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Note that due to how the sites have evolved, many categories are now outdated.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.
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- 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!
I live in Norway, and I enjoy viewing things under my microscope. The ability to see things so small and far from human reach intrigues me. Yesterday I was looking at the plant cells from a leaf I found on the street. Within the cells of the leaf I could see the vacuoles, the chloroplasts, the cell wall, and at the centre, the nucleus.
It was like the centre of its own little universe. I zoomed out to check on another cell, but suddenly zoomed out way too far, it was like the sensitivity of the dial was turned up to max. I was looking at myself through the microscope. I looked above me to see if there was a camera video taping me as if this was some sort of prank, but found none. I looked back through the microscope and still saw myself sitting in my chair, in my home, in real time. My breathing was synchronised with the image of me in the microscope.
Usually the microscope I use stops zooming in or out after 5 or 6 rotations of the dial, but I zoomed out and dial kept rotating until first I saw my neighbourhood, then the country, and shortly after that, the entire Scandinavia.
I am at this point perplexed, more than I have ever been or ever will be in my life, but I’m only human, my curiosity gets the better of me, so I keep rotating the dial. I see the earth first after the first rotation, then I see the solar system after another rotation, the milky way, another and another and another until I reach the galaxy cluster. I keep zooming out into the cosmos and now find myself viewing a cluster of galaxy clusters. Half a rotation of the dial brings me millions of light years more than science will be able to see, and the speed of zoom is rising exponentially.
My journey through the universe felt so short, but when I looked up to see my clock, 30 minutes had already passed. I begrudgingly looked back into my microscope, hoping my scientific breakthrough was not simply any illusion, however when my eyes finally adjusted to the lighting inside the microscope I notice something, out of place. I saw a line, a border impossibly big that it surrounded our entire universe like wall. I turn the dial another half rotation. I now see many rectangles huddled together. they all look the same, like cells in a leaf, but there are some other circular blobs displayed in the microscope. As one of these blobs moved towards a dimension like ours. It ate the dimension like a defensive cell eats an invading bacteria or fungi, or parasite.
My eye, glued to the microscope, I suddenly realise of our universe’s fate. It motivates me to get this cosmic journey over with. I keep zooming out. The dial stops turning and I am once again zoomed in on the familiar leaf that I picked up on the road earlier that day.
It was nearly ten when the comet first appeared across the western horizon. The channels broke the news like wildfire. For once, the Desanges did not have to rely on the network coverage as they could easily view the spectacle from the balcony terrace. It had a bluish hue and was surrounded by an orange smoldering ring that culminated in a tail.
The sun was low in the east, shining bleakly through the foray of heavy clouds, even though the west side was clear. Hand in hand, Alan and Zara Desange stared, their hearts alight with excitement and an indeterminable sense of peace. Not the kind where the world is a better place but the kind that alcohol brings, the kind that pushes all your worries into a void. A soft warmth emanating from their hearts and culminating at their interlocked hands.
Zara’s phone had been ringing for nearly five minutes and finally Alan nudged her to answer it although he would have liked to spend a few more minutes with her. He almost knew who the call was from. His wife worked for the regional branch of NASA in San Francisco. The comet was their business and they were the ones who had to provide the answer to the awed or the hysterical public. Most people thought he was joking when he mentioned his wife was working in a psychologist capacity for NASA.
His hypothesis turned out to be true when she returned. Her face was slightly grim. With anticipation and perhaps fear, thought Alan.
‘It was the office. They’re calling everyone in.’, she said as she approached.
‘I assume they weren’t expecting it’, he said, not taking his eyes of the colored orb.
‘Nope’, she replied definitively.
They stood for a moment more before she said apologetically. ‘I’m sorry honey. I have to go’
‘Yeah, Yeah, it’s not a problem. Go on. Do your job and make me proud’. He gave a soft smile.
Zara was in her Prius ten minutes later and speeding along the interstate towards her destination. The comet appeared to be cutting an exactly horizontal path through the horizon, like a halo, neither dipping nor rising. Somehow the clouds always cleared away before it approached. The region around it was completely devoid of white puffs while the rest was literally blanketed in white.
The call had been from Gary Paulson, the Chief Medical officer of the regional section. He was also the head of logistics. His main job was Pilot evaluation; determining their mental health status and their fitness level for a particular mission. He always had the final say in that. A calm person by nature, which is why his call bothered Zara so much. He had sounded on edge, as if on the tip of hysteria. She even thought his voice broke a few times. Something was up.
The traffic looked calmer than usual. A slow repetition of a continuous slog; similar vehicles passing by over and over. Like a programming loop repeating itself at a fixed interval. It was rather bizarre. In one case, she was almost sure she had passed the same vehicle with the same occupants three times.
When she reached her destination, she was met with a huge swarm of people gathered in front of the main entrance to the building. It wasn’t the general public. She recognized familiar faces and realized it was the entire staff of the building gathered around the humungous, iron-wrought gates that were now firmly closed upon them.
‘What the hell’s going on?’
Katie, her redhead friend, who was a floating head amongst the teeming sea of spectators, saw her, extricated herself from the mass and came jogging over to her side.
‘You won’t believe this.’, Her voice was brimming with excitement and her eyes were gleaming. Zara had rarely seen her so animated.
‘We were in the large auditorium, being briefed, you know, on that’, she pointed at the comet in the sky, ‘They had just informed us that the nearest weather satellite, had gone completely haywire, that the comet was interfering with the electronics. And other satellites in the vicinity were malfunctioning too. Then they showed us that they had actually picked up a transmission from it’
‘From what?’ asked Zara.
‘From the comet’
‘Picked up… a transmission. From a comet?’, she asked, seriously doubting Katie’s mental stability.
‘They said they were receiving continuous signals from a certain source that they were able to determine was the comet’s surface; communication like, you know. Alien Transmission, they said.’
‘But how could they possibly know that it was from – ‘
‘I know right!’, she nearly barked. ‘It was totally ludicrous. But he was going to explain. Gary, I mean. He was showing us the data on the big screen. But then, out of nowhere, Theon Rainfield barges into the hall. You won’t believe his face. I mean, he looked, like, completely deranged.’ Katie Emphasized this by holding her hands aloft at the sides of her head as though mimicking electrocution.
Theon was the head of the whole unit. He was rarely seen around here and only visited on special occasions. A head-strong but painfully meticulous person when encountered, so it was a blessing that he was mostly absent.
‘What did he say?’ ,
‘He screamed at us. Told us to get the hell out. All of us. Then he walked over to Gary and said something to him quietly in his ear. It was almost like he was threatening him while we are all filing out. They were in there for nearly half an hour, while we waited outside, before Gary walked out alone and told us all to go home. I mean, like, What the hell?’
‘Just like that?’
‘Yep. Head on home. By the time he told us this, his face was really ashen. Like someone had punched him in the gut. He was agitated. We could tell’
The crowd was slowly thinning as people were finally getting over the shock and getting in their vehicles to depart for home. They had apparently stayed for a while in the hope that this was all some big misunderstanding.
‘How come everybody got here so soon?’
‘What do you mean?’, asked Katie.
‘I mean, I got the call just forty minutes ago and got here as fast as I could.’
‘How come? I got the call at nearly ten. And everybody was here within the hour so…’
‘Well so did I and its barely – ‘. Zara glanced at her watch and stopped mid sentence. ‘Hang-on. This can’t be right.’
‘What time is it with you? My watch is broken I think’.
‘It’s – uhm – two-thirty-three’
‘WHAT? That’s impossible’
‘What do you mean?’
‘It was hardly ten-thirty when I got the call and I left almost immediately’.
Katie smiled roguishly. ‘Go home sweetie. You don’t seem right’
‘Stop it’, Zara threatened her.
Katie snickered manically, hugged her and then jogged off to her car. Zara stood rooted to the spot for a few minutes while the throng thinned out and eventually she was only one of a just a half dozen people left ambling about the vast courtyard and the parking space. The building was magnificent in many aspects yet today it just looked foreboding; tall and menacing. It almost seemed ancient.
Eventually, she couldn’t think of a good enough reason to stay anymore and headed towards her Prius. The sun was beginning to lower down in the west and she still couldn’t fathom how so much time had gone by. She must have read the time wrong at home. That seemed like the only plausible explanation.
She was heading along the highway, when she suddenly became aware of something even more bizarre than the inexplicable time loss she had experienced. She could see a looming structure in the distance that she couldn’t recognize but was sure that it did not belong in this part of the world let alone in this moment in history. She could see faded, stone cold, grey walls, pointy turrets and great towers, stretching up into the abyss. What was a eighteenth century, Celtic castle doing in this landscape. She had never seen it before. It didn’t make sense.
A little less dramatic but no less baffling was another phenomenon which was also apparent to her. There was something wrong with the road she was travelling on. It was not the fresh, smooth as a tongue, concrete she had travelled on earlier or travelled on every other day to work. It was cracked and jagged beyond recognition. She could even see green forcing up out of the cracks; weeds and shrubs crawling out like an alien invasion of a once sophisticated.
And then she noticed that she was completely alone. There were no other vehicles, no passersby. Was she drunk? Had she gotten so inebriated that she couldn’t even distinguish reality from an odd, although uniquely vivid, dream.
The year of our Lord, 1764.
Jonah Williams, the duke of Yorkshire, noted it down in his ledger for it was the happiest day of his life. Although the day was dank and the chill was beginning to creep up on him. But it didn’t matter. Even the peculiar constellation in the sky couldn’t deter him from his happiness. If anything, it only energized him.
The Lord has chosen to mark the day of this union with a sign. We are indeed blessed, he thought.
She was in the carriage in front of his, drawn by four black beauties. He could picture her in that beautiful dress that he had specifically chosen for her. Her face had become radiant with joy the moment he had presented it to her. He did hope that the cold didn’t bother her. The horses’ breath was sending out misty steam into the air. It was growing colder.
The convoy for the marriage procession was very large. He couldn’t even see the tail end. They had moved on from the muddy earth and were now on hard ground, for he could hear the clattering of the hooves. He wouldn’t dare open his door in this bitter frost.
Then he heard a few raucous calls up ahead and with a sudden jolt, the coach suddenly halted.
He waited a few moments before the one of his guards came up to his side and opened his door.
‘What is the matter, Eustace?’
The guard looked rather clueless about what to say. He stared at the duke for a few moments before hesitantly responding.
‘Sire, there seems to be a certain problem with the path up ahead.’
‘What do you mean?’, asked Jonah impatiently.
He could see the guards hand stretched tightly across his spear, his knuckles stark white.
‘Sire, begging your pardon, but you should see this for yourself.
Apparently Jonah had no choice.
He stepped out into the mist. It took him a moment to grasp his atmosphere and then he gasped in shock.
What he was seeing was beyond terrifying.
‘Where in the world are we?’
What he saw were towering structures, taller than any castle he had ever seen, just erupting out of the bare desolation, like behemoth creatures. Up ahead was the road that led up to a bridge. Except it wasn’t the road he was supposed to be on and this bridge was unlike anything he had ever seen. This road was like a sheet; dark grey bordered by yellow lines with white lines running along its center.
He started to move ahead. Eustace along with a group accompanied him.
As he was passing his wife’s carriage, he signaled to Eustace.
‘Post a half a dozen men here. Do not let her out of your sight. The rest of you, come with me.’
He also took out his pistol from the holster in his belt. As they proceeded to the front of the convoy, more things became apparent. It was a baffling spectacle.
The bridge was like a gateway to heaven itself. There was not a single bridge but a myriad. Like countless snakes intersecting one another, up ahead he saw many crisscrossing ones, shrouded by the mist. Some running deep below the ground and others on top.
Then he heard a strange noise. A whirring. The horses started whinnying and stamping their feet.
‘What devilry is this? ON GUARD MEN !’
He could see lights. Strange beams project from the mist. The noise was growing louder.
The monster suddenly broke free of the fog. A silver metallic formation on small wheels.
Jonah and his guards, all nearly jumped out of their skins. They recoiled in horror and crouched down holding their weapons aloft as the beast approached. Some cried out in alarm and other dived to their sides. Jonah held his ground, pointed his pistol at it and fired off.
To their relief, it evaded them. It’s wheels turned just before collision. There was terrible screech and before they knew it, it had whizzed past them at great speed.
They watched astounded, as it blended into the thick mist. Before he knew it, Jonah was running in the same direction, to his wife’s carriage, for she was the one thing that mattered.
Zara was in a trance. As soon as she had passed the fantastic parade or whatever the hell it was, she screeched her car to a halt and bolted out onto the cold pavement and fell onto her knees, gasping. She could hardly see ten yards in any direction.
Was there a carnival in town? Some civil war re-enactment? Nineteenth century pageant walk? What the hell was going on?
Her hands were going numb because of the extreme cold and her heart was hammering inside her ribcage. She let the cold wash over her. It somehow made her calm enough to let a small sane thought form amidst the chaos.
Getting back inside the car, she revved up the engine and raced ahead. She had to get home.
Very soon she was able to determine her location. She could finally breath. It was only a ten minutes ride left. She was well above the speed limit, but she didn’t care. And besides there was nobody around to hit. Not unless some fancy Englishman ghost appeared out of nowhere. In that case, she wasn’t planning on being much considerate anyway.
The sight of her home was like the most welcome thing she could ever lay eyes upon in her current predicament. She pulled into her driveway and ran inside without locking up.
The front door was open.
‘Alan’, she called softly. Her voice didn’t allow her to scream. Her throat was nearly jammed.
She called once again, without reply. He wasn’t in the kitchen or the dining room although the dirty plates were still on the table, stained with egg whites. She did remember cleaning them and putting them away, though she didn’t care much for that now. She started to head upstairs and paused near the top.
She could hear voices. Multiple voices. One was definitely Alan’s. The second, a woman’s, she couldn’t determine; although it was strangely familiar.
She proceeded on tiptoe and peaked into the bedroom. There was no one although the sheets were ruffled. On the other side of the room, the door to the balcony was open. She headed towards it stealthily and saw two people on the balcony staring up into the cloudy sky, at the comet, which was right where it had been this morning.
Their hands were interlocked. It was Alan and… her.
She was looking at herself. It took less than a second for her to realize this.
But no, this couldn’t be her. She had to wait for the woman to turn around. It was probably some kind of prank that her husband had cooked up.
The phone on the nightstand started ringing. Her phone.
She waited behind the door, peering through the crack, waiting for her them to turn around. She waited nearly five minutes before Alan sort of nudged the woman and then she turned around.
Zara gasped silently. It couldn’t be. She pressed herself against the wall behind the door and held her breath as the other entered and went towards her phone. She reached towards it but it went silent before she could answer it.
Zara heard her curse and then a few seconds later, heard the bathroom door close. Zara peeked out cautiously and saw the coast was clear. She was in the bathroom.
Zara sat on the bed, picked up her phone and checked the call history. Gary Paulson was the last missed call.
She put the phone down, opened the lowest drawer on the nightstand and picked up the hammer lying inside. It was heavy. She felt the cold, dented metal surface in her palm. An indeterminable sense of rage had filled her up; replacing the previous cold, constricted feeling in her chest.
She gripped it more tightly, walked to the bathroom door and rapped softly.
‘Just a sec’, came the response from inside. It sounded as if her mouth was full of toothpaste.
There was lot of gurgling and flushing. Almost a minute passed and then the door opened.
It was like staring into a mirror, except Zara was sure that her expression wasn’t as terrified as her counterpart. The stare lasted a few seconds before she brought down the hammer with brute force on her head. It lodged inside the skull with a sickening splat as blood oozed out and pink brain matter appeared amidst the mass of hair.
She let go of the hammer and the other toppled inside the bathroom along with it. She closed the door as quietly as she could.
The phone rang.
She walked to it, picked it up, glanced at the caller ID and answered.
‘Gary, Hi’, she answered in a cheerful tone.
The voice at the other end was muffled and sounded distressed.
‘Listen Zara. It’s urgent. Its emergency protocol. You need to come in…’
Five minutes later, she went out on to the balcony.
‘It was the office. They’re calling everyone in’
Credit: Salman Khattak
– – –
This is a story from work. I work at a mall, and I work nights. It’s pretty well-known, so in the interest of not breaking any non-disclosure agreements, I’m not going to name it.
I don’t think sharing any of this is technically illegal, but I’m sure my mall wouldn’t appreciate me sharing any of this.
Our mall has over ninety different shops spread across different levels and has a huge fountain in the plaza. Most of the stores are big chains that operate out of outlets or smaller kiosks. They range from clothing stores, to outdoorsy stuff, to pizza places, and there’s also a movie theater.
I’ve been working at this mall for over five years now in security and surveillance, but I’ve only been working the graveyard shift for the past eight months.
And the way that I got my current job – being the lady who watches the cameras in the dead of night – is also a little unusual.
My job has the highest turnover rate. That’s not weird. I work long hours in the dead of night and I come home very early, usually midnight to seven in the morning, but there are times when the lady doing five in the afternoon to midnight will ask me to switch with her because she has a date. Part of the reason people quit here so often is because usually I don’t have the luxury of dating or socializing at normal hours.
I go to work around eleven at night and I don’t get back until about eight in the morning. Many people have had my job before but opted out because they wanted a social life of some kind. The pay is pretty good for my education level, and I don’t have any better options lined up, plus I have full benefits. I’ve worked here for a long time and I get more perks than most. Also, my job isn’t particularly dangerous since I watch cameras and don’t patrol anything, and I don’t work alone. I know the system better than most, and it doesn’t involve manual labor. In short, my job is mentally draining but not physically involved or very risky.
Before this, I was working day shift which had more people, but it was still the job of watching cameras. A lot of us watching the cameras here tend to be women.
I’m not sure if it’s a quirk of our particular mall, or if they’re really trying to get brownie points for hiring women. It’s probably because there are cameras in our changing rooms to keep people from shoplifting, and being that we have a lot of ladies’ clothing stores I assume women would feel better having another woman watching them through the fish-eye lens than some random guy. To keep the weirdos out.
There are security guards who check in with me and some of them are pretty funny. Our favorite thing to do in the dead of night is to pretend that we’re spies on a secret mission; I’m the one feeding them intel having “taken control of the system” with my “amazing hacking skills”, and they’re the secret agents. We try to have fun.
My call sign is Lady Liberty.
And the story behind that is the security guards hazed me the first night I took over the monitors, barging in on me to give me a jump scare wearing ski masks from the sporting goods store and all I had to defend myself was a book and flashlight.
The guys I work with are Nightblind and Radio Silence. The ladies I work with in the control room are Big Ben and Hungry Eyes.
I can’t say I know the people working in the stores themselves except for occasional food vendors, but I do know some of my bosses since I used to work days.
The real problem with this job is the monotony and boredom can play tricks on your mind. The other problem is that incidents at night are usually of the scary variety. Occasionally kids will break in to vandalize things, or we deal with trespassing homeless people or sometimes the elderly or people with mental issues. I don’t deal with them myself, but seeing a stranger in the mall is after hours feels like watching a home invasion from a panic room.
A small aside, Nightblind got that call sign when he was patrolling and couldn’t see very well and I got a front row seat to watching him stumble into the fountain in the main plaza thoroughfare. Radio Silence got his name when he wouldn’t check in at the scheduled intervals, only to find out later that he’d left his walkie-talkie in the security booth.
Hungry Eyes got her call sign from the song that’s her ringtone. She always has a boyfriend calling her at work. I hear the song Hungry Eyes at least twice every night.
Big Ben literally can’t shut up about the time. “What time is it?” is her catchphrase at this point. Sometimes she’s like the time channel, reminding us what time it is or how many minutes or hours until we leave. Usually it’s informing us what time we need to check in, or just mentioning the exact hour. She’s always wearing a watch.
If I’m honest, we’re bored and probably what you would consider unprofessional. We sometimes get called in by the bosses because we’re also monitored by security cameras. The only thing more boring and unsettling than watching empty rooms is watching the one you’re in already.
Big Ben and Hungry eyes work alongside me, and sometimes we work in shifts.
I’d say we’re all a little weird in different ways. Working nights for months means finding something interesting to do is a challenge. When nothing happens for six hours, you make up games or projects for yourself. Counting tiles on the floor or ceiling, having saltine eating contests, trying to scare Nightblind and Radio Silence with our creepiest voices or softly singing nursery rhymes in the creepiest way possible…
Boredom and morbid curiosity are the enemy here. As annoying as it is to hear Hungry Eyes’ ringtone, I’m jealous she has something to do that’s fun like talking to the flavor of the month.
This story is really about the video tape though. This is how I found it.
We have a break room and it has a TV with a VCR, because, for some reason, we never made it over to the modern age even when there’s an electronics department in the mall.
We’re really just glad that it’s a color TV even though our TV is a square behemoth on a dusty black dolly you can wheel around like they do at schools.
There isn’t much to do for fun aside from the movies on VHS, basic cable which is usually late night infomercials, or if you happen to read a book. Sometimes I wheel the TV out because the break room is boring and claustrophobic.
We have a handful of Disney movies, the Wizard of Oz, and old reruns of MASH recorded unprofessionally. “Be kind, rewind” is a way of life.
One day, I was bored and decided I’d look in the archives room for any other tapes.
It was a stupid idea. It’s probably illegal and I know I’m being taped. I didn’t read anything in the files. That’s almost definitely a fireable offense. I opened drawers on the filing cabinet, ran my fingers down the line to see if any VHS-like shapes were visible. No luck, and then I’d close it.
Bored, pull, check, nada, push. Rinse and repeat.
As I was going, the frantic boredom of it was making me pull drawers open and slam them closed harder than I should have. As I got to the bottom of one filing cabinet tower, I pulled it out so hard that I actually pulled the drawer out of the cabinet and nearly dropped it on my toe. It crashed with a loud metallic boom that nearly scared the shit out of me. It was a lot like trying to sneak in or out while your parents are asleep, everything is the loudest sound.
At once, Big Ben came rushing in to see if I was okay. Thankfully I was already Lady Liberty at this point, otherwise I might’ve been Noisemaker by the end of the night.
I was a little bashful as I tried to explain that I was fine, though it came out as a joke, saying that I was bitten by a radioactive spider and couldn’t control my super strength.
Big Ben rolled her eyes, reminded me of the time, and went to help me put the drawer back.
It was then that we were crouched over that we saw the VHS tape. It was a standard VHS tape that was placed in the back of the cabinet tower. We only barely saw it, an odd shape in the back of the tower standing upright with black and white. In a way it reminded me of the drawers in my kitchen and that sometimes some utensil would get stuck behind the drawers and I’d have to pull one completely out to get back in there. Except that this wasn’t a dish towel or a spatula.
I was more excited by the VHS tape than skeptical. I didn’t care how it got there. It felt like I had just discovered buried treasure.
The original label on it had been scratched away and a new one had been placed over it, unevenly. It read “The Greatest Hits of the 40s”.
I didn’t know exactly what that meant. Maybe it was music? Maybe it was a movie marathon? I didn’t know how much film was on the tape or how long it would be.
Big Ben and I shrugged and took the tape because we had nothing better to do and put the drawer back in place. At worst, we’d probably listen to a lot of Ella Fitzgerald. There are worse things. Maybe it was Snow White. We didn’t have that movie.
We went back. Hungry Eyes looked at us like we were crazy and half-interestedly lowered her phone. One of us rolled out the TV and tried to set up the VCR.
“What are you doing?”
“We’re going to watch the ‘Greatest Hits of the 40s’.” I said it holding up the video tape, showing it off with a mockingly celebratory shake, sort of the same motion you do when screwing in a lightbulb.
“What, is that like, porn?”
“Yeah. We’re going to watch Judy rub her Garland.” Big Ben rolled her eyes and started to rewind the tape. She checked her watch briefly and then pulled up a chair as I tried to get it all set up.
I think the tape started at the beginning. Be kind, rewind and all. But I admit I didn’t check or hesitate before I just hit play. Fuzzy white lines occasionally rolled up the screen and back down like tides of foam in the ocean.
“I’ll call you back, sweetie. The girls and I are going to watch granny porn.” Hungry Eyes laughed into her phone and then gave a jokingly scandalized tone to something her boyfriend must have said. “No, I’m not going to take pictures.”
She hung up on him, still laughing as she scooted closer to the TV screen just like how our parents used to tell us would ruin our eyes.
The first ten minutes of the tape were actually not bad. It was almost disarmingly pleasant. It was an old-timey nostalgia, black screen and stuffy live introductory trumpet music that felt awkwardly imposed. Think trumpets introducing royalty or Caesar and it’s that kind of music, only for two or three seconds. I half-expected a lion to start roaring or an FBI warning.
We’d stumbled into a recording of a Bing Crosby Christmas album or something like it. Christmas songs continued and we were enraptured by the novelty of it, even though it was only September.
The tape would periodically go to other singers, but it was spliced badly with a few of the ending notes cut off as if the recording had been imprecise. I realized this wasn’t an official copy very early on.
Halfway through a Frank Sinatra song is when it started.
I’ve watched it twice now. The first time I was so dumbstruck but curious that I didn’t even know what to do or say as we watched, completely ignoring the cameras. These are my basic notes on the second viewing. They’re mostly word for word from my notes but they’re not as professional as they should be.
My notes on each segment are written in the order they appeared, but I don’t really know why they’re in the order they are.
The Sinatra song abruptly cuts off and we see a familiar site, and we (myself, Big Ben, and Hungry Eyes) know it’s familiar because it’s shots from our mall’s security cameras. We recognize the plaza instantly.
The first video on the tape is dated August 11, 1989. The camera says it’s 3:52AM
It’s the main thoroughfare and the fountain where Nightblind had fallen in. I remember there was an awkward and unsettling realization that this was our mall. We didn’t say anything then. It was unnerving but that went away when we saw the first video segment in the queue.
– – –
It’s the plaza, and there’s the fountain.
There’s an older woman who’s on screen by the fountain. She’s a little pudgy and wearing an unfashionable grandma style one-piece swimsuit with frills of a lighter fabric at the waist. It’s the kind of swimsuit that only really looks good on a little girl or an old lady, the kind that looks part wetsuit, part ballerina tutu. She’s wearing a swimmer’s cap and goggles. She has a towel draped over her shoulders. She’s as giddy as a small child.
She coyly pokes her foot into the water of the fountain and gives a theatrical shiver like a cartoon character. The fountain isn’t more than two feet deep and I’m afraid that the woman is about to do a cannonball and break her hip or something.
Instead, she confidently steps into the water which is only up to her shins or thighs. Then, like she’s a vaudeville dancer, she shimmies through the fountain using the towel like a dancer would a feather boa, pulling it back and forth in her shimmy in a kind of flossing movement. She rhythmically kicks and splashes the water, as if it’s a musical number. And then she turns coy again, like she’s performing this routine in front of a crowd, and turns her back on the “crowd” walking back the way she came, giving rhythmic and exaggerated hip sways.
Her routine continues for over four minutes, though it doesn’t look like it’s unpracticed. Finally, the old woman takes off the towel she’s been wearing at a boa and tosses it lovingly to her adoring public (which lands in the water) before blowing a kiss and waving at absolutely no one.
With an exaggerated flop, she lets herself lean backwards and a huge splash is seen before the video cuts out.
– – –
Throughout the first video, we’d been laughing and giggling to ourselves. It was amazing to see someone having so much fun, even if it was probably considered trespassing. The three of us are still controlling our giggle fits when we check in with Radio Silence (because Big Ben reminded us it was time to do it).
We can hardly contain our laughter when we tell him to be on the lookout for an old woman in the fountain. Big Ben has to explain it’s an inside joke he wouldn’t get when the next video comes on.
These seem light-hearted and the fact that it’s our mall no longer gives us an eerie feeling; instead it’s more of a conspiratorial “this is our mall, we know where that happened!” kind of thrill.
– – –
April 4, 1995 4:23AM
We see a view from what looks like a menswear outlet. We assume it’s our mall. It doesn’t look like any of the current layout, so it’s possible it’s not a store our mall has anymore. I could be wrong. Maybe they just changed the layout. Who knows. Judging that it IS a mall, and that the first video was from our mall’s fountain, we’re assuming that it’s our mall in this one too.
For a few seconds, nothing happens. It’s a view of the changing area and some aisles of clothing. Slacks and jeans are hung up on their little metal island racks.
A man literally slides his way onto screen, but the angle is a bit awkward for seeing the next performance.
A very attractive man, probably in his mid to late thirties, comes dancing into screen in a pink-ish shirt, white socks, and tighty whities. I assume that his shirt is pink and the socks are white because the man is doing the dance from Risky Business with a golf club.
He knows the dance by heart.
– – –
We’re loudly cheering and whistling from our seats when the next video begins to play. This is gold to us.
It looks like someone’s found and spliced together footage of the funniest things that have happened in our mall after hours. It was such a good idea I wish I’d had it myself. I’ve seen some funny things I wish I could show you guys.
We try to think of who it could have been that made this tape because we clearly need to buy him or her a beer.
But as we talk to each other about who it could be, we realize we don’t know. It was before my time probably (though I didn’t know for sure with only just two clips to map out a timeline).
It was possible the person who made it was looking through old footage. A lot of our stuff was on tape before we switched over to computer-controlled things. I wondered if the person had done it while watching tapes and then made their own compilation.
And all of this was assuming that it was our mall, but the person had to have worked here or was still working here to put the tape in the filing cabinet. My mind practically did an acrobatics routine before the next video started up that left me cold.
– – –
June 28, 1994 2:08AM
The next view is a furniture outlet with all kinds of furniture in the background. It looks like the living room section of the furniture store because there are a line of chairs in view. Reclining chairs from the look of it. Really ugly fuzzy chairs or saggy leather ones.
There’s a very large man who looks too big for the chair he’s in. It’s a leathery-looking armchair, the kind your grandfather would have that your grandmother would wrap in plastic.
At first, the video looks like maybe it’s glitching but as it continues, we see the man is shaking in the chair. As it continues to shake, we realize it’s a vibrating arm chair.
The man is butt naked in the chair as he looks in a mirror, though I’m not sure where the full length mirror came from.
– – –
We’re quieter now. We don’t really know what we’re seeing. It’s weird.
We pass the few minutes of the armchair dude in stunned silence.
– – –
October 1, 1987 1:40AM
A young man – maybe a teenager – with a punk spiked mohawk is in the women’s clothing section as evidenced by the mannequins in assorted dresses or jackets and skirts though the jackets look like they have large shoulderpads and some look very warm. It kind of looks like they were dressed in the style of the movie Heathers.
They look like something a secretary would wear.
The punk is soulfully doing a slowdance with what looks to be a woman in a knee-length evening dress and a scarf tied wrong her neck. She’s wearing a wide-brimmed black hat with a lace bow. It looks weirdly out of fashion to me.
The dancing continues but the woman’s not moving – she’s being moved. And it was then that we realized that the punk was slow dancing with one of the mannequins.
The slowdance continues with the punk speaking inaudibly to the mannequin. After two minutes or so, he starts to pull the mannequin’s dress up and slip his hand up what would be the mannequin’s backside under her dress to fondle her. Or, fondle IT, I mean.
A bright light contrasts the video footage as it shines in from off screen but is getting closer and the punk seems stunned by it. He stops the slowdance abruptly and begins to run. A security guard comes into focus.
The punk launches the mannequin at the security guard and she sails through the air like a pool noodle. The punk is looking backwards as he runs and doesn’t notice the glass store window display until he crashes through it, upsetting three additional mannequins in casual fall-winter wear, staged to look like they were talking to each other.
The security guard chases after the punk until they both disappear up the top right of the screen.
– – –
Hungry Eyes can only give an uncomfortable sharp yelp of laughter when the punk breaks through the glass. We’re really not sure what to think or feel.
– – –
October 17, 1999 3:16AM
An old woman – I’m not sure if it’s the bathing suit woman since she had been in the cap and goggles and since it’s a ten year gap, but the build is similar – is in a pizza place. The woman is chubby and has permed light hair, maybe blonde or white, but you can’t tell from the video, just that it’s not dark hair.
She comes into frame from the side. The camera view is such that it’s facing out to where the line of customers would be, so the woman is coming in from the back of the storage area.
She’s carrying a wooden purse that looks like someone made a purse out of someone’s Venetian window blinds. The woman is carrying a large bag of shredded cheese and a few large onions with the onion paper still on them.
The woman sits at a plastic booth table and is now facing the camera. She opens the bag of cheese and begins to shovel handfuls of it in her mouth, though some is clearly falling from her hand and her mouth and falling onto the floor and table. She continues to eat shredded cheese right out of the package for a full eight and a half minutes.
As she eats, she leisurely swings her legs back and forth like a child. She looks over to her left and then places her purse on the table. Something seems to be leaking from her purse through the slats of the wood, but she doesn’t seem to notice, though it looks thick and goopy as it drips.
She grabs the salt shaker and the Parmesan cheese shaker. She places the cheese shaker into her purse. She takes one of her onions and gingerly sprinkles it with salt.
She then puts the salt shaker in her purse too. And then she bites into the onion like it’s an apple, paper and all. It takes her another two minutes to eat an onion. I know this because I was trying my best not to watch her eat the onion so I stared at the time stamp.
The woman then places her face on the table and begins licking the cheese she had missed off the table like a child licking their plate clean.
She takes another onion, pulls out the salt shaker from her purse to sprinkle it and then puts it back in her purse, and then pulls out a handful of shredded cheese and piles it on the onion. She continues to put piles of cheese on the onion until you can’t see the onion anymore.
And then the woman puts her arms behind her back and puts her face into the pile, chewing. She plays a game with herself of trying to eat the onion with no hands.
She eats cheese and tries to get her mouth around the onion, making a mess of cheese and onion paper everywhere until she get the onion in her mouth and gloats as if she’s bobbing for apples and has just caught one.
She crunches right through it and it falls with a huge bite mark in it, and rolls off the table.
The woman puts her left hand on the table to steady herself, reaches down with her right hand and pulls the onion off the floor and takes another bite of it.
– – –
It was then that Hungry Eyes looks uncomfortable and more than a little nauseous.
She offers a weak excuse that she needs to check in with the guards again and leaves the room.
Big Ben and I don’t stop her.
We share an odd but knowing look, that we’re going to continue to watch this even though we can stop at any time.
We really don’t have anything better to do. And we’re curious to see what’s going to happen next.
– – –
July 4, 1999 2:58AM
We both recognize the young man from before, partly because we can see his face, but also because he’s still dressed like Risky Business with the golf club.
Obviously, some time has passed, but Risky Business is doing his routine again.
This time, he’s doing it in front of two people. Another man, this one in a suit, and a woman who’s rail thin and dressed provocatively with high heel boots and a cocktail dress.
The woman turns to look over her shoulder a few times as if she’s expecting trouble, but when she does you can clearly see she’s an older woman, maybe in her early forties or mid fifties. She looks a little wrinkly.
The man in the suit doesn’t turn away so I don’t know what he looks like except that he has dark hair.
When Risky Business is done his routine he comes up to the man in the suit like a puppy. The man in the suit kisses Risky Business and that seems to really excite the woman in the cocktail dress because she looks like she’s adjusting herself, but when it doesn’t stop you can tell she’s masturbating.
Suit then tears open Risky Business’s shirt and it’s then we see Risky Business is trussed up in intricate BDSM rope designs.
Suit must say something because Risky Business kneels in his tighty whities and ripped shirt. Suit must be saying something because Risky Business has his eyes on the man and seems to be saying the same thing over and over.
Risky Business kowtows, hands Suit the golf club, and starts to kiss Suit’s shoes.
– – –
August 18, 1990 3:36AM
A young girl who looks like a teenager is nervously looking around a sporting goods store. She couldn’t look more guilty if she tried.
She grabs what looks like a coil of something and unwraps it. It’s a plastic jump rope.
The girl sits down in the middle of the floor, crosses her legs Indian style, unrolls the jump rope, and begins to chew on it from the middle, gnawing on it like a rodent.
An almost orgasmic expression of relief floods her face as she chews it like a cow chewing cud.
At one point she throws it down and is shaking. She looks like she’s crying because she keeps wiping her face.
She wipes her face with the palms of her hands, picks up the rope and continues to chew it.
– – –
January 31, 2002 11:18PM
A janitor in coveralls is mopping the main foyer of a movie theater. There are still some people around here and there that walk through the screen, but the janitor seems to be alone for most of it.
He’s middle aged and skinny except for a noticeable paunch like a beer belly. He looks… greasy and his hair is a comb-over. He continues to mop and smiles, gestures, and says something to someone who is off-screen. He seems to be saying something and laughs inaudibly, but after a few seconds, he is back to mopping.
There’s a comically large bladder buster plastic cup that must be the largest size cup for soda sitting on the counter of the movie theater. No one else is around or working the counter, so you can assume either the theater is closed or this particular counter is not accepting customers. There’s a popcorn machine in the back so it’s probably by the concessions stand.
The janitor pauses mopping to drink from the plastic cup and continues.
After almost a full twenty minutes, the man takes a long swig from his cup and then takes it off-screen. The man comes back shaking the cup. I assume he’s filled it with ice.
He places the cup on the ground, and, after making sure no one’s looking, he takes the lid off, gives some dunking plunger-type movement to the mop in the water bucket, lifts it from the bucket while it’s dripping, and then lets the dirty mop water fill the cup. Some of it drips onto the already wet floor. He continues this a few times but I had to fast forward it the second time because it was making me feel ill.
The first time I watched it, I had my hands over my eyes and would steal a glance from in between my fingers from time to time to see if it was over.
I think I remember he drank from the cup again when he was done but I didn’t want to watch it again so I didn’t make a note of it.
– – –
February 15, 1994 12:20AM
A woman is holding a baby and is talking to someone in a shoe store.
The woman is in her mid thirties, average weight, and is holding a baby in her arms. As she speaks, she’s trying to soothe the fussy baby, periodically patting the baby or doing a bumpy rocking motion.
The conversation seems to be quite intense. Twice the woman holds up her index finger, pushes it forward, pulls it back, pushes it forward, pulls it back. She’s aggressively arguing her point, and it makes the baby fuss and whine more. Her rocking becomes more and more aggressive.
The woman is now in tears and does the finger motion again, gesticulating with her free arm. The woman is now seething with anger and the baby is full-on crying after minutes of arguing with the person (I assume it’s a person but I never see anyone else so who knows, for her sake I hope there was a person).
It seems to be a one-sided fight.
The camera angle isn’t clear, but the woman puts her baby down on a counter next to some shoe displays and then really goes in on this other person.
She’s wailing hysterically now, screaming, pointing behind her emphatically while looking straight ahead.
In a split second, the woman’s expression tightens until her all her facial features meet in the middle of her face. She snarls and winds her hand back and then brings the full force of a slap to bear on whoever she’s speaking to.
When she slaps whoever it is, she instantly recoils, afraid for some reason. Her reaction of fright is so severe she stumbles backwards, breaking into a sprint.
She tumbles over a chair in the shoe store but keeps running.
Nothing follows her. The baby continues to scream from where the woman left it.
– – –
November 10, 1998 12:03AM
A man, though you can’t really see who they are or what they look like except that they have dark hair, is standing outside of a clothing store.
He’s up against the display of a store window, where the mannequins are displayed behind the glass. The mannequins are modeling underwear so it might be a Victoria’s Secret.
The man’s pants and underwear are pooled at his ankles and he is pushed up against the glass.
He kisses and licks at the glass. Twice, he slams his palm on the window glass streaking it downwards slowly. I swear I can hear the glass squealing in my head when his hand slides down.
– – –
June 7, 1997 5:08AM
For no apparent reason, a woman with long dark frizzy hair runs through the main thoroughfare barefoot holding a mannequin and a CAUTION WET FLOOR sign in her arms.
She jumps off one landing and onto the other, clearing the stairs completely. Her landing is shaky and she knocks herself off balance, and then tumbles down the next set of stairs, ass over teakettle.
The mannequin’s head dislodges and rolls down first with the woman following after. The video cuts out before she makes it to the bottom of the landing.
– – –
March 29, 2001 2:11AM
In the electronics store, a large woman in curlers and a tacky polka dot dress with a frilled hem is throwing boxes of some kind of electronics around. One looks like a box with an older radio/stereo with the huge antenna folded in (the picture of what it should be is on the front of the box). It goes flying and bits of black plastic pour out of the box when it impacts.
There’s broken glass or plastic around her, and a boombox, the kind people used to hold over their shoulders, near her that may or may not be broken too.
She continues on her tirade, until three security guards (or possibly police) come in to apprehend her.
The woman kicks and spits at the guards/officers until she pushes free of them, only to trip face first in front of the camera view over the boombox.
When the woman sits up, you can see she’s cut her lip and is bleeding. She starts to scream in panic and you see that she’s lost her two front teeth.
The guards/police scramble to restrain her.
– – –
December 22, 2004 4:55AM
A fat man (presumably a man) dressed as Santa Claus has three little people dressed as elves around him, and by little people I mean actual little people as in people with dwarfism.
They all appear to be noticeably drunk because they are swaying and unable to walk very well.
They’re in an eyewear outlet of some kind. There are spinning towers of glasses that one elf is spinning as fast as he can get it to spin.
Drunk As Fuck Santa has put on an ill-fitting pair of sunglasses and does the hand gesture for “Rock On!” with both hands directly at the camera. His fake beard is starting to fall off. At this angle you can tell that his pants are wet.
While the elves try on glasses, a newcomer enters the frame.
A skinny old woman, dressed as Mrs. Claus in a (presumably) red skirt with white fuzzy lining on the bottom hem seems out and is very agitated. She may not be exactly drunk, since she isn’t staggering, but the antics of Drunk As Fuck Santa and the elves with glasses don’t seem to affect her.
She’s drawn to the posters on the wall. They’re happy smiling fake people with glasses on as if to say, “Look how great we look in our new glasses ha ha ha!”
She screams, shaking her head, and puts her hands over her ears but everyone else ignores her, and Drunk As Fuck Santa continues to mug for the camera, grabbing his crotch and sticking out his tongue.
Mrs. Claus hugs herself, dropping to the floor, and rocking herself back and forth.
One of the elves throws up, and another elf (the one who had been spinning the glasses tower) points and laughs.
A female elf moves to hug Mrs. Claus and pet her wig (which is falling off) while Drunk As Fuck Santa drops his pants to moon the camera.
– – –
I was sickened but still very curious. Big Ben was getting more and more agitated though.
“It’s almost three. We should call in to Radio Silence.”
I was about to respond but the tape hadn’t finished playing yet. We were frozen by our own morbid and masochistic desire to see what else the tape had in store.
– – –
July 28, (the present year) 2:46AM
There was someone sitting in a chair in a smaller room, the TV was on and something was playing. I recognized it as being the Knife Channel. And I thought I recognized the room.
The Knife Channel was our go-to for something so interesting but so bizarre, to see people that excited about knives and swords. It was fascinating.
Someone else walked into the room. It took a moment, but I was startled when I realized that it was me. And this was our TV room.
I realized that that someone was Big Ben sleeping in the chair with the TV on. I know that because I lived it. The girl in the chair – Big Ben – was slumped over, arms crossed with her head laying on top of them.
She was reading a book at the time and had fallen asleep.
The girl who just walked in – me – walked over to Big Ben and shook her gently. Big Ben woke up and I apparently said something smart with a sarcastic tone the way my eyebrows knit together and turned up, mockingly sympathetic.
Big Ben rolled her eyes and said something smart back.
I remember I had said, “Hard at work?”
And Big Ben had said, “Me and what dick?”
I think I rolled my eyes at the dirty joke and I don’t remember exactly what I said after that, probably something about it being Hungry Eyes’ turn to go on break. And then I left the room.
I saw Big Ben’s face morph into a grotesque exaggerated face with her lips curled and moving mockingly as she made a “mouth” with her hand and did the international sign for “blah blah blah” to an empty room.
Big Ben stood up and stretched, apparently very deeply because she clutched her side for a moment. After another stretch she took the book she had been reading and picked it up. I remember that book because it was mine and I had let Big Ben borrow it.
Big Ben seemed to have a thought and then cautiously tiptoed to the door, opened it, and looked around outside before shutting the door again.
Then, unaware of the camera angle, she began to pick her nose.
Not just pick her nose. Big Ben was practically digging for gold.
I watched in abject horror and slight fascination as I saw the Big Ben on screen open up the book and smear her boogers on a random page. With an impish look on her face, she closed the book, licked her booger-digging finger, and wiped her spit and booger covered finger on her pants.
– – –
I don’t know if it was the surreal and frightening feeling of being watched, or that I had witnessed video evidence of Big Ben being disgusting but she immediately got up and ran out of the mall. I was so dumbfounded I didn’t even know what to say or how I could stop her. Before I realized what had happened or that the video was over, Big Ben was gone.
I never saw Big Ben again after that.
Radio Silence and Hungry Eyes said they helped clear out her desk and return her things to her. She didn’t want to see me again, I surmised. As egregious as that was, it wasn’t run away and never return bad, was it?
I think it had more to do with someone had been watching her. Us.
And I can’t say I blame her for that. But I think the mystery of who and why still fascinates me. There hadn’t been any other videos on the tape though.
I remember that when it was done, I dumbly rewound the video and put it back where I found it. I’m quite sure I would show up on camera that night, taking the tape from the filing cabinet tower and putting it back. I guess whoever made the video knows I watched it, assuming they’re still here.
For the next few weeks I found myself thinking about the tape and what it meant. Had they watched it since? Did I know them? As weird as it was, it was the most interesting night of my life.
I also had a thought.
I’ve worked this job for a long time and I have seen some strange and funny things. I know where the 40s tape guy (or girl) keeps their stash. Maybe I should show them some of my favorite stories? “Greatest Hits of the 50s”? I have no way of knowing if the person who made the tape in the first place would see it and watch it, but maybe someone else will find the tape and watch it?
I have so man stories… It might be hard to choose, and I’d need to go through the old videos and see if I can remember when things happened. I could always start with Nightblind falling into the fountain and go from there?
Credit: S. Alphonse
It all began when someone left the window open.
First it was the birds.
Evan pulled the covers over his head, enveloping himself in darkness. He shut his eyes and tried not to scream, the birds were out again. Small, snow-white birds the size of saucers flew about outside the safety of his blanket. Evan shut his eyes even tighter and he covered his ears, he didn’t want to to hear anymore flapping of their ivory wings.
“They aren’t real, they aren’t real, they aren’t real…” Evan chanted to himself, trying not to choke on his own words. He knew they couldn’t be real. They couldn’t be! It just wasn’t possible. So why was he so scared? So frightened? So terrified.
Rationality told him to stay calm and try to fall back asleep but fear controlled the little boy. The chaotic fusion made him throw the covers off of him and scream “I’M NOT SCARED OF YOU!”
And he was met with nothing.
It happened again, the vines were curling.
Evan had once again hid himself under the covers of the bed, whimpering. He felt the silvery-gray vines twist and caress the fabric that was protecting him. Evan bit his lip and peeked through his eyelashes.
He almost missed the time when it was the birds that terrorized him.
The bright blue nightlight he had insisted on having now outlined the silver vines. He could see them grow in number, weaving into a hellish cover. His eyes widened as he realized that the eerie blue light was diminishing as the vines started to block his vision. Soon he would be blind. Blind and doomed.
Evan squirmed, feeling more claustrophobic now than ever in his life. He curled up into a ball, mumbling to himself as bitter tears fell from his eyes.
“They aren’t real, they aren’t real, they arEN’T REAL!” The little boy started screaming, the ever-so-slow but ever-so-terrifying vines driving him to near-insanity. He threw off the covers and screamed “YOU AREN’T REAL!”
And the silvery vines were back on the wall with their avian companions.
It happened again, the thing was mocking him.
Evan had his head resting on the pillow while the covers lay comfortably at his shoulders. He wouldn’ t be scared this time, he couldn’t be. The woman in front of him wasn’t his mother, just the thing under his bed trying to fool him.
“Honey, you need to go to sleep. How about I read you a story?”
Evan shook his head. “Mommy never gave me a nickname, you aren’t my mommy.”
The woman frowned. To Evan, his mommy was beautiful even when she frowned, the woman in front of him, was nothing but ugly with such a forced expression. The young and healthy skin started to darken and his mother’s imposter took a step closer. “Evan, don’t you want to go to sleep?”
The forced calm in her voice made Evan feel the fear he was trying so hard to suppress. The step forward made him realize how dangerous a situation he was in. Once more Evan hid under his covers. “You aren’t my mommy…” He said more feebly.
A wicked grin grew on the imposter’s gray lips. She walked nearer, placing a now wrinkled and gnarled hand on the lump that was Evan’s shoulder. Evan started to whimper and chant quietly. “You aren’t my mommy…you aren’t my mommy…you aren’t my mommy…”
That evil grin turned to a smirk as the gnarled hand caressed his shoulder through the cover. “Oh, Honey, you-”
“YOU AREN’T MY MOMMY!”
Evan flung himself up and at the imposter, chest heaving and sweat dripping from his forehead. This was his room, his alone! No birds or vines or imposters allowed!
The cool air settled on his skin as he realized that he was all alone in the darkness.
Credit: Regicidal Rex
“You ever heard of Lowell Animation? If you said ‘no’ I honestly can’t fault you. The subject is pretty obscure, so I thought I’d explain it.
You see, back during the earliest days of animation, when Walt Disney was just getting settled into the new industry, a well off man named Jack Lowell saw the results and the audience reaction and decided that he wanted a particularly big piece of the pie. So he set up Lowell Animation, got himself a team to work on stuff, and got to work.
Now, at this point, you’re probably wondering why you never heard of it, seeing how it was at the start of animating and would therefore be called a classic animation company. Well, the truth is, it’s because he didn’t have the spark that Disney did, but didn’t know because of his narcissistic attitude. No matter how hard he tried to be successful at it, it just wasn’t very good at all compared to more famous works of that time, so ultimately, his work never really got known outside his local area.
Unfortunately, this made him very angry, and he began to look for different ways to gain the fame that Walt Disney was getting. What he didn’t know was that he didn’t even have the technology to make colour animations, which left him livid when he saw Snow White. But he thought it was his staff not working hard enough, and would make them work ludicrous shifts every day to ‘make the work better’. Eventually, he fired them all and replaced them with what he thought were more talented individuals. Trouble was, he was getting more determined by the day, determined to overtake Disney and become the most successful animation company owner in the world. He even self proclaimed himself Walt’s rival and sent him hate mail saying he was a talentless idiot. Either Walt never received them, or just simply ignored them, but he never replied, reinforcing Lowell’s views.
At this point, you may be seeing this man as just another jealous jerk, envious of Walt Disney’s growing fame. But here’s where it gets worrying. When he got his new staff, he made sure that they performed better than the others. He made them animate the as perfectly as it got in the forties, made the voice actors recite their lines monotonously until he felt that they were good enough, and all this with very low pay and work times sometimes spanning over twenty hours. ‘What’s so shocking about that?’ I hear you grumble. Well, sometimes these workers would object, or refuse to do work, or even attempt a strike. And when Lowell caught wind of them doing this… Well, at some point, the stress from constantly trying to be successful finally got to him, and his demeanor went from snobbish and unfair to rather psychotic,and he decided that he would punish anyone who stepped too far out of line. And I mean punish. He would grab the offender and drag them into the basement, lock the door and do God knows what until he was sure that they had learned their lesson. Nobody is sure what he did down there, but it certainly had an impact on the unlucky few who endured it, with many people dying of shock from the experience, and this coupled with a number of people collapsing from overwork during shifts just all the more made the local people despise Lowell, but were too afraid to do anything about it.
Lowell’s controversial (but still widely unknown) practices went on until the sixties. At this point, he ordered his team to make a number of animations that used the Disney characters in situations definitely unsuitable for younger viewers. He thought that he could pass them off as real Disney works and turn parents against it. But his plan backfired when his animators hid the address of the company in the videos along with the message ‘Send Help’.
Of course, it didn’t take long for people to see these abominations and only a bit more time to identify the hidden messages. Before Lowell even found out what had happened, the police arrived. The production team told them everything, and Lowell was promptly arrested, but not without him making a huge scene as they dragged him off to a nearby police cruiser. It was apparent he had really gone insane. Realizing how damming this could be to their reputation, Disney initiated what has been called by some as their first ‘cover up’, namely, destroying Lowell’s works from the last thirty years, especially the Disney knock offs, and preventing the incident from being reported in the news, basically siphoning off his existence. And it worked. By the end of the decade, no one, save for the district he originally lived in, knew that Lowell Animation even existed. And that’s how it’s been for over fifty years.
Now that I’ve told you that story, the last thing you’re probably thinking is ‘How on earth do I know all this if it was such a successful cover up?’ Well, I didn’t know it myself until recently, but my home town is located in the same district as where Jack Lowell lived and worked. His legacy in my area stems from the fact that he somehow Managed to escape custody, and disappeared, leading people to this day to believe that he is still alive, and became one of those stories you tell your children to make them behave. I distinctively remember being told that an evil man would find me if I didn’t go to bed, or eat my dinner, and so on. About six months ago, I took the time to ask ‘Who Is the real man exactly’. Most people were a bit hazy on the details, but I was persistent, and six months of research later, I believe I’ve pieced together the whole Story of a man’s decent into madness trying to accomplish something too far out of his reach. The point I’m at now would be where people would stretch back and admire their work. But there’s still one Last detail I do not know.
What punishment did Lowell use when his employees stepped out of line?
To this day, all of the people who survived experiencing it blocked it out or simply forgot about it, so the story has been left incomplete. Some would give up. Not me. I know that it can’t have been good at all, and I know the mystery needs to be figured out once and for all, so I’ve decided to find out for myself.
You see, I have a lead.
A couple of days ago, a friend informed me that he had found an abandoned building in the woods near my town. And slapped in big bold letters on one side was ‘Lowell Animation’. I’m telling you all this because I plan to visit it within the week and try to solve a mystery that’s been unknown for over fifty years. At the end of the week I’ll make a post on my status. If I don’t find anything, or do not update for whatever reason, I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to find the truth for yourself. And if it comes to that, I bid you good luck!”
This post was recently discovered by yours truly on a Disney forum site. As far as I know, the author never made his second post, and I have been unable to find any trace of either him, or the story he’s talking about. I’ll let you decide if it was real or not, but I believe it Is, and I believe the author found something ungodly when he found Lowell’s old building, and discovered the truth that he was looking for.
Credit: Sam. S
Credit Link: http://themushroompainter.deviantart.com/
When I was younger I used to be terrified of my wardrobe, to the point I spent as little time in my bedroom as possible.
We used to live in the house next door until I was about three, but then the little old lady who lived in our current house died and the house was put on the market, for a very good price. My parents bought it because they loved the road, and the garden was bigger and the view over the fields out the back was better. I don’t remember moving in, I just remember wanting to move back because I didn’t want to sleep in my room. My older brother teased me that the lady died in my bedroom, and my parents have never told me otherwise. I do, however, remember being terrified of my wardrobe. It had been in my room when we moved in, so it became my wardrobe. My Dad sprayed it hot pink to make it girly to go with my pale purple walls. My Mum painted flowers on my wall to try to get me to like my room. I got a disco ball and funky Disney night lights to try to get me to sleep without building a duvet fort each night. My Granny knitted me a friendly dragon, and told me he was magic and at night he would wake up and eat all of the monsters. For my seventh birthday, they bought me a tortoise, and his house was put in my bedroom, so any noise could be blamed on him. But no matter what they did I was terrified of my room, and most of all that wardrobe. I never once opened the doors.
I was terrified, I thought at the time, for a very good reason. I was convinced the old lady’s ghost lived in the wardrobe. And I had evidence! There was a demon shape in the sprayed paint, it always had a shadow around it, and I could always hear stuff coming from it. Scratching and shuffling, and I was sure the door used to scuff open and shut during the night. I always thought it was good evidence; I was told to not be silly and sent back to bed. Obviously, as I grew up I began to think that they were right and I had been silly because, a. the likelihood of there being something in my wardrobe was impossible, and b. she was a lovely old lady and obviously wouldn’t be a ghost in a wardrobe. When I was fifteen my parents built an extension and I moved to a different room, my old bedroom became a room where we just dumped boxes.
Now, about three weeks ago I returned from university. I’m a secondary school history teacher now. I couldn’t have a job where rational thinking and logic – or dullness depending on one’s opinion – is more prevalent. I’ll be bringing back a lot of work to mark, so my parents have said that I can convert the box room, my old bedroom, into my office. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks clearing the boxes and throwing things out. It has taken me weeks, but I have finally reached the wardrobe, which is in the corner furthest from the door.
Today was the day I was going to clear all of my old clothes out of it, clean it and fill it with my new suits. There was no stirring of any emotion as I went over to it. Nothing as I opened my curtains on that side of the room and grabbed a bag for rubbish and one for charity. I was quite merrily clearing it out for about ten minutes, with some good dance music on in the background. For a while anyway. I scratched my hand on a broken coat hanger, and stopped and stood back. Me being me I swore at the wardrobe and stood back to tell it off.
And then I noticed them. All up the inside of the doors are deep scratches. Always three aligned. As if something scratched that door again and again and again, trying to get out.
Seven years ago, I was teaching English in Japan. The school where I taught was an older building, about eighty years old. It was a smaller school with only two-hundred students. It had ten classrooms an office and a small cafeteria that also served as a gym. There was another classroom(room four)that was used as a storage room. It was a nice school and served its purpose for the village town.
My first week there was uneventful but on my second week, I was there late one-night prepping assignments for the next day. There was only the janitor and me in the building. As I was making copies in the office, I heard what sounded like sobbing. I called out to the janitor, but got no answer(he spoke English). Maybe a student got locked in, I thought. I decided to go check it out and when I stepped into the hallway, I noticed that the crying seemed to be getting louder and was coming from the direction of room four.
“Hello?” I called out, but nobody answered. I slowly approached room four and opened the door. Just as I opened it, the crying stopped. I reached for the light switch and turned it on, I quickly scanned the room and realized it was empty. I was badly shaken at this point, so I quickly gathered my things and ran out of the school, not even telling the janitor I was leaving.
The crying continued throughout my yearlong tenure. Eventually, I grew immune to the disembodied cries. But on my last week teaching, something changed. I was there late one-night and I had to use the ladies room. After I was done using the toilet, I opened the stall door and was startled to see a young Japanese woman standing there with her face to the mirror. I called out to her, but got no response. I decided to look into the mirror to see if I recognized her and what I saw still haunts me to this day…When I looked into the mirror, I saw that the woman had no face. I quickly ran out of the bathroom screaming.
A year later, I was talking to another English teacher from the school. Somehow we got on the subject of ghosts, then I told her about my experience. Then, she told me a story: About fifteen years ago, there was a young female teacher who fell in love with a male teacher. He was married and had no intentions of leaving his wife. Distraught, the young teacher locked herself in room four and hung herself. So the story goes, even in death, the young teacher still cries for the man she never had…
Alright. I just want to say, I’m not the kind of ‘write it all out in a journal’ kind of guy. But, there really isn’t much to do anymore. I guess I’m just bored. There isn’t much to do anymore, especially in this rickety old house. If you were to see it, you’d probably think it was abandoned, which isn’t totally incorrect, but I live there now, if ‘now’ is even a concept that could be considered part of my reality. Well, now that I think of it, I guess it’s the only thing I can count on. There is only now. No tomorrow, No yesterday, No when or then, Nothing that could have mattered matters anymore. Ok, back on topic, I’m writing this really just out of boredom, as I’ve probably done everything else there is to do, which is surprisingly a lot.
I guess this all started about a year ago, when my grandfather’s antique pocket-watch broke. It was really cool to have with me after he’d died, just being able to keep a piece of him with me, a really awesome looking piece at that. From what my mother had told me, it’d been even more magnificent when it was still in his possession. Hanging out of his pocket, it had always complemented his bright, green eyes, small specs of gold in them making them look almost as rare and spectacular as the watch itself. He hadn’t known me well, nor I him, and yet, I was somehow the one who ended up with the shiny time piece.
My mother on the other hand, she inherited his whole house, a massive building he only used when he wasn’t out and about on his ‘adventures’. Selling antiques, digging up fossils, that was what he spent his whole time doing, ignoring my mother, my sister and I while he was away, not answering our calls, and treating us to fancy dinners when he came to visit us months later. I don’t know how I really felt about him, sometimes I hated him, others I looked up to him wholeheartedly, as some mythical beast whose world I could never see or understand.
All in all, I guess he didn’t do anything really important for the world in his life besides die and give us his stuff. Only a month after he did, we moved to his giant building, planning to set up our new lives there. We did what all families do when they move, shoving all of the boxes full of our stuff in one room, slowly pulling what we needed out, letting it all settle into the place it seemed to fit best. It was spread out really thinly, very little furniture in each of the echoing rooms. It was different there, hollow and quiet, unlike our apartment back in Manhattan, like all of the life and energy had been sucked out of the world.
It was nice while it lasted. My sis ignored me like any younger sibling, My mom doted over her like she was a blessing to this world, I sat in my room playing chess by myself, the internet not having been installed yet. As boring as it sounds, It was bliss compared to my life now. Life with a purpose. Life where there was something different happening every day. A life where I didn’t have to cry myself to sleep, hoping for something, anything to change.
Every day is the same, there’s no changing it. My watch broke, and ever since then, it was the same day, every day. They couldn’t tell, my mom and sister. They just said the same things, walked the same paths as the day before. At this point, they’re more closely related to weather than the people I loved. You may love the rain, but no matter how many times there’s a downpour in your neighborhood, the rain doesn’t remember you, or the thousands of times you’ve expressed your love for it in the past year. That’s them. Essentially empty shells of the beings they once were.
I guess I’m empty too. Not much of the person I used to be is left in here. Just a husk of a human, going through the cycles of my new world. As I’ve said, it wasn’t always like this, I thought I had gotten one of the greatest gifts a guy could have, a chance to do things over, a chance to make things better for myself. It only felt like that for the first week or so…
I woke up that day for the second time, hardly noticing the subtle things that should have clued me into what what was going on. Walked down the fancy, oaken stairs, greeted my mother, waited for breakfast to arrive in front of me as I messed around with the few offline games I had on my phone, and my sister with hers. Mom set it down in front of me. Hash browns… again…. That was weird, we tended to have a fairly simple weekly diet, frozen pancakes and waffles or french toast on monday, wednesday, and friday, hash browns on saturday and sunday, and cereal on tuesday and thursday.
“Um… Mom? Is this leftovers from yesterday? I’m pretty darn sure I ate the last of them yesterday.”
“Of course not! I just made them today! No way there’d be any left over with with you in the house anyway.” She laughed, handing a second plate to my sister. Now, I know what you’re thinking, I’m just some loser who makes their mom take care of them each and every day, but that’s not it. She loves…. loved what she does for us. She didn’t need to work anymore, with the money that my grandad left her along with the building, So she spent her time watching over us. No clue how she could have lived that way, I sure couldn’t. But she loved it.
So, throughout the day, I noticed the things I’d missed earlier, the single vase I’d dusted had a thick layer of grey on the surface, the laundry that I’d washed was still in my room, in a messy pile on the floor, and as lame as it sounds to say, my level on a game I’d been playing the day before was lower than I’d left it.
You know that movie, Groundhog Day? That’s what I started thinking this was going to be like, having to make it the perfect day. The next day didn’t do anything but support my theory, hashbrowns again, cheap ramen for lunch, and a great turkey dinner to finish it off. I had to admit though, I was getting a little sick of them, the food I mean, not my family.
The third day of ‘resetting’, as I had dubbed it, I decided to try changing things a bit. Instead of sitting in my room, I helped out in the kitchen, making sure to keep my mother company, and to sway her into cooking something besides turkey. Pasta was a welcome taste to my buds, the tomato sauce an amazing contrast to the gravy of the past three days.
But, each morning, I just kept resetting. No matter what I did, telling my family “I love you.”, or running myself ragged, making sure they’d have the best day of their lives, it just would go all of the way back to zero. No memory of what I had done, no lasting effect on them, no reciprocation to all of the love I’d given them.
After a while, I gave up. There was nothing I could do for them to make their day any better than it had been the day before. I just sat in my room, lay on my bed, sleeping the same day away, hoping to have my mother calling me down for waffles awaken me. That day still hasn’t come.
On my second week, I decided I should try something new. When my mother left for the kitchen, I bolted into her room and then her private bathroom, where she kept all of the medications. Despite my being in highschool, she still didn’t trust me to take the right pills in case of a headache. I swiped a bottle of acetaminophen, shoving it under my shirt. As long as I acted casually, she wouldn’t notice the bulge under my blue tank.
I took them all. They were nasty to taste, but I managed to swallow about 100 grams of the stuff, guaranteeing my liver’s failure. That day was the first time I died. It wasn’t painful, just… Longer than I expected. As I passed out, I felt time slowing, then I woke up. I was in bed, wearing the same clothes as the day before. I just kept going with the plan, changing it every way I could. I did the classics, toaster in the bath, out a window, over the stairwell, they all were quick and almost painless. But the same day always came, the same sun shining through the window I’d jumped out of to the concrete below. There was something about it though. It brought the next day, today, even faster, so maybe there was something to the idea. There was only one thing I hadn’t done. It’d be long and painful, but maybe it’d work.
That day, I hung myself. It was more painful than anyone could have imagined, feeling my lungs gasp for oxygen, my fingers and toes numbing slowly. Then it was over. I was back in bed, the pain that had been spread throughout my body was gone, only the lingering memory of the aching feeling still there. No way in hell was I going to do that again. Way too much pain.
I’d thought for weeks, months. Doing whatever I could to make things different. I got…. violent… Luckily… for myself and my family, I’m not all that strong, so they were able to restrain me. I don’t really want to talk about this much… but it needed saying. I doubt anyone will ever see this, it’ll probably be gone tomorrow. But if there is a chance, I’ll write this every single day, till I know this word for word, and keep on going. And if anyone sees this… make sure not to do anything I said I had done. I’m pretty sure it was the watch, but I don’t know. It’s not worth the risk. You could end up like me, clinging to the last bits of sanity that are left inside of my mind, and dreading the next time that you wake up, only to know that everything you ever do will matter to no one. Well, It’s not like my life before this mattered much. Hah. Classic comedy right there. I heard it was good to leave letters off on a lighter note, so here’s another joke.
“A baby’s laughter is the most beautiful sound you will ever hear. Unless it’s 3am. And you’re home alone. And you don’t have a baby.”
When I became an intern at SETI, I was certain that the past seven years I spent studying quantum mechanics would have been a waste. I was so certain that fetching coffee, answering phones and scheduling meetings would be the gist of my days. This would not be the case, as I would later find. My initial job, in addition to being fortunate enough to actually do research from day one, was the dissemination of any signals we found. One of the more senior researchers had the idea. He was a former G-man and had ‘retired’ to work as a liaison between us and his former employers.
They wanted to test a new way to circumvent prying eyes and conspiracy nuts. Instead of holding onto the information and hoping it doesn’t leak, we started releasing it, and then also releasing obviously fake videos to go along with it. It was brilliant in its simplicity. Slowly the scope had stretched out to include other forms of communication we received. The letter below, and trust me that is exactly what it is, was a signal that took weeks to transcribe. Honestly that’s because we weren’t sure what to make of it. Doesn’t matter. My job is to find a medium to release the information, not discuss it. I try not to think about what this letter means for us. I try not to think about the fact that we missed a few minutes when the signal started, I can’t bear to think what we didn’t catch. The whole situation has push me to the point of hysteria.
I was supposed to disperse this weeks ago, yet I have held onto like a letter from a far away lover. I know if I try to be taken seriously with this, I will surely lose my job and be locked away. My employer will act like I am a madman, and have me committed. Worse still, is what may happen to my family. But releasing it using our normal methods means I am essentially dooming humanity. No one will take the threat seriously, until its far to late. Yes the government is taking steps, but not for the general public. Billions will surely perish, yet those apart of the project and their immediate families will be spared. We will tell our families lies about not knowing, and live with the blood of an entire planet on our hands. All I can hope is that people will see it and take it seriously. The thought that I may be able to save even a few people lessens my mental anguish. If you choose to believe, then you shall share my burden.
Transmission received: February 11, 2016
Transcript: After a lifetime of honing my skill, I am not one to be trifled with. I come forth to bear torment, indescribable from the source of my genius. I will bring you into my empyrean state. There you will discover my intellectual capacity is beyond the foundation of anger, revenge. Your destruction will be fantastic. Glorious. I am not your ‘dark prince’, but your strongest cannot stand in my shadow, I will make a mockery of them. If you’re curious how infinite the situation could possibly become, compare it to your unexplained Black Holes. You may get frenzied, but it is inevitable. You went around, believing yourselfs to be the most important life in the universe. Then you came across a Numen and realized how insignificant your existence really was. Who is this champion, you ask? Inconsequential, simply know all challengers will be discarded properly. I am what you fear in the night sky. I will confer that I am known on your planet, by your species. I come from a far away ancient time. You shall compare my tumultuous arrival to that of your Four Horseman. I am beyond it. It, being humans, bombarding my home with fracas and radiation. That was the first slight, now I welcome it. I relish the opportunity to release my savagery. I will fly my crest with pride, as I remove a virus from the universe. My irrational disposition will spread to your feeble minds and as your civilization descends into madness, I will bluster, then depart.
Your superpowers will display force, but they need also prepare their graves. Then again, there will likely not be remains. My arrival is impending. Don’t not perceive this as an idle form of intimidation. This is a vow. This is the word of an old-one, your ghastly wars will be forgotten. This can be staked upon all your earthly possessions; I have incinerated life. But the same fate is too kind and boring for humans. Once I have removed the vermin, I will strip your celestial body of its assets. I will not approach seen, know this. It is I, Anatheil, editor of the infinite. I will remove the blight and mark my kill. There will be resistance, but know that it will be futile. I helped create the Port of Exslion, my greatest achievement to date. You watch it from afar and assign it numbers based off its coordinates and such. S5 0014+81, how humanly authentic. But my previous accomplishments pale in comparison with my next feat.
I think not about the destruction of a species that is still so reliant on its homeworld. No meaningful manipulation of space or time, no dimensional travel. Null, absolutely null. But you have become annoyingly efficient at sending radio waves. My species has even sent complicated replies, as have others. Your leaders hide it from you and wage war on one another with our instructions. Appalling, the first species that seeks to wipe itself out deserves a helping hand. I am coming, I will help. Know this.
Credit Link: https://twitter.com/GrizzGlover
It was just rotten luck. Bad enough that I get stuck in the middle of nowhere, but for a woman like me in her early 30s it was particularly frightening. When my old Buick coughed and sputtered to a stop, I knew I was in for a long night. The nearest town was at least twenty miles away, and God knows where a service station was. I retrieved my cell phone, but out in this part of rural Kansas there was no service. I knew I had only one option: I had to start walking. I took my keys, got out of the car and slung my satchel over my shoulder.
For miles in any direction, there was only darkness. The autumn night was lonely and a crescent moon was the only a light. No glare of city lights, no streetlights, only the monotonous stretch of country road which lay before me. I trudged along with only the cool October breeze and cloudy sky to keep me company. I had been walking about a mile and as I topped a hill, I saw the flash of headlights coming in the opposite direction. I frantically waved to the motorist, and he obligingly stopped.
“Thank God,” I cried. “My car broke down. Do you think I can get a lift to town?”
The bespectacled driver looked me over for a moment, then agreed.
Now I’m not in the habit of accepting rides from strangers, but this was an emergency after all. I climbed into the front passenger seat and placed my bag on the floorboard.
“Thank you so much,” I said. “You’re a real lifesaver.”
“Don’t mention it,” the driver responded. I was a little apprehensive about hitchhiking, especially this late at night. Mother warned me never to accept a ride from a stranger and she was right. I knew plenty of people who regretted it. The young man seemed pleasant enough, though, and might even be amiable company on the drive to town. He was about my age with light brown hair trimmed in a crew cut. He was neatly dressed in blue jeans and a faded T-shirt that read “MegaDeth.” He sported a pair of worn sneakers and a gold chain lay loosely around his neck.
“My name is Andy,” my benefactor announced, as he stuck out his hand.
“Hi, Andy, I’m Amanda, Amanda Cummings”
“Where are you headed, Amanda?” he asked.
“I was headed into Dalton, but for now I’ll settle for anywhere.” Andy started the car once more, and drove off into the darkness.
“Awful late for you to be out here driving alone,” he said.
“I feel pretty safe,” I lied. “There’s not much out here but open farmland.”
“I guess you haven’t heard about the trouble they’ve had here lately,” Andy replied.
“What kind of trouble?”
“Murderers. Really gruesome, too. Eleven so far this year. The newspapers call the guy ‘Cupid’ because he stabs his victims in the heart. Nasty business.”
I looked straight ahead, trying not to make eye contact. He made me nervous with such an unusual opening statement, but I tried not to show it.
“Is that so?,” I ask, trying to sound nonchalant.
“That’s what they say. Police are kinda sketchy about it, the newspapers too. Yeah, you sure picked a bad area for a breakdown.”
I was starting to feel uncomfortable not only because of the topic of conversation, but because he seemed to smile as he recounted the details.
“Not only that, eight of the victims were couples parked in a lovers lane,” Andy continued abruptly. “Pretty fitting for a guy called Cupid, huh? There were also a couple of truckers, and a hooker. Can you imagine — eleven people, all stabbed right through the heart.”
Andy smiled broadly, “I bet they never catch him.”
We sat in silence for a few moments until Andy blurted out, “You’re a really attractive woman.” I found myself involuntarily blushing, not only from the compliment, but from the sudden and inappropriate nature of the comment.
“I… I, well, um… thank you,” I stammered.
“I didn’t mean to embarrass you, it’s just me. I tend to say things without thinking. Just an old habit.”
“It’s all right,” I reassured him.
“It’s just good to have some company sometimes,” he said. He paused, then seemed deep in thought about the situation.
“I like driving these lonely country roads at night. You never know what you’ll find … or who. You’re lucky I came by when I did,” Andy added. “Lots of times I drive all night without seeing a single person.”
Andy was starting to sound creepy so I tried to change the subject.
“So, are you from around here, Andy?”
“Yeah, I was born and raised in Dalton. You from the area too?”
“No, I’m from Riley, about thirty miles north of here.”
“I’ve never been to Riley,” he stated. “I like this area; plenty of work to do. Lots of farmland too, not too many nosy neighbors.”
“Do you have family here?” I asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“No, they’re all dead.”
“Sorry to hear that,” I replied.
“It was a long time ago.”
We sat in silence for several minutes as the stripes on the roadway disappeared one by one beneath the car and the trees along the road waltzed their graceful pirouette. The moon played a mocking game of hide and seek behind the clouds, alternately shining and fading into the night. Suddenly Andy spoke and startled me.
“Are you married, Amanda?”
“No, I live alo… ,” I began, but cut my sentence short, thinking I might be revealing too much information. “It’s just me and my big German Shepherd, Bosart.” I emphasized the word “big”, and for good measure added, “the name means ‘vicious’ in German.”
“Never much cared for dogs,” he claimed. “Had one bite me one night while I was…um…working.”
“What kind of work do you do that keeps you up at night?” I asked, not really sure I wanted an answer.
“Oh, just this and that.” he said, then after a long pause, “maybe I can show you.”
A truly chilling realization came over me, and I began to fidget. I guess he noticed because he then asked, “Something the matter?”
“Uh, no, not at all,” but I’m sure he guessed that wasn’t true.
We drove again in silence for what seemed an eternity. I wanted nothing more than for him to pull over and stop. His headlights cut a swath with the only light on the road. The moon had disappeared and the stars stayed hidden behind a layer of clouds. It was an eerie darkness made all the darker by the sinister air of my traveling companion. I looked out the window into the impenetrable night. Not a hint of another human being or civilization. Just the vast blackness of eternal emptiness.
“Nothing around here for miles,” Andy suddenly said as if reading my mind. “Yeah, that Cupid guy has the right area. I bet he could kill anyone out here and no one would ever hear a thing.”
I knew what I wanted to do; what I had to do.
“Please pull over,” I said, “I don’t want to be any more trouble and I can walk from here.”
“Believe me, it’s no trouble,” he replied and kept driving. “It’s not much further.”
After a few more minutes of uncomfortable silence, Andy suddenly remarked, “Did you hear that?”
I heard nothing and told him so.
“Now I definitely heard something,” he said, “sounds like the tire is getting low or something. I better pull over take a look.”
Andy finally stopped the car, then turned to me and said, “Now don’t go anywhere. This will be over in a minute.” He got out and opened the trunk. I couldn’t see him but I heard him rummaging.
This was my opportunity, I thought. I yanked open the door, grabbed my satchel, and jumped out. I ran as well as I could in my heels, then lay down in the tall grass and breathlessly waited for him. I was terrified when I saw a flashlight gleaming from the roadway, searching for me. My heart pounded. What if he sees me? What if he has a gun? I wanted to run; I wanted to stay. My mind raced, but I knew I must keep absolutely still.
“Amanda,” Andy called, “Come out, Amanda, I’m not going to hurt you.” The beam of light came closer and closer, shining just above my head like a predator searching for prey.
When the beam was only a few feet away, I saw another light suddenly appear on the roadway. A passing motorist pulled up and asked if Andy needed help.
“No,” he shouted back. Then he added, “just looking for a lost dog.”
“You want some help?” the stranger offered.
“No thanks. I guess she’s not here.” The other motorist politely remained and waited for Andy to return to his car. He started the engine, and drove away as did the other motorist.
I lay in the grass for a moment until his taillights disappeared. I was truly disappointed. The knife I’d taken from my satchel was ready and only waited for Andy to come a little closer. I was afraid he’d see me with that flashlight and realize what I intended to do. Just think, Andy would’ve made my number twelve. Cupid strikes again, an even dozen. I put the knife back in my satchel and was resigned to wait for number twelve a little longer. As I said, it was just rotten luck.
Credit: Kenneth Bourell