Category: super long

Length: Super long

Despair is a miserable thing. It
marches toward you from a grim distance. You can see it coming, can feel the
weight of its approach. As you watch it draw nearer you’re probably slumped
down in a corner somewhere, your eyes bloodshot and exhausted. If you had the
energy, you would try to resist its arrival. But that kind of strength has left
long ago. So instead you sit, hands covering your face, one terrified eye peeking
out between your fingers and pray the fallout isn’t as brutal as you fear.

Despair is complete and total
emptiness. It is not a meaninglessness, but instead, a removal of
something so treasured that it’s departure has left you halved. Not physically,
not even mentally. No, instead it is an absence of a hope you once held onto.
An idea that maybe, somehow, things would turn out all right. And maybe they
will, but in the face of such gloom the idea is so alien you can’t even
comprehend its possibility.

is waking up every day and confronting the shadow that looms across your bed,
grinning down at you from where you had fled it the previous night as sleep
took you.

is pretending everything is ok when in fact, it’s not ok, God no, will it ever
be ok again?

is waking up from an alcohol induced blackout on your bathroom floor and why,
Christ why is there so much vomit and blood everywhere – who’s blood is that –
is that my blood – oh no, what did you do, for fuck’s sake, what did you do…


God, I am so fucking…tired.

didn’t even want to write this tonight, but I’m afraid of the nonstop dreams
that await behind my eyelids. What is safe if not sleep? And if you’re robbed
of that, where else is there to turn? Can’t I get a second, just a fucking
second, away from this?

No, of course not. Because then it wouldn’t be despair. Not in the way I’ve
learned it to be.

laughed just now. Right now, just as I wrote that. I’m not entirely sure why.
Maybe I’m just so exhausted that it is the only release I can manage at this
moment. I really don’t want to go to sleep. Not tonight. Not ever again.
Because I know what’s awaiting me. It is the same shadow that stands over my
bed now.

don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.

God…damn it.

thought I was going to cry just now. I snorted instead. And for some reason
that brought a fist crawling up my throat. I feel a welling, a pooling, behind
my eyes. Not tonight. I’ve done a lot of crying…so please. Not tonight. I’m
too tired. I’m just so…tired.


it is.

red string. It has looped itself around my fingers and curled up my wrist. I
follow its length and see it is spooled out onto the floor, disappearing
beneath the bed. I’m never allowed to see the other end. But I don’t need to. I
know where it goes.

And I know all I have to do is give
it a tug and I’ll be…there.

no…please…I don’t want to tonight. Not tonight.

useless. I always give in. Once the string has appeared in my hand, I know it
is only a matter of time before I dutifully pull at it.

string…it will lead me back to the despair. To the root, the cause, the
catalyst of this horrible state of mind I have found myself trapped behind.

going to pull the string.

first, I’m going to step back and catch you up. I’m going to step outside the
narrative here and walk alongside the story, retrace my steps back to this
moment. I would very much like it if you would stay by my side and follow
along. Please. Just be with me…just for a little while. Walk with me, side by
side, and observe from a distance what has led me here.

one of you would be enough.

we go. I’m swinging my legs outside the page and hopping the border of format.
I’m now outside the words, come on, take my hand, I’ll help you cross over as

we are. Thank you.

Thank you.

my finger. Look at where I’m pointing. Yes, now keep your eyes trained on that.
Take my hand, if you would, and I’ll guide you as we waltz miserably along the
exterior of this tale.

red string. Yes. That’s how it started. When I first became aware of its
existence, I wasn’t in this sad state of mind. No. At least not consciously. I
was sort of numb, in a pleasant kind of way. My life was lukewarm, like the
doldrums of middle age except it had struck me much earlier. I was still in my
twenties, as I am now, and things were…well…things were fine I suppose. I
knew my life was lacking something, a companion perhaps, but I wasn’t unhappy.

was like coffee after it has sat on the counter for some time. Lukewarm, not
terrible, the caffeine was still there.

one night, or day (I can’t remember, but what does it matter), I found myself
sitting on my bed, thinking far too much about far too much. I’m like that.
Just who I am. So anyway, I was there, musing things over, feeling a heaviness
approaching. I cocked my head, curious and a little scared, and tried to
pinpoint what was happening.

wanted something. Something I didn’t have. Ah…that’s not quite right. I
didn’t want it. Want is such a selfish word.

hoped for something.

a little better. Saying you want something implies you think you might deserve
it. And I had done nothing to deserve what I was about to find.

there I was. Sitting on the bed. Feeling that heaviness. Getting a little
emotional probably. Sorting things out in my head as best I could. Totally
lukewarm and fearing the cold.

then I looked down and there was the string. I had it clasped between my
fingers like it had been there this whole time. It was bright red and slithered
to the floor beneath my closet door.

the break from my weary thoughts, I cocked an eyebrow. Where had this come
from? What was it? And why was I holding it?

pulled at it.


was gone.

please, hold my hand a little tighter as we continue to walk alongside this
madness. I don’t want you getting lost. We’re getting there, it’s just a little
rocky up ahead. Keep your eyes on the story and I won’t let you go.

the string and boom. Gone. The world vanished. I know it sounds insane, but it
happened. So where did I go? Well…I’m not quite sure.

was in a hallway. A long, long hallway. It was narrow and lined with doors of
all colors. Some were plain-faced, others were elaborately decorated. The floor
was white beneath my feet and the ceiling overhead was low.

string was gone.

little scared, but intrigued, I began to walk down the silent hall. Where was
this? Where had I gone? Of course these questions bombarded me, along with a
whole host of others. But that isn’t important. I was as confused as you would

tried a couple of the doors but found them locked. I pressed my ear against
them and heard nothing. And so I kept walking. I passed dozens and dozens of
doors, each one like a vault.

blues, paneled, steel, wood, every kind of door you could imagine.

further I walked, the more I realized something. I was beginning to panic. That
heaviness I had felt earlier was back and worse than ever. My breath came in
short gasps and my chest rose and fell in shaky expanses.

me. Someone help me. Get me out of here. Anyone. My God, please, I’m


sound. A noise.

was coming from further down the hall. I trained my ears to it. Singing. A
woman was singing.

And it was beautiful.

hurried toward it, trying to determine which door it was behind. I passed
hundreds of them. I had to find the source, the soothing melody melting away
all my fears, bleeding out the heaviness that had been building inside of me.

skid to a halt. I pressed my ear to a door painted green. It shimmered for a
moment and I thought I had got the color wrong. Blue? No…no it was green. A
bright, shining green, like there were thousands of coats of paint beneath it,
all swirling with life.

listened. Yes. The singing was coming from inside.

I tried the knob. It was locked. Swallowing hard, lost in the euphoria of the
song, I raised my fist and knocked.

moment later, I heart a bolt click open. The door cracked and a woman about my
age peaked out at me. Her eyes glowed the same color as the door.

I stuttered, “I think I’m lost…can I come in?”

She smiled, revealing a beauty that
matched the music I had heard coming from inside. Christ…thinking
back…she radiated. That smile…it captured me and I was
completely helpless to it. It told me everything there was to know about this
mysterious person.

told me I was safe.

course,” the woman said, her voice soft and comforting. She pulled the door
open and I suddenly felt tears run down my face.

you,” I choked.

entered the room and she closed the door behind us. Inside was small, very
small. A single chair sat in the center of the enclosed space. The floor was
richly carpeted and a series of lights illuminated the interior.

did you let me in?” I asked, feeling dazed, bewildered, and totally lost in the
presence of this woman.

went to the chair and sat down before answering, her lips curling into a warm
smile, “Because you heard me singing.”

nodded, the closed door at my back, “It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever

blushed and shook her head, “You exaggerate.”

I rushed to say, “I mean it.”

looked up at me, “Would you like me to sing for you again?”

felt a wave of something barrel through me, an emotional need that brought a
choked cry from my throat.


so she sang. I slumped to the floor, back to the door, my eyes lost in hers as
her voice serenaded the air around me. She made the air I breathed come alive.
I felt a peace settle down around me like I had never felt before. A warmth
that echoed from her lips, her smile, her song, and it consumed me in the most
incredible of ways. When she was finished, I found that I was crying.

was beautiful,” I whispered, eyes red.

smiled shyly, “Would you like to come visit me again?”

heart soared, “I would like that very much.”

stood and walked to me. I climbed to my feet, wiping the tears from my face.

then she hugged me, her head pressed against my chest, her golden brown hair
smelling like spring flowers.

voice came softly, “It’s going to be ok.”

bit my lip, more tears coming, and wrapped my arms around her, “Thank you.”

I was back in my room, back on my bed, back in the world.

weight I had felt was gone. It had been replaced with the most dangerous thing
in the world.


had I just discovered? Where had I been taken? What was this feeling inside of
me, this warm rustle of wind through my lungs. I closed my eyes and for the
first time in years, I felt myself smiling. Not because something amused me,
not because of some trickle of humor, but because I felt…I felt happy. Oh,
what a feeling that was. I can sense it now, the ghost of that rush. My chest
was buzzing, my mind opening.


not done yet though. Stay with me just little while longer. We’re nearing the
end. Don’t let go of my hand. Please. Don’t leave me. I couldn’t take that. I
don’t want to walk the rest of this by myself. I couldn’t bear the loneliness
if you left me now. You’re staying? Thank you. Christ…thank you. It’s going
to get dark up ahead, but I’ll get us to the finale. Trust me. You’re safe
here. Just don’t let go.

Over the next couple months, I found
myself returning back to that hallway, that room, the song, the mysterious,
beautiful woman with the voice that made everything perfect. I know it sounds
like fantasy, how is anything perfect, how could anything in
this world be perfect?

is what you make it.

those months, I would often find myself holding that red string. I didn’t know
where it came from, I still don’t, but it always appeared. Over and over again
I’d suddenly find myself holding it. I never hesitated to pull it, returning me
back to that wonderful place.

found the door, her door, and knocked. She always answered with a smile, a
glow, sometimes a hug. She let me inside and she would sing. I lost myself
countless times beneath the ocean of her song. I would cry, smile, laugh, and
other times I would just sit and bask in it. As my visits became more frequent,
the more comfortable we grew with one another. Sometimes when she sang, she
would usher me to her and I would lay my head on her lap and she would stroke
my hair as he voice reverberated around the room, cleansing me of all the horrors
of the outside world. It was just her and I in here. And there was nothing that
could reach us. Nothing to hurt us. We were safe and we were happy and I found
myself falling deeply, hopelessly into her.

I stated, this continued for months. The red string, the tug, the room, the
song, and my growing, unstoppable desire for her. It was the first time I had
ever unlocked in such a powerful way. And I knew it was the purest thing I had
ever felt.

the most dangerous.

on. Stop. Just…just give me a second to catch my breath. No, don’t let go.
Please. I’m just tired. Look ahead of us, past the borders, down into the
story. You see that? Do you see the darkness and the cliffs ahead? Can you hear
the thunder? Ok…I think I’m ready. Let’s go.

was a time like all the others. The string appeared between my fingers. I
pulled it, hard, eager to return to the world of the hallway, the room, the

I was back. The white tongue of floor rolled out before me and I hurried to the
green door I had grown so accustomed to. When I reached it, I knocked, just
like I always did. It opened a crack and the woman looked out at me.

her eyes did not hold the glow.

I asked what was wrong.

voice came back to me with all the weight of hell behind it, “You can’t come
here anymore.”

felt as if I had been struck by lightning, my vision sparking with horrible
flecks of blinding shock, “W-what do you mean?”

remained shielded behind the door, “I’m sorry. You can’t come here anymore. You
need to go back.”

hammer the size of life crashed into my chest.

I croaked, mind reeling, panic seizing me, “What happened? What’s wrong?”

eyes dropped, “I don’t think you were supposed to find this door. I’m sorry.
You have to leave. You need to stop coming here.”

I whispered, voice shaking now, “No, please don’t do this.”

saw her eyes swell with emotion, a deep, terrible pain that absolutely
devastated me to the very core of my being.

so, so sorry. Goodbye…”

then she closed the door.

knees shook and my mouth hung uselessly ajar. Tears found my eyes and agony
found my heart. I slumped to my knees, staring at the closed door, and placed
my hands upon the surface.

Why was this happening to me? Please, someone tell me why the fuck this is
happening to me?

I silent cry rattled my throat, but
I bit down on it hard, so hard I felt blood spill between my teeth. I didn’t
want her to hear it. I didn’t want her to know how fucking hard my heart had
just been ripped open. How crushing and murderous those words had been. How
completely raw they had left me, alone, kneeling in this hallway completely
lost, confused, and horribly, maddeningly alone.

turned and sat against the green door, my back pressed against the wood. I
covered my eyes with my hands, my fingers reaching into my hair, and I cried. I
cried and cried, and I fucking wept until my throat burned from having to
silence each sob.

eyes rolled wildly in my head, bloodshot and unseeing.

when I heard another door open, far down the hall, away from me.

blurred, I turned my head.

was watching me. Its form rose toward the ceiling, so tall it had to bend and
contort its dark mass just to fit. From this distance, I couldn’t tell what it
is was, but I felt its arrival ripple through the space between us and hit me
with a sensation so hard I gasped.

Overwhelming, all-consuming fear. It struck me so hard I felt my jaw pop.

against the door, I stared at it. It didn’t move. It just…watched me.

then I was gone. Back in the real world.

going to take a short-cut here. I thought I could tread the entire length of
this, but my legs are growing so weary and I’m having trouble breathing. Follow
me, over here. Around that. Yes. Don’t let go. Look. Yes. Right there. That’s
the end. Come on, let’s go to it together. Please.

we skipped over is nothing but the obvious. The absolute devastation of this
new turn, the sleepless nights, the vices that suddenly reared up to help me
cope, the slow spiral of self destruction, alcohol, and other demons that tore
and cut into me. I simply was not constructed to deal with this level of pain.
But none of us are, are we?

most horrible thing during all of this was that the string kept appearing in my
hand. And everytime, a sob would shake from my chest a moment before I pulled
it. I couldn’t help it. I had to keep going back, each time hoping that maybe,
please fucking maybe it was all just a nightmare.

would walk the hall, empty and alone, and find her door. I never knocked. Not
after she told me I had to leave. That I couldn’t come back. No. Instead I just
sank before it, covered my face, and cried. She knew I was there. And her
silence came not from coldness, but from the realization that a mistake had been

I sat and cried and stared at the door. Every ounce of me screamed to knock,
just fucking knock, and maybe, Christ almighty, just maybe she’d let me in
again. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I knew I was never going inside ever again.
And yet I couldn’t stop revisiting this place. This hallway. This door. I knew
the happiness, the joy, the song that flowed from inside. The warmth, the
beauty, the kindness that was now locked away.

it was not for me to experience anymore.

so I just sat, or curled up on the floor, and wept, waiting to for someone,
anyone, to help me.

these times, I would hear doors opening in the distance. At first, I ignored
them, too lost in my own pain. But after some time, after a couple visits back
to that place, I finally started to pay attention to them. To the sounds that

were emerging from the countless rooms. Horrible, twisted, nightmarish things
that stood and watched me. They never moved, never made a sound, only stood as
their doors closed behind them.

have been getting closer lately. Each time the string appears and I return back
to her door, those dark monsters extend further toward me. Each time, another
emerges into the hallway, coming from a door that’s just a little closer.

know they will kill me. It’s only a matter of time. I have to stop going back.
I have to throw that fucking red string aside whenever I find myself clutching

the very idea is a hell unto itself.

do you deconstruct the most incredible span of your life so that the memories
of its joy hold no sway over your emotional state? Because if I can’t figure
that out, then these monsters, these murderous shadows are going to reach me
and I will die beneath them.


reached the end. I needed to get this all out. Thank you for walking with me.
You can let go now. Please, let go. You don’t want to follow me to this next
part. You see, like I said earlier, the string has found me again. It is curled
around my fingers as I type this. I don’t want to pull it. I know how dangerous
it is.

of whether I do or not…I wanted you to know what has happened. In case I
don’t come back. In case I find myself trapped in that hallway with those
monsters. I think they will reach me this time. And if not now, then the next.
They were so close the last time.

you. Thank you for listening.

You made me feel not quite so alone.

Credits to: Elias_Witherow (story)

Length: Super long

The following is transcribed from a
2015 YouTube video entitled “My Friends and I Found a Door in the Woods,”
posted by Paradox57.

[Video opens on a sparse forest
landscape. Orange sunrise shines through the branches of the surrounding trees,
casting thin shadows over the ground. A figure wanders into the frame: GARRETT,
a preteen boy with sandy hair who wears a blue winter coat. His face turns to
the camera, but the image is too shaky to make out much more than his pale
cheeks and a pair of green eyes.

GARRETT: It’s not much farther. This is
where I found it last time.                                      

BEN: (offscreen) You didn’t
leave the trail, did you? They say you’re not supposed to do that.

GARRETT: Of course I didn’t, moron.

[The camera turns to see BEN, a
scrawny boy in glasses and a navy fleece. He tries to step carefully across the
forest floor, but his sneakers catch on a large root and he stumbles. When he
sees the camera watching him, his cheeks redden and he quickens his pace.

GARRETT: You filming this, Jack?

JACK: (offscreen) Yeah, I am. Not
seeing much so far though. Just a whole lotta trees.

GARRETT: It’s here, I swear, just a little
– shit!

[The camera whirls around.
GARRETT is pointing at a rectangular brown shape about thirty feet away, almost
hidden by the foliage. The camera zooms in and focuses, revealing a door
standing upright in the woods, its wooden surface embossed with the number 325.

JACK: What the fuck?

[GARRETT stomps through the
underbrush, heading for the door. BEN reluctantly follows, with JACK picking up
the rear. As they approach the door, an audio glitch occurs: the sound of birds
and distant traffic cuts out entirely, leaving only the crunching of the boys’
footsteps on the leaves. None of them seem to notice this anomaly.

BEN: Did there used to be a house here
or something?

GARRETT: No idea. The door’s not the weird
part though. It’s what’s behind the door that’ll fuck you up.

JACK: There’s nothing behind the door,
dude. It’s just standing there.

GARRETT: (laughing) Prepare to have
your minds blown.

[He opens the door. Outside of
the frame is nothing but trees and bushes, but inside, the camera captures a
dimly lit room. The foot of a standard bed frame and a featureless gray rug can
be seen through the door, along with the left half of a single window, its
half-open blinds letting in pale white light.

JACK: Jesus Christ. How…?

[The camera circles around the
door, revealing nothing but forest behind the door frame. From the other side,
the door looks like a blank stretch of gray wall, with no hinges or doorknob.
JACK circles back around and aims the camera back into the dim room.

JACK: Holy shit. Have you gone inside?

GARRETT: You think I’m some kind of idiot?
Like hell I was going in there alone. Plus I needed you to take footage so
people don’t think we’re crazy.

BEN: Not to be that guy, but going in
there at all seems like a massively stupid move.

[The camera turns to focus on
BEN. His cheeks have gone noticeably pale.

BEN: Who cares if you’re not alone? You
have no idea what’s in there. This is uncharted territory, man, like… fuck.
This isn’t supposed to exist, do you get that?

GARRETT: If you’re gonna be a wimp, you can
guard the door. I’m going in.

JACK: Me too.

[Ignoring BEN’s protests, the two
boys enter the room. The camera picks up a barely audible hum as it sweeps
around the space. Along with the bed and rug, the room contains a nightstand
with a telephone and a crooked lamp, a chest of drawers, a series of framed
photographs, and a television set perched atop a wooden stand. Everything is a
muted gray color. GARRETT crosses the room and peers through a gap in the

JACK: What’s out there?

GARRETT: Nothing. It’s just white.

[The camera wanders closer to the
television. JACK’s hand appears in the frame and presses a few buttons, but the
screen remains dark.

JACK: TV’s dead.

GARRETT: Phone too.

JACK: D’you think somebody lives here?

BEN: (offscreen) No. It’s a
hotel room.

[The camera jerks around and
catches him standing in the doorway. The scared look is gone from his face. He
wanders over to the chest of drawers and opens the top drawer. From inside he
pulls out a pristine copy of a leatherbound book with a golden cross on the
cover. He laughs.

BEN: My mom had to travel for her job
when I was younger, so we stayed in a lot of hotels. I got used to seeing rooms
like this one. They always have a Bible in the top drawer, you know that? I
started collecting them at one point. Like little souvenirs from each place we
stopped at. It was totally stealing, but no one ever caught me on it. I’d stuff
them in my backpack and hide them under my bed when I got home.

GARRETT: What the hell did you need a bunch
of Bibles for?

BEN: I dunno, man. What do people need
old stamps for? It was just a thing to do. Made me feel like those trips
weren’t a total waste.

JACK: Hang on. If this is a hotel room,
who’s staying here?

GARRETT: Doesn’t look like anyone’s used it
in awhile. Bedsheets are a little stained, but they’re all made up and the
pillows are fluffed and everything.

BEN: I… I don’t think it’s really a
hotel room. I think it’s just pretending to be.

GARRETT: The hell does that mean?

BEN: Listen to this.

[He has the Bible open and is
scanning the first page. Whatever he sees there makes his jaw tighten. He looks
up at the camera, clears his throat, then looks back at the page.

BEN: “In the name of the Father, the
Son, and the error error error. Insert memory here. Father cannot be found. Son
is found but hollow. Attempts to reach Father have been met with error error
error error. Prepare room for the next reset. Insert memory here. Father
retrieval protocol has failed five thousand, seven hundred and thirty-four
times. Son renewal begins in error error error error…”

[He flips through the rest of the

BEN: It goes on for like three pages.
Then it’s all blank after that.

JACK: Why would someone put that shit in
a Bible?

BEN: It’s like… a glitch. It’s not a
real Bible, it just looks like one. I bet if you look at that phone a little
closer it’s just a prop. The TV too.

[GARRETT examines the phone in his
hands, squinting at the panel of buttons. JACK moves the camera over to the
framed photographs lining the walls. From a distance they appear to be simple
landscape shots. Up close, the finer details dissolve into pixelated blotches.

GARRETT: The phone’s just a hunk of
plastic. You can’t even press the buttons.

JACK: So, like, what is this? Some kind
of half-assed computer simulation?

BEN: Maybe. It’d explain why
everything’s gray and none of the devices work. It might not have finished
loading or something.

JACK: Fuck this Matrix shit, I’m

[The camera moves hurriedly to
the open doorway and exits into the forest. It turns around to see the other
two boys reluctantly leaving the room. GARRETT closes the door behind them,
staring at the embossed numbers for a few seconds.

JACK: You guys want to go back in there,
don’t you?

GARRETT: Dude, whatever this is, we can’t
just ignore it. This is bigger than that dumb meme shit you post on YouTube.
This is gonna make us famous. We just have to figure out how it works.

JACK: Ben?

[BEN is still holding the Bible
from the chest of drawers. His thumb brushes the golden cross on the cover.
Then he looks up at the camera.

BEN: I’m with Garrett.

JACK: Unreal.

[The footage cuts suddenly to the
interior of the gray hotel room. GARRETT and BEN are sitting cross-legged on
the rug, surrounded by an assortment of objects: a lighter, a handheld radio, a
cell phone, a walkie talkie, and a hammer. The insistent hum is a little louder
than before. BEN waves hesitantly at the camera, while GARRETT lifts his right
hand and flips it off.

GARRETT: What’s up, viewers? This is round
one of what we’re calling the “Room 325 Super Special Playtest.” Today we’re
going to test out a few devices from the outside world to see how they work
inside the room.

BEN: If they work at all.

JACK: (offscreen) I can’t believe
you guys talked me into this.

GARRETT: First test – will it burn?

[He picks up the lighter and
flicks it until a flame appears. The fire is a bright orange against the gray of
the carpet. GARRETT is about to touch it to a loose sheet of paper, but the
flame suddenly loses all color and flickers out with a couple of gray sparks.

JACK: That would be a big fat no.

GARRETT: Disappointing, but eh. Whatever.
Test number two – can it pick up radio signals from outside?

[BEN hands him the transistor
radio. GARRETT starts fiddling with the dials, resulting in a loud hiss of
static. He continues to cycle through the channels with no result, until at
last the faint sound of electric guitar can be heard. He adjusts the dials
until the song itself becomes clear: “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” by
the Doors.

GARRETT: Ugh, so apparently the radio still
picks up geezer rock in here.

BEN: (hushed) My dad used to
love this song.

GARRETT: That’s what I said, geezer rock.

[BEN sits frozen on the rug, a
look of shock on his face. GARRETT, who apparently doesn’t notice, turns the
radio off and picks up the cell phone. The room falls into sudden silence.
BEN’s fingers grow tense in the fabric of the carpet.

GARRETT: Test numero tres –

[He is interrupted by the sudden
blare of a phone ringing. Both boys freeze, then turn to look at the
nightstand. The prop phone perched on top trembles with each ring. GARRETT sits
in stunned silence, but BEN rises from the rug, his hands shaking.

JACK: Oh hell no. Ben –

[BEN ignores him and picks up the
phone, bringing it up to his ear. The shrill ringing cuts out at once.

BEN: (hesitantly) Hello?

[Whatever he hears makes his body
stiffen. The camera picks up the faint sound of someone talking on the other
end, but no specific words are discernable. Several seconds pass. The longer
the voice continues to talk, the more BEN continues to shake, his face growing
as pale as the light from the window. GARRETT rises from the rug with a look of
alarm on his face.

GARRETT: Jesus, Ben, hang up! Hang up!

[He grabs BEN by the shoulders
and tries to drag him away from the phone, but BEN appears to be rooted to the
spot. GARRETT then attempts to pry the phone out of BEN’s viselike grip. He
turns and looks desperately at the camera.

GARRETT: Fuck’s sake, Jack, help me!

[The camera grows shaky as JACK
runs over. Together, he and GARRETT manage to yank BEN backwards, causing the
phone to fall from his hand and clatter on the nightstand. The boys fall back
on the bed, out of breath, while the camera picks up the voice on the telephone
more clearly. It is monotone and vaguely accented, like a computer
approximating human speech.

TELEPHONE: Father location protocol has
achieved completion. Hello Son. Hello Son. Hello Son. Hello Son…

[The footage cuts to GARRETT
walking through the woods at night, bundled in his blue coat. His footsteps are
rushed, and he keeps glancing from side to side, as if searching for something.
The air is filled with the sound of crickets and rustling leaves.

GARRETT: We swore we wouldn’t go back
there. FUCK.

JACK: We don’t know he went back to the
room, dude.

GARRETT: Don’t be a fucking idiot. He never
came to school and his mom hasn’t seen him in hours. Of course he went back to
the room.

JACK: Why would he go back there anyway?
What was up with that freaky telephone shit?

[GARRETT looks back at the
camera, his eyes hollow.

GARRETT: Ben never told you what happened
to his dad?

JACK: No. I mean, I knew the guy wasn’t
around, but I just assumed his parents were divorced or something.

GARRETT: It happened when we were kids, way
before you moved here. Ben’s dad got in an accident down at the lumber mill –
he got stuck in some machine and a saw sliced his hands clean off. Bled to
death right on the sawdust. It really fucked Ben up. Can you imagine being a
kid and knowing that happened to your dad?

JACK: Jesus, no.

GARRETT: He’s got some serious trauma, man.
So when that phone started talking about fathers…

JACK: It triggered him.

GARRETT: More than that. I think it made
him curious. He’s hungry for answers, and maybe the room has them, maybe it
doesn’t. But he’s there. He’s gotta be.

[The crickets suddenly go silent.
GARRETT pauses, then points somewhere offscreen.

GARRETT: It’s there. And it’s open. Fuck.

[He goes bounding into the woods.
JACK follows him, leaves slapping the camera as he hurries through the
underbrush. The open door comes into view, revealing the room beyond. Instead
of white light, a dim blue glow now seeps from the window. GARRETT rushes
inside. JACK follows him, stopping short in the threshold. BEN is standing in
the center of the room, staring at the television, a hammer dangling from his
right hand. The television screen is lit up with a series of swirling blue
images: abstract shapes with sharp, shifting corners. The same monotone voice
from the telephone now issues from the screen.

TELEVISION: I love you Son. I love you Son. I
love you Son. I love you Son…


[BEN doesn’t turn. JACK takes a
step closer, and the camera picks up a feverish muttering coming from BEN’s
direction. GARRETT walks over and grabs the other boy by the arm.

GARRETT: Ben, snap out of it -!

[BEN moves suddenly, bringing his
right arm up and smashing the hammer into GARRETT’s forehead. GARRETT moans and
lets go, staggering over to the bed and collapsing onto the sheets. Blood
trickles from the wound on his head and stains the gray bed sheets.

JACK: Oh fuck, oh fuck!

[BEN turns to look at him. The
other boy’s expression is blank, but a ring of vivid blue circles his irises,
flickering with the images on the screen. The hammer drips steadily onto the
carpet. JACK takes a clumsy step back, but BEN doesn’t move. The camera goes
out of focus for a moment, and when it comes back, there is a thin tear
trickling from BEN’s eye. He lowers the hammer and turns back to face the

BEN: (whispering, barely audible)
I’m here, Dad. It’s your son. I’ve found you. I’ve found you.

[The television suddenly warps,
its edges melting, its screen bending inward until it forms a convex tunnel of
swirling blue. The tunnel grows slowly until it expands beyond the edges of the
screen, enveloping the entire far wall. The camera begins to tremble.

JACK: Get the hell out of there, Ben!

BEN: Dad!

[The end of the tunnel ripples,
and a humanoid figure appears in the sea of swirling shapes. Its silhouette is
pitch black, but its head is hunched, and it has two stumps on the end of its
arms. BEN falls to his knees and drops the hammer. He begins weeping

JACK: That’s not your dad, Ben! Wake the
fuck up!

BEN: I thought I’d never see you again…

[The figure in the tunnel
shuffles closer, its body tilting from side to side with each step, its form
remaining dark. When it is about ten feet away, it lifts its stumps and begins
to gurgle. BEN rises to his feet and steps closer to the tunnel, ignoring
JACK’s shouted warnings.

BEN: What is it? What are you saying,

FIGURE: (garbled) I LOVE YOU, SON.

[Inky black vines erupt suddenly
from the figure’s back, shooting out from the tunnel and stabbing into BEN’s
face and arms. JACK cries out, but BEN looks too stunned to speak. The vines
begin to glow the same neon blue, pulsing outwards from BEN’s body into the
dark figure. Its shape begins to change, shifting from small and humanoid to
large and misshapen. Its limbs bulge outward, hulking fingers grow from the
stumps, and the head bursts into a globular assortment of human eyes. The walls
of the room begin to tremble and crack. JACK begins to scream incoherently as
the vines drag BEN into the tunnel, the room collapsing around him. JACK turns
to flee and trips over the threshold, sending the camera tumbling across the
forest floor. It comes to rest at an angle, capturing a fallen JACK and the
open door in the shot. JACK clambers back to his feet just as the door slams
shut on its own. It wavers for a moment, like an image on a staticky screen,
before flickering out of existence.

JACK: (screaming, hoarse)
Garrett? BEN?

[There is no response. The air
fills with cricket song as the video ends.

The preceding video was removed from
YouTube shortly after being posted due to “Copyright Infringement,” presumably
due to the use of the Doors song on the radio. Due to the lack of any last
names or mentions of where these events took place, I was unable to track down
Jack for some follow-up questions. As a result, it is impossible to know
whether the events depicted in this video are true, or if it’s just a very
elaborate hoax.

No further sightings of the door in
the woods have been reported since then.

to: -TheInspector- (story)

Length: Super long

If ever there was a terrible
place to live, this village between the mountains has to rank as one of
the absolute worst. I’ve been here working on the police force for years now,
and believe me when I say that I wish I could leave. It’s not so easy. Just
like a plague, this town’s weird, rotten energy has to be contained, and it
takes all of us to do so.

And that’s the only reason I’m
saying anything: to keep everyone else away. I won’t tell you the exact
location of the town, but I’ll tell you how to recognize that you’ve found
yourself near it. You’ll be traveling in the mountains, through winding paths
with lots of trees. There won’t be a building for miles and your radio might
not work so well. But at one point or another, you may hear a little crackle if
you tune into a specific channel. 104.6 FM is the only radio station you can
get in this area, and you may want to listen in while you’re driving by in case
the situation is more urgent than you think. However, if all
you hear is some crackling music and the voices of either of our two bickering
announcers, the next thing you’ll see on your journey is a tiny rest stop with
only one gas pump.

can stop and top off your tank if you like, but don’t bother going inside for
anything other than to drop off a handful of cash. There’s almost never anyone
there, and when there is, they won’t help you any. The plumbing doesn’t work,
the old man at the desk will just tell you to piss in the woods, and all of the
food on the shelves is probably teeming with some kind of fungus. At this
point, you’ll want to get back in your car, make sure you have enough fuel for
the trip, and go back in whichever direction you came from.

I knew this area was bad news a long
time ago, but it wasn’t until I recently started working forest duty that
I knew just how much I hated it. Things just aren’t normal out there. Everyone
who considers themselves a local knows this, but they don’t all know why. All
they know for sure are these three things:

  1. Going into the woods, no matter the
    time of day, is a bad idea.
  2. When something weird happens, you
    learn to turn your head and don’t ask questions.
  3. Always listen for the emergency fog
    broadcast. By the time you see it with your own two eyes, it’ll be too late.

I’m about to say is going to sound like the ramblings of a madman, but I’m
telling you exactly what was told to me when I joined the force. Where the old
watchtower sits, at the point where the village ends and the mountainous
forests begin, the treeline is a barrier between a vicious, feral world and our

The forest is alive. Like some sort
of twisted miracle, anything dead that touches the soil, the grass, or the bark
of the trees becomes a part of a grotesque collection. It sounds like some
zombie apocalypse story, but I assure you it’s not. Nothing in there feeds off
of flesh or blood or any of that. A colleague of mine once told me, ‘They just
want to grow’. Some have called us in hysterics to report animals
lumbering towards them with mismatched human features and vice versa. Others
have reported something more terrifying.

I believe one of the emergency
broadcasters at the watchtower – I think her name starts with an E, but the
police chief calls her … ‘Twenty Eight’ – saw this thing we all
dread the most. It’s old, but it’s not some god or deity or ruler of the
forest. It’s simply the strongest, amassing more parts and more weight than any
of the rest. Few have seen more than a giant antler through the trees or a
glimpse of a long, thin claw, but we know it’s out there. I’d like to tell you
that we’re looking for a way to bring it down before it collects even more, but
for now, the most we can do is control the swarm. If you haven’t already
guessed, our local radio station is more of a defense than a means of

tell you my name if it means anything. It’s Finn. Officer Finn. I’ll leave it
up to your imagination whether that’s my first or my last name. Not long ago, I
accompanied a fellow police officer on the search for a missing woman after her
severed fingers were found at the watchtower outside the village, and that was
the beginning of my experience with dreaded ‘forest duty’.

of boring you with all the details of countless unbelievable anecdotes, I’ll
give you a short run-down of the strangest cases myself and my colleagues have
handled in the last few months alone.

January. White male, mid-forties, called to
tell us that his aging, senile mother was trying to coax animals from the woods
into her home because she mistook them for her late husband. Upon a quick
inspection of an old burial plot near the woods, her husband’s remains had been
dug up and have still not been recovered. The ground was still frozen and no
shovel marks were seen.

February. Black female, 16 years old. Called
the police after saying a man with roots where his face should have been was
trying to lure her into the woods. When asked what he said, she told us, ‘He
didn’t say anything. The roots took over his mouth. But I felt him
asking me to follow.’ Oddly, her story lines up with at least eleven reports
from the last three years, all of them from children and teens.

March. White female, mid-twenties,
supposedly attempts suicide in a bathtub. After being resuscitated, she slurred
something about her father’s voice being stolen by a mountain lion. Later, when
questioned, she denied remembering a single thing that she said and claimed she
had never attempted to drown herself at all. Blood alcohol levels were
suspiciously high.

April. Hispanic male, thirty years old.
Both eardrums ruptured violently by a mechanical mishap involving an audio
headset while at his workplace. While in recovery, an elderly woman called the
police station from an anonymous number to simply say, ‘God gave him what he
needed, deaf ears to better see His glory.” Her identity is unknown.

May. In the span of one week, four
individuals went missing in the exact same location. Jennifer Cook, age 25.
Pamela and Gordon Richman, ages 48 and 52. Markus Bane, age 27. The only
evidence left behind were four of Jennifer’s fingers, one half of Mr. and Mrs.
Richman’s corpses, and a box of old, rotten groceries left on the ground where
Markus disappeared. None of his remains have been recovered but as you can
imagine, no one expects to find him alive.

So, I had said I was working on a
case of a missing woman. That missing woman was Jennifer Cook. For the first
few hours, we were looking for her in one piece, and after that, we started
looking for her body instead. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t been found, though
it has been seen, which tells us that there’s little hope in
recovering her as she used to be.

My fellow officer, whom I will call
Nancy for the time being, was extraordinarily gung-ho when it
came to uncovering Jennifer’s whereabouts. She was new, even more fresh than I
was, but had been transferred after over a decade of duty on the other side of
the state. I think this is the reason why she was so dedicated to considering
this a murder case and not a recovery mission instead. She had yet to really
understand how little this place follows the rules of what we would consider

always get light-headed out here. I hate the mountains.” I complained as we
marched up through the tree-covered hills, a K9 on alert walking in front of

Nancy agreed with me. “Almost like you can’t tell if you’re going up or down
sometimes. It’s no wonder people get lost out here and end up not finding their
way back.”

didn’t know the half of it.

explain how Jennifer ended up shoved in a tree though.” Nancy had a heavy,
furrowed brow as she continued. She didn’t need to show that kind of angry
intimidation just talking to me, but I’ve started to work out that it might
just be her face. “I think it’s weird, that’s all. Out here, away from the town
where we’re told to encourage people to stay away … it’s like someone’s hiding
something out here.”

do you think they’re hiding?” I asked, genuinely curious.

don’t know, Finn.” She shrugged, eyes peering up to scan the trees around us.
It was too silent, not even a single bird chirp to be heard. “But someone’s out
here killing people and no one seems interested in hunting them down.”

had a hoarse, dry whisper as she narrowed her eyes, and I regret to admit that
I almost laughed. I was reminded so much of the old sheriffs from western
movies, always ready to draw both pistols in preparation for some scoundrel
sneaking up on them. I wasn’t about to tell a fellow officer, especially not
one with years more experience than I had, that she looked a little bit like
Yosemite Sam.

“Oh, mother fuck!” We
both heard one of the medical personnel shout before we saw anything. Our K9
perked up his ears, but didn’t seem to sense a threat. Rather, we found
ourselves pulled further into the bushes, where sets of footprints added to
what appeared to be an already pushed-down path of flattened twigs and grass.
It looked like something had been dragged, and once we could see what the
others had seen, we had a good clue of what had been pulled through there.

first, it looked like one body. In fact, it was two. A man’s upper half and a woman’s
lower half, both of them likely dead for no more than 24 hours at most. As for
the other half of them both, well … it appeared they were gone.

recognized the man’s face. It was Gordon Richman from town, and our only guess
was that the other was his wife who had gone missing with him during a heavy
bout of fog.

goddamn broadcast employees not doing their job…

Where’s the rest of them?” I looked over at Nancy, who seemed bothered but
not nearly as disturbed by the revelation as I was. Either the couple had been
partially devoured or the forest was getting smart by splitting up the pieces,
making it harder for us to find them.

shook her head, disgusted. “I told you, didn’t I? Some sick fuck is out
here, just playing with us.”

“Oh, god, it reeks
out here.” One of the paramedics had to cover his face with his sleeve. It was
pretty bad when someone who routinely worked with all the terrible smells the
human body could create was sickened standing ten feet away from the source.
But I had to agree. From where I stood, the bodies smelled as if they had been
rotting for weeks, covered in mold, and stuffed with hot garbage that had been
soaked in pig waste. It was that bad.

took photos of the scene, including shots of the surrounding area for any
reference of broken branches or additional evidence. Not far from the bodies,
Nancy happened upon a cell phone sitting at the foot of a tree, and in the
process, we found another source of that terrible smell. The tree was dripping
with what looked like sap against the dark-colored bark, but we were so wrong
about that. It was blood. Dark, thick blood practically rolled out of the tree
from a hole in the bark’s center, as if it had been filled to capacity and was
forming a puddle in the grass beneath.

“What the hell is that?”
She squinted at the tree, gloved hands holding the cell phone carefully before
she inspected the screen. “There’s something wrong with that tree. But first,
we’ve got another problem here.”

the problem?” I asked, and she turned the cell phone towards me to show the
last message on the screen. Missed calls from the same person, and it was a
name we both recognized: Evelyn. That’s right, that’s what her name was. That
was Twenty Eight up at the broadcast tower. We’d have to run the phone number
later, but in a village of only a few hundred people, it wasn’t difficult to
make an assumption here.

It was a problem,
but not for the reason Nancy thought. You see, she was suspicious almost
immediately that the radio employee had something to do with this, seeing as
the two working at the outpost had constant access to the surrounding forested
area. Me, however? I was more worried that it meant our new broadcasters had
been snooping around in the woods. We really could not afford to lose two more
after losing twenty-seven already, even if these two are a couple of
incompetent slackers…

we could continue the conversation of what to do with that information, I heard
another sound of disgust from one of the paramedics. The two of them had been
attempting to move the male’s upper body onto a cloth hammock for
transportation, but couldn’t get him off the ground. Nancy and I abandoned the
still-bleeding tree to see what was holding him down, but it was more unnerving
and grotesque than we could have imagined.

They only managed to pull him a
half-foot off the ground before dropping him onto his side, where we saw that
his body was being invaded by the roots underneath him. They
were growing straight through his chest cavity, wrapping around all of his
insides and keeping him stuck to the ground until a heavy tug jarred him
partially loose. The smell that hit the air was almost too much for any of us,
and I had to stagger away to keep from losing my breakfast. I felt my mouth
water but choked back the urge to vomit.

“It looks like something’s growing
through h-h-huhr…” One of the paramedics gagged, turning her back
but unable to escape the smell. I covered my nose and mouth with my sleeve and
crouched down, happy that I was wearing gloves as I took a closer look. Nancy
was right beside me, and what we saw next may have been her true initiation
into our little branch of ‘Crazytown Police Force’.

body, dead and drained of his blood, suddenly moved in a series of twitches as
an unearthly groan left his mouth. When he parted his lips, stretching his jaw
wide, we could see the twists and curls of branches moving around inside of his
throat. They were wiggling on the ground as well, as if inching further into
his torso to take a tighter grip. All at once, the roots pulled on him and
jammed him back flat against the ground where he was before, sinking deeper
into the soil as if planting him back in place. His eyes were opened and wide,
white with blue veins pale on the surface, as he made one last agonizing croak.

would have thought his body was making some sort of automatic response, like
the breath some morticians report from corpses releasing gas from the lungs.
Only, that didn’t explain his next trick. He blinked his eyes and they rolled
back forward, faded irises moving from side to side before they focused
directly on everyone one at a time. He looked at me, then he looked at Nancy,
and then he –


Gordon’s corpse could make another sound, Nancy had pulled her gun from its
holster and shot him straight between the eyes at point blank. It was a panic
response, but still – we would be getting in a world of trouble for this

you have to do that?!” I shouted at her, as if her split-second response
ignited my own moment of panic. One of the paramedics was clutching his chest,
the other simply looked happy to be standing further away. “You fucked up his

“As if it wasn’t already?!” Nancy no
longer sounded assertive or full of aggression. She just sounded confused,
scared, trying to put herself back together. “What the hell did
we just see?”

While she was catching her breath,
probably trying to figure out what she had just seen with her own two eyes, I
dug around for a pocket knife to pass to one of the paramedics. They were
putting him on the sling, so they could be the ones to cut him out of those
roots. I tried to distance myself while they did, in part because of the smell
and in part because the roots screamed as they were cut.

were about to leave, taking our evidence back with a plan to have a few words
with the broadcast worker who had shown up on Jennifer’s abandoned cell phone.
Before we had the chance, however, our K9 suddenly began to make the most low,
guttural growling noise I had heard from him. I felt a tug on his leash and saw
him pointing his nose off towards a thick patch of trees and bushes, seemingly
looking at nothing. All of the hair on his back bristed and he bared his teeth
at the dark space underneath the pines.

I swore, for a split second there, I
may have heard something growl back. That, and the momentary glimmer of
something shining between the sparsely visible spot between branches. A pair of
eyes … no, not a pair. A trio at least. The dog tucked his
tail and backed up, and that’s when we knew it was time for us to leave.

I won’t bother trying to speculate
what our K9 saw that we didn’t see. The reason for that is, it could have
been anything.In my time here, I’ve learned two very distinct
things working on the force:

You never know what you might come
across, and you’ll never, ever be prepared for it.

The case of Jennifer Cook is still
open, or at least, that’s what we’re telling her family for now. As far as
we’re concerned, she’s been added to the endless list of anomalies in the
forest that have to be contained. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to get hold
of that guy up in the radio tower – Dan … whatever his last name is. They’ll
need someone to take over their supply deliveries and as you can imagine, none
of the teens working at the local grocery are stupid enough to volunteer. If
Dan won’t come out himself to get their shit, Nancy and I may be pulling straws
to see who gets put on long-term forest duty.

I can really say for now is that this place is unnatural. It’s a mess of
impossible things made possible, but none of the things we’d like to see. It’s
a nightmare on its worst days and radiates unease on its best.

if you’re driving by on a mountain pass, looking for something to listen to,
and you catch the crackling of 104.6 … I suggest you don’t go any further.

We don’t need the woods to grow any

Credits to: wendingus (story)


Length: Super long

When I was a little boy, my fondest
summer memories were spending time in the north woods at my uncle Howard’s. He
had this rustic old cabin that was surrounded on all sides by nothing but pure

local hunters called it Howard’s Hideout. Every time my brother John and I
would visit a new adventure would await us.

as you grow up those things fade and you find yourself focusing on the
adventures of adulthood. They aren’t nearly as fun, and you can’t just wiggle
your nose and change the story.

wish I could change this story. But this isn’t about me. It’s about my uncle
and the legacy he left behind.

died last June from a massive heart attack. I remember John called me at work
to tell me the news. He knew I was always especially close to our uncle.

rush of memories flooded over me after I got off the phone. Fishing down at the
creek, setting snares along the property line, listening to old westerns as he
popped a bag of kettle corn over the open stove.

stuck out the most was the ghost stories Uncle Howard would tell.

evening John and I went our for drinks and I asked him what his favorite
campfire story Howard told us was.

bro… I don’t know. He told us a lot of crazy things,” he said with a
laugh. I prodded him for a moment longer and finally he gave in and said,
“That one about the bear.”

sat there and drank my own whiskey, remembering the story quite well.

Howard had a way of making the monsters extra vivid in his stories and none of
them were more frightening than the entity that John recalled.

to our uncle, the creature was about as large as a 7 foot tall man with massive
claws that could tear a person into twelve pieces all at once. Papa Bear is
what he called it.

despite being so fearsomely large Papa Bear was actually not all that dangerous
or so Howard reassured us.

a protector of these woods, keeps the good in and the bad out. That’s why you
boys are safe here, Papa Bear is watching out for us,” he said.

papa bear decided who was and wasn’t welcome in the woods and eliminated any
threats to keep the forest secure and magical. Though I knew that somehow John
and I were spared, I recalled every detail of what happened to its victims.

who trespassed were not simply killed. He made sure to tell us that the victims
became slaves to the abomination, tasked to clean the forest that they had
defiled. I knew even as a young boy Uncle Howard was trying to make sure we
kept nature clean, but still; it scared the shit out of me.

at night when the wind would whistle through the old cabin and it would make
everything sound so loud, like a groaning noise or a wailing. I remember
vividly hiding under the covers one night when the sounds went on for hours, I
didn’t even get up to go to the bathroom and instead peed on myself just to
stay safe.

do you think will get the cabin?” John asked me, bringing my mind back to
the present. I had to admit I really didn’t know, considering that my uncle and
aunt had divorced quite some time ago.

seems a shame to just let it sit out there,” I said. Later that same week
I spoke with his second ex-wife Denise on the phone. (Our aunt, Rena; died
around the time I went to college)

admitted she didn’t really have any idea about the last will and testament or
if it even included anything about the cabin, but promised she would look into

Saturday my dad and I went to hear the reading of the will. A few of our other
relatives I hadn’t seen in awhile were there. I even saw Howard’s estranged son
Walker show up.

he in prison?” my dad whispered to me when he walked in. “You’re the
cop, not me,” i said back as Walker sat down a few rows ahead of us.

know what, I think I remember now; it was just a misdemeanor on illegal
possession but they always thought he might have been involved in the Cooper
case,” my dad whispered back.

you have lived around this area long enough, then you know what my dad was
talking about. For those of you who don’t, about six years back a family went
missing on the north stretch of the interstate near the Stateline.

investigation into their disappearance revealed that they had been planning a
fishing trip for the family into the woods, husband and wife and two girls.
Shannon, the oldest girl; was the only body they ever found around a year
later. Apparently she had somehow survived that long out in the woods and was
trying desperately to reach civilization but ended up running into a meth lab.

same meth lab that Walker had been busted for a few months after her body was
found there. I had never read the full report, but it struck me as odd that the
timing of the two events was so close together.

few moments after my dad made this comment the cabin was mentioned in the will,
and to my shock and dismay it was Walker that managed to get the property.

followed him outside after the reading was finished and found him leaned
against the building smoking a joint.

gave me a lopsided smile. “Brian!  It’s been awhile,” he said as
he offered me a smoke.

clean now, Walker. Pretty crazy about your dad, huh?” I told him. He
nodded, not saying much. I knew that he had always been jealous of John and I.
Uncle Howard had always been much more of a father to us than him, and I was
positive that had always rubbed him the wrong way.

whatcha need Brian, I know you didn’t come out here to just chew cud with
me,” he said.

going to the funeral tomorrow?” I asked. 

“Gotta pay my respects to
the old man,” Walker answered. 

“I know it’s probably an odd
request… but I was hoping maybe I could handle the distribution of his
remains…” I said.

ashes?” he asked with a nervous laugh. 

“I was just thinking about his
cabin out there and… and how much he loved it,” I explained as I tried
not to tear up.

knew Walker wouldn’t understand. But I was surprised when he agreed to let me
have the canister.

can fling em all up and down the county for all I care,” he said as he
tossed his burnt cig down.

talked with John about my intentions to head to the cabin that next weekend and
my brother suggested we make a camping trip out of it, a final way to say
goodbye to Uncle Howard.

drove up that Saturday morning in the late June heat. We took John’s pickup
truck and I remember having to keep myself cool by using a wet rag and some ice
because he didn’t have AC.

the time we had arrived I was sweating so bad I decided to head down to the
creek for a swim.

ain’t getting out of helping me get this shit inside,” my brother told me.

though we both felt like we were going to have a heat stroke, I helped him
carry our luggage inside and set it down on the couch.

still looks like it’s still in good condition,” John said.

had to admit I was impressed with the cleanliness of the cabin and I wondered
immediately how long it had been since Howard had been here.

really loved this place,” I realized.

looked around at some of the hunting trophies that he had hanging on the wall,
and I remembered Howard teaching me how to skin small birds to prepare them for
the stuffing process.

that all things on this earth are created to serve men, boy. You don’t want to
hurt god’s creation, and you want to respect life,” Howard told me.

saw one of the geese I helped to preserve and reached up to touch the feathers.
It was amazing how after all these years it still seemed in perfect condition.

woods made everything feel even more inviting, like we were taking a trip back
in time and experiencing everything for the first time.

followed the west trail, listening to the gentle singing birds and looking at
some of the old snares that Howard still had set up.

the trail came to an end we relied on memory alone to reach the creek. The
water looked as clear as it had when we were kids. I didn’t take a moment to
hesitate and tossed my shoes off and let my feet relax on the right side of the

took off his shirt and jumped into the deeper portion of the creek, howling
excitedly. It felt so good to be here. We stayed down at the creek for about an
hour and then John suggested we do a little bit of hunting.

at the cabin, I walked down to the basement to find any of our Uncle’s guns.

basement was in a bit more disrepair than up stairs, but I recalled that Howard
kind of used it as a spare closet; storing all his junk there.

the back of the room I found a small locked cache where he kept all his rifles
and then rummaged through the other drawers nearby for the key.

gentle sound like a whisper seemed to slowly creep into the room and it made me
pause in what I was doing. Then the noise grew louder. It sounded like the
noises we heard when we were younger. A gentle muffling wail.

took the keys and grabbed a few guns, leaving the basement behind and feeling a
little unsettled.

we walked out toward the woods, I told John about it. “We’re barely here a
few hours and you are already hearing things? Man I can’t wait for
tonight,” he joked. I laughed it off as nerves or just my imagination.

followed the other trail behind the cabin up toward the mountains. I brought
our uncle’s ashes along, remembering one of his favorite spots was along this

was a scenic overlook of the forest itself and nearby lake, Uncle Howard
usually wouldn’t let us come up there as kids cause of the precipitous slopes.

was one time though that he did whenever we had accidentally shot a deer in the
wrong spot and it was unfit for eating. I thought we were going up the slope to
bury it up Howard showed me a pit where other hunters also disposed of
carcasses. “This keeps the bears happy,” he explained.

found the pit after a little trial and error and decided this would be a
perfect spot to release Howard’s ashes.

held a handkerchief over my mouth and opened the canister, watching as the wind
carried them away.

my attention was drawn toward the pit itself and I noticed something out of the
ordinary. It took me a minute to realize what it was.

shit,” I shouted out as I took a few steps back from the ledge. John was
there in a second and I wordlessly pointed down the slope to where the littered
remains of a few bones were at, along with a human skull.

John said.

decided to climb down and examine the bones. A few minutes later he was back up
on the slope with me looking concerned.

should probably call dad. I can’t tell for sure if that was an accident… or
something much worse,” John explained.

of us said anything as we returned to the cabin. I almost felt like we were
being watched. But once we got there I decided I wasn’t going to let it ruin
the weekend. I searched through Howard’s freezer and found some thawed deer
meat at the top to cook.

was walking around the cabin trying to get reception on his phone and then
finally admitted, “This is what I get for switching to T-Mobile.”

checked mine and noted I had a few bars so I passed it to him and he walked
outside to make the call.

walked to the back of the cabin where the propane stove was at and turned on
the gas to get everything heated and paused as I listened to the soft whistle
of the ignition light coming on.

that noise I was certain I was hearing the same wails I heard earlier. And a
repetitive thudding noise. It made me feel very uncomfortable as I cooked and
tried to ignore the sound.

John came back in he told me dad would be there first thing in the morning to
examine the body. The noises had stopped for the moment but I was becoming more
convinced than ever that the cabin was actually haunted.

evening as the sun went down John searched through the second story closets for
blankets and we both agreed to sleep in the living room.

this place really is haunted, we’ll know tonight won’t we?” he said.

stayed awake until almost one in the morning listening for anything. Then at
last the noises returned. It sounded like gentle footsteps. Then there were
voices. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but I instantly woke up John.
He switched on the lights in the living room and listened as well. The noises
were growing louder.

the hell…?” John said as he felt something under him. But neither of us
could see anything on the floor. Then I felt it too, like a low vibration.
Nervously we moved to the second floor. The noises became more subdued and
somehow we found a way to get sleep.

the morning dad got there and we guided him to the ridge. “Should we…
tell him about the other thing?” I asked John as we trekked up the

me what?” Dad asked. He always had excellent hearing. 

“This is
probably going to sound crazy… but Uncle Howard’s place… it’s got
ghosts,” John answered.

looked at us both skeptically but we insisted he come back to the cabin and see
for himself.

all headed inside and John and I tried our best to explain what we heard.

felt like something was moving around under our feet,” John said.

was trying to not roll his eyes. Then the noises returned, soft and subdued
like before.

pulled out his firearm and looked about muttering, “What sort of prank is

"It’s for real dad,” I said as we walked around the cabin
listening to the strange moaning noises. Dad made his way toward the stairs,
walking carefully to the basement.

thudding got louder as we looked around the basement and then dad gestured for
all of us to be quiet and still. I was too scared to move a muscle. Then he
walked toward Howard’s old tool cabinet and started to push it aside.

watched silently as he revealed a large wooden door hidden behind it with a
metal lock. The noises were coming from the other side.

pointed his weapon at the lock and shot it off without hesitation and all of us
stood there in fear as the door creaked open.

thin, skeletal woman collapsed onto the floor in front of us. Dad rushed over
to help her, quickly glancing at the bruises on her legs and arms, like she had
been chained.

just stand there! Call 911!” Dad shouted to us. John took out his phone
immediately as I took a few steps toward the door. There was a dark tunnel
beyond that curved into the solid earth and I found myself stepping forward to
see what the darkness hid.

it curved around I found myself standing directly under the living room in a
wide open den, where more chains were latched to the ground as though meant for
animals. The place reeked of the smell of urine and feces. I held my hand over
my mouth as I looked across the room to see the decaying corpses of at least
two other women and at last I understood.

followed me down there and then found himself running and vomiting.

found a large cabinet on the west side of the dungeon filled with photographs.

cannot begin to describe the things that Howard made them do while they were
trapped down here.

woman that dad rescued turned out to be the youngest of the Coopers that had
gone missing six years ago. She did not live for another two days due to
bladder failure.

been almost ten months now since I went to the cabin.  I’ve tried not to
think about the horrors I found there, but lately they’ve consumed my every

John… he handled it the worst. Once he realized the true depth of our Uncle’s
depravity, all those times we spent summer there… giggling when we listened
to the low wails that whispered their way through his cabin. The guilt made him
take his life.

returned to the cabin now, with one singular mission. I doused the entire first
floor with gasoline and then activated the stove on a low setting.

sat out in the pickup truck and watched as it burned. It sounded like the cabin
was screaming as it fell apart into shambles, like it was in pain.

But the pain I felt will
always be greater.

Credits to: Colourblindness (story)

Length: Super long

you ever been to Disney World in Florida? Most people have at least been to the
Magic Kingdom, the flagship park that puts out all the pixie dust that keeps
people coming back. But have you ever been on the inside of that magic, making
things happen?

people have not.

was one of those magic-makers at the Disney World Resort back in 2010. I had
graduated with honors from Bemidji State University in Northern Minnesota after
my fall semester, so I decided to finish off my college career by applying for
the Disney College Program. For those of you not familiar with the program
(known as “DCP” or simply “CP” for short), the Disney College Program is an
“internship” opportunity for college students and recent college graduates. The
reason I say “internship” is because the DCP puts college students in menial
front-line jobs so the parks can remain adequately staffed throughout the year.
In most cases, these are known as Operations positions (“Ops” for short)
because it deals with making the park operate smoothly and efficiently.
However, most CPs don’t spend most of their time working for Mickey; most of it
is spent having casual sex, drinking, and taking the party bus to downtown
Orlando to any number of shady nightclubs.

what most employers would consider an internship, but it was fun.

nothing else, I was getting away from most of the frigid Minnesota winter.

received my acceptance notice from Disney in October, which was about two
months before I officially graduated. From then on, everything I did revolved
around the Disney Empire. I was obsessed. I re-watched all the Disney movies
I’d grown up watching. I watched POV videos of rides at the Magic Kingdom on
YouTube. I met other CPs on Facebook. Together, we psyched ourselves up for the
upcoming adventure we’d experience together.

I knew it, my graduation ceremony was over, I was the holder of a piece of
paper worth approximately $80,000 in tuition and fees, and (more importantly)
it was time to get to Florida. Wanting to have as much freedom as possible, I
drove myself down to Florida–about a twenty-nine hour trip in all–without
fanfare. I stopped in Des Moines, St. Louis, and Atlanta before making my way
down to Orlando. I stayed in cheap freeway motels like the Red Roof Inn, always
doubting whether or not the bedding and towels were fresh. All too often, I
found strange stains and hairs on the sheets, but decided to do my best to
ignore them and just sleep. Most days, the driving wore me out enough so that I
didn’t care.

what seemed like weeks in the car, I arrived in Florida. I went through the DCP
check-in process, was assigned a housing facility (Vista Way, voted the
second-easiest place to get laid after the Playboy Mansion), and moved in. I
also learned I would be working in Attractions at the Magic Kingdom,
specifically the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I would be a pirate guiding
guests onto the ride, enforcing safety protocol, and controlling the ships as
they moved through the water ride. It was going to be a fantastic winter

the next few months, my roommates, friends from work, and I did everything
there was to do in Orlando. We started with all the free, safe stuff. Disney
gives all their cast members (employees) free admission to their theme parks,
so we utilized those excessively during our first few weeks in the program.
There were fireworks, shows to see, characters like Mickey and Stitch to meet,
rides to go on, food to try (Dole Whip, so much Dole Whip), and drinks around
the world at Epcot’s World Showcase. But, as with all things, the novelty began
to wear off. After the first month, we were tired of going to the parks. Not
that we disliked it, but going to work outside of work was exhausting. So we
decided to do exactly what intelligent college-aged kids do.

went out partying.

was the House of Blues at Downtown Disney less than ten minutes from where we
lived. There were buses that came to our apartment complex to take us to clubs
in downtown Orlando. Plenty of lessons were learned on those buses. Let’s just
say always check both sides of an attractive girl before you invite her back to
your place. Sometimes that hot girl…is really a guy.

there, we started seeing the rest of Florida. We went to beaches (Clearwater on
the Gulf, Cocoa on the Atlantic, Haulover in Miami), we went to the Kennedy
Space Center, we went to the panhandle, we went to the Florida Keys. Hell, we
even used our cast member discount to go on a cheap Disney Cruise.

we worked.

worked a lot.

average, I was scheduled fifty or more hours at Magic Kingdom pretending to be
a pirate and avoiding reprimands and safety-critical write-ups. Basically,
DisneySpeak for demerits. I didn’t mind the work, though, because I loved my
job. I mean, despite the minimum wage pay, I was living the dream–I was away
from home for four months with absolutely no consequences, working in the
Happiest Place on Earth, making money, blowing money, and having a great time
doing it all.

yo-ho, a CP’s life for me.

was fantastic. The only part of it I truly disliked was closing the ride at
night. It meant I wouldn’t get back to my apartment until the early hours of
the morning, and it was downright creepy. The Magic Kingdom is a strange place
to work to begin with. To get to work, you drive through the main gate to a
backstage (staff-only) area and park your car, then you walk in your costume
(uniform) to a bus with your Disney ID, which a security guard scans, then you
get on the bus, which finally drives you to the Utilidoors (tunnels) under the
park. You walk into the Utilidoors and immediately sense something isn’t quite
right. During the day, things are odd enough. The magic of Mickey and his
friends is almost completely absent. Walls are stark white. Bright, fluorescent
lights line the ceiling. Posters on the wall remind you to be safe. After all,
“SafeD Begins with Me. No one gets hurt.” Offices are built into the
Utilidoors, but they seem makeshift. Almost as if they could be vacated at a
moment’s notice.

as if they’re expecting something terrible to happen.

only sense of Disney magic in the Utilidoors is when someone dressed as
Rapunzel turns the corner and walks past you on her way to lunch.

at night after I would finish closing the ride, my coworkers and I would walk
through the Magic Kingdom to the Utilidoors, through the Utilidoors to the bus,
and then back to our cars. But it was far too easy to get lost in those
Utilidoors. I’ve heard people refer to Disney World as the largest human trap
built by a mouse. They aren’t kidding. There are maps in the Utilidoors, but
they seem almost purposely vague.

“You Are Here!” star seems to cover half the map.

“Coordinator’s Office” seems to be in three places at once.

“Mouseketeria” always seems to be a mile away no matter how certain you are you
kept moving forward.

is why I hated closing. This is why I avoided traveling alone in the tunnels.

days, I was fine. My coworkers and I would walk to our cars together, then go
out to Perkins or Waffle House before returning to our respective apartments.
But there were some nights that I had no option. I had to go to the bathroom.
My coordinator needed to see me about something that kept me late. The last
guest in the park needed to ask me questions, which delayed my departure.

were the times that I would brave the Utilidoors all by myself, always
expecting someone–or something–to be just around the corner.

used to joke about how strange the Entertainment cast members were. These were
the extravagant, flamboyant, over-the-top people that were a dime a dozen, yet
somehow all found each other at Disney World. They played Mickey and Minnie
(sorry, “friends with Mickey and Minnie”), performers in shows, dancers, and

used to joke about how they had probably been driven insane by their jobs and
came to believe that they were actually the characters. Johnny actually turned
into Mickey twenty-four-seven. Kate knew for certain that she was Snow White.
And Disney, fully aware of the PR mess this would cause, kept them all locked
up in the Utilidoors, just waiting for closing when they would be let out to
prey on the CPs making their way home.

was a joke, of course, but it didn’t seem nearly as funny walking through the
Utilidoors at four o’clock in the morning.

after four months of Disney, my program was coming to an end. I had survived
the Utilidoors and everything else, but I still wanted more. So, like any
well-educated college graduate, I decided to apply to extend my college program
through the summer months. I was accepted two weeks later and placed in a
different location. I would now be working at Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s
Animal Kingdom. I wasn’t terribly excited about that. Animal Kingdom (or DAK
for short) has always been my least favorite park, and the Planet Watch always
seemed so boring. It’s in the far back of the park beyond everything else.
Guests need to take a rickety train from the back of the park through some
backstage areas to get to a glorified petting zoo.

that was where I worked.

least the hours were better—DAK closed everyday by five o’clock in the evening
back then and rarely opened before eight o’clock in the morning. That aspect
would be a welcome adjustment.

none of my friends or roommates decided to extend their program, so I
discovered that the DCP wasn’t nearly as fun after the first program was over.
Sure, I made new friends in my new role, but that sense of comradery and
friendship just wasn’t the same. There weren’t Utilidoors to brave at three in
the morning, waitresses to abuse at Perkins, or children to yell “Ahoy!” to.
After the first month of my extension, I was more than ready to go home.

I stuck it out. My parents had instilled the value of staying with decisions
from an early age, and I guess that’s what kept me there. That and the fact
that I had no other job to come back to in Minnesota, so this was as good as

only one week left in my program, I was closing down the Planet Watch at
five-thirty in the evening when my leader arrived. He told me that they needed
me to help with a project in the kennels where the animals are kept backstage.
Having no real choice, I accepted the task, hopped on a pargo, and drove to the

kennel areas always gave me that same uneasy feeling as the Utilidoors. The
buildings are the same stark white, are made of stone or metal, and have large
numbers painted on them with the associated animal type. For example, “Building
16 Elephant.” The entire place seemed unnaturally sterile for a zoo, and there
were rarely enough people around. The trainers were usually rounding up animals
onstage (in the park), leaving the actual kennel area largely unattended. The
silence of the place was uncanny. There I was in Disney World, and it was
silent. No park music. No people. No voices. No radios going off. Nothing. Even
the animals didn’t make a noise.

pulled the pargo up to Building 15, where I had been dispatched, and walked
toward the main entrance to the building. The door was propped open as usual, so
this didn’t seem at all out of the ordinary to me. I walked inside and called
out, “Hello? Anybody here?” Walking around and seeing no one, I decided to wait
a few minutes for their inevitable return. This sort of thing happened all the
time at Disney regardless of where you worked. People were busy, no one
communicated, and thus waiting ensued.

was a large table in the middle of the room filled with unwrapped, half-eaten
Subway sandwiches and surrounded by metal folding chairs. It’s strange how backstage
Disney World always seems so haphazardly put together like it could be packed
up and moved at any second.

took a seat at the table, put my feet up, and waited. I pulled out my phone,
answered a few texts, made plans to go bowling after work at Downtown Disney,
and played some games on my phone, completely losing track of time.

forty minutes of playing around, I came back to reality and realized that the
sun was getting gradually lower. Shadows were getting longer. Flies were
picking at the uneaten Subway sandwiches.

still no one had come back.

I stood back up and walked about the room. Even for Disney, taking this long
was unheard of. That’s when I decided that I would give them five more minutes.
If no one showed up by then, I would go back to my location, find a leader, and
be cleared to go home. So, to kill the remaining time, I gave myself a tour of
Building 15. It was a catch-all area for animal food, storage, and small
injured animals like birds and such. The layout of the room made everything
easily accessible; you could see practically every kennel and storage area from
the entrance to the building. It was very centralized.

when I found a wall that had some give to it in the back of the building, I
decided to push a little.

some force, I pushed the wall further back, and it gave way almost immediately.
The hallway formed by the movable wall revealed a door on my left side that led
deeper into the back of Building 15. Deep inside, my gut told me no.

don’t do it.

being naturally curious, I did it.

pushed the door back and stepped inside, closing the door behind me.

first, I didn’t know what I was seeing. It was a room, sure enough, and
definitely in one of the backstage DAK kennels. The walls were made of the same
stone painted white. But in front of me was a sheet of glass that spanned from
the ceiling to the floor. It was, for all intents and purposes, a glass wall. A
metal table sat pushed against the wall with two metal chairs to accompany it.
A metal door complete with a fingerprint scanner and intercom system was built
into the glass wall on the left side of the table. I also noticed that there
was another intercom on the metal table between the two chairs.

I realized what it reminded me of: a police interrogation room like the ones
seen on television.

why? Was this the mythological Disney jail?

walked toward the table, trying to make sense of it.

the room beyond the glass was a daycare room. There was a small plastic play structure,
blankets and pillows, a crib and mobile for babies, and books on the floor next
to some blocks like toddlers play with. The ground, however, struck me as odd.

of carpeting, it was metallic. Hay had been strewn about, but had become a
hodgepodge from frequent movement. At one point, it may have been evenly spread
across the floor, but now the true metal floor shown through in several spots.
I wondered all the more what this was.

behind the glass moved.

was living in this room hidden away in the back of Building 15 behind DAK.

it stood up, I noticed all too quickly what it was.

human male, no older than ten years of age, completely naked. He stumbled a
bit, rubbing his eyes, still coming out of his slumber. He looked around, his
eyes wild. His dark, thick, curly hair was cut oddly conservative for his wild
appearance. It seemed out of place. Dirt smeared his face, and he bent over as
if he had a spinal issue. Most of all, though, there was something in those
eyes I didn’t recognize for a moment. I later realized what it was.

was feral.

gaze was that of an animal. Behind him, something else moved, slowly standing
up, apparently with great difficulty. This was a human female, probably around
fourteen years in age. Her stomach protruded out as she turned to the side, and
it was then that I realized she was pregnant.

I wondered, could this be?

down at the metal table, I noticed something new. There was a drawer beneath
the table that pulled out. It was filled with files. Flipping through them
quickly, I noticed that one file was in reference to a “Chris” (with
quotations) and one was in reference to a “Pat” (again with quotations). Any
cast member knows that Chris and Pat are the generic names for a cast member
that has forgotten his or her nametag. But that wasn’t the files’ purpose.
Those names described the creatures I now saw in front of me.

the purpose? It was written at the top of both files in large bold letters:

create a perfect fleet of cast members.”

looked back up through the glass, wondering if it was one way or two way. Not
waiting for an answer, I put my hand up to the glass and pressed it against the
wall. “Chris” turned, taking note of me for the first time since my arrival.
Slowly, he made his way toward me. His dark blue, confused eyes met mine for a
long moment, then he put his hand up to mine with only the inch of glass
separating us.

he screamed. He screamed louder than I’d ever heard anything scream before. He
beat against the glass, causing it to wobble slightly.

heart shot up into my throat, and I immediately dropped the files and ran out
of the room as fast as I possibly could. In my panic, I fumbled with the door I
had foolishly closed. Throwing glances back to the glass wall as I struggled
with the doorknob, I could see Chris jumping up and down and throwing himself
against the glass. Finally, I was able to open the door. I ran through the main
area of Building 15, back to my pargo, and high-tailed it back to the zoom
gates, where I could leave the park and get to my car so I could get the hell
out of dodge. I didn’t stop to clock out, didn’t find a leader, just got the
hell out. Once in my car, I drove as quickly as I could back to Vista Way, then
ran to my room and locked the door twice.

didn’t sleep all night. That’s the only way I know this wasn’t a nightmare.

received a call from Disney Deployment the next day saying that I had not
clocked out the day before. They also said my leaders needed to speak with me.

asked what it was about, and they wouldn’t tell me.

asked if I was being terminated, and they wouldn’t confirm or deny that.

any further consideration, I packed up everything I owned, got in my car, and
drove back to Minnesota. I stopped only to sleep in my car once for four hours.
Other than that, I drove straight through for twenty-nine hours.

haven’t heard from Disney since, and I sure as hell haven’t been back there

still not certain what to make of everything I saw. I still don’t know exactly
what it was that I stumbled upon. All I do know is it scared me shitless.

used to joke about how the Entertainment cast had been driven insane by their
jobs and came to believe that they actually were the characters.

used to joke…

Yeah, we used to joke.

Credits to: zmadel2 (story)

Length: Super long

One of
the residents- I’ll call him James- at the retirement home told me this once:

was stationed in Okinawa after the war. They wanted us to keep an eye on the
Japanese, and for good reason. In some parts of the country, the natives
weren’t aware that the war was over. Or they weren’t ready to accept defeat.
Either way, we had to constantly be on high alert, jumping at shadows and
wishing we had eyes in the back of our heads. Within every clump of tall grass
there appeared to be an enemy lurking with a knife, waiting to cut our throat
once our backs were turned. Every tree contained a sniper lining us up in his
crosshairs. I lived in a constant state of paranoia during my time on Okinawa.

finally got transferred to work on one of the supply ships offshore. I thought
this would calm my nerves a bit. It didn’t. Instead of worrying about banzai
attacks and sniper fire I found myself keeping peeled eyes toward the sky, anxiously
waiting for an attack. The crew was nervous, too, but with each passing day the
tranquility of the sea helped us feel more and more relaxed. After a couple of
weeks, we started to joke around, show each other pictures of our girls back
home, and enjoy the wonderful climate. By then we started to think that the war
was really over.

surprise came just before dawn. Our ship would have been attacked whether we
were ready or not. There wasn’t anything we could have done to prevent it. Our
only goal that morning was to survive. I learned an important lesson that day:
chivalry and decency seem to disappear wherever there is panic. The pandemonium
that happened shortly after the first plane crashed into our ship has left me
with mixed feelings of reproach and guilt.

was asleep when the first plane struck. At first I thought we somehow hit a
rock as I was tossed from my bunkbed and onto the cold, hard floor. I heard
frantic shouting above me and a sobering thought entered my head: we were under
attack. I stumbled onto the deck and was greeted by a scene of chaos and
anarchy. My crew mates were scrambling in erratic movements. Some were trying
to contain the flames, which were rapidly swallowing the ship. Others were
heading for the life boats. A few had opted to dive over the side, hoping to
find refuge in the warm waters below. 

None were following the orders of the
captain, who was barking at us to remain our ground. We were, after all, only a
supply ship. We had no firepower to return to our assailants. I quickly scanned
the skies and my stomach dropped. Three more baka bombs were nose-diving toward
us, bent on delivering a swift death. Had I not heard my name being called, I
would have surely died right then and there.

James! Over here!” My head snapped toward the starboard side, where I could see
my crew mate, Kazuo (who we called Kaz), climbing into one of the few remaining
life boats. He was waving his arms at me, and without a second thought, I
sprinted over to him and dove into my only hope for safety.

I could suggest to pick up a few more fellow crew members, Kaz dropped the line
and we plummeted into the sea below just as the second plane crashed into the
ship. Our little boat rocked dangerously from the force and my ears rang from the
explosion. All around us, I saw the hands of the drowning crew reaching for us,
begging to be saved. Their screams as they were swept away to their watery
grave was the last thing I heard before I slipped away into blackness.

I came to, I was surrounded by nothing but that tranquil sea again. The water
stretched on for miles. The carnage of our supply ship was nowhere to be seen
and seemed like a distant memory. Kaz was busily rowing as I lethargically
glanced around. I wondered how far we’d travelled.

awake, I was ready to toss you overboard,” Kaz said grimly, then gave me a
waning smile. He was the ship’s translator. We had chatted a few times but to
be honest I knew little about him. He had a few loose screws upstairs, but for
the most part, he was alright.

you know where we are?”

laughed. He probably knew squat about navigation. Based on the sheepish pitch
of his laugh, I’d say we were lost.

safe. That’s all that matters.” Yup. We were lost.

anyone else make it?”

that I know of. The ship sank.”

about the other life boats?”

shrugged. I suddenly remembered the hands that struggled to keep those poor men
afloat and shuddered. Did Kaz just abandon those men? I mean, he was busy
saving both our asses but… Jesus.

tried to use what little navigational knowledge I had to direct our course but
it was hopeless. Kaz managed to grab a bag of supplies before leaving ship. I
sifted through its contents. There was some food (mostly canned beans), jugs of
water, a coil of rope, a knife, a line and hook, and a lighter. But there was
nothing to direct us. No compass. No sextant. I’d’ve even settled for a map.

were lost at sea.

boredom was sickening. I crafted a fishing rod using one of the oars, but the
fish weren’t biting. Once or twice Kaz asked if he could eat my corpse if I bit
the dust first. I hoped that he was joking.

not much else to do, we took turns keeping watch. One of us would sleep while
the other stayed awake. This way, we had a lookout at all hours. The sun beat
down on my head during the day and the winds whipped in my face at night. I
kept my eyes on the horizon for ships. At this point I didn’t care if they were
friendly or not, I just wanted to get the hell off this boat.

woke up one afternoon to Kaz brooding. Usually he greeted me with a snide
remark, but none came this time. Something was wrong.

okay?” I asked.

saw something this morning.”

I asked hopefully.

was a man out there. At least, it looked like
a man. But he was standing. On top of the water.”

could have been nothing. Maybe it was a hallucination?”

he replied, then fell silent. I forgot about it as soon as Kaz fell asleep. I
had an uneventful watch that day.

kept insisting that he saw a man standing on the water while I was asleep. He
told me that each morning he got closer and closer to our boat. I was beginning
to get a little freaked out at this point, so I decided to stay awake with him
during his watch.

enough, a little before dawn, I saw him too.

first I thought it was just my mind playing tricks on me. But when Kaz nudged
me and pointed him out, I knew this wasn’t a hallucination. I heard Kaz mutter,
“Don’t speak” as we gazed at this strange phenomenon.

standing on top of the water about 100 meters away, was a man. I held my breath
as he turned to look in our direction. It was as if he was looking straight at
me. My blood suddenly ran cold and the hairs on my neck felt like needles. The
man on the water didn’t move. He just stood there and stared at us. The water
flowed over his feet, as if he were standing on some invisible island. When the
sun came up, he simply vanished.

saw him too. Just as I feared…” Kaz mumbled once the day broke.

the hell was that?” I demanded.

you know anything about Japanese folklore?” he asked warily.

shook my head. Kaz inhaled deeply.

“As a
child my father used to tell me stories about these figures in the water called
the funa
yurei. They were supposedly the souls of victims who had drowned in
the sea. According to legends, they ask you for a spoon- a hishaku spoon-
which they use to fill your boat up with water and drown you. I always used to
think they were just ghost stories meant to spook little children, but…” Kaz’s
voice drifted off. I morbidly thought of the drowning hands, clawing
desperately at the air. The hands that Kaz (and myself) abandoned.

we have a spoon?” he asked suddenly.

searched the contents of the bag even though I knew that there was-

spoon,” I said.

“Kuso!” Kaz
cursed, grabbing his hair with both hands. “Why didn’t I grab a spoon!?”

let Kaz have his temper tantrum. I wasn’t really following him. Ghosts? Spoons?
Then again-

supposed to poke holes in it to so our boat doesn’t fill up with water. That
way, the spirits give up and leave us alone. Without a spoon we’re as good as

we don’t find a ship we’re as good as dead,” I reminded him.

following night, Kaz shook me awake.

Look!” He was pointing over the stern of the boat. I followed his finger and

was drifting up toward the boat. The water looked almost like floating balls of
cotton. The shape quickly moved upward, its white face illuminating the
surrounding darkness. As the figure surfaced, I could make out its hair
floating wildly in the water. It gave off a gurgling sound: the sound of
someone drowning.

pair of hands shot out of the water, thrashing about. The hands of a drowning
victim. This went on for about five terrifying minutes before they went limp
and disappeared into the sea. I made a move toward them, but Kaz stopped me.
“It’s a trick,” he whispered. Then everything was quiet. But the figure was
still under there. Watching us.

a face as white as snow emerged from the surface so that the water level came
up to its chin. It was the man who we had been spotting for the past few
nights. He wasn’t treading water or anything, but still managed to remain
afloat despite being as stiff as a piece of driftwood.

made a chuckling sound with a throat that sounded like it was full of water:

away!” cried Kaz. “Leave us alone!”

give me a spoon… please…” the man croaked. He looked straight at me and a chill
ran down my spine like a poisonous spider. His eyes were glossy. Dead.
“Please…I need it.”

don’t have any! Now leave us!” Kaz said again. Meanwhile I just sat there
petrified. The man was talking to me.


“I said
no!” Kaz roared, and suddenly he jumped to his feet and grabbed the oar. He
held it over his head and brought it down on the funa yurei.
Kaz’s actions were quick, but the spirit was quicker. The figure dropped below
the surface as if something had pulled him down. With lightning speed the
spirit grasped the blade of the oar and gave it a tremendous tug. I had to grab
Kaz to keep him from going overboard. Our boat threatened to capsize as the oar
vanished into the water.

We began
frantically scanning all sides of the boat for the funa yurei like
two people surrounded by hungry sharks.

second the dark water around us was peaceful. The next second there was a great
splashing sound as hundreds of hands broke the surface of the water. They were
struggling. They, too, were drowning. They shrieked and my body went numb. It
sounded like a chorus of damned souls. My bladder let loose and I felt warmth
trickle down my leg.

thing I knew, five dead hands wrapped around Kaz’s face, torso, and legs and
pulled him over the side of the boat. He let out a scream that was cut short
when he hit the water. Kaz was dragged to the bottom of the ocean, never to be
seen again.

water around me became peaceful yet again. The hands were gone.

this point, I had accepted my fate. I prayed and I prayed that the death would
be swift and merciful, but no hands came for me. I was rescued a few days later
by a passing merchant ship. Fortunately the people onboard spoke English and
brought me to safety. They must have thought I was a lunatic as I babbled madly
about drowning ghosts and spoons.


Back at
the retirement home: 

what, the spirits just left you alone?” I asked.

nodded his head, lost in in thought.

never got me. I lived through banzai attacks, kamikazes, and bullets whizzing
past my head. But that encounter was, without a doubt, the scariest thing
that’s ever happened to me.”

took a deep breath. I was a bit freaked out by James’s tale.

did they spare you?” I asked, not expecting an answer.

a while, James spoke.

“The funa yurei are
vengeful spirits. I think they were out to get Kazuo for abandoning our crew.”

makes you say that?”

“Because the man I saw standing
on the water was the captain of our supply ship.”

Credits to: ZedBelinsky (story)

Length: Super long

A single day added onto my sentence
meant the difference between a normal jail and the unending nightmare of
Pembina Prison. I was supposed to get 364 days. That was the deal. But the
judge didn’t like my ‘attitude,’ whatever the hell that meant, so he made it
365. Boom. One year was the minimum for prison. My lawyer made a stink and a
half, but it didn’t do any good. It’s not his fault. In fact, he’s the one who
is going to release this statement to the press, or leak it online if the
Guardian Corrections Group (GCG) tries to get an injunction on us. People have
to know what happened at Pembina Prison.

going to put it right out there and tell you that it was haunted. You think I’m
joking, nuts, or lying, but you have no idea. Haunted prisons aren’t anything
like you imagine. Those places that advertise themselves and give people tours
are sick jokes compared to the real thing. It got so bad that you can actually
look up GCG’s official filings for Chapter 11. That shit put them out of
business on their very first prison, and right there on the briefs, using an
early statute of North Dakota law from 1857 to file an insurance claim, it
says: ‘Site of Pembina Prison confirmed by Governor’s Office and two Notary
Publics witnessing in person to be afflicted by the supernatural such that
continued business is impossible.’ It wasn’t the first time the Prison was
closed for that reason, either, but leeches kept buying it and reopening it
hoping to make a buck off the common man.

I was shoved into that hellhole without knowing the history even a single bit.

get me wrong. The building itself wasn’t so bad, especially for something
straight out of 1853. It was a big stone cube that was squat, heavy, and
cramped, but way less sealed off than modern prisons. We could see a lot of the
cells around us, there was only one main hallway per floor, and we were close
enough to pass things between the bars and have some real human interaction. It
could have been worse.

There were five floors and capacity
for five hundred prisoners. When I first got there, I had a bunch of cellmates,
and I heard there were two thousand guys locked up, and I
believed it—but that soon changed.

didn’t talk to anyone for the first three weeks. I’d never been to real prison
before, and I was messed up over it. I didn’t want to accept that I would be in
that place and stuck with three other guys in my cell for an entire year. The
whole prison seemed full of feral men; the bottom floor would start screaming
and hollering and panicking in the middle of the night all at once. We were on
the top floor, but we could hear their screams echoing through that open old
layout like they were right there with us. I just thought the prisoners on the
bottom floor were all nuts until the guards weren’t there to wake us up the
first day of my fourth week.

I woke up in my corner without some asshole guard banging on the bars of our
cell, I finally had to talk. I asked one of my cellmates, Donte, what was going
on, and I’ll never forget the fear in his voice as he said something that
should have made us all incredibly happy: “The guards are all gone,

The prisoners were talking quietly
between the cells and loudly between the floors through various whispers and
shouts, but the most we could figure out was that something on the first floor
had made them all quit in protest. Sure, must have been the crazies screaming
like that during the night, right? Except none of us could get any word from
the bottom floor. It was dead silent down there. The guys on the second called
out for hours; someone was down there, they said, because they could hear shuffling
footsteps walking around at random every so often, but whoever it was never
said a single word.

That was the first time Donte
mentioned the crazy stories from the first floor. He muttered
that he hoped none of that was true, but when I asked about it, he just shook
his head. “Nothin’, man. None of it ever made sense.”

were a little worried as the day wore on and nobody came to let us out for
breakfast—and then nobody came to let us out for lunch. The time we usually got
to spend outside in the yard came and went, and people began getting restless.
In the cell to our left, Donte’s friend Will began telling guys to pass the
word that we should all calm down and start sharing any food we had holed away.

remember asking Donte, “Is it really that bad?”

denied meals and yard time for a day or two before,” he told me.

the other two guys in our cell didn’t look convinced. One of them said,
“But not like this. They made damn sure we knew what we did. They never
just up and left.”

handed us pieces of crusty old bread through the bars. It was much appreciated.
The new guards didn’t show up for work for another full day.

got plenty of yard time that day from these new guys, but they seemed more
confused than us. We all watched from a distance as Will asked a guard about
what happened.

guard shrugged. “I dunno. GCG was paying a premium for fast hires, so I
signed up.”

about the prisoners on the first floor?” Will asked. “We could still
hear ’em shuffling around down there. We looked on the way out to the yard, but
we couldn’t see anyone.”

The guard frowned. “Nobody in there. They all got transferred.”

Transferred? The
hell’s that mean?”

means DOCR took ’em back. Returned to state custody since the company couldn’t
handle them.”

made sense. If the floor had been full of nutjobs, then North Dakota’s first
local private prison company hardly had the experience to handle them.

But these new guys didn’t even have
the skills to handle us. There were half as many guards as
before and they didn’t know the routines or who the dangerous ones were among
us. As a result, they were distant, scared, and forceful. All except one guy.

wasn’t the first guard to treat us like human beings, but by then he was the
only one around. He traded jokes while in the yard, never hit us, and looked us
in the eyes when he talked. He went and found some paperwork to confirm the
crazies had actually been transferred, but it took three months to get that
info out of GCG. By the time he told us he’d heard back, we’d sort of forgotten
the whole thing.

nights later, maybe two hours past lights out, the guys on the second floor
began screaming.

leapt up and fell on one of our cellmates by accident before shouting,
“Shit, shit! Must be a fire!”

guys in our row began banging on the bars and shouting for the guards, but the
uniforms charged past and headed downstairs without talking to us. We could
hear them shouting orders down below—and then yelling in confusion. The
prisoners’ screams were clearer coming from the second, and it sounded like
they were terrified of something in particular and wanted help. The sounds of
gates being slammed and people running reached us after about ten minutes of
shouting, and then it was silent.

sat in the dark waiting and listening until morning.

the new shift came in, they were surprised and confused, and Kellen came by to
ask what had happened. We told him what we knew, but he’d shown up and found
open gates and an empty second floor. There was no indication what had
happened, but he promised to check with corporate and figure out if the absent
prisoners had all been rapidly transferred again.

gripped the bars and made sure Kellen was looking at him. “Please find out
who the hell is walking around down there at night.”

blinked at that. “I mean, I’m day shift, so I don’t know what I can do,
but what do you mean?”

prisoners are gone,” Donte told him fiercely but quietly. “But the
guys on the third floor said they still hear someone, maybe two or three
someones, shufflin’ their feet every hour or so ’til morning.”

guess I could go look right now.”

reached through the bars and grabbed his uniform, something which usually got
us a beating. “Hear me. Do not go in there by yourself. Stay in the
stairwell unless someone’s with you.”

nodded fearfully. It looked like he finally understood how spooked we were. He
waved another guard off, and Donte let go.

nothing more came of it for a whole season. The night shift had quit, and more
guards got hired at an even higher pay. Kellen and another uniform scoped out
the first two floors, but found nothing. Donte thought it was because they were
looking during the day, but he wasn’t about to ask our only friend to risk
himself. It was maybe three months later—yeah, I was halfway through my
sentence, and I had taken up drawing so I had a pen and paper—when we woke up
in the middle of the night to everyone on the third floor screaming in absolute

time we were less scared during the event itself. Will offered a guard racing
past five hundred bucks from his commissary account if the man would come back
and tell them what was going on. Donte listened intently, trying to hear
individual screams from the third floor over everyone else’s shouting and
confusion. I wrote down any words he thought he heard.

I wrote down:

Jesus Christ

killing him


let us out

coming this way

weren’t as scared when it was happening because we’d lived through it twice
before, but, this time, the long-term fear was much deeper. Now we knew for
sure that it was going to happen again, and any prisoners that had the means
began lawyering up and doing everything they could to transfer to other
prisons, even if it meant worse conditions. The problem was, the North Dakota
prison system was already overflowing, which was the whole reason GCG got
started in the first place, so every guy that got out meant it was that much
harder for the rest of us. Both of our cellmates transferred, giving us more
space, so that was nice, but it was small consolation.

word had started to spread on the outside, and GCG’s solution—instead of paying
the guards even more—was to stop having a night shift at all except for just
one poor guy. Kellen was a bit miffed he hadn’t gotten a raise out of the whole
thing, but he was starting to believe us that something was going on. By then,
he’d been around awhile, and he knew we weren’t bullshitters.

too many other prisoners had told him they’d heard someone walking around the
first, second, and third floors at random during the night. It was just a few
steps, sometimes as many as twenty, but it only happened every so often and
only once it had been long enough that you thought it had stopped for good. One
guy on the fourth floor said he’d heard a full run from one end of the third
floor hallway to the other, clear enough that he’d expected a guard to come
charging up the stairwell, but nobody had appeared. He slit his wrists and got
transferred out on medical leave the next day, so we took him serious.

that was enough to get Kellen to start doing some research on the outside. He
came to us in the seventh month of my sentence with a pale face.

us at the bars, Will asked, “What’s the word?”

seemed grim. “Lotta bullshit out there, but this place is mentioned a lot.
It’s been closed before, but I keep getting stonewalled when I ask for the
historical documents. Thing is, I don’t think the prison itself is the problem.
Get this.” He pulled out a notepad for reference. “Two Canadian
priests, Fathers Norbert Provencher and Severe Dumoulin, visited Pembina in
1818, before it was even an official township. That was back when The Hudson’s
Bay Company was big around these parts. That’s how long ago it was. Pembina was
the biggest town in North Dakota then, so the trading post was full, so the
priests chose to sleep outside by where the Pembina River meets the Red River.
The folk tale has it that a vision of a rotting woman came in the night and
stole Provencher’s life; the two men bartered with her to split the remaining
life between them, consigning both to live only 35 more years instead of the 70
Severe had left. Severe got an extra month and twenty days as a gift from his
friend for his sacrifice.” He paused, as if we might guess the obvious
outcome. “They both died thirty-five years later.”

knew Pembina Prison had a horrible problem, but that didn’t mean I had to
believe everything. “Let me guess, a month and twenty days apart?”



true, dude,” Kellen insisted. “The dates of death are right there on
Wikipedia. But get this. Thirty-five years after 1818 made their death year
1853, the year this prison was built. And the place they camped that night? By
the meeting of the rivers?”

didn’t know what it meant, but I was beginning to feel very uneasy. “It’s
right here, isn’t it?”

He was dead serious. “I think
there’s some shit here. Ancient shit. I asked a guy I know, he’s got Chippewa
relatives over at Turtle Mountain. They know the history of the Red River
better than anyone else. He said his uncle told him to never sleep
at the meeting of the Red River and the Pembina River. He said something lives
here, under the ground, and awakens with the changing of the seasons.”

We were silent for a beat after
that. It was folk tale nonsense, but it was as good a theory as any. Whatever
it was, it was going to come back, and it wasn’t friendly.
Will talked to Kellen for another few minutes, but Donte was silent. After he
was gone, I asked him, “What’s wrong?”

sat on one of the now-unused bunks and told me, “I got another five years
in here, and I got no money for a lawyer. Your sentence will be up before it
reaches us, and I’ll be here alone.”

it?” There was no way to be sure. “It’ll be back in two months for
the fourth floor, and then three months after that for us. I could get out a
week before, or a day too late. It doesn’t seem to be exact.”

just looked at the floor. “What I mean is, I do hope you get out before it


wasn’t sure what else to say after that, so I just sat in my corner like I
always did.

wasn’t too much after that that we heard GCG was going under. The mad rush of
transfers had pissed off the state and lost the company a vital contract for a
second location, and investors had pulled out or something. The number of
guards was cut, then slashed, and Kellen took a pay hit to stay on as the only
guy on the day shift.

only two prisoners left on the fourth floor,” he told the twenty of us
remaining as the general week we expected it to happen approached. “I feel
like I should stay late just to see what the hell is gonna go on down there,
but the former guards I ask about it are all terrified as hell and refuse to
talk. Some got violent just because I asked.”

cool,” Will told him. “You got a kid at home. Don’t be here for

twenty of us left on the fifth floor sat in our cells once night fell, praying
and listening.

Monday night, nothing happened. The two guys down below occasionally shouted up
to us that everything was clear.

Tuesday night, nothing happened. The strain was growing though, and we could
sometimes hear them breathing rapidly down there. I could only imagine the
adrenaline rushing through them every minute until dawn.

Wednesday night, nothing happened.

Yet, something had changed in the
air. The prison was much quieter now that two thousand men had become
twenty-two, and I thought I could feel a subtle sort of heartbeat in
the air, pounding against reality like it was a thin sheet of paper.

just your imagination,” Donte whispered.

of us were willing to speak louder than that.

Thursday night, that heartbeat became a feeling of footsteps approaching from a
great distance.

Will shouted from his cell. “You good down there?”

here,” one responded from down below. “But I can feel it. It’s at the
door. It’s knocking.”

the hell’s that supposed to mean?”

the man below did not respond.

night. That was the night it would happen. All day, the two guys on fourth
pulled and clanged on their bars, begging to be let out. Kellen was torn. After
two hours of listening to that pleading, he came up with an idea—and
transferred both of them up to our floor. “If nobody’s on four,” he
said happily. “Then we’ll all be safe, right?”

loud, we agreed, but we were kidding ourselves. When the night guard showed up,
he freaked, and took the two men back down. He said out loud what we were all thinking:
“If nobody’s on four, then it’ll just come right to five and get us all.
What the hell was Kellen thinking?”

had to listen to hours of sobbing that evening. It was the hardest trial of my
life. I wanted to call out to the night guard; I wanted to ask him to get those
men out of there. But if I did, I knew whatever was coming would find all of us

moment it happened was like a cold hand on my shoulder.

going on down there?” Donte shouted.

man who was not sobbing called back, “It’s—it’s changing!”

demanded, “What’s happening? Tell us!”



“It’s red!

“What’s red?” Will yelled
insistently. “Goddamnit, what’s red?

stared down the hallway at the night guard, who stood listening with fear.

screaming began a few seconds later. This time, only one floor above, we could
clearly hear their every word.

sobbing prisoner shrieked, “There! It’s there!”

man who’d been communicating with us began incoherently raging with fear
against his bars.

strangely, he stopped.

twenty of us clung to our bars, unable to help, unable to flee. Many of us
cried, but we were otherwise silent, for to yell would be to drown out the last
words of the men below.

they were eerily quiet for nearly two hours. We waited in strained silence as
random footsteps traversed the fourth floor every so often. What was happening?
For the first time, the victims of whatever was going on down below had chosen
to be quiet instead of yelling for help. Why would that make things different?

long last, the sobbing man broke the silence: “Oh my God, it’s coming your

up! It’ll see you! Distract it. Hit your bars!”

sound of clanging echoed up the stairwell.

sobbing man said with terror: “It knows. It knows!”

Christ, do something!”

We were no longer silent. We echoed
that sentiment, loudly and repeatedly to the guard. Do something! He
just stood there, literally quaking in his boots.

Will screamed at him: “Snap out
of it! The other guards and prisoners got away, you can too! Whatever it
is, it won’t follow you if you let them out and leave!

shouted, “They’re gonna die down there!”

threw his shoe, and the impact finally snapped the man out of his terror.

guard ran to the stairwell and descended. The first thing we heard him say was
a taken aback, “Mary, Mother of Christ.”

sobbing man again: “Over here! For God’s sake! Let us out!”

other prisoner wasn’t talking for some reason. We could hear his gasping
terror, but that, too, went quiet.

we heard a buzzer, and all the gates on four slammed loudly open. The sounds of
panting, running, and someone dragging something followed.

prison went silent.

just like that, we were alone again. The formerly crowded prison now felt
terrifyingly large and empty with only twenty of us and no guards. That night,
the unmistakable sound of footsteps echoed from down below. I counted time as
best I could: forty minutes, then someone took three steps out of a cell and
into the hallway; an hour and six minutes, someone ran ten steps along the
hallway and stopped abruptly. Twenty-eight minutes, the footsteps approached
the stairwell, but then turned into a cell and went silent. Thing was, whoever
it was sounded barefoot—and the starting and stopping locations did not match.
Where they ended was often nowhere near where they began again later.

the time dawn came, we were scared into motionless terrified silence, and it
took Kellen’s arrival for us to begin stirring again.

GCG in bankruptcy court, we no longer had a night guard at all. If it came for
us, there would be nobody to let us out of our cells like everyone else.

hardly talked.

hardly ate.

passing day was a grain of sand falling through an hourglass marking our

fellows began confessing to crimes they hadn’t even committed just to get
transferred to super-max out of state, the only option left. Well, that, and
suicide attempts. One by one, Kellen escorted or dragged guys out of our floor.
Twenty became fifteen, then ten.

it was just me and Donte, with Will still in the cell to our left. The three of
us and Kellen, four men waiting for doom. We sat playing card games in the
weeks leading up to it. It would be one full year for me in that place, but I
could swear I’d spent a lifetime in that cell. I couldn’t think, couldn’t
remember life before, couldn’t imagine surviving after. Every day, I prayed for
a transfer to come in, but North Dakota had gotten sick of our shit, and the
judges had stopped hearing cases from Pembina Prison.

didn’t know there were only three of us left.


contacted the media. We phoned the governor’s office. We made a ruckus.

was worse than nobody knowing.

turned out, nobody cared.

there was nobody higher up at GCG following the situation, and Kellen couldn’t
get anybody on the phone. Payroll—meaning, just his paycheck—was being handled
by a third party disbursement company that couldn’t answer questions about
ongoing proceedings.

week approached.

Monday night, nothing happened. We were like statues in our cells, alone,
waiting for a sign of the executioner’s approach.

dawn came, we sighed and began moving again. Donte asked, “You get out

nodded. If things went like before, I would be released the day of. As long as
I left before sundown, I would be alright.

Tuesday night, nothing happened.

for two. Just one more. Just one more day. I sat through that darkness

feeling of the prison had changed around us. A subtle heartbeat seemed to pulse
against our faces and ears and eyes.

had come a day earlier in the week than the last time.

morning, Will patted my arm as we both leaned out the bars. “Sorry,

just shook his head angrily.

wasn’t going to get out in time.

Wednesday night, the heartbeat became the sound of footsteps approaching from
some unfathomable distance.

I think I stood at the bars of our
cell that entire day, fingers wrapped around metal with force to match the
tension in the air and in our minds. This couldn’t happen. This wouldn’t
happen. My lawyer would walk in and tell me he’d gotten the judge’s unfair
addition of an extra day removed. One day. One goddamn day!
Even if I’d spent the whole year in this prison, one day still meant life or
death! Let me out! Let me the hell out! For God’s sake!

nobody cared, and nobody would listen.

I’d like to tell you that Kellen
stayed late that night. I’d like to tell you that when the entire floor began
to glow red—the hallway, the cells, the stone itself as
whatever ungodly abomination in the earth began to wake upon the changing of
the season, as distant footsteps became a traveler at the door of our minds—I’d
like to tell you that Kellen was there and hit the button and opened the gates
and let us all out.

like to tell you that I didn’t see anything, and that I’m not permanently a
broken man. I didn’t claw at the walls of my cell as it approached slowly,
moving a few steps every twenty to seventy minutes. I’d like to tell you that
all three of us were able to run away and escape that horror upon reality, with
its rotting hands and blind eyes radiating crimson light as it searched for us
at random.

But I can’t give you a satisfying
end to this story. The disbursement company fired Kellen and changed the locks
on the property. According to their paperwork, all the prisoners had been
moved, and they thought he’d been getting paid for guarding an empty prison.
They left us in there for eleven days before the error was found, which meant
eleven nights with that thing. For eleven days, we starved. For
eleven nights, we sat absolutely still, not daring to move or breathe or even
look left or right. It knew where we were, generally; it stood right outside
our cells for hours, and sometimes walked right through the bars and grasped at
the beds around us, daring us to make even the slightest motion.

you’ve spent six hours staring into the blind crimson eyes of a rotting demon,
unable to blink your eyes for fear that it will hear the air your lashes
move—when you’ve seen what it’s seen, the worlds it has walked reflected in
hellish red, you’ll understand.

one cares.

like to tell you that Kellen actually existed. I’d like to tell you we had a
friend among the guards, and that it wasn’t all bad. I’d like to tell you I
wasn’t traumatized by the hell I went through being left to rot and left to die
as nothing more than a number on some corporation’s books.

no one cares.

to: M59Gar (story)