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The Bethesda Cult

by cnkguy
The Bethesda Cult

The Bethesda CultReading Time: 8 minutes

There I was, sweating in my uncomfortable seat, surrounded by the sounds of obnoxious unsynchronized clapping. Todd Howard had just made his usual appearance on the annual E3 gaming expo stage. The crowd was anxious, awaiting their anticipated announcements, ready to possibly be disappointed. Myself? I wasn’t at the expo, enduring the claustrophobic mania, for some video games. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good RPG every once in a while, but that wasn’t my intentions on the day in question. I was focused on Howard’s body language, the glare in his eyes, looking for any subtle off-movements, even his choice of dialogue. There’s been something bugging me for some time now that I have a firm and dedicated belief for. Todd and the company of Bethesda are in fact a part of a secret cult. I know how crazy it sounds, but please just hear me out. Allow me to take you back to the traumatizing experience that started all of this.

Orange, red, yellow – the leaves brought an offset of color to an otherwise gloomy autumn day. The season also happened to be the prefix to the disc that was held in my hands; Fallout 4. I was a little late at having my try at the game, as I picked it up around November of last year. Still, I was pretty excited to give it a go. It has gained a lot of popularity, after all.

With the game in my PS4 console, I recall myself sitting on my bed for hours on end. I was fully absorbed into the wasteland-filled virtual environment, forgetting about the spilled cup of cola on the floor next to my feet and the fallen slice of pizza on my bed sheets. The real world around me was ultimately non-existent. It wasn’t until my controller died that reality peeked through again. I, however, only used this moment of clarity to freak out and quickly plug in a charging cable between my system and controller. I had to hurry and jump back into the Fallout universe. This is where I felt like I was worth something. This is where I didn’t feel alone.

Fallout 4 was a game where I could build, fight, and help people in need. The settlement crafting system pulled me in, allowing me to create houses out of resources I worked so hard for. Enemies that got in my way, I would fend off, using practical weapons I made myself. On quests I found mutants and irritated hostiles, the likes of which led me to achievements. These accolades made me feel great and wanted in this made-up reality. Finally, something made life livable that didn’t happen to be prescription or recreational drugs.

My virtual ecstasy, however, came to an abrupt halt. I began noticing some things out of the ordinary, even for a game of fantasy. I’d come up to these electronic terminals in the game and noticed some patterns. Whether I was in a shopping mart, a library, or a museum, the same word would pop up on the terminals, along with the rest of the text. I never really noticed, until I saw it appear even in multiples on some of the screens. The word that struck my attention was “end.” Most wouldn’t bat an eye at this. I mean, the game IS set in a post-apocalyptic world, so the word “end” is rather fitting. For one reason or another, it didn’t feel fitting to me at all. I see this word pop up all the time throughout my life. Everyone has that magic “number” that seems to follow them everywhere they go, whether it’s the lucky number 7 or unlucky 13. Well, mine is the word “end.” I see it inside gas stations, grocery stores, the daily newspaper, even on cereal boxes. This word is constantly being thrown at me.

As soon as I started noticing this, I decided to look at one more terminal in the game. I came across one that was fairly easy to get to – there wasn’t much disturbance, just some destroyed cars, no enemies in sight. This terminal didn’t seem unusual at first, with the same common words lit up on the monitor. Then, something obstructed the screen. The entire thing filled up with my least favorite word, typed over and over. It sped up gradually, eventually to the point that my eyes couldn’t keep up. I was wildly confused, wondering if this was just part of the video game. It was then that I turned off the game, not caring about where I was or when I last saved my progress. I was far too spooked to continue.

Later that evening, I shared the experience with one of my close friends while hanging out at his house. I told him I finally gave the game a shot and mentioned what happened, hoping he wouldn’t judge me and perhaps would know what I was talking about. My questions, to my dismay, were not answered.

“I’ve put hundreds of hours into Fallout 4 and that isn’t anything I’ve witnessed in my playthroughs,” he stated.

This led me to believe that I had simply played the game for so long, that it had taken a toll on my mental state. Somehow, this theory just made me feel worse.

Walking back home that day, my phone kept ringing from all sorts of numbers, all of which I assumed were telemarketers, considering I didn’t recognize the numbers. I ignored them for a while, but there was one I decided to finally answer.

“Hello?” I questioned in a cautious tone.

“Hey, this is GameStop. Your copy of Fallout 4 you ordered, has arrived from the warehouse. You can come by and pick it up anytime. We’re open till 9pm today.”

“Ah thank you…” I responded in a confused fashion.

I started answering more calls, my cellphone being bombarded with one new number after another. Perplexed would be an understatement of which to describe my mind at that point in time. Each phone call was from a different GameStop, at least a dozen or so from across the country, calling to tell me I had a copy of Fallout 4 ready for pick-up. At this point, I was more so frustrated than confused. I assumed my friend was playing some sort of prank at my expense. I eventually began blocking the numbers as they came in.

Despite knowing where the calls were more than likely coming from, something about the ordeal wasn’t sitting well with me. To make matters worse, something far more peculiar happened upon opening the door to my home. I didn’t walk through the doorway, no not in the slightest. As soon as the front door opened, I found myself sitting on my bed, controller in hand, looking directly at my TV screen. It’s tough for me to explain, but it felt as if I never left the house. The game itself was still running, stopped right where I left off, the word “end” plastered across the terminal screen and yet again multiplying rapidly. I shot up from my bed and unplugged both my television and Playstation. I looked up and noticed something – everything in the room was just how I left it, but the walls… they were undoubtedly different. The word “end” surrounded the perimeter of my bedroom, written in all different colors and sizes. At first, I was outraged, wondering who had broken into my home and vandalized my room. I thought it might have been my friend, pulling out all the stops to severely spook me. If so, it was working. This explanation fell flat when I realized that the word painted across my room was written in my own handwriting.

But hold on, how does this make any sense? A harmless glitch, hallucinations, and writing on the walls? What does it all mean? Well, at this point I wasn’t sure, but I knew I had to get to the bottom of it. Without a better plan in mind, I decided to go directly to the source – Todd Howard himself.

And this is what brought me to a room full of boisterous clamor, waiting for the presentation to be over. I grew anxious sitting there, hoping I could speak with Mr. Howard. I didn’t know what he’d say or if he’d even believe me, but I was a slave to my own wishful thinking. Perhaps he could explain all my worries away and put my mind at ease once and for all. Unfortunately for me, my issues couldn’t be fixed with a patch or update.

My heart racing, there finally came a time everyone left their seats. My legs were shaking, but that was mostly from sitting for such a long period of time. Just as I was about to stumble through the exit and head backstage, a man grabbed me by the arm and pulled me aside. It was none other than Todd Howard, an answer to my prayers.

“About time, sir! We’ve been expecting you,” he exclaimed.

“You…have?”

“Of course, I’ve been waiting for you to get the hint. To finally come join us. Just, please don’t tell anybody,” he replied.

“Join you for what?”

“I’m gathering a number of people to help us at Bethesda to start a doomsday plan. I’m not at liberty to say why you or any of the others were chosen, but I can tell you that we are using Fallout as a net, to capture those that can be of use to us. It also foreshadows what the world will look like in the near future. That’s if, of course, you and the others are willing to join us. We can’t do it on our own.”

“What would happen, hypothetically speaking, if I don’t join?”

“Well, you’re free to do whatever you’d like, but the end has already begun. If you don’t help us, someone will take your place, and I just know that you’ll regret it. The clock is ticking.”

Mr. Howard handed me a business card, upon which was the text, “Preregister for your spot on the end list, today.” along with a 1 800 number. I took the card and went back to my hotel room to get some rest and process everything. It’d be a nice way to relax and hopefully cope with the strange events occurring in my life. I would soon find that relaxation was nowhere within reach.

Entering my room, anger and disorientation came over me. The TV in the hotel room was lit up with a copy of Fallout 4 playing. It was stuck on the same screen with the word “end” typed up all over it, just as it was back on that November day. As if this wasn’t enough, my phone rang, though this time a number I recognized.

“Hey Dad, what’s up?” I answered with, as I normally did when my father called.

“Hey, I’m sorry to bother you during your trip, but I have some upsetting news to share with you. Your brother, he just passed away moments ago…”

“Wait, what? How?!” I shouted out of shock and despair.

I was never close to my brother, with him always being away at war and what not. It sounds horrible, but it felt like he was more of a distant relative than a sibling. Even still, my heart sunk.

“The nurses aren’t completely certain, but they claim radiation poisoning was at fault. I find that questionable, because no bombs have been dropped near his location. They’re going to do a further analysis in the coming week to let us know.”

“I’ll be back in town as soon as possible, please keep me updated if any other information comes up. I’m not sure how to handle this, I was just talking to him a couple days ago…” I let out, along with a single tear of pure grief.

“I will, son… this is just as hard for me, and I’ll be devastated for as long as this world lasts. He’ll be looking down on us, smiling. At least he’s in a better place.”

My father said this in a tone of hurt and heartache. He then changed the subject, probably to lighten the mood a bit; something he awkwardly did to avoid dealing with more serious issues.

“Hey, by the way, I have a piece of mail I found stuck in my door tonight, pretty odd for a Sunday. It has my name on it, but I think it’s for you. Says something about a “Fallout 76 Beta invitation” and has the word “end” written all over it. Do you want it?”

I hung up on my own father. I’m not sure why or how I found myself in this ongoing nightmare, but it feels like I’m trapped in my own apocalypse. Take these words however you’d like, believe what you want, but Bethesda is not a game company. Todd Howard is up to something and this is the start of the end.

 

CREDIT: R.T. Maxim

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A Talking Crow Taught Me To Fly

by cnkguy
A Talking Crow Taught Me To Fly

A Talking Crow Taught Me To FlyReading Time: 4 minutes

I used to look out the rusted iron bars of my window and dream about being a bird.

The chain that shackled me to my bed was just long enough to reach the windowsill, and so every night after my father would visit my room I would lie awake and wait for the first rays of light to creep over the horizon, then walk over to my window to listen to the morning’s first few notes of birdsong.

Their melodies were so beautiful, I knew that they must have been singing about places far away and wonderful, about sailing on the wind through endless blue skies, looking down at the treetops that dotted the land below.

Then, one morning as I lay in bed, something impossible happened. I had fallen asleep the night before, and would have missed my morning birdsong but for a tapping on my window. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and sat up to see a crow sitting outside on the sill, tapping my window with his beak.

I crept over to the window and smiled at the bird.

“Hello, Mr. Crow,” I said.

“Hello little girl,” said the crow.

I stood there dumbfounded for a moment, not knowing what to say. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I forced myself to speak.

“You know how to talk?” I said.

“All birds know how to talk,” he replied. “It’s just that not all humans know how to listen.”

I pushed my window open a crack until it hit against the bars. The bird cocked its head in curiosity.

“Why are you in a cage?” it asked.

“I think it’s my destiny,” I said. “It’s always been this way.”

“You look rather thin,” replied the crow. “Would you like something to eat?”

My stomach gave a weak growl.

“Yes,” I said. “That would be wonderful.”

Without another word the crow took flight. A few minutes later he returned with a small branch of figs. The crow watched me as I greedily devoured the fruit. After I had finished he stared at me for a moment before speaking again.

“I didn’t know they put people in cages,” he said. “Do you think they mistook you for a bird?”

“I don’t think so Mr. Crow,” I said.

We whiled away the rest of that day talking. The crow told me all about what it was like to fly, how there was no better feeling in the world. He told me about the far away lands he had visited when he was a young bird and could still make the journey north with the changing of the seasons. Finally, evening came and the crow said that he had to go. The next morning he was back, however, with two more branches of figs.

I thanked him for his generosity, and we talked another day away. That day he even sang me a song. He didn’t have a voice for singing, but I thought his song was beautiful anyway.

We passed the entire fall that way, and the bird’s visits became the only bright spot in my life. He brought me not only figs, but cherries and walnuts too–anything small enough for him to carry.

Soon, however, winter came, and with it the frosts that destroyed the figs and cherries that the crow had used to bring me. His gifts became fewer and fewer, and I could tell from his tired voice that he was flying farther and farther away to get them.

One morning, when the first snows of winter had fallen, the crow asked me a question.

“What would you do to leave this place?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.

I thought for a moment, but I wasn’t sure how to answer. Finally, I told the truth.

“I would do anything to leave this place,” I said. “Anything at all.”

The crow solemnly nodded and said, “The frost isn’t the only thing that winter brings.”

He flapped his wings once and jumped from the windowsill, and I didn’t see him for three days. I began to fall into a deep depression. Every morning I would still listen to the birdsong, but it sounded forlorn and empty without my friend there to listen with me.

The morning after the third day my crow friend returned. It was so beautiful that day; the sun had come out from behind the clouds to melt the snow–one of the last green days before winter came in earnest. As the shadow passed over the valley in which we lived, I first mistook it for a storm cloud, but then I heard the sound. It was loud enough to crack the sky, but it wasn’t thunder–it was birds.

Thousands upon thousands of them descended on our house. A whirling storm of beating wings and shrieking caws, they crashed into the walls and windows, pecking at them with wild ferocity. The house shook under their assault, and their calls were so loud that I didn’t even hear the windows breaking.

They were not so loud, however, that I could not hear my father scream. It was over in a matter of minutes, and the key to my shackles slipped under the door. I rushed over and picked it up with trembling hands, sliding it into the metal cuff around my ankle and turning it.

The cuff came loose with a heavy click, and for the first time I was free.

The key to the door slipped under the jamb as well, and I opened the door to the rest of the house. The place had been all but destroyed. There was splintered wood and broken glass everywhere, and in the center of the living room was what remained of my father–a pile of bloodstained feathers.

The birds had all flown off, but Mr. Crow sat on top of the living room fireplace, regarding me with a curious look.

“Now you can fly free, little girl,” he said. “No more cages for you.”

“Thank you, Mr. Crow,” I said. “Will you come with me?”

Mr. Crow shook his head.

“I am an old bird,” he said. “And my journey is coming to a close. But yours is just beginning.”

Mr. Crow flapped his wings and took flight, and I never saw him again. As I stepped out of the front door my bare feet touched the grass for the very first time, and I could smell the flowers on the breeze as it drifted over me.

At that moment, though my feet were firmly on the ground, my heart was soaring through endless blue sky, far above the world that I had left behind.

I still wake up every morning to hear the birds sing, and when the first few notes break the silence of the early dawn, I think of Mr. Crow and smile.

 

CREDIT: lifeisstrangemetoo

(You must ask permission before narrating this work. Click HERE to do so)

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Land Shark | EPP Bonus Episode 200!

by cnkguy
Land Shark | EPP Bonus Episode 200!

Strange noises and power anomalies bewilder a group visiting a beach at night.

A listener finds that a homemade spirit board is just as dangerous as a store bought one.

A mother awakens from an emergency c-section with a new level of sensitivity and thinned veil.

A family is alarmed when they repeatedly see a doppelganger of mom.

If you have a real ghost story or supernatural event to report, please write into our show or call 1-855-853-4802!

If you like the show, please help keep us on the air and support the show by becoming an EPP (Extra Podcast Person). We'll give you a BONUS episode every week as a "Thank You" for your support. Become an EPP here: http://www.ghostpodcast.com/?page_id=118

#ghosts #ghoststories #halloween #horror #paranormal #supernatural #haunting #haunted #demonic #hauntedhouse #cemetery #evp #ghoststory #ghostbusters #unexplained #shadowpeople #investigation #truestory

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I Will Never Work for McDonald’s Ever Again

by cnkguy
I Will Never Work for McDonald’s Ever Again

I Will Never Work for McDonald's Ever AgainReading Time: 4 minutes

Just to preface, I have a lot of scars on my arms. Not because I harm myself, but because my father likes to get wasted and beat me. Sometimes with the beer bottles he smashes after he’s done drinking. So yeah, I have scars. Scars from all of the horrible shit I’ve gone through over the years. They go from my wrist up to my elbows, reminding me of all the times I had to protect myself from my father’s drunken rage. Because of this, I wear long sleeves at work, that way nobody will make asshole remarks about them.

Now, I had been at the McDonald’s in my hometown for over two years, mostly working nights. One day when I came in, I noticed a sign taped to the ice cream machine. Broken. Not an uncommon thing to happen, but we had just gotten it fixed the week previous. Whatever, I thought. One less thing for me to clean.

At around midnight, I was washing the windows across from the counter. All of a sudden, I heard a low humming sound. I turned around to see where it was coming from. It was the ice cream machine. This was weird, considering it was supposedly broken, but I had known some of our appliances to spring back to life without warning, so I wasn’t too spooked by it.

I walked over to shut the thing off. At about five feet away from the counter, I felt what seemed like water running down my arms. I thought it might have been a chill, but as I moved closer, the coolness turned to fire. I felt sharp pains wrapping around my arms, then moving up to my shoulders and down my back. I stopped walking and rolled up my left sleeve. At first, everything looked fine. Nothing unusual. I took another step forward before it hit me and then looked back at my arm. My scars… they were gone. I quickly rolled up my other sleeve to check. It was the same, no scars in sight.

I felt another watery sensation on my back, as if a whirlpool had opened up in my skin. I touched at the area under my shirt and felt it. Skin, not properly healed. Was it my scars? Freaked out, I backed up towards the windows. I watched my wounds as they slithered back onto my arms where they had been made. I froze for a moment, then took a few steps forward. My scars moved once again. I moved back and forth, towards and then away from the counter a few times. Every time I stepped forward, my scars squirmed around like worms in the dirt. When I moved away, they went back into place. How was this possible? What was causing my wounds to travel around my body?

Once I got used to my scars’ movement, I decided to search for some answers. I looked behind the counter, near the fryolator, and further back by the grills. Then, I noticed something. The ice cream machine had stopped humming. As I moved toward it, my scars began frantically snaking around my skin. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the damned thing wasn’t even plugged in. I opened up the lid, looked inside, and saw a silver liquid sloshing around where the ice cream normally was. I reached my hand towards it, if only out of curiosity. As my fingertips touched the surface, it stopped moving and my entire hand went numb. I felt a strange feeling come over me in the form of a thought. Was it alive? I put my hand in a little further and felt something within the wet metal. It was rough to the touch, but perfectly round; a metallic sphere of sorts. I tried to pull at it, but when I did, the liquid began crawling up my arm. Frightened, I pulled back, and ran right out of the store. Without even so much as saying anything to my manager, I got in my car and drove home, truly terrified of whatever it was I had felt.

The next morning, I woke up on the floor of my bedroom. A sudden dizziness compelled me to grab my head. It was warm, borderline feverish. Was the night before just a weird nightmare? Or did I smoke too much after getting out of work? Frazzled, I made my way to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I placed my hands on both sides of the sink, staring deeply into my own eyes. I then inhaled, closed my eyes, and lowered my head. When I opened them, I noticed it. They were gone. I raised my arms closer to my face, twisting them side to side to check all around. My hands then darted to my back. They weren’t there either. I quickly shut the door to the bathroom and locked it. I undressed and scanned every inch of my body. My scars had vanished.

Feeling born anew, healed from the troubles of my past, I exited the bathroom with my head held high. I didn’t know how or why, but I was thankful. Completely elated, I decided to go about my day, venturing down to the kitchen for some breakfast. As I rummaged through the fridge, I heard a loud thud come from the direction of my father’s bedroom. I glanced down the hall and noticed that the door was closed. I tiptoed over and cracked it open a bit, careful not to wake the beast. The room was pitch black. He had hung a blanket in front of the window to block out the light, as he often did when hungover. I felt along the wall for the light switch. When I flicked it on, I saw my father, laying on the floor, his face beaten in. On his arms were scars, but not just any scars. They were mine. I would recognize them anywhere. Next to him, was a metallic, silver sphere. I didn’t think, I didn’t scream, I didn’t do anything that I probably should have. I just ran.

 

CREDIT: R.L. Rogers

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Abandoned Hotel | Haunted, Paranormal & Supernatural

by cnkguy
Abandoned Hotel | Haunted, Paranormal & Supernatural

Does an abandoned hotel in a small New Mexico town hold ghosts of former guests, with a message for the living?

A family member rescues her young nieces from a seemingly peaceful interaction with two children by a river bank… But just who were the children they were playing with?

A caller shares her account of an interaction with a shadow person that made it difficult for her to breath. Could it have been a guardian angel?

What was hidden beneath the cement of a families new home, and what did it want?

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An Open Letter To My Daughter’s Killer

by cnkguy
An Open Letter To My Daughter’s Killer

An Open Letter To My Daughter's KillerReading Time: 2 minutes

An open letter to the killer of Samantha B. If you’re somehow able to read this wherever you are now, know that I will find you.

No father should have to watch their child lowered into the sacred silence of the earth. I don’t know if there is a right age to die, but I do know it isn’t seventeen. Better at birth before eyes had filled with light and I had learned to love so deeply. Better late into old age when life’s fleeting joys had been more than tasted. Better not at all, but a world where prayers are answered is a world where they’re not needed: a world that isn’t ours.

All the hours I spent playing on the floor were wasted. All the faces and bad jokes I made to get a smile, all the music I played to inspire a song or the books I read to inspire a dream: all wasted. I thought that was all it took to make me a good parent, but I was wrong. I invested my entire life into this single purpose, but everything I had to give was not enough. I wasn’t there when I was needed most, and nothing I have ever done or could ever do can change that.

The police found the knife you did it with in the woods where you dropped it. It was a slow death, they told me, but passing out would have avoided most of the pain. I wonder if you regretted it as soon as your blade entered the skin. Did you mean for it to dig so deep? Did you panic when the blood wouldn’t stop? Did you call for help, or struggle in vain to bandage the wound, or were you too ashamed? I wonder if you planned the kill at all, or whether time was flying too fast and your blood pounding too loud and you didn’t know how to make it stop until it was too late.

Were you thinking of anyone but yourself when you did it? I don’t know what private torment brought you to this point, but taking a life will never cease that pain. The pain is passed from one person to the next, enduring past life, past death, past mortal strength to bear. Until the day long after you’re gone when the next victim sees the sun dawn without light or warmth and all sounds and colors bleed into an endless grey. And then that sun too will set, passing on your pain once again.

You must think that I hate you. I don’t think anyone would blame me if I did. I hate that you destroyed my family, but I forgive you for everything. You may not believe me, but I promise it’s true. It’s everything about this world that made you into someone capable of such an act that I will never forgive.

I still don’t know why you killed yourself, Samantha. If you’re somehow able to read this though, know that I will find you. And somehow, someday, we’ll be together again.

 

CREDIT: Tobias Wade

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