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2017-10-25 10:55:27 AM  

70Ford: I once passed a beat up '79 Ford pickup on the highway with a white refrigerator on the back of it.
A few miles down the highway,  I passed the same beat up truck with the same white fridge on the back of it.


We named the dog Indiana.
 
2017-10-25 10:57:53 AM  
This is a prologue to a novella I did a few years back.

          Nee-me-poo is what these people called themselves once. Now they don't have a name. They followed their loved ones up into the mountain. There they saw the great god in the small lake called Kamiah. Blessed with his calling they watched as child, elder, fox, and deer offered themselves to the drowned belly. Certain by the stories of the chiefs that all their people would be saved by Coyote they dug into the sides of the hills. Slowly they carved out their homes in rock. A great sorrow soon overcame them. The great god Kamiah grew hungry. His feast of animals and the people increased every year.
            A young village girl is prepared as a sacrifice. Blessed with lake-water the children of Kamiah grow on her skin. They burrow into her filling the child with the will of the god. She rises out of her bed and begins her dark steps. Her father is a Chief and out of his ignorance he stops her from leaving to the water. The child's eyes grow dark with the hunger of Kamiah. The great god bellows deep beneath the water and all the people cry in fear. Kamiah spits at the people with such a strength they cannot withstand. The water rises out of the ground and washes the people to the lake.
            The Chief is strong and brave. He lifts his beloved daughter up into his arms and carries her past the edge of the lake. The children of Kamiah grow on his skin as well. He cuts at them with his stone blade. He stands on the ground and lets out a terrible cry. His strength falters and his knees bend down into the water. His daughter becomes undone by the children of the god. Her face becomes dark and frayed like worn cloth. The Chief knows then it is his punishment for defying Kamiah. The last thing he sees in his life is his daughter's eyes. They fall away into the water like bubbles in a stream, and leave only a writhing mass of the god's children.
            His grief overcomes him. He takes his knife and cuts out his own eyes. He raises them to the god and blindly asks for his forgiveness. Kamiah growls louder and raises out of the water. The stomach of the god opens and swallows the Chief along with all his people. Before death finds him, the Chief calls out to Coyote and doesn't hear an answer. The god became sated by all he had eaten. He entered sleep beneath the water and waits.
-From Appendix M of Forgotten Stories of the Nez Perce
 
2017-10-25 11:00:08 AM  
This is a prologue to a novella I did a few years back.

          Nee-me-poo is what these people called themselves once. Now they don't have a name. They followed their loved ones up into the mountain. There they saw the great god in the small lake called Kamiah. Blessed with his calling they watched as child, elder, fox, and deer offered themselves to the drowned belly. Certain by the stories of the chiefs that all their people would be saved by Coyote they dug into the sides of the hills. Slowly they carved out their homes in rock. A great sorrow soon overcame them. The great god Kamiah grew hungry. His feast of animals and the people increased every year.

            A young village girl is prepared as a sacrifice. Blessed with lake-water the children of Kamiah grow on her skin. They burrow into her filling the child with the will of the god. She rises out of her bed and begins her dark steps. Her father is a Chief and out of his ignorance he stops her from leaving to the water. The child's eyes grow dark with the hunger of Kamiah. The great god bellows deep beneath the water and all the people cry in fear. Kamiah spits at the people with such a strength they cannot withstand. The water rises out of the ground and washes the people to the lake.

            The Chief is strong and brave. He lifts his beloved daughter up into his arms and carries her past the edge of the lake. The children of Kamiah grow on his skin as well. He cuts at them with his stone blade. He stands on the ground and lets out a terrible cry. His strength falters and his knees bend down into the water. His daughter becomes undone by the children of the god. Her face becomes dark and frayed like worn cloth. The Chief knows then it is his punishment for defying Kamiah. The last thing he sees in his life is his daughter's eyes. They fall away into the water like bubbles in a stream, and leave only a writhing mass of the god's children.

            His grief overcomes him. He takes his knife and cuts out his own eyes. He raises them to the god and blindly asks for his forgiveness. Kamiah growls louder and raises out of the water. The stomach of the god opens and swallows the Chief along with all his people. Before death finds him, the Chief calls out to Coyote and doesn't hear an answer. The god became sated by all he had eaten. He entered sleep beneath the water and waits.

-From Appendix M of Forgotten Stories of the Nez Perce
 
2017-10-25 11:02:21 AM  
Oops double posted, someone slap me.
 
2017-10-25 11:06:56 AM  

Harry Freakstorm: The 1st Iraqi Ghost Tank Battalion

2024 Saudi - Iraq border 2300hrs


Very, very nice.

The thesis - death so sudden that awareness of it is absent or lags - is one I remember from a movie (Final Fantasy?) where ghosts of alien animals, unaware that they have died in a cataclysmic war that destroyed their world have invaded ours.
 
2017-10-25 11:09:53 AM  

hobbes0022: When me and my husband were about to have our first baby the house hunting began.  We had lived in a small 2 bedroom apartment for a few years, but thought a home with a nice yard was absolutely necessary when raising a kid, also i love to garden and the small potted plants outside the window wasn't cutting it.  The pre-approval process and house hunting with our idiot realtor could have been the scary story, but actually, we didn't end up buying a house at this time.  After a few months of house hunting and not finding anything within our budget we could both agree too we talked through it a little more, realistically an infant is not going to be playing in a yard, we have at least a few more years before it becomes a real concern, and i work full time anyway, so my gardening hobby it's all that important.  So we stuck around the apartment until Camden was 3 and i was pregnant again, this time we were much better prepared for finding a home, and instead of going with a traditional realtor we used RedFin.  After a few weeks we found what looked like the perfect house, it was quaint cottage type house in a good neighbor hood, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, nice kitchen, good playroom in the basement.  The yard was fenced in, and bare soil neatly bordered the outside of the house, with a matching border bordering the inside of the fence.  Lush green grass sprawled between the two borders, in the spring this would be the perfect place for a garden.  We quickly contacted our agent and made a bid on the house, it was at the high end of the other houses in the neighborhood but still will within our budget. At closing we found out the previous owner had died in his late 50's, and his adult children were selling the house.  They told us their dad was a jack-of-all trades guy who would do all of his own house repairs, but also had a full-time job as an entomologist.  That was interesting, but also kind of boring, we just wanted to close on the house and start getting moved in.  At the end of closing, besides the key, they also gave us their dad's journal, telling us he insisted that whomever buys the house take the journal to get a history of everything he's done on the house.  Again, interesting, but we don't plan on making any major changes, so i throw the journal in my shoulder bag.  We move in early-fall, Halloween in the new neighborhood goes off without a hitch, everyone is very friendly.  During Christmas the whole family is very cheery around a nice fireplace.  As spring approaches my work tells me I will be making an off-site visit across the country in a month.  I look at my schedule, and plan day off before the trip, as those with an infant and toddler know, you don't really have time to do anything, unless you get a day off from everyone.  The day before the trip i drop the kids off at day-care, and begin working on the garden.  I probably won't have another real day to get this done so i go to town on everything, I go to an organic supermarket and ask them what grows best in the area, and then follow up buying all that organic fruit.  I always thought, why use one seed when you can use giant bunch of them.  I cut the fruit into slices and bury them in neat patch all around the border.  I do the same with the vegetables, i'm not exactly a gardening expert, but this seems like it should work.  After a long day the entire garden has been turned and planted.  I shower pick up the kids, and we all go out for dinner before my trip.  In the morning I give my kids a kiss on the forehead as the are still sleeping, and give my husband an affectionate goodbye before driving to the airport.  After the trip, and the meetings, i'm back in the hotel, i've Skyped the family and their having fun, but due to a 3 hr difference i'm still wide awake when they go to bed.  I watch TV for a few hours, then go through my shoulder bag to makes sure I have all my things before my trip back tomorrow.  I find the homeowners journal still in my bag and chuckle, what the heck do we need a journal for?  I toss it towards the garbage bin, but it misses and flops open to near the end of the journal, the top of the page is titled:

DO NOT GARDEN IN THIS YARD

I feel a pit in my stomach as i retrieve the journal, going back to the beginning it's all a boring account of normal housekeep, but towards the end every page is titled "DO NOT GARDEN IN THIS YARD".

I go back to the first page with this claim:

I'm not sure how it happened, but on my last trip to Australia, a Bulldog ant must have somehow came back with me.  I didn't realize this until I was working in the garden and felt an incredible pain in my hand.  I was shocked at what I saw, but what's more concerning is it didn't look exactly like a Bulldog Ant, it also looked a little like Argentine Ant.  I know these are invasive throughout the US, but I've never heard of these two ants mating.  The Argentine ants reproduce incredible quickly, so once i noticed what bit me i did a through search of the house and some had made it inside.  I immediately bought multiple containers of pesticide (sorry bugs), and sprayed the entire garden.  Know these bugs, i'm going to have to rip the gardens out to prevent them from expanding.

Next Page:

I think i've gotten rid of any of the ants that made it into the house, when i sprayed yesterday the fled either into the house or into the lawn.  Luckily, they hadn't expanded enough to make a significant impact on the house.  Knowing how fast they move, and how quickly they can kill, i still didn't sleep through the night, I need to be sure there are none in the house before i attempt to sleep again.

Next Page:

I'm fairly certain the house is clear, i'm spraying the gardens with pesticides every day to be sure they are not expanding, i'm going to rent a hotel room for the night so i can actually get some sleep.

Next Page:

I'm fairly certain the house is clear, i'm spraying the gardens with pesticides every day to be sure they are not expanding, i'm going to rent a hotel room for the night so i can actually get some sleep.

Next Page:

I'm officially saying the house is clear, I haven't seen them for two days, i think i'll leave some food out by the door to see if they come in.  I'm spraying everyday now, so i doubt it, I've also begun spraying the lawn.  I'm pretty sure it's been contained.

Next Page:

The food was completely clear, i'm officially going to sleep back in my house tonight.  Sprayed the yard and borders again, this time i put food out on the borders, and the lawn, hopefully this menace has been handled.

Next Page:

Well the food on the borders were clear, but the food on the lawn was completely devoured.  I'm continuing to spray and set up food, they appear to be in this for the long haul.

Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured
Next Page: Lawn food still devoured

I think i'm going to vomit.  I call my husband, pick-up, pick-up, pick-up, pick-up, he answers groggy.  He says hello then "ewe", he tells me something was crawling on his phone.  He turns on the light and then goes into a panic, "they're everywhere", almost on queue i hear the children begin wailing in the background.


Just wanted to say, it's damn hard to come up with an original story.  I read a few good ones, and I might repeat them later on.  But I made this one up entirely, I guess it's kind of Arachnophobia-esque, but like I said, it's damn hard to come up with something original.
 
2017-10-25 11:19:18 AM  

FarkingReading: 70Ford: I once passed a beat up '79 Ford pickup on the highway with a white refrigerator on the back of it.
A few miles down the highway,  I passed the same beat up truck with the same white fridge on the back of it.

We named the dog Indiana.


I forgot to mention, I hadn't stopped anywhere, so the truck could not have passed me, yet, there it was again. It was a ghost truck, in broad daylight, hauling a refrigerator to Hell.
 
2017-10-25 11:52:57 AM  
This is my entry. I wrote this story for the October Ladies of Horror Flash Project. It's a monthly writing exercise using a picture prompt. Below are the link to the original, my picture for October, and the story. If you like it, please go to the site and "like" the post and comment. Thanks! :) Enjoy the story. :D

https://ninadarc.wordpress.com/2017/1​0​/24/ladies-of-horror-flash-project-hor​ror-author-e-a-black-elizabethablack-s​otet_angyal-loh-fiction-5/

img.fark.netView Full Size


The Blind Date
by E.A. Black

'Where are you?' Jeanette texted. It was the third time she asked. She hated it when men kept her waiting.

'Here.' Her phone pinged. It took him over a minute to return her text. What was he, some kind of Luddite?

She climbed the steep stairs past the wrought iron gate towards the abandoned Hasker mansion. The place had been in disrepair for decades. Didn't anyone own it? The brick monstrosity was a real fixer-upper, if you didn't mind lead paint peeling from the walls and poisoned water from bad pipes.

'Where is here? I'm on the stairs. Out of breath, if you may ask.'

'In the ballroom.' he texted after 45 seconds. At this rate, she'd be inside the house before she caught up with him.

The tall wooden door creaked as she used all her strength to push it open. She was surprised it was unlocked but people had been breaking into the Hasker mansion for as long as she knew it existed. The lock to the front door was broken. She walked into the yawning foyer and texted him again.

'You're in the ballroom?'

'The ballroom.' 30 seconds this time. His speed was improving.

Jeanette had been on blind dates several times but never before had she been on a blind date to a mansion haunted by demons. Both she and Steve discovered they had a taste for the macabre and chose the Hasker mansion as their first date. As long as they didn't get caught by the police, all was cool.
She walked to the ballroom but didn't see him anywhere.

'Where are you? I'm in the ballroom but I don't see you.' she texted.

Her phone rang. It was Steve.

"Jeanette, my car won't start. I'm stuck in my driveway. You want to do something else tonight or is it a rain check?"

A chill descended upon her. "You're not at the mansion?"

"No. I'm home. Why? Are you there?"

"Have you been texting me?"

"No."

"If it wasn't you, then who was it?"

Her phone pinged again. She looked at her text message and her blood ran cold.

'Turn around.'
 
2017-10-25 12:04:40 PM  
Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said...Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said... Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said... Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said...Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said... Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said...Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said... Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said... Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said... Once upon a time there was this man and a big hungry giant. The hungry giant caught him and said "Tell me a scary story for my amusement. Afterwards, I will eat you." The man stood up in the giant's hand, cleared this throat and said...
 
2017-10-25 12:50:20 PM  
Back in the mid-nineties I went through a vampire and "vampire poetry" phase, inspired by a vampire poetry reading by The Undead Poet's Society at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, and a weirdo who insisted that he was a real vampire. The leader of the UPS was somewhat of a jerk, and the two of us formed the nucleus of a group, The League of Vampiric Bards, which rapidly swelled to about 12 people, We performed for several years at coffee houses throughout Orange County. My contributions included six poems - Nightrunner, Roberto's Song, The Rebirth of Leah Jean Baxter, The Scrolls of Night and Day, two love sonnets, and a lengthy short story: Take a Second Look. And then I went on to other things.

The poems are not terribly scary. They are more epic origin stories for the Nightrunnertm universe I've been working on a decade or so. The short story is a bit subtle, built around a stream-of-consciousness monologue, but I think qualifies as scary... and a bit erotic. At nearly 7,300 words it is kinda long, but I hope it holds your attention.

I will gladly accept constructive criticisms.

I will also post one of the poems, haven't decided as to which one, yet.

A Selection From The Nightruntm

Take a Second Look


You live too fast. You really do. You movers and shakers and daily drudges, you luminous-eyed high achievers and clock-faced nine-to-fivers, you smugly sedated workhorses and self-righteously frantic thoroughbreds, you harriers and hurriers and driven workaholics, you hamstrung hamsters lurching along in spiraling circles to alpha-numerically marked crypts in a mausoleum wall: you never slow down long enough to take a second look at the world. You should. Move your mind in a straight line for once. If you do, I guarantee that what you learn will fill you with wonder. It will also scare the living hell out of you.

Smell the air. Go ahead, I bathed just last week. Smell that tang? Wood smoke! Wood smoke in the middle of the city! Illegal? Sure it is, illegal as all hell, but it's also easily available! I know you've never taken the time to notice, but lots of smart and desperate people around here are welding old car parts into Franklin stoves and switching to black market wood to keep warm.

I'll bet you've never studied - really looked at! - the gritty gray fingerprints that Jack Frost leaves on a vehicle's windows in the pre-dawn winter air. You're too busy scraping 'em off and cursing the time you've lost in the mad rush to join the tollway traffic jam.

Have you ever listened to the little "popping" sounds that a concrete underpass makes when it cools down in the twilight of a summer day? You'll never hear them if you're busy jogging off those three extra pounds that make your high-fashion exercise suit too snug.

Have you even noticed that the junk they now use to patch the old concrete sidewalks starts to crumble almost as soon as it dries? I think that they still use the good stuff on the more important boondoggles: all those new prisons, repairing the bridges and the dams, things like that. That way, you won't ever know about the payoffs and the bribes and kickbacks, unless you take the time to slow down and compare old and new.

I bet you don't even know that aluminum cans these days are only half the weight of the old ones. Know why? Thinner gauge metal! I observed this fact almost six years ago; that's how long I've been collecting for the recycling centers. Yes, that is a long time, and it doesn't bring in that much, particularly after they withhold income taxes, but it has kept me in beer. But it can also be a royal pain in the butt sometimes, especially in the summer, what with all the damned flies.

Ever noticed that flies take off backwards when you try to swat 'em? Humans have been swatting at flies for three million years, and natural selection has culled the genes that once dictated forward flight. You will never see this if you let an electronic genocide machine do all your killing for you.

Killing. Killing... Huh. Ever wondered where all the missing people go? There are a lot of them: several hundred thousand a year. Most of the missing fall into three broad statistical clumps. The first clump consists of our society's outcasts, the economic losers, the abject poor, the homeless. Like me. The second bunch are society's trash: the junkies, the alkies, the wireheads, the petty crooks, the crazies. And last, are the social predators, the psychos and sickos and child molesters, the sociopaths, the serial killers, and the kill-crazy, two-bit punks. The thing all these people have in common is that no one important gives a damn if they vanish. And when they vanish no one ever seems to see 'em disappear. But I have. Heh heh heh... I know why. Because I'm not too busy to take that second look.

* * *

In fact, I'm not busy at all. I've had a lot of time on my hands for the last few years, since I got laid off from Nuclear Consulting. I was one of those sacrifices to the Public Good. I'd been a big shot Safety Administrator, a top-drawer Suit, but when the San Onofre reactor choked on red tape and went critical, the Washington boys covered their asses by blaming us. After that, it was sort of tough to get work.

I did a lot of scurrying around at first, frantic to find identity and security in a job... any job! But after ten positions and ten layoffs, and twenty-six months of food stamps and government medical coverage; and after coping for two years with the weightless smirks that Human Resource Managers carefully arrange on their faces when they tell you there are no present openings (but always, always omitting that self-righteous Luddite reproach "for your kind"); and after the kids were taken away by Social Services and the wife left; and after losing the house and the mountain cabin and the BMW and the Porshe and the RV and the credit rating and the charge cards and the mortgages; and after living under a highway overpass for six months... Well, I finally realized that I was not going to die from starvation. So I decided to do myself a favor and relax.

That's when I started taking those second looks at the world, when I began seeing, and sorting out, the subtle things that add up to something obvious - when you take the time to observe.

I guess I really don't blame you for not seeing what I do. What with the economy the way it is, it's hard to stop keeping that old nose to the grindstone. I know. I remember how scary it was, wondering if this would be my last week with this, or that, or the next company. I can remember how, just when I thought that the feelings were under control, a new Friday would roll around and my breathing would get jerky and my stomach would tighten up in small bruised knots and I could literally feel that succinct extra squirt of stomach acid bathing and soaking the ulcer that I knew was gradually taking over my belly. I had time for little else than putting in twelve hour days to make myself a little more valuable than the next white collar slave, and working the ever-shrinking online Classifieds with the dregs of energy I had left.

Energy! That's what it's all about! We're running out of energy around here! All the initiative and brilliance have disappeared from the world, and the forward momentum from the past is being fouled by all the slippery political bullshiat being thrown into the gears. The motor of progress has slid into neutral because of all the rules and regulations, orders and edicts, and all the other crap that bureaucrats, in and out of the government, feed on and excrete with such relish. You know what? It's like a damned battery! The human battery's life energy is slowly being siphoned off by all of the anal retentive corporate and government regulators, and it doesn't look like it's going to get recharged any time real soon.

Human batteries. Heh heh heh. That's a good analogy, because that siphoning of life can be literally true. I've seen it! I've experienced it.... Heh heh heh. Do I sound nervous? Never mind, you'd never believe it. You won't take the time to take that second look! What's that? You want me to tell you? Why? So you can go uptown to your glass tower office and joke with your sleek, paper-shuffling associates about the crazy old man in the frayed and greasy three piece suit, the unkempt, homeless has-been, the former fast-track, six-figure executive with a Stanford MBA and PhDs in nuclear and quantum physics, who babbles on about... monsters?

* * *


Monsters.... That does them a dis-service. Aside from what they do, most of them are not monstrous at all. Some are actually pleasant to be around... when they aren't feeding. Indeed, they are often very much like you and I at our best. (But we can also be monsters; certain of the human saints and sinners would put their excesses to shame. Saints? They can be the very worst of fiends; it depends on the extent of their zeal. A True Believer can be monstrous, indeed.)

What's that? You don't know the term? Why am I not surprised? A True Believer is a fanatic, a human robot whose soul is submerged in some kind of mass movement. A True Believer thinks that the End justifies the Means (and what that translates to is that his ends justify the use of your means), and that folks who don't embrace the Holy Purpose, whatever it is, secular or religious, are enemies to be destroyed. Most of the really interesting chunks of history, or at least the reddish raw oozing slices, are due to the various and determined activities of True Believers.

No, I'm not Neoliberal or Neocon or Dominionist-baiting, and I'm not being intolerant about anyone's radical political or religious agendas... though what I'm saying applies to damn near every one of them these days. The so-called crony capitalists, those well-connected business people, are the same; sometimes I think they're the worst of the whole lot - and the most hypocritical! Christ on a crutch! If he were an honest one, I'd take a totalitarian-minded Statist thug over a two-faced trough-feeding tycoon any day! At least you know where you stand (or kneel) with the would-be dictator!

Hell, most of the larger firms (and all of the new megacorps) behave like mass movements these days. They're more like states than companies; some of them even control their own private armies. They've mutated into psychotic group-think organisms that eagerly sacrifice the integrity, the dreams, even the lives of employees (and anyone else in their reach) to the god/whore/demon trinity of cancerous growth, extorted and unearned profit, and endless bureaucratic expansion.

          The psychosis is contagious, and it seems like most people end up being both glutton and main course. I remember attending day-long staff meetings that accomplished absolutely nothing except to decide on that fiscal month's sacrifice to the Profit Gods, and to confirm the opinion of each briefcase-clad spear carrier regarding the essentially, fundamentally reptilian nature of each of the other participants. These people were monstrous: they would ruin careers, lives, and entire industries over a tenth of a percent change in operating profit, a junior executive office next to the corporate alpha male, that little extra bonus package of cocaine or illegal tobacco, or a night with a company whore.

There are other monsters. I've met more than a few at government aid offices. I'm talking about the ghouls with the pursed lips and the prissy frowns, the damp eyes and the greasy souls, the ones with cords attached to their eye-glasses so they always know exactly where they are; the fiends who walk slowly, who speak in impatient staccato tones, who taste the flavor of your fear, and who weigh the worth of permitting you to interview for that temporary minimum wage job for which they have been unable to find just that right person; the ones who get erect or warmly wet when they thoughtfully consider how they control you; the Power Junkies, who mainline on distilled despair, who decide whether you will work today, or eat next week, or live next month; the soul-farkers who, with lazy-eyed anticipation and slight catch of breath, slowly - oh! so carefully and cautiously - examine, stamp, and verify and, perhaps, approve your appeal for just one more extension of medical or food benefits....

          No, the monsters I refer to are quite a different sort. They, for the most part, do monstrous things because they have to, not because they like it. They do not, for the most part, seem to be particularly malevolent fiends. They seek neither to destroy nor to enslave us. They merely hunt us. We are their food.

And sometimes more... I know of one... I'll call her... Jean. She wanted to bed with me, to trade sex for... nourishment. She said I was attractive, but I imagine that her desire was originally based on the generic promise of an erotic midnight snack, rather than any special charms I had. I refused her at first. I had just finished putting together all the clues, had just learned the big secret, and had not yet managed to graduate from fearful revulsion to my present state of wary watchfulness....

* * *

They dwell in darkness, and hunt the night. They forage among us in the hours between sunset and dawn, unseen by all except their prey. They, too, have certain things hidden from them: they can never gaze upon the sun; its harsh light would destroy them in an instant. That is one price they pay for being immortal.

Immortal? In a sense. Barring accident or violence or a drifting, deadly ennui that may overtake them after centuries of survival, they will endure forever. This is curse as well as boon. After mortal lifetimes of repetition, existence can become a mindless habit that requires no cunning, intelligence, or effort. And unconditional immortality is often seen by them as being somehow less vital, less varied, less valid... than mere mortal life. Human mortality, with its incessant cycles of peril and potential and terror and triumph, is often envied by them. And though they may indeed long for it, the Undead cannot truly sleep the centuries away; they merely cease to function for (what is to them) a brief while.

Undead. It is the only word that describes, the only concept that works. Life is change, self-motivated, self-directed change. When change is no longer present, the organism is no longer alive. It becomes a mere lump of organic debris, like ancient driftwood. All the ingredients of life are present... except for that single secret spark that makes itself known by the fact that the organism, its parts, the very cells of the thing, are in a constant state of change.

I've been told that, seen through a microscope, their cells are static, perfect, unchanging: they do not grow, or replicate, or die. If damaged, they revert by some agency I cannot imagine, to a state that is precisely that of the way they were prior to the injury! Yet these petrified, these "frozen" cells somehow continue to perform all their separate and communal functions within the Undead body.

The Undead have no heartbeat; nutrients flow to the cells via a kind of osmosis. When at rest they do not need to breathe; except for conditions of stress or exertion, oxygen seems to be supplied completely by the nutrient. Their bodies do not generate heat; they have no natural energy state, and they assume the ambient temperature of their environment. Unlike reptiles, however, they are not affected by the external temperature, and can function as easily and as effortlessly in the Arctic or Sahara as in Los Angeles or New York.

Their bodies function perfectly, and with enhanced performance. Eyes see, ears hear, nostrils smell, and mouths speak (and do other things) in ways that we cannot equal. Their hands can caress a face like a lover's whisper, or bludgeon a body into trembling submission like a sledge hammer. They move with cat-like speed and robotic precision. Their brains possess an elevated level of electrical activity that is evidenced by, among other things, complex intrigues and masquerades, and at times outright warfare that are much more subtle than the crass plots and posturings that are carried out by mere humans.

The mingling of schemes, games, and gossip deflects their boredom and fulfills a human-like need to meet and interact. The Undead, accordingly, have their places, their hangouts -- coffeehouses and bars mostly. They can ingest limited amounts of coffee, certain herbal teas, and some of the less complex alcohols - vodka, gin, stuff like that - though these things, by themselves, have little effect on them. They often, therefore, mix these refreshments with more... unpleasant liquids.

Blood. They feed on it. It is their only food, and they crave it with a driving need which I find impossible to imagine. They can, and most do, exist mainly on the blood of animals. Now and then, however, they must feed on humans. There is an unknown vital factor, perhaps an RNA segment that less intelligent animals lack. Something that is essential if they are to remain as thinking, rational beings. Without regular access to it, they will not long survive.

Survival. Aside from the endless blood lust, survival is the other primal drive that defines their existence. Even those that hate what they have become find self-destruction impossible; the internal command to continue what they often regard as a damned existence must be obeyed. Yet they must control that imperative, or risk exposure and destruction by humans or by their own kind. Indiscriminate slaughter is frowned upon; a social faux pas. Those who prey on humans in excessive and careless ways are deemed outlaws, and are destroyed as soon as they are discovered. The cardinal rule which all must follow, even at risk of personal survival is: "Leave no sign that men can find that you were ever there."

They cloak their existence and activities with magical ease, but they are not supernatural. They cannot change into mist, or rats, or wolves, and their reflections can be seen in mirrors when you catch them unawares. The legends that you know are wrong, perhaps deliberately so. Our sophisticated rejection of the few golden kernels of truth that are carefully hidden by the absurdities of Hollywood fantasy is one of their best defenses against discovery.

It isn't their own physical form they control, but our minds: they can actually understand and adjust our thoughts and emotions in a variety of subtle ways. They merely need to touch us with a delicate desire, to lightly caress our thoughts in the entangling gossamer webs of mental powers that mere Humans lack, and our senses and judgment become fogged and distorted and what we term objective reality becomes pliable and obscured. Their world is more real than ours; we live in an illusion created by them.

That is how I detected them, by noting disparities between the world as I knew it was and had to be, and the reality that I sometimes perceived. It took weeks of introspective thought to conceptualize the astonishing truth, and then many days longer to accept the appalling reality of it. Then, thinking that they would sense my knowledge and destroy me, I lived in terror, an existential dread which over the next several months abated into a watchful apprehension.

Then, late one night, I blundered into an entire den of them, in one of their bars. Once you know their tricks and traits they are not difficult to spot, but, at first, all I saw was Humans. I learned that night that they have mortal friends, servants, lovers... groupies. These companions, these possessors of deadly knowledge are those who hunger for second-hand power, or risky eroticism, or arcane and ancient wisdom, or craven submission and fealty, and (ultimately) a chance for immortality or total oblivion. I think that, to the recipients of these passions, it appeals to a still-human residue within them to be thusly seen, recognized, acknowledged, made real by those who are still human.

...that is what happened to me...

* * *

I'd had a run-in with the police in my regular neighborhood, so I'd been working one of the nastier parts of the city. It was getting late and I was tired and cold. My nerves were on edge from the contemplative stares I was getting from some of the local Homeboys. I was more presentable than usual (courtesy of a shower and shave from my previous night's stay in the county jail for vagrancy) and I had pan-handled enough money to afford the luxury of a couple of cold beers in a warm room. I took refuge in a nearby backstreet tavern.

I had seated myself with a brew at a back table in a darkened corner, feeling unknown, inconspicuous, and safe. I sat alone, quietly savoring the yeasty bitterness, inhaling the illicit tang of black market tobacco, and listening to the strangely subdued music and slurred hum of conversation. I was being ignored by patrons and servers alike, which suited me fine. It was warm there, and I was having trouble staying awake.

My permanent state of low-grade apprehension had actually been soothed into a superficial calm, when one of the barmaids brought me an unordered drink. Dormant uneasiness transformed into sudden, paralyzing terror, and I stared at the alien beer as if it were about to spring up and pierce my throat with fangs of razor-slivered glass. I felt frozen in time, like some small animal transfixed by the ruthless glare of an on-rushing headlight. My vision became narrowed down to perceiving, with an extraordinary clarity, only the few square inches of tabletop occupied by that terrifying, fascinating mug.

I cannot say how long I was in this state. It could have been seconds or minutes - it seemed like neither or both. My judgment in all things, even to the marking of passing time, was suspended. When I could again see-think-move, I found that I was no longer alone. Seated across from me, quietly observing me, was what seemed to be a rather attractive young woman, but what my lethal knowledge and now-unhindered senses told me was one of them.

She was attractive. She appeared to be in her early twenties. Her face was the color of pale, clear ivory - not totally white like a fine marble, but having a hint of color. Her face was framed by shoulder length chestnut hair, which she wore like an afterthought in a softly shining wash-and-wear style. Her elegant body was a flawless counterfeit of perfectly proportioned womanhood, set within a stylishly snug flat-black jumpsuit that was just the thing to wear on a midnight urban safari. Her demeanor was that of a groomed, resting cat: relaxed, yet attentive. She sat quietly straight, ankles casually crossed. One arm dangled limply across her leg; the other was upright on the table, and terminated in long, aristocratic fingers holding an illegal cigarette which she was smoking with obvious, impish relish. Shockingly light blue eyes gazed coquettishly from beneath quizzically tilted brows, and her full red lips were set in a quiet, closed grin which, even through my fear, I could see was devilish, rather than demonic.

This was Jean. She introduced herself by another name, but I won't tell you what it was, not now. It has been some months since that meeting, you see, and I've developed an attachment to her and feel rather protective. You must understand that, in a very real sense, her kind are actually more vulnerable than are we Humans. We, after all, can fight or flee at any hour of the clock; they (though supreme in the darkness) are utterly helpless during the day, and must rely on human associates, retainers, and friends for protection.

It was soon plain that Jean was aware of my knowledge. She treated it as a joke (indeed, what Human would have believed me?) and yet applauded the astuteness and rigor of my observations. I believe that my singular ability to discern the simple truth amidst the glut of artful superstition was as fascinating to her as the reality of her existence was to me.

We talked. She knew I had been a scientist, and comfortably steered the conversation onto that path. We talked about existence, about quantum physics and string theory (my love), and about computer programming (her latest passion). We talked about the Secret, and the conceivable theories that could explain it. My God, I wanted to die. For the first time in years, I was faced with that most politically incorrect of creatures, that most malevolent of monsters: an intelligent, inquiring, and skeptical mind. She truly wanted to hear new ideas! She actually enjoyed listening to concepts and opinions that she did not already embrace, and she was neither afraid nor resentful of a mind that, at least in certain areas, was fuller and more thoroughly trained than hers.

We talked for hours, until my beer was warm and flat and the bar had long since closed. By then, it was obvious that she was privileged. The hired help left us alone in the quiet and darkened room, our table lit only by the bar's dim green exit signs and the reflected orange flicker of the semi-functional sodium vapor street lamps, seen darkly through the small and sun-shaded windows.

Gradually, in careful tiptoe steps, we found ourselves wandering away from the safely dry abstractions of theory and the more personal yet still "safe" domains of our professional interests. Guardedly, yet almost with gratitude, we began offering up for scrutiny and evaluation the more private things that we loved and despised. There was no question of pretense; we accepted the fact that nothing but our personal realities, the inner truths that each of us held, could satisfy the mutual need of shared loneliness. We exchanged our secrets: the triumphs and the tragedies, the goals won and held, the desires gained and lost, the impossible dreams we had longed for, but had never attained... and the purposes we had considered, but had never dared to desire.

As we had talked, my desperately controlled fear had quietly evaporated into a subdued... watchfulness. Make no mistake: I was very much aware of what she was and that, in the normal course of events, I might simply have been her prey for the night. But I found myself accepting the necessity of those facets of her existence for which I felt dread and repugnance, and I became aware that this supremely capable killing machine was also a lovely and lonely being (no, woman) who - for longer than I had been alive - had despaired of finding an understanding, sympathetic consciousness, someone to whom she could confide the yearnings and secret dreams which she had always thought to be hopeless fantasies. I believe she regarded my informed ability to understand and accept her as an individual person to be a rare prize to be protected and cherished.

I then perceived that the root of all fear is the Unknown; that once one understands the nature of a thing, no matter how terrible or deadly it is, fear vanishes like midnight dew. I felt that I understood Jean, and I found that my dread had been replaced by the same type of respectful (and perhaps more than somewhat deferential) emotional bond that one might feel for a domesticated Bengal tiger.

We talked until, with a shared quiet astonishment, we saw the first glow of dawn begin to compete with man's artificial glare. She paused in the middle of a sentence and (like a climber reluctant to forsake the conquered heights) hesitated..... then plunged back down to the flatland reality of the world, saying that it was now necessary for her, and safe for me, to leave.

We walked out together, not bothering to set any alarm. (I guessed that that particular business would not be invaded or looted by the local barbarians). She asked me to return the next evening. I did not answer, but turned for a moment to consider the luminous east. When I looked back, she had vanished like a darkened dream.

* * *

Insane though it sounds, I did go back - not the next night, or the next, but after three days and two nights, spent in indecisive gloom. The staid, timid part of me was aghast at meeting with a monster; but a more reckless and, it seemed, emerging part of me cherished that midnight tryst. This dangerous part eventually won out: I returned to the bar on the third night.

She wasn't there. And, though I stayed until closing, she did not appear. I could not bear it. My final decision to return had taken all the willpower and courage I had; I felt I could never again summon the strength to repeat it.

Nevertheless, I resolved to, and did, go back to that bar each night for the rest of the week. I began to think, however, that my boldness and purpose were to no avail: it was as though I had imagined the entire experience.

I noticed one interesting fact, though, something that proved to the skeptic in me that the extraordinary meeting had indeed happened: word had apparently been spread, and I no longer received interested inspections from the indigenous toughs. I was, in fact, pointedly ignored. I learned later that Jean had declared me "protected." Though I am uncertain as to what the mechanism of this aegis was, the local gangsters (and others of Jean's kind, I found out) were made to understand that unpleasant things would happen to anyone who molested me.

During that entire week I felt I was going insane. Perhaps I was already mad, or perhaps she had hypnotized me. It became an intolerable obsession. It was as if I was possessed. I haunted that bar, like a willing sacrifice embracing the alter stone of some ghastly yet fascinating religion, impatiently waiting for the arrival of the priestess who would rip out my beating heart.

And when, at last she did appear, seeking me, beguiling me, persuading me with silver tongued entreaties and the perfect movements of her perfect body, I succumbed in a sort of appalling rapture to the coaxing and craving words which flowed from that terrible and attractive mouth.

She took me to her lair. I resignedly took this, at the time, as a sign that I would never be seen alive again. I later realized that it was a demonstration of her trust in me, of her belief in and reliance on my discretion and integrity. (I tell you this: after years of suffering the contempt and indifference of my fellow human beings, that was the one thing that I most desperately needed.)

It was a simple studio apartment, like any other you have ever seen in the projects: one of innumerable assembly-line burrows hidden deep within the heaped mounds of the blandly anonymous warrens that pass for much of human lodging these days. Like most, it was an interior apartment without windows or skylights, and could be approached only by wary passage through decaying and gang-infested halls and stairwells, all painted in standard anesthetized shades of grays and greens. She ignored both the gangsters and the ruined security cameras, which - dangling from their wall perches like throttled birds - gave mute evidence as to who had won control of the corridors.

Like the halls, her triple-locked and dead-bolted apartment was drably modern. She had paid little attention to decoration; this was not her real home, only one of several secure places to bury herself away from the sun's power in daily, death-like trance. The kitchen area was an immaculate stage: it was stocked with enough food and various cooking paraphernalia to sustain an illusion of activity for the benefit of the casually occasional management busybody, but was never used. The adjacent living area did not contain a coffin, only a twin bed covered by a frilly pink comforter. The sole concession to a Gothic mood was that the bed was of the four-poster canopied variety.

There was no coyness, no conversation, no highball-on-the-sofa stage. It seemed that all promises had been made and kept, all decisions agreed to, all purposes achieved, on that first night. As one, our hands fumbled at each other's clothing, seeking freedom, seeking access. She guided me to the shower where we washed each other; next, to the bed. The state of my mind and emotions were such that I serenely obeyed those gentle, irresistible arms. She was shaking with her special need, and as I searched the limitless depths of her eyes I could see something very old, older than her, far older than even the most ancient of her kind: primeval, nakedly eager desire, an all-encompassing hunger to completely consume the beloved prey.

The strain of curbing the acts that instinct and emotion were demanding of her had activated her breathing reflex. Her mouth was half open, as she labored for short, ragged gasps of air. Her eyes closed to narrow slits, and her head fell limply back. I could now see into her mouth, and observed with wonder the two delicate, needle-sharp, inch-long fangs which were slowly and rhythmically sliding out of and into, out of and into, their hiding places in her upper jaw.

Her head moved again, falling forward against my chest, chestnut hair flying up in a tangle into my face. Her hands - which had been like steel straps holding my arms - released me as she lowered her arms under mine. She rubbed fingers arched like delicate diamond talons slowly up and down my back, tracing the outline of my spine, pressing insistently into the meat of my shoulder blades, reaching up to caress the skin of my neck and to lightly linger at the places where - I was sure - she could feel the living tide of my blood.

Her arms tightened, and she abruptly pulled me closer, hands gripping my head and shoulder, keeping them firmly immobile, the expanse of skin between them taut and unprotected. Her head moved forward, and she buried her face there, lips slowly and softly tracing the upward path of the pulsing vein. I felt her lips part ever so slightly, and I knew with a completely unconditional clarity that Death was there. I began to shiver as those astonishing needles emerged and - barely touching my skin - gently retraced the vein's course back down the expanse of my neck. She paused... and then she shuddered and the moment passed. Her hands spasmed once into a vise-like grip and released me, and she pressed her now trembling body against mine. Her head moved again, rolling onto my shoulder, down onto my arm, her legs and body seeming to fold up like those of a crumpled paper doll. Her hair fell back away, and she gazed placidly up at me, defeated yet victorious, waiting, her softly glowing eyes devoid of everything but aching appetite.

She was so beautiful, so perfect, so... complete! I gazed down at this monster cradled in my arms and the clock of reality stopped for what seemed a long while. And while it was stopped, it seemed as if all the certainties and opinions, fact and fancy, gods and de

(blah blah blah)
 
2017-10-25 12:54:08 PM  
Take a Second Look (continued):

          She was so beautiful, so perfect, so... complete! I gazed down at this monster cradled in my arms and the clock of reality stopped for what seemed a long while. And while it was stopped, it seemed as if all the certainties and opinions, fact and fancy, gods and devils, learning and superstition, and presumed good and evil of the world paraded in front of me and presented themselves in their confused splendor for my inspection and evaluation. I considered their worth, and then, finally, turned my gaze outward. She was very near. I kissed her.

Her lips were not ice cold, like the movies and books would have you believe, but were still somewhat cool to my lips. But it was not like kissing a corpse. I knew, with a pristine shining certainty, that this was, rather, a vibrantly alive woman who was needing and yearning, and who was responding to the growing passions that I - may God help me - was in turn feeling for her.

Somehow, I will never be sure just how or when, we joined together and I lost control. My perception of, and need for the world imploded into a monomaniacal, thrusting, awareness of the joining that we had created. She responded. Her back arched and she cried out. The sounds she made were inarticulate, but the thwarted meaning was clear: she needed something more. I knew what it was.

I gently pulled her head down next to mine, stroking her hair, her cheeks, her lips, and traced with a single finger, each in turn, the deadly ivory outlines of her need. We mouthed mindless and soundless words to each other, neither of us knowing or caring what was said, valuing only that they were said. Then - at last - I turned my head away, bared my neck to her desire, and said goodbye to the world.

          Her fangs slid in easily, almost without sensation, with just a faint whisper, a dim lost echo, of pain. I felt paralyzed; even if I had wanted to, I could not have moved in the least. But I didn't want to: her control over my will and desire was total, and I wished only to lie there, next to this beautiful, wonderful monster, and listen to the gentle sucking sound of life - my life! - filling and renewing her existence.

It was more than just a simple extraction of fluid; it was as if my very essence was being consumed. I could feel her need for the blood, but in the furious swirling of my soul I also felt something else. It almost seemed as though her ultimate thirst was not for the mere material qualities of the blood, but for the metaphysical things that made me human: the joys and sorrows and hopes and fears that defined and made real the vector sum of my existence as a being. It was as though she sought to steal my spirit, my battery's life force, to re-energize her own.

Her feeding stopped. The draining of my soul was suspended and there was a silence in the room, a serene and peaceful hush. I felt her lips and tongue kiss and lick the wound, and - incredibly - felt the punctures itch and move as my flesh and skin healed. She then lifted her head, and looked at my face. Hers was an open, trembling question mark.

I looked at her, and felt her body under my hands. She now had a muted flush to her cheeks, and a hint of warmth to her skin, and I knew, somehow, that I had not really sustained her, that what she had taken was not enough to survive. But I also knew that I had brought a small measure of life, albeit of a temporary sort, to someone who had none of her own to give, and that she was grateful for the fact that it was freely given.

And yet, in a sense, she did have life to give. She had given me back my life. I thought: some humans are Undead, more-so than Jean; their souls and minds are frozen, unchanging, trapped like ancient pine needles embedded in amber. Jean's body may be Undead, but her mind-soul-spirit is very much alive. She gave me some of that vitality, and brought me back, for a time, from the living death that I now endure.

I looked at her, and then pulled her head down again and kissed her red upon red lips. She put her head, once more, into the curve of my neck and snuggled close to me. I closed my eyes and slept.

* * *

I returned to her apartment many times, always just before dusk, to make sure she would be there. From the very first, there was no fear or aversion or doubt. I saw beyond the merely physical aspects of what I came to think of as her medical condition. She saw beyond the fact of my mere humanity, my natural status as prey, to regard me as her lover. The trust and passion was mutual and complete. I was consumed with her, and (in no small part) by her, relying on the strength of her willpower and love to hold instinct in check. And she, in turn, surrendered the safeguarding of her immortality into the hands and judgment of a mortal.

It was she who called an end to the relationship. I would have had it continue until my end. In spite of the blindness that is often caused by passion, she finally saw the weakness of my body and spirit that was being created by her constant tiny attentions. And, after nursing me back to health with orange juice, high protein liquids, and large portions of rare red meat, she insisted that the affair be terminated.

          I begged her to finish it and make me like her. She responded that two such as herself could never feel the same depth of passion as we had felt, that something else - some part of the soul? - seemed to die with the body. Her kind were solitary predators; though they could and did meet socially, there was always a layer of reservation that made each of them sufficient unto themselves. She offered the boon I asked, but insisted that it would mean the death of our love for each other.

She, rather, held out the possibility that one day after I had fully recovered we could again share together in the ways that brought us so much ecstasy. And she promised that, were I on death's doorstep, she would know it and come to me, and - should I still want it - give me the boon I asked.

* * *

That was some time ago. I have not seen Jean in several months. I've returned, many times, to the Nigh... to that bar..., but I think that she, and the others, are avoiding me. No, I haven't tried going back to her apartment. My rationalizations will work only so far and - even now - I still want to live.

Jean really did awaken a new sense of life in me: a fresh ability to seek, to care, a desire to once again reach out and grasp the world by its rumpled collar and shake something new and starched and shiny out of that stained and careworn cloth. But, as with her, I am now one of the world's living dead. The generator has had too much corruption thrown into its rusting windings, and the battery has been drained too many times and now cannot hold a charge.

I cannot seem to find within me the desire to self-perpetuate that sense of passionate living that Jean re-awakened in my soul. And if I go back to her, I'm afraid of what might happen, of what I might ask of her. It's like an addiction, you see. It must be adaptive evolution of a sort, a mutation: her kind must possess a pheromone that functions as a sexual attractant. That's how they feed, as well as create new generations, by attracting addicted humans to be - not only their willing converts - but their willing victims...

But things are coming to a head. This pathetic safety net of mine is going to unravel very soon now. They're banning aluminum cans and glass bottles next month, and there's no decent money any more in plastic. My identification papers were taken by the police last week, and now they can't seem to find them. Without papers, I can't get a work permit. My final emergency unemployment insurance expires next month. The food stamp allotment has already been taken away, and the soup kitchen lost its permit and closed down two days ago. The government medical insurance has been stopped, and the Siberian Flu season is coming soon. Someone stole my bedroll two days ago. I have no idea what I will do...

...Perhaps I will take Jean up on her kind offer...

..........................Yes.

...I'll be seeing you!

* * * * *

 
2017-10-25 1:21:56 PM  

shortymac: Is this the official halloween thread or practice, either way I know what I am doing all day


This is the one I'm using for tallying the votes for TF sponsorships, if that helps.
 
2017-10-25 2:20:44 PM  
I tell this one every year.

Beer 'fridge.


img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-10-25 4:25:49 PM  
I saw my Mom's RED bush when I was a kid. YUCK! Never did like Gingers anyway....
 
2017-10-25 5:04:55 PM  

MOPAR BLUE: I saw my Mom's RED bush when I was a kid. YUCK! Never did like Gingers anyway....


media.giphy.comView Full Size
 
2017-10-25 5:57:56 PM  
img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-10-25 6:18:02 PM  
Sometimes people lose their way.

That was something my grandmother said, years and years ago.  I don't remember the context.  It's a thought that's stuck with me, something that comes back whenever I hear about tragedy or misfortune or someone's carefully built life crashing down around them.  It came back to me a few years ago, when I watched a good friend of mine lose his mind.

We had graduated high school and college together in a circle of friends; we'd spent Beach Week down at Nags Head year after year, all eight or nine of us, or whoever of us could get out of work and responsibilities for a week of debauchery.  As the years went by, fewer and fewer of us could make the trip, but we still stayed in touch.  We went to each other's weddings, we celebrated everyone's promotions.  Friends to the end, we said.

When Dan got married to a woman none of us liked or trusted, we still went to the wedding.  Dan was always the guy who did stupid things and got out of them unscathed by sheer luck; any of us could tell you a story about him and a drunken bet involving a bottle of rum and a roman candle that should, by all rights, have ended with him in the emergency room.  She probably wasn't completely bad; no one really is, but Dan had just landed a high-dollar job as a program manager for an aerospace firm, making more money than anyone we knew, and we all assumed she was a gold digger.  Well, Dan would stumble through it one way or another, we thought; what we didn't realize, I guess, was how much he actually loved her.  When I looked at her, I could only see trouble.

In the deep winter of the next year they had a daughter.  There were complications; I don't really know the details.  They named the poor girl Laura after Dan's grandmother.  At least Dan's high-dollar insurance paid for the transplants needed to give his daughter a coin's toss chance at surviving until puberty.

It was four years later that I got the call.  Anne, one of our circle of friends, gave me the news; little Laura was in the hospital again, this time with an opportunistic infection in her lungs.  Some wandering pathogen, seeing the weakened state of her immune system, had settled in with a vengeance.  The anti-rejection drugs that had kept her alive this long had simply left the door open for another monster to steal in.

We met at the hospital; Dan was composed, but brittle.  His wife was nowhere to be seen.  I didn't want to bring it up; maybe she was at home, sedated; maybe the tragedy had overcome her.  I can't imagine what could have lent Dan, poor dumb lucky Dan, the ability to stay strong through this mess; either courage or fatalism, I'm not sure.  Either way, when the ICU surgeon came in to ask to talk to Dan alone, and he had that look, Dan stayed composed.

His wife was not at the funeral, either.

I'm not brave enough to ask some questions, but Anne will never back down from anything.  Before the service started, she asked him directly: "Where's Brandy?  How's she doing?"

"I don't know," he said, staring off into the distance.  "She's gone."

"What?" Anne said.

"She cleaned out the bank account and maxed out the cards and disappeared.  I don't know where she is." He said this with a matter-of-fact expression, as if discussing the time of day.  No, more mechanical than anything, I thought; it was as if something inside of him had died and his shell was being kept alive on life support.

The wake was . . . strained.  Anne had to be physically dragged into a back room to keep her quiet; she was trying to find some clue of where Brandy had gone, so she could track her down and kick her ass.  The pastor from Dan's church was there, seeming befuddled and lost.  Dan himself picked at his food, as if waiting for his luck to change back to normal.  After a few hours, I couldn't take it anymore and left.  I made it to the bar to take my own dose of anti-rejection drugs, in my case hoping to stave off a rejection of the nihilism that's the only rational response to meaningless tragedy.

We kept an eye on Dan in the months that followed.  He seemed to stabilize.  He made it back to work, started putting his life back together.  In the times I caught up with him, he never really seemed his old self; it was as if some part of him had been cut out and left to rot on the floor of the operating room.  His wife, Brandy, never reappeared.  I never heard him mention her again.

Months passed.  I managed to get caught up in a project of my own at work, which devoured my time; development on some system or other was far behind schedule and I had to step in to try to stem the bleeding.  Ten hour days gave way to twelve hour days and somewhere along the line fall turned into winter.  The snow was falling one weekend evening as I staggered home and my phone rang.

"Jesus Christ," Anne said.  "I've been trying to call you for hours.  Where the fark have you been?"

"Meetings," I said.  It was true; I'd had my phone off most of the day.  "Why? What's going on?"

"Dan," she said.  "He's lost his shiat.  You need to talk to him, you're the only one he talks to."

"Where is he?"

"His house.  He's been there for weeks, far as I can tell.  I think he quit his job."

"Oh, Jesus.  Did his wife show back up or something?"

"I don't know.  Get the hell over here, he needs you."

When a friend needs you, you go.  You don't make excuses, you don't worry about how exhausted you are, you go.  Anne had gone; I met her at the door to his house.  She looked pissed off, which wasn't unusual.

Dan was a mess.  The house was a mess; dirty dishes were piled in the sink.  Dirty laundry was everywhere else.  A few small patches of order showed where Anne had been trying to make a difference; they barely stood out against the rest of the trashed house.  Dan himself was disheveled, wearing a dirty bathrobe with a bandage on the side of his neck.  Anne, furious at what had happened to our friend, was no help; I pushed her out the door and told her to come back and check on him in the morning.

"Dan, what's going on?" I asked, once she was gone.

He shrugged lifelessly.  He looked weak and hungry.  I debated washing some dishes to cook something, assuming he even had any food left in the house, and ordered a pizza instead.  He liked those god-awful Hawaiian pizzas with pineapple, so I ordered one of those.  I said he was a friend; I didn't say he had any taste.

When he was distracted with food I checked the house.  I couldn't find any evidence of drugs or alcohol abuse; he had fewer empty bottles in the trash than I did at my place.  I didn't see any prescriptions.  Only . . . only in the baby room, little Laura's old bed room on the second floor, a window had been broken for what must have been some time.  Water had run down the wall from it; the wall was slick and dark with black mold or slime.

A scrapbook was open on Dan's bed.  It was filled with baby pictures of Laura.  I closed it and put it on the dresser.

"Jesus, man, you gotta tell me what's going on," I said.  "It's me.  Remember, you can talk to me about anything.  Anything."

He shook his head, still staring off into the distance.  As he moved, the bandage on his neck slipped slightly.  The skin underneath looked gray and dead.

"What the hell did you do to your neck?"  I asked.  "Have you gone to a doctor?  Wait, don't answer that.  Your ass is getting in my car right now, and we're going to the-"

He shook his head again.  "She . . ." he trailed off.

"She?" I repeated.

"She kissed me." was all he would say.

"Who?" I demanded.  My skin was crawling.  Something about the hollow way he looked at me sent shivers down my spine.  "Who?  Brandy?  Did Brandy-"

"Laura," he whispered.

What do you say to something like that?  Laura was dead.  She had been in the ground for months.  How do you tell someone that their child was dead, and wasn't coming back?  How do you tell your friend that he's losing his mind, that months of the grief he must have been covering or pretending to ignore had piled up, had come crashing down on him as an avalanche that had swept his feet out from under him, leaving him lost and confused and having no idea what was real anymore?

Sometimes people lose their way, I imagined my grandmother saying.

"Look," I said, groping for words.  "Listen.  You're exhausted.  You're not making sense. You need to get some sleep.  I'm gonna get you a sleeping pill.  I want you to take it, and I want you to relax.  We're gonna get all this sorted out, but I need you to be strong for me.  Can you do that?"

He nodded weakly.  "I don't know what's going on," he said.

I found a bottle of sleeping pills in the bathroom and made him take two, washing them down with a glass of water I rinsed out in the sink.  They must have started taking effect almost immediately, as his eyes started to droop.

I dragged enough dirty laundry off of the bed to make a space for him and led him into it.  "Anne's going to be here in the morning," I said.  "She's going to take you to get someone to look at your neck.  Jeez, man, that looks almost as bad as the time Barry got drunk and burned his leg with the hibachi at beach week, remember that?"

For a moment, a ghost of a smile flickered across his face.  Then it was gone.  "Laura, she-"

I didn't want to hear whatever he might say.  At the same time, I couldn't think of any way to stop him.  He breathed deeply for a moment.

"She  . . . she kisses me.  I don't how to say no to her.  All she ever wanted was to be kissed."

I was having a hard time seeing.  "She was a good girl."

He looked at the wall for a moment.  "If something bad happens . . . I want you to . . . I want you to take the scrapbook.  Her pictures," he said. "I want someone to take care of them.  Someone who knows what they mean."

"I'll . . . I'll take care of them.  But you, you're going to get some sleep.  Okay?  Anne's going to be here in the morning."

He nodded, and closed his eyes.

I turned off the light and closed the door.  I felt awful; I don't know if it was a premonition or simple existential despair; either way I poured the bottle of sleeping pills into the toilet and collected every sharp object I could find from the house.  He didn't have any guns that I knew of or could find.  If something bad did happen to him, it wouldn't be by his own hand, whatever his mental state might be.

I pulled his house key from his keyring and hid it under a rock near the front door for Anne on the way out, texting her with its location and a 'get him to dr in am'.  Her 'kk' response was almost immediate.  She must have been waiting for something from me.

 For almost a full minute I simply stood there, watching the snow fall, savoring the cold; and then I remembered the black mold or slime on the wall under the broken window and shivered in a way that the cold couldn't explain.

When Anne called me in the morning she was crying.  I had never heard her cry before.  I couldn't make out any words, but it didn't matter; her voice told me everything I needed to know.

The police wanted to talk to me, of course.  I was the last one who'd seen Dan alive.  They wanted to know why I had taken all of the knives and sharp objects from his house, what we'd talked about.  I told them almost everything, for what it was worth.  I felt guilty, like I should have stayed with him or I should have called someone, or, I dunno, something.  I should have done something more.  I said all of this to the cops, while I wallowed in self-loathing.  They didn't seem to care.  I think their entire involvement was a perfunctory checking-off-all-the-boxes effort; the case had already been ruled a death-by-misadventure.  Sometime in the middle of the night he had crawled through the broken, slime-streaked window in Laura's room and fallen to the concrete sidewalk twenty feet below.  An autopsy would rule if his death had come from trauma or from freezing, they said, a question for which I had no interest in the answer.

The only thing I didn't tell them was Dan's last request for me to take Laura's pictures and take care of them.  I pictured Brandy coming back to the house, and in my mind's eye I saw her throwing them away.  I couldn't make the words form in my mouth.  I said nothing.  When they were done with me, I went back to his house.

The key was under the rock where I'd left it for Anne.  I half expected the place to be strung with police tape like some scene from a drama, but the only change I could see was a sheet of plastic someone had stretched over the broken window.  Inside, the air had a still, heavy quality; a sickly-sweet odor lingered I hadn't noticed the night before.  It smelled like decay.  Probably the garbage, which hadn't been taken out for who knows how long; maybe the black mold in the bedroom above.

I went to the master bedroom and found the scrapbook, on the dresser where I had left it.  For a moment, I debated opening it to see again the pictures of Laura that Dan had apparently valued over anything else, and instead held it firmly shut.  I don't know what I was feeling, or I can't put it into words.  My friend was dead, and in my uselessness I had done nothing to prevent it.  I felt dizzy; maybe I was coming down with the flu.  Maybe I had been spending too much time freezing in the winter air.  Maybe it was what I deserved.

After a moment I opened the scrapbook and looked at all that was left of Laura and Dan.  She had been a beautiful kid, I thought.  At least there was that.

I heard a sound from Laura's room.

Part of me pictured Brandy lurking in the bedroom of the dead child and I was instantly livid.  I pushed the door open, ready to demand answers, and was rooted to the spot when I saw what was inside.

Laura was standing in the black slime below the broken window.  She held her arms out, as if asking for a kiss.

"No," I said, stunned.

She held her arms out to me, again, palpably there and yet . . . my mind refused to work.  She wanted a kiss.  All she ever wanted was to be kissed, Dan had said.  In my stunned state I could see her clearly; warm, full of life.

And covered with thin black strands of the black mold or slime under the window.

"You're not Laura," I said.  It was as if my mouth were working on its own.  "I don't know what you are, but you're not Laura, Laura's dead."

I trailed off and all at once she wasn't there.  All that was left, or had ever been there, was a sickening growth of slime, some kind of opportunistic fungal growth slowly digesting the house itself.  I fled in panic and never looked back.

I don't know what it was that I saw.  Almost certainly it was nothing.  Almost certainly, it was a hallucination brought on by grief and guilt and stress.  The black mold Laura could not have been anything other than a figment of my overworked mind.  I know that much at least.  I never mentioned what I saw to Anne or anyone else; not that anyone ever asked.  When I made it home I poured a stiff drink that turned into three and then turned into more until it was enough that I could pretend to have forgotten the whole sorry hallucination.  It had to be nothing.

It had to be nothing, because if it was something, than it was nothing more than an opportunistic infection of a mind, of a spirit already broken by loss and pretending to be okay in front of his friends so they couldn't see his pain.  If that were true, then we would have failed him badly by not being there for him until it had taken everything from him that was left.  Perhaps Dan hadn't lost his way after all; perhaps he had simply been led astray in the darkness.

Perhaps I had been able to reject it, as my own immune system for madness had not yet been worn down by tragedy and despair.  Or, even worse; perhaps it, as a predator, had simply had its fill for the moment and only toyed with me out of instinct, letting me go when it had no desire to feed.

I still have Dan's scrapbook.  He'd asked me to keep it safe, after all.  Every so often I pull it down from the shelf and look at the cover, but I never open it.
 
2017-10-25 7:04:31 PM  
Shiat, I thought I had a few more days to work on this...

==========

The Things In Your Bedroom: A Child's Survival Guide

NOTE: This is an excerpt of a work in progress. One day I might actually finish it.
If I do this right, it will scare the Hell out of children. It will also help them get over their fears. I'm not going to tell kids there's nothing in their closet. I'm going to tell them there probably is something in their closet, but there's something they can do about it.

My target audience is kids aged 8-12, and their parents. I intend it to be educational and entertaining. I want to help kids overcome their fears of Things In Their Rooms At Night, but also encourage them to learn.
Everyone who's read this draft suggests the vocabulary is beyond what kids that age normally read. I agree. That's why there will be a glossary and lots of footnotes. If I do it right, I'll make kids feel smart for learning new words. It will also frighten them.

Every Thing in the book can be defeated by learning about various related subjects: spiders, Latin, biology, history, literature, and so on. In a way, I want to turn kids into little Van Helsings. They should feel well armed against the Things that scare them.

The final product will be amply illustrated. I've included a few sketches here, but the final product will be formatted as a survival guide, with bullet points and diagrams.

======================================​======

The Things In Your Bedroom: A Child's Survival Guide

Introduction
    As you probably know, your bedroom--especially at night--is infested with malevolent entities. Most kids know this instinctively. You know not to hang your hand or foot over the edge of the bed; you know that if you don't move they can't see you. Your blanket is an effective defense against many threats. You might even know that you should never walk backwards in the dark. These instincts have kept you alive so far, but you also know that one of those Things will get you some dark night if you don't learn to defend yourself.
    This manual was compiled from dozens of interviews with survivors, and the diaries of those who did not survive. It will teach you advanced survival skills. You will learn what attracts Bedroom Things, and you will learn to repel them. You will learn their weaknesses. You will learn to recognize them, how to deceive them, and how to know when they're gone.
    None of these entities can be destroyed, but if you follow these lessons, they will lose interest in you and go bother someone else.

======================
Chapter 1

The Thing Under Your Bed

    This is by far the most common Bedroom Thing. It is thought to dwell under 95% of children's beds, and also the other 5%. Fortunately, it's the easiest to avoid. It's also one of the easiest to defeat.
Most people are surprised to learn that the Thing Under Your Bed is made almost entirely of Dust Bunnies.1
    Dust Bunnies [fig. i] are harmless little tumbleweeds of dust and hair and lint that accumulate under your bed. They're harmless--that is, until they become haunted by the ghosts of dead spiders. [fig. ii] The spider ghosts think the dust bunnies are their webs, because spider ghosts aren't very smart. They're in kind of a dream state, like most ghosts. (See Ch. 3.) As the spider ghosts haunt the dust bunnies, and as they try to make sense of their dream-webs, they weave themselves together like a web that's made of spider ghosts and dog hair and your hair and lint and bad dreams.

When you have that many ghost spiders together, they can form a neural network. [see]
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A schematic of a portion of a neural network made of spider ghosts (dust bunnies not shown)


Much as ant colonies behave as a single super-organism, the spider ghosts behave as a single, shape-shifting brain. The spider ghosts weave themselves and the dust bunnies into whatever shapes cross their nascent web-mind. The most common shape they take is that of a spider. However--and this is important--spiders are psychic. That's how their ghosts make their web-mind: by reading each others' thoughts. That web-mind can read your thoughts, too. And it can take any shape you imagine. If you imagine a giant spider, guess what? A giant spider will be lurking under your bed, waiting for you to let your guard down.
POP QUIZ:

Q: Why did you imagine a giant spider?

A: Because spiders are psychic. They made you imagine the shape they prefer.


If you imagine a misshapen person under your bed, with empty eye sockets and impossibly long fingers, flesh falling from its skeleton; the spider ghosts will take that shape.

If you imagine a giant centipede whose legs are made of big centipedes, and the big centipedes' legs are made of medium-size centipedes... the spider ghosts will take that shape.

If you imagine a brick... they'll take the shape of a spider. You can't make them take the shape of non-living things (except zombies and vampires).

Imagining something cute and cuddly won't work. That adorable hamster you imagine will stuff you into its cheek pouches.

Imagining a plant will just make it turn into a killer plant-thing. Did you know there are killer plant-things?

[Illustration: Venus Flytrap, Sundew, Pitcher Plant, etc.]

So what can you do?

DEFENSIVE MEASURES

As with any Thing in your bedroom, the best way to defeat it is to make sure it never finds you. Obviously, the best way to keep The Thing Under Your Bed away is to be sure there are no dust bunnies under your bed. One device in particular can ensure you never encounter this particular Thing.
.

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pictured above: The best defense against The Thing Under Your Bed


If, for some reason, you let dust bunnies accumulate under your bed, there are other measures you can take to overcome The Thing Under Your Bed.

Here's the trick: You can make them take the shape of imaginary living things.
There is at least one living thing you can imagine that will neutralize the Thing Under Your Bed: an Ouroboros.

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Ouroboros


An Ouroboros is a snake that's swallowing its own tail. When you imagine an Ouroboros, the Thing Under Your Bed will begin to devour itself. It won't actually swallow itself down to nothing--it will just be a convulsing, clenching knot of dust and spider ghosts, attempting to get inside itself--and it will be confused enough to leave you alone for the rest of the night.

If for some reason your imagination fails, and the Thing Under Your Bed takes its natural spider shape, it will stay away if it thinks you're a spider. If you learn to admire spiders, they'll leave you alone. Learn everything you can about spiders: spider anatomy, how many species there are, spider habitats, and so on. If you know enough about spiders, The Thing Under Your Bed will respect you and stay under there. Therefore, the best long-term solution is to learn everything you can about spiders.

This presents a distinct danger, however: If you think about spiders eating you, that's what the Thing Under Your Bed will do. Do not think about your sheets as a giant web tightening around you, because that is what they will become. Instead, imagine that you're a spider, and the sheets are your web. Anything that trespasses will be trapped. This works every time it's done correctly.

How to detect:
1) You suddenly start thinking about spiders
2) You hear something moving under your bed
3) You were thinking about X, and now X is under the covers with you.
UNFUN FACT

When a light bulb burns out, the ghosts of moths and flies buzz around it.

Spiders aren't the only arthropods to have ghosts.


1 Also known as dust kitties, dust kittens, dust chinchillas, dust wombats, etc.

=====================================​=​===

Chapter 2:

The Thing in Your Closet


If the Thing Under Your Bed is the most common bedroom entity, the Thing in Your Closet is the most dangerous. No one really knows what it is, which makes it that much harder to combat. General consensus is that it is the same Thing as the Bogeyman1, based on similarities in behavior and appearance. One survivor described it as "a man-shaped heap of shadows and old clothes and teeth." Another said it looked like "someone stuck a bunch of roadkill on a hobo with a bear's mouth." Accoding to some survivors, it laughs or chuckles right before it strikes. Others have heard it panting "like it couldn't wait "

A diary recovered from a non-surviving victim gives one of the most detailed descriptions from a single witness:

"It stands in the back of my closet in the shadows. I think it comes out of the shadows. It just stands there and watches me. It is wide. It is tall. It has eyes. I can't tell if it has a head."
[...]
"I can barely see it. It hides in the shadows. When it moves, I can see it better. It might have big ears like a wolf or a bat."
[...]
"Big hands with long nails. It reached for me and a car drove by and I saw its hands in the headlights. I think it wears a long coat with a high collar pulled up. collar looks like ears. eyes=nostrils? head in chest? I don't know if it has eyes."
[...]
"It has eyes and fingernails and teeth. Can't tell if it has a head. I think its clothes are part of its body."
For the full diary entry, see Appendix A.

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This much is known: it wants to drag you from your bed into the closet, which is a portal to its lair. Once you're there, it will try to chain you to the floor or wall, torture you, and eat you. Survivors who escaped the lair reported bones strewn about the floor, and skeletons in chains everywhere. One survivor described a filthy medical laboratory with bone saws and rusty scalpels on the floor, and bloody basins where severed hearts still beat hopelessly.
Its lair has thousands of halls lined with doors, each of which leads to a different closet.
The lair is a vast shambles resembling a castle, a factory, and a Victorian house. It surrounds a courtyard filled with the skeletons of old machinery and torture devices.

DEFENSIVE MEASURES

The Thing In Your Closet cannot tolerate poetry. Reciting poetry will drive it away for awhile. The most consistently effective poem is this classic:

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why - I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

Memorize this poem and recite it whenever you detect the Thing in Your Closet. It's an effective repellant for at least two weeks. After that, its efficacy will diminish.
.
The Thing In Your Closet especially detests poetry in Latin. If the poem above starts to fail, this version will work for awhile longer:

Non amo te, doctore Fell,
nec possum dicere quare;
Hoc tantum possum dicere,
non amo te, doctore Fell.


It will be even more effective if you understand each word. If you just repeat the sounds of the words, it won't work as well as if you actually understand it. To get the most of it, you should get a book about Latin and learn what it really means.
.
However, any poem will eventually lose its efficacy. If you are to drive away The Thing In Your Closet, you must memorize new poems from time to time. They don't have to be fancy. As long as you like a poem, it will work against The Thing In Your Closet. Just don't use it too often. Always have a new poem on hand.
UNFUN FACT: The word "fell" has two different meanings. One, of course, means "did fall." The other meaning is found only in the phrase "one fell swoop.2" This is a completely different word. It is related to the word "felony." A felony is an especially terrible crime. One "fell" swoop is vicious, cruel, fierce. This leads us to:
THEORY: The Bogeyman is Doctor Fell, whoever that is.

1Or Boogie Man, Boogey Man, Butzemann, etc.

2MacBeth, Act 4, Scene 3: MacDuff: He doesn't have children. All my pretty little children? Did you say all? Oh, that bird from hell! All of them? What, all my children and their mother dead in one fell swoop?
 
2017-10-25 7:08:29 PM  

doglover: [::::::::::::::::::][ + ]::::::::::::::::)


This is my scary story, btw.
 
2017-10-25 7:15:07 PM  
adambager.files.wordpress.comView Full Size
 
2017-10-25 8:18:26 PM  
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What's so scary about floating red balloons?
 
2017-10-25 8:41:47 PM  
I think a good way to get over a fear is to laugh at it. That's why I make the clown in my closet eat spiders. It doesn't help the clown with his arachnophobia, but I laugh myself to sleep at night thinking how much he's paying me for this "therapy"
 
2017-10-26 5:05:01 AM  
Our nuclear arsenal is commanded by someone who thinks nuclear weapons are no good if you don't use them.  He thinks that a great war will immortalize him.  Our diplomatic relations come from angry tweets.  Acceptable loss in a nuclear war is 50 million people.  Sweet dreams.
 
2017-10-26 9:05:47 AM  
I found my six year old covered in blood when I went to wake him this morning, it wasn't his.
 
2017-10-27 3:57:48 PM  
OK, here's my other submission. The idea for this came to me last night. I finished it three hours ago and finally decided to not any more screw with the language. 1040 words.

Road Work


They're ripping up Red Hill again. Every year, on exactly this date, October 31st, and at exactly this time, six forty-five in the morning, the skip loaders and the bulldozers and the dump trucks arrive with their grim-faced city work crews. They stand around next to their machines for an hour and fifteen minutes, sipping steaming hot Starbucks coffee, telling the stories and the lies that road maintenance men tell each other, and making sick jokes that would qualify anywhere as graveyard humor. They watch other workers, who lay out the yellow warning signs, the flashing lights, the cones, and the lane closure barricades that will safely divert the brutal rush hour traffic that, even now, is building to its morning crescendo of caffeinated madness.

After the signs and barriers and cones are in place, the city workers tear up 255 feet of the outside southbound lane pavement, all the way from just south of Sycamore Avenue, at the bus stop in front of the AG Curry Middle School, to about half way to Service Road, which accesses the Field Services Maintenance offices, Water Services, Tustin Unified School District, and the local Fire Station. Then they cart the off the shattered shards, and also the substrate and the dirt under the pavement for five feet down, to some secret location. Then they bring in new dirt, and pack it down, and lay down new asphalt, smooth and black and perfect, and life (and the endless traffic) goes on.
Let me tell you about that traffic. Red Hill Avenue is the furthest west of only five major north-south streets that feed commuter traffic between the Tustin/Orange/Santa Ana areas of Orange County, and John Wayne Airport, the Irvine Business Complex, Newport Beach, and Costa Mesa. It is the first major artery east of the morning parking lot known as CSR 55, aka the Costa Mesa Freeway. The four big streets that lie to the east feed into, variously, The District (an open-air mall built on part of the corpse of the old MCAS Tustin), Irvine Valley College, Irvine Spectrum, and the huge University of California at Irvine. The streets are therefore at their limits as well, with many accidents to go around. Red Hill has its share of them.

In addition to the omnipresent autos, the traffic full court press includes a huge number of trucks, buses, motorcycles, and bicycles. The bikes are a problem. Their riders, often homeless people on their own morning commutes between the breakfast at Mary's Kitchen in Orange and the lunchtime Someone Cares Soup Kitchen in Costa Mesa, rarely seem to obey any traffic laws. Rather, they tend to ignore traffic lights, and jump between street and sidewalk, whichever at the moment seems convenient.

There are, of course, also pedestrians. I am one of them. Indeed, being retired with time on my hands and a doctor who yells at me to walk everywhere, I have made it my habit to walk along that street every morning for over a decade. And every year now, for seven years, I have made it my personal geas to come to this place on October 31st at six forty-five in the morning, to pray, and to watch the work crews dig up and replace the same 255 feet of outside southbound lane. It is a rite that I feel I must perform.

It was October 31st at eight o'clock in the morning, and I was walking southbound on the sidewalk along Red Hill Avenue. I was on the right hand part of the sidewalk when I noticed a dead bird directly ahead of me. So, not thinking, I switched lanes. Instantly, I was hit in the back by the silent bicyclist who had been powering past me on the left, and who had not been able to react in time to avoid hitting me.

I was injured, but not terribly so. Recovery from the collision consisted of several visits to my chiropractor, assorted sports liniments, and a regime of high-CBD cannabis tincture and topicals. It took me about six months to fully recover.

The cyclist was not so lucky. You see, I am 6 foot four inches tall and weigh in at 280 pounds. The bicyclist was 5 foot two, and weighed 110 pounds. The bicycle weighed 17 pounds. The force of the collision that knocked me to the sidewalk and bruised my back propelled the bicycle, rider still aboard, into the southbound outside lane of Red Hill. They were hit by a fully loaded cement mixer travelling at 50 miles per hour. The bicycle was shredded under the dual tires, and popped out behind the truck as a pile of scrap thirty five feet ahead of the impact. The rider's backpack caught on the front bumper and he was dragged along the street, face down, for 255 feet. He was skinned and eviscerated. Most of his bones, including his skull, were crushed or broken. And he bled out. The street was dotted everywhere along that track with gobbets of unidentifiable flesh and small pools of blood. The paramedics and the coroner staff used squeegees and sponges to get up the worst of it. After the ambulance was gone, what was left was hosed into the gutter and storm drain by the fire department.

The next October 31st at exactly eight am, hysterical motorists called the Tustin police. The cops came, they investigated, and they called in the City Yard. The next October 31st it all repeated. By the third year, a standard proactive response had been put in place.

Every year I come here on October 31st at six forty-five in the morning, to watch Red Hill Avenue bleed. Exactly at eight, red pools of blood start to well up from the asphalt all along that 255 foot stretch of road. It is a lot of blood, far more than could be accounted for by one human body and it never stops. The only way to end it is for the city work crews to come out with their machines and - braving an unnatural chill that manifests on that section of street on that day - rip up and root out the evil they believe lurks below Red Hill Avenue.

***

 
2017-10-28 11:41:53 AM  
One tax season I had income from three different states.
 
2017-10-28 6:09:57 PM  

Makh: Our nuclear arsenal is commanded by someone who thinks nuclear weapons are no good if you don't use them.  He thinks that a great war will immortalize him.  Our diplomatic relations come from angry tweets.  Acceptable loss in a nuclear war is 50 million people.  Sweet dreams.


So...like a small part of china?
 
2017-10-28 7:04:17 PM  
Some mornings they come to me, reeking of pain and regret and decay,

Never order extra jalapeños
 
2017-10-28 8:12:18 PM  

stevenvictx: So...like a small part of china?


China's acceptable loss is a bit bigger.  They probably find it acceptable to lose, (How many people in our country?) All of America's population in a war.  Give or take.
 
2017-10-29 12:59:20 PM  
It was a dark and stormy night when Sterrit finally pulled into his  semicircle parkway.  As he stepped inside and shook off the cold and rain he noticed a plate on the custom mill work.

Walking into the kitchen he sees a shadow pass over the plate, a chill runs up his spine into the ol factory part of his brain.  He takes a step forward, and another and another.  Suddenly he is frozen, standing above the plate, with the flecked abyss staring into him from multiple holes.  It was not actually a plate of chocolate chip cookies but instead it was... OATMEAL RAISIN
 
2017-10-29 9:41:29 PM  
To give everyone enough time to find and vote, the tally will be taken at noon the morning after Halloween. Great set of stories so far this year!
 
2017-10-30 10:03:48 AM  
I love this thread so much!!!

Leaving a bookmark for now... will drop in later, maybe with a few stories of my own. For now, let the ghost of Gord Downie keep you company...

The Tragically Hip - Scared
Youtube ieQH6X_XBJo
 
2017-10-30 10:40:22 AM  
Psychopusher:

Ooh, nice. As a new-ish dad, I can relate to this one.

I've said to the Mrs. as we play with the little one in the basement, and hear the crackle of the baby monitor in her room upstairs, wouldn't it be creepy if we heard a baby cry over the monitor? Which one would be the real one?
 
2017-10-30 2:20:08 PM  

AlwaysRightBoy: [img.fark.net image 425x267]
What's so scary about floating red balloons?


Actually the scariest  Halloween story I have is many years I dressed up as a clown for a party and my wife and her best friend said that it looked just silly. They ripped everything off me and remade me as an awesome beautiful woman in high heels. I looked so damn good it was scary when I looked in the mirror before the party.
 
2017-10-30 3:35:30 PM  

AlwaysRightBoy: AlwaysRightBoy: [img.fark.net image 425x267]
What's so scary about floating red balloons?

Actually the scariest  Halloween story I have is many years I dressed up as a clown for a party and my wife and her best friend said that it looked just silly. They ripped everything off me and remade me as an awesome beautiful woman in high heels. I looked so damn good it was scary when I looked in the mirror before the party.


Go on ...
 
2017-10-30 4:05:07 PM  

GRCooper: AlwaysRightBoy: AlwaysRightBoy: [img.fark.net image 425x267]
What's so scary about floating red balloons?

Actually the scariest  Halloween story I have is many years I dressed up as a clown for a party and my wife and her best friend said that it looked just silly. They ripped everything off me and remade me as an awesome beautiful woman in high heels. I looked so damn good it was scary when I looked in the mirror before the party.

Go on ...


well to say I wasn't neglected, molested and looked at by other women who were envious was rather interesting.
 
2017-10-30 7:03:32 PM  
I didnt vote and Trump won
*spooky bone chilling noises*
 
2017-10-30 7:07:21 PM  
I was visiting someone at a nursing home. The lady in the next room was sitting in a wheelchair with her eyes closed. As I was leaving my friend's room, the lady in the next room opened her eyes when I looked at her. I stepped in and said hello. She asked me to kill her. I was shocked. I asked why. She said "You know why". Then shut her eyes again.
As I was leaving, I told the nurse. She said that it was impossible. The patient was near comatose and had been non communicative for a long time.
img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-10-30 7:08:05 PM  
The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door...
 
2017-10-30 7:09:00 PM  
I love this thread every year, but alas, am not an author or creative. I would suggest to anyone who likes this thread that they pick up The Dark Descent a thorough compendium of horror fiction including Poe, Ellison, Oates, Barker, King and a heck of a lot more.

Also a favorite Halloween reading of mine is The Price by Neil Gaiman
Another great one is A Rose for Emily by Faulkner.
 
2017-10-30 7:10:41 PM  
And then President Trump won his reelection and defeated his impeachment, thanks to the actions of Chief Justice Roy Moore...
 
2017-10-30 7:11:23 PM  

farkingismybusiness: The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door...


One of the many remaining women on Earth pleaded through the door "please, we have to save the species! You have your choice!"

The last man on Earth replied "your knees are too pointy."
 
2017-10-30 7:11:35 PM  
For Sale: Baby Zombie shoes, never worn
 
2017-10-30 7:13:00 PM  
I moved into my dumpy old rental house a year ago today. It was built in 1925 and is settling and mostly all original. I fairly often hear the old doorknobs rattle and squeek at night when I'm trying to sleep. It freaked me out at first and I'd turn on all the lights and investigate every room. Now I can just fall  back asleep and ignore it.
 
2017-10-30 7:13:15 PM  
99 Luftballoons has haunted me for years.
 
2017-10-30 7:15:03 PM  

sxacho: I moved into my dumpy old rental house a year ago today. It was built in 1925 and is settling and mostly all original. I fairly often hear the old doorknobs rattle and squeek at night when I'm trying to sleep. It freaked me out at first and I'd turn on all the lights and investigate every room. Now I can just fall  back asleep and ignore it.


You sure that's what it is, you sure it's not The Rats in the Walls?
 
2017-10-30 7:20:41 PM  

nmrsnr: sxacho: I moved into my dumpy old rental house a year ago today. It was built in 1925 and is settling and mostly all original. I fairly often hear the old doorknobs rattle and squeek at night when I'm trying to sleep. It freaked me out at first and I'd turn on all the lights and investigate every room. Now I can just fall  back asleep and ignore it.

You sure that's what it is, you sure it's not The Rats in the Walls?


img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-10-30 7:30:16 PM  
Got nothin', and I am on call so no booze for inspiration this year.  *sad face*

=====

I was driving in the desert through a region known to be a hotspot for satanic group activity.  Up ahead I see a red Pontiac Fiero stopped sideways across both lanes, a suitcase open with clothes scattered everywhere and two bodies laying face down in the road, a man and a woman.

The hair on the back of my neck is standing up. Something seemed very wrong, it looked too perfect as if it were staged. An ambush? Was I being paranoid? Something was just wrong. Getting out of the car seemed unthinkable, it was the horror movie move.

I swerved around the bodies and the Fiero. I continued forward a couple hundred feet and slowed down so I could breathe and let my heart slow down. As I looked up into the rearview mirror I saw that the two bodies had gotten up to their knees and twenty or so people emerged from the tall grass on either side of the road by the car and bodies.

At that moment my right foot smashed the gas pedal to the floor and did not let up until I had to slowdown for the I-40 east onramp.

"Shee-it man, that was close," I said to the yellow, four-foot tall, bulgy-eyed humanoid standing on the windshield.

"Shoulda stopped," said Fishy, as it shuffled on the ceiling back to the rear seat, where it resumed staring at me in the rearview mirror.
=====

echo5juliet's desert drive:  http://www.fark.com/comments/​3985541/4​5887207#c45887207
BONUS:  follow-up!  http://www.dynamitemonkey​.com/?p=170  (apologies to echo5juliet, if you don't want that off-site content posted here)

Quex's fishy story: http://www.fark.com/comments/2​385211/2​5185959#c25185959
 
2017-10-30 7:40:19 PM  
This is an experience I had that I posted in last year's thread.

I've had a number of strange experiences here in Montreal.  One that really freaked me out happened in my prior apartment.  It was an old building built in 1927.
I used to have my computer desk in the dining room.  Next to the computer desk was a small glass-top side table.  Also in the dining room was a large glass-top dining table with a glass flower vase in the center.  At around 9:00 pm the night in question, I was on the computer when "something" smashed down onto the glass top of the small side table next to the computer desk.   The glass top was not heavy and there was nothing sitting on top of it.  The only way I could describe it was as if someone slammed their fist down on top of it.
I freaked out.  I sat there frozen staring at the table for about 10 minutes not knowing what to do.  During that time my eyes starting playing tricks on me.  I have no idea if my panicked state was causing it, but my eyes started to see things moving around the table.
Then it continued.
Just as I think I'm getting brave enough to even stand up from my chair, the flower vase on the dining-room table began to crack from the bottom up along the sides.  As water started to leak out of it, I ran to the kitchen to get a towel to try and stop the water from dripping onto the floor.  About a half-hour later my friend came home to me in my frantic state.
For the next week other strange things kept happening.  We would be in the living room and hear things moving around in the other rooms. I remember once hearing my work door pass being picked up and dropped back down on the computer desk.
It was at that point that my friend suggested I speak out to whatever was doing this and to ask it to leave as it was scaring us.  So I did.
The strange stuff stopped happening from that point forward.
 
2017-10-30 7:46:46 PM  
My scary story for halloween;

Checked my balance in my bank account. Discovered that I can't afford Total Fark!
"BOOOooo, WwHOOooo".
 
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