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Nightmare

by cnkguy
Nightmare

NightmareReading Time: 70 minutes

I grew up in a small town in the mid-west. While there is a great variety of outdoor hobbies to immerse oneself in, little happens around here and life can quickly start to feel mundane. Lets just say that the local university is what keeps us on the map. Regardless, it is a place filled with many fond memories of my childhood, carrying throughout my adolescence and early adulthood. I liked it so much that I decided to stick around after graduating high school to further my education. While most of the friends I grew up with wanted to get as far away as possible, I held a very strong attachment to where I came from. I just felt like it would always be my home.
Growing up I had some abandonment and trust issues. My mother died in the process of giving birth to me and my father never was able to overcome the grief brought upon by the tragedy. Deep down I felt a horrible guilt that I took her away from this world and my father. I felt like my old man looked at me with feelings of resentment that constantly battled the natural love felt for his own child. All of this proved too much for him and he left when I was barely a teenager. I remember coming home after school one day to an empty house and sitting around waiting in vain- waking up the next day and not having a ride to school. I don’t know where he went or what became of him but I was lucky enough to have some caring grandparents who took me in and helped support me through all of it. They raised me up through high school and were even kind enough to pay for higher education as they were close to retirement with a lot of money saved up. Despite all of their help, my early college years were spent dealing with some serious issues pertaining to substance abuse- primarily alcohol. While a lot of kids drink in college, sometimes excessively, it was a growing problem that sat festering in the deepest part of my brain that I was too afraid to face. I hated myself for tearing apart what would have been my family. It was very difficult to get by in my day to day activities without pumping my body full of substance. At the time It was the only thing I knew was capable of easing my restless, skeptical mind. My grades would slip as I embarked on week long drinking binges, all the while neglecting to go to class. I would barely pull through by the skin of my teeth after digging myself into a hole- I don’t know how I passed any classes to be honest. Every night was spent draining bottles while I stewed in the corner of my room, convincing myself that my life was somehow worse than it really was and that I was justified in my own self-destruction. For a while the only thing that brought me joy was watching myself suffer to ensure that my masicist-driven desires were completely satisfied. Needless to say, it was a very rough and confusing part of my life.
While attending one of my classes, I met the woman who would help me stray away from my disgusting addictions. I still remember walking into the lecture hall and seeing her sitting by herself, enjoying whatever song was playing in her headphones. I chuckled to myself as she did not care who saw her dance in her silly way. After a few months into the semester, I finally worked up the courage to approach her and I’ll never forget her looking up at me saying “well look who decided to show up?” a clever smirk shining on her face. I was surprised and flattered that she had noticed me at all. I had been absent for around a week and after my teacher threatening to fail me, I was able to drag myself there. Her long, dark hair swam down her shoulders and back and her soft brown eyes flushed optimism through me. She reached out her hand, “i’m Mary” she said to me, confidence exuding from her. A hangover pounding in my head, I reached out my hand and was instantly hooked once our hands clasped. I got to talking to her and she was the sweetest, most delightful human being I had ever met. Her bright, inviting personality diffused any cynicism that I ever attempted to let out. I wont bore you with all the details of our relationship but over our last few years of college we grew very close and I was certain that she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I proposed to her during our senior year, not wanting to waste any time in locking her down. Though some times were worse than others, finding Mary is what really helped me pull myself out of that darkness. While others had judged and looked down on me for my reprehensible behavior, Mary never saw them as opportunities to exude her own moral superiority on me. Rather, she just saw someone struggling to cope with their demons and provided nothing but kindness and understanding as she helped me through some of the worst times. She eventually helped me stop drinking all together which led to me having an easy ride through the rest of college. My grades improved, I had more energy, and I was so grateful to be able to find joy in life that wasn’t garnered from the handle of a bottle or the chamber of a pipe. She was the ying to my yang and effortlessly helped me see the joy in the life while kindly attempting to shift my irrational, negative views of the world. She truly helped me become a better person and I was the luckiest guy in the world to have found her when I did.
After graduation finally came and went, I was able to land a job with the local university in the marketing division. Mary graduated with me and she was adamant towards moving past this town and setting up somewhere else, but I resisted. I guess I just didn’t want to leave. I was able to convince her that we should just find a cheap rental and save up some money before we decided to move on. While this really wasn’t a bad reason for sticking around, my ulterior motive remained as staying put. Again, I just felt as though this would always be my home.
As we coasted through the beginning of our summer, life appeared to be nothing but a breeze. I had a great woman on my side, a decent paying job where I would be starting soon and I did it all in the town I grew up in. All of my friends had moved away and while some were struggling and some weren’t, I did not envy their insatiable need to travel and explore- I had everything I could ever need right here.
In early June my grandparents retired and were in the process of moving to a quiet lake house a few hours away. Due to this I had the choice between moving with them for a while or starting my own life with the woman I loved. I had made it through all of this and I had great confidence in myself that I was ready to brave the world. Mary had found an ad in the newspaper disclosing a rental home out in the country for a price that I thought seemed way too good to be true. Three bedrooms, two full baths, and a screened in back porch that overlooked a large amount of land for just $600 a month seemed ridiculous. While I was skeptical at first, I thought we should at least give it a look. An offer like this was worth at least giving a chance. After all, we were both pretty eager to move into our first home together so we promptly called the number listed to set up a meeting the following day at the house.
A few days later it was time for our meeting and I quickly realized that this place was very out of the way- about thirty minutes outside of town. “Alright” I thought, as I drove further into the boonies, the forest enveloping me as I went on. “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad”, I thought, considering the monthly fee that Mary had previously told me, so I tried to remain optimistic. However, that optimism was all but gone when I pulled into a disheveled driveway leading to a house that could stage as your stereotypical drug den from the movies. The house stood alone, surrounded by a plethora of trees with a few houses scattered just barely in view where the neighbors must have resided. I wouldn’t have believed it was the right address had it not been for the sight of Mary’s Pontiac Sunfire in the driveway as I pulled in. I let out an apprehensive sigh as I turned off my car and made my way to the front door of the house. While I approached it, I realized it was even worse than my first impression served. Two by fours were nailed into the walls to cover holes in the houses exterior and it sat within a yard so overgrown and neglected that I wouldn’t have believed anyone had lived there for years. “Great” I thought.
Before I could enter the house I was greeted by Mary swinging open the front door to pull me inside with excitement. While the outside appeared to be in shambles, the interior wasn’t so bad in contrast. New furniture laid throughout the rooms with pristine walls and polished floors. It even had a washer, dryer and dishwasher- a few things you really miss while in college. I was a little thrown off by this, wondering if I had entered the same house I was just looking at but I figured it wasn’t worth overthinking. Plus I guess for the crazy low price I couldn’t really complain too much. If anything it would give me some outdoor projects to work on for the rest of the summer. Mary led me into the kitchen that sat just before the large screened porch that the ad disclosed. I opened the sliding door leading to it and the landlord sat there waiting. He was a middle-aged man, probably around forty-five or so with short gray hair and a weathered face. He quickly stood up and I was taken back by his imposing height, standing at least six foot eight with a lanky, wiry build. He reached out a hand and introduced himself as Derek. He had an erratic, almost paranoid aura about him as his eyes darted warily around the house while he spoke to me. He rushed us through a tour of the entire house, barely giving us any chances to see inside the rooms as he made trivial small talk with us. The tour ended as quickly as it began. I felt like I barely got a look into any of the rooms. I could barely get out a question before he would shoot across the room to the next, disregarding my inquiries.”You guys can stick around and check it out for a bit while you decide. You can give me a call once you have a decision. Also there’s a spare key underneath the doormat, just lock up once you leave”. He said to us before he seemed to rush out of the house. I thought it was pretty strange that he would be so trusting as to just leave us there alone while revealing the location of the spare key. We sat there a little perplexed by the guy’s behavior but he seemed like a nice enough guy and this place was a steal. We sat on the back porch and after some discussion we decided that having privacy like this, for such a low price, would be worth it despite the commute and the exterior being in less than stellar condition. We called Derek the next day and locked it down.
Fast forward a week and we had begun the arduous process of moving into a new house. I really didn’t have much baggage aside from my clothes, TV, x box and Wii. Mary, being the collector she was, carried the majority of our luggage as we made several trips to and from town to bring everything in. If the house hadn’t been so far away and if we had more than a relatives truck to haul everything, it would have gone a lot smoother, but in the end we got it all there no problem.
We unpacked our stuff as quickly as possible and spent the rest of the day decorating and rearranging the house. I helped out by dragging the heavier furniture across the house as Mary laid out her stuff in her preferred order. The house was really coming together and our excitement slowly grew as our new home was taking shape piece by piece. We were finally settled in and I was in such a state of content. As Mary was wrapping up her unpacking adventure, I decided to zone out in some video-games in the living room that sat on the opposite end of the house to our bedroom. Mary had to be up at the crack of dawn for her current job as a server at a local coffee shop and me being a bit of a night owl, didn’t want to disturb her rest. I sat up late in the living room playing one of my favorite games, resident evil 4 on my dusty old Wii. Hours went by and 2:00 AM came but I felt restless so I decided to switch on some Netflix and maybe fade to sleep on the couch.
I awoke with a sudden sense of urgency. Being in a new place for the first time I was a little disoriented by my surroundings but laughed it off as I came to. I checked my phone and saw that it was a little past 5:30 AM and reluctantly pulled myself off of the couch. I stretched but was startled as a large moth flew just in front of my face. I swiped my hands aggressively as I was starting to fully awaken. “What the hell is that doing in here?” I asked myself as I flipped on the lights. When I did though I saw dozens of various insects fluttering throughout the living room. “What the heck?” I muttered to myself. My senses rebooting, I heard the loud hum of frogs accompanied by the distinct chirping of crickets and birds coming from behind me. I turned towards the origin of the sounds as I made my way out of the living room to see the sliding glass door to our porch wide open. “Had I left that open by accident?” I thought if I had even went on to the porch that day as I trudged my way towards it. As I approached the doorway, I was met with the unmistakable smell of burning tobacco. I stopped for a moment just a few feet in front of the open door in confusion as Mary didn’t smoke, at least to my knowledge. I took a few steps onward before that large moth flew just past my head, its leathery wings grazing the back of my neck as it broke free into the open. I stared out into the darkness that swarmed around the porch and could see the flickering, orange glow of a cigarette cherry displaying itself with certainty in the pitch black. “Mary?” I called out. No response. “Mary!” I repeated with a bit more assertiveness. Again, silence. I was starting to feel uneasy when I wondered if I might be dreaming. I heard a light exhale as thick smoke was illuminated around the small amount of light that the burning ember provided. The smell was too real and the sounds of the outside were too detailed for this to be a dream. “Mary?” I called out once more into the darkness to only be met with silence once again. It was at this point that all of the sounds of birds, crickets and frogs ceased. A wave of fear swept over me as the silence became a presence of its own. Backing up, I quickly slid the door shut and locked it. “What are you doing?” I nearly had a heart attack as I heard Mary’s voice come from the doorway of our bedroom in a groggy tone. My eyes shot back through the glass door but the light of the cherry was no longer there. I didn’t know what to say so I just told her I was getting some fresh air. My heart jumped again as the sound of Mary’s alarm blared into the quiet morning. “Well go to sleep dummy its way too late and early for you to be up right now.” My gaze was still mostly focused outside. “I have to get ready so why don’t you just go lay down you freak.” I laughed and gave her a kiss before making my way to the bed, still a little uneasy over what just happened. I thought how sometimes people just have waking nightmares and the fact that I was barely awake, reassured me of this and I was able to force myself to sleep.
When I woke up the next day I immediately made my way towards the porch for any sign of an unwanted visitor. I slid the door open and paced my way around, searching for a cigarette butt or anything of the sort to show myself that I wasn’t crazy. I practically turned the whole area upside down but it was showing to be a fruitless effort as all I found was an empty porch. But as I stood outside, something hit me. I had just woken up on the couch again, not my bed. Dread washed over my body as I rushed to our bedroom to find a note on the bed from Mary. ” Tried to say bye to you this morning but you never came to bed! I couldn’t get you to wake up after I found you on the couch, you were really knocked out. Don’t stay up so late playing those video games okay? I’ll see you later today so have a nice morning!” I sat there in the bedroom, dumbfounded. “So was it really just a dream?” I thought to myself- I was so confused. I let the weight of my body collapse onto the bed and I fished out a book of poetry that Mary had given to me a year ago or so. i’m not a poet or anything, but some nights when I felt particularly depressed or anxious, Mary would read various poems while comforting me. I know this sounds cheesy, but having someone read me stories had a very soothing quality to it- Like a caring mother reading stories to her child before bed. I will always pull out this book when i’m feeling myself slipping as it reminds me of the love that she had provided for me as the words were permanently associated with comfort and bliss. I flipped to one of my favorites, written by Breanna Stockham- one that is my consistent go-to when I start feeling down.
“Where’d you go, self?
Where are you?
Are you hiding away,
or too afraid to shine through?
Why don’t you come
around anymore?
Did you get swept
up in the world?
Did-”
My reading was halted as Mary came through the front door, her face lighting up the room as she hopped onto the bed next to me to plant a kiss in the middle of my face. I laughed as she jumped on top of me and started to tickle and pinch my sides. Even though she was up at dawn and likely had to deal with ungrateful customers at her workplace, she was still able to come through the door with no thought but making me happy. We laid on the bed and talked for a few minutes before I got up to make her some lunch. After I brought her her food and set up her favorite tv show, I decided that it was a good time to head outside to change the view of our house into something presentable.
I went out to the yard a few minutes later, quickly starting to bake in the scorching hot sun, mowing the yard and removing the comical amount of overgrowth surrounding the base of the house. After trimming some bushes down and ripping out some old dead ones, I suddenly felt the distinct feeling of being watched. I don’t know how to describe how it came about but my eyes proceeded to sweep over the surrounding area. I expected to maybe see a person nearby, watching their new neighbor and waiting for an opportunity to approach, giving me a welcome to the neighborhood. However, I was surprised when my eyes fell near the adjacent treeline to see.. a dog, standing roughly seventy yards away at the edge of the nearby forest. “Aw just a dog!” the animal lover in me thought as I realized who was looking at me from a distance. I called out and whistled for it to come over but it didn’t so much as flinch. “Oh well” I thought, not really thinking much of it and turned back to my yard work, hoping to make the most of my weekend by being as productive as possible to restore my crack-house of a home. I worked for a few more hours, trimming the remaining brush that infested the perimeter of the house until the sun made its way back down to the horizon. As I called it a day and fanned the front of my shirt to cool off, I glanced to the edge of the forest where I had originally seen my furry admirer and I was overcome with a sense of dread.. There it was. This dog hadn’t seemed to have moved a muscle since I last looked its way. It was just standing there, calm and stoic, looking right at me. An uneasy feeling gripped me but curiosity trumped my instincts and I started to make my way towards the cusp of the forest, hoping to instill some sort of reaction. As I got closer, I started to realize how intimidating this dog was. It was quite large, not massive or a circus attraction or anything but probably around one hundred pounds more or less with long sturdy legs and scruffy, jet black hair hanging off of an athletic frame. It almost looked like a wolf but just not quite enough to distinguish it as such. The best way I can describe it is if you mixed an Irish wolfhound and a full blooded wolf that came out all black. I got to within fifty feet of it when I started to feel that sense of dread intensify. I didn’t know why I felt this at the time but as the details of its appearance became more clear I saw that it was dirty- its hair appearing scraggly and unkempt. While it was already a big dog, it seemed to carry a presence that was larger than life. It sat there, not phased by my advances, sitting so still that it seemed to be made of stone. The sun was all but completely set by this point and it was almost as if some outside force stopped me dead in my tracks. I stared at it and it stared right back at me- its eyes were unlike anything I had ever seen. They glowed an electric, vibrant yellow and I could feel them cut deep – I was frozen. I continued to stare into its eyes, filling me with feelings of misery and hatred. I don’t know how else to describe it. All I could think was that there was an intelligence that it possessed that was far outside of the norm. It looked at me as if it knew who I was- like it knew all of my deepest dreams and fears and proceeded to cast a cloud of resentment over them. As it stood there, rigid and unblinking I noticed that the sun was fully set and night had arrived. Breaking the trance I was in, I began to back away. I kept my eyes locked on it as I did so in case it decided to go on the offensive, being that I may have been encroaching on its territory. Once I got some good distance on it and approached the house, I turned around and made my way to the front door. I looked back before grabbing the doorknob but at this point it was too dark to make out its figure. “Must have went back to its lair” I said to myself with a chuckle, trying to laugh off my creepy little experience.
Walking back into the house I was immediately greeted by Mary with a great deal of worry in her face and tone. “Where have you been? I was really starting to get worried.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “I was just out doing some work in the yard.” She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face. “How could you have been doing that? Please just tell me whats up.” I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. I pulled out my phone only to be dumbstruck that the time read 11:35 pm. “How is that possible?” I muttered under my breath. The sun had only just went down before I made my way back to the house. Just then the sight of that dog’s gaze flashed in my mind and I felt my body twinge with discomfort. “I don’t know what you were doing or if something is wrong, but please be honest with me if there is something on your mind,” Mary said to me while placing a soft hand on the back of my neck. “i’m okay” I told her, placing my hand on hers. “Just went on a little stroll to check out the area and clear my head.” I felt awful telling a lie right to Mary’s face like this, but I seriously didn’t know what else to tell her. I was as worried as she was but I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. We quickly moved on and proceeded to take advantage of our weekend. Not having anything to do the next day, we stayed up late watching Studio Ghibli movies and drinking wine together. Once 3:00 AM rolled around, we decided it was time to turn in, not wanting our sleep schedule to get too out of whack.
That night I recall feeling very restless; despite the generous amount of wine I had engorged myself with I tossed around in bed for what felt like forever. When I finally managed to fall asleep, I experienced a dream that was uncomfortably vivid. It started with me struggling to pick myself up off the ground to see I was on a painfully long and dark stretch of road. I know this sounds weird, but I remember feeling extremely cold- I could see my breath and feel the ends of my fingers numbing quickly. Putting my hands to my mouth to breathe in warmth, my eyes ran along the center of the road ahead of me. There weren’t any houses nearby to discern that I was in a residential area, nor any visible trees that may have indicated that I was along a back road highway. However, what I did see were two faint lights off in the distance- so far out that I almost had mistaken them as fireflies. If the road had not been so barren and the surrounding area seeming nonexistent, there is no way I would have even noticed them. I rubbed my hands together, letting the friction ease my freezing palms and I stared at the distant glow. I tried to make something out of them but it was too difficult to tell exactly how far away they were since I had nothing to scale it with. They could have been a few hundred feet away or even a few miles for all I could tell. I didn’t know what all of this meant or what was going on but I felt a deep longing to reach these lights; whether to find my way out of this dense shadow or maybe to find that it was a warm house in which I could shelter myself from the elements. I took my first step and I stopped. Once my foot planted, I felt a deep, raspy growl emanate from the darkness that laid behind me. I snapped my head back with the instinct exuded by an unlucky prey, and I felt the temperature drop even further. I focused my vision with great effort but I couldn’t seem to see anything behind me from which this growl may have come from. Nothing but shifting, oily blackness sat behind me, dancing and contorting as it mocked my efforts to discover what it held. I wanted to speak but all I could do was let my mouth fall open to let a meek whimper slide out. This was a sound I didn’t recognize at first but it was one that must have been pulled out of me by whatever presence was lingering in the dark. I stood there for what felt like hours, stuck in place while the frigid air crushed my body. The suspense was beginning to gnaw at me as I internally begged for something to happen as the cold air all but pulverized me to a speck of dust. I sat there waiting.. Suddenly, I felt an abrupt shift and heard the accelerating mass of a large animal begin crashing its way towards me. I immediately turned back towards the two lights in the distance, now offering themselves as my only sanctuary, and I ran. I ran faster and harder than I ever had, feeling my ankles and knees absorb each smack of my feet hitting the dense concrete below me. This wasn’t the stereotypical dream where no matter how fast you ran, you couldn’t move more than the speed of a slug. No, I could run well, exceptionally well actually. I felt myself flying through the air with a speed I didn’t know I possessed but those lights never seemed to get any closer. I was certain that at any moment I was going to be a meal for whatever trailed me. Every time I looked back, I saw nothing but darkness keeping its pace with me. I thought that surely I would eventually reach my safe haven that sat ahead but it felt as if I was running into oblivion. Minutes dragged on and on as I made my seemingly futile dash but I dared not stop in fear of what would present itself if I did. I had probably ran for miles but somehow I never grew tired, my pace never slowed and my pursuer never seemed to stray. I almost wanted to just stop and put an end to this horror but the lights ahead were the only thing keeping me from giving up. But as minutes seemed to turn into hours, I looked closely at these lights and noticed they seemed to be further away from where they started. I didn’t want to see it but their glow was slowly fading. Even though at this point I was certain I was dreaming, I panicked as the snapping and snarling coming from behind me was beginning to close the distance between us. I could hear the excitement in this beasts panting as it inched closer and closer and I felt the primal growls reverberate inside of my body. No matter how much I ran, those lights just would not find me. As the last flicker in view went out, I felt myself collapse mid-stride, but not hitting the ground. It felt as though I had fallen through a hole in the earth- like I had run straight off a cliff and I fell through what appeared to be the ceiling of my bedroom. I felt my feet break through the roof and I crashed onto my bed to be brought awake at last.
I sat up sharply in bed, being met with an intense chill, despite being in a house with no a/c in the middle of the summer. Laying back down I played that dream over again in my mind. I had never felt such fear in a dream. Even stranger was I don’t ever recall feeling any sort of physical sensation in any dream before, let alone having the temperature of one carry on into my conscious state. As my body woke up a little more and my mind came to, I was greeted with the smell of bacon and pancakes filling the house which calmed me down a bit at first. But as I stood up my legs buckled and I nearly fell back onto my bed. This dream had felt real but there is no way my legs could be worn out from it. “Maybe they’re just sore from working outside all day,” I reassured myself. I picked myself back up and staggered into the kitchen to find Mary happily making breakfast while playing some relaxing music. This put a smile on my face and I temporarily pushed that late night run out of my mind. After finishing up breakfast and laying around on a lazy Sunday, the dream was forcing its way back into my head. I couldn’t seem to shake it out and it was really starting to bother me so I told Mary about it. I told her about the strange nightmare I had as well as the creepy monster dog that had stared at me for hours. I asked her if she had noticed it hanging around the property or anything unusual of the sort but she hadn’t. “Don’t go crazy on me now!” Mary said, teasing me. I chuckled as she wrapped my head in her arms. “Why don’t we order some takeout and watch some movies you weirdo” she said to me as she released my head. I was more than happy to do so as I just wanted to forget about that strange dog. After ordering the food I exited the house but something immediately caught my eye. I don’t know why they stuck out so blatantly but where the grass met the sultry mud adjacent to the driveway, was a set of huge, canine tracks leading up to my bedroom window. They pressed deep into the soil as if it had crushed its feet into the earth with such malice that it gave way to it without a fight. I stared in the direction the trail of tracks originated from towards the edge of the woods- intersecting with the exact spot that I had encountered that dog the day before.
The next few weeks quickly passed by and just about every night I experienced this same dream. It was always the same for the most part: I would pick myself up on a dark road and on cue I would always start running to those lights, just trying to escape from that hunger that pined for me. Sometimes I would just run endlessly but as the nights went on it started to catch me on a semi-regular basis. I could feel every sensation as it would rip into my flesh- almost like I was being torn apart by a pack of starving wolves. The same nefarious scenario plagued my mind each night, each time being filled with more anxiety and torment than the last. I always tried reminding myself it was all a dream, but I felt the pain no less by thinking it was not real. My sleep was starting to suffer- I never felt like I slept for more than an hour and incidentally, my body ached all over. I was very unsettled by the fact that my body was constantly sore after my dreams and that I could experience such excruciating pain in them. While there were a few variations to these dreams, the outcome was always the same- I ran and ran but never reached those lights. As weeks dragged on, I started to grow paranoid- I would rush to the window with every shuffle I heard outside of the house and I started to give up on going to sleep, staying up until exhaustion got the better of me.
A few more weeks passed and I was settling in to my new job. Even though that dream was popping up in my head every night, things were about as good as they could be. I got along with everyone at work and was happy to be making a decent paycheck. Mary and I were basking in the glory of living in our first home and all of the privacy it brought with. The only thing that made sense was to write all of this off as nothing more than crazy nightmares brought upon by the stress of starting a new job and moving into a new house. However, every morning walking out to my car, I felt that same sensation of being watched and would scan the area out of routine to see if I would catch that dog nearby, glaring at me with those piercing eyes. But alas, I could never seem to catch him- even though in the back of my mind I somehow knew it was there. These weeks quickly turned into months as I constantly felt the nagging feeling of something just over my shoulder. Mary was visibly annoyed by my constant chatter of the mystical dog that I had encountered that summer night and we had even endured a few shouting matches over it, me wanting to show that I wasn’t crazy and her showing her concern wearing thin as my fruitless accusations began to pile up. The guilt of worrying Mary was weighing heavy on my shoulders. My sleep continued to suffer as I would jump with every bump in the night and rush to the window in hopes to uncover definitive proof of the source of my paranoia. But every time I would see nothing out that window but blackness. I’m ashamed to say that due to these unforeseen circumstances, I began to indulge myself in alcohol once again. It was the only thing that helped ease my mind and if I had enough, it would knock me out until the following morning.
My few remaining friends had heard of the struggles that Mary was enduring and wanted to help. My frequent patrols through the night that consisted of me staring out the window and talking to myself was keeping her awake and trying her patience. It got so bad that they felt they needed to stage an intervention, telling me to get some help and to just try and relax. That I was letting something that wasn’t real take hold of my life, causing me to miss what was going on right in front of me. I glanced at Mary, with tears swelling up in her eyes, I could see the genuine concern in her face as I began to question my own sanity. “Was all of this really just in my head?”, I thought. “Had I let this control my life so much that I had begun losing touch?” Looking at the calendar on my phone reminded me that it was well into the month of October and a tidal wave of depression swept over me. I apologized to all of my friends, not knowing what was going on; If it was really just all in my own head. It seemed easier to believe that at the time than to question it. How could I have let so much time slip by as I obsessed over something as ridiculous as this. I was consumed by it.
I felt as though I was reintegrating myself into society after my awakening from the deep delusion I had seemed to have succumbed to. I urged Mary to accompany me on a hike through a trail near our home. Readying myself for the chilly, fall weather I slid my boots on and threw on a coat while waiting for Mary to finish up her own preparations. Once we made our way out the door and down the road I felt the surging feeling of relief swim through me . I noticed every passing animal, every sound and every detail of color detailing the beautiful, decaying brush as we were carried through our trek. Making our way towards the entrance of the aforementioned trail, I turned to Mary with a smile and embraced her without words. In this moment I had truly experienced the present and all of the happiness it had to offer me. I wish I could live in these moments forever.
Making our way towards the end of the trail we came across a small pond. I had never been all the way through this trail to see what the end held but it was a very peaceful and satisfying end to a comfortably ordinary day spent. Standing at the edge of the pond, I looked down, gathering up a few stones and began skipping them across the still water. Mary, being her usual self, was capturing the scenery on her phone to assure we could later revisit it in all of its glory. “You’re going to miss your real life stuck in that phone babe!” I yelled at her in a joking tone. She waved me off, sticking out her tongue and kept on with her photo-shoot.
As I skipped one of the last rocks and watched it spin across the otherwise undisturbed surface, I noticed a woman standing at the opposite end of the pond. She was maybe fifty or sixty yards away but I could make out that she had long blonde hair, wearing a blue flannel shirt and jeans to match. “That’s odd” I thought. I hadn’t noticed her at all before but being as out in the open as she was, I figured I would have spotted her immediately. I don’t know how she could have just appeared there in the few seconds that I looked down. As far as I knew, there wasn’t any sort of trail that lead to that side of the pond since there was nothing but thick orange and red behind her. Additionally, the perimeter of the shore was far too dense with trees and shrubs for anyone to make their way through unscathed but she looked relatively untouched from what I could see. I turned back to see Mary taking pictures of the entirety of the pond and pocketing her phone at last. “Alright I’m finished are you happy?” She said with a smirk and bumped her hip into mine. I looked back to the opposite edge, but whoever may have been across from us was nowhere to be seen. “Yeah dummy!” I yelled back at her, burying my unease and wrapped my arm around her as we made our way down the trail and back home.
As we exited the mouth of the trail back towards the house, my curiosity was beginning to nag me and I asked Mary if I could see some of the pictures she had taken. She pulled up her phone, opening the recent photos taken and I scrolled through them revealing an impressive array of scenery that the autumn forest provided. Originally distracting me from the main reason I wanted to examine them, I quickly reminded myself to look out for anything unusual. I couldn’t seem to find anything out of the ordinary. I even got to the last pictures taken of the pond, trying to pin-point that exact spot where I had seen the woman. I know she had taken at least a few pictures while I had seen her- I was certain of it. But as I reached the end of the compilation and the end of the screen reared back to the right, I was almost disappointed. I had expected to see something that I could show Mary to let her see that maybe, just maybe that there was something otherworldly going on out here. But the picture revealed nothing. Nothing but an empty portrait facing us where I had seen this woman looking across at us. “What? You don’t think they’re good?” She asked, probably noticing my disheartened expression. “No! I think they’re great!” I strained. its just- “What?” she asked. “I know you are all worried about me but.. there was a woman across the pond and was looking right at us”, I said. “Oh” she responded in a deflated tone. “Look I know you must think i’m crazy but I swear there was someone there!” I said, pleading for her in frustration to believe me. “You know I really want to believe you, but I want you to stop seeing these things even more. I wish we could just enjoy our time without you getting lost in your own head.” I let my head collapse into my hands, “I just wish you guys would believe me, I swear there is something going on” I said to her. “There is something going on. We are lucky enough to have a place together and you are missing it. That is what’s going on” she responded. I just sat there without a response as she picked herself up and left the room.
I laid there in bed for hours in confusion over what I had seen and anger that it had swooped back into my life right as everything was looking up. That night I knew the moment when I had fallen asleep- It was like I has closed my eyes and opened them up to a new world. I had fallen into this dream already running, memories flooding me of the horrific nightmares I had endured many times before. Only this time there wasn’t a long road, but a battered trail winding through a dense forest, overseeing me as I planted my foot hard into the soil with each turn. However, one similarity showed itself – two lights showing themselves through the sparse openings that the dense leaves provided. I locked on to my old safeguard and found a second wind as I made my way towards it. Swaying my way through the trees, I stumbled on unforgiving roots and felt the sting of frigid branches slap against my skin. My chest grew heavy as I started to hear that unwelcome sound of ravenous panting keeping its pace with me- I was certain of what was behind me. Hearing the muzzle of my pursuer lap up excess saliva that attempted to escape its mouth propelled me forward faster and faster, fighting my way through the vegetation until I literally fell into a clearing. I glanced up frantically then behind me, bracing for a mouth of teeth to rip into my flesh, but the thundering gallops of what was behind had ceased. I looked forward to see a familiar sight.
The pond that I had visited just hours ago sat in front of me. Standing up I noticed another familiar sight.. a woman. The same woman I thought I had seen earlier that day was standing at the opposite edge of the pond. I recognized that long blonde hair that nearly fell to her waist but she was different. She looked rigid, her body contorted in an unnatural way. Her shoulders were uneven, her neck bent at a frightening angle and her skin appeared almost rotten. While she looked to be wearing the same flannel shirt and blue jeans as before, they were filthy and torn. I felt my heart jump up into my throat as she let out this disheartening groan that slithered up my spine. I sat there still as that noise seemed to echo endlessly. I stared at her, fear and anxiety circulating through me- I wanted to wake up. I needed to get out of this as to avoid any further psychological torment but it seemed as if the rest of this world lowered itself down to a mute. She curled her neck in a vomit inducing twist, the grinding of her bones making me cringe. She stared at me for a few moments before she began to make her way towards me. The body of water laying in front of her failed to deter her motivation to advance her creaking, mangled figure. The sight of her movements caused my body to tremble. She looked as if she were a marionette being guided from above as her limbs struggled to take any steps that resembled a human. Ill never forget the way she moved. I could hear her bones writhe and snap as she came at me in this animated fashion. I wanted to just break down and cry right there- I would rather die than endure this hell any longer. With every step her bones continued to bend and fracture in a louder, more grotesque way than the last. She slowly waded through the water, never rising anywhere past waist deep, failing to free me from the horror that was amplifying with each passing second. As her face began to take shape, I could see a look of despair, of pure heartbreak that was caked on her face- perhaps in agony over her broken bones dragging her step by step through the freezing waters. I could see her mouthing something to me. I looked closer but I couldn’t seem to understand what she was trying to say. Her face stressed and was just desperate for me to hear her but the terror coursing through me was reaching a tipping point. I could no longer bare to look at this monstrosity bearing little resemblance of anything close to a person. I turned to try and make my way back down the trail but was promptly frozen in my tracks. There it was: that same beast, monster or demon stood at the entrance of the clearing I had stumbled my way through. It sat there, staring through my being with those horrible, yellow eyes, a hunger swirling inside of them the likes of which I had never seen. I took one step backwards and felt my sinking heart stop as a cold, lifeless hand placed itself on my shoulder followed by an unnerving, inhuman voice in my ear “Please don’t go.”
I sat up sharply in bed screaming to feel Mary with her hands on my shoulders, frantically pleading for me to calm down. Tears beginning to form in her eyes, I struggled to find my voice as I sat there stammering “I-I-I.” Bless Mary’s heart, she laid in bed with me and comforted me as I tried to articulate what had just happened. Again, I felt conflicted because I desperately wanted her to believe me but at the same time I could feel her growing frustration and her patience wearing ever so thin. “They’re just dreams”, I scolded myself. I didn’t want to lose her. She had been a bright spot amidst all of this chaos going on but what can I do when the truth just exacerbates those struggles. As I sat there, relaxing in the comfort of Mary’s hands rubbing my shoulders, I felt anxiety slowly dissipate before Mary’s hands grew icy cold and I felt her breath whisper into my ear “Wake up.”
My vision went black for just a moment. I felt as though my eyes were slowly pried open but my vision was distorted and grainy. Like I was staring up into a bleak overcast, buzzing in a disorganized static. I came to and found myself watching Mary a short ways from me taking pictures with her phone. In a haze I slowly turned my head to see the pond sitting in front of us. My head pounded without mercy as my eyes darted around trying to figure out why I was here or what day it even was. That same question repeated itself, “Am I dreaming?” Mary approached me and bumped her hip into mine once more, “alright i’m finished! You happy?” I sat there in an unnerving state of dejavu as I tried to appear as calm as possible. “Yeah.. do you want to get back to the house?” I responded in a lifeless tone.
We made our way back towards the house and I felt like a zombie shambling my way down the trail. I could see Mary taking concerned glances at me as we progressed our way towards our home. “Everything alright?” she spoke out to me, breaking the silence in my head. “Yeah.. sorry i’m just really tired.” I wasn’t lying however- my body was aching and I felt as if I hadn’t slept in a week. Mary clasped my hand, intertwining her fingers with mine and rested her head on my shoulders the rest of the way back.
We entered the house in an uneasy silence and I made my way to my bed. I laid my body down hard, slightly bouncing as the springs recoiled under my weight. Mary, knowing something was wrong, set her stuff down. “i’m going to get some dinner started okay? You just rest you seem out of it.” Thanks Mary i’m sorry i’m just.. I don’t know i’m just feeling really exhausted. Ill be okay.” She beamed a smile at me and left the room towards the kitchen. I felt a little relaxation sweep over me as I heard the sound of running water from the faucet wash around the sink. From underneath my pillow, I fished out that thin paperback that I turned to so many times. I flipped it to my go to and read it over a few times as I needed to feel like myself again- I needed to ground myself back into the real world and escape these tricks my mind had been playing on me.
“Did you change who you are?
Did you buy a disguise?
Are you the one hiding,
or did I close my eyes?
“Do you just have
too much to do?
Or am I the one
who’s too busy for you?”
Just then, mid sentence into my tenth time reading it through, it hit me. I wasn’t going to let myself fall prey to this cruel force. I wasn’t going to let it drag me back into the darkness and away from this life I had built- I had to fight back. But my lack of sleep was starting to take its toll. My energy was reaching an all time low and it was clear at this point that I could never be so sure of if I was awake or asleep. But I had an idea. If I couldn’t figure out what state of consciousness I was in, I had to leave something for myself to show that I was awake. It could toy with my sense of time and reality, but I had to see if it was capable of replicating the tiniest of details. I had to do something to push back before it took complete control. I grabbed a nearby pen and at the bottom of the poem, I wrote out three words that I could use as a reference, “You are awake.” While its nothing fancy or an elaborate Scooby Doo ghost trap, I figured this would give me a chance to fight back.
The next several weeks were rough. As winter started to tighten its grip on our town and with our house being less than accommodated to handle any conditions of weather, things only got worse. I sat up late shaking in the freezing cold that penetrated our house. Every night for a few weeks I had that same dream of sprinting down that road with that monster trailing behind me. While it sometimes caught me, I could never fully escape to the lights that seemed warmer and more inviting each time around. Most nights I woke up panting in a cold sweat. Even though I knew every time I was just in a dream, the fear was always all too real.
Mary was distraught after helplessly watching me sink into an insomnia fueled depression. Alcoholism had returned with a vengeance as it tempted me with the sweet, short-term relief it provided. I cant help but feel that she holds some resentment towards me, but I guess I cant blame her. Her sunny disposition was replaced by a cloudy aura as she tried her best to believe my ridiculous stories. She really was a saint for sticking around with me. She comforted me every night, would make me tea and rub my neck until I fell asleep. I tried telling her daily how much I appreciate her and how much she meant to me but I felt as though it was putting her on a roller-coaster, having her hear those words only to be woken up by my constant night terrors. I still feel guilty to this day about inadvertently dragging her into my situation. I had never felt so helpless in my life.
With winter being in full swing and having a few weeks off work, I found myself alone in our house very often. With me usually being busy enough to be out of the house for most of the day, I had never really been by myself for long periods of time at home. Mary had recently been promoted to manager at the restaurant she worked at and had to work very long hours while I did everything I could to keep my mind occupied. But throughout this time alone I would hear frequent movement throughout the house. Id try to occupy my time with reading or maybe playing some video games but several times a day I would hear movement in the vacant rooms. Sometimes in my peripherals I thought I would see a flash of blonde hair sliding just out of my vision. I would always feel relief seeing Mary pulling into the driveway after her long shifts knowing that at least I wouldn’t be alone for a period of time.
A few days passed and one day, while Mary was away at work, I decided I needed to try and get out of the house but Mary had borrowed my car after hers had broke down. I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. I sluggishly pulled myself out of my bed after laying there for the better part of the morning. I was apprehensive at first, being that I may have an unwanted encounter, but sitting inside my house had become too stressful- it seemed as though something had moved in. As I was about to leave my room and exit the house, I stopped. I quickly grabbed my book while walking towards the front door to read, “You are awake.” I let out a relieved sigh. Grabbing the doorknob and exiting my house, I made my way down the road, hoping to find any kind of peace. It was a cold, gray afternoon and my walk was surrounded by a swath of desolate trees, the empty oak and maple branches formed a portrait resembling a mountain range of needles. I scanned every which way, hoping my gaze didn’t meet that resentful pair of eyes, yet hoping on some level that I may.
I wandered along back-roads for a few hours drinking in the day. It felt good to get some endorphins flowing and to do something aside from sit on my butt. My coat wrapped tightly around my body which provided a sense of security that I desperately needed. I reached a dead end on a road maybe a few miles away from my home and decided it was a good sign to return.
I turned around and started my way back to my home, trying to shake off harsh gales of frigid wind blowing through me. I made turn after turn while scrolling through my phone and playing music but when I looked up I noticed something. My surroundings weren’t the same as before. While the basic scenery seemed similar enough, the minute details were lacking. The houses of my sparsely placed neighbors were nowhere in sight and the roads had lost the rising and falling hills that it rolled over. The fear gripped me and I just tried to calmly make my way home. I didn’t know if I had just taken a wrong turn and had gotten myself lost but I seemed to take the same turns over and over again just trying to find the right way. Each road seemed longer and more ominous than the last. I tried pulling out my phone in order to pinpoint my location but I was irritated to see that I was apparently just down the road from my house. I headed towards where my phone was telling me I needed to go but nothing seemed to come of it. There was nothing but endless trees and a fading road ahead of me. I searched and searched, feeling tears rolling down my face as the frustration concerning my crumbling life was boiling over yet again. I couldn’t have been dreaming but the same futile chase that haunted my dreams had found its way into my consciousness. I began to run out of sheer desperation, punching my legs and biting my hands in intervals just hoping I might wake up to Mary beside me, comforting me once again.
Finding my way around a bend, tears choking my throat, I saw my home just at the end of the road. I let out a sigh of elation as my tears of sadness quickly switched to those of happiness. My head tilted down in relief and I laughed at myself for freaking out over getting myself lost. “i’m just a melodramatic idiot” I thought, a smile plastered on my face. I made my way down the driveway but the consistent crunch of gravel beneath my steps was interrupted by a harsh crack. I stepped back and looked down to see the carcass of a small rabbit. The overwhelming stench of rot flooded my nostrils as I covered my nose with my hands to see I had stepped on the protruding rib-cage of the poor animal. its body was torn to shreds, an expression of terror and desperation still lingering in its lifeless eyes. Looking up from it I saw a myriad of animals strewn about the yard- dozens and dozens of them. So many birds, raccoons, squirrels and rabbits laid on the cold ground, emitting a staggering stench of decay. The odor was so great that I turned and vomited. Hands clenched on my face, I sprinted past the carnage, through my front door and frantically scrambled to turn the locks and bolted it shut. But I ran into my room to see hundreds of paw prints painted along the floors, coated in a disgusting, brownish red paste that extended onto my bedspread and my dressers accompanied by deep claw marks running down the walls. I scrambled to find my book, my one answer to where I really was right now. I yanked out dressers, tossing clothing carelessly across the floor. I ripped the blankets and sheets off my bed. “Where is it?!” I screamed. I started to hear aggressive clawing on the front door and an ungodly sound that was a mix of whimpering, snarling, desperate crying, and screaming. I frantically tore through my possessions as the sound increased to a deafening wail that was nearly bursting my ear drums. I fell to my knees, pulling on my hair and began to pray for this unholy spawn to leave me be. I pleaded and I pleaded, rocking back and forth on the floor, begging to be set free.
Shortly after my plea ended, I shot up in bed, trying to slow my hyperventilating breaths. Sweat drained down my neck and back as I looked around in confusion. “Was I just dreaming?” I thought to myself. “When did I fall asleep? How?” It was then that I heard an abrupt knock on the door accompanied with Mary’s voice yelling “Hey! can you let me inside?” I shot up, so happy to finally see her. I unbolted the door and opened it to see her carrying a large bag of food and sporting her usual, room brightening smile and I gave her a kiss on the cheek. I turned back into the house to let her enter and asked her how her shift was as I started to light a candle in the living room, eager to spend the rest of my evening with some good company. However, I was greeted with silence- an unwelcome, haunting silence that I knew was the harbinger to exactly what I didn’t want to see. I reluctantly turned to see that horrible monstrosity standing in the doorway to my house, its menacing figure seeming to tower over my existence. I immediately covered my face and screamed for it to leave. I sat there sobbing in my palms and during frequent breaks of choked cries, I could hear its slow, forced breaths and could feel those all too familiar eyes slicing through me. “Please just go!” I screamed in desperation, too terrified to look at it a second time. “Please! I don’t know what you want, just please leave me be”, I begged.
We both sat there, cradled in moments of tense agony as I stared into the darkness that my hands had shrouded over my eyes. Time seemed to stand still and my heart sank as I heard the sweet sound of Mary’s voice. “Sweetie, its okay.” Deep sadness and anger flushed through me. “No!” I yelled back in hysteria, wanting so much to believe it was her standing across the room from me. “Please.. you’re worrying me.. let me help you.” I sat there, still as a statue, refusing to meet its gaze. “Go away,” I sternly growled at it. Silence. “Just get out. Just get out now!” “Everything is going to be okay” it spoke out. Every inflection, every mannerism within her speech was perfectly replicated. “You’re not real. You’re not real. You are not real”, I repeated to myself in desperation. I couldn’t even convince myself of this though. I stepped back, hands still covering my face, slowly backing my way towards the nearest wall. When my back met its surface, I let myself slide onto the floor, sitting there as Mary’s words continued to echo in my head. “Sweetie, its okay, please just get up and come lie down with me.. I’ve had a very long day.” It wanted me to give in. “Get out of here and don’t ever come back”, I spat. I tried to stand my ground- I tried everything to try and show it that I was not going to be beaten by it. But it already knew me- It knew what strings to pull and what buttons to push. I then heard the haunting sound of Mary crying. “Please i’m trying so hard to help you but I don’t know what else I can do for you. Please just come back to me.” I broke down- knowing how much strife I had thrown Mary into and It continued, “Please.. I love you so much and all I want is for you to get better.” “Please stop!” I exclaimed as I tried to stop the choking misery from pouring out of me. The crying continued and I tried to sit there and push through it, but the sobbing of the woman I loved was crushing what was left of my spirit. I couldn’t bare it any longer. I slid my hands down from my eyes and readied myself to meet my tormentor face to face again. But as I did, something caught the corner of my eye. Sitting on the living room table, was a torn up piece of paper. I reached down and held it up close to my eyes as to not see the terror in front of me. It was a torn out excerpt of the poem I had read through so many time over the last few days.
“Are you too ashamed
to show your face?
Why are you running?
Unlike others, I’ll chase.”
“Just let go, and everything will be okay”, Mary’s voice said softly, almost as though she had said it right into my ear.
I released the shredded paper and looked up to see a dark blur reach me in the blink of an eye. It hit me with the force of a freight train, spearheaded by a mouthful of teeth. It latched onto my upper thigh, lacerating my muscles and tendons as it grunted with excitement. Its strength was unreal but I tried to punch its skull and rib-cage as it tore into my flesh. The pain was excruciating: I could hear the sickening crunches of its mouth effortlessly fracturing my bones as I felt warm blood seep down my leg and onto the floor as I writhed in a pool of dark-red. The blood pouring out of me was soaking into my clothes and all the while I could hear the sweet voice of Mary in my ear saying “Everything will be okay.. just let go.” Those words repeated themselves on an endless loop as it tore at me like a rag-doll while I gave everything I had to try and fight it off of me. My attempts to free myself rapidly weakened as I felt the life drain from my body. My vision started to fade and I felt it release its vice-grip on me and I looked up. It stood over me, my blood coating its mouth as it stared coldly into my eyes without any shred of remorse. That same hunger and malice flooded its eyes as it gazed down at me while I trembled in horrible pain on the floor. I pressed my hands along the many deep wounds on my leg just trying to stop myself from bleeding out. All the while it just sat there, so still and domineering. I started to crawl away, my nails digging into the wooden floor, peeling back and breaking as I tried to find safety. I didn’t know where I was trying to go or how I could even escape but I refused to just lay there and let myself die without a fight. My body felt as though it carried the weight of a dying star as I strained to pull myself away. All of my energy reserves being depleted, I turned and stared right at it. “You’re not real. You are nothing”, I hissed and spat right at its face in a dying rage as my head fell onto the hard wood. It snarled menacingly, revealing a mouth of enormous, jagged teeth and lunged at me once more, clamping its jaws deep into my throat. Blood filled my windpipe and flowed down into my lungs and I gurgled in anguish before hearing one last horrid crunch. “Everything is okay”, I heard Mary’s voice say one more time, and everything faded to black.
A ray of sunlight breaking through a window caused my eyes to slowly open as the heat warmed my face. I rubbed my eyes- so drained and perplexed from reality and dreams transcending each other through these violent acrobatics. I didn’t know if I was actually awake and frankly, I was so weathered that I didn’t even really care to check. I fully came to to feel my hand clenched on the doorknob, my book sitting where I had last sat it down. My phone buzzed in my pocket and I checked the time- 3:10 pm. A message from Mary read, “Work is crazy.. someone didn’t show up and i’m covering all of their tables. Can’t wait to just get out of here and come home.” She had barely been gone an hour.. I dreaded the fact that I had to wait another six hours of being alone in that god forsaken house- if I was actually awake that is. I picked the book back up and opened up the marked page. “You are awake.”
I sat around for the remainder of the day watching movies on my laptop just trying to distract myself. I dared not leave the house- I knew it was out there just outside my door, waiting for me. Hours dragged on and every sound outside caused me to jump. I probably spent half the time peeling back the curtain and looking outside. A few times I could have sworn I could see this thing standing at the edge of the adjacent forest where I first saw it but I would quickly shut the curtain before I could discern what it may have been. I was losing my mind- I never wanted to see it but on another level, I couldn’t help myself. Maybe I was hoping that it would just bust down my door and end all of this. As the sun went down, I flicked all the lights on in my house for some comfort.
Laying in my bed and continuing to watch movies, I kept seeing flashes of blue and blonde standing just outside of my door frame. I tried to ignore it, but every time my focus returned to my laptop for an extended time, I would see that same array of color darting just behind the door frame. I began to feel frustration prod at me. I couldn’t leave the house at risk of running into that evil but staying in the house, it would relentlessly toy with me. I couldn’t even go to sleep to try and erase the time I had to wait through as it had all but taken over my life outside of consciousness. Every time I would catch that put of the corner of my eyes, I would fling my book open, “You are awake” it read time after time. I tried switching to watching something more cheerful and turned on The Office. I hoped that seeing my favorite Scranton residents would bring a little joy to my day as I waited endlessly for Mary to come home.
As an episode ended and I got up to make myself some food, I heard the shower turn on over on the other side of the house. The initial sound made me jump as I was already tightly wound. I slowly made my way across the house towards the bathroom. The lights inside were off but I could hear the water roaring down. As I reached for the doorknob I could hear the chilling sound of a woman starting to cry. I froze, not sure if I wanted to see what was on the other side but I couldn’t just sit there and let the water blast full force without shutting it off. The crying continued.. it was an awful sound. I sat there with my hand on the knob trying to force myself to open the door but I was just stuck in place. I started to turn away after letting go of the knob but a familiar voice sent chills down my back. “Please don’t go”, I heard from the other side of the door. I froze, goosebumps forming on my arms, and just stared at the door- the consistent sound of running water still flooding into my ears. “Who are you?” I meekly spoke out. Silence.. “Who are you?” I repeated with more authority at the closed door. Suddenly, the water shut off and I sat there paralyzed as the doorknob slowly clicked and the door creaked open just a crack. Even in the dark room I could make out that unmistakable blonde hair shining in the small aperture that the open door provided. “Do you know whats happening to me?” I asked. Again, silence. “Please.. just tell me.. why are you here?” My ears were ruptured by an inhuman sobbing that followed my question and the repeating phrase, “Please don’t go! Please don’t go! Please don’t go!” I stepped back, completely terrified. The door slowly pulled open just a bit more and the face of a beautiful woman revealed itself: tears rolling down her face, her lips quivering. Shaken, I was able to force out another “Why are you here?” She brushed the hair away from her face and looked right at me with bright, turquoise eyes. “Please..” I uttered. She looked down to the floor and continued to sob uncontrollably. “What were you doing at the pond?” She continued to cry. “I don’t know what you’re trying to say” I said to whoever or whatever was standing just in front of me. Her neck snapped up to show that horrific rotted face I had seen at the pond. Her eyes glowed a bright yellow and she screamed in an ungodly voice “Don’t go!” and the door slammed shut with such great force that it shook the whole house and caused nearby hanging pictures to fall down.
I sat there on the floor, bewildered as minutes passed by and I just stared at the bathroom door. I picked myself up and was able to force myself forward and slowly turn the handle to push open the door. Everything inside appeared normal as if none of it even happened. I could hear intermittent droplets of water splash onto the shower floor and I pulled back the curtains- nothing was there. “Is this my life now?” I thought to myself as I stood in the empty room gazing into the shower. I felt numb- the frequent paranormal outbursts beginning to become a part of my daily routine. Reality was now a cruel obstacle I had to hurdle with every other step.
At last those headlights showed themselves and I heard the car pull in door shut, followed shortly after by Mary knocking on the door. “Hey! can you let me inside?” I heard from the other side of the door. I sat there on the opposite side just staring at the knob. “its just Mary, you can open the door”, I told myself but my inhibitions prevented me from doing so. “Hello? Can you please let me in?” I heard the door rattle as Mary was showing me that it was bolted and could not access it with the key. “Is it you?” I called out. “What do you mean? Of course its me just open the door I’m freezing!” she responded. “I don’t believe you”, I responded with hate in my tone. “What? Please stop messing around and let me in!” I reluctantly unbolted the door and pulled it open just enough for her to push it open. She walked in giving me that concerned look. “Please don’t hurt me”, I weakly mumbled to her as I turned to collapse on the bed.
Mary didn’t say anything. She sat on the edge of the bed next to me and stroked my back. “I don’t know whats happening to you, but you need to get yourself help.. otherwise, I don’t know if I can do this..” “Leave then”, I hissed. “You don’t believe me. you just think I’m crazy.” “I think you seriously need help sweetheart” she said, attempting to console me while getting her point across. I rolled over, burying my head in the pillow and swept the blankets over my head. Mary sat next to me, reading for an hour or so, occasionally reaching over to stroke my back and head. I eventually reached up and grasped her hand tightly. She rubbed her thumb along the back of my hand and I felt myself drift into sleep.
I woke up in the middle of the night. I glanced over to see Mary fast asleep and I turned over to look across the room- waiting to see if a nightmare would begin to unfold itself. I sat there in the deep silence for a few minutes, waiting for something but it appeared as if I was in the clear for the night. As my eyes began to grow heavy and I felt sleep coming back to me, I heard something in the kitchen just outside of our room. It was a light, scraping sound. I waited for a minute to see if anything followed but every time I nearly fell back asleep, I could hear that scraping. It eventually hit me.. It was the distinct sound of a dogs claws walking across a linoleum floor. That light thud immediately followed by the scratching of claws across the surface of the floor. I heard it take scattered steps to be followed by a minute or two of silence. It would cut off after a few steps and seem to turn back around the other way as if it were pacing around the kitchen. I pulled out my book and read, “you are awake.” Against my better judgment, I pulled myself out of the bed and pressed my ear to the bedroom door. The steps continued, joined by the sound of a dog’s muzzle eagerly sniffing the surroundings of a newly discovered area. I opened the door and slowly trudged out towards the kitchen. I should have just stayed in bed but frustration fueled me to just get these incidents over with. My eyes still adjusting to the pitch black house, I looked over the room in front of me. After about thirty seconds or so I could see the glow of yellow eyes staring at me from the other side of the kitchen. I sat there, staring into them for a few moments, almost daring it to come for me but it just laid still. I closed my eyes, shutting them tightly for a few seconds and took some deep breaths. When I opened them, the eyes were gone. I repeated that action a few more times in order to assure that it wasn’t there. I turned and made my way back to my room but I collided with something heavy and limp in the doorway, causing me to lose balance and fall backwards onto the ground. I heard the creaking of old wood above me and I looked up to see a horrific sight. Dangling in the doorway was a body, hanging from a noose attached to a rafter on the ceiling. I screamed and covered my head, curling up into the fetal position as I laid on the kitchen floor.
I heard Mary wake up and rush out of bed to my side as I sat there, inconsolable. She didn’t speak, she just sat there with me and held me as I cried. I kept pointing to the doorway as gibberish poured out of my mouth, begging Mary to believe me. For the remainder of the night I laid awake, the sounds of that thing circling the outside of the house held me hostage. Every minute or so I would hear it make its way around to my side of the house, slowing its gait a bit and seeming to stop at my window for a few moments each go around. I kept glancing over to Mary as she was fast asleep, hoping she would maybe hear something, proving me right once and for all. But she never did and I dared not wake her up knowing she had already gotten up once tonight to humor my stories. I stared at her and anger began to curdle inside of me- resentful towards her for not believing me and infuriated at the beast that was unfolding my sanity. Every time it made its way to my window it would stop and I could feel it staring me down, longing to be let inside. After this went on for an hour or so, those outside sounds were joined by light scratching running slowly along the sides of the house. I could hear very faint mumbling just barely penetrating the walls but I could not make out any words. I would attentively raise my head up every time the mumbling made its way by the window and I could see the foggy silhouette of a person sliding through the moonlight. My eyes switched from the window to Mary’s sealed eyelids, eager to see if she would come to and my temptation to shake her awake increased. They continued for hours eventually melding into a somewhat soothing cadence of sound that somehow lulled me to sleep. Perhaps so it could see me in my dreams.
The circling continued for several nights in a row. The nightmares would shoot me awake like a farmer prodding his cattle. I would sit there in deafening silence, listening intently for anything only to sit in suspense as nothing made itself heard. The air was heavy and I was sick with apprehension as this thing chipped me away bit by little bit. One night however, after waking up and sitting in the dark by routine, a barely audible noise made itself known. At first I couldn’t quite make it out but it sounded like strained wheezing. The sound was quiet at first, but over several minutes it was ringing in my head. It was the only sound coming from the night, no crickets, not even wind blowing. I tried covering my ears and throwing the pillow over my head but the sound was blaring in my ears at this point. It got to the point that it was deafening as I could feel my heartbeat pulse loudly in my temples, the room around me caving in so tight that it was crushing me. I tried to shut it out but no matter what I did I just couldn’t get it to stop. The intolerable sound of breaths forcing their way into my ears began to slowly die down before cutting off completely. I rose up once again to my window but was unable to see anything in the thick blackness. I made my way to each window of the house, peering out closely at the yard before moving on to the next. The last window remaining was the one just next to the front door. The wheezing resumed accompanied by the sounds of running water and light footsteps. I slowly made my way to the window, my index finger lightly resting on the switch controlling the porch light. I inhaled slowly and flipped it on, keeping my eyes closed for a few seconds to brace myself for anything awful that I might see.
The lights flooded the once pitch black yard with a glow that strained my vision at first. I looked out the window and I saw it. The woman, sitting there in a limp, lifeless pile as the monster held her neck within its jaws tightly. It stared right through the window to me, its eyes pulsing with excitement and satisfaction while the woman’s cold, dead eyes sank deep into my heart. “I’m completely insane” I thought- I no longer believed what my eyes were presenting to me. The woman’s mouth fell open and I could see her mouthing to me once again, but this time I could make out the words. “Help”, her lips showed. “Help.” I stared with blankness back into them, almost in solidarity as I felt completely trapped as her neck was clenched within its maw. I just looked at it for a little while, almost.. bored. I turned off the light and just stood there, numb, for a minute or so before I made my back to bed and went to sleep.
Weeks went on and I slipped into a gray. I no longer cared for anything, including myself. I stopped showing up for work and I remained distant to Mary, spending my days shut in behind closed blinds, drowning myself in alcohol. Dreams and reality had melded into one and it seemed like I was either asleep or swimming my way to an empty bottle. That first dream that started it all was finding me every night but I no longer cared to run as I didn’t care for life anymore. I would just stand up, turn around and scowl at the dark until I was consumed alive, every morsel of pain erupting through my cells. Sometimes I would be greeted by Mary staring down at me as I laid in bed in a drunken stupor. Every time she would pull out part of the little reserves she had to make me feel better as I aggressively shrugged off her patrony to try and find sleep once more. But no matter what world I fell into, sleeping or conscious, there was no exit. There was no exit.
Mary had had enough. She sat on the end of the bed as I downed the remainder of my comfort. She gave me the usual speech about how I had a lot of problems that I needed to sort out and that she no longer could be the one to try and fix them. I polished off my bottle as she finished her speech and I don’t remember exactly what she had said, but I do remember saying, “well what are you waiting for?” with a cold grin. I wish I hadn’t sent her off that way. Mary.. She was the sweetest soul I had ever came across but I allowed the darkness forcing its way into me to flow outward to her and I bullied her away. As she briskly walked to her car with a box of her possessions, I trailed her and laughed out my misery. She slammed the car door and I threw my empty bottle on the gravel, glass disintegrating into my shins and ankles as I walked to her car window screaming “Leave then!” She floored it in reverse and sped away. God I wish that wasn’t the last I had seen of her.. I miss her so much.
The night after Mary left and I drank myself into unconsciousness, I found myself picking myself up on that same road to journey into the same dream. I looked up and the lights seemed closer than they ever had. I stood up but felt no fear- no presence laying behind me or overwhelming fear boiling over. I walked towards them with ease as they sat there, dangling their open arms. I needed the comfort and warmth more than ever. My walk transitioned into a slow, awkward jog as they moved closer while I did as well. Jogging turned into a sprint as I raised my hand up, hoping it would maybe reach out and pull me into bliss. I got closer and closer, certain that I would finally find out what was just ahead of me all of this time. I was nearly there, arms stretched out to let sweet relief in but as my fingertips were inches away, I felt the rip of unforgiving teeth sink into my leg, followed by a violent force dragging me back down the road I had run down so many times. Gravel buried into my skin and painful scrapes screamed as I flew backwards. I felt my body form into thousands of shapes and unfold as I tumbled along the road, jaws clenched tightly on me. I flew back into the darkness and those lights dimmed and dimmed and dimmed until they were but a spec of light poking through a hole in my curtains as morning carried me back into the world.
Even though Mary was gone, I did not find myself without company. Shuffling noises throughout the house and images of blonde hair flying by my peripherals kept me from complete loneliness. Not to mention I had a dog just outside my home to greet me whenever I desired- truly the american dream. Spending my days in a haze I neglected to clean up any of my messes or even pay any of my bills. My water and electricity were cut off and I spent some time sitting in a dark, unventilated house as I was buried in my own filth. I had to watch myself suffer to fill myself with a jaded sense of justice. After a few weeks my landlord came by. I was greeted by furious pounding on the door and I opened it up. He stood there, his angry expression quickly turning to one of worry. “I haven’t gotten your check for the rent last month and the most recent payment is also due” he said to me. “i’m sorry sir”, I said in an empty tone and invited him inside. He followed me in and I could feel his eyes sweeping over the heaps of garbage kept there by my neglect. I brushed off some trash and found my checkbook, promptly writing him out a check for the last few months with a little extra for his trouble. “Is everything okay?” he asked me, his genuine concern showing. “Everything is great”, I spat back. He looked into my eyes with familiarity and it looked like he wanted to say something to me but he turned and quickly made his way out. I slammed the door behind him and bolted it shut.
My heart jumped after I slammed the door shut when I heard a voice from the kitchen, “Who was that?” I sat there staring towards the other end of the house, wondering if I had just hallucinated that. Silence began to grow in volume as I just sat still for long minutes. I gathered up the courage to patrol the house to maybe get something to show itself. I checked the spare bedrooms, bathroom and every closet possible just to see if anything would happen. I made my way to the door leading to the back porch and as I slid it open I heard Mary’s voice just behind me, “what are you doing?” I nearly jumped out of my skin but tried to maintain an appearance of composure. “Is that you?” I quietly responded. At first nothing answered back but several seconds later, a monotone, layered version of Mary’s voice crawled into my ears, “its me.” Tears started to roll down my face as I could feel the crushing presence of it standing just inches behind me. “I miss you so much”, I sobbed out. “I am always here” the lifeless tone spoke to me. I turned around to see an empty house.
The sweet voice of my old companion rang through the house, unrelenting for several days. They always brought me to a place of serenity before slamming me back on to the hard floor to look up to an empty home. Her voice was music to my ears even though I knew none of it was real- at least real outside of my own head. If I couldn’t feel her touch then maybe I could take advantage of not being able to tell my own state of consciousness. I needed her and it knew this. It took her away.
I had enough and couldn’t stand the constant pricks and prods at my insecurities. I left my house early the next morning, heading to the nearest gun shop to find something that could provide some comfort- whether it serve as protection or as an exit. After a brief conversation with the store tenant, I paid and went home. I waited the time needed before being able to receive my goods. After bringing it home I just sat it on my nightstand and just looked at it for a while- the bright silver color sticking out in my dark room like a sore thumb. I reached for it a few times but would pull back as the small part of me that held self preservation screamed at me. As I held the box of bullets in my hand, turning them over procrastinating and I heard a sudden knock at the door. Startled, I sat up and opened up the door to see the landlord standing there. Not sure what he was doing on my porch I blurted out “did my check not go through?” “No it went through just fine”, he responded, motioning for me to let him inside and I obliged. He walked in, taking in the disarray that the house had fallen in to.
He sat at my kitchen table, seeming to go over what to say in his head. Things were starting to feel tense as he sat at the kitchen table, tapping his fingers nervously on the surface. “You know I used to live in this house”, his voice breaking the heavy silence. His frankness caught me a bit off guard. He looked at me but I could not seem to formulate an appropriate response. “About ten years ago, me and my wife bought this house.” he paused as if to collect himself-looking out the window with a look of reflection on his face. I sat there waiting to hear the rest of what he had to say but he just turned and looked at me. His eyes shot down quickly and he rubbed his hand down his face as he let out a deep, raspy exhale. I didn’t know if I should say anything but he wasn’t really giving me much to go off of. He sat there looking down, his eyes occasionally darting around the house. His eyes stopped on the doorway to my room and stuck there for what felt like minutes. Right as I was about to speak up to break the silence, he finally continued. “We moved in here shortly after marrying. Lucille was an amazing woman. She was about the only bright spot in my life”, he said as his closing words were choking up. “Was?” I asked, not really knowing where this was going. His mouth opened like he was going to say something but he just sat there, not able to pull out any words. I stared at him as he stared into nothingness. A long silence ensued and I felt a deep sadness overtake the air. I stood there uncomfortable, watching this grown man seeming to hold back tears as I noticed his gaze had shifted back to my bedroom doorway. “If you don’t mind.. could I see your bedroom?” he inquired. Normally I would treat this as an imposition or at least an invasion of my privacy but I really wanted to escape this awkward scene. “Um.. sure”, I said with a bit of uncertainty in my voice. He picked himself up and walked by me. He reached for the door, turned it, and watched it slowly open. I looked at him as he stood in the doorway, his height nearly reaching the bottom of the frame. He reached his hand out and ran it down the rugged wood. I sat there for several minutes as my landlord laid still, swimming in what I assumed to be old memories of when he lived here. “What happened to Lucille?” I blurted out without thinking, regretting it immediately as it was clear that something tragic had occurred. He turned back and made eye contact, “She died” he said without hesitation. I was about to apologize before he said “thank you” and briskly walked out of the house. I watched from my bedroom window as Derek entered his truck, started it, and floored out of the driveway in one fluid motion. I looked back at my only companions as they glowed in the unlit room and proceeded to slither my way under the dirty sheets.
I didn’t really know what to think at first of this visit. It was obvious that there was something I wasn’t being told. I sat around the house for a few days in the cold emptiness just mulling over all of the possibilities- the uncertainty beginning to nag at me. “What could he have wanted?” I thought to myself for a few days. I sat alone in the darkness, wallowing in my depression, all the while I heard Mary’s voice echoing throughout the house. It was toying with me once more but I was so numbed to it that I barely even dignified any of it with a response. I had truly grown to hate this thing that had corrupted every fiber of my being.
I no longer found joy in anything. The last of my optimism had been thoroughly snuffed out and I was waking up angry that I was still alive. Desperate for some kind of answer, I decided to make my way to my landlord’s house. I pulled into his driveway right behind his blue, Ford pick-up and made my way up his driveway. I knocked on his door and stepped back, waiting. No answer as minutes passed. I knocked again and called out “hey! is anyone home?”- no response. I was confused as I looked back to be reminded that his car was in the driveway. I sat there waiting for a little bit but still nothing. I sat on the porch steps and looked out at the woods but unfortunately, there was something in them. Even though it was the middle of the day, I could see that bright glow of eyes staring at me from the treeline. Those eyes that I had come to loathe- the harbingers of misery looked directly at me. I shot up and pounded on the door. “Hello? please is there anyone home?” I yelled out with urgency in my voice. I turned back and saw it standing at the end of the driveway, just behind my car. Ready to bust down the door I grabbed the knob and turned with great force, to be surprised that it was unlocked as I nearly fell through the doorway and into the house. Getting my bearings as I picked myself up I stared into house. It was eerily silent- every step I took seemed to echo a thousand times over as I planted each step into the creaking, wooden floor. “Hello?” I repeated once more. I looked around and I noticed that pair of boots that he was always wearing, standing by the door, along with his large set of keys sitting on a nearby coffee table. The silence in the house was absolutely suffocating. The persistent ringing in my ears that you get in a deep quiet was becoming insufferable and I found myself feeling drawn to one of the bedroom doors on the other side of the kitchen. I slowly made my way towards it, my footsteps so loud that I felt as though the wooden floors would crack under me any second. I reached the doorway and pushed it open. I sat there just outside the doorway with apprehension. Something was telling me not to go in to this room but I had come this far and I wasn’t going to just turn back now. I begrudgingly stepped through the entrance.. and there he was.
There was my landlord, sprawled across his bed, dried blood coated his arms and neck. He had slit his wrists and throat- a horrible look of sadness covered his face, his eyes still red from tears. I fell back against the wall behind me, the smell of decay only just now hitting me as if it was waiting for my presence. I covered my mouth and gagged as I went over what I should do in my head. I reached for my phone to call the police only to be reminded that it hadn’t been charged in days due to my electricity being shut off. I groaned in frustration as I struggled to take my eyes off of the lifeless body in front of me. But that is when I noticed the piece of paper sitting just next to my landlord on the nightstand. Still covering my mouth I made my way over and snatched it up. “I miss you so much and I can never forgive myself for leaving you when you needed me the most. I love you so much and I hate myself for knowing you aren’t around to forgive me. I cant live knowing how I left you, thinking about how much you just needed someone there. I can’t go on in this life without you and the chance that I might see you after this is what brought me to this. Please be there. I’ll never leave your side again” the note read. I read it over a few times and assumed this was concerning his former wife. “So how did she die?” I said to myself as the whisper evaporated into the room. I pulled the paper down and rested it back down on the table and what I saw made me flinch. Sitting on his bedside table in a picture frame was a photograph of a woman. My mouth fell open and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was that same woman- that woman who I had seen at the edge of the pond and who had been patrolling through the darkness of my house all day and night. Those bright, turquoise eyes struck me with such distinction-there was no mistaking. I turned and sprinted out of the house, so terrified that I had all but disregarded the corpse that had laid in front of me moments ago. I ran out the front door and down the driveway and in the corner of my eye I could see that monster standing just behind my car. I tried to ignore it and jumped into my car and floored it into reverse, hoping I would maybe run over that thing standing just behind it but I was let down to feel my car fly backwards unhindered. I threw the gear into drive and slammed my foot on the gas pedal, looking into the rear-view mirror I saw those horrible, horrible eyes staring at me from behind the car. I flew down unpaved back-roads with no regard for my own safety, filled with dread knowing that the home I was returning to was inhabited by cruelty. I barely hit the brakes in time as I sped into the driveway, just sparing the side of my house from the front of my car. I ran out of the car but there in the window just beside the front door, stood the woman. her blonde hair was draped over her face as she stood motionless. “Lucille?” I muttered, and the figure quickly turned and shifted out of view. I stood there for a moment before hearing the crunch of gravel behind me. I didn’t turn around at first, I knew what was behind me.. I heard a few more slow steps and I turned around. It stood there, not even ten feet from me. There I was again- stuck between a rock and a hard place. Right then, I heard the front door open and it creaked as if it were releasing decades of neglect. The beast stared while taking slow, deliberate steps towards me as I matched them with my own steps backwards. I turned and sprinted through the open door and slammed it shut behind me. I looked out the window to see that it was gone. But right then I felt that familiar cold hand rest on my shoulder, only sharp nails dug deep into me, puncturing my skin.
Terror and exhaustion overtook me and I lost consciousness. Those same nightmares infested my dreams and I woke up every hour, more tired than the last time I had fallen asleep. I was eventually able to force myself off of the hard floor and into my bed, though it would do little to help my sleep. Dreams of the pond and of that road presented themselves every time I fell back into a slumber. But the more I ran to the lights in my dreams, the more I felt myself straying away from reality as I stewed in a puddle of my own delusion when I woke. My new friend laying on the nightstand was tempting me with more comfort as the time passed and I had to pull my hand back several times from reaching for its help. I poured my way through another bottle as I laid in the accumulated filth I had neglected to discard. As I felt the last of my reserves swirl in my mouth and down my throat, I heard another knock at the door. In a haze, I stood up from my pile and made my way towards the door, but as I approached it, I stopped. “Hey its me! Can you let me inside?” I heard from just outside the front door. I just stood there. The same phrase repeated itself but followed by “its freezing out here, can you open the door?” Of course I recognized that voice- I’d recognize that sweet voice anywhere. “Leave” I hissed. The voice repeated itself again.. and again.. and again. “Leave!” I repeatedly shouted at a door over and over. Every now and then it would change it up a bit with a “please?” and I would change things up with a “Fuck off.” I grew tired of this and just went back to laying in bed, covering my ears with my dirty pillows but the knocking persisted, occasionally growing louder and more urgent over a few hours. After it appeared to finally give up for a few minutes I was sitting in a comfortable silence for once before I heard my sweet Mary’s voice from the door whimper out “don’t you love me?” I had enough- I grabbed the revolver from my nightstand and fired off all six shots right at the door in quick succession.
I laid there as hot smoke billowed in front of my face and felt instant regret. I had shot holes clear through my front door at some imaginary force. I paced around my living room with my hands on my head, still wrapped around the handle of the magnum. “Fuck!” I screamed out as if I had finally woken up to all of the insanity I had conjured. My ears were still ringing and I made my way to the front door to see the damage. I didn’t really know what I was expecting since I had shot a full clip of my gun through it but there was definitely some serious damage. I slammed my hand on the door, still clenching the gun and let my head rest against the wood. Light poured through the newly made openings and my eye happened to catch something out of place through the nearest hole. I stared through and tried to discern the palate of colors meshed into a distorted cluster. I swung the door open and the sunlight all but disintegrated my eyes. As they adjusted I glanced down and everything in my world crashed. Mary laid there, riddled with bullet holes as she wheezed and gurgled on the front porch. “Mary!” I exclaimed, tears already pouring down my face. She reached up and caressed my face and smiled. “its okay” she said. “No Mary.. No please do not leave like this.. I am so sorry. Please we can fix this please don’t go! Please don’t go!” I yelled. “Everything will be okay” she repeated to me. “Don’t go!” I screamed again. I sat there and cried on her just holding her and praying to God that she wasn’t about to die right here in front of me like this-Not like this. I held Mary, rocking back and forth on the porch just trying to comfort her like she had for me so many times before. She laid there in my arms, slowly slipping away from me as I pleaded for her to stay with me. “I cant lose you!” I screamed as I bawled my eyes out. She looked at me with those deep, compassionate eyes that had grounded me time and time again. Tears rolled down her face as the brightness in her eyes started to dim. “Mary? Mary? Please stay with me!” It was too late- I felt the last of her life slip out of her and she slumped in my arms. I just sat there holding her for a while and pressed my head onto hers, inconsolable. I carried her inside and laid her onto our bed and I loaded one shell into the revolver. I laid next to Mary’s lifeless body and kissed her once on the forehead before sticking the gun into my mouth and pulling the trigger.
Everything went black and I waited to see what the beyond held for me. It felt as though I was awake but I just couldn’t open my eyes. But then I saw exactly what I didn’t want to see. Two lights materialized in front of me. And a road formed beneath my feet. “No..” I said to myself. “No!” If I had been sent to hell for taking my own life, was this going to be it? Was I going to be chasing these lights for all eternity? I fell onto the road, defeated- I couldn’t go on like this anymore but I guess there really was no exit. I waited to hear it begin its chase behind me, precursing my subsequent chase to safety. But I didn’t hear anything. I stood up and looked back but like always there was nothing but darkness behind me. I just stood still as long minutes droned on but I didn’t hear anything. I actually started to feel relieved, almost happy actually. “Maybe I finally escaped it” I had thought. Almost needing to hold back a grin from bearing on my face, I began to walk towards those two lights. As I made my way I could hear Mary’s voice “Sweetie where are you?” and “I’m over here! Come see me already I’ve been waiting!” I couldn’t help but smile, so sure I was just steps away from eternal happiness. I made my way towards those lights, at last I was going to reach them I just knew it. I couldn’t wait- those warm inviting glows that had seemed so elusive for so long were all but hanging right in front of me, so close that I felt I could pluck them from the ether and hold it in front of my eyes. I was approaching them, closer than I had ever been, they were climbing higher and higher as I advanced and I started to feel as though they were out of reach yet again. I was right in front of them and they stood above me, so close but still somehow unattainable. I reached up to them, almost as a plea for the other side to take me beyond. I swayed my hand back and forth in the air for a little while, unsure of what I was supposed to do. However I felt my hand run across something broad and rugged. I was surprised and took a step back but only to be greeted by a sudden rush of air. I stared up at the lights inquisitively and I heard a deep exhale as I felt another rush of air blow through me. I turned around, heartbroken to see if it was behind me yet again but there was nothing. Again I felt that rush of air, accompanied by another deep exhale. Then it hit me. it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t want to recognize it but I turned back to where the wind originated from and I looked up to those glows. My heart sunk.. all the hope that had built up after pulling the trigger was pulled out from under me. Those two lights hanging above me were now glowing that putrid shade of yellow. That unrelenting hunger that preyed upon my mind for months towered above me, mocking me. I saw a colossal mouth bear enormous, disgusting teeth each one as big as me while the enormity of the beast imposed itself onto my soul.. I swear it was smiling at me. The mouth shot towards me and crushed every bone in my body, my blood exploding into a fine mist in every direction before it swung me around and threw me onto the road- my body bloody and broken and mind weathered down to grains of sand. All I could think of was Mary- how much love she had given me and how she was the greatest thing that had ever happened. I felt as though hell had found me. It lowered its open mouth back down and scooped me up with ease and my body rolled and turned, bouncing off its rancid gums and rotting teeth as it pulverized every last bit of me until I felt myself slide down into the darkness.
The darkness slowly deteriorated away as I began to slip back into consciousness. I stood there in my room, gun clenched in one hand with the other on the doorknob. No more holes in the door, Mary no longer laying lifeless in my bed. I grabbed my book and flipped to the page I left my clue on, “You are awake.” With that, I hastily stuffed my clothes into trash-bags, along with the other essentials and I made my way to the door to hopefully just leave this misery behind me. An ear splitting voice screaming “Don’t go!” repeated itself from behind me, nearly shaking the house with the immense volume. I fumbled for the doorknob, dropping my trash-bags in the process and swung the door open. All of this time I could still hear that voice screaming in my head now. But when I exited the house, that nightmare was sitting just beyond the porch staring at me. I pulled out the gun from the depths of my bags, flipped the safety off and fired that one bullet that it had left in it- trying to take the life that had all but taken mine. It connected, hitting it almost right between the eyes and I heard it whimper for a second before slumping to the ground. I didn’t trust that it was really gone though so I sprinted to the car, not wanting to fall for its tricks. When I got into my car and drove off, those words continued to bellow in my head. “Don’t go! Don’t go!” I sped down the road, unable to resist seeing what I was leaving behind, I glanced into the rear-view mirror and there it stood in the middle of the road. Still as a statue as always, hulking and intimidating. I pressed my foot harder on the gas and kept on. I didn’t know where I was going but as long as it was away from that god forsaken place, it didn’t matter. Every so often I would glance back in the rear-view mirror, just to see it standing in the road behind me as my car flew by at dangerous speeds.
I made my way through several states, staying at various motels as I spent most of the night cracking blinds in apprehension of what may come. A week went by before I decided to dial my grandparents to let them know I was alone and just needed somewhere to be for a little while as I got my life back together. They were understanding as always and wanted me there as soon as possible. I made my way to them in a few days and all the while I seemed to be free. I slept soundly for the first time in months and I was feeling great. My energy was back to a normal level, I was sleeping and I hadn’t had a drink in almost two weeks. Despite this, paranoia was still lingering in my mind as I was always waking up by shooting out of bed trying to catch my breath. A smile would form on my face as I was grateful to have made it out alive. But the one big thing that bothered me was that in reality, it had won- it got me to pull the trigger.
I had stayed at my grandparents house for nearly a month, feeling myself gain back my sanity. I felt great and it was good to spend some time with my family after not seeing them for all these months. It also felt good to finally leave behind my persistent attachments that were so deeply rooted. I even started talking to Mary again and while she was wary at first, I was able to slowly earn back her trust. I was feeling like my old self again and I was just lucky that she was such a forgiving soul to give me another chance. I was sitting in my grandparents living room watching some TV when I heard a faint knock at the front door. I muted the TV, not sure if I had actually heard it. I waited a second and again, a very faint knock emanated from the opposite side of the door. “Must be one of their neighbors” I thought as it may have been an older woman weakly tapping her knuckles on the door. I opened the door but only to see nothing in front of me. I poked my head out and looked around to see if there was anyone nearby but nothing showed itself. I slowly closed the door and made my way back to the couch to continue watching TV. After I watching for several minutes I heard a similar, light knocking on the door. This time I quickly picked myself up to swing the door open. At first I saw nothing, just my grandparents’ front yard but as I swept my eyes over the area, I saw someone at the end of the long driveway that connected to the walkway. It was a woman- long dark hair blanketing her face as she stood painfully still facing me. I knew the second I looked at her- it was Mary.
I slowly made my way towards her. “Mary?” I called out- her body slightly twitched with my words. Feeling a little uneasy I stopped about twenty feet from her, her face focused downward as her hair dangled over. “Mary what are you doing here?” I pressed. “I came to see you” her voice rang out, music to my ears to hear that sweet sound once again. I advanced towards her but as I did her appearance started to deteriorate. With each step, her face weathered and her hair grayed. I gazed upon her and her clothes were now tattered and ripped apart, mud and blood caked across her skin. She looked up at me with familiar despair in her eyes- claw marks and blood strewn all around her lovely figure. “Mary?” Her eyes slowly turned from the soft brown to an electric yellow- that same yellow that I had come to despise. “I am always here” a layered voice spoke out. I closed my eyes, hoping that this wasn’t real. “Look at me!” a distorted voice spat. I opened my eyes and Mary was gone but in her place stood that monster I thought I would never see again. Hatred and misery burned brightly in its eyes as it stood there, rigid as a block of wood. I recognized the underlying feelings in its eyes-abandonment. The same look I would see in the mirror when I was young and filled with hate. It shot towards me and I turned and sprinted back into the house, stumbling over my own steps as I desperately scrambled to locate the book that signaled my state of consciousness. I hadn’t needed to open it in weeks and couldn’t remember where I left it. As desperate clawing and growling came from the other side of my bedroom door I finally found it blending in with the shelf. I furiously turned the pages over and over to gain clarity of where I was. Every bit of my soul withered away when I found the poem and read the bottom of the page.. “Wake up.”

 

CREDIT : NamesJames

 

 

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Caterpillar

by cnkguy
Caterpillar

CaterpillarReading Time: 19 minutes

Caterpillar creepypasta

 

I was playing with my hospital badge as I stood in line ‘Jonathan Villanueva’ Johnny V that’s me. I had just finished my shift as an emergency room nurse. Not my usual spot, but it was the Fourth of July, they were understaffed. So after ten-hour overnight shift of attending to drunks and people with firecracker injuries, it was eight in the morning and I was ready for a nap and a beer. But the line at Walmart was ungodly slow. And of course, there was only one register open.

I watched as other customers were being led the self-checkout lanes. But unfortunately, beer was one of many things that could not be self-checked. So after a few minutes, I was next in line with a clear view of the individual causing the wait.

The little girl looked around twelve or so, old enough to be shopping on her own but young enough to be having a panic attack over being nearly ten dollars short. “This can’t be happening,” she cried. She tugged on her long black ponytail as she tried to count her money again. A worker had been tasked with bringing her cheaper versions of the items she was attempting to buy but it was still not going to be enough.

I looked in her cart. It was filled with repair items; tape, cords, various containers, and well as grocery items like canned goods and bottled water. “How much do you need?”

She turned to me, wiping tears from her eyes. “What?”

I directed my question to the cashier. “How much does she need?”

“9.74,” the elderly woman replied. “You really don’t have to do this.”

I handed her a ten. “I’m sure her parents are wondering what’s taking her so long.”

The little girl looked at me with a forced smile. “Thank you, sir.” She finished her transaction and began to push her heavy cart.

I didn’t ask if she needed help, that would have come off as a little creepy. So I paid for my six-pack, some bread and few bags of M&Ms. On my way out I saw the girl loading her cart into a smaller, much dirtier cart, which looked like something out of a coal mine. I didn’t need to wonder why she didn’t shop with her cart; she probably didn’t want to be stared at any more than she already was.

She caught my glance and smiled, this time a genuinely sweet smile. “Thanks again,” she pointed to my name badge. “Jonathan?”

“Just Johnny,” I said. I tossed her a bag of M&Ms, the candy fell at her feet.

She was blushing as she picked up the bag and quickly pocketed it. “I’m L.”

“Ellie?”

“No L, like the letter. I don’t like people knowing my full name.”

“Of course, your parents taught you well.”

“No, not for safety, I just have a really stupid name,” she giggled. “I’ll see you around.”

“See ya.” I went home and went straight to bed. Today was my day off so I planned on sleeping for a good ten maybe even twelve hours but that was not the case. I awoke at noon to a call from my sister Olivia.

“Johnny, I need you to babysit dad.”

“I just got home.”

“Not right now, idiot, come over at six. And make it sound like it was your idea.”

“Let me guess, you’re going to a party?” I groaned. One of the worst parts of living in southern Wisconsin: there was not much to do other than party, especially for Olivia. She was a full-time college student.

“I have been watching Dad all week; I deserve to go have some fun.”

Our father was dying of late-stage leukemia. The infection had spread to his brain and he had very little time left. He wanted to be able to leave me and Olivia something other than medical debt so he opted to stay home rather than in hospice care. Since it was summer, and Olivia didn’t have a job she took care of him the majority of the time. But once the fall semester started up those roles would be reversed, and I would care for him (while working nightshifts, and living on coffee and energy drinks.)

I reluctantly agreed to help her out. I set my alarm for five pm so I would have time to shower and pick up something to eat. I managed to arrive at 5:47, letting myself in with my key. I could hear groaning coming from my father’s room. “Dad!” My father had fallen out of bed. He laid in the fetal position, shivering badly.

He was 6’2” but when how frail he was, I could lift him without assistance. I put him back into bed and locked the guard rails into place, just as Olivia entered the room.

“Johnny! I knew I could count on you.” She held her arms open for a hug.

“What the hell, Liv? You left the bed rail down!”

“Sorry,” she muttered. Suddenly a man entered the room.

He had long blonde hair like a stereotypical surfer, high cheekbones, and piercing blue eyes. “I’m Tommy.” He held out his hand. His smile was like that of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland; wide with bright white teeth. But the more I looked at him the more I began to see something else: a shark. The guy smiled like a great white shark.

“I’m Johnny,” I said shaking his hand. I glanced at his bare arms, I could see bruises and needle marks. I also noticed an unusual tattoo. “Is that a harp?”

He chuckled. “The letter V.”

“V?” I asked curiously. I had a similar tattoo on my hand, but mine stood for my last name. And mine was intentionally made to look like a harp, in tribute to my mother.

Tommy ran his fingers through his hair. “It’s my street name.”

“White boy has a street name?” I chuckled to myself.

Olivia nudged my arm. “Johnny, stop harassing my boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” I groaned. More like a fuck toy. Olivia had a new boyfriend every other week. I watched as Tommy stuck out his forked tongue and licked his upper lip.

Olivia smiled. “We have to get going. See you later, Johnny.” She kissed my cheek looking as beautiful and sweet as our late mother.

“You two have fun. I have everything covered.” I wanted them to leave. As soon as they did I want straight to the bathroom.

I threw open the medicine cabinet and shook bottle after bottle. Olivia and her fucked up friends were stealing my father’s pain pills. Luckily it was not quite as easy to shoot up or sell the medication that came in IV bags, so I was able to give my father something to help him sleep.

I stayed at the house all night, but Olivia and Tommy never came home. I left message after message with no reply. I was considering calling the police when my Dad finally woke up.

“Livvy? Where are you Livvy?”

“Olivia’s not home,” I said.

“Johnny?” My father was reaching out his hand. “They took her.”

“Who?”

“The demons.” He swallowed hard. “Your mother came to me in a dream. She told me where they took Olivia.”

I didn’t know what to think. My mother died when Olivia was born. I barely had any memories of her. But my father never remarried. He always acted like she was still a part of his life. I knew my father had tumors in his brain, to the point where he was nearly blind in both eyes. Maybe his mind was gone, or maybe he already had one foot on the other side, with my mother.

“I’m going to call the police. I can’t exactly go out looking for her. I have to get to work. I have to …” My father grabbed my hand. Instinctively, I closed my eyes. I could see tunnels, possibly a sewer. “I-I…”

“I will guide you there.” With his trembling hands, too weak to even feed himself, my father removed his wedding ring and handed it to me. As I put the band on my finger I could see a map; a series of glowing red lines, like a GPS in the back of my eyes. I knew exactly where I needed to go: the movie theatre.

The town’s only movie theatre sat in the middle of a field, across from the highway. Growing up in my small town I always found it odd that while the rest of the land surrounding the highway had been turned into truck stop hotels, fast food restaurants and of course the Walmart, the area around the movie theatre remained the same mass of tall weeds.

Wearing my father’s ring I walked through the denser patches. The golden grass stood well over six feet in height. I had no idea what I was even looking for but, for my father, I had to try. I started to feel cold, a strange feeling in the sweltering heat of July. I kept walking, further towards the center of the field, when suddenly I came face to face with a door.

A wooden door painted yellow, the color of the surrounding weeds was standing on its own, in the dirt. Walking around it, the door did not appear to be attached to anything other than the ground. I chuckled as I touched the handle. This was not happening: I was dreaming. I would wake up in my bed, none of this was real. “Ow!” The handle was white hot, but only for a few seconds. I could see specks of my blood on the rusted metal. The door opened to a long corridor. This was too freaky. I had seen enough movies to know when to run in the opposite direction. Then I heard a voice.

“He who is without sin may cast the first stone.” The voice echoed down the mysterious hall. It sounded sweet and innocent like a child.

I clenched my father’s ring praying that its power would protect me or at least light my way. I stepped through the doorway. The yellow door slammed shut behind me, leaving me in total darkness. I pulled my cell phone from my pocket. As I expected I had no signal but the full battery could serve as a light source.

In the distance I could see other lights, they were faint, like candles or maybe torches. As I came closer they looked more like Christmas lights, glowing bulbs embedded in the dirt walls. And now there were three paths. I raised my light to the first tunnel and immediately regretted it.

Screams of terror filled the corridor. And I could hear metal; prisoners banging on bars and rattling chains, crying out for my help.

Someone grabbed my hand. “This way,” said the same child-like voice from earlier. The small hand pulled me to the third tunnel. “Here,” the creature handed me what appeared to be a rubber clown mask. “Put it on!” the creature grabbed my phone, pointing the light at its face to reveal a rubber clown mask that covered its’ entire head.

“Does everyone wear a mask here?”

“The workers, those without sin,” the creature replied. “But you seek a sinner.”

I quickly put on the mask. “My sister, I-” I was about to unlock my phone when the creature grabbed my hand.

“Sh…” the creature led me to a wall of what appeared to be college IDs. “Name?”

“Olivia Villanueva,” I said, my voice trembling. There had to be hundreds of card stuck to this wall. Were these all of the people screaming in the first hallway?

“Oh…” the creature said sadly.

“What? Do you know where she is?”

“She’s already been recycled.”

“Recycled.”

“Into the chimera.”

“The chimera?” this was not happening. I was going to wake up on my Dad’s sofa and Olivia is going to come out of her bedroom and tell me I need to leave for work.

“I can help you, find her.”

“Why are you helping me?”

“Because you don’t belong here.”

I was now certain the creature was a girl. Her voice was innocent and sweet. I knew in my heart that if I stuck by her I might have a chance at survival. “Lead the way.”

I followed her down a corridor to a lower level. From the top of the stairs, I could see what appeared to be a caterpillar-shaped mass. I had seen the movie, Human Centipede, where bodies were sewn together in a daisy chain. That was not what I was looking at. This looked like one of those hairy caterpillars a long mass with many little hairs jetting out. Except these weren’t hairs, they were human limbs each one of them independently moving.

“Is she inside that?” I asked. Suddenly someone pushed past us.

“Move it Ze!” he shouted at my guide.

“Screw you, Vega!” Ze shouted back. She turned to me. “He’s such an asshole. They all are.”

“What did you say to me?” The man’s voice was deep, demonic. He raised his arm and smacked Ze in the head knocking her down.

“Hey!” I shouted, grabbing him by the arm. What I saw nearly caused me to scream. It was Tommy’s ‘V’ Tattoo. Instinct took over, and I grabbed his mask.

His long blonde hair tumbled down his back. Tommy turned and smiled. “So which one are you?” He took a step closer. “The husband? The brother? The father?”

“What?”

“Who are you looking to avenge? Kristen, Julia, Maria, Katie-” He blinked his eyes causing them to turn from human blue to a snake-like gold. “Olivia, she was a tasty one.” He raised his hand, his nails long and black.

I took a step back in case his next move was to try and rip off my mask.

“Ugh!” Vega fell to his knees.

Ze grabbed my hand. “Run!” She tossed a large rock as we ran towards the stairs.

“Did you hit him?” I asked.

“He had it coming,” she muttered as we made our way down the stairs, closer and closer to the fleshy caterpillar. “That ass-hat preys on “bad girls”; cheaters, whores, sluts- his words not mine.”

“What do you do here?” I asked.

“Not that,” she quickly replied.

“Why are you here, how did you get here?”

“I was born here,” she said a calm tone, laced with hints of sadness.

We approached the caterpillar. It stood to tell over six feet tall and possibly miles long. The mass of arms and legs were flailing in every direction. I could hear screams, like the sound of someone bound and gagged. But I saw no faces.

Ze walked to the caterpillar. As she approached, the mass of body parts became calm. “Hi, Mom.” She reached her hand into the mass, allowing the sea of limbs to swallow her up to her shoulder.

For the first time, I felt like I was going to panic. I reached for Ze but she raised her free hand. “It’s ok. Me and this thing, we go way back.”

A woman’s face emerged. Her eyes were sunken in, her skin rotten and decayed. But yet I could still make out her beauty; her bone structure, her long black hair.

“Mom, I need you to find someone,” Ze said. Her voice still sounded so sweet, like Olivia when she was a little girl.

The dead face nodded.

Ze turned to me. “Say the name.”

I swallowed hard. “Olivia Villanueva.”

The dead woman’s mouth opened as if to take a breath. “Livy…”

The mass of limbs formed a dark hole, from inside something was spit out. It looked like a mannequin that had been run over by a truck. But it was Olivia. She was face down. I expected her to start crawling like one of those Japanese ghosts, but she only groaned.

“Grab her!” Ze whispered. Her head was turning, looking around.

I hadn’t seen anyone else in the tunnels, but that was before we started messing with the chimera. Out of the corner of my vision, I could see figures emerging from the upper levels. I ran to my sister scooping her body up into my arms. I knew the less attention I paid to her current state the better.

“This way!” Ze shouted. She ran straight towards the caterpillar. The long creature extended down a pathway. “Stay close to me!” Ze shouted as she ran along the side of the caterpillar.

I could hear people chasing us, but I concentrated on Ze. As we passed the disembodied hands and feet I could hear slapping. I dared not turn around. I only hoped my instinct was correct: the caterpillar was protecting Ze and, by association, myself as well.

Ze made a sharp turn and I followed. She was squatting in a dark corner, gasping for breath. “Sorry I can’t run for very long. This has always been my resting spot.”

“You do this a lot?”

“Whenever I want to get away from Vega, or Tommy as I know he calls himself.”

“Does he hurt you?” I asked.

“No, but my mother was one of Tommy’s first victims.” Ze stood up. “We need to keep going.” I looked down at Olivia, but immediately Ze grabbed my hand. “She’s alive, that’s what matters, right?”

The tunnels were dark. I was so tempted to turn on my phone just grab a peek at my sister. I could already feel she was missing part of her right arm and her entire left leg. The entire place smelled like meat. Not death, like a hospital or morgue, it smelled like a butcher shop; a place where meat is cleaned and made presentable. That was what the chimera was: an elaborate display of meat held together by some kind of unholy magic.

“Do you know why everyone wears clown masks?” Ze asked as we walked. “It’s not because we’re scary.” She grabbed my phone from my pocket and took off her mask. Ze’s long black hair was pulled in to a ponytail, her blue eyes sparkled in the dim light of my phone.

“I know you. You’re L, the girl from Walmart.”

“My real name is Eliza.”

“That’s pretty.”

“Not really. Vega named me that as a joke.”

I looked at her confused.

“Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady? You know: the story of a low-class girl who gets taken in by some rich guy. He teaches her how to walk, talk, how to be his vision of proper lady. Have you never seen the movie?”

I had heard of it, but the movie was before my time. And Tommy, or Vega, didn’t seem like the kind of person who would be a fan of classic films. “Is that what he is to you? He’s your mentor?”

“Not exactly.” She rammed her shoulder into a seemingly random spot on the wall.

“What is he?”

“That demon is my father!” She rammed it again, revealing wood the color of the door. “He’s the reason I’m allowed to go shopping for supplies on the surface world.” SLAM! More of the wood was exposed. “He wants me to become just like him!” SLAM the entire door was visible.

“But your mother was human,” I said. That was all I wanted to focus on. I didn’t care how old she was or if she was some kind of Hell princess.

“Yeah, and my father wants me to see humans as nothing more than animals!” Her words gave her the burst of necessary to force open the door. Sunlight poured into the tunnel. “Go, hurry!” She was grabbing her arm in visible pain.

I reached my hand for Eliza. “Come with me.”

“I can’t.”

“Please! You don’t belong here! I’ll watch over you, I’ll take care of you.”

She smiled at me. Her eyes sparkled with heavenly light. “You’re sweet. But right now I need you to run and don’t look back.”

I nodded. “Goodbye.”

“No, not goodbye. Until we meet again.” I watched as she closed the door. As soon as it shut the wood began to decay. In a matter of seconds, all that remind was a pile of ash.

“Please, no!” The gateway was no more. I feared would never see Eliza again, not at Walmart, not ever. My heart was in pain. Then I got my first look at Olivia. If I was not a nurse, by trade, I would have passed out. My sister had no face. It was as if someone had taken a blowtorch to her eyes, nose, and mouth. I could feel her breath on my neck as I carried her, but she had not spoken a single word.

I laid her in the back seat of my car and drove to my father’s house. She was as still as a corpse for the entire thirty-minute trip.

I pulled into the driveway and glanced at my father’s ring. It was still glowing. I held it to my chest, with a glimmer of hope.

Then I opened the door. The smell was unmistakable, I didn’t even bother to check his bed. My father was dead.

I pulled out my phone to call 911 but fell to my knees as I looked at the date. I had been gone for nearly a week. My mind was racing, as to the horrible nature of my father’s death; seizure, starvation? I almost forgot about my mutilated sister.

Eventually, my hands became steady enough to dial 911. I managed to convince the police I found my sister’s body abandoned in a field, the possible victim of a hate crime. She was taken to the hospital.

Over the next year, I worked on settling my father’s estate. With my inheritance, I transferred Olivia to a psychiatric hospital in California. With a stellar letter of recommendation from my superiors, I was able to land a nursing position in the same hospital.

For the last six years, my life has been devoted to working and watching over my sister. I bounced between the pediatric ward and maternity ward. I took pride in working with children, each one of them a miracle.

During my lunch breaks, I checked in on Olivia. She still had her hearing and sense of touch, with her remaining limbs. With the help of a great team of doctors, she was learning how to communicate, even making friends. I was hopeful that someday she might even be able to live a normal life. Or perhaps that was my wish for my own life.

After a ten hour work day, I would go home to my studio apartment and sleep until my next shift. I had no friends, no family, and no hope. I ate lunch alone every day in the cafeteria, eating the sandwich I brought from home. No point in spending a lot of money. I kept to a moderate budget, dividing my income to pay for Olivia’s care, my food and rent, whatever was leftover went into my retirement account. That was the goal: to work until I was too old, then maybe travel the world.

I would love to work for an organization like Doctors without borders, helping children in third world countries. Perhaps once Olivia was independent enough to be moved to a live-in facility.

All I had were my dreams, until the one day she appeared. I spotted her in the cafeteria a girl with eyes the color of the brightest day and hair the color of the darkest night. She was sitting in the corner, staring out into the crowd as she sipped a can of Sprite elegantly, with a straw. She was maybe 5’6″ with plump, glossy lips the color of cinnamon candy. The girl looked up at me, our eyes met and she smiled.

My heart was in my throat as I walked over. “Hi, this might sound odd, but you remind me of someone I knew a long time ago.”

“Hi, Johnny,” she said. Her voice was mature and seductive, but with that same child-like innocence.

“Eliza?”

She nodded, batting her long eyelashes. “It’s me.”

“I- I can’t believe it! How did you escape? How did you find me?”

She licked her lips and motioned for me to pull up a seat next to her. “I earned it.”

“You earned it?” I asked.

“I earned my freedom, and with it my beauty,” she said in a haunting whisper. “Then I tracked you here,” she added, her voice returning to normal.

“How?” I didn’t have any social media accounts since there was no one I wanted to follow or stay in touch with.

“Your parents,” she answered. “They’re very happy where they are. Oh, and your Dad told me to tell you he’s proud of you.”

“Okay…” I would be lying to say I wasn’t nervous. What exactly was she?

With a coy smile, Eliza slipped me a plain white envelope. “For you.”

Inside was a necklace with a leather pendant.

“Do you like it?” she asked.

I turned the pendant over. It wasn’t leather at all, it was skin. A piece of dried flesh tattooed with a letter ‘V’. “I love it.” I looked at Eliza; what was once a caterpillar was now the most beautiful, powerful butterfly. “And I love you.”

“I love you too,” she said with a giggle.

“Do you have a place to stay?”

“I’ve actually been living out of my car.”

“Your car?”

“A Honda Civic, just enough room for my entire life,” she chuckled. Now she was the one who looked nervous. “I-I kind of bet the farm on you still wanting to see me.” “I mean, it’s been six years, you could have been married with a kid.”

“What do you mean by ‘bet the farm’?” I was curious to know just how much she carried of her past.

Eliza shrugged. “I have a little money saved up. My plan was to enroll at the local community college.”

“That’s cool.” I chuckled to myself. “Well, for me, the last few years have been devoted to Olivia.” I glanced at my watch. “I’m supposed to check in with her.”

“Now?” Eliza asked.

“Yeah, she’s getting assigned a new therapist. I promised her I’d check in during my break.”

“Great, I’d love to finally meet her.” Eliza stood up. She wore a modest green tank top paired with dark denim jeans.

“Sure, I mean if you’re done eating.” I had not eaten my sandwich yet but I figured I could do so on my next break.

I held Eliza’s hand in the elevator as we went to the psychiatric ward.

She leaned her head on my shoulder, her hair smelled like roses.

We walked arm in arm to the ward where I introduced Eliza to the Nurse Becca at the reception desk.

The older woman greeted Eliza then quickly pulled me to the side. “You need to get in there. The new therapist is some kid, straight out of school. All she does is go on smoke breaks. I can’t believe the hospital would hire someone so incompetent.”

“Is that her?” Eliza asked, motioning towards a nearby patio. On the opposite side of the glass door stood a young female doctor with long red hair. She was smoking a cigarette. “She’s pretty,” Eliza muttered under her breath.

“Yes, that’s about all she is,” Nurse Becca groaned. “All she does is complain non stop about having to work in a ‘freak show.’”

Eliza gave a look of disgust. “But she’s a doctor!”

Becca rolled her eyes. “Dr. Elena Ryan: Her goal is to transfer into sports medicine, spend all day working with beautiful people.”

I threw up my hands in frustration. “I’m going to go check on Olivia.” I walked away, to Olivia’s room.

She was sitting in her rocking chair listening something on her iPad while wearing a plain white mask that covered her entire face.

I tapped her shoulder to get her attention. “Where did you get the mask?”

Olivia flipped the iPad over to a brail keyboard. I watched as she typed her answer. “Dr. Ryan said I had to wear it if I ever want to be let back into society.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had gotten used to her face or lack of one. The rest of the world could easily do the same. “You don’t have to wear that if it’s uncomfortable.”

“Thanks,” she wrote.

I watched as she removed the mask. The scar tissue had mostly healed. The current state of her face was smooth like plastic; no eyes or nose or lips. Her mouth was still present, a gaping hole with teeth but no tongue.

Suddenly Eliza appeared. I noticed she was running her fingers through her hair. With every stroke, her dark locks sparkled. “Hello Olivia,” she said as she approached my sister without fear or hesitation. Eliza touched her hand to Olivia’s face. “I’m Eliza, we’ve met before.” She placed a hand on Olivia’s head, forcing her to bow. Eliza then bowed her own head, their foreheads pressing together. For a moment their dark hair seemed to flow into one mass of shadow. “Much better,” Eliza said, taking a step back.

I rushed to my sister’s side. “Olivia?”

My sister’s head was still leaning forward. She was making strange sounds, like weeping. With her one prosthetic hand, she brushed the hair from her face to reveal an actual face; eyelashes, a nose, and actual lips. But something seemed off. Olivia opened her eyes. They were green. My sister never had green eyes. Her new eyes blinked rapidly as if trying to get used to the sensation of light. She stood up and walked towards the sink, her hands reaching towards the mirror. She gasped but no words came out of her mouth.

“Sorry,” Eliza said biting her lip nervously. “I couldn’t figure out how to grab you a new tongue. I’ll work on that. But do you like the eyes? I think they look good on you.” The question was posed so casually as if she was referring to a pair of earrings or a necklace.

Olivia nodded, a smile gracing her new lips.

“I’m glad.” Eliza took a seat, looking out the window at the bright afternoon sun.

“So, Johnny, what time do you get off?”

“Seven,” I replied.

“Can I hang out with Olivia until then?” she asked.

“Actually, you can make a copy of my house keys, then we can meet up for dinner.” I took my keys from my pocket and pulled my door key and gate key from the ring. I knew my landlord would pitch a fit about me being in violation of my lease, but my new girlfriend could communicate with the dead and grant sight to the blind. I think my landlord would just have to deal.

As I placed the keys in Eliza’s hand. She sprang up, cupped my face and kissed me. Her lip gloss tasted like cotton candy. And her eyes; the look in her eyes filled my heart with joy. She was an angel.

“Let me walk you to your car,” I said to her. “Olivia, I’ll be right back.”
Olivia didn’t respond, she was too captivated by her new gift of sight.

I walked with Eliza, to the main elevators but as we passed the glass door of the patio my eyes drifted. Dr. Ryan, the woman with the red hair was no longer smoking a cigarette, she was slumped on the ground, her body twitching. The medical professional in me wanted to check on her.

Eliza gripped my hand. She placed a finger to her lip to say “Shh,” as she walked me to the window. With our backs pressed against the wall, we peered around the corner. I could clearly see the woman’s face was hemorrhaging large amounts of blood. I was horrified but Eliza was giggling. “Be careful who you call ugly,” she said like a typical eighteen-year-old. She was ecstatic, proud.

“What have you done?”

“What? Dr. Ryan was a conceded bitch, people like her don’t deserve beauty.”

“You sound like your father.”

“No, I don’t. He took beauty from-”

“Your father took beauty from people who HE considered unworthy.” I turned to walk towards the elevator. “The only difference between you and him is that your father created that underground chimera thing.” I didn’t even know if that was true. Did Eliza inherit her father’s kingdom?

Eliza followed me, arms crossed. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to help Olivia.”

I knew she was telling the truth. “I’m sorry I compared you to your father.”

Eliza held my hand, leaning her head on my shoulder. To say I was not afraid would be a lie. Loving her would be like loving a live grenade. But for now, she was moving in with me; my angel, my Eliza, my butterfly.

 

CREDIT : Mary Ramsey

 

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The Ouiji Fire

by cnkguy
The Ouiji Fire

The Ouiji FireReading Time: 8 minutes

Let me start this out by saying I am a very rational person and i believe there is always a rational explanation for almost everything that happens. Now with that being said let me tell you a story about an experience I have had in the past I would not exactly call rational but more of a… paranormal experience.

This all happened around the time i was 9 maybe 10 years old, i know that seems like it was a long time ago but things like this you can just forget. It was late November early December, snow was just starting to fall and it was starting to get cold. It was around 9pm and I had 2 of my closest friends staying overnight at my house planning to play playstation and other things 10 year olds do. For privacy reasons im gonna call them Jack and Sam and i have known each of them since around the2nd grade. Sam was more of a risk taker than Jack and liked to try unusual and new things, Jack was more of a play it safe and stick to the normal kind of kid.

Now that we kind of have a background of everyone let’s get back to the story. It was around 9pm and we had just set up the playstation and had the new madden football game at the time set up and ready to play. We also had snack and mountain dew and the necessities to pull an all nighter at that age. After a couple hours of playing games and horsing around Sam goes to my room to get something from his bag he had brought over with clothes and etc in it. After a few minutes he came back out to the living room where we were set up and asked us if we wanted to try something “new and fun”. As he said this he slowly brought out and ouiji board from behind his back with a huge mischievous smile spreading across his face. I, being only 10 at the time, was curious about the board as I had heard about it but never actually seen one. Jack being jack of course said no and kept telling Sam to “put it back where he had gotten it from”.

After a bit of coercing and begging Sam and I got Jack to finally play with the board with us. We got it all set up and looked at a slip of paper that was sitting with the board in the box, The paper was labeled “Caution! Oujij Boards are not toys, proceed with caution”, under this was a list of rules on what to do and do not do with the board, we read a few of the ones that seemed most important and then proceeded to finish setting up the board for use. Now this is a warning i extend to whomever is reading this, no matter what you believe there is something out there, and if you are not careful there can and will be consequences so please be careful and do your research before doing anything unusual or has to do with the paranormal. Now after a bit of going over some of the rules and reading the instructions on how to begin use with the board.

We all began by placing our fingers on the planchette and looking at each other nervously, Jack kept pleading to just go play some more madden but Sam kept insisting he stay just for a few minutes to see what happened. He agreed was seemed to be getting more and more nervous after every second that went by. We designated Sam as the medium or the person who asks the questions so he began by asking “Are there any spirits in the room that would like to come and speak to us? Please communicate by using the board only”. We waited a few minutes before he asked again.. We waited.. Nothing happened. After a few more unsuccessful attempts at contacting a spirit and around 30 minutes of waiting still nothing was happening and even Jack was becoming a little restless. Eventually Sam got tired of nothing so he shouted out “Is there anything that would like to speak with us”.

This time after a couple of minutes the planchette started to slowly move towards “Yes”. It was almost as if the planchette was going at a slow crawl towards the yes as it took almost 45 seconds for this to happen. Sam had a huge grin on his face as this was all happening and you could sense the unease in Jack as his eyes seemed to be popping out of his eye sockets as he stared in disbelief at the board. I looked up at Sam and asked if he was moving it and he said no, then i asked Jack and he muttered a simple no under his breath still in shock at what was happening. After a minute of asking who was moving it Sam decided to ask another question, this time he asked “Can you tell us your name?”. Again after a few seconds the Planchette slowly moved to the letter “T” then to the “H” then to “A” then “Z”. “Thaz is your name?” Sam asked delighted at the thought of talking to a spirit. The planchette moved to yes and stopped. Jack point seemed more amused than afraid of the board and whoever or whatever was talking with us. After a few more simple question like “are you male or female” and favorite food and animal and anything a 10 year old can think of was asked Sam asked “ Are you a good or evil spirit” after a few seconds the planchette started to move towards no and stopped. We all looked at each other with a shared uneasy feeling in our eyes. “No?” i asked quickly, the planchette then moved to yes. Again we all looked at each other with unease as Sam then asked “What do you mean no?”. The planchette then slowly spelled out the words “No Spirit”. Jack at this point starred at the board slowly starting to freak out and begging Sam to let him leave, but Sam told Jack to “Man up” and made him continue to play. Sam then asked “If you are not a spirit then what are you?”. The planchette started to move towards the letter “D” then stopped for a minute, we all looked at each other again but this time with confusion showing on our faces. Just as we were about to ask what he meant by D the planchette then continued to spell out the word “Demon”. Jack immediately took his hands of the planchette and ran into the kitchen starting to slowly sob. Not thinking about the board or “Thaz” we ran after him following him into the kitchen to try to calm him down. Not remembering rule number 24 stating “NEVER leave the planchette on the board if you are not utilizing it” we stayed in the kitchen for around 20 minutes begging Jack to come back and play with us and finish the game or at least end it.

Eventually moving back into the living room where the board was the first thing we noticed was the planchette was halfway off the board and on the floor. Sam quickly ran over realizing it and remembering rule 8 that “If the planchette falls from the board, a soul will get released”. Of course Sam didn’t tell us and just asked us if we could end the game. We all agreed and quickly asked if we could say goodbye and the planchette moved onto no. After a few more times of asking we eventually forced the planchette to “Goodbye” and we left the board on the ground and we all went to the couch and talked about what we had just experience for around an hour before finally calming down. It was around 4am by the time we all decided it had been a long night and it was time to head to bed.

I woke up in a sweat around 6am and woke Sam and Jack and told them i had a dream about a small 8 year old boy the was running back and forth for what felt like hours. They told me it was just a weird dream and i should just go back to bed as we were all still really tired. We all woke up at around noon to the sound of a loud banging noise and realized it was my dad knocking on the door to unlock it and let him in. We didn’t speak about this experience again but we put the ouiji board away in the box and put it in a corner in the attic since no one ever went up there and it was full of old boxes and spider webs and nasty things.

The next week went by and nothing seemed to be happening out of the ordinary and there was no more weird dreams, but the next weekend on a saturday I was left home alone for the night and decided to stay up and play video games. After a few hours I got bored and decided to head to bed as it was around 1am. I quickly dozed off and slept for about 2 hours before waking up to the sound of someone running. It was faint and me being tired just assumed the tv in the living room was on and fell back asleep. It didn’t last long as I was quickly awakened by more running which sounded like it was coming from right above me. It sounded like someone was in the attic and was running back and forth across it. I ended up going into the living room and sitting for around 15 minutes listening to this before eventually calling Sam to tell him what was going on, but for some reason the house phone wasn’t getting a tone and me being 10 didn’t have my own cell phone yet. I decided i would just put in headphones and try and ignore it and fall asleep on the couch till my dad got home. I slowly drifted off into sleep till around 9am when i awoke to the door closing and my dad arriving home.

I never ended up telling Sam or Jack or even my dad what I had heard that night but everything seemed fine for about another week and I just assumed it was a rat or some sort of animal running in the attic or maybe even the wind, anything rational to help me sleep at night. About 2 weeks after that night something im still unable to rationally explain happened. It was around 11pm and my dad and I were getting ready for bed. I was in the shower washing up and my dad was in the living room. As i’m getting out of the shower and heading to my room my dad asks me if i smell smoke. I took a few sniffs and realized it smelled like something was burning, I told him this and he started to look in the basement and kitchen and everywhere while i got dressed, after i came out of my room clothed and confused he told me to help him move a dresser under the attic entrance. I did and he asked me to look if there was a fire in the attic, I climbed up on top of this dresser which was almost as tall as me already, and then opened up the slab of ceiling that led into the dark room of an attic. I poked my head in and realized the smell was much greater and then started to look around, as my sight crossed the corner of the attic which we had hid the board in only 3 weeks earlier i noticed it seemed to be darker than the rest of the corners. I realized the more i looked that the corner the easier it was to see into it, and I swear for just a second I seen a small kid, no taller than 5 foot appear and give me a huge grin before the ouiji board which he was standing on burst into flames and started to engulf that corner of the attic. I shouted for my dad and told him the house was on fire and we needed to leave, which we did and then we called the fire department who came and put out the fire only after it had burnt away the side of the house and part of the roof.

After we was allowed to return to the house to receive our belongings I went to the attic and looked at the corner, seeing that the ouiji board didnt have a single burn mark on it I decided to do what any normal 10 year old would do and I threw it away and hoped it would never have to see it again. This experience has changed my entire outlook on the paranormal and that anything that can be rationally explained, may not be rational at all.

 

CREDIT : Progzy

 

 

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Oblivion’s Call

by cnkguy
Oblivion’s Call

Oblivion's CallReading Time: 16 minutes

Roy’s hand dripped over the chalice. Crimson drops made black in the dimness, echoing as they mingled with the blood of everyone else who had preceded us.

“What the—” I began, grabbing for Roy’s arm to pull him back, but he shoved me away.

“I don’t even feel it anymore. Besides, it’s a small price to pay for what you’re about to experience.”

The black glove that squeezed Roy’s wrist finally let go and withdrew behind the ebony curtain of the ticket booth. Roy produced a cloth bandage from his pocket and expertly tied it around his hand.

“Dude,” I said, “if that’s the price for admission, I don’t want anything to do with these guys.”

Roy threw his arm around me and ushered me through the doors of the auditorium. “Don’t say that until you’ve at least heard them once. Trust me, it’ll change your mind about everything.”

I’d already seen enough. That lightless ticket booth, those velvet-gloved hands reaching from behind the curtain, the knife. When Roy had first told me about Oblivion’s Call, I was barely interested. I only gave in when Roy assured me that the first three concerts were free, that I had nothing to lose.

But after the ticket booth, I was done. Free or not, this was too messed up. I tried to break away from Roy, but he caught me and steered me to our seats.

“This is the only one,” I said. “I don’t care how good their music is.”

Roy smiled as he settled into his seat. “We’ll see about that.”

The stage was hidden behind a heavy black curtain. I couldn’t look at it without imagining those hands reaching out. I closed my eyes and shook my head.

Roy nudged me. “It’s starting.”

Reluctantly, I looked up. The curtain swayed, parted—

All the lights went out.

The darkness was absolute. My heart thudded. I held my breath. Waiting. The silence grew and grew. I looked around, but couldn’t even find an exit sign. It was like someone had tied a black sack around my head.

I waited longer. The growing silence felt like a balloon, inflated to the point of bursting. I tensed in my seat, expecting something loud, something painful. I almost imagined I could see the darkness swelling out from the invisible stage toward me.

I nudged Roy. “Is something supposed to be happening?”

He didn’t answer me. I couldn’t tell if he was ignoring me or just oblivious.

I threw myself back in my seat, crossed my arms, and waited for the lights to come back on. A blood toll for two hours of silence? Was this some kind of joke? A black-market blood drive? I thought about just getting up and leaving, but I’d never be able to escape the theater in this darkness.

And then a shape twisted through the darkness in front of me.

I sat forward. The lights came back on.

The empty stage answered none of my questions. I turned to Roy, but he seemed too enraptured to do anything but grin as he led me out of the auditorium, past that repulsive ticket booth (the chalice was gone), and out into the night.

The cool air seemed to snap Roy out of his reverie. “So?”

“That was the biggest two-hour waste of my life.”

“You didn’t hear anything?”

“No.”

“You didn’t see anything?”

Nothing worth mentioning. I shook my head.

Roy shrugged. “Their next concert’s in a week.”

“Are you kidding me? I don’t care if it’s free. I have better things to do with my Friday nights.”

“You think so now,” said Roy. “They all do. I’ll see you then, same place same time.”

The absence of a questioning tone infuriated me. “I won’t be there.”

But Roy simply waved goodbye and vanished into the night.

***

“Where were you Friday night?” asked Malory. “I tried calling.”

“You remember Roy?” I said.

She nodded slowly, as if trying to pull together hints of a memory into something cohesive.

“He came back out of the blue and invited me to a concert. Have you ever heard of Oblivion’s Call?”

“No. What kind of band are they?”

I snorted. “Band? No, you actually have to play something to be called a band.” I told her about the concert, about the darkness and the silence.

“Free admission though. That’s generous of them, at least.”

“Yeah, but you get what you pay for.”

Malory pondered for a moment, then asked, “If Roy paid in blood, what did he get?”

***

I remember when Roy first encountered Oblivion’s Call. We were just hanging out when he got this worried look on his face. I asked him what was wrong.

“I got a call the other day. Some guy I used to know. Wanted me to go to a concert with him. This band I’d never heard of.”

He stopped there, but his worried expression didn’t.

“Were they any good?”

He jumped, like he’d forgotten I was there. “I’ll give them another shot. First three concerts are free, so I’m told.”

I didn’t see much of Roy after that. Ran into him a few times throughout the year, but we never got together. Just said “hey” now and then, an occasional “we should do something sometime” that never bore fruit. He seemed thinner.

Then he called me one night and asked if I wanted to go to a concert by this group he’d been following, Oblivion’s Call.

***

Should have said no, I thought as I lay in bed Tuesday night. Four days later and I still couldn’t get over the absurdity of it. Who in their right mind would let some veiled stranger slice their hand open just so they could sit in the quiet dark for two hours?

I fell asleep Tuesday night thinking that perhaps Roy needed to see someone in a lab coat. I woke up Thursday morning thinking that maybe I needed to see someone as well.

I remembered lying awake in my bed. It was dark. I couldn’t see anything except my curtains. They hung still around a window I could only guess was there, a window thrown open to an expanse of silence. A whole world where nothing stirred in a night that never ended, where whatever denizens survived did so without eyes. And although my curtains never swayed, I was constantly trying to blink the impression of movement from my vision. Something swimming, either in the fluids of my eyeballs or in the air of my bedroom or in the outer darkness beyond. A shape neither pale nor dark, a shape that I couldn’t confirm or deny seeing without feeling like I was lying.

And I thought of Oblivion’s Call and their absurd concert of sightless silence. Of that moment at the end, when it felt like my eyes seemed to open a second time and the lights came on.

What had I seen?

By Thursday night I’d waved it off as a dream. Roy was cracked. So was everyone else in the auditorium that night. It made me wonder if there was something on that knife. Maybe Roy and the others were drugged. Maybe they thought they heard music. Maybe they saw bright lights and wild colors where a sober mind saw nothing.

Nothing. I’d seen nothing.

I woke Friday morning from a dream of a memory. A memory of lying awake in my bed staring out the window into nothingness. A dream-corrupted memory of a voice. A voice, not as I lay in bed trying to sleep, but as I sat in a dark theater trying to see and hear and understand.

Yes. I’d sat in that auditorium next to Roy, and I had heard something. A song that looked like a ghostly shape floating in the darkness.

No. I’d sat next to a crazy, drugged fan boy and seen only what my light-starved eyes invented. Heard only the ambient breath of an expectant crowd.

There was one way to know for sure. And what did I have to lose? The first three concerts were free.

***

Roy held out his hand and let the knife slice him open.

“How do they know?” I asked. “Couldn’t anyone just walk in and claim it was their first? Or second? They can’t keep track of everyone who comes.”

Roy bandaged his hand and shrugged. “They know.”

“Has anyone ever tried?”

He wrinkled his nose like he’d just sniffed something bad. “I think anyone who comes back for a fourth time is more than happy to pay their share.”

We found our seats and waited. Everything was as I remembered. The heavy black curtain shrouded the stage. Just as it started to pull back, the lights faded away.

A sigh rippled through the audience. Next to me, Roy added his own voice, like a man settling into a warm bath after a long day. I kept my eyes fixed on the darkness of the stage. My ears were alert for the slightest sound. I noticed more than I had a week ago. Throats clearing. Bodies shifting in their seats. Sniffles, sighs, and creaks. But these came from around me, not in front of me, not from the invisible stage. From there came only silence. If I heard anything from that direction, it was only the whistle of air through empty space, through channels unseen, funneled through constricted openings to produce the impression of a voice, but nothing I could call with any certainty a song.

And my eyes, unblinking, saw only the static one sees behind closed eyelids. Through the pain in my forehead, I tried to picture that amorphous shape. But it was gone from my memory. I could only conjure facsimiles that moved about the stage, bubbling like black tar beneath a moonless night sky, pacing like jungle panthers behind a screen of black vegetation.

I squinted against the sudden light. The theater roared with shuffling feet and laughing voices. I followed Roy outside.

“Was it better this time around?” he asked.

I couldn’t formulate a response. Did I hear more? Did I see more? No answer seemed adequate. Real or imagined, I couldn’t tell. And did it matter? If I experienced it, did that make it real? Had I experienced anything?

I looked back at the theater entrance. Could I still hear the last notes echoing? No. There had been no notes. That was in my dream. In my sleep. I was awake now. In the real world, there was no song. No beautiful voices.

“The third concert’s—”

“Next week,” I said. “I won’t come. This is ridiculous.”

“It’ll change your life, man.”

“I like my life the way it is, thanks.” I waved goodbye and walked away. I only got a few steps when I heard a thump and turned back to look.

Roy was picking himself up off the sidewalk. He staggered for a moment, then wandered off in the opposite direction.

They really are drugged, I thought.

I watched Roy a while longer, just to make sure he didn’t veer into the street and get run over. He looked like a stick figure draped in clothes. Once he was out of sight, I walked home.

***

“You went again?” asked Malory. “I thought you said the first one was a waste of time.”

“It was,” I said. “This one, too. I guess I just got curious. Wondered if I missed something. The way Roy talks about them, you’d think they were the greatest act to ever grace the stage.”

“It could be Roy’s just…” She tapped her skull and whistled like a cuckoo.

“You got that right. Anyway, I’m free next Friday if you want to do anything.”

“I don’t know. Crazy or not, you’ve got me curious.”

“No way,” I said. “I’m not going back again. It was a mistake to go the second time, I won’t be suckered into a third.”

***

I was never one for singing, not even to myself in the shower. On Wednesday I found myself rubbing my throat, trying to massage away a soreness that came on with no explanation. I hadn’t been sleeping well, but I wasn’t sick. Then, as I heated a cup of tea, I realized I was humming. Not a song. Just a single, continuous note, low and quiet. If there was a melody, it was only because of my wavering vocal chords. I stopped myself, and the soreness abated.

***

I called Roy on Thursday. The night before, as I tried to fall asleep, I stared out the window and saw him staggering down the sidewalk, weaving left and right, slipping close to the curb before careening the other direction. He was a shade of himself, withered and twig-like. I called out to him, but in the dream he couldn’t hear me.

His voice on the phone was a welcome relief. If he’d gotten into an accident on his way home that night—

“I’ll see you tomorrow night, yeah?”

I hesitated. “No. I told you, I’m not wasting another evening.”

“Come on, man, just one more? Just one more concert. If you aren’t a Oblivion’s Call fan after that, I promise I’ll never speak to you again.”

“What?”

“I said come with me tomorrow night, and if you aren’t convinced, I’ll stop bugging you about it.”

“I thought you said—”

“Deal? Deal.” He hung up.

***

It was my new ritual, lying in bed, alone, staring through those motionless curtains out into the eternal dark. The line between wakefulness and sleep was a liquid thing, bleeding out on either side.

Thursday night, as I watched and waited for something to move between me and the stars, I heard someone whisper next to me.

My mattress was suddenly made of needles. All my muscles felt like lead beneath skin that had gone as hard and cold as porcelain. I could only lie on my back, staring ahead at the window, no longer waiting but dreading the moment when some dark thing would blot out the stars.

Someone whispered from my other side. I could tell neither age nor gender, and the words were lost to me. Just babble, a dark language from some cold and empty country.

“It’s starting.”

I couldn’t help but turn toward that one English phrase. To my left, I saw Roy sitting next to me in the auditorium, erect in his seat, gaze directed forward at the stage. He wore a hooded sweatshirt so I couldn’t see his face.

The whispered babbling grew as the theater filled. Dim figures appeared in the seats around us, all hooded, all transfixed by the darkness I refused to look at. Their voices were a dull buzz in my ear. Painful. Like ice at the base of my skull. My throat was dry, so dry that when I asked Roy if we could leave, no sound came out. Thirst. Desperate thirst. The pain in my ears grew, nearly unbearable now. Tears swelled in my eyes.

Roy turned toward me.

He had no face beneath the hood. Just an empty void, utterly black.

***

My ears rang as I climbed out of bed, squinting against the sunlight. It was like someone had struck a tuning fork, and its pure note lingered in the air like a sublime fragrance.

It was the voice from the concert, the one I’d heard last night. No, there hadn’t been a concert last night. That was last week. And no again, I hadn’t heard anything. It was all in my head, the result of my subconscious trying to make sense of all that darkness and silence.

Too bad, because it was a beautiful voice. The fabricated memory of it made me thirsty for more, thirsty like I was lost in the desert, thirsty like I’d never been before or even imagined was possible.

So I’d meet Roy tonight. It was just one more concert. And it was free.

***

“What do they look like?” I asked as those gloved hands with their bloody knife withdrew behind the curtains of the ticket booth. The metal stink of the chalice stung my nose.

“Look like?” echoed Roy. “You mean their outfits? Their faces?”

I nodded and waited for him to answer. But he just walked into the auditorium and sat down. I joined him, still waiting, but he seemed to have forgotten all about the question. He stared straight ahead, and I shivered as I remembered my dream from last night.

The theater filled in around us. No one wore cloaks or hoods. No one whispered. I could see their faces plainly as they waited in rapt attention for the curtains to part and the lights to dim. I wondered how many were first-time, second-time, third-time attendees. Was anyone in this audience as uncertain as I was? Was I alone in my confusion, the only one here who hadn’t given themselves over completely to the mystery?

The smell of the chalice still clouded my sinuses, and for the umpteenth time I questioned my sanity. Roy was a framework of a human being, a scarecrow. I’d once thought of him as chubby, but now his pale skin stretched transparently over his skull. I noticed that he took deep, shuddering breaths. Excitement? Or illness? I reminded myself that the knife that collected admission fees might be drugged, and also wondered for the first time if it was thoroughly sanitized between attendees. If not, Roy could be full of all kinds of diseases.

The more I paid attention, the more I realized that nearly everyone in the theater was panting like Roy. Beneath the metallic scent of blood from the chalice, I picked up the sour breath of a hundred strangers all gasping in the air.

The lights went out.

As it had the first time two weeks ago, my heart pounded, but harder this time. The gasps of the audience seemed to gather close around me, rasping louder in my ears. I gripped my armrest and recoiled at the feel of someone’s cold hand—no, it was just the polished wood. Decorative grooves carved into it so it only felt like fingers—

Then the singing started.

It was that same note that had filled my head these past few weeks, drawn out of my nightmares and into what I could only assume was my waking life. This was real, wasn’t it?

It made me dizzy. My seat seemed a hundred feet below me as I drifted up toward the invisible source of that voice, but Roy’s rattling breath reminded me very suddenly that I was still anchored by gravity to the floor. And it wasn’t just Roy. Everyone was whimpering, wheezing, sighing. The sound brought to mind a room full of children having the life choked out of them.

And above it all, constant, droned that angelic note, but its sweetness was noxious, less like music and more like a cry of despair. A cry borne on a wind of blood and decay.

I peered ahead into the darkness, crushed back in my seat, loving and dreading the sound, begging for it to be over. I couldn’t bear to look at the darkness any longer, couldn’t bear to close my eyes. I came here tonight to see something, but I didn’t want to see the mouth that uttered that abhorrent note.

But when I did see, there was no mouth. No face. Hardly a form at all that I could recognize. It stood where the stage might have been, tall and still. Something that might have been a human shrouded in a floor-length black sheet. No, it couldn’t be human. How long had it been uttering that single tone, uninterrupted for breath? And what breath could escape that shroud without stirring it? Although my mind interpreted the vision as cloth, it may have been stone for all it moved. Yes, that had to be what it was: a statue.

And then the statue raised its arms, and the groans of the audience were agony to me. For a moment I could see them; there was no light, but as with the veiled figure on the stage I could see them in sketches of charcoal, hands clamped over their ears, fingers clawing at their own throats, mouths agape in desperate bids for air.

Then the lights were on. They sat around me, peaceful. No sign of discomfort. Many even smiled as they rose and filed out of the auditorium.

The stage was hidden behind the curtains. I hadn’t seen them close. There was no sign of the shrouded figure.

When we were outside, Roy asked, “Well, has it changed your life?”

I stared dumbly at him for a full minute, hating his expectant grin. “I am going to try very hard,” I said, “to forget these past three weeks.”

His smile shrank, but only a little. “Not everyone gets it. But a promise is a promise. I won’t speak to you again.”

“You mean you won’t bother me about these stupid concerts.”

He renewed his smile, turned his back on me, and walked away.

***

That night, I didn’t dream.

***

I awoke Monday morning feeling hollow. I’d heard nothing from Roy since Friday night, and had slept soundly every night after. My mind was quiet.

But something didn’t feel right.

After pondering over breakfast, I decided it was repressed curiosity. Since the third concert, I’d made good on my promise to forget Oblivion’s Call. But as I cracked that door open, I realized I still knew nothing about them or their music or their uncanny sway over Roy and his fellow fans. And once the door was cracked, I couldn’t shut it again.

I stopped by the theater that afternoon. It was closed, but I could see a janitor mopping the floors just inside the lobby. I knocked on the glass door. The janitor glanced at me, pointed at the “closed” sign, and went on mopping. I knocked again.

He scowled at me, but left his mop in its bucket to unlock the door. “Can I help you?”

“I wondered if you could tell me anything about Oblivion’s Call.”

“Who now?”

“Oblivion’s Call. They’re performing on Friday night.”

He wrinkled his face in annoyed confusion. “There’s no concert Friday night. Nothing’s scheduled until next month.”

“What about last Friday? They were here then. And the week before.”

The janitor peered at me through squinted eyes. “Nobody’s performed here. No one will until next month.”

“But I was at the concert on Friday.”

“Were you now?”

I looked around the lobby. There was the ticket booth, no curtains, empty. I shook my head and left. The janitor locked the door behind me.

***

My phone rang. I answered without checking the number, and my stomach tightened when I heard Malory’s voice.

“I tried calling you Friday night.”

“You did?” I swallowed and tried to come up with an explanation. “That’s…weird.”

“I’m not an idiot. You went to that concert with Roy.”

“I—”

“You said it was a waste of time, but I guess that’s only if you went with me.”

“That’s not—”

“Do you know how long it’s been since we went on a date?”

“Uh—”

“Almost a month. That’s right. Ever since Roy and his stupid Oblivion’s Call. Well guess what? Since you like them so much, you can go see them every Friday. I don’t care. I hope it’s worth it, because you won’t be seeing any more of me.”

Before I could reply, she hung up.

***

I stood across the street from the theater, watching people disappear inside. I had no intention of joining them, of offering my hand to the blade and sitting through two hours of silence and darkness. I only wanted to confirm my memories.

The theater wasn’t closed. The janitor was either mistaken or lying. That meant I wasn’t crazy.

I’d gotten what I came for, but now I couldn’t make myself leave. That repressed curiosity. No, I wouldn’t go through those doors. I wouldn’t join that insanity for a fourth time.

But I had to know. Who was Oblivion’s Call? How did they cultivate a following so loyal they’d offer their blood just for a concert?

I crossed the street. Avoiding eye contact with everyone else on the sidewalk, I made my way around to the back of the building. Found a door. Found it was unlocked. Slipped inside.

The back corridors of the theater were dimly lit. The air buzzed with flickering, sickly light. Aside from that, the only sound was my own footsteps echoing off concrete floors and cinderblock walls.

I tried several doors on my way toward the stage. Most were locked. Most that weren’t were maintenance or storage closets. One opened onto a room so dark I couldn’t see more than a couple feet. I immediately regretted opening it. The sight of such solid blackness sent my heart pounding toward the back of my ribcage, like my very soul was trying to run from the darkness.

“There you are.”

I jumped at Malory’s voice and spun to find her marching down the corridor.

“Waste of time, is it? Yet here you are, back for a fourth.”

“What are you doing here?”

Malory rolled her eyes. “After everything I’ve heard, did you really think I could stay away? If nothing else, I had to see what was so interesting that you’d blow me off and lie to me and—”

This one hasn’t paid the toll.

I thought it was in my head, but Malory had gone silent and was staring at the air above and behind me. The hairs on my neck went rigid.

A free offering? hissed a second voice. Or maybe it was the same one, whispering and androgynous. I couldn’t make myself turn to look. Malory’s face, twisted and gaping, was all I needed to see.

A dry, frigid breath brushed me from behind as a third voice said, We don’t get those very often.

All the lights in the corridor went out. I became thoughtless, save for the one overpowering thought that I needed to get out.

What of the other? It owes us nothing yet.

It saw our faces.

Then we must.

Malory screamed. Her shrill voice was overpowered and cut off by a deep growl and a heavy crunch. In the silence that followed, I heard a steady dripping.

I needed to run. Make my iron legs move and run.

Before I could take a single step, my arms were seized in a grip that felt like winter branches. I thought that maybe I could break the twigs if I tried, but at their sharp touch I could not move. Another hand brushed my forehead, ran its knotty fingers through my hair, then pulled. My head was jerked back.

We’ll sing well tonight.

Always better this way.

Fresh and undiluted.

A line of fire burst across my exposed neck. I heard splashing around my feet. Something like three sheets of tattered, wrinkled paper began caressing my throat.

I went limp, but those impossibly strong hands held me upright. Pain gave way to dizziness, dizziness to a deeper blackness. As I faded from existence, my mind was filled with the most beautiful singing.

By James Colton
You can read more of his ghost stories at his website

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The Mourner

by cnkguy
The Mourner

The MournerReading Time: 5 minutes

When I was a child I realized quickly that I was the youngest in my extended family by a large margin. The way I figured this out was that it seemed that whenever we had gatherings I was usually the only child attending. The other members of my family, aside from my parents, were all elderly. The reason I bring this up is because of their advanced ages, I seem to recall spending a lot of time going to funerals as I was growing up. One month it would be for a distant great uncle, and the next month it would be for a cousin I had thought was an aunt of mine because of our age differences. I grew accustomed to going to wakes and funerals, and funeral homes really did not bother me like they do to other people. In fact, it got to the point where going to a funeral was just like going to the grocery store, or running to the post office, or going and performing some other random errand. I felt that funerals were more a chore than a time to feel loss.

I remember going to my Great Grandmother Arnetta’s funeral when I was nine years old, and it was then that I first noticed the Mourner. I did not know it was him at the time, but he was there nonetheless. He sat in the back pew of the church we were having the service for Grandma Arnettta, and as I was sitting there, I began to scan over the small group of people who made up the congregation, and saw a shriveled looking little man wearing a suit resembling what the other men there were wearing, but it was distinct, like something someone would have worn years earlier. At the time I just figured the little old man was a distant relative of ours, or a friend of Grandma Arnie’s who was paying his last respects.

I saw him a few more times while attending family members’ funerals, and each time, he would sit in the same general spot, slightly away from everyone else, would be wearing the same dated suit, and he had a look on his face that suggested that while his body was with us in the church, his mind was elsewhere. A few times I would ask my parents about the old man sitting in the back, and they would both offhandedly say it was probably Uncle So and So, or Cousin What’s His Name and after that, I would soon forget about him until the next time we were standing over a casket being lowered into the ground.

Fast forward thirty years…

After finishing high school, graduating college, and moving across country for my job, I had completely forgotten about a little old man and funerals and the sort and was living a good life. A few years after moving, a close friend of mine and my wife’s was tragically killed in a car wreck. As soon as preparations were made, we found out when the funeral would be, and made plans to attend. We arrived to the church, found a spot to sit near the front, and worked tears back as the service began. After a while, I looked around the church, and noticed that it had filled up considerably behind us. As I scanned from side to side I caught sight of something that suddenly made me forget about my friend, the church, everything…

The Mourner was sitting in the back row of the church.

“It couldn’t be,” I thought, “I must’ve imagined it.”

I glanced back and to my relief, I saw a woman quietly tending to her child. I looked ahead and tried to focus back on what the preacher was saying, but for some strange reason, I had the inclination to start looking around once more, searching for something that I knew shouldn’t be there. My eyes locked onto him, now a few pews up from his original spot. There was no doubt about it, it was the same man from my childhood. Same features, same old suit, same dour expression, same everything. I closed my eyes for a moment and opened them to make sure I wasn’t imagining all of this, and in the time it took me to blink, he had moved to a few pews away from where we were sitting. I nudged my wife, but she was focused on the casket of our friend, all while trying to keep her composure. When I looked back to where the Mourner was sitting, I let out a gasp…

He was sitting next to me.

I can’t explain what happened next, but as I looked around, the world began to look hazy. I could see my wife, the congregation, and the preacher, but could not hear anything going on. I looked again at the old man sitting next to me, and as I did, his neck slowly turned, and two solid black eyes looked back at me.

I screamed.

“They won’t hear you,” a voice creaked from his mouth, “it’s a shame, really. If only people would slow down and pay attention, they would see and hear a lot of things, but they don’t.”

“What do you want?” I asked, fear and a hint of curiosity in my voice.

“Why did you never approach me all those years ago?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“A small lie, but a start. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step, or so the saying goes. This first little lie, this little sin, will be your first step, so to speak.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You have this little name for me, the Mourner, because you only see me at funerals, correct?”

“How did you know that?”

“All the times that you have seen me, I haven’t been mourning, I have been observing.”

“Who?”

“Why, you. I needed to know if you were the capable of being the one.”

“I’m not following you.”

“All those funerals in your childhood, tell me, when did you begin feeling nothing while attending them?”

“Stop whatever it is you’re doing, and bring me back to my wife.”

“How did it feel when your feelings dulled, when the simple act of mourning was not something you could muster? Did you feel hollow? No, not you. You. Felt. Nothing.”

“Please, just send me back. None of this makes sense, and I want no part of you or whatever it is you are.”

“You lack compassion. You cannot mourn. You felt nothing when you left behind those who held you dear. I will leave you, but know this: I am not the Mourner, as you named me, I am a herald, and I have been sent to deliver you this message: You will be the Sinner, and your actions will bring forth the downfall of man, and a new age will be ushered in. Embrace your role in the End Times.”

At that moment, I felt something grab at my arm and I was startled to see that I was back in the church, sound had returned, and my wife was shaking me with a worried look on her face.

“The color has completely left your face,” she said, “are you alright? Len’s death hit you hard, I know, but you mustn’t let it make you sick.”

“Oh, right, you’re absolutely right, dear,” I replied.

I had then realized that the service was over and people were dispersing from the church. The pall bearers had already carried Len’s casket from out of the church and into the waiting hearse. The old man, the Herald, as he called himself, was nowhere to be seen.

“Where did the old man who was sitting next to me go?”

“We were the only people sitting in the pew. Your grief must’ve gotten the best of you. Sometimes, I truly think you let your feelings take over.”

The problem was, just like with all the other funerals I had attended, I didn’t feel a thing.

As we were walking out of the church, the old man’s words reverberated through my head, “You will be the Sinner…Embrace the End Times…”

A small smile formed on my face.

“I have work to do…”

It was the first time I had felt anything close to happiness in years.

 

CREDIT : Explosions Bonaparte

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The Boy

by cnkguy
The Boy

the boyReading Time: 8 minutes

I love my son, I truly do. There’s nothing in the world I would wish for than my parents, my wife, and most importantly, my son.

His name is Oscar, and he was a well-behaved child, even at the age of five, he knew better than to do wrong. That wasn’t the only thing I loved about him, but it was his wild imagination that really amazed my wife and I.

Ever since he was three, he found his love of drawing pictures, really cute ones to be honest. We’d usually find pictures of what we can make out as his own make-believe creatures Oscar had made up. He had different descriptions and stories for each one, it was something really extraordinary for us.

For a few of his birthday parties, my wife and I thought about bringing his world of creatures to life by buying random party supplies and costumes to try and make a real-life representation of it. Oscar loved it, and we’d done two more birthday parties with the same theme.

At those parties, we’d invite my work buddies’ kids to them, to have someone play with Oscar. Surprisingly enough, Oscar already has a few friends, especially Billy.

Billy Hill was the son of one of the best guys I work with at my job as a car manufacturer, Shaun Hill. Shaun had a huge interest in heavy metal music, which is why he sometimes listens to music from his favorite bands while he worked, just something to put out there. His son, Billy had picked up the interest in music that shouted at you, basically the only music Billy and Shaun would listen to. Like father like son, right?

Billy and Oscar’s relationship was something special for Shaun and I, even my wife was glad our son had found his first, new best friend. When Shaun usually came over to our house, he’d bring Billy with him, he only wanted to come over to play with Oscar.

Shaun, and my wife an I would usually talk about what was going on in our lives, mostly about work. Billy and Oscar would be in Oscar’s bedroom, either drawing pictures together or just playing with whatever toys they both got out.

All of that, however, had stopped about a year later on Oscar’s fifth birthday.

My son wanted another monster fantasy themed birthday party, so we’d gave him one. After the cake and presents were given, Oscar continued playing with Billy outside. I started putting the leftover cake and ice cream away when I heard the back door open, followed by small footsteps. Looking over to Billy, walking into the kitchen where I was, towards me, and he had a strange look on his face. Billy had that expression where he was about to scream or cry, or something like that. Either way, it had me worried.

“There’s a man outside,” Billy said, a quiet and shaky tone coming out of his mouth.

I immediately run to the window to look out at Oscar, and surprisingly, there was a man out there, standing in front of him. The man wore a dusty trench coat and leather work gloves on, probably some homeless man or a drug addict. He stood in front of Oscar, who didn’t look afraid at all. No, I know what I saw, he was smiling up at him. Oscar’s lips didn’t move at all, he was just looking up at the man with that dimpled grin spread across his face.

I run out the door, with a broom in my hands, the only thing I had thought of grabbing in an instant.

“Get the hell away from my son!” I shouted at the man, who turned to look at me. He immediately ran around the other side of our house, and in an instant, he was gone. I looked over to Oscar, who was only confused.

“Oscar, are you okay? Did that man hurt or touch you anywhere?” I asked him, staring at him in the eyes, not taking my eyes off him.

Oscar only stuttered, as if he couldn’t get a reply out, but he did.

“I’m fine Daddy. He liked my picture.”

I looked down at a sheet of paper that had some sort of drawing on it, a new creature Oscar probably came up with, possibly. I picked it up to see for myself, and, well, I had no words to let out.

This creature wasn’t like anything he had ever drawn. In fact, this wasn’t even a monster. It was what I could only assume is a little boy, his whole, naked body covered in holes. Taking a closer inspection of the holes, I found out that they tried to represent faces, a little boy with faces all over its body. Each face seemed to be frozen in shock or fear, which made this “thing” look more discomforting.

“Oscar, get in the house,” I told him, still looking at his drawing. Oscar got up and walked into the house, very silent as I went in with him.

I had talked with my wife about what had happened outside right after, about that man trying to approach Oscar and what Oscar drew. She wasn’t that concerned about the picture, for that she thought it was normal for a child to draw something strange like “a boy with faces all over its body”. What concerned her was that he was left alone with a man that could’ve been a pedophile or a murderer of some sort, and that it was my fault I wasn’t out there with him. Now, I remember at the time that I was in the house to put ice cream and cake away, but just the thought of what could’ve happened to Oscar had scared me the most.

That night, before Oscar’s bedtime, our wife and I had talked with Oscar about what happened.

“Oscar, can you please tell us what happened when you were outside with Billy?” I asked him, who was drawing a new picture of his usual made-up creatures this time.

“Am I in trouble, Daddy?” Oscar replied, looking up at us.

“No sweetie, you did nothing wrong. We just want to know what happened when you were outside with Billy,” My wife said, reaching over to hold Oscar’s left hand.

“Me and Billy were playing, and then I saw the man walking up to us. Billy ran away and he was talking to me. He’s really nice,” Oscar said, his other hand sketching all over the paper.

“Did the man say anything to you?” My wife asked him, stroking his small hand with her thumb.

“He said that he wished he had a kid, and that he wanted one like that,” Oscar replied, pointing to the sketch I held in my hands. My wife and I looked at each other, then the picture that Oscar drew. We both looked back at Oscar, who still scribbling some features on his new monster.

It was nighttime, almost midnight when I woke up with Oscar, standing at the side of the bed, with tears dripping down his cheeks. I was able to fully comprehend what I was seeing as I sat up and comforted him in my arms. Oscar’s crying now softened into quiet whimpers.

“Oscar, is anything okay?” I asked him. “Did you have another nightmare?” Oscar nodded his head, his lips quivering.

“Do you want to sleep in with us?” Oscar nodded again, sniffing as he calmed down and climbed into our bed, covering himself up. As he did so, I tried to go back to sleep, but I felt Oscar tap my shoulder. I turned over to look back at him, he was still wide awake.

“Yeah buddy?” I asked him quietly.

“Can I tell you what I dreamed about?” Oscar asked me.

“Alright, sure.”

“You know my best friend?”

“Billy?”

“No. My other best friend, in my picture.”

“Oh, yeah.” I felt a bit unnerved just thinking about it.

“He was trying to save me.”

“Save you from what, Oscar?”

“That man.” I immediately knew who he was talking about.

“He took Billy away from me, and he told me he wasn’t coming back…”

I jolted up, looking down at Oscar, who was already asleep. Those last words that came out of his mouth had my heart drop. It wasn’t just what he said, but what I thought of when he said it. The man that approached Oscar out in the backyard, if he really was going to kidnap Oscar or Billy, that would’ve been a horrible thought.

I tried to go back to sleep, but it still repeated in my mind, still preventing me from closing my eyes, thinking that the man would appear in the bedroom and take Oscar away. About an hour, I was able to fall asleep. And on that night, I had the same nightmare as Oscar.

I remembered it taking place at the birthday party, everything was normal. The kids were playing around, eating cake and ice cream, everything didn’t seem out of the ordinary (or so I thought). I was looking at Oscar, who was drawing pictures with Billy, then I turned back to the crowd of kids and I saw it. Oscar’s “best friend”, the boy with faces all over its body, except in reality it looked a lot more twisted.

A naked boy, who appeared to have the same hair as Billy, had faces of many other children stitched all around his body, looking like something Ed Gein would create.

He only stared at me, slowly walking up to me as I could only stare at him.

“Call the police, mister. The man already took me and the others, and he made himself a child. We’ll never grow up to be grown ups like you did, ever again. The man lives in the forest behind your house, in a small shed. He’s also going to take Oscar too, and you might never see him again. Keep him safe, so wake up now,” The boy said, his voice sounding exactly like Billy’s. I only stood there, unable to think of what to do next.

“WAKE UP NOW!”

That was when I woke up and called the police, and told them everything, about the man who apparently lived in a forest that was in our neighborhood. A few minutes later, I had gotten some texts from Shaun, many text messages to be exact. Each of them were either “CALL THE POLICE”, “MY SON IS MISSING”, or “I CAN’T FIND BILLY”.

My wife and Oscar woke up as I walked out of the bedroom to the front door, the police had arrived. They followed me from behind as they both wondered what was going on. I ignored them, trying to listen to what the police officers at the door had to say.

They were able to find and capture the man, who supposedly was in the forest and lived in a small shed that they found. He didn’t have a name, information unknown so far to them, but unfortunately it was true, he did kidnap a few children, including Billy Hill. Like what Oscar and the “thing” said, the man made himself a child, but the man had admitted that he always wanted a child to raise and take care of. He once had a wife, but every time they tried to have a baby, every child was miscarried. The man moved out of the house and ran away for that reason, and kidnapped as much kids as he lost the same amount of unborn lives, he mostly wanted a boy. That must’ve been the reason why Billy had to be the kid to stitch the faces onto, but it still doesn’t answer why he had to be the one.

My wife took Oscar into his bedroom where he was able to fall asleep, hoping he wouldn’t come out to listen to the truth. Shaun was also able to come over, really upset about the current events that were happening. He couldn’t stop crying, his hands covering his face as he wept loudly, being comforted by my wife, who were sitting on the couch.

The one thing that really disturbed me the most about what the police told me, was that they were able to find the bodies of all the missing children, even Billy. Every child, except for Billy, had missing faces, possibly the flesh was torn or cut off. They also found Billy, who was also found dead in the shed the man lived in, his clothes were gone and his body found naked, all of the children’s faces were stitched onto the body. Described exactly like the one in my dream and in Oscar’s picture.

 

CREDIT : Adrian Johnson

 

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