Reading Time: 7minutes
I know most of you have heard plenty of stories of possessed evil dolls, or cursed toys that have caused who knows how much damage to their owners, but let me tell you, sometimes it’s the most mundane things that can really freak you out. Unfortunately, I was too ignorant to help the one person who really needed my help at the time, but I hope it isn’t too late to warn others. Especially since it might be too late for me.
There’s a guy who lived next door to me. He wasn’t at the end of the street, or in some old drafty house. It was just a regular old colonial, but the guy was obsessed with Legos. I don’t know if he was ever featured on the news or not, but he always had something new set up in his front yard. In February he built a big heart with a life-sized Lego man proposing to a Lego woman, which was actually pretty neat. In July, he reenacted that famous photo of the Iwo Jima flag raising. It was a little silly, maybe, with the yellow Lego heads on the army men, but again, it was certainly nothing to sneeze at.
But Halloween was when he went all out. Lego wolfmen, Lego vampires, Lego webs. He even had all of these torture device things he put up, like the rack, an iron maiden, thumb screws, even things that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Saw movie.
Thing is, not only did he build stuff really well, but most of it worked. The proposing Lego man’s arm actually could move up and down. The Iwo Jima flag was bendy and could wave if pulled. And all those Halloween things? Yep, the Iron Maiden could close, and all those little traps could actually twist and turn. Not that anyone could hurt themselves…all the spikes in the Iron Maiden were missing, and thumb screw didn’t actually drop, but I didn’t even know that level of detail was possible.
As far the guy himself, he wasn’t exactly what you expected from a thirty-something guy who collected Legos…he was tall, fairly athletic, clean shaven, no glasses. Even smelled like he showered regularly. But I guess collectors come in all shapes and sizes. He was always friendly with the neighborhood kids, and he even let them play with the stuff on the lawn, as long as they didn’t steal anything. Not that anyone really could, as on closer look, the Legos were all glued together. I assumed super glue, but whatever it was, it was strong. I know one kid almost broke a nail trying to get one off once.
It really made the neighborhood special, in a lot of ways, not the least of which because at Christmas, he would send a few lucky kids in the neighborhood their own special toys. My own kids had been looking forward to getting their toys for a long time, but it hadn’t happened yet.
But then there was Chris. Chris was a teenager in the neighborhood who had a long history of discipline problems; he came from a broken home, and was having issues in the foster system, and he lashed out a lot in school. I knew him because I taught there and he was in my math class. When I saw him struggling with his lessons, I offered to tutor him after school in the campus library, and he seemed to respond to it, and to me. Still, I was sure that even if he trusted me more than most people, there was a lot he wouldn’t tell me. I was pretty sure he stole little things like candy bars and other small criminal acts…nothing I could prove, and quite frankly, I liked him, and the less I knew about what he did when he wasn’t in school, the better.
It was a week or two after Halloween, just after dinner, when I got a knock on the door. It was Chris, and he had something under his coat.
Oh, no, here it was.
He asked me to sit outside with him for a minute. I got my coat, and he sat down with me on a bench in my front garden.
“Teach, there’s something weird going on, and I don’t know who else to tell. I can’t go to the cops, because I didn’t exactly find out about it…legally.”
He reached into his coat and pulled out a hammer. To look at it, it was like any other claw hammer you would see in a store, except…
It was entirely made out of Legos. Top to bottom. The claw was even put together with the pointy pieces I hadn’t seen in sets in a long time.
I’ve never seen a children’s toy look so intimidating. It shouldn’t have been, with all the yellow, blue, and red bricks making it up, but as it had been glued together with very strong glue, I am pretty sure you could’ve done some damage with it.
“Chris, where did you get this?” I didn’t need to ask, since I already knew, but the answer he gave still surprised me.
“That Lego guy? I wanted to see all the stuff in his basement, since I didn’t get a chance to go over there on Halloween. But he had a door open in there, a door that you don’t see when it’s closed, going under the stairs. There’s a chair in there. And this.” He shook it.
As strange as all this was, I didn’t believe his story. I wanted to, because I wanted to believe he was a good kid, but I couldn’t. As weird as a Lego hammer was, there was nothing wrong with it. And he had broken into a house. I didn’t want to rat him out, but didn’t know how to tell him without being a jerk about it.
“Chris, how about you talk to me about it tomorrow, after class? If you took that from the house, it’s probably not going to help too much if they know you took that.”
He looked a little downcast that I didn’t immediately go walking over there, but he didn’t seem too upset. “OK. But be careful. The stuff in his basement other than that is…weird. I think he’s up to something, Teach, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
After Chris left, I looked over at the Lego guy’s house. I figured he was a little odd with all his stuff, but criminal? Probably not. What was there to worry about?
I got worried when Chris was not in school the next day. Nobody had seen him I called his foster home and they said he hadn’t come back the night before. They had already called the police themselves, afraid he had run away.
Now very concerned, after school I went to my neighbor’s house. His Thanksgiving decorations, usually up by now, were conspicuously absent. I knocked, but he didn’t answer. Just on a whim, I tried the front door, and found it was open.
I didn’t know if I should go in, but considering what I had heard the day before, I wanted to be sure everything was OK. I called in, asking if there was anyone there. I got no answer. I peeked in. In the front hall, there were the Thanksgiving Legos, a giant turkey and pilgrim hat, but they were shoved against the wall, like they were pushed out of the way in a hurry. I called out again, and noticed the basement door open.
If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve just gone back and called the police and let them handle it. I guess more than anything I was concerned about Chris than I was about how strange all of this was. But I went into the basement.
The place was full of Lego constructions. You could barely walk for all the things that were shoved into there, ranging from life-sized Lego people to scale model aircraft carriers, holiday decorations, and God knows what else. He had never put up even half of what he had built on display. And quite frankly, I was glad. Some of the things he had ranged from normal to downright disturbing. He had a model of the Telltale Heart built, with the psycho staring at the floor while the police stared at him in horror. The French Revolution, with the guillotine dropped and several Lego heads in a basket.
And beyond those, some grotesque creature, all twists and turns, with no discernible head. It looked all wrong, a sculpture Dali would have had nightmares about, and it was eating Lego people in a scale model city.
The Iron Maiden in the corner was shut, along with the other Halloween decorations. But there was no sign of anyone living anywhere.
I went along the staircase, but I didn’t see any room. I felt along the shelves attached to it, loaded with all the regular Lego fun sets you normally see, and found what felt like a handle built into the underside of one. It turned, and with a click the hidden door opened.
Inside was a small room, more a closet than anything. A single light bulb hung over a chair, with a table next to it in darkness. I pulled the lamp cord. On that table, was the hammer Chris had shown me the other day. And next to it, was a pile of teeth.
I gagged, and ran out of the closet. I stumbled over the proposing Lego man and knocked him over. For the first time, the glue cracked, and his hand fell off.
Underneath was a shriveled human hand. I scrambled up again and saw the Iron Maiden once more in the corner. This time, I saw a puddle beneath it, and a pair of eyes in the slot of its door.
Even though I couldn’t see them clearly, I somehow knew they were Chris’ eyes.
I called the police. All signs showed Lego guy had left town that morning, though they put out an APB for him. They found more bodies hiding inside the Lego figures…I didn’t want to know more when they said it could be more than 15, all mummified and sealed away in their toy coffins. And the torture devices? DNA swabs showed they had been used. Many times. They didn’t know whose DNA it was, since they had no one to compare it to, but many samples had been found.
And Chris. I should have listened to him. I was shaken when they pulled his body out of the house.
They still haven’t caught him. He could be anywhere by now, in any town, putting up displays. Maybe not Legos anymore. But I know he’ll do anything to impress.
I know because some boxes came in the mail for me. Well, not for me, but for my kids.
They say, “Merry Christmas. Be sure the kids get these on that very special day.”
I don’t want to open them. But I’m afraid what might happen if I don’t.
All I know is, the boxes smell like glue. Very strong, industrial glue.
Reading Time: 14minutesWhat do people usually fear when moving out to live on their own? What sort of problems does one normally encounter when finally venturing from the safety of their parents’ home, into a place of their own? Perhaps it’s paying their rent on time, or having to do all the cleaning without any of mommy’s help. These were things I anticipated. I never could have predicted the events of the past week.
We had finally moved the last box into my new house. Single level ranch and only two bedrooms, but for a bachelor like me, it was a dream come true. The house was right in the heart of a great suburban neighborhood, with a two-car driveway and a pretty big backyard. When I had seen the yard, the first thing I thought of was all the parties I’d be hosting. I stepped onto the deck and took a breath of the fresh air while closing my eyes to imagine the endless nights of friends, booze and, of course– women. I stretched my arms out and let out an exuberant sigh of relief.
As I scanned my surroundings, I couldn’t help but notice the elevated deck gave me the proper vantage point to see into my neighbor’s backyards. I figured since I hadn’t formally met any of them yet, I would try and guess now whom I’d have to worry about if my parties got to rowdy and the risk of 911 calls would become a harsh reality. To my right, I saw a vibrant garden, a grill and hammock. I figured it was a middle-aged couple.
“Hopefully they’re not too old and cranky,” I thought to myself as I turned my head to view my neighbors to the left. That’s when I saw… him. Under a large oak tree, adorned in colorful Christmas lights, was what looked to be a young boy swinging away on his play set. “Great”, I thought, “I bet his bedtime is a lot earlier than any party I throw would be ending.” I continued to look at the boy. His back was turned to me. He wore a hoodie and gloves, which I struck me as odd, since it was summer and pretty warm outside. I brushed it off and assumed the boy was sick.
I went back inside and began to unpack everything. With the help of some friends, we managed to put together all my furniture, hook up my entertainment system and more-or-less get the house in working order. “I just sent out the texts guys! Get ready to party tonight!” I exclaimed as I leaped off the couch and finished my beer. The guys all began to cheer and a round of high fives were exchanged. By now, the sun was setting, as it had been several hours since we first had brought in all my belongings.
My friend Dan was unpacking one of the last boxes as he eagerly looked out of the window. “Have you met your neighbors yet? Any fine young ladies gonna be comin’ around here asking to borrow some sugar?” he asked in a sarcastic tone as he turned to me with a lewd gesture.
Smiling and walking over I replied, “Nope not yet, but I don’t think I’ll have much luck in that department. From the looks of it, it’s just a bunch of normal families. One of them even has a kid.”
As I pointed to the house I had seen earlier, my face scrunched to show a look of confusion and surprise. The boy I had seen swinging earlier was still there. He was still swinging under the ambiance of the lit-up tree.
“Weird… that kid was swinging when we first got here too,” I said to Dan as he looked at his phone. Barely acknowledging my comment, he raised his hand up and mumbled, “Must be a Special Ed kid or something.” He walked off, calling more people to invite them to the house warming party. I turned back to the swinging boy. He couldn’t have been swinging this whole time… could he?
That night, as planned, we had my house warming party. It was such a great time. I greeted my friends and cousins as they arrived, handing them all the beverage of their choice. We were outside until around 3 or 4 in the morning when the weather suddenly got cool and it began to drizzle. I would have been willing to stick it out until it passed but the girls all began to freak out, claiming their hair would frizz and all ran inside. Naturally, the guys followed, holding makeshift umbrellas over the girl’s heads. I laughed to myself at how hard they were trying to get lucky.
I took the opportunity to quickly clean up some of the trash that had accumulated before going inside. I scooped up a bunch of cans and bottles before I turned around and was left in awe. I guess we were all distracted by the music and alcohol to notice earlier but now, with everyone inside I saw it… the boy was still outside and on his swing. He was still in the same position and outfit I had seen in him all day, back turned to me, wearing the same hoodie and gloves.
I stood there for a minute, lost in thought when from behind me I heard a loud, “Hiya neighbor!” I jumped and did a quick 180, dropping the trash I had been carrying.
“Whoa, sorry about that, bud! Didn’t mean to startle ‘ya!” laughed an elderly man. He was wearing pajamas and slippers as he held his hand out, waiting for a shake on my end.
“Oh, hello, sir,” I said as I cleared my throat and shook his hand, recollecting my thoughts. He smiled and began to fumble with his hands.
“I hate to be that guy, especially since you just moved in and everything, but you think you guys can turn down the music a bit? The wife and I are pretty light sleepers and at this age, we tend to be early risers,” he said bashfully. I smiled and laughed as I put a hand to my face in embarrassment.
“Oh jeez, I’m sorry sir. I guess things got a little crazier than planned. I didn’t think people would stick around this long.”
I really did feel bad. I half expected the man to come out yelling, demanding us to keep it down, less he call the cops. His gentle demeanor was refreshing and I was more than happy to oblige. I laughed and replied, “I’ll go let everyone know they need to stay inside and take it down a notch. I’m Peter, by the way.” I shook his hand.
“Pleasure to meet you, Peter. I’m Paul!” he said with a grin. As he smiled, his eyes drifted past mine and towards the swinging boy. “I assume you’ve noticed the Langer’s kid by now, huh?” asked Paul, as he cupped his hands and breathed into try and keep warm.
“Yeah,” I said as I turned to face him. “What’s the deal with him? He’s been on that thing all day.”
“Not sure. No one really knows the story. He just swings and swings, until eventually.” Paul stopped and his eyes widened. “Wait, it’s happening! Check it out!”
I turned my around to find the boy had stopped swinging. He sat completely still for a moment before slowly rising from the rubber seat of the swing. He began to shake violently, falling to his knees and scraping the dirt below him. Even from where we were standing, we were able to hear his quick bursts of shrieking and gurgling. I became concerned. Was the boy okay? It looked like he was having an asthma attack or a seizure.
I started to run to the boy in order to help but stopped after a couple steps. His mother had run out. I looked at her, completely sober now from the adrenaline that was pumping through my body. It was not a pleasant sight. She was a frail, haggard woman, with a gray, knotted mane of hair on her head. Her skin was pale and her eyes had dark bags underneath. It looked as if she hadn’t slept or had a proper meal for ages. Mrs. Langer rushed out quick, holding a small, orange bottle– the kind one would receive from a pharmacist. After she reached her boy, she knelt down and poured several white pills into her hand. Before she could even finish offering the pills to her son, he had grabbed arm and buried his face into the palm of her hand, inhaling the pills.
Mrs. Langer pulled away and began to rub her wrist. It appeared the boy had hurt her, which did not really surprise me due to how skinny the woman was. Paul and I watched intensely, without uttering a single word. After a moment or two, the boy simply rose back to his feet, sat back down on his swing and resumed his leisurely activity. Mrs. Langer grabbed the now empty orange bottle and proceeded back inside, still clutching her wrist.
Paul and I were both shaken up. We had no idea what we had just seen. “Wow. I’ve seen the boy spas out before but never that bad. I bet whatever condition he has is getting more severe… poor kid,” Paul said as he rubbed the back of his head.
“What… what exactly is wrong with him?“ I asked, with my eyes still glued to the child.
“Like I said, I don’t know. No one around here does,” Paul replied, turning around and walking back his door, “Anyway, my wife is probably getting worried. You have a good night Peter.”
“Yeah,” I sighed, arranging my thoughts. “Nice meeting you, Paul.” We both exchanged a final wave and returned to our respective households. The party was dying down when I entered… and I was glad. What I had just seen took a lot out of me.
The next morning I felt like shit. The copious waves of alcohol I had carelessly consumed the night prior had finally caught up to me. My head throbbed and I was severely parched. I stood up and the arid sensation in my mouth and throat was quickly replaced by feelings of nausea. I shambled to the bathroom and dropped to my knees, clutching the porcelain for dear life. “At least I have the day off to recover,” I thought to myself.
I grabbed the sports drink I had strategically placed in the bathroom the day before in anticipation for my hangover and chugged it down in only a few gulps. I was no stranger to this feeling, and I knew what to expect. Within a couple minutes I began to vomit and immediately felt better; though, not enough to have a very productive day. I mentally prepared myself for a day of movies, video games and junk food.
After a couple hours of lying in my borderline vegetative state, I heard the mailman make his stop at my door. In no mood to get off the couch, I ignored it and continued binge watching the zombie show everyone was raving about. It probably was not the best idea to be observing such grotesque gore while it felt as if a war was being waged in my stomach. I sucked it up and continued to watch. Several episodes later, I made my way to the kitchen and popped in a giant TV dinner in the microwave. While it cooked I decided I would bring in the mail from earlier. I unlocked the front door and let in some much needed fresh air.
I stood at the door and scooped up the contents of my mailbox, sifting through the junk mail and bills, when I saw I had received a package. Without scanning the box for more details I brought the small box inside and cut off the tape. I opened it only to find a small orange bottle… like the one I had seen my neighbor holding last night. I was puzzled and searched for the mailing label on the box. The mailman had delivered it to the wrong house. Annoyed, I let out a big sigh. I was not in the mood to get dressed and leave the house for anything, let alone to awkwardly meet new neighbors in order to tell them I have the pills for their weirdo son. I looked out of my back window and saw the boy was swinging away, as usual. I heard my microwave go off, indicating my food was ready. With one last glance at the child, I told myself the pills can wait, as the boy had scarfed down several the night before. I tossed the bottle of pills aside and made my way to the kitchen. After eating, I felt fatigued, which caused me to fall asleep on the couch.
I woke up from my sleep to sound of commotion outside my home. The repetitive beeping of a large vehicle in reverse echoed through my brain. Nightfall had arrived and my house was engulfed in almost absolute darkness. The only light I could see was the dull gray from my now idle television… and the swirl of red and blue illuminating through my windows. The scene that I awoke to was almost surreal and I thought for a moment that I was dreaming. I got on my feet and looked through my front window. A crowd had gathered on my front lawn. They were facing the ambulance that was parked in the driveway of my Langer house. I threw on a light coat to hide my stained, most likely rancid smelling shirt I had been stewing in all day. In the crowd, Paul stood amongst several other people, whom I presumed to be residents of the neighborhood.
“Hey, Paul,” I blurted as I cleared the phlegm from my throat. “What the hell is going on?”
With his eyes still glued to the scene that unfolded next door he replied, “We’re not exactly sure. We think something may have happened to someone in the house. Mr. Langer is speaking with one of the paramedics and he looks panicked.”
I saw the man Paul was referring to. Like his wife, Mr. Langer also looked as if his body was depleted and barren. He wore a loose tank top that showed just how skinny he was. His ribs poked through the pale, tight skin on his torso. He was pacing around frantically, covering his eyes and mumbling something to himself. I was still gazing at the distraught man when the soft murmuring of the crowd around me erupted into a frenzy of screams and cries. I turned to the door of the Langer house and dread began to fill my body. Two policemen exited the house followed by a paramedic who wheeled out a gurney. Atop of the gurney was the bloodied body of the seemingly lifeless Mrs. Langer.
From where we were standing, we were able to see the pale, bruised wrist of the poor woman hanging from the side, blood running down and dripping from her fingertips. It began to twitch and her head bobbed around as the paramedic pressed an oxygen mask to her face and hoisted the gurney into the back of the ambulance. I turned to Paul who was standing on the tip of his feet in order to see over the crowd. One of the policemen made his way over to our now frantic group of screaming men and women, ordering us to disburse and return to our homes. Everyone began to bombard the officer with questions, asking what happened and if they were safe.
“You have nothing to worry about people. It appears a group of coyotes attacked Mrs. Langer in her backyard. We have since located and neutralized the animals,” remarked the officer, avoiding eye contact with anyone before him. It was clear he was lying through his teeth.
I raised my hand and shouted above the crowd, “And what about the boy? Was he hurt?”
The officer shot me a look of irritation as he cleared his throat and hesitantly announced, “He was not anywhere near the scene of the attack. We assume he got scared and ran away for safety, and were in the process of locating the child. If anyone sees him, please call 911 immediately.”
With that, the officer turned his back to the less-than-satisfied crowd and almost ran back to his cruiser. I turned to Paul who bared a look of dismay. He turned and shot me an apathetic smile before patting me on the back and making his way inside. I stood there for a moment after the crowd slowly disbanded. Was this my fault? Did it have something to do with the pills? I quickly disregarded the paranoid thoughts that plagued my mind, and walked back to my home.
I slid through the front door that I had carelessly left ajar and shut if behind me as I slid down and cupped my hands around my head. There was a legion of emotions coursing through me as I pondered my next move. I knew I had to get the pills out of my house. Though the chances were slim, I did not want any blame being directed at me for not returning the pills sooner. Hell, I knew I had committed at least one federal crime when I unknowingly opened someone else’s mail. I decided I would anonymously place the box of pills in the Langer’s mailbox and dash back inside. I grabbed the pills from my couch and glanced out of the back window. The Christmas lights in the oak tree were bright as ever, illuminating the grizzly crime scene that lied just below. Blood and ripped clothing veiled the ground.
That’s when I saw them.
The boy’s gloves and hoodie were lying amidst the carnage. My heart sank. I was sure the boy was dead, or at the very least, critically injured. Tears began to fill my eyes as I banged my fists on the windowsill. The sudden burst of sound emanated throughout my home. I hadn’t made a peep since I entered. The sudden contrast in sound made the shameful silence that followed even more noticeable. In the midst of the grim silence, I heard it: the low, spine tingling gurgle that flowed from my bedroom.
I froze. Barely breathing, I listened keenly for another sound. To my dismay, I heard it again… another disgusting gurgle, now louder and fiercer, almost like a growl. The lights in my home were still all off, aside from the weak aura that radiated from the idle television. I was frozen still. My body rebelled against my mind’s desire to move. Instinct began to kick in as my eyes adjusted to the darkness and fight-or-flight became a quick reality. I did not know what was in my house. All I knew was I definitely was going to choose “flight.”
I pulled out my phone and fumbled for the flashlight app as I took a step towards my backdoor. My eyes were glued to the short hallway that connected the main area of the house to my bedroom. That’s when I saw it. A small creature began to crawl from the hallway. I could barely make out any of its features. It looked human, but on all fours. The way it moved was eerie and awkward. The appendages moved sloppily and its head was to the ground. I heard the same terrifying gurgle from the creature and realized it was sniffing the floor. What happened next still fills me with dread when I look back. The flashlight app I had opened had finished loading up and powered on through the phone. The bright light pierced the darkness and lit up the monstrous figure.
I felt sick. Do you ever get the feeling in the middle of a nightmare where you start to suspect you aren’t in reality and you are begging yourself to wake up? That desperate feeling of despair coursed through ever fiber of my being. In front of me stood the Langer boy. Without all the layers of clothing he usually wore, I was able to see him for what he really was. This was not a normal child. His skin was tattered and worn out. Wrinkles and scars embellished his body. He slowly raised his head to the source of the light. Our eyes met. His eyes were worst part. However intense the darkness around his mother’s eyes were, they could not compete with the boy’s. The black around his peepers only worked to showcase his dilated pupils and the unnatural color of the irises.
I might as well have been made of stone. All my ability to move had completely ceased. I could only stand there and watch the situation unfold before me. The boy slowly turned his body in my direction and began to take steps closer and closer. He left bloody prints where his hands met with the wood grain of my floor. It was not long till he was less than a foot from me. For what seemed like an eternity, he did move. Neither of us did. My mind was warped in panic and I thought I would pass out. Before I had the chance, the boy rose from his animal-like posture.
He was now standing on his feet, arms dangling to his sides. His eyes peered into mine. I stared back, still paralyzed with fear. He began to sluggishly turn his focus from my eyes, to my hand– the one that still clutched a bottle of the pills. As soon as he realized what I held, he broke the silence and let out a demonic shrieked, like that of a banshee. Only his mouth moved as his jaw dropped. This awoke me from my trance and I fell down, still facing the boy. He crouched so that his face met mine. His mouth was still agape, exposing his sharp, mangled teeth. The tiny razors still contained small shreds of, what I assumed to be, his mother’s flesh. He stretched his arm towards me and unraveled his blood stained hand. Instantly, I knew what he was after.
“You,” my voice trembled, “you want your pills, right?”
He continued to stare at me, unfazed by my question. I lifted up my hand and began to open the small, orange bottle. With shaking hands, I poured several pills into the palm of the child. I waited for a minute. I did not know time could move so slowly. I just wanted him to leave. Eventually, the boy’s mouth shut and curled into a faint smile. He turned and made his way to the backdoor. He shot one final glance over to me as he tiled his head back and consumed all the pills I had given him. With an audible gulp, he pushed open the door and wandered back to his sanctuary. I watched as the boy took a seat on his swing and began to sway forward and back like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I managed to shut the backdoor before collapsing on the ground.
It’s been a week since that night and I’ve returned the pills as planned. Mrs. Langer is still in critical condition and now her husband has taken over, feeding the mysterious pills to his son whenever he needs them. I was never questioned by anyone about what transpired that night. I did not report the incident. I plan to move out soon. Maybe to an apartment in the city, where there are no yards or play sets. The nightmares and fear from that night have run rampant in my mind. My backyard is still a mess from the party. I have not dared to go back there in order to clean things up. This is due to the fact that… since that fearful night, the boy makes sure to swing facing my home.
Whenever I even glance out of the window, I see his haunting eyes peering into mine as he smiles that horrid smile. The last I saw of the boy was his father coming out to give him another dose of the medication. Mr. Langer was down to his last bottle. That… was three, long nights ago. I am looking out of the window now to see what I expected to see… an empty swing.
Reading Time: 5minutesMy neighbors are disappearing..
I’m not sure when this all started, but it seems that everyone in this town already knows.
I moved here just over a year ago, it’s lush with green in every direction, townsfolk greet each other on the streets, and children play on every block and street corner; it’s a perfectly stereotypical little town.
I live here with my two little girls, Violet who is 12, and Gracie, who just celebrated her 7th birthday last week.
And of course, our loyal watchdog, Pumpkin. He’s past his prime pushing 11 years of age now, sporting the undereye gray hairs, and lazy but affectionate attitude that never seems to let up.
My wife and I got divorced about two years ago, on accounts of her selling meth out of the house for almost a year, what kind of mother could put her children in such a terrible situation like that?
So when we ended up divorcing, of course I got the kids, the dog, and the house. But now we couldn’t stand to live there.
So we packed our things, loaded up the car, and drove out of that miserable town in hopes of finding a new home where my girls could grow up, surrounded by friendly faces, and beautiful views; they deserved it after all the court dates and police interviews.
When we arrived here, it was home at first sight. The girls quickly grew fond of the corner sweet shop, and the small plaza with a splash pad in front.
“What the hell, let’s give it a shot!”
Our first neighbors were Samantha Brings, and her 13 year old son, Malcom Brings.
She was divorced like I was, and we got along very well.
She was middle aged, and had a very attractive but motherly face with a few incoming wrinkles, but barely visible.
She was quick to make a joke and always insisted we call her, Sammy.
“Only the best get to call me that, so please, ware it out! ”
She’d say to us with a chuckle in her voice.
Her son Malcom was not as outgoing and upfront cheery as she was, he was timid and shy, but mostly only with me, he got along with my girls very well.
They’d often walk to school together and back, laughing and smiling all the way.
They lived there for five years before we moved in.. and we only knew them for three months.
I woke up to the sound of three dozen feet or so, walking in and out of her house, not trying very hard to be quiet even though it was 2:40 in the morning.
They told me, and not a word more.
They gutted that house of any furniture, clothing, or vehicle in under an hour.
I tried to get someone to explain what had happened, but it was fruitless.
I stood outside her house a good twenty minutes after everyone had vacated the property, just thinking.
The thinking eventually gave me a headache, so I gave up for the night, and trugged my way back home, and into my bed.
And after that night, no one spoke a word, or even a whisper of Sammi and Malcom.
Our next pair of neighbors moved in about a month and half after Sammi disappeared.
They were a darling elderly couple, Gyda, and Alvin. They’ve been together for over sixty years, and still going strong.
They had moved here from Denmark, Gyda said that she had lived there since birth, and Alvin was, as he called it..
“The luckiest Tourist!”
I looked at them as my long lost grandparents; they were kind, giving, and great listeners. However, they were quite opinionated, they had something to say about most controversial topics.
They were the type of old folk to give you a call whenever they’d hear a noise that was, “suspiciously too loud”.
But I never really minded, in my eyes they were perfect, and only looking out for my family’s well-being.
I woke up to the blaring ambulance sirens speading down our quiet and cozy street.
“Past in their sleep.”
A man among the three dozen told me.
They were here again, almost as if they’d gotten here right as it happened.
How can that many gather at a single location so fast?
It was beyond unnerving.
It was downright unsettling.
I knew that perfect elderly couple for seven months.
By far the hardest to cope with.
Now, we come to my most recent set of neighbors, Casey and Donna.
They were the proud parents of five children, and when I say proud, I mean PROUD.
They would go on and on at dinner parties about how proud they are of their kids, and what amazing accomplishments their kids have done.
We didn’t get along much, too show-offy for me.
Not to mention, very competitive people, not just about their kids either, they had to outdo everyone and be at the top.
Their kids were even worse, you wouldn’t catch me dead talking bad of children, but these kids.. They are an exception.
They’re youngest girl, Audrey, has been caught talking sour of my oldest, Violet, at school.
That was the last straw for me, the straw that broke the camels back.
I marched my way down our porch steps, past the fence separating us, right through their lawn and bashed on the door.
They weren’t too happy about that, and yelled at me for almost five minutes before I had a chance to utter a word.
When they paused, I told them fast and sternly about their child’s behavior, and what she had been up to at school.
They weren’t taking any of it.
They flipped the script, and made me look like the bad guy.
I had had enough. I closed their own door in their stuck up faces, and marched my way back home.
From the absolute anger I felt that day, I fell asleep surprisingly quickly.
I woke up peacefully.
The first glimmering rays of sun were just beginning to make their journey across the cliffs and through my window, the house was as quiet as it was the first night we were here, everything was still and peaceful.
I stood out of bed, stretched my toes, and lazily stumbled my way over to the window to gaze at the bright morning.
Not a thing.
They were gone.
After one long month.. They disappeared.
I wasn’t surprised, nor confused, or fearful.
I was scarily calm, and continued about my day as normal.
I already knew what had happened, I’ve seen it before.
Something befell the family, the on cue three dozen townsfolk arrived and gutted the house, leaving nothing behind, not even a crumb.
Not even a crumb.
I sat at my breakfast table and thought.
I thought of my neighbors, their kids, their pets.
What really was going on?
This isn’t just one house it’s happening to, it’s every house around us.
All is gone.. Except us.
I am fearful.
I speak not to the kids of my fears, of the noises I have heard creeping through the very walls, of my ungodly nightmares that have woken me only to view another missing family.
The only reason I dare write any of this down, is because I want this to be known.
I want us to be known.
It’s 8:00 pm, and my daughters haven’t come home from school..
I fear the worst.
I am a chronic sleep talker. Always have been. Everyone who’s ever slept in the same house as me will tell you that. My parents, siblings, friends, and especially my exes. They’re the ones who got an ear-full. It was something we’d laugh about in the morning, because most of what I’d say would be incoherent or nonsensical. Some of my famous lines included, “There’s too many helicopters in the pool!” and “My balloon’s on the wrong foot.” It never bothered anyone around me; my friends and family pretty much just got a kick out of it.
One day at work, the subject of sleeping came up. My co-workers threw stories back and forth about some of their weirdest dreams. I chimed in with my sleep-talking antics. Everyone laughed as I raddled off some of the crazier shit I’ve said while zonked. One of my co-workers, Bill, really busted a gut. After he finished hyper-ventilating, he told me that I should set up a voice recorder while I sleep so I can play it back at work every morning. Honestly, I didn’t think it was a bad idea.
That night, I downloaded a decent voice recording app on my phone and placed it on my nightstand before I went to bed. Being single and living alone, I had no way of knowing what I said in my sleep anymore, so I was looking forward to hearing what it would pick up. It would be a humorous way to start my otherwise dull mornings.
For two months I recorded a lot of great stuff. One night in particular, I kept screaming, almost as if I was running from something in my dream, but after a few minutes I said, “Bad fridge!” I couldn’t stop laughing at that one. Neither could my co-workers when I showed them.
Eventually, the app picked up something unsettling. Listening to the audio for any trace of funny banter I might find, I heard a loud bang. It sounded like a door being slammed shut with great force. Hearing that, my heart sank. I wondered if an intruder had made their way into my home.
My house is a small cottage on the outskirts of town. I was able to get it at a great price due to its location and age. As such, some of its components are antiquated. I knew after hearing the recording that the only two doors sturdy enough to make that loud of a thud were that of the attic and the basement.
Basements and attics have always freaked me out. Never liked to go near them as a kid, and I still don’t as an adult. They kind of terrify me. The ones in my house, even more so. Something about them being old made them all the more sinister.
Despite my fear, I had to make sure no one was in the house. I got up out of bed and headed straight for the basement, as that was the door closest to my bedroom. I hesitantly opened the door and descended into my home’s depths. I was nervous, but I was desperate for some peace of mind.
The basement… was empty.
I quickly ran back up to the first floor and proceeded to journey upstairs. Once I reached the attic door, I froze. As much as basements make my skin crawl, I find attics to be far worse. Maybe it was because they were always a big unknown to me. I had only ever been in an attic once my whole life and that was to help my dad unload some Christmas decorations. Even then, I was spooked.
Because of my phobia, I installed a dead bolt on the door when I moved in. It sounds foolish, but hey, it helps me sleep at night. Looking at the door, I noticed that the dead bolt was still locked. An intruder could have gone in and then re-locked it on their way out, but at least I knew they weren’t in there anymore. This was my excuse not to go inside. I went back downstairs and put the noise out of my mind.
Forgetting all about the loud bang, I continued to record at night in the hopes of catching more sleep-talking. I did, but it wasn’t of the hilarious, absurd variety. The night after I recorded the noise, the only thing I said the whole night was, “Where are you?” I didn’t pay it any mind, as I’ve said similar things in my sleep before. It wasn’t until I heard the following night’s recording that I became alarmed. I said the same thing, “Where are you?”, only this time it was followed by a strange, static sound. This was odd, but I chalked it up to coincidence and a phone malfunction.
I quickly discovered that neither of these things were to blame.
Every night after, I got almost the same exact thing. I would ask, “Where are you,” and then I’d get some sort of static interference. I couldn’t explain it, and it left me rather frazzled. I showed my co-workers, but they weren’t able to offer me any insight. I thought about not recording anymore, but not knowing would make me more uneasy. I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on.
And then, one night, I caught something different. Listening to the audio intently, I heard two distinct things. During a two minute stretch in the recording, there were footsteps in the background, almost as if someone was pacing. It was very faint, but it was most certainly there. The second thing I heard was me asking the same question, “Where are you,” only this time I received a response. It was a low whisper, but I could make out what it said.
Deeply unnerved by my findings, I set up the app again the next night. I also took the liberty of setting up two digital cameras; one in my room, and one facing the attic door. After adjusting the light settings on each, I felt confident in my approach. I didn’t have time to deal with this bullshit, so I wanted nothing more than to get it sorted out, somehow. Unfortunately for me, it just wasn’t that simple.
I slept through the night, like normal, but I did have a weird dream.
In my dream, I was at home. I was sitting on my couch watching TV when I heard a scratching sound coming from upstairs. Naturally, I assumed it was mice, but as I sat there, the noise grew louder and louder. It eventually morphed into a horrendous knocking sound. That’s when I got up to investigate.
I made my way up to the attic door and the noises ceased. I stood there for a moment, expecting it to start up again, but it didn’t. Complete silence for what felt like a few minutes. Then, without warning, a loud clicking sound broke the tension. The deadbolt had unlocked itself. And that’s when I woke up to the sound of my alarm going off.
I immediately got up and gathered the cameras, as well as my phone. I was eager to see if they’d captured anything. They did, but it only left me with more questions.
Halfway through the audio on both my phone and the camera in my room, I heard once again, “Where are you?” There was no response and no static, but there was a loud bang, just like the one I’d caught before, only more distinct. It was most certainly a door being slammed shut. I quickly grabbed the second camera and began looking through the footage. The attic door never opened. Instead, I heard the bang in the background, ever so faintly. Given the volume in each of the clips, it seemed as though it might have been the basement door. After skimming through the rest of the footage and finding nothing else out of the ordinary, I decided to check the basement again.
With a mixture of nerves and adrenaline, I ran over to the basement door and swung it open. I hurried downstairs and turned the light on. I was fed up and a little annoyed, thinking someone was somehow having a laugh at my expense. However, when the room lit up, I was greeted with the familiar sight of an unfurnished basement. It was completely empty. No intruder and no answers.
Frustrated, I went off to work and tried to keep my mind off of my odd dilemma. That proved to be a difficult task. I kept playing out different scenarios in my head during the work day, but nothing made sense. The only logical, though somewhat illogical explanation that I could come up with, was that I was being harassed by a spirit. I didn’t want to give in to that notion, but I was running out of ideas.
I tried to talk with my co-workers again, in the hopes that they would tell me it was nothing to worry about. Instead, I received the opposite. One of my co-workers told me to call the cops and have them look through the house for signs of a break-in. Another told me I should stay at a friend’s house. Bill told me to abandon the house and run for the hills. He was only joking, but it didn’t make me feel any better about the matter.
Things took a turn for the bizarre when I arrived home that day.
Opening the front door to the cottage, I stepped in and set my jacket down on the couch. I then plopped down in an attempt to unwind. Immediately after sitting, I heard the bang again. It was clear as day. It was the same sound from the audio and footage, but this time I was hearing it in person.
I jumped up and looked straight ahead at the basement door. You could see it from the couch – it had been in my line of sight the entire time. Though I hadn’t been looking directly at it, I was fairly certain it hadn’t moved. Still, the bang definitely came from that direction. Spooked but curious, I decided to check it out.
I walked over cautiously and examined the door. There was no indication that it had been slammed shut. The wood around the door was pristine, and the floor below had not been scraped. I opened it and trotted down the old, creaky stairs to investigate the basement for a third time. After reaching the bottom, I turned the light on. I expected to see nothing, just as I had before. While scanning the room left to right, nothing is mostly what I saw. After doing a double take, however, I realized that something was amiss.
Off, in the center of the far wall, was a door. This sent a chill up my spine. My basement had no doors. That I was sure of. I knew this before purchasing the place almost a year ago, when I first took the grand tour. I also didn’t see the door when I went down there that morning or the other day. It didn’t make a lick of sense.
I walked towards it, bewildered. I wasn’t sure of the door’s origins, but I knew that it had to be the cause of the sounds I’d been hearing. There was no other explanation. As I approached the impossibility before me, I realized something that made my skin crawl. I recognized the wood, the design, and the deadbolt.
It was the attic door.
I didn’t want to open it, for fear of what might be lurking behind. Instead, I ran upstairs and checked to see if the attic door was still there; the actual one. It was indeed. I then ran back downstairs into the basement, only to find that the door down there had vanished. Had I merely imagined its presence?
Thinking I had gone completely mad, I went back upstairs and sat down on the couch. My mind was running haywire, trying to comprehend things, but it eventually gave in to its own weariness. I ended up taking a short nap, and that’s when I had another weird dream.
This dream was similar to the one I had before. I was sitting on the couch, watching TV, when I heard a scratching noise. The only difference was, it was coming from the basement, rather than the attic. It too progressed and turned into a voracious knocking that I couldn’t ignore. As such, I got up from the couch and went downstairs to put a stop to it.
In my dream, the basement was empty. No mysterious door in sight. That, and the knocking and scratching ceased upon my entrance. At my wit’s end, I went back upstairs. The sound then returned with a vengeance, only this time, it was coming from the attic again. I ran up there as fast as I could, but the noise stopped. I waited. Following the narrative of my previous dream, the deadbolt clicked, signaling that the door had unlocked itself. Unlike my previous dream, however, the door opened up a bit and a hand reached out from within. That’s when I woke up.
I wrote the first dream off as the byproduct of an over-stressed mind, but to have it reoccur? That wasn’t ordinary, at least not for me. Between the door in my basement and my strange nightmares, I was a mess. Both perplexed and frightened, I called my friend John.
John is an eccentric fellow. He’s the kind of guy who believes in UFOs, ghosts, conspiracy theories, the occult, and other things of that nature. Not only does he believe in them, but he studies them. He knows more about Roswell than I do about myself. Being a skeptic, I always thought the massive amount of information he retained was borderline useless. I changed my mind about that after seeing my attic door pop up in my basement. If anyone could help, or at least steer me in the right direction, it was him.
I spoke with John for a couple of hours. He was ecstatic after hearing about my experience. He began raddling off all of the different things he thought it might indicate. Some of his theories included a wormhole, a gateway to the other side, and even a glitch (one of the many theories that he subscribes to is that the world we live in is a simulation). He told me that he couldn’t be completely certain about what it was without seeing it for himself. Unfortunately, he lives too far away to just stop by and visit.
Instead of leaving me empty-handed, John gave me some advice on what to do next. After telling him about the voice I captured and the dreams I’d been having, he started leaning towards the ghost idea. He thought it might be trying to communicate with me. Because of this, he told me I should set up the voice recorder in the basement and ask the spirit some questions. I could play back the recording after and listen for the voice. John said that I should do it in the attic as well.
Though weary of his methods, I told him I’d try it out. After all, I couldn’t just sit around and expect the situation to resolve itself. I didn’t like the idea of going up into the attic by myself, but I needed to do something.
After getting off the phone, I immediately put his plan into action. The basement would have to be first, as I was still apprehensive about going upstairs.
I set up the app and put my phone on the basement floor. I proceeded to ask questions, leaving enough space in between for someone… or something to answer. I asked for normal things like its name, its age, and what it wanted. After roughly five minutes of interrogation, I stopped the recording and played it back.
I must’ve listened to my own voice a million times, hoping for anything audible to present itself. To my dismay, I caught nothing of the sort. It seemed as though the attic would indeed have to be my next venture.
I reluctantly climbed the stairs up to the attic door. I looked at it for a few moments, took a deep breath, and unlocked the deadbolt. I opened the door and braced myself.
There was nothing there, save for the previous owner’s belongings.
When I first purchased the house, I had to do a little bit of renovating, so to speak. The owner before me had no cable, electricity, or proper plumbing. On top of that, they left all of their stuff behind. I had most of it removed, but left everything that was in the attic. I had no need for the space, and I didn’t want to put any more money into emptying the house than I had to.
I perused through the attic’s wares for a bit, curious as to what it was that I technically owned. Some of the interesting items that stood out to me were an old postcard from Paris, a strange-looking dog collar, and a book on witchcraft. The fear set in while going through the contents of my new collection. The angled ceiling, antiques, and large window overlooking my yard did give the place a dose of charm, but I still didn’t like attics.
I quickly hit the record button on the app and set my phone on the floor. I asked the same questions as before, but didn’t leave as much space in between as I really wanted to get the hell out of there. Before stopping the recording, I had a thought. Perhaps the spirit would respond if I asked it the same question that I did in my sleep.
I cleared my throat and asked, “Where are you?”
After asking the final question, I stopped the recording and played it back. It sounded almost identical to the one I’d recorded in the basement, complete with a lack of answers. That is, until the very end. After I asked the last question, I heard a familiar, low whisper.
After hearing this reply, I immediately turned around. There was nothing there. Despite this, I hightailed it downstairs. That eerie voice reinforced my phobia of attics and instilled in me an indescribable dread. I could no longer bear to be in that house by myself.
I called John again and begged him to help me out. I told him I’d give him the gas money for the 8-hour round trip. He was reluctant at first, knowing that he’d have to spend the night and call out from work the next morning. Curiosity got the best of him in the end. After much deliberation, he agreed to come over.
I waited for John in my car. While sitting there, I couldn’t help but examine my house. I began asking myself questions, like is it really haunted, do ghosts really exist, and my favorite, is this what my life has come to? Though the questions were speculative and rhetorical, I pretty much knew the answers. As I gazed towards the house in disappointment, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.
It was a silhouette, standing at the attic window.
Holy shit. What the fuck. What do I do?
Those were the only retorts that crossed my mind after seeing the shadowy figure. After a few moments of staring, the figure stepped back from the window, completely out of sight. I sat and pondered about it for a few minutes after its departure.
In a moment of bravery, I chose to go back in the house and up to the attic. Crazy, I know, but it’s my house, and I needed to show this thing that I wasn’t interested in playing its games – even if I was scared shitless. Besides, John would have my head if I didn’t follow the damned thing.
Feeling confident, but still shaky, I ventured up into the attic. I swung the door open without hesitation and waltzed in like I owned the place. After all, I did. The attic was void of any ghostly figures, but it did harbor the faint scent of candle wax. Unsure of how to proceed, I started talking in a loud and firm tone.
“This isn’t your house. I’m tired of your bullshit games, spirit. I demand that you leave at once!”
I knew this wasn’t going to work, but it was almost cathartic. I felt a hell of a lot better fighting back. I walked around the attic, satisfied with my rant, thinking that I had actually conquered my fear. My smug demeanor wouldn’t last more than a few moments.
Soon after I spoke, a gust of wind blew through the attic and hit me like a bus. Nearly knocked me over. I knew it was the ghost’s doing. I tried to stand my ground, but I was pretty damn frightened. I watched as everything around me flew about, creating a tornado of mementos and keepsakes. I was about to retreat, when I noticed something that hadn’t budged an inch. It was the book on witchcraft that I’d seen before. Upon noticing it, the wind inexplicably stopped and everything fell to the floor. I walked over to the book, curious as to why it remained stationary. As I did, it opened up on its own. It was startling, but I somehow sensed no malice. I was coming around to the fact that the ghost might really be trying to communicate with me.
The page the book landed on was a spell. The whole thing was in Latin, but from what I could make out, it had something to do with growing plants. Confused, I reached out to the ghost for help.
“What do you want me to do?”
After asking the question, the attic door slammed shut. I thought for a moment and gathered that it wanted me to recite the spell in the attic. I was still confused, but somehow calm. It felt as though I was helping the spirit in some way.
Before I could read from the book, my phone went off. It was a text from John:
“So, so sorry. I can’t make it out there. My boss won’t give me the day off tomorrow and I’m not sure my car will make it there and back. It desperately needs new tires and I won’t be able to buy those until Friday. Give me a call back then and I’ll see what I can do. Good luck.”
Even though I wasn’t freaking out anymore, it was nice knowing that someone was on their way to my house, just in case things went sour. I didn’t like it, but I was on my own. I accepted this, and turned my attention back to the book. It was time to deliver the spell.
I cleared my throat and began reciting the text in the book. I took Latin in college, and although I didn’t retain all the information, I knew enough to make the proper pronunciations. Even still, I stumbled over my words during certain parts. Because of this, I had to restart a couple of times. I wanted to get it right, especially if it was truly what the ghost wanted.
After finishing the spell flawlessly (for the most part), the attic door opened. I walked out with the book in hand, wondering if everything was over. When I reached the bottom step and turned around the corner, it became quickly apparent that it wasn’t. The basement door was wide open.
I was in uncharted territory, taking orders from a ghost, but I hoped I was following along alright. Seeing the basement door ajar convinced me that I probably needed to recite the spell down there as well. I still wasn’t sure why, but it felt like this was the spirit’s will. As such, I obliged.
I walked down into the basement with the book and turned the light on. A quick glance around revealed that I was alone and that there was no door. I cleared my throat once again and began reciting the spell, word for word. Honestly, I was a little excited. It felt like I was doing something productive about my ghost problem, and that it might actually help put it to rest. This time, I got it right on the first try.
Upon finishing the spell in the basement, the house began shaking. When I say the house, I mean the whole house, basement and all. I ‘d never experienced an earthquake before, but it seemed like the only logical explanation for what was happening. It wasn’t until I looked around the room during the madness, that I realized it was the spell’s doing.
There, on the far wall, shaking with the rest of the house, was the attic door. I wondered if the spell had somehow summoned it, simultaneously causing the house to wobble. The tremor eventually stopped, and I was left with the door, lending credence to my theory. I waited for a few minutes, thinking the door would open, but it did not. It seemed that I would have to do that myself. I wasn’t too happy about it, but I’d come too far to back out now.
I gathered my wits and walked over to the door. I proceeded to swing it open, without fear, just as I had upstairs. Behind the door was a surprise.
It was the attic. The attic, upstairs. Everything was the same, only there was a man standing at the window. Hearing me open the door, he turned around. His eyes widened when he saw me. He ran so fast in my direction that I didn’t even have enough time to take more than a single step back. He rushed through the doorway and into the basement. He turned back around and slammed the attic door shut, making sure to lock the deadbolt. He turned to me, grabbed my shoulders, and looked me dead in the eye. I was baffled and scared for my life.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you so much!”
After expressing his thanks, the man let go of me and ran upstairs, but not before turning back around and offering me some advice.
“Whatever you do, don’t go in there!”
He gestured toward the attic door before bolting upstairs. I ran after him, wanting to ask some questions, but when I got upstairs, it was already too late. My front door was open, and I could see him running down the dirt road towards town.
And that was that. I’ve slept every night since then with no noises or paranormal issues whatsoever. I even set up the cameras and voice recorder a few times to make sure. They didn’t catch a damned thing. I don’t know what the hell happened, but I am sure of one thing. The man that came out from behind the attic door was no ghost. It was a living, breathing person.
Click HERE to find out more about the man in the attic.
*Click HERE to read Part 1 / Click HERE to read Part 2*
There are times when this world drifts so close to the fabric of reality that I can hear something calling me from beyond that veil. Sometimes when I get too close, I can feel that thing on the other side tugging at the corners of my mind.
I’m worried about Carlos. He doesn’t seem to be taking this so well.
When I returned to work after my post yesterday, I was delighted to find a stack of receipt papers sitting neatly on the register counter with notes written in my own shaky hand-writing. I don’t remember writing all of these notes, but then again, I don’t remember a lot of things. It is possible that I’m working too hard. Or maybe the fumes coming from beneath the gas station are playing tricks on me. Or perhaps it’s just another side effect of my condition. At any rate, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Or any other animal in any other orifice, for that matter.
Admittedly, my handwriting isn’t the best. And at times, the scratches on the receipt paper become nearly illegible. So if anything herein seems unbelievable, it’s probably because I copied it wrong. With that in mind, this is my best effort at a transcription:
7:00 – It’s getting dark earlier these days.
7:30 – Farmer Junior came into the gas station tonight, asking about the hand plants. I told him that they weren’t there anymore. He left his phone number scribbled on the back of a coupon for fifteen-percent off bulk pig feed from an online retailer. I think he’s trying to send me a message.
9:00 – I think maybe some kids are playing a prank on me. I found a lawn gnome behind the pork rinds. I didn’t think much about it, and put him in a box behind the counter. But then I found another matching lawn gnome in the soda case. I added this one to the box as well. It wasn’t until I noticed the third and fourth lawn gnomes that I started to suspect something. I had taken out the garbage and found the gnomes perched atop the branch of a tree next to the dumpster, staring down at me like gargoyles. I used a chair and broom to knock them down, and I put them in the box with the other three. When I got back to my desk, I found a note on my chair written in red ink. It says simply, “I’m in the walls.” I don’t know who wrote it, but the paper smells like oranges and plumeria.
10:00 – There is a strange scratching noise coming from the tiles above the cash register. I fear Rocco and his brood may have infiltrated the building again.
11:00 – Farmer Junior called the store. He asked about the hand plants. I assured him that they weren’t there anymore and if they ever showed up again, I would call him. I think he’s beginning to suspect that I’m lying.
12:00 – One of the cultist recruits wandered in from the community in the woods. (They hate it when I call them cultists.) I know the recruits aren’t supposed to interact with the outside world, but from time to time they will sneak into town, never any further than this gas station, and buy cigarettes. They aren’t supposed to try and recruit new members until they graduate to the honorable senior cultist status, but this one isn’t a very good cultist. I know they aren’t supposed to have names, but I’m going to call this one Marlboro. I’ll let you guess why.
Marlboro stayed in the store for at least half an hour, trying to convince me to go back to the compound with him. (They hate it when I call their home a compound.) He tried to appeal to my logical side, but I let him know politely but firmly that I was not interested in logic. I can’t remember when he left.
2:00 – I found myself digging again. Sometimes, on slow nights, I let myself drift. My mind goes somewhere and when I come to, I wonder: where was I just now? Who was that controlling my body while I was gone?
My body did those things I’ve done so many times before that I guess it’s learned how to do them without me. My body restocked the cigarettes, my body rotated the frozen drink machine, my body scraped the mold off the bottoms of the ice buckets, my body emptied the rat traps, and somewhere along the way, my body found a shovel, went out back, and started digging a hole.
Actually, I shouldn’t say my body “started” digging. I have been, or rather “my body” has been digging this hole, off and on for the last few months. Usually, I come to after a few shovel-fulls. This time, I added another foot deep before I snapped out of it and asked myself, “what the hell am I doing?”
3:30 – I just noticed a door at the end of the hallway past the walk-in cooler. How long have I worked here and never noticed that door before? It seems disappointingly ordinary as far as doors go, except for the fact that it’s warm to the touch and feels like it’s vibrating. I tried the handle, but it’s locked.
When I got back to my register, I noticed a man in a trench coat standing outside beyond the gas pumps, just outside the reach of our lights, dangerously close to the road. I can’t tell if he’s looking at me, or if he’s looking past the building at the woods on the other side. I wish he wouldn’t stand there like that, stoic and still, with his arms reaching down past his knees.
The scratching against the tiles in the ceiling over the counter is getting louder.
3:45 – A man came into the store, rolling a large white ice chest behind him. He had sunken blue eyes, wiry hair coming from his nose and ears, long boney fingers, and paper-thin skin revealing every blue and green vein beneath the translucent dermis. He wore a bowler cap and smelled like milk. I had definitely never seen him around before. He asked if we would be interested in partnering up with him. He sold ground meat at discount prices, but I told him that our store doesn’t do well with the “fresh foods” category, recommending he try his hand at making jerky. Before he left, he scooped about a pound or so of raw ground meat from the ice chest onto a piece of parchment paper and gave it to me as a “sample.” Once he had left, I took the meat into the cooler, where I found another lawn gnome waiting for me. I put the gnome into the box with the other seven.
4:00 – Carlos just told me something very strange about Kieffer.
4:30 – There was a kid named Spencer Middleton who went to the same high school as me and Kieffer. Spencer was just a year ahead of me, but looked much older and acted much younger. I live in a small town, and small towns get bored. For entertainment, some turn to gossip, some turn to more sinister pass times. The latter often fueled the former. There were rumors around town that Spencer liked to torture and kill animals. Rumors that Spencer’s parents and siblings always locked their bedroom doors when they went to sleep at night. The rumors didn’t slow down any after the fire at Spencer’s house, where Spencer was the only one to escape unscathed.
I once saw Spencer gleefully stomp on a lizard, throw his head back, and laugh.
Some short time after his house caught fire for the second time, Spencer left town. The story went that he had gone off and joined the army. I didn’t know what to think about that, so I simply didn’t think about that. I would have been perfectly happy to never think about that, but after all these years I’m forced to. Because Spencer Middleton just came into the store and bought a cup of coffee. He’s sitting in one of the booths, talking to Kieffer.
Marlboro, is back. He asked if I could spare him some time to talk about his fake religion. (They hate it when I call it a fake religion.) I told him he had to leave. He seemed upset.
4:45 – Spencer and Kieffer sat around for a while and didn’t buy anything but two cups of coffee. When they finally left, I let Carlos know. He had been hiding under a blanket in the walk-in cooler, although I can’t really understand why.
Carlos explained to me exactly what happened. He finished his shift a couple nights ago and had just left the gas station when he saw Kieffer’s SUV pulled over in a ditch at the bottom of the hill. Carlos, being the good guy he is, decided to check and see if Kieffer needed any help. He says that when he pulled up and got out of the car, he could hear what sounded like a loud crunching noise coming from just beyond the tree line.
Carlos went to investigate. That’s when he saw something. When I asked Carlos what he saw, he just started speaking Spanish in a fast, panicked sort of way. I don’t speak Spanish, but I nodded along empathetically. The only word I could pick up was “Strega,” which is the name of a liquor we carry.
Whatever it was that Carlos saw, it made him race back to his car as fast as he could and back out quickly, without looking. And that’s when he ran over Kieffer.
Carlos is a good guy. But here he was in a bad situation. He stopped long enough to get out, check on Kieffer, and confirm that he was definitely dead. There was nothing he could do that would change that fact. It was an accident. Carlos was on parole. There was that thing in the woods, and Carlos had to make a decision. So, he heaved the body into the trunk of his car and drove off.
Carlos took me to his car and showed me the body. I can confirm, one hundred percent, that it was Kieffer in the trunk of his car. Not just because of his unmistakable face, but also because of his phone and wallet that were in his pockets.
5:00 – I finally got tired of the scratching and pulled our ladder out of storage to see what the racoons were doing in the ceiling, but when I pushed back the tile, the only thing up there was another gnome. That makes one dozen so far.
6:00 – The man in the trench coat is still outside.
The cultist came back in, demanding an audience with me, insisting that if I would just listen to him I would see that his reasoning is superb and flawless, and that I would be a fool not to join him in the perfection of logic and nirvana that is his belief structure.
I agreed to listen to his pitch if he would agree to ask the man in the trench coat to leave. Our hasty verbal contract in place, I steeled myself to listen. Honestly, he did make a few good points, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a viral thought experiment strong enough to convince perfectly normal people to abandon their real lives and go live in a commune in the woods past the shitty gas station on the edge of town.
They call themselves “mathmetists.” They believe that humankind exists to fulfill two moral imperatives: to decrease suffering, and to increase happiness. A successful life increases happiness more than suffering. A decent life decreases suffering more than happiness. How good a person is can be determined by the spread between the happiness increased and the suffering decreased. Obviously, if the individual has a negative spread—that is, if they’ve increased happiness lessthan they’ve increased suffering, or if they’ve decreased suffering less than they’ve decreased happiness—then that means, very simply, that the individual is bad. Therefore, if an individual causes a tremendous amount of happiness and suffering, one can simply determine which was higher, and use this perfect rubric to determine whether that individual was good or bad. Simple, right?
The mathmetists believe that the world has been going about good and bad in the wrong way. For eons, we’ve been attempting to increase happiness, when instead we should have been focusing on decreasing suffering. As happiness is a fluid concept, and the more happiness you create, the harder it is to sustain, as happiness has a clear set of diminishing returns. Suffering, however, is consistent. Suffering results from happiness coming to an end. Suffering is pure, and eternal. For a mathmetist to be supremely good, they must simply end all suffering. That is why the mathmetists are working on a bomb to destroy the entire planet.
By ending all life on earth, they end an infinity of suffering into the future. With every life they avert, an entire lineage of people that would be born into a life of suffering will no longer. Every death is a preemptive mercy-killing. Every happy moment that will no longer occur pales in the face of all the sad moments that are likewise prevented.
And so, as Marlboro explained, their murder cult believes that killing is a kindness.
I told him that his ideas were stupid and he was stupid and that now he now had to go tell the man in the trench coat to go away.
6:30 – The phone rang.
This is strange for two reasons. First, because it was not the land line. It was the cell phone, even though we do not get cell phone service way out here. And second, because it was the cell phone. The one that I took off of Kieffer’s body.
I’ll admit, I was stuck in a bit of a moral quandary ever since Carlos confided in me. On the one hand, Carlos had killed someone. On the other, it was an accident and Carlos’s parole officer may not see it that way. I thought I would have more time to figure this out, but when the cell phone started ringing, I knew I had to make a decision.
I answered it.
I didn’t speak first. The voice on the other line was one I recognized.
“You have something that belongs to my boss.”
It was Spencer Middleton.
“His cell phone and his wallet,” I answered.
“What? No! We don’t care about that shit! We can buy more phones. We can get more wallets. You know what we want.”
He was right. I did.
“It was an accident,” I explained.
“We know. We want to make a deal. You give it back, and we pretend this whole thing didn’t happen.”
“Can we do that?”
7:30 – Carlos came in for his shift half an hour ago, and I explained the deal to him. He wasn’t thrilled, but as I laid it out very clearly, he didn’t have a choice.
We parked Carlos’s Camry behind the gas station near the growth of handplants and made a point to stand far enough away to not get our ankles grabbed. Kieffer’s SUV drove up a few minutes later. Spencer was driving. He and Kieffer got out without a word, sized us up, and opened the back of their vehicle.
Carlos popped his trunk.
Kieffer and I stared at each other, keeping eye-contact the whole time while Carlos and Spencer transferred the body from one vehicle to the other. Spencer had a tarp and blanket ready to wrap everything up. When it was over, Kieffer put a hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “You done good.”
Then they left. Carlos started crying as I went back inside the store. It was almost day time, and that’s when the new part-timer was supposed to take over.
8:00 – The new part timer is late, and I’m overdue for a lunch break. I made the best of my extra time here by putting price stickers on all the lawn gnomes. We’re ringing them up as “miscellaneous grocery” for $9.99 each, and I’ve already sold a couple. I’m a really good employee.
8:30 – I went to the bathroom and saw a man standing there with his jeans at his ankles. He wore red and white checkered boxers and a cowboy hat. He smiled when he saw me and simply said, “Come on now. Come on with it.”
I took the opportunity to ask him something that has been burning at the back of my mind.
“Do you know, is everything going to be okay?”
The bathroom cowboy took a second to think, then he pulled up his pants, fastened his enormous belt buckle, and walked past me, spurs clinking against the bathroom tile. He stopped for a second when he was right next to me and said plainly, “I appreciate it.” Then he left.
I honestly have no idea what that means.
These are the entirety of the receipt paper notes, but I did make a point to continue keeping this journal. I think this will be a healthy way of chronicling the weird events at the gas station. Maybe this will even help with my condition, I don’t know. The next time something strange happens, maybe I’ll come back and write more. Until then, I guess this is to be continued…
Edits: Sorry, upon further inspection, I realized that some of the scribbles on the receipt paper may have been transcribed incorrectly. I also made some adjustments to the spelling and fixed some typos. While I was at it, I added another typo just for the observant reader. Lastly, upon the advice of some of my readers, I removed the part where I listed Farmer Junior’s social security number and address. Also, special thanks to the reader that pointed out that “Strega” isn’t even a Spanish word. I asked Carlos about it when he came in for his fourth shift today, but Carlos simply looked at me blankly and told me that he doesn’t speak Spanish.
At no point during the night was she more than a half-mile from the police station, but the park was thinly lit, and the road snaked through forest in both directions. I took a personal interest in her story after I learned about how badly her body had been mutilated. The details continue to flood in, and I am still working to tease apart the evidence. What is undeniably clear is that a killer still roams free. He is out there somewhere, and he is stalking new victims in the neighborhoods that I call home. For this reason, I can for now only insinuate many of the things that I know. To reveal certain details would be to paint a target on my own back, and so they cannot be shared here. With that said, here are the facts as I understand them about the night that “Smiling Jane Doe” died.
They named her that way because her lips had been peeled away with a blade. It was her bared teeth, glinting like wet porcelain in the dawn’s light, that first drew the attention of the jogger who discovered her body. The park where she died is a famous one, and Smiling Jane Doe was not the first woman to be murdered there. I fear putting too fine a point on the location of this place, so let me just say that this park is located inside my nation’s capital. You have likely heard this park’s name before. Locals will be glad to tell you about how the unlit roads wind deceptively through the wilderness here, and how those same roads become especially treacherous at night. They might also mention how the bridges arc high over the lower roads beneath them. These are the sort of bridges that make push-and-fall murders appear neatly like suicides.
Smiling Jane Doe was from out of town. She was likely in the city that weekend just to take in the sights. No abandoned car was ever found that could be tied to her. If at some point she had been carrying a purse or a wallet with ID inside, then it seems that the killer took that clue to her identity with him. We can’t yet guess how or why she had traveled to the district, or where it was that Jane called home before she died. It’s possible that she was hitchhiking and found herself here entirely by chance. Or instead, Jane may have been visiting this place deliberately. Maybe she traveled here with a happier purpose in mind for herself, and she simply remained outside a little too late after dark.
Here are the events of that night as plainly and as accurately as I can describe them. Smiling Jane Doe tried to flag down a car that was traveling through the park at approximately 10:40pm. The car’s driver was a female in her late thirties, and this crucial witness unfortunately continued down the road without stopping her vehicle. The driver would state later that she barely saw Smiling Jane Doe there in the darkness, and did not notice her until the victim was close enough to narrowly avoid being hit by the car.
In this particular park, and especially at that time of night, no driver can be judged too harshly for refusing to stop for a stranger. After all, carjackings sometimes begin with the false premise of a woman in need of help. Our witness driving past was a mother of three young children. I hold no ill will against her for making that choice. As the car disappeared around a bend in the road, Smiling Jane Doe fled instead into the thickly-wooded forests of the park. She was trying to lose her attacker, and the dribbling trail of blood across the road indicates that her pursuer had already made some progress in causing her harm.
If she had pressed a little farther into the woods, she might have caught the lights of the consulate buildings on the far side of the park. There were security personnel there, and they were surely keeping watch all night. They could have saved her easily, had she just made it far enough to be seen. Unfortunately, at some point Jane Doe doubled back the way she came. I believe she did so in an attempt to lose her pursuer. The night would turn out to be a litany of heartbreaking moments in this way. Jane Doe came so close to salvation more than a dozen times, but split-second decisions are rarely the wisest ones. This is especially true when someone is in mortal terror. Smiling Jane Doe squandered her chances to survive, and each time she did not realize what she had done. Any one of us might have suffered precisely the same streak of bad luck, and especially on a night like that.
She found more winding road as she pressed through the trees, but she could not guess where she now stood in relation to the rest of the twisting roadways in the park. Jane followed the path to one of the park’s elevated bridges. As I mentioned before, these bridges loom fatally tall over the ground beneath them. They are the kind of structures that can make murders look like accidents or suicides.
It was at this point that Jane spotted an ambulance speeding over the bridge from the opposite direction. She attempted to make the vehicle stop, but the ambulance was already responding to a critical situation on the northwest side of the city. It continued on without her, and would soon arrive at the scene of another gruesome homicide. I believe in fact that Smiling Jane Doe’s killer had two victims that night, but the details of his earlier murder are a story for another time. For now, I intend to honor Jane Doe by somberly describing the facts of her death alone.
She was alone on the bridge once more as the ambulance sped away. I believe that Smiling Jane Doe then saw her killer approaching from the shadows. She likely considered jumping from the bridge, hoping perhaps to end the awful pursuit once and for all by plunging to her death. This assumption is supported by the bloody footprints that were found on the bridge’s upper railings.
Trace evidence suggests that she decided at the last moment against leaping. She continued on with footfalls that indicate a sprint. She was fleeing down the road. At this point it bears mentioning that Smiling Jane Doe was indeed barefoot, and that she was bleeding from her feet due to the loss of her shoes. I believe that our unknown killer confiscated Jane’s footwear simply to torment her. Evidence indicates that he did a great many things that night which were intended to prolong the chase of his human quarry. I believe that our killer caught up to Jane Doe several times before she reached the roadblock. He would injure Jane in some new way each time, or else do something that restricted her movement on foot. This is why he took her shoes. He let Smiling Jane Doe continue attempting to flee at least four separate times. It sickens me to this day to consider it.
The DNA evidence collected from Jane Doe’s body indicates that she met two distinct assailants before her death. It is my theory that after fleeing from the bridge, Jane Doe found a pedestrian walking along the dark road in the opposite direction. I suspect that he was moving up the road and toward the bridge when she found him. Jane Doe must have begged him for help, and I can only imagine the horror that she felt to learn that the pedestrian was in fact an accomplice of the killer.
From the psychological profiles, I feel confident that this second man toyed with Smiling Jane Doe before revealing that he understood exactly what kind of peril she was in. I believe that he restrained Jane Doe, and allowed the killer to catch up to her once again at his leisure. It was at this point that our killer most likely carved out her eyes.
Police reports indicate that exhausted road flares were found on either side of the road from where the mutilation of Smiling Jane Doe likely began. This would imply that the killer and his accomplice built a fake roadblock, probably in passable imitation of a city-authorized detour. They were preventing traffic from flowing naturally through the park. In doing so, they ensured that no witnesses would enter the road where they tormented Jane in her last moments. The spirals and aimless trails of dried blood at this location imply that our killers allowed Jane to continue trying to flee from them. They let her keep attempting to save her own life for most of another hour. Now blinded, Jane could not navigate the dense underbrush and trees. If by some chance she managed to wander too far up or down the roadway, it would be a simple matter for either the killer or his accomplice to shove her back towards the center of their sick arena.
On the night that I learned most of these details, I remember praying that there was nothing more to be discovered. I asked God for my research to prove that she simply bled to death there. It would mean at least that Jane experienced no more fear, and that she felt nothing when they cut away the skin from her face. The coroner’s report would grant me no such mercy, however. Smiling Jane Doe was given drugs to keep her awake. Her mind likely understood and bore witness to those last moments of her life even more vividly than the killer himself can claim to remember them.
No family ever came forward to claim Smiling Jane Doe. How could anyone guess that their daughter had ended up that way? If you were told, could you even accept it? I went to see her in the city morgue before she was incinerated. Ever since then, I have worked daily with investigators to bring her killer to justice. What was done to her cannot go unanswered. The details I have excluded here have been excluded deliberately. This has been done to protect the dignity of the dead. There is more yet besides that remains unknown, even to me.
Let it be known: I have absolutely no plans to take my own life. I do not intend to die in a certain park that will not be named (but can certainly be guessed.) If I am found dead in that particular park, then it means that the killer has learned something about me before I was able to learn something about him. I don’t intend for that to happen, though. I will do my best to outwit him. There are far too many unhappy ghosts in that strange patch of wilderness already, and I do not wish to join them. By the grace of God, may my work help Smiling Jane Doe find peace.
(In honor of Gas Station Jack’s new book, we are re-releasing his famous Tales from the Gas Station series, one part at a time, spread across the month of October. If you’re new to the story, enjoy! If you’ve read it before and have no interest in reading it again, scroll down to the bottom to check out Jack’s new book, a mix of old and new gas station tales that are guaranteed to leave you horrified. Thanks for reading.)
At the edge of our town, there’s a shitty gas station that’s open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you were to go inside, you’d see row after row of off-brand chips, cookies, potted meats, and pickled curiosities. Expiration dates suspiciously missing from the canned goods like they were filed off years ago in some misguided attempt to control inventory turnover. A faded “wet floor” sign from way back covers a large crack in the foundation by the cooler where layers of sticky spill-off have formed a miniature tar pit, preserving countless insect corpses and the occasional small rodent.
Nobody ever complains about the aesthetic. By some providence bordering on the supernatural, the health inspector has repeatedly signed off on the business, always kindly ignoring the faint smell of some kind of mysterious chemical cocktail that is the defining characteristic of the establishment. More noticeable than the steady mechanical hum of the frozen drink machine that was installed in the seventies and never once serviced. More distracting than the random pockets of cold and warm air that seem to follow you around. And more annoying than the family of mutated raccoons that lives in the crawlspace behind the grease trap.
We think they’re mutated anyway. At the very least, they must be inbred to the point of genetic deformity and mental retardation. The alpha, a muscular three-foot-tall son of a bitch named Rocco, has been spotted multiple times chewing on people’s tires and has been run over at least twice, but keeps coming back.
That lingering smell, a sweet combination of honeysuckle, ammonia, and vomit, has never been positively identified, but the prevalent theory is that it’s coming from underground, wafting up through the thin fissures in the concrete that grow and spread with each year of architectural settling. It’s strongest right after a rain, and pungent to the point of tear-inducing if you get too close to the storm drains where even Rocco and his clan refuse to tread.
If you were to go inside, you might also see the bathroom cowboy. He’s sort of an urban legend around here, only ever appearing when you’re alone and unsuspecting. What makes him truly legendary are the stories people tell after an alleged encounter. The accounts run the gamut from “pretty weird” to “impossibly bizarre.” Like the guy last month who went for a pee but changed his mind when he saw him standing there next to the urinal, wearing a duster, bandanna, boots, and chaps, handing out balloon animals.
Or a couple weeks later when another customer stepped into the same bathroom to see a man wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, boxers, and boots with spurs, literally grinding an ax on an old-fashioned stone sharpening wheel. When he entered, the cowboy stopped what he was doing, looked up with a smile and a tip of the hat and said, “Come on now. Come on with it.”
If you should be lucky enough to see the cowboy that may or may not haunt the bathroom, don’t worry. He’s harmless, and in fact usually quite polite. Honestly, he doesn’t seem so bad. Especially compared to some of the other things going on in that place.
When you go inside, you might instantly get a toothache. That’s a strangely common phenomenon that nobody really understands. It should go away on its own after a couple hours.
If you do go inside, you will almost definitely see me sitting behind the counter, because I am the only full-time employee, and I’m almost always here. You may catch me reading a book because, for some reason, the internet doesn’t work way out here, and cell phone service is dicey on good days and nonexistent on most. If you need to make a call, you can leave and go up the hill a ways, preferably back towards town because the other way will take you into the woods and you don’t even want me to go into all the reasons that’s not a good idea. Or you can pay me twenty-five cents a minute and use the store’s land line. (That arrangement was cooked up by the owners and I have to actually enforce it because they do check the phone records. I’m sorry.)
While you’re here, don’t be offended if I don’t strike up a conversation because, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t always know for sure if everyone who comes through those doors is real or not and if I had to acknowledge everyone in that place that could be an actual person, I might lose my mind. And we don’t need any more of that going on around here.
I guess that the point I’m trying to make is this: weird things happen to me working at the shitty gas station at the edge of town.
I wish I could tell you the weirdest thing that’s ever happened there, but I doubt I could ever decide. There were just too many.
I’ve seen a total of four coffins inside the store on three different occasions.
I’ve met at least a dozen people wandering back into town from the woods claiming they had escaped aliens or government conspirators or the like and that they had no money but needed to make a call and could I please just let them use our store phone before “they” find them again. But rules are rules and I’m not inclined to lose my job just because you didn’t escape captivity with a little pocket change.
And then, of course, there was Farmer Brown (yeah, that’s his real name) who got mad at us and complained about the bulk feed we’d been ordering for him. He insisted something was wrong with the product because, as he put it, all of his animals suddenly had human faces. We settled with him by charging a significant discount on his next couple purchases. He stopped coming in not long after, and they found what was left of his body inside a bedroom at his farmhouse that had been locked from the inside. As far as I know, they still haven’t figured that one out.
Anyway, I guess I can come back and tell a story or two, but first I need to get ready for work.
Reading Time: 4 minutesSo, I discovered the meaning of life. Or at least, that’s what my eager customers are led to believe. You see, two or three times a month, I post a listing titled “The Meaning of Life” to various auction sites. I couple it with a sappy picture of a sunset or rainbow and a description that reads “All views are subjective. Results may vary.” Most people wouldn’t bat an eye at such a ridiculous listing, but there are some gullible folks out there that take the bait. When the bidding ends, I usually take home anywhere from $5 to $12.
After I’ve received my money via Paypal, I ship out the item. What is the item, you might ask? Well, I scribble down an inspirational quote or life lesson onto a piece of paper and mail it out in your standard, letter-sized envelope. The quotes are usually from famous writers, historical figures, or the Bible. Some of them include:
“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.” (quoted from Rumi)
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But People will never forget how you made them feel.” (quoted from Maya Angelou)
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” (quoted from George Eliot)
And that’s it. One stamp, a drop in the mailbox and my work is done. It’s as simple as that.
You might call me a scammer or a con-artist, or perhaps even a plagiarist – and in truth, you are correct. I’m taking advantage of the naive people out there who are probably just looking for a sense of purpose in life – all so I can make a quick buck. But I’d like to think most people know it’s bullshit and purchase my listing just to see what I’ll send them. Besides, I’m a bachelor right out of college. So long as I can make a small dent in my phone bill and eat a packet of ramen each night, I’ll sleep just fine.
As you might imagine, I receive quite a bit of hate-mail. I’ve learned to ignore angry emails and private messages on the auction sites. As soon as I see that it’s from one of my customers, it gets deleted. I do, however, receive the occasional snail mail. It’s unavoidable, as my PO Box is listed on all of the envelopes I send out. It would be pretty easy for me to toss these letters in the trash with the rest of my junk mail, but I never can. Something about receiving a physical letter from someone, good or bad, compels me to read it. I feel that anyone who takes the time to write one deserves to have their voice heard, even if I don’t really care for what they have to say.
The more physical letters I receive, the more amused I am by them. To paint a better picture, here are a few of my favorite quotes from the “fan mail” I’ve received over the years:
“You’re nothing but a glorified fortune cookie service.”
“You’ll rot in hell for the sins you’ve committed. Mark my words.”
“You’re a real f***ing piece of shit, you know that?”
It’s reached a point where reading these letters has become the highlight of my week. I’ve even tacked up some of the better ones on a cork board in my bedroom. You might think that’s sick and a little messed up, but I think it’s hilarious.
Not all of the letters I receive are bad. There’s one guy by the name of “Red” (no last name -that’s all he ever writes above his return address) who mails me constantly. He sends me inspirational quotes in exchange for mine. I assume he’s a repeat buyer who enjoys paying for and receiving cheerful messages in his mailbox every now and again. A man of class and dignity; my kind of customer.
The first quote Red ever sent me was “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” from Mark Twain. This was a great first impression, as Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. The return quote was much appreciated. As such, I hung it up next to the hate-mail on my cork board.
Some of the things Red sends me, however, are not cork board material. Some of the quotes he sends are morbid and depressing, and other times he’ll mail me small packages containing little trinkets that I have no use for. It’s a little weird, but I figure the guy is depressed and just needs a friend. Maybe the quotes he buys from me are the only thing he has to look forward to each morning. Perhaps the things he sends me are his way of saying thanks. To me, it’s validation that what I’m doing isn’t completely sleazy.
But here’s where things get weird. Today, I received another envelope from Red. I smiled when I pulled it out of my PO Box. His letters and gifts, no matter how odd, were just as much, if not more of a highlight to my week than the endlessly entertaining hate-mail. Upon opening the envelope, however, my smile vanished.
Inside was a photograph of me, taken up close through my bedroom window. On the back of the photograph was another one of Red’s quotes:
“You look so alone. Where’s the meaning in your life?”
I’d always known that my great-grandma was an orphan, but in late October of last year, she decided to tell me the truth about what happened to her family.
We were visiting her for her birthday. It was a tradition in our household; a road trip we knew in the back of our minds we’d take only a few more times. She was turning ninety-eight, so that was just the cold hard truth of the matter. In my childhood, the journey to central Iowa had been a fun and light-hearted affair, but now my brother and parents could only maintain strained politeness as we met up and hit the road together. Each of us knew that this trip might be our last.
For several hours, we drove through vast open farm fields that stretched from horizon to horizon.
My great-grandma’s house was down a narrow dirt road off a wide dirt road off a gravel tractor lane. As a city boy, it was, more or less, the most remote possible dwelling I could imagine. She was born there, had lived her entire life there, and would soon—well.
As we parked in an open muddy rectangle and stepped out to stretch our legs, the constancy of the place surrounded me. Every single year of my life, this house and its land had been exactly the same. The sky was open blue, the earth was a sea of waving gold, and the wind was a smooth river of cool warmth. There was never anything to mar those three pillars of sensory experience except the house, the barn, a defunct old tractor, and the bell.
The bell was a simple thing raised high on an old metal crook. It sat out in the fields about a quarter mile from the house, serving as a measure of the wind. If a storm was coming, the bell was supposed to ring, a necessary precaution in tornado country. The only problem was, the bell and its crook had rusted over long ago. Every time I got out of the family van from age five to age twenty-six, I glanced that direction and felt a sense of unease as my gaze fell upon that decayed artifact. This time, at age twenty-seven, I looked over and saw that the bell had been scraped and polished clean of rust. It glinted in the sunlight, practically daring me to look at it.
I followed my family inside while struggling with a feeling of dread that I couldn’t articulate.
Who had cleaned the bell?
I tried to stop thinking about it as we gathered in the kitchen and said our hellos. My great-grandma was making tea, and shooed off our attempts to help. She was a frail woman for whom movement was difficult, but she’d never let that stop her. “The Wi-Fi password is on a note in the living room,” she told us with unquestionable authority. “Go stare at your phones and the tea will be ready in a moment.”
My brother and I did as we were told, but my parents turned on the television instead of looking at their phones. For a few minutes, we stayed in our separate worlds, only returning to the present when my great-grandma brought in the tea.
And we had a nice time.
That night, when everyone else was long asleep, I happened to open my eyes and see a glow under the door of the guest room I shared with my brother. My parents were in a different room and would not see the same light, so it was up to me to investigate. Quietly, so as not to wake him, I crept out and down, finding my great-grandma still awake. She sat in her big jade-leather chair, her gaze on the television. She asked me without looking my way, “You don’t fall for this stuff, do you?”
“What, like ads?”
She pointed her thin little arm at the nearby couch. “Sit.”
“I’m going to tell you a family secret,” she said softly, finally looking my direction. “It’s for you, and possibly for your brother, but not your parents. Do you understand?”
I didn’t, not fully, but I nodded.
“You know I was an orphan for a time. Born in this house, lived with my family, but then raised by an uncle after it happened?” She didn’t wait for my nod. “I was ten years old that night. It was my birthday.”
My mother had gotten me a small cake about the size of your fist. I looked forward to that cake every year, since we didn’t exactly have sweets bounding about back then. It was eleven cents, so rather expensive, but my mother got one for every one of us on our birthdays no matter what she had to scrimp or save. All year long, I saw Mary get her cake in January, Arthur get his cake in March, Eleanor in June, Clarence in July, then Ruth a week after Clarence. Then it was months and months until me, the odd one out, on October 29th. I was so excited for that cake. As the days rolled closer, as the morning dawned, as the hours inched by, I hopped around the house like a bunny rabbit.
But I wasn’t allowed to eat it until well after supper.
I stared at the clock, so I know. Yes, that one on the mantle there, the brass and chrome one. Same one. But I stared at the clock, so I know: night fell at six forty-one. That was the moment bright orange stopped glinting off that clock and my mother rose to light a lamp.
I looked up at her. “Now?”
She smiled and shook her head. My brothers and sisters complained in a chorus in support of me, but she just shook her head at them. “Too soon, and she’ll ruin her supper.”
Father came in from the fields not long after that, dirty and tired as all get out. He ate in silence while we chattered endlessly about what type of cake it would be. Under the frosting, who knew? It might be raspberry, vanilla, or even chocolate.
We grew silent as father neared the cleaning of his plate, an event which would mark the end of supper. Four pieces of meat and bread remained, then three, then two… any moment now…!
He stopped at the last piece, holding it unmoving above the remaining dollop of gravy.
We turned our heads.
It was the bell. The bell was ringing out in the fields.
Father grunted, then put the last piece of his food back on his plate before rising. He opened the front door; we braced ourselves for the wind, but none came. He spat on and held up a finger to the night air, then shook his head. He moved back into our lamplight and sat.
Arthur asked, “Is it gonna storm?”
Mary asked, “Is there gonna be a tornado?”
My mother shook her head, smiled at us, and told us not to worry. No wind meant no storm.
But that bell kept ringing.
My father dipped his last piece of food in the gravy and prepared to eat it despite the constantly ringing bell—but then sighed and put it back down. He motioned to Clarence.
Clarence was the oldest, so he understood. He was nearly a man himself, and tying the bell would be no problem. He grabbed a candle, protected the flame with his hand, and headed out the open front door.
My brothers and sisters and I piled up to the window; opening it, we found nothing but absolutely still chilly air. We watched his little spot of light move out around the house and into the fields in the direction of the bell. The clanging metallic sound stopped, finally, and the candle’s little flame hovered next to it for a solid minute.
“Why’s he taking so long to tie it?” Ruth asked.
Eleanor suggested, “Maybe he’s having trouble making a knot. Knots are tough.”
We watched for another minute or two before—and I know how this sounds—the little flame in the distance began to rise. Slowly, smoothly, straight up. We followed it with our eyes, exclaiming the entire time, as it moved out of sight beyond the roof overhang.
The bell began ringing again.
“His knot must have come loose,” Arthur said.
Our parents came to look at our insistence, but there was nothing to see by then. Father motioned to Arthur. Happy to help out, Arthur grabbed a full lamp rather than a candle. He hurried out the front door, around the house, and into the fields while we watched from the window. The lamp was easier to see, and we were absolutely certain he reached the crook.
As the lamplight hovered there, the bell stopped ringing.
At that point, we had no reason to think anything was amiss. Maybe the wind had just blown a wisp of burning candle string up into the sky and Clarence had gotten lost in the dark. He would see the lamplight, find Arthur, and they would both come back. The rising little flame we’d seen had just been a fluke.
Only problem was, staring out into the autumn night, we still felt no wind at all.
We stared at that unmoving light for a strangely long period of time. What was he doing out there? Was he calling for his brother? Why couldn’t we hear him, if so? Our parents looked away for a moment, and in that instant, the lamp went out. We children bleated, but by the time they glanced back, there was nothing to see. There was only darkness.
The bell began ringing again.
My father began grumbling, but there were no more sons to send outside. He narrowed his eyes with thought, then handed Ruth, the oldest girl among us, our main lamp.
Our mother laughed. “Ruth, be a dear and go find your silly brothers.”
Ruth was a little hesitant, but she accepted the lamp. Leaving us in darkness without it, she headed out around the house and into the fields. This lamp was brighter, and we could actually see her carrying hand and her white pajamas in a small lit halo. On the way there, she regularly called out, “Clarence… Arthur… you two lost?”
About halfway to where the other two lights had stopped, her calls went instantly silent midsentence. “Clarence… Arth—”
It wasn’t that she’d given up yelling. The sound reaching us had simply stopped completely. We could still see her carrying the lamp, still see her hand and pajamas, still see her turning this way and that. She even raised the house lamp near her face and we saw her shouting into the darkness. We just didn’t hear anything—nothing except that constantly clanging bell, growing faster in pace and louder in urgency.
Mary, Eleanor, and I looked up at our parents with fearful gazes.
My father shook his head, speaking for the first time that night. “So there’s wind out there after all. The air is like a river inside an ocean. It’s movin’ fast out there, carrying her voice away. But we can’t feel it here.”
My mother seemed worried, but she nodded and accepted that. We saw her accepting it, so we gulped and believed it, too. We all glued our eyes to that open window.
Ruth reached the bell, and, in that stronger light, it entered our view unmoving at the exact same time we heard it stop ringing. Ruth looked this way and that, clearly concerned. She seemed to silently yell a time or two before moving closer to the motionless bell. A half-tied rope hung from the crook, an indication that someone had attempted to tie it, but we couldn’t see Clarence or Arthur anywhere near her. She put the lamp down on the ground to free her hands for tying the rope the rest of the way, but that mostly hid the light among the low-lying recently harvested stalks.
We waited, breaths held.
The air held in my lungs started to burn.
At long last, we were forced to breathe again.
Ruth’s light continued to sit there, barely visible between the broken plants.
“What’s taking so long?” Mary asked.
Eleanor said, “I hope she’s alright.”
Father told us, “She’s fine. Damn kids are just playing a game with us.”
Our mother nodded in agreement. “Eleanor, go fetch your sister, will you?”
Eleanor shook her head. “No way! It’s scary out there!”
“It’s just a game. You’re not playing a game with us, too, are you?”
“No.” Eleanor gulped.
“Then go get your sister and brothers. Tell them to come back in.”
It was pitch black out there, and almost the same inside with us, save for one lone candle. Trembling, Eleanor took our last candle and crept out into the night, scooting along the side of the house to stay as close to us as possible. Shakily, she called, “Ruth? Arthur? Clarence? This isn’t funny anymore.”
Now it was we who sat in the dark. As Eleanor began to move further away with the last of our light, we tensed. Father eyed the open front door, and mother softly moved to close and latch it. I wondered what they meant by that move, because how were the others supposed to get back in? But I supposed they’d unlatch it if anyone came back and knocked. Mother moved away from us in search of more candles. Through it all, the bell kept ringing out in the dark.
Increasingly scared, I held Mary’s hand tightly and yelled out the window, “Be careful, Elly!”
She must have happened to cross that invisible silent threshold at that moment, because she turned around in surprise and stepped closer. “I heard your voice go quiet, but there’s no wind! Papa’s wrong!” She stepped away again. “See, when I pass this point, my—”
She held up the candle to show us that her mouth was still moving, but we heard nothing. Come to think of it, her hair wasn’t moving, and we hadn’t seen Ruth’s pajamas billowing in any wind. I asked father, “What’s doing that? What’s making it quiet out there?”
“It’s just a game,” father insisted. “They’re all lying. She’s just pretending to make noise so it looks like she’s being silenced.”
Eleanor reached the bell; father’s grip on my shoulder squeezed to nearly painful.
She reached down for the lamp Ruth had left; lifting it with one hand and holding the candle with the other, she approached the clanging bell.
“See?” Mary whispered to father. “The candle’s not going out even though she’s not protecting the flame. There’s no wind out there.”
“But the bell is ringing,” he said gruffly. “So there is wind.”
Eleanor kept looking left and right as if she’d heard something; slowly, she reached the bell, which was hanging unmoving from the crook.
But we could still hear it ringing.
Next to me, Mary began to cry.
“It’s a game,” father said angrily. “It’s just a game they’re playing.”
Eleanor threw the lamp at something in the darkness. We saw the lamp crash, shatter, and go dark, but heard nothing. She raced toward us, candle in hand, but the flame went out because of her haste. We waited to hear her approaching or screaming, but nothing followed.
The bell continued to clang.
We waited in terrified silence.
Mother returned with a candle for each of us, and we sat vigil at the window. Nothing and no one moved. For hours, the bell clanged without wind. The night remained pitch black. The bell clanged, and clanged, and clanged, driving deeper into our ears with each passing minute.
Near midnight, we broke.
Father was beyond agitated. “Mary, go find your brothers and sisters.”
“No!” she cried. “I’m not going out there!”
Mother glared at her. “You have to. This game has to stop.”
Urged on by both of them, Mary burst into tears and climbed out the window. Holding her small candle, she inched out into the fields. Her sobs went quiet as she passed that same point out in the darkness; her flame reached the bell, and the ringing stopped.
Her flame snuffed out.
We held our breaths.
The bell began ringing again.
Father clenched his fists. “Go.”
I turned and saw he was looking at me. I suddenly realized I was the only child left in the house, and I felt horribly alone. Everything in me shrieked against the thought of going out into that cursed night. “No.”
My mother wavered in place. No longer adamantly in line with my father, she began to cry, too.
“What are you doing?” he demanded. “It’s just a game. There’s nothing to be scared of!”
She screamed and demanded, “Why do you keep saying that? Why have I been helping you do this?!”
He grabbed her and shouted in her face, “Because we haven’t been sending our children to their deaths! That’s not what’s happening!“
She pushed his hands away and ran for the window. Pushing past me, she tumbled out and ran screaming toward the still-clanging bell; not out of fear of father, but out of terror for her children. “Arthur! Clarence! Ruth! Eleanor! Mary! For God’s sake, where are you?!”
He growled and leapt out after her, yelling, “We didn’t kill them! Everything is fine!“
They both continued shouting until they passed that point in the dark—and all went silent.
Except for the bell.
Twice more, it stopped ringing, and twice more, it began again.
In panic and terror beyond reason, I closed and latched the window and pushed all of the furniture against every entry to the house. I curled in a cupboard holding the last candle up to my face as it slowly melted its way down toward my fingers. I was alone. Somehow, I was alone. We’d all seen the danger and stared right at it as it happened, but one by one they’d all gone out there anyway. I’d been surrounded by a full band of siblings my entire life, and now I was completely and utterly alone in a house in the middle of nowhere.
By the length of my candle, it was three in the morning when the knock came at the door.
I trembled, but did not make a sound.
The knock sounded again forty heartbeats later. It was louder this time.
I shook, holding my candle tight.
The third knock was more like a tremendous crash or kick, and I heard the door explode inward.
Sixty heartbeats of silence passed… and then the floorboards creaked.
Something in me told me to put out my candle for fear of it being seen through the cracks in the cupboard, but I didn’t dare. Not darkness. I couldn’t handle darkness. I would scream if I did, so I kept it lit.
Slow quiet steps moved through the house. Whoever it was seemed to be pausing and listening at times; at others, they would rush forward to a random spot in a sudden frenzy and then stop abruptly.
Four hundred heartbeats after that, the bell began ringing again.
But this time, it rang from inside the house.
It rang from the kitchen.
It rang from near the bed.
It rang outside my cupboard. Clang, ten feet away, clang, five feet away, clang, right up against the cupboard door—
And then it opened.
I sat expectantly, mouth open and eyes wide, as I waited for my great-grandmother to continue. After a bit, I realized that was it. “But what’d you see?”
She shook her head. “That’s not the point. I’m here, so obviously I survived, and a young man like you doesn’t need to know what horrors walk this world outside the paved cities of man.”
Gulping, I asked, “You’re not just pulling my leg? This really happened?”
“Yes.” Her gaze went distant by television light. “But here’s what I want to tell you, and what you should tell your brother. The thing that opened that cupboard door and stared at me from the dark—the thing that hoped to wait out my candle before the coming of dawn—had a bell tied to one of its teeth with a blood-soaked rag, such that it would clang when its mouth was opened for hunting. Somehow, some way, some heroic poor soul managed to tie a warning bell to that thing before they died. We heard that warning bell all night long, and yet my entire family walked out there one by one. We didn’t listen because we didn’t want to listen. My father knew what he was doing halfway through, but he didn’t want to accept what he’d already done, so he did even worse to continue living the lie.”
I narrowed my eyes. “What are you saying?”
She grabbed my hand briefly. “Fear will tell you to put your candle out, but your head will tell you to keep it lit. Don’t give in to fear. You keep it lit, you’ll get through this.”
Turning my head, I became aware of a sound in the distance. “Is that… is that the bell? I was so caught up I didn’t notice. How long has that been ringing?”
She just clenched her fist and turned back to the television.
Okay guys, let’s get some things straight. I’m on horror sites pretty often, and a friend told me about what’s been happening here on creepypasta. I’ve been looking through the last few days worth of posts, and I’m seeing some really disturbing stuff that I need to address. I’m Jenny Rogers; a normal, eighteen year-old high school student in my senior year. My SnapChat username is callme_469, and somehow my phone has been ruining people’s lives.
I’m not the demonic entity those posts are making me out to be. I live in a nice neighborhood with a loving family in a beautiful home. I have a little sister whom I adore, and my dog is very well-behaved. I get good grades, and I have a lot of friends. I set up that SnapChat with some random pics of a hot girl as a joke to prank my friend Owen, but that was six months ago, and I haven’t touched the app since.
My phone is almost always with me, and I haven’t given anyone my login information, so I have no idea how someone else has been using my profile to ruin the lives of the people in those posts. The only thing I can think of is that my little sister might have taken my phone and done something with it, but she’s only six. Besides, what could she have done to cause all of this? Did she summon a demon that’s now channeling itself through my SnapChat to terrorize others? If what those users posted is true, then this is terrifying.
There’s something off about all of this, and I’m hoping someone on here can offer me some insight. When I logged into my account to check the messages out yesterday, I couldn’t find any of the ones described in the posts – there were only the joke snaps I sent Owen. Nothing sinister or creepy at all – unless you find my awkward dirty talk scary. I wish I knew who the other OPs were so I could find them and ask for some more information. There’s three high schools within a ten mile radius of where I live – assuming they live nearby, they must attend one of those schools, but I have no idea. There wasn’t enough information in the posts to go off of, so for now, I’ll have to figure things out myself.
Something else has me a little bothered, and it might be related. My friend Owen has been acting really strange. A few days ago, he called me up. For the first time ever, I heard him cry. He was in such a bad way that I rushed over to see him. When I knocked on his front door, I could hear him whimpering inside. When he finally let me in, I noticed how bad it really was. He was wearing all black, something that I had never seen him do in the six years I had known him. In addition, it looked as though he hadn’t showered or shaved in weeks.
Owen is one of those stereotypical jocks who has rich parents and a large house; a boy without a care in the world. Never once had I seen him look so worried about anything. I noticed some black curtains blocking out the light, and I could see the droopy remains of several candles on the living room table. I figured that his parents were doing some eccentric remodeling, but as he filled me in on his situation, I started piecing together something that most people would consider insane.
I asked him about the new decor and he confirmed my suspicions. Owen told my about how he, his older sister Sophie, and his parents decided to play the psychic knock game for their family game night the evening prior. I stopped him right there, questioning how he had found out about the game. He told me he had gotten a message from my SnapChat profile, and it sounded like something I would have told him to try, so he got his family to play too.
They followed the rules perfectly. With a painfully beating heart I listened as Owen said it was my door that they chose. His family had dropped him off at my house plenty of times, and knew they the route and what it looked like. Tears began to slide down his cheeks when he explained the aftermath of the game, and I hugged him comfortingly. He told me how weird sounds, creepy whispers and a headache that wouldn’t go away had all plagued him relentlessly, and he knew that he needed to get out of the house.
Owen went on to explain how he had woken up the next morning after a terrible night with little sleep, and that’s when he realized his family was missing. No note, and their keys and cell phones were still in the house. He called the police; they told him he was overreacting and that he couldn’t officially file a missing persons report until 24 hours had passed. He then called his aunt Liza. She was on her way there to pick him up so he could stay with her until his parents returned.
Owen called me over because he was worried that I would be next. He told me about an unsettling dream he had, one that gave him sleep paralysis. The figure that appeared to him was wreathed in shadow, with a voice that hurt his ears. The being had told Owen that it spared him, unlike his family, because it wanted him to deliver a message to me.
It told Owen that I was the lucky one chosen to help bring the being into our plane of existence, and that it would keep playing with other human toys until it made its way to me. No further explanation had been given to him. As he told me all of this, he broke down sobbing again. I reassured him it was okay, and that it wasn’t his fault. I promised that we would find his parents, even though a nagging voice inside of me told me that my promise was for not.
As if finding out about Owen’s family wasn’t enough, I now have another concern. I deleted the app last night, and when I woke up it was back on my phone. I just did a full factory reset, which should have wiped everything, but the app was still there as soon as I got back to the home screen. Next to it was a notepad app that I’ve never downloaded before, and upon opening it, I found these three paragraphs:
Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Offer every part of yourself as an instrument. Delight in burnt offerings and sacrifice. I am the gate.
You will keep my commandments. If you do not listen, and you do not take it to heart, then I will send the curse upon you and so too I shall curse your blessings. For you and members of your household.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.
What should I do? Is there any way to stop this? Why is it targeting me, and what is it? I just want to end this, not hurt anyone else. Please, if anyone has any insight on an entity like this, contact me. I can use all the advice I can get right now.