Welcome to Crappypasta! This is the companion site to Creepypasta.com, and here is where you’ll find stories that we deemed not quite ready for the big leagues. If I believe that a story has potential but just isn’t quite there yet, I’ll post it here with some tags explaining my reasoning. The community at large can then offer their feedback and constructive criticism to aid the author in fully realizing their story’s potential.

However, if the community is in agreement that I made an error in judgement and the story should be accepted for the main site as-is, they may upvote the Crappypasta. If a story hits the (undisclosed for obvious reasons) correct ratio of positive to negative votes, I’ll move it to the primary Creepypasta archive, complete with a note of my taste fail!

You may read a more in-depth explanation of this process here.

I use the categories to give succinct feedback on each story posted. Rather than write out comments on every pasta, I make my feelings known via the categories that I assign to each specific post. This is done manually and on a per-pasta basis, so if you received a certain category on your story, that is my feedback to you.

You may read full descriptions of each category and how to interpret them as feedback/criticism here.

Note that due to how the sites have evolved, many categories are now outdated. In the dawn of this website, I didn’t get nearly as many submissions as I do now. As such, I was able to post and categorize every single eligible rejected story, even stories that I personally felt had a snowball’s chance in hell of being moved to the main site.

Nowadays, however, this would be an unrelenting sea of nonsense – most open-submission days garner well over a hundred submissions, and it’s statistically likely that only one or two of those will be more than a short, low-effort, all-lowercase paragraph. To prevent a flood of slush, I now only post stories that I believe have potential to be rewritten or upvoted to the main site.

All this is to say that some categories will almost certainly be archive-only from now on, simply because I can’t imagine a situation where I’d actually be posting a story that would deserve the “THIS IS STUPID” tag – it just doesn’t match up with how the site operates anymore.

The most frequent issues raised by new visitors are those of intended meanness and author permission. Please be reassured that if a story was posted here, it was submitted to me directly (I don’t go trawling the internet for stories to mock) with the author giving EXPLICIT permission for me to post their work here if it didn’t make the cut for the main creepypasta archive.

While we do allow comments that dabble in snarkiness as long as they are still entirely constructive criticism, the mod team will not approve comments that contribute nothing to the refinement of a pasta. Likewise, this means that comments left simply to be nasty or bully the author will be deleted. In cases where a commenter continually attempts to leave abusive comments towards authors, they will likely be banned entirely. This website is, first and foremost, about helping people succeed with their writing projects. Unnecessary nastiness does not help us accomplish this goal and, as such, has no place here.

That said, there will always be people who do not grasp the site’s function and leave comments accusing everyone leaving even benign, helpful feedback of bullying. Such comments are at each individual mod’s discretion on whether or not they will be approved, but if a comment section gets completely derailed due to misunderstanding-based white knighting, I will likely remove the comment chain in order to get the post back on track: we are here to give feedback, not argue with people who can’t be bothered to read this very blurb!

There are several ways for the community to contribute their constructive criticism to the works here:

  • Comments: If you want to leave an overall review of one of the pastas posted here, you may use the most traditional method – the comment form. We use DISQUS, so if you want to be an active and recognizable member of the Crappypasta community, I do recommend registering a free account, however commenting without an account is allowed. The comments are moderated, and all commenting guidelines from the main site are in effect here as well.
  • Sidenotes: If you want to leave your feedback in a more fine-tuned fashion, please use sidenotes. Sidenotes (also called annotations) should be familiar to anyone who has visited Rap Genius (now Genius) – you can highlight a portion of the story and leave specific feedback for the highlighted portion. You can also simply click the speech bubble after each paragraph to leave your feedback for that paragraph. Sidenotes are only shown and available on the pasta’s individual page, so you will need to click through a pasta’s title in order to access this function. If you wish to retain a consistent identity when leaving sidenotes, you can sign up for a Livefyre account within the sidenote UI.
  • Star Voting: This is pretty self-explanatory, I think. Just like on the main site, you can give a pasta a star rating from 1-10. 1 being the worst, 10 being the best.
  • Upvote/Downvote: Use the upvote (thumbs up) if you believe a pasta is good enough, in its current, as-is state, to be posted on the main site. Use the downvote (thumbs down) if you believe the story needs more work before it’s eligible for moving to the main site.
  • Emoji Response: If you’re on mobile or just don’t feel like typing but still want to give slightly more nuanced feedback than the stars and up/downvotes, you may also use the emoji feedback options. These, like the sidenotes, are present only on the pasta’s individual page, and can be found in between the pasta and the comments section. Eventually, we will be able to display content lists based on these reactions, much like do presently with the up/down and star ratings, so please use this function!

March 2016 – Crappypasta Overhaul

Well, I’m sure most of you noticed that Crappypasta went totally dark for a few months. Basically, I’ve been plotting to rebuild the site somewhat, add some new functions, but didn’t quite have the time and energy to see it through until now....
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Comments Undergoing Upgrade (99% Finished – Feel Free to Comment Again)

UPDATE 9/19: The automatic upgrade didn’t work, so I ended up having to export the comments in small batches. At the time of this update, the upgrade is 99% complete. Only a few comments should be missing, and hopefully they will show up soon enough. By...
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Admin Post: Crappypasta Changes Announced

Okay, guys. After giving myself some time off from Crappypasta to clear my head (I can’t even express the level of burnout I’ve been experiencing), I’ve finally created and posted the new Crappypasta guidelines over on the main site....
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The Ghost Town Letters

Diary of Daniel Chester, Mayor of Snake’s Rock City
June 27th, 1866

Upon my election to this position, I was under no illusion that it was a place of greatness. As the only man in town over 21 with a proper education, I did not even have an opponent. I was reminded of this today, when Judd Grey came into my office, gun in hand, demanding I order the arrest of Adam Sal. Every week one or the other of them comes to me demanding the arrest of the other for some heinous illegal action. After last time I told sheriff Tate to handle this himself in the future, but Judd apparently pulled his gun and demanded to speak with me. The situation was settled of course, the only thing accomplished by Judd was his own arrest. I am certain we will just let him go in the morning though, that is how we keep the balance of peace in this town. There is a reason folks out east call us the wild west. Days like this earn us the title.

An east bound letter requesting a new shipment of whisky for Snake’s Rock City
June 28th, 1866
Dear Luke,
It is that time of year again. I will soon be sending a man to you with payment for the usual amount of drink. Nothing out of the usual, as is your preference. Can you believe my talking? I’m having miss Betsy the school marm write this letter for me, and she keeps changing the words as I say them! I cannot understand my own self the way she writes! At least she spells words better than I could (and look at her pretty handwriting). That made her cheeks turn pink! Enough foolishness though, how have you been Luke? Any stories to tell me? I have a mighty strange one to tell you. Today, a stranger rode into town, just as the hired hands from the cattle ranches sat down for drinks. He came into my bar, and what did he do? Why, he ordered another round, on him! I obliged, because he showed his purse to me as proof he could pay the tab. We are wary of strangers in this little town, but as soon as he started talking to the men, he became everyone’s old friend. He had the same effect on me. It was something about his eyes that just made me trust him. It is odd now that I think about it. I suppose he will have no trouble fitting in around Snake’s Rock if he decides to stay, but I do not know what plans or business he has here.
Until I write again old friend,
-Tom

A letter from Betsy to her sister in Missouri
June 28th, 1866
Dear Susan,
My dearest little sister, how have you been? I enjoyed your last letter to me and am overjoyed to hear your health has improved! In answer to your question, no, I have not met a gentleman. The only man with a comparable education to mine is our Mayor Chester, who of course married years ago. I will gladly wait, however, since I do not intend to settle for a man who knows nothing of poetry! At least as this town’s school marm I can ensure the next generation of young men has a knowledge of the classics! Just today I wrote a letter for our saloon owner Tom (I know your strict opinion of strong drink, but I must say it is difficult to retain such a code when you live in a town that practically inhales whisky). He mentioned a stranger who rode into town today. This peculiar man instantly befriended the ranchers (no small feat mind you!) and has been in the saloon ever since. Out my window I can hear the men there. I do not know how the stranger convinced them to not return to work, but they remain to hear him speak. If only my pupils listened to me as intently. I wish I had some way to know what he is saying to them. Something is brooding in Snake’s Rock City. I hope it is something positive.
Warmest regards,
-Betsy

Diary of Daniel Chester, Mayor of Snake’s Rock City
June 29th, 1866
Judd Grey returned to my office this morning, meek as a church mouse, and with a new complaint. Not the usual feud with Mr. Sal, but this time about a stranger who rode into town yesterday. The man introduced himself as John Smith (that makes him the third in Snake’s Rock!) and went about talking. Judd here says he has never seen the likes of it. This Mr. Smith talks and talks and talks and the men sit there daze eyed and listen. Sometimes the words he says make no sense at all says Judd. Other times, Mr. Smith talks about downright frightening things, things that make a man’s skin crawl, and everyone sits and listens. Sheriff Tate would normally investigate but he is one of the men in the saloon! I suppose I will pay a visit this evening and see for myself what is keeping the men from working.

A letter from Betsy to her sister in Missouri
June 30th, 1866
Dear Susan,
I know I just wrote you, but I have a most disturbing update to my story of the stranger. This morning, my youngest pupil, little Walter Sal who is only 6, told me a tale of his meeting with the man, who I have come to know calls himself Mr. Smith. Walter went to do chores for old widow Cline on his way to school this morning, and lo and behold Mr. Smith was there! Strange candles were lit and Walter says widow Cline was bowing and chanting to Mr. Smith, who was standing in a ring of dust. As Walter stared, Mr. Smith’s eyes found him and gave him a look of the coldest hatred. To Walter I laughed this off as his imagination, but the lad is quite shaken. Before he left, he drew the “ring” he claims to have seen the stranger standing in on the chalk board. The “ring” was the shape of a pentagram. Thank goodness me and him were the only ones in the room at the time! After this, he went off to play with his friends. I am frightened dear sister.
Pray for me,
-Betsy

Diary of Daniel Chester, Mayor of Snake’s Rock City
June 30th, 1866
I have seen the light! My lord John Smith (though I now know that is not his true name) spoke to me. He SPOKE to me! I have seen! I can barely write these words from the joy inside. Now that I know. I have seen past the borders of this pitiful town, and the pitiful United States of America! No country on the Earth could compare to the one my liege will establish. And I, his right hand man. I killed Judd last night. It was in service to my liege and I have no sorrow. Though John Smith spoke to Judd as he did me, Judd’s eyes did not open. Judd had the misfortune of some sort of immunity to the powerful words. Death was the only fate for him. We must bide our time lord Smith says, before we proclaim this kingdom to all. We must weed out all who cannot see, as Judd did not. Soon we will know who stands with us, and who must die.

Diary of Betsy Coness
July 1st, 1866
My letters to Susan will never arrive. Walter’s father Adam told me he has seen the postman burning all outbound mail. No help will come for me. I know this town needs help, because I met this Mr. Smith this morning. He knocked right on my door! He had a soft look about him, not one one would expect from a man on this side of the Mississippi. His eyes were mesmerizing. Then he told me to bow. I asked him why, and he repeated the command. When I did not obey, nor even respond in any way, he merely shut the door. When I looked out the window, I saw him speaking with Mayor Chester. They briefly looked my way, then Mayor Chester wrote something in a little book. Now men are outside my house. I cannot leave. Who is this cursed Mr. Smith? How, in a few days, does he command nearly everyone? What has become of the folks of this town? What shall become of me?

Diary of Daniel Chester, follower of his highness
July 4th, 1866
Final Entry.
Two days ago, all who could not see the light were destroyed. We burned them in the church. We bound them to the pews, and burned the building to the ground. Among the executed were Adam Sal and his wretched little boy, Deputy Burgess, Shep Johnson (our town drunk), Parson Lewis, and the school marm miss Betsy. All received their just due. I would gladly have lit the fire myself, but that honor went to our saloon keeper, Tom, another one of John Smith’s favorites. Someone must have escaped before then though, for word has it the military is coming, having heard rumors of rebellion. They think us a remainder of the confederacy. Fools! They can never know our cause is greater than any created by man. Lord Smith has gone over the plan with me. When they come, and they will, I, along with Sheriff Tate, will assist our liege in his escape. We will then take cover behind the barricades (we are building them now) and fight to the last man, woman, and child. In fact, none of us shall be allowed to survive. Any of us taken captive will end ourselves. I now know Snake’s Rock was never the end; it was merely a trial. Mr. Smith is thousands of years old, and he will live thousands more. One day, he will use his eyes and his voice to take over far greater places than this small town in the American west. May that day come swiftly. I have no use for further writing, for all my time must now be spent preparing for our appointed work. I will carry it out dutifully, as will all who remain in Snake’s Rock City.

Credit: Wes Rutledge

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The Lost Journal of Donavan Grike

-Sometime in July of 2008, this journal was found on a game trail somewhere in northern Michigan, seemingly belonging to a man named Donavan Grike, who went missing two months prior in Cheboygan, Michigan. Origins are mostly unknown. Some contents may be disturbing to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Journal Entry
9:45 pm
Second of May, 2008
I found something in the alleyway behind the bar in which I work. It was sitting on one of the garbage cans when I went out to have a smoke. It didn’t intrigue me at first, but as I stood out there it started to. After I finished my cigarette I picked it up. It was a map of some sort, written on old, wrinkled paper. It looks like an old pirate map. I don’t know quite what it is at the moment, but I’ll look into it.

Journal Entry
11:40 am
Fourth of May, 2008
I completely forgot about that map until a few hours ago. I had left it in my car for the past few days, so I went and got it. Upon further inspection, I realised the map started from an old lake in my area. I don’t know quite where it leads, but I hope it leads to something valuable.

Journal Entry
7:06 pm
Eleventh of May, 2008
I finally got the next few days off of work, and I’m going to use them to see where this map goes.

Journal Entry
5:32 am
Twelfth of May, 2008
I got a knapsack with a sleeping tarp, a bottle of water, more granola bars than I know what to do with, a flashlight, and a Bowie knife. I’m on my way to the lake now. It’s about an hour away from my house. I can’t wait to start.

Journal Entry
6:54 am
Twelfth of May, 2008
I finally got to the lake. Traffic was a bitch. This early, too. But, I can at least get started.

Journal Entry
Twelfth of May, 2008
9:01 am
I’ve been following this map for a couple of hours now. It’s leading me down some sort of game trail. I keep passing these trees with the letter “N” carved into them, and an arrow pointing in the way of which the map is leading me. This thing now has my attention…

Journal Entry
12:25 pm
Twelfth of May, 2008
I’m passing these signs, now. They’re reading things like “CAUTION” and “BEWARE OF CREATURES”. I didn’t know there were any dangerous animals out here. I’ll keep my knife close, just in case I run into a bear or something.

Journal Entry
1:34 pm
Twelfth of May, 2008
These signs are getting a little more menacing. They’re saying things like “TURN BACK” and “STAY OUT”. What the hell? I keep thinking I should, but something keeps telling me to keep going. What should I do? You know what, I’ll flip a coin. Heads I turn back, tails I keep going.

Tails.

Ok, then. Onward…

Journal Entry
3:26 pm
Twelfth of May, 2008
I finally came across something other than trees and creepy signs. It looks like some old town, but it seems to be abandoned. Its front gate reads “Nashaka Village”. I’ve never heard of this place. The map ends here. Maybe whoever made this map wants me to look for whatever is hidden here. Touché, map. Touché.

Journal Entry
7:09 pm
Twelfth of May, 2008
I’ve looked these houses high and low and I’ve come up with nothing. Wait… there’s a door over there. I don’t remember seeing that. Well, onwards.

Journal Entry
12:56 am
Thirteenth of May, 2008
I’ve been stuck in here for hours. I should have never followed that fucking map. Ok, I’d better fill you in. Remember that door? Well, I went in. It led right down to a basement, and it was pitch black. I turned on my flashlight, and I came across some sort of ritual site. There was a mummified human corpse in the middle. The skulls of animals surrounded it, and they were filled with beeswax and had the letter “N” written in blood on the cranium. I decided I probably shouldn’t be in there, and when I went to leave I heard something behind me. When I looked the mummy was starting to get up. It was all jerky and, now that I think about it, reminded me of Gollum by the way it moved. I don’t think it could see me, because its eyes so dry they disintegrated when it stood, but it sniffed the air, and screeched at me. I high-tailed out of there faster than I have ever ran before. However, I dropped the Bowie like an idiot. I just kept running, and when I got to the gate it was closed. And locked. I looked behind me, and saw that more mummies were coming in my direction. Where the hell did they come from? That doesn’t matter. I eventually locked myself in a storage shed or something. I can hear them at the door now. They keep scratching on it, and moaning. It’s enough to drive any man mad. Maybe I can escape through one of the windows.

Journal Entry
3:29 am
Thirteenth of May, 2008
I shouldn’t have tried that. When I jumped out the window a mummy got me by the leg and bit me. I’m pretty sure it severed a tendon. I managed to climb over the fence with one leg. I don’t even know how I did. I just did. I’ve been dragging myself along the path for about three hours, but I doubt I’ll get out of here alive. I’ve lost a lot of blood, and I’m still bleeding. I keep hearing something move about the woods around me. It could be a hungry scavenger, like a coyote, our it could be… no. I just have to keep going. If anybody find this, tell Krista I love her.

-The journal ends here. The town was never found, and neither was Donavan. It is unknown if he survived, but judging by the blood stains on the pages he most likely didn’t. Many search parties were sent out to find him, but none have found his body. If you have any information on this, please contact the police.

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A Musical Unraveling

All of you must have read the story of the “Pied Piper”. If you haven’t, then I suggest you do. If you don’t want to, here’s a brief summary:
Well, the Pied Piper originates from the town Hamelin, in Europe. When Hamelin was attacked by plague, a pied piper came along and promised to take care of all the rats, but in consideration for a fee. He blew his pipe and out came all the rats, and followed him like they were being commanded by the music. He lead all of the rats out of the town. However, the townspeople refused to pay him. Buried in anger, he blew his pipe once again that night but this time, out came all the children.

You must be thinking this is just a legend/story for scaring children. But every lie is based on an underlying kernel of truth; every story is based on some kind is of real incident. The Pied Piper may as well have been a pedophile, who knows really?
Let’s not try to hit the nail on the head here. What we’re concerned is with the fact that the ‘‘Pied Piper’’ could pull off something such as physically manipulating/hypnotising living creatures on his whim, with just music.

This is just one of the many accounts. There are subtler examples all around us even today. Some music makes people dance even when they have no intention, just out of habit. Some filmmakers use it to charge us emotionally, even when we were never ready. And then there is subliminal music. It is a type of music that you might not actually hear or enjoy listening to, for that matter, but it is speaking directly with your subconscious. The vulnerable subconscious. You don’t control it. Rather it has the power to control you even physically. For example, sleep walking/talking. These subliminal messages can control the human psyche in a way that makes you think you are in control, when you’re actually not.

My name is Isaac. I have been studying music and I say this because one can never “finish” learning music. Music is everywhere and that is what I absolutely love about it. It needs no rhyme or reason, nor bothers with time or place.
Recently I have been “studying” Professor Baek. He is one of the very few people who has mastered music. Not just any music, but music that holds power. It is music in it’s raw form. The kind that can change people; has power to sway their minds along – all by treating one’s ears to his music. He had been teaching at Notre Dame, one of the oldest music universities, until he abruptly left and retired at age 58.
Being an alumnus of Notre Dame, I was asked a rather personal favour by the Director to follow up on Professor Baek’s intriguing resignation.
‘It wasn’t the money. He was quite happy with his pay. We had offered him more but a humble soul that he is, refused a hike,’ were the exact words of the Director.
I figured he might have resigned because of his age, and that he had had a hard time teaching. It could also have been the death of his spouse two years ago, and that he was still consumed by grief. Any of these would be plausible, but he could never have lost interest.
He was born with music in his blood. His father, Dr.Eun, was also a music professor at Notre Dame, until he turned to medicine and became a doctor, all before the age of 35. In my opinion, that man must have been a genius.
All the background apart, Professor Baek was a genius himself. Although he excelled in music only – at most in the world’s eyes – he was also an extraordinary mathematician. At least that’s what I’ve heard from the Director.
Back to his resignation, I had no reason to believe that he lost interest in preaching music. I decided I had to arrange for meeting with him. It wasn’t very difficult to find him as he lived in Dakota, the biggest apartment in the city. He was fairly popular in the community, partly because he performed, every Saturday, in Dakota’s own lounge bar, named “Cloud Nine”.
Upon enquiry, I found out that Professor Baek hadn’t been performing for a month now; neighbours hardly saw him around the park or elevators, for that matter. What had happened to Professor?
At first I was doing this only as a favour to the Director, but now I was curious myself. I had to see him in person.
‘Hello? Professor Baek? It’s Issac here!’ I spoke into the receiver.
‘Oh Issac! How many years has it been? What a surprise!’ said the voice on the other side.
‘Can we meet up somewhere, Professor?’ I drove the point home.
‘Sure! Come on down to Dakota. I’ll send a word to the security to let you in.’
‘Okay, thanks!’ I hung up, literally. It was almost forever since I had spoken into that antique, hung on one of the many walls of Notre Dame.
Students now hardly used these telephones but that was no reason for Notre Dame to abandon it. In fact, it added to the retro vibe that Notre Dame had preserved through the decades. After all, it was one of the oldest structures in the city – and even before this could be called a city.
Professor Baek’s personal number was with the University, the one that I had lost years before when I switched to a newer phone. I probably hadn’t thought it would be important, as I would’ve never guessed I would be seeing Professor Baek again.
‘Come in, please,’ Professor said, while holding the door for me. I had almost forgotten his British accent. It had always been a lingering thought in my head – Professor was British and so was his father, but they were of Korean origins; at least their names were.
I dismissed the thought and took my seat on the sofa. His living room was tidy and everything was in it’s place, as if a woman were living there. I creeped out when I realized his wife had passed away 2 years ago.
‘Tell me, Isaac. How can I help you?’ he asked me straight. Somehow he seemed nicer on the phone.
‘Uh…I just uh….wanted to see you,’ I shrugged.
‘Director sent you, didn’t he?
‘How did you even….’ I was shocked at how he could even jump to a conclusion like that, and to mind, the right one.
It was almost as if he knew. Did he?
‘Director tried calling me recently. And then you called. I recognized it as the University’s telephone number and I deduced it all.
I was still lost in admiration of the skill he had just demonstrated. He was 59 but hadn’t lost his memory or his mind. It was probably the math.
‘I’ve heard you are a mathematician as well,’ I said, changing the topic.
‘Well you see…. I did math before I befriended music. True, my father was a musician, and a master at that, but I wanted to become anything but my father. So I chose mathematics. It is also true that my piano lessons started when I was three, but it wasn’t out of interest. If it wasn’t for mathematics, I would never have looked back at music. You see, there is a very deep similarity between music and mathematics.
‘What kind if similarity?’ suddenly I was more curious about that.
‘I see you share a similar enthusiasm in this topic as I do. My mother used to tell me, always, that there was a similarity between music and math. She was a mathematician herself.’
That explained Professor’s interest in mathematics. He continued, ‘On her deathbed….’ he glared at me through his thick rimmed glasses, ‘Her last words were “find the connection”, and these words just added fuel to the fire that had already sparked in search of the connection, inside me. Mother’s words provided me with a sense of self-justification and reassured me that what I was looking for, in fact existed.’ He broke his temporary ritual of walking back and forth and settled on a chair. He pulled his chair to face me. Then he took off his glasses and looked at me. It seemed more like he was observing me, like I was a mathematical problem that needed solving. I looked away. I couldn’t handle all his mathematician-musician-teacher charm.
‘And then, Isaac,’ he leaned towards me, ‘I found it.’
‘What?’ I asked, almost lost in the moment.
‘I found the connection!’
‘So what is it?’
‘Huh?!’
‘What’s the connection?’ I repeated innocently.
‘No… no it doesn’t work like that,’ he leaned back.
‘Then how does it?’
‘I can’t explain!’
‘But you’re supposed to be a professor!’
‘This is something that can’t be taught! You have to find it yourself. That’s the catch. That’s the price you’ll have to pay. People will think you’re crazy.’
‘So there’s no way I can even get a glimpse of the idea?’
‘Uh..’ Professor Baek stopped speaking.
He immediately asked me to leave. I was surprised by the sudden request but I was left with no choice; it was his apartment. Maybe he suddenly realised he was speaking to a to-be stranger. All this time he just needed to talk to someone who wouldn’t laugh at his beliefs. I felt better knowing that. Nothing seemed wrong with Professor Baek. The fire in him might have died out after finding the connection, but the embers were still glowing. I had seen it with my own eyes.
My days passed by and I was so preoccupied with my work, that I didn’t have a chance to live through them. Guess this is how just everybody lives; rather don’t live! It was a while until I received a call from Professor Baek. I hadn’t even guessed he would call me back.
‘Why don’t you come down to Dakota? I have something to show you,’ he seemed more enthusiastic than the last time. I don’t know if he liked to boast, because he always used “Dakota” instead of “my apartment”.
So I headed to Dakota. There, the security lead me straight to the lounge, saying Professor Baek was performing that night. It was Saturday after all. I finally had the chance to go to an expensive lounge such as this one, with an exclusive performance by such a man as Professor Baek, and all this without spending a penny! No wonder I was already on Cloud Nine.
I walked over and occupied a seat next to some of Professor’s neighbours. They were excited too; reason being him performing after one month. The spotlight hit and I could see Professor Baek in his finest suit. He played the piano in grand style for a full hour before he bowed and got off the stage.
Being a pianist myself, I couldn’t figure out many of the sections that he played. Some of it was not on one key, but it definitely was a delight to listen to. There was an intriguing rhythm underneath.
‘So how was it?’ Professor Baek smiled at me before taking a sip from his drink.
‘That was fantastic! But it wasn’t one scale was it?’
‘No it wasn’t.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Isaac, remember how you asked me if you could get a glimpse of the connection?’
‘Yeeess?’ I stretched on it trying to guess, narrowing my eyes.
‘Well that was a definite glimpse.’
‘Really?’ I couldn’t believe it. I was still confused.
‘What you just heard was the connection. I took prime numbers and arranged them on two scales that were a semitone apart. You were right, it wasn’t on one scale. This is the beautiful result of it,’ he looked towards the stage while taking his second sip.
What he had explained to me just now was the most amusing thing I had heard in months. The previous one being- the stranger I met at a cafe who promised to call me; but she never did. That was one interesting day though.
Professor Baek was really a prized possession to the world. He took only a few days to come up with something that seemed so complex.
‘I can try to make you understand it better,’ he said.
‘It would be an honour to study as your student once again, Professor,’ I smiled and bowed to him.
Professor really wanted to teach again. What better than to start with the most complicated think in the world? That’s how it looked in my eyes anyway.
Anyhow, I had started meeting him twice a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays, the performance at the lounge being a demonstration of what he taught me on Tuesday. I had really begun to understand the underlying structures that connected music and mathematics. His teaching was exceptional and flawless, just like I remembered. We went through many areas of math like, rational numbers, irrational numbers, areas, series, progressions, and so on. I could never have believed if someone would have told me that math was fun, any sooner in my life.
The classes with Professor were the only happening thing in my life at the moment. It offered a break from my monotonous work routine. I was so consumed by it that I had forgotten about the favour that Director had asked of me. In the meanwhile, I was also studying Professor Baek. He somehow seemed to get more desperate to teach, every time I walked into his apartment. At times he would just skip straight to explaining, sparing all the chit-chat. One of the Tuesdays I was busy and couldn’t make time for Professor; he didn’t see me for an entire week. I was starting to see why Director put me to this job – he wanted me to fix Professor Baek. Professor somehow had been showing strange behavior. It got to a point where some of the sentences he was saying didn’t make sense at all. It made me very uneasy. So I told him that I had a work trip to attend and that I wouldn’t be around for a full month. Of course, I lied to him. And I obviously informed this over the phone. I couldn’t stand the thought of him glaring at me through his glasses, behind which were some pretty cold eyes. Professor Baek had to set his mind straight. It seemed unsafe to visit him till then.
In the meantime, I arranged a meeting with Director. Even though I was in the city, I stayed away from Professor Baek’s radar and obviously avoided Dakota. To see him while he had in mind that I was on a work trip, was my worst fear.
‘How have you been?’ Director asked me from across the table. I was seated in his office at the University, ‘More importantly, how has he been?’
‘I see a lot of changes in his behaviour. At first nothing seemed to be off, but as I spent more and more time with him, he seemed to be very strange. I can almost admit that he is unstable at mind. All the classes he had been taking….’
‘Wait. What classes?’ Director intervened. I shouldn’t have blurted it out like that, but in any case it wasn’t as if I was betraying Professor Baek. I had to come clean.
‘I have been studying under him at his apartment.’
‘That’s good to know! That way, you can keep more tabs on him.’
‘Anyway, he teaches flawlessly, as you already know, but as it went on and on he seemed totally lost in his thoughts. And all the sentences he was saying….it just wasn’t right. He would need some time to come out of it. And the more serious the class got, the more unstable he would get,’ I didn’t know how to elaborate.
‘That was exactly the case the students at the University were facing. So I had to make him resign. Sorry, I didn’t tell you this before.
‘Then what did you need me for?’
‘Well, we needed someone to keep him in check. Who better than one of his own students? You were his favourite after all.’
‘Wait, what do you mean by we?’
‘His psychiatrist and I discussed this over. Since Baek wouldn’t see him of his own accord, we had his psychiatrist check on him during his classes, while he was still working at the University.’
‘And it was the psychiatrist who suggested all this?’
‘We both deeply care for Baek and moreover the psychiatrist is a childhood friend of Professor’s. I also wanted to tell you some information that I recently uncovered.
Notre Dame was built at the end of the eighteenth century. It laid foundation to this city. During the time of development, Notre Dame was a channel that paved the way for growth. It was founded by four revolutionary musicians of that time. Their will was such that the last among them to die would get to inherit Notre Dame and continue this for generations to come. Garb Lucci was the last among them to die. His lineage would inherit Notre Dame. But his great great granddaughter moved to Korea to help the revolutionary army fight the dictator; Notre Dame was temporarily in the hands of the Government. When her son returned, the Government gave back Notre Dame, but only partially. It was now a public university. That son who returned was Dr.Eun.’
‘Dr. ….. Eun? Professor Baek’s father?’
‘Yes. He was kind enough to let it remain public. Why, he even gave us Professor Baek, a prodigy.’
Such a theory never occurred to me, for it wasn’t written anywhere in Notre Dame, nor did the Government mention about the will.
‘But…..’ Director stalled.
There was more?
‘If Professor Baek is proven unstable, then Notre Dame will solely become the property of his lineage.’
‘But…. Professor doesn’t have a son or a daughter, does he?’ I stated.
Director raised his eyebrows and nodded while looking down, as if trying to convey a possibility.
‘Wait….’ I narrowed my eyes, ‘He doesn’t, does he, Director?’ I stressed on the question.
‘He might…! There were rumours of his first born but later he dismissed it as a still-born,’ Director looked away, ‘He didn’t like to talk about it that much.’
There were absolutely no signs at Professor Baek’s house. It was plausible that the child moved away from here. I had to ask Professor indirectly; after a month of fake work trip of course.
‘That’s why I asked you that favour,’ Director said, ‘And I’m still asking you!’ He stood up and raised his voice, ‘You have to help save the University, Isaac!’ I was startled of the sudden responsibility that was thrust upon me. I had to save the University? That was possibly older than the city itself! It was now that I was beginning to feel guilty for taking that work trip. Maybe because of me, Professor Baek and the University both, could be saved. I had to get to Professor Baek as soon as possible, before his condition could worsen.
‘Hello?! Professor Baek! I’m coming to Dakota right now, so stay there please.’
There was no answer from the other side so I hung up.
I rang his doorbell twice but nobody answered. Wasn’t he home? I had dialled his landline earlier, so he should be here right? I hadn’t noticed before but the door was not locked. I welcomed myself. It was dark and cold. No lights in Dakota? There was a dim light through the windows; the curtains were closed for some reason. I managed to not stumble on the sofa and got to the windows across the hall. I pulled the curtains to let the streetlight in. When I turned back, I almost jumped to death. Professor Baek was seated on the sofa all this time. His glasses were glaring and that was all I could see of him. I wondered if it really was him. One thing I noticed though, was that he was very still. Eerily still. As if he were a mannequin.
‘Professor Baek?’ I advanced toward him very slowly, cautiously counting each step that I took. When I was at one-arm’s length, I shook him by his right shoulder.
‘Sit,’ he said in a cold, deep tone.
I gulped and then sat beside him. I hadn’t noticed that his living room was a mess, with things scattered all around.
‘There were no rats,’ he said.
‘What?’
‘There were no rats in the original incident, it was added to the story later. The Pied Piper was never a good man. He didn’t help anybody. He wasn’t even a man for that reason. He was a devil.’ Professor was still looking ahead, staring at the windows, while I was seated beside him.
‘What do you mean?’ I asked.
‘Notre Dame was founded to streamline music. It’s purpose was to keep music happy and safe for everyone, especially children….’
‘Professor I still….’
He suddenly turned towards me, ‘They didn’t want anyone to know!’ he said in a hushed voice, ‘The Pied Piper was a real man! He had the power to make people dance on his whim. Even though possessing such dark power, his own son despised him. Like any father, he was very attached to him, so he wouldn’t use his music to manipulate his own son. The son then wanted to make such music obsolete, so he went and founded one of the oldest music universities right now….’ Professor took off his glasses, his face still not visible, ‘Notre Dame,’ he hissed.
My mind was blown by the information that had just passed through my ear canals. So it wasn’t just a story to scare children. It was real, and more dark. Notre Dame was built to keep away “dark music” and make it obsolete; inaudible to the world.
‘Way before I worked for the University, I had run away from home. My father wouldn’t tell me….I insisted but he just wouldn’t….’ there was a hint of frustration in Professor’s voice. He sunk his head in his hands and continued, ‘I had to figure out the “dark” side if music by myself. I travelled far, wandering from city to towns to villages to temporary establishments in the middle of nowhere, hoping to find some clue. Then I found her… the love of my life. We married in her hometown and were fortunate to raise a daughter. We were so happy….I taught her all I knew, but she still was in search of something…. something that would “make her whole again”, as she said it. I realized it was the same thing I had been in search of, my whole life. Dark music. I was happy with my wife and didn’t want to uncover something like that; it would tear away my happiness…but my daughter didn’t understand….. she grew desperate by the day…. until she finally left us. My wife and I were trying to cope, and moved here. I even had to consult a psychiatrist, who was also my childhood friend. My wife and I had almost filled the hole that our daughter had left in our hearts, but then…..two years ago… she came to us. She claimed to have found “dark music”. My wife wasn’t happy at all….instead she asked her to leave. Angry, my daughter hit my on the head to knock me out; by the time I had my eyes open again, it was to late; my wife jumping from this very balcony still haunts me in my sleep.’
‘But why did she….’ I stopped as I realized.
‘IT WAS HER!!’ The lights suddenly came on, Professor Baek turned towards me. But when I saw his face, I jumped back. His forehead was wrinkled; his eyes were almost hollow, the black patches under his eyes added to the effect; his face was more wrinkled and saggy than before; he looked way older than his age, or at least from the last time I had seen him. ‘He is back….’ Professor held my collar, ‘She is his reincarnate…!!’ his voice broke down with each word and he was struggling to get it out, ‘The Pied Piper has returned as my offspring..’ He started coughing rigorously and his voice got hoarse. I don’t even know how to explain the next set of phrases he uttered, but I do know it will echo in my mind for all eternity and leave me staring into the abyss.
‘Professor… are you okay…?’ I leaned back in utter disbelief.
He started shaking continuously as if something had gotten into him. His pupils had either rolled up to the inside of his eyes or they had turned white, wasn’t sure which; his mouth opened inhumanly as if his bottom jaw had been broken. He spoke again. This time it wasn’t even English….his voice turned polyphonic, as if two people of different genders were speaking simultaneously; one being a high pitched shrill and the other, immensely deep.
I couldn’t believe my senses. I sat frozen in my seat. What I was seeing, hearing, feeling….was something that I had never come across in my entire life, and now it was all happening at once.
Blood began spewing out of his mouth. And for some reason, my ears were bleeding.
I ran for the door and let myself outside. I couldn’t take it anymore.

The police arrived almost a half hour later. My legs were still shaking. I couldn’t tell them everything that had happened; they would think I’m insane. I barely managed to tell them something, if not anything. My voice was shaking as I was still trembling with fear. They based their conclusions on some of the words they figured from what I was saying; like “coughing” and “bleeding”. And in their eyes I was in shock because I had just witnessed someone die in front of me; not knowing how it why that someone died.
Soon after I was free to go, I rushed over to the University. To my horror, the police were there too, with an ambulance. Director was on one of the stretchers and was being taken to the nearby hospital. It happened all on the same day. For once I didn’t care at all what would happen to the University. I was caught up with trying to justify everything that had happened with Professor Baek and Director. I was told that the Director had suicided by jumping off of his office window.
My wife jumping from this very balcony still haunts me in my sleep. Professor’s words came back to me.
So….was it his daughter who did this? I didn’t have any other theories, nor did I bother to come up with anything else. But still, I walked into Director’s cabin. The window was broken, probably with the chair that now lay upside down. I was careful enough not to step on the scattered glass. I noticed that his laptop was switched on, but his screen was turned off. After turning that on, I uncovered something – an unread mail sent by Professor Baek; the time read last night. I looked around the room to check if anybody was present. The email read as follows:
Dear Edward,
There are many things important, that i haven’t told you. I want to say it while I still have the chance.
At first I envied you because you got to play Director but I was happy I got a chance to teach music. And I’m also happy that you care about me. I don’t need a psychiatrist – I’m not sick.
But I have to warn you about something….
The email then went on to explain about his daughter and also Notre Dame’s true purpose. It continued :
I have found ways to represent math in music. You might have heard that from Isaac. He’s very smart. I wish I had such a son. But instead, in cursed with…. Anyway, please make sure he stays away from the singularity…. Any attempt to represent singularity in music will result in complete chaos. But since I’m old now, with no family, I wish to pursue what I had been searching for-Dark music.
Don’t let the University fall into her hands. She will change the face of humanity with that power.
This mail will also serve as my will and testament. I want all my belongings to go to charity; my apartment to Isaac and if possible, even Notre dame. That is my last wish.
And that was it. His last words. However strange Professor seemed, we did have a bond. Even though he died in pain, he was concerned about telling me the truth. He might have figured that he had to tell someone about it.
I heard footsteps so I quickly copied the email to my phone; marked it unread on the laptop, and left with it’s screen off.
There was never any proper investigation done. To the world, Professor Baek had died of natural causes and Director had suicided.
I would probably have to find someone like me to pass on this legend. I figured it would probably be years before I could tell anybody for that matter.
Days passed and my life was as empty as it could get. I never thought back to the past events. I would use the music derived from mathematics, as a means to honour Professor Baek, and I would teach the same. But Professor mentioned specifically to stay away from singularity. I haven’t yet figured that out. But once I do, I will definitely try it. I want to hear infinity for myself.
Probably that’s what killed Professor Baek. I won’t know until I try it out myself. I still haven’t understood one thing; why the daughter killed Professor and Director as well, the two persons who were aware of the truth, but not me. I checked the email that was on my phone. The same email that I had copied from Director’s laptop. I never gathered the courage to open it again – until now. There was an attachment. I might have not noticed it that day, but it seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. Could it even be? I haven’t yet opened the “dark.mp3” file attached to the email.
——————-****——————–
‘That’s the last of his words, detective,’ said the assistant detective, Paul, who was racing up and down the scene.
“Paul, this may seem unimportant, but this journal might actually be speaking the truth. Isaac Frederich was not insane. Maybe the death of both, Director Edward and Professor Baek, had affected him. But he was sane for months after that. Even the words from his journal support that. It might have been the file that he mentioned. “Dark.mp3” as he says, and the dark music theory might just hold true for all their deaths,’ said the head detective.
‘But there was no record of such an attachment on the email; both on Isaac’s phone and the Director’s laptop.’
‘It seems more complicated now. No witnesses, no records and definitely the daughter is not on any known government database. We might just have to close the case.’
‘Professor Baek’s death was not stated clearly on the report. Isaac’s death was just like Director’s and Professor Baek’s wife’s. All three of them involved jumping off of a building. Doesn’t that arouse a little suspicion, detective?’
‘Yes. It most definitely does.’

Credit: Rahul Patil

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Marco Polo

You know the game Marco Polo, right? One person walks around with a blindfold or with their eyes closed and repeatedly calls out “Marco”, and all the other players respond with “Polo” (usually in the quietest voice they can muster) while trying to avoid being found and tagged by the former. Rather fun game, actually… However, where I come from, it’s more than just a simple children’s game. It’s something that’s programmed into every single person, and it’s as natural as blinking or breathing. Nobody seems to mind it much, but I suppose that’s because not everybody goes around yelling “Marco” at the tops of their lungs all the time. Every now and then some drunk partygoer might call it out while in public, and everyone around will laugh or roll their eyes while answering it before returning back to their normal routines.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we still play the game here, too. Many people don’t really prefer it though because the seeker pretty much has an advantage. Ah, let me explain the thing about that. You see, we have to answer “Polo” in the same way “Marco” is called out. So, if somebody yells the trigger, we have to yell out the response. Of course, it’s not always fun and games here about it, either… If someone’s trying to hide from an intruder, well…let’s just say they’ll easily be found… It is, indeed, advantageous to the seeker.

“Marco!” I call.
“Polo!” Another voice answers me. Ah, hiding upstairs, I see…
As I head up the stairs, I call out again. “Marco!”
“Polo!” answers me from one of the bedrooms and I make my way through the door.
With a snicker, I kick it shut behind me. The room is simple and without much hiding space. Must be in the closet then. I approach the closet door as a large grin spreads across my face.
Yes, very advantageous… And how lucky for me that I am the seeker here. But, you see, I do not know who is hiding, and I am not playing a game. The knife in my hand drips some blood onto the hardwood by my shoe.
I bring my mouth closer to the door. “Marco.”
There is a pause then a terror-filled reply. “…P-polo…”
I open the closet…

Credit: Maria Tex

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Forgive Me

It still seemed like only yesterday that Louise was reported missing. Even after five years. Five years ago to the day, in fact. June is always the worst month of the year for me. More so on this day: June 17th. This is the day that I lost her. My best friend. My partner in crime. My better half. Vanished without a trace.

Everyone knew she and I were pals for life. We grew up together, since kindergarten filled us with the joy of playing house and learning our ABCs. Our friends knew we were inseparable, and our parents always loved having us over to stay nights and weekends.

We were both mischievous, though, and had to be busted out of trouble numerous times. My next door neighbor, an old destitute by the name of Baxter Hesterfield, or Old Baxtard as we nicknamed him, couldn’t stand us. He despised children in general, but it seemed he had a special place in his hatred for us. It might have had something to do with us lighting firecrackers one hot Independence Day and hurling them over the fence and into his backyard. Or perhaps it was fueled from the endless rolls of toilet paper we used on his house and front lawn during Hallows’ Eve in our sophomore year.

Whatever the case, or whomever the target, most of our neighbors automatically suspected the two of us were behind it. I’m not going to say we were behind every nefarious prank that happened on our cul-de-sac, but she reveled in being known as the trouble maker. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but I had to admit: it was always so god-damned fun with her.

These were the good days. Even when at our worst, I felt we had it best. We were invincible, unstoppable, and inseparable. She was always the schemer, and I was always there to lend a helping hand. We made plans to take over the world, or at least run away to the middle of nowhere, start a cult, and rob weak-minded individuals of their money by convincing them to worship a tree or something.

Had I known my time with her would have been cut short, I would have cherished it a lot more than I did. We never appreciate things until we have to live without them. I just never thought it would be her that I would have to move on without…

It hasn’t always been easy, these past five years. She vanished without a trace at the end of junior year, and I just wanted to give up then. Days turned into weeks, months…I had to graduate without my best friend. And college…I’m lucky if I can get through a night of studying without some small memory making it impossible to concentrate.

I wonder how she would react if she knew I was studying Psychology. She loved studying nut cases, as she called them, and wanted to know more about psychological disorders and indoctrination. Help with the cult ideas, she claimed. My interest was always English, but…it just felt right to switch. She deserved this more than I did.

The hardest part, however, is coming home every summer. My folks are more than happy to give me a place to stay during the hot summer months of the South. I repay them by helping out around the house, like moving the lawn and cleaning out the attic. It’s the least I could do. They were my rock through the whole ordeal, even before then, when I found out…

Why couldn’t she have gone away later in the summer? Why did she have to disappear so early? We had plans for that summer. We had saved up money for…well, guess it doesn’t really matter at this point. Plans were cut short after her sudden disappearance. I put all of that money into funding search parties. Providing food and water, funding a headquarters, flyers, social media posts, the whole nine yards. Her parents always cried on camera, but it never felt fake. There was genuine love and a need to have Louise back in their arms, to know she was safe, but most of all, alive.

Then the money ran out. It only took a few months. We hadn’t saved up that much, but the coalition to find her had been very lenient on costs. Her parents were thankful for all of my monetary and emotional support. They were proud of me, to have such a strong head on my shoulders and a calm demeanor throughout the whole ordeal. I would only smile and give them my arms to cradle into and my shoulder to cry on.

Inside, I was not calm at all. Inside, I was a twisted, tormented mix of emotions. My best friend was gone. I knew it in my own heart that she was not coming back. She was lost forever. She was…dead.

She was a beautiful girl. Full of life and potential, she was ready to take on the world and make it her bitch. Her long, brown hair glistened in the light of day while her light blue eyes shined in the darkest of night. She had the figure of a model, but not the skin and bones, anorexic kind. The figure of a real woman that knew she was sexy and wasn’t afraid to admit it. She could have all the guys in her corner, swooning over her and her perfect form. Her killer smile shone like a flashlight, with her gleaming white teeth and that fire engine red lipstick she wore to school every single day.

She was sexy. I felt sexier just standing next to her. How she ever thought of me as her friend blows my mind to this day. She could have had anyone as her posse, or the whole of the school in her pocket. Instead, she chose me as her confidant. I, just a small town girl forced to move to the suburbs of a big city when her dad found a better job. Forcing a young girl to adapt to new surroundings at such a young age was damning. Had I not found her during activity time all those years ago, handing me a few blocks and asking me to help her build her castle fit for a queen and a princess…

I’m just a normal girl. I’m just…Carla.

I had looks, believe me. I was just as stunning as Louise. In fact, I looked rather similar to her. The same color hair, the same figure…even our eyes almost looked identical. She would often say that mine were only just a shade darker, but unless you were close enough to kiss me, no one would notice. She only knew that because she kissed me once. We laughed after that.

We were perfect together. How I longed to see her in school, or stay with her during the weekends. Any holiday, I had to visit her and her family, or she and her family visit me and mine. Oftentimes, even our own parents had trouble telling the two of us apart. It’s like we were meant to be twins from birth.

We deserved to be together forever. At least, I thought so.

Then she fell in love. In love with a man. Just some idiot in his senior year with a broad chin and muscles for days. She fell hard for him, and all I could do was watch, smile and pretend to be happy for her. Maybe if I had stopped pretending and actually told her the truth about how I felt, then all this could have been avoided.

I loved her. I wanted her to be more than just a friend. I wanted her to be my girlfriend.

I had told her once how I felt about dating and relationships. She knew about me, smiled, and hugged me, saying she supported me no matter what. As happy as that made me feel, it also sunk my heart to my toes. Support did not mean empathy. She didn’t feel the same way I did. I guess I should have guessed that, her being with him. But maybe I hoped that would change her mind. Maybe I hoped…she would love me, too.

But no. She was in love with that idiot. How could she fall for that man? What about me? I was much better than him. He couldn’t treat her like I could. How could we be together forever when she was head over heels for this man? We were supposed to conquer the world. We were supposed to always stand side by side through thick and thin. She was going to go away and I would never have her to myself again!

Damn that Jimmy. Why did he have to be so charming? He should have just stayed away from me…from her. He should have just stayed away from her. We’d still be together if he wasn’t such a big fool. It was easy to get rid of him afterwards. After all, Louise had no love for him. Only Carla did.

With her best friend gone, though, Carla couldn’t possibly love Jimmy. No, she would be too traumatized from the loss of Louise. Half of her has been missing for five years. All she can do is live on without her. Every brush of her hair, every blink of an eye, every glimpse in the mirror…a small, insignificant reminder of her.

Every time I look in that mirror, I only see Carla. It’s rather easy, given our similarities. It’s only when I get up close to kiss her, the reflection in the mirror, that I’m reminded of that one small difference that separated us. Her eyes were definitely a shade darker than mine.

June 17th is the only day of the year I give myself pause. On this day, I’m reminded that years ago, there were once two of us. Two young women ready to conquer the world. She and I were queens, empresses, and badasses, full of life and promise.

I watch my Facebook come alive when her parents, her friends, and everyone affiliated with her post on her memorial page all of their fondest memories. Even Jimmy, now married and with a kid, sends a note from time to time wishing me well and hoping for the best. Seeing all of the likes, the hearts, the sad faces, and the many comments of support and wishful thinking gives me a slight feeling of guilt.

Yet it also puts a small smile on my face. To think, after all this time, they have yet to catch on to the ultimate prank. They’re looking for the wrong girl. They’re looking for Louise, the beautiful girl who was loved by all and missed by even more.

They should be looking for Carla. Instead, they’re looking for me.

Those poor idiots.

I loved you more than anything, Carla. We would have taken the world by storm. Now you’re gone, and you’re never coming back. I couldn’t have you in the end, so…no one could. No one had the right to you. No one but me. Just me, Louise. The good girl who wouldn’t lose to a bad boy. I’m sorry you had to take the fall. I’m sorry you have to be the lost girl, yet no one is really looking for you. They’ll never find you. You’re just a memory, all burnt and turned to ash. Scattered about the wind, left in the whispers of my parents, who hug me every day of the summer, but especially today. June 17th. The day after I burned you alive in the forest, fire hotter than the passion and love I had for you.

Forgive me.

Credit: Brandon Harris

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The Empress

When I was a kid, I would spend my free time looking at my mother’s tarot cards. I could spend hours and hours just looking at the lively colored figures, they were all so enticingly beautiful that I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to hold them in my hands. My mom had painted the cards herself and as such they were unique. A one of a kind set, which just increased my nearly obsessive fascination.

I loved them all, however one card stood above all the others. A woman, sitting on a golden throne with long flowing blonde hair and robes of vivid red that fell around her feet and into the green grass. Below the name of the card was written in graceful letters: The Empress.

My mother once told me she had used herself as a model for that particular card, and the resemblance to her and myself may very well have been the reason behind my favoritism.

I spent half of my childhood looking at that card and whenever I tried to imitate my mother and read my future, somehow, The Empress was always there. No matter how many times I shuffled the deck my favorite card never ceased to appear.

Everything changed when my mother died, though. It was my birthday and I had gone out with my friends, I returned home, stumbling in a drunken haze, only to find my mother’s corpse covered in blood on the carpet. A suicide, they said. It had been hard to believe that my mother would do something like that, still I eventually moved on and never touched the tarot deck again. Looking at the cards just reminded me too much of her.

Now years have passed, I graduated from med school and a while ago I decided to return to my childhood home, the same place where I found my mother’s dead body.

It was all just like the day I left, which meant my dad was taking care of it, making a mental note to talk to him later I walked into the kitchen. To my disbelieve the first thing I saw was the tarot deck resting in the round wooden table where I spent countless summer afternoons playing with those same cards.

” Odd. They should be in the closet. ” I said to myself ” Dad must have put them there. ”

On an impulse I sat and opened the cardboard box, quickly freeing the cards from their prison and running my fingers through the golden drawings in the back. Carefully I turned them around and melancholically gazed at the familiar figures. Eventually, when I got to the last card, I came face to face with my mother. Never before had I noticed the striking resemblance the card had with her, maybe because the figure portrayed was a much younger version of what I had known, yet now I could see it clearly. The same long eyelashes and high cheekbones and of course the long golden curls so unlike my brown ones. I looked at the face, drinking in it’s beauty, until suddenly it changed. In a second the serene features contorted into an angry scowl and I immediately dropped the cards. Nevertheless The Empress still had her eyes locked on me, her expression showing undeniable fury and wrath.

” Come to me. ” the sweet sound of what resembled my dead mother’s voice echoed through the room.

I didn’t think, I simply extended my hand and slowly touched the card, as soon as my finger made contact with the rough surface of my once favorite tarot card my surroundings changed. My vision went white and all I could feel was pain, it was as if the blood in my veins had been replaced with pure fire. My entire body burned with agony and suffering. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the pain subsided and my world came into focus again, only it wasn’t the same as before.

All around me a plain field of emerald extended into the horizon and behind me a golden throne stood majestically on the grass. The strangest thing though was the rectangle that appeared to be floating in front of me, like a mirror hanging from the air itself. In it I could see myself, only it wasn’t really me.

The face was much bigger than it should and it was literally looking down on me with a wicked grin.

” Free at last. ” I heard my own voice saying, but the words were blurry as if I was hearing them from underwater ” Goodbye my sweet child. ”

I tried to say something, to scream and shout but I found that my voice didn’t work and while my lips moved no sound came out.

Abruptly I noticed that my face had vanished from the rectangle and all that was left was empty blackness. I was completely alone in the endless field of grass and there was nothing I could do.

Looking down I realized that I no longer wore my blue jeans, instead I was dressed in red robes and my hair was now the color of gold, just like I wished for so many years ago.

My sweet child, I mused, that’s what mother used to call me.

Credit: Sara R.

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I was Alone

Blackness suffocated the room, swallowing any light that attempted to shine. I opened my eyes as wide as I could, but not a single thing was visible. Yet somehow I knew that I was not alone.

Just minutes ago, I lived in a world of color and vibrance. I had been able to see the blue coffee mug on my mahogany nightstand. I had been able to observe the patterns of gray and yellow stitching on my quilt. I had been able to see the light pouring in from my window, and had been able to notice the difference when I closed the blinds. I should never have closed them. I had also been able to look at the light flickering on and off outside my room. The bulb seemed to be struggling to stay on, like it was fighting with something to keep the light.

Just minutes ago, I had been able to see the light go out. I had been able to see a tall, menacing figure vaguely silhouetted where the light had disappeared. I had been able to see that it was gone after I blinked. I got up out of my bed, anxiety now overwhelming me, and locked the door shut. I felt a wave of an uncomfortable lack of solitude rush over me, suffocating me, swallowing me.

Just minutes ago, I had been able to hear the creaking of floorboards under feet near my door. I had been able to hear very faint breathing just outside my room, slow and eerily calm. I had been able to see the figures on the television as I turned it on to drown out the noises just outside my false sanctuary, as if it would go away if I couldn’t hear it. I had been able to see my television almost instantaneously cut off after I turned it on. I had been able to see the my door unlocked by something on the other side.

Just minutes ago, I had been able to see that my light was beginning to flicker. I had been able to see the room grow dimmer by the second. I had been able see my previously locked doorknob slowly turning. I had been able to see the door eased open by a pale, emaciated, inhuman hand. I had been able to watch all of this unfold just before the darkness engulfed me, suffocating me, swallowing me. I could see once more the same vague silhouette as earlier, abnormally tall and thin. It radiated a ominous sense of malignance. It encroached, reaching out with its demon-like hands, instilling within me a pure fear that suffocated me, swallowing me whole.

Just minutes ago, I was alone.

Credit: Austin Gallagher

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