wall until I was able to get over it.
--
Snuff Films

You ever seen someone die on camera?

A snuff film is a recording of the actual murder of human being that is subsequently passed around for entertainment purposes. Suicides and accidents don’t count. According to the MPAA, the FCC, the FBI and the ever-lovin’ Snopes.com, there’s no such thing as a snuff film. Yes, this includes Faces of Death Anything you think might count is faked, falsified, or not made for that purpose, such as those tasteless videos you find on shock sites.

This is a lie.

There are, as best as anyone can tell, between 30-40 snuff films floating around out there. The earliest is a silent film on decaying nitrate celluloid, simply titled La mort d’une fille, and bears the date of 1896.

The latest, judging by the hairstyles and the presence of a “Frankie Says Relax” t-shirt, was probably made in 1983 or 1984 and is on Betamax.

The films vary in violence, but they all include seemingly ritualized sex, followed by the slaying of a girl with dirty blonde hair and piercing blue eyes that appears to be around 19 years old.

That’s right…every film has the exact same girl in it.
--
Dripping

A couple was sitting in a movie theatre watching a scary movie, and the female of the group wasn’t having a good time. She’d obviously been bored out of her mind. It’d been a late showing, so there was practically no one there and the room was dead silent except for the screening. About an hour into the show, she feels a drop on her hand.

Ignoring it, she quickly shakes off the feeling and continues to watch the movie, trying to enjoy it. Another drop lands on her hand and furious now, she hits her boyfriend, thinking that he’d purposely been messing with her, be it spitting or throwing water on her. He doesn’t move. She pushes him harder this time, throwing in some obscenities, and to her horror, a red line that she hadn’t noticed until now starts to seep red and then his head falls off.

Horrified, she lets out a silent scream and that’s when she feels the drip again. Looking at her hand, she can barely make out the colour of the liquid, but it’s red. Nervously, she looks up and is shocked to find a body hanging directly above her, its neck tied within a noose and the stomach torn open.
--
Thump Thump Drag

A teenage baby-sitter put the kids she was watching to sleep in their beds and went back downstairs. The late night news was on the TV — the reporter said a psychopath from a local mental institution was on the loose and that police thought he might be in the area. He cautioned residents to lock their doors and windows because this guy was very, very dangerous.

Well, the teenager checked the locks on the windows and the doors, but she forgot the door on the cellar bulkhead. Needless to say, the psychopath broke in about an hour later, coming up from the cellar, armed with an axe. The children heard some noises downstairs, but thought it was the baby-sitter moving some furniture around. Then it got real quiet.

All they heard for the remainder of the night was this noise: “Thump! Thump! Dra-aag… Thump! Thump! Dra-aag…” Evidently, they were too afraid to get up to see what it was. In the morning, their parents came home and were horrified to find the babysitter at the top of the stairs, dead with both arms hacked off at the elbows. She’d been climbing the stairs on the bloody stumps of her arms, pulling her badly injured body along. Was she trying to check on the children? Was she trying to get help? Or in the madness of her tortured soul, was she planning to kill the children herself?
--
Chicken Dinner

A first hand report of the story originally reported in The Montréal Mirror in 1964:

A mother and father decided they needed a break, not having much alone time in the almost a year since their young son, Toby, was born. They wanted to have a night out, dinner, maybe a movie, and the honeymoon suite at a local hotel to possibly give Toby a little brother or sister. They called their most trusted babysitter, who unfortunately was already engaged for the evening. But she did refer a good friend of hers, Opal, who she swore could be trusted. They spoke with the new babysitter and agreed to have her arrive no later than 6:30 so the parents could get an early start.

As the parents got ready to paint the town red, Toby lay on the floor, gnawing on his teething ring in the den off to the back of the house. At shortly after 6:20 the father walked past the open doorway and saw an elderly woman sitting in the rocking chair facing the child, her back to the doorway. The father was slightly startled as his wife hadn’t mentioned the sitter had arrived. He spoke to her as he straightened his tie in the mirror on wall opposite the doorway.

“Oh my, I’m sorry I didn’t hear you come in. We appreciate you coming on such short notice. My wife put some a chicken in the oven for you. The numbers for the restaurant and hotel are on the counter if you need to reach us. We will be home around 9 tomorrow morning. Goodbye Toby, I love you.”

He hurried down the hallway as his wife was coming down the stairs, meeting her at the bottom his wife asked “What were you saying dear?”

“Oh nothing, I was just giving the sitter instructions, now we should hurry so we can make our reservation on time.” he replied grabbing his coat as he unlocked the front door.

They went to the car and were in such a rush they didn’t notice the car pull into the drive way not 15 seconds after they pulled out. They proceeded to have the best night out they could remember. The wife become somewhat concerned shortly after arriving at the hotel when she called home and no one answered. The husband calmed her as he pulled her into bed, kissing her neck.

“Don’t worry dear, she’s an older lady and it’s almost 10, she must have gone to bed after putting Toby down.”
**************
The next morning after a nice breakfast they arrived home to find a note on the door. It read:

“I arrived at 6:30 as agreed but no one was home.
If you had made other plans I would have appreciated
if someone had called me.
Opal”

The husband gave his wife a confused look as she put a hand to her mouth and her face turned white. She threw open the front door calling out for her son. There was no reply, in fact there was no sound at all in the house, just the smell or some burned meat. She ran up the stairs as her husband raced to the back of the house the find the kitchen filled with smoke. He turned off the stove and used pot holders to grab the smouldering pan or charred meat and dropped it in the sink. His wife came into the kitchen crying into her hands.

“He’s not here! Toby’s gone! She took him!”

The husband then took her in his arms as she cried. It was then that he noticed blood on the lid of the trash can. A pit formed in his stomach as he left his wife and opened the trash can. He exhaled as he realized that it was only the chicken his wife had made. It was then that his eyes shot wide open as his wife let out a fresh scream of horror. As he turned toward her, he caught sight of the melted remains of the teething ring on the bottom of the open oven.
--
The Operation

On the farthest point of Long Island, the last scrap of land that still counts as New York, there sits a tremendous, abandoned building. Protected by its own isolated location, there are also at any given time two to three Security Guards there. However, if one approaches the cast iron gates on the night of December 4th, you will see that on this night, even those few security guards refuse to work.

The gates are left unlocked, and the wind will be utterly still, a nearly opaque fog filling the peninsula. Go directly to the main doors and step within, there will be a single long hallway, the end occluded by that fog. If you look to either side upon entering, you will see a modern operating room through a glass door. The further in you walk, the older the equipment will get and the more old-fashioned the doctors will be dressed.

When you can finally come upon the end of the hallway, the screams of the patients will be nearly deafening. The hall will terminate in an open door leading to a single wooden table where a man in woollen medical clothing, stained brown from blood, will be bent over a corpse. The body’s face will be covered, and the man will turn silently, screwing the top onto a cloudy jar of liquid, filled to the brim. He will hand this abnormally heavy object to you, before turning back to his work.

Instantly, you will be outside of those cast iron gates. From that point on, disease and injury will never affect you, but if you ever open that cloudy jar and pull out the contents… you will find a heart, pulsing and beating loudly in your palm. A sudden feeling of horror and revulsion will pass through you as realization strikes, that you have just pulled your own living heart from your chest.
--
The Hitchhikers

There are stories about a certain kind of hitchhiker – they only ever appear at night on quiet roads, seeming to flicker into existence in the very edge of headlights, never carrying a sign, always with an expression of deep despondency on their faces, swathed in a heavy coat and long pants, usually with gloves. If you stop, they will seem cordial enough, polite, but hardly chatty. They will assure you that the next town or city along your route will be a fine spot to leave them. Normal enough. Unless you try killing them.

They die easily enough. But look underneath their clothes, and you will see that their skin is marred with lines of scars, forming repeating patterns that are unsettling to look at, and even more unsettling in the context of their skin. They have no wallets, no identification. If you slice their belly open, however, they’re different inside. There’s no blood, no muscle, only a hollow cavity containing a single object. The object varies. Examples include a single coin, heavy and golden and engraved with runes nobody could ever decipher. A diamond gem with fractal edges that slice bare flesh to ribbons. A small vase, quite unbreakable, that smells of the ocean and is always damp…

Once you possess a hitchhiker’s object, you’ll find yourself always driving the quiet roads at night. You’ll never mean to, but somehow, you just will. The lure of possessing a second one will hum quietly in your head. You’ll strain to catch sight of a figure appearing in your headlights, try to resist the impulse to stop, and sometimes you might. But sometimes you won’t. You’ll try telling yourself that this is just a normal person on an adventure, someone who ran out of petrol. The logical part of your brain will scream at what you’re doing. You’ll smile and nod and they’ll get into the car and you’ll slowly, casually, reach under the seat or across to the glove box…
--
Inspiration

You know those long, involved ritual creepypastas, the ones that involve a million different steps, the ones where if you breathe at the wrong second you die? Ever wonder who figured it out? It couldn’t have been trial and error – you don’t get a second try at something like that.

The answer’s actually pretty simple. Nobody figured it out.

He already knew.

There’s… an entity, I suppose you could call it, although I always think of it as a him. A little boy, to be exact. He seems to enjoy playing around with people, you see.

And he knows all the rituals, or at least all the real ones. So sometimes he spreads out the information. Ever felt inspired to write some piece of horror that seemed to contain elements that didn’t even exist in your nightmares? Ever had a disturbing idea for some horrible but compelling rite that seemed to ‘just come to you’? It might have been him working through you.

If you get one of those flashes, write it down and post it. I can’t guarantee your health if you don’t – he can be awfully persistent about getting his little messages out, and even if you’re just babbling it to your safe padded walls you’re still saying it.

But, at the same time, if you get one of those flashes… halfway through writing it, stop, open up the instant messenger of your choice, and IM yourself. If all you see are your own normal words echoed back at you, give up there. Either it really is just your imagination that gave you the idea, or he doesn’t want to talk.

But if the message comes back with odd typos that weren’t there before, or new capitalization, or different punctuation marks… well, I’m sure you’ve seen enough pasta with puzzles in it to know what to do to find the message and respond.

If he likes you, or finds you amusing, he’ll talk to you directly there. If he gives you a new puzzle… keep going, but be careful. They get harder and harder, turning from simple wordplay to numerology to esoteric mystical references to God knows what else, but also more and more compelling. It’s harder to just close the window and walk away, and the feeling that you’re just about to reach a solution never eases. And so the next time some poor soul’s found slumped over their computer, killed by starvation and exhaustion and neglect… well, maybe it was just some game, right? But maybe he just wanted to solve that one damn puzzle.

If he does greet you directly, you can name three things you desire – any three at all. He will give you, in complete detail, rituals to achieve those three things – if you’re lucky, it will be a single rite that grants all three. They may be dangerous, but they will be clear and detailed paths to gain what you want through paranormal means.

But, of course, there are catches.

The first: you have to spread the rituals on. You can embellish them as you wish, add your own spin, even lie outright, but you have to leave the goal and most of the steps intact, and you have to put it somewhere where people will see – a forum, a notice board in real life, on the door of a building, wherever. The more popular it is, the happier he will be, and you want his blessing.

Because the second catch is that he always omits some key step. As long as you’ve posted the ritual up in public, you will know when the time comes what that step is – but it could be anything from drawing a simple squiggle to murdering your true love in cold blood. You could have to give up your soul, or mutilate a limb, or drown yourself… or you could just have to hop backwards two times. And you won’t know what it is until you’re buried deep in the rite, unable to stop.

So when you talk to him, be nice and friendly, and make sure you amuse him. He’s kind enough, most of the time. Just a bit mischievous.

How did I learn all this, you ask?

I don’t really know. It just came to me. Inspiration, you could say.

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