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Her World Painted Black

by cnkguy
Her World Painted Black

Her World Painted BlackReading Time: 13 minutes

When Alexis Blakely arrived at the home of Phillip Kramer, the rain was falling in long diagonal slants beyond the windshield of her car and the whole street lay half lost in rainy haze of the cold, gray, and dismal winter afternoon. Mr. Kramer lived in a large three-story house with a double car garage that had fallen into a state of mild disrepair. In the front yard, a disfigured tree that bore the scar of a past lighting strike loomed over an expanse of knee-high grass. A dilapidated shed sat at an uncertain angle a few paces away from the double car garage. One of the two garage doors was open.

Still a little nervous about the arrangement she had made with Mr. Kramer, Lexi pulled into the garage and parked her aging ‘90s model Honda Civic next to a 1934 Rolls-Royce that looked as though it could have only recently come off the assembly line. The Rolls-Royce was a status symbol, something that indeed confirmed Mr. Kramer’s success as an artist, but it also stuck her as a desire to strive for and achieve perfection. Lexi was only twenty-three, and while physical perfect came easy to her in terms of her appearance, she understood the visual aesthetics took numerous shapes and forms and that some of them were more difficult to achieve than others.

Lexi killed the engine, opened the driver-side door, got out of her car, and stood for a moment admiring Mr. Kramer’s Rolls-Royce. Her phone rang in her hand. The caller ID displayed MR KRAMER. She pressed the green ANSWER icon on the screen, lifted it to her ear, and hoped she sounded confident.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hello,” Mr. Kramer said. “Is that you down there, Miss Blakely?”

“Yes.”

“Splendid. Let yourself in. I’ll be right down.”

“Okay.”

Mr. Kramer terminated the call.

Lexi slipped her phone into the back-right pocket of her blue jeans and went through the side door that connected the garage to the kitchen.

Under normal circumstances, she would have told Phillip Kramer to shove his request up his ass, but he had promised to pay her exceptionally well, and he had incredible references from other extremely famous artists, several prestigious galleries that only sold pieces upward of six figures, and models from around the world that made most of the typically Hollywood actresses look like trailer trash.

In the kitchen, Lexi detected nothing unusual for an elderly man of sixty-seven who lived alone. The light was switched off, the dishes needed to be done, and through the pantry door, which he must have left ajar, she spied a stockpile of canned food that didn’t require much chewing to consume. An empty food bowl and water bowl sat on the floor. Lexi wondered where Mr. Kramer’s dog was for a moment, for she heard no barking, and the bowls were far too large to have been meant for a cat, and then it occurred to her that his dog may have been deceased and that he had either left the bowls there in memory of his believed pet or simply forgot to take them up. Both options pulled at her heart strings.

She heard Mr. Kramer hobbling down the stairs a moment later and when he entered the kitchen, Lexi was surprised to discover that he not only walked with a cane but that he was only possessed one full set of fingers. The four digits of his left hand had been detached from the rest of him at the knuckle. His thumb remained.

“. . . been worse,” he said.

“Huh?”

“I said it could’ve been worse.”

Lexi looked up from his hideous hand. She hadn’t meant to stare, and now to her chagrin, she could feel herself beginning to blush. She tried to look him in the eye and managed to with some difficulty. His eyes were blue-gray and faded, like the sky beyond the window. Beyond the kitchen windows, the wind picked up and whipped the rain across the front yard in a cascade of violent swirls. Mr. Kramer had begun to explain.

“Could’ve been my right hand—”

“I’m sorry.”

“—the one I paint with,” he said, ignoring her preemptive apology.

“I didn’t mean to stare.”

“It’s okay, Miss Alexis. It really is. Some people openly deny it.”

“What happened?” she asked before she could stop herself.

Mr. Kramer smiled, thoughtfully. Then he picked up a chewed-up can of potted meat from the counter and turned it over in his hand. It had teeth marks on it. Lexi hadn’t noticed this upon first entering the kitchen, and as she watched Mr. Kramer turn it over in his hand, she found herself unsure if he was examining it for the sake of inspection or if he was examining it to buy himself time to answer he inappropriate question. Beyond the kitchen windows, a bolt of lightning flashed followed immediately by a crack of thunder. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he tossed the can into the trash, and turned his attention back to her.

“It’s an old sexual injury,” he said with a wink.

Lexi blushed deeper, and they shared a good laugh. Then she followed out of the kitchen, into a short hallway, and up a set of narrow stairs, which he climbed enthusiastically in spite of his handicap.

In a narrow hallway at the top of the stairs, Mr. Kramer looked first to the left and then to the right, as though he either wasn’t sure which way he was going or hadn’t decided yet.

“C’mon,” he said, turning to Lexi. “I’d like to show you some the painting in my personal collection before we get started.”

“That would be wonderful. Mr. Kramer.”

“You can call me Phil, Miss. Alexis.”

“Okay. But only if you call me Miss Lexi.”

“Agreed,” he said.

Mr. Kramer led the way down a hall. He did not merely hobble along with the cane, he leaned steeply into it. He stopped in front of a door, unlocked it, opened it for Lexi, and gestured that she should enter first. She did. The light was switched off. But there was enough light slanting through the windows for her to make out the subject of each painting hanging on the walls of the otherwise bare room.

“These are the ones none of the galleries will take for a variety of reasons,” he said, leading her around the room clockwise. “I take great pleasure in showing them off once or twice a year, although the last model I invited vomited and collapsed in a screaming fit on the floor half-way through this little tour. I like to think it was my art that distressed her so strongly, but my lawyer was later able to somehow prove in a court of law through means that remain unknown to me that she was an epileptic.” He paused for a moment before he continued. “You aren’t epileptic, are you?”

“No.”

“Splendid. Let us continue then, shall we?’

She gestured for him to continue.

The paintings on the walls depicted a number of strange scenes, figures, and faces, many of which were painted against either blackness absolute or very dark and depressing backgrounds. The female figures were typically painted either nude or only partially dressed. But a number of the male figures were also depicted in the same way. The painting depicted humans displayed a number of expressions and moods. But there were also painting in which human beings were depicted in death. Evisceration, dismemberment, decapitation, and in mass graves were all present. Half glimpsed demonic creatures—male, female, androgynous, hybrid, monstrous, beastly, and demonic—also prevailed throughout the gallery. There were also hellish landscapes depicting rivers of blood, caves full of body parts, forests with figures hung from the trees, and beaches littered with plastic bottles and bone fragments.

Lexi enjoyed tour, and once Mr. Kramer concluded it, he led her back into the hallway, and locked the door behind them. Then he led her to another room at the other end of the narrow hall, unlocked the door, and gestured for her to enter.

“Welcome to my studio,” he said.

There were photographs, drawings, and paint on the walls. A tall bookshelf overflowing with volumes stood in one corner. A projector stood in another. Pencils, paint, charcoal, notebooks, and canvases lay strewn across the floor. An easel stood in the middle of the room. A paint spattered easy chair and table with a cluster of bottles stood beside it. Some of the bottles contained paint. Others contained brushes. Opposite the easel, there was a couch with a lamp positioned above and slightly off to the side of it. The light in this room was also switched off, and although Mr. Kramer did not switch it on, he did switch on the lamp. Mr. Kramer gestured at the couch.

“You can set your clothes wherever you like, Miss Lexi, and don’t worry, there’s no need to hurry, I still have to paint this canvas black before we can begin.”

Lexi looked around. Almost every surface in the room had painted on it to some degree or another, but she eventually settled on an old end table beside the only window in the room.

“You can leave your socks on,” Mr. Kramer said.

“Okay.”

“I’d actually prefer it if you left your socks on.”

“Okay.”

“I don’t like feet.”

“That’s okay, Phil. I don’t either.”

“Splendid. You wouldn’t believe the trouble feet have caused me over the decades, you really wouldn’t. I’ve had several bizarre encounters with women who were obsessed with their feet. It’s an unhealthy obsession, feet . . .”

Standing in front of the end table, she slipped her phone out the back-right pocket of her jeans and set it on the end table. Then she added her car keys and purse and glanced back at Mr. Kramer. He was hard at work, painting a large canvas black, still talking mostly to himself about how much he despised feet, and didn’t seem interested in watching her undress. Lexi didn’t have a problem with him painting her nude, for he had promised to pay her quite well, which was their arrangement, but looking out the window into the stormy expanse of his back yard, Lexi felt as though she had overlooked something

(sinister or strang)

about Mr. Kramer. Except . . . that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t Mr. Kramer. It was something else, something about his house, something unseen that didn’t sit quite right in her mind.

But what is it?

Lexi didn’t know.

She stepped out of her shoes and nudged then against the end table with one foot that was still-socked against the end table.

Beyond the window, the rain and the lightening and the thunder were still going strong. The grass, weeds, bushes, and trees capered in the wind, and Lexi thought it was entirely possible that the wind might uproot one of the older, deader trees in the back yard before the sun set that evening.

She took hold of her T-shirt at the bottom, pulled it up over her head, set it on the end table, and ran a hand through her hair, casually readjusting it in the opaque reflection of herself in the window. She undid her belt buckle, the button of her jeans, and the zipper. She pulled her jeans off, sliding one leg out at a time, and set them on the end table on top of her T-shirt.

Still dressed in her bra and panties and socks, Lexi glanced back at Mr. Kramer. He was working on painting his canvas black in a heavily focused sort of concentrated silence.

She reached behind her back, and she was just about to unhook her bra, when she spotted somebody in the backyard and spotted. They were standing in the rain, and their back was turned to her at first, but then they turned, and made eye contact. The rain was still falling too heavy for her to make out the finer details of their face, and although she couldn’t see their eyes, she was certain that they were looking at her dead on. She stepped away from the window, unaware that she had let out a wispy gasp of freight when she had first glimpsed the figure.

“What’s wrong?” Kramer asked without looking up.

“The man . . .”

“What man?”

“There’s a man in your backyard.”

Mr. Kramer grabbed his cane, stood up, and hobbled over to the window, moving quickly with a sense of haste. Lexi stepped out of his way. Mr. Kramer scanned the back yard beyond the window for a brief moment. Then he turned to Lexi with a fiery intensity in his eyes.

“Can you describe him?” he asked.

“What?”

“I asked if you could describe him.”

“There’s a man—”

“If there was, it’s gone now.”

“He’s gone?” It’s . . . ?

“Yes and no. Are you sure you saw a man?”

“Well,” she said. “I’m assuming it was a man.”

“Did you see somebody in the backyard or do you think you saw somebody in the backyard. There is a difference.”

“I don’t know.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, looking wildly around the room. He leaned his cane against the window still, yanked the draw of the nightstand open, and withdrew a large revolver with a long barrel. He flipped the cylinder open, inspected that there were bullets inside, and snapped the cylinder shut with a flick of the wrist.

“Whoa,” Lexi said, holding her hands out in front of her in a gesture that meant: stop, slow down, calm down. “What are you doing?”

“It must have followed me back.”

“It?” And then more shrilly she repeated herself: “It!”

“Most people can’t see them, not even when they want to be seen,” Mr. Kramer said. He pawed at his cane with his useless left hand, realized he wouldn’t be able to carry both the revolver and the cane, turned, and hobbled away from Lexi. As he crossed the room, he mumbled something under his breath about how bad this was, and his dog, and how he should have known something like this could have happened . . .

“You’re gonna tell me what in the name of fuck is going on here!” Lexi shouted, setting out after the crazy old man dressed in her bra and panties and socks.

He had already slipped into the hallway and disappeared, and by the time she made it to the last point she had seen him, he was nowhere to be seen. She listened, heard him on the stairs, and made her way down the hall. She reached the stairs just in time to catch a glimpse of the old man limping briskly around the corner of the door at the bottom.

“C’mon, you dog-killing son-of-a-bitch!” he shouted. “Show yourself!”

Lexi descended the stairs, taking them two at a time.

Mr. Kramer was storming down the hall. He rounded another corner. A sound of breaking glass rang out, a gunshot sounded, and there was a muffled cry. Lexi broke into a run.

A moment later, she rounded the corner at the end of the hall and found herself in a modest dining room. The window was shattered, and she her step became suddenly cautious as she was wearing only socks on her feet. Mr. Kramer was lying face down in a spreading pool of blood on the floor. The revolver lay just beyond his reach. Lexi thought he had been shot in the abdomen at first. Then she turned him over and saw that he had been eviscerated in a manner that did not indicate that he had been shot. His whole midsection had been ripped open, some of his intestines were hanging out, and although his eyes were open, it was evident that he could no longer see anything in the world of the living.

Something moved. Lexi wasn’t sure were the sound had originated, but she didn’t waste any time scooping up the revolver from the floor and pointing it wildly around the room.

“Who’s there?” she said, pointing the revolver back toward the hall from which she had just come.

No answer.

She pointed the revolver at the threshold to living room.

“I’ll shoot.”

No answer.

Lexi backed out of the dining room, retraced her steps, opened the door that she thought would lead back upstairs, and stepped off into darkness. Her feet left the floor, the doorway at the top of the stairs spun like a kaleidoscope, and she tumbled ass-over-teakettle down a ragged set of wooden stair. She landed in a crumpled heap on a cool concrete floor. Only then did she realize that she had opened the door to the basement instead of the upstairs.

Sprawled on her ass in the rectangle of light that feel from the doorway above, she had somehow managed to hold onto the revolver without dropping it or pulling the trigger, but her left forearm was now crooked at an unnatural angle. It didn’t hurt. But the sight of it made her feel nauseous.

Everything remained bathed in unnatural silence for a moment. Then she heard the unmistakable sound of a stair creak underfoot. There was nobody there, but visual confirmation wasn’t enough now, for she no longer trusted her survival entirely to her sight alone. She leveled the revolver at the empty stairs, aiming dead center from where she was seated to the door at the top of the stairs and pulled the trigger. The barrel jumped, the shot resounded in the concrete space, and damn did that feel good. But her euphoria was short lived, for a burst of blood ushered fourth from seemingly out of thin air.

She pulled the trigger again and again and again and again. Blood exploded two out of the four times she pulled the trigger. Her ears were ringing now, and she couldn’t hear the click of the hammer falling upon empty chamber. Her adrenaline was pumping now, and she couldn’t feel the revolver failing to kick back in response to a bullet being projected from the chamber. Someone

(something)

cold and slimy must have fallen down the stairs, for she felt it crash into her and she felt it group her leg. She simultaneously kicked out at it with the heel of her foot and scooted back on her ass. When she found her footing a moment later, she was still pulling the trigger of the empty revolver.

The darkness seemed to be pressing on her on all sides now, thick and heavy, as though it possessed weight. She backed into a shelf and knocked a bunch of cardboard boxes full who knows what. Her breath was coming in short bursts that was hard to control and her heart was pounding in her chest. There was something lying in the rectangle of light at the bottom of the stairs. She thought it was the man she had seen from the second story window only moments before, and as it groaned and pulled itself to its feet, it was. But when its eyes feel upon her, it remained humanoid only shape, for its features, including its eyes, melted away into those of a leathery reptilian creature. Its jaws were full of needle-sharp teeth that gleamed in the low light. She had apparently shot it once in the chest, once in the leg, and once in the head. The former seemed to be causing it the most pain. The latter had merely grazed it. It took a single nightmarish step toward her. Then it stopped, grinned, and flipped on a light switch.

A crack in Lexi’s sanity opened like a chasm at the bottom of an ocean trench. It was so much worse in the light. She threw the revolver at it and backed away from it deeper into the shadows, screaming. It followed.

She tripped over a box, fell on her injured arm, and groaned. Then she spied the door not much further back in the shadows. The reptilian figure was still coming after her, but it was evidently hurt, and the injuries she had inflicted on it slowed and labored its movements.

Lexi moved toward the door, hoping it wasn’t locked. The reptilian figure was closing in on her now. She grabbed the doorknob, wondered if in the event that it was lock if she would be able to physically overpower the reptilian figure, and twisted hard. It was unlocked. She opened the door and fled into a greater darkness than she had ever known.

It was quite some time before she realized she there was no longer a concrete floor beneath her feet, and eventually she felt grass brushing against her legs. Certain she had finally lost the reptilian figure, she plunged into mushy ground, and she soon wading through the waist-deep water of a fetid swamp. A bloody red light began to gather strength in the distance ahead, and as the night began to give way to an ever-reddening sky, Lexi began to wondering in a half-broken sort of way where exactly the door in the dead artist’s basement had taken her.

When she reached solid ground, the redness had fully illuminated the hellscape in which she had fled and she stopped to rest among a copse of limbless, leafless trees. She was standing at the bottom of a steep escarpment, and at the top among the large obsidian rocks, she soon spotted the disfigured silhouettes of horrible creatures.

Humanoid, beastly, demonic, none of them were quite the same in regard to their physical appearance, and although some of them spoke amongst each other in strange guttural tongues, others merely pointed down to where Lexi stood, gesticulating and/or hopping up and down a frenzied manner.

But despite their differences, Lexi soon noticed they all had at least one thing in common and she shuddered with dread.

They had all taken a fierce interest in her arrival.

 

CREDIT : Scott Landon

 

 

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The Sign of Dragados

by cnkguy
The Sign of Dragados

The Sign of DragadosReading Time: 18 minutes

The following narrative was discovered written on the pages of a sodden logbook that had been rolled up and crammed into a plastic bottle. The bottle was found on the shore of Easter Island on November 3, 1999, and its contents have since become the subject of serious interest among a growing number of academics, scientists, and anthropologists. Some claim it’s a hoax. Others claim it can be validated. But nobody really knows exactly what happened to the crew of six fishermen aboard the Miranda when it went missing on October 12, 1989.

The sodden logbook narrative reads as follows:

I first noticed the hideous smell of rotting crab shortly after sunrise on the morning of October 7, 1989, but the crew and I didn’t discover the source of the foetide until nearly dusk. The fog was heavy, the waters were choppy, and for most of the day, St. Mathew’s Island lay to the south of the Miranda. But aside from the godforsaken smell, it was an otherwise typical day of fishing on the icy waters of the Bearing Sea.

The guys on the deck—Harlow, Ethan, Farley, and Smith—had just finished reeling in the last crab pot of the day. Our cargo hold was slam-full of Alaskan king crab, and I would’ve liked to hightail it back to Dutch Harbor, unload our catch for processing and payment, and trekked back out north of Hall Island to catch more crab. But when the drifting ship loomed suddenly out of the orange haze to our starboard bow, it demanded our attention before we could depart, for it was massive, nameless, lightless, and floating aimlessly in the steadily darkening water.
From where I sat in the wheelhouse situated above the deck, I picked up the radio and depressed the PTT button.

“This is Zackary Leon,” I said. “I’m the captain of the America fishing vessel east of your portside bow. I smell trouble. No pun intended. Is everything okay? I’d like to know, over.”

I let off the PTT button, waited. I received no response.

“Please respond, over.”

No response. No nothing.

“I say again, this is Captain Z . . .”

I tried two or three more times. I tried flipping through the bands. But I never received a response. The ship’s navigation computer displayed our latitude and longitude coordinates at 60°37′ 51.9”N, 172°52′ 40.5”W. I jotted them down. Despite the blank spots that are like missing reels in the film of my memory and the lapses I fear have began to occur in my sanity, I believe the location I logged is correct, for the logbook in which I am currently writing this account is the same logbook in which I transcribed these original coordinates.

Once I had done all I could from the wheelhouse, I shrugged into the caribou jacket I kept hanging from the back of the seat and joined the guys on the deck below. The drifting ship smelled worse up close. It was still a little way off to the west. But I could already tell it was at least three to five times larger than the Miranda. I had no idea what it was supposed to be used for at first, either. It wasn’t of naval design, neither American nor Soviet, and it didn’t resemble a cargo or cruise ship.

“Probably it’s a floating factory or an abandoned pirate rig,” Ethan said. The guys nodded in agreement with this suggestion, and although I agreed with him, an abandon ship required an investigation. If we had glimpsed activity aboard it, we couldn’t have legally justified boarding it, but none of us saw even the slightly sign of life aboard it, and the horrible smell of the decaying crab ushering fourth from it indicated that something strange and possibly quiet terrible had befallen its crew.

I returned to the wheelhouse, and once I had brought the Miranda alongside the drifting ship, we tied off, gathered our gear, and boarded it.

Ethan, Farley, and Smith came with me. We carried flashlights, walkie-talkies extra batteries, a bag containing a few simple tools, and a first aid kit. We stuffed out mouths with chopped garlic to combat the smell, and we each carried extra garlic with us in our pockets. I left Harlow in charge of our ship. From the wheelhouse, he would able to both keep in contact with us via walkie-talkie and contact the Coastguard once it came time to notify them of the details concerning the situation we had encountered.

The four of us—Ethan, Farley, Smith, and I—crossed the deck of the other ship without incident and tried the first door we came upon. It was unlocked, we opened it, and the foetide that fell upon us was indescribable. We stuffed more garlic in our mouths. In the beams of our flashlights, the interior corridor before us stretched away into the stygian darkness.

“Is s-somebody in there?” Farley called.

We received no answer, save for the hollow echoes of Farley’s voice resounding back to us: “Is s-somebody in there?”

If there was anybody aboard, I feared they weren’t doing so well.

“. . . body in there, in there, there . . . ?”

I checked in with Harlow via walkie-talkie. Then we ventured into the corridor and made our way deeper into the foul-smelling confines of the ship. We relied on our flashlight to find our way, for there was currently no electrical power aboard the drifting ship.

In the galley, we found plates stacked neatly in the cupboards, a clean sink, and an undisturbed store room heaped with food, all of it a painted a perfect picture of neatness and order. Whatever had happened, it had not interrupted a meal, for even the tables were wiped clean. These details reminded me of the eerie tales and the proposed theories that surrounded the missing crews of ships like the Mary Celeste, the MV Joyita, the Zebrina, the Baychimo, and a British schooner named simply Jenny. I still remember the way Jenny’s captain was allegedly found seventeen years later in a chair with a pen in his hand, dead and frozen, perfectly preserved by the frigid weather of the Antarctic. The final message in his logbook had read: May 4, 1823. No food for 71 days. I am the only one left alive.

It’s the tales of old that haunt sailors and fishermen the most. Storms, monsters, piracy, anything can happen out here in the blue.

We found evidence of sabotage in the engine room. It had been done in a hasty fashion, as though whoever had done it hadn’t care if anybody noticed the damage as long as nobody could fix it. This struck us as extremely odd.

In the crew’s quarters, we found nothing of interest aside from a length of rope tied to a pipe running an inch or two below the ceiling. The rope was about an inch thick and frayed where it had been cut a foot below where it had been tied off. We didn’t know what to make of it at the time. The crew’s personal affects were all in order, the bunks were made tight, and the linen looked like it would smell clean if we weren’t chewing on a mouthful of garlic to combat the hideous smell of rotten crab.

We found the captain seated at his desk in his quarters, facing the wall and turned away from us. His head was lolled to the side, and when we spun the chair he was sitting in around so that he would face us, it became apparent that he had shot himself through the roof of the mouth with the revolver lying on the blood and brain splattered desk in front of him.

I picked up the revolver, wiped it off, and turned it over in my hand. It had a long barrel and a blue steel finish. It was a Colt Single Action Army, also known as the Peacemaker and the gun that won the west. I’d seen this particular make in more than a few Hollywood westerns.

“Do you know a lot about guns?” Smith asked, looking nervously at the weapon in my hand.

“No,” I said, flipping the cylinder open. It was chambered for .357 Magnum cartridges. Two of the chambers had cartridges in them. The other four were empty. I swung it shut with a flick of the wrist and glanced around the room. One spent cartridge lay on the floor beside the captain’s desk. Three others lay in the middle of the room, as though he had fired upon an intruder before retreating to his desk to take his own life. A few questions surfaced in my mind. Why was there no blood by the door? How did the captain miss three times at such close range? Can I be certain he missed? And why weren’t there any indications of the bullets impacting the door or nearby walls of his quarters? We had stumbled into one hell of a mystery.

Ethan had been checking the captain’s pockets for identification but had yet to turn up anything more than the name tag on the captain’s shirt which we could all read plainly for ourselves: Jón Sigurðsson

“This is really weird,” Ethan said.

“Why?” Farley asked.

“The captain’s Icelandic.”

“Why is that strange?”

“Iceland is in the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of the North America.”

I thought about this. There were all kinds of explanations. But the most logical one was that Captain Sigurðsson had departed from his country of origin to fish elsewhere.

I set the revolver to dead captain’s head, jokingly.

The dead man didn’t flinch.

“Where’s your log book?” I asked in a demanding tone.

The dead man didn’t say.

“Don’t make me blow your brains out a second time.”

The dead man didn’t seem to care.

I set my thumb on the hammer—

A strange thought ran through my mind: Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it . . .

—and cocked it back, as though I was trying to scare the dead man into thinking I was crazy enough to kill him again.

“Whoa,” Smith said, grabbing my arm, pulling me back.

“Yeah,” Farley said. “Calm down, Captain.

“What are you doing?” Ethan asked.

“Relax guys,” I said. “I was just kiddin around.”

Or was I?

I’m not so sure, not now that I’ve had time to think about it. I might’ve really been dead set on blowing another hole in that dead man’s head for not telling me what I wanted to know, which was funny because he didn’t have the ship’s logbook on him and we never found it. The whole idea had just sort slipped unbidden into my mind before I even knew it was there. In hindsight, Smith looked far more creeped out by this incident than both Ethan and Farley. I think he sensed the latent evil lying in wait quite some time before the rest of us did.

We headed down to the processing floor. Unlike the Miranda, this ship didn’t have to go to port to unload its catch. It was equipped with everything it needed to process and package its crab at sea, which allowed it to waste less time in nautical transit and stay out at sea for up to two months at a time. The processing floor smelled the worst, for it was packed full of hundreds of thousands of dead, dying, and decaying crabs in various stages of decomposition. They smelled stronger up close.

At the other end of the large room, we found a small room heaped to the ceiling with office furniture. The small room led to another larger room devoid of furniture but stacked full of bodies, each man seemingly dead by his own hand.

A blonde-headed woman in a white dress sat among the dead. She didn’t acknowledge our presence, and although she had a pulse and was breathing, her green eyes didn’t blink, dilate, or react to us in any way when we attempted to communicate with her. She could’ve been as young as nineteen or as old as twenty-three, it was hard to tell, for she was covered in bloodsplatter from head to toe. As far we could tell, she hadn’t been physically injured, and we were eventually forced to conclude that she was suffering from some sort of trauma-induced catatonia.

A closer inspection of some of the dead who were dressed in shirts, sweaters, or jackets with name tags on them indicated that the entire crew was of Icelandic descend and that the ship was possibly of the same origin, which both made exactly zero sense. I remember some of their names. But I don’t recall all of them: Ólafur Einarsson, Sævar Jónsson, Jakob Hjálmarsson, Eyþór Helguson, Sigríður Vilhjálmsson, Vilhjálmur Goðrúnarson . . .

We carried the catatonic woman back to our ship, and tried to contact the Coastguard, but ship’s long distance radio was on the fritz. We were unsure about how to go about cleaning the woman up at first, but Smith had done a combat tour in Grenada as a medic before he had joined my crew, and he didn’t feel uncomfortable undressing the woman and scrubbing all the blood off. I was just thankful somebody else had volunteered. I told Farley to set a course for Dutch Harbor and send him to relieve Harlow in the wheelhouse. Then Ethan, Harlow and I went to our bunks and retired for the evening.

I couldn’t sleep at first, for the scene of horrible massacre we had discovered remained fresh in my mind. I wondered if it had been carried out in a ritualistic manner, for what purpose, and what the woman had to do with it, if she had anything at all to do with the events that had transpired on that ship. I thought about many things: ships, seas, crabs, money, faces, men, women, knives, guns, blood, death, legs, thighs . . .

[the rest of this page is sodden and illegible]

When I woke on the morning of October 9, everything was fine. In the nightmare from which I had awakened, something unseen had followed me through the rust-encrusted confines of some great sunken ship. The lighting was dim and the overall ambience caused in me rising sense of impending doom. But by the time I dressed and went up to the deck, the nightmare had already faded too deeply into the background of my thoughts to trouble me. A pink sunrise was spreading across the eastern horizon, the sea had calmed, and we were only thirty-six hours away from Dutch Harbor. Ethan was in the wheelhouse, Farley and Smith were asleep, and Harlow was in the galley with the woman.

She ate if food was placed before her, provided somebody helped her get started, although she had to be coaxed into drinking from her cup periodically and then restarted on her food. She possessed greater competence when it came to using the toilet. Smith had dressed her in one of his T-shirts that was far too big for her, a pair of his briefs (Harlow told me Smith said there wasn’t anything else aboard the ship that would fit her waist and that he would’ve felt weird if he had just left her dressed in a t-shirt, even if it did hang almost to her knees), and a decent pair of warm socks. She didn’t look too bad all cleaned up, save for her constant blank stare.

I spent some time at the sink scrubbing the blood off the clothes that she had been wearing when we found her, and I eventually managed to get the blood off. It wasn’t apparent just how strange these articles were until they were clean. The dress, while it bore a slight resemblance a nightgown, was more form fitting, and laced up like a corset in the back to what I presumed was an exact fit. The clasps were made of some type of pallid god of which I had never seen before. Everything about it—from the stitched patterns of hideous sea creatures and alien-looking fauna that flowed all over it to old-timey yet otherworldly aspects—looked custom, handmade, and expensive. The under garments were just as strange. I wasn’t even sure what to call them, I’m still not, although I will state that they were extremely conservative for the modern era, not bloodied up too badly, and didn’t smell bad for the extent of the time that that woman most likely wore them. I called Harlow over to examine my finding, but he couldn’t offer a plausible explanation to explain the strange clothing the woman had been found wearing. In fact, he pointed out several even stranger things that Smith had found the night before that I hadn’t noticed.

The backside of the woman’s hands and part of her forearms were tattooed with the same designs as the dress, the blue ink clearly done by a talented hand. In addition to the tattoos, she wore two pale gold bracelets, one around each wrist, which appeared to be made of the same type of strange gold-like metal as the clasps on the back of her dress. The two bracelets were form fitting, too tight to remove, and were engraved with the glyphs of a language unknown to me that was too small and complicated for me to decipher, let alone copy. But, according to Harlow, that was not even close to the weirdest thing Smith had discovered the night before, for while the woman was sitting at the table staring mindless at nothing in particular, Harrow gently pulled her chair around so that she was facing us and pulled up the front of her T-shirt so that I could see the hideous scar on her stomach.

It was crescent shaped, like a backwards letter C. It ran from one hip along her pelvis to her other hip before it arched out along her right side and curved again under her ribcage. The scar was raised along the skin, thick, and jagged. Harlow told me that Smith had thought the woman may have undergone some sort of emergency surgery on some under developed island, which I thought made sense, but Harlow also told me that he had once seen a bizarre documentary concerning the mythology of the bygone people of an ancient island.

On this island, the tribal people had built several temples of cyclopean design that modern day engineers could not agree on the techniques used to construct. One of those temples was dedicated to what a linguist in the documentary had translated into: Dragados.

Dragados, according to Harlow’s recollection of the documentary, had been some sort of guardian who sought to prevent the passage of the ancient daemons that lurked in the dark spaces in the walls between the worlds. The people of that ancient island believed that if a woman suffering from daemonic possession should conceive a child, then the daemon would be able to enter our world by latching on and taking over the mind of their offspring. Because of this believe, the islanders removed the reproductive organs of much of their female population, which by extension lead to their demise several thousand years before the birth of Christ. Dragados, Harlow explained, had apparently appeared to an elder member of their tribal population in a dream and taught him just how the procedure should be done. Only a small percent of woman actually survived the procedure, for it was carried out without anesthesia or drugs to prevent infection, but the woman who did survive were often treated with regard to the daemon that was believed to hold sway over them.

Now, while this was both interesting and horrible, it didn’t explain why the woman sitting before me bore the sign of Dragados, for the hideous practice behind the mark in her flesh, if Harlow was correct, should’ve been discontinued over three thousand years ago. She also wasn’t of the correct ethnic descent. She was as pale as they come.

The rest of the morning passed without incident. The crew and I slept and took turns navigating and babysitting the catatonic woman. We didn’t have luck with the radio, though. It was down for the count.

Around noon, I encountered Farley in the short hall outside my bunk room. When I asked him what he was doing, he pointed to the woman. She was ten places ahead of him, sleepwalking. Unlike a normal person, she was more active in her sleep then when she was awake. It was creepy, the way her waking and sleeping states were reversed. Sometimes she mumbled things in her sleep, but the language was guttural and foreign to our ears, and we had no idea what she was talking about.

We were only twenty-four hours from Dutch Harbor when Ethan radioed me in the wheel house from the mechanical room. Smith had hung himself with a length of rope from one of the overhead pipes. His body turned slowly in a semi-circle, from left to right and back from right to left and so forth, the churning sea keeping his suspended body in a state of perpetual motion. We cut him down. Everybody except the woman seemed really shook up about it. It affected her no more than anything else did.

The Miranda’s navigation systems failed two hours later, my compass stopped working, and by the time the sun had set, risen, and set once more, it was apparent that we had missed Dutch Harbor. But if, we kept sailing east, I thought we would eventually find the west coast of the lower forty-eight. But when we were still sailing in the middle of open water three days later, I began to worry. On the morning of October 13, according to the ship’s navigation computer, we were located at the latitude and longitude coordinates 47°08’60.00”S, 26°42’59.99”W.

I didn’t know what was wrong with the navigational computer. It wasn’t possible to travel that far across the northern Pacific Ocean in such a short span of time and end up in the southern Atlantic Ocean. I mean it’s entirely possible to make such a voyage, but it would entail either utilizing the Panama Canal or sailing around the tip of South America, neither of which we could’ve done in such a short span of time. However, there are a number of possible explanations for the Miranda’s drastic change in location. We could be suffering from hallucinations brought on by exposures to some caustic chemicals aboard the drifting ship. Or the Miranda could’ve traveled through a rip, tear, wormhole, cosmic bend, thin spot, rose window, flesh interface, or some other type of currently undiscovered type of non-electric oceanic portal. Or the navigation computer could be malfunctioning. Considering that the radio was still on the fritz, the third one made the most sense, but it was also getting harder to deny the overall sense of wrongness that seemed to be hanging about the ship.

On October 15, two days later, I found Ethan dead in the mechanical room. He had slit his throat with a pocket knife. Harrow, Farley and I stopped talking soon after his death. We no longer trusted each other, or perhaps it was just a ruse, for they may have been conspiring to commit mutiny against my authority. It occurred to me on more than one occasion that I might have to resort to violence to keep my ship in order. It was an interesting thought.

I had another nightmare on the night on October 16, and when I awakened in the morning I felt quite certain that it could’ve actually occurred. In the nightmare: I awakened to a noise in the middle of the night and went up the deck to investigate it. From where I stood on the deck, I could see that something was not quite right in the wheelhouse. The windows were darker than they should’ve been and it appeared that some sort of monstrous figure was moving around on the other side of the glass. I was carrying the dead captain’s revolver and I decided to investigate this horror without fear, for I felt powerful and unafraid of the thing in the wheelhouse. However, upon opening the door to the wheelhouse, I found only Harlow and the woman. They were both asleep. Harlow’s eyes were closed and his body was still.

The woman’s eyes were also closed. She was sitting on his lap at an angle that allowed her to trace the contour of his jaw with one of her fingers. She opened her eyes and almost seemed to look at me and smile, and although I felt suddenly drawn to her by some sort of unseen power, I also felt repulsed, for there was something that struck me as predatory and reptilian about her eyes at the moment.
I thought a lot about what Harlow and I had previously discussed during the day, and found myself wondering several times that if by some circumstance the catatonic woman had been surgically mutilated by some practitioner in the same ancient ways practiced in the Temple of Dragados . . . then what daemon had they believed she harbored?

On October 17, I woke in the middle of night to the woman standing bedside my bed and suffered a bad fright, for before I realized it was only her, I thought I had glimpsed a hideously malformed piebald creature with a set of inhuman eyes peering down at me, crimson and hateful, but it soon dawned on me that it was only the woman, and I got up, lead her to the galley, and made her some oatmeal and bacon. No longer tired, I spent the rest of night trying to avoid Harlow and Farley. I didn t do anything else.

I never saw Harlow again. He may have abandoned ship, somehow. He was quite resourceful like that. However, shortly before dawn on the morning of October 23, I walked in on Farley doing something to the woman that I do not care to describe in graphic detail.

Later, after the sun had risen and set once more and I felt certain Farley was asleep, I crept back to his bunk room with the revolver I had taken from the dead captain of the drifting ship, for Farley had not seen me earlier, and I intended to murder him in his sleep.

But he was already dead when I returned. He had amputated his left hand with a [illegible] knife and bled out. I left disappointed, found the woman in the galley, and helped her into bed. I didn t do anything else.

I woke later that same night, disoriented and frightened, from a horrific nightmare that I could not immediately recall but that I have since suffered through numerous times. I checked on the woman. She was wide awake in her bunk, which had formally belonged to Smith, and she was staring at the ceiling when I entered the tiny room, unmoving and motionless, the contour of her body outlined beneath the sheets. I sat down on the edge of her bed and brushed a strand of blonde hair out of her face. She looked so peaceful and lovely that I just couldn’t resist. I didn t stay long.

[the rest of this page is sodden and illegible]

It’s November 1, 1989. The crabs have started eating each other. They’re dying and rotting now. I don’t care about the lost profit. I don’t care about the smell. I’ve been locked away in the tiny office located behind my bunk room since the night after I found Farley’s body. After I checked on the woman and returned to my bunk room, I felt distressed. I went to my office and I shut the door and I locked it. I’m not going back out there. I’m safer here. The woman has knocked on the door twice in the last hour, but mostly she is just pacing around out there, although sometimes she lapses into screaming fits, and on three occasions I’ve heard her weep and call out in a strange, guttural tongue that seems to be composed almost entirely of vowels. Although it’s foreign to my ear, her inflection strikes me at times as that of a dammed soul begging their creator to release them from their hell even if what follows is some kind of other inescapable hell of an even more permanent nature. She wants me to open the door. I won’t. I wish I still had some garlic, maybe a crucifix, or a shotgun. I would send her on her way if I could. But I can’t. I’m terrified. The thing out there trying to coax me out of here isn’t really a woman at all. I had it right the first time, the night I woke with her standing at my bedside. She’s a daemon wearing a false glamour that she uses to lure weak-minded sailors and fishermen like me. No, I shouldn’t say that, for there’s another—far worse—possibly. The woman might be simply a victim of daemonic possession, like those ancient islanders believed, scarcely aware of her surroundings, save for in the depths of her dreams, and she is probably halfway around the world to insanity by now, incapable of independent existence, even if a proper exorcism was arranged on her behalf. The daemon, the daemon, the daemon is female, for I have known her intimately in my blood-drenched nightmares over the course of the past several nights.

Now, to be honest, I’ve told a few lies in terms of omission over the course of this account, but by coming clean, I hope to convince anybody who happens across this account in the future to understand and believe that I don’t have the same luxury of choice in my nightmares that I have in the waking world, for when she comes to me in the odd hours of the night, she comes to me while I’m sleeping, and I cannot move, and I cannot deny her of what she wants, and then she is on top of me, lowering herself onto me, moving up and down, and her blonde hair bouncing about her bare shoulders, uncovering and recovering her pallid flesh. And then her features begin to melt and change, and she changes from woman to man to beast to abomination to daemon to devil and then to something so strange and ancient that my mind is incapable of comprehending the act of total annihilation that is being wrought upon my sanity. She may have been Adam’s first wife, Lilith, the mother of all vampires, and the first drinker of [illegible]. She drinks the [illegible] of her victims after they kill themselves, but she first devours their souls. She was ancient when this world was still young, and although the ancient islanders prevented her from crossing completely back over into this world, she will live out the eons with great ease, moving from one ship to the next, slipping and sliding—through means unknown—in and out of the beyond that connects the shores of this world to an infinite number of incomprehensible sister worlds. She also wants my [illegible].

I won’t do it again.

I won’t.

I won’t.

I still have the revolver!

[the rest of the page is covered in bloodsplatter]

 

CREDIT : Scott Landon

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Old Vinyl

by cnkguy
Old Vinyl

old vinylReading Time: 8 minutes

My grandfather loved music. No matter what time of day, or what he was doing, something was always playing on the old phonograph in his cozy living room. I used to come over and help him with little things around the house like fixing the pipes under the sink or installing a ceiling fan and I’d here Chuck Berry or Miles Davis booming through the house lighting up the place. He knew every word and sang along, until eventually I knew all the words too and joined him. My entire childhood is compiled of memories just like that, full of music and changing records over. As he got older, it became harder for him to walk, and in turn it became harder for him to change the albums. Toward the end I’d find him sitting on the couch asleep with the phonograph and I would turn it off for him. It was the least I could do for him, he’d done everything for me growing up.

The last time I saw him, I was turning off the record player and taking out the vinyl so I could put it back in its sleeve, when he jumped up and yelled. “Don’t stop the music!” He screamed as he grabbed my wrist and gave me a scolding look. It was very out of character for such a gentle man who never yelled in even the most stressful situations.

I pulled up his blanket to tuck him in on the couch and put the record in it’s sleeve.

That night, I received a phone call from his neighbor, Ms. Lenning. Apparently, she had gotten really nervous and felt like she should check on my grandfather, which ultimately ended in her finding my him in a pool of blood in the kitchen. He had slashes all across his body and was found with a knife tightly gripped in his hand and his eyes were wide open. I stayed on the line silently while my heart broke.

This was very shocking news for me, but he had been fighting a battle with dementia for quite some time at that point and I figured something would happen to him sooner or later, whether it be him falling in the shower or forgetting to eat. He was much to proud to go to a nursing home and he had been in a good mental state until very recently.

The funeral service was beautiful, and fitting for him. It was an open casket, I couldn’t even tell that the horrific incident had happened. Instead of crying, my family got together and laughed in memory of him, watching old home videos and scoping through pictures. Even in his younger days he was the same music loving goof that I had always known. My mother recalled some memories where they had walked through the park on hot summer days or times where he had gotten lost using a GPS. It hurt so bad to know he was gone and so soon after I had seen him last; I hadn’t even said good bye.

We met up again weeks later to discuss the will. My grandfather wasn’t a very rich man, so we didn’t think there’d be much to divvy up.

“Brenda, My loving daughter, to you I leave my home.” My mother teared up and smiled, surely thinking of something he had said to her long ago.

“To Lisa, my sister, you have my car. Take care of it, it’s vintage you know.” She laughed and then suddenly burst into tears. I assumed it had been an inside joke between the two of them.

Then we reached the very last line.

“And to Dylan, my gracious, brave grandson, my record collection and my phonograph so you can always remember the time we shared.”

After reading that I teared up and my heart broke all over again. Even in death he was the best grandfather I could ever ask for.

Later that evening, after everyone had retrieved what they were given, we all left to return to our respective homes. I set up the phonograph on my kitchen table, I had no place to put it yet, and placed a shining black record on the table and placed the needle down. Miles Davis was playing all of my memories out loud through my entire apartment. Days and days of ice cream and hot home made dinners, and nights of hide and seek under blankets.

Then the record skipped.

“You. You. You.” It repeated over and over.

I adjusted the needle and placed it back down, it resumed. A couple of songs later I turned it off and went to bed.

The next day I went to work, walked my dog, and visited my mom to check on her. After my busy day I came home to use my old record player again. This time, I put in one of the swing albums he had, It had no official sleeve, just paper to cover both sides. I placed the needle down, and instantly it began to screech. It was so loud that I became dizzy, it stung my ear drums and my eyes started to water. I figured something was wrong with the vinyl so I gave it a rest for the night.

At about 4 am I heard a faint noise coming from the kitchen. I figured I had left the TV on before bed and just forgot to turn it off. I shrugged and wiped away the tiredness from my eyes, heading toward the noise. As soon as I got into the kitchen, I realized the TV was off, but the record player was on. It was skipping and a record that I had never seen was playing, it was repeating the same word over and over.

“Are. Are. Are. Are.”

Slightly uncomfortable I took the needle off the record and went back to bed. After a quick Google search on vinyl care, I came to the realization that it couldn’t be the record, it was virtually untouched and in great condition. Maybe it was the phonograph, I thought to myself

The next day, I went to Jamie’s Music, which is a music store near my apartment that does repairs on vintage instruments and music players. I told a balding man behind the counter the problems I had been having with the Phonograph and he looked at it intently. “It looks vintage.” he said typing the serial number into his computer. “Ah! Here it is, The Tumbaldt and Jurrie Model #4. There were only 3 in circulation. It’s worth a fortune.”

“Can you fix what’s wrong with it?” I asked him hoping more than anything.

“The parts are custom and virtually impossible to find, how about I take it off your hands?” He licked his chapped lips, and I declined.

I promptly left, I figured if it were really broken, I could just leave it alone and keep it as a token of remembrance of my younger days, and maybe one day, I’d give it to my grandson.

Later that night, I woke up in a cold sweat. I figured it had been a nightmare, but I couldn’t remember what I had seen. Then I heard it again. The loud screeching noise shook my bedroom door and didn’t seem to be anywhere near stopping. My door was clicking back and forth on it’s hinges. I ran out into the kitchen and stared at the table. I didn’t remember plugging in the record player, but after almost having my inheritance ripped off, I was a little distracted.

I raised the needle and turned off the machine. As I was walking away I heard a quiet sound coming from the record player.

“Dead. Dead. Dead.”

My heart jumped out of my chest as soon as I made out the words being repeated. The record player wasn’t even on, and yet it was threatening me. I moved the record player into the spare room and closed the door tight. I went into the living room and fell asleep to a talk show with two men talking about the importance of the bald eagle.

Suddenly, the screen contorted into static and I could hear a quiet voice. I moved closer to the screen. It sounded like an old man crying.

“Don’t stop the record.”

I heard it so very faintly, so I moved even closer.

The crying turned to wailing.

“DON’T STOP THE RECORD!”

I jumped off of my couch and hit the floor screaming. I realized it was morning now, I must’ve fallen asleep. I spent the morning thinking about what had happened. Was it all a nightmare? It would add up, except for the fact that I woke up on the couch. I didn’t have time to worry for too long, so I didn’t. My nightmare had told me not to stop the record, so I just put on the nearest vinyl and put it on repeat, just for safe measure.

At work my co workers noted on how tired I looked, and I did feel noticeably more exhausted than I usually would. I walked into the bathroom to check my face and see if I really looked as terrible as they said.

I looked at my face and realized that I looked much thinner, my cheek bones were more pronounced and my eyes were complimented with dark swirls of purple lining my eyelids. I looked so tired. After the bathroom, I feigned being nauseous to my boss so I could go home and sleep, maybe I just needed a couple of hours to rest.

As I headed up to my apartment, I heard the screech again. This time it was so ridiculously loud I was forced to my knees, screaming on the top of lungs. I couldn’t even hear my own yelling. Yet, I saw everyone else in my complex walking around casually. Couldn’t they hear it? I pushed through and made it to my door. The sound was so intense I started shaking in pain. I hurled my door open. The record player was sitting on the table again and not in the guest room where I had left it.

I had to stop it, I had to. I ripped out the record and smashed it. In my relief, I went to my bed room. As I was walking, I saw the shadow of the phonograph, but it was different than I had seen before. Out of the tube, there was a twisted hand. I turned around and looked there was a clawed and nasty arm poking out from the tube.

“You shouldn’t have.. Stopped.. The record..” The voice sounded strained and very clear.

I ran to my spare room and took out my wooden baseball bat that I had bought a few Summers ago and ran back.

The arm was fully out and the crown of a head was poking out. A horn was visible from where I was standing. I smashed down as hard as I could on the player. Laughing followed each swing. Not a single visible mark was made. I looked at the record on the player and realized it had no label.

I thought back to the other screeching occurrences. Both had been with the same record, could there be a connection?

I looked under the table and saw “Bitches Brew” and tossed it in the player, I slammed down the needle and turned the volume up all the way. Heavy sax and powerful drums over powered the room and calmed me suddenly. Everything felt like it was in the right place all the sudden, and I wasn’t afraid. The music cut suddenly.

“I love you Dylan.” I heard through the record player.

“I love you too, Grandpa.” I said back through tears.

I heard my Grandfather using all his strength to pull whatever was crawling out if that record player back in.

The music started back right where it had left off.

The demon disappeared. Shriveling and becoming a cloud of black dust sucked into the tube like a pile of dirt in a small tornado.

Days later, I told my family and my friends about the incident, and of course they shrugged it off as a delusion from lack of sleep, so I just stopped talking about it. Eventually I started feeling better and my face went back to how it had been. Everything just slipped back into place perfectly.

I moved on, found a girl, got married, and had some kids. Now my Children are fully grown adults and have children of their own.

I’ve had this phonograph for forty years now and I’ve never stopped the music since.

But I’m starting to get older, and it’s getting harder to change the record…

 

CREDIT : Ye Ole Fire Chief

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Rolling Hills Asylum | The Grave Talks Preview

by cnkguy
Rolling Hills Asylum | The Grave Talks Preview

Rolling Hills Asylum was the perfect place for the unwanted.

Rolling Hills Asylum was located close enough to populated areas, yet far enough to not have to “look” at those that society had cast out. Once admitted as an “inmate”, residents of Rolling Hills Asylum many would never leave its grounds.

Learn more about Rolling Hills Asylum at http://www.thegravetalks.com/rolling-hills-asylum/

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HAUNTED PLACES

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