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Note that due to how the sites have evolved, many categories are now outdated.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. I wanted to hold off on...
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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 and large,...
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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. I've updated the FAQ as well as...
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How To Go About Undoing Death

The following set of instructions is meant to serve as a guide for any who have found that they have lost someone that is simply too important to them. Their visage haunts your dreams, the memories you have of them tearing into your soul with dreadful malice. There is a way to draw them back, however, from the fate that claimed their existence. Just follow these instructions, and you will find that you can cheat the reaper.

Now, there are a couple of prerequisites to performing this ritual that should be addressed before hand. For starters, the person who you are reviving must not have been dead longer than a month. The body exists to house the spirit of every human being, and spending such a long time without a spirit makes the shell that it once inhabited useless. Furthermore, the person whom you plan to revive must have a body to return to, so cremated ashes or nothing at all simply won’t cut it. Now there are ways around this, but I will save those for later.

To get started, go to the place where your loved one is presently, most likely a graveyard or a morgue. In either case, you will need to have direct access to the body, which implies that you will need a shovel and a crowbar if they are already buried. When you have direct access to your loved one, you will need to place them somewhere where you can lay yourself next to them so that both of your bodies are in arms reach of each other and that you are level. Once you do that, you will almost be ready to begin the resurrection.

You should consider a few things before continuing. If you, in any way, doubt that you can bring this person back, then give up. If you have any resentments toward this person that you never forgave them for and never will, then give up. If you were curious enough about this ritual to simply choose a cadaver at random to experiment upon, give up, but not before investing some time deeply thinking about your current life choices. The spirits hate the living with burning envy, and will not hesitate to take advantage of your life and steal it from you. If you are willing to take that risk, or are the type to disregard potentially life ending consequences, then read on.

Lay yourself beside your loved one, placing their hand in yours and holding it firmly. Close your eyes and begin chanting in your head this phrase “Death may take, but death shall not take from me” over and over in your head. Do so until you fall asleep. If you are having trouble with this part, a sleeping aid is recommended, and you may tie your loved one’s hand to your own as long as there is some connection between yourself and them.

When you have fallen asleep, you will gain consciousness while sitting down in an elegant chair, crafted from a dark wood and cushioned with satin covers. You will be inside of what appears to be a sea of unending darkness, creating a void around you that obscures any possibility of sight beyond that of your chair and a small circle around you. Whatever you do, do not leave that chair, not under any circumstances. Doing so removes the protective layer of darkness that surrounds you from everything that you cant see, and you really dont want that to happen.

This chair is the seat from which you will call to the spirit that you will need to resurrect your loved one. You must immediately begin thinking of your fondest memories with the person in question, and continue to think about them without stopping. Your thoughts will act as a beacon to the spirit, and they will instinctively try to draw closer to you. You will see them wander through the void, a white light whisping through the inky darkness, hovering towards you. You should begin calling their name, or any title that you usually called them by, and beckon to them. If they remember you fondly, they will start drawing toward you and your chair.

Once they are within a few feet, and you see that they are in the light surrounding you, reach out the hand that you didn’t use to hold their body’s hand, and let them come to rest in your palm. Hug them to your chest with that arm, and rejoice in knowing that you are almost done. Not many make it this far, and few can say that they have hugged someone that they lost.

Now that you have the spirit, reach your other hand away from your body and close your eyes. Imagine yourself talking to this loved one after they return to the land of the living as you reach your hand out. After a few moments, you will lose consciousness, and the darkness behind your eyelids shall overtake you.

If all goes well, then you will wake up where you fell asleep. Your loved one’s hand will still be in yours, and you will notice that its considerably warmer. If you look over at your loved one, they should be fast asleep. They will live life as though their death never affected them, though they will have clear memories of their death and some of the afterlife. All’s well that ends well. You have cheated death with essentially no cost to yourself, which is quite the accomplishment.

I did mention before, however, that there is a way to resurrect without the original body. You can try to resurrect someone by drawing them into an item or group of conjoined items as long as you have some small piece of the loved one to add to the item. In my case, my nephew decided to sprinkle my ashes onto a computer before performing a ritual while gripping the mouse. I had no idea that I was going to come back in such a way, or else I would never have returned. Now, I sit, day in and day out, constantly forced to watch over strings of data and code, hoping that someone will be clumsy enough to knock over this prison I find myself in.

If you want to resurrect your loved one, consider this: Do they want to come back… and what will they do to you when you force them back.

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Project Phantom

Project Phantom

The following is a written account of voice-recorded laboratory notes recovered from The Greenbrier Bunker military installation, located in rural West Virginia.

May 1st 1969

This is Dr. Bill Brookes. These recordings are meant for the advancement of Project Phantom. They are my laboratory notes and are personal in nature, they carry no official weight whatsoever.

I’ve finally refined my serum. With my colleague’s approval, we deem the formula ready for clinical testing. If we can advance from the trial phases, we will proceed with field application.

The idea of my work being utilized has tantalized the most apt political and scientific minds of our country’s leadership. I have been appropriated funding for four months, with the possible provision of an addition two months if my findings prove fruitful. That being said, my test subjects arrive next week.

If I may break the professionalism of my notes to record my current emotional state…

*exhales breath*

…I am nervous.

But excited to begin.

May 9th 1969

Five young-adult males. I was hoping for at least one female, due to remote differences in neural genetics between sexes. None of the subjects are particularly noteworthy. They come from all corners of the US, with different backgrounds and ethnicities. They are all passionate about serving their country, willing to help provide an edge against the Soviets. Beyond that, however, they are plain, boring even.
Our first week together will run logistical procedures. I’ll monitor sleep and neural patterns, measure levels of fitness, run background-health surveys, etc.

Personally, I- I wish we could forgo the logistical details of it all and move on to clinical testing.

*Clears throat*

Four months goes by fast.

May 20th 1969

I’ve scheduled the first of June for our initial trial run.

My teammates worry me.

We professional scientists, but some of my colleagues are gambling with our odds of success. They’re placing bets on which of the five test subjects will proceed to phase two, and which will be dismissed.

I find there speculation immature, but I must admit, I do have high hopes for one subject. If I was a betting man

. . .

Private Kent from Maine. Private Kent revealed to me that he suffered from Sleep Paralysis as a child.

*Sips liquid*

Proponents of my work say the Sleep Paralysis phenomena is the first step towards accomplishing real astral projection.


If I had to put money on which subject will actually astral project, I would bet on Kent.

May 31 1969

Tomorrow, the stage-one test will be administered individually. We are starting off with a relatively simple procedure; we’ll escalate the process after we collect data on my formula.


In the laboratory, subjects will be seated and administered the serum. The very next building will contain a mock set-up of a Soviet war Room, with unknown disclosed documents in plain view. If the subject can wake with some knowledge of the documents contained in the adjacent building, than it will be recorded as a partial success. If the subject can wake and describe in detail the contents of the documents, it will be a complete success.

June 2nd 1969

He did it.

Private Kent registered as a complete success. He was actually able to remote view. Astral Project. He woke with knowledge of his trip.

Three of the five subjects simply slept with no recollection of anything in particular. The final subject, Corporal Graham, was marked as a partial success by explaining the décor of the adjacent building.

But, I’m not convinced about Corporal Graham, he could have cheated somehow. Regardless, Private Kent will resolve the bulk of our attention now… He actually did it.

*turns paper*

Over the course of the next two weeks, our serum will be tweaked. Second phase testing is scheduled for June 20th, giving plenty of R-n-R for our subjects.

June 19th 1969

I’ve been operating on little sleep. We had a few setbacks with the serum, but

we’re ready for phase two testing tomorrow. We are drastically upping the ante. The subjects will be required to project to certain room on an active submarine and wake with knowledge of that room. The submarine is off the coast of Virginia. The subjects were briefed on the history of the submarine and shown map coordinates of where currently rests. Once again, I have high hopes for Private Kent.

June 20th 1969

Something terrible has happened!

Corporal Graham has completely lost consciousness. To put it bluntly, he’s braindead. He’s an empty vessel on life support. We will of course lie to the public. His death will be listed as an unfortunate training accident, with the body unrecoverable.

His body is scheduled for incineration if he does not wake.

But for now, we will maintain his life support for the slim-chance his consciousness finds its way home. It does not look good however. He’s hooked up to a series of machines in an empty room next to my office. Even as I dictate this, he’s in there. Alive, but not really. I walked by his body this morning. It intimidates me.

It leaves so many unanswered questions.
Of what little we know, we do know this: We altered the formula to render our subjects into a deeper level of unconsciousness; we initiated our experiment with all five subjects at once, rather than individually; and our subject’s minds had a greater distance to travel than before.

The one positive thing to come of this— Private Kent was able to wake with information.

He explains that astral projection is very taxing, and he does not wish to proceed without at least one month rest. He has a theory that astral projection is like exercising a muscle, the more you do, the stronger you get at it. My research is inclined to support his belief, and he’s been granted his one month rest.
The current plan is to reduce the distance of the next projection but to keep the serum formula the same.

*sips liquid*

We had one subject drop out after the Corporal Graham incident, but we still have two subjects plus Private Kent.

July 20th 1969

Phase 3 was successful. Private Kent was able to project to the next town and wake with information pertaining to a military recruitment office located there. No progress was made with the other two subjects, and they seemed hesitant to continue.

*scribbles on paper*

Private Kent claims he’s getting stronger. But, He mentioned something which is particularly troubling. Given our progress, I cannot let it impede our research, but Kent claims…


Kent believes that someone else influencing his thoughts now. He doesn’t know how to describe it, almost like he has an alter ego or another mind criticizing and commenting on his day-to-day decisions. I will continue to monitor Kent’s psychological state, right now though, he’s the best chance we have at accomplishing remote viewing and stopping the Soviets.

July 25th 1969

*Throat Clear*

. . .

Private Kent is all that remains of Project Phantom.

Well, Kent and Corporal Grahams chilling uninhabited body, which is still in the next room.

The remaining two subjects decline to proceed any further with Project Phantom. It makes no difference, Kent is all we need.


I’ve set a tentative date for Private Kent’s next projection. He said he feels good and is comfortable going tomorrow, but I fear I have taking ill, so I have halted our experiments until I am more suited.

We will plan on August third.

August 1st 1969

Private Kent and I are sticking to our original plan of August third. One thing worries me, he said the ideas in his mind are getting more pronounced.

He says there is an entity residing in him, and they communicate on a regular basis. He won’t tell me the name of the entity, but I overheard him refer to it as Malphas.

I’m not positive what kind of a name Malphas is, but I’m worried about Kent.
There is little I can do about Malphas; we are running out of time and funding.

We only have until the last day of next month to present our findings. We can petition for more time and money, but I would like to have something more concrete to show first.

August 4th 1969

We were unable to conduct our projection yesterday. Private Kent has been missing for two days. I surmise it has something to do with Malphas.

Kent’s been acting increasingly bizarre lately. He seldom eats, and he attempts astral projection alone in an uncontrolled environment and without the aid of my serum.

I tried to surprise him with a chocolate cupcake for his birthday, but when I entered his room he was standing on his hands, completely erect with blood dripping from his nose. He appeared to have been like that for some time and my presence did nothing to interrupt him.

Finally, after knocking him off balance he acknowledged me.


I’m preparing to leave Greenbrier Bunker, I have no purpose here. Without Kent, I cannot secure funding and cannot continue.

August 5th 1969

Private Kent has returned.

He seems better than ever.

I recommended to dismiss military justice for being AWOL in order to allow us to continue our work. Kent apologized for leaving, he just wanted to sort some things out mentally.

We decided to return to work in three days. Our next projection date will be August 8th.

*Undiscernible voices*

*clears throat*

*chair scrapes against the ground*

*undiscernible voices*

What do you mean? Are you sure?

*Footsteps echo and diminish*

*three minutes of silent recording goes by*

*. . .*

*Deep breath followed by a sharp exhale*

An Empty Vessel…

*Deep breath*



August 7th 1969

Kent is acting increasingly bizarre.

*Chair creaks*

Security informs me that Kent hasn’t slept since he returned.

We had a video camera installed in his quarters. It’s hidden, he doesn’t know he’s under observation.

Security said he appears to be communicating with someone.

They showed me a portion of last night’s tape.

He wasn’t just talking out loud or thinking, he had gestures and mannerisms. And at one point, I thought
I heard a separate voice respond.
It definitely wasn’t Kent’s voice. It was deep and malevolent.

I’m a- I’m beginning to think this was all a mistake.


How could I not though. I’ve been the mind my entire life, how could I not pursue my work. I didn’t think…


Well, I didn’t think…

August 8th 1969

Private Kent… murdered two guards…

I’m done…

I’m leaving Greenbrier Bunker next week.

Kent claims Malphas commanded him to do it. He said he had to, otherwise Malphas wouldn’t allow him to breath.

When I visited Kent, he was in a straitjacket. I asked the guard if the jacket was really necessary, the guard said Kent ripped out of two straitjackets already and broke a guard’s arm just by grabbing it.
The guards hate him.

The guards want to put a bullet in his brain… His beautiful brain…

He was supposed to skyrocket my career. We were supposed to spy on the Soviets and end the Cold War…
What went wrong?

*bottle opens*

*liquid pours*

Malphas… The astral projections must have been too much for Kent. He must be on his way towards insanity…

Maybe simple humans shouldn’t meddle with paranormal loopholes.


*gulps liquid*

August 14th 1969


*Papers Shuffling*

I’ve dedicated my life’s work to the idea of getting something for nothing. To the idea of playing God and projecting our souls across seas to gain advantageous information. While I have speculative evidence that such a feat is possible, I must abandon all I’ve accomplished here.

I don’t understand the strange case of Private Ken-


Oh my God!


WHAT was that?

*Heavy breathing*


*. . .*

IF ANYONE GETS THIS RECORDING, THIS IS DR. BILL BROOKES, I HA-HAVE UNLEASHED A DEMON ON THIS EARTH. Its name is Malphas and it-it is currently in the body of Private James Kent-


*Drawer opens*

*Gun cocks*


*Heavy breathing*



Is he dead?

Did I kill him?

I th-think he’s dead. IS this still recording? Ok. I have just shot Private Kent. He is on the ground and he is n-not moving.

*heavy breathing*

Oh God!




CAN someone HELP ME!?

*Chair creaks*

*Footsteps approach*


*Footsteps grow louder*

Corporal Graham? Corporal Graham are you awake? Is that you?


Graham’s not here right now







*clanking sound*


*Heavy breathing*


*recording stops*

No records exist of the personnel detailed in these notes. The validity of these notes has been neither confirmed nor denied.

Credit: Ben Inks

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The Face That Looks Like Everyone

I don’t know what I’m doing.

Sight. My shadows dance from my front to my side then back again, as the speeding cars’ headlights and the streetlamps cast uneven figures on the sidewalk I have been on for about an hour or so. The lights come in white and yellow to vaguely orange, but I have a limited color palette. Just as my shirt is red. Just as the sky tonight is just black.

I enjoyed my Physics lesson today, but its late dismissal joined with its late schedule. It’s 5:30-7:00pm, the latest schedule a 3rd year student can enroll in. It made me miss my last bus ride home. Now here I am, unable to fetch a taxi on a highway beside a wall of graffiti and murals of very happy students looking away and very sad faces looking at you. There are some holes here and there, but the art was enough to veer you away from the textural flaws of the wall. And now I am on my first time walking home. It’s just a straight stretch in the road, I thought. I don’t think someone can mug me in a well-lit place even at night. Someone will stop driving to help me, I thought.

Touch. It’s unusually chilly tonight. I have my smooth, cottony jacket with me with my backpack firmly between it and my back for security purposes. I have my handkerchief on its right pocket as both of my hands are fit snugly inside. My hands and face feel oddly damp. I’m not sure if it’s the moisture. I’m not sure if it’s sweat. I’m just sure that it’s on me. Just there.

Hearing. As of what I understood from my Physics professor, this undulating noise from the cars is because of the Doppler Effect. The closer the object is to you, the louder you can hear it. Their engines all sound the same to me. Just like that red car’s. Just like that black car’s.

I heard a news today about the increasing number of unregistered art along these walls I am traversing by. It said that famous works of certain graduates from this university of mine made most of these murals, all of which tell the world how diverse and open we are. I can almost hear the paint as it was spread along these walls. The sound of that red guided by the brush of a woman who wanted to show flames of passion. The sound of that black that is expressed as a spider with the face of a very sad human.

It hit me that the free gallery of murals from the entrance up to now is starting to become wild. Signs of graffiti like political discontent to declarations of love to not staring at the wall began to show. Rogue art like caricatures of discontented individuals rose from mere words were now talking to me. Sometimes they were narrating as if they were storytellers. Sometimes they were just in labored breathing, as if they were sick.

“Oust this guy for robbing my life away from me. We are the people they say they are listening to. We are actually the people they are leeching from. Rico loves Mary but she doesn’t love him back. He’s following someone for a while now and the latter doesn’t know.”

These seemingly random stories were giving me a sense of thrill. I didn’t like that I feel a bit of discomfort that they are talking to me, but in a way it distracted me from everything else.

Smell. Some objects like garbage bins were in the way of some murals. Some smelled of rancid urine. Some were probably just-abandoned kiosks with faint smells of barbeque, hotdogs and calamari. Some isolated bags smelled fishy. Some grassy areas smell like rotten food.

From then I knew this wall had something special in it. All these people inside in a dichotomy of emotions. No one was angry. No one was disgusted. No one was shocked. It’s just happy and sad. I couldn’t even count them all but the happy ones were of different art styles. Probably different artists. I realized that it’s just the third time I saw a sad painting on the wall, and it was the same face. The three were probably of the same artist. The same frown. The same droopy eyelids. The same stare.

Then it dawned on me that my shadows didn’t dance as much as it used to. That only the street lamps were the source of light. That there were no more cars. That it was just me and the wall. My heart skipped a beat and it felt like my shirt was glued to my back. I walked a bit faster as I scanned the highway. There was no sign of any car near. Only scraps of garbage strewn around but not enough to call it messy. I looked back and saw just a stretch of darkness with a few lamps in between. Enough to light everything else except the darkness behind the trees, around the corners of the and through the overpasses and on some uneven flaws on the wall.

It suddenly felt like it was a one sided conversation. The murals have been talking and talking and talking since god knows when. My clock stopped at 3:09 but I could have sworn I was checking it before I left and that it was working. I suddenly felt tired and removed my eyes from the sad face on the wall. It felt like it wasn’t sad for himself. It was sad for me.

It made me realize just now what a shitty life I have, and not just because I missed a bus. Not because I can’t fetch a cab. Not because I’ve been walking for a long time. It’s because I was alone.

Taste. I reached for the yellow juice drink on the bottle pocket of my bag which was hidden between my back and my jacket. It made me look like a hunchback, I thought. Like I was carrying the weight of something I didn’t want. Something that was just dumped on me. I twisted the cap as I sat on the sidewalk in a temporary surrender, sad and tired. My breathing was heavy and labored. I could feel blood rushing on my temples. I felt a bit sweaty, but I didn’t move my jacket an inch. The taste started from cool and lemony into a bit metallic. I looked at it but I couldn’t find metallic objects nor blood inside.

I had everything to hide, and this jacket made sure of it.

The sound of my breathing started to move away from my immediate surroundings but I was still tired no less. I looked at my stagnant shadow. It started to look like it wanted someone new to follow, as if it was bored with me. I stood up and began to walk again as the shadow left me.

I looked back again at the mural and it began talking again. In and out of politics and personal rants.

“Our university is the best, it’s just this and the others. My girlfriend is what everyone sees, I see a room with a light bulb. The requirements are hard but the achievement is the ultimate. She was a sick, sick girl. People are dying in hunger. We want change and we want it now. Your dad is still there only because of marriage. Stop staring at me.”

And while it happened, I could hear the labored breathing again. And like the Doppler Effect it started to go louder. But now I was sure it wasn’t me increasingly getting tired. Now it’s as loud as ever and I could see the sad face again, making me feel it’s being condescending. And as the wall spanned like it was a whole city, I could only see the face changing ever so slightly from sheer sadness to anxiety to antagonism to interest to exhilaration until that grin was so huge that it stopped there. And it stopped but there was a hand that started to rise up onto its frame.

And the hand showed very long fingers painted as if it was coming out of its frame. It looked real and it had very sharp nails. Then I couldn’t see him anymore. It was just a blank wall. There were a few squiggles here and there that didn’t speak to me at all. I looked closer into a blank frame. Slowly, my damp hands ran its fingers along the edges of the frame. The frames were holes all along. And now I painted it red. I shoved the loose strands of wet hair back into my jacket’s pockets. I licked my lips and found the same metallic taste from the drink. I used my jacket’s arm to wipe the blood from my eyes.

I was muttering no and I was shaky as the bloody hair that wasn’t mine was spread all over my face. I couldn’t take it anymore. The hands I had weren’t mine anymore. It took of my jacket and removed the man’s head from my bag. I tugged too hard at the scalp, it seems. And now I could fit his head on this empty frame. I found myself muttering “No one will hurt you without being exposed Mary,” humming something I’ve never heard before. Everything else felt automatic as the mossy, forgotten wall was adorned by another mural. I adjusted its frown and those droopy eyelids. I made sure everything was sculpted well.

I pulled the mirror out of my bag and caressed my face that only had a smile on it. I couldn’t see myself. “Mary,” I said. “I hope you can love me now.” I set my mirror so that I can see behind me. I could see cars on the highway. I turned around and saw the university wall behind me.

We are all plagiarists and thieves, I thought. But I could see myself with this.

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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,

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,

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,

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.


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?’
‘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.
‘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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