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The Machine

Estimated reading time — 18 minutes

Part 1

Griffin and I were both 25. We hadn’t seen each other since college but kept in close contact. I was working at a cybersecurity firm, and I really wasn’t sure what he had been doing. He always told me he was “just working on something.”

I took a few vacation days from work to go and see him. We went camping for a night. When we woke up the following morning, he told me about The Machine.

“Wow-wee, sure is beautiful,” I said stepping out of my tent.

“Damn right it is,” Griffin responded. He was a silhouette in front of the red light of dawn creeping over the mountain behind him. “Come here.” He was fixing a pot of coffee.

“Yes, sir.”

“It’s serious. Come here.”

I sat beside him on a large log we’d rolled over the night before to sit on around the fire. “What’s up?”

“I want to tell you,” he said.

“Tell me what?”

“What I’ve been working on.”

“Oh, alright.”

“But hear me loud and clear, you can’t tell anybody. It’s a secret between you, me, and God.”

“I won’t. I swear to—”

“No, no. I don’t need any promises or swears. I just need your word. Say it again. You won’t tell anybody.”

“I won’t tell anybody, Griff.”

“Okay, then,” he sipped from his thermos and muttered, “a man’s only as good as his word. Someone famous said that, I think.”

“I think that’s from the Bible, dude.”

“Ha! That’s funny, considering what I’m about to tell you. Makes me wonder if there is a God…” he trailed, looking off in the distance.

That uneased me, for some reason. “Go on, tell.”

“Let me start off by saying this: I know how it’s going to sound—crazy. I know. You’re gonna think good ol’ Griff has lost his mind. But bear with me, now. I have proof. I have it with me.”

“You have what with you?”

“The Machine. That’s what I call it.”

“What does it do?”

“It can—well, let me show you.” He ran to his tent, unzipped something, and came back with a laptop, of sorts. But it was heavily modified, and connected to it by wires was a small, black box. He put the laptop in his lap and put the box next to him on the ground.

“You carried all that on a hike? You could’ve showed me all this stuff back at your place.”

“I could’ve, yes, but didn’t want to. What I have here is a game-changer, man. If the government is tapping our phones and TV’s, I don’t want them to know about this.” He pressed a couple buttons and The Machine made a whirring startup sound. “It takes a minute to get going.”

“What does it do?” I asked again.

“It can create, destroy, and transport matter.” He said it bluntly then sighed long and hard. I could tell he’d been waiting to tell someone about it.

I didn’t have an answer to what he said. I was silent. I didn’t believe him, but at the same time I believed he was about to show me something—something I’d never forget. Dread began to boil up inside of me.

“You don’t believe me.” He smiled. “I wouldn’t believe me either, but let me show you once this gets working.” He patted his hand on the box like a man would pat his dog’s head.

“You’re really telling me that thing can, just, what? Create something out of nothing?”

His smile never thinned. “Yes. And delete something in to nothing. And it can move matter in a millisecond—faster even!”

“So, your box breaks every law of physics?”

“It’s not ‘my box.’ It is The Machine.” A couple of beeps came from the modified laptop. He typed a couple things frantically, then looked in my eyes, his smile had been replaced with a stern, determined grimace. “Hold out your hand,” he said.

I obeyed, and held my hand out, palm towards the sky.

“Ready?” he said.

I nodded wordlessly, my tongue stuck in my throat.

He pressed a button, and I felt a weight in my hand instantly. Faster, even. My jaw dropped slightly and all my concentration, all my senses, and all my sanity was working overtime trying to comprehend what had just happened.

In my hand was a nice, shiny, red apple. It came from nowhere. There was no sound, no wind, no WOOSH or KAPOW. It did not exist a second before, but there it was, sitting in my hand.

“Hold out your other hand,” he said. I was not looking at him, but I knew he still had his serious face on. I complied, and held out my other hand, almost hypnotically. My eyes were still transfixed on the apple.

That is, until it wasn’t there. It had moved to my other hand—if you could even call it moving. It transported. It teleported. It shifted through time and space like it was no big deal. And then a couple seconds later, it vanished. Gone. He deleted it. Never to be seen again.

Astounded. Excited. Terrified. Those three emotions battled out in my head. I took in a deep draw of air, realizing I had stopped breathing somewhere in those 20 seconds or so.

“How…” that was all I could manage to say.

“Later,” he told me, “later, I’ll tell you how everything works. Quit your job. Work with me.”

“I… I just…”

“I know. It’s mind-boggling. Come work with me on it. It can be improved. There’s so much to do.”

“But… I need a paycheck and—”

“No, you don’t. When I said this was a game-changer, I meant it. What do you need money for? Food? We can create all the food you need. You want a new house? We can build one with this. But how are you going to keep the lights on? We hook it up to a battery-run generator, and we simply create and replace the battery with a fresh one every day. Car? Gas? Water? I haven’t had a bank account for a full year, man, and I’ll never need another cent again.”

My hands were still stretched out, my body felt like it was in shock. “Okay.”

“Okay?” His smile reappeared.

“Okay. Let’s do it.”

He closed the laptop and put it to his side. He cracked a beer open, even though it was 8:30 AM, and he looked to the sunrise. I turned and watched it too.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said.

“So, you’ve tested it a lot, I’m assuming.”

“Yep. A whole lot.”

I don’t know why my mind went to this, but it did. “Have you ever, eh, done it to a human?”

He side-eyed me. “Done what?”

“Well, you know. Have you ever deleted someone? Or moved someone? Or, created?”

He seemed to think on it before responding. “I’m not sure if I can create a human. I don’t know the intricacies that go into building a living being. But I’ve moved myself—teleported—whatever you wanna call it. Not far, just to a different room in my house. It’s a weird feeling. But it works.”

I waited for him to go on, but he didn’t. So, I asked, “and… deleted?”

“No.” he took a swig from his bottle. “I’ve deleted an insect, though. A spider. He was just gone. Like the apple. Never done it to a human.”

I was relieved he hadn’t murdered someone, but then I thought, well it wouldn’t be murder would it? They wouldn’t be dead. They’d just, not exist anymore. Every atom of them would be gone from the universe—any consciousness or awareness they once held would be vaporized in to absolutely nothing. Maybe it’d be more peaceful than death, or maybe it’d be a fate much worse.

But then I thought of how this could change everything. This machine could feed the hungry forever. It could erase tumors and cancerous cells. It could provide shelter and clothing for everyone. It could eliminate the need for any transportation. It could clean the atmosphere. It could transport people to other planets instantly. Humans could expand all across the galaxy—the entire universe, maybe.

“We are going to change the world,” I said.

“We are going to run the world,” he responded.

And as his words died in the morning air, my worries came to life. The Machine can destroy anything, idiot, I thought to myself. It can and will destroy. Sure, your goodie little two-shoes wants to help humanity. But imagine what would happen if a terrorist organization had it. They could wipe out an entire city at the snap of their fingers. A hostile country could delete an entire continent if they like. Hell! All it’d take is one evil son of a bitch with the key to that thing to destroy the entire Earth! Or the Solar System! Or the Universe!

These thoughts clashed in my head.

I sipped my coffee. Griffin sipped his beer. We watched the sunrise.

Whatever was to come, I couldn’t stop it now.

Part 2

I spent the next couple months living with Griffin. In that time, he spent almost every day explaining to me how The Machine worked. It was very complex, but I finally understood. I will not be explaining to you how it operates. And I hope you’ll forgive me for that, and hope you understand why I refuse to share that knowledge.

After learning all there was to learn about it, I posed the question to him.

“Do you think you could make another?” I asked him.

“Sure, it’d take me a couple weeks but—”

“No, I mean, do you think we can create another Machine using this Machine?”

He cocked his head back. “Wow, I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that.”

So, we worked for a few days, programming every detail of The Machine in to The (original) Machine, and by day five, the code was complete and ready to go. I pressed enter, and there it appeared. A second Machine, right next to its partner. Its creator. Its father. Its God. Yet they were equal.

“Now we each have one, I guess,” he said.

“Thank you.” I told him.

“Thank me? It was your idea.”

“No, not for the machine. For letting me know. For teaching me about it.”

“You’re my closest—really my only, friend. I didn’t want to go about this alone.” He put his hand on my shoulder.

“So, what’s the actual plan? What are we going to do with these? Where do we start?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.”

“Do we tell anyone?”

“Hell no. Like I said before, this is a secret between you, me, and God.”

“Okay, but, think about it. Think about all the things we’ve talked about doing the past couple months. Cleaning the air, deleting all plastic from the ocean, feeding the hungry, and traveling to Mars and beyond! Those are things that we can’t do unnoticed. It’s going to get out.”

He let that rattle around in his head before he replied. “That’s just talk, though. You know how dangerous this is. I know we’ve been beating around the bush and not talking about that aspect of this. This can’t be public knowledge. This goes beyond danger. If this technology falls in to the wrong hands, it’s over.”

“Are you saying we don’t do anything?” I grunted. “So, what do we do? Sit here with a thumb in our ass looking at the greatest invention of human history and never use it for good? Is that what you’re saying?”

“I don’t know what I’m saying.” There was a long silence before he spoke again. “I just—I don’t know. We can’t not do anything with it, you’re right.”

“You’ve known about this much longer than I have. What have you been thinking about? What’s the endgame in this?”

“Honestly?” he asked.

“Honestly. Tell me all your thoughts.” I said.

“Well. Okay then. I’ll tell you. My entire thought processes. The good, the bad, and the horrific. I’ve thought about all the good stuff, like you have. Helping the hungry, the poor, all that. But to tell you the truth, I’m afraid of that too.”

“Why?”

“Let’s say we feed and shelter every human. Let’s add to that too, why not? Let’s give out free generators to every home and building in the world, like our houses have. And once a day the batteries are replaced with new ones. So, we have free food and water, free shelter, and free energy.”

“Okay…”

“Well, then no one will want to work anymore. Why should they? What do they need money for? All their basic needs will have been met. That’s millions, if not billions of people quitting their jobs because they don’t need to work.”

“That kind of sounds nice, actually. Everyone would be relaxed.”

“Sure, at first. But you know who else stops working? EMTs. Police Officers. Firemen. Those people that work long hours and save lives every day no longer have a reason to go in. Doctors, who study for years and step in to six-figure debt willingly? They won’t want to practice medicine anymore. And school? Why go? What’s making anyone want to go? On top of that, who would teach? There’d be a billion dummies by the next decade who don’t know how to read or write. So, if we give it to the public, we’re screwed. The whole world is screwed.”

I hadn’t considered any of this. I was stunned. And he wasn’t done talking.

“I’ve also thought about using it for other things, though. Let’s say we keep this private. What would we do with it? We could use it for other purposes.”

My eyes had widened. I knew what he meant. But I still asked. “Like what?”

“Any way we like. Let’s go right to the extremes, shall we? Imagine a politician, live on TV, making some big announcement to the nation…”

I nodded.

“…and all of a sudden, he drops dead. All we had to do was shift his brain stem an inch to the left. OR! OR! Let’s get even more graphic! We just delete the fucker’s head right on national TV! A clean cut, right across the neck. We delete every atom in his head and BOOM! Gone. Dead. No one knows why. Or we delete his entire brain. The autopsy comes back and no one knows what to make of it. Biggest news story of the century! We could create a new genocide. We could create a new virus every day and spread it world-wide. We could create a fucking asteroid and send it straight into Earth!”

I couldn’t believe the things he was saying now, things I didn’t know a regular person could think. He kept on, his face was reddening, and eyes were bulging.

“OR! Let’s think EVEN BIGGER! We could change the entire atmosphere on Mars. Make it just like Earth’s. Nice and stable. Then, we teleport ourselves and The Machines there. We can bring a couple ladies and start a whole new town. A whole new PLANET! And we can look to the pale blue dot in the sky that we once called home—look at everything we knew, everything we loved, every ounce of human history, and burn the bitch to the ground. And when the fire goes out, we delete it, like it never existed in the first place.”

My mouth was slightly open from shock. I was at a loss for words, yes, but found my footing and spoke. “But—but you don’t actually want to do those things? Right?”

He panted a little. He was out of breath. His face slowly came back to its original color. “No. God, no. I wouldn’t do any of that. But you asked what I’ve been thinking about. And you asked me to be honest.”

“Yeah, I guess. I’ve thought about some of that too. Maybe not quite as… detailed, I guess.”

“You asked for honesty. And whether you like it or not, the human brain has its dark places. I’d never act on it. They’re just thoughts. And I was sharing them.”

“I know, Griff. I know. Just thoughts.”

Just thoughts, I supposed. Yeah, like gunning down a bunch of high schoolers. Or flying a plane in to a building. Those are just intrusive thoughts that people have sometimes. Maybe a lot of people. But it only takes one person crazy enough to act on those thoughts.

“So, we can’t take it public, and we aren’t going to be killing anyone or destroying the planet. What do we do?”

He shrugged. “We have fun, I guess.”

* * * * * *

We did have fun, for a while. We lived in nice houses we designed ourselves. We drove nice cars we created (not as hard as it sounds, surprisingly). We drank and ate in excess. And we never paid for any of it. When we wanted to go out to bars, clubs, or restaurants and pay for things, that wasn’t a problem either. Once we figured out how to create legitimate $100 bills, we could pay for anything. No one would ever be able to tell the difference, because there wasn’t a single atom out of place.

Then, Griff found heroin. I do not want this to become a story of addiction. No, a story of addiction would be about a man, struggling to survive, battling out his demons, losing money, and finding a balance between substance and family. No, once Griffin found heroin, nothing else existed for him. Heroin and The Machine was all he needed.

He never had to pay for it, either. When he wanted a fix, he simply typed the command in The Machine, and there it was, ready in a nice, clean needle waiting to be stuck in his vein. He never left the house after that. Why would he? He needed nothing outside his bedroom, as long as The Machine was there.

That was one possibility we didn’t even consider. Something so simple that we both overlooked. I would do anything to go back to that day we were camping, and make an oath that we’d never touch any drugs again. What a mistake.

Griffin died of an overdose on December 24th, 2018. I found him the next day. He never got to open his present.

How? How could a man with all the power in the universe—more power than any man had held before—fall so feebly to something so plain. He was a God walking among men and was taken down by an ounce of liquid in a syringe. He had an endless path of wonder and possibilities in front of him, and he chose not to go. He chose to stand still.

I chose not to stand still.

I was about to get busy, very busy.

I was alone. Me and my two Machines. The universe was my playground. Griffin was gone, but his knowledge was not. I had that.

Yes, I had that.

A secret between me and God.

And no one else.

Part 3

It wasn’t easy getting over Griffin’s death, but I’ll spare you the details of my mourning and coping.

When Griff died, I had—I don’t know—an epiphany of sorts? An awakening? I realized—I’m only human. And so was he. But we were acting like we were Gods. We thought we had everything. We broke the laws that the universe had set, and we gave the middle finger to the cosmos.

“We are the outlaws of the universe, the writers of the rules, with no police in sight,” Griff used to say.

But we weren’t. We were two humans, mortal and easily-wounded. We would die-off eventually and be a useless sack of bone and flesh just like everyone else. We just found a little loophole in the universe—something that God forgot to patch up. But with The Machine came power, there was no denying that. I was human, yes, but I wielded a weapon no one else had. It would be like bringing a nuclear bomb to a sword fight. That’s what I thought. A weapon no one else had. A tool that no one else had.

In those couple months that passed after his death, I thought of destroying The Machine. But of course, I didn’t. I didn’t want to go back to my old life. I didn’t want to work all day. I wanted to have a good time, and I wanted to change the world.

I didn’t have a “good time” though. I was an absolute shut-in. I worked day and night for months on the solution. Let me tell you how I was going to try to help humanity. Here’s what I programmed in to The Machine (roughly, in layman’s terms):

  1. Copy Earth in to The Machine.
  2. Remove human beings, animals, and any sentient life from copy.
  3. Remove atmospheric pollution from copy.
  4. Remove man-made everything from the copy—infrastructure, roads, waste, etc.
  5. Replace man-made infrastructure with roughly the same terrain from surrounding environment.

I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but it took a long, long time to get that all programmed correctly.

And I know, there are some issues with this, but compared to other solutions I had thought of, the drawbacks were minimal. My plan was to place this edited copy of Earth on the other side of the Sun. Do you get it? There’d be a second Earth, the same distance from the sun, but on the other side of it, revolving around the same direction and speed that Earth is. Then, after I would place it there, scientists would find out quickly of its existence, and we could travel to it and start anew.

A whole new, clean planet for mankind. It was a temporary solution, but nonetheless, a solution—a step in the right direction. I was about two days out from executing the commands and placing “New Earth” in to existence.

Unfortunately, something happened before I could do that.

I was sitting on my bed, staring at The Machines, just thinking. I can’t remember what about, exactly. But all of a sudden, one of them disappeared. It happened right in front of my eyes. Deleted. Erased. Vanished. Or taken, I wondered for a split-second.

But it wasn’t just gone, in its place, a note laid on the ground.

I walked over to it. It was a single sheet of yellow paper torn off a legal pad. It had coordinates written on them, and then beneath, it said: Let’s talk here.

Dread flowed through my veins and filled my brain, but I managed to stay calm. I googled the coordinates, making sure I wasn’t about to transport myself to the middle of the ocean, or some volcano. I wasn’t. The coordinates were set for somewhere in Utah, USA. There was nothing around for miles. I guess that was the safest place to talk.

Like when Griffin told me about The Machine in the mountains, I recalled.

I put the coordinates in The Machine, and set it for me (and The Machine, so I had a way to get back) to be transported there. I hit enter.

And just like that, faster than I could blink, I was standing in a corn field in the middle of Utah. The Machine laid next to me on the dirt.

I heard the corn stalks jostle around in front of me—and emerging from the noise was a figure, slowly approaching. He was wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, and cowboy boots. His hair was white and matched the scruff on his face.

“Hello,” he said in a deep, flat voice.

“Hi,” I said, simply.

We stood unmoving, just staring at each other. Sizing each other up, maybe?

“I assume you know why I asked you to come here.”

“The Machine.”

“Yes, if that’s what you want to call it.”

“You have one too, huh?”

He laughed at this. He laughed for a long time. “No boy, no. My Machine is right up here.” He tapped his finger on his forehead.

“How—” but before I could finish, he took the same finger from his head and pointed it at The Machine lying next to me. It disappeared immediately.

“You see?” he said, “I don’t need a hunk of metal like you do.”

I was dumbfounded. “What are you?”

He walked a little closer to me. “If you’re religious you’d call me God, or perhaps the Devil.”

“And what would you call yourself?”

“Hm, maybe a little bit of both? There’s no use for names where I come from.”

“And where is that? Where do you come from?”

“Utah.” He said that with a straight face. I furrowed my brow. It was silent. Then he busted out laughing again, harder this time. “Oh, man, oh! I almost had you, didn’t I? Utah! Ha! Me! From Utah!” He kept laughing.

“What is wrong with you! What do you want?”

He calmed down some. “I wanted to let you know that it’s over. This whole universe thing.”

“Wh—what? What do you mean?”

“Well the whole reason your machine-thingy works at all is because this universe is broken. I’m going to start all over.”

“Start over?”

“Yes. Start over. Delete and then ‘let there be light’ again and all that jazz.”

“So, you created all this? You really are, like, a God?”

He shrugged. “I created it, yes.”

“Why not just fix this one? You don’t have to delete a whole universe because one guy figured out a mistake in it.”

“Maybe I’d fix it if this happened earlier. Like, in the 1200’s or so, I would’ve fixed it. All the good stuff came after that, the things I didn’t wanna miss—Black Plague, slavery, the most exciting wars, genocide, etc. etc.”

“What! The good stuff? What the hell are you talking about?!”

“Oh, don’t act so surprised. You think I created an entire universe so I could watch people hold hands and sing happy songs? No, no. That’s no fun. You know what is fun? Huh? Do you wanna know what IS FUN?”

His voice was growing maniacal, more wicked-sounding. I didn’t answer. I knew he would continue anyway.

He smiled wide. “What’s fun is watching your stupid little monkey brains develop over hundreds of thousands of years. One day, one of you rubs two sticks together and creates fire. You ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ over the pretty bright lights, but then you discover it’s hot so ‘ouch!’ don’t touch! And then you beat all odds against you and somehow start communicating and developing language. Building relationships. Trust. Then your stupid little monkey brains stumble upon the idea of putting food in the ground to grow. Farming! Ding! Ding! Ding! And you build little cities around those farms. You start marking whose property is whose. You begin to trade with other little stupid monkey brain communities. You do this for a long time and some battles take place, but then real civilization comes next. Rome is built! Education is more wide spread, and your stupid little monkey brains are getting smarter. Empires rise and fall. Countries are resurrected and borders are drawn. Wars are fought. Your brains are now smart, you think. You build transportation—boats turn into trains, and trains turn into cars, and cars turn in to planes. Your first weapons were sticks and fire—now you have weapons so powerful everyone is too scared to use them. But what never stops is the fighting, oh, how great it is to watch. You fight over invisible lines you call borders, skin color and birth location, and whose God is the right one. That’s my favorite. A fight as old as humans—which God is the real one—all the while, I sit there and laugh at you all. Me! I laugh. I’m your master. I’m your God. I’m your devil.”

I stood frozen, hesitant to move or talk—unsure if I even could.

“You see, now?” He said. “All the fun stuff is in the past now, the credits are about to roll. The climax is over and done with. In a decade or two this world will have ended by nuclear bombs and the nuclear winter that follows. Or a little later down the line the pollution would be so bad you’d suffocate yourselves. That’s not fun to watch. That’s boring. You see now, yes? I don’t care to stick around for that. That’s watching the credits roll. The show is over.”

I still hadn’t moved but gained some composure. I tried to ignore everything he’d said, but I still asked, “Is it just us… in this universe? Is there not life anywhere else? No other planet to keep you entertained?”

He crossed his arms. “Think of Earth as a nutrient. You eat dinner. You absorb the nutrient. You shit out everything else the next day.”

“…Okay?”

“You see, Earth is that tiny bit of nutrients that’s important. The rest…” he gestured towards the sky, “…is waste. Cosmic waste—just a by-product of creating this planet. ‘Earth’ is the only thing that matters.”

I’d never felt so small in my entire life until he spoke those words. All that space in the universe, with nothing inhabiting it. It’s just us, all alone on a floating rock. I was stunned, angry, and upset. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because deleting an entire universe takes time. It’s fragile. Very fragile. I can’t have things being created, destroyed, or moving during the process.”

“Yeah? Well what if I go home and build another Machine? I could delete you!

He laughed again, only slightly. “You think you could do that? Sure, this form I take now is made of atoms and molecules, but I am not. I’m something your simple brain can’t even fathom. I exist beyond this universe. You can’t destroy me even if you tried.”

I felt like I was about to cry. “Why can’t you just leave this universe alone?”

“There’s only room for one at a time. Don’t take it personally, kid. You’ll still be around for a couple months, maybe a year. Try to enjoy it. Like I said, it takes time.”

I had nothing else to say, and for the first time, neither did he.

He simply pointed at me, and all at once, I was back in my bedroom. Alone.

All alone.

I sat still for a couple of hours, hoping it was all a fever dream of sorts, but I knew it wasn’t.

Now, I tell you all this only to say: do not blame me. Do not shoot the messenger. Without Griffin’s discovery of The Machine, we wouldn’t even have any warning at all.

So, spend time with your loved ones, do what makes you happy, be good to others, and live a good life—while you can.

There’s nothing we can do.

It won’t be too long until we’re gone.

A secret between you, me, and God.


Credit: Carter Milford (Reddit)

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Aberration

Estimated reading time — 7 minutes

I like to go urban spelunking, “ruin diving” my friends call it. We find a place out in the middle of the nowhere that people have forgotten and we break in to see what treasures they might have left behind. On one of our trips we decided to check out some places in upstate New York. This was my friend Paul’s idea and while I was sure he had only mentioned it because he was sweet on a girl who lived up there, he promised me and the rest of us that he had a hot tip on an amazing spot.

We got to the location just after six in the afternoon and twilight was already setting in. Paul’s place however sure was something and I was willing to break our rule of no diving after dark. It looked to be a massive research compound. We saw signs for something called Fairchild Research Group but it was completely abandoned. No security, no cars, no nothing but when whoever had been here pulled out it must have been in a hurry.

We found food still in warm fridges, there were desks with family photos tacked on the wall and even half of a mummified birthday cake in one buildings lounge. There were other things that seemed off as well that were a little more sinister. Slime covered prints along the walls, weird tracks in the dust on the floor and this awful smell. It reminded me of my old high school biology lab around the time we had to dissect fetal pigs. It was the same harsh formaldehyde smell.

It was only when we went to the lower levels that things got out of hand. We all swore we heard a woman sobbing and the sounds of animals but nothing we could identify, I found a USB drive sticking out of a tower in the last room we visited and I decided to snag it. What I found on there shocked me and the group. Whoever had had the USB before must have been trying to download what happened the last time time the facility had been running. It was full of security camera footage, project notes, audio recordings. I’m posting what I pieced together and drew from the files here.

They say that nature is flawless, beautiful. People write about the perfection of a sunset or the faith affirming qualities of a rushing sea but man should never be so foolish. There is no great sun that doesn’t cast a shadow and nature’s shadow is teaming with monstrosities. Doctor Braum knows that simple fact and makes his living off of it. He is a tall man with long thin fingers. His wife would tell you, if she knew he couldn’t hear, that she never found him handsome. Not that his face wasn’t pleasing but that it was cold, glacial, like looking into the face of a statue.

That statue only cracked when a new specimen was brought into his lab for study and the emotion that always adorned it was wonder. Where others would recoil at the horrors that lined his walls in dim jars, he gazed at them fondly. Mutations of flesh, abnormalities of bone, even almost human growths in bark or foliage, held his curiosity in a siren’s song.

He would lose himself for hours among the rows and rows of mother natures failed children. He had bodies in every stage of development with extra arms, bulbous growths, features so warped and distorted no one would have dared to think they were human. Inside the office there was one of his favorite specimens. Behind his desk, floating in a specially made cylinder, was the body of a woman.

She had the bloated look of a drowning victim and that added to her impressive girth. Her pendulous breasts were streaked by angry red veins and bobbed slowly in the amber liquid. All in all her corpse was unremarkable until her stomach. It bulged sickeningly,the skin pulled tight over a dozen malformed skulls. Small hands jutted out, almost touching the glass. A rare fusion of mother and child, siblings merged into a ball of calcified organs, the doctor had taken to calling the display “A happy family”. The boys in the staff called her “The Brood Mother” but only behind Braum’s back, he didn’t tolerate much tomfoolery and had a quick temper for disrespect.

Today Braum was full of excitement. It was the end of his three month waiting period for new subjects and his man had promised him not only a greater draw from the financial levies but double his allotment for equipment if he could get back to them in a month with new results.

He was sure he would finish his research on genetic mutations that went against Darwin’s laws of selection. He knew that this batch would give him the proof he needed to finally show the world that what had brought those weaker minds such revulsion was, in fact, evolution before their very eyes. while he waited the good doctor decided to visit Tommy, his first real breakthrough.

Moving from his private office to the storage area, he walked briskly through the rows of shelves on a familiar path. Deeper into the lab the canisters and containers grew larger and their occupants more fearsome. Braum could remember many of them from his younger days. When this operation was first started he didn’t have even close to half the resources he has now and was forced to go on many of the “Buys” himself. Tommy came from one of them, he still remembered how unimpressed he was that warm August in Vietnam when he bought Tommy from the back of a pickup truck. He had no idea then that his life and research would be changed forever by what had been in that little vial.

Finding a terminal he punched in his code and set the processes working. This part of the laboratory was so old that it still ran on software from ten years ago, so he was in for a wait. Braum mopped at his bald head as the computer groaned, for some reason the temperature felt far to high all of a sudden. He decided to check up on some other valued members of his collection instead of just standing around in the heat. He wondered a few rows over, running his hands along the glass of several vats.

Inside many of them were the bodies of cows, sometimes three deep. Each carcass had some level of abnormal growth. Tumors grew in cauliflower clumps across some, a few had long tentacle like protrusions along their sides as well as extra legs dangling from their necks. He stopped in front of the largest tank in the row. Inside floated something pulled from the nightmares of a sick mind.

It looked like a hybrid of goat and trout. A goats upper body with one curved horn on the left and a small stump on the right, merged with a massive fin to make up it’s lower half. On the top of the tank, written on a fade label in Doctor Braum’s neat handwriting, was “TEST SUBJECT 2002: SERIES 3: TRIAL 56: SUCESS.” His first viable creation, all thanks to Tommy. Braum remembered the swelling of love he had felt when his abomination drew it’s first pained breath.

The loud clatter of metal doors opening and the buzzing of circuits pulled him from his revere and into the newly opened holding chamber. The room was massive, the largest single room in the lab in fact, and contained a three story tall tank of double thick glass filled with over 150,000 gallons of preservation fluid. There, lit only by a dim light from the base, floated Tommy. Braum gazed breathlessly up at him with a look of awe only rivaled by the first Apostles to see Christ reborn.

Tommy looked for all the world like a massive child, a giant toddler with bloated and bulging eyes. They were blue and lifeless, his pudgy rolls of skin were the kind the gray color of flesh that had never known the flow of blood. As near as Braum could tell the body had never known life but it had continued to grow. From just a microscopic embryo in a dirty vial, Tommy had grown into a monstrously sized baby seemingly in its third trimester of development. Tommy looked down at him with those giant eyes, twin maggots that had eaten their fill.

Was there a hint of contempt in them today? he wondered. Did he see for a second there, a flash of hatred and hunger? Braum began to feel uneasy in the room that held his greatest triumph. Tommy’s blood had been the key to his breakthrough and was the linchpin to his entire research.

While to those lesser eyes it had looked dead and foul, his eyes had seen the almost parasitic movement in the cells and through extensive testing unlocked their potential to create life where there was none. The blood also acted as a bridge of sorts, allowing him to create creatures that should never have drawn breath. There were others like SUBJECT 2002, many, many others. Braum first heard the slight dripping when he looked through the logs of growth. He would have to order new construction and a larger tank soon if those projections were right.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

It was so quite but so steady, like a heartbeat. First he checked the drainage tubes, nothing wrong there but when looking at the fluid levels he noticed a small decrease. He walked around to the back and nearly slipped.

A small puddle had formed from a slight crack along the seal at the bottom. Braum cursed and caught himself before he could fully fall into the liquid. He immediately pulled his radio from its holster and switched to maintenance’s channel. They would have to be called away from their work on the south end hall but the thought of even the slightest damage to Tommy had Braum nearly frantic. His fingers stayed on the dial however, they were coated in a different colored fluid than what filled the tank.

Braum knew that color. He had gazed at it through microscopes, watched it coagulate and thin inside beakers and vials; it was the grayish white of Tommy’s blood. Inspecting the puddle closer he felt all of his own color drain from his face. He watched as it moved through the preservative in thick clumps, like seamen stirred in a bathtub. He saw thin lines of it running off from the puddle, following the checker board edges of the tiles.

The blood lines seemed to move along the groves with a purpose. His normally sharp mind was uncomprehending as he followed the trail back out the doorway where it flowed through a space between the door and the locking mechanism no bigger than the tip of a pin.

On the other side he watched as it curved itself around a drain and up one of the central shelving units. There it feed itself up to the large fluid reservoir. Braum felt an overpowering urge to turn around then, like a thousand eyes boring into his back. Tommy was staring at him, really staring and this time there was no mistaking the look of hate in his dead eyes.

How long had the leak been going on, how had no one seen it? Braum’s rational mind screamed at him but he was frozen in place by his curiosity. Tommy was alive, at least in some way and he had extended himself beyond his tank but why? This thought burned him and spawned a thousand other questions but they all died at the first sound of cracking glass. It wasn’t coming from Tommy in front of him but from the ones behind him.

If nature could be considered their mother, then Braum had always fancied himself their father. Maybe that is why when he turned to face the horrors that he had created, the monsters he had cobbled together, it wasn’t a look of fear on his face but a smile of love.


Credit: R.A. Brewster (Official WebsiteFacebookTwitterReddit)

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The Harvard Wormhole Experiment

Estimated reading time — 14 minutes

They gave me a million bucks to keep my trap shut, and I did, for fifteen years. But last night I was making the rounds, and I saw the professor again.

I had a heart attack three years back, and I tell you, when I saw him standing there in front of room 204, I felt another one coming on. He turned and smiled and it was like he hadn’t aged a day in fifteen years. “Hey there, chief,” he said, and that was it. I dropped my clipboard on the ground and high-tailed it out of there, never looking back.

What I’m about to tell you is liable to make me sound crazier than a three-horned goat. But I promise you, there’s crazier things out there.

The cops don’t believe me. The official story is that the professor and those students died 15 years ago. Room 204 just up and exploded, they said. Damndest thing. And there’s some truth there. That room did explode. But it wasn’t an accident. We knew exactly what we were doing. Or we thought we did.

* * * * * *

They call me an “assistant supervisor of maintenance,” but really I’m a janitor and always have been. (You might wonder why I’m still at it after getting that million bucks. That dough is for Junior, so he doesn’t have to go through the same shit that I did.)

The night this happened, I was assigned to the Astrophysics Center, a bit northwest of the main Harvard campus. Until that night, this was always my favorite beat. I mean, God help you if you wound up at one of the biology labs. Those goddamn dead, cut open animals all over the place used to give me nightmares. And really, thinking back, I’d take those nightmares of mutilated and scattered organs any night over the stuff that has haunted me ever since.

Anyway, I was there mopping the hallway on the second floor of the lab building when the door to room 204 opened up and this guy popped his head out. “Hey, you.”

I looked around, to make sure he was talking to me. “Yes? Can I help you sir?” I thought he was going to bitch about the room being a mess or something.

“How’d you like to make a thousand bucks, chief? An hour’s work at most. Easy money. Does that sound good to you?”

It sure did. Things were tight at home, as they always were. A thousand would knock off some of those long overdue bills. But I was also on a tight schedule. They didn’t give you much breathing room. Don’t want you standing around thinking about it all, I guess. “That sounds great, sir,” I said, “but I got to stick to my beat.”

The man laughed. “We’re about to make history, chief,” he said, “and you’re worried about emptying the bathroom trash? Come on, don’t sweat it, you won’t get in trouble. I promise. I’m a professor here. I’ll vouch for you.”

The guy did look like a professor, with carefully combed gray hair and big old glasses on his face. I shrugged, leaned my mop against the wall and said, “Sure. What do I have to do?”

“That’s fantastic! Come on in, chief! Come on in!”

I followed him into the room. One look, and I should have just turned around then and there and told him to keep his damn money. But I didn’t.

As soon as I stepped in, I felt the little hairs all over my body stand up. I don’t mean I was scared. I mean like there was an electrical charge in that room, and I had a guess about where it was coming from. There in the center of the room, on a round table, was a large glass globe, crackling with electricity. Like what you see if you go into a kid’s science museum. Like they somehow created a lightning storm in a glass ball. This one was sort of vibrating around on its stand and buzzing. And the lightning inside was black. I could feel the electricity coming from it, from across the room.

There were four kids there – students, I guessed – sitting in a row of chairs along one wall. More than sitting, they were strapped into those chairs, with metal things over their heads like those big bowl things you see at a hair salon. They all had their eyes closed.

“Uh…” I said. “What’s going on here? Those kids okay?”

“They’re quite fine,” said the professor. “As to what is going on, as I said, we are about to make history. We are going to open the first wormhole.”

“Wormhole?” I said. “Like in the movies?”

The professor laughed. “I suppose so, chief,” he said. “Now listen. We had a last minute cancellation, but that’s okay because it’s an easy job. We’re going to be kicking things off here shortly, and once they are properly kicked off, the wormhole will open. I will enter. If I am not back in thirty minutes, you are to pull that lever there, and this will close the wormhole.”

I looked to where he was pointing, at a big red lever attached to a giant, whirring machine that was hooked up to the metal bowls over the student’s heads. “But uh, won’t you be trapped on the other side of the wormhole?” I asked. Not that I had the slightest idea about what the hell was going on.

“Just so, chief,” said the professor. “We’ve got this down to two possibilities. One, the wormhole opens up to what we’re calling ‘the second Universe.’ The best way that I can explain this possibility is that there is a different reality that exists on the other side of this one… the other side of an invisible wall. The wormhole will provide a door in that wall.”

“And the other possibility?”

“That the wormhole will open to a place that man was not meant to go. Thirty minutes will give me enough time to get in, and out, if the first possibility is true.”

“And if it’s the second?”

“Then you’ll close the hole with that lever, and my students will destroy my work.”

This was all way above my pay grade, and my head was spinning. Why only two possibilities? How the hell did they come up with those two? And if this real, why the hell would the professor take a coin-toss chance of getting stuck in the “place that man was not meant to go”? I mean, those were just starter questions, among the swarm that was buzzing around my head.

“I see that you have some reservations,” said the professor. “I assure you that your only job is to pull that lever after thirty minutes. That’s it, chief. We’ll take care of the rest. And anything that happens isn’t on you. The documentation is quite in order.” He tapped a folder that was sitting on the circular table. “And here, I’ll write you a check now, before we proceed.”

As he wrote out the check, I wondered if it would still be valid if he got swallowed up by the wormhole. I actually had that thought, as crazy as it sounds. It was still all so weird and abstract to me at that point.

“Here,” he said, handing over the check. “Let’s do it, chief. As soon as I enter that hole, give me exactly thirty minutes. On the dot. That’s all you have to do.”

I took the check, mumbled a “thanks,” and watched as he walked over to the machine. He pulled the lever. There was a loud crackling sound, and I watched in unease as one by one, the students’ eyes shot open. There were no pupils there, like their eyes were rolled back in their sockets.

“Hey now,” I said, taking a step towards the machine.

“They are quite fine,” said the professor. “I assure you.”

Their jaws started to move like they were grinding their teeth.

The professor took a jar of neon blue liquid from a shelf on the wall. He unscrewed the lid and poured the stuff over the electric globe on the round table. The thing started going crazy, and then the globe shattered completely, bits of glass flying through the air as shoots of black lightning zapped out into the room. I ducked down.

I had had enough by then, and was ready to get the hell out of there. Then it happened. A fucking black hole appeared in the middle of the room, sucking in the bolts of electricity. It grew larger and larger, until it took up half the room. All I could hear was this rushing sound, like the world’s largest vacuum cleaner running at full throttle.

“Remember, chief!” shouted the professor, with a wild look on his face. “Thirty minutes exactly!” Then he stepped into the thing and was gone.

* * * * * *

At first my mind was a mess, staring at that whooshing back hole, that seemed hungry to suck everything in. I looked at the kids hooked up to the machine, their eyes rolled back – white holes, I guess they looked like – their jaws grinding away like crazy. It was too much to make sense of.

I looked down at my watch. 15 minutes and 31 seconds had gone by since the professor got swallowed up by the worm hole. My heart was pounding and I kept pacing back and forth, back and forth, trying to work out what the hell was going on. Then I started to zero in on it. I was getting pranked.

Not a prank like we used to do as kids, setting dogshit on somebody’s front steps and all that idiocy. I mean a prank like the sophisticated college folk do, where they tell you something’s going on but the whole point is to just observe your reaction. A psychological experiment. Probably cameras in here watching me right now. See what I do.

12 minutes to go.

I saw a trickle of blood come down from one of the kids’ nose. I leaned down to look at him closely. He was shaking a little bit, all over. If I throw that lever, this will all probably stop.

Maybe that was the test. I had to decide between trapping the professor in the black hole and saving the kids hooked up to the machines. None of it was real of course, but they didn’t know that I knew that.

But then, screaming in the back of my mind was that voice: what if it is real?

10 minutes to go.

The professor had promised me that the kids were alright. Another one started bleeding from the nose.

If it wasn’t real, it was a hell of a trick. Where did the professor go, if not through that black hole? I thought about touching it, but whenever I got close, I was filled with total terror. It sure seemed real. Like it really took you some place far, far away from here.

I walked over to the table and picked up the folder that was there. Just like the professor had said, the first page was instructions to shut down the machine and destroy it if he didn’t return within 30 minutes. I flipped that page over, and the next one had a photograph of one of the students. I read what it said. It was a consent form. “I, Jackson Stewart, acknowledge the possibility of my imminent death if I participate in this experiment. I am prepared to give my life to science.” I flipped that page, and there were three more just like it.

Now, I’m no lawyer, but there was no way in hell that this experiment was legal, if it was real, even with those consent forms. So it probably wasn’t real.

And if it was? Then the professor lied to me. He had said that the kids were fine. This folder was telling me something else.

2 minutes to go.

I took a deep breath and paced the room, watching each second tick by. My mind was telling me that none of it was real, but my gut was screaming in horror. I just looked at my watch. It would be over soon enough, one way or the other.

30 seconds.

I walked over to the machine and put my hand on the lever. Goddammit, why is he cutting it so close? I watched the seconds tick by, and I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I could risk trapping the professor wherever the hell he had gone off to.

5 seconds. My hand was shaking. 4 seconds. Sweat was pouring down my face, dripping into my eyes. 3 seconds. One of the students started to moan. The one that I saw was named Jackson in the folder. 2 seconds. Oh God oh God oh God. 1 second. Jackson started to shake. 0 seconds. Shit.

I tensed my muscles to pull the lever. One look at Jackson and I knew I had to pull it. He was violently jerking around now.

“WAIT!”

I snapped my neck around to see the professor’s head sticking out of the black hole.

“Wait dammit!”

Then his shoulders were through. I turned back to Jackson. Blood was pouring out of his eyes.

“I’m almost through!”

A second kid started to shake.

“One more second!”

I looked to see that the professor was through. He was back in the room. “Do it!” he shouted.

Two things happened after that, at the exact same time. I heard a wet popping sound, and I watched as the wormhole disappeared, as though it was never there. But I had never pulled the lever.

I slowly turned to look at Jackson. His head was gone. Judging by the bits of brain and splatters of blood on the bowl thing above his neck, his head had just exploded.

The whirring of the machine gradually died down, and then it was silent. The three kids who were still alive stopped shaking, and closed their eyes.

“A tragedy,” said the professor, pointing at Jackson, with the exploded head. “But not for nothing. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it! Chief, I’ve seen it!”

I hunched over and puked. It was weird, but my first thought was: what a mess I’ll have to clean up later. I don’t know. I guess my mind had sort of shut down and I was going on autopilot. I was the janitor. I cleaned up messes. That was all I knew.

Then it hit me, the reality of what had happened. “You sonofabitch!” I yelled. “You told me those kids would be okay!”

The professor put this sickening smug grin on his face. “He would have been, chief, had you pulled the lever at the 30 minute mark as instructed.”

“You told me to wait!”

“Did I?”

“Yes you fucker! I’m calling the police!” I had a walkie clipped to my belt. It wouldn’t get me the police, but it would get campus security. I reached for it and had it in my hand when I heard a groan behind me. I turned to see that it was one of the kids. They were waking up.

I went over to unstrap them from the chairs. The first kid’s eyes blinked open, and when she saw the professor, she started screaming.

“It’s okay,” I said, “shh, it’s okay, it’s all over.”

She kept screaming, then the second kid woke up. He looked right at me with wide, terrified eyes. “Get us out of here!” he shouted.

“I’m working on it, kid,” I said, fumbling at the straps. They were on tight.

The third kid woke up. “It’s here,” she said. “It made it through.”

“Everything’s okay now,” I said. “Your friend didn’t make it, I’m afraid, but it’s over. I’ll make sure the professor pays for what he did to you and your friends.”

The first kid was still screaming at the top of her lungs.

“Get us out of here!” shouted the second kid again.

The third kid looked me dead in the eyes and, in a totally calm voice, said, “That’s not the professor.”

“What? Of course it is,” I said. What I saw when I turned to look at the professor will haunt me forever.

The professor’s mouth was twisting around at odd angles, like something was moving the lower half of his jaw randomly, or like he was trying to get a hair out of his mouth that kept jumping around. The veins on his neck bulged, then sunk back down, then bulged again, so that they were thick as ropes. His wrists were rotating in ways they weren’t supposed to rotate, as his arms flailed around wildly.

I had the first kid, the screaming one, free. She jumped out of the chair and ran to the door. But her legs were wobbly, and she tripped over herself in the middle of the room. I went to work on the second kid, whipping my head around every second to look at the professor. It looked like there was something crawling around under his skin. Something big.

“Get us out of here!” the second kid shouted yet again. The first kid was still on the ground, screaming. I worked away furiously on the straps.

“If you believe in God,” said the third kid, with an eerie calm, “then pray.”

I took a glance at the professor, and that’s when the first bone burst out of his chest, through his suit. I call it a bone, but it was pure black, and dripping with green slime.

“As for me,” said the third kid. “I do not believe that there is a God. Not after what I have seen.”

The second kid was free and made a run for it. I scooted over to the third kid, but watched as the professor reached out an arm and grabbed the second kid by the top of his head. The professor gave one quick twist and let go. I heard a terrible snap and the kid slumped to the ground, dead.

Three more black bones came out of the professor’s chest, dripping. He laughed and bent down to the first kid, who was still screaming, as bones began to poke out of his back, like a fucking Stegosaurus from Hell.

“What is that thing?!” I asked, as I fumbled at the straps of the last kid.

“It does not belong here,” said the kid.

“No shit,” I said, getting one strap free. “But what is it?”

“It comes from a terrible place. A place where there is nothing save pain. Endless pain, incomprehensible to our minds.”

“Great,” I muttered, as I noticed with a sinking heart that the screams from the girl behind me had stopped. Then I heard a wet crunch. I couldn’t help it. I looked to see the professor tearing into that poor girl’s throat with long black fangs, dripping in green slime.

I turned back to the kid, almost done with the straps. Just a few more seconds. “What’s your name, anyway, kid?”

“Claire.”

“Claire,” I said, my mind trying to stay focused. “When I get you out of these straps, I want you to pick up this chair and throw it at that thing, okay? I’ll do the same thing, okay? Then we make a run for it. Do you understand? Can you do that?”

“I understand,” said Claire. “I do hope it works.”

I did hope it would work, too. “We have to make it work, Claire,” I said, yanking off the last strap. “Come on.”

We stood up together and I reached over to pick up a chair. I hurled it at the professor with all of my strength, and it shattered against his boned back. I heard a terrible shriek then, and watched as Claire’s chair followed behind.

I grabbed Claire’s arm with one hand and reached for my pocketknife with the other. The only way out of that room meant passing by the professor. We started running as I pulled the knife out and flicked it up. The professor stood, still shrieking, as the green slime mixed with the red blood from the kid’s throat and dripped down his chin.

I took a wild stab at the professor’s neck, and connected. I kept running with Claire, leaving the knife stuck in the professor’s neck, and made it to the door. I had my hand around the knob when I felt Claire pulling away from me. I looked back, helpless, as I saw the professor reach long black claws into her gut. I threw the door open and left her there.

Good God, I left her there.

* * * * * *

I made it outside the lab building somehow. I don’t remember how. My mind just sort of shut down as I ran like hell I guess. I did have the presence to go around and lock all of the doors from the outside. Then I got on the radio to campus security.

“You guys need to get the police over to the Astrophysics Center fucking ASAP. There was a fucking massacre in there.”

The front door started to rattle, and I heard the godawful shriek again.

“Repeat,” said a voice over the walkie.

“Look,” I said. “Call up Lawrence Summers, right now.” That was the president of Harvard at the time, and I had seen his signature on the papers in that folder with all of the consent forms. “Tell him that the wormhole experiment has gone way the fuck South.

The rattling at the door stopped. I only prayed that that thing didn’t figure out it could just break a window and crawl out that way.

“This is the janitor, right?” said a different voice on the other end of the walkie. “Is this a joke? The ‘wormhole experiment’? Have you been drinking?”

“Call Lawrence Summers. If you don’t, I promise you that you’ll never be able to live with yourself. Do it now.”

There was a horrible pause. I heard the professor trying the side door now, shrieking once again.

“10-4.”

* * * * * *

A fleet of black SUVs pulled up two minutes later. A team of heavily armed men jumped out and ran past me, breaking though windows and jumping inside. I heard a stream of gunfire. And screams. So many screams, and the professor’s horrible shrieks. After a while, it was quiet, and a second team of men jumped through the broken windows. I didn’t hear any more gunfire.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and whipped around. A man was standing there. I don’t remember a single thing about what he looked like. But I remember our conversation.

“Tell me what happened,” he said.

I told him the full story, the same one that I’ve told you.

“We are prepared to give you a lot of money to sign a NDA.”

“NDA?”

“Non-disclosure agreement. It means that you can never tell anybody about what happened here tonight.”

“How much?”

“A million dollars.”

“And a promotion.”

The man paused. “You mean… you still want to work… work here… after tonight?”

“Somebody’s gotta clean up the shit,” I said.

“Fine, of course.”

“And one more thing.”

“And what’s that?” asked the man.

“I want to know that this will never happen again. I want you to blow all of that shit up, and burn all of the notes.”

“Of course.”

“And I want to watch.”

“Of course,” said the man.

* * * * * *

And so I thought it was over. But it’s not. Last night, I saw the professor again. He looked me right in the eyes, flashed that smug grin, and said: “Hey there, chief.” That’s when I ran the hell out of there.

The police don’t believe me. I’ve sent a dozen e-mails to Lawrence Summers’ assistants. I’ve called every number that I’ve found listed for him. I haven’t heard anything back. I don’t know who else to turn to.

I’m afraid the professor is going to open the wormhole again. And I’m afraid this time, he might bring his friends back with him.


Credit: Nathaniel Lewis (RedditAmazon)

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What Became of William Waites

Estimated reading time — 11 minutesIt was Dr. Evan Turner who found Dr. Harris’ body.  He had gone in for a routine meeting and there was his mentor, seated back in his chair, blood on the walls and the gun on the table.  There was no note, nothing going on at home, no indication anywhere as to why he did it.

As the attending neurosurgeon at St. Mary’s Mercy Care, there was nobody qualified to take his place; Evan was still in his fellow and wasn’t able to handle the type of brain work required by the hospital.  But, until a replacement of Harris’ level could be found, Evan was given the task of putting his mentor’s papers (and their joint research) in order for posthumous publication.

It was lonely work.  He had his own office where he could go through everything, but there were still plenty sitting in Harris’ office.  Considering the state he’d found him, Evan couldn’t go in there on his own to collect it; the image of his teacher and friend with the back of his head missing was too much to bear.  Thankfully one of the janitors on the floor, a high school dropout named Jack, handled all that for him.  Jack was really the only person he spoke to much anymore; he was a couple years younger than Evan, but they watched a lot of the same TV shows, and Jack had a very down to earth attitude that kept Evan grounded.  He was pretty sure without Jack’s regular visits, he would never be mentally ready to handle surgery ever again.

It was on his third week and sixth box of papers when Evan found the blueprints.  Shoved into a folder with a long ago released treatise about the nature of consciousness and the brain, the blueprints were old, probably the middle of last century.  It was a diagram of St. Mary’s, but with a large, red circle on a hallway in the basement.  It was odd, because there was nothing else to note what the circle meant.

Evan brought it to the break room on the late shift, looking it over, when Jack came into the room.  “Hey, Evan.  What’s that?”

Evan handed the blueprints to him.  “Found it in Dr. Harris’ stuff.  Mean anything to you?”

Jack looked them over.  “Wonder if it has anything to do with this.”  He pulled a key out of his pocket and put it on the table Evan was sitting at.  “I found this when I was sweeping up his office and getting some more boxes for you.”

“You found it?  Why didn’t you tell me about it?”

Jack shrugged.  “Didn’t know what it went to.  Could’ve been for his safety deposit box at the bank for all I knew.”

Evan held the key up to study it.  The room lights were kept low during the late shift, but even by the light of the Pepsi machine on the wall he could see the key was old and slightly bent.  “How much do you know about St. Mary’s, Jack?”

“Not much.  I can tell you how much mop water I need for most of the hallways or what the best way to clean up somebody’s puke is, but that’s about it.”

Evan squeezed his hand over the key.  If the story was true, that meant big things.  “St. Mary’s had a reputation in medical school.  There’s stories about a wing that the military occupied during the Korean War.  They supposedly used it for psychic research.”

Jack turned his head.  “Like The Men Who Stare At Goats movie?”

“What?”

“2009.  Brad Pitt.  Jeff Bridges.  New Age stuff from the 70s.”

“Kind of.  But this was older.  There was a program called MK Ultra that was trying to develop a psychic spy.  Lots of drugs were involved.  It didn’t end on a high note.”

Jack raised an eyebrow.  “Maybe it did, and we just don’t know.”  He whistled and blew at the same time, making a noise like a flying saucer from an old movie.

“Yeah, but if they did do it at St. Mary’s, the wing itself was closed down because something went really wrong.  Or really right.  Nobody knows which, and there’s about as many stories about what happened as there are students going through the program.”

Jack looked at the blueprint, and at the key.  “So…you think Dr. Harris found the old wing?”

“Maybe.  I don’t know.  But I definitely want to find out.”

Jack frowned and looked like he was about to say something, but didn’t.  He didn’t have to.  Evan already guessed what he was going to ask, and he was right…maybe it would explain why Harris had killed himself.

“Jack, can you do me a favor?  I have a lot still to do up here, but if you get the chance…can you check that hallway in the basement and see if there’s anything…”

“Yeah, yeah, sure.  If you think it’ll help.”  He took the key and the blueprint from Evan, gave a little salute, and went out of the room.

Evan spent the next few hours looking through more papers, and was about to fall asleep on the couch in his office when Jack came in, out of breath, and closing the door behind him.

Evan sat up quickly.  “You found it?”

Jack looked at Evan, a little pale.  “Yeah.  It’s an old hallway off the main junction.  It’s mostly used as storage, nobody ever goes down it.  But there’s a locker on a wall that was bolted to the wall.  Somebody had loosened the bolts, and behind it there was a door buried under a bunch of pried away drywall.”

Evan stood up.  “Did you go in?”

Jack gulped.  “Kind of.  I opened the door, but I didn’t go very far.  It’s very, very dark in there, and the place gave me the creeps.  I didn’t feel like going in there alone.”

Evan grabbed his phone, charging next to his desk.  “I’ve got a flashlight on this.  Let’s go take a look.”

Jack led him down into the basement and into the hallway.  It was deserted, just like Jack said; over the years, despite it being a hallway, it had become a dumping ground for all kinds of old equipment and junk that no one apparently wanted to throw away.  Evan recognized an x-ray machine that hadn’t been manufactured since the 1960s; he hoped that it didn’t give off any radiation even while it was unplugged.  But the lockers were there, and behind was the door.

A lot had been done to hide the door.  Besides the lockers and the drywall, there were holes in the door frame that looked like they had held nails not too long ago (a quick look around confirmed there were a couple of boards that had been removed).  Evan opened the door, and beyond, there was pure darkness.

Shaking his phone to turn on the flashlight, Evan shined it over the space.  It was another hallway, leading to a set of double doors that had been pushed open.  The place smelled dusty and dry, like an old bookstore.

A horrible feeling came over Evan.  The excitement he had felt about uncovering a secret wing here in the hospital was overwhelmed by why it had been clearly closed off.  The boards, the drywall…there was definitely something wrong here.  But at the same time, he had to know.  The image of Harris in that chair still sat in his mind, and somehow this place was a part of it.

He stepped into the hall, shining the light at the double doors ahead.  He heard Jack a few steps behind him, following.

The hospital, for as old as it was, had always been renovated constantly.  This wing, walled off from the rest for so long, looked like it hadn’t been updated since the 1920s.  A lot of the rooms were group rooms, with space for multiple cots, while private rooms were small, barely enough to house a cot and a small closet for personal items.

They then came to a bigger room, almost like a waiting room.  There were tables in here, covered with papers and photographs.  Most were pictures of individuals and physical charts, but one showed up over and over again.  There was nothing special about him on looks, but information about him was everywhere.

“William Waites…”

Jack, looking around nervously and staying well within the light of the phone, suddenly pointed next to the table.  “Wow.  What do you think is on that?”

Evan put down the papers and swung the light where Jack was pointing.

Off to one side of the room was a rolling table, on which sat an old recorder.  It was a reel-to-reel, with the tape wound all the way to the end, though it didn’t seem very long.

Evan went over to it and smiled, and started clicking the giant buttons on it.

He jumped back as it rewound.  But there was no electricity here.  There was no way…

He shined his flashlight down to where the plug would be.  There was a power pack attached to the plug.  It was very modern, certainly not something that would have been available back then.

He played the tape.

There were two voices on it.  One was a researcher of some kind, asking questions to the second voice.  No matter what the question was, the answer was always the same.

“William Waites, United States Marines, Service Number 55-217…”

Evan fast forwarded.  Now it was just one voice.

“Let me out of here!  I’ve done nothing wrong!  No, stop, no more inject…AAAAAHHHH!”

Evan fast forwarded again.  He missed the question, but he heard most of the answer.

“…world beyond what you know.  There is something there.  They worship it as a god.  I’ve seen it.  Would you like to meet it?  Just let me open your mind.  My fingernails are ready to help.”

Fast-forwarding.  Sobbing this time.

“*sniff* Seven…two one…five…sevens…seven seals, seven days, sevensevensevenseven…”

Jack made a face.  “What the hell were they doing down here?”

“I don’t know, but I’m glad they walled it off.”

Suddenly, the tape made a skip sound.  Another voice came over it.

“Dr. Turner.  I assume you’ve found this by now.”

Dr. Harris.  He taped over the end of the recording.

“I’ll cut right to it.  My father was a physician here, many years ago.  When I was a boy, he suddenly was not able to tell us about his work.  I went to go visit him, and saw a lot of military people around the hospital.  Then, one day, he didn’t come home.  We were told he was attacked by a crazed patient.  There was a funeral, and for years we thought nothing of it.

“I followed in his footsteps, and joined the staff here at St. Mary’s.  I worked quietly for years, never suspecting anything, until you and I began our research.  I then wanted to find my father’s old papers, to see what we could learn from him.  But his work was gone.  All gone.  Only his published work survived.  And I knew something wasn’t right.”

Jack suddenly grabbed Evan’s arm, and he stopped the tape.  “What?”

“We’re the only ones in here, right?”

“Should be.  Unless somebody else found the door.”

“Well, maybe it was just the light, but I thought I saw something move in that room over there.”

Evan shined the light over to a door.  It looked like all the other private rooms, except for a pile of boards next to it, and several bent nails on the floor.

Evan shivered.  “Even behind all this stuff, they still sealed that door.  Dr. Harris must have opened it.”

Jack went over to it, looking in the window.  “Hey, there’s definitely something in here.  I…I think I see an arm.”

An arm?  Evan started to walk over, but thought for a moment, and hit play on the tape recorder again, turning up the volume so he could hear it as they worked.

“I knew the rumor of the wing must have been true, and he disappeared because of it.  And I found it.  It took time, but I did.  And inside here is the work they did.  Most of them died, from their treatments but one didn’t.  William Waites.”

Evan shined his light through the window.  He saw what Jack was talking about, but he still couldn’t make it out.  The room inside did look a lot bigger than the others, though…this one seemed a lot more like a full-sized, modern room.

“He developed the ability to see through the eyes of those who touched him.  But he also saw other things.  Things that shouldn’t exist.  It drove him insane.  And then there was more.”

Evan opened the door, and they could see into the room properly.  It was an arm.  Based on the desiccation, it had been down here awhile.  But it was the body it was attached to that made Evan reel back.  It was mummified and wore Korean War-era fatigues.

As did the ten or fifteen other bodies that the light of the flashlight revealed.  They were all gathered in a pile.  All except two.

Evan gasped.  Jack fell back.  “Holy shit!”  He got up quickly and got back in the circle of light.  “We gotta get somebody!”

Evan shook his head.  “These guys are about seventy years too late to get help from anyone.”

The tape continued.  “William soon learned to do more than see through people.  After one soldier shot himself, they realized he could control those he touched.  All those he’d been in contact with needed to be sealed away, so he could no longer infect others.”

The other two bodies were on a cot, and in a nearby chair, at a desk.  The one at the desk looked like the ones in the pile, but the one on the cot was completely different.  He wasn’t mummified.  He wore no fatigues.  He was shirtless, and blackened with rot,  His jaw hung loose, at an angle, like he had tried to tear it off, but was unable to finished the job.

It made no sense.  Why was this body rotting and bloated and slick with decay, and the others mummified?

“I’ll be dead soon, Evan.  It was good to know you.  Because you see, I didn’t do any research on William to know who he was.  I know because he told me.”

Evan and Jack both turned back to the recording.  Jack moved to the doorway.  “What did he say?”

“Evan, in all my years, I never knew the mind could survive such torture.  Our research could never have uncovered it on its own.  But I know this because William has been locked in here for over half a century.  And I touched him.  And I see what he has seen.”

Evan and Jack both heard a noise in the room with them.

“He is still alive.  And if I don’t kill myself soon, he will…he will…”

Behind them, the corpse on the bed sat up.  It looked at them, ichor pouring from its eye sockets.

On the tape, Dr. Harris’ voice changed.

“He…I willl…Willlll…William Waites, United States Military, 55…55…55…”  The tape then ended.

Evan and Jack slammed the door shut behind them as the corpse moved from its cot, slowly, almost painfully, and shambled towards them.  Evan went to push the rolling cart with the tape recorder in front of the door, and as soon as they did, another face appeared in the window.

One of the mummified corpses in the room was also now standing.  Its teeth ground together.  And then it spoke.  “William Waites, United States Marines, 55…55…William Waites, United…”

Jack backed away from it.  “Shit!  Shit!  SHIIITTT!”  He grabbed Evan, who was still too stunned.  “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!”

They turned to go, running back through the hallway, when doors along the hallway flew open, and more mummified soldiers came from places they hadn’t even seen.

So many.  So many he had been in contact with.  Evan turned back for just a moment.  Even without his light to shine, their eyes glowed in the darkness.  He thought he could see, for just a moment, several wearing physician’s outfits.

He wondered if any of them were Dr. Harris’ father.

They were almost out when Jack twisted and landed with a thud.  Evan shined his light and saw a hand had reached out from under an overturned gurney and had tripped Jack, holding him tight.  Evan reached out for him, but more corpses grabbed hold.  Jack screamed and tried to fight them, but there were too many.  With unnatural strength, they pulled Jack away into the darkness.

Evan reeled back, but recovered himself enough to look around and see the light of the hallway.  The hospital.

He burst through the door into that disused storage hall, and he slammed the door shut.  He pressed the locker against it, then the old x-ray machine.  Everything and anything.

There were some sounds of pounding, but it began to fade.  Despite all their strength, they didn’t have the leverage to force open the door.  At least, not yet.

He ran.  He ran back to his office, grabbed his things, and left the hospital.  He spoke to no one.  He wasn’t interested in explaining himself.  He just knew he needed to get away from there, and prayed that whatever was in that wing, stayed there.

Evan stayed in his apartment the next morning and ignored his ringing telephone.  He didn’t care if he was fired; he was done with medicine.  Maybe he could find a diner somewhere and just be a fry cook.  They still had those, right?

He thought nothing would replace the sight of Dr. Harris.  But seeing those things carrying Jack away into the darkness would not leave him.

His phone finally stopped ringing.  He began to pack his things up, planning to take only what he needed to survive.

He needed a distraction.  He turned on the TV.

There was breaking news.  Something had happened at St. Mary’s.  Nobody could explain.  It was just labeled an incident.

The reporter on the scene was behind yellow tape, and she mentioned how she was able to speak to one of the people who got out of the hospital.  She put him on the microphone and asked his name.

Evan froze.

It was Jack.  But it wasn’t his voice.

“William Waites, United States Marines…”


Credit: The Dead Canary (Chilling Tales for Dark NightsYouTubeReddit)
If you wish to narrate the story please contact Chilling Tales for Dark Nights for permission by clicking here.

The post What Became of William Waites appeared first on Creepypasta.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Blood Portals

Estimated reading time — 28 minutes

A few days ago I got a text message from an unknown number reading “I got your proof.” I stared at the words for a bit, thinking it was a wrong number. Then I remembered the last time I’d spoken to Jeremy.

Jeremy, my younger cousin, was a character, to say the least. He was always an eccentric rebel, the black sheep of the family who’d dabbled in drugs and acquired a criminal record, bouncing from job to job and always teetering on homelessness. He’d been the first to get tattoos and piercings, and was into really into noise and industrial music, and the few friends of his I ever met straight gave me the creeps. He’d introduced me to weed before he moved on to much harder stuff as the years passed. He was also a total conspiracy theorist, convinced of chemtrails and UFO’s etc. You name it, he drank the Kool-Aid. The last time I’d spoken to him was after Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago.

We’d smoked a bowl after dinner at my Uncle’s house about 3 years ago before the argument. He’d been driveling on about alternate planes of existence. He’d tried to convince me that all religions were based on what he believed to be cracks in this plane of reality. Jeremy was the type to try and heal a broken ankle with crystals before snorting a Xanax, mind you, so I was used to tuning him out. He kept pressing on, ignoring my rebuttals of scientific facts and basic physics. He kept pushing my buttons, calling me ‘close-minded’ and ‘shallow’, and I just snapped at him.

“Yeah? Prove it then instead of just ranting on like some delusional, burnout failure!” I’d yelled out. I bit my lower lip and cringed. I’d immediately apologized, but it was out there. He’d looked at me with a dark stare of from under a veil of greasy, black bangs and I saw the twinge in his eyes. With a conviction that rattled me, he said “I will, Mike. I will and you will see just how ignorant you are.” I tried to apologize, but he’d stormed off into his car, slamming the door and driving off. In the following months, I emailed him a few times in an attempt to mend it, but he never responded. Not until this.

“Jeremy?” I typed and soon got a response.

“I got your proof right here,” came the reply a few minutes later. A picture arrived and I opened it while a feeling of unease sat cold in my stomach.

Jeremy faced the camera, his intense eyes staring in at me. He looked jaundiced, gaunt and under-slept, but my concern soon shifted to the crimson bands glazing his forearm. He was holding a razor blade in his other hand, dripping red with blood. It appeared he’d slit his wrist.

“Jeremy, oh fuck, what did you do?” I asked aloud, choked with tears. I dialed him. No answer.

I ran to my coat and slid it on, listening as panic built while each ring went unanswered. I’d found the email from years ago that contained his address, and soon jogged to my Nissan and hopped in, plugging the address in and trying him repeatedly. 28 minutes away. I steered wide out of my driveway and drove dangerously fast towards his house.

I kept texting him and ringing him to no response, following the turns dictated aloud by the GPS as I sped up a hilly incline on the outskirts of his town. I prayed no cop would pull me over, and that it wasn’t too late. I’d lost a friend early in the year from an OD, and my cousin was not leaving me with this guilt trip. After about 20 minutes, I was at the edge of his town. Tall pines gave fractured glimpses of dilapidated homes built in the ’60s and long since neglected. Sagging roofs missing tiles and peeling paint peeked out as if ashamed of their condition, and soon his came into view.

I’d never visited his home before. If I had I might have bit my tongue that Thanksgiving when I’d lashed out. It was a depressing shack of a place, smaller than all the other worn-down homes on the street. I pulled into the short driveway, regarding the dozens of stacked boxes and rusted bicycle parts littering the lawn and ran out the car to the wooden steps.

I pounded on the flimsy screen door and shouted “Jeremy! I’m here, let’s talk!” but received no reply, just the swaying branches of tall pines whispering in the wind. I tried the door. Open.

I ran in and immediately covered my mouth and nose from the stench. It was like an outhouse had been overturned, the sour, ammonia stench of piss and rotting food was overwhelming.

“Jeremy!” I shouted and squeezed past the pillars of water-damaged magazines wafting out spores of mildew and mold from room to filthy room. Old microwave dinners grew fuzzy and green in teetering stacks and I saw cat food cans littering the hovel, but no signs of a cat. Then I heard a wet, sickening slapping sound coming from upstairs. I rounded the corner to see the filthy carpeted stairs, no sign of what the original color had been beneath the tar-like grey buildup that had fused with them.

They creaked loudly as I ran up. I almost expected the bending wood beneath to buckle in and snap, but I made it to the top and followed that aqueous sloshing sound towards the room glowing yellow from a solitary bulb. I ran in and stopped dead in my tracks.

There was Jeremy, soaking red and wet with blood in a black t-shirt in the floor. Not on the floor, inside of it. I first thought him to be sliced in the half, blood spilled out in all directions like a crimson mirror, and he was bisected diagonally from his upper right hip to his left armpit. But he was sinking down, into the floor. I was stunned, too stunned to do anything but weakly mutter his name “Jeremy?” with a shiver as I watched him smile. Lower he sank into the red pool of what was likely his own blood.

Soon only his shoulder and head remained with a solitary arm dripping red. I ran over and grabbed his hand, feeling the warm blood slip from mine as I watched in absolute disbelief as he sank in then vanished completely. I stared in bewilderment and horror, my brain refusing to comprehend what was completely impossible. Then I saw that book.

A worn hardcover book lay near his cellphone, wallet and other personal effects. “A Beginner’s Guide to Blood Portals” was written in a flowing font from the 60’s on a purple, marbled cover that looked stained by blooms of dried blood itself. I was in shock, And I walked with legs drained of strength to the book, picking it up in my shaky hands. I flipped it over to read the synopsis, none, then I opened it up to the print details, none. No author, no date, just an index of the chapters.

1. Knowing

2. Preparing

3. Surveying

4. Tethering

5. Returning

I flipped the page and read the first two paragraphs:

Chapter 1

Knowing

There is an imperceptible tissue separating the connecting folds between realms of existence. Our proteins and cells are just one of the millions of locking mechanisms that tether us to our current plane. By manipulating the frequency, and adjusting the vibration of the content of our own bodily content, synchronization can be achieved.

A 3-foot blood pool represents about 1.5 liters shed blood on a non-porous surface should be sufficient in size. Coumarin or dicoumarol should be mixed at 0.5 parts per liter in order to prevent coagulation, which can lead to temporal warping within and the sealing of windows prematurely (See footnote on severed pathways, p.143). The electronic stimulation of a Poynting vector is needed in order to maintain an open vortex via an assisting magnetic field. An oscillating frequency of 800mh needs to be maintained or shifting occurs (See p. 68).

I closed the book with one hand and tugged the hair from my scalp with the other, Trying to convince myself this was all just some strange dream. I stared at the reflective pool of still blood, noticing the two wires insulated with black rubber leading out and into a humming, metal box near an empty plastic blood bag. I scanned the filthy room and spotted an ancient broom and picked it up, holding it over the pool with hesitation. I lowered it down, feeling it connect with the wooden floor beneath the few millimeters of the blood with a dull tap.

My heart pounded as I then lowered to a kneel and splayed my fingers out over the pool, staring into my own wide-eyed reflection. I lowered my palm slowly, half-expecting a painful electric shock. I felt my arm hairs raise as my hand descended one centimeter at a time until it connected with the dark fluid blood. I watched in both absolute amazement and horror as my hand pressed below where the floor should be. Warm blood covered my submerged hand then wrist. I laughed a nervous, terrified laugh, then I pulled my hand out, now a slick with a red coat.

Jeremy was inside of there. He’d chosen to risk death in order to show me there was something beyond explanation, and clearly, there was. I lowered my face to the reflective puddle, staring at my own worried face as it got closer and closer. I felt the hot liquid on my nose and cheeks and I plunged my face into what should have been the floor.

It was impossible, yet I opened my eyelids and I saw it. There was a mirrored red room I stared into the ceiling of down below the puddle. The room was the exact size and shape but made of what appeared to be carved black stone, monolithic and ancient. It was preposterous and impossible, but I plunged my head down further, feeling the wetness against my skin and I watched the room’s walls and ceiling seem to pulse and shift. I shouted out for Jeremy and tasted the tangy copper flood my mouth. My words stopped shallow, muted by the density of the thick, liquid-like air in the impossible place. Then I heard a deep moan, gurgling and inhuman and forged from lungs that had to be at least twice the size of mine. Claustrophobia hit me, and I lifted up my head from the puddle and gasped for air.

I’ve pulled over a chair to skim over this book that casually discusses travel between these strange, alternate planes. It mentions things within that can rend the human mind with madness. Echoing chambers that cause feedback of physical matter, sentient beings that hunt and other anomalies, all outside of our spectrum of tangible reality. I shiver as I stare at that impossible puddle, terrified of what I’ve glimpsed into. I can’t wrap my head around any of it, but options slim as time ticks. At some point, that puddle is going to dry.

* * * * * *

An electromagnetically charged puddle of my cousin Jeremy’s blood sat on the floor before me.

I opened my photo app on my phone, switched it to video mode and lowered it into the pool of blood, twisting it around. My neck hairs stood on end as I stared at my arm, missing illogically just past the elbow in what was only a few millimeters of blood. When I removed my dripping, red phone, it was dead. I cursed then ran to Jeremy’s on the side of the puddle, realizing with a sigh of relief, he had no password on the device he’d left alongside his wallet, a coiled $5 bill dusted with powder and a stained keychain crafted from a dead bird’s skull. “Jesus, Jeremy,” I muttered, then tried to breathe slowly to ease my rapidly-beating heart.

I flipped the strange book open to the next chapter in search of any helpful information.

Chapter 2

Preparing

Anchoring. A rope, wire or chain anchor should be secured in order to connect with, and return to, an adjacent plane. Failure anchor may result in a shifting that can both sever the path and bend the matter within. This means you. Just as neurons, muscle cells, and endocrine cells emit –40 mV to –80 mV, all matter inorganic in nature should carry a 40-80 mV charge or be coated with hemoglobin or other cellular tissue in order to maintain the current.

Breathing. I: Full Inhalation, E: Full Exhalation, S: Slight exhalation. Patterned breathing of I-S-I-E, I-S-I-E (repeat) MUST be practiced and performed in order to prevent suffocation and death. Your blood oxygen level should typically vary between 75 and 100 mm Hg. A significant decrease in your blood oxygen saturation levels will result in rapid suffocation and death.

Circumventing: It is imperative to avert one’s gaze when in the presence of most of the entities within. These pathways and inhabitants exist beyond our logic and understanding. Attempts to comprehend them can and will ravage the minds of those who traverse these planes. Failure of the autonomic nervous system will follow, leading to respiratory failure, suffocation and death. Undocumented hostile beings dwell in the dimensional folds, scavenging for protein in any form. This means you. If any physical contact is made, death will likely ensue.

The alphabetical list went on with dozens of pages of additional hazards and threats; Solidification of the atmosphere leading to an eviscerated body, being caught in a temporal field causing the body to implode, being stuck inside a feedback loop of folding space and crushing the explorer, shifting doors causing the amputation of limbs, coagulating edges of the windows leading to solidification of bodily fluids. The list continued for 12 pages filled with hundreds of horrific scenarios.

I skimmed through, shivering from the combination of anxiety and wonder at the pages of the guide book. Time was short; if I was to attempt a rescue of my cousin, I’d need to read it along the way. In the boxes of filth near the wall of the room and found medical clutter I could only assume Jeremy had stolen. I gathered a few anti-coagulants and blood packs marked “CPDA solution” with shaky hands. The bird’s beak of Jeremy’s morbid key-chain made a quick tool to puncture a blood packet, gushing out the thick, red liquid from within onto the book. I scoured the adjacent rooms of the house and eventually found a coil of twine to anchor myself to the room, squeezing the contents of the blood transfer bag over the rope then slathered its bristly fibers with my bare, bloody hands.

I tied the stained red cord to a door handle, then returned to the dark spill, realizing without care just how utterly insane I must have looked, covered in blood and daubing it over seemingly random objects. I peered into that reflective crimson pool and the humor vanished. That bloodstain-in-the-making would likely be my tomb. As uncomfortable as it was, I b practiced that odd manner of breathing, trying to maintain the peculiar rhythm a few times until it felt natural. I stared into the black spill, deliberating. Then, I jumped in.

My senses fought to understand the comprehend my falling into the mirrored room of air thick and fluid. A vermilion murk gradated into black nooks and shadows, tracing the contours of what looked to be ornately carved coral with strange geometry. Every accent, corner and angle repeated in a fractal pattern that echoed in an artistic beauty that was both mesmerizing and terrifying. My hands flowed through the rippling current of dense, dark air, and I felt pressure from every angle on my skin that was dry from inside the impossible place. I heard a soft hum, the buzzing rumble from the oscillator’s current.

I looked down to the mirrored ceiling and over to the door to the adjacent room. I felt my lungs ache and realized I wasn’t breathing. The twine was gripped firmly in my tight fist, and my heart beat against my chest. I could hear it as if underwater, yet I was neither in liquid or air. I closed my eyes, blocking out the strange chamber that called to memory ruins of an ancient civilization. Then I tried to breathe.

The coppery taste of blood choked me as it filled my mouth when I inhaled the dense air. Panic flared, I was suddenly both lightheaded and terrified as spots formed in my peripheral vision. I was going to drown, suffocate or die, never to be found in there, and the air thickened as if aware of my raising anxiety. FOCUS. I opened my eyes wide, feeling that thick, dark air flowing over my eyeballs, and then I concentrated on my lungs and tried again.

Breath in deep.

Slight exhale.

Breath in deep.

Release.

I soon stopped coughing and regained my composure as I focused on the strange, flanging sound of my breathing. The taste was bitter and I felt the air enter my bronchial tubes within my lungs. It was foreign and violating, painful yet vital. Slowly I relaxed into the rhythm and was able to clear my head. I was inside that impossible place, and I was alive.

I took a few steps on the strange, black rock floor that mirrored the ceiling of the room I’d entered into. That solitary yellow bulb dangling from his room’s ceiling was mimicked in this plane, yet it was formed from rectangular, bismuth-crystals of obsidian stone in a sculpture-esque replica. I marveled at the strange formation for only a moment when I heard a choking scream from through the door in the porous, black wall. I walked as quickly as the pressure would allow through the murky chamber, uncoiling that coarse twine in my trembling hand.

Through the doorway, I saw the limp form of Jeremy in this threadbare t-shirt and jeans. He was clearly unconscious, his eyes rolled back in his head and a grimace fixed on his pale face. It took me a moment to notice the coiling, flaky white hook of flesh around his ankle. I walked into the long corridor, focusing on the patterned breathing that was keeping me alive. Something was dragging him. I smelled it, like a coppery, peaty stench that tickled my nostril hairs and screamed into my reptilian brain to run. Something I wished I hadn’t glimpsed, but I had.

Nothing two or three-dimensional could ever describe that nightmarish form. Teeth sprouted teeth which in turn sprouted teeth. Eyes spiraled outward in every direction, budding other glistening orbs that weaved into infinite patterns. It resonated with both horror and beauty, seemingly facing every angle simultaneously. My mind’s attempt to comprehend it built a sharp, excruciating pain in my temples. I collapsed to my knees as numerous venous tongues twisted out into millions of other smaller branching duplicates that flicked out from a hideous, amorphic mouth. I had to physically turn my head away with my shaking hands. When I did, I could hear a shrill screaming that I only then realized was coming from my own throat.

Breath in deep.

Slight exhale.

Breath in deep.

Release.

I lowered my gaze to the floor, coughing violently as I fought to regain that pattern of irregular breathing. It took a few minutes, and when I looked up only slightly to see where Jeremy was, he was gone, tugged up through a twisting passage of ridged steps in the ceiling that mirrored the stairway down in Jeremy’s home. I uncoiled more of that rough twine in my fist, walking closer to the shadowy square hole in the ceiling where it had taken him. From behind me, I heard a deep, bubbling howl neither animal nor human. I didn’t dare turn my head back to look, my only option was to press on. I moved through towards that strange passage above, building the courage to climb that porous, dark wall and follow Jeremy’s dragged body deeper within.

* * * * * *

Inside the arcane structure mirroring my cousin’s house, something was dragging his unconscious body further inside it.

I waded through the thick air, which seemed to glide over my skin with a cold resistance. Intricately patterned walls and doorways shifted slowly into hypnotic new shapes as if alive. The deep bellow of something behind me sounded and I rushed towards the porous, black surface of the wall ahead leading up. I quickly tucked the hardback guide book into the back of my jeans to free both hands then began my climb into the dark passage above.

I strained to lift myself up the pocked walls that resembled volcanic rock. The sharp surface dug into my fingertips with jagged edges, causing my to hiss in pain as I climbed. The physical exertion caused my breathing to quicken, and I paused to pace myself and regain the pattern of my careful breathing as I continued up into the murky depths of the passage. A constant humming from the oscillating current vibrated the shifting walls; a constant reminder of the high voltage helping stabilize the impossible place. After a few minutes of climbing, I’d reached another chamber.

I breathed in the thick, cold air in that forced pattern and removed the book, flipping it open to try and understand how to proceed. I opened it to the third chapter, skimming over the strange details for insight.

Chapter 3

Surveying

Time is precious when within as the oscillating electric charge will gradually disrupt both cellular balance and function. Ions on the surface of a cell’s plasma membrane may experience irreparable cellular degradation after just 25 minutes time, so keep any surveying short.

I read the words with a slow blink of the thick, dark atmosphere as I understood the need to to hurry. I skimmed through a few paragraphs looking for insight on how to get Jeremy from the thing that nearly cost me my life at just seeing. I spotted something a few pages in.

Entities within will feed on any foreign source of protein without prejudice. As they have become accustomed to paralytic and comatose prey that unfortunately finds itself within their realm, rapid movement can be used advantageously.

I closed the book and tucked it back in my waistband, realizing how critical time was. I raced towards the pale, limp body of Jeremy, barely visible ahead in the shadowy corner of the room. The gurgling moan of whatever had been dragging him deeper within the illogical place made it clear it had no intention of releasing him. I focused my gaze to the moving floor, which grew crystal-like patterns as I watched. By squinting and blurring my vision, I was able to unfocus my eyes as my mind fought to identify that thing dragging him deeper within.

In a moment as heroic as it was stupid, I charged, screaming out into the dense vapor of strange, dark air, and I reached Jeremy. In a swift motion, I grabbed his ankle and yanked forcefully. An aggressive howl that pierced my ears rang out, twisting and echoing in a maddening cry that trembled throughout me, but Jeremy was freed. My heart pounded and I began to choke, and I struggled to continue the strange pattern of breathing as I quickly dragged his body across the shifting floor, which now seemed to grow taller rapidly. My heart sank as I realized what was occurring. The portal was collapsing.

I dragged Jeremy by a sock that seemed to flake and dissolve under my grasp. I looked down to make sure his leg was still intact, and then I felt a powerful tug that jarred my arm at its socket with a sharp pain. That thing was trying to get its protein back. Time was dwindling, the crystalline patterns grew rapidly on the floor, climbing over my dissolving sneakers. I screamed one again, the sound stopped short as I yanked back in a strange tug of war with Jeremy’s unconscious body. With a violent heave that lit up the nerves throughout my arm, I finally freed him. I dragged his back towards the stairwell and my panic multiplied.

The large stairwell mirrored in ancient, black stone was a fraction of its original size. It was now a narrow tunnel, twisting and warped, shifting in texture rapidly as new layers formed over the animated walls. The twine tether I’d stretched throughout was thin as a strand of dry spaghetti, frayed and disintegrating before my panicked eyes. There was no time to think.

I leaned forward, supported by the dragged body of my cousin, who grunted in a pained moan as he came to. “Hang in there, Jeremy,” I called out as I strained to squeeze him through the tunnel of strange, collapsing geometry.

“Say it,” he mumbled weakly, barely pronouncing his words. I scraped my hands on the walls of that tunnel which had thinned to the diameter of a manhole lid as I pulled my slurring cousin through.

“Huh?” I responded, barely able to find the remaining thread of the tether.

“Say I was right,” Jeremy mumbled as if talking in his sleep.

I felt my blood pressure rise at the audacity of the request.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I replied, nearly considering letting go of him. “Oh for fuck’s sake, Jeremy. Yeah, you were right. I can say with absolute certainty that this is not a good thing, but you were right. Happy?” I asked and waited for a reply, but there was none. I looked down at him, only to see he’d passed out again. I did a double take when I got a good look at his face, which was now red and flaky as if severely sunburned. Cellular degradation, the words pounded in my head as I understood the severity of the meaning.

With a heaving yank that screamed with pain in my shoulder I only then realized was dislocated, I’d dragged my cousin into the remainder of the room I’d first entered into. It was smaller, built up in patterned layers of crystal-like growth which closed in on the space. I gently dropped my cousin, who splayed on the floor like a rag doll and I looked up, eager to find the exit above. It wasn’t there. I spun around to search the walls; nothing. The exit to that strange and horrific dimension, collapsing rapidly around us, was gone.

* * * * * *

I was in a room that no longer had an exit, and the thick air was closing in as it ate my cousin and I alive.

“Jeremy!” I shouted, shaking the limp body of my cousin by his shoulders. His face was red and slightly swollen. The proteins in his body were clearly dissolving, and soon I felt a growing itch over my skin. It was faint at first, then the tickle continued to spread into an irritating iitch. I reached around the walls for any sign of the twine I’d pulled into this strange, horrific place, but there was none. I flipped open the book and read with shaking hands as flipped desperately through for answers.

Chapter 4

Tethering

Due to the volatile nature of matter within these folds, openings are likely to close upon the tether and obscure the window, which can lead to a quick demise. It is vital to gauge an approximation of the window created and physically move the matter in order to clear the path. Of course, this solution comes with its own setbacks. The rapid degeneration of a fold is coarse and difficult to manipulate. Be sure to bring a tool, preferably metal as it will degrade at less rapid rate than porous, less dense materials (see Disintegration of foreign matter, p. 254).

I looked to the strange, vibrating surface of the low ceiling, black and animated like a magnetically triggered thero fluid. I rushed over and pushed aside the growing mass, feeling the sharp surface that cut into my hand as I pushed it away like metal filings. My hands were bright red, flaking wisps of thin layers of skin, and the tickle which had become an itch was now a stinging pain. I watched in awe as the blood from my hand clouded in inky red trails of smoke that floated within the illogical, dark air. As horrifying and painful as the experience was, a small part of me was amazed that a world so secretive and hidden, so completely fantastic and impossible existed.

I pushed away at the heavy shale-like growth of the living pattern, foot after foot as if digging into the earth as I searched for the way out. Just as the pain flared into an unbearable burn, I saw a dim, red glow peeking out from the black buildup. I looked down at my hands, which were split open revealing puffy red muscle within the lacerations. I looked closer in horror, seeing the white of bone within one of the slivers. When I checked back at Jeremy to make sure he was okay, I shouted from shock at the sight of him.

The room was now only a fraction of the size. The chamber we’d come from was entirely blocked over. The room we were in was the size of a small bathroom at this point, and the floor had rapidly grown over Jeremy’s unconscious form. His appearance was horrific. His face was deteriorated, stripped raw and red multiple layers as permanent damage to his skin had clearly taken place. The t-shirt and jeans he’d worn were now spiderwebs of thread, revealing his eaten-away skin that emerged from a cluster of black, polygonal noise.

I raced back and hammered away at the buildup, trying my best to chip away the enclosing floor and walls that clung to him like wet asphalt. I screamed from the pain as the sting that spread over my own skin shifted another few degrees on the pain scale into a steady, singing burn.

“Jeremy!” I screamed down to his slack face that sank slightly into the black floor at this point. “Jeremy wake up!” I cried as a knot formed in my stomach. I wasn’t even sure if he was even alive anymore. The portal was closing and swallowing everything within. Every instinct screamed to abandon him, that I’d be sealing my fate in death if I stayed, but I kept clawing away at the living material that closed in until I’d freed him enough to yank him out my a slippery, wet arm. The pain in my own mangled hands distorted the feeling of his arm in mine, but when I looked back down at it, I could see the skin had eroded nearly down to the muscle.

I dragged his slippery hand as I climbed the narrow path upward and then continued to chip away at the rapidly closing exit to that hostile rift. I was soon screaming in pain as I clawed at the speedily closing buildup from the red, oval window in space that puddle of blood had somehow created. I felt a snap, refusing to look and register the even I knew was the loss of one of my fingers, I just dug away until the surface was breached, then I climbed, dragging Jeremy’s body through the exit.

The light nearly blinded me, and I began choking immediately upon crossing back into his room where the air was thinner, warmer and of a different nature entirely. I had to force myself to remember how to breathe.

Breath in deep.

Release.

I yanked Jeremy up by the forearm, both he and I were drenched red with blood. He looked terrifying, A hole had eroded in the meat of his cheek, revealing visible molars in a ghastly grin. His eyes were wide orbs, and it took a moment to register the fact his eyelids had deteriorated completely.

I caught a glimpse of my own hands and let out a whimper, two fingers were flayed, split down revealing the muscle and white, bulbous knuckles within. They trembled as I coughed and then I vomited what looked to be a pint of blood onto the floor not far from the puddle we’d emerged from. I tugged Jeremy out as much as I could, but his lower legs were stuck. They remained in that impossible puddle as it dried over completely with a dull glaze, amputating the remainder in that deadly, mysterious realm outside of our own.

I cried tears of joy as I heard Jeremy’s gurgling gaps for air. He was alive. I wiped the tears with the rags remaining of my shirt and I called an ambulance, or “Emergency Response” as they answered. Out of the corner of my eye, I stared in disbelief at the strange, hardcover book on the floor by a bright, yellow wallet and a peculiar looking device where his phone had been near the drying pool of blood. I tried to wrap my brain around how it was back with us in the room. I knew I’d left it in there,and this room was eerily clean.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I walked over to the wallet, wondering who’d put them there as I switched off that humming oscillator, also somehow different. I picked up the wallet, yellow Velcro and emblazoned with some local soccer team. I flipped it open in confusion, finding a Colorado license, insurance card and a few crisp $20 bills within. It was Jeremy’s but he looked clean cut and almost—normal. “Colorado?” I asked aloud in confusion. He’d never even been there. My mind tried to piece things together but refused to cooperate as the reality of the situation became more apparent, and far more terrifying as I noticed other details about the now-clean room.

The cellphone kind in the pile of his belongings simply didn’t exist as far as I knew. I picked up the strange phone, its white plastic shell lined with orange and brown accents, emblazoned with the familiar name “Commodore.” The shivers throughout my blood-soaked spine multiplied as I then saw the green flashing lights approach the house and that siren that sounded in strange, digital bursts.

I walked over to the book and picked it up in my butchered, bloody hands and flipped it open to the fifth chapter. I read as my heart pounded in my chest and my vision blurred from tears.

Chapter 5

Returning

Little is know about the ability to return to one’s plane of origin. While explorers have been documenting these ruptures in the fold for dozens, in some planes even hundreds of years, there has been nothing to suggest a return is actually possible aside from the fact nothing suggests it is not. Prepare for a one way trip each time you travel.

I looked out the window to the yellow van marked “Emergency Response”, lit by the flickering strobe of green LED lights through the leafless trees below. I stumbled and fell to my aching knees, overwrought with trepidation as I realized:

This was not our world.

* * * * * *

I’d dragged my severely injured cousin from the electromagnetically charged puddle of his own blood. What we came out into was a different version of his home.

It happened so quickly it was hard to even process it. The banging on the door sounded, I know I heard that. I faded in and out of consciousness as I was placed on a stretcher and carefully taken down the stairs by men in fluorescent yellow garb, reminiscent of what a fireman might wear. I tried to ask questions, but even in my fatigued delirium, I knew I wasn’t pronouncing any words, just a faint mumble. Either shock or exhaustion helped separate me from the experience as I was loaded into the back of the Emergency Services van.

The strobing bursts of green lit the flawless facade of the alternate home of my cousin. The workers in their yellow, vinyl garb were professional and coordinated, assuring me they would get me the treatment needed as soon as possible. They placed a rubbery anesthetic mask over my nose, and I looked into the kind face of the man in his mid-thirties who assured me they’d take care of my friend. I tried to correct him by mumbling “cousin” but was out before I had a chance.

I woke up in a room wallpapered with a lavender floral pattern, I appeared to be in a fairly swanky apartment of sorts. My hazy eyes fixed on the smooth overhead light fixture then following the pattern of the wallpaper. It was only when I turned my head to the left fully that I saw the plastic bag with an IV drip. As if on cue, a face I recognized from the ride over walked in, underneath a sweater and slacks; casual attire.

“Mr Stanton, how are you feeling?” he asked with that warm smile as he interlaced his fingers over his stomach. I hadn’t even thought about how I was feeling until he’d asked. My pain was gone.

“I—I feel fine, I guess,” I spoke, then added, “Where am I?”

“You are with Emergency Services Mr. Stanton,” the man stated calmly, “I figured you would recognize it, or at least me after waking up.” The smile had slipped off his face, replaced by a look of worry. My fuzzy brain tried to patch together the events, that impossible, geometrical nightmare that nearly consumed me. My cousin…

“Jeremy, is he,” I couldn’t even say it, I knew he was gone when I’d seen his eroded face, the bared teeth and eaten eyelids from that terrifying dimensional fold that shouldn’t couldn’t exist.

“Jeremy will be fine,” the man added, walking closer to the side of the bed in that room that looked like a metropolitan apartment but a bit too pristine. “We have two prosthetics to replace the lost portion of his legs. I’m more concerned about your mental state.” The look in his eyes flickered with a coldness that send shivers up my spine. “You don’t recognize me?” he asked sincerely. Something told me to play along, and so I did.

“I’m sorry, I am just in shock and a bit exhausted.” I suggested, hoping to buy some time to piece together just what exactly was going on.

“Of course, I’ll check on you after you get some rest,” he said and walked back out the room, looking back one with those concerned eyes that seemed to tell me I’d be better of remembering. I sighed out and then looked to the bureau with a flat screen TV and a cactus resting on it. The nightstand to my left had an call button and a few pamphlets about treatment options and patient rights. I was what appeared to be a hospital, lacking all of the uncomfortable sterility that defined them.

I found a small remote and figured out how to power on the TV, which I only then realized displayed a clean logo reading “Lorimar”, never heard of it. I flipped from channel to channel of countless television shows that simply did not exist. There was nothing remarkable for the most part, they were similar reality TV shows and standard films, bachelor and home improvement programming. I even recognized a few of the actors, and began to think my fears were just that. Then I made stumbled across the news.

I watched the TV and a headache formed as I heard the newscaster discuss the Citizen’s States. I only then hit me as I watched the strangely sectioned off ‘districts’ of the country during the weather. This was another version of my world. My heart thumped loudly, triggering the soothing beep for a nurse, who soon came in to check on me. A man in a crimson vinyl outfit entered, and he lacked the friendliness of the previous man. I watched the group share ideas around a table for a bit before I understood they were the leaders of the nation. It was a panel of four spokespeople for different demographics, two men and two women, discussing tax ballots at a table casually sipping coffee. I barely felt the needle in my arm as the nurse slipped it into the thin skin of the crook of my elbow, I was too busy trying to wrap my head around the next segment the perfectly coiffed reporter discussed a breaking story.

My clenched teeth parted from the calming effect of the drugs entering my vein. Drool slipped from the corner of my mouth as the medication coursed through my blood, dulling the sharp panic into a cloudy afterthought. My face was there on the news, staring back at me from a picture I’d never taken. It was me, listed as Will Stanton, and I looked bedraggled and angry.

I listened to the reporter continue on about the man who’d been missing for months after stealing blood packs from the ES station he worked at. The words scrolling beneath my photo blurred as my heavy eyes closed, and the reporter’s soothing voice spoke the velvety words “unstable fugitive” that finally lulled me to sleep.

* * * * * *

I woke to the voice of my cousin. It took a while to adjust from my foggy dream to the clean interior of the room. I then remembered the strange hospital. I jolted upright, looking into the deformed face of Jeremy in the doorway. A glaze of repairing ointment of some sort was slathered over his exposed skin, catching the overhead lighting with an eerie glow. The hole in his cheek was crater of exposed teeth, he looked like something out of a horror movie. He wheeled himself over in a carbon fiber wheelchair that looked light and slimmer than any I’d seen, the nubs of his amputated legs bandaged.

“I’m sorry, I’m so…so sorry,” he said, staring those lidless, bulging orbs of bloodshot white that framed milky blue irises at me. I propped myself up on my elbows, only then looking to my pink arms, also coated with some gel to facilitate a speedy recovery. My blurry eyes focused on a tall figure of shiny crimson behind him. A sturdy-looking employee stood by in that slick, vinyl uniform. I only then began to wonder if the red was meant to prevent the staining of blood.

“I’m so glad you’re alive,” I spoke to Jeremy, knowing he needed to hear it. “And I was wrong, about everything, especially my arrogant assumptions” I spoke with sincerity. I watched Jeremy’s head fall forward, looking down since he was unable to close his eyes.

“I never meant for anything to happen to you.” Jeremy muttered in a shaky voice as his streamlined wheelchair was wheeled backwards. “I owe you my life.” And he was wheeled out as a large man in a red, vinyl uniform entered to read me the equivalent of Miranda rights. The charges against me would lead to appropriate time in a Recovery Center,this place’s term for jail.

The man held out a slim tablet of sorts, made by the company Commodore with patterned plastic that appeared both decades old and futuristic. He held the device with shiny red gloves, displaying a man who looked identical to myself breaking into Emergency Services building, sifting through records and pilfering blood packs. I had no case, that was clearly me. Still, questions grew as the screen showed further footage and mounting evidence against me that sent shivers down my spine.

The alternate version of me had apparently broken into multiple stations over the course of the year. He—I’d—been apprehended before and taken to a Recovery Services already. The frowning man in red said nothing as he held out that screen. I watched as each of my crimes was displayed to ensure I understood the severity of my punishment. The high definition footage played on, showing my time in the other facility. Sitting there in a red plastic-walled chamber, naked on the floor in the corner. The mirror version of me was crying and screaming about how he didn’t belong there, how he was from another place.

White text overlaying the screen displaying “evidence of mental instability” soon switched yellow to read “evidence of theft of government property” as another feed showed me procuring what appeared to be a piece of metal from my armpit in a plastic cell devoid of anything but a drain. I watched in shock as the me on that screen cut his arm open, spilling blood to the floor before collapsing from blood-loss, reminiscent of watching Jeremy do the same on my phone screen.

The text changed to read “evidence of self-harm and escaping an ESS”, and I watched as my doppelganger’s limp body was lifted onto a stretcher and wheeled into a facility like the one I was in. The man with my face, only then wearing any clothing—a thin hospital gown—managed to work the rubber restraints until freeing himself from the bed. I watched as a number in the lower left climbed, only then realizing it was the sentence date accumulating with each offense. The number shifted from a yellow ‘2’ to a yellow ‘4’. I watched as the alternate version of myself on screen called a worker in, then choked them out from behind and stole their key fob for the door. The text shifted to read “evidence of assaulting a government employee”, and I shivered as I saw the yellow ‘4’ climb to an orange ‘15’.

The timestamp of the footage sped up rapidly in the lower right of the Commodore tablet’s screen to show hours passing as it fast forwarded. The collapsed employee shifted on the ground a bit before waking up, then reached into their pocket, still slumped on the floor. They removed a pill bottled and opened it hastily as the footage returned to normal speed. They dumped the sole pill in the plastic bottle into their hand, then accidentally dropped it. I watched in confusion as to why this particular sequence continued on for so long. The pill rolled under a cabinet. The employee wiggled to try and reach it but it was clearly too far underneath. The man on the floor struggled a bit as he grabbed at his chest and then collapsed, flat and still. The text shifted to read “evidence of causing the death of a government employee.”

No I mouthed as my insides iced over. My gaze shifted to the orange ‘15’ which then vanished from screen. I then felt the world collapse as the number was replaced by red text reading “Euthanize”. I was too weak to even struggle as he bound my wrists with rubber cuffs and lifted me gently to my feet. I tried to speak on my behalf, but the futility of trying was beyond apparent. Everything I’d could even try to say, he’d heard it all before.

* * * * * *

I remember being lifted up and frogmarched through the hall. I realized only death awaited me, likely on some lovely postmodern death house. My throat dried and I was sweating so much. I wondered where the other version of me was who’d came here, realizing he must have somehow opened another window and escaped to some other plane of existence that mostly mirrored our own. I saw the trees and the highways out the window when I heard a loud, meaty banging sound from behind me. I soon fell onto my knees with a jarring pain that pulsed through my bones. I felt the rubber wrist restraints being unfastened.

“Take this and run,” the familiar voice called from behind me.

“Jeremy?!” I called back, and turned enough to see the collapsed body of the man marching me out where Jeremy’s feet would have been in that ultra-modern wheelchair.

“This is all my fault, and there’s no time to argue. There’s a group of them around the corner coming to pick you up, I saw them. I’m sorry, now run.” Jeremy looked down at me from the wheelchair, a mutilated face incapable of any expression but that ghastly grin. In his deteriorated arms was the metallic canister of compressed oxygen he’d used to take down the large worker sprawled out cold on the floor.

I strained as I lifted my aching body to its feet as the sound of marching boots came closer to the corner. A glance down the red carpeted hallway showed an exit, marked by a green LED shaped like trees. Jeremy held out a key fob from the fallen employee, and I took it in my butchered hands and swiped it over the reader, turning back to face him. I gave him a solemn nod, well aware I’d likely never see him again, then I ran outside and into the sunlit unknown.


Credit: Michael Squid (Official WebsiteAmazonFacebookTwitterRedditTumblrYouTube)

Check out author Michael Squid’s collection of 50 short scary stories, Where the Light Stops Dead, now available on Amazon.com.

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Blood Portals appeared first on Creepypasta.

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A Lonely Machine

Estimated reading time — 7 minutesRoger glanced around the desert once more. Nothing but the cloudless sky and the sand scattering in the wind, with a few cacti dotted around the landscape. With nothing else to do, he checked his magazine, already knowing how many bullets he had. Full. Adjusting his helmet, Roger sighed and turned back to face Elliot.

“What a waste of time. It’s hot as hell in this uniform. I fucking hate being deployed in the desert. The sand’s more of a threat than anything I’ve seen so far.” Roger picked up a handful of the yellowish dust, letting it slip between his gloved fingers.

“Yeah, if there were any actual threats out here. I can’t remember the last time we actually saw anything.” Elliot replied, staring off into the horizon, his visor dampening the bright sunshine. His heavy boots were sinking slightly into the ground, causing him to constantly have to re-position his feet.

“Me neither. Still, better than just sticking around back at base, getting yelled at by Sergeant Brills.”

Elliot narrowed his eyes. “Hills. Sergeant Hills.”

“Right.”

The sun beat down heavily upon the pair as they moved onward, barely bothering to check their surroundings. The landscape was almost completely flat, not a single incline in sight apart from a cluster of curved dunes lying in the distance.

“Some guys were telling me about out here,” Elliot spoke up.

“What did they say?”

“Eh, it was some weird conspiracy theory kind of story. Allegedly, the army developed some weird cyber-robot thing, trying to make the ultimate soldier. Like in the movies. The thing, they said it was like…like a synth from Fallout. Exposed wires, metal plating. In the shape of a human, right?”

“Yeah, go on.”

“So, they made the frame and the consciousness of the thing, and they wanted to give it emotions as a test before they gave it organs and such, y’know, to try and make it as close to a human as they could, so it would blend in. They also gave it a bunch of special abilities, like superpowers. Nobody knew what kind of powers, but there were a lot of suggestions from everyone. Stuff like laser vision and secret machine guns hidden in its arms.”

“Sounds like a load of shit to me. Soldiers are always making up stuff to entertain themselves.”

“Yeah, but here’s the thing. When they gave it emotions, they went too far. Ended up making it too real. So it didn’t want to fight and stuff, it just wanted a normal life. And before they could disassemble it and start over again, it ran off into the desert. Some of the guys said they saw it the other day, moping around in its metal frame.”

“Heh. Maybe we can catch a glimpse, make this deployment useful. Let’s head over to the dunes, there might be a few targets camping there.”

Nodding, Elliot walked calmly by Roger’s side, noting an increasingly ominous feeling as the dunes moved closer. They were mostly smooth and curvy, with some large chunks of rock scattered around, poking up from the sand. Roger headed up to the top of one of the slopes, staring out across the horizon.

A small opening was poking out from the side of one of the dunes, seeming to lead into a cavern of some sort. Intrigued, Elliot quietly stepped inside, forgetting to report the discovery to Roger in his curiousness.

It took a few seconds of adjustment before Elliot’s eyes could make out anything. The cavern walls were covered in bizarre etchings, stretching out across the ceiling. Strange footprints were etched in the sand where Elliot’s boots lay, not like that of another soldier or animal. Elliot traced his hand across the marks. The longer he looked, the more similar they looked to words or phrases. He could just make one of them out.

“Lonely. So lonely.”

Taking a step back, Elliot gasped, frantically glancing around the walls once more. It was the same message, carved everywhere it would fit.

“Lonely. So lonely.”

Elliot rushed out of the cavern, the previous sense of dread now encompassing his entire body.

Roger?

Roger’s arms were twitching slightly, his face pointed upwards to the sky. The skin from his legs began to peel back, exposing a chrome-colored surface. Within a few seconds, Roger’s body had shed like snakeskin, his uniform dropping to the sand. And standing in Roger’s place, a grayish android, the sunshine beaming off its polished torso.

“Why did I even try?” The robot’s voice was slightly metallic, like a monotone text-to-speech engine.

Elliot’s mouth drooped open in shock.

“Roger had a family. I could feel his memory of them in the back of my consciousness. It’s a side effect of the process. In taking over a body, I gain access to their memories. Roger had a wife and a kid. Another feeling I’ll never truly know,” the android continued.

The saggy mound of Roger’s wilted flesh rolled slowly down the slope, piling up at Elliot’s feet. Elliot felt as if he would vomit.

“I can only host the appearance of a body once it’s dead. That’s how I was programmed. It was an infiltration tactic by my designers. I guess it did work after all. Roger was dead before you were even deployed with him. I found him alone in the desert yesterday, separated from the other soldiers. He was a goner anyways, I suppose. Dying of heatstroke and dehydration. Still doesn’t make me feel better.”

There was a long pause. The wind began to whistle through the dunes.

“I just…wanted to pretend. Pretend I was human. Pretend I had friends, connections, people to talk to and listen to. There’s nothing to do, no-one to talk to out here. They hurt me, Elliot. They broke me apart and built me up again time after time, until they got me just right. The scientists. The doctors. I can never go back. I’d be scrapped for parts.”

Elliot aimed his rifle directly at the android, emptying his entire magazine into the creature. The deafening sounds of gunshots echoed through the desert, carrying on for miles.

“I’m bulletproof. Go ahead. Kill me.” The android’s weary voice continued. “You aren’t the first to try.”

Bullets bounced off the machine’s metal plating like hail off a car windshield. Exasperated, Elliot pointed his weapon down, staring blankly at Roger’s remains.

“He was my friend.”

“Think yourself lucky for what you had, as the joy of friendship is unknown to me.”

Elliot scowled. “What are you? What the fuck even are you?!

The machine turned to face Elliot, exposing its bulbous, robotic eyes. Its face was expressionless, unable to convey even a single emotion.

“You really have no idea, don’t you? You’re barely less of a machine than I am. Want me to show you?”

Slowly, the robot stepped over a piece of Roger’s uniform. Its movements were janky and unnatural, a quiet whirr escaping its body every time it took a step. Before Elliot had a chance to react, it had snatched a handgun from the sand and shot a bullet straight through Elliot’s temple. Elliot stumbled backwards, collapsing face first onto a rock.

Stunned, Elliot gradually pushed himself back onto his feet. He was alive. Reaching a shaky hand to his head, he could feel two sparkling wires poking out from his skin where the bullet had gone through. On the side where the bullet left, he felt a large computer chip embedded within him. A mechanical voice echoed through his head:

“Structural damage detected. Repairing wounds.”

A surge of unimaginable pain built up rapidly in Elliot’s temple. He screamed violently, a gush of blood flowing down his face. The opening was burning itself shut, the broken skin fixing itself back together on both ends. Elliot gritted his teeth, on the verge of tears. A few more seconds passed, and the injury had completely healed.

“You’re a prototype, like some of the others. I could tell by the glint in your eye. All prototypes have the glint. You’re part human, part machine, Elliot. Roger wasn’t a prototype, but I reckon he would have become one eventually, had he survived a few more weeks at base.”

“What…the fuck…did they…do…to me?” Elliot panted, his hands clutched onto either sides of his head.

“What they’re going to do to everyone. Why make one ultimate soldier when you can make millions through the miracle of cybernetics? Of course, you aren’t meant to find out. There’s a device in your head that deletes the memory of seeing the wires and computer chips if you get injured in the field. It works for seeing other people’s injuries too. I just shot straight through it. If I had shot you in the leg, you’d have forgotten there was any injury at all by now.”

Elliot fumbled around with his holster, eventually pulling out a ridged knife from his waist. With little hesitation, he stabbed the knife deep into his arm, ripping open the flesh like paper. A series of flashing lights and green cards exposed themselves, coated in a slimy layer of broken skin. Elliot dropped to his knees, crying out once more in agony.

“What…am…I?”

In a psychotic rage, Elliot dropped the knife and began to rip out the hardware, tossing it carelessly through the air. Metal wiring and rugged chips flew out of his forearm, scattering onto the sand. Soon, only an empty space was left, devoid of bone or muscle.

“Kill me. Kill me!” Elliot begged the robot, grovelling at its metallic feet.

“No. You aren’t the first to ask,” it answered, looking down upon Elliot with pity.

Jabbering insanely, Elliot leaped off the top of the slope, landing on his neck with a savage crunch. The robot gazed down at his broken body, as the sand in the wind slowly piled on top of the soldier, the desert swallowing him whole.


Credit: Just a Guy

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At Your Command

Estimated reading time — 8 minutesI think when most normal people think of the Internet, they’re thinking social media, online shopping, news, and the occasional porn site.  Now people talk about “The Dark Web,” a place of untamed wilderness, where gangsters are selling guns, using Bitcoin to do untraceable transfers to build a criminal enterprise.

But somewhere in-between, there are places that straddle that fine line between the illegal and what anybody can find with one wayward Google search.

That was how I found out about “Dimindbak.”

You might think I misspelled it, but no, that’s how he uses it.  Or she.  I just assumed he, but I’m not really sure, since Dimindbak uses a voice changer whenever he goes on the air.  Yes, on the air.  Dimindbak regularly appears on weird, late night radio shows…the real late stuff, as in airing just before bakers are getting up in the morning, all about alien conspiracies and the Reptilians (If you don’t know about the Reptilians, look them up online.  There’s hours of fun about them).

The only reason I even know anything about Dimindbak is because of a friend of mine.  My friend was in a car accident awhile back.  She was at a red light and a teenager on a learner’s permit didn’t hit the brakes soon enough.  While the cars were only mildly damaged in the crash, my friend got really bad whiplash and refused to see a doctor.  Her mother died in a malpractice suit, and she’s been leery of doctors ever since.

Trouble is, now she gets chronic neck and back pain, sometimes to the point where she has to stay in bed all day.  At first she just tried Tylenol, but it just dulled the pain, it didn’t get rid of it.  She turned to all sorts of holistic stuff, but that didn’t do the trick either.

One day, her pain was so bad, she called me up crying, saying she didn’t know what else to do.  So, I tried to be a good friend and went to look up something she hadn’t come up with yet.  Most of my searches ended up either finding vitamin dealers, herbal supplements and teas, or weed dealers from states that had legalized the stuff.  I was at a loss.

Then, on a whim, I tried “physical intervention.”  I thought maybe it would lead to some weird chiropractors or healing doctors who might work like chiropractors, but with more crystals and patchouli.

Instead, a couple of clicks in, there was Dimindbak.

You might now be picturing a website full of dark symbology, mystic runes, weird rituals, and near Satanic references.  Dimindbak was none of these things.  The whole site looked like fan fiction devoted to Star Trek, but with less comprehension.  Rotating GIFs leftover from the mid-90s cluttered the page like a back alley full of wooden pallets.  The color scheme was all pseudo-futuristic, with a lot of metallic whites and grays.

It was also hilarious.  I spent the better part of the day reading over the blog postings, as he rambled on about distant galaxies, contact with higher beings, and how positivity would make all our dreams come true.

Well, maybe I was a little cynical about it, but if you saw it, you might cut me a little slack.  And yet, the guy had a whole team of devotees.  He actually had a forum where people could talk about their own connections to a higher power, and very few of them looked like trolling posts.

But the big kicker was when I read about the “command.”

In one of his most recent posts, he talked about a method by which these higher beings could fix everything wrong with you; a code phrase.  Just speak it three times, out loud or in your mind, and these benevolent beings would be able to gain control of your central nervous system and correct all your ills.

I sent the link to my friend.  I didn’t send it as a joke, but I was hoping maybe, just maybe, she would read it, understand how silly all her worry was, and finally see a doctor before her pain got much worse.

She wrote me back a day later.

“Thanks, it worked!  Feeling so much better!”

It…worked?

I couldn’t believe it.  I had to see for myself. I drove over to see her.

It was the first time in a long time I had seen her with a smile on her face.  She said she hadn’t slept so soundly since the accident.  She wasn’t quite sold necessarily that it was aliens from another galaxy that did it, but she was damn sure something fixed her.

It wasn’t even like the phrase itself was a self-help mantra, or a daily affirmation.  It was just gibberish, really.  But she said it was really something special.

I checked her Facebook page the next day, and I saw an update where she had created a new group: Healing Through Command.  At least 15 people had signed up for it.  My jaw dropped.  She was already spreading the word to other people?  Hey, if it worked, more power to her.

I, on the other hand, had a life to live, and I went on with business as usual.  I kept checking in, though, and saw the group was getting bigger…almost ridiculously big.

I called her once the group had reached 1,300 people.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

“Oh, great!  No more pain!  I’m so glad you found that site, it’s been so helpful!”

“I see your Facebook group is really talking off, too.”

The line went silent for a minute.

“What Facebook group?”

“Your one about healing through command.”

“What are you talking about?  I haven’t been on Facebook in months.”

“Well, maybe somebody hacked your account.  You’ve got 1,300…” I checked the site again.  “Whoa, now almost 2,500 members.”

“Can…can I call you back?”

“Sure.”

I didn’t hear from my friend for awhile.  I did keep checking in on Healing Through Command, and was amazed how well it seemed to be working.  People by the thousands were signing up for it, and it wasn’t just bot accounts…I read through people talking about how their gout went away, and how their migraines disappeared…hell, one guy even said he didn’t need a wheelchair anymore.

It even melted my cynical little heart to read about so much good being done.

Months went by, and as the holidays approached, I decided to give my friend a call.

She didn’t pick up.  Weird, because she usually did when I called.  I tried three more times.  Still nothing.

I drove over to her place to see if maybe she was just busy feeling good, maybe leaving her phone at home while she went out for a jog.

I rang her doorbell.  She didn’t answer.  Maybe she really was out for a jog.

I was about to leave when I heard a crash from inside.  I knocked.  The door came open a little.

Why would she leave it unlocked?  I pushed in and called to her.

“Go away!”  The way she screamed it, I almost did.  But I couldn’t.  Something was definitely wrong.

The scream had come from her kitchen.  I went in to find her there.

She was holding a knife, and it was covered in blood.  On the floor was a body.  I recognized it…her ex-boyfriend, Sam.  He had stopped seeing her when her neck pain had gotten worse; I’m not sure if she had tried to patch things up or he did, but by the wound in his neck, it had not gone well.

She looked up at me.  “I told you to go!  I don’t have much time!  Every day they have me a little more and more…”

“What?  Who are you talking about?”

But suddenly, her eyes glazed over.  Her mouth forced itself into a smile.  She lifted the knife and pointed it me, but it was slow, shaking, like she was fighting some irresistible invisible force.

“Why, hello.  Good to see you.  I’m afraid I am busy right now.  You should go.”  Her head ticked back and forth, like a clockwork figure.  It reminded me of that robot from The Great Mouse Detective movie; a wobbly, unsteady thing that tried to imitate life, but wasn’t truly alive.

That was when she moved to stab me.  I raised an arm to defend myself, and I just managed to deflect it away.  But she was fast, and she immediately went to do it again.  I grabbed her wrist.  It didn’t do much good.  She was unusually strong all of a sudden.

Then, her mouth dropped its smile, while the rest of her continued to push the knife closer and closer.

“You have to do it.  I’ve tried…they won’t let me harm myself.”

It took me a moment to realize what she meant.  To this day, I still cannot completely forgive myself for what I did, even though I still try to tell myself it was the right thing to do.

I twisted the knife and, using that unusual strength against her, forced the knife into her own heart.

I sat in her kitchen, with both bodies on the floor.  I know I cried for awhile, and then called the police.  I assumed they wouldn’t believe me, but I didn’t care at the time.

I then looked around her home.  I needed something, anything to explain what had happened.

I found it in her basement.

Set up in the middle of the open, unfinished space was a door frame.  It looked just like she was installing a new room in there, but the frame wasn’t attached to anything…no walls, no hinges.  Just a frame, with empty space.

The only thing out of place about it was an electronics box attached to one side, with a keypad attached to it.  But instead of letters and numbers, the keys were blank.

I checked her bedroom.  I found papers shoved under her bed.  Most of them were pieces of note paper, with symbols drawn on them.  Some others were detailed drawings of the door I had found in the basement.  There was also an electrical diagram, but I had no idea what it meant; I’m not an electrician, but even I know some of the stuff on there wasn’t from anything built on this world.

And then there were the last few pages.  Notes my friend had written.

“What is all of this?  I keep finding these when I wake up.”

“I’m not remembering things I did in the middle of the day anymore.”

“Oh, God…I think I killed a cat.  It’s hanging from the clothesline in my backyard.”

“I WOKE UP IN THE BASEMENT.  I WAS STANDING AT THAT KEYPAD.  WHAT WAS I TRYING TO TYPE IN?!?”

That was the most comprehensible.  But that wasn’t the worst of it.

The handwriting on the weird pages was different from my friend’s normal handwriting.

I smashed the door to pieces.  But I don’t know if it helped anything.  I just wonder if the rest of her Facebook group is doing the same thing.

All 53,000 of them.


Credit: The Dead Canary (Chilling Tales for Dark NightsYouTubeReddit)
If you wish to narrate the story please contact Chilling Tales for Dark Nights for permission by clicking here.

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The Portal in the Woods

Estimated reading time — 10 minutes“Dad, you said you’d play catch with me!” I yelled as my father walked past me to his office, where he spent most of his days when he wasn’t at work.

“I’m sorry, bud, I’ve gotta get these documents done for tomorrow’s big meeting. We’ll do it another day, okay?”

I frowned. That was the same excuse he always gave me, and the same follow-up he always had. ‘We’ll do it another day,’ Yeah, yeah, sure we will, I thought. The longer I stood in front of his door, the more upset I became. I eventually huffed and puffed enough to the point where I stormed out of the house. I left for my go-to place when I was upset: the treehouse.

To a twelve-year-old kid, a tree house was the perfect place for a kid to just get away from his problems and be a kid! It was Reese’s and my place to go when we were sad, mad, or just bored out of our minds. It was our little getaway when things went awry in our lives. We also went there just to hang out. It was our spot.

We had found the treehouse one day while looking through the woods for buried treasure. We didn’t find any treasure, but we did stumble upon the treehouse. We climbed up the ladder and viewed the place from inside. Reese called it a dump, but I saw the potential in it. I fixed her up, grabbing fold up chairs, a rug, and a blanket to cover the only window in the wooden box, to create the coolest treehouse ever! We kept our comic books, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and other miscellaneous knick-knacks up there.

Now that I got the treehouse out of the way, let me explain to you who Reese is. Reese is my best friend. He moved in next door when I was in the second grade. We went over their house and introduced ourselves. I went into Reese’s room and saw that he had a Nintendo Sixty-Four. We sat down and played Super Smash Bros. all day, and that first visit became a sleepover, which we spent staying up late playing video games till our eyes became sore, and then some.

Reese was a good kid. Sure, he’d get into trouble occasionally, like the one time he fed his sisters’ goldfish to the cat, but he was overall a good kid. He’d get into trouble for sneaking out and he constantly was a wiseass to teachers, but again he was a good kid, and most importantly my best friend, my only friend.

That day, Reese was on the last day of his grounding. He was caught sneaking out at night. I was supposed to sneak out as well, but I got cold feet and stayed in bed. Reese went to the treehouse alone, and when he realized I wasn’t there, returned home where his parents caught him trying to sneak back in.

Reese would always tease me, clucking and calling me a chicken when I did stuff like this. I was sure that once he got loose from the confines of his room, he’d be all up in my ear about it.

I entered the woods and was making my way to the treehouse. I was about three quarters of the way there, swinging a stick I found awhile back, pretending it was Excalibur, when I saw it. It was a black hole, the size of a bowling ball, levitating at eye level a few feet away from me. It looked like someone took a picture and hole-punched it, leaving a black spot in its place.

I approached it curiously. I tried to go around it to get a sideview of the thing, but it disappeared. I walked behind where it would have been, and it reappeared. The hole was paper-thin and couldn’t be seen from its sides. I looked at it intensely, trying to see anything inside. I looked down at Excalibur and lifted it upwards. I slowly inserted the stick into the black hole. Suddenly, like a vacuum, the hole absorbed the stick, forcing me to let go. I fell backwards on my rear end, kicking my legs out and skittering back in a feeble attempt to create distance between the black hole and me. I breathed heavily as I stared at the hole in astonishment. Then the stick spat back out and fell at my feet.

I was frozen in place for a good minute. I didn’t know what to do. Then I had an idea. I ran over to a tree and grabbed an acorn off the ground. I went up to the hole and chucked the acorn in. I waited a minute, then the acorn came out, whizzing past my head.

“Whoa!” I said.

That’s when I had another idea.

I went home and grabbed the football from my bedroom, just in case my dad decided he wanted to play catch with me. I brought it to the black hole, got into a throwing stance, stretched my arm backwards, winding up the shot, and then threw. Of course, I missed the hole completely. I ran and grabbed the ball, got closer to the hole, and threw it underhand. This time it went in. A minute passed, and then the ball popped right back out and bounced a few times before it rolled up close to me. I smiled and prepared another throw. I got into the stance, stretched my arm backwards, and chucked it as hard as I could. This time the ball went in, no problem. A minute went by, and I just stood in front of the hole.

The ball suddenly came out fast, spiraling and hitting me dead in the stomach. I fell to my knees in shock and pain. I wasn’t expecting it to come out that hard. That’s when I realized that it all depended on the strength of my throw. If I throw it weakly, the hole would toss it back with the same momentum. Throw it hard, and it comes back hard.

I played catch with the black hole for a good hour, then made my way home. I couldn’t wait to show Reese.

The next day arrived. It was a Sunday, so after Reese got back from church, I was ready to show my friend the coolest thing ever!

When my friend got back home, I quickly ran over to his house and asked his parents if he could hang out. They said of course, and we went to the treehouse.

“Dude, I have something amazing to show you!” I said, hyped for my friend to see my cool find.

“Yeah, yeah, sure you do,” he responded.

We walked about three quarters of the way and started to approach where I’d seen the black hole. That’s when Reese spotted it.

“Whoa! What the hell is that thing?”

“It’s a portal!” I eagerly said.

We looked at it for a good minute, and then made our way closer.

“Throw this into it!” I said, unable to hold back the excitement in my voice. I handed him the football and he brought his arm back and threw it in on his first try. I was a little envious, but I had to remember that Reese played baseball, so his aim was going to be better than mine.

“Now what?” he asked.

“Just wait.”

A minute went by, even though it felt like an eternity, and the ball finally popped back out and landed on the ground in front of Reese. Reese didn’t say anything for a moment, then knelt and picked up the football. He scrutinized it carefully, looking for any scruffs or nicks on the ball.

“That was pretty amazing,” he said in a monotone. I smiled, grabbed the ball back from him, and threw it into the hole once again.

We played for a good thirty minutes. At first Reese wanted to know how many things could go through the hole. He threw rocks, acorns, and even a worm into the hole. All came out just like they had before. Then we took turns tossing the football into it.

“What’s on the other side?” Reese finally asked.

“I dunno. Space stuff?”

“What if there’s like a whole ‘nother dimension on the other side of it? Maybe there’s an alternate version of us!”

I tossed the football into the portal again and waited for its reemergence.

“Yeah, I guess it’s possible.”

“Aren’t you at all curious what’s on the other side?”

I thought for a moment.

“Yeah, I guess I’m a little curious.”

“Well…”

“Well, what?” I asked, confused.

“Stick your head through the portal!”

“What?! No way!” I said, backing up, as if to say no with my body.

“C’mon! Don’t be a chicken like you were the other night.”

There it was. The chicken comment. I knew it was coming.

“I don’t care what you say, I’m not doing it,” I said, not letting peer pressure get the best of me. Every time he pressured me into doing something, we always ended up in trouble. That’s when he began to cluck, bending his arms into his torso to resemble chicken wings.

“Chicken! Chicken! Chicken!” he chanted.

“Look, I’m not doing it. You don’t know what could be on the other side. What if there’s a monster or something?”

“C’mon, man! It’s just a portal. Don’t you want to know who’s been tossing the ball back through it?”

I didn’t think about that aspect of it. I guess there could’ve been someone on the other side, catching the ball, and then tossing it back to us. But I still didn’t budge in my decision.

“Pussy!” he finally shouted, which hit hard. He’d never called me a pussy before. I didn’t even know that the word was in his vocabulary. I knew the word too, but I’d never dare say it.

He began to walk toward the portal, and I shouted to him, “What are you doing, Reese?!”

“I’m going to look through the portal.”

I quickly followed him, trying to explain that it was a bad idea, but he wasn’t having any of it.

“Look, you can’t be a chicken your whole life. You gotta take chances sometimes. Plus, I want to know who or what has been on the receiving end of our passes. Don’t you?”

“I guess, but I don’t think it’s safe to just poke your head into things you don’t understand.”

“Pussy,” he said, then bent forward to stick his head into the hole.

He hesitated at first, maybe to take in what he was about to do, then plunged his head into the hole.

A few long seconds passed by and nothing happened. He just stood there, arms limp at his sides, looking through the hole. I looked around nervously, like we were doing a bad deed and I was on watch. Then everything happened at once.

Reese fell backwards, hitting the ground hard. I stood right behind him and was hit by something warm and wet, as if someone sprayed me with a Super Soaker with hot water. I looked down at the ground. He was missing his head! His neck leaked copious amounts of blood all over the place. That’s when I realized that I was covered in blood. I screamed a scream only a kid could make. Then something flew out of the portal, and I instinctively caught it as it slammed into my chest. I looked down at the thing in my hands and screamed again. It was Reese’s head! His face was twisted in horror, like he’d just seen a ghost! His tongue lolled to the side and his eyes were glazed over, a white milky film covering his barely-visible pupils.

Memories started flooding into my head. Thoughts of the times Reese and I would play hooky from school. The times we’d sneak out and would tell scary stories to each other in the treehouse, trying to make the other piss his pants. All the fond memories I’ve ever had of Reese came together all at once, and were shattered with one new, horrifying, mental scar.

My hands began to tremble, and I dropped Reese’s head to the dirt and ran away. I kept running till I made it home. I opened the door and slammed it behind me, then ran to the restroom to wipe Reese’s blood from my face. I spent a half an hour scrubbing Reese’s blood from my face, and another scrubbing the blood off my clothes. I was petrified!

I walked out of the restroom and ran up the stairs to my bedroom. I got into bed, even though it was only six o’clock, and lay there mortified. My eyes were wide open, looking straight at the ceiling, staring into space. The image of Reese’s body dropping to the ground and his head landing in my arms kept playing over and over in my head. Then, after hyperventilating for a good ten minutes, I fell asleep.

My dad woke me up. I opened my eyes and thought to myself, that was one weird-ass dream. But my father knocked me out of that thought when he asked me if I knew where Reese was. Apparently he didn’t come home, and his parents thought that maybe he was over here.

They filed a missing persons report the next day, thinking that maybe Reese had run away. After a few days went by, the police decided to do a search of the woods. They spread out and found his decapitated body on the woodland floor.

Local news played the story everywhere. They were looking for his killer and asking if anybody had any information, they should call the local police department. I picked up the phone a few times, mostly to clear my conscience, which was eating me alive, but I didn’t because I knew no one would believe me. Who would? Hey, my friend stuck his head through a portal and it bit his head off. Yeah, I’m sure that would be taken seriously.

After all this time, one question remains with me, though: what did my friend see on the other side of that portal?


Credit: Nicholas Gray (Facebook)

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Understanding the Laws of Thermodynamics

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This is only happening because of what we did. I regret it, but not because of the consequences. I regret it because I could have been good; I should have been kind. I think we deserve this.

Think of it like Carrie — you remember that movie? Except not. Not at all. We weren’t the popular kids trying to humiliate Gilbert in front of everybody. What we were doing was a coping mechanism — everyone does it, but that’s never made it okay. Why things ended up working out differently for us than the way they work out for everyone else, I don’t really know. We never expected things to go the way they did, and I never expected to feel this way about it. I’ve lost a lot of sleep over it.

* * * * * *

Gilbert was a tragedy. Tragically unpopular, tragically acne-scarred and tragically named. It was almost like his parents went out of their way to ensure he’d be an outcast. You can tell yourself that, if you think it justifies it. Convince yourself that when they make it so easy to be cruel, it’s rude not to oblige. You can tell yourself they deserve it, but what they deserve is kindness and you’ll figure that bit out, except it happens a day late. High school is Darwinism is high school is Darwinism ad nauseam; we’ve convinced ourselves that popularity is all about kill or be killed. That’s a fallacy. It isn’t real. The popular football jock, he thinks he’s going to the NFL. He thinks he’s going to be rich and famous. He doesn’t know it yet, but he isn’t going anywhere. Don’t let the fact that he scored four touchdowns in a single game distract you: he’s going to grow up to manage a gas station or become a clerk in a women’s shoe store — not the glamorous bullshit his ego’s been feeding him. Popularity doesn’t matter after high school. Popularity doesn’t matter if you’re dead. Just ask Kevin or Richie — except you can’t. Not anymore.

The worst part is, we all bought into it, me, Kevin and Richie. We weren’t popular. We weren’t going to become popular because we did it; we were just deflecting some of our own torment onto a kid that was weaker than we were because he was an easy target. We could have just kept our heads down and ignored dickbags like Deen and his brown-nose, buttfuck goons … but transference was easier than the alternative… The first law of thermodynamics says that matter cannot be created or destroyed, it simply changes form. We learned it in physics. It applies to things other than matter too, when you think about it. The worst part was, even though the logic of it checked out, it didn’t make the three of us carry any smaller targets. The Deensquad would always find us and make life hell. We could have made a morose painting or wrote depressing poetry into journals or even talked to someone about it, but transmuting the negativity in that way was making productive use of it, so why bother? It couldn’t be destroyed so instead of harnessing it, we passed it along, gave it to Gilbert. Don’t pretend like you never did anything like it; you’re no better than me. If anything, we’re all the same. It doesn’t matter anymore; I figured it all out too late.

The easiest targets are always the insecure ones. The introverted kids with a lot of flaws. I could make a list of Gilbert’s but it wouldn’t be as long as the one that I try to keep hidden of my own … he was a quiet kid; buck-toothed and overweight and smelled like cat piss … his parents were poor. He wore the same three outfits over and over until they thinned and began to unravel entirely. Richie was the one who pointed that out. He saw the loose thread on Gilbert’s shirt. Six inches of loose stitching just beneath the right arm of the long-sleeved shirt, the one he always wore. The one with the horizontal stripes. He noticed it a week ago when Gilbert raised his hand in class. That’s when Kevin made the plan — it was the end of the day and not enough of the other kids would see. We had to be seen. We just waited until he wore the shirt again. Wednesday.

We rushed Gilbert in the hall. He walked alone with quick, quiet steps; his arms laden with books. I knocked them out of his hands. That was my job in this. He looked at me with eyes full of “whys?” When he leaned down to pick them up Richie grabbed his arms high over his head. Kevin yanked the thread until it opened up a hole in the armpit of the shirt. He stuck his finger in the hole and pulled. It only took a moment. I’ll never forget the way time seemed to stretch as the hole did as Gilbert stared up at us; struggling to comprehend our motives. Disappointed, sad shock commingled with my grinning reflection in the shadow that fell across his eyes. I watched it happen with eager excitement; the transference. Deen gave us the negativity, and we didn’t deserve it, so we payed it backwards. As Kevin pulled Gilbert’s shirt apart, we gave it away again. I began to laugh; I remember it like a bad dream, that laughter — my laughter.

Gilbert tried desperately to cover himself, to hold it together — tried to keep it from happening — but the tattered pieces of his shirt fell away revealing Gilbert’s doughy shame. “Look!” I said. My laughter echoes still in the dark places of my mind. Places that should be quiet. Places where I’ve been trying to shut it away. But every time I remember the sound of it, it grows louder and more cruel. “Gilbert has moobs!” The words echo forever and the laughter plays on loop like a sitcom.

We made Gilbert cry and it only took a moment. Just a moment and we’d ruined him. I understand that now. I wish that we hadn’t done it at all, but not so much because of the consequences we faced. I realize, horribly, that we’d reduced a person to his smaller parts … to the molecules … and scattered them to the wind.

* * * * * *

The second law of thermodynamics says that the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. We gave Gilbert the hate and the hate tore him apart. Once something flies apart, that thing is done and it can’t be undone. I wish that wasn’t true.

We found out what happened to him the next day. What we did. You could try to pin it on Deen and the Buttfucks, or Deen’s alcoholic dad, or his alcoholic dad’s alcoholic dad, but that’s just more deflection.

We did this.

We transferred that to him we could try to pass the blame all we wanted, but it made no difference. Every action has an equal and opposing reaction and the reaction to ours left a lonely kid dead.

We heard the rumors about how he killed himself, downing a nearly full bottle of his mother’s Xanax while his parents slept in the next room. I didn’t ask whether it was true. Somebody said there was a note in sloppy handwriting. Somebody said it was completely illegible at the end. They said it started out alright, and slowly devolved, probably as he drifted off. By the end, the only thing they could make sense of in the whole thing were the last two words: “Sweet dreams.”

I didn’t ask whether that was true either. There are a lot of things I didn’t ask. I only felt the guilt of destroying him permanently. I didn’t hear anything anyone said to me at school on Thursday. I was too busy remembering geometry and physics and equations and waiting for my body to collapse into oblivion; waiting to fold into myself until there was only an event horizon remaining; a pinhole where I should have had a heart, growing ever smaller into nothingness, but never quite becoming that. A human asymptote. The third law of thermodynamics says something about the temperature of closed systems and equilibrium, but I can’t remember what it means. It’s irrelevant, because the entropy isn’t gone. Everything is blurry. Everything is in constant motion; moving away. I’m too tired and afraid of what will happen next. I can only focus on one bit of information at a time, and for some reason only one thing sticks in my mind. I read somewhere that Saint Catherine of Siena says “the devil never sleeps” and tonight that’s the only knowledge that stays no matter where else I try to focus.

The devil never sleeps and he sees everything: sees alcoholism make bullies make me and Richie and Kevin make Gilbert make the devil real.

I told my mom I was sick and stayed home from school on Friday. It wasn’t a lie. I was disgusted by my part in this, to the point that my stomach was in knots. I spent the morning hovering over the toilet, emptying myself of everything but the guilt I felt. You couldn’t convince me that there wasn’t blood on my hands.

Richie called me that afternoon after school. He said Kevin looked like a ghost. He said his eyes were dark circles, he kept nodding off in class and waking up screaming. They sent him to the nurse, who sent him home. Richie said that Kevin was losing it. He kept talking about a dream. Richie told me his eyes looked like glass, wide and dark with a distant vacancy reflecting within. Richie said Kevin was looking right through him. “He was there,” Kevin said, “only it wasn’t him at all…it looked like Gilbert, but it wasn’t. It was something else … something much worse … and it was real.”

“He was completely naked, covering his tits like he did,” Kevin told Richie who in turn told me, “but he was chasing me instead of cowering. His eyes were bright balls of red light and all of his teeth were razor blades. Actual razor blades. He wanted to punish me.”

Apparently Kevin said he was afraid to sleep the night before because he knew something bad was going to happen if Gilbert ever caught up. Every time he fell asleep, the dream began again where it left off. Apparently the exhaustion had been impossible to avoid as the day went on.

Kevin was gone first because Kevin pulled the thread. They found him dead on Saturday morning, he was clutching one of Gilbert’s new teeth in his hand. A razor blade he’d used to saw open several veins and leave his sheets blood-logged, soaked and sticky.

Richie told me he’d begun having the same dreams the night before and the next night I began to have them as well.

* * * * * *

I’m in an empty place. There’s no light and as I run, I can hear Gilbert’s uncoordinated footfalls slapping the darkened ground behind me. His eyes are glowing with red revenge and as he gnashes his razored teeth, rubies spill out from his lips. The blood from them cascades down his chin as he closes in on me. I can feel his fingers rake across my flank like sharpened skewers as he grabs me and I awake.

A set of marks, red and irritated, remained on my side. Four long lines that traced their way to my back, puffy and raw. I hvaen’t slept since.

* * * * * *

They found Richie dead this morning, in the same apparent state as Kevin. My two best friends since elementary school, dead because the darkness we’d passed along had been passed right back. My mom asked me if I knew why they’d both done it; why they’d killed themselves. But I knew they hadn’t. I knew it was Gilbert. I couldn’t bear to lie, so I simply didn’t reply. I just stared right through her in that thousand yard way and hoped to disappear from the fear and the shame.

I don’t want to have those dreams. I’ve been drinking energy drinks all day. I took everything I’d been saving from my allowance and spent it all on Zappy Brand caffeine pills and as many Red Bulls as I could get, but $67 worth won’t be enuogh to keep my eyelids from falling forever. I started writing this thinking it might atone for the mistake. I started writing this to keep myself awake.

Actually, I know I said it was like Carrie, but it isn’t. It’s more like Nightmare on Elm Street — you remember that one, right? Only not. Not at all. In this scenario, the kids — us — we deserved what we’d get. It’s funny how matter is neither created nor destroyed but simply changes as you exchange it.

Apparently they fuond the same type of note at both of the scenes, mostly illegible and only two words by the end that anyone could raed. Word travels fast. I don’t know how or why. The devil never sleeps and I’m the gleam in his eye. The shadows may whisper their lullabies but I refsue to become praying prey and die. I should be okay because I haven’t seen myself write anything illegible yet, and taht’s a good sign.

Eveyrthing shuold be alright as long as I stay awake, but I dno’t think I can remian in this state indefimetely. I shuold probbly post this now jsut in csae. I think I can feel evrey part of me vibtrating and oscilltanig aruond and aruond in cirlces. The entorpy is waht I need to aviod thniking abuot … or perhpas I shuold accpet it: embarce it. Dno’t we desreve tihs atfer all? I’m jsut arfaid to do taht bceause of waht taht maens. I thnik I shuold be alirght as lnog as I aviod akcnoewledginh the shaodws at the croners of the lghit amd avdoi the temptaition to tpye the wrods: ‘sweet dreams.’


Credit: Scott Savino (Official WebsiteFacebookReddit)
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Check out two stories from author Scott Savino (plus many more) in Monstronomicon, a collection of 100 short horror stories from 70 authors, now available on Amazon.com.

Please support the author’s latest project on Kickstarter as well. Black Rainbow is an anthology collection of LGBTQIA horror stories, with tales written by LGBTQIA authors and allies, and featuring LGBTQIA themes. To pledge your support to the project, visit it on Kickstarter now.

The post Understanding the Laws of Thermodynamics appeared first on Creepypasta.

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The Wormhole

Reading Time: 26 minutesPart 1

I stared at the odd hole that had appeared in my arm overnight. It was located on the inside of my forearm just before the bend of my elbow. I’m positive it wasn’t there when I went to bed last night. How can I be so sure? Easy, because there used to be a mole where the hole is. It’s like the mole collapsed in on itself and became a hole.

I couldn’t tell how deep the hole was. All I could see was the rim of skin around it and then blackness. There was nothing else, no blood, no tissue, nothing but an endless black void.

I probed it with my finger and expected it to be sore, but it didn’t hurt at all. If you saw how deep it was you’d think my entire arm would be in pain. The hole was the same shape as the mole it replaced and was about as wide as a pencil. There wasn’t any blood that I could find on my clothes or sheets. Whatever made it did so without breaking any blood vessels.

Since I wasn’t in any pain and the hole didn’t look inflamed or infected I was going to wait and see if it would close on its own. Once I decided that I jumped in the shower. As I washed my arm I noticed something that alarmed me a bit, all of the water that flowed into the hole never filled it up. That’s not possible, right? It would eventually fill with water, right? It didn’t though.

That unnerved more than I cared to admit so I finished washing and quickly got out of the shower. After seeing the amount of liquid that poured into my arm I couldn’t stand to look at the hole any longer. I covered it with a small bandage then got dressed and ready to go to school. Before I did that though I gave my forearm a little shake to see if I could feel any water sloshing around inside of it. I couldn’t.

I did my best to ignore the hole and was doing pretty good until lunch. While I ate my sandwich my arm started to feel wet. I glanced down and noticed a small stream of water flowing out from beneath the bandage. I quickly ripped the bandage off and couldn’t believe my eyes. Water was streaming out of the hole.

I used the tip of my finger to plug the hole and get the water to stop flowing. It worked, but only as long as I kept my finger pressed to it. Since I didn’t know how to get it to stop I walked into the bathroom and held my arm over the sink and just let the water flow down the drain. After a few minutes the water eventually slowed to a trickle and then stopped altogether.

I returned to my table and sat down. After I glanced around to make sure no one was watching me I grabbed the straw from my drink cup and placed it over the hole in my arm. I then started to slowly push it into the hole. I wanted to see just how deep it really was. I got it about halfway in my arm which should have been impossible. The tip should have started poking out the bottom of my arm, but it didn’t.

What happened next scared the shit out of me. I went to pull the straw back out, but it was tugged out of my grasp, and into the hole where it disappeared. What the fuck, I thought as I jumped up and stared at my arm. This had to be some sort of fucked up magic trick. My mind couldn’t think of anything else to explain what had just happened. It was that or I was going crazy.

As I sat there and wondered what I should do a little metal cylinder slid out of the hole. I just watched as it popped out then fell onto table. When it hit the tabletop it came apart to reveal a rolled up piece of paper nestled inside one of the hollow sections.

I picked up the paper and unrolled it which revealed the handwritten note on it. This is what was written on it:

Hey Collin (or however you choose to spell your name), I know you have a lot of questions about the hole in your arm. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much. What I can do is apologize for the inconvenience it has caused you and will likely continue to cause you.

We had a little problem with this experiment we were working on. We don’t know what went wrong, but whatever happened caused this weird little wormhole to open in the mole on my arm that leads to the mole in your arm.

Because of this hole we are now connected across space and time. I know that sounds like the plot to a really bad science fiction movie, but I really am you. I just live in another dimension. Don’t worry, I am doing everything I can to fix this mistake and I am confident I can close the wormhole. In the meantime, if you could, please sign your name to the bottom of this note and place it back into the wormhole so the next Collin gets the message.

P.S. Please refrain from sending anything else through the hole. It can create some awkward situations. Also, keep it covered when you bathe.

P.S.S. If something living comes through the hole, burn it (or drop it in acid if you happen to have some available.)

I picked up my pen and glanced down the list to look at all of the other Collins that had signed before me. There must have been over fifty signatures on the sheet so far. Even though each of the Collins that had signed came from a different dimension the handwriting for each one was very similar.

I signed my name to the bottom of the list and placed the sheet of paper back inside the cylinder. Then I picked it up and slid it into the wormhole. As I did so I wondered how many Collins the cylinder would travel to before it made its way back to the first Collin or back to me.

Then I thought, what the fuck did he mean by something living!

Part 2

“Collin.” The sound of my name being called out pulled me from a restless slumber. I looked at the clock and groaned. It was just after 1 AM.

I sat up and rubbed my eyes. “Collin.” There it was again. It sounded deep and throaty, kind of like a frog.

I stopped and peered around my dark bedroom. I thought I was dreaming when I heard it the first time. The second time it clearly came from somewhere in my room.

I reached over and turned on the lamp that sat on my nightstand. “Collin.” That time it sounded like it came from the closet. As I turned towards the closet doors, I happened to glance down at my arm. I stopped what I was doing when I noticed a small hole in the bandage I used to cover the wormhole.

The opening was ringed with ragged little half-moon shapes and frayed pieces of fabric. It looked like something had chewed its way out. Have you seen a leaf that has been eaten by a caterpillar? That is what the hole in the bandage looked like.

Seeing the bandage reminded me of the note that had come through the wormhole a couple of days earlier: If something living comes through the hole, burn it…

“Collin.” That didn’t come from the closet. That sounded like it came from the bathroom. Whatever was calling my name seemed to be moving around. The bathroom is on the opposite side of the room from the closet.

I stood up and walked to the center of my bedroom and waited for it to happen again. I figured I’d have better luck pinpointing it if I listened from a central location.

When I got up off the bed I clamped my hand over the hole. I didn’t put much thought into the action. I just wanted to prevent anything else from coming through. While I waited for my name to be called again I looked down at my hand. Then I imagined something biting its way through the bandage. My hand probably wasn’t the best thing to plug the hole.

I didn’t want something to bite its way through my palm, so I removed my hand. I had no idea what had come through. I let my mind wander over the possibilities. What did it look like? How big was it? What if it were venomous, or worse, what if it were infectious or harbored parasites? I was starting to get worried. I’ve seen enough movies to know alien creatures were never a good thing.

I ripped the damaged bandage off my arm then scanned my room for something I could use to cover the exposed wormhole. That was when I noticed all of the spare change that sat on my dresser. I walked over, grabbed a quarter, then walked over to my nightstand and grabbed the roll of duct tape I kept in the drawer.

“Collin.” I didn’t bother to try and pinpoint it. I wanted to secure my arm first.

I placed the quarter over the hole and wrapped my arm in a layer of tape. That should keep anything else from getting through for the time being. Unless it could chew through metal, I thought. Shut up! I chided myself. I needed to focus on finding the thing that had come through. Worrying about what it was capable of wasn’t going to help me at that moment.

I tossed the tape on the bed and returned to the center of the room and waited. I didn’t have to wait long. “Collin.” It definitely sounded like it was coming from the bathroom.

I quickly walked in, turned on the light and scanned the room, but saw nothing. This was really starting to annoy me. The sound was so loud and so clear. Why couldn’t I find the thing that kept calling my name?

I started to move my toiletries around. I opened the cabinet under the sink. I pulled the shower curtain to the side. I even got down on my hands and knees and peered behind the toilet. I couldn’t find anything.

I turned and started to walk out of the room. “Collin.” I nearly shit my pants. I am not kidding. It sounded like someone came up behind me, leaned over my shoulder and yelled my name in my ear.

I whirled around and gave one of those halfhearted karate swipes, but I only struck air. I then took a defensive stance and glanced to the left and right. That is when I noticed the strange looking bug on my shoulder.

If you have ever seen a cockroach then you already have a good idea what this thing looked like. Imagine a standard cockroach, the ones that can fly, that has been stretched to twice its length. It also looked a little stockier than a normal roach. Instead of being brown, this bug was an off-white color, almost grey. The creepiest thing about it was that it was semi-translucent.

I may have screamed as I flicked it off my shoulder and onto the floor where it landed on its back. Once it righted itself it shuffled its wings, cleaned its head with its front legs, and said “Collin.”

Holy shit, it’s a talking bug, I thought to myself. Then I remembered the warning and shut the door to prevent it from escaping.

The bug cocked its head to the side as it seemed to consider what to make of the giant standing before it. I guess it decided I wasn’t a threat because it spread its wings and silently flew directly at my face.

Okay, it might not have been coming right at my face, but it did start to fly. That put me on the defensive so I used my karate chop to swat it out of the air. It was a good chop. I knocked it into the toilet.

I walked over and watched as the bug flailed around in the water. For a moment I considered flushing the toilet, but again, I remembered the warning.

I shut the lid of the toilet and ran back into the bedroom and grabbed the lighter out of my pants pocket. I then grabbed the empty soda can off my nightstand and returned to the bathroom. My plan was simple. I was going to put the bug in the soda can and set it on fire.

To get the bug into the can I used an old razor I had on the sink. I held the can just above the water and used the razor to guide it into the opening. The bug didn’t hesitate when it was given the choice to enter the can or drown. It crawled into the can.

When I set the can on the counter the thing said my name again. “Collin.” I could feel the can vibrate as the sound reverberated against the aluminum.

I quickly shoved a bunch of toilet paper through the opening with just enough sticking out so that I could light it. Then I lit it. I could hear the bug run around the can as it frantically tried to avoid the flame. After a couple of minutes the fire died down to a few embers of paper and the bug stopped moving.

I shook the can just to make sure it was dead. When it didn’t make any noise I dumped the contents of the can into the sink. The bug’s legs were all curled up close to its charred body. I poked it with my finger. When it didn’t move I picked it up and held it in my palm to get a better look at it. It definitely looked like some weird species of cockroach.

As I examined it I felt a soft pinch on the center of my palm. It wasn’t dead! It bit me! I could see its head move ever so slightly. I dropped it into the sink and used the bottom of the can to pound it to pulp. Then I picked its body up with a wad of toilet paper and shoved it back into the can. I burned it again. Once the flames went out I packed it with more toilet paper and burned it a third time.

When I looked at the small welt growing where the bug bit me I started to panic. I convinced myself I was going to die. I cleaned the wound as well as I could. I washed it, I poured alcohol on it, and then I put some antibiotic on it.

By that time I was feeling light headed and felt like I was going to pass out, so I crawled back into bed. Before I knew it I fell asleep.

I awoke around 8 AM and sat up quickly as I remembered the events of a few hours ago. I looked down at my hand. The welt was gone and all that remained was a slight red area that was sore to the touch. I guess I wasn’t going to die.

I swung my feet out of bed and was going to go take a shower when I heard a metallic tapping. I didn’t know what to make of it until I realized it was coming from my arm. Something was banging against the coin I taped to my arm.

I pulled the tape off and removed the coin. As soon as I did, a small metal cylinder popped out of the wormhole.

I picked it up, opened it, and unrolled the note that was inside. This is what was written on it:

To the Collin who sent the bugs through the wormhole, you are a COLOSSAL DICK. That was not funny. I know you did it intentionally. If those bugs lived in my universe I totally would have done the same thing.

To everyone else, be on the lookout for some long thin cockroaches. They have the strange ability to mimic sounds by rubbing their wings together. This particular species seems to be able to mimic the sound of our name. I thought my fucking house was haunted.

I hope this note finds you before the roaches do. Don’t worry. They are harmless and relatively easy to kill with standard bug spray. Don’t try and pick them up though, they bite.

P.S. Make sure you kill them all. They breed rapidly.

That is just like me to pull something like that. I agree with the Collin who wrote the note, I totally would have done the same thing if those bugs lived in my dimension. As I rolled up the message, placed it back in the tube, and sent it back into the wormhole I wondered just how rapidly the bugs bred.

I got my answer when I heard my name called out a dozen times from various locations around my room. It was just like the seagulls in Finding Nemo, only they were saying Collin instead of mine.

Fuck burning them. I caught them all and sent them back.

Part 3

I slid the thick rubber strap back over the opening to the wormhole. I had to remove it to allow a message tube to come through. Once it was back in place I read the note.

At first I thought it was another joke. The wormhole had become a source of amusement for quite a few Collins. They liked to send random things through it (like the roaches) and wait to see how the other Collins responded. That is why I thought, yeah right, when I read the first line of the note. When I finished reading it that thought was quickly replaced with, oh shit.

This is what was written on the note:

WE ARE BEING HUNTED (There was no greeting this is how the note actually started.)

I have received a few messages asking if anyone else has seen a strange man in a black suit hanging around. I have seen him. At first I didn’t know what to make of him, he didn’t seem threatening. He would just stand off in the distance and watch me. That changed this morning when he tried to kill me.

My advice to you is this: If you see him, KILL HIM! If you cannot kill him then RUN! (The capitalized words were underlined three times.) Do not wait for him to make the first move. You might not live to regret it.

Given the number of queries that have come through I think it is safe to assume that this is not a single man, but several men with the same appearance. Their arrival probably has something to do with what happened to us. I think they may be drawn to the wormhole.

If you have not seen a man in black yet, it is only a matter of time before one finds you. You need to prepare yourself. If you do not own a weapon, find one. If a man in black shows up in your dimension his only goal is to kill you.

Stay safe and I am sorry I caused this. Once you are done reading this please pass it along.

P.S. These assassins may look like men, but they are not. Don’t be fooled by their professional appearance. When you look one in the face you will see it only looks human from a distance. (This was the last line of the note.)

Great, I thought. As if things weren’t bad enough with all of the weird shit that kept popping out of the wormhole, I now had to worry about being stalked by some interdimensional serial killer.

I spent the next couple of days constantly looking over my shoulder searching for the boogeyman in black. Every guy I saw in a dark suit was a potential suspect. I’m sure I made more than one businessman uncomfortable with my scrutiny. There was one guy who seemed to like the attention, but he was way too weird to be an alien.

I considered buying a gun, but I couldn’t afford one. Plus, I’m not sure I would be able to shoot someone, even if they were from another dimension or wherever. I opted to carry an old pocket knife instead. My father gave it to me when I was ten. The six-inch blade was dull and had several nicks, but it would still get the job done.

Four days after I received the note I started to let my guard down. I couldn’t keep walking around in constant fear of a man that might never show up. The note was the first and only time I’ve heard about the men in black.

Who knew how many Collins were connected; there could be a million of us, right? So, the way I figured it, the chances of a man in black showing up in my dimension were about the same as the odds of me winning the lottery. I was never going to win the lottery and figured I’d likely never see the man. Why would he come here? I’m not that special.

Yes, I know my assessment of the situation was flawed. I failed to take into account that there were an unknown number of men hunting us down, and that we didn’t know how they were finding us. I learned I wasn’t good at figuring out odds when I won the man in black lottery later that afternoon.

The morning of that day was fairly uneventful. Nothing had come through the wormhole and I didn’t have any classes. For the first time since it appeared in my arm everything felt normal. It was such a mundane morning that I was lulled into a false sense of security as I got ready for work that afternoon.

As I was about to open my front door and head off to work, I got this strange feeling of vertigo. I felt like I was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I know that is vague, but that is the only way I can describe it. It only lasted a few seconds, but it troubled me enough to make me stop and lean my hand against the door.

I could see the giant rubber band wrapped around my outstretched arm and wondered if the wormhole might be what caused the dizzying sensation. Weren’t things like that supposed to emit radiation or some other type of dangerous substance?

No sense worrying about it now, I thought as I grabbed the knob and opened the door. I’m sure the look I gave when I noticed the man standing on the other side my door was meme worthy. I bet yours would have been too if you opened your door and came face to face with the man in black.

Collin was right when he implied the man in black wasn’t human. He was pale to the point of being white. He wore a hat to cover his obviously bald head. His expressionless face was completely hairless and looked too perfect; like it had been manufactured. Even the material of his suit seemed otherworldly. The worst part was his eyes. They looked artificial. Like the eyes you’d expect to find on a doll.

I noticed all of that in the second it took to slam the door and lock it. I wish I had been able to afford a gun. I wouldn’t have had any problem shooting that creepy fucker.

I ran out of the backdoor onto my balcony. I then climbed over the railing and lowered myself down until I could drop to the ground. Thankfully, I was dressed for work, so I had my keys in my pocket.

I ran over to my car, got in, and drove off. When I looked in the rearview mirror, I saw the man in black standing on the curb watching me as I drove off. As I watched him disappear from view, I started to wonder if that strange sensation I experienced had anything to do with his appearance. I needed to send a message to the other Collins as soon as possible in case that is what happened. Having some kind of warning, even if it only gave us seconds to react, was better than none at all.

I drove about an hour outside of town and stopped at a truck stop. I figured that should be far enough away to gather my thoughts. I quickly sent a message telling the other Collins about what I felt right before I saw the man in black. Then I called work and told them I wasn’t feeling well and needed to take the night off.

I did all of this while I ate dinner at the diner that was part of the truck stop. After weighing all of my options I decided to head to my parents’ house and see if I could lay low there and figure out what to do next.

As I pulled out of the parking lot and headed back towards the interstate, I saw the man in black as he casually walked down the side of the road. I don’t think he noticed me as he continued on his way towards the truck stop. Apparently he could track me; there wasn’t any other explanation for how he found me so quickly. I would have to let the Collins know about that.

Since I could be tracked that meant I couldn’t go to my parent’s house. I didn’t want to put them in danger. My only option was to keep driving until I figured something out. That was eventually going to be a problem considering how broke I was.

I doubt anyone would let me crash on their couch while I fled a killer. This is one of those times I wish I had a crazy friend who collected weapons like the apocalypse was coming. I could use a small arsenal right now.

Part 4

Things went from bad to worse a week after I fled the man in black. While I was on the run, more and more reports of the strange men started to pop through the wormhole. Thankfully, some of the Collins had sent through accounts of how they managed to kill the one stalking them. Apparently, I’m a bit of bad ass in some dimensions. However, I was not a bad ass in my dimension, so it wasn’t going to be an easy task for me.

The men in black could not be stopped by simple means and by that I mean guns and knives. You couldn’t shoot them in the head or stab them in the heart and expect them to fall. Their bodies didn’t function the way ours did. Injuries that would kill us didn’t faze them. The only way to stop them was to dismember them or burn them. That was a prospect I was not looking forward to.

I fear that more than one Collin may have fallen victim to the men in black. A few days earlier a plume of dark smoke started to pour out of the wormhole. The smoke was so thick I had to pull over and wait for it to stop and clear out of my car. Normally the smell of cooked meat would make my mouth water, but when it accompanied the smoke it made me queasy. My car still reeks like a steakhouse and not in a good way. I started to drive with the windows down after that.

The smoke wasn’t as bad as what came through the wormhole the next night. It happened while I was driving. I had one arm on the steering wheel and the other on the gear shift when my arm started to feel wet. I assumed it was just water. When I glanced down and saw what it really was, I slammed on the brakes and almost got rear ended by the driver behind me. It wasn’t water that I saw, it was blood. There was enough coming through that it started to seep out from under the thick rubber strap that covered the hole.

I recovered my wits and drove to the next exit and pulled into a fast food restaurant. I ran into the bathroom and pulled the band off my arm. There was so much blood coming out you would have thought I punctured an artery.

I held my arm under the water until the flow of blood slowed, then stopped altogether. I grabbed a paper towel to dry my arm, but stopped as something else started to come through the wormhole. I couldn’t identify it at first, but once enough of it had spurted out I recognized it for the meaty flesh it was. I immediately started to gag. I was able to keep myself from throwing up until pieces with bone and bits of hair started to come through. I barely made it to the toilet before I hurled my guts out.

I didn’t care that I was hugging the bowl of a public toilet. Pieces of what I assumed where another Collin just came through the wormhole like ground beef from a grinder. That was far worse than anything that could be on that toilet. Just thinking about it as I write this is making me nauseous.

I sat and hugged the bowl for an eternity. I know I pissed off at least one customer who wanted to use the toilet. But I wasn’t going to get up until I was good and ready to.

After I cleaned the vomit out of my nose and off my chin I went about the task of cleaning up the pieces of Collin that had come through. Most of them were on the floor next to the toilet. They continued to ooze through as I puked up everything I had eaten that day.

I managed to clean it all up with without throwing up, but only through sheer force of will. As I walked out of the bathroom I decided someone was going to pay for that and I bet you can guess who I had in mind.

I sat in my car and took stock of everything I had with me that I could use as a weapon. I had my pocket knife, but the other Collins said that was an ineffective weapon. I had my car. I could use it to run the bastard over. I had my lighter which I could use to set him on fire, if I had an accelerant. I also had a tire iron in the trunk, but that had the same problem as the knife. It couldn’t do damage fast enough.

To make matters worse, I only had a quarter of a tank of gas left and was down to my last five dollars. Even if I hadn’t decided to confront the man in black I would have been forced to face him sooner rather than later anyway. Frustrated that I couldn’t think of what to do I got back on the interstate and drove.

I got about five miles down the road before my car started pulling to the left. I didn’t know how far it was to the next exit so I just pulled over onto the shoulder and got out to check what was wrong.

Fuck me, I thought as I noticed my front tire was flat and I didn’t have a spare. I looked up the road then back the way I had come. I could walk forward and hope there was an exit or I could walk back to the exit I just left.

It was a tough call, so I just flipped a coin. Heads I go forward, tails I go back. It landed on tails. I popped the trunk and grabbed the tire iron. I wanted to at least be able to defend myself.

As I grabbed the tire iron I looked over at the band around my forearm. Nothing had come through since the bathroom incident. That seemed ominous and it got me thinking about some of the messages that had arrived earlier in the week.

When news spread about the men in black all of the Collins were sending out their theories about who they were and what they wanted. Most of them were ridiculous, but there were two that stuck out as possible to me.

The first one proposed that the men in black were some type of entity whose function is to maintain the balance of order and chaos in the universe. When the wormhole that bound the Collins together was created it likely tipped the universal balance towards chaos. In order to restore balance we must be eliminated.

The second theory proposed that the wormhole was not an accident, but was instead a deliberate act designed to tether all of the Collins together. It would make us easier to track through dimensional space and therefore easier to kill. The big question here is why? None of the Collins had a good answer to this question except something wanted to erase us from the multiverse.

Both theories had one thing in common; the men in black wanted us dead. That meant they probably weren’t going to stop trying to kill us. In other words, if I kill the one stalking me now there is a good chance another one will show up and take his place. Our only hope was if the Collin that created the wormhole was able to close it.

I mulled all of these thoughts over in my head as I walked back to the exit. I must have walked about 2 miles before I saw the silhouette of the man in black in the distance walking towards me. I guess it’s time, I thought to myself as I tightened my grip on the tire iron.

The stretch of interstate I was on was dead. I hadn’t seen another car in over 30 minutes, so I didn’t expect anyone to stop and help me. Even if they did, they’d probably try to help the man in black first since he was dressed in a suit and looked like a respectable businessman. At least from a distance he did. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that hadn’t been washed in a week.

When he was about a hundred yards away I stopped and waited for him to close the distance. As I stood there I noticed a large chunk of asphalt sitting on the ground. I picked it up and weighed it with my hand. When he came within throwing distance I chucked it at him. It hit him on the shoulder. He kept walking.

He stopped when he got about six feet away from me. He then reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a strange looking device. I held the tire iron up ready to swing it the moment he made his move.

He took one step towards me. I fidgeted and raised the tire iron a little higher.

He flipped open the device. It looked like some sort of metallic cuff. He took another step towards me.

He was now within striking distance. He didn’t seem concerned by my threatening posture. I swung the tire iron and struck him on the side of the head. All it did was knock his hat off and make him turn his head to the side.

He then reached out with his free hand and grabbed me by the throat and lifted me off the ground. I dropped the tire iron and tried to pry his fingers loose as I started to choke. His grip was like a vice.

This entire time the man in black didn’t make a sound or show any expression. I don’t think he even blinked.

I flailed around as he tried to place the metallic device on the arm with the wormhole. I was starting to lose consciousness and with it the strength to fight. In desperation I reached into my pocket and pulled out my pocket knife. I flipped the blade open right as he snapped the thing onto my arm. I lashed out with the knife and felt the blade pierce the device then sink into my arm.

There was a flash of light and that weird sensation of being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Then I lost consciousness.

Part 5

When I came to I was lying on a carpeted floor. My head was pounding. I tried to open my eyes but the room was too bright. All I could do was squint. I stayed on the floor until my vision grew accustomed to the light. Then I sat up and leaned my back against the bed that was next to me.

I was in a large spacious bedroom filled with a bunch of futuristic looking furniture and electronics. Even the lamps on the nightstands looked like they belonged on a moon base. Everything looked polished and shiny. The coolest thing in the room was the large flat screen that sat on top of the dresser. I later discovered it was a television which was a shock considering the TV’s in my dimension were huge boxes that sat on the floor.

I had to adjust the way I sat on the floor because something in my back pocket was pressing uncomfortably into my butt cheek. I reached back and pulled out a small rectangular electronic device. When I held it up the screen lit up showing several small icons arranged in rows. I didn’t know what half of them referred to, but I could easily tell it was a communication device of some sort.

That is when I happened to look down and noticed I was wearing different clothes. When I struggled with the man in black I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Now I was wearing black slacks and a long sleeve grey polo shirt. They looked expensive. Actually, everything in the bedroom looked like luxury items that probably cost way more than I made in a year.

I stood up on shaky legs and went to find the bathroom. I had to take it slow to keep the pounding in my head to a minimum. The first door I tried was the closet. The second door opened to a hallway.

I walked down the hall until I found the bathroom. As I stood before the mirror I stared in shock at my reflection. I looked different. I still looked like me, but my hair was much shorter and styled differently and I was clean shaven. When I was on the run I was several days into starting a beard and was in need of a haircut.

“Collin.” I jumped when I heard the familiar sound. I walked out of the bathroom and towards the front of what appeared to be an apartment. As I stepped out of the hall I heard my name being called again. It sounded like it had come from the kitchen.

I walked around the corner and through the archway that led into the kitchen. The first thing I noticed was a large glass jar sitting on the counter. In the jar there was a large stick, a cookie, and a Collin roach. As I approached the jar the roach climbed up the stick, fluttered its wing and said, “Collin.”

Everything I experienced since I woke up had a dreamlike quality to it. I started to wonder if the man in black had killed me and this was my afterlife or if this was some dream I was stuck in when I fell unconscious. I soon discovered it was much worse than either of those.

My mouth was incredibly dry so I walked over to the refrigerator to see if I could find something to drink. When I opened the door I didn’t recognize a single product on any of the shelves. I grabbed a can of something called Coca-Cola and popped open the tab. I was happy to discover that it was a carbonated drink and gulped down two of them in rapid succession.

While I drank the soda I peered around the room. I noticed a stack of magazines and went over and picked one up. I didn’t recognize the title or the celebrity pictured on the cover. When I saw the date I started to piece together what I thought happened.

I looked different. I was surrounded by futuristic technology. I didn’t recognize any of the products in the fridge. There was a Collin roach in a jar on the counter and the date on the magazine was almost fifty years in my future. Since I knew multiple versions of me existed, the only explanation I could come up with was that I had switched places with a Collin from another dimension.

When I plunged my knife into the device, it must have malfunctioned and swapped my consciousness, or soul, or whatever you want to call it with the Collin of this dimension. I could only imagine what horrible end the other Collin met at the hands of the man in black.

As I walked out of the kitchen I accidental banged my arm against the back of one of the dining room chairs. When my arm hit the wood there was a loud thud. When I first awoke on the floor I thought the pressure around my forearm was the rubber strap I used to cover the wormhole. It shouldn’t make a thud like that.

I stopped and slowly rolled up the sleeve of my shirt to reveal a metallic device clamped to my forearm. There was an opening in the device around the area where the wormhole was. It looked very similar to the one the man in black placed on me before I passed at, but this one seemed to have been extensively modified.

I considered taking the device off, but decided it wouldn’t be a good idea. I didn’t know what would happen. It could be the only thing that kept me tethered to this Collin’s body. If I took it off If I might be sent back to my dimension. If that happened, I might be returning to a dead body. The Collin that swapped with me might have already died with my body, so that meant two of us would die if I took the device off.

Plus, I was almost positive as I saw what was arranged on the dining room table that I had become the Collin that created the wormhole. On the table were several tools and electronic components along with several message tubes. Also on the table was the first note I received through the wormhole. The one I signed my name to.

As I looked at the list of names I noticed several of them had been crossed off. I don’t think this Collin just wanted to say hi when he sent this note through. I think he wanted to see just how extensive the Collin network was. I think he also wanted to keep us from looking for help by acting like he was the one that was going to fix this.

I think this device was stolen and modified. Collin somehow figured out how to modify and use it, probably with help since the original note said “we” not “I”. But why, why would he go through all of this trouble to connect us? Obviously the men in black were not happy about it. The Collin from this dimension was the one they were looking for. They were willing to kill all of us to get to him and he knew this. I guess you really can’t trust yourself.

I sat down at the table to think. I could potentially close the wormhole at the cost of my own life. I couldn’t do that. I’d like for everyone to think of me as a hero, but I didn’t want to die. Plus, there was no guarantee that the other Collin wouldn’t return to this body and continue what he was doing. I needed to learn more about this device and see if I could use it to fix the damage that had been done.

I’ve spent the past week hiding in this apartment as I figured out how to use Collin’s television, phone, and computer. I hoped I would be able to find out more information about what he was up to, but I couldn’t find anything useful.

That is why I posted my story. I need help. I think someone out there helped Collin. I need to find that person. If you know Collin or you are the person that helped him please contact me. We need to stop whatever it is that he started. What was he doing that was so important to him that he was willing to risk all of us to accomplish?

This will be my last update for the foreseeable future. I have told you everything I know. I have sent copies of this story through the wormhole so that the Collin collective knows the truth. If anything else develops you will be the first to know.


Credit: Ken Lewis

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