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One Summer, dad had to go to DC for a two month course, leaving mom and three kids at home. Mom decided to have all kids sleep in the room with her so she put the bunk beds in her room, alongside her bed. Babby Zarnyx would sleep next to mom, Brother would sleep on the top bunk and Young Swan would sleep on the bottom bunk.
Mom had a dressing table south of the beds which had a massive mirror. Brother and Young Swan slept with our heads to the foot of the bed because we hated the mirror ahead of us when sleeping.
One night, as all four settled in to bed for a good night’s rest, Young Swan had a brilliant idea. She would stare into the mirror and telepathically communicate with Brother. Young Swan turned quietly onto her stomach to avoid making any noise and raised her head, staring intently into the darkness until her eyes could make out the top of Brother’s head reflected in the mirror.
“Brother,” Young Swan said quietly in her mind, “Brother, I see youuuu. Look at me. Looook at meeeee.”
Young Swan was getting discouraged at her powers of telepathy but decided it was because she was whispering in her head. Why whisper when you could shout since no one can hear you? So Young Swan increased the volume and urgency.
“BROTHER, LOOK AT ME! MUAHAHAHAHA! BROTHER!” >=)
Brother bolted up and looked straight into the mirror at Young Swan.
“Stop it, Swan! I can hear you calling me and I know you’re watching me in the mirror! Stop it! It’s freaky!”
Young Swan settled down after mom told us to stop our shit. Brother and I still have a telepathic connection. We used it again years and years later during the NYC Blackout after 9/11.
Jenny sat watching the clown. The clown sat watching something in the distance that Jenny dared not look at. It’d been this way for some time now.
When Jenny had come home from work it was dark. Her new house didn’t yet have the electricity turned on yet so she fumbled with her phone until she found the flashlight so she could navigate her hallways in the dark. She changed hastily in the dark and then fumbled into the living room to read by the light of the streetlamp outside. She sat in the alcove of her large bay window and pulled her book out from underneath her thigh. Still where she’d left it. “I guess the maid took the day off,” she said to no one in particular and then laughed. More to disperse the oppressive silence and to soothe her nerves than anything else. Jeff was going to be flying in tomorrow with the rest of their stuff but for the last few days she’d been left to hold down the fort alone.
Jenny read for some time then put her book down, her stomach growling angrily at her. When was the last time she ate? With the fridge off, she resorted to a pack of saltines and some peanut butter. Mostly unsatisfied she inelegantly tried to find her way back to her perch in the bay window. That was when she first saw the clown.
The Clown was sitting perfectly still, its back so erect and straight that at first she was sure it must be a mannequin until she noticed the subtle movement of the front of the clown’s costume that indicated it was indeed, breathing. It was situated at such an angle that Jenny could only see the Clown’s profile head on. The mangled and matted red hair that might once have been jubilant now hung in strands caked with days or weeks worth of dirt. Patches of it hung loosely and threatened to fall completely off onto Jenny’s deck. The face was done up in typical clown fashion, with white grease paint, red accenting the nose, and forming a rictis of a smile. Dark black grease paint outlined the one eye visible to Jenny. A strange green chunky substance could be seen in the fold of the Clown’s neck – as if it had vomited and let it dry in the crevasse. The Clown was dressed in a polyester green and purple clown outfit. And where the clown otherwise appeared dingy and dirty, like a bum that had been rolled down a latrine, here the costume gleamed pristine. The costume caught the light in prismatic bursts, making the fabric seem alive. The diamonds of purple offsetting the green motif seemed not genial and happy, but foreboding.
The clown did not turn when Jenny dropped her book.
Her first, absurd thought, was, “That clown is sitting in my deck chair!” as if the situation was so foreign - so outside the realm of normal - that her brain could not process what she was seeing and instead decided to deal with some other problem. Before she could think of a more logical reaction to the situation a slight, almost imperceptible movement of the mouth revealed what Jenny could only describe as a fang. As if the Clown had stuck a pair of those fake plastic vampire teeth into its mouth after adding about a half inch of white bone to the bicuspids.
Jenny stared. The clown stared. Jenny sat down. The clown continued looking straight ahead. The pallid light from the street lamp cast a grotesque yellow light that seemed to illuminate simultaneously too much, and nothing at all. Slowly, reason reasserted itself in Jenny’s brain. “I have to call Jeff, I have to call 911, I have to call, I have to call…”
Jenny reached around blindly for her phone, not wanting to take her eyes off the dreaded apparition. Her heart raced as she finally realized she’d kicked it off the alcove and onto the floor when she’d sat down. She tore her eyes away and searched the floor for something, anything, but all she saw was darkness. No notification light blinked her salvation. She looked back at the clown.
The clown had moved.
Its back was still ramrod straight, something that to a normal person by now would have become unbearable. Its head however had twisted a few degrees so that now most of the nose was exposed and a shadow hinted at where another soulless eye might be. The eyes remained fixed on some distant point on the horizon but that point had shifted to be 15 degrees closer to where Jenny now sat. Jenny noticed with growing dismay that the nose appeared off. Although not enough was visible, something seemed not right with the shape of it. With a morbid fascination she almost wished the streetlamp that shone on her back porch were brighter.
Jenny’s heart felt as if it would burst. Here she was alone, in the dark, defenseless – wait. There were knives in the kitchen. If she could make it to the kitchen and back…She stood up and slowly backed away, her eyes fixed on the clown for fear it should move. One step. Two steps. Three – her foot caught on something smooth that skittered away from under her heel. Her right foot shot out and she fell backwards hard, banging her head on the coffee table. She got uneasily to her knees, rubbing her injury. The clown had moved again.
Now she could see that something had chewed most of the left side of the clown’s nose and cheek off. Ragged strips of flesh hung wetly, dripping a viscous red fluid from the ends. With each exhale the flaps would vibrate like macabre party favors. Now Jenny could also see that something(ohgodidonotwanttoknowidonotwanttolook) was also not quite right with the clown’s left eye. Blessedly, darkness still held dominion over that particular clown secret. Jenny realized she’d slipped on her phone. Her foot had sent it spinning off into the darkness, to be of no help at all. She had to get to the kitchen. Gathering her resolve, she hefted herself upright – eyes a raptor’s gaze held on the prey, only in this situation the indifferent prey was in truth, the predator.
Jenny sprinted through the darkness, relying on her mind’s eye of where the kitchen was for guidance. She slammed her toe badly against the slight step up into the kitchen but she’d made it. She grabbed a kitchen knife from the block and then peered out her kitchen window onto the deck.
The Clown had now turned so that it was peering directly into the bay window. Its back was to her and she could now see that on the previously unknowable left side of the clown’s skull there was…nothing. No skin, no bone. Just brain, and something…moving? Jenny strained her eyes to see and with horror realized maggots crawled haphazardly through the grey tissue that was once the Clown’s brain. She screamed and dropped the knife. In a panic, she felt around the cabinetry until she arrived at the front door. She fumbled for the deadbolt. Distantly she could hear someone crying raggedly and just as distantly realized it was her. Her nail broke on the door jamb, blood coursing from the nail bed that was now ripped. Another nail. More blood.
She heard a scraping that she quickly realized was the sound of the deck chair sliding across the wooden deck. The Clown was on the move.
Her fingers, now slick with blood, and driven useless by fear continued their herculean task of finding and turning the deadbolt. It seemed an eternity before she finally found it. Once, twice, three times it slipped through her fingers before she was finally able to gain purchase. With a click the deadbolt was thrown and Jenny turned the handle in her other hand. She pulled with all her might.
The clown stood in the doorway illuminated from behind by the streetlamp. The effect turning him into an inky black nightmare. The stench of rotten flesh and formaldehyde was so strong Jenny almost passed out. When it spoke its voice was the sound of wet cement and it was a miracle that Jenny was able to understand him at all.
“Don’t you want a balloon?” It asked and as it smiled Jenny was too stunned at the rows upon rows (surely you can’t fit so many teeth into that size space?) of hooked teeth that she was unable to avoid the clawed hand reaching through the doorway to pierce her abdomen. Long, black nails ripped and pulled at dull pink viscera. And as Jenny finally lost consciousness she swore she saw lights flicker on. Lights that illuminated the hundreds of colorful balloons that now composed her ceiling.
A Little Shiver
He glanced at his watch again. Twelve thirty. The music of the party still thumped faintly behind him as he tapped his feet impatiently at the bus stop. It had been a good night, a good reception. There had been been laughter, dancing, drinking, and the requisite amount of flirting, he was sure. Sara had looked devilishly delightful in her dress, and he had begun to wonder just why she was still single as the night wore on.
He would love to have called on her later, but sadly the hotel had been fully booked, robbing him of an excuse. Which was also the reason he was out here, waiting for the last bus. He snapped a glance at his watch and growled to himself. The bus was now fourty-five minutes late, but what could he expect in a little town out in the middle of the midlands? He swore into the air. Screw this, he thought, I’ll walk it. The night air was cool but not cold, the moon a pleasant crescent slicing silver shafts into the dark streets. The lamps were dim, some unlit to save money. He didn’t like it, it felt wrong to see all the patches of darkness along the street.
This far from the city the sky was a lot darker, and at times it was hard to find his footing in the shadows. His step was heavy and his footfalls echoed loudly along the streets, but it shouldn’t take too long he didn’t think. The sounds were different, he realised after a moment. It was much quieter in the country, and he could more easily hear subtle noises than he would with the hustle and bustle of the city in the background. The streets were dead quiet, the sounds of the party long behind him, and nothing but a the little rustle of animals by the roadside his occasional accompaniment.
His phone buzzed in his pocket, making him jump. “Hello?” “Kevin?” Laughter and loud music on the other side accompanied Sara’s voice. Kevin laughed and flushed. “Yes, hi! What’s going on?” “Nothing! I just wondered where you were...” More laughter and giggling on the other side. “Oh right, sorry about that. My hotel is a little far away, Elfin Grove, so I had to get a move on.” “That’s a shame, I was hoping...” Sara trailed off to more laughter in the background. “Shoo, shoo, you guys! He said he’s going back to the hotel.” There was more laughter that got a little further away. “I was hoping maybe we-” She stopped for a moment. “Yes, Elfin Grove, that’s where he’s staying,” she replied to an unknown question and then her focus returned to him. “Sorry, ‘Chel wanted to know where you were going. Should I be jealous?” she asked, her tone amused. “Only if you want to be,” Kevin replied cheekily, grinning to himself. Success! “You know I only have eyes for you.” “Sweet-talker.” Sara laughed. “Well I guess we’ll see...how sweet you are,” she said, her voice dropping to a near whisper. “Oh heck, she’s saying something again, I’ll call you later.” “I’ll wait forever,” Kevin promised. “Liar,” Sara said, her voice shot through with amusement.
The phone went dead and Kevin smiled to himself, trailing his fingers along the stone wall. He had a feeling he was onto a good thing with Sara. It had been a long time coming but- His thoughts were interrupted by wet fingers and he shook his hand out and wiped it on his shirt. Shuddering, he tried to focus on the path ahead, but the booze was hitting him hard now that he was tired. He just wanted a warm bed, and a warm...well, just a warm bed for now. He blinked owlishly as he tried to figure out where he was.
Somewhere along the line the path had cut into some woods, but he remember there being a park or something along the way. The problem with the country was there tended to be some...country to it. He shrugged and quickened his steps, feeling the chill around him. Time seemed to drag after that. His legs grew tired, the cold seeming to seep into his very bones as his pants picked up the damp from the leaves strewn about the path. It seemed the path was leading him deeper and deeper into the woods but abruptly the trees melted away, leaving him on a street that looked familiar.
He breathed a sigh of relief and hurrying down the lane, knocked on the old wooden door to the hotel. After a few moments he heard the bolt slide back and the door opened, revealing the old man he had met earlier. Doddering and ancient with liver-spotted hands and sunken cheeks, the man seemed to dance daily with death. All save his voice, which seemed too tough to come from such a sickly frame. “Good evening, sir.” The landlord said, ushering him inside. “I’m glad you made it back, it’s not always safe at this time of year.” “I missed the bus,” Kevin apologised. “Or I’d have been here earlier.” “I see.” The landlord looked him up and down in the dim light, and noticing the mud on his shoes, grimaced. “If you’ll leave those here, I’ll see they get taken care of.” Kevin suddenly felt very dirty under that reproving stare. “Perhaps I’ll have a bath,” he said quickly. “As good an idea as any,” the landlord replied. “If that is all, I shall retire for the night. I’m sure you can find your way up.” “Oh, yes, of course.” Kevin nodded. “Thanks,” he added to the departing ghoul’s back.
The walk up the stairs seemed longer than necessary, and the door lock on his room was frustrating to the point of tears. Eventually it sprang open and he flopped down onto the bed tiredly. He suddenly felt disturbed, it wasn’t like him to get so frustrated over nothing but the feeling seemed to persist instead of fade. Shaking his head, he tried to dismiss his disquieted heart and moved to the bathroom to fill up the bath. He hummed tunelessly as he did so, but the sound did little to comfort him. The hot water did however, and soon he was immersed up to his shoulders in warm bliss. He sank down into the water and closed his eyes. He dozed, letting the water take him elsewhere. The humming returned, something familiar but askew somehow. It took him a while to figure it out but he eventually realised he was humming his ringtone, but somehow...every few notes it would cut off and start again, an incomplete melody. The feeling nagged at him, teased and tickled his mind, and as he hummed he turned it over and in his mind, a sense of dread drawing over him. His eyes were watering, was he...crying? Why? He didn’t feel sad, he felt...he felt...he felt terrified, he realised in shock.
He was quaking in the water, his body shivering from something other than cold. As he searched for why, his mind shot back to the phone conversation, peeling back the layers of the sound. His breath caught in his throat, choking him as water rushed into his mouth, and his eyes went wide. He looked down and saw the blood trailing from his fingers, blood he had daubed against his shirt earlier. It swirled lazily in the water, coiling against his skin. The phone call. He remembered it all now. “Hello?” “Kevin?” “Yes, hi? What’s going on?” “Nothing...” “I just wondered where you were...don’t you?” Another voice cut in, scraping along his nerves. The cell went dead, but Kevin’s hand had closed into a claw around it as he looked about him, his mouth opening soundlessly as he clutched for breath. His body was rigid in terror even as he still walked on robotically, his hand sliding over the wall of blood-covered horrors that his mind refused to take in. His eyes darted from their sockets, scrambling desperately around him, but the path had vanished and now only the wall guided him amongst a forest nightmare. Trees thrust out of the ground covered in spikes dripping crimson ichor, their trunks with hollows of horrid gaping mouths, moving but not speaking. Eyes followed him everywhere, prickling the hair on the nape of his neck. His legs churned up the ground, the gore sticking to his feet and legs as it slowly spread up his trousers. And then he saw them. The bevy of long dead beauties, grasping hands of the spectres lunging hungrily for him. “Such a shame, such a shame, such a shame..” they repeated, their wisped forms cloaked in rags, bone and sinew caressing his face, his body...and chilling his heart. “How sweet you are,” they croaked at him, their ghostly, rotting forms pressing against him. One, taller and more distinct, sidled closer to him, its hands tracing down his ribs in frostbitten fire. “You sshall be with uss...I ssee your wantss...” Its breath made him gag as it covered his face in the smell of a rotting grave. “I’ll wait forever.” Kevin heard himself say as his mind screamed and scratched out the reality, rewriting it with a safe and warm fantasy. “Liar!” the spectre hissed, shoving him away. “Liar, liar, liar, liar,” the other spectres chanted, shoving him along the path, one after another. Their voices fading into the distance. His feet continued along the path and gradually, quietly, the nightmare receded, erased as quickly as it was written into his mind.
Kevin blinked in the bath. What had he been thinking about? The water had cooled substantially, and was getting colder by the second. He shivered and tried to move, but only served to sink deeper into the water, the water covering his mouth. The redtinted water coiled around his mouth as though alive, and as a shiver drove a gasp from him, the fouled water swept into his mouth, as though entering his very soul. Suddenly ice crackled across the surface and the light above him snapped and fizzled with a spark, plunging the room into darkness. A hand pressed against his chin, tilting his mouth upwards, and suddenly he felt relief fill him. “I wondered when you’d get here, Sara” Kevin whispered. Then he surrendered to the deep, sucking kiss.
Sara dialled the number but only voicemail greeted her again. She left another message, but something about it felt not quite right, a feeling of sadness and something more, something much worse, seemed to loom in a dark corner of her mind. She slipped the phone back into her pocket and shook her head, the party crashing in around her again and sweeping away the feeling.
Perhaps it simply wasn’t meant to be.
4: Papito Qinn
I knew this kid named Damon. Everybody in the neighborhood thought he was a good kid; he studied well in school, was always polite, and almost never got into trouble. But people still found him to be kind of a weird guy. Every once in awhile if you just watch him by himself you can make out that he would sometimes whisper “no” to himself. He didn’t do it incessantly though. Sometimes he wouldn’t do it at all, but he did it often enough that people caught on and he would never do it when he was around other people. Also his walking patterns could be kind of erratic.
Most times, if he’s walking and he says “no” under his breath he may start doing several things like, walking faster or slower, making bigger or shorter steps, walking in zigzags, running and jumping, or even skipping. But he would only do it in bursts of a few seconds.One day I was on my way to catch the bus and I saw Damon in the distance heading towards the bus stop. I was behind him so I couldn’t tell if he said the word or not, but he must have because all of a sudden he ran and tried to jump over some stacked up cinderblocks on the sidewalk. Some neighbors seemed to have some sort of housing project going on. It seemed like Damon must have miscalculated something because he had a bad fall. He tried to break it with his hands but he went down so fast that his face must still have made pretty good contact with the ground.
I rushed over to him to see if he was alright. His injuries weren’t life threatening or anything but he knocked a tooth out, scratched his face, and he was bleeding pretty bad. There was another lady nearby who also saw it and was coming to see if she could help. I told Damon to stay there and I’ll go get his mom.I turned away and started walking towards his house when i heard him whisper “yes”.
That’s odd i thought. I turned around to check on him, and to this day i have no explanation for it, but the kid was gone. He vanished into clouds of nothingness. The signs of a fall and all the blood was gone. I looked over at the lady who was coming towards him and she was petrified, and was as white as what i think purgatory must be like. I ran over to her to ask her what happened to Damon, but she wouldn’t say anything. I shook her a little bit to try and snap her out of it, but nothing worked. She would just stand there, with a horrified look on her face.
I decided to leave her there for now, while i went back to Damon’s house and fetched his parents. But the door was locked and it seemed like nobody was home. So I ran to my house that was right around the corner to call 911. As I rush in through the front door, I encounter my mom who asks me what’s going on. I tell her I have to call 911, something happened to Damon. She says: “Damon, who?” I replied: “Damon, the kid that lives right over there.” Right over where? She says. I’m getting slightly annoyed now. “The first house around that corner,mom! I gotta call the cops!” She says: “Sweetie, nobody lives there. It’s been up for sale for a while now. You must have seen the sign out front, you go by it everyday.”
I have no clue what she’s on about, so I call 911 anyway. After explaining what happened I tell them to meet me where it all went down; I’ll wave them down as they come down the road. On my way back I have to go past the house again, and sure enough, there was a “for sale” sign. I must have been in such a rush i didn’t notice it and why would I? It was never there before.A police cruiser and an ambulance shows up. Luckily it was an officer that’s familiar with people from our neighborhood. I’ve spoken to him before, with friends, including Damon. But for whatever reason he doesn’t remember Damon.
Meanwhile i see the paramedics haul the lady off. Ever since that day, nobody i talk to ever has any recollection of Damon. But it wasn’t just their memories. Everything about him was somehow missing. Me, Damon, and more guys that made up our circle of friends once carved our names into a tree. When i checked the tree, Damon’s name was gone. We would also frequent an arcade where Damon left a high score on one of the games. That was gone too, replaced by what I swear was the score underneath him. It was as if he never existed.
One day, about a year later, around the neighborhood I overheard two ladies talking. It seems they knew the lady from that day, and one was telling the other one that she was sent to the mental hospital. The lady mentioned that she’s allowed to see visitors. The doctors hoped that someone can eventually break through to her. “Oh the poor thing.” is what i heard as i began walking away. I decided to go and visit her. If there’s anybody besides me who remembers Damon and what happened that day, it’s gotta be her.
As I’m being led to the room by the psychologist he explains to me that most of her time she spends in the corner of her room in the fetal position; it’s also where she sleeps, she refuses to sleep in her bed. I ask him if she’s at all dangerous. He says not at all and she’s not suicidal or anything. In fact, besides sitting in the corner, she eats and drinks like normal. She’d be fine if you can ignore the corner thing and the constant look of terror on her face.
I walk into her very plain room that features a single neatly made bed, a desk, a chair, and a somewhat medium sized window with a view of a tree. There was another door with a bathroom sign on it.Sure enough she was huddled in the corner, wide eyed, looking like she’d discover the awful secret of the universe. She looked exactly the same way she did a year ago on that day. But I suppose the fact that she eats and drinks means she’s still at least somewhat there. I pull up the desk chair and try to talk to her.
At first i try to make small talk and crack a few jokes, I don’t know why i thought that would work, I guess i did it more for my own benefit; try and lighten the mood before getting into what i came here for. It turns out I didn’t have to. No matter what I said regarding that day or Damon, she said nothing and barely even blinked.I chalk it up to being a waste of my time. I figure i better just put all this behind me and stop talking about it. Otherwise i might end up in a place like this right next to her. So i get up, place the chair back and start walking out. Once I’m about halfway out the door and into the hallway I could have sworn I heard her whisper “No”.