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/r/NoSleep / The Case of Stitch by Fear_of
« on: 03/08/19, 05:39 AM »
Case File No.56

It was just your typical Seattle day – light and dark gray clouds intermingling together, sprinkling throughout the day, wind blowing near constantly.
I was sitting in mine and Anna’s office when the Boss came in and dropped two huge boxes on my desk, nearly spilling my cup of coffee all over my keyboard.
He walked out of the room and left me to the case. I wiped off the few drops of coffee that made it onto my suit. I sighed. You would think more boxes would mean an easier case to solve – more evidence, easier to find suspect – but no. Generally speaking, the more boxes the Boss handed me the more work I had ahead of me.
My partner, Anna, wouldn’t be pleased either. I sighed and sipped my coffee for a few unfortunately short minutes, staring at the boxes in front of me. After much internal bargaining, I stood up and opened the first box and peered inside. It was full of DVDs, journals, crime scene photographs, physical evidence – hair, bits of flesh, nails, blood samples. This already looked like it was going to be one of the most gruesome cases of the year.
I looked at the clock and decided to take the boxes home and organize them. I left the office building and walked out into the crisp autumn air. It struck me that not many people were out that evening. It was just after five o clock. Shouldn’t more people be getting off work? I reached my car, put the boxes on top of it, unlocked the door and piled in. I put the boxes on the passenger seat of my beat up car and started the drive home.
I got home around 5:45, after stopping to get some food for dinner. I made myself tacos and sat down in front of the television. I ate quickly, watched my favorite comedy show – King of the Hill. I would need something funny to get me through these boxes. I emptied the contents out onto the table in front of me. I noticed there were photos from three different crime scenes, so I started by organizing everything by victim.
Why it wasn’t in the first place, I wasn’t sure at that point. But as I started going through everything, I had an idea why. It was all so gruesome. No one would want to deal with this. Maybe that’s why me and Anna got the case. We were the best detectives there. Stomachs of steel. Everyone probably assumed we would be able to cope with it. Looking through it though, I wasn’t sure we could. It wasn’t like we had a choice though. People were dying and Anna and I were assigned the case, so we had to end it.
After organizing everything by victim, I started on the pile with the earliest dates. I picked up the first of many photographs and gulped as I examined the picture. What was left of the body was mangled. As if someone…had been eating it, ripping pieces of its flesh off, tearing it to bits. The body was lying in a bed. The white sheets were soaked with fresh looking blood.
They were ripped in places, like the person had struggled. I couldn’t even tell if it was a man or a woman. The body was too destroyed. I thought it was a woman because the hair on the head was long, but everything was too mangled and bloody to tell. The chest was torn to pieces, the ribs were broken, sticking out, the heart was missing, three fingers were gone, the nose was gone, the eyes were lying on the floor. I could hardly bear to look.
Not wanting to look at the pictures anymore, I picked up the journal they’d collected and put in the box. I opened it and flipped to the last entry.
"11/3/12, 8:50 PM. I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I’m scared all the time. Paranoid. Something’s always watching me, opening my doors and windows whenever I’m asleep. I’m sure I’ve developed insomnia. I just can’t sleep anymore. Oh God, someone help me. I’m going insane. Something’s going to get me, I just know it. Every day it’s the same thing. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. My mom told me to go get help. I don’t want help, I want this THING to leave me alone! Oh God, I shouldn’t have written this. Now I’m just even more scared... I remember growing up I was always scared of what’s under the bed, behind the shower curtain, or waiting in bed next to you, waiting for you to roll over… that heaviness that you feel when you so desperately want to look behind you, but can’t bring yourself to move… None of those were ever as terrifying as this feeling I’m plagued with now… I know I’m going to die. Whoever reads this, you all know what I’m talking about. That overbearing paranoia and fear or your own imagination when you sit in a dark room, all by yourself…"
The writing was shaky and specks of blood covered the page, like it had opened while she was being murdered. They said they found it on the floor by the bed. I looked through some of the previous entries. A lot of the same. Paranoia, fear. Opening doors and windows. Feelings of being watched. I wondered what this thing was. Seattle is thought of as the hippie coffee drinking and pot smoking city, but considering how relaxed everyone sees us as, there’s a lot of crazy stuff that happens here. Washington is just serial killer central. It at least looked like that was what we had on our hands. Three killings in the same style – bodies torn to shreds… appearing to be eaten. I flipped to the first entry of the journal.
"11/1/12, 11:36 AM. My window keeps opening. They’re closed when I go to sleep, open when I wake up. Maybe it’s just an animal. A squirrel or something climbing around in the tree outside my window. I think I’ll set up a video camera tonight. Try to catch it. If I didn’t have to wear these stupid earplugs every night I could just wake up when it opens. It has a really bad squeak when you open it. If the baby would just stop crying long enough for me to get to sleep without ear plugs, I could find out what’s making my window open. Those darn neighbors."
The first entry in the journal was only three days before the last entry. Things escalated quickly after that. All the rest of the entries showed panic and fear. She was terrified after that first night of filming. It was getting hard for me to handle this, even with the canned laughter in the background. I packed up the boxes, being careful not to look at those damn pictures anymore and put the boxes aside. I’d just watch some TV for a while, take my mind off everything.
I woke up the next morning on the couch. My apartment was cold. I stood up from the couch, sore from a night of awkward sleep. I took a shower, got dressed, and left for the office, calling Anna while I drove. She said she’d be a little late, that she just woke up. I stopped at the Starbucks down the street from the office and got us both coffees. We really needed to get through all the contents of the boxes so we could start to think about who this sadistic killer was.
I took the boxes out of my car after I parked and stacked them on top of the trunk. I put the two cups of coffee on top of them and carefully carried them to our office. When I got to the office, it was cold there too. Colder than usual. I turned on the heat and took a sip of my coffee, leaving my suit coat on. Anna arrived ten minutes after I did and gratefully took the coffee.
“So what do we have?” she asked.
“I don’t know if you want to know,” I said, trying to sound light-hearted.
“Oh, please,” she said, chuckling. “We can handle anything.”
I sighed and opened the boxes for her. I pulled out the pictures from the first crime scene and showed them to her. She gasped as she looked at them. I saw tears well up in her eyes as she put her hand to her face and grabbed the photo. I’d shown her the only picture I looked at thoroughly. I could understand her disgust.
“What kind of sick…freak…can do this sort of thing to someone?” she said, more quietly than usual. “This psychotic nut job stole her heart! He tore her to shreds! What…who can do that?”
“I don’t know, Anna. I was wondering those same things last night,” I said. “I only looked at that picture before I couldn’t do it anymore. After that I started reading through the journal the first victim had been keeping.”
I grabbed it out of the box and opened it to the first entry. I read it to her, and the few from the second day where she was starting to panic.
“What do you think? Could it be her ex? Whoever she and her ex are? She talks about something standing outside her window, so maybe he was stalking her.”
“It’s possible,” Anna replied. “But have all three of these victims dated the same man?”
“I don’t know.”
We kept going through the boxes. Hours dragged by all too slowly. We read the journals, all with no clues as to who this murderer was. We looked at the pictures, all so grotesque that we could hardly bare to look through them all. Every picture was of a different limb disconnected from the body and sprawled across the room, or of bits of torn off flesh and spattered blood around the crime scene. The blood and gut filled images were stained into our minds by the time lunch hour came. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat,” I said, almost joking, as we walked out of our office to go get lunch. Anna laughed a little.
“I know what you mean. This is probably the worst case I’ve dealt with.” Over lunch we discussed theories. Who-dun-it type theories. But none of them really made sense. The ex idea could be plausible, but what was the likelihood of two women and 1man in a city as big as Seattle dating the same man? It could just be a serial killer, but why was he targeting these young people? Maybe they knew some of the same people, and one of those people happened to be psychopathic. There were just too many options to narrow it down this early in the investigation.
After the last few hours of work, Anna took one box holding one case home, and I took the other two. I was going to watch the DVDs they’d found on the scene. I got home and made myself some dinner and sat down on the couch. After eating, I popped in the DVD labeled “Night 1” and watched. I fell asleep ten minutes in though. Woke up the next morning, almost late again. I made my way back to the office as fast as I could and told Anna I’d fallen asleep and didn’t manage to get through the whole thing. She said it was okay, that we could watch one or two of them then. We situated ourselves around my computer and put in the first disc.
Nothing much happened, except the near constant cries of a baby. We fast forwarded through the first few hours, but stopped when we saw something strange. Someone – something – crawled up the tree outside her window and sat there, unmoving. All we could see was a black silhouette of a strange figure.
We went to one of the briefing rooms where there was better tape evidence viewing equipment. We hooked everything up and got back to where we were in the tape, and zoomed in as far as we could, but we still couldn’t make the figure out clearly. It appeared to have something on its wrist as it opened the window. We assumed it was man based on how huge the hand was. For the whole video, he sat at the window, staring at the woman. Just staring. It looked like he was mumbling to himself violently. Like he was battling with two voices in his head. Near dawn, he jumped out of the tree he was perched in, startling the woman awake. Anna looked at me in horror when the video ended. I didn’t know what to say so I just nodded at her.
“I’ll take the rest of the tapes and watch them tonight,” I said, sparing her sanity. “Go home. Take a break.” She nodded at me and stood up to leave. I followed her. Even though it was still only lunch hour, I went home, DVDs and soda in hand, to watch the videos before the Christmas party. Definitely not an activity that encouraged holiday spirit, but what could I do.
I walked into my apartment, dropped the DVDs and soda down on the couch and went to make a sandwich. When I came back into the living room area, the window was open. I didn’t remember opening it. I tried to brush it off as nothing, but after watching the DVD of the first night of filming, I was starting to become paranoid. Maybe this thing would come after me, since I was assigned the goal of capturing him. Maybe he didn’t want to be captured and would kill everyone who would try. These thoughts ran through my head and made me more and more paranoid with every second. I shoved them out of my mind and closed the window, making sure to lock it.
I ate my sandwich quickly, gulped down some soda to wake me up, and put on the next DVD. It started off the same, except the woman had left a candle lit by the window. Probably so she could see who was there. It didn’t help me much though. I could make out what looked like bracelets dangling off his wrists, clanking whenever he moved. He pressed his hands and face pressed against the locked window. I couldn’t make out any eyes, hair, or a human face… All I could see was a nose, which looked broken, and a mouth, that looked severely chapped. The whole video progressed the same way the first had.
He stood there till dawn, watching, muttering. I wished I could see what he was. But at the same time, I didn’t. Just from his outline he looked grotesque. The second video ended with the creature leaving just like he had the night before.
I remembered reading that on the third day the woman had called the police. I didn’t remember anyone telling me someone had called, claiming to be being stalked by night or claiming someone was standing outside her windows at night. She also wrote in her journal that she called someone to come stay the night with her. During his interview, we found out he was her cousin. I know he found the body. He woke up to screaming in the middle of the night but claimed he couldn’t open the door in time to save her. He was held as a suspect in custody inside a mental hospital. The incident had caused severe mental damage. He refused to discuss the event and only muttered to himself. He was the second victim this killer had claimed.
I turned on all the lights in my apartment, becoming paranoid myself. Before I watched the next and last DVD, I opened up the woman’s journal again and read through the entries she’d written on her last day.
"11/3/12. 5:17 PM. I called the police. They won’t help me. They don’t believe me. They think I’m crazy. I tell them someone with something on its wrists and an ugly face keeps opening my windows and trying to open them if they’re locked, but they just don’t care. I called Bill and asked him to stay over tonight."
I put in the next DVD and prepared for what I was about to see. I don’t think anyone could successfully prepare themselves for that though. What I saw was beyond horrific. It wasn’t grotesque, it wasn’t horrifying, it wasn’t appalling… none of those words would suffice in describing the sights I had to sit through. The DVD started with her locking the windows and closing her curtains. Her cousin walked into the room and reassured her, rubbing her arm. “I’ll be in the next room,” he said to her. The woman nodded and he walked away. She lit two candles and put one next to her bed, and one by the window. We found them on the floor, both labeled “Vanilla Honey Stress Relief Candle.” The woman curled up under her blankets, facing towards the window.
A few hours passed with nothing happened. Even just fast forwarding through the DVD was suspenseful enough to make my heart race. I would fast forward for a few minutes, press play and watch for a few seconds, just in case the murderer came in. I didn’t want to miss it. Even though I did want to… At around 2 AM in the tape, I pushed play and went to the bathroom. As I closed the door, I heard a loud crash and ran back out into the living room, my fists raised. I looked around and saw no broken items. I started to hear loud thumps. I went to my door and looked through the peep hole, but no one was at my door or my neighbors. My heart was pounding even harder than it was. I went back into my living room and the thumping got louder. I looked at my TV screen and the camera was shaking. I knew this was it. I sat on my knees in front of my TV; my palms were sweaty; my hands were shaking; I felt I was going to puke, thinking about how she was about to die and I was the first to witness it.
The door opened slowly, eerily, opposite her bed. The man trudges into the room, dragging his feet. The door swings closed behind him, without him even touching it. He makes his way to the side of the woman’s bed, the side with the candle. The flame flickers as he moves closer and closer to her bed. His steps were loud and slow.
Thump…thump…thump… Finally, he makes it to her bed. He only looks at the camera for a split second before he turns his back and faces the woman. I’m not sure what I saw, but whatever it was it was disgusting. I couldn’t make out any eyes. His spine stuck out of his back, his whole body was naked, he was tall…6’ 5” probably…the bracelets on his wrists were not bracelets at all, but shackles with broken chains. He had them on his ankles too. No one mentioned this was a rape-murder. But with this naked man standing beside a woman’s bed, what else would I think? As he stands there I heard muttering in a low, menacing voice. I couldn’t make out what he was saying. He bent over, slowly, eerily, and lifted the woman’s hair, smelling it deeply.
She started to wake up, and rolled over mumbling “Bill? What are you doing?”
When she saw what was waiting for her, she screamed. After less than a few seconds, I heard pounding on the door and Bill yelling, screaming, begging to be let in, asking what was going on. But the door, which wasn’t barricaded, wouldn’t open. The woman starts panicking, struggling to get out from under her blankets and falls to the floor in the process. With speed that I didn’t think this creature or human could possess, he was then on top of the woman, ripping the woman’s fragile body into pieces.
He ripped and tore bits of skin off and threw them around the room. He was laughing, menacingly, getting progressively louder and more joyous as the woman died beneath him. I couldn’t see what was going on, but the sheer horror of the situation made my imagination run wild and made the situation even more terrifying. Soon, the woman stopped struggling.
The creature smiled as he tore her heart out of her broken chest and ate it. I didn’t see him do anything to her fingers, but seven of them were nowhere to be found when the CSI team arrived. The naked creature stood up and walked towards the camera.
I could finally see what this thing was as the candle light shown on his face. He had skin sewn over his eyes and the rest of him too was just bits of various skin sewn together to create a human like figure. His lips were chapped to the point of breaking and his nose was extremely crooked. He was bald. The blood all over his body made him even more nightmarish. He blew out the candle on the nightstand and laughed. Blood spat out of his mouth. He walked to the window and blew out the second candle. Breaking the window, he jumps out. All the while, Bill is screaming.
I sat in silent horror and began to hear thumping again. Terrified, I walked slowly around my house, searching for the source. I found nothing. The last room I checked was my bathroom. I opened my shower curtain and just as I did so, the bathroom light exploded, nearly giving me a heart attack.
“Okay,” I said to myself. “I need a break…just gonna go to the Christmas party now. Take my mind off this…” As I walked out the door, I thought of what this creature would be called. Stitch. Little did I know the horrors that awaited me in the weeks to come.

Case File No.57

I came home from the Christmas party unwillingly. I would’ve stayed at Anna’s, but her parents were in town. My little apartment was not nearly as welcoming as it used to be, in the days before this Stitch creature came around. I keep thinking I’m hearing thumping, or windows opening, and it’s freaking me out. But I came home anyway. Maybe I just needed a break from the case. Yeah. For Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I didn’t touch those boxes once. The Boss handed me a couple cases of convenience store robberies that were easier to solve than a game of Clue. It was a nice distraction from all the gruesome imagery I’d been forced to see those past few days. But unfortunately Wednesday had to come and Anna wanted to work on the case. “The sooner we start working again, the sooner it’ll be over,” she said trying to convince me to work with her. I sighed and put the coffee I was drinking down on my desk. Anna had put all the second victim related evidence on a table in a conference room. It was the first victim’s cousin, the man who’d stayed with her the night she was murdered, Bill.
I looked at the pictures of the crime scene first. He’d been killed in his room at the mental hospital we’d been holding him at. The scene was just as bloody as that of his cousins, if not more. The walls were covered in bloody hand prints and the bars on the windows weren’t bent, meaning Stitch must’ve found another way into the building. There were two beds in the room, one for Bill and one for his roommate; both were messy and blood stained. The red stood out vividly on the pristine white sheets. When I got to the pictures of his body, there was only half. His legs were lying on the floor, bones sticking out and sitting in a pool of his blood. His white hospital clothing was no longer white, but blood red, like Snow White’s lips. My hands began shaking as I looked at more and more pictures of his mangled and missing body and the blood soaked room. I felt my heart beating faster, like I was panicking. I didn’t know why though. Why should I panic? Stitch couldn’t find me…
“So what do you think we should do? We don’t really have any leads on who this guy is,” Anna said, bringing me out of my terrified state. I pulled myself together so I wouldn’t scare my partner.
“I don’t know,” I replied. Honestly, I didn’t want to keep working on this case. But what choice did I have? I couldn’t just leave Anna to handle it by herself. I couldn’t convince the Boss to let us do something else. When a case got to us, it was because no one else could handle it and solve it. We were the top… I guess that’s what comes with being the best detectives in the office. Some detective I am though can’t even look at the pictures without shaking. I’ve been having nightmares too…
“I was thinking maybe we could go interview the mental hospital staff who worked with Bill. We should probably go over the security tape footage and journal entries first though. Didn’t they diagnose him as PTSD?” Anna said.
“Yeah. I only took two psychology classes in college, but I remember that with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a lot of the times therapists will tell their patients to relive the event a lot of times, so it won’t cause them that overbearing stress… So I imagine that’s what his journal will be full of. Just retellings of the story to help ease his anxiety, but I dunno. We probably should look through it,” I said. I secretly hoped she’d watch the videos on her own and let me deal with the journals. But knowing her, knowing our jobs, that wasn’t likely.
“Do you want to look at videos or journals first?” she asked. I shrugged and took a gulp of my now cold coffee.
“Let’s do this then,” I said. God damn it, I thought to myself as she put the four discs into four DVD players. They were all different cameras from the same period of time. For a while we just fast forwarded. Bill stayed in his room, writing feverishly, while his fellow hospital patients wandered from room to room to common room. He only left when a nurse came to bring him to his therapy session with the leading psychiatrist of the hospital. As it started to get dark, the patients made their way to their rooms. Bills roommate walked into their room. Bill was still writing in his journal with a painful expression on his face. His roommate looked at him concerned. There was no sound, but we saw him say something along the lines of “Are you okay?” Bill looked over at him and told him to “Shut up before that thing found him too” or something. His roommate looked away and leaned against the wall his bed was against. He played with his thumbs for a while. Meanwhile, the nurses wandered the halls, locking the doors for the night, making sure everything was okay.
After about twenty minutes of that, Bill and his roommate laid down for the night and fell asleep. It was dark and we couldn’t see much. The camera started turning to static and the images on the screens kept becoming distorted. The screens all blacked out and we were waiting for anything to happen. When the image returned, Stitch was standing in the middle of the hallway. He trudged down the hallway, looking through every room’s door window to see if Bill was there. While he systematically wandered the hall, Bill sprang to life and rushed from window to door and back again, looking for what woke him.
Stitch stopped looking for Bill and appeared to sniff the air. He took a couple big sniffs then turned his head. His face was looking towards the camera. You could see his teeth. His mouth wasn’t fully closed. His teeth were vile. Black and yellow and green and every color that teeth shouldn’t be. He opened his mouth and a little bit of blood fell out. He kept moving his head back and forth. As if he was listening for something.
He walked straight to Bills room with determination in his steps and opened the door without touching it. Bill screamed, waking up his roommate. Bill flipped over on his side springing off of his bed. He grabbed what turned out to be his writing pencil. The cameras began to turn to static and cut out again. We could see bits and pieces of what was happening – both of the roommates running around, Bills roommate eventually ran out of the room and Bill had stabbed Stitch in his back. We’re not sure how, but Bills hand and the weapon just went straight through, pushing out darkened blood and random chunks onto the floor. It looked like he was struggling to get his arm back. As if his arm got stuck inside Stitch’s body. Stitch grabbed him by the hair and whipped him with his rusty shackles, breaking his skin.
After that, Stitch just stood there. Standing over Bill. Maybe it made him feel powerful? Well, could he even feel emotion? I don’t know. He stood above him while Bill screamed. I thought Stitch was raising his hand to strike or rip Bill’s flesh, but he didn’t. He rubbed his hands together, and then rubbed from his neck up to his face. And as fast as you could see a light turn on, his hand was on Bills face. He started rubbing it. Running his hand through his hair. Stitch started laughing at that point, and blood dripped on Bills face and clothes. It was then Stitch decided to attack. He tore bits of skin off his poor body and ate them like he’d never eaten before. He broke his body in half, just tore it in half, with inhuman strength. The blood started to really poor then. As all of Bills blood and guts spilled onto the floor, Stitch squatted down and started running his fingers along the edge of Bills skin where he ripped him in half. Stitch began eating his insides all the while it appeared he was laughing - just as he did in the first murder.
Stitch stood up and, well, just stood there. He stood there facing the corner until the morning sun started to peak in through the bars on the windows. He was mumbling to himself but since there was no audio in the security cameras, we couldn’t make out what he was saying without bringing in someone who could read lips.
I didn’t hear Anna making any sounds. I wondered if I was the only one having a hard time with this case. I looked over and she was crying silently. I moved my chair and put my arm around her and rubbed her shoulder while we watched. I tried to hold myself together for her. The door to the conference room slammed open, nearly giving both of us heart attacks.
“Johnson, Reynolds. Have an intern,” the Boss said, pushing a young man into the room. He left as soon as he’d come. We stood up. Anna wiped her eyes hastily and paused the videos.
“I’m Anna,” she said. “This is Ryan. I’m sorry you had to come at this time. We’re working on a pretty nasty case.”
“Oh, I don’t mind,” he said. “It’s bound to happen eventually, so I may as well get myself acquainted with murder. I’m John Freeman.” He held his hand out to us and shook both our hands.
“I think we’ve looked at enough evidence for now, Ryan. Want to go to the mental hospital now?” I said.
“Sure,” Anna said. We headed out the door, with our new intern at our heels. With his slightly unkempt blond hair and puppy-like blue eyes, he reminded me of a golden retriever. I felt bad ruining his innocence with this horrifying case. But that’s just what happens when you get involved with Police work…
We made our way to West Seattle Psychiatric Hospital. It looked less welcoming than a medical hospital, just because of what lied within its walls. John looked at it with hesitation. I pushed him forward. If he wanted to be a cop, he’d have to learn to deal with situations he didn’t want to be in. And this case was about as bad as it gets, so if he could handle this, he could handle anything. We went into the building and found the nurses who were involved with Bill and his treatment. They wore white uniforms, like you saw in the movies and were as kind as you would expect nurses to be.
“Hi, Miss, I’m Ryan Johnson, this is my partner Anna Reynolds and our intern John Freeman. We’re working on Bill and his cousin’s case. We just have a few questions.”
“Of course,” the first nurse said, nodding with a smile.
“Did you notice anything out of the ordinary with Bills behavior before the attack? In the videos we saw him panicking moments before the killer came, but not before then. We don’t know what was normal or abnormal in his condition,” Anna asked.
“Well, he was always very agitated, always writing in his journal. The Doctor told him to write his story down at least once a day, but he did it almost constantly. We think maybe he was desperate to get better. Or get out. He kept saying he needed to keep moving or else ‘that thing’ as he called it would find him,” the second nurse said. Anna wrote some notes down.
“But you didn’t notice anything abnormal?” I asked again.
“No, sir, nothing. Just his usual behavior.”
“Did you see anyone lurking around the building at all? Like before the attack or in the days preceding it?” I asked.
“No, sir. Or if the killer was here he was very good at hiding,” the first nurse said.
“Did you see which way the killer went after the attack?” I asked. The nurses both became quiet and turned a little pale.
“No, sir,” the first nurse said quietly. “We saw him throw part of Bill out the window and follow, but we didn’t see which way he went once he was on the ground outside.”
“Thank you for your help,” I said, even though they really hadn’t given us anything useful. They nodded.
“Of course, any time,” the second nurse said. They turned around and continued with their work. We left in silence. Once we got into the car, I was irritated. How were we ever going to find this guy and put him behind bars (if that would even help…) if we couldn’t find a single lead?
“This is just great,” Anna said, sounding equally as frustrated. She sighed loudly.
“Let’s just work on this some more tomorrow,” I said. We drove back to the station. I got into my own car and drove back to my apartment reluctantly. Weird things had been happening ever since I first opened the boxes to this case. I kept hearing thumping at night and creaking like my windows were opening. But I wasn’t sure if I was just hearing things or not. I could never find the sources of the sounds. I opened my apartment door half expecting Stitch to be waiting for me. I’d been becoming paranoid, scared. Just fact that I was becoming paranoid and scared was scaring me.
I walked into my apartment, finding no one inside. It was colder than I expected it to be. I wandered through all the rooms, only to find what I hoped I wouldn’t. My bedroom window was opened. I swear I locked it before I left. My hands shook as I closed it and my heart started to race. The panic was setting in again. I turned on all the lights in my apartment on my way to the kitchen to make some comfort food. I made a giant sandwich, grabbed a can of soda and some chips, and walked into the living room. Desperate to take my mind of that god awful case, I turned on the TV and put on a funny movie – Anchorman to be exact. I always loved Will Ferrell. I ate my food and soon my mind was far from the case. Until I heard the thumping. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. It rang in my ears, echoed in my mind, until I couldn’t take it. I ran to my bedroom and grabbed the ear plugs out of my bed side table. I shoved them into my ears to stop that thumping. My window was open again. I still heard the thumping. That god damn thumping. My heart was racing, my palms were sweating, and my hands were shaking so hard I could barely grab the phone. I dialed Anna’s number as quickly as I could.
“He-” she started.
“Anna! Can I stay over tonight?” I asked, cutting her off.
“Sure, what’s wrong, Ryan?” she asked.
“Please don’t tell me I’m not the only one having problems with this case,” I said, nearly begging.
“Are you freaking out too? I swear, I keep closing my windows, but they’re always open…” she said, trailing off.
“I’ll be over in ten minutes.” I hung up the phone and packed a bag as quickly as I could.
We both actually got sleep that night. We drove to work in our separate cars in case I decided to sleep at my own house that night. Neither of us wanted to dive back into the case, but instead of Anna making me, it was John making us. He reiterated almost exactly what Anna had said. “Come on, guys, the sooner we start working the sooner it’ll be over!” He was annoyingly chipper all the time. But I was friendly, so was Anna. He put the tapes back in and pushed play. They started where we’d left off. John looked at them intently, taking notes about all the gruesome things Stitch was doing. I could hardly watch.
Stitch picked up Bills upper half like a bowling ball, sticking his fingers in Bills eyes and mouth. His hand was still embedded in Stitch’s disgusting naked body as he dragged him out into the hall. A trail of blood followed the poor dead man’s body. When Stitch reached the window, he tore Bills arm off and threw the rest of his body out the broken window. From the other angle, we could see Bills roommate still cowering in horror. Stitch ignored him and tore the arm from his chest. Dark goo-like blood came out with the arm, leaving a gaping hole where there should be something…anything… He didn’t even seem to care. He put Bills hand in his repulsive mouth and ate three of his fingers. I imagined the sound of crunching bones and shuddered. He smiles at the camera as he eats Bills remains. His teeth were rotten, his lips were still bleeding, his eyes still covered in sewn on flesh… The video cut out again and when the image returned, Stitch was gone and Bills arm was on the floor. His roommate was crying. I looked at Anna who looked back at me.
“Maybe you should just live with me for a while. I’m too scared to live alone,” she said quietly. I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one scared out of my wits. Maybe the two of us together would be enough to keep Stitch away. We’d start looking at victim number three soon. After we’d had some time to regain our sanity.

Case File No.58

“The third victim was a paranormal type. You know, the sort of person who decided to make her own ghost hunting team after watching any of those shows out now,” Anna said as we walked into the office. She hadn’t been able to sleep last night so I guess she’d started going through victim threes files.
“So what’s your point?” I asked. Sleeping on her couch every night was making me cranky but thankfully all the weird things had all but stopped happening and the paranoia and fear was dying down too. I could probably move back into my place soon.
“So, I don’t know. Hey, where’s John?” We walked into our office, boxes and coffee in hand. We sat down at our desks and sipped our coffee for a few minutes before diving into this God awful case once more. Before we could get too into our missing intern, one of the forensic scientists came into the room with an envelope.
“Here’s the DNA sample back, guys,” he said. We’d sent him the sample when we were working on the first victim. The CSI team grabbed blood samples from the candles he’d blown out in the first murder.
“And? Get a match?” I asked.
“Not even close. It’s not even human. I did every test I could think of a million times. It’s just not human. Humans have 46 chromosomes, right; this had 58. I have no idea what it could be.” Anna and I looked at each other.
“Weird,” she said. “Thanks Max.” He put the envelope with the DNA test results on my desk and left.
“Anyways,” I said. “I don’t know. I think someone said he called in sick or something. John did look a little under the weather yesterday.” Anna nodded in agreement.
“Hopefully he gets back soon,” she said. Anna and I went back to the pictures of the third crime scene. It was all the same. Blood, guts, unbelievable gore. I still wasn’t used to it though. It was all more grotesque and inhumane than I thought even possible. I got to a picture of her head. There was a slim white stick-looking item sticking out of her skull. Her hair had dried blood all over it and her eyes sat there open and unseeing, well, one of them at least, like that of a porcelain doll watching you as you sleep. From her mouth, blood ran down her cheek onto the ground. Her head sat in a pool of her own blood. But the bone-appearing item stuck into her head was pristine. A pure unsettling white. I showed it to Anna.
“I think that’s in the box,” she said, pointing to the stick. “Forensics determined it to be a bone.” I shuddered. Anna dug through the box and took the bone out. I took the bag from her and looked at it. Forensics is always careful to not disturb the way the evidence was found. And even with that care, it was disturbingly white.
“Let’s just watch the video and get it over with,” I said.
“It can’t be that bad”, Anna said. “We’ve seen two of the most brutal and horrifying murders already and this victim has most of her body parts still intact, unlike the first two”.
“I guess so. I just don’t want to have to look at pictures of dead people anymore. I’ve had enough for one year.” I said, exhausted. Before she pushed play on the video player, we just sat there. I guess we were preparing ourselves for it, even if we’d already seen it all.
It was then our boss came in, urging us to finish this case. We sucked up and got him out of the room. Anna pushed play.
The video started off in what looks like a bedroom. The camera was handheld. The victim sounded excited. She had a chipper light voice and the camera was moving around rapidly. We heard a bunch of clicks and snaps and sounds of clothes rustling. We figured she was getting something together or putting something on. All of a sudden the camera swung up and we could see her hands grabbing different electronic devices.
“Ok! I’m all set up. I have my camera on my shoulder mount; I have my EVP recorder, my infrared scanner and many other pieces of equipment for my line of work.” She said while looking into a smaller camera. We would watch that tape but it this was the only tape in the evidence box.
“It is 9:14 pm here in Seattle, Washington. This is an unofficial SPA investigation. I say unofficial because nobody else in my team is here and I am off the clock. I am in my house all by myself with my little corgi puppy Samson.”
She was still getting herself ready and giving us other useless information about her house and her equipment she was using. SPA stood for “Seattle Paranormal Association” and it turns out she was the cofounder of it. We decided to fast forward a little bit until we saw her go to the door of her bedroom and open it.
“Okay all you ghost hunt fans out there, just a few minutes ago, I was hearing strange thumps and what sounded like someone talking. I could hear the voice, but I just couldn’t make out what the person or thing was saying. I hope to capture something on my equipment and share it with you guys.”
She walked down the hall until she came to her living room. Right upon entering the living room, to her right was a recliner chair and straight ahead was a couch. She stopped in her tracks.
“It just got really cold. Perhaps this is a good place to do an EVP recording. I’ll just take a walk around the rest of my house first so I know where to go after this, unless this is the only cold room.”
She walked throughout her house. Only the living room seemed cold to her. She also mentioned that the living room was where the thumps sounded like they were coming from.
“I checked the rest of the house and it all checked out fine.” she said. “Whoa… what is that? My window curtain just moved.” She walked over the window and used some weird device towards it. Turns out it was some sort of EMF detector. It has something to do with shifts in the magnetic fields. A shift is supposed to mean there’s a paranormal presence nearby. She moved the curtains. All three of her windows were open.
“Okay? I didn’t leave any of these open earlier.” she proclaimed. “Weird.”
She shut them and turned off the light to her patio. She started walking towards the hallway, but just as she reached the hall, there was a very loud crash coming from behind her near the kitchen. She turned around and just stood there. She then pulled out a flash light and shined it across the room.
“Damn it! That was the plate my mother got me for Christmas. I am now going to pull out my EVP recorder and see if we can get anything on tape.”
The little device started to beep loudly. Like something was there. She pointed her camera in all different directions and started to breath heavier.
“It just got colder. Even colder than before. I’m going to do an EVP now.” She takes out another device and sits down on the ground. “Is anybody there?” it was quiet for a couple minutes. “Are there any spirits here who want to make contact?” she said louder.
“No,” a voice replied.
“No?” she replied. “My arm itches. It just started getting all tingly with a slight burning feeling.” she said, directing it towards the camera, most likely for her viewers. “Did someone just touch my arm?”
“I’m very pleased you can feel that.” A booming menacing voice said from somewhere in the room.
The victim turned around as fast as she could. The room was dark, adding to the spooky effect for her ghost hunt archives so we could barely make out what was talking. But Anna and I both knew exactly who was there. The odd thing was… we were not listening to the EVP recording while watching this video. We could hear Stitch talk through the video camera. At least now we know more about this thing. We now know he is very real. Not a ghost or demon or anything else supernatural.
“Were you the entity that opened my windows and made the thumping sounds?” she asked in a worried voice.
“That itch that you feel… It’s rather interesting you would feel an itch.” Stitch said.
“Why?” she asked.
“That is the part of your body I was looking at. I wish to eat it.” And all of a sudden, as loud as I have ever heard someone yell in my life, loud enough to knock the victim back on her heels, Stitch said “And I intend to.”
“Who are you?” the woman asked, her voice shaking.
“I am known as Buel in the Netherlands. Carnifex in Latin. Pyöveli in Finland. Bøddel in Norway. I have many names. I have killed many people. At least ten per country. You will be my third here. I am your worst nightmare, ma’am. I would run.” As he was talking, the woman took something out of her pocket. It was later found to be Holy Water. She opened the bottle slowly and tossed some of it in the direction of Stitch. Stitch laughed. The woman got up off the ground, turned the light on and started backing up to the front door. We saw that the Holy Water had melted some of Stitch’s skin into the shape of a cross. It was burned into his skin, like he’d been freshly branded. It was red like you’d expect a burn to me, and crusting. Other than the melting flesh, it didn’t seem to affect him. While the woman was backing away, we saw Stitch swinging his chains at her. They wrapped around her arm and tore into her skin. The crunching sound was disgusting as her arm was torn out of her socket and the skin was torn off. The camera landed on the ground. We heard chains clanging and the woman screaming and then we saw her. Her arm was gone. Blood was pouring everywhere and we could see her shoulder blade sticking out of her broken bloody flesh. The woman screamed and screamed while Stitch laughed and laughed, getting slowly louder like he always did. While she was lying on the ground, Stitch towered over her. She tried to crawl away but grabbed a piece of the previously broken dish and tried to use it as a weapon. She stabbed it into the first place she could get it, his arm. But it just went through him. Chunks of blood and guts came out the other side of his arm, dripping and plopping onto the ground. it was gorier than I thought possible. His blood was dark and crusty. Rotten. As it oozed out of his arm, he laughed. He got some of the blood on his fingers, with those awful dirty nails, and shoved the blood into the woman’s mouth.
“You cannot hurt me,” he chuckled. As if to prove his invincibility, he shoved his hand into his chest and ripped out one of his ribs. The bone we’d found in the evidence box we assumed. The woman screamed in terror.
“Why are you haunting me?” she said.
“I'm not haunting you. I'm going to kill you. Chew you to bits and use your flesh to complete mine,” Stitch responded.
“Are you a ghost or a demon?” she said. Her voice was shaking.
“No. I am real. I am the one who makes people scared,” Stitch started to say. “I don’t hide under beds or in closets. I watch you. I like to see my victim’s faces while I study them.” He paused and looked at her. He smiled. “You’re scared. I can smell it. I can taste it so clearly.” He stroked the spot her arm used to be and licked the blood off his fingers.
She tried to escape again but Stitch shoved his fingers into her eyes and held her head like a bowling ball. She kept screaming. Stitch laughed louder than she screamed. He took his fingers out of her eye sockets and took his torn out rib and stabbed it into her skull. Her head fell to the ground. Adding insult to injury, Stitch shoved his hand into her chest now and ripped her heart out and ate it. Then he stood up and grabbed her torn off arm. He sticks her fingers into his mouth and bites them off. The sound of bones crunching rang through our ears. I could hear Anna shuddering next to me. But Stitch wasn’t done. He took the fingers out of his mouth and stuck them into the woman’s mouth. He left, leaving the woman on the floor. Her head was rolled to the side and what was left of her eyes drooped to the ground. There was blood everywhere soaking into her carpet, drying into her hair and onto her skin. Her fingers were sticking out her mouth. Her nails were broken from the struggle.
I looked over at Anna. She looked like she had been crying. She acted like she could handle all this, but I didn’t think she could.
“I’m going home,” she said. She stood up and left the room quickly. I couldn’t blame her. If I could escape this case, I would.
“I guess I will too,” I said. I thought she needed some time alone, so I decided to go back to my house. Before I could leave though, John ran into the office, disheveled.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” he said.
“Late?” I said. “It’s three o’ clock, John. You may as well have just not come in.”
“I know, I know,” he said. “But I found something and I thought you should know. Where’s Anna?” He was talking quickly like he was panicking.
“She went home early. Well? Spit it out, kid,” I said. I didn’t really want to hear what he was about to say. But the information could help us stop this guy, so I listened.
“He’s killed more than just three people. He’s killed like…a hundred…at least. Probably more. He’s known all over the world. Like in old folk lore. You know how Hansel and Gretel is supposed to scare children into being good? I think that’s what Stitch was supposed to be. He’s got different names all over the place, but they all translate to Executioner. Buel means butcher in Dutch, but same difference. I thought this guy sounded familiar. In college I took a class in mythology and folklore and we talked about this guy,” he said. He kept moving his hands all over the place and could hardly stand still in the doorway of my office. He’d graduated top of his class at Harvard. I figured I could trust the things he was saying. I took feverish notes so I could call Anna later and tell her everything.
“I don’t know if this is something we can stop, Ryan,” John said distraught.
“Why?” I asked.
“He’s been at this for who knows how many years. If they have stories about him all over the world, and he’s killed all over the world, what makes you think we can stop him?”
“We have to try,” I said. “It’s our job as detectives. We have to stop him from killing anymore people. I don’t give a damn if he’s been at this for however many years; his reign ends now,” I said.
“Okay,” John said. He took the beanie he was wearing off his head and twisted it in his hands. “How though?”
“I don’t know. Do you want to stay over at my place tonight? Maybe we could try to bait him somehow. There’s got to be something we can do,” I said. John sat down next to me and we started researching more. I tried calling Anna while he worked but she didn’t answer. She didn’t come to work the next day either.

Addressing the readers.

John came over to my place after work. We decided to do a little investigation or experiment, if you will, alone in my apartment, and a little research. IF we could even find anything about this thing.
We left the office around 5 pm and met up around 8. We just hung out for a couple hours, playing video games, making some food, talking about the zombie apocalypse and what we would do to survive. Just guy stuff. It was a nice break from the case.
We started doing research around 11 and ended up in the deep end of the internet. Places I've never been to, but in the back of my mind, knew existed. You know those sites. Everybody has that wonder of how deep and twisted the internet is. Well most of those ideas you all think of, are true.
But I'm not going to give any website addresses, so don't ask.
We stumbled upon this one website... it was all black with pictures of rotting skulls everywhere, and the main picture in the middle of the website was just a picture of a goat head., decapitated and rotting in front of a pentagram. That site had a couple of interesting things about something that seemed to match Stitch, for the most part anyways. They had the stitched skin, chains, naked. But on the website, they talked about it having eyes and then losing them. It didn't say how he lost them, but a few commenter’s on the articles were all furiously talking... a lot of capitalized letters and exclamation marks.
There were some comments in Norwegian, some in German and very few in English. It seemed like it was all the English speaking commenter’s who were asking how he lost his eyes.
There was only one response. A really long comment, sometimes repeating sentences, in some language we didn't quite know.
There was a commenter on the article we posted on reddit named "RepetitiveRoutine". He mentioned using Google Translate to figure out what Stitch called himself... or claimed he was called, rather. He was a nice guy. We got in contact with him right away and thanked him for showing interest in the case. He offered his assistance and we let him help. We plan on video chatting soon.
Anyways, the comment was in a very old language. One you never hear anymore, but it does still exist. It was in Aramaic. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that was the language Jesus Christ himself spoke – that old of a language. Not just old, but ancient.
We got in contact with a world language expert that I knew from college who now works for the military.
We asked him what the commenter was saying, but he couldn't make out that many words. He said it's much older than we thought. He made out something about the thing enjoying self mutilation. He would poke his eyes with his fingers over and over again. He would pull on his eye lids in all directions. Peel his skin off with a knife. Shave his head with a razor, leaving scars and gashes all over his bald head. Like he was some kind of masochist. It also talked about the thing cutting the skin to his knees off and hitting the kneecaps with a hammer. That was all he could get out of it.
Other comments in German talked about him getting sexual pleasure from harming himself and others, ultimately leading to the death of his poor victims. He enjoyed taking their body parts and making disfigured bodies out of them. He would claim to be married to them.
Other people from Norway would claim he would give the body parts to Satan himself for his godly powers.
We had enough with that site though. We went on to try to figure out if there were any survivors. There weren't any. Although, some commenter’s speaking in Chinese would explain how he would chain the soul of his latest victim to himself and walk them to the Gates of Hell personally. So once you were his were his victim forever.
But what I want to know is how all these people came to learn this about Stitch and we weren't able to learn anything. Were we not trying hard enough? Were we not religious enough? I have no idea.
The last commenter mentioned how this thing – apparently it was a man once – died. After all of his monstrous acts, whatever the truth about his wrong doings may be, the civilization he lived in murdered him. He mentioned how he was torn apart by horses... A rope tied to each of his limbs was attached to a horse and they ran off in different directions, tearing him to pieces. After the horses pulled him apart, the people let the dogs go at him. They tore him to even more pieces. They left the body there to rot. They came back a week later and the body was gone. Not even a blood trail to follow.
That night, as everybody was laying down to sleep, they heard crying. Animals crying. They found their dogs with their stomachs ripped open, some of the animals ripped in half.
We are not positive, but we are assuming that is how Stitch got his skin back after being eaten by the dogs. The commenter did not say.
John and I got curious about all these people and their information. We tried tracking them down through their internet providers and IP addresses but nothing came up. Not a code...home address... Nothing. It struck us as odd.
So that is all we learned about Stitch. I honestly don't want to know anymore. But for some strange reason, I feel like we are much closer to capturing him now.
We got connected to the video chat with the commenter from reddit and started telling him all that we learned and he seemed really interested. Like none of it bothered him. At least we had someone new to help us. It would also help us get through it faster with his motivation. And a new eye on the case is always good. Like they say, two heads is better than one. So four was probably better than the three we had.
After a while discussing Stitch and all we learned, we decided to see how to get him to show himself. We absolutely needed to figure out how Stitch chose his victims. If we could bait him into coming to us, we could catch him and put an end to all this terror.
I asked the commenter to scare himself. Told him to get scared. Considering Stitch mentioned he could smell the last victims fear.
It took a long time, but he was finally scared. He said after a while he started hearing thumps and whispers. We knew Stitch was close.
“Turn off every light in your house, except the light closest to the window in the back of your house and the window in the front,” I told him. Then I asked him to stand in front of each window looking out for at least 2 minutes, in case Stitch was around. He would see he is home.
After the 4 or 5 minutes, he came back to his computer and asked for further directions. He mentioned his front window was open before he got to it.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. John told him to make sure there was nothing on that can possibly create any sound. It needs to be completely silent.
The commenter sat there, waiting. We all sat in the silent dark just listening. Staring into each other’s homes.
Then we heard thumping. He said it was coming from his hallway. We told him to get in either his closet or under the bed or something. Go anywhere, just hide.
“Take a camera with you in case Stitch comes in. You can take video or pictures of him,” I urged. Right before he went to hide I told him to stop being afraid. “Don't be scared. That will just make things worse. Stop being afraid. I promise he is not real. We're going to figure this out.”
He went and hid in his closet. It was silent, deathly so. We couldn't see anything. We just sat there looking into his room.
My heart was pounding out of my chest and I felt sick. I was on the edge of my seat. John and I both were.
It was like we were watching one of those internet jokes where you watch and wait for the paranormal activity to start, but a face just pops up and screams at you.
We started to hear thumping. It got louder and louder and so did the voice. As usual it was talking to itself.
The bedroom door opened. Stitch walked in and just stood in the middle of the room. Stood there for about 20 minutes. Just stood there. Then for no reason at all, he just started laughing. Louder and louder. While he laughed maniacally some sort of liquid spat out of his mouth. We assumed it was blood.
As the laughing got louder and louder... it happened. The damn kid screamed. He started screaming how he was so scared and didn't want to do it.
“Kid shut the fuck up! Don't be scared! He can't hurt you!” I screamed back at him.
Stitch turned his head and looked directly into the webcam. My heart sunk into my chest. It hurt. The commenter screamed again. Stitch turned his head as fast as lightning and looked at the closet. John screamed telling him to keep hiding and Stitch turned his head back to the webcam. The commenter screamed saying he was going to run. Stitch turned his back to the closet. All this time, Stitch was smiling. John yelled for him to run. Stitch turned his head to the webcam. Just as he did, the commenter opened the closet door and took two steps. But he didn’t get any farther.
Stitch stretched his arm out and grabbed the commenter by the neck without even looking at him. He was still looking at us. I was breathing so fast I was getting light headed.
“Is this some kind of game?” Stitch asked, followed by laughter. “You were trying to trick me? How did you think you would catch me? You are no match for me. Now because of you, I will take this boys soul and strike him with my chains for all of eternity. I will feed him to my dogs and bring him back and do it again. And I have you to thank.” Stitch yelled. His voice made my skin crawl. I could hardly believe what we were seeing.
He stepped towards the camera and tilted his head forward. “Do you have any more unfortunate souls you would like to have play this pathetic game? Hiding in closets or under beds does not make you safe from me. I can smell your fear right now. I can taste it,” he said while rubbing his disgusting bloody fingers on his tongue.
“I want to feel your heart beating,” he yelled. Stitch then did the unthinkable. He reached his hand towards us... it came straight through my monitor. I slammed my laptop closed and all I could hear was his laugh, echoing in my head.
That's it... I... don't know what to do anymore. I want to leave. Forever. Move out of the country and live in the woods somewhere.
To the parents of RepetitiveRoutine, I am so sorry. I should have known what was going to happen. I don't know what to say.
And as for all you other readers... please do not do what we had RepetitiveRoutine do. Stitch will enjoy it and it will just make him stronger. It is not a game. It is death.

My dream last night

December 30, 2012
I just woke up and thought I should write this down before I forget. I haven’t been sleeping that much lately, which is why I am just now waking up. The paranoia and fear is just getting worse as the case goes on. I had this really weird dream. I was in a field. Just a field like you would normally think of when you think about fields. Trees everywhere with shrubs at their bases. There were some deer off in the distance and I could hear birds chirping. The sun was shining. As I stood there thinking about how this would be a good place to come and think. I started thinking about my childhood. I used to come to a field just like this and play with my dogs. They loved to play fetch in the grass. When it was really tall they loved to sneak up on me or leap over the grass like gazelles.
I thought it was a dream about that. But as soon as the sun vanished and the clouds covered the air, I knew this was no dream – but a nightmare – and not one that was about my dog filled childhood.
When the clouds covered the sky, the plants all died. The trees lost their leaves, the grass turned brown, the flowers wilted where they stood. The deer dropped dead and the birds fell from the sky. There was a smell in the air that I can’t even begin to describe; it was so disgusting. Beyond disgusting. Like rotten flesh and rotten eggs and rotten milk all combined together. I watched as all the deer dropped to the ground and I ran to them thinking there could be a way for me to help. But when I got there, there was nothing I could do. Their flesh was already rotting and parasites had already come to eat the meat off their bones.
Suddenly, I heard a loud, low groaning sound. It was coming from all around me. It sounded like it was coming from the trees. I couldn’t escape it by running. It just got louder and louder the longer I was in that field. I saw some concrete stairs going into the ground. I watched myself run. It kept switching from first person view to third person. It was really disorienting. I kept going towards the stairs and then hurried down them. At the bottom of the stairs there was a beat up wooden door. Something told me I shouldn’t open the door, no matter how badly I wanted to escape that groaning sound. That I should force myself to wake up and just keep going on with my life, without opening that door. But of course, like in all nightmares and typical Hollywood teen screams, your gut is ignored.
I opened the door. It creaked and it felt like it was going to fall off its hinges. There were scratches all over the back side of the door. Like someone had been trying to escape. It was cold as I entered the hallway the door lead to. Ice cold. I shivered. I didn’t know if I was shivering from fear or from the cold. Either one was entirely plausible. I closed the door behind me and the groaning stopped instantly.
It was pitch black dark, but I walked down the hall anyways. I tried to move quickly, but my feet felt like they were made of lead. It felt like each step took five minutes. It was driving me crazy. I put my hands on the walls to guide me. I felt inscriptions on the wall, but I couldn’t tell what they said. I patted my pockets to see if my cell phone was there. It was, so I pulled it out of my pocket and when I went to open it to shine light on the wall, it shocked me and I dropped it. I winced and shook my hand to get the pain to stop. I went to pick it up off the ground, but it turned to dust as my hand touched it. The dust was unusually warm and more ashy than grainy. I stumbled forward, keeping my hands on the walls to guide me. I felt more inscriptions, but I wouldn’t find out till later what they were. I felt a corner and slid my hands onto the cold wall in front of me. As I felt it, trying to find an escape, I felt a handle. I put my hand on it, tried to push or pull the door open. It wouldn’t budge. So I tried sliding it open. And that worked. It slid open with a loud bang.
I walked into the room and slid the door closed behind me. The lighting was like a doctor’s office. The kind of light that washes out your skin and makes it look blue. I always hated that light. The room looked like the morgue in the hospitals. In the middle of the room there was a metal table, shiny and eerily clean. Like it had never been used. Along the walls there were drawers you put dead bodies in. The room smelled strongly of sulfur. Next to the table there was a little cart with various surgery tools on it. I walked towards it carefully. Every step I took was deafening. I got to the table and picked up the first tool I saw, a Stryker saw. My dad was a coroner so he would always talk about that stuff over dinner, which I really didn’t appreciate. The only time I put up with it was when I was doing an internship for him when I was trying to decide what part of the police world I wanted to join.
I started thinking about how I had to watch him use various saws to cut ribs open to get to the heart. I remembered the blood everywhere and dropped the saw on the ground, forgetting I was holding it. It hit the leg of the cart and all the tools fell onto the ground. The metal clanked against the tiles on the ground. The sound was just as deafening as my footsteps had been. When the sound stopped, I started to look around the rest of the room. It was back in third person. I watched myself wander around the room. My other self looked into the file drawers that weren’t full of bodies. He pulled out some papers and looked at them. All the files were in a different language, but neither me nor the other me could tell which language it was. I watched myself find a single paper in English, talking about the Lake Bodom murders. I remember Googling the case a couple years ago out of curiosity because one of my favorite bands was named after them. No one ever found out who committed them. Maybe Stitch was behind those attacks too... Then suddenly I was back in first person. As soon as I oriented myself, I started hearing banging and moaning. I looked around the room and saw the body drawers shaking. I heard people pleading to be let out, moaning and groaning, begging. I started panicking and ran to the corner. I sat on the ground and covered my ears and closed my eyes, hoping against all hope that the sound would stop. And it did. It wasn’t a good quiet though. It was a scary quiet. Eerie. The quiet went on for what felt like forever until the loud groaning sound from the field started again. I walked to the sliding door trying to find a way to escape it again. I opened the door but couldn’t see anything. My eyes were still adjusting to the darkness in the hall. Once they did, I saw Stitch standing at the end of the hallway. You could only see one of his arms. He took a step forward and then I could see him holding his chains behind his back.
“Are you trying to hide?” Stitch said.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“We are inside your memories,” he replied.
“I want to ruin your best memories. I feed off fear and anger. I killed the animals and turned the sky gray. Now look behind you and feel more fear,” Stitch said. All of a sudden there was the stench of rotten flesh and blood in the air. I turned around slowly. As I turned around I slipped and hit my head on one of the counters. I put my hand on my head to ease the pain and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I looked at my hands and they were covered in blood. I looked around the rest of the room and the floor was flooded with blood. Papers covered the floor. I looked at the body drawers and saw all of them were open. The dead bodies inside them were sitting up on their metal beds, smiling, with dead eyes and pale skin. One had a gunshot wound on his head with crusted blood around the edges. Another had his throat slit. Another was severely burned; his skin was blackened. Their smiles were still and frozen. Like mannequins. I turned back to look at Stitch again. His arm was still bent back.
“Meet my latest victim. Courtesy of you.” He grabbed his chains with both of his hands. He jerked someone roughly. As the mystery person went flying through the air, Stitch jerks him back by the neck even more roughly than before. It yelped and cried in pain. He landed right in front of Stitch. There was a chain around his neck. It could’ve come off, but there were spikes driven into his neck, keeping them in place. The holes in his neck kept oozing blood. His legs were broken off at the knee. His femur was sticking out. The skin and muscle were all torn, still bleeding. From his bottom lip to half way down his neck, the skin was gone. The muscle was disturbingly red, bloody… it made me want to puke. It seemed like every pore in his body was blood oozing out of it. He was so beat up. Some of his teeth were missing. His hair was torn out in chunks. His arms and chest had gruesome scratches all over them. His eye lids were missing. His eyes were dried and shriveled. There were chunks of his face missing, along with the rest of his body.
“You know who I am,” Stitch’s victim said.
“No I don’t,” I said quietly, scared.
“Yes you do. You watched me get taken away.”
“RepetitiveRoutine,” he said. Then it hit me. I recognized his short dark brown hair with its slight curl. I felt a fit of tears coming and held them back. Suddenly, RepetitiveRoutine came loose and started bounding towards me. He ran on his fists, like an ape. While he ran, he screamed blood curdling screams. Terrified, I stumbled back and ran as fast as I could to the corner of the morgue-like room. I slammed the door and as soon as the sound rang through my ears I woke up. Or at least I thought I did.
“You need to wake up, Ryan. It’s time to have breakfast,” a voice said. I found myself in my childhood bedroom, cuddled up in my Scooby Doo sheets. I rolled over and saw my mom watching me. Before I could answer her, Stitch came up behind her. He loomed over her. He was wearing a blue button up shirt with slacks. He put his hand on her shoulder. She put hers over his. “Hey, honey. I’m just trying to wake up Ryan,” she said.
“Wake up, son,” Stitch said. Stitch was playing the part of my dad. But my mom couldn’t even tell that my dad wasn’t there. She couldn’t tell what was coming for her. Naked again, Stitch tore her skin off in one piece and danced with it, laughing. I was left frozen in terror. And even with her skin missing, my mom stood there smiling. After a little bit of dancing, he tore her skin in half. The back of her landed on the floor and he held up the front in front of him. He put his eyes where hers should be, wore her like a mask.
“Good morning, baby,” he said, mocking my mother’s voice. He stuck his tongue through her lips and wiggled it around at me like a child, and started laughing again, even louder. All the while, my mother was standing there, all meat, just looking at me. Stitch dropped the rest of her skin on the ground and grabbed her veins from her ankles and wrists. He wrapped them together and swung her around, her feet touching her hands. As he swung her around, her blood splattered all over the room. It flew onto my face and I nearly threw up. I tried to get up off my bed and run away, but before I could reach the door, Stitch pushed me against the window. A piece of broken glass cut my back, leaving a huge scratch. I woke up for real then, drenched in sweat.
I went to the bathroom before I started writing this. There’s a scratch on my back… I’m going to go to the hospital now and get this checked out. I just thought of this… My dad’s still alive. Why was Stitch pretending to be him in my dream if he’s still here? Maybe I should go stay with him for a while…
I know you guys have been wondering about Anna too. I still haven't heard from her. It's been a while now, a week and a half... I'm starting to get worried. She won't answer her phone, her emails. There isn't even anyone there when I go knock on her door. This is getting distressing. What should I do?


Anna is gone. After days of emailing her, calling her house and even knocking on her front door, I finally got an answer. I went over to her house today. Her car wasn't in her drive way.
Also, the curtains weren't closed so I decided to look in. I put my face against the glass and cupped my eyes with my hands. There was nothing in the living room. It was empty. I then tried to call her cell phone. It went straight to voice mail. I really hope her voice mail is not the last time I'm going to hear my partners voice. Can you imagine how that feels?
I'm being left here with John, and even John is acting weird on me now. He seems withdrawn and quiet. Not as chipper as he was when he first got to us. John doesn't want to do this anymore. Neither of us do.
Nothing else huge has happened since my dream. I still hear knocking and sometimes quiet chuckling in the distance. I'm planning on going to my dads house soon. I'm still trying to figure out why Stitch was acting as my dad in my dream and why my mother didn't notice it was a monster. I can't get the sound of my mothers skin getting ripped off of her out of my head. The tearing of veins and tight skin splitting. It's driving me crazy. If I'm not listening to Stitch laughing in my head, it's all of the disgusting sounds I have had to hear the past month. Bones breaking, skin ripping, guts getting thrown around. ReptitiveRoutines screams.
It's always the same with gruesome sounds like that. Someone getting their neck slit, someone smacking their head on the pavement after getting hit by a car, someone gurgling in their own blood after having their face bashed in. The sound is always much worse than the image and the sound is going to stick with you for your whole life. It's going to haunt you.
I'll keep in touch.

I have my own Case File now. - PART 1

John and I were working on the case in my office. It was weird not having Anna around. I was so desperately hoping that my suspicions were wrong, that she wasn’t dead, just hiding until the case was over or was taking a break. The office was cold, so cold we could see our breath. Neither of us really knew what to do about the whole Stitch thing.
We looked through the pictures, read the journals, and watched the tapes, God knows how many times. We would watch the tapes in slow-motion looking for any little clues that might tell us where to find him. But we couldn’t find anything. First, we were thinking he must be hiding somewhere outdoors. He always seemed sort of dirty and disheveled, like he didn’t have access to a shower and was always running around barefoot. But then we wondered, if he’s an outdoorsman, why is he naked? Doesn’t he get cold? Then we played around with the idea that he lived in a cave somewhere. Which would make sense – he’d have some warmth so he could wander around naked all he wanted. But it still didn’t quite work in our heads. Since when do supernatural creatures and serial killers not have homes and established lives outside of their murder sprees? Vampires, you think live in castles, mansions, and whatnot. Werewolves are only like that once a month, so they obviously have stuff to do the rest of the time, and have a house. Even zombies sort of have a home – their coffins until they rise from the dead. What would make Stitch want to be the outcast and not have a house and established life?
Nothing was making sense to us. Our heads hurt. Our coffee was running out. The sun was going down. The work week was coming to an end. Our options were running out. Thankfully no one else had been killed. But surely, it would happen again soon. Stitch wasn’t one to sit and do nothing for extended periods of time.
“What do you want to do?” I asked John as I stretched out my back. Before he could answer, the door to my office slammed open and an FBI team walked in. “We need you two to come in for questioning,” the only one in a suit said. The rest of them were wearing the typical FBI uniforms, with their guns and everything. John and I were confused. What could we have done to catch the FBIs attention? We complied and went with the team willingly. We all walked out of the office quietly. My coworkers watched, just as confused as we were. Their eyes were all wide. Some of the mouthed words at me, asking what was going on. I just shrugged. I really had no idea. They shoved us into the back of a car and drove us to where they wanted to question us.
We arrived at the jail in Downtown Seattle. It was a tan building with small windows with bars over them, so the prisoners couldn’t escape. I was scared. I looked over at John. He was squeezing his hands together; I could see they were sweaty. He had wide eyes, like he was a child caught stealing candy. My palms were sweaty too. I’m sure my eyes were just as wide.
We were let out of the car. Two men grabbed both of my arms and pulled me into the building. I didn’t know what we’d done to deserve such harsh treatment. They didn’t give us time to look around the building, but I didn’t really mind. I’d been there countless times. I was just confused by why we were being brought there for questioning.
John and I were put into separate rooms. Each room had white walls, a white tile floor, a white ceiling, and a white light. There was a metal table in the middle of the room with chairs all around it. I was told to sit down and wait. So I did as I was told, in an attempt to stop the brutal treatment. The walls were entirely bare of everything, even texture. As I waited, I tried to find something to fix my eyes on. But I was so nervous I could hardly sit still. I tapped my feet and drummed my fingers and chewed my nails. What could I have possibly done? I’m just a detective! I’m the one who’s supposed to be solving the cases, not be a suspect or anything. Interrupting my thoughts, a man in a gray suit walks in with a file. He sits down across the table from me and just looks at me for what felt like an eternity.
“You’re probably wondering why we brought you and your intern in here,” he said. His voice was deep and scratchy. He had a bird’s nest type of hair, mostly white with shades of gray. His eyes were tired and old, like they’d seen everything to be seen. I nodded at him, unsure if I was allowed to speak. “What do you know about…” He looks at his papers. “Repetitive Routine… What do you know about his death?” “I know what happened on the tapes,” I said. “I have them back in my office if you want to see them.” “We know what happened in the tapes,” the man said. “What do you know? Is there anything we should know that can’t be learned through the tapes?” “What do you mean?” I asked. The bright light was making my headache worse. “What did you have to do with it?” “Nothing!” I said, shocked. “I didn’t kill him, if that’s what you’re asking. He offered to help us find Stitch and that’s what ended up happening. Stitch came and killed him. We didn’t think that would happen, but it did. And from that side of the webcam you can’t really do anything.” My speech got faster and faster as I kept talking. Was I really a suspect in his death? In my own investigation? “Okay,” the man said. “Calm down. We’re just investigating his death.” That made me fume. That was my case. I didn’t work so hard to become the best detective in the Seattle PD just to have my case taken from me. Even if it was impossible to solve…
“You’re free to go,” the man said. “We’ll be in touch with any further information on his death.” I nodded at him and walked into the hall. As I waited in the hallway for John to come out from his interrogation, an idea crossed my mind. An illegal one, mind you, but an idea nonetheless. And despite its illegality, I decided to pursue it. I jogged down the hall to the man who’d questioned me and asked him where the nearest bathroom was. He pointed and said down the hall and around the corner. So I walked down the plain hallway and stood just around the corner, near the restroom. I peaked around to see the man go into a room with the folder, and come out without it. When the coast was clear, I snuck into the room, quietly so no one could hear. The room was dark and dank with file folders covering all the walls. The files were organized in alphabetical order so I found the J drawer and searched for my file. At last I found it. Johnson, Ryan. I opened it and found a small notebook. Flipping through it, the pages were covered in notes. I smiled to myself. Suddenly I head the door opened so I stuffed the notebook into my pocket and closed the drawer quickly and silently. A woman with sharp features and a stern expression walked in.
“What are you doing in here?” she asked. “I was looking for the bathroom,” I said. “Wrong room. It’s down the hall and around the corner,” she said. “Okay, thank you,” I said. I walked out of the room and found John waiting at the end of the hall by the rooms we’d been questioned in.
I swiftly walked to him and gestured for him to follow me quickly. We stepped out of the building into the crisp Seattle air. I kept walking until we were a good distance away from the building. Then I pulled the journal out of my pocket and showed it to John. He looked at me with concern. “Did you steal that?” he asked. I nodded but didn’t care that he was worried. We were already in trouble. I flipped to the first page. It talked about how we were suspects in Repetitive Routine’s murder. John Freeman and Ryan Johnson – present at time of crime, could have orchestrated it in ploy to solve serial killer case, follow after questioning.
That made both of us nervous. We looked around as soon as we read that, looking for suspicious cars. Cars of different colors and models whizzed around us, but nothing was standing still watching us. We felt small rain drops start to hit our heads and neck so we started walking and fast as we could to the office. The rain started to really pour and get us soaking wet before we reached our cars.
“I was thinking…we should go up to Anna’s parents house. She might be staying with them,” I told John. “Let’s go now,” he said. “Why not? The sooner we find her the sooner we can let our minds ease.” I agreed with him and we both piled into my car. It was getting dark as I pulled out into traffic and eventually onto the freeway. The clouds were ominous. They were a dark gray. The rain was pounding on my car. John and I were silent the whole time. Neither of us knew what to say. We didn’t know what we were going to find. But both of us were praying to whatever God was out there, that we’d find Anna alive. A couple hours went by. The weather kept getting worse and the sun kept going further down until it was pitch black outside. That’s when I felt a bump and then it got really hard to drive all of a sudden. I pulled over to the side of the road and jumped out of my car. The front left tire was completely flat.
“Great!” I nearly screamed. “Just awesome.” John got out of the car and looked at the wheel. I ran my hand through my messy hair and sighed. It was already getting late and I didn’t want to deal with this. Especially given the situation. What if Stitch found us? I shoved those thoughts aside and tried to focus on fixing the wheel. I opened my trunk and found my spare wheel. But only a spare wheel. All my tools to fix it were gone. Nowhere to be found. How was I supposed to fix my stupid tire without tools? I nearly screamed again. I shut my trunk and leaned against the driver’s side door and waited for someone to drive by and help.
“You okay?” John asked after a while. We were both standing the pouring rain, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. Neither of us were happy. Our suits were soaked; our hair looked like we’d just taken a shower; it was late; we were tired and stressed out. Things just weren’t looking good for us. “What do you think?” I said. I wasn’t trying to sound rude, but I guess that was the vibe I put out because John scooted away from me a little bit and didn’t say anything else for a while. We waited in the rain for half an hour before a car finally stopped to help us. A man and a young woman got out of the car. The lady had long brown hair in a braid down her back and hippie like clothing. She had a kind face and walked towards us with welcoming arms.
“What happened?” she asked, sounding genuinely concerned. “Flat tire,” John said. He sounded in a better mood than I was. Even if he had been acting strange lately, he was still more chipper than me. “We can’t find Ryan’s tools.” “Oh, that’s terrible!” the woman said. “We have tools. Go help them change their tire, Josh!” The man she was with was tall and extremely muscular, to the point that it was kind of weird. He wore a plain white t-shirt and jeans. He didn’t seem like he would be dating the woman he was with – if they were dating, that is. He nodded in her direction and went to the trunk of their black car. Shortly thereafter he came back with the necessary tools and helped us change my tire. In just a few minutes we were ready to go.
“Thank you so much,” I said. “This really means a lot.” “Oh, no problem at all,” the woman said, grinning. “Just one question though. What’s with the car with the two scary looking men in it back there? They’ve just been sitting there the whole time.” John and I looked back at the car and then back at each other. Neither of us had noticed it until she pointed it out. It was sleek and black, nearly unnoticeable in the dark from that distance. I thought on my feet. “Oh, that’s the FBI. We’re detectives working on a case with them. It’s nothing to worry about.” It was something to worry about… “Interesting!” the woman said. The man stood beside her silently the whole time they’d helped us. “Well good luck with your case!” “Thank you. And again, thank you so much for the help.” I smiled at her and John and I got back into my car, thoroughly soaking wet.
“What should we do about them?” John said, pointing at the FBI car trailing us. “Just let them do whatever. There’s nothing for us to hide; we didn’t do what they think we did,” I said. I started up the car and kept driving. John and I were silent the whole ride to Bellingham. The car kept trailing us all the way to Anna’s parent’s house. We tried acting like we didn’t see them. We tried to act as natural as we could. It was hard, but we did as good a job as possible.
Soon we pulled up to Anna’s parent’s house. It was a small little house just outside the city. They owned a little ranch with three horses. They were neighing in the barn a little ways from the house. They sounded panicked, but I didn’t know anything about horses, so for all I knew, that was what they sounded like all the time. John and I walked up to the front door of their shabby little house. Anna’s car was sitting outside. It had frost on the windows and what looked like fresh mud on the tires. Maybe she had just come back.
The paint on the house was peeling and the grass was unkempt. The stairs creaked as we walked up them onto the porch. I knocked on the door, but as I knocked it just opened. I pushed it further open and John and I walked in skeptically. The air was freezing cold and bugs were crawling on the ground. The first room we came to was the living room. The furniture had that typical old-lady pattern of canvas flowers. The furniture was covered in those plastic covers. The window next to the television was broken. Glass was all over the ground. The television was on. A news broadcaster’s voice rang through the silent house. It was eerie.
The floor creaked beneath our feet as we kept walking slowly through the house. We got to the kitchen. The fridge was open and the sink was running. Food was sitting on the counter like someone was about to prepare a meal. The food was rotting and there was a slight stench in the air. It was starting to get various colored mold on it. Flies buzzed around the plate, loving the stench of the disgusting food. John walked over to look at it. He winced a little.
“One of those flies just bit me,” he said. He poked at the food and a bunch of fruit flies jumped off the food on the table. We couldn’t tell what the food even was. The table was set and one of the chairs was pulled out from the table like someone was sitting there watching the other person cook. I started to see specks of blood on the floor as we kept walking. We followed the blood drops until they turned into trails of blood. Some places it was hard to make out on the brown carpet.
The trail led into a room that appeared to be an office, but also kept going down the hall. We decided to go room by room and started in the office. It had a computer, printer and a desk with some cabinets. The blood trail went right past everything and up the wall. It stopped halfway to the ceiling. John told me to come over to where he was. I walked around the desk on the side where the chair was. The chair was covered in blood and so were the keyboard and the top of the desk. Some of the keys were missing from the keyboard, the monitor was completely broken and the mouse was hanging down, covered in blood. The damage and destruction of the desk area was not the most disturbing part. The worst part was, all over the keyboard. We found teeth. Like someone had gotten their face slammed into it repeatedly and their teeth had fallen out. They were white with yellowing at the top of them where they’d fallen out. The monitor still had glass around the frame. It was covered in blood and on one long shard of glass, there was an eye ball. It was brown and still had the veins attached to it. There was also some hair caught on glass on the side of the monitor. It was long, white, and sort of crinkly.
At least I knew it wasn't Anna’s. I went to pull the chair out from the desk, and as I did, I heard a loud thump. I look down and there was a hand coming out from under the desk. John and I crouched down to have a better look. It was Anna’s mom.
She was curled up under the desk, her knees against her chest, sitting up. Her left eye was out of its socket, some teeth were missing as well and there were a few holes in her scalp where hair and skin should be. We could see the white bone of her cracked skull. Her right eye was still in its socket. It was swollen and black with bits of blood trickling down her pale white cheek. Her nose was severely broken. You could see the cracked bone beneath the crusted blood. We decided not to touch the body continued down the hall way.
The blood trail was on the ground for a good five to six feet then it swerved to the left and went up the wall. We followed it on the wall until it came to a door. This door was locked and after several attempts to break it in with our shoulders, John kicked it in. It was Anna’s dad’s personal room - bachelor pad, if you will. It had a flat screen, computer, fish tank, various mounted animal heads, a gun cabinet and a cigar humidor. We didn't stay long in that room.
The first thing we saw was her dad’s body. He was ripped in half and replaced on the wall with his mounted bear head. His lower body was still standing up, right below him on the ground. On the wooden plaque, where it read the name, size and weight of the bear, someone had carved over it. It said "Collateral" and below that it said "You can't run". Maybe this will get those damn FBI agents to finally believe Stitch is real. Maybe this will get them off my back.
John and I went outside to find the FBI agents. They weren’t in their car so we assumed they were following us around the house. We turned to go back into the house and look for them and saw them coming towards us. Their guns were drawn but they weren’t pointing them at us. “Do you believe us that Stitch is behind all this now?” I asked. “Do you believe we didn’t kill Repetitive Routine?” “We don’t know what to think,” one man said. He scratched his head and rubbed his chin. “Maybe we should call the local authorities. They might have some insight on this couple. Maybe someone was out to get them. We’ll also call in more field agents. This might be beyond your control now, if what you’re telling me is true.” “Didn’t you see what was written on the plaque? It was Stitch!” John said, getting flustered. “Show us,” the second man said. We walked back into the house and tried not to look at the gore too much. We got Anna’s dad’s room and showed them the plaque. They looked at the words carefully. “Collateral, huh?” the first man said. “Collateral for what?” “We’re thinking he has my partner, Anna. She’s been missing for a little while now. We don’t know where she is,” I said. “We definitely need to call the locals. We need all the help we can get.” The second man pulled out his phone and dialed 911. He told the operator about him being an FBI agent and needing back up. He asked for the address, I gave it to him, and we waited for the police to arrive.
“Maybe we should go check on the horses,” John said. “We don’t know how long these people have been dead. They might be needing food and whatnot.” We all agreed and walked back out into the cold. It might have been dark and freezing cold out, but it was a nice change to the disgusting sights inside the house. I loved the open field that lay between the house and the neighboring house. Although, it did remind me of the dream I had a couple days ago.
As we walked further into the field, my heart began to beat faster. I found myself staring into the woods that surrounded the property. I can still hear that loud groaning sound from my dream. I know it was just a dream, but it still makes me nervous. We walked towards the barn quietly. Part of the thought maybe Stitch was waiting for me. The barn was like a typical horse barn. Red outside and stalls inside with open windows so the horses could get fresh air when they were inside. We opened the door. It squeaked loudly.
You could smell the stench of decay from 20 feet away from the barn. I doubt I was the only person who noticed it. All of the straw and hay on the ground of the barn was damp and stuck to the bottom of our shoes. It felt...gross...beneath my feet. I almost slipped a couple of times. The horses were in the back of the barn in the last three stalls. As we got closer, we noticed only 2 of them were alive and they were just skin and bone. You should see every bone in their body and their neighs sounded like they were in pain and scared and they could barely stand. Their legs were close to collapsing underneath them. As I checked them out, I noticed they had rope around their necks. Why would they have ropes around their necks?
When we found the horses, three more police men showed up.
“We were the closest officers to your location. We checked out the house and we called for more back up though,” one of the officers said, almost out of breathe.
“Oh my god... what is that smell?” another said. He put his hand over his nose and mouth.
“That's what we're here to find out,” I said.
I opened the stall where the third horse should have been. I wish I didn't. The only thing left in there was the scalp of the horse... It's whole mane and the horse tail was on the ground. The tail had a giant chunk of meat at the end, still connected, where someone ripped it off the horse. Next to these things on the ground...there were three of it's hooves.
“Jesus Christ! Where did the other hoof go?! Where did the body go?!” John yelled.
We all walked away from the stall and one of the FBI agents ordered another officer to take the two remaining horses out of the barn and take them to a veterinary clinic. As we opened the stall to one of the live horses, blood was everywhere. All over the horses feet, it's mouth and in its hair. We couldn't see any wounds or anything on him though.
Around the food trough, there were flies flying around it. I walked closer and my nose started to burn. There was a lot of meat in the trough. Some of the meat was still connected to bones. But... they didn't look like... human bones. They were much too long...much larger than human bones. The joints were different. The horses had been eating the third horse whose body we couldn't find. Who the fuck does this? I thought.
“Guys... I think I found the third horse...” I said, trying not to puke.

I have my own Case File now. - PART 2

“Holy shit,” John said.
“I'm going to go back to my car and get some gloves. I'll bring some for everybody,” I said, as I walked away from the crime scene.
I started walking across the field again. I was dragging my feet as I walked to try to get some of the hay off of my shoes.
It was odd. I felt as if I was being watched as I walked through the field. I looked left and right, along the tree line, but I didn't see anybody. I turned around and still, I did not see a single person besides the officer who took the horses out of the barn. He was crouched, picking up grass, attempting to feed the horses. I turned back and walked towards the car. From the field, you walk along a fence that was along the side yard of the house. The house has 2 windows on that side. I could have been seeing things...but I swear I saw a curtain move and someones hand go behind it.
I decided to go back inside the house. I figured it was just the other officers who were called. I walked up the front steps and into the door. As I entered, I got light headed and dizzy. Everything I saw flashed and went from blue to green and back to blue. It happens though. I think I remember reading somewhere it's from adrenaline kicking in really fast.
I made my way towards the room I saw on the side of the house with the moving curtain. I've only been in this house a handful of times. Usually just Christmas or other major family events. I knew Anna from High School so her family and I were close. I found the room I'd seen the hand in and walked in. It just had a bunch of boxes in it, like a storage room. I went to the window and moved the curtains. The curtains were dusty as if they hadn't been moved in a long time. The air started getting heavy. It was almost suffocating. I didn't see anybody in that room or the room next to it which had the second window on the side of the house. I started to go to my car and I ran into one of the officers who were in charge of the crime scene in the house.
“We're almost done here. We have 1 body and... well, one head, correct? I mean... you were the first officer to enter the house, right?” he asked.
“1 body? No. There is 2 bodies and there wasn't just a head. It was a whole body and a body split in two. The upper half is mounted.” I said.
“Oh. Uh. We have the mounted body, but not a whole second body. There's the body mounted on the wall and the lower half beneath it, and a head outside. No second body,” he assured me. I walked as fast as I could into the office. He wasn't lying. The body of Annas mom was missing.
“Nobody took the body of the old woman out of here? None of your officers?!” I demanded. I was getting pretty mad.
“No! We just got here!”
“Well bodies don't just get up and walk away! Then where is the head you found?” I asked, but I assumed it was the head of Anna's mom.
“You didn't see it?” The officer asked. “It's outside. Now... keep in mind we did not touch it or move it or anything. We found it right where it is”.
I walked outside. There was a trail of brown dried blood in the dirt path going to the gravel driveway. I followed it around the back of my car and along the drivers side. The head was sitting on my hood. Who the hell put it up there? There wasn't just a decapitated head when we first got here!
I walked around to the front of my car. The head was facing that way. It was Anna's head. It was terrible. Every single one of her teeth were out of the gums and were shoved into her cheeks and forehead and her eyes were missing, as usual when it comes to Stitch.
I lost it right there. I got on my knees and began to cry. It was the first time I cried since I was a kid. With the never ending disappointment from my parents as a kid and the constant beating, I learned how to hold back my emotions at a young age. It felt good. It really did. My eyes burned and my chest hurt, but it was worth it. It felt like a sack of bricks were lifted off my chest and shoulders. I could think clearer.
“Did you know her?” the officer behind me asked.
“She was my partner at the Seattle Police Department. I've known her most of my life.” I said trying to make out a clear sentence.
Stitch is going to pay for this, I swore to myself. I got up off the ground and opened the driver side door and popped my trunk. I grabbed a pair of disposable gloves from a box along with a pair for the other officers in the barn.
“I don't want to see that on my hood when I get back. And would you mind hosing down my car?” I asked.
“Sure, I guess” he said.
I turned to walk back to the barn and just as I did, I heard a loud neigh from one of the horses. I quickly walked around the house and hopped the fence going into the pasture. I jogged over the officer who was with the horses. One of them was on the ground.
“Is it dead?” I asked.
“Yeah, it passed. We're calling in some people to come take care of this one though, if it's not too late. They should be here soon.” He said.
I walked back into the barn. Everybody else who I left in there were all standing in a circle. Everybody but John, who was sitting in a corner sobbing. I walked to the back of the barn to see what everybody was looking at. There was the rest of Anna's body. Her upper torso in the middle. Her legs and her right arm ripped off, laying feet away. She still had rope around her wrist and ankles. Stitch killed her just as the people in his village killed him. I definitely think he was trying to send a message by killing her the way he died.
“I’m gonna go, John. Do you want to come with me or catch a ride with the FBI?” I said. “Don’t leave me here with them!” he said. I nodded at him and hopped into my car as fast as I could. John got in a minute later after telling the FBI we were leaving. I didn’t think they would be following us now. I looked at the clock. 3 AM. I yawned. I was getting really tired now that the gore wasn’t fueling my adrenaline. We started driving out of Bellingham, in silence once more. Both of us were exhausted. I put the radio on to try to keep us awake.
After a while, the buildings of the city started to become sparse again. As we left the main part of town, the radio started to go to static. Every channel I tried was static. I started getting nervous because of how the videos went to static in the second victim’s death. I saw a white building start to appear in the distance ahead of us. As we pulled up, we saw it was a Catholic parish. A giant church. I usually laugh at those, but Catholic parishes aren’t considered mega churches… Something in me clicked. With all the blood, guts, and gore I’d been seeing, something in me needed to go talk to God. Maybe He could provide some insight to this case. Maybe He could help me regain my sanity and get on track to solving this case. I pulled over and parked the car.
“I’m gonna go in and talk to God for a little bit. I need some help,” I said as I unbuckled. “I’ll stay here. I’m not Christian. Jewish,” he said. “Okay,” I said.
I opened the door and got out of the car. Back into the cold. I walked into the church. I was enormous inside. It had to be to hold 2,000-plus worshipers. I walked past a few stone pillars with holy water in them. Then I walked out of the lobby and into the worship area. There were candles lit all over the place. It shown on the stained glass and made Jesus’ statue look really eerie. His crown of thorns created a shadow on his face and the blood on his hands was black as night. I walked down the aisle between the pews. I walked down one and kneeled on the ground in the middle. I put my hands together and set my forehead on them.
“God?” I started. I didn’t really know what to say. “I need help… I’m scared all the time. Paranoid…” Then all of a sudden all the candles went out. It was weird enough being alone in a church in the middle of the night, but it just got scary when all the light was gone.
I got up off my knees and looked around, spinning in circles. As I turned back around to look at the candles behind the podium, I heard loud bangs. All of the doors were being slammed shut. I turned back around to look at the doors I came in through. I slowly started walking towards them. I could barely see two feet in front of me. I stumbled a couple times on some benches, startling myself each time I made a thud. As I reached the door, on the wall next to it, I saw my shadow. There was a flickering light coming from behind me. I turned back around and saw the first and last row of candles were lit. That was when I started to hear a cracking sound.
It wasn’t a cracking sound like the fingers and necks and spines I’ve been forced to listen to the past couple of months, it sounded like plastic or even porcelain cracking. I looked up at the statue of Jesus on the cross. He had a big long crack going across his chest. It was crumbling right in the middle of his chest. I got closer, and as I got closer, it felt like the room was getting colder. I reached out to touch the statue, and as I did, the crumbling center of his chest fell out and knocked over a bunch of candles.
It knew it was Stitch. The hole was right where his heart would be. The statue started bleeding. Out of the hole, his hands, his feet, his head and his eyes.
I was back on my knees, and I closed my eyes. I’ve never done it before, but I began to pray. I didn’t know how, so I just pleaded for protection. As I was pleading, I heard laughter. That awful laugh that has been haunting me since the beginning of the case.
I needed to get out of there. I ran to the doors, but they were all locked. I started to panic. I started banging on the doors. I turned back around when I heard a loud thump. It was to the right of me. I saw a bible go flying across the room and hit one of the confession booths. I took a step forward, and as I did, more bibles began flying across the room smacking into the confession booth. Was it a sign? I had no idea. I started walking towards the booths. I knew I still wouldn’t be safe, considering what had happened to RepetitiveRoutine, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to see Stitch’s face again.
I opened the first booth and went in. I sat on the bench, buttoning up my jacket all the way and pulled the top over my mouth. Then it all started. The flame of a candle went shooting into the air in the next booth, hitting the top of the booth and going flat. As it died down, I could make out someone in there.
“Hello, my son,” the familiar, dark voice said. “Uh... Father?” I asked, gulping. “You can call me that if you like. It’s much better than what you have been calling me,” the voice said, beginning to chuckle. “Why are you doing this?” I asked. But I knew I wasn’t going to get a straight answer. “Why?” Stitch asked. “Well you went into the confession first. I am here to forgive you for your sins”. “You’re not a religious man. You’re a monster. A demon!” I yelled. Stitch then began to laugh hysterically. I sat there looking at him through the mesh between the two sections. This whole time, he was looking at the confession booth door. He didn’t look at me once. “I am going to kill you for all that you have done. For Anna!” I yelled again. I looked back up to the other booth and Stitch had his face pressed against the screen. He was smiling at me. I moved from left to right, and his face moved with me. I still don’t know how he was able to follow me like that, what with the skin stitched over his eye sockets.
I closed my eyes and put my hands on my face. It was silent. I could hear my own heartbeat. After a couple minutes, I look back up. Stitch was gone. I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. I sat back on the bench and just stared off. I can’t remember what I was thinking about, but it was deep.
All of a sudden, I heard a door open in the distance. Footsteps were getting closer and closer. They were fast paced and small. I could tell it was a girl.
“Is there anybody in the church?” she said. “Yeah. I’m… I’m in the confessional,” I said, still not fully thinking straight. “Are you ok? You sound distraught,” she asked. “Yeah I’m ok. Don’t worry about it,” I assured her. “Well why don’t you come out of there and get some fresh air,” she said.
I came out of the booth. It was still dark. There were about 5 candles lit by the podium. I tried focusing my eyes to the darkness and I began looking around. I finally saw the woman. She was a nun in the back of the church, on the opposite side of where I was. She was standing in the shadows. All I could see was the upper half of her body and her head. Something didn’t seem right about her. She just stood there. Not moving at all. Staring at me.
“Would you like to talk about anything?” she asked. As she talked, she looked almost puppet like. Her mouth moved straight up and down and her face never changed. It was expressionless.
“Are you ok?” I asked. I wasn’t sure about her. “What do you mean?” she asked, as she blinked.
Again, she blinked and her face didn’t change. It stayed stiff and plain. Her skin was extremely pale. As pale as the trimming on her habit. I felt sick. I decided I’d just go home before anything else happens.
“Uh.. I’m going to go now,” I said while walking towards the door.
The nun started moving. I could tell she wasn’t walking. It was like she was… bouncing, kind of. She stayed in the shadows though, only showing her upper half.
“I don’t trust you,” I said.
The nun started laughing. She had a high pitched girl laugh that echoed. Half way through her laugh, it started getting deeper. I knew it was Stitch now. But where was he?
“I see I can’t fool you,” his booming dark voice echoed. “Would you like to see my latest toy?” As he said that, the nun started bouncing towards the candles. I walked backwards as she got closer to the podium. My back was almost against the door.
She got in the light of the candle. I was horrified. Stitch was standing right behind her, and he also was wearing a habit. Not only was he wearing a habit, but he also had a crown of thorns on his head. It looked like his arm was around her.
“This is one of my favorites,” he said while laughing.
He started humming. I saw what was going on. He started spinning around with the nun. He wasn’t holding onto her at all. He had his left arm in her back. A big bloody hole in her back. His elbow was bent, as if his forearm and hand was in her head. He made her bounce, like a child would make a Barbie doll bounce when they would pretend the Barbie was walking. As she bounced around walking around the stage, her arms flailed in all directions. Stitch repeatedly opened her mouth and closed it. I could hear her teeth slamming shut even in the back where I was. It made my mouth hurt. He made her blink a couple of times, then he picked her up with both hands and slammed her on the ground.
“She was fun. But I’m done with her now,” he said. “I need a new thing to play with.”
He finished his sentence and I started looking around for a way out. I looked towards the statue of Jesus at the front of the room. Something about the statue was different than minutes before. I could see something in the chest. I squinted my eyes and got a little bit closer. I saw hands coming out of the hole in his chest. They were facing opposite directions. I started to get closer and with each step, I could hear someone singing some sort of religious song. It wasn't in English though so I had no idea what they were saying. I started going up the steps towards the statue. I froze in terror at what I saw next.
The hands started pulling apart the chest of the statue and a head popped out. It was RepetitiveRoutine. I recognized his hair and his face from my dream. He didn't say anything. He just crawled out of the statue and fell to the ground on what was left of his legs. He landed right on his femur and the cracking and snapping sound made me want to rip my ears off. He started pointing behind me. I didn't want to turn my back on him, but I couldn't help it. I turned around and saw Stitch standing right in front of a big stained glass window.
He ripped off his habit and started to rub his chest. He rubbed from his chest, around the burned cross on his chest up his neck and onto his face. He started humming again. And as he hummed, the main door opened again. I turned around as fast as I could to run out. I took 2 steps and then I heard bubbling. I looked up and saw the holy water was boiling. I didn’t know what to do. I turned back around and saw Stitch running towards me, full speed and yelling like a mad man.
I blacked out. I don’t remember anything after that.
When I woke up, I was in FBI custody. I was lying on a bed in the infirmary of the prison downtown. I jerked up and rubbed my face to wake myself up.
“How long have I been out?” I asked the woman on the other side of the room.
“Just a few hours. It’s 11 o’ clock in the morning. Some FBI people want to talk to you when you feel up to it,” she said. I put my feet on the ground and stretched before standing up.
“Where do they want to see me?” I asked. She pointed out the door.
“Someone’s been waiting for you outside,” she said. I walked out the door into the familiar plain hallway.
On a wooden bench on the wall, there was the man who interrogated me the first time. He gestured for me to follow when he stood up. We walked down the hall and walked into the same room we’d been in before. I sat down at the table again and waiting for something to happen. The man left the room and came back with a folder. He sat down across from me.
“Okay, first things first. We know you stole the journal in your file. But that’s not the real issue here. You’re being charged with vandalism,” he said. “What?!” I said loudly. I nearly burst from the chair I was sitting in. “What do you think I vandalized?” The answer was obvious but I couldn’t be sure. They were pinning all kinds of crap on me.
“The church,” the man said. I just shook my head at him. “I didn’t do anything. Just watch the tapes. It’s a mega church, they probably have cameras everywhere,” I said.
The man looked stunned. Apparently I was better at his job than he was. How hard is it to look at tapes before trying to convict someone of something?
“Fine,” the man said. “We’ll call you back in when we prove you did it.” I thanked him and stood up.
I walked out of the building and the sun burned my eyes. It was sunny for once. Maybe that was a good sign. Maybe my visit to the church did some good. I found my car outside. They must’ve towed it here after they found me. I got into my car and drove back to my apartment. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but the sun made me hopeful.

update on FBI, John and my charges

Hello everybody. This is Ryan. I just wanted to update you on a few things. Well... I guess there isn't much to update.
I haven't heard anything back from the FBI involving my charges of vandalism. I just hope they get the security tape from the camera that watches the main entrance to the church. They will be able to see the boiling holy water and other things that happened that even they won’t be able to explain. They'd have no choice but to drop the charges... at least I hope.
Also, John and I haven't been talking. Or even working together. He hasn't called or texted or emailed since that day. I don't even know what happened to him considering I blacked out and woke up in the prison.
Oh and that's another thing. I blacked out right as Stitch started running towards me dragging RepetitiveRoutine behind him... it wasn't a dream. It was real. I'm being charged with vandalism for it. But that's not what's confusing. What is confusing is why did Stitch not just kill me and end this? I don't understand. He had me cornered and alone. Does he like the attention? That's possible, I guess.
I still can't get all the images of what we saw that day out of my head. That bastard fed the horse to the other two horses... just left the horses hooves there on the ground along with his tail and mane. We found Anna’s head. Stitch impersonated Jesus while wearing a crown of thorns and a habit. I almost want to pass this case onto another Detective but I can't do that with good conscience. I’m not even allowed to, considering now that Anna’s gone, I’m supposed to be the best detective here… We're so close though. I know it.
This will all be over soon. I promise, reddit. You won't have to be scared any longer very soon.

Assorted Classics / A Rose For Emily by William Faulkner
« on: 03/08/19, 05:28 AM »

WHEN Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years.

It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores. And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.

Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor--he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity. Not that Miss Emily would have accepted charity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily's father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying. Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.

When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction. On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came, and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call at the sheriff's office at her convenience. A week later the mayor wrote her himself, offering to call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer went out at all. The tax notice was also enclosed, without comment.

They called a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen. A deputation waited upon her, knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier. They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow. It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. The Negro led them into the parlor. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture. When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father.

They rose when she entered--a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand.

She did not ask them to sit. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt. Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain.

Her voice was dry and cold. "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves."

"But we have. We are the city authorities, Miss Emily. Didn't you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him?"

"I received a paper, yes," Miss Emily said. "Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see We must go by the--"

"See Colonel Sartoris. I have no taxes in Jefferson."

"But, Miss Emily--"

"See Colonel Sartoris." (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) "I have no taxes in Jefferson. Tobe!" The Negro appeared. "Show these gentlemen out."


So SHE vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.

That was two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believed would marry her --had deserted her. After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. A few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received, and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man--a young man then--going in and out with a market basket.

"Just as if a man--any man--could keep a kitchen properly, "the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons.

A neighbor, a woman, complained to the mayor, Judge Stevens, eighty years old.

"But what will you have me do about it, madam?" he said.

"Why, send her word to stop it," the woman said. "Isn't there a law? "

"I'm sure that won't be necessary," Judge Stevens said. "It's probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. I'll speak to him about it."

The next day he received two more complaints, one from a man who came in diffident deprecation. "We really must do something about it, Judge. I'd be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily, but we've got to do something." That night the Board of Aldermen met--three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation.

"It's simple enough," he said. "Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don't. .."

"Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?"

So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily's lawn and slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings. As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol. They crept quietly across the lawn and into the shadow of the locusts that lined the street. After a week or two the smell went away.

That was when people had begun to feel really sorry for her. People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn't have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized.

When her father died, it got about that the house was all that was left to her; and in a way, people were glad. At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized. Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less.

The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly.

We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.


SHE WAS SICK for a long time. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows--sort of tragic and serene.

The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks, and in the summer after her father's death they began the work. The construction company came with niggers and mules and machinery, and a foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee--a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the niggers, and the niggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. Pretty soon he knew everybody in town. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group. Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable.

At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, "Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer." But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige- -
without calling it noblesse oblige. They just said, "Poor Emily. Her kinsfolk should come to her." She had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no communication between the two families. They had not even been represented at the funeral.

And as soon as the old people said, "Poor Emily," the whispering began. "Do you suppose it's really so?" they said to one another. "Of course it is. What else could . . ." This behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed: "Poor Emily."

She carried her head high enough--even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness. Like when she bought the rat poison, the arsenic. That was over a year after they had begun to say "Poor Emily," and while the two female cousins were visiting her.

"I want some poison," she said to the druggist. She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper's face ought to look. "I want some poison," she said.

"Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats and such? I'd recom--"

"I want the best you have. I don't care what kind."

The druggist named several. "They'll kill anything up to an elephant. But what you want is--"

"Arsenic," Miss Emily said. "Is that a good one?"

"Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma'am. But what you want--"

"I want arsenic."

The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag. "Why, of course," the druggist said. "If that's what you want. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for."

Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up. The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn't come back. When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: "For rats."


So THE NEXT day we all said, "She will kill herself"; and we said it would be the best thing. When she had first begun to be seen with Homer Barron, we had said, "She will marry him." Then we said, "She will persuade him yet," because Homer himself had remarked--he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks' Club--that he was not a marrying man. Later we said, "Poor Emily" behind the jalousies as they passed on Sunday afternoon in the glittering buggy, Miss Emily with her head high and Homer Barron with his hat cocked and a cigar in his teeth, reins and whip in a yellow glove.

Then some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace to the town and a bad example to the young people. The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister--Miss Emily's people were Episcopal-- to call upon her. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again. The next Sunday they again drove about the streets, and the following day the minister's wife wrote to Miss Emily's relations in Alabama.

So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments. At first nothing happened. Then we were sure that they were to be married. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler's and ordered a man's toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men's clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said, "They are married." We were really glad. We were glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.

So we were not surprised when Homer Barron--the streets had been finished some time since--was gone. We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off, but we believed that he had gone on to prepare for Miss Emily's coming, or to give her a chance to get rid of the cousins. (By that time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily's allies to help circumvent the cousins.) Sure enough, after another week they departed. And, as we had expected all along, within three days Homer Barron was back in town. A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening.

And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron. And of Miss Emily for some time. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets. Then we knew that this was to be expected too; as if that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman's life so many times had been too virulent and too furious to die.

When we next saw Miss Emily, she had grown fat and her hair was turning gray. During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning. Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man.

From that time on her front door remained closed, save for a period of six or seven years, when she was about forty, during which she gave lessons in china-painting. She fitted up a studio in one of the downstairs rooms, where the daughters and granddaughters of Colonel Sartoris' contemporaries were sent to her with the same regularity and in the same spirit that they were sent to church on Sundays with a twenty-five-cent piece for the collection plate. Meanwhile her taxes had been remitted.

Then the newer generation became the backbone and the spirit of the town, and the painting pupils grew up and fell away and did not send their children to her with boxes of color and tedious brushes and pictures cut from the ladies' magazines. The front door closed upon the last one and remained closed for good. When the town got free postal delivery, Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them.

Daily, monthly, yearly we watched the Negro grow grayer and more stooped, going in and out with the market basket. Each December we sent her a tax notice, which would be returned by the post office a week later, unclaimed. Now and then we would see her in one of the downstairs windows--she had evidently shut up the top floor of the house--like the carven torso of an idol in a niche, looking or not looking at us, we could never tell which. Thus she passed from generation to generation--dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.

And so she died. Fell ill in the house filled with dust and shadows, with only a doddering Negro man to wait on her. We did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up trying to get any information from the Negro

He talked to no one, probably not even to her, for his voice had grown harsh and rusty, as if from disuse.

She died in one of the downstairs rooms, in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight.


THE NEGRO met the first of the ladies at the front door and let them in, with their hushed, sibilant voices and their quick, curious glances, and then he disappeared. He walked right through the house and out the back and was not seen again.

The two female cousins came at once. They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers, with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men --some in their brushed Confederate uniforms--on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.

Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced. They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it.

The violence of breaking down the door seemed to fill this room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights, upon the dressing table, upon the delicate array of crystal and the man's toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent in the dust. Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.

The man himself lay in the bed.

For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.

Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.


"Oh, here they come." squawked Denise as the pack of lab coats rounded the corner. Phoebe looked on from the nurses station, intrigued. It was always fun watching the up-and-coming doctors at work, learning and developing their skills. The flock was rather large this time around and, from what she had overheard, brimming with talent. Phoebe set her chin to rest in the palm of her hand, fingertips against her left temple amidst a thicket of brown curls. A smirk cracked across her face.


The swarm of interns rushed around the bay, taking note of the room as a whole. The tile floors were still polished to a mirror shine from the night before. The sterile smell of the hospital was particularly strong here. Around them, there was an open area lined with beds, some of which were occupied with patients of various ages and with various conditions. Blue curtains were positioned such that each bed could be isolated behind them, though most were left open. The group approached the bed of an older man with thinning gray hair and a more-than-obvious beer gut. Leading the pack was Doctor Marie Harrier, who boasted a double PhD at the age of 23.

"Mr. Mason has been experiencing stomach troubles and occasional blood in his stool. What diagnosis would you put forth, based on his prior medical history?" Harrier gave a quick glance into the crowd. "Bevins?"

"U-uh, my first guess would be Crohn's disease, ma'am."

"And I would be inclined to agree with you, but we do not simply guess here. Take note: Show confidence in your answers to questions of this nature, even if you do not believe them wholeheartedly. Having a straight answer to a patient is far better than beating around the bush because you aren't sure." Each member of the group scribbled onto the pages held by their clipboards. "Now, what sort of treatment would you recommend, Neuberry?"

Hanson perked up from his clipboard. "Normally, I'd say Azathioprine, but given his stomach troubles, he may be more responsive to an anti-inflammatory regimen to begin with."

"He's tryin' to play it safe." Denise chattered in a hushed tone from behind Phoebe. "That's one way to go, but it's less effective. He should have just gone with the immune suppressors."

"Yeah, but Mr. Mason is gettin' up there in years, and immune suppressors may be too much for him." Phoebe offered in response.

"That is a possible treatment plan," Harrier responded, "but there is a good chance that it won't have the desired effect. Patients expect results, and as a doctor it will be your job to provide them."

"Yes, ma'am." Hanson's expression dropped to a downcast state for a split second, before snapping back to attention. The group hurried onward to the next patient in line.

"See. I told you." Denise gave a light slap to Phoebe's arm.

"You say that like I was the one in that crowd putting my career on the line." Phoebe retorted with a vindictive smile. "It's not my problem if they get it wrong, as long as I'm not involved in the fallout."

But her thoughts said otherwise. Phoebe was intrigued by the rounds process, by watching doctors hurry and scurry around. She knew fully well that most of what the doctors did was, in fact, the work of the nursing staff. Still, it was interesting to see their minds at work. Each one had a different style, a different way of talking to patients, of forming ideas, of dealing with decisions. All of that was on display for her and her cohort 24/7, and yet it never seemed to get old. It wasn't the people that intrigued her so much, but rather the clockwork within their heads.

But, alas, the flock had departed, and it was back to work as usual. An uneventful day followed the brief training session, a rarity for Phoebe. The day was almost dull with how little was going on. A few pillows fluffed, pills delivered, and bedpans exchanged, but nothing severe: no codes, no dire admittances, no flat-lines. This was the sort of day that left Phoebe sluggish; not drained or exhausted, but slowed and shambling, moving only to accomplish a task and proceed to the next.

When midday came and it was time for a break, Phoebe found that she was having trouble keeping her eyes open. Stumbling her way into the cafeteria, she was surprised to find that Denise was nowhere in sight. Confusion crossed through her mind, but was eased by virtue of memory as Phoebe recalled an impromptu change in personnel around this time that was discussed the day prior.

Her worries put to rest, Phoebe now had the conundrum of where to sit. Normally, it would be with Denise, as they were on the same shift, but her replacement was Garret, a boorish, overconfident man who had made it a point to be obnoxiously forward with Phoebe at every opportunity. This, of course, was not an exercise that she wished to entertain, and so was at a loss for an alternative.

The room was filled nearly to capacity, as it seemed that the intern conglomeration had all been dismissed at once. Most of the tables were completely taken up, with only sparse occupation of other seats. Phoebe's eye caught one of the interns sitting in solitude, despite the table being large enough to accommodate up to four. He seemed lost in thought, and downtrodden in expression. She decided to introduce herself, and provide a little encouragement.

"Hey there." she said, her tray clacking quietly against the table. She swiveled her chair into place, getting a good look at the man. His hair was layered with black and brown, and despite being in fair order, Phoebe guessed that it was only because of the gel that locked it in place. The rest of his appearance, though in good shape in general, was at this point in time disheveled, radiating exhaustion. Phoebe could tell there were dark rings beginning to form around his eyes from lack of sleep. Still, he clearly valued the opportunity; he was freshly shaven, and a hint of cologne met her nose.

He looked up, seemingly out of his own thoughts, as she sat down. Lifting his head, he was surprised to see anyone choosing to sit with him. "O-oh, hi. Sorry, it's just been a long day, and I'm a bit out of it, and, uh..." he stumbled over his own words. Phoebe let out a small laugh, mildly amused by the awkward response she had forced.

"Don't worry about it. It's pretty common for the interns to wind up like that. It's something you learn to live with, or find a way around. One of the two." She chuckled again. "I'm Phoebe, one of the nurses here." she said as she stretched out a hand.

He took it carefully, replying "Hanson. Neuberry." Her Bostonian accent was clearly evident. He surmised that she was probably born and raised in Massachusetts.

"Garrigs." she offered in return, before clarifying, "My last name."

"A pleasure." he offered politely, though the strain in his voice was still apparent.

"Weren't you the one that was supposed to give a treatment for Mr. Mason?"

"Who?" Hanson gave a momentary puzzled look, but remembered. "Oh, the Crohn's patient. Yeah, I didn't really get full marks for that one." he said, embarrassed and absentmindedly running his fingers though his hair.

"Yeah, I noticed. But, if it's any consolation, I thought it was a good call to make."

"Yeah?" he said, unconvinced.

"Mmhmm. Some of the doctors here can be really aggressive with their treatments. I get that they want to cure the patient and get 'em out of here, but sometimes there's got to be a limit."

"So, you think an approach like that would do this place some good?"

"Oh yeah. You ask me, we need more people like that."

"Well, how flattering." Hanson retorted in a playfully mocking tone.

There was a moment of silence between the two, each understanding that they had struck a chord with one another.

"So, what are you in for?" Phoebe inquired.

"Huh? In for?" Hanson was once again perplexed.

Phoebe gave a small chuckle. "I mean what sorta field are you going into? What's your specialty gonna be?"

"Oh. Uh, hehe..." Hanson's voice trailed off at that.

"You have picked a specialty, haven't you?"

"Y-yeah, I have. It's just.." Hanson cut off once again.

"Just, what?" Phoebe pressed for more information. Her curiosity was growing as he not-so-tactfully evaded her question.

Hanson took a breath, and sighed deeply. "Surgeon." Phoebe's expression changed, her eyebrows raised as high as she could press them. "I know," Hanson continued, "no chance in hell, right?"

"N-no, no, it's not that. I'm just surprised is all." She tried desperately to backpedal and save face. "I mean, surgery is a major role. It's not something you can just go and do. Surely you know that."

"So, you're saying I can't do it."

"No. Th-that's not what I meant." Phoebe struggled with her words. Her cheeks reddened as she realized how deep a hole she was digging herself into. She closed her eyes and collected her thoughts for a brief moment, before speaking up again. "All I'm sayin' is that if you're gonna go that route, you gotta make sure you're ready."

Hanson did his best to smile through the comment, backhanded as he felt it was. "Yeah. I get it."

Phoebe let out a small sigh of relief. "Good."

"So, how do I know if I'm good enough?"

The question caught her off guard. She hadn't really interacted much with the interns before, and so had never been asked to evaluate their performance, much less on skills she hadn't seen them perform.

"W-well, I guess it all comes down to execution. Can you do the job and keep the patient alive? I'd say that's a good place to start."

"Yeah, I suppose. But that's only causing another problem. We're obviously not permitted to operate on live patients so early into it. How the hell are we supposed to learn anything like that?"

Phoebe glanced around, as though worried that she'd be overheard.

"I think they have some mock-ups somewhere around here that you're supposed to practice on." she said, unsure of whether it was her place to give out that sort of information.

"Oh yeah?" Hanson's head perked up slightly, and he seemed more alert. "Whereabouts?"

"I'm honestly not sure. I guess they'd be near the operating room. Maybe Dr. Harrier would be willing to show you, if you asked."

"Heh. That may not be a bad idea." He stood from the table, tray in hand. Most of the food remained uneaten on it. "Thanks."

"Ooh, are you headed out? Mind if I snag your fries?"

Hanson chuckled at the urgency with which she asked the question. "Sure thing." he said with a smile, setting the small, cardboard carton down onto her tray. "I'll see you around."

"Mmm, you too." Phoebe replied through a mouth full of sliced spuds.

Despite her scatterbrained appearance in that moment, however, her mind was racing to figure him out. How was someone like that going to turn himself into a surgeon? It'd happened before, no doubt, but he just didn't seem very confident in his abilities. She found herself looking forward to what he would become.


Months went by, and the cycle of interns shifted. A new batch was brought in, and the previous flock was set to their own course. Phoebe looked on with great interest as the fresh minds went to work on their rounds.

"So, you got a favorite yet?" Denise crooned into her ear.

Phoebe recoiled slightly, a slight sense of violation sending a shiver down her spine. The feeling passed though, and despite being mildly discomforted by her companion, Phoebe replied, "They all just got here. Kinda hard to pick a favorite out of a nameless swarm of lab coats."

"I'm not talking about them." Denise said through a giggle. "I'm talking about the last set. They've all set out to be full-fledged doctors, saving lives..." She clasped her hands together and turned her head upward in feigned wanderlust. "Surely, by now you've found at least one you like." she said, turning to Phoebe and out of her mock performance.

"Well, yeah, a few. I feel like most of 'em just went along with Harrier, though. They're all too aggressive with treatment, and that's gonna put a lotta strain on a lotta people, includin' us." Phoebe spoke as she moved, organizing a stack of charts that she had been neglecting.

"Well, I happen to know that there's at least one that you're 'interested' in." Denise nudged Phoebe's side, a clear hint of her meaning.

"W-what? What are you talkin' about." Phoebe looked around frantically, her cheeks turning a deep shade of red.

"Hah! You can't even hide it. I knew it."

"Yeah, say it louder, won't ya." Phoebe whispered through grit teeth. "I think some people in China didn't hear you."

"Oh come on. You know I'm just teasing."

"Yeah, well knock it off."

"So, who is the lucky guy?" Denise asked, her chin resting upon her interlaced fingers.

"I thought you knew all about him already." Phoebe retorted in a somewhat mocking tone.

"Oh, no, not at all. I've seen you talkin' with someone recently, but I got no clue who he is. I was just tryin' to get a reaction outta ya."

"Pfft. Some friend you are."

"Come on, seriously. I wanna know."

"You always wanna know." Phoebe raised her voice, genuinely aggravated with Denise's prodding. "Maybe I just want to keep this to myself for now, at least until I'm sure this is something I actually want."

"Fine." Denise put her hands up in defense. "Fair's fair. I'm mostly just happy you're puttin' yourself out there. It's about damn time."

"Watch your language, ladies. You're on the clock." A stern voice arose from behind Phoebe. Turning to investigate, the pair watched as Dr. Harrier strode quickly around the corner.

"Sorry, Doctor." Denise offered in response. Harrier's pace didn't slow, and seconds later, she was back out of sight.

"Well, in any case, you'll probably get to know him a whole lot better soon. We're really hittin' things off. I'm just waitin' for him to ask me somewhere."

"You don't think that's a little archaic?" Denise asked, skeptical.

"I think it's romantic, and nice." Phoebe retorted, partly in jest.

"Well, just don't wait too long. He might give up if you don't seem interested."

"I don't think I've gotta worry about that." Phoebe replied as a loud tone alerted her to a request for her help. She jogged around the desk before heading down the hall, toward the source of the page.

After brief preparation, Phoebe entered the operating room to find the chief of surgery, Dr. Barlow, and the newly-christened Dr. Neuberry. The patient was an elderly woman, likely in her mid-70's. Her abdominal region was exposed to the room, the rest of her covered with a blue blanket. Bright lights hung from swivels in the ceiling, allowing for each to be adjusted. Surgical instruments were laid out carefully on a rolling metal tray-table. The door clattered closed behind Phoebe as she entered, gloved hands held in such a way as to not contaminate them.

"What have we got?" she asked, her voice muffled slightly by the mask.

"Foreign object in the stomach." The surgeon spoke with a deep baritone, almost stereotypical for his African-American heritage. "It's rather large, and the procedure should be relatively simple. As such, I'm allowing Dr. Neuberry to lead on this one. You and I are here to make sure everything goes smoothly." Dr. Barlow then turned to Hanson. "You may proceed."

"Alright." Hanson said, stretching his hands inside the latex gloves. "DuraPrep." Barlow set a short, sponge-tipped wand/syringe into his outstretched hand. Writing on the handle portion of the wand gave instructions for use, but Hanson went straight to work applying the sterilization liquid to the patient's abdomen. As he went, an amber solution liberally coated the work area.

"Scalpel." Hanson requested, handing the wand back to Barlow.

"Which one, Dr. Neuberry?" Barlow asked, clearly testing Hanson on his basic knowledge.

"A-ah, 10." Hanson considered his options again. "N-no, wait, 20."

"Are you sure?" Barlow's tone was both scolding and questioning at once.

"Y-yes." Hanson replied, uncertain and unnerved.

Barlow retrieved the requested blade and set it gingerly in Hanson's hand. "Thank you." Hanson said quickly. Phoebe could sense that something was off. Hanson's movements had become a bit more jittery, a bit more twitchy. These traits were slight, but present nonetheless. She knew what was going to come next.

Sure enough, as Hanson lowered the knife-point to the woman's abdomen, his hands began to shake ever-so-slightly. He realized it immediately, and took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves. To no avail, it seemed, and the tremors grew more intense. Soon both his hands were shaking so badly that he could barely hold the delicate handle of the lancet.

"Is something wrong, Doctor?" said Barlow, more telling than asking.

"N-no, no, I'm fine." Hanson replied, but the shaking persisted.

Barlow sighed beneath his mask. "Why don't you step out. I can handle this from here."

"N-no, I want to do this." he almost shouted in response. However, as he turned to face Dr. Barlow, his fingers parted just enough for the scalpel to slip free. The tiny metal blade clinked and clattered loudly on the tile below.

"That's enough." Barlow tried to sound calm and reassuring, but his tone came across as stern. "Clearly, you are not in suitable shape to be performing surgery at this time. Please, step out of the OR."

Hanson fumed, but didn't argue. He turned to leave in a huff, throwing the doors open wide. As they clattered back into place, Phoebe looked to Dr. Barlow.

"You may be dismissed as well, miss Garrigs. I only paged you so I could have a little help overseeing his first attempt. Obviously, that's no longer the case." Barlow gestured to the slowly-rocking double doors, illustrating his point.

Phoebe also did not argue. Her concerns lay elsewhere. She, too, exited the operating room, carefully opening and closing the door so as not to disturb Barlow further. Once in the prep room, she found Hanson standing over a sink, hair dripping with water. His hands, though pressed to the rim of the sink, were still barely quivering.

"Damn it." Hanson growled through his teeth.

"Hey, don't worry about it. Nerves are a tough thing to overcome."

"Don't give me that. I should be able to do this by now. I'm so far behind. Why can't I just get it?" He was practically shouting at this point, his head now pressed against the mirror above the basin.

"Alright, alright. Calm down. It's not as big a deal as you're makin' it out to be." Phoebe put a hand on Hanson's shoulder. "All it'll take is some more practice with the dummies."

"I do practice. All the time; every free moment, I spend here trying to improve."

"That's great, but all this does is make you better at surgery. It doesn't make you a better surgeon." Phoebe turned him to look at her, and offered a small smile. She knew the best thing to do was to be patient with him. He would come around, she was sure of it. "How's about we clear that head o' yours?"

"Yeah," he retorted, still clearly upset. "how do you plan on doing that?"

"By askin' you where you're takin' me tonight." she said. Hands behind her back, she rocked slowly left and right on one foot.

"Huh? What are you..." Hanson cut himself off, understanding what she was asking of him. "Ahh, alright. I suppose that'll work." he said, cracking a smile. "How about Vennetti's, a few blocks from here?"

"Ooh, I haven't been there in a couple years." Phoebe tittered, excited by what her newly-hooked date had in store for her. Funnily, Hanson was feeling much the same curiosity for what she had planned.

Dinner Date

The atmosphere of the restaurant was a welcome change compared to the constant bustle and ambient whine of the hospital. Here, with the lights dimmed, the booths well padded, and uniforms exchanged for more formal attire, Hanson and Phoebe felt relaxed. In truth, this was the most relieved either had felt for months, perhaps years, even with the sense of demand for small talk and polite gestures. In truth, Phoebe thought much of that was outdated, a remnant of the past that only served to complicate the present. But Hanson, unaware of her thoughts, had gone all out and was carefully considering his every word and movement, afraid of doing the wrong thing.

The waitress returned with two large plates of Italian cuisine. Placed before Phoebe, the first was piled high with a generous helping of spaghetti and meatballs. The aroma was a bit too much, and she started in on the meal before Hanson could be given his, a chicken and tortellini dish drenched with Alfredo sauce.

"Wow, you must be really hungry." Hanson remarked, hooking a noodle with his fork.

"Mmhmm." Phoebe swallowed her mouthful of pasta. "Are you kiddin' me? This place is great, and I haven't eaten all day."

"You shouldn't do that you know. It's bad for your health." Hanson joked, causing both of them to chuckle through their food. "But seriously, do you really like spaghetti that much?"

"Meh. I suppose so. I mean, it's pretty good as spaghetti goes, but I guess I don't like it any more than other types of noodles."

"That's fair. It is a classic." Hanson held up one of his tortellini. "I can't get enough of these things. They're like a miniature meal all on their own."

Phoebe giggled in response. "Yeah, I know what ya mean. Those are probably my favorite types o' noodles. Those and raviolis, pretty much for the same reason."

"So, why'd you get spaghetti, then?" Hanson tactfully countered, a smug grin on his face as he leaned in.

"Because," Phoebe mockingly retorted, an equally smug smile adorning her face, "in addition to classic pasta dishes, I also like classic movies."

Hanson had to take a minute to try to correlate what he just heard. "I don't get what you mean."

"Ah, come on. Ya never seen 'Lady an' the Tramp'?"

Hanson gave a small laugh at this. "Ah, now I see. That was a really good movie. And, you're right, the spaghetti scene is classic."

"Would you like to try a bite?" Phoebe offered her plate, twirling some noodles around on her fork.

"Sure. Never had it from here." Hanson reached across the table with his own fork, spooling some pasta for himself before carrying it over his own plate and carefully maneuvering it into his mouth. Phoebe was a bit underwhelmed that her date hadn't picked up on the hint, but she decided to let it go.

"So, how are things goin' for ya around the hospital. Gettin' taught by the chief o' surgery is a pretty big honor, don't ya think?"

Hanson's face switched from delight at the taste of the pasta to one of bittersweet melancholy. "Yeah, it's a huge honor to embarrass myself in front of him."

"Hey now, you didn't embarrass yourself." Phoebe offered consoling words, but they seemed to fall on deaf ears.

"I can't think of anything else to call that. I locked up, terrified, and damn near dropped a scalpel into a patient. It's pathetic. I should be better than that by now." Hanson's voice had lowered, as though he were trying to restrain a shout, instead reducing it to a mere rumble. His hands had curled into half-fists without his knowledge. Phoebe, however, had taken note, and reached her own hands out to clasp his.

"You think you're the first to do that? I'll be Dr. Barlow has seen all sorts o' embarrassing stuff from residents, way worse than that. Maybe you should ask him. He might be able ta tell you a story or two."

Hanson was still disgruntled, but he couldn't really argue with that. She was probably right, but it didn't make him feel much better. Nonetheless, he appreciated the gesture, and requited it by turning to look her in the eyes.

"Even if that's true, it still doesn't make me any better."

"Well, you just gotta practice more."

"I already told you, I do practice. All the time." Hanson was getting exasperated with repeating himself.

"That's not what I mean." Phoebe took a moment to think of how best to explain. "When you're workin' on one o' the dummies, what are ya' thinkin' about?"

"Huh? What do you mean? I'm thinking about the work, obviously. About making sure I don't mess up."

"You're thinkin' about cuttin' the plastic veins, holding open the rubber skin with your tools, taking out bags of water that represent organs." Hanson was starting to catch on. "That stuff might make you good at the technical side of things, but it don't prepare you for the real deal."

"Yeah. Yeah, I see what you mean." Hanson said, his mood lightening. "So, I just need to get to the point where it feels like I'm working on real, living people, so it won't freak me out when I actually do."

"Right! It's all about the mindset. If you go in like you're a real surgeon workin' on a real patient, you'll get better at workin' that way."

"That makes a lot of sense. You're right, I should definitely do that from now on." Hanson gave a big smile to his new muse. "What say I make you a deal?"

"Well," she said, hands crossed with her chin resting upon them, "what sort of deal are we talkin' about?"

Hanson turned toward a member of the staff. "Excuse me, waitress."

The woman approached the table. "What would you like?" Hanson held up his menu, pointing to an item on it. Phoebe was intrigued. Clearly, he had something in mind, and making her wait was only making it more enticing to hear.

"Well, what is it?" she asked as the waitress departed.

"I've got a lot on my plate at work, and it's not going very well, but you have inspired me." he replied, half-mockingly. "You saw how I was today. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't professional. Would you say I'm ready to be a surgeon like that?"

"I-I suppose not," Phoebe tried to be tactful in her reply, "but you..."

"Ah ah ah." he quickly cut her off, finger held aloft. "Don't beat me to the punch line. Here's what I propose."

The waitress returned with two slender glasses and a bottle the shade of forest green. The cork of the bottle was sealed in place with red wax, mostly for decorative purposes as it was quickly removed. Phoebe couldn't quite make out the vintage. Hanson took the bottle and glasses, thanking the waitress before she left. Uncorking it, he continued.

"In, let's say, two weeks, I will make myself into a proper surgeon. I'll be adept enough to do the job, and I'll be confident and prepared enough to see it through without so much as a shiver." He looked up at her, away from the glass he had just filled with the red liquid.

"If, in two weeks, I am able to do that," he proceeded, now starting to fill her glass, "I would like your permission to take you home, to celebrate."

Phoebe was in shock, both at how she felt about the surprise he had called for, and at what he was asking her to agree to. Pictured scenarios rushed through her head at dizzying speed, which only served to make her more anxious. Still, she found that she wanted much the same for him as he wanted for himself. She wanted him to succeed, and she wanted a relationship with him. If he could actually do what he said, it would serve to accomplish both, and even if he failed it wouldn't have to be the end. She saw no real downside, besides her currently-present bashfulness.

"A-alright." she said, claiming her glass. "Sounds like a deal."

He reached out with his own glass, and they toasted to their new wager. Both of them were excited by the prospect, and eager to see what the future held.


The days went by in a blur. All Phoebe could think about was that promise, that bet that she had made. Was she actually willing to go through with that? Maybe, maybe not, but she gave her word. "That should count for something." she assured herself. She made the call then, so what reason did she have to distrust it now?

Perhaps she was on edge because Hanson was being so distant with her. They didn't go out again during those fourteen days. In fact, though they saw each other in passing nearly every day, they rarely spoke. He seemed more on edge every time she saw him, and it was only getting worse. She started questioning what she may have done for him to behave that way, but when she confronted him about it, he assured her that it wasn't to do with her. He was just stressed out from preparing, and things were getting tougher than he anticipated.

When the day finally came, she made sure to personally request to have a viewable operating room. Dr. Barlow was surprised that she cared, but explained that Hanson had already made the same request some days prior. This put Phoebe at ease; after all, why would he do this if he wasn't still determined to make good on his bet? At the same time, though, she was growing more anxious.

She caught him in the prep room before the procedure. He heard her walk in, and turned to look as he washed his hands and arms.

"Come to cheer me on? We've got a whole viewing room for that." He gestured awkwardly to the ceiling. He seemed split, at once on edge and calm. The duality was a strange sight. Clearly, he was feeling the pressure, but he was also versed in handling it by this point. Phoebe took this as a sign of progress.

"Just making sure you're ready for this." Phoebe knew not to interrupt his preparations, and instead stood with her hands together at her waist. A nervous tic showed through as her fingers wrapped around one another.

"I'm ready. No doubt." He finished rinsing his hands and held them aloft as he made his way to the gloves. "I gave myself a challenge. Excision of a tumor resting on the heart. You'll see. I'm gonna kill it in there."

"I hope ya don't mean that literally." Phoebe joked. Hanson just kept going, though, sheathing his most valuable tools in latex. His face still showed the same determined expression, but beyond it, Phoebe could spot that he was exhausted and fearful as well.

Hanson hooked the ends of the surgical mask around his ears and turned to Phoebe. "You should head up. It's showtime." With that, he pressed his back to the swinging door, and disappeared into the operating room.

Phoebe wasn't sure of what just happened. They hadn't talked for a while, but he seemed so different. Before, he was bumbling and self-critical, but he was also earnest, kind, and genuine. The man she had just spoken with showed anxiety and over-tiredness and fear, masked by a forced calmness. It was as though he was a completely different person.

She made her way up to the observation room. Most of the prep work for the operation itself had been taken care of beforehand, and it wasn't long before it was underway. Hanson requested some music to play in the room during the procedure. Some mid-tempo R&B song that Phoebe had never heard before. She didn't know that he liked that kind of music, and while she didn't particularly dislike it, she found it a bit distasteful.

Soon after, he set to work. "Scalpel, 22." Dr. Barlow passed the nearly-round blade to Hanson. He moved surprisingly quickly, each of his cuts precise and clean. It would seem that his confidence in his choice was well founded, and Phoebe was stunned with how much progress he had made. If she didn't know better, she'd say he had been a surgeon for years. As bloody as the scene was, it was minimal compared to what she expected.

Once inside, he held back his lancet-wielding hand. "Number 15C." Barlow again retrieved the desired blade, trading it for the bloody knife. Instead of cracking the rib cage, Hanson instead worked around it. Phoebe was sure this would be devastating, as doing so is nearly impossible. However, Hanson made it work, mostly due to the location of the tumor, being on the offset portion of the heart. This put it out of the way of the breastbone, and thus possible to excise without moving the ribs.

Hanson's hand was perfectly steady, no hint of the hesitation or fear the was all too present just moments before. With tiny motions and careful cuts, he meticulously liberated the edges of the tumor from the heart wall. Slowly, but surely, the body of the tumor was sliced away and removed. Phoebe was in awe. Clearly, he was dedicated, and a capable learner. He had adapted to the strain, and now was one of the most competent surgeons she had ever seen.

Two hours later, the operation was over. The patient was wheeled to a clean room to recover, and Phoebe thought she could see him chuckling to himself. He seemed both relieved and distraught, but she couldn't deny what he had just done. She left the room, descending the staircase as fast as she could to meet up with him.

"A deal's a deal, eh. I told you I'd do it." Hanson said, out of breath, as she entered the room, pulling his mask away and discarding it along with his gloves. He started in on washing his hands, a precaution against infection.

"Sure, yeah, a deal's a deal. Now, tell me how you did that." Phoebe rushed through her words, still baffled by the spectacle.

Hanson held a hand up to her. "Oh no no no. That wasn't part of the bargain."

"Oh don't give me that. That was incredible. I've seen surgeons that have been in the game for years struggle with that sorta thing. A novice like you, that patient shoulda been dead."

"Hey, no need to insult me. I'm not a novice anymore. I told you, I practiced with those stupid mannequins every single day for hours on end. I got really, really good at that part of it."

"Sure, but when I last saw you operate, you were so terrified that you couldn't even hold a scalpel. What happened?"

"I got over it." he turned to look her in the eye. He gave her a look that seemed to be proud, but there was something else that she couldn't pinpoint. Something about it put her on edge. She didn't ask anything further, only requesting his address so she could get there later. He gladly provided it. With that, the conversation ended. Phoebe shuffled away, perturbed. A cold sensation pervaded her spine. What did I get myself into?


As she pulled into the driveway, Phoebe couldn't help but feel overwhelmed. The cobbled path that her car now sat upon was only an introductory piece. It led the way to the grandiosity that was Hanson's home. Three stories tall, Phoebe was sure it had to contain at least thirty rooms. Its features were Victorian in appearance, though modern amenities like a steel-door, two car garage were present as well.

Phoebe stepped out into the cold night air, a light jacket wrapped around her shoulders. She decided to go with something somewhat formal: a dress shirt, skirt, and low heels. A pair of opal earrings that she was sure were fake complemented the thin pearl necklace that she paid good money to ensure was real. She made her way to the door, her footsteps echoing off of the cobblestones. As she reached the steps in front of the entryway, she took note of the knocker, a large brass lion head. She opted to use the doorbell instead, though found that it, too, was indicative of an older era. The tone was very deep, such that it would not have been out of place in the Elizabeth Tower.

Hanson answered the door proudly, a glass of wine in hand. He wore black duo of dress shirt and pants, with socks to match. His shirt was untucked, and the top button undone. Phoebe guessed that he had a pair of shoes to match somewhere in the house.

"Perfect timing. I was about to start in." Hanson turned and beckoned her to come inside. She didn't like the way she felt around the place, but entered anyway to get out of the chill.

Inside, she was greeted by a large parlor room, opulent in its design. A massive mosaic made up the polished floor, and support pillars rimmed with what appeared to be gold were openly displayed. Several cushioned chairs were placed sparsely to the left and right of the doorway, small tables just to the sides accentuating them. They seemed inviting, almost hoping that someone would sit in them and enjoy a good book with a cup of tea. However, with no bookshelves in sight, they seemed to be more decorative than anything.

Ahead, a massive staircase covered tightly in a long carpet led to a balconied second floor. Doors lined the walls above, and a few more were placed on the ground floor. One doorway to the right had no door, and led to what seemed to be a dining room. The long table within was covered with a white lace tablecloth, and Phoebe spotted the edge of a silver candlestick, complete with tapered candle ready to be lit. Above, as with the parlor she was in, the light of a crystal chandelier could be seen.

"Well? Whadyathink?" Hanson gestured toward the room as a whole, a hopeful smile on his face.

"It's not what I expected, that's for sure." she replied, taking in another sweep of the place. "I like the decor, but it seems a bit sparse, I guess."

"Hehe, yeah, I suppose so." Hanson absentmindedly scratched the back of his head. "I never really liked it either. Too open. Great for running around as a kid, but not so much for living here as an adult."

Phoebe could understand what he meant. Something about the way he said it, though, brought back the same, uncomfortable feeling as before. He hadn't said anything bad, but she still felt unease.

Pushing her irrational discomfort out of mind, she asked "So, which way are we headed?"

Hanson perked up, remembering the reason she was here. "O-oh, this way. Down to one of the basement levels. It's the most comfortable place in the house. I spend most nights down there anymore." He held his glass aloft. "It's where I keep this, after all, hehe."

Phoebe was hardly impressed, but followed nonetheless. As they walked, she tried to rationalize how he could be so different now. He used to be really nice and sweet, but now he's just really nervous. Something must have happened during the week they were apart that made him this way. But what could do that to a person?

He led her to a short, descending stairway that led to a fully furnished recreation room. It was warmer than she expected it to be, considering it was in the basement. The white carpet was soft beneath her feet. A pool table complete with a ready rack and cues stood as the central piece. Beyond that, further from the door, four large, brown reclining chairs stood before a massive flat-screen television. Two doors stood on the same wall as the entryway, closer to the chairs. A rack of wine bottles stood between them, and it seemed that Hanson had become clumsy once or twice with them as small stains were noticeable in front of the rack and adjacent doors. Between this and the entryway, Phoebe had to wonder where all this money came from. His parents, most likely.

"Have a seat. I'll prepare a glass for you."

"Th-that's fine. I'm not really thirsty." Phoebe's nose caught a familiar, yet faint scent.

"Hmm. Suit yourself. Really do have a seat though. Those are the best in the house."

Phoebe complied, but found it hard to relax in the warmth of the room, even as the magnificent leather chair gently cradled her. Her thoughts were focused elsewhere, on the smell that underlied the room. She knew she had smelled it before, somewhere recent.

"What's that stink?"

"Hm? What stink?"

"What, you don't smell that? It's..."

Hanson cut her off. "I don't smell anything." He feigned truthfulness, but the shift in his eyes and sitting position told a different story.

"Why are you getting so nervous?"

"I'm not nervous." But it was clear that that was a lie. He spoke in more of a whimper than an actual speaking voice, and his expression was distraught.

The levy finally broke. Phoebe had had enough. "Stop lying to me. You've been hiding something from me all week, and any time I try to get it outta you, you get more upset. What is going on? What aren't you telling me?"

"I told you, I'm not hiding anything." He grew angrier, more defiant, as his fingers started to curl into the soft leather of the chair.

"If you aren't gonna be straight with me, then I'm leaving." Phoebe shouted, rising from her chair and heading for the door.

"Hey, we had a deal." Hanson got up from his own chair to grab her by the arm. His grip was stronger than she thought him capable of, and Phoebe flinched at the unexpected pain. Tears started welling up in her eyes, but more obvious was her flailing to escape his grip. He relented, causing her to stumble backward, but she maintained her footing. She turned away, reaching the doorway before he spoke again.

"You want to know what I'm 'hiding'? How I got to be the best surgeon in the hospital?"

She stopped dead in her tracks. What am I doing? I need to leave, now. But her body wasn't listening, instead holding completely still as her brain tried to force it forward. Her subconscious curiosity took over, and her need to know spurned her on to ask, "What is it?"

He stepped hesitantly over to the door to the left of the wine rack, waving for her to follow. As she approached, the stench intensified, as did the heat. Clearly, it was coming from here.

"Just remember. You wanted this." Hanson unlocked the door with a key retrieved from his pocket. He motioned for her to enter. She stepped up to the hollow, white, wooden door, taking the stainless steel knob in her hand. She gave it a twist, and let the door creak slowly inward.

Before her was a tiny room, only capable of accommodating one or two people, plus the various tools, blades, sponges, rags, implements, and buckets of water inside. A wave of warm, humid air billowed out as the door swung inward. The entirety of the room smelled of cleaning solutions, solvents, and astringents that clearly were only ventilating through the seams of the door. Beneath it all, though, was the metallic hint of blood. The red ring soaked into the cracks between tiles and surrounding the drain in the floor would have been evidence enough, but before her was something far worse.

Two mangled, mutilated bodies, propped up in dentistry chairs; a man and a woman, both sliced apart. Their bodies bore countless scars, but even now, it was clear they were still being 'utilized'. The man was far overweight, but due to the gaping abdominal cavity, it was hard to tell. Organs lay motionless, exposed, and blood dripped slowly from the incisions. One of his eyes had been carefully removed, preserved in a jar on a nearby shelf. His left arm lay on the same shelf, a recent addition as the stump had not skinned over whatsoever. His cranium was split like a cookie jar, the lid to which was casually set aside. The squishy brain matter had been thoroughly removed and sliced apart, dissected for study.

Phoebe covered her mouth with her hands, a reactive measure to her urge to vomit. The face was one she recognized. "B-but that's.. Th-that's G-g-g..."

"Garret." Hanson spoke quickly, as though he'd been looking forward to finally telling someone about it. "Yes, that disgusting pig. I thought you'd be happy to see him like this. That was part of the reason I took him. I knew how you despised him, so I brought him here to practice on.

"He wasn't my first option, you know. I tried to work with the dummies, but I just couldn't visualize them as real people. I tried cadavers after that, but they were so still on the inside that they really didn't feel like an accurate comparison. I needed the real thing to pull it off. So, two days ago, I asked him out to drink, and told him I wanted to learn from him. I brought him back here, and..." He gestured wildly around the room. "I set this up the day before, and it wasn't too difficult to get him in here once he was drunk enough."

Hanson started chuckling nervously, running his fingers through his hair. "But, I uhhh... miscalculated how inexperienced I was. The room was too cold, and he lost a bit too much blood. He died in less than a day. At first, I didn't think it would be that big a deal; I'd just keep going with him. But it was no different than the mortuary cadavers. So, I brought a heater in, borrowed some blood, and..."

Phoebe's eyes darted to the woman, and widened in terror. On full display for all to see, her left leg amputated and carved apart, her chest cavity cracked open, and her veins riddled with intravenous tubes and needles, was Marie Harrier. Her face was hard to recognize, as half of it has been sliced away, removed so that the workings underneath could be studied in detail. The same was true of her right arm, which was flayed of skin, revealing the muscle, veins, and arteries beneath.


"She's still alive, you know. I've gotten very good, like you saw earlier. I shouldn't need anyone else for a while."

Phoebe collapsed to the ground, unable to comprehend what she was seeing. But it was evident that he was not lying. Beyond her broken ribs, Phoebe could see that Harrier's heart was still beating, and her lungs were still expanding and contracting. A faint, raspy breathing still escaped her lips. Phoebe could not hold the contents of her stomach anymore, expelling them onto the floor. She found herself unable to raise her head to the carnage that she had born witness to.
Hanson gave a small chuckle. "It's alright. The tile is easy to clean, I promise. I've just been too busy getting extra lessons in to keep up.

"But that's okay," he said, stepping quickly into the sterilized room, around the chair that held Harrier's limp body. "I don't need to worry about that any more." He undid the straps and handcuffs that held Garret in place, and rolled the corpse off of the chair. It splattered to the floor with a resounding splash, organs piling over one another as they poured out of his exposed abdomen.

"I did what I said I'd do. I learned how to operate on real people. I won the bet. And here you are, to celebrate with me."

"I-I-I..." But her stammering was cut off as she was ripped to her feet by Hanson's grasp. He overpowered her by inches, dragging her over to the now-empty chair. His expression was that of a man unhinged; he'd clearly broken down from all of his misdeeds. He maneuvered her left wrist into place in the handcuff, clasping the metal around it. She kicked and fought to escape, but he was determined. In seconds, she was locked in place, thrashing and screaming to escape.

Hanson enthusiastically began to strap her legs to the chair. "This is what you wanted, right? For me to practice? For me to get better as a surgeon?" He spoke loudly to be heard over her screams, his speech mingled with misplaced laughter. Her legs were soon pinned to the chair as well. "You're in the basement. There's a lot of soundproofing here. You, me, and Marie here are the only ones in the house. No one is going to come free you."

Phoebe's voice died out soon after. She was locked there for months, waited on hand and foot while Hanson continued his macabre work. Each time she saw him, she begged, threatened, pleaded to be let go. She promised that she wouldn't tell a soul what had happened. She offered to be his lover instead of his prisoner. Everything she could think of to get him to release her.

Hanson ignored every request, and over the months replaced Harrier with a new victim, who Phoebe did not recognize, and another once that one was used and shredded. Phoebe eventually grew numb to it all, deciding that instead, she would rather block it all out. Sometimes it worked. Most times, though, it didn't and the screaming from the other victims would haunt her into each and every night. She hoped, in vein, that the sweltering heat would take her, but Hanson kept her hydrated and cared for.

Then, one day, Hanson didn't come back into the room. The door remained locked, but the captor never returned. Days went by with no sign of Hanson. Phoebe wondered what had happened to him. Her mind went through everything she could muster the energy to think of to escape. In the end, though, she succumbed to the solitude, the dehydration, and the starvation. Police would find her body two days later, putrid and rotting, still locked in the chair.

Part 1

(Originally Posted 10/13/2017)

Hello, people on the interwebs! I work at what used to be called an insane asylum. Nowadays, we just call them Mental Health Centers or Psychiatric Hospitals.  I won’t tell you which one, ‘cause I don’t want my ass getting canned. Anyways, I found something when helping maintenance clean up Chuckles’ room a year ago. ‘Chuckles’ is a nickname we gave one of the residents, and we’ll leave it at that. He left behind a notebook one of the therapists gave him. I took it home after we were done cleaning his room. Just recently, I cracked it open and started reading, because I don’t have a lot to do at home, and porn does get boring after a while. Even for a schizophrenic, though, there is some wild shit in here that someone else needs to see. And believe me, it’s not just his dreams and delusions. So, I’ll just post it here and let you take a look. I know, sounds like a terrible thing to do, but I think he wanted someone to see it. Lucky you! Just pretend it’s all fictional if anybody asks. I like my job, after all. I’ve made this as readable as possible while transcribing. Fancy word, isn’t it? Oh, the names of staff and patients have been removed.

Without further ado, here it goes:

Entry 1

I am not a human being. Human beings aren’t shoved away into comfortable prisons without having committed a crime. I have done nothing to hurt anyone. It’s just that the transmissions won’t stop. I don’t care about the state of man, how women, or boys who have not completed any trials of manhood are usurping man’s role in the world. They just won’t stop, droning on, and on about the State of the World. These corrupt doctors watch me through the vent shafts, making me hurt when I find a way to ignore the transmissions. I am but a cog in someone else’s machine, a subhuman cog. I don’t deserve to be human. I am only a tool of others and I can’t break out. I deserve this fate, but I have done nothing.

Dr. [redacted] gave me this stupid notebook to write in. They know about the transmissions, and that is why they are watching me! It’s all part of the game I am forced to play with them. Most of them tell me that I should not focus so much on what they call hallucinations. If I were hallucinating, the voices would be talking to me, but instead it’s like a man on the radio just talking. They think I talk too much. God forbid anyone tell staff we are being treated like animals or that the side-effects of the medications are unbearable. A serious voice in the halls of madness might be too much for them, or so I gather from being told to “lighten up” all the damn time. They want me to be as quiet as [Patient J], who is too scared to make a peep. That’s the only reason for giving me something to write with in a hospital like this. I wish they would just own up to it.

So I am stuck. No one will read this.

Entry 2

Was I asleep the whole night? No. Couldn’t be. Nurse [redacted] took me out of my room and screamed at me in one of the offices. She told me if I would listen to broadcast more carefully I would know how to live outside these walls; how to be a man. An orderly came and knocked on her door, I think to see what the ruckus was. When he came in she pulled a gun from a desk drawer and shot him right in the head. I could do nothing but freeze, my eyes open and jaw dropped. The sound of it rang in my ears, as wet, sticky blood and brain splattered and dripped from the wall behind him.

She said: “That boy could never be a man, always sucking from the welfare teat and not trying to get a real goddamned job!”

I got up and ran for the door, pulling on the handle but it would not budge.

I woke up in my bed. The covers are wet with cold sweat and I am writing this to catch my breath.

Entry 3

I could not help but cringe when [Nurse Redacted] walked past my room earlier today. She stopped at my door and put on such a face of concern I nearly believed it.

“What’s wrong baby,” she asked and came halfway in my room.

“You know what you did,” I said, my hand shaking as I spoke. “He did not deserve to die, no matter how inadequate you think he is.”

“Who are you are talking about, hon?”

“The orderly you shot.”
“When did this happen?” she asked as she walked into my room and leaned back against the wall.

“Last night,” I stood up straighter in my chair and tried to summon some bravery into my voice.

“I wasn’t here last night, hon,” she sighed. “We have talked about this. Give the meds some time. You were dreaming again.”

“I don’t have dreams.”

“Yes, you do. I promise you, I have not shot anyone here at work. When do you get to see the psychiatrist again? Maybe they need to try something a little different.”

“I think next month,” I said, my whole body deflating. “He needs to see his patients more regularly.”

“I know, baby. But there are a lot of folks here, and he’s only one person. I’ll see if there is anything I can do to help.”

“I’m sure,” the words left my mouth flatly.

“We’re not out to get you,” she said and straightened up. Taking a step to leave the room she looked back to me. “You spend a lot of time in here, maybe you should try making some friends. I don’t think you’ll be here forever, and getting used to being around others might help.”

“I don’t think they want to talk to me,” I said and looked away.

“No, they just think you are too serious all the time.”
“This is a serious place.”

“Ok,” she said and stepped out of my room, finally. “Fine. Just give it a think, and let me know if you need anything.”

The pills she wants me to take slow my thoughts and make me want to eat more than I should. This is why I am fat. This seems to be what they want.

The game continues.

Entry 4

One of the female orderlies gave me a teddy bear. It is kind of big and heavy. I have seen larger teddy bears. I think maybe it’s two feet head to toe. Normally they don’t give us gifts, but she said she is quitting soon, and doesn’t want to see it again. Tears were rolling down her face. I took it so she wouldn’t cry. Maybe she has no stomach for the game anymore.

The broadcasts say America should be running the world, not cowering from friends and enemies alike. Macho bullshit. The world is too complicated to be strong-armed like that. But it drones on, wanting the country to be the tough guy.

Entry 5

The broadcast was quieter than usual today. Normally it seems to echo against my skull as the boisterous voice rants and raves. Now it’s using an inside voice. The bear has been here for two nights. I also did not feel like stuffing so much food into my face. The nurses say I am being quieter, more cooperative. One even said I am beating out [Patient J] as her favorite. The others say they are not sure if this is a good sign.

Entry 6

An honest to God dream! I can’t believe how long it’s been. Humans dream, all the time. Every night, they tell me. I have not had one in so long that I can barely believe it. I guess I am not deserving of it being a good one, though.

I was stuck to my bed as I felt a rush of warmth come over me, and then I was being held down by black strands of almost nothing. This is how I knew it was a dream, because at night when they take me or lecture me, I see everything so clearly. This was different. The bed and the room seemed to be in my parent’s home for a moment, and once again it was the hospital room. A deep, rough voice called to me by name. I could not move. Soon, I was in some sort of playground being stared down by a massive teddy bear that looked like the one in my room. It said something, and all I could make out was “Not enough” or something like that. I think I also heard it say “Cut them open” but I am not entirely sure. Weird thing is, I felt better, like I was safe there. Definitely a dream. It was not a very pleasant dream, being looked at by a teddy bear like I am in some sort of sick fairy-tale, but not a nightmare.

Anyway, when I woke up I gave the bear a good looking at. Just a brown teddy bear, same as before, but a bit lighter. There’s a scarlet thread on the back of it, like someone stitched up an old war wound. Nothing too strange, I guess.

The broadcast has become whispers at times, now. Anytime they start to irritate me, I feel a wash of calm and then the voice quiets. Did not eat too much today. Nurse [redacted] says I am doing better, and we had a bit of a chat. Nothing important, just something about the weather. The other inmates are laughing at me, though.  I see them hiding their smirks when I get out of my room. I’m not as paranoid as you might think reading this. They mock [Patient C] because they think he drones on too long, and pull pranks on [Patient J] because he jumps at everything. I only see this in the TV and games room, and it can be relentless. I think they saw the damn bear while walking past my room. Best to keep it hidden. I don’t feel like being laughed at.

Entry 7

I had a very odd dream last night. Maybe that is not saying much after the one a few nights ago. So strange even having dreams now. The one the night before I heard children singing Red Rover, and I did not see any kids. It was something about a childhood crush telling me I was a crazy person. I got the sense that she hated me for it. But that’s not important. Before waking up, I swear I could feel those black strands of almost nothing holding onto me, and these kids were chanting the old Red Rover, Red Rover. And last night I saw them. Two young girls and teenage boy running around on some nightmarish playground dreamt of in Hell. The merry-go-round had what looked like razor blades on the outside, and there was a slide that was as tall as an office building. They were playing hop-scotch over hot coals. It seemed like only the outlined squares were safe and they kept pushing each other onto the hot coals and laughing. The little girls screamed when they touched the coals, but they ran over to me without injury. The older girl with red hair and freckles kept yelling “No Rules!” as she skipped around me and the smaller one with black hair and golden skin just laughed. The redhead could not be over twelve, and the other looked maybe ten. The teen, I’d say fourteenish, just rested against some monkey bars and smirked at me. When I was a kid, I used to flick my ear when I thought I was dreaming. It would either wake me up or not feel as painful in the dream. I tried it, and knew I was dreaming. The boy laughed and walked over to me, waving at the two girls to move away. They ran off to play tether-ball with what looked like a medieval spiked ball on a chain.

“Hey!” I remember yelling at them. I don’t much care for kids, but I could not let them get hurt.

“Don’t sweat it, old man,” the boy said. “They ain’t gonna get hurt. Nothing here hurts.”

“And why is that, boy?”

To this he laughed and told me: “’Cause there ain’t no meat here, old man. That’s why he’s got you. The big bad bear don’t understand meat.”

“What are you---” I started to say, but behind the boy I saw it again; a gigantic teddy bear, sitting behind him with its head down.

“No worries,” the boy said and laughed. “He’s asleep.”

“Who…?” I tried to ask, taking a step back.

“I’m Jesse. Over there we got Theresa, and the ginger girl is Beth. I named the Bear Captain Cuddles. He’s still It, I think.”


“Yeah, and he caught me, them girls, and now you! We don’t get a turn to be It anymore.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Bet you don’t. No worries, though. Wakey-Time!” And with that, the boy shoved me, and as I fell in the dream I woke up, once more in a cold sweat.

Entry 8

Nothing makes sense. I just saw the orderly Nurse [redacted] shot in the head. At least, it looked a lot like him. I swear that the bear is staring at me. Sitting on my dresser, his coal black eyes burrowing straight into my soul. The running commentary on the State of the World is diminished again. After I awoke from the dream on the playground, it got louder, but now it is quiet. How can he be staring at me? It’s just a stuffed animal. I see the psychiatrist tomorrow. Maybe I can get him to change my meds. Maybe I am losing it.

Entry 9

They told me I was asleep. They told me I was dreaming. Now I wonder if I am awake when I am not dreaming. The Broadcaster is on full blast now. Writing this is difficult.

I was about to fall asleep when I felt I could not move. The bear suddenly leapt from the dresser onto my chest. My heart beat so hard, I thought it might push him right off. Claws grew from his stuffed paws and he opened his mouth to reveal many rows of pointed razor-sharp teeth. He pulled his arm back and, just before he raked his claws across my face, I felt like I was sinking. Something pulled me into the bed. Into the bed! Soon I was on my ass in the playground of horrors, the giant bear and the children looking at me with dumbstruck faces.

“Man,” the boy said as he laughed, “your dreams are hardcore!”

“What?” I said, suddenly feeling very stupid as they stared at me. “No-no. This is a dream. That...”

“Was also a dream, man,” the boy said before I could finish.

“Teddy bears don’t do things like that,” the red-headed girl chimed in. “That was scary. He’s not scary like that.”

“Seriously,” the boy said and kneeled down closer to me. “It’s ok, old man. Just wait it out here and chill. You woke him up, for a minute. We saw. It was scaring the girls, though.”

“S-Sorry?” I mumbled, my mind racing to sort this out.

Just rest. My eyes shot open as I looked up to the bear. The voice was low and a bit rough, and though his mouth had not moved the sound in my head seemed to come from him. I would not harm you in such a way. Stay here with the children.

“Why would he have dreams like that?” the golden-skinned girl asked, looking back to the bear.

His mind is disordered. It cannot hurt you, but it often confuses him as to what is real.

“Oh,” she replied, and moved her black hair from her face. She then walked over to me and put her hand on my shoulder. The other two kids followed suit, and then once the boy wandered off the two girls sat close to me and talked. I don’t remember quite what they talked about, something about their parents. They prattled on so much, it became more of a background buzz to me, and yet it was oddly soothing. The red-head mentioned something about her mother working in hospital for people who were confused. That’s really all I can remember, as it got hazier and hazier from there.

I woke a few moments ago, once again in a cold sweat. My head is pounding from the damn broadcast. When I see the psychiatrist later today, I might as well ask about pain pills.

A teddy bear is telling me I am crazy. I just don’t know anymore.

Entry 10

The psychiatrist approved me for new meds. I lied and told him I was getting headaches, so they also approved me for some ibuprofen. I managed to hide it under my tongue instead of swallowing it at med time. I think I should save up some of these. I don’t know if they will be able to do the job, but…Look, I don’t know if anyone is reading this and I don’t know what is going on anymore. This bear in my dreams and in my room is dangerous in a way I can’t put into words. I know I should get rid of the stupid thing, but without it the transmissions would come back. When I even think about asking the staff to throw him away, I hear The State of the World on blast. It is so loud I can no longer hear myself think. Also, I am getting used to the occasional relief of being able to ignore them. It is starting to look like there may only be one way out of all this.

I am not strong enough.

Entry 11

I can hear him when I am awake now. Not the broadcaster, but the stupid bear. He’s in my head somehow. I swear this has never happened before. I had just gotten back from the cafeteria. I sat down on my bed and the broadcast was nearly silent. Then all of a sudden I heard him speak. It was like how some of the others describe the voices.

Some of your fellow inmates cannot move. They are locked within their own mind. I want to see it. Bring me to one of their rooms, and show me what their insides look like. I want to see what they are made of. No one will miss them.

All I could do was look up in shock. My eyes went to the dresser I had him hidden in. It was the same, rough sounding voice from the dreams. But I was not asleep. I swear on everything holy that I was definitely awake.

“I-I can’t,” I managed after the minute it took to process what he was telling me to do. “That’s murder.”

They are hardly alive.

“But they still are!” I put my hand over my mouth, hoping others did not hear me shout at a stuffed toy.

You are useless. I need to be with [Patient J]. He walked down the hall the other day. He has more of what I need than you. He would do as I ask.

“You think he would kill for you? No…this isn’t right…”

Give me to him. You do not enjoy the company of the children. Your dreams frighten them too much. This would seem an equitable solution.

“W-wait,” I said in a hushed tone. “What about the broadcast? You make it quieter.”

It is all in your mind. You have dealt with it for years.

“That’s not true. Damn. Even the bear that talks to me prefers [Patient J], huh?” The irony of the situation could not escape me. Despite what the others might say, I do have a sense of humor. I understand why they gave me that damnable nickname, even though I hate it.

Believe what you like. Give me to [Jones]

“No,” I said solemnly after a minute of contemplation. I have no love for [Patient J], but I also do not wish this sort of madness on him. I soon found myself to be correct when a dull pain started in the back of my head, creeping its way over my skull. Before I knew it, it started to squeeze my brain. The pain was enough to bring me to my knees.

Give me to him, the bear repeated, his words causing the pain to throb slowly. I fumbled around a moment before finding the painkillers I had saved up and rammed five of them into my mouth and swallowed as quickly as I could.

“No,” I told him and leaned down, holding my head. We sat in silence for several minutes before the pain gradually subsided. I stood and opened the dresser and looked down at the bear. “I may not be human. I may not be worthy. But, maybe just this one time, I can behave like a man.”
With that, I closed the dresser.

Entry 12

The broadcast is getting louder at the worst times. It is becoming hard to talk with the medical staff. I think doing this is starving him a little, though. He can now only give me the amount of pain I used to get when eating frozen dessert too fast, and it lasts about as long. The pain medication keeps this at bay. I just have to keep him away from [Patient J]. This might get easier though.

I talked with an administrator. She seems to think I am ready to “graduate” from the facility into some kind of group home, pending the approval of the psychiatrist. Asking if [Patient J] would be joining me there would be telling. I still don’t know what sort of monster this bear is, but I have a feeling that keeping him away from the man he wants to be with will avert disaster. If those poor kids are real somehow, maybe I can wrest them away from his hold.

Entry 13

“Never play games you find on the internet,” the teen told me as I waited in the infernal playground to wake up. When I got there they started playing some game of tug of war using me as the rope. When one team would pull me, it was into the hot coals around the hopscotch outline. I was afraid it would hurt, but there were no burns on my feet. The boy gave me his little pearl of knowledge right before they chased each other with scissors. It seems the torment is to continue.

Doesn’t really matter, though. I am out of here tomorrow, and I am taking that stupid bear far away from [Patient J]. I have decided to leave this notebook here. Whoever finds this may think it the ravings of a madman, but then again if this gets out it, may do a little good.

If you are ever given a teddy bear, check its back for a scarlet thread. Be careful what games you decide to play. And most of all, do not let [Patient J] have the bear if you can help it.

(End of Journal)

I should tell you that the orderlies went into his room the following day. All they found was a skeleton wearing Chuckles’ clothes, and it attacked them!

Hehe, no. He was just transferred out to a group home somewhere in town. I am pretty sure he brought the bear with him. Patient J got transferred out too, a few weeks later. When I have a hot minute, I’ll see if I can get my buddy who works there to tell me how they are getting along. Weird shit though, right? Fuck, I have to get to bed soon! Maybe I'll search the instygrams for something cute to help with #sweetdreams and forget about #creepyteddybear.  So that’s all there is for now, interwebs! I’ll let you know if I find out anything else.

Part 2

(Originally Posted April 13th 2018)

Greetings to all of you on the interwebs!

Hey, sorry it’s been forever and a day since I got back to you guys, but, umm, quicksand porn. It changed my life. You think you understand, but you don’t. Whole new levels, yo.

Anyways, a friend of mine who works at a group home for the mentally ill found a journal written by good ole Chuckles. Things did not go well for him, but we’ll touch on that in the end. Poor guy. He really didn’t deserve any of this. The following may well be his last testament, as well as his firm achievement. All names have been redacted to protect the people involved. Except Todd. Because fuck that guy.

Unfortunately, Todd was not involved in this.

Without further ado, here we go.

Entry 1

I am not a human being. Human beings are incapable of tuning into the frequency that hounds my thoughts and confuses my intellect. Human beings are not shut away in cages only to be released into society after being taught how to play house by idiots. They don’t have to remind themselves of who is being nice and fair to them when the transmissions rage at the unclean ethnicity of the person. No, he is not unclean. [C] is just a guy doing his job. He speaks better English than most of his peers sometimes. Stop trying to convince me otherwise!

The transmission is pretty bad today. The man talks and talks about how I am being shown how to do women’s work. At times it is unbearable.

Speaking of bears! Yes. I may not be a human being, but I may be the only one holding back a nightmare from the world. It resides in my dresser, hidden away so the others won’t laugh at me when they see it. So they won’t tease and mock me endlessly. It is a bear, a teddy bear. This thing cannot be let out of my room. I swear it does not belong in this world at all. You may think I am being overly dramatic, but that is only because you do not understand. To torture me, the bear silences the transmission until I get comfortable, and then lets it scream in my skull once more. The children, in what are supposedly dreams, tell me that he sleeps sometimes. If it makes you feel any better, the children and the bear think I am quite mad. Seems crazy to think a teddy bear would ever need sleep, haunted or not. 

Dreams. Humans dream. I have talks with children at a playground of nightmares when I sleep, or find myself back in my bed after horrifying experiences. The staff at the asylum told me those experiences were dreams, so now I play along.

Now they have sent me to a group home. I am housed with insane individuals learning to play house so that they may be released into the wild someday. I envy them at times. So free in their fanciful delusions, and so joyous to mock and laugh at whom they call the serious one. Me. Always serious because this is no longer a game. There may be forces at work that the crazies nor the staff here could comprehend. But, once again they want me to journal. Not the staff here, they couldn’t care less. No, one of the oh-so-nice counselors at the rehab school they make me attend thinks it could be relaxing. So, with pen and paper in hand, I write. I doubt anyone will read these words, or the journal I left behind at the asylum.

Maybe this is truly all I can really do.

Entry 2

Not even a month in this place and already that damned bear is trying to ruin things. Trying to learn this supposed women’s work the staff tells me I should know. Not women’s work. Just housework. Damn the transmissions! Sorry, it is very loud. The bear is unhappy with me. Anyway, [C] was showing me how to properly chop some vegetables for a soup we are going to make tomorrow. He said it was better to go with fresh and seems to love these slow cookers. I think my mom called them crock-pots. Anyway, I digress. The cutlery is kept in the office and staff has to watch us when we are using them.  Good thing too. As soon as [C] handed me the knife I could feel that bear speaking to me.

Cut him, the voice said, sounding harsh and deep in my mind. No one is there with you. He trusts you. I need to see what is underneath that skin…

I gripped the knife harder and clenched my teeth. It was all I could do to focus on cutting the damn carrots. Thin slices mostly, as I waited for all eternity for the bear to leave my thoughts alone. The stuffed animal was somehow able to call to me from all the way in my room, secured in the dresser, droning on and on about slicing [C]’s throat. My breathing was slow and measured, trying some trick they taught me at the “school” about breathing out more and more. It was just barely helping. Thankfully, [C] took the knife out of my hand after what must have been the most grueling few minutes of my life.

“Man you are really intense,” [C] told me, and smiled. “I see why they all think you are so serious. Don’t worry, though. Sometimes it is good to be serious. And you did an awesome job! This is gonna be some great soup when we get it all put together.”

Simple praise from a simple…no. No, stop it. God Damn you bear, just turn it down a little! I don’t care what the station man thinks about [C]!

Ok, had to take a breather. You see the point I am making right? It wants me to hurt people. It has some sort of nightmare inducing desire to see more of the flesh. This is not first time this bear called on me to hurt someone, and it won’t be the last. I must endure. I may not rightly be a person, but I must endure to keep everyone safe. In the hands of anyone else here, that could have easily been a bloodbath.

Entry 3

Sleep provides no respite from this madness. I know you think you are reading the words of a crazy man, but please consider the insanity around me. Think on the fact that once your head hits your soft pillow you can close your eyes and take a break from your reality. In my world, the strange world around me has seeped into my so-called dreams.

For so many years I did not dream. Now that I do, I am not even sure it is worth it. Take the other night, when after my eyes closed in slumber I found myself back in that infernal playground. I found myself sitting up next to the young teen who resided there named Jesse. The two girls, one with red hair and freckles, the other with black hair and a golden complexion, skipped around playing some sort of game. Jesse smirked when he saw me and then looked off into the distance. He was watching a large black bird croaking in the middle of a plain of rust brown gravel and dirt. Though the bird looked around and cocked its head about, it made no move towards us.

“I don’t know what his deal is,” Jesse said after a few moments. “I don’t think he can see us.”

“Why do you suppose that is,” I asked, scratching my head.

“No idea. Well, it’s a bird. No clue why it’s here though.”

“Why not ask the Bear?” As I posed this question, I looked to the center of the playground only to see the large teddy bear sitting there motionless. His eyes seemed devoid of life.

“He’s asleep,” Jesse answered and got up. “I’ll ask him when he comes to. Pretty sure ole Cuddles is still It, bird or no bird though. It occurs to me that since the girls got here, I never thought to just walk on off. You know, just head to the horizon and see what is out there.”

“I get it, you had to keep an eye on the girls, just like I feel the need to keep an eye on you all now.”
“Yeah, maybe. Things are pretty safe here, though. Maybe after I ask the bear about the bird I’ll try taking a walk.”

After that, the children began playing with that damn spiked tether-ball. They wanted to play on teams of two, but with only three of them they’d need me to join. I turned them down. Having an adult would only give one team an unfair advantage. This was one of the more calm nights I have spent with the same children in each dream. Every night, I see the same evil playground, with the same children. This may seem a minor thing, but the fact that it never changes alarms me greatly. And now we have some mysterious bird in the distance that I am left to wonder about. 

Entry 4

We got a new staff member today. Her name is [ S ], and she is thin, blonde and has hungry green eyes. It was my turn again to help with making dinner. I am starting to think that the others have figured out that if they are less helpful, I will pick up the slack. That’s fine. Distractions are a godsend. Besides, all we had to do was put the food  in the oven and wait. Some sort of casserole that was pre-made. Really, only [C] seems to really know anything useful about cooking. Though I really do think all the cretins I live with could manage is just putting something in an oven anyways.

Rumors abound lately. Some say we are getting a new resident soon. One of the other residents mentioned something about him being skittish. Residents seem to come and go around here. Also, I am hearing muffled giggles once again about me keeping a teddy bear. Someone must have seen it as they passed by my room. I swear that my thoughts must be leaking out of my head somehow.

Let them laugh. Let them enjoy what they can in their insane little lives. Only I have some idea as to what I am holding at bay.

Entry 5

The staff has turned against me here as well! The broadcasts! The people! And that Goddamned Bear!

I can’t believe this. Soon after falling asleep the new staff person, [ S ], knocked on my door and told me I had to wake up. As I walked into the office, she had all the knives that were usually locked up in a cabinet arranged on her desk. When she saw my wide-eyed expression she merely laughed and then stared deeply into my eyes.

“What’s the matter?” she asked and licked the inside of her cheek. “Can’t handle a few knives? Hell, if you were a real man, you would at least have a gun on you. You are so good at bitch work. Maybe you are just a bitch. Who else would cuddle with a teddy bear at night?”

“How do you know-” I started, interrupted by her cackling laughter.

“We all know!” she told me. “Staff meetings are a riot here with all the talk of Poor Wittle Chuckles and his bear!”

She continued to laugh as she picked up one of the steak knives. Smiling, she pressed it into her skin just below her wrist and pulled down, the blade slicing into her fair skin. The dark red blood welled up at the initial cut, and then flowed down her arm as her eyes rolled up into her head and she moaned softly.

“You should try it, Big Boy,” she said as she opened her eyes. “Feels sooo good. And the taste is just delish.”

She put the tip of he tongue to her arm and slowly moved it up, gathering the blood onto it before pulling it into her mouth. I could only stand there, frozen in shock as she extended her arm to me, pushing the knife towards my chest. I think I tried to reach out to push the knife away, because I remember feeling the blade slowly bite into my hand. In the long run, nothing I did mattered.

The next thing I knew, I was back in my bed. I opened my eyes as I felt something heavy on my chest. My vision cleared soon to reveal the teddy bear I always keep hidden in my dresser sitting there, staring into my eyes. My mouth slowly opened, wishing to scream, and yet I was too terrified to make even the slightest sound.

Just a dream, I could hear in my mind, the bear’s same deep and rough words once again. Rest now.

And then just like that I must have been out again. I woke up in the morning to my alarm and checked the dresser, surprised to see the bear there. Now that I write this, I cannot be entirely sure he is the same way I left him, but nonetheless he is there. I don’t know what to think. Surely [ S ] will deny this. Tell me my memories are but dreams, some sort of symptom of a made-up illness. I need to go to the psycho-social rehab school now.

I don’t know what I am going to do.

Entry 6

I think Jesse and the bear had an argument. He would not so much as look at me and the girls seem to be trying to cheer him up by pretending to accidently stab each other with scissors. There's no blood, and they tell me it doesn't hurt.

Seriously, though. There is something wrong with them or my subconscious.

Entry 7

[This entry was crossed out and then scribbled over, so I guess he did not want us reading it.]

Entry 8

What is real? What is it like to live in space you can easily call reality and rest assured that your sleep takes you on flights of imagination only to deposit you back into the real world in the morning? I would really like to know.

The playground…may be different forever. The night before last, I found myself waking up there after falling asleep as per usual. Jesse was talking to the two girls. It sounded like he was reassuring them, but I could not make out the words. He then looked to me, and as the black haired girl let out a sniffle he ran out past the playground and into the empty field of rusted dirt. I couldn’t think of what to do until I saw that large black bird in the direction where he ran. Slowly I got myself to my feet only to find the two girls holding my hands.

“Don’t do it,” the red headed Beth told me as they both pulled on my arms. “He said he just had to know.”

Grumbling, I quickly shrugged them off and ran after the delusional boy. It is hard to explain, but no matter how much I ran, the teenaged boy seemed to not get any closer Even after he stopped running and stood by it. Once again, I could not make out the words but I could tell he was yelling at the bird, speaking not only with his voice but with grand motions of his arms. Just as my mind started to realize that I was neither tiring out from the running nor getting any closer, my vision faded to black rather quickly. I had to stop and hold my head to regain my balance, and when I opened my eyes, the black veil slowly opened, letting me see the young man being carried by the shoulders off into the sky by the bird. Now the black-feathered beast was much larger, dwarfing the child in size as it carried him off beyond the horizon. I stood there in shock for several moments before making my way back to the playground slowly. The two girls were looking to the giant bear as he slowly roused himself awake.

“Where did he go?” Theresa asked, her voice quivering. Now, I have never been particularly good with kids, but I put a hand on the girls’ shoulders to offer what comfort I could.

To Death, came the reply from the bear. Both girls immediately turned to me and collapsed into sobs. I kneeled and did my best to hold them, looking up angrily at the bear for the needlessly caustic reply.

Never approach The Raven. He will take you only to Death. And you must not believe His lies.

I did my best to comfort them. I let them cry, held them, and did everything I could think of to make them feel better. The next night, I was surprised to find that Jesse was still not there. I tried to lead the girls in games, tell them stories, and even a few jokes from my younger days. I know. Me telling jokes does not seem likely, but I did my best to keep them in good cheer as Jesse did. He meant the world to them, and now I am finally starting to understand this. In a way, losing him seems like the most real thing that has happened since I was given this damn bear. And this is what I see when I go to bed, not in the waking world. This makes no sense to me. So again, I ask…what is real?

Entry 9

[Patient J] from the asylum is coming. I overheard this from [C], when he was talking to the staff members. This is bad. I have no way of knowing if anyone will ever read this, and even less faith that anyone would be able to read both this journal and the last one. Suffice it to say, the evil behind the bear’s voice wants me to give the bear to [Patient J]. So far, since Jesse was taken, the bear has been pretty silent, so that is good. The broadcasts have been coming in louder…and yet right now they are more easily ignored. The children say the bear needs to sleep more, and I find myself more inclined to believe them lately. To be honest I have been feeling really down now that Jesse is gone. Maybe I should talk to the psychiatrist about this. Not about Jesse, obviously, but maybe about my moods. He seems rather eager at times to give me more drugs sometimes, and I should try to hold it together for the girls.

Anyways, I have to be extra careful to keep this teddy bear away from [Patient J].

Entry 10

[Patient J] is here. He is just as nervous as he was at the asylum. Oddly enough, the bear is not calling for me to give him to [Patient J] so far.

Entry 11

The trips to the playground as I close my eyes have become rather depressing. Only the girls are there of course, but that is obviously not the reason. They don’t seem to appreciate the new card games I teach them and instead they usually run off to chase each other with sharp implements. Sometimes they try to entice me onto the nightmare of a merry-go-round, but I would prefer to not vomit in my sleep. Sometimes Beth will leave her playmate to sit at the edge of the playground and stare off into space. I try to tell Theresa not to worry when she does this, and at least she appreciates some of the stories I try to remember from my youth. Old yarns the grown-ups would tell me, you know. But even then I half expect to see Jesse walking back to the playground.

The other night while the girls were playing their own games, I spotted the large black bird standing out in the endless field beyond. After telling myself over and over this is all still just some odd dream, I walked out of the playground and towards the bird. Behind me, I could hear the giant Captain Cuddles rise to his feet and the sounds of the little girls scampering towards him. I kept walking though. I had to have some answers, even if I knew they would probably only make sense in this strange world my brain had conjured up.

After what seemed an impossible distance I was a good stone’s throw away from the critter when it hopped up closer to me, no longer the giant winged beast, but merely the size of a large black bird. It cocked its head to the side as I looked it over, and then emitted a low raspy laugh from its beak that sent chills down my spine.

You seem perplexed by all of this, I heard its voice in my mind, smooth and cultured. It had an accent to it that I could not place, yet I understood its words perfectly. I can see that your mind does not readily understand the difference between reality and the wild flights of your brain chemistry, so I shall forgo the usual game.

“T-the usual game,” I asked angrily. “What the hell are you? And what is this game? And where the hell is Jesse? Did he fail your little test?”

The game only allows for three questions. Jesse was wise enough to only ask three, and thus, no, he did not lose. I am simply known as The Raven, and yet I am much more than that. You could consider me the ruler of this realm, that giant plush toy back there one of my subjects, though a rather disobedient one. And Jesse woke up from this world, back in his bed, being fawned over by his concerned parents.

“Seems like you expect me to believe that,” I grumbled, now careful not to ask questions. This is just what I needed, another critter coming along and saying I’m “confused.” Just a nice way to say that it too thinks I’m crazy. I considered for a moment playing into this obvious ruse when I looked back to the playground and saw only what looked like the shimmering of distant heat in the air. As I looked back to the bird it hopped closer and looked up at me.

Don’t be too concerned. You are not connected to the bear like the children are. You will wake up on your own, no harm done, yet. It seems he is hiding from you too now, so sadly this is not the time that I find his little playground. I will though. As for you, your part to play in all this is coming to an end. Again, there’s no need for you to worry. You will not be the hero of this story. So I advise you try to relax.

With that this Raven flew off, without so much as a “Nevermore.”  I could not find the playground to return to that night, but the next night I woke up there again. The girls asked me what the beast and I talked about, but I felt it was best to not tell them. The bear could be right, he could just be a liar. And I could just be a loon in the end anyways. It’s too bad I have had to use up the extra pain pills to keep the bear at bay, from forcing my cooperation with headaches. It might be nice to put an end to all this.

Entry 12

The bear is gone! He is no longer in my dresser. I know what you are thinking but I did not just misplace him. Sure I thought it was oddly cold the other night, but that was because someone opened my window, probably from the outside. The doctors, the staff here, maybe even [Patient J] think they are so clever. They think I don’t know that this is all some sort of game they are playing. The truth of the matter is that I am well aware of what they are doing!

Last night, when they thought I was asleep, all of the staff came into my room. They watched me. Yep, that’s it, they watched me. All of them staring intently down at my bed and all I could do was try to close my eyes and pretend. Pretend to not see their true faces! Black, colorless eyes staring down at me! I know I am not a human, I am a thing they don’t understand. But at the very least they could let me rest. Let me take the smallest of breaks from the constant transmissions that have finally found me.

Oh yes, that’s a new thing. The man that my skull somehow resonates with is now talking directly to me. He’s all too eager to explain to me how weak I am, and how I am learning to do a bitch’s work in the cooking and cleaning. And he keeps droning on and on about how I might be able to make it in this world if it weren’t for all the illegal immigrants who keep flooding into the country! Just like [C]. No, [C] is just a guy. He was born here. Whoever his parents are don’t fucking matter you son of a bitch! Stop it right now the people need to know what sort of evil this bear might bring upon the whole freaking world!

It is an Evil Thing that was never meant to be in this world!! If you find it you must burn it to cinders and then spread them far and wide!

Entry 13

[C] is such a great guy. Assuming he did not hide the bear. You see, it stopped asking to be with [Patient J], so I figured it had gotten smart. I asked [C] to take a look around his room. He did not find anything. So I took a look. The morning staff were so busy getting some of the residents in the home to go out to the school that I was able to walk right in. He is one messy son of a bitch, but I managed to do a thorough search. Nothing. No bear. Not even a stuffed rabbit.

I checked under the bed, in his dresser and closet. Hell, I made sure it was not in the damn bathroom. The transmissions tell me they probably search my room when I am not around. That’s no bother. He does not have the bear. It is gone. Furthermore, I have not seen the children since it’s been gone. I may never know what the Raven thing was on about, but the more I think about it, the more I realize He might be the only hope in all of this. No, I am not looking for some Hero to come save me! I am not some Mexican Harlot Gypsy hoping to be saved by Mr. Fucking Moneybags! Damn could you just tone it down for a few minutes!

I can’t think anymore, sorry. It took me a few minutes to get back to writing this. The transmissions are screaming their garbage into my mind now. The man knows my name. The bear is loose. Stuffed animals can’t open windows. Can they? If you find it, destroy it. With prejudice. It cannot be allowed to wrangle in more children. In the hands of a weaker person, it could make the streets red with human blood.

I hope you find this journal. I hope my words get out before it is too late.

End of Journal

It is very important that you keep reading.

Keep your eyes focused on the screen. The bear has escaped from Chuckles. And now…it is right behind you. Don’t look, just keep looking at the screen. Unless, the bear is now you!

LOL, just kidding. I have no idea what happened to the stuffed critter. Yeah, I have had a few weird dreams after transcribing all of this, but that is to be expected. Couldn’t get the weird bits in the margins and all into a text document, you know. I’ll see if I can find some pictures to keep you all on the lookout. Like Chuckles said, this thing is apparently not of our world and all. Oh, yeah, nearly forgot to tell you about him. You are probably wondering why my buddy is sending me the journal and all. Well, apparently some time after he stopped writing in the journal, he became even more of a fucking recluse. I mean, I would get depressed too if I had a teddy bear wander off on me. So, he gets real quiet, still being the model citizen there, and then one day he calmly walks into the kitchen and puts his hand down in a pot of boiling oil. Staff must have been making French fries or something. Obviously not planning on having fried Chuckles. He was sent to the ER and I guess will be sent to another mental hospital. Maybe back to the one I work at, yay! I’ll update you on him when I can.

I don’t know what to think of this Raven. I have read a few Rituals about this bird, but the mythology is all over the place, if you believe that stuff. Anyways, if anything comes up, I’ll keep you posted. Happy dreams!

Nightmares are the worst, right?

The Itch


My left index finger rested gently on the volume slider. I could feel the ridges in the plastic, the curve that was meant to mimic the shape of a human digit. The fingers on my right hand tapped rapidly on the cheap folding table.

Where is it? I knew the story was coming. I'd been waiting for almost a full day. There was no way we weren't going to cover it. The footage had already made the rounds online, garnering thousands of views. We had to say something about it. So where the hell was it?

"Mic her." Rich's nasally, high pitched voice piped directly into my ear by virtue of the headset. Hastily, I moved the slider responsible for Julia's microphone into place, simultaneously silencing the audio from the previous clip. A low hum could faintly be heard from the speakers, a sound I attributed to the air conditioning system in the studio. But it wasn't until Rich's next command, directed toward the camera operators, that her voice was heard.

"Cue." It had quickly become my favorite word, as it always preceded the melodious tones of her beautiful voice. Julia was a pretty girl; a bit short with straight dark hair, kinda busty, a couple years older than me. Her looks alone put her way out of my league, and normally, I wouldn't be so bothered by that. I was used to it. But her voice; I found it both calming and exhilarating just to hear such vocal perfection, and what luck that I would be paid to ensure that it came across with clarity so that all could enjoy it as I did. My dream job, no question.

But it wasn't what I was most excited for. No, more than Julia's vibrant voice, I was eagerly awaiting the words that would be wrapped within. It had been less than a day, but I already felt as though I had waited a lifetime. And my patience had been rewarded, at last, when I heard her begin.

"A viral video has been circling the Internet depicting a brutal exchange between two homeless men. The individuals involved appear to have gotten into an argument regarding spacing limitations of the underpass they were living in. That altercation erupted into a fistfight which ultimately resulted in the death of one of the men." Julia paused momentarily, glancing down at the IPad in front of her. "Now, we want to warn you that what you are about to see may be disturbing to some viewers."

I wasn't worried. I'd already seen the video a half dozen times in the few hours leading up to this. I was fascinated with these sorts of things. There was a sort of primal sensation that I would feel every time something gruesome and raw like this would surface. My secret obsession was mostly in good fun, a solitary activity that I alone could enjoy. But there was a certain satisfaction that I could only get from a video such as this.

"SOT in A." Rich interrupted, ensuring I did my job correctly. I despised that pompous tone, that implication that he was superior to me. Normally, I might have become disgruntled at this interruption, but for the first time in a long while, I appreciated it. I wanted to hear this; perfectly, and in its entirety. I raised the volume control responsible for the short clip of the fight. The footage was shaky, taken via cell phone by what seemed to be a passerby. The audio was not much better, due to both the quality of the device recording it and the rainstorm drowning out the voices. Fortunately, subtitles had been edited in before airing.

One of the two men stood with his back to the onlooker, a tan coat draped around his shoulders, thick black gloves on his hands, and a dark, woolen beanie covering his head. The other man, more clearly visible, had a thick green coat zipped up to his chin, which was mostly obscured by his thick, unkempt beard. One of his eyes was dull green, while the other was milky white. Understandable, given that he seemed to be in his late fifties and there was significant scarring on that side of his face. His hands were bare. He didn't seem to have the same luxury as his opponent, though he did have a red wool cap of his own.

The two exchanged words briefly before their fight began. "Mic her, and cue." Julia's voice overtook the audio from the clip as the two fought on screen. "The men got into this territory dispute late Wednesday night, and as you can see from this footage, it didn't take long for it to come down to a brawl." The men exchanged blows as she spoke, but it only got more interesting. Briefly, the man whose back was to the camera pulled back an arm, plunging his hand frantically into his back pocket. Then, for a split second, there was a silvery glint.

"Then, you can see one of the men retrieve a switch-blade knife from his back pocket and stab the other man with it repeatedly." I shuddered with each blow. The sensation that overtook me was not fear or disgust, but rather exhilaration. This vicarious, visceral display was playing a tune on my neurons that I was more than prepared to hear. Goosebumps spread upon my arms and legs, each hair raising as a result.

There was disappointment mixed in, though. Someone had gone over the video with a fine-toothed comb, making sure to censor anything that could be offensive. Why bother blurring this part? We all know what blood looks like. It doesn't really matter that it's all over the place. It's still blood. But the producers had different plans, I suppose.

"The victim of this tragic crime has not yet been identified, but police are investigating at this time. If you have any information regarding the identity of the attacker, please call your local police station or Crimestoppers." I sighed internally. Poor Julia. You're the type of person that really means it when you say that kinda stuff. That sickening positivity is why I gravitate to you, but all that happiness is the antithesis of my personality. It's bittersweet.

The camera cut back to Julia at that point, and the show moved forward as normal. "Another man was discovered dead today, the latest in a long line of homicides known as the 'monogram murders'." Although this story piqued my interest, my morbid curiosity was sated. I knew that the satisfaction wouldn't last, but I could at least hold out long enough to get back home without disrupting my co-workers with my strange behavior. They wouldn't understand, and I wasn't eager to have them start asking awkward questions.

"Good work today, Nathan."

"Yeah, you too." I mumbled, almost to myself. I reciprocated Rich's compliment, mostly to keep up appearances. I shouldn't have to hear that I'm doing my job well, and neither should he. But I guess it's all about being nice and courteous. I got the distinct impression that his rotund, freckled ass was bullied through all twelve years of school, and this job was just a way for him to feel like he was on top. I couldn't care less about his problems, but that sense of superiority was a thorn in my side, a nuisance that spoke directly into my ear on a daily basis. I was finished for the day, practically out the door. Checking my mail bin on the way to the stairs, I scratched absentmindedly at the nape of my neck.

I stepped out of the station building onto the pebbled sidewalk, taking in a breath of the moist remnant air of last night's storm. There were no people out that I could see. I took solace in that. I had parked around the corner past a row of trees that had been planted in the walkway, wood chips and metal grates at their bases rooting them in place. I always thought it was an appropriate comparison to the world as a whole. A blossoming thing surrounded by concrete, caged by metal, and founded on the death of what came before. That realization brought with it a sort of reverence for these things. I placed a hand on the slender trunk of one of the trees, just taking in the rough texture of the papery bark.

I smiled to myself, soothed and calmed for the first time in hours. I stepped away and walked toward my car, allowing my finger to scrape lightly along the building I had just left. The color of stucco that the station sported didn't match well with the coarse concrete substance that it was built with. The scraping ended abruptly as my hand reached the edge of the building, transferring over to the low, pebbled wall that housed our business parking lot.

I hadn't parked back there. That lot was used for company vehicles; cars, vans, and SUV's that the reporters and production personnel could transfer equipment in. We had no actual employee parking, instead finding whatever place we could on the street to leave our vehicles. I quickly located my white minivan and strode toward it. I stepped over a puddle that had pooled against the curb as I reached for the door, key already in hand.

As I ducked into the car, I felt a humid wall of heated air billow out. It had been rather warm earlier in the day, and it seemed that the still, cool air of the night hadn't had enough time to undo the influence of the sun. I took note of the various bottles of soda, most only half emptied, that littered the floor around me. Glancing to the center console, I found my cup holders occupied by two unfinished cans of Mountain Dew. Sandwiched between them, my belt cutter and window breaker peeked out toward the back seats. I really need to clean this thing out. I paused, contemplating. Tomorrow. Something I'd told myself dozens of times before.

Returning home, Metallica blaring from the speakers, I started getting the itch again. I scratched incessantly at it, hoping it would go away. There was a ringing in my ears. My eyes were trained on the road ahead of me, but all I could see was that gleaming blade, and the blood splashing all over. I had to see it one more time. To take in every little detail, and know as much as possible about that horrific, beautiful scene.

The obsession for this macabre voyeurism gripped me. I could feel my foot pressing more heavily on the gas as I raced to my home, just five minutes away. My hands tensed up, fingers digging into the steering wheel. I started to sweat profusely, overcome with an odd nervousness. The itch returned, worse than before, like a rash treated with mosquitoes.

Am I really having a panic attack over this? What the fuck? My heart was pounding in my chest. It felt like my ribs were cracking. The rock music faded away as the sound of blood rushing through my head grew louder. The tension in my hands intensified; I could see the veins and arteries on the backs of my hands, raised and quivering. I had to do something about this. I had to get home. I had to see it again. I had to...

Realization spread through my entire body, and the horrible discomfort started to subside. No. My hands relaxed, and the fake leather cover of the wheel slowly expanded back into place. I have a better idea. The pulsating rush in my ears grew silent, and my heartbeat calmed to normality. My eyes glanced down to the hooked pommel that housed the belt cutter, the conic point of the window breaker gleaming in the light of the streetlamps. Yeah. Much better. I took a sharp u-turn and calmly directed my vehicle toward the interstate.

The day crawled. It seemed like time had slowed down, and each second, each minute, each hour, was far longer than they should have been. Where is it? Nearly a full day later, a witness to call the police, and a conspicuous hiding spot should all result in a rapid discovery. We had to cover this story. I knew it was coming, so where was it?


Julia's melodious voice rang out through the room. "Another man was found dead with deep puncture wounds in his chest. 52-year-old Martin Copeland was discovered beneath the overpass of Interstate 37." A surge ran through my spine that I could feel in every nerve. My hands reflexively curled into fists, accentuating the small, fresh scratches. I had to fight against this motion, lest the other people around me get suspicious of my habits. I don't know why I cared what they thought; I guess I was more concerned with my own privacy. Nonetheless, the ecstasy that I felt was far more intense than I imagined it would be, and it continued to swell as Julia continued.

"Police began investigating late last night in response to a call placed by an onlooker. From their testimony, the attacker lured Copeland using the ruse of a flat tire. The witness says that the culprit brandished a switch-blade knife bearing markings associated with the American naval forces." I really didn't think she would notice that. It wasn't going to help though. Turns out ordinary knife shops will sell you a naval knife. Wait, does the navy even use switch-blades? I would have to consult Google later.

"We reached out to this witness for a statement, but they declined to comment, asking that they not be on camera." Not surprising. The bitch was scared shitless. Apparently, she had never seen a crime show before. I actually kinda felt bad for her. I could remember a time when that sort of thing would bother me, but it'd been ages. By that point, all of that unseemly stuff was just part of everyday living.

"Based on the type of wound inflicted, as well as the distance between the overpass and the location of the call, police are certain that Copeland's tragic death was a homicide." Of course it was. There could be no doubt. I closed my eyes momentarily, recalling every tiny detail in seconds.

The helpful motorist pulled to the side of the road to assist the beleaguered traveler with a flat tire. His kind demeanor was actually endearing. He looked like any average guy, just helping out. He may have been a father on his way home from work. He didn't acknowledge the fact that I didn't say a word when he approached. He didn't notice the odd way I was standing, at once approaching and avoiding him. He didn't notice the phone propped against the 'flat' tire. If the itch hadn't been so strong, I probably wouldn't have troubled him. I would just mumble that I was fine and give up on the whole thing. But I needed it. Another car approached, blinding Copeland with its headlights.

Then, there was the pressure, the resistance of his flesh. His coat was thin, but effective. It took a couple tries to really get results. The bright lights of the oncoming motorist illuminated the crimson streams that were coating the gray cotton of Copeland's jacket. He struggled, sputtering, desperately scratching away at my hands that were drenched in his blood. Soon enough, though, he stopped moving altogether, and I had the arduous task of pulling him to the rear of my van. It was already unlocked, a plastic tub set there ready to be filled.

I heard the car screech to a halt behind me. Looking over my shoulder, I knew that it was time to go. She already had her phone to her ear, and she was rapidly approaching, shouting at me. I slammed the rear door closed and made my way to the driver's seat, making sure to scoop up my phone. The keys were already in the ignition, simultaneously keeping the doors unlocked and ensuring a quick escape.

As I drove, I took constant care to ensure that everything was where it should be. License plates glimmered in the passenger seat as I drove. Despite speeding away at first, I maintained a legal velocity once I was sure I wasn't being tailed. I took several odd paths in order to loop back around without being seen. The last thing I wanted was to talk to the cops, or anyone for that matter. Soon enough, the overpass came into view.

"At this time, police have been unable to gather forensic evidence. They are now asking for anyone with information regarding this case to come forward." Only one witness, and she won't talk. No chance anyone will be able to help police with this one. It took a long time to wipe the skin and blood out from under his nails. It took even longer to rinse the tub, scrub the carpet, and wipe down the rear bumper. The only evidence left was the video file silently sitting in my phone. With the conclusion of the report, I relished in the overwhelming satisfaction of it.

Seriously, why didn't I do that sooner? I got the thrill my body demanded, my beautiful muse was singing my praises, and I had something left afterward that could tide me over until the itch became too strong again. I actually felt confident about being around people, a feeling that was entirely foreign until then. Where was the downside?

But more important questions were wading through my mind. What should I do with my little keepsake? Should I release it, or should I keep it for myself? What are the possible repercussions of letting that video loose? Can it be traced back to me? What are the benefits?

The thought occurred to me that perhaps I should share with the world. Not for their benefit, obviously. But, more than anything else, I just wanted to hear my darling Julia serenading the people of this town with tales of me. I hadn't thought such a thing possible, but what else could describe what I had just heard. I have to. I have to let her see.

But then what? Then I would have nothing left. Nothing for me, after hearing that one glorious speech. The video would be ruined, because the magic secrecy I felt in keeping it would no longer be there. And once that report went out over air, that would be it; we'd be done. I would only be able to glimpse Heaven, and then crash back down to Earth. What could I do? The golden gates were closing, and I had to think fast.

Well, the answer was obvious. If I wanted this adulation to persist, then I would have go out again. Not immediately, but soon. After I released the video to the station, anonymously of course, I would have to be ready for another trip out to the overpass. Maybe more than one, to keep up supply. Having a stockpile, I decided, wasn't going to hurt. In fact, it would prove to be very, very fun.


Several weeks passed since that epiphany. I felt better than I ever had. I was in control while sitting on the sidelines, absentmindedly adjusting volume and pitch. My beloved had told the people all about my exploits, and I was starting to gain national attention. The company of others bothered me much less now, as long as Julia wasn't around; I still couldn't really talk to her. None of that mattered to me, though. Just hearing my darling speak, and knowing that it was I who made her feel so strongly was more than enough.

But there was something more happening behind the scenes. My work was not the only thing that had captured that graceful voice. There was another. Another man, doing my deeds, and stealing the voice that enchanted me.

Prolific didn't begin to describe him. After three years of nonstop searching, the police had yet to discover his identity. His signature calling card was infamous though. A large letter "M", written on the victim's foreheads, carefully sketched to include intricate swoops and swirls. His body count numbered fifty-three, including the corpse of the day.

I had heard this story before. We had covered it many times. It was always something that intrigued and fascinated me. Aside from the initial, fatal wounds, the rest of the body was carefully carved with beautiful looping patterns. Most people didn't notice, but these were inflicted postmortem, evidenced by their persistent nature, existing as open fissures in the skin. It must have taken a long time to learn to do that, and even longer to pull it off to this degree. Unsurprising, in retrospect, given the longevity of his career.

Not long after I started with my 'side hobby', though, I started to feel very differently about him. I regarded him as a thief, a swindler who had stolen the voice of an angel from me before I ever had a chance to hear it. He was a major problem for me, a thorn in my side that I had to be rid of.

I started to learn how to talk with Julia more after that. It wasn't easy; my hands shook the entire time, though she probably didn't notice since I hid them in my pockets. There was no way she noticed the sweat beading down my face, a result of her presence. I thought I would be more prepared for conversations with her. I guess I underestimated the difference between the screen and real life. I did manage to choke out a few questions: what she thought of these murderers, and by proxy, what she thought of me.

"It's awful. How can anyone do that? How broken does someone have to be to think that that's okay?"

She said things like that a lot, but I could feel something different. I heard intrigue in her voice, something that was a shock for me. She had reported on many different stories throughout the years, but I had never heard her so moved by any of them. It made me smile on the inside, despite my exterior discomfort and agreement with her sentiments.

But I was also distraught. I hadn't only asked her about the killer that I had become, but about the other one as well. I had no idea which one she was really interested in, and that lack of knowledge rattled me. I had to know. I had to know what she really thought. And the only way to do that was to track the "M" killer down.

What will I do if I find him? That question proved to be harder to answer than I thought. I couldn't just line us up and have her pick, now could I. Not only did that make no sense, but worse still was the thought that she wouldn't want to be with me, that I would be inferior to this mysterious murderer. The ridicule and heartbreak would be too much to bear. So, what then? What could I do to resolve this problem?

I would have to get rid of him. Get rid of him and ensure that he never threatened my love for Julia again. Ensure that her voice would speak only of me, and that this man's legacy would be silenced and forgotten. It was the only way.

I started researching everything I could regarding the crime scenes. It took some doing, and more time than I care to admit, but I became a volunteer Crimestopper. Unfortunately, as I discovered, the volunteers are about as useless as the personnel at the news station. Their lack of information was more disheartening than I thought it would be. I would have to try something else.

"Hey, Nate. How are you, man? It's been a while." That baritone was always an insult to me. I was sure that it was what landed him all of his dates. We were brothers, but he was the only one that was blessed like that.

"I'm alright. How are you? How's work?"

"Ah, you know. It's always a bit hectic, but I'm doing pretty good."

"Yeah? What's so hectic about it? Something big happen?" I just needed an in. I just needed a way to get him talking.

"No, nothing like that. It's just a lot of work. We've been getting a ton of calls recently, and we're all just sort of scrambling." Yeah, I bet. A bunch of corpses showing up out of nowhere will do that.

"Well, what about that other thing. The monogram guy. You catch him yet?"

I heard a loud sigh on the other end. "That guy is just the biggest kick in the ego ever. You'd think with the entire force working around the clock we'd make some kinda progress, but this one's got us chasing our tails."

"Have you thought about bringing in some outside help? I mean, like, more than just the Crimestoppers?"

"Obviously." The snark in his voice was not lost on me. "But we can't bring just anybody in. I mean, average people just aren't equipped to deal with this stuff. Besides that, there are protocols in place to prevent outside involvement. It's all corporate type stuff, but they're there for good reason. Basically, we're out of luck there. Unless someone calls in with something useful, we can't really do anything more than what we're doing now."

Alright, I just need to convince him to let me into the police station to look around. I need to know what they haven't told the news. "So, the guy just gets to run free while you sit and wait? That kinda sucks."

"Well, what would you do?" He was almost shouting into the phone at me. I felt a little bad, but he wouldn't understand anyway.

"Let someone in that can actually help. You guys need a new perspective. Someone else to look things over and point you in a different direction."

"We don't have anyone like that. Why are you so invested in this anyway?"

Shit. I didn't think he would ask me that, and I wasn't really prepared to answer it. My motivation wasn't particularly moral, but I was doing what I needed to do. He wouldn't understand. No one would understand.

I thought on my feet. "Someone I knew wound up on the news the other day. I had to listen to Julia telling everyone about the nasty things that were done to him; how his skin was all torn up and how he was found just laid out in the middle of a park. I'm tired of it. He wasn't the first one we reported on, but I want him to be the last."

There was an extended silence from the other end. What's taking him so long. He believed me, right? I mean, I tried my best to keep my voice steady. Was that wrong? Would it have been more suspicious if I was distraught? Ah, fuck. Now I'm confused. There's no way he believed me. He would have said something by now. Does he suspect me? Does he know what I've been doing?

"Look, I understand how you feel, but there's nothing we can do that we aren't already trying. I can't help you, man. Sorry."

I knew he was about to hang up. I had to give him something, anything. Something that would get me to the station with him.

"My friend was already dead when your killer made those decorative cuts."

He stopped again, but only for a moment. He put the phone back to his face, and his voice was far more serious this time. He spoke in a hushed tone. He was probably at work.

"How the hell do you know that? No one was supposed to know details like that."
I suddenly felt a bit nervous, like I could feel his eyes scrutinizing me. I could tell he was taking careful note of my words. He was definitely suspicious of me.

"Th.. The cuts. They were smooth, clean. They were shallow, like the skin was sliced away with a potato peeler. They weren't bloody. They weren't raised at the edge. If he were alive, they would look different."

Bruce must have thought there was something wrong with me. I mean, who the hell knows that type of stuff? But I knew. I had seen so much macabre stuff online over the years, and I paid attention to the details. Most people probably wouldn't have noticed something like that, but it was easy to see after a few times through. My sick hobby may very well have spooked my brother out of helping me. I knew I shouldn't have told anyone.

He sighed under his breath. "I don't want to know how you know that. I should just hang up the phone and pretend we never talked."

"Y-yeah. I guess so. Sorry." I started to put the phone down, my thumb creeping toward the icon that would end the call.

"If I wasn't so desperate to get somewhere I wouldn't say this, but I want to come pick you up and bring you to the station."

No fucking way. There is no way that worked.

"You know what you're talking about. You already know more than you should about this. And it's not like you're an idiot."

A brief rustling emanated from the earpiece of my phone. I heard Bruce's voice, but it sounded far away, like he had the phone away from his ear.

"I can't believe I'm even considering this."

Another rustle. His voice returned to full volume, and he continued. "When's your next day off?"

"U-uh, Saturday."

"Alright. Stay at home. I'll come pick you up, and we'll go together. I'll let you know when I'm on my way."

"Okay, sure thing."

"Alright, I'll talk to you then."

"Alright. Bye."

I hung up before he could respond. My hands were drenched in a sweat I hadn't even noticed. It was hard to hold onto my phone because of all the shaking. I had to take a few breaths and try to calm myself down. I retrieved my laptop from my bag. I already knew what I needed to see.

Bruce arrived later that week. He brought his cruiser, a white SUV with 'POLICE' spray-painted in black across the doors. He was kind enough to let me ride in the front seat, moving a laptop over to the central armrest to accommodate me. The drive was short, and silent. I could feel the tension, like a pressure over my entire body. The day was cool, but I was sure I was sweating.

We arrived at the police station just after 2:00. The air conditioning was unnecessary for the weather, but much welcomed for my anxiety. He led me past the various desks and low cubicle walls as various officers greeted me. I was uncomfortable with this on many levels. Just leave me alone. I'm not here to talk to you. Soon enough, we were able to break away from the small group, and Bruce led me toward a glass door with Venetian blinds on the inside. There was some text plastered on the door in bronze paint.

'Reggie Hanson, Chief'

I presumed it meant that he was the chief of police. Bruce knocked lightly on the door, and a larger, heavier-set man answered. His dark receding hair seemed to be translated into the length of his bushy mustache. He looked stern, and the thick rimmed glasses he sported somehow served to reinforce this. His voice was slightly gravelly, and a peculiar smell tipped me off that he may have been a heavy smoker.

"What do you need, Bruce?"

"I..." Bruce froze up. I'd never seen that happen before. At least, not to him. I recognized the expression on his face from my own experiences. He was intimidated, afraid of what he was about to hear. He was expecting rejection. He made up his mind to initiate the conversation, but lost his nerve before it really started.

"What is it? I'm busy here." Hanson prodded Bruce to continue. Apparently that was all he needed.

"I need to talk to you about the monogram case. My brother wants to help us out."

The portly man glanced over to me. I felt my body recoil away from that discerning glare. He turned back to my brother.

"Why doesn't he join up with Crimestoppers. They're helpful." The way he said that, I wasn't sure he really believed it. There was a sort of sarcastic inflection buried in the words that told me exactly what he thought about them.

Bruce apparently already knew about his chief's lack of faith. He seemed annoyed that his boss was playing with him.

"Come on. I'm serious about this. He already knows that most of the cuts were made postmortem. I didn't tell him. He figured it out on his own."

This made Hanson stop for a moment. He looked back at me again. He stared for a long time, eyes narrowed. Without noticing, I maneuvered behind Bruce, seeking protection from this gaze.

"Why don't you have a seat out here? I need to talk with your brother about some things."

He ushered Bruce into his office, leaving me behind. I took a seat in one of the plastic chairs lined up along the wall. Thoughts ran through my head at lightning speed.

What are they talking about? Why was that guy looking at me like that? Does he know? No, there's no possible way he could figure out that I'm a serial killer. Not just like that. Right? But if he doesn't think so, then why is he talking to Bruce in private? Is it just protocol? Why am I so worried about this? There's nothing that can tie me to those bodies. Come on! Calm down. Just breathe. Relax. Just get what you came here for and get out.

It was nearly 10 minutes before Bruce came back out. He seemed exhausted from his conversation with the chief. He turned to me, wiping his brow.

"Well, I managed to convince him that you could help. He gave me authorization to let you see those files. But I have to stress that NONE of this leaves the station. You can't write anything down, and you can't let anyone learn about what's in those files. Understand?"

I nodded silently. I could tell he was deadly serious. I'd never seen him so strict in my life. It unnerved me.

He led me back to a room full of boxes. The musty smell of old paper was overwhelming. Each box was labeled with a range of time, day-month-year to day-month-year. Several boxes were set apart from the others. They had two labels. Some of the boxes said 'Cold Cases'. The rest read 'Current'.

Bruce started rifling through one of the 'Current' boxes. There were dozens of files inside. They had all sorts of labels, although most simply had a name. He retrieved a massive stack of files, all contained in a manila folder that was clearly too small for that many pages.

"Here. This is everything." He solemnly handed me the folder. It felt more like he was handing me a live grenade, afraid that I would pull the pin. I took it, quickly catching the few files that started to slide out to one side.

"Thanks. I appreciate it." I meant it, but not for the reasons he thought. I was one step closer to eliminating my competition and securing Julia's adoration for myself.

I set the file on the wood-top, folding-leg table that was set in the room. I had to wipe away a thin layer of dust to clear a space to work. Opening the folder, I spread out nearly seventy files across the surface of the table. Some were a single page thick. Others rivaled some short stories I had read. I asked how long I could look them over.

"I'll stick around a while, help answer any questions you think of, but eventually, I'm gonna want to get home. I can't let you stay here after that."

I nodded, looked over the files, and started reading. I could see why this criminal was such a problem for the police. He was careful, meticulously ensuring that no physical evidence was left for them to find.

Even more interesting, I discovered that he took his victims long before the first was ever found. Files regarding earlier victims didn't reveal much that wasn't already known. After a while, though, the police started soliciting help from states with greater forensics capabilities in an effort to break the case. DNA sequencing of the victims that were examined by these other institutions resulted in several abnormalities. Autopsy and subsequent testing revealed severe damage to the cellular structure of those found. After several days scratching their heads, coroners concluded that the victims had all been frozen for an extended period of time, being discovered shortly after thawing. The killer had taken them out of storage long enough to carve a masterpiece, and left them out on display.

This discovery created chaos within the police force. Most of the files I could find were dated after the coroner's report, and suddenly anyone with a deep freezer was a suspect. No one was ever convicted, however, because there was a complete lack of any physical evidence. Despite the police stopping at over three-hundred houses, businesses, and even government buildings in the three years since the bodies started appearing, the murderer had still evaded capture. I started to think that this was impossible. There's no way anyone is this good. Three years of searching, and nothing to show for it. How?

I turned to Bruce to get some confirmation about what I had read, and found that he wasn't looking at the case files as I read them. He was watching me, carefully studying. I started to realize that this was why Hanson had spoken with him while I was out of the room. I was allowed back here, but Bruce was still trying to pin me as a suspect. I decided that I had seen enough after that. I told Bruce that I could understand why this was so tough, but I didn't think of anything that I could add. I apologized, but he didn't seem satisfied. Despite that, the led me to his cruiser, and drove me home, though I could feel his scrutinizing gaze on me the entire way.


I ruminated over that newfound information for over a month. It dominated my thoughts, and even started influencing my dreams. I started to get sloppy, making mistakes that got the cops snooping around my house. Bruce himself even made a house call. He was the worst one, searching more fervently for anything that he could use to prove I was involved. I had prepared for this, moving the video files onto a separate hard drive that, along with my trusty knife, was hidden a half of a mile away in the woods. It was difficult to function without them, but it didn't matter. I had to lay low, I had to know who this person was, and I had to find him.

I came to a realization in early October while at work. Another victim had been discovered, but I was on high alert, carefully analyzing everything I could about this new occurrence. And then she said it. In her report Julia mentioned that much of the information regarding the culprit had come from an anonymous source. It wasn't just a one off thing. Every time we ran a story on the bastard, Julia would always cite an anonymous source as an informant.

The police had questioned and investigated everyone related, but I was certain that whoever the guy was, Julia had to know him. Her informant had to be the one I was looking for. My hands started violently shaking. I tried to hold them steady, to no avail. I had to talk to Julia. I needed to know who her informant was. We were mid-show, so I couldn't just barge into the studio asking questions, but I couldn't hold it together.

I started making little mistakes that Rich harped on me for. He didn't understand. None of them understood. The lengths that I had to go through to get this far, the things I was about to do; how could he have any clue? I brushed him off, snapped back at him, but ultimately just stopped listening. Trying and failing to focus, I used every bit of patience I could muster just to finish out the day.

It was nearly 11:00 at night when I finally got out to the studio to talk to Julia. The sounds of my footsteps echoed around the room as I strode up to the glass-top desk where she sat. She was wearing a black suit top and skirt, which blended together like a dress that extended down to her knees. She was smart; it accented her well.

"I need to talk to you."

"About what?" She seemed nervous, and I became embarrassed, realizing that I said something strange and frightened her.

"Th-the person telling you about the serial killer we keep reporting on. Th-the one that..."

"I can't talk about that." She interrupted me, understanding what I was after, and stood up from her chair. "All of that stuff is confidential." She retrieved her purse and stepped down from the rolling stage the desk stood upon. Her heels clacked loudly against the dark tiling as she walked. I followed her downstairs to the front door, talking the entire way.

"It's important. I-I've been working with the police, looking over case files, and I think I have something to go on, but I need to know who you've been talking to about this."

She stopped for a moment, and turned to look me in the eyes. It was a moment I was unprepared for. I pulled back a bit.

"You're working with the police? For how long?"

"A-about two months, give or take." I could hear the embarrassment in my own voice, reminiscent of a teenager asking his crush to prom. I wasn't precisely truthful, but it was close enough.

"Why didn't you tell anyone about it?" she asked, turning to continue down the stairs.

"I can't. The police files are sealed, locked up tight. No one is supposed to tell anyone what they know outside of the station."

Julia opened the door leading out to the street. I held it as she stepped out. The cool autumn air was a sharp contrast to the warmth of the building. The sky was overcast, a sea of dark waves, pierced only by the shining moon.

"But you want me to tell you all of the things she told to me in confidence?" Julia's face held an uncharacteristic, stern expression. I hadn't thought it was possible for her to become this upset with someone, and the whole situation put me on edge.

"If it means I can find the son of a bitch. I know that whoever your informant is, they can lead me to the killer."

"Well, what would you do if you actually did manage to find him?"

I was worried about this one. I didn't want to lie to Julia, above all else. At least, not any more than I already had. But if I told the truth, whether she really cared about the guy or not, I had a feeling she wouldn't like what she heard. I had to force myself to give an answer she might accept.

"Give what I found to the police, and make sure the guy goes to jail."

She stopped for a second, and nodded, a her lips curling up into a smile. I smiled too, seeing that I had earned her trust. Inside, though, I was cursing myself for betraying her.

"Come on. My notes are in my car." she said, after a moment of internal deliberation. She turned away from me, walking purposefully along the side of the building. I caught myself staring, her hips rocking as she walked. I was enamored, but equally uncomfortable. I followed as she led me past the low wall into the station parking lot. As an anchor, she had the special privilege of being permitted to park in an enclosed space.

Julia leaned down, unlocking the rear passenger door of her black family sedan. Pulling it open with a satisfying 'kachunk', she ducked inside with her back to me, rummaging around, before crawling in. I admired the view, but was caught off guard when she spoke.

"Are you coming or what?" I pulled myself back to reality, reluctantly stooping down into the vehicle. Despite the fact that this was a 'business meeting' of sorts, I still felt a little awkward getting into Julia's car. She handed me a large manila envelope stamped with that signature 'M', a small, patient smile adorning her face.

"This is everything I've been told. Everything that made it into the newscasts, and a few things that didn't." I folded in the tiny metal tabs that held the envelope closed, pulling the upper tab free. I slid the papers out, using the envelope as a rest for them. I started reading, but Julia suddenly threw herself at me. Then the pain in my chest started, and I gave Julia a confused look. She wasn't smiling any more, and I glanced down to find her hand wrapped around something silver.

"It is with great sadness that we bring you this story. This morning, a missing person's report was filed with regard to our very own Nathan Renier. He was last seen leaving our station Thursday night at approximately 11:00 PM. Police have issued an APB for Nathan's vehicle, a white Ford minivan. They are encouraging anyone with information regarding his whereabouts or the location of his vehicle to contact local authorities or Crimestoppers. A link has also been set up on our website for those of you looking to help our search. Reporting live, I'm Julia Monroe for Channel 6 News."

Creepypasta / The "Grad Night" Series by CrackedMack
« on: 03/08/19, 04:54 AM »
Grad Night in the Haunted Mansion

On June 4th, 1983, my high school was one of many that took us to Disneyland for Grad Night. If you've ever been to Disneyland on Grad Night, you know how much fun—and how crazy—it can be. The park stays open extra late, the skippers who drive the Jungle Cruise boats let loose and tell dirty jokes, and there's plenty of opportunities for people to sneak booze and weed in. Getting a bunch of amped high-schoolers in Disneyland is one thing, but with a nightlife and party atmosphere behind it, things can get pretty nuts.

My two friends and I, Anaheim locals, were particularly excited. We all loved Disneyland, and while we didn't get to visit often, living practically in the park's backyard gave us more opportunities than most. In addition, we hadn't been since the new Fantasyland opened earlier that year, going from a sort of Medieval fairground into a storybook village, so I was kind of looking forward to that. Unlike a lot of people who were there, we intended to keep things clean and have a grand old time of it, hit as many rides as possible, and just revel.

But the big plan for the night was kind of ambitious and maybe a little reckless; to this day, I can't remember who suggested it first, only that we all thought it was a great idea. We had already gotten into the park and gone on a number of rides when it was brought up, while we were sitting on a bench in Frontierland eating churros. From where we sat, we could look across the Rivers of America to Tom Sawyer Island, and past that where the river curved to New Orleans Square. Poking above the trees was the cupola of the Haunted Mansion, with its clipper ship weather-vane. The sun had just gone down, and the sky was awash with dull orange and purple clouds, most of which seemed to loom behind the cupola. I pointed out how perfect and spooky the whole thing looked, and that got us talking about it. The mansion was a collective favorite, and being dumb kids, we agreed to do a little exploring: to effectively "spend the night" in the Haunted Mansion.

We laughed about as we got in line for it, moving past the brick columns and up the walk toward the mansion, but inside I was a bit nervous. You have to understand security was a bit more lax back then, so it was plausible that we would be able to pull this off if we were careful. Plus, Grad Night always had kids getting into trouble, and the likelihood of us getting banned for good was not as high as it could have been. But I still felt tense, that feeling you get when you're scared about going on a thrill ride for the first time, excited but hesitant.

The three of us—Mike, Karen and myself—had it all worked out: when you first enter the mansion, you're escorted into a room that seems to stretch and warp before your eyes, which is actually an elevator that takes guests below ground, where a hallway connects to the ride building beyond the park's berm. As everyone else crowded out of the room and into the Hall of Morphing Portraits, we lagged behind (which the disembodied voice of the Ghost Host jokingly warns you not to do) and fell in at the very back of the line. By the time we piled into our "Doombuggy", there was no one else behind us, and the black, endless procession of clam shell-like cars were empty.

We went through the ride as normal, cracking jokes and making banter at all the old familiar scenes, until we reached the exit crypt. We stepped out onto the moving platform and walked toward the escalator ramp that leads from the crypt back to the park outside. If you don't know, the escalator hugs the wall on the right, but on the left is a small crypt scene where a tiny, ghostly bride stands on a stone shelf and tells you to "Hurry back...Hurry back..."

Mike took charge here, deliberately turning backwards as we went up to watch the cast member near the buggies below us. Mike's a big, broad-shouldered guy, a football player through-and-through, and his bulk hid me and Karen from view as we slowly ascended. At his signal, when the cast member monitoring the exit had his back turned, Karen and I climbed over the rail and dropped down into the crypt scene, where we quickly scurried under the dusty space beneath the escalator. Mike was over a moment later, and we laughed and congratulated each other on a job well done.

We must have spent a good hour or so down there, giggling into our hands whenever we heard footsteps and voices overhead of unsuspecting people exiting the ride. Karen even had some snacks she'd brought with her, and we sat there in the dark and ate and whispered to each other. It was like being in a weird clubhouse, and it felt good that we three shared this delinquency together, even as the narration of the ghost bride looped over and over again in the background: "Hurry back...Hurry back...Be sure to bring your death certificate. If you decide to join us, make final arrangements now. We've been...dying to have you."

Eventually the novelty wore off, and we got quiet, and then listless. Sure, we'd managed this much, but then what? Karen pointed out that it had been eerily silent for awhile—other than the monotonous speech of the bride and other spooky ambient sounds, there were no more people coming up the ramp. Mike said he thought maybe the park had closed, but that made no sense because it was open all night on Grad Night. Not wanting to get in trouble, but also wondering what was up, I volunteered to clamber back up and take a look. When I did, using some of the crypt scenery for hand and footholds, I saw that there was no one around, not even a cast member down at the unloading platform at the end.

When I reported this, Mike and Karen climbed back up as well, and we went back down the unloading station to look around. All the Doombuggies coming along the corridor were empty, and there was not a person in sight. It was odd, to say the least, and I felt like something was definitely off to have the place so empty. I was about to suggest turning around and heading back outside when Mike said he'd always wondered where the Doombuggies went after they dropped you off. They rounded a dark corner in the crypt area and vanished from sight, and Mike was curious what was down there.

Now really, I should have said no—that there was no point and that we could get into some serious trouble if we snooped around back there. It was probably just a utility corridor anyway, since the buggies just looped back around to the loading room anyway. But I was young, and I was stupid, and when presented with a golden opportunity like that, it was hard to pass it up.

So we went ahead and jumped into a Doombuggy going by, and it slowly rounded the corner into the darkness. This was uncharted territory for us, and even if it turned out to be boring back there, at the very least we'd get a chance to see it, and maybe get another ride out of it.

Hardly a day goes by where I regret not having said something.

The main thing I remember was how spartan it was. It wasn't quite pitch black, but it was even gloomier in there than the rest of the ride. There were small lights set into the walls on either side of the track, but they were low to the ground and far between. The walls were painted black, and the corridor seemed so narrow that I felt boxed in. It was quiet too, other than the hum of the track moving the buggies. I felt tense, and Mike and Karen weren't helping that, because they looked tense too; I think it was dawning on all of us how much trouble we might get in.

I think a minute or so had passed like this, us going down that dark, featureless backstage corridor, when the ride suddenly stopped and I nearly jumped out of my skin as a voice came from somewhere overhead — and laughed when I realized I'd been startled by the normal breakdown spiel. "Playful spooks have interrupted our tour," the recording went. "Please remain seated in your Doombuggy. We will proceed in just a moment."

The teasing was immediate, as we all pointed out to each other how we'd jumped. We waited for the ride to start again, and every thirty seconds or so, the spiel would play: "We have been unappointedly detained by prankish spirits. Kindly remain seated in your Doombuggy. We will continue our tour momentarily." This went on for good long while—ten, maybe fifteen minutes—and still the buggies hadn't moved; no one had come looking for us. We were getting antsy, and the silence between the announcements was becoming unsettling.

Then Karen leaned out a bit and looked around, and she noticed the door first. Just ahead, past the buggy in front of us, work lights revealed a little alcove and a utility door on the right-hand side of the corridor. We were so sick of being in the buggy by that point we were willing to try anything, so after a short discussion, we all squeezed out of the buggy, pressed against the wall to go past the next one (Mike had trouble here) and stood before the door. I pushed it open, finding it unlocked, and it led to a metal staircase leading down into the darkness, footlights like the ones in the corridor revealing where to go. I was thinking up excuses in my head as we went down the stairs, to explain why were likely stepping into Disney's underground utility corridors—the infamous "Utilidors" said to run like a spiderweb beneath Disneyland—if someone found us. And by this point, I hoped someone did.

At the bottom of the stairs, another closed door with a sign on it, reading "Cast Members Only." We pushed through that as well, and were legitimately surprised to see that it opened into what looked like a themed hallway. Disney, even backstage, seemed to be paying attention to style, as this hall sported the purple "demon wallpaper" and wainscoting of the rooms above. It was even lit by candle sconces on the walls, the fake flickering bulbs coated with cobwebs and dust. Several detailed wooden doors lined the hall, with out-of-place white placards mounted to them. Each was marked as a Prop Room, with a corresponding number.

As we made our way up the hall, we tried each door we came to and found them all locked. The first door, Prop Room 1, shook a bit but wouldn't budge. Same with 2 and 3. Mike chuckled and said he wondered if we would find Walt Disney's frozen head down here, but I could hear a nervous waver in his laugh. Even I was feeling some sense of dread with each door we tried, something hard to place but nagging. At Door 4, I put my ear to the edge of it and thought I heard what sounded like rushing water or faint TV static from the other side, and at 5 I noticed that the faux candles flanking it were flickering more sporadically than the rest, like they were faulty. Door 6, to left and near another plain utility door that marked the hall's end, was the only one that yielded to us, and I was the one who turned the cold handle and opened it for the first time.

It's difficult for me to describe what I saw in there without shuddering, because even now my telling makes it sound fairly normal... That is, as normal as a room hidden under a theme park attraction can possibly be. It wasn't very big, almost like a large storage shed. Unlike the hall, this one was the bland utility black, and lit by a single fluorescent light in the ceiling, albeit a dim one. The walls were lined with metal cabinets, and there was some sort of large, archaic gadget shoved into one corner, not unlike the old computer banks from the 60's. But what caught my attention right away was the grinning figure near the far wall, across from the door—a dummy or animatronic of some sort, lifeless and unmoving but standing on its base.

The discovery was fascinating to all of us, and without thinking we all edged into the room and immediately approached the figure. It was clearly meant to be one of the ghosts in the ride, a specter in a top hat with a skull-like face, cartoony bulging eyes and a leering smile; one of the teeth was even painted gold. He stood in a bow-legged stance, one gnarled hand holding a cane and the other a hatbox. None of us had ever seen this particular character on the ride before, though Karen said its face looked a lot like the tall, skinny hitchhiking ghost from the end of the ride.

I was just turning away from the figure to look at the cabinets when there was a combustion roar from the hall outside, like the sound of a passing motorcycle, followed by a loud, bassy boom that made the floor shake. The door to the room swung shut, and the fluorescent light sputtered and went out, leaving us in total darkness. Mike gasped and Karen screamed, and I was just reaching out for them in the dark when I heard a peculiar whirring sound. Another light came on, this one a concentrated green light above the hatbox ghost, showing its skeleton smile for a moment before that light faded and another faded on, illuminating the hatbox. I could see through the material of the hatbox now, and saw the ghost's head grinning at me from inside. The pattern repeated itself rhythmically, making it seem like the ghost's head was disappearing from his shoulders and appearing in the hatbox. It wasn't a terribly convincing effect, but in the dark and with the strange things going on around me, it genuinely scared me.

I turned and stumbled through the room, ready to get out of there, feeling around for the door. Now even the light on the ghost shut off, and I heard Karen and Mike's feet behind me, a crash, and the sound of something solid tapping the concrete floor. I tried pushing the door open, but it wouldn't budge, and somebody slammed into my back in the dark and caused me to hit it hard. I was dazed but unhurt, and another scream from Karen fueled my adrenaline even more. I instead gave the door a tug and it opened.

I was out in the hall without a second thought, without even looking back. I started running, sprinting back the way I had come, gasping for air. I was never a very athletic kid, but panic kept me going. I heard sounds behind me—footsteps, Mike and Karen yelling in terror as they followed, and what seemed like rapid knocking and banging on the doors around me—but I refused to look over my shoulder. Up the stairs and back into the Doombuggy corridor in what felt like a matter of seconds. The Doombuggies were moving now, endlessly traveling through the shadows. I knew it was risky to jump into one in this narrow corridor, and for a moment I stopped, trying to figure out what to do.

I finally looked back, back down the stairway I had come from. I thought Mike and Karen had been right behind me, but they were gone. I called out their names, my voice echoing down the stairs, but there was no reply. Not until I heard something tapping the metal stairs, coming up toward the door, and saw an unfamiliar vague shadow on the wall that I flung the door closed and dove into the nearest buggy, which carried me down the corridor a little ways before finally emerging into the limbo-like loading room.

All of the effects were still running here, including the eerie music and sounds, but there was still no one else around. I yelled for help, but no one appeared. As soon as I could I jumped out of the Doombuggy and ran back up the line, into the Hall of Morphing Portraits. Ahead was the door to the elevator, the Stretching Gallery, but I remembered that this area had a more immediate chicken exit, meant for those too scared to ride the ride and wanted to head back up to the park. The door was marked with an obvious exit sign, sitting between two shuttered windows that made it look like it led outside to a stormy night, and without hesitating I pushed through that as well.

Beyond was another corridor, on either side of me flashing lights pointed at the windows to simulate lightning, flickering with each thunderclap that boomed through the hall, disorienting me even further. Turning left, I followed the hall as the floor inclined gently up, my throat tight and a stitch in my side.

And then my throat closed altogether as I turned a corner almost ran into the hatbox ghost.

It was standing smack-dab in the middle of the hall, between me and the door that led outside. I scrambled backward instinctively, but the figure didn't move. It was a static prop, grinning its cadaver grin, back-lit by a ceiling light further down the hall. The light also broke the illusion of the hatbox, and I could see vaguely the shape of the disembodied head through the scrim.

I was convinced—thoroughly convinced at that moment—that thing was going to suddenly jerk to life and come after me, but it didn't. I had no idea how it had gotten there from down in the sub-level, or how it had so quickly. Maybe the one I'd seen below wasn't the only figure; maybe Mike and Karen were pulling a fast one on me, and had dragged the figure up with them. I was frozen, trying to figure out where to go next, not wanting to go anywhere near the ghost but not wanting to backtrack either, because I still felt like there was something sinister behind me. Nervously, I croaked out the names of my lost friends, but there was no reply. Noises from the ride seemed to come floating down the hall, muted but ever-present.

Then I heard the groan.

It could have been a human groan, or something mechanical, but I definitely heard it. It didn't sound like any of the standard audio, and it came from a point somewhere near or past the hatbox ghost, maybe even from further down the corridor past the exit. As if this were a trigger, I realized that either my eyes had adjusted to the dark or the lighting had somehow changed, because I looked again at the hatbox and saw the thing inside through the scrim.

There was still a head in there, but I know it wasn't the ghost's head. It wasn't even a cartoon caricature of a head. It wasn't Mike, or Karen.

It's at this point the details allude me. I know that what I saw shook me to my very core, and that's part of the reason it has taken me so long to recount this. I remember seeing the thing in the box, seeing that it was indeed a human head—a man's face, a face I didn't recognize, seemingly looking back out at me with shocked, pleading eyes—but after that there's a blur of sheer terror and snatches of frightening images: gnarled hands; tombstones; pneumatic hissing; the stretching room going in reverse, shrinking, shrinking too fast, the ceiling rushing toward me, the corpse hanging in the rafters descending on me...

I try not to dwell on them too much, because now I'm no longer sure which really happened and which were the results of the nightmares I'd have for years after.

The next thing I can remember clearly after that is being on my hands and knees just outside the fence of the Haunted Mansion, vomiting onto the pavement, while around me crowds of people stood. Most of them weren't paying me any mind, there was lots of whispered talk and a few were crying. There were red-and-blue lights, police cars parked nearby, but I couldn't tell why. I just sat there gulping and sobbing until a cast member finally noticed me and led me to a first aid station.

Karen was there when I arrived, and she jumped up and hugged me tight when she saw me. I don't think either of us made much sense; we were both at our wit's end, but it was such a relief to see her after all that that any questions I had fell by the wayside. I'll never forget how haunted she looked, wide-eyed and pale, barely able to form a sentence without tearing up.

Mike never turned up.

That fateful night has never left me, and in the years since then I've slowly begun to piece together the details, trying to (vainly) make sense of what happened. It became sort of a private obsession, something to do in the background as I moved on with my life.

First, it didn't take long for Karen and I to learn why the police cars were there, and they weren't for us. According to the reports we heard later, an eighteen-year-old guy from New Mexico had died while we were in the Haunted Mansion. He and a friend had snuck into a backstage area on Tom Sawyer's Island and stole a rubber emergency boat to go for a joyride around the Rivers of America. Apparently this guy was pretty drunk and it wasn't long before he hit a rock, throwing he and his friend from the boat. His friend went for help, but he drowned before they could find him. His body was discovered an hour later.

I wonder now if that's why there was no one around when we crept backstage. I managed to track down a few cast members who were working that night, and though most of them claim that they were told by management to not cause alarm and keep to their posts, several admitted they had gone to check out the grim spectacle... especially those CMs that were on attractions near the river, like the Haunted Mansion. Was the timing such that everyone turned a blind eye while we stumbled into something hideous?

Mike's disappearance was something Karen and I both felt deeply, and we tried for years to get something from anyone about it. His parents never heard from him, and a missing person's report was filed eventually. We didn't tell the truth... Who would believe us? We at least tried to steer the investigation toward the Haunted Mansion, saying that was where we last saw him, but it never went that far. Disney never got implicated in the incident, of course, though the park was his last known whereabouts.

Karen and I eventually drifted, probably because we blamed each other for what happened. She never expressed to me what she experienced after we got separated, either because she wanted me to feel guilty for leaving them behind (oh Karen, you have no idea) or that she, like me, can only recall so much. We were both too shaken to recount to each other. But time and distance make things easier, and with the advent of the Internet there was suddenly a wealth of new information. I've since begun to piece together clues.

Almost immediately I found our Hatbox Ghost. Plugging that into any search engine will turn up multitudes of pictures of that bow-legged, grinning figure that has often floated through my mind's eye in the dark. It was apparently part of the attraction when it first opened in 1969, and much of the promotional material of the ride at the time featured this character and his ubiquitous hatbox. He originally stood in the attic scene, right across from the ghostly bride with the beating heart, but was quietly removed from the ride after only a week; apparently, the effect of his disappearing head never worked properly, or so the official account goes.

In recent years the Hatbox Ghost has gained a fan base, groups of Haunted Mansion fans that want to see him restored to the ride. It's wishful thinking, I'm sure, because that figure had to have been stored downstairs for a reason.

It took longer to find out about the backstage area where the Doombuggies go, that empty corridor not originally meant to be seen by guests; disabled guests, however, travel that route all the time. Wheelchair access to the ride is done through the Limbo-like loading room, and guests travel back around to this room to reclaim their wheelchairs and head back out. I've posted about it and posed queries for details about that area, but no one has given me a description that sounds anything like what I went through. It's been described as short, bland, and with some sort of catwalk going over the track, but no mysterious alcove or obvious doorway. It takes less than thirty seconds for the Doombuggies to go through, and then you're back in the loading room. I suspect Disney might have changed that area since the 80's, but why?

Most recently though, I've come across an odd factoid that seems more like a morbid curiosity than anything else, unless one's been through what I have. It's not about the Haunted Mansion, however, but its nearby E-ticket neighbor, Pirates of the Caribbean. According to the story—and this has been published in various Disney-owned books, so it's no vague rumor—the Imagineers who built the ride felt that the faux skeletons of the time weren't convincing enough for the underground grotto scenes. So they borrowed real human remains from the UCLA Medical Center, dressed them up as pirates, and put them in the caves. Let that sink in for a moment: millions of people went by on boats and had no idea they were looking at real skeletons, all propped up in pirate garb. Eventually, a later team of Imagineers would replace these with more convincing facsimiles, and supposedly the bones were returned to their countries of origin and given proper burial.

But who's to say they were? What if something was left behind in that basement when the bones were taken? And what if Pirates wasn't the only ride that did this? The show building of the Haunted Mansion was built along with the rest of New Orleans Square in 1963, but it took another six years for the actual attraction to open. Why the delay? It couldn't have just been the gridlock from the 1964 World's Fair and Walt Disney's death in '66, could it?

All of this is speculation, a string of understanding that raises more questions for me than it does answers. I want to get to the truth of what happened that night, but everything I've found doesn't add up to a concrete explanation; perhaps there isn't one, though I desperately want there to be. And I can't go back—I won't—not after the things I saw and felt. I haven't set foot in Disneyland since that night.

Maybe, though... Maybe it's time I tried again.

Karen, if you're out there and you're reading this, I'm sorry about everything. I'm trying to make it right, trying to put some meaning to this. Contact me if you can. I need to know what happened to you and Mike—maybe you have the key to the mystery in your memories. I can't do it alone, but together we might get to the bottom of this.

For everyone else, let this stand as a testament: some things are backstage for a reason, and a company like Disney must have a multitude of skeletons in its closets. Think twice before you pull some stupid stunt like I did, because it might not be security that finds you.

The Man With The Cane

Recently I read a story posted on a Disney forum I frequent, an account of three friends who tried to spend a night in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion back in the 80s. Since I don't know the author's name or gender, or even if said author is reading this, I'm not sure how to address him or her. Hopefully whoever put the story out there in the first place will see this.

I tried tracking the author down, and apparently the story had been posted on several forums and sites under different usernames. I'm not sure when it was reposted or where it originated, nor how long it's been circulating. There's even been a few versions where some sections differ, making me wonder what's been tweaked over time.

But regardless, I read it at first thinking nothing of it but a half-assed ghost story. It was well-researched, sure, but there were certain details that were off and raised doubts. I almost dismissed it entirely when there were utilidors mentioned - because only Walt Disney World has those - but that was before the Prop Rooms got brought up.

My own story has lot of similarities, and I doubt its coincidental. I'm not sure how much this will clear things up, but that realization has prompted me to share my knowledge, maybe get a few things off my chest.

I grew up in Orlando, and have pretty much lived my whole life in close proximity to Walt Disney World. My mother met my father while working as a Cast Member at the Magic Kingdom, and now I work there myself (though I'd rather not say where). For as long as I can remember, I've listened to all kinds of urban myths and rumors circulated among cast members at the parks, mainly through my parents; Mom got her start there back in the 70s, not long after the Magic Kingdom first opened, and in '77 she finally got bumped up from retail to attractions, which she had hoped for since she'd been hired. Her first role was a hostess at the Haunted Mansion, a position she thoroughly enjoyed until one August night that same year, when she encountered the Man with the Cane.

The way she tells it, she was a little on edge that night: earlier in the day, a 4-year-old boy had climbed over a railing surrounding the Cinderella's Castle moat and drowned. It was the first death in the park's short history. Management tried to keep the incident as quiet as possible - so the other guests weren't disturbed - but word of it quickly spread among the cast members, and this was fresh on my mom's mind as she worked the loading area for the mansion. Guests would come through from the stretching rooms and board their doom buggies, blissfully unaware that a life had been lost in their midst.

She was working until late, the crowds getting lighter and lighter as the night dragged on, until they were down to one stretch room. The guests were coming few and far between, so there were long periods where it was just her watching the empty doom buggies flow endlessly out one dark corridor and down another, listening to the eerie music and sound effects.

It was during one of these lonely spans of time that she saw him: from around the corner came a doom buggy that was occupied by a man, sitting right in the middle of the car. She described him to me as being gaunt, almost emaciated-looking, dressed in a rumpled suit, hands resting on the handle of a cane set in front of him. He stared straight ahead with pale blue eyes set far back in his head, his expression bitterly grim. He didn't so much as twitch an eyebrow when my mom tried to get his attention, waving at him and saying hello; he just kept staring at some fixed point right in front of him as the doom buggy moved past and on into the rest of the ride.

Immediately my mom noted his car number - 67 - and called the operator at unload on the phone to ask him about the man he had sent her. The operator responded that he hadn't sent her anyone, at which point both of them became very confused. Together they got in touch with their lead, and the three of them proceeded to wait at unload for the man to come around.

Sure enough, car 67 arrived, but it was empty.

There was no way the man could have sneaked out without anyone noticing. My mom never got to review the security camera footage, and to this day she's not sure if there even is any, but she is thoroughly convinced that what she saw was a ghost. It spooked her enough that she had a hard time working late at the mansion, when there were periods where she would be all alone and felt as if someone else was in the room with her, watching her, and requested transfer shortly thereafter. She ended up on the Tropical Serenade (which is the Enchanted Tiki Room today) a month or so later.

But mom was only the first to see this apparition. Stories of the Man with the Cane began to circulate among CMs working at the Haunted Mansion, and every so often someone would catch a glimpse of him, usually riding alone in a doom buggy but sometimes walking in a backstage area of the ride, often only seen reflected in a mirror. He was always described the same way: gaunt, dressed in a suit, sunken eyes and holding a cane. Some say he's the ghost of Yale Gracey, one of the Imagineers that built the Haunted Mansion, while others have claimed that he's much older, the spirit of a pilot whose small test plane went down on the land WDW would be built on, back in the 1940s. Needless to say, it became a local legend among the Haunted Mansion staff, and even those who didn't see him were unnerved that they might, especially if they had to work alone at night.

So of course this was all going through my head when I went to work at the mansion myself, in the early 2000s.

Unlike a lot of people, I've never been a big fan of the Haunted Mansion, though coming from a Disney family I know a lot about it. I think the main reason is because I've always felt a bit uncomfortable around it - I blame my mom's ghost story, of course. Looking at the facade from a distance is fine, but from the moment I pass the gates into the line, I get this prickle of inexplicable worry in the back of my brain, like that feeling you get when you're in a dentist's waiting room about to get a tooth pulled: you know it's going to happen, and it won't be fun.

Of course the ride isn't really that scary, but that irrational feeling doesn't go away until I've left the area behind. I think that's why I opted to take the position as a hostess in the mansion - like mother like daughter, I guess. Plus, I think it had to do with trying to overcome that stupid childhood fear.

Anyway, I got the job and it was pretty normal, for the most part. I got used to it after awhile, and even started to like the job, despite that nagging tension.

My supervisor, a senior CM on the ride, was a woman named Karen (and yes, I realize it could be a coincidence, but I'm not so sure anymore). She was the one that basically got me acclimatized to the ride, and became a sort of mentor. She was a little severe and seemed high-strung, like she was always on the alert for something to happen. She'd get on anyone's case if they made a shortcut of anything on the ride, citing safety reasons. But she seemed to like me well enough, showed me some level of concern due to my apparent unease about working the attraction at night.

I mentioned to her off-handedly once that working the mansion made me nervous due to the stories of the Man with the Cane. I recall it was just the two of us standing in the "Servants Corridor," which is a CM-only passage from the load area to the outside, and it was just around closing time, so it was just the two of us in that flickering gloom. She became very interested and asked me a few questions, and I told her my mom's story and how it had spooked me.

She stared at me long and hard as I talked. It was just starting to make me feel uncomfortable when she said, very softly, "I've seen him too. Just once. November 5th, 2000."

She didn't elaborate, didn't expand on anything. Before I could ask her any more about it, she changed the subject to the tasks at hand for us closing the ride and walked away. I never did get a chance to broach the subject again, because she seemed to be all business following our conversation.

I'm not sure why I didn't look up the date she mentioned sooner. I guess it never crossed my mind. Not until later.

After that, Karen seemed to take an odd interest in me. During our nightly backstage walkthroughs she started personally showing me all of the various nooks and crannies of the Haunted Mansion, very deliberately pointing out hidden details like a tour guide that I imagine not many other CMs ever noticed. I got to learn the ins and outs of the attraction fairly well. In a way, I felt weirdly accepted, almost initiated... It's hard to describe, but I was grateful anyway.

Which brings me to 2004, and the main reason I tell this story.

I'd been at the Haunted Mansion just under a year by that point, and my initial worries and irrational fears had finally begun to subside. I hadn't seen anything out of the ordinary during my time spent in the attraction, whether on set or backstage. Any notion of real ghost sightings was just the occasional in-joke between CMs, and even I wondered if my mother had just made it up to scare the people that worked with her and it had stuck around as a local legend since.

It was a February night, and I had just come back for my last shift of the evening. I was assigned to the load area and the crowds were relatively sparse, since it was around parade time and the route at Magic Kingdom passes through Liberty Square. Those riding either had no idea it was happening or ducked in to take advantage of the lull it caused.

I had grown pretty accustomed to being a grim, spooky maid by now, since the Haunted Mansion is the one attraction where CMs don't have to smile. I escorted the few guests that came through into their doom buggies and walked the moving conveyor belt at an easy pace. The people coming through gradually became fewer and fewer, which seemed odd considering it wasn't really that late at night.

And then the inflow stopped. There was a good five-minute stretch after I sent the last couple guests along where no one came down the corridor; just me, all alone, with the constant loop of familiar haunting sounds and the never ending line of doom buggies.

I started to get that itch of worry again as my mom's story popped back in my head, but I tried to push it down. Another couple minutes of nothing, not even another CM to accompany me (usually there's more than one of us in there), and I really started to get nervous. I was just reaching for the phone to communicate with whoever was at Unload when it rang, making me jump.

It was Karen's voice on the other end. "Keep your eyes peeled," she said. It was hard to tell over the crappy receiver, but I think she sounded on edge.

"For what?" I asked. Last I checked, Karen wasn't on duty at Unload, or on the ride in general that night.

Even before she responded, I had this terrible feeling I knew exactly what was about to happen, and I looked up as she said something else I don't really remember.

There he was.

Just like in my mother's story, he came gliding down the line in a doom buggy that should have been empty. Thin, near skeletal hands folded on the head of a black cane, a dusty suit and a face that reminded me of some scavenger bird. He was so still, he could have been a statue - apart from the fine, wispy hairs on his head, nothing on him moved. He didn't blink, and his blue eyes didn't even twitch; it was like he was boring a hole in the back of the car in front of him with his gaze.

Now I was on the verge of panicking, seeing a childhood terror before my very eyes. I stumbled back as the car passed me by, wanting to run but fighting with the logic that this was all definitely some elaborate prank. The man was lifelike, sure, but he was way too still to be real. It could have been some old animatronic from the Hall of Presidents for all I knew, just made scarier and set here to freak me out.

I mean, I certainly didn't FEEL that way, but my brain was going a mile a minute and that was the best explanation that came to me in the moment.

The moment passed and off he went, without a glance in my direction. I watched it go with my heart going crazy in my chest and Karen shouting at me over the phone for confirmation. I picked it up and choked out what I'd just seen.

There wasn't even a pause before she responded: "Get in the next car. Now. Don't lose him."

I hissed to Karen that "this had better not be a prank or I swear to God I'm going to report you, because this isn't funny." She assured me it wasn't (which didn't help) and that it was important I watch my surroundings and not lose him.

Surprisingly enough, I did just that. I was maybe two or three buggies back from the one I'd seen him in, but without even thinking I hopped on the ride and let it carry me into the depths of the attraction.

The ride carried on as normal, just me and a possible ghost somewhere in an endless line of empty clamshell cars. Nothing happened as I went through the library, the music room, and up the stairs surrounded by cobwebs and a giant day-glo spider. I recall gripping the safety bar tighter than I ever had on any roller coaster, looking around every side to make sure I saw him coming - prop or no, I did not relish the thought of seeing him suddenly loom out of the shadows around me if he somehow slipped out of his doom buggy.

As my buggy reached the top of the stairs and turned to face the Endless Hallway, I caught sight of a figure in the shadows behind the floating candelabra and my heart went into my mouth. It opened a door on the righthand wall and slipped inside, closing it behind; in the same instant, I thought I heard a strange bellowing sound that I could only discern because it wasn't part of the normal attraction audio.

In hindsight, I feel stupid for just hopping out of the car. Yet I got out anyway, pushing up the safety bar and stumbling onto the floor. I figured this would trigger the sensors and force the ride to stop on an alarm, but everything kept running. They must have been disabled, I realized - the man had apparently gotten out too without setting anything off - but how? The attraction couldn't run without the safety measures on.

I stood for a bit at the entrance of the hallway, too scared to go down it but eaten up by not knowing what was happening. I'm not sure where the courage came from, but when Karen didn't show up right away I got fed up and moved down the hall toward the candelabra. The "endless" effect of the hall is created by a large mirror at the far end, covered by a thin black scrim that gave the corridor its misty quality. This close to it, I could see my opaque reflection walking to meet me.

Most of the doors down there were facades, though one leads to a small machine shop where animatronics are repaired. I know for a fact the figure had not gone through that door, as it was on the opposite wall, which confused me even more. I was just testing a few of the door handles when a beam of light came bobbing along the corridor and Karen arrived, flashlight in hand.

I immediately rounded on her and demanded to know what the hell was going on. I was scared out of my mind, so it probably came out more pleading than angry.

Karen just sighed and shook her head. She pushed past me and turned the handle on the door nearest the mirror. It opened onto a stark, narrow stairwell leading down and to the right.

"You know this ride just as well as I do," she said, looking back at me. "Did you know that this was supposed to be here?"

I shook my head, no.

"Good," she said, gesturing for me to follow behind her. "Neither did I."

I tried to protest as she started descending the stairs, and followed only because I didn't want to be left alone in the corridor. Karen seemed pretty stoic, which was some small comfort as we went down the darkened stairs, her flashlight showing the featureless gray walls and dirty black steps. It wasn't a very long stairwell, but I was sure it would take us below ground level, making it a possible access point to the utilidors I didn't know about.

I had so many questions, but most of them went unsaid because I felt this tense urge to be quiet, not just from Karen's body language but the faint sounds I heard coming from the bottom of the stairwell. The best way I can describe it was the bellow I had heard before, this wheezing keen, like a person doing a bad impression of a dog's howl. I know it sounds dumb, but it was so out of place that it gave me chills.

The sound stopped just as we reached the bottom. The stairwell ended at a utility door marked with a sign: "CAST MEMBERS ONLY."

Karen hesitated, and I think I saw her visibly shudder as she opened the door. Not once did she look back at me.

This is why I tell this story: the hallway past the door was almost identical to the one described at the Disneyland mansion. It was a long, straight passage lined with doors, themed just like the hall above with the demon-eye wallpaper and flickering candles. And just like the other story asserted, the doors all had plain, white signs mounted on them, marking them as Prop Rooms.

I say "almost" because, looking back and comparing accounts, there were two main differences: first, the hall had eight doors compared to the six at Disneyland; and instead of the hall ending at another utility door, it was a dead end wall, with a mirror in an ornate oval frame hung on it.

At the time, I was more confused and unsettled by that fake-sounding whine that seemed to come from down the hall. Karen tensed and started marching along, ignoring the closed doors. Hesitantly I reached for the handle of the first Prop Room, but Karen said "Don't bother. It's locked."

I couldn't take it anymore. "How do you know?" I cried. "What is this place? Why are we here?"

Karen looked over her shoulder at me, weary and grim. "I don't really know," she said. "But we followed that thing down here, and I want answers. I need you to watch my back."

The way she said "that thing" stuck out to me - I assumed she meant the Man with the Cane, but she didn't refer to him as a "him."

Then it hit me that the shadow I'd seen in the Endless Hallway might not be what I thought it was...

That recurring howl startled me just as I thought of this. It was louder than before, and even more plaintive. I peered down through the flickering gloom and saw the door closest to the end of the hall was slightly ajar.

Karen pointed her flashlight in that direction and started walking quickly, making me have to pick up the pace. I almost slipped on a wet patch, and realized the whole floor past Prop Room 1's door was damp, water having soaked into the thin carpet. Strangely, there was no mildew smell, just just something chlorine-like: bromide. If you've been on any of the water rides at a Disney park, you know the smell I'm talking about.

We pretty much made a beeline to the open door. Some parts of this hall were not up to the usual Disney quality of repair - besides the wet carpet, there was an empty space for a candle sconce beside Prop Room 4, a bunch of exposed wires poking from where the fixture should be. Karen only stopped once, to tentatively test the handle on Prop Room 7, which was locked. Water leaked out from under this door, and I figured this was the source of the soggy floor.

Prop Room 8 was open just a crack, not enough for me to see what was in the room. Karen turned to me again and held up a hand, a clear sign she wanted me to stand back. I wasn't about to argue with her, because I really didn't want to be the first one to open the door into that dark room.

She stepped up and pushed the door very, very slowly. The hinges made no noise, no the slightest creak. She opened it just enough to peer in with her flashlight on, though I couldn't see anything with her bulk blocking the way. I kept looking back down the hall where we had come, feeling like I needed to make sure nothing came up behind us.

Then, while I was turning my head to look, the howl happened again - so loud, so close and with so much more whining agony it nearly gave me a heart attack. I had a moment to realize it had come from the room Karen was looking into before her body suddenly jerked forward into the darkness, like she had been yanked off her feet, and the door swung closed.

I freaked out and rushed to the door. It wouldn't budge, the door was locked. I pulled and tugged at the handle and kicked at the door while screaming for Karen. My adrenaline level was so high I couldn't even THINK about trying something more logical than that, I just knew I had to get to Karen because I suspected something horrible was in that room with her.

Something splashed on the soggy floor near me and I felt drops of water spray my ankles. I froze, my breath catching in my throat, and looked. Nothing was there, but I swear I saw a depression in the damp carpet right near me. Glancing down the hall, I saw only the empty corridor we had come down, but movement in my periphery made me look the other way, toward the mirror on the wall.

The Man with the Cane stood behind my gaping reflection, so close that he could have rested his chin on my shoulder. I felt a cold breath on the back of my neck.

I completely panicked and bolted down the hall, pretty sure I screamed the whole way. I shot up the steps two at a time, nearly tripping on the skirt of my uniform as I tried to put as much distance between me and the man as possible. Soon I had flown out of the door and back into the Endless Hallway, and I turned to run through that artificial darkness...

Or would have, if I hadn't turned the wrong way in my blind terror and collided with the full mirror reflecting the hall.

When I came to, several of fellow CMs were huddled around me where I had sprawled on the floor. I was disoriented and sick with dread and could barely explain to my concerned rescue party what I was doing there. They told me later a guest riding the ride had seen me lying there and had asked when they had added a "dead body" to the attraction, which brought them to me; checking later confirmed I had been unconscious for several minutes.

I was whisked off to get first aid, unable to get a word out in time about Karen and the hidden corridor, dazed and confused as I was. Thankfully my run-in with the mirror had not done any long-lasting damage - either to myself or the mirror - though I suffered a serious concussion and was forced to take a leave of absence to recover.

When I returned to active duty at the mansion, the old feeling of unease was in my gut again, stronger than ever. That first day back, I was so on edge that I would jump at the slightest breath of cool air or sound of my name being called by another CM. Everyone was really kind and welcoming, but I know I came off like a nervous wreck.

Karen was conspicuously absent, of course. I started asking about her right away, and the other CMs said they had no idea where she'd gone. Word was she had either transferred or quit, though no one I spoke to had seen or heard anything concrete. Management seemed unable to give a straight answer either, since they claimed they didn't know. It was like she had vanished completely.

Frustrated, I went back to the Endless Hallway after hours and tried all of the doors along it. All of them were stuck tight, and appeared to be facades. Blueprints and layouts I managed to procure after revealed no sign of an access point from that scene to anywhere else, apart from the machine shop. It made no sense.

I could tell by the end of the first day the other CMs were thinking I was a basket case, I could see it in their sidelong glances. One of them, a friend of mine who I'll also leave anonymous, said he had no reason to blame me, and said everyone just felt relieved I hadn't died too.

That gave me pause, and I asked him what he meant.

He seemed surprised I didn't know, but explained that the night I'd gotten hurt and Karen had "retired," another CM had been in an accident backstage. The man, dressed as Pluto, had been struck by a parade float and killed. Those working outside had immediately gone into damage-control mode, halting the parade and keeping things as quiet as possible to the guests.

I put in a transfer request the following day.

Thing is, throughout all of this I worked to convince myself that everything I had experienced that night was the result of my head injury, weird dreams and hallucinations I had while I was out cold or semiconscious, coupled with the short-term memory loss. I had to, because for a long time after I couldn't bring myself to look in a mirror, out of fear I would see something behind me that shouldn't be there. Even now, it sometimes makes me uncomfortable.

It was the only logical explanation I could come up with, the only way I could convince myself to keep working at Disney World. And it succeeded, made perfect sense.

Until I read the grad night story.

Now it's all come back, nagging at me, telling me everything I saw and felt that night were all too real. Putting all of this down has only helped refresh my memory, and it scares me. I keep glancing over my shoulder, worried I'm going to see the gaunt visage of the Man with the Cane standing there, staring at me. I also keep thinking about the way Karen jerked through that door, like something had grabbed her and pulled her in...

I'm not sure how much this will clear up, but it needs to be done. Something bigger is going on here, hidden under both Haunted Mansions in both parks. I would go so far as to say something evil. And with everything in mind, I've done research, compared accounts.

The day my mom saw the apparition, someone had died; the date Karen had mentioned - November 5th, 2000 - another in-park death, this one on Splash Mountain; and someone else had been killed the night I saw him.

With that last accident in mind, by 2004 eight people had died on Walt Disney World resort property. There were eight doors in that hidden hall.

The author in the grad night incident described a fatal accident happening the same night. Looking that up, there were six deaths at Disneyland counting that one as of 1983, and six Prop Room doors mentioned.

I fully understand this is speculation and the whole thing could be coincidental, but at this point I doubt it. I understand now why Karen rushed over to the mansion when she heard someone had died. She'd put the pieces together. She knew, somehow, the Man with the Cane would appear.

Who he is, what his role is, and what he wants I don't know. Is he anything like the Hatbox Ghost at the Disneyland mansion? I have heard Disney is putting old Hattie back into the attraction soon, but I get the feeling whatever they add won't be what those three kids saw backstage in 1983.

That's really the worst part of it, not knowing. All of this just raises more questions for me, and the only reason I haven't left WDW is to keep my ear to the ground and get more information. All I can say is I have a feeling, that if someone managed to find either of those hidden corridors beneath their respective Haunted Mansion, those hallways would be longer now, and have more doors. Forums Forum [ARCHIVED]
Haunted Mansion > The Grand Hall (Discussion) > Disquieting Metamorphasis (Rumors) > [MOVED] HM Conspiracies?

cacklemeyer (17 Mar 2016 16:49):
I'm sure these kind of things have been floating around the web for awhile, but I found a couple of weird stories once about real ghosts and secret tunnels underneath the Disneyland and WDW mansions. There's one written by a guy who was at DL on a grad night in the 80s, and one by a CM working at Magic Kingdom. I think they got reposted and taken down a few times, because now I can't seem to find them anywhere. Does anyone happen to know where they might be, and if so, how valid any of them are?

Freddie The Bat (17 Mar 2016 17:11):
Try here [link] and here [link]. I think they're just creepypasta.

cacklemeyer (17 Mar 2016 17:40):
Thanks Freddie. That was driving me crazy! I guess they finally found their way onto some archives, the first story's been circulating for a few years at least.

MadamLamprey (17 Mar 2016 18:07):
OMG I remember these stories! Finally someone found them their pretty good but are they real? 'cause normally people write stories about the ghosts and the mansion like I do, not about it in real life.

YoungMasterGracey (17 Mar 2016 18:32):
Freddie's right when he says they're creepypastas. Kudos to whoever wrote them though, some of the details are scary accurate, right down to the events being timed around real deaths in the parks. It's pretty morbid.

cacklemeyer (17 Mar 2016 18:58):
True, it's part of why I asked in the first place. I know some of it can't be verified, but some of it is pretty spot-on. Just enough to tickle my brain, make me wonder about it. If anything I figured it would be fun to discuss the mystery parts, you know?

Freddie The Bat (17 Mar 2016 19:28):
Personally it lost me when the author mentioned utilidors under Disneyland in the first story. I mean... come on. XD

YoungMasterGracey (17 Mar 2016 19:43):
Honestly it's not that weird to make that mistake though, especially if the writer is saying this was something he/she thought about as a kid in the 80s. There was probably false information spread around by kids who didn't know all the facts. Also the woman in the other story pointed that out too.

The point where you realize these stories are fake is when the two named characters in them are Mike and Karen, but again, points for a fun little wink and nod from the author.

MadamLamprey (17 Mar 2016 21:00):
Wait theres also two different versions of the grad night story because Mike comes back and takes the car and leaves in the one I read before but in the one that was linked its different! Mike disappeared for good! Why is it different??

YoungMasterGracey (17 Mar 2016 23:59):
Such is the nature of the internet, Lamprey. Must have gotten changed or edited somewhere along the way if it was posted anonymously in the first place. Who knows.

MadamLamprey (18 Mar 2016 11:17):
If I were the writer I wouldnt write anything anonymously though I'd want people to know I wrote it. That way if anyone made a change I could bring out the original version and show them wrong!

Ravenswood (18 Mar 2016 16:22):
Moved this thread to the Rumors section, it seems more fitting there with a title like "HM Conspiracies?" Let's try not to go into NoSleep territory here, if you please.

MadamLamprey (18 Mar 2016 16:54):
Whats NoSleep?

cacklemeyer (18 Mar 2016 17:03):
Thanks Ravenswood.

Lamprey, try Googling it.

I guess my point with this thread is that it seems like both stories are alluding to some sort of grand conspiracy, which is really intriguing to me. Whatever is happening under the mansions has to do with when people actually die in the parks. I know that the "Man with the Cane" really has been sighted by a few CMs working at Florida's mansion, or at least that's the claim. I don't know if anyone has ever described a roaming Hatbox Ghost at Disneyland, but the popular urban legend for that mansion is the one about the crying boy. I'm surprised that never came up!

Anyway, fake or not I want to discuss theories with y'all!

Freddie The Bat (18 Mar 2016 18:10):
Alright cackles. I'll bite. XD

Took another read through both of them. Whenever someone dies in the parks, these rooms and halls kind of appear beneath the mansions, and are accessed in weird ways. I guess they're supposed to be like extra-dimensional spaces or something. Some of doors have little out-of-place touches to them that could also be matched to how each person died - chronologically speaking, of course. Definitely get that part of it.

What isn't really delved into is why people dying in the parks causes this to happen, or why the Hatbox Ghost and the man with the cane are there when it happens. That all seems random to me. Are they guards? Prisoners? Soul-collectors? No solid answer, which I guess is kind of the point since they're creepypasta and some of it has to be left unknown.

YoungMasterGracey (18 Mar 2016 21:06):
Maybe each mansion has its own guardian ghost, who appears when something like this happens. Could be they're released for a bit when someone dies nearby, perhaps to catch the lost soul and stick them in the prop rooms. WHY that would happen I have no clue!

cacklemeyer (18 Mar 2016 22:48):
How did you line this up, Freddie? Any chance we can see a list of Disney park deaths? (Yikes. That's a morbid request...)

Freddie The Bat (19 Mar 2016 15:32):
Ask and ye shall receive! I put together a quick list here of all deaths associated with Disneyland up to 1983:
  • 1964 - Teenage boy stands up on Matterhorn, falls out, dies three days later
  • 1966 - Teenage boy crushed under Monorail after trying to sneak in on the track
  • 1967 - Teenage boy crushed to death under Peoplemover car while jumping between cars
  • 1973 - Teenage boy drowns in Rivers of America (sensing a pattern here?)
  • 1974 - Female CM crushed between walls in America Sings.
  • 1979 - Woman falls into coma after riding Space Mountain, dies a week later
  • 1980 - Teenage boy crushed to death under Peoplemover car while jumping between cars (AGAIN!)
  • 1981 - Teenage boy fatally stabbed in Tomorrowland during fight.
  • 1983 - Teenage boy drown in Rivers of America (the Grad Night death)
And here's WDW until 2004:
  • 1977 - Child drowns in Cinderella's Castle moat
  • 1980 - Young girl becomes ill riding Space Mountain, dies later
  • 1982 - Toddler falls from tram in parking lot
  • 1982 - Toddler hit by falling menu board
  • 1984 - Family of three killed when small plane crashes in EPCOT parking lot
  • 1986 - Man and woman drown after car crashed into retention pond, EPCOT parking lot
  • 1992 - Man commits suicide with a shotgun in EPCOT
  • 1995 - Girl with heart condition loses consciousness on Body Wars, dies later
  • 1999 - Male custodian killed in fall from Skyway gondola
  • 2000 - Man killed when hit by Splash Mountain log trying to exit
  • 2004 - Male CM run over by parade float (the Man with the Cane death)
And that's just in close proximity to the parks! Don't even get me started on the deaths that have happened in other parts of the resort or the water parks. You all know about River Country...

Main thing is that there's way more deaths at DL and WDW listed here than there are doors under either mansion, so that feels like a definite debunk there. Should have been way more doors.

cacklemeyer (19 Mar 2016 20:36):
I'm almost sorry I asked, haha. That's messed up.

YoungMasterGracey (19 Mar 2016 20:39):
I'm not so sure. Do you know about Disney's policy of never declaring people dead in the parks? Its a weird thing they do whenever they can feasibly do it. Even if someone is killed instantly, Disney always tries to say that the victim did not really expire until they were beyond the park. You can imagine a lot of people passed "in transit" to a hospital, at least on paper.

Freddie The Bat (19 Mar 2016 20:48):
Well that complicates things. I didn't know about that. There's some obvious cases where someone didn't die until later, but for others now it's even harder to tell.

cacklemeyer (20 Mar 2016 09:02):
Thats bonkers! Disney cares about their image that far! Can't spoil anything for the guests, right?

So keeping that in mind, the Grad Night prop room numbers still make sense. WDW is still a stretch but its a lot more feasible. Maybe we're missing a pattern. What circumstances cause the doors to appear and what factors add another room? And what are they storing down there?

MadamLamprey (20 Mar 2016 19:14):
Ok I see whats happening now! This makes me inspired to keep writing my Phantom manor story even tho its not about the ride its more about how Melanie and Constance meet each other and fight over grooms. Hey speaking of could if you guys are talking about this could you please maybe go and read what I have so far in the Library board? Its called Trials Of Dead Brides 2.

ohyestheydo (22 Mar 2016 10:00):
Ha. The only pattern I see in these stories is how much they get wrong. How you can take any of this remotely seriously despite the glaring flaws is beyond me, especially the second one. Any CM worth their salt would know what is accurate. I call foul.

cacklemeyer (22 Mar 2016 23:20):
Care to elaborate, ohyes? I'm honestly interested in what you have to say.

MadamLamprey (23 Mar 2016 11:41):
Wow thats really kind of rude ohyestheydo! How would you feel if someone said your stories were bad and had flaws huh? I bet that would make you really sad!! You dont have to be so darn rude!

ohyestheydo (23 Mar 2016 13:37):
@MadamLamprey: You'll understand when you're older what criticism is, dear.
@cacklemeyer: Speaking as an actual CM who has worked at the Haunted Mansion, there's a number of well-done guesses on the part of the writer, but it stops short of being believable for these reasons:
  • There's only one security camera, in the load area. All other methods of detecting whether someone gets on or off the ride where they aren't supposed to are through intrusion mats and infrared beams. The ride won't even run unless they're turned on, so when the narrator says she got out and nothing halted, she should have known that what was happening was impossible.
  • Walking through the attraction with the lights on is nothing special. We do it all the time for regular maintenance.
  • There is a little workshop that is accessed through the Endless Hallway, and I think the writer mentioned that door. But there is no utilidor access from the show building in that corridor, which the CM should have known.
  • Furthermore, you cannot go past the scrim at the end of the hall unless you break it.
  • WDI never stores props underground.
  • Also, in the first one, I'm pretty sure you can't go under the upramp in the Disneyland mansion. There'd be no space down there what with the equipment used to keep it running.
  • That place the doombuggies go through to loop back to load isn't that long and looks nothing like that.
Freddie The Bat (23 Mar 2016 17:45):
ohyes, you must be a lot of fun at parties. :P

MadamLamprey (23 Mar 2016 18:02):
[This message has been removed.]

Ravenswood (23 Mar 2016 18:12):
Letting you off with a warning, MadamLamprey. I expect everyone to keep discussion civil and not resort to insults. As much as you might disagree with ohyes, personal attacks will not be tolerated.

Carry on.

YoungMasterGracey (23 Mar 2016 23:20):
Those are good points, ohyes, but I think you're missing the point on a couple of them. Obviously something supernatural and reality-bending is happening in these stories, which would mess with normal operating procedures and other elements. The "prop rooms" and the overlong loop for the buggies are part of that. The gist we're getting is that they only appear when someone dies in the parks and whatever is actually haunting the mansions is about. Everything else is speculation.

cacklemeyer (24 Mar 2016 12:15):
There could have been more security cameras in the 70s too. Feels like nitpicking to me.

I noticed something on another readthrough, by the way: in the second story the author said specifically eight people had died "on Walt Disney World resort property." Maybe she's referring to eight cases where people were actually declared dead, or confirmed dead before they crossed the property line? It's a small thing, but maybe the narrator knows an exact number we don't. Or could be as in the dark as we are. Who knows! *doffs detective's cap*

YoungMasterGracey (24 Mar 2016 16:30):
It's possible! It could be that these places appear every time there's a even a near-death experience, but only some doors appear. I think that the Man with the Cane and the Hatbox Ghost manifest whenever this happens, and if a person actually dies within the parks, that's when we get another prop door.

Freddie The Bat (24 Mar 2016 21:07):
Cannot tell if we're understanding a hidden theme or drawing attention to the author's lack of research. XD

MadamLamprey (25 Mar 2016 13:31):
Hey what about Tokyo and Paris? Both have a mansion and theres also Mystic manor even though that one isnt really a haunted mansion. Has anyone ever died in those parks? I want to know because my dad's taking me to Disney Paris soon to see my uncle who works there and maybe I can investigate too! Also can someone please read my story and leave a review???

Freddie The Bat (25 Mar 2016 18:24):
That's actually a good question, Lamprey. Did a little more morbid research (I think that's becoming my specialty) and surprisingly I couldn't find any reports of any fatal accidents at Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea. Considering how long they've been around I'm impressed! Worst I found were couple of urban legends about child abductions and the usual stories of real ghosts in the Haunted Mansion there - objects seen on the ride that weren't there before, a ghostly woman standing at the end of a hallway, etc. Nothing spectacular.

Paris, on the other hand, is not so lucky. There's been three incidents that resulted in a death at the resort - that's still pretty small compared to DL and WDW!

cacklemeyer (25 Mar 2016 19:01):
Yikes. Thanks again, Freddie. Based on that it's likely that nothing would appear under Tokyo's mansion. Paris, though... What do you think that would be like?

YoungMasterGracey (25 Mar 2016 19:39):
For all we know, in these stories there's nothing beyond Disneyland and WDW's mansions. If you think about it - the real skeletons on Pirates of the Caribbean, the plane that went down in Florida before the park opened - those things give the idea that something macabre or tragic had already happened before the mansions were built. That doesn't apply to Tokyo and Paris.

cacklemeyer (25 Mar 2016 22:08):
OK, but Walt once said that he wanted to make a place for wayward ghosts from all over the world when they built the Haunted Mansion. That was part of the story gimmick for the ride but what if, in these stories, the people who die in the parks get stuck there, but need to be kept away from places that would upset guests? Simple solution: build a haunted house attraction and then keep the haunts in there. Kill two birds with one stone. That would be an interesting angle.

Freddie The Bat (26 Mar 2016 11:51):
Gotta love that diabolical Disney logic! Not a bad theory at all! You sure you didn't write these yourself, cackles? XD

MadamLamprey (27 Mar 2016 14:28):
OMG that makes so much sense! I always knew the mansion was really haunted ever since I frist rode it when I was 4 and I wanted to meet all the ghosts! Hey do you think that happened in Paris too? I'd be really scared if I saw the Phantom walking around like the HB ghost and the man with the cane but if it was Melanie Id feel a lot better because shes so pretty and has nice green eyes like my dad! My uncles friend who also works there said he'd take me backstage when I visit so I can see how everything works so maybe I can help get some answers!

YoungMasterGracey (27 Mar 2016 15:06):
Uh, Lamprey you know we're just talking about creepypasta, right?

cacklemeyer, that is a pretty neat idea, but without a third story in this "saga" we'll never really know. I kind of like the ambiguity though, since it lead to this discussion.

MadamLamprey (27 Mar 2016 19:43):
If its just a story then why are you guys spending so much time talking about it instead of reading my story?? I asked you a nicely a couple times! No ones left any comments on it or any of the other ones I posted and I know the other arent very good but I'm really proud of my bride story! Why cant you guys Read and talk about theries on mine?

Anyway their in the Library go read them please

Ravenswood (27 Mar 2016 20:17):
Another strike, MadamLamprey. You're straying from the topic.

MadamLamprey (27 Mar 2016 20:30):
Well how else am I going to get peopel to read my stories Ravenswood tell me that huh?? Why are you all ignoring me?

Freddie The Bat (27 Mar 2016 20:42):
If you're monitoring this I'd like to know what your thoughts are, Ravenswood. Now that your namesake attraction has been brought up I figured you'd have more to say!

MadamLamprey (27 Mar 2016 20:57):
[This message has been removed.]

MadamLamprey (27 Mar 2016 20:58):
[This message has been removed.]

MadamLamprey (27 Mar 2016 20:58):
[This message has been removed.]

MadamLamprey (27 Mar 2016 20:58):
[This message has been removed.]

Ravenswood (27 Mar 2016 21:16):
Spamming links will also not be tolerated. I hate to ban, but ban I have.

Freddie, I also gave them a read. I feel like you all might be overthinking them, but I won't rain on your parade. They're entertaining and so is this topic. Just keep it in the realm of discussing fiction and you're good.

Freddie The Bat (27 Mar 2016 21:20):
It's OK boss. Lamprey was obnoxious but she just really appreciates Kingdom Hearts. I won't hold that against her. XD Plus we made it clear from the onset that we're just talking about pastas.

cacklemeyer (27 Mar 2016 21:34):
Thanks again, Ravenswood. Poor kid has no social skills.

Honestly I'm not sure how much more there is left to talk about. Unless someone writes a story about hidden tunnels under Phantom Manor I think we're out of material for solving the mystery. We'll never know what happened to Mike and Karen, who our respective narrators were, and why the HBG and the Man with the Cane do what they do. My theory is still that they appear when there's a death and then either guide or ferry the soul to the hidden places beneath the mansions, all to preserve the guest experience. In a way that makes the whole thing darker, imagining that all these poor souls are trapped down there in the limbo-space. Maybe they even get used for props, hence the labels on the doors? Who knows!

Either way, it does lend itself to a proper conspiracy discussion, even if it's not real.

ohyestheydo (28 Mar 2016 12:52):
Playing catch up a bit, now that Lamprey's gone. It's about time. She was spamming other boards too. You want to talk about laughable stories, well...

But keeping on topic (thank you, Ravenswood), I don't think it's nitpicking at all to point out where things aren't realistic in a story. I just wanted to make the case that whoever wrote at least the 2nd story is likely not a real Cast Member, or at least not a very good one if there are so many little errors. I would simply advise the author to do more research and revise it but... Well, it's already out in the internet. Too late for that, especially now that I've seen a few readings of it on YouTube (and I don't really like those).

ghostLAMP (1 Apr 2016 04:13):

Hey you assholes thought you could keep me out but GUESS WHAT its me!! I made another account and I know ravenswood is going to be a douche again and try to ban me but it doesnt matter anymore. I made this just so I can come back and say that you all never gave me a chance so Im going to show you all wrong!!! Also youll never see me again anyway after this but thats fine because everythings going to be awesome from now on! Everyone else is scared of going into the prop rooms but not me!! Im going to learn the truth and when I do I wont tell any of you you think these stories are fake but I know better! No I'm not going to die or anything I just have a plan to get the ghosts to come out just like in the stories you all seem to looooove so much! Anyway you all suck and I dont care if I meet the Phantom or Melanie when I go because youll all be sad that you wont know the REAL story! SO THERE!!!!!!!!!

Ravenswood (4 Apr 2016 11:29):
I'm shutting this thread down.

Creepypasta / Weeping Angel by CaptainColdCutCliche
« on: 03/08/19, 04:50 AM »
Chapter 1

Recently in 2011, I moved into a house with my wife, Isabella. We were expecting a baby in November, so we had to make sure everything was right.

We met with the estate agent, who greeted us with what seemed like a very happy face, as if we'd been gone for ages. He shook my hand and took us to the house.
When we arrived, the house looked very modern. It was luxury. It had a large back garden, with all the garden gnomes, and the... statues. I asked him about those statues, and he looked confused.

"I've never noticed 'em," he said. "Just ignore 'em, the owner will probably come collect 'em."

I walked through the front door, and noticed something off. A pigeon in the house. It had made a nest in the front room, and now the house looked very disturbing and old. My wife, being a very strange woman, told me that pigeons in the house were a bad omen. We spoke with the estate agent, and asked if we can check the other two houses we wanted to look at.

As we left the house, I noticed one of the statues had moved its hands from its face. It had a blank expression, but I couldn't look long as the estate agent nudged me to move onward as he came out the door. We walked away, and checked the other two houses.

The second house looked better. I could actually see into the windows, as the previous one had the blinds down. I could already see a mirror, and a golden cup on the side-board. I had high hopes for this house. We opened the front door and noticed one of the statues in the garden again, but I paid no attention to it. We went upstairs to the master bedroom. My wife sat on the bed, and layed on it to test it. She said it was comfy.

"I'll buy it!" I said.

"Oh, Err, Uh... Sure," the real estate agent said, sounding shocked.

I smiled gladly, and we went downstairs. Stupid me, I thought. Wanting to buy it without even seeing the downstairs. We went into the front room, and there was a statue of Cupid with a small scythe in its hand. It wasn't moving, it was just... there.

"Can we get this removed? My wife doesn't like it," I asked.

"How about the kitchen?" the agent said, trying to direct the conversation to something else.

I saw one of the angel statues in the garden again, hugging another statue. An other angel stood behind them both, playing a harp.
"Can we remove all these statues?" I asked.

"I think they are better off here," the agent said.

"Ouch, the baby's kicking!" my wife exclaimed.

"It's ok, calm down," I told her.

I looked back up to see the statues hugging each other, both standing up. The other statue was looking at us. I looked behind me, to see the Cupid statue had moved. I looked back, the angels got closer, as did the Cupid.

"What the hell is happening?" I yelled.

I turned to find one of the statues right in front of Isabella. It had its eyes fixated on her.

I took Isabella by the hand and ran out of the house. I noticed the real estate agent had disappeared, so I shakily dialed his phone number.

He didn't respond.

We ran into the streets, and saw the angels chasing us.

Two Years Later
I am now living happily with my wife. She seems to be counting down right now, next to me in the rocking chair. I've asked her to stop, but she won't. I guess she is just stressed.

We live with my friend Bill. He is a nice guy, but he is a bit odd.

I sure hope that the baby is ok, beca-

Police Report
The bodies of two men and a woman have been found. The investigation on Taverly Street will close down the entire city. A strange killer is on the loose, it seems. Stay indoors, lock up, and keep your expensive things out of sight. This is classified as a urban attack. Please, stay indoors. You may be killed on sight.

Chapter 2

I had recently been coming home from my work one night, when I heard on the radio that an urban attack had occurred, and that two men and a woman were found dead at the scene. I was quite used to attacks in my area, since there were a lot of thugs roaming the streets at night with knives and sawn-off shotguns they would use and threaten you for money or something else (I have had experience with one of these men before, but I never found out who they were as they were masked) so you can't really say no once they ask.

I had worked night shifts at the power plant (this is where I work) when I was coming home, and found my six year old daughter Jessica and my five year old son Clinton playing hide and seek. I smiled and went to the kitchen to make myself a meal. It was hard coping with them, as my wife had died in a car accident involving a high-speed chase. She was killed when a truck crashed into her car. The poor kids never really knew their mother a lot; she was only a vague memory, so I would entertain them as much as I could.

I lounged on the sofa and said, "Hey kids, wanna watch a movie?" out loud, as they came running towards the sofa screaming "Yeah, Dad!" I browsed the movie cabinet and decided to watch Shrek 2 with them (it was their favourite film) and waited for the DVD to play. They sat beside me as I ate my microwaveable meal on my lap, and they stared at my food as if they were hungry.

As the movie started playing, the lights went out and the TV turned off. We couldn't see a thing, and I ended up dropping my food on the floor as my dog ate it near my feet. I heard the kids going "Daddy, what happened?!" and "Daddy?" and I tried to comfort them saying it was an electrical blow in the fuse box. They sat beside each other as I took out my small ladder and tried mending the fuse box, however, the fuse box was fine and nothing was damaged. I was a little concerned here, and thought maybe a slug had gone over a wire of some sort so I decided to check the WiFi box as well. I found nothing wrong with it, and I was confused as to what caused it. I had no way to contact anyone and see the same, so I decided to look outside and see if anyone had the same thing.
When I walked outside, there were no cars, and no lights on in any houses. It was strange as the family next door owned three cars and had their own driveway which they were usually parked on, and they were gone. I knocked on their door and waited patiently, looking over my shoulder occasionally from the rustling leaves of a bird in the trees, and they opened the door.

"Hey, has your electricity gone?" I asked. I noticed it was their teenage son who answered the door.

"What?" he replied, sounding angry.

"Well, my power has gone and I can't find anything wrong with the fuse box or wires, so I was wondering if it was associated with the area?"

"Everything is fine, Samuel, go back inside," he said to me, closing the door in my face. I was a little angry how he seemed to have no respect for me and just ended the conversation there. I opened the letter box flap on the door and saw him walking off into the garden outside his house.

I was quite worried at this point, thinking car jackers had been there or that everyone had left for some reason. I went back inside and found Clinton and Jessica playing hide and seek again. I pulled out my phone, but it didn't work either, so I scanned the cupboards in pitch blackness and found some matches. Eventually I lit a flame and I had a small light that illuminated around the room. I found Jessica with her hands over her eyes which I assumed she was counting for something whilst he hid, so I called Clinton down.

"Hey, Jessica, where is Clinton?" I asked her, trying to remain calm.

"I don't know, Daddy," she replied with her hands still over her eyes.

"Sweetie, you can take your hands off your eyes," I said, thinking she was counting for ages.

"I'm not counting, Daddy," she replied to me, sounding serious.

"Then what are you doing?" I asked her, confused.

"I am copying the statue in the garden, it has its hands over its eyes," she replied.

I looked into the garden, and surprisingly, there it was. It was a statue, a stone statue, just about my size. It had wings and was not there before. I approached the garden, opening the door as it creaked slightly, and approached the statue.

I wanted to touch it, maybe it was the neighbour's kid playing a trick on me since he sounded stubborn when he answered the door, but I didn't touch it as I had a bad gut feeling. I went back inside and could not see Jessica anywhere. I looked in the closet, her room, and even under the sofa where she usually went, and that's when it happened.

As I looked under the sofa, I saw a pair of feet in front of my eyes. I didn't know if they had seen me or not, but the feet were stone. I looked at them for a while, as I was very scared now. I thought they had taken my children, so I asked it a question.

"Uh, w... who are you?" I said to it.

"Daddy, why did you leave me alone, it got me!" the statue replied.

I was shaking at this point, as it was speaking to me and had my little girl's voice.

"Wh... wha... where is Jessica?" I asked angrily.

"She's dead, Daddy, you left her too long," it replied.

I saw the door was open, and had to make quick thoughts on leaving or not. I tried to see how close I was and if I could make it out, hoping this was a bad dream. I shot my head up fast, knocking the sofa into it, as I ran outside to the door. I ran so far, and still saw no cars, no lights, and no people. I was tired and becoming dizzy from running so far.

I eventually collapsed, and faded out into blackness.

Two Hours Later
I woke up in the middle of the road, and saw the blurred image of a black object approaching me. I rubbed my eyes, still dazed about the previous events from the night. I thought it was one of those things approaching me, but I was surprised. It was a black car, approaching me in the distance, as I looked around, I saw an old man emptying his trash can. "I must have been sleepwalking and dreaming," I told myself, as I stood up, allowing the car to pass by me. I was happy, and ran back to my house to find my kids eating some frosties cereal and watching cartoon on the television.

I was glad as they said, "Daddy, where were you?!" and they hugged me.

I was late for work, and got changed into my clothes. I hugged my children as their babysitter came over, and they shouted with joy that she had arrived. I paid her and went to work.

I had arrived at work, and I was filling out my documents as usual. I finished typing up my document on a new worker, and saw a man standing at my desk.
"May I help you?" I asked.

He dropped a picture on my desk and walked away, leaving the building.

I turned the picture around as he turned it to the other side, and on there, was a picture of one of the statues and above it, there was writing that read, "Whatever holds the image of an angel itself becomes an angel..."

Creepypasta / To Kill It by SquidManEscape
« on: 03/08/19, 12:27 AM »
I wake up and slowly get out of bed, as I usually must at 10:00 PM. I go to the kitchen and get a knife from a wooden block specifically made to hold them. This is simple. This is routine. The next part will be more difficult.
I am too young to be up so late. But I am homeschooled, and my parents are fine with me staying up late and being sleepy the next day. I had always been a strange little child to some extent. When I had first started school, I hadn’t understood the fine line between physical and verbal violence. I had beaten up the other children when they insulted my honor, instead of insulting them. Now I understand that the reaction must fit the situation, but I still don’t like children of my age much. I would rather gaze upon the entrails of a mouse than talk to a child my own age.
The only people that I can say I really like are my mother and father. My mother works as a computer programmer and my father teaches me things. They took me out of school and bought me the necessary equipment to stay on or ahead of the curve. I chose the latter, and I think they are still proud of me. I also have a sibling who is somewhere near a year old. That is the reason why we bought a new house. That is the reason why I am creeping to the room the brat sleeps in, with a sharp knife that I hold with both hands. It is causing problems, and I know that there is only one way to fix them.
My mother and father do not like when I try to kill it. I don’t think that they understand. It will cause this family to break apart. Ever since the brat had caused us to move from our old house into this newer, larger one, I had known that either we would have to move out or it would have to die. I liked the older house. That house was comforting and objectively better. This one is foreboding. I know that to stop the sense of danger that I feel, I must go to my toothless little sibling’s room and kill it.
I open the door and see it. The daft little sibling is only good for wailing, but those wails almost never come at the right time. The brat does not wail at the exact time there is danger, and all signs of danger disappear when my mother and father come, leaving only a few marks in the weakling’s soft flesh to incriminate me. But I am gaining on it.
I think that my parents are beginning to have an inkling in their minds that I am the one hurting my sibling, but I am not sure whether or not they wish to take real action. They used to trust me before we all moved into this house.
I quietly slide the door open (because all the doors slide in this house – maybe that’s so it can open the door) and step into the room. It doesn’t see me. The little baby lies sleeping in the crib that my parents bought. I ready the knife. No light reflects off of the cold steel. I wait for it to relax, and then I run to the crib and bring the knife down upon it. The brat wails as I slash at its flesh with a knife, but the wails stop almost as quickly as they started.
How strange. For six months I have tried to kill it. I had to try to do it once every month, and every month was an agonizing wait to finally get in that killing strike. And only now has the brat stopped wailing. Maybe the noisy thing has finally realized that wailing is futile, and I can finally do this correctly.
It is weak. It is no match for me, despite my own lack of strength and an equal lack of skill with the knife. It is nearly dead and bleeding when my parents slide open the door so hard that the noise makes me jump.
They survey my handiwork with shock on their faces, and for a second, I really think that they can finally see it. But we leave the room and they shout at me, telling me that my act was wrong, asking me why I had to try and maim my "beloved sibling" with a knife. They ask me why I keep doing this, and I reply with my default answer of wanting to visit her. They ask about the knife, and I said that I hadn't finished pretend-cutting food in front of her. The excuse seems rather strange, but in the realm of mere eccentricity. If they knew the real reason, they'd have me tagged with psychosis and taken to some institution. Then I hear my sister crying, and my parents go to check. I know that it must be some strange and reasonless thing. The time has passed for when I try to kill it. The time since I first snuck in has been twenty minutes, right?
I observe with a sense of disappointment that the clock reads 10:10. No wonder I couldn't kill it. Even with the miracle of my sibling not wailing like a banshee, I hadn't been able to kill it because I hadn't had enough time. I now notice it grinning at me from a longer shadow. But then again, it's always grinning. It has no lips. Its eyes are completely black, as is the entirety of its humanoid frame. Its hands are pointed and it stabbed, or tried to stab, my little sibling with them, once every month. I think that it might be sucking her blood. I can hear my parents wailing that my sister died in her sleep. There are no stab wounds, no wounds at all. Its pointed limbs are too pointed for that. At least they know I couldn't have done it.
Maybe we can finally leave this house, and this thing that kills little babies. But that's a hollow victory, because there was a couple down the street who was interested, and they have a wee tyke, too small to stand any chance. Strange how this horrid, horrid place seems to attract only people with little babies. Strange how no one but me seems to notice.

I started woodworking when I was in my junior year of high school. The class was one of the electives that I could choose from, and despite never doing it before, I thought it would be a fun and interesting thing to learn. And I was right; the hands on nature of the craft, coupled with certain mathematical and spatial capability requirements combined to create an engaging and satisfying environment.

A few months later, approaching the end of the year, I started dating Diane, the woman that would I would eventually marry. She told me once that she really loved the smell of the cherry wood sawdust that would sometimes cling to my clothes after class. I could understand the feeling. Woodworking was my second love, after Diane.

Once we graduated, I wanted to keep going with it, so I made my way to the local hardware store to gather up the necessary tools. Diane was very supportive of the idea at the time, but quickly realized the mistake she had made. You see, she wasn't a fan of the noise that those machines produced; that ear-splitting grating would drive her mad some days. I was kicked out of the bedroom more than once because of it.

Things got a fair bit more complicated after our son was born. I did my best to keep the noise down, but little Nate had super hearing, I swear. He would start crying, and then Diane would start scolding, all the while trying to calm our little man. Even manual tools didn't do the trick; he could always tell when I was working out in the garage.

I spoiled him like crazy. I got him all sorts of pirate and superhero themed stuff for his room. A little mobile of pirate ships twirled above his crib, Lego sets of the ships from Pirates of the Caribbean were placed on high shelves, and his sheets and blankets were laden with pictures of Superman. Our boy never complained about anything that I would give him, just the stuff that I would make. The exception was a small ship that I machined out. Despite crying every time I went to work on it, he loved the toy once he had it.

Then, one night, I went out to work on a small desk piece; a chessboard, complete with pieces. It was late, but I hadn't made much progress on any of my projects that week, and just felt the urge to move forward. I had the various strips of wood clamped and glued together, and needed to cut them up into strips composed of alternately colored squares. I didn't want to wake up Nate, or much less Diane, and opted to use the handsaw instead of the circular.

I was actually impressed with how much I managed to get done. I had nearly finished the main base of the board, and had gotten a few pieces prepared for the border. The entire time, I didn't hear a peep from inside. I gave myself a metaphorical pat on the back and dropped my sweaty, sawdust-covered clothes in the bathroom, electing to take a shower before climbing into bed.

I was interrupted partway through washing my hair, a piercing scream from somewhere outside the bathroom door reaching my ears. I jumped out, wrapping a towel around myself and looking for something I could use as a weapon, just in case. I elected to take the toilet paper stand and opened up the door. Across the hall, I could see Diane in Nate's nursery, her back to me and her hands held up in front of her. I approached and put my hand on her shoulder, asking her what was wrong. I felt her recoil at my touch, and I could see her hands covering her mouth as her tears streamed over her fingers. I didn't understand, but then I looked into the crib.

We held the funeral a few days later, September 17th. We didn't have an open casket, though it was in the room throughout. It was so tiny. I didn't know they made them that small. It was hard trying to keep from crying as the minister went on. Diane tried too, I think, but she couldn't do it. I don't blame her.

We got to see him one more time before the burial. His lips were peach colored and a tad rosy, not the dull blue they were when we found him. Whoever was in charge of him at the mortuary was skilled, but it was still disturbing. There was something about him that was different, even though he looked just like he was asleep at home. But there was a different feeling being with him then. There was no joy or frustration or laughs. There was nothing, an inexplicable absence that pulled at my heart from the inside. I knew that Diane felt the same.

Life was different for a while after that. We cleared everything out of his room, and just did our best to move on. We became testier with each other, but we both knew why. And eventually, we stopped talking for a full month. It was the hardest experience that I had ever had to go through, but I was patient and tried to show that I was still there for her, for us. Eventually, she relented, and we had a long talk about what to do next.

I wanted to do one last thing for Nate. A sort of send off, a way to finalize this awful time so we could start again new. I put forth the idea to Diane, but she wasn't on board at first. She hated the sound of the machines, and so had Nate. But I convinced her that it was a good idea when I outlined the final result. She still wasn't happy, but she agreed that it was a good thing to do.

I gathered the wood that had been sitting along the side of the house for nearly two months. The long boards that Nate's crib was made from were just the right size and color. The weathering added to the aesthetic of it, and beyond the boards, I didn't need too much. A couple of iron strips, several screws, and one over sized padlock later, it was finished.

An old, banded, pirate chest, perfect in size to hold all of Nate's old toys, sheets, blankets, and clothes. A box to lock away all of the things that reminded us of the greatest tragedy we could ever experience. Once everything was packed inside, I took it up to the attic, where it will stay forever. After that, we could finally move on, together.

Recently, though, Diane has been crying a lot. At first, I thought that she was still holding on to the memory of Nate. Maybe she still thought about finding him there, in the crib. One night, I felt her get up out of bed. She didn't know I noticed, and once she was out of the room, I got up to see what she was doing.

I peered around the doorway, and watched her go into Nate's old room. She stayed there for a few minutes. I got back into bed when I heard her turn to come back. When she came back into the room, she was crying again. But I don't think it was because she was remembering Nate. I could hear something, coming from the vent on my side of the bed, and I finally understood why she was still so upset.

You would be too, if you could hear your dead son crying from the attic.

Iconpasta / The Rake by Bryan Somerville
« on: 03/08/19, 12:23 AM »
During the summer of 2003, events in the northeastern United States involving a strange, human-like creature sparked brief local media interest before an apparent blackout was enacted. Little or no information was left intact, as most online and written accounts of the creature were mysteriously destroyed.

Primarily focused in rural New York state and once found in Idaho, self proclaimed witnesses told stories of their encounters with a creature of unknown origin. Emotions ranged from extremely traumatic levels of fright and discomfort, to an almost childlike sense of playfulness and curiosity. While their published versions are no longer on record, the memories remained powerful. Several of the involved parties began looking for answers that year.

In early 2006, the collaboration had accumulated nearly two dozen documents dating between the 12th century and present day, spanning 4 continents. In almost all cases, the stories were identical. I’ve been in contact with a member of this group and was able to get some excerpts from their upcoming book.

A Suicide Note: 1964

"As I prepare to take my life, I feel it necessary to assuage any guilt or pain I have introduced through this act. It is not the fault of anyone other than him. For once I awoke and felt his presence. And once I awoke and saw his form. Once again I awoke and heard his voice, and looked into his eyes. I cannot sleep without fear of what I might next awake to experience. I cannot ever wake. Goodbye."

Found in the same wooden box were two empty envelopes addressed to William and Rose, and one loose personal letter with no envelope:

"Dearest Linnie,

I have prayed for you. He spoke your name."

A Journal Entry (translated from Spanish): 1880

"I have experience the greatest terror. I have experienced the greatest terror. I have experienced the greatest terror. I see his eyes when I close mine. They are hollow. Black. They saw me and pierced me. His wet hand. I will not sleep. His voice (unintelligible text)."

A Mariner's Log: 1691

"He came to me in my sleep. From the foot of my bed I felt a sensation. He took everything. We must return to England. We shall not return here again at the request of the Rake."

From a Witness: 2006

"Three years ago, I had just returned from a trip from Niagara Falls with my family for the 4th of July. We were all very exhausted after a long day of driving, so my husband and I put the kids right to bed and called it a night.

At about 4am, I woke up thinking my husband had gotten up to use the restroom. I used the moment to steal back the sheets, only to wake him in the process. I apologized and told him I though he got out of bed. When he turned to face me, he gasped and pulled his feet up from the end of the bed so quickly his knee almost knocked me out of the bed. He then grabbed me and said nothing.

After adjusting to the dark for a half second, I was able to see what caused the strange reaction. At the foot of the bed, sitting and facing away from us, there was what appeared to be a naked man, or a large hairless dog of some sort. Its body position was disturbing and unnatural, as if it had been hit by a car or something. For some reason, I was not instantly frightened by it, but more concerned as to its condition. At this point I was somewhat under the assumption that we were supposed to help him.

My husband was peering over his arm and knee, tucked into the fetal position, occasionally glancing at me before returning to the creature.

In a flurry of motion, the creature scrambled around the side of the bed, and then crawled quickly in a flailing sort of motion right along the bed until it was less than a foot from my husband's face. The creature was completely silent for about 30 seconds (or probably closer to 5, it just seemed like a while) just looking at my husband. The creature then placed its hand on his knee and ran into the hallway, leading to the kids' rooms.I screamed and ran for the lightswitch, planning to stop him before he hurt my children. When I got to the hallway, the light from the bedroom was enough to see it crouching and hunched over about 20 feet away. He turned around and looked directly at me, covered in blood. I flipped the switch on the wall and saw my daughter Clara.

The creature ran down the stairs while my husband and I rushed to help our daughter. She was very badly injured and spoke only once more in her short life. She said "he is the Rake".

My husband drove his car into a lake that night, while rushing our daughter to the hospital. They did not survive.

Being a small town, news got around pretty quickly. The police were helpful at first, and the local newspaper took a lot of interest as well. However, the story was never published and the local television news never followed up either.

For several months, my son Justin and I stayed in a hotel near my parent's house. After we decided to return home, I began looking for answers myself. I eventually located a man in the next town over who had a similar story. We got in contact and began talking about our experiences. He knew of two other people in New York who had seen the creature we now referred to as the Rake.

It took the four of us about two solid years of hunting on the internet and writing letters to come up with a small collection of what we believe to be accounts of the Rake. None of them gave any details, history or follow up. One journal had an entry involving the creature in its first 3 pages, and never mentioned it again. A ship's log explained nothing of the encounter, saying only that they were told to leave by the Rake. That was the last entry in the log.

There were, however, many instances where the creature's visit was one of a series of visits with the same person. Multiple people also mentioned being spoken to, my daughter included. This led us to wonder if the Rake had visited any of us before our last encounter.

I set up a digital recorder near my bed and left it running all night, every night, for two weeks. I would tediously scan through the sounds of me rolling around in my bed each day when I woke up. By the end of the second week, I was quite used to the occasional sound of sleep while blurring through the recording at 8 times the normal speed. (This still took almost an hour every day)

On the first day of the third week, I thought I heard something different. What I found was a shrill voice. It was the Rake. I can't listen to it long enough to even begin to transcribe it. I haven't let anyone listen to it yet. All I know is that I've heard it before, and I now believe that it spoke when it was sitting in front of my husband. I don't remember hearing anything at the time, but for some reason, the voice on the recorder immediately brings me back to that moment.

The thoughts that must have gone through my daughter's head make me very upset.

I have not seen the Rake since he ruined my life, but I know that he has been in my room while I slept. I know and fear that one night I'll wake up to see him staring at me."

Creepypasta / The Puppet by K.I. Simpson
« on: 03/08/19, 12:21 AM »
It was a marionette, I think. It had a big head, the face was made of wrinkly, flesh colored rubber. The eyes were gigantic, bulging white orbs with red pupils. The hair was black, made of some hard substance that didn’t mesh with the rubbery head. The teeth were gigantic, pure white and capable of moving up and down. The body and limbs were wooden, painted to resemble clothes, but the paint was faded, you could see the wood’s natural brown in some places. Each arm and leg was a different length, but the hands and feet were pretty detailed. It made a loud clattering sound whenever it moved.
That puppet... followed me. I don’t mean it got up and chased me. I mean it kept showing up in my life. My earliest memory of it is from my first birthday. I obviously don’t remember the full details of that day, but I remember my parents singing happy birthday and that puppet. I don’t know what it was there for; I just remember it scared me to death and I couldn’t stop crying. When I was able to talk, I asked my parents about it, and they said nothing like that had happened on my first birthday. They must not have thought lying about it would make things easier for me.
The next time I saw it, I was around three. I was exploring a room filled with old stuff my parents had stored away and I found a calendar, but I don’t remember the year. There was a photo for each month, but the only one I remember was October; that puppet was the image for it. I got scared and ran out of the room. I told my mom and tried to show her the calendar so that she’d know the puppet was real, but I couldn’t find it. The room had been very messy, and I had ran out of it so quickly I knocked over piles of stuff, I guess the calendar got buried.
I was six when it happened again. It was the middle of the night, I woke up from a nightmare I can’t remember the details of. I was too scared to go back to sleep, so I went into the living room and turned on the TV. An old black and white show on Nick at Nite was ending and when the commercials started, that puppet came on. It was dancing while loud music played. I screamed and started crying uncontrollably, but by the time my parents got downstairs, the puppet was gone.
I didn’t see the puppet again for a while after that, but I kept having nightmares about it. When I was 15, I decided to try to track it down, using the internet to try to find information about the calendar, the short, anything. No one had ever heard of it, but one day I got an instant message from someone I had never talked to before. Their screen name was a random mash-up of numbers and letters, but their avatar was a picture of the puppet. They IMed me, "Glad that you still remember me," then immediately signed off. They never contacted me or came online again.
When I was 20, I was walking by a store that sold old toys and dolls, and in the front window, I saw the puppet. I went inside, and asked the clerk if he knew anything about that puppet’s history, when it was made, where it was from, anything. He didn’t, said the puppet had just been sold to the store a few days ago, I could have it for $6. I wasn’t sure what to do, it still scared me, but having proof that it really existed seemed like a good idea. I bought the puppet, and took it home.
For a while, I felt better. I viewed the puppet as a childhood fear I had overcome as an adult and even started to believe the explanations my parents had given me for the past appearances of it (I saw it somewhere else as a baby, imagined the calendar, dreamed the TV short, and someone online who had one played a trick on me).
I kept the puppet, but as I moved on in my life, I pretty much forgot about it. I finished college, got married, and my wife should be giving birth in a few weeks. I was cleaning up a room for when the baby comes, and found the puppet, dusty and abandoned. I didn’t want my kid seeing it when he was little, so I picked it up, and decided I might as well wipe the dust off before moving it to another place. When I dusted it, I noticed a faded inscription on the back: "This is what he'll look like." Before I could figure out what this meant, I heard my wife starting to cry. I rushed to her, she looked more upset than I had ever seen her. Sobbing, she told me that the doctor had just called. There was a problem with the baby...

In my small home town there are old local legends that dates back centuries. I live in a village that I will only share as being somewhere in eastern-Europe. My town has been populated since the mid 15th century. We have many old legends that date back to superstitions of the time, that only grew and adapted in the times since they where first told. However none of them involved the old manor home that sat near the outskirts, that is none except those my Gran had always told me.
Growing up I had only passingly asked friends if they had heard the stories of the manor, yet none seemed to. Whenever the fall seasons rolled around, and we shared or listened to the local tales; the manor was never mentioned. This seemed weird to me as a youth, why did no one but my grandmother have stories to share about it? The manor was an old decrepit place that had seen no care from before the first world war, it was a perfect setting for stories. Yet none seemed to talk about it, none would even say who use to live in it, as if no one cared or knew.
A few months ago my grandmother passed away, and with her went any more tales of the old place she never told. It was that fall when my friends and I began to tell tales once more. This year I didn't hold back I shared any and all of the colourful tales I had been told by my Gran. My friends being shocked and intrigued by these tales; this only proved that none had heard them, in length before. That is when I made the suggestion we venture to the old abandoned place.
The manor was decrepit with a large iron gate that connected to a cobbled wall; it was topped with more iron fencing with barbed tops. Hanging loosely on it's hinges the gateway was ajar-ed. We sat for a moment, gazing through unto the manor before us. The pathway overgrown with grasses and weeds, with overhang from the trees to each side.  After a few moments of contemplation, the group had decided I would be the first to enter the grounds.
Walking along the path we could see more of the lands the gate encompassed; it was a fairly normal looking place with a few smaller homes, most likely for the servants from when it was inhabited. The manor itself was nothing to special, it only stood about two stories with more width to it than any other home that had been built in the area since. It was reminiscent of the older buildings on the main street, the ones that housed the libraries and city service buildings. Perhaps it was built for a mayor once, or even a country home for some wealthy individual long ago. As we gotten to the steps and stood in front of the door, I began to tell my friends some of the tales I grew up listening to.
They all sat there listening to my every word, they where entranced by tales they only heard from me briefly. I told them of the rumor that it had been used as a  hospital during the great wars by soldiers passing by. That the grounds held countless unmarked graves of those same soldiers that died of sickness or injury while here. How their spirits can be heard continuing the fight; spirits from both sides and both world wars confused and sticking to the small groups they knew in life.
I told them of the old man who once had residence in the manor from before even the first war; how he had lived here not interacting with the village unless he needed supplies. Even then when he needed supplies he would send a message down by carrier bird, for the town post had no telegraph of its own. Then a young man or woman would bring up the items and be met only with another note and payment for the supplies and trouble. How this old man had never asked for much, he seemed content to be on his own. This was the last known owner of the manor, according to what my grandmother had told me.
I then relaid stories of absolute fantasy, tales of nobles who settled in the area; stories of young squires becoming knights. Various tales that seemed to far fetched or glorious to have ever happened in our little part of the world. It was then that my friends had grown bored of the tales and wanted to see the interior for themselves. We attempted to open the door, but it was sealed as though locked from the inside. Walking along to the side of the building we noticed a window that had been shattered and open. Grabbing a small branch that had been laying around, I knocked out the rest of the glass to make an opening for us to squeeze through.
My friends became hesitant; either not wanting to enter in risk of getting injured, or succumbing to the fear of entering a place unknown. I hoisted myself into the place and began to mock my friends for being scared of a little old house. I was especially curious because I'd purposely left out any of the more interesting stories. After a few taunts, they came around and followed me into the dark sullen room.
When I finally turned around to look at where the window lead us, I noticed the room was large and filled with old cots and a few wire-framed bunks. It seemed that what my Gran had said about soldiers during the wars must have been true.  I nudged one of my friends without glancing over and remarked "Hey, who do you think use to sleep here? The Allies or the Axis?"
None of them seem'd to chuckle, I think they where too stunned at just the smallest bit of evidence for the stories they just heard. Walking around some of the overturned bunks I searched for any proof that soldiers actually had stayed here. Near one of the old wire bed frames there was an old military style footlocker. "Hey! You guys want to find out?" I shouted back to them as the slowly made their way to the corner I had wondered to.
"What makes you think anything would be left here?", John my closest friend since late elementary responded.
I recall just shaking off his remark as nerves, even after the decades a lot of the people here didn't like talking about the occupations. As I opened up the footlocker it had just a small amount of items; nothing special just old papers written in German. So it seemed that at one point this place had been occupied by the Axis powers. I continued to rifle through the footlocker to find anything worth mentioning.
"So what do you think this room was suppose to be?" John finally broke the silence. It was this that caused my to draw my attention unto the room itself and not its contents.
"Don't know maybe a dinning hall or ball room?" I chimed back after taking notice of the size of the room.
I don't recall much more of the conversation; many of the guys didn't seem to speak after we had entered. It was when we had entered the next room that all conversation had ceased. It was the entry hall, bare and hollow. The furniture that hadn't been taken was left in pieces scattered, with the largest pile near the old stone fireplace. Not only had the furniture been removed or smashed the walls where bear, the wallpaper that still clung was yellowed from age. The banisters of the staircase where cracked and broken; the chandelier laid in the center of the entry hall, rusted.
The front door was barred and nailed, as if braced for an assault that never seemed to come. From here there were two doors opposite the one side we had entered, they had swelled tight in their doorways. I headed over to the fire place, there was still unburnt pieces of tables and chairs; as if the occupants had left before needing to continue warming themselves.
It was around this time that John and the others made their way to the two doors. I could hear them jostling the knobs, trying to make the doors budge. After a few attempts they had stopped. When I turned around they seem to be waiting at the base of the stairs, each one hesitant to be the first to climb them. I decided that since I was the one who dragged us into this place I'd go first.
Slowly I went up, making sure I didn't step down to hard in case the wood had rotted. The upper landing was less barren, paintings and furniture where tossed haphazardly around. Old lounge chairs had been set around a small oval coffee table, with valuables set off to the sides as if the last people had been dividing winnings. Vase's and painting to large to have been worth gathering in the heat of the moment. From here the halls branched out, with more swollen doors.
At the end of the hall off to the left side, there was a door visibly ajar and eerily inviting. I had noticed that none of the other guys seemed to follow up the stairs. So alone, I continued to explore the upper areas; heading down the hall to the open room. It was a quaint little study, the desk was centered in the room. Behind it was shelves that at one point could have been full of books. Now they sat worn and toppled over where books that had probably been seen as "Verboten" had probably once stood. The desk itself had more papers scattered across the top. These documents where also in German, a language I could not read.
I decided to open the drawers, trying to find items of interest. When I stumbled upon an old journal tucked in the back of center drawer. It was written in Cyrillic, and despite the ageing and smudges was readable. It opened on the 24 of February 1743, it detailed the thoughts of someone who had recently purchased a new home. Lists of menial tasks and things to acquire; others entries seemed normal till the first of April. The writer of the journal, who I suspect was the man who had last owned the manor before the wars; was frantic.
He made claims of noises in the night, sounds of people wondering through his home. In entries throughout the month he began to grow disdain to the village. He suspected them of breaking into his home to steal his valuables. The journal entries that followed where ragged, either to shakily written or torn haphazardly out. I placed the book down, as I heard footsteps from the stairs. My friends where finally coming up to see what the upper floor had to offer.
However, no one came in the moments that followed. I grew furious, assuming the sound I heard was that of my friends leaving. Their steps echoing through the bare entry hall and up to the study on the floor above. I decided that it was time I left as well, the place was just an old husk with no real interest. Back at the entry I was not ready for what I would see.
One of the swollen doors had been opened, leading to another set of stairs these leading down to a cellar. A shoe, a single black converse was turned on its side near the open maw. Signs of a person being dragged lead from the bottom of the main stairs to the door. No sight of my friend other than the shoe, and from the door a raspy voice called. It called to me, simply saying "You, don't you want to join us?"
I had fled from the manor running back to the village, not  stopping till I had made it home. Later in the week I tried to contact my friends, but no one had seen them. Their parents eventually grew silent, after finding out I had dragged them to the manor. I became a social pariah till I moved away to a larger city. I still wonder what happened to my friends, and why everyone seemed to ignore their disappearance. Perhaps I will return to my home town, and return to that manor they dare not speak of.

Before I start in with what happened, I just need to warn you about a few things.

Firstly, I'm not all there, in the head. I have schizophrenia, and have been on various medications for the past 14 years, with varying degrees of success. Each of them helped a bit, but nothing substantial. Electroshock, attempted in desperation for a cure, instead exacerbated the condition, much to the dismay of both myself and the doctors.

Secondly, I'm rather craven. Sure, I can handle normal stuff; snakes, spiders, etc. When it comes to anything else, though, I turn into a complete coward, curl into a ball, and wait for it to pass. With all that's happened, I doubt you'll be able to blame me. Just, trust me on that.

Third, and probably most important, everything I am about to tell you happened after the electroshock treatments. Because of this, I entirely blame the doctors for everything that happened. Before that 'therapy', sure, I'd see the occasional oddity in a hallucination, but afterward, my life became a constant nightmare.

Finally, I should probably tell you why I'm writing this in the first place. The short version is, I'm worried about how much I'll be able to tell before they get to me again, and I want to get as much out there as I can. Even if no one believes me, I need to send this out in the hope that someone will know how to help me.

The doctors took me in for shock therapy. The day after my surgery, I saw the first one. I was lying in the hospital bed. It was as uncomfortable as ever, but I'd been pretty heavily confined to that bed ever since I got to the medical floor. I really didn't have much choice but to get used to it. Doctor Marcus slid open the glass door and came into my room.

"Good. You're awake. We need to run a basic diagnostic test. Now, I understand that you've had a traumatic experience. However, we need to get this done, and the sooner the better. So, if you don't mind, can you tell me what you see?"

Doctor Marcus held up a card with a picture of a pear on it.

"I see a pear. Are we done?"

"No, afraid not." The doctor's face dropped into a regretful frown. "Here's the next card. What do you see?"

This time, the picture was of a home and family. It looked like it was drawn by a three-year-old.

"It's a house, and a family. Is this really necessary? I'd like to get up and stretch my legs."

"Please, be patient, Ray." I guess he thought that using my name would make me feel better. "I need you to identify one more picture for me. Here, just tell me what you see."

Another card. This time, though, the picture creeped me out. It looked like a shadow of a person, if it stood up. There was no one attached to it, just the figure. It was entirely pitch black with no features, save for two tiny pinpricks where the eyes would be. They looked like stars in the night sky. This was how it started, and I would soon come to regard that image with utter dread.

"I see a shadowy person, with stars for eyes. Where did you get that one? I don't remember it from last time."

I wasn't lying. This was a test I had taken many times. Each time they wanted to assess how a new treatment or medication was working, they gave me this test. It was easy. I had actually memorized all the cards by this point, but that one was definitely new.

Doctor Marcus gave me a look that was unlike any he had shown before. A mix of puzzlement and confusion, and maybe disbelief. Regardless, he made a strange face and looked at the card himself. "Are you sure that's what you see here?" he asked, turning the card to me again.

This time, I did recognize the card. It wasn't the figure from before. It was, instead, a crudely drawn police officer, standing next to a crudely drawn police cruiser. What had happened to the photo from before? Or was this the real photo, and the last one fake? I hate asking myself questions like that. I learned long ago that when you live the way I live, inquiries about what's real and what's not real tend to go unanswered, and end up running you in circles until you're too exhausted to think. I dropped the thought from my mind to avoid the hassle.

Doctor Marcus, however, was still waiting for an answer. I told him something I thought he would accept as a viable response. "The shadow was the officer, next to the police car."

He saw right through my ploy. "It seems to me that you may be experiencing some... unforeseen side effects. That's why we do this test, you know. To ascertain whether the treatment is an improvement or a detriment..." I had already heard the speech, and didn't care to listen to him beat a dead horse. In retrospect, I should have been more fair to him. He really was trying to help: I see that now. I was tired, though, and wanted to go back to my room, instead of spending another minute in that uncomfortable bed.

Eventually, he finished his speech, wrote another prescription, and let me get up. I was happy to be walking out of there. My left leg had fallen asleep, but that was still less irritating than the speech I was given. Doctor Marcus opened my door and shuffled me inside, locking the door as he shut it behind me. I didn't mind. I actually liked my room, save for the monotone color scheme. White-washed walls occasionally interrupted by a smudge of crayon from some loony. Boring.

The rest of the room was more to my liking. My bed was far better than the one I had been confined to before, and I had a small table that sat next to it, complete with an adjustable desk lamp. The table had a single, unlocked drawer, which I was not allowed to have the key to. I didn't care, since the only things in there were my sketches. I like to draw, and that was the best place for me to hide them so the other residents didn't get at them. They were like damn vultures, I swear, picking at everything, regardless of whether they had any actual interest in it.

You may have realized at this point that the room I've just described sounds a lot like a room at a mental institution. Actually, I suppose everything I've talked about so far does, doesn't it? If so, you earned yourself a cookie, because in the four years leading up to my electroshock treatment, I had been living at Augustinian Institute for the Mentally Unstable. That translates roughly as 'The Loony Bin', in case you couldn't tell.

Prior to those four years, I lived with my parents. We dealt with my illness as a family, and despite any preconceived notions you may have, we were happy. Mom would make breakfast for me every morning, and dad would watch t.v. with me. Our house was a safe place for me, and I actually had a better time dealing with the hallucinations when I was at home. With me being so messed up in the head, I'm kinda surprised at how perfect my family life was.

Then, quick as a wink, that life ended. My parents went out for a night on the town. Heavy rain was pouring down that night. I remember it keeping me awake. Apparently, the soaked, cobbled road was a bad match for the tires on my parent's car, and they skidded off into a ditch. Neither one made it out, and that's all I'm going to say about it. It's a touchy subject for me, as you can imagine.

With no relatives left, I was placed in the care of my physician, the aforementioned Doctor Marcus. He, and the other doctors, had only one goal in mind for me. Get me healthy enough to boot out the front door so they could bring in another guinea pig. Bad news for them, none of their drugs worked. I was carefully monitored for the next four years, bringing us back to the electroshock, and the events that took place afterward.

I sat down on my bed and retrieved my sketching supplies from the drawer. When I would get really bored, it would help to draw something interesting that happened from the day. Well, I had been resting for most of the day, which really only left the strange flash card to consider. I drew my rendition of Doctor Marcus, holding up the card. When I tried to draw what was on the card, though, I couldn't. I didn't remember what it was. I do now, obviously, but for whatever reason, at that moment, it was as though the card was blank both on paper and in reality. I laid back in my bed, getting a headache. I wanted the day to end, and so, despite having rested for fifteen hours post-op, I fell asleep.

I woke up very early the next morning. I didn't have access to a clock or watch, but there was no light streaming in through the barred window above my bed. It must have been before dawn. The doctors didn't open the doors until 8:00 each morning, so I was stuck in there in my boredom, waiting. I didn't want to wake the person in the room across the hall from me, so I left my lamp off. Instead, I sat in the darkness, just waiting. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something move in my room. I turned to look, but found nothing.

As I rolled back to face the door, however, I came face to face with a horrific sight. Utter darkness, a shadow in a room of shadows, and two white stars, coalesced into a humanoid form. The monster from the card had followed me. It had crawled on all fours onto my bed and was at eye level, just inches from my face. Its white pinprick eyes stared into mine, a void of emotion, lacking in characteristic. I clamped my eyes shut and curled into the fetal position. I started crying, praying for it to be over. I could hear it, right next to me. It was breathing in my ear. The hot breath emanated from nowhere, as the monster had no mouth or nose. It stayed there for minutes on end, just breathing louder and louder. I almost wished it would just get it over with.

Then, quickly as it started, the breathing ceased. Only the hum of electricity remained, coming from the walls. I didn't open my eyes for a very long time, too scared of what I might see. When I finally did open them, it was still dark, and the creature was gone. I quickly flipped on the lamp to make sure it wasn't hiding in the shadows. My room was devoid of inhabitants, save for me. I started to calm down, and quickly became embarrassed. I didn't envy the nurse that would have to take my pants to be washed.

Across the hall, I could hear someone stirring. I figured it was a patient, but I didn't want to be left in the dark again. I angled the light away from the door as best I could, and tried to get back to sleep, to no avail. Eventually, the Sun rose and the doors were unlocked. The nurses gave me a change of clothes, clearly annoyed and a little disgusted. I told Doctor Marcus about what happened to me, for no other reason than to let him document it. He was obviously concerned for me, and decided to give me some meds to help with the hallucinations. I took them gladly. No way did I want to see that again.

The drugs had side effects, but they sure as hell worked. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary for months. I was so relieved after the first week that I actually thanked Doctor Marcus for all he had done for me. The look on his face was priceless, but I really meant it, and he could tell. I think he lightened up on me after that. He actually started taking an interest in my issues, and in helping deal with the side effects of my meds. For three months, my life at the Institute was the best it had ever been.

Then, in a moment of stupidity, I slipped up. One of the nurses forgot to prepare my psych meds, and I forgot to remind them. I didn't even realize that the mistake had occurred, because even off the pills, everything was fine. I still slept soundly that night, and the night after, and saw nothing strange either day.

The third day off my meds, however, would prove to be a moment of clarity for me. I woke to the sound of my door being unlocked. I flipped on my lamp sleepily before opening my eyes. There wasn't a doctor standing there to greet me this time. Just the open door. I got out of bed and stepped out into the hall. I turned and closed the door behind me, locking it back up. I looked down the hallway...

And froze solid at what I saw. I wasn't in the asylum anymore. I was in... I don't know. I can't adequately name the horror that now faced me. I always pictured Hell as being fiery and smelling of brimstone. This wasn't hell: This was... visceral. The hall had contorted into a fleshy mess. Horrible smelling fluids leaked from sores in the walls and blood coated the squishy, vein-covered floor. The doors to other rooms were replaced with sphincters, and down the hall, I could see a figure standing with its back to me. I could hear it sobbing. I tried to turn around, but every muscle in my body locked. Something inside me knew that whatever was behind me would be far worse than what was in front of me.

I looked back to the door to my room, only to find that it wasn't there. The intestinal tunnel I was in had overtaken the door. I could see the knob in the folds of flesh, though. I thought, “If I can just get back through the door, it will be alright.” I don't know why. Out of pure horror, I concocted the notion that my room was a safety net. It was a stupid idea, but I tried it anyway. Nowhere else to go, regardless, except toward the figure. That was the last thing I wanted to do.

I tried to reach for the knob, and the flesh closed around it. I pushed through the slimy, squishy mess, until I felt my knuckles touch the knob, and I took hold of it. The wall clamped down on my arm, crushing bone and trapping me there. The figure stood and turned to walk toward me, still sobbing. Its pitch black skin was broken only by its pinprick white eyes, which leaked a gray fluid that oozed down its cheeks.

The sobbing grew louder and louder, becoming like a banshee's wail, somehow echoing off the twisting walls of flesh. It stood perfectly still a few feet from me, and the gray slime continued to dribble out. My crushed arm felt like it was on fire, and my blood sloshed to the floor, mixing with the gore. I started crying out for help, and inside I was praying that this was a dream, or vision.

Then, for the first time, the monster spoke. A horrible, ghastly, grating voice. It was utterly inhuman, and that alone gave me strong goosebumps over my entire body. There was no movement of its face, as it had no mouth with which to speak. This made the sound all the more horrible. But it was what the creature said that was truly terrifying.

"We are in you now, and you are in us. Neither can escape, and you cannot stop us now."

My knees gave out, and I dropped to the floor, sloshing the various fluids where I hit. I started bawling, waiting for whatever horrible things the shadow had planned for me. I felt warm hands on my shoulders, and I flinched, cringing away from the evil being that had caught me in its web of sinew. It spoke again.

"Ray, are you with us? Ray!"

I looked up to find Doctor Marcus holding my shoulders, trying to help me. The hallway was normal again, as was my door. My arm had healed. Doctor Marcus pulled me to my feet, but I was still unable to stand well, and I was crying my eyes out as he helped me to his office. It was more than an hour before I calmed down enough to tell him what happened. I spared no detail, watching as his face switched between visages of horror, disgust, concern, and outright fear. These looks made me more frightened, because this was the only time I ever saw Doctor Marcus afraid of what a patient reported seeing.

He made certain that the nurses never forgot my meds again. They didn't work anymore, though. I don't know why. I was really scared of this though, because I was still hallucinating. Flames in the hallway, meals made of maggots, and the damnable creatures that stalked me in the darkness of my room. Once they realized that nothing was helping anymore, they had no choice but to cast me out. I couldn't benefit from their type of help anymore, and they needed the space. I went back to the home I knew before.

It's been twenty-seven days, and each day the visions get more and more intense. The starry-eyed shadows have been following me everywhere. The only place they can't reach me is in my home. They've gotten more... creative... since the asylum. Everywhere I go, the scenery and people turn into fleshy piles and shadows, all in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, the people wouldn't be shadows, but instead twisted, mutilated corpses. It doesn't stop there. If I try to go anywhere, they corner me, cut me open, burn me...

I feel everything, the agonizing pain of mutilation. It's torture, literally. I can't go anywhere. I'm starting to run out of food. I don't trust canned foods at all anymore. It's like a god damn game of surprise. What's inside this time? A bunch of eyes, strands of hair? The distortions have invaded my home. Even now, the walls in the living room are pulsating, like a heartbeat, and the t.v. only shows static. I don't think anyone will believe me, and I'm scared to go outside. They have me surrounded. I think they are waiting for me to leave.

At the end of the 1980s, a horrible murder took place. It was worse than you can ever imagine. It was so gruesome that the investigators refused to release information to the press. In the middle of the day, in a small village in Russia, laid a newly bought house. It was bought by a 29 year old lady named Amanda Branksnovitsch.

The reason the house was sold was because the lady who lived there before had heard a weird creaking noise that made it impossible for her to sleep, but it was fixed shortly before Amanda moved in. But after the moving was finished, the creaking came back. She tried to find the creaking's source, but whenever she found what may have been the source of the sound, it disappeared. Five days later, she began to hear a knocking too. What is going on? She thought.
After a while she found out that the noise came from the biggest wall in the house, the one standing against the bathroom. She couldn't make sense of a damn thing. She looked into the bathroom, but all she saw were blue tiles of marble reflecting the lamp hanging from the ceiling. She looked all around, and after dusk she found a crack in the roof. She was so desperate to stop the noises that she ran down the stairs to the kitchen, got a roasting fork and spent 1 hour and 23 minutes to make a bigger hole in the crack.

Then she walked outside into her giant treeless garden, got a stepladder and climbed into the ceiling armed just with a photographic camera so she would be able to see what was causing the noises after the print was developed. Inside, it was dark like a black hole. She got to the wall where the creaking noise came from, but accidentally, she fell into the gap inside it.

She was stuck, and sat there horrified and wondered what she should do, stuck in the dark, empty, grim gap. She stared into the nothingness, but then she heard a weak, hoarse, whispering laugh about 5 inches from the back of her head. She barely managed to turn her head around, but she wished she never did that. It was a face in the middle of dark.

She got out her camera, only slightly able to see what was producing the menacing noise, and hit the shutter button as quickly as possible before being frozen in fear. She was found dead two hours later, her charred corpse seeming incredibly mutilated. The face of a scream was stuck on her face, preserving the state she was in right before she died.

It was believed the whole slaughter of the young woman went on for a grueling 20 minutes. The cause of death was covered up and the only definitive evidence, the photograph which she took with her camera, was not revealed to the press.

When the police looked at the image they could barely make out a face in the photograph. But the face was clearly not of a human. The mouth was elongated, the eyes were too large and un-natural and the general facial anatomy of the creature in the camera were all wrong. When the police tore down the woman's house from top-to-bottom, absolutely nothing was found which suggested that such a woman had ever lived anywhere near the area where the photograph was taken.

The case was declared un—solveable.

It was not until 2004, long after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the freedom of the press in the country was the case brought up again. A relative of Branksnovitsch lead an inquest into the photograph and the police gave the archive to the family. After a large amount of waiting, her loved-ones finally had the photograph in their hands. This was what they saw:

Sometime during the night of August 16, 1952, the small town of Ashley, Kansas ceased to exist. At 3:28 AM on August 17, 1952, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake was measured by the United States Geological Survey. The earthquake itself was felt throughout the state and most of the midwest. The epicenter was determined to be directly under Ashley, Kansas.

When state law enforcement arrived at what should have been the outskirts of the farming community, they found a smoldering, burning fissure in the earth measuring 1,000 yards in length and approximately 500 yards in width. The depth of the fissure was never determined.

After twelve days, the state-wide and local search for the missing 679 residents of Ashley, Kansas, was called off by the Kansas State Government at 9:15 PM on the night of August 29, 1952. All 679 residents were assumed to be dead. At 2:27 AM on August 30, 1952, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake was measured by the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter was situated under what used to be the location of Ashley, Kansas. When law enforcement investigated at 5:32 AM, they reported that the fissure in the Earth had closed.

In the eight days leading up to the disappearance of the town and its 679 residents, bizarre and unexplainable events were reported by dozens of residents in Ashley, Kansas and law enforcement from the surrounding area.

On the evening of August 8, 1952, at 7:13 PM, a resident by the name of Gabriel Johnathan reported a strange sight in the sky above Ashley. The town itself, having no official branch of law enforcement, called into the police station of the neighboring town of Hays. Gabriel reported what appeared to be a "small, black opening in the sky." Within the next fifteen minutes, the Hays police station became overwhelmed with dozens of phone calls all reporting the same phenomenon. The phenomenon was never reported by any neighboring communities. A decision was made to send of a trooper to Ashley to investigate the matter the following morning.

At 7:54 AM on the morning of August 9, 1952, Hays Police Officer Allan Mace radioed the Hays Police Station. He reported that, despite following the one way road leading into Ashley, he had become lost. According to his report, the road "continued along its normal path, but somehow ended up back in Hays." Officer Mace went on to add that the road never curved, or bent in any direction. At 9:15 AM, seven of the town's 10 police cars were sent to investigate the situation, and all members of the team came to the same conclusion. The only road leading into Ashley stopped leading into Ashley, but instead led back to Hays. Phone calls continued to pour into the Hays Police Station, all reporting that the black opening in the sky continued to grow in size. All callers were advised to remain inside, and to not travel outside unless absolutely necessary. At 8:17 PM, Mrs. Elaine Kantor reported her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Milton, and their two children, Jeffery and Brooke, missing. According to Mrs. Kantor's phone call, the Miltons attempted to leave town in their family car earlier in the evening. They never returned. Law enforcement officials from Hays never reported the car, or individuals, coming up the one way road.

At 7:38 AM on the morning of August 10, 1952, phone calls from Ashley into the Hays Police Station reported that the town was in total darkness. The sun had never risen. At 10:15 AM, at the request of Hays Law Enforcement, a helicopter from Topeka, Kansas flew over the region in which Ashley, Kansas stood. The town was never observed from air.

At 12:43 PM on the afternoon of August 11, 1952, Ms. Phoebe Danielewski called into the Hays Police Station. She reported that her daughter Erica had begun to have conversations with her father, who died three years prior in a drunk driving accident. To add to her concern, Ms. Danielewski reported that Erica was attempting to go outside into the dark, to "join them." Over the course of the next twelve hours, a reported 329 phone calls were placed into the Hays Police Station all describing similar phenomenon with the children of the town.

The following morning of August 12, 1952, the situation became dire. During the middle of the night, all 217 children in the town of Ashley, Kansas disappeared. A reported 421 phone calls were placed into the Hays Police Department. Unable to be of any useful assistance, Hays Law Enforcement instructed all callers to remain inside and to avoid any and all attempts at finding the missing children.

At 5:19 PM on the evening August 13, 1952, Ashley elderly man Scott Luntz reported a growing, distant fire to the south. According to his description, the fire seemed to turn the distant black into "bright red and orange [that] seemed to extend high into the sky." Throughout the rest of the day, calls continued in, stating that the fire, in addition to moving north, now seemed to "come out of the black sky." No fire was ever witnessed by any of the neighboring communities or law enforcement officials.

The reports continued until 12:09 AM on the morning of August 14, 1952. The last phone call, placed by a Mr. Benjamin Endicott, reported that the fire in the sky had grown so intense that it began to appear as daytime over the town. The phone call ended abruptly:

Benjamin: Just hold on... wait...
(continued silence)
Benjamin (cont.): Yeah, yeah I see something. It's to the south. It looks like-

The next phone call wouldn't be placed until the following evening.

The following is the entire transcript of the final phonecall to be received by the Hays Police Department out of the town of Ashley, Kansas. It was placed at 9:46 PM on the evening of August 15, 1952. In this recorded phonecall, the officer on duty is Officer Peter Welsch. The caller has been identified as Ms. April Foster.

Officer Welsch: Hays Police Department.
(muffled static)
Officer Welsch: Hello? Foster: YES... yes, hello? Officer Welsch: Ma'am, who am I speaking with? Foster: My name is April, April Foster. (coughs) Please, sir. Please help me. Officer Welsch: What is happening, ma'am? Foster: Last night... last night they came back. Officer Welsch: Ma'am, I'm going to need you to - Foster: LAST NIGHT THEY CAME BACK! (cries) Officer Welsch: Ma'am, I'm going to need you to calm down, and speak clearly. What happened? Who came back? Foster: (sobbing) Everyone. Officer Welsch: Everyone? Foster: They all came in the fire. Officer Welsch: What do you mean everyone? Foster: My son... I saw my son last night. He was walking... he was walking down the street. He was burned. Jesus Christ HE WAS BURNED. Officer Welsch: Ma'am I - Foster: He died last year. I raised him since he was a baby... it was just me and him. I told him to watch for cars when he rode his bike. But he never wanted to listen. Officer Welsch: Ma'am, what you're saying isn't making any sense. You said everyone came back? Foster: ARE YOU FUCKING LISTENING TO ME? EVERYONE. Everyone came back. Everyone who died, or went missing, they're back. And they're looking for US! (cries) He...he said: "Mommy, I'm okay now! See, I can walk again! Where are you, Mommy? I want to see you!" (sobs) Officer Welsch: ... Ma'am, where are you now? Are you safe? Foster: I'm hiding. Just like everyone else. We saw them coming through the fields... and... some people opened their doors for them. God, the SCREAMING. (pause) I don't know what happened to them. But their houses caught fire and they... caved in. I have my curtains drawn. I'm hiding in the closet right now and- (silence) Officer Welsch: Ma'am, is everything alright, are you okay? Foster: (silence) Officer Welsh: Ma'am? Foster: (glass breaking) Oh... Oh my God. Officer Welsh: Ma'am? Foster: Something just came in. (muffled cries) Officer Welsch: Ma'am, stay as quiet as you can. Don't make a sound. Foster: (Muffled: "Mommy... mommy?") (sobbing) He came inside. Officer Welsch: Stay absolutely still. Don't leave. Foster: (Sound of muffled footsteps) (Muffled: "Mommy? Mommy, where are you hiding?") Officer Welsch: Stay quiet. Foster: (Sound of heavy footsteps. Laughter. Muffled: "I found you, MOMMY!") (Indiscernible screaming and noise) Officer Welsch: Ma'am? MA'AM?

The following morning, at 6:55 AM, the law enforcement officials of the Hays Police Department arrived at the location of Ashley, Kansas. A smoldering, burning fissure in the Earth was all that remained.

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