Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.


Topics - Icydice

Pages: [1]
1
Your Stories / My Christmas Tale
« on: 06:58:52 PM 11/29/18 »
Ah, the snow. How delicate and unique each flake of the cold, white substance can be. The children will dash through it, flinging it left and right among each other. They will lay down and stretch their arms and legs in all directions, attempting to create a beautiful angel for all to see. Then, of course, there are others who build snowmen, their laughter filling the frosty air as they partake in a multitude of holiday activities. How I envied those who enjoyed the Christmas Spirit. I had never actually... seen such festivities occur. Rather, I would hear about them through tales my father would tell of the good boys and girls who truly valued what it meant to celebrate Christmas.

This story will be a recounting of an experience I had as a young boy. After finding myself away from my childhood home and actually close to civilization, I began taking the time to recollect a few memories from my past. Between strange occurrences, I couldn't explain back then, and one freakish moment I experienced at that point in time, I suppose this will act as a warning to you.

I truly want to help you, and this is perhaps the best way I can spread the word around about what I have discovered about the holidays without "him" finding out. I need to be discrete about this. Although I have traveled as far away from my old home as I could, I know for a fact that he's still out there, and that he can find me. I don't want to risk it, so maybe... maybe if a few people who see this help me spread it around, I won't have to worry about the consequences of my actions. It's the best I can hope for I suppose. Even still, I have to live the life of a nomad, never once being able to stop and catch my breath. Doing so would be too dangerous, so it is imperative I get this out soon. Now, since I've finished my introduction, I suppose it's time to release something I've been holding back on for quite some time now. I can only hope that I make any sort of difference by doing this.

My childhood was a strange one.

When December would come, I found myself locked inside my house. My father and I didn't adorn the halls with stockings or decorations, nor did we erect a Christmas tree in our living room. The fireplace was constantly extinguished, robbing me of the comfort I desired. Each night I would curl up in bed, trembling as the cold air ran across my body and I stared up at the ceiling, my mind completely blank. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. No, I didn't mind how rough things could get. There always seemed to be an innocent part of me that didn't mind the way I lived my life, no matter how barren the house could be during all times of the year.

Don't get me wrong, my father was very good to me. I can't recall a day he didn't show me his big, wide smile and treat me as best he could. He took care of me, fed me well, and was a good parent overall. He was a rather portly fellow, but a kind man nonetheless. The only issue is what, well, he wasn't a big fan of the holidays. It made for a very bleak life around the winter time especially. It confused me as to why he would tell me about how the other children had such a great time. I often thought he did it to make a bit of fun, or that perhaps he was just pulling my leg. I had never seen the things he described to me after all, so it would make sense that maybe they were just stories.

I rarely found it strange that we didn't live remotely near anybody else. Our small wooden hut was located high in the mountains, where the slopes would be treacherous for anyone ascending or descending the terrain. Perhaps, even if I had wanted to see the outside world, I wouldn't have been able to. It would have been impossible for me to climb up or down the rugged area, let alone at such a young age. Because of the sheer height of the mountains where we lived, the air was thin and the winds blew fiercely, and the most I ever saw of the outside world was through the window. My father said we didn't always live there. He said we had a home somewhere down below where the other people lived, but we were in his "vacation home" as he put it. I had lived in any other house before then, so needless to say, it was a rather odd vacation, to say the least.

While my father stayed inside with me, we would play board games and create drawings together. Those and various other indoor activities would teach me about the outside world and what it was like. However, my favorite memories of my father were the stories he would tell me. As mentioned prior, he would tell me of his experiences with that which dwelled under the mountain and across the world. His various interactions with such people piqued my curiosity and, upon my request to learn more, he would bring me books and magazines. Those sources were my first true contact with society, and I'd spend hours at a time reading. It kept me busy and, despite the lack of holiday cheer in my life, I was content.

As each December came, my father would start spending less time with me and more time in his private office. I only ever saw him carrying a large list of what appeared to be names on a sheet, and then he would vanish for lengthy periods of time. I always wondered what he did up there, but he never took the time to explain. He always brushed off my questions, or dismissed them a simple "You'll understand when you're older, kiddo." I never found myself content with those answers, and in a time where I wanted to learn, that lack of knowing the truth bothered me a lot. For years I felt as if my thirst for knowledge would remain unquenched, for the simple reason that I hadn't a clue what my father did. After mischievously trying to sneak into his office one night while he slept, I found that the door was locked, and I never found the key. With my determination fleeting, I decided to just mind my own business and let it be.

Several years of this same pattern would come and go, and I was fine with it at first. However, I was not fine with the repetitive, and quite frankly, monotonous routine. I had read all my books, perfected all my art, and it got to the point where my father would be retelling the same old stories. I grew tired of these tedious rituals, and thus my curiosity sparked once more. It had been years since I learned about the existence of my father's office. I thought that perhaps I was old enough to handle what was inside. You could imagine my dismay upon being denied my request to enter the room. I must have asked that man several times a month. Still, with his everlasting patience, he would respond with a simple "No" Each time.

With all of this information out of the way, I think it's time I introduce you to something my father would do that would eventually cause my curiosity to spill over. You see, every night on December 24th, he would open the front door, a large brown bag slung over his shoulder. He'd wave goodbye to me with a jolly grin on his. He'd release a cheerful laugh before closing the door and locking it behind him, making his merry way down the mountain with inhuman speed and skill before disappearing into the night. The following day, he would come back exhausted. After taking his bag to his office, he would then sleep for most of the day.

I may have been an ignorant child, but I wasn't stupid. All the books I had read, all the stories I had heard. They connected like puzzle pieces together within my young brain. The lists, the 24th of December, the brown sack. I smiled ear to ear as a realization came to my mind. I knew then more than ever that I had to find out what was in his office. So, I formulated a devious plan within my mind and decided it was worth a short.

After a few hours of waiting, I saw the sun begin to rise above the horizon. The snow had ceased on the mountain, and the morning was a calm one indeed. I struggled to keep my eyes open. I had waited all night for my father to return, and I didn't want to quit. Not then, when I was so close. After much waiting, I felt my body begin to relax. I fought with all my strength to keep my eyes open, and right before I drifted into a sound sleep, I heard the front door open. I perked my head up and fixated my eyes on the shape of my father stepping through the doorway. He looked surprised to see me up so early, but he flashed that same, warm smile he always did and rubbed my head gently. As expected, he ascended the stairs and opened his office door. He told me to wait outside and not to look in, and I obliged.

As he exited the room and closed the door, I stopped him before he could lock it with his key. I quickly grabbed his arm and pulled him downstairs. He tugged back towards the door in protest, but I was persistent, and he eventually sighed and followed me willingly. I lead him to the kitchen, where a fresh bowl of cereal awaited him. He smiled and thanked me before digging in, frantically eating the oats and drinking his milk. He eyed me as he ate, and I caught him looking at the stairwell which went to his office quite a few times. After he finished his cereal, he wiped his mouth with his sleeve and got up. I could see the bags under his eyed and the dead expression on his face. With a single yawn, he went to his room and fell asleep in bed. My plan had succeeded.

I steadily made my way up the stairs and found myself in front of the office. Sweat pooled in my palms as I gripped the doorknob before me. Years of waiting and curiosity would be satisfied, and the mystery would finally be solved. I snickered softly. Finally, a little action. A vacation from the curiosity which had plagued me for so long. I trembled in excitement and I pushed the door open and entered. A single desk stood in the middle of the room, and the brown bag sat on top of it. I slowly approached the desk, placing my hands on the bag. With one swift motion, I opened it and poked my head inside. To my surprise, its contents weren't exactly what I had expected.

What I saw in that bag left me scratching my head in confusion. Instead of what I thought would be there, I found what seemed to be random objects at the time.

I was disappointed with my findings, and I carefully made sure to exit the door and close it behind, certain that I'd covered my tracks well. I never spoke a word of that experience to my father for fear of getting in trouble. I found myself chuckling a few times at how underwhelmed I was. I was expecting something far greater, only to find a strange assortment of items inside the bag. Perhaps I laughed to distract myself from the truth of what I saw, but I convinced myself that my dad was nobody special all along, and although it was still a mystery to me what he did those nights, I never thought more of it.

It wasn't until I got much older and finally moved out of that house that I began thinking about what I found that day, and what it truly meant. My father never hurt me, but I fear what may become of me by releasing this information. Perhaps he is still out there, doing what he does best. I only hope this information being released can help someone out there, and maybe it can help me organize my thoughts and help me get some sleep at night. Believe me, I haven't gotten enough rest since I discovered what was really going on. The part of the Christmas holiday they don't tell you. Maybe I fear that I will become like him someday. That it is my predetermined fate to do as he did. I'm not certain, but all I know is this. He is my father. He is the reason I fear for my safety by writing this. I will never forget what I found in that brown bag of his, for it all becomes clear to me now.

I saw chains, coal, birch branches ,rope, and branding irons. Each one had been used the previous night, and several child-sized shoes were also contained within the sack, all of them charred beyond repair.

2
Your Stories / The Afterlife Can Be an Unusual Place
« on: 06:48:31 PM 11/06/18 »
Okay then... where do I even start?

Things have been crazy since my last update, and that means a lot coming from a person from me. I'm pretty sure this house I'm in is going to torn down soon, and once that happens, I'm not sure what I'll do. I suppose I'll try to focus on the present for now before I concern myself with the future. I'm going to attempt writing to the few people who might find this story. I'm in a bit of a rush, as there is much to explain in so little time.

If you are up to date with the story so far, you may know of my concerns about the coming Halloween. As it turns out, these fears were almost completely unfounded. Perhaps my dread of what was the come blurred my vision at the time. Thankfully, law enforcement kept close watch of the property, not allowing any trespassers to find their way into the house. I wish that it ended that way. I wish I could say nothing else happened and all ended well. Unfortunately, you wouldn't be reading this story if that was the case.

Would you believe me if I told that my entire existence would turn out to be stranger than it ever had been before? Would you believe me if... if I told you that it has been a couple of months since I last updated you on my predicament, despite the technology in front of you saying otherwise? I've been stranded in this house with only my mind to keep me company, and the seclusion has been tampering with my mind. I'm not even sure what's real and what isn't.

I chuckle at how drastically different I think and feel between this story and the last. It must be odd to you to see me like this. I'm a bit flustered right now in all honesty. I swear that there is something out there watching me. I don't think it's a being. It seems like an abstract force of nature, and that's all I can think to describe it as. Certain things just don't add up, and I'm not sure if they ever will. Still, I'm hungry for answers which seem unattainable at the time being. It's almost like an itch I can't seem to scratch.

Perhaps I may have seen this coming all along. The strange occurrences that seem to happen out of nowhere. The computer incident in its entirety, my entrapment in the house. Things like that don't happen without reason. No matter how wonky this afterlife can be, there must be someone or something maintaining the rules of this place, right? It can't all just be a big coincidence I have the power to type to you guys either. There has to be a meaning behind it all and thinking of all the possibilities drives me crazy. I have found myself staring up at the ceiling in deep thought, pondering for hours at a time about my situation.

I remember on Halloween night watching the police cars outside the house, making out men in uniform walking by through the tiny slits within the barriers attached to the windows. They stood menacingly, glaring at every child who passed by. Not a single meddler stood a chance of entering the property, so I knew I could relax a bit and try keeping my mind occupied. One of the best ways to keep boredom at bay is browsing the internet, but this night would be different. Upon sitting on the wooden chair and looking at the monitor, I found myself rolling my eyes at a familiar, rather annoying sight to see. There was yet another app on the screen which I had never seen before. I stared at it, not moving a muscle. I slowly moved the pointer to select it but stopped once I found myself hovering over the application.

I leaned back in my chair and placed my hands on my head, looking upwards. There was no way in hell I was going to open the app. I looked down at my palms, watching them twitch slightly. My eyebrows shifted as I stood up and walked to the door, slamming it shut. I marched downstairs and leaned against the wall, closing my eyes and breathing deeply. Why the hell would I open it? Why would I repeat the actions that lead to the death of a child, and forced me into seclusion?

Time seemed to come to a standstill that night. I constantly found myself checking the clock, sitting on the staircase. I found it hard to think clearly about anything, my mind occupied with the trauma I recently experienced. If you have ever been in a situation like mine, you'll understand my state of internal turmoil. That Halloween night, I sat with tears staining my face, curled into a ball on the hardwood. This was nothing new to me... I had been doing that since last Halloween. I guess I'm not exactly the best at coping, but it's hard to move on when only your thoughts can keep me company.

Before you ask, I have tried to contact the living over the internet. I have tried to email relatives, send messages, and even enter various facetiming services. I can't seem to connect to those at all. I am confined to certain parts of the internet where my existence can be kept under wraps. This only further proved my theory that there were indeed rules to this place, and something was seemingly controlling them as it pleased. However, my greatest evidence towards this presented itself as sleep overcame me.

Ironically, my dreams had been vacant despite the vast amounts of pain and guilt I had been through. As soon as my mind plunged into restful darkness, I would sleep rather peacefully through the entire night, worn out by the tears I've shed. That night, however, was different. The first thing I saw after passing out was a room of pure darkness. It took a while for my eyes to adjust, but I soon began stumbling around until I felt my fingers touch the surface of the wall. I allowed that surface to guide me around the room until I felt a switch, and then I flicked it upwards.

The room was immediately flooded with bright lights, the sudden shift forcing me to shield my eyes with my hands. After a few seconds, I let my eyes get used to the light and surveyed the area around me. I was greeted with the sight of hundreds of wires spreading out across the floor. Various large monitors adorned the walls of the room, and in the middle of it all was a single white computer, each and every wire entering it from its countless ports. I recognized the computer as the same one within the white room where my story truly began.

I approached the computer cautiously, fully aware of my movements within the dream world. In retrospect, that may have been the second lucid dream I had ever experienced. I allowed my fingers to curl around the chair in front of the desk, my ears perking up with each mechanical sound that occurred within the room. As I began sliding the chair out to take a seat, I felt something on my shoulder. It was a hand... slowly pulling me backward. My heart stopped and I froze, unsure what I should do. The fingers on my skin were cold as ice, and they longer and larger than what any normal human could ever possess.

I winced as the hand owner's equally chilly breath stung the back of my neck, causing my hairs to stand up perfectly straight. I took a deep breath, telling myself over and over than it was all just a dream. Whatever was behind me wasn't real, and nothing it could do to me could hurt me in the long run. Clenching my fist tightly, I turned and laid my eyes on the thing behind me. I jumped back a bit upon seeing its face. A single eyeball was unnaturally placed into the things head, almost as if it was lodge in there rather than grown. It had no mouth, no hears, nor did it have any skin. It was a being of muscle and bone, the only actual tissue being the hands which it had used to touch me.

I backed away from the figure, staring at it with bewildered eyes. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It towered over me menacingly, shuffling forward periodically until I found myself pressed against the desk. It leaned over and stared at me with its large eye, seemingly studying me. Without notice, I felt a searing pain in my ribs. I screamed out loud and looked down, only to find that one of the creature's bony appendages had been jammed into me. I was only able to watch in horror as the bone was dragged upwards, further tearing at my flesh. Several agonizing cries were emitted from my throat. I couldn't even recognize my own voice amidst the shrill cries, for they were almost animal-like in nature.

I looked upon the monstrosity before me, my heart slamming against my chest. My lip quivered as the beads of sweat ran down my forehead and onto the ground, mixing with the pools of crimson blood. My legs wobbled, and I collapsed to the ground, completely helpless. Several inhuman grunts and gurgles were made by the foul creature before it picked me up and threw me in front of the computer. It pulled me by my hair and forced my face in front of the computer screen, making me watch as a single app sat within my vision. It was the same app I had neglected to open earlier, and it consumed the entire screen. The creature leaned in and practically pressed its moist lips against my ear, whispering ever so softly in a hoarse, inhuman voice.

"Open it Marcus"

"Open it Marcus"

"Open it Marcus"

These words repeated for what felt like an eternity, each syllable dragging on forever. No matter how much I struggled, the creature's grip was too strong, and I could not escape. The words echoed within my mind, the whisper becoming louder and louder until it felt as if my eardrums would burst. It came as a shock to me that, as soon as I thought I couldn't take it anymore, the voice suddenly became silent. I fell to the ground as I realized that I was no longer being held in place. I spun my head around, only to find an empty room behind me.

I arose and dusted myself off, holding my head in pain. A throbbing sensation within my cranium was all that I could truly focus on for a while before I was able to return my vision to the computer. I stared at the app and read the text underneath it. As it turns out, the file was now titled "Open_Me_Marcus."

I woke up soon after that, and the very first thing I did was rush to my room. I threw the door open and stepped inside, hastily approaching the computer and turning it on. I impatiently tapped my foot on the ground as I waited for it to boot up, and once it did, I was greeted with the home screen. Right in the very center of the monitor was a familiar sight. A single application. I'm sure you already know what its title was.

By this point, my heart was beating at rates I hadn't previously thought possible. It was then I knew that something wanted me to open the app, and all of my theories about some type of force controlling my experiences did in fact exist. There were certain rules I had to follow, and if I didn't follow them, I would be punished. I had little to no control over my destiny, and this realization caused me to strike the desk before me with great force. What had I done to deserve such treatment? Could my "crimes" within the mortal realm really have been so terrible as to warrant a punishment like this? I kicked and punched everything within sight, repeating various swears and curses out loud.

It took me a while to settle down and catch my breath. There is a certain point where you lose control of your body and mind once you are angry enough. It took me several dozen minutes of rage-induced destruction across the room to finally come to my senses. I viewed the clutter and mess I had made and took a long, deep breath, somewhat relieved to have gotten my energy out. This form of retaliation would be useless to stop whatever was happening to me, and I knew it. I also knew what I had to after these events, because even in my state of anger the computer remained unharmed. I peered at the screen before sitting down in the chair and gripping the mouse. I hovered the pointer over the app, closed my eyes, and double-clicked.

I opened to eyes to be met with a blue screen in front of me, followed by several seconds of the flickering of a strobe. Strange sounds were produced by the machinery. and then the monitor faded to black. It proceeded to restart and reopen itself. Then, the home screen came into view, followed by a white text box with a blue link in it. Clicking the link opened the browser app to a seemingly unlisted YouTube video with zero views. The video began to play, and I squinted to get a better view of what it contained due to the poor lighting of the recording.

From what I could make out, a silent cameraman was walking down a street in the dark. Despite the poor lighting of the video, the quality was stunning, and the video was capable of running at 1080P. It was because of this that I was able to identify a bright neon sign the camera passed by. I paused the recording and looked closely, trying to discern the words on the sign. It appeared to be a street name. I won't release it of course, but I can tell you that my eyes widened as I realized that it was my street.

The camera passed by a few more houses before coming to a stop and turning to the right. The camera focused on a large house in front of it. I gasped under my breath as the lens zoomed in on the familiar structure. It was at that moment that my breathing came to a standstill. I rose from the chair and slowly made my way to my bedroom window which gave me a full view of the front yard. I didn't see a single person out there except for a patrol car parked nearby. I returned to my seat and continued watching the footage. The video now showed my front door, completely ajar.

Once again, I leaped out of my seat and rushed downstairs, only to find nothing there. The door was still closed, and there was nobody outside. I had thought that the YouTube video I was watching was a live stream of some kind, but it turns out it really was just a recording. I shivered at the thought of someone recording themselves within my own home before returning upstairs. Thinking about the connection between the video and whatever was making my experience in the afterlife the way it was, I realized that it was more than likely that the cameraman wasn't a human at all, but something else. I stopped dead in my tracks. Could it be... the thing keeping me here? I already knew the video had some relation to the theory about my predetermined fate, but could the camera operator be that very force? There was only one way to find out, and so I returned to the video.

The recording showed the cameraman ascending to the second story of the house. I didn't notice it at first, but not a single stair on made a sound. The footage transitioned to my bedroom door. Once more the doorknob was in full view, yet the door opened without being touched. I instinctively turned my head to look behind me, only to find nothing there at all. The camera operator then approached my desk, and for the first time in the entire video, I got a glimpse of the person's body. An arm extended and opened one of the drawers attached to my desk, placing something inside. I couldn't see what the object was, because it was just out of view of the camera. Once the operator was done with its task, it turned around and exited the room, the footage cutting to black.

I closed the tab and found my eyes wandering to the drawer shown within the video. My curiosity had reached its peak now, so I gave it a slight tug until it opened. I stooped down and peered into it, looking for anything conspicuous that could be in there. Let's just say... it wasn't hard to find. Let's also say that when I did find it, I launched myself back and placed my hand over my heart, vainly attempting to breathe as my lungs seemed to collapse in on themselves. There inside of the drawer, was a black mask. The same black mask my attacker wore on the fateful night of my death.

I simply could not comprehend what had happened, it showed as my breathing became exasperated and my legs felt liquified. Sudden realizations soon hit me as I sat there on the floor, shaken to my core. The windows weren't boarded up in the video. The house looked in better condition than it was now, and the inside of it seemed decent. That recording... was taken before my murder. But how the hell did the cameraman sneak into my house like that? Millions of questions rushed through my mind as I struggled to think of answers for each of them. In my state of panic and hysteria, it took me a while to really get to the important ones I should be focusing on.

Who is the camera operator? Why would he put the mask into the drawer if he was just going to use it later during my murder. The timelines simply didn't add up in my mind. If the cameraman was my murder, why would he sneak into my house, sneak out again, break into my house and kill me, and then sneak back in before the police arrived but after I died just to put the mask in the drawer? Nobody in their right mind would do that, it simply made no sense. It was almost as if the person did it just to mess with me, like it knew all of this would happen and I'd see this specific recording in the... it was if it knew that my afterlife would be this way and made the video to torment me.

My beating heart and fast breathing suddenly stopped as I found my eyes wide open, unblinking. The unlisted video introduced to me by the app, the nature of the video, and the mask inside my drawer specifically for me to find once I was dead. There appeared to be a clear and distinct connection between the man who was presumably my murderer and the force controlling my afterlife. As my mind wandered to these almost outlandish possibilities, a single horrifying thought entered my brain. What if... my murderer and the force controlling my afterlife are the same?

I shuddered at the very idea. My killer tormenting me in the eternal afterlife is a horrifying thought. Him pulling all the strings, torturing me mentally and physically. That possibility would answer some of the questions I had about what was happening to me. It would explain why I experienced so many nightmares and horrific scenarios in death, why I was plagued with the awful memories of my life, and why the murderer was never found by the authorities. It would be impossible to capture someone like that, wouldn't it?

I advanced toward the ski mask and extended my arm. My fingers grazed the black fabric. It felt moist... very much so. I picked it up and looked it over. I don't know why, but I was intrigued. I felt an attraction to the object. A strange sort of aura surrounded the mask, causing a shift in the air. Everything in the background seemed to fade out of view, and then, out of some sort of inner instinct within me, I put the mask on.

The dark material blinded my vision for a moment. I slid the mask down until my eyes were matched up with the eyeholes. and then I was able to see the area before me. It wasn't my home. In truth, I had no clue where it was. Everything seemed completely different. Before me was a barren landscape where broken down houses stood, charred by fire. The sun had set, and the moon had risen, its glow revealing the chipped road leading down an abandoned street, every sign in the distance dull and faded.

I ripped the mask off and looked around, back in my room. The place I had previously been was gone. What... the... hell. I stared at the mask longer, completely bewildered by it. What had I just seen? I carefully put it back on, intent on seeing the devastation once more. Sure enough, I saw what I had seen previously. Chaos flooded my vision.

I trekked along the road of broken gravel, wary of the broken glass and metal pipes spread around as far as the eye could see. I saw not a single breathing lifeform. The vegetation around me had dried and rotted. Cars were broken down and melting from the intense fires burning on top of them. It appeared as if the entire world had collapsed in on itself. As I progressed through the treacherous landscape, I began to hear a sound in the distance. It sounded like chanting ahead of me. Deep, distorted murmurs and whispers. I edged closer to the noise and found myself peeking around a corner, peering at the noise's origin.

About a dozen burning cars sat in a semi-circle, and in the middle of the ring was a single truck. In the bed of the truck stood a man. He was tall and muscular, and he held a dagger in one of his hands. A crowd of around a dozen people stood in front of the man, each kneeling down chanting. The man looked down upon what I could only assume were his followers. He smirked and opened his arms wide. Upon doing so, a man emerged from the crowd and approached the truck, dragging something with him. I cupped my hand over my mouth as I saw that it was a body he had in his grasp, and a small one at that. It was just a child.

I snuck closer and hid behind an overturned van a few dozen yards away from the circle. I peered over the top as the man threw the child onto the bed of the truck. The kid got up and looked at the man with the blade who towered above him. The child screamed, but only for a second. I shielded my eyes right before the dagger struck the kid's chest. I couldn't bear to see it unfold.

The body tumbled down to the ground, and the followers dragged the kid away. I then watched as they surrounded the kid in a full circle. The tall man mumbled something under his breath, and each follower withdrew a blade. In the blink of an eye, each man slid the blade across his neck and then collapsed to the ground. The leader hopped off the bed of the truck and made his way towards the writhing dead bodies. He stood before the pile and began screaming. The shrill cry echoed throughout the area, and it was so loud that I thought my ears would bleed. He was speaking a strange language I had never heard before. Then, something happened which I will never forget. I gasped as the bodies rose from the ground and opened their eyes. I watched, utterly mortified, as their skin began melting away and they all embraced each other, their flesh fusing together. I gagged and found it hard to breathe, yet I still found my eyes fixated on the form before me. The tall man smiled and stepped back, smiling. He was so proud of his work.

The air around me became hotter and filthier. I found it hard to breathe as embers and ashes rained from above and smoke filled the streets. The bodies in front of the tall man had melded together and began wriggling on the ground, inhuman cries of insurmountable pain echoing throughout my surroundings. Their arms and legs had been seemingly re-purposed to grow extra appendages, and the spines and bones inside of the once human bodies had been shifted to become exterior extremities, sharp blades protruding from the skin.

The creature shambled back and forth, attempting to keep its balance. It took a bit to grow accustomed to its new form, and then stood up on its two hind legs. The being roared into the night sky, slamming its hands and feet into the cars surrounding it, each blow having enough force to send the vehicles back about a dozen feet. I backed away from the scene slowly, hands trembling in fright. I no longer wished to be there in that nightmarish place any longer. I backed away further, always keeping my eyes on the tall man and the monstrosity he created. I kept retreating until I felt my body come into a contact with a large, mushy substance. I turned my head around and launched myself backward, screaming in terror at the sight of another monster directly behind me.

The sound of my cries caught the attention of the two beings near the truck, and each looked up at me. The tall man cocked his head, apparently surprised by my presence. I picked myself up and hastily made my way to the street opposite of the monsters and the man, curling my fingers around a broken street lamp. The tall man raised his hand and motioned towards me, commanding the beasts to advance forward. Advance they did, and I found myself running as fast as I could in the opposite direction. More creatures began to follow me. Some came from the sewer pipes below, some emerged from the defiled houses to my right and left. They stood as tall as trees, crawling and shuffling on spider-like arms and legs. They had many eyes, and I felt each one peering into my soul.

No matter how fast I sprinted, the creatures were faster. They were quickly gaining on me, and I was becoming weary. I hopped over a nearby fence, only to see the hellish horrors chasing me break through them with overwhelming strength. They tripped over each other, hunger illuminating within each of their eyes. Their mouths stood agape with dozens of rows of teeth protruding from black gums. Their bodies smelled of rot and decay even though the humans they were composed of were only freshly dead. I saw what they had done to the environment. The destruction and chaos they brought with them were at an unprecedented scale, their darkness and evil intent swallowing up and spitting out all structures and creatures in site.

Their roars they emitted radiated within my skull, and it was maddening. I clutched my ears and screamed in agony, desperate to escape the noise. Through it all, I could hear the bellowing laughter of the tall man in the distance, his deep and distorted voice filled with malice. The chanting of the strange language I couldn't discern echoed within my mind, causing an intense migraine that made me collapse to the ground and hold my head. My eyes clenched shut as I screamed and kicked my legs in the air and ground my teeth, my head throbbing. The air had become impossibly hot, and I began sweating profusely. I knew what that meant, and I opened my eyes only to be met with hundreds of eyes peering back at me.

I felt a myriad of hands and feet press down against my body as the swarm encompassed my body, I struggled to break free, but they were stronger than I ever was. I felt their bones scrape against my body and slash my skin, causing various streams of blood to formulate around me. I felt my eyes began to flutter, darkness beginning to overwhelm my vision. Then, I remembered something. The mask! I had been so wrapped up in the nightmarish scenario playing out before me that I forgot about it. I tried to wiggle my arms free of the monsters. I just needed to slip the damn mask off. I screamed as one of the beasts picked my head up and slammed it hard against the concrete. My vision went blurry and the world began to spin. I thought it was the end of my existence. I thought I would cease to be, consumed whatever evil forces were attacking me.

I closed my eyes and prepared myself for my fate. However, it wasn't my screams that I began to hear, nor was it the screams of the tall man. No, it was the screams of the creatures in front of me. I opened my eyes to witness several of them darting away, and to my right I saw several others, their bodies oozing a strange substance as they lay on the ground, unmoving.

"Get up, we have to get moving before they come back."

A rather large fellow in khakis and a bloodied white shirt stood behind me. He extended his hand, and I took it.

"Quickly, follow me," He said to me, his tone dead serious.

"Hey man, thanks for the assist. Who are you," I inquired. How had a soul survived in this horrible place? I wanted to escape then and there, to pull my mask off and end the reality I resided in. However, I needed answers.

The man faced me whilst jogging backward. His sunglasses stopped me from seeing where exactly his eyes were, but I assumed they were looking into mine.

"I'm just a pizza delivery boy living in a post-apocalyptic world."

"And your name," I asked.

"Name? The name is Edward Jaygel, but you can just refer to me as EJ."

"Edward, that was incredible! How the hell did you take those things out like that?"

A small fluorescent glow emitted from EJ's belt. The light seemed to surround a large combat knife. He must have noticed that I was viewing it because he grimaced and shifted his shirt and pants in an attempt to conceal the weapon.

"Once you've stayed in a place like this long enough, you learn a couple of things."

I hesitated before speaking once more, unsure of whether or not to ask about blade he tried to hide. I decided not to and tried changing topics.

"So, where are we heading?"

EJ ignored my question and lead me down a tight alleyway and came to a stop in front a rusty door padlocked shut. He unlocked it and opened the door. He reached his hand into the darkness ahead and flicked the light switch up, causing a warm glow to flood the space ahead. A staircase leading down into the ground appeared, and EJ re-locked the door before descending the steps. I followed him and closed the door behind me. Stuffing my hands into my pockets, I took note of the heavy concrete walls around me. We were in a bunker of sorts.

EJ and I found ourselves at the bottom of the stairs, and a large square room crafted from stone stood before us. There were a few sets of wooden furniture scattered around, but besides that the area was empty. EJ pulled up a chair and sat in it backward, looking long and hard at me. I leaned against the wall and tried to avoid eye contact, but he just wouldn't stop staring. After a long silence, I decided to speak up.

"Why did you bring me here EJ?"

He finally looked away and tilted his head upward, looking at the concrete ceiling.

"You looked like you needed help, Marcus. Where else did you have to go?"

I froze. I hadn't told him my name yet. How did he know? How could he...

"Ej, how did you know my name?"

EJ's eyebrows shifted and his face changed into one of confusion.

"Hm, whatcha mean," He replied.

"I never told you my name. Not once. How did you know my name was Marcus."

He got up from his chair and walked to the other corner of the room. He let his eyes fall to the ground and placed his fingers upon the cold walls.

"Oh, I know a lot of things Marcus... Marcus Wade. Deceased man, who has spent his entire afterlife wondering how and why. Those two questions have been your entire existence, along with the guilt of your past and actions that haunt you. Some actions which you have done even after death."

I balled my hand into a fist and glared at EJ, my entire body beginning to tremble.

"Who the hell are you, and how do you know me?"

He chuckled and looked up at me, showing a mouth full of teeth. It... unnerved me, to say the least. I pressed my back against the wall and never stopped let my eyes wander from the man across the room.

"Thanks for coming, Marcus. I'm glad I have this opportunity to speak to you one on one."

"What do you mean by that? Were you expecting me? What is this place, who are you? Answer my questions damn it!"

"Yea, I've been expecting you. For the longest time now, in fact. I'm glad I found you in time, those things were all over you. I was almost too late to save you."

By this point, I knew he wouldn't tell me anything about him. I looked him over. There was no way I could restrain or beat someone his size. I decided it would be a better use of my time to find answers to other, perhaps more important questions I had. I would try to pry more info out of him later. Maybe he knew about the afterlife and could help me in some way. There was nothing normal about this guy after all, and he was clearly withholding information.

"What are those things, anyway? Those... creatures."

"Those are what we survivors call the few. They are beings not from this Earth which, ironically enough, embody humans. They are dangerous and can be made from the carcasses of man."

I was left speechless upon hearing this. I didn't want to believe it, but how couldn't I? I had seen with my very eyes the way that monster was molded by the dead.

"How did they... hurt me? I'm dead, aren't I? How did they injure me like that if I can't be hurt or killed."

I rubbed my head and winced as the pain coursed through my body. It was a sensation which I hadn't felt in the longest time. EJ chuckled once again, which immediately grabbed my attention.

"This world isn't like your own. You're in an entirely different reality, formulated by what may or may not happen depending on how you live your afterlife. While you spectate this realm, you can be hurt and killed. There are no boundaries which can't be crossed here. Sadly, I have no clue what would happen to you should you be killed. "

How I lived my afterlife? All of this was connected to me? How could this entire world and its fate be determined by one man? I couldn't believe it myself. Such a concept seemed impossible.

"Damn it how do you know all of this!? Who are you?"

My voice became louder as my anger rose through the roof. I had only found myself with more questions than answers and it was driving me utterly insane. EJ narrowed his eyes, not too pleased with my attitude.

"I watched it unfold. All of it. I have seen the world end and the rise of the creatures who terrorize this place. I have witnessed countless lives being lost, and I have seen terrors beyond anything I could ever imagine. I know things, Marcus. I may not know everything, but I know enough to know that the future lies in your hands."

Yes, you read that right. This guy had told me to my face that my very actions could affect the fate of countless lives. I was just as confused and skeptical as you are, reader. What made me so special? Why would such a burden be placed on me?

"The man," I muttered under my breath.

"Excuse me," EJ replied, asking me to repeat myself.

"Who is the tall man I saw."

"The one who controlled the monsters," Asked EJ in an attempt towards clarification.

"Yes, who is he and what does he want?"

EJ walked towards me and took a deep breath. I could see regret formulating within his eyes. I listened closely, knowing whatever he had to say would be especially important.

"Marcus, some men just want to watch the world burn, just to gain the satisfaction of knowing they were the ones to accomplish such an evil deed. That man embodies that ideology. He's a power-hungry manipulator who tampers in forces unknown to even him to gain what he wants. In this case, what he wants is the death of suffering of every man, woman, and child he can find."

I eyed him warily, and he seemed to tell what I was thinking before I could even say it.

"Yes, Marcus. I do know a lot more than I should about this man and the dark arts he dips in to. In truth, I used to work with him closely. I helped him with his goals until I too was to be sacrificed for the cause. That was when I barely escaped with my life. It's why I stand against him now. If I don't, I will be killed, and my body will be used to craft more of these demonic freaks he creates."

I was at a loss. This guy worked with the tall man? If that were the case, what were his true motives? Was he truly trying to survive and help me save the innocents who would be affected by the coming catastrophe, or was this part of a far less righteous plan?

"How can I trust you then? How can I trust someone who was okay with that kind of plan until it started becoming bad for them?"

"Because if you don't trust me, you'll be allowing the death of many, and you're going to send the rest of your afterlife reviewing the memories of how you neglected to be the man you need to be. You will spend the rest of eternity filled to the brim with regret and guilt, all because you didn't listen to me."

I paced back and forth, placing my hands over my face and groaning under my breath. I had lived my entire life being selfish. Was I really going to spend my afterlife the same way? I thought for a moment. I had the chance to make up for all my shortcomings. I had a chance to forgive myself, and perhaps... even forgive myself for what happened that fateful Halloween night. I had the chance to save people. The chance to prove to myself I was different than the man I was in life.

"Sure, I'll help you. What do I need to do?"

EJ unveiled the blade and showed it to me. It was the most magnificent object I had ever laid my eyes upon.

"What is that," I asked. I had never seen something so magnificent. I wasn't sure how or why, but when I looked at the clean metal and saw my reflection within it, something powerful resonated within my very soul.

"This right here is the weapon of choice to defeat those beats which lurk within the night. It was the tall man's way of ensuring that if the mischievous creatures ever turned on him, he would be able to defend himself and survive. It has been blessed with the otherworldly powers the man has knowledge of. I stole it after abandoning him and his followers to protect myself."

The tall man was behind all of this. He was some kind of crazy cult leader of sorts, and he had brainwashed people into sacrificing themselves for him just so he could make these monsters to do his bidding. I felt as if I would puke. Such actions disgusted me.

"Some say the tall man is a demon within a human's body. Others say that he is chaos incarnate or some sort of warlord god who only exists to wreak havoc across the Earth. Truthfully, I believe that no matter what he is, this blade I possess may be the key to destroying him. Mortal or demon, the supernatural power this weapon holds can defeat any being it can cut through, and that includes the tall man's flesh."

EJ looked once more, ensuring that I had picked up on all that he said. I nodded my head up and glanced at the weapon, my eyes reflecting off the steel.

"Look, Marcus, I know this is a lot to take in. I know that this information has turned your reality upside down, but I need you to work with me. I'm kind of like you in a way, you know? I have regrets from the past. I've done horrible things to help forward the goals of a megalomaniac, things far worse than you can imagine. I'm trying to make up for those mistakes and maybe do something good for the world. I know you can relate to that."

He was right. There was nothing I wanted more than to do good for the world in order to repay society for becoming the man I was. Once I died, I thought that I could never make amends. Now, I had an opportunity to do something positive.

"The universe chose me to help you. I saw visions of you and your afterlife. I saw the potential within you when I dreamt. Some sort of force that exists gave me those visions for a reason. It's how I knew where you would be today. I think the visions, the afterlife you experienced, and my situation are all connected."

Could his words be true? They made more sense than the events I had seen unfold. I was to stop a crazy cult leader that summons demons to terrorize Earth. I was truly dumbfounded and overwhelmed.

"You still haven't answered my question. How am I connected to all this? What makes me the one? Why did you have these visions of me?"

I had to know. I so desperately needed the answer to the most important question I had. EJ looked dead into my eyes, his face completely straight.

"Because Marcus, you were the first man to be killed in order to bring forth these evil creatures who reside in the darkest parts of reality. That is how I knew who you were after seeing you within my mind. All of the tall man's followers have heard of you. The very first one to be sacrificed."

I felt faint and stumbled back a few feet. EJ rushed over to me and came to my assistance, helping me maintain balance. Everything felt so surreal and I felt so... I don't know how to describe it. I suppose it would most closely relate to disbelief, but even that doesn't accurately represent the state of emotional and mental turmoil I experienced.

"You mean... my body is in one of those things? You mean I was used as a vessel to... to murder others?"

EJ sat me down into a corner of the room, a look of concern and pity simultaneously expressed on his face.

"Try not to think of it that way. You were a victim, Marcus. I know how it may sound, but you are not at fault for the actions of others. You've already experienced enough grief. Please don't allow this revelation to upset you further."

He was right. I hadn't enough time to feel guilty over this as well. I already had enough problems weighing me down, and I had no room for more. I had a job to do, and I intended to do it to the best of my ability.

A loud thumping noise could be heard above us. EJ looked up and grimaced towards the ceiling.

"C'mon, let's go," EJ commanded.

He hurried up the stairs in front of us, and I followed suit. He opened the door and we walked outside together, taking in our surroundings.

"If you are going to be the one to save people, then you should learn how to defend yourself," EJ said to me, handing me the hilt of the blade he carried.

I took the weapon and held it tightly within my hand. EJ pressed his finger against his lips and crept forward, peeking around the edge of a building near him. I silently walked toward him and looked as well. One of "The Few" stood in the middle of the street, viciously nawing on the carcass of some sort of animal.

EJ motioned me to advance towards the beast.

"It's ok, I'm right behind you," He told me. I believed him. If things got bad, I could just take off my mask and escape to safety at any time.

I got within a few feet of the monster, being as stealthy as possible. I raised the dagger, and with all the strength I could muster, I launched myself toward the beast. I jammed the blade into the pulsating human flesh before me, and the creature screamed with the moans of dozens of humans in intense pain. I stabbed again and again, and the monstrous foe did its best to shake me off. I was flung against a nearby vehicle with such intensity that it knocked the breath out of me.

I grasped for the handle of the knife and stood once more, facing the spazzing demon in my sight. It oozed blond and rotting, liquified muscle from the punctures I made in it. It rushed towards me, using its many hands to grab me. I sliced each one that I could before it released me and, in a fit of rage, rushed me with its mouth wide open. With one swift strike, I rammed the blade into the roof of its mouth. Its various eyes rolled back as the creature fell to the ground, defeated by my hand.

EJ came to my side and patted me on the shoulder, his smile clear and apparent.

"See? You're a natural. Don't worry about having overwhelming strength or speed with that thing equipped. A single strike can cause unbelievable pain within even the toughest of enemies, as you just saw."

I admired the tool within my hand, its edge now soaked in blood. Maybe I was strong enough to defeat the evil forces which would consume the world. Maybe... maybe I could do something meaningful in my existence.

"Now Marcus, you know what you have to do, don't you?"

I nodded my head. I was ready for the mission I was tasked with. I was ready to do what I had to do to stop the tall man from murdering many. I smiled a bit. I would finally have my revenge as well. Revenge to those who killed me and damned me to be left alone with my own thoughts. I would finally be free, and whatever forces that control the afterlife I reside in have graced me with a chance to free myself of that which burdens me and move on.

To those of you reading this, I will do what I can to defeat the tall man and his hell spawn. Some of you may be affected if I fail. You could possibly lose those you love, and perhaps even yourself. It is that realization which motivates me to do this and be the man I need to be. Perhaps, be the man I wish I could have been all along.

EJ placed his hand on my ski mask.

"I'm going to take this off now. You must return to your own time and reality. I am certain that the abstract being behind all of this will supply you with whatever you need to complete your destiny. Godspeed to you, Marcus."

I saw my vision begin to distort as my room came back into view. The room where I would come to my computer and type this to you. However, I heard EJ one last time before everything went back to normal. I heard him say one more thing that would haunt me even now and might continue to do for.

"Thank you for bringing my mask back, by the way, I've missed it.”

3
Story Critique / The Afterlife Can Be an Unusual Place
« on: 06:48:04 PM 11/06/18 »
Okay then... where do I even start?

Things have been crazy since my last update, and that means a lot coming from a person from me. I'm pretty sure this house I'm in is going to torn down soon, and once that happens, I'm not sure what I'll do. I suppose I'll try to focus on the present for now before I concern myself with the future. I'm going to attempt writing to the few people who might find this story. I'm in a bit of a rush, as there is much to explain in so little time.

If you are up to date with the story so far, you may know of my concerns about the coming Halloween. As it turns out, these fears were almost completely unfounded. Perhaps my dread of what was the come blurred my vision at the time. Thankfully, law enforcement kept close watch of the property, not allowing any trespassers to find their way into the house. I wish that it ended that way. I wish I could say nothing else happened and all ended well. Unfortunately, you wouldn't be reading this story if that was the case.

Would you believe me if I told that my entire existence would turn out to be stranger than it ever had been before? Would you believe me if... if I told you that it has been a couple of months since I last updated you on my predicament, despite the technology in front of you saying otherwise? I've been stranded in this house with only my mind to keep me company, and the seclusion has been tampering with my mind. I'm not even sure what's real and what isn't.

I chuckle at how drastically different I think and feel between this story and the last. It must be odd to you to see me like this. I'm a bit flustered right now in all honesty. I swear that there is something out there watching me. I don't think it's a being. It seems like an abstract force of nature, and that's all I can think to describe it as. Certain things just don't add up, and I'm not sure if they ever will. Still, I'm hungry for answers which seem unattainable at the time being. It's almost like an itch I can't seem to scratch.

Perhaps I may have seen this coming all along. The strange occurrences that seem to happen out of nowhere. The computer incident in its entirety, my entrapment in the house. Things like that don't happen without reason. No matter how wonky this afterlife can be, there must be someone or something maintaining the rules of this place, right? It can't all just be a big coincidence I have the power to type to you guys either. There has to be a meaning behind it all and thinking of all the possibilities drives me crazy. I have found myself staring up at the ceiling in deep thought, pondering for hours at a time about my situation.

I remember on Halloween night watching the police cars outside the house, making out men in uniform walking by through the tiny slits within the barriers attached to the windows. They stood menacingly, glaring at every child who passed by. Not a single meddler stood a chance of entering the property, so I knew I could relax a bit and try keeping my mind occupied. One of the best ways to keep boredom at bay is browsing the internet, but this night would be different. Upon sitting on the wooden chair and looking at the monitor, I found myself rolling my eyes at a familiar, rather annoying sight to see. There was yet another app on the screen which I had never seen before. I stared at it, not moving a muscle. I slowly moved the pointer to select it but stopped once I found myself hovering over the application.

I leaned back in my chair and placed my hands on my head, looking upwards. There was no way in hell I was going to open the app. I looked down at my palms, watching them twitch slightly. My eyebrows shifted as I stood up and walked to the door, slamming it shut. I marched downstairs and leaned against the wall, closing my eyes and breathing deeply. Why the hell would I open it? Why would I repeat the actions that lead to the death of a child, and forced me into seclusion?

Time seemed to come to a standstill that night. I constantly found myself checking the clock, sitting on the staircase. I found it hard to think clearly about anything, my mind occupied with the trauma I recently experienced. If you have ever been in a situation like mine, you'll understand my state of internal turmoil. That Halloween night, I sat with tears staining my face, curled into a ball on the hardwood. This was nothing new to me... I had been doing that since last Halloween. I guess I'm not exactly the best at coping, but it's hard to move on when only your thoughts can keep me company.

Before you ask, I have tried to contact the living over the internet. I have tried to email relatives, send messages, and even enter various facetiming services. I can't seem to connect to those at all. I am confined to certain parts of the internet where my existence can be kept under wraps. This only further proved my theory that there were indeed rules to this place, and something was seemingly controlling them as it pleased. However, my greatest evidence towards this presented itself as sleep overcame me.

Ironically, my dreams had been vacant despite the vast amounts of pain and guilt I had been through. As soon as my mind plunged into restful darkness, I would sleep rather peacefully through the entire night, worn out by the tears I've shed. That night, however, was different. The first thing I saw after passing out was a room of pure darkness. It took a while for my eyes to adjust, but I soon began stumbling around until I felt my fingers touch the surface of the wall. I allowed that surface to guide me around the room until I felt a switch, and then I flicked it upwards.

The room was immediately flooded with bright lights, the sudden shift forcing me to shield my eyes with my hands. After a few seconds, I let my eyes get used to the light and surveyed the area around me. I was greeted with the sight of hundreds of wires spreading out across the floor. Various large monitors adorned the walls of the room, and in the middle of it all was a single white computer, each and every wire entering it from its countless ports. I recognized the computer as the same one within the white room where my story truly began.

I approached the computer cautiously, fully aware of my movements within the dream world. In retrospect, that may have been the second lucid dream I had ever experienced. I allowed my fingers to curl around the chair in front of the desk, my ears perking up with each mechanical sound that occurred within the room. As I began sliding the chair out to take a seat, I felt something on my shoulder. It was a hand... slowly pulling me backward. My heart stopped and I froze, unsure what I should do. The fingers on my skin were cold as ice, and they longer and larger than what any normal human could ever possess.

I winced as the hand owner's equally chilly breath stung the back of my neck, causing my hairs to stand up perfectly straight. I took a deep breath, telling myself over and over than it was all just a dream. Whatever was behind me wasn't real, and nothing it could do to me could hurt me in the long run. Clenching my fist tightly, I turned and laid my eyes on the thing behind me. I jumped back a bit upon seeing its face. A single eyeball was unnaturally placed into the things head, almost as if it was lodge in there rather than grown. It had no mouth, no hears, nor did it have any skin. It was a being of muscle and bone, the only actual tissue being the hands which it had used to touch me.

I backed away from the figure, staring at it with bewildered eyes. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It towered over me menacingly, shuffling forward periodically until I found myself pressed against the desk. It leaned over and stared at me with its large eye, seemingly studying me. Without notice, I felt a searing pain in my ribs. I screamed out loud and looked down, only to find that one of the creature's bony appendages had been jammed into me. I was only able to watch in horror as the bone was dragged upwards, further tearing at my flesh. Several agonizing cries were emitted from my throat. I couldn't even recognize my own voice amidst the shrill cries, for they were almost animal-like in nature.

I looked upon the monstrosity before me, my heart slamming against my chest. My lip quivered as the beads of sweat ran down my forehead and onto the ground, mixing with the pools of crimson blood. My legs wobbled, and I collapsed to the ground, completely helpless. Several inhuman grunts and gurgles were made by the foul creature before it picked me up and threw me in front of the computer. It pulled me by my hair and forced my face in front of the computer screen, making me watch as a single app sat within my vision. It was the same app I had neglected to open earlier, and it consumed the entire screen. The creature leaned in and practically pressed its moist lips against my ear, whispering ever so softly in a hoarse, inhuman voice.

"Open it Marcus"

"Open it Marcus"

"Open it Marcus"

These words repeated for what felt like an eternity, each syllable dragging on forever. No matter how much I struggled, the creature's grip was too strong, and I could not escape. The words echoed within my mind, the whisper becoming louder and louder until it felt as if my eardrums would burst. It came as a shock to me that, as soon as I thought I couldn't take it anymore, the voice suddenly became silent. I fell to the ground as I realized that I was no longer being held in place. I spun my head around, only to find an empty room behind me.

I arose and dusted myself off, holding my head in pain. A throbbing sensation within my cranium was all that I could truly focus on for a while before I was able to return my vision to the computer. I stared at the app and read the text underneath it. As it turns out, the file was now titled "Open_Me_Marcus."

I woke up soon after that, and the very first thing I did was rush to my room. I threw the door open and stepped inside, hastily approaching the computer and turning it on. I impatiently tapped my foot on the ground as I waited for it to boot up, and once it did, I was greeted with the home screen. Right in the very center of the monitor was a familiar sight. A single application. I'm sure you already know what its title was.

By this point, my heart was beating at rates I hadn't previously thought possible. It was then I knew that something wanted me to open the app, and all of my theories about some type of force controlling my experiences did in fact exist. There were certain rules I had to follow, and if I didn't follow them, I would be punished. I had little to no control over my destiny, and this realization caused me to strike the desk before me with great force. What had I done to deserve such treatment? Could my "crimes" within the mortal realm really have been so terrible as to warrant a punishment like this? I kicked and punched everything within sight, repeating various swears and curses out loud.

It took me a while to settle down and catch my breath. There is a certain point where you lose control of your body and mind once you are angry enough. It took me several dozen minutes of rage-induced destruction across the room to finally come to my senses. I viewed the clutter and mess I had made and took a long, deep breath, somewhat relieved to have gotten my energy out. This form of retaliation would be useless to stop whatever was happening to me, and I knew it. I also knew what I had to after these events, because even in my state of anger the computer remained unharmed. I peered at the screen before sitting down in the chair and gripping the mouse. I hovered the pointer over the app, closed my eyes, and double-clicked.

I opened to eyes to be met with a blue screen in front of me, followed by several seconds of the flickering of a strobe. Strange sounds were produced by the machinery. and then the monitor faded to black. It proceeded to restart and reopen itself. Then, the home screen came into view, followed by a white text box with a blue link in it. Clicking the link opened the browser app to a seemingly unlisted YouTube video with zero views. The video began to play, and I squinted to get a better view of what it contained due to the poor lighting of the recording.

From what I could make out, a silent cameraman was walking down a street in the dark. Despite the poor lighting of the video, the quality was stunning, and the video was capable of running at 1080P. It was because of this that I was able to identify a bright neon sign the camera passed by. I paused the recording and looked closely, trying to discern the words on the sign. It appeared to be a street name. I won't release it of course, but I can tell you that my eyes widened as I realized that it was my street.

The camera passed by a few more houses before coming to a stop and turning to the right. The camera focused on a large house in front of it. I gasped under my breath as the lens zoomed in on the familiar structure. It was at that moment that my breathing came to a standstill. I rose from the chair and slowly made my way to my bedroom window which gave me a full view of the front yard. I didn't see a single person out there except for a patrol car parked nearby. I returned to my seat and continued watching the footage. The video now showed my front door, completely ajar.

Once again, I leaped out of my seat and rushed downstairs, only to find nothing there. The door was still closed, and there was nobody outside. I had thought that the YouTube video I was watching was a live stream of some kind, but it turns out it really was just a recording. I shivered at the thought of someone recording themselves within my own home before returning upstairs. Thinking about the connection between the video and whatever was making my experience in the afterlife the way it was, I realized that it was more than likely that the cameraman wasn't a human at all, but something else. I stopped dead in my tracks. Could it be... the thing keeping me here? I already knew the video had some relation to the theory about my predetermined fate, but could the camera operator be that very force? There was only one way to find out, and so I returned to the video.

The recording showed the cameraman ascending to the second story of the house. I didn't notice it at first, but not a single stair on made a sound. The footage transitioned to my bedroom door. Once more the doorknob was in full view, yet the door opened without being touched. I instinctively turned my head to look behind me, only to find nothing there at all. The camera operator then approached my desk, and for the first time in the entire video, I got a glimpse of the person's body. An arm extended and opened one of the drawers attached to my desk, placing something inside. I couldn't see what the object was, because it was just out of view of the camera. Once the operator was done with its task, it turned around and exited the room, the footage cutting to black.

I closed the tab and found my eyes wandering to the drawer shown within the video. My curiosity had reached its peak now, so I gave it a slight tug until it opened. I stooped down and peered into it, looking for anything conspicuous that could be in there. Let's just say... it wasn't hard to find. Let's also say that when I did find it, I launched myself back and placed my hand over my heart, vainly attempting to breathe as my lungs seemed to collapse in on themselves. There inside of the drawer, was a black mask. The same black mask my attacker wore on the fateful night of my death.

I simply could not comprehend what had happened, it showed as my breathing became exasperated and my legs felt liquified. Sudden realizations soon hit me as I sat there on the floor, shaken to my core. The windows weren't boarded up in the video. The house looked in better condition than it was now, and the inside of it seemed decent. That recording... was taken before my murder. But how the hell did the cameraman sneak into my house like that? Millions of questions rushed through my mind as I struggled to think of answers for each of them. In my state of panic and hysteria, it took me a while to really get to the important ones I should be focusing on.

Who is the camera operator? Why would he put the mask into the drawer if he was just going to use it later during my murder. The timelines simply didn't add up in my mind. If the cameraman was my murder, why would he sneak into my house, sneak out again, break into my house and kill me, and then sneak back in before the police arrived but after I died just to put the mask in the drawer? Nobody in their right mind would do that, it simply made no sense. It was almost as if the person did it just to mess with me, like it knew all of this would happen and I'd see this specific recording in the... it was if it knew that my afterlife would be this way and made the video to torment me.

My beating heart and fast breathing suddenly stopped as I found my eyes wide open, unblinking. The unlisted video introduced to me by the app, the nature of the video, and the mask inside my drawer specifically for me to find once I was dead. There appeared to be a clear and distinct connection between the man who was presumably my murderer and the force controlling my afterlife. As my mind wandered to these almost outlandish possibilities, a single horrifying thought entered my brain. What if... my murderer and the force controlling my afterlife are the same?

I shuddered at the very idea. My killer tormenting me in the eternal afterlife is a horrifying thought. Him pulling all the strings, torturing me mentally and physically. That possibility would answer some of the questions I had about what was happening to me. It would explain why I experienced so many nightmares and horrific scenarios in death, why I was plagued with the awful memories of my life, and why the murderer was never found by the authorities. It would be impossible to capture someone like that, wouldn't it?

I advanced toward the ski mask and extended my arm. My fingers grazed the black fabric. It felt moist... very much so. I picked it up and looked it over. I don't know why, but I was intrigued. I felt an attraction to the object. A strange sort of aura surrounded the mask, causing a shift in the air. Everything in the background seemed to fade out of view, and then, out of some sort of inner instinct within me, I put the mask on.

The dark material blinded my vision for a moment. I slid the mask down until my eyes were matched up with the eyeholes. and then I was able to see the area before me. It wasn't my home. In truth, I had no clue where it was. Everything seemed completely different. Before me was a barren landscape where broken down houses stood, charred by fire. The sun had set, and the moon had risen, its glow revealing the chipped road leading down an abandoned street, every sign in the distance dull and faded.

I ripped the mask off and looked around, back in my room. The place I had previously been was gone. What... the... hell. I stared at the mask longer, completely bewildered by it. What had I just seen? I carefully put it back on, intent on seeing the devastation once more. Sure enough, I saw what I had seen previously. Chaos flooded my vision.

I trekked along the road of broken gravel, wary of the broken glass and metal pipes spread around as far as the eye could see. I saw not a single breathing lifeform. The vegetation around me had dried and rotted. Cars were broken down and melting from the intense fires burning on top of them. It appeared as if the entire world had collapsed in on itself. As I progressed through the treacherous landscape, I began to hear a sound in the distance. It sounded like chanting ahead of me. Deep, distorted murmurs and whispers. I edged closer to the noise and found myself peeking around a corner, peering at the noise's origin.

About a dozen burning cars sat in a semi-circle, and in the middle of the ring was a single truck. In the bed of the truck stood a man. He was tall and muscular, and he held a dagger in one of his hands. A crowd of around a dozen people stood in front of the man, each kneeling down chanting. The man looked down upon what I could only assume were his followers. He smirked and opened his arms wide. Upon doing so, a man emerged from the crowd and approached the truck, dragging something with him. I cupped my hand over my mouth as I saw that it was a body he had in his grasp, and a small one at that. It was just a child.

I snuck closer and hid behind an overturned van a few dozen yards away from the circle. I peered over the top as the man threw the child onto the bed of the truck. The kid got up and looked at the man with the blade who towered above him. The child screamed, but only for a second. I shielded my eyes right before the dagger struck the kid's chest. I couldn't bear to see it unfold.

The body tumbled down to the ground, and the followers dragged the kid away. I then watched as they surrounded the kid in a full circle. The tall man mumbled something under his breath, and each follower withdrew a blade. In the blink of an eye, each man slid the blade across his neck and then collapsed to the ground. The leader hopped off the bed of the truck and made his way towards the writhing dead bodies. He stood before the pile and began screaming. The shrill cry echoed throughout the area, and it was so loud that I thought my ears would bleed. He was speaking a strange language I had never heard before. Then, something happened which I will never forget. I gasped as the bodies rose from the ground and opened their eyes. I watched, utterly mortified, as their skin began melting away and they all embraced each other, their flesh fusing together. I gagged and found it hard to breathe, yet I still found my eyes fixated on the form before me. The tall man smiled and stepped back, smiling. He was so proud of his work.

The air around me became hotter and filthier. I found it hard to breathe as embers and ashes rained from above and smoke filled the streets. The bodies in front of the tall man had melded together and began wriggling on the ground, inhuman cries of insurmountable pain echoing throughout my surroundings. Their arms and legs had been seemingly re-purposed to grow extra appendages, and the spines and bones inside of the once human bodies had been shifted to become exterior extremities, sharp blades protruding from the skin.

The creature shambled back and forth, attempting to keep its balance. It took a bit to grow accustomed to its new form, and then stood up on its two hind legs. The being roared into the night sky, slamming its hands and feet into the cars surrounding it, each blow having enough force to send the vehicles back about a dozen feet. I backed away from the scene slowly, hands trembling in fright. I no longer wished to be there in that nightmarish place any longer. I backed away further, always keeping my eyes on the tall man and the monstrosity he created. I kept retreating until I felt my body come into a contact with a large, mushy substance. I turned my head around and launched myself backward, screaming in terror at the sight of another monster directly behind me.

The sound of my cries caught the attention of the two beings near the truck, and each looked up at me. The tall man cocked his head, apparently surprised by my presence. I picked myself up and hastily made my way to the street opposite of the monsters and the man, curling my fingers around a broken street lamp. The tall man raised his hand and motioned towards me, commanding the beasts to advance forward. Advance they did, and I found myself running as fast as I could in the opposite direction. More creatures began to follow me. Some came from the sewer pipes below, some emerged from the defiled houses to my right and left. They stood as tall as trees, crawling and shuffling on spider-like arms and legs. They had many eyes, and I felt each one peering into my soul.

No matter how fast I sprinted, the creatures were faster. They were quickly gaining on me, and I was becoming weary. I hopped over a nearby fence, only to see the hellish horrors chasing me break through them with overwhelming strength. They tripped over each other, hunger illuminating within each of their eyes. Their mouths stood agape with dozens of rows of teeth protruding from black gums. Their bodies smelled of rot and decay even though the humans they were composed of were only freshly dead. I saw what they had done to the environment. The destruction and chaos they brought with them were at an unprecedented scale, their darkness and evil intent swallowing up and spitting out all structures and creatures in site.

Their roars they emitted radiated within my skull, and it was maddening. I clutched my ears and screamed in agony, desperate to escape the noise. Through it all, I could hear the bellowing laughter of the tall man in the distance, his deep and distorted voice filled with malice. The chanting of the strange language I couldn't discern echoed within my mind, causing an intense migraine that made me collapse to the ground and hold my head. My eyes clenched shut as I screamed and kicked my legs in the air and ground my teeth, my head throbbing. The air had become impossibly hot, and I began sweating profusely. I knew what that meant, and I opened my eyes only to be met with hundreds of eyes peering back at me.

I felt a myriad of hands and feet press down against my body as the swarm encompassed my body, I struggled to break free, but they were stronger than I ever was. I felt their bones scrape against my body and slash my skin, causing various streams of blood to formulate around me. I felt my eyes began to flutter, darkness beginning to overwhelm my vision. Then, I remembered something. The mask! I had been so wrapped up in the nightmarish scenario playing out before me that I forgot about it. I tried to wiggle my arms free of the monsters. I just needed to slip the damn mask off. I screamed as one of the beasts picked my head up and slammed it hard against the concrete. My vision went blurry and the world began to spin. I thought it was the end of my existence. I thought I would cease to be, consumed whatever evil forces were attacking me.

I closed my eyes and prepared myself for my fate. However, it wasn't my screams that I began to hear, nor was it the screams of the tall man. No, it was the screams of the creatures in front of me. I opened my eyes to witness several of them darting away, and to my right I saw several others, their bodies oozing a strange substance as they lay on the ground, unmoving.

"Get up, we have to get moving before they come back."

A rather large fellow in khakis and a bloodied white shirt stood behind me. He extended his hand, and I took it.

"Quickly, follow me," He said to me, his tone dead serious.

"Hey man, thanks for the assist. Who are you," I inquired. How had a soul survived in this horrible place? I wanted to escape then and there, to pull my mask off and end the reality I resided in. However, I needed answers.

The man faced me whilst jogging backward. His sunglasses stopped me from seeing where exactly his eyes were, but I assumed they were looking into mine.

"I'm just a pizza delivery boy living in a post-apocalyptic world."

"And your name," I asked.

"Name? The name is Edward Jaygel, but you can just refer to me as EJ."

"Edward, that was incredible! How the hell did you take those things out like that?"

A small fluorescent glow emitted from EJ's belt. The light seemed to surround a large combat knife. He must have noticed that I was viewing it because he grimaced and shifted his shirt and pants in an attempt to conceal the weapon.

"Once you've stayed in a place like this long enough, you learn a couple of things."

I hesitated before speaking once more, unsure of whether or not to ask about blade he tried to hide. I decided not to and tried changing topics.

"So, where are we heading?"

EJ ignored my question and lead me down a tight alleyway and came to a stop in front a rusty door padlocked shut. He unlocked it and opened the door. He reached his hand into the darkness ahead and flicked the light switch up, causing a warm glow to flood the space ahead. A staircase leading down into the ground appeared, and EJ re-locked the door before descending the steps. I followed him and closed the door behind me. Stuffing my hands into my pockets, I took note of the heavy concrete walls around me. We were in a bunker of sorts.

EJ and I found ourselves at the bottom of the stairs, and a large square room crafted from stone stood before us. There were a few sets of wooden furniture scattered around, but besides that the area was empty. EJ pulled up a chair and sat in it backward, looking long and hard at me. I leaned against the wall and tried to avoid eye contact, but he just wouldn't stop staring. After a long silence, I decided to speak up.

"Why did you bring me here EJ?"

He finally looked away and tilted his head upward, looking at the concrete ceiling.

"You looked like you needed help, Marcus. Where else did you have to go?"

I froze. I hadn't told him my name yet. How did he know? How could he...

"Ej, how did you know my name?"

EJ's eyebrows shifted and his face changed into one of confusion.

"Hm, whatcha mean," He replied.

"I never told you my name. Not once. How did you know my name was Marcus."

He got up from his chair and walked to the other corner of the room. He let his eyes fall to the ground and placed his fingers upon the cold walls.

"Oh, I know a lot of things Marcus... Marcus Wade. Deceased man, who has spent his entire afterlife wondering how and why. Those two questions have been your entire existence, along with the guilt of your past and actions that haunt you. Some actions which you have done even after death."

I balled my hand into a fist and glared at EJ, my entire body beginning to tremble.

"Who the hell are you, and how do you know me?"

He chuckled and looked up at me, showing a mouth full of teeth. It... unnerved me, to say the least. I pressed my back against the wall and never stopped let my eyes wander from the man across the room.

"Thanks for coming, Marcus. I'm glad I have this opportunity to speak to you one on one."

"What do you mean by that? Were you expecting me? What is this place, who are you? Answer my questions damn it!"

"Yea, I've been expecting you. For the longest time now, in fact. I'm glad I found you in time, those things were all over you. I was almost too late to save you."

By this point, I knew he wouldn't tell me anything about him. I looked him over. There was no way I could restrain or beat someone his size. I decided it would be a better use of my time to find answers to other, perhaps more important questions I had. I would try to pry more info out of him later. Maybe he knew about the afterlife and could help me in some way. There was nothing normal about this guy after all, and he was clearly withholding information.

"What are those things, anyway? Those... creatures."

"Those are what we survivors call the few. They are beings not from this Earth which, ironically enough, embody humans. They are dangerous and can be made from the carcasses of man."

I was left speechless upon hearing this. I didn't want to believe it, but how couldn't I? I had seen with my very eyes the way that monster was molded by the dead.

"How did they... hurt me? I'm dead, aren't I? How did they injure me like that if I can't be hurt or killed."

I rubbed my head and winced as the pain coursed through my body. It was a sensation which I hadn't felt in the longest time. EJ chuckled once again, which immediately grabbed my attention.

"This world isn't like your own. You're in an entirely different reality, formulated by what may or may not happen depending on how you live your afterlife. While you spectate this realm, you can be hurt and killed. There are no boundaries which can't be crossed here. Sadly, I have no clue what would happen to you should you be killed. "

How I lived my afterlife? All of this was connected to me? How could this entire world and its fate be determined by one man? I couldn't believe it myself. Such a concept seemed impossible.

"Damn it how do you know all of this!? Who are you?"

My voice became louder as my anger rose through the roof. I had only found myself with more questions than answers and it was driving me utterly insane. EJ narrowed his eyes, not too pleased with my attitude.

"I watched it unfold. All of it. I have seen the world end and the rise of the creatures who terrorize this place. I have witnessed countless lives being lost, and I have seen terrors beyond anything I could ever imagine. I know things, Marcus. I may not know everything, but I know enough to know that the future lies in your hands."

Yes, you read that right. This guy had told me to my face that my very actions could affect the fate of countless lives. I was just as confused and skeptical as you are, reader. What made me so special? Why would such a burden be placed on me?

"The man," I muttered under my breath.

"Excuse me," EJ replied, asking me to repeat myself.

"Who is the tall man I saw."

"The one who controlled the monsters," Asked EJ in an attempt towards clarification.

"Yes, who is he and what does he want?"

EJ walked towards me and took a deep breath. I could see regret formulating within his eyes. I listened closely, knowing whatever he had to say would be especially important.

"Marcus, some men just want to watch the world burn, just to gain the satisfaction of knowing they were the ones to accomplish such an evil deed. That man embodies that ideology. He's a power-hungry manipulator who tampers in forces unknown to even him to gain what he wants. In this case, what he wants is the death of suffering of every man, woman, and child he can find."

I eyed him warily, and he seemed to tell what I was thinking before I could even say it.

"Yes, Marcus. I do know a lot more than I should about this man and the dark arts he dips in to. In truth, I used to work with him closely. I helped him with his goals until I too was to be sacrificed for the cause. That was when I barely escaped with my life. It's why I stand against him now. If I don't, I will be killed, and my body will be used to craft more of these demonic freaks he creates."

I was at a loss. This guy worked with the tall man? If that were the case, what were his true motives? Was he truly trying to survive and help me save the innocents who would be affected by the coming catastrophe, or was this part of a far less righteous plan?

"How can I trust you then? How can I trust someone who was okay with that kind of plan until it started becoming bad for them?"

"Because if you don't trust me, you'll be allowing the death of many, and you're going to send the rest of your afterlife reviewing the memories of how you neglected to be the man you need to be. You will spend the rest of eternity filled to the brim with regret and guilt, all because you didn't listen to me."

I paced back and forth, placing my hands over my face and groaning under my breath. I had lived my entire life being selfish. Was I really going to spend my afterlife the same way? I thought for a moment. I had the chance to make up for all my shortcomings. I had a chance to forgive myself, and perhaps... even forgive myself for what happened that fateful Halloween night. I had the chance to save people. The chance to prove to myself I was different than the man I was in life.

"Sure, I'll help you. What do I need to do?"

EJ unveiled the blade and showed it to me. It was the most magnificent object I had ever laid my eyes upon.

"What is that," I asked. I had never seen something so magnificent. I wasn't sure how or why, but when I looked at the clean metal and saw my reflection within it, something powerful resonated within my very soul.

"This right here is the weapon of choice to defeat those beats which lurk within the night. It was the tall man's way of ensuring that if the mischievous creatures ever turned on him, he would be able to defend himself and survive. It has been blessed with the otherworldly powers the man has knowledge of. I stole it after abandoning him and his followers to protect myself."

The tall man was behind all of this. He was some kind of crazy cult leader of sorts, and he had brainwashed people into sacrificing themselves for him just so he could make these monsters to do his bidding. I felt as if I would puke. Such actions disgusted me.

"Some say the tall man is a demon within a human's body. Others say that he is chaos incarnate or some sort of warlord god who only exists to wreak havoc across the Earth. Truthfully, I believe that no matter what he is, this blade I possess may be the key to destroying him. Mortal or demon, the supernatural power this weapon holds can defeat any being it can cut through, and that includes the tall man's flesh."

EJ looked once more, ensuring that I had picked up on all that he said. I nodded my head up and glanced at the weapon, my eyes reflecting off the steel.

"Look, Marcus, I know this is a lot to take in. I know that this information has turned your reality upside down, but I need you to work with me. I'm kind of like you in a way, you know? I have regrets from the past. I've done horrible things to help forward the goals of a megalomaniac, things far worse than you can imagine. I'm trying to make up for those mistakes and maybe do something good for the world. I know you can relate to that."

He was right. There was nothing I wanted more than to do good for the world in order to repay society for becoming the man I was. Once I died, I thought that I could never make amends. Now, I had an opportunity to do something positive.

"The universe chose me to help you. I saw visions of you and your afterlife. I saw the potential within you when I dreamt. Some sort of force that exists gave me those visions for a reason. It's how I knew where you would be today. I think the visions, the afterlife you experienced, and my situation are all connected."

Could his words be true? They made more sense than the events I had seen unfold. I was to stop a crazy cult leader that summons demons to terrorize Earth. I was truly dumbfounded and overwhelmed.

"You still haven't answered my question. How am I connected to all this? What makes me the one? Why did you have these visions of me?"

I had to know. I so desperately needed the answer to the most important question I had. EJ looked dead into my eyes, his face completely straight.

"Because Marcus, you were the first man to be killed in order to bring forth these evil creatures who reside in the darkest parts of reality. That is how I knew who you were after seeing you within my mind. All of the tall man's followers have heard of you. The very first one to be sacrificed."

I felt faint and stumbled back a few feet. EJ rushed over to me and came to my assistance, helping me maintain balance. Everything felt so surreal and I felt so... I don't know how to describe it. I suppose it would most closely relate to disbelief, but even that doesn't accurately represent the state of emotional and mental turmoil I experienced.

"You mean... my body is in one of those things? You mean I was used as a vessel to... to murder others?"

EJ sat me down into a corner of the room, a look of concern and pity simultaneously expressed on his face.

"Try not to think of it that way. You were a victim, Marcus. I know how it may sound, but you are not at fault for the actions of others. You've already experienced enough grief. Please don't allow this revelation to upset you further."

He was right. I hadn't enough time to feel guilty over this as well. I already had enough problems weighing me down, and I had no room for more. I had a job to do, and I intended to do it to the best of my ability.

A loud thumping noise could be heard above us. EJ looked up and grimaced towards the ceiling.

"C'mon, let's go," EJ commanded.

He hurried up the stairs in front of us, and I followed suit. He opened the door and we walked outside together, taking in our surroundings.

"If you are going to be the one to save people, then you should learn how to defend yourself," EJ said to me, handing me the hilt of the blade he carried.

I took the weapon and held it tightly within my hand. EJ pressed his finger against his lips and crept forward, peeking around the edge of a building near him. I silently walked toward him and looked as well. One of "The Few" stood in the middle of the street, viciously nawing on the carcass of some sort of animal.

EJ motioned me to advance towards the beast.

"It's ok, I'm right behind you," He told me. I believed him. If things got bad, I could just take off my mask and escape to safety at any time.

I got within a few feet of the monster, being as stealthy as possible. I raised the dagger, and with all the strength I could muster, I launched myself toward the beast. I jammed the blade into the pulsating human flesh before me, and the creature screamed with the moans of dozens of humans in intense pain. I stabbed again and again, and the monstrous foe did its best to shake me off. I was flung against a nearby vehicle with such intensity that it knocked the breath out of me.

I grasped for the handle of the knife and stood once more, facing the spazzing demon in my sight. It oozed blond and rotting, liquified muscle from the punctures I made in it. It rushed towards me, using its many hands to grab me. I sliced each one that I could before it released me and, in a fit of rage, rushed me with its mouth wide open. With one swift strike, I rammed the blade into the roof of its mouth. Its various eyes rolled back as the creature fell to the ground, defeated by my hand.

EJ came to my side and patted me on the shoulder, his smile clear and apparent.

"See? You're a natural. Don't worry about having overwhelming strength or speed with that thing equipped. A single strike can cause unbelievable pain within even the toughest of enemies, as you just saw."

I admired the tool within my hand, its edge now soaked in blood. Maybe I was strong enough to defeat the evil forces which would consume the world. Maybe... maybe I could do something meaningful in my existence.

"Now Marcus, you know what you have to do, don't you?"

I nodded my head. I was ready for the mission I was tasked with. I was ready to do what I had to do to stop the tall man from murdering many. I smiled a bit. I would finally have my revenge as well. Revenge to those who killed me and damned me to be left alone with my own thoughts. I would finally be free, and whatever forces that control the afterlife I reside in have graced me with a chance to free myself of that which burdens me and move on.

To those of you reading this, I will do what I can to defeat the tall man and his hell spawn. Some of you may be affected if I fail. You could possibly lose those you love, and perhaps even yourself. It is that realization which motivates me to do this and be the man I need to be. Perhaps, be the man I wish I could have been all along.

EJ placed his hand on my ski mask.

"I'm going to take this off now. You must return to your own time and reality. I am certain that the abstract being behind all of this will supply you with whatever you need to complete your destiny. Godspeed to you, Marcus."

I saw my vision begin to distort as my room came back into view. The room where I would come to my computer and type this to you. However, I heard EJ one last time before everything went back to normal. I heard him say one more thing that would haunt me even now and might continue to do for.

"Thank you for bringing my mask back, by the way, I've missed it.”

4
Story Critique / A Silver Flame
« on: 10:29:19 PM 10/29/18 »
At first, David couldn't exactly tell what had ripped him from the loving caress of sleep. He had previously been sleeping in his comfortable home wrapped in a warm blanket and resting his head on a nice fluffy pillow. Annoyed, he rested his head down once again and gently let his eyes fall. It was then as he jolted upright in bed that he realized what had awoken him. Although almost drowned out in the wind that whistled a soft melody through the night, he could hear what sounded like footsteps and nails dragging across the wooden exterior of his home. Curious, David allowed the soles of his feet to plop on the warm rug beneath him. Although sleep still cooed him, he eventually dragged himself along the perimeter of his room to the window. There he drew the blinds to get a better look. The pitter-patter of rain thumped against the thin glass in a soft beat that David soon found himself humming to. Combined with the inky dark blackness of the night, his visibility was heavily impaired and he was unable to see what was making the noise.

David tucked himself back into his cozy bed. When he did this, as if on cue, the noise began again, irritating David more and more by the minute. Sleep evaded him now, and he knew with the repetitive sound lingering he could not and would not sleep at all. David jerked himself out of bed in frustration and trudged to the dresser where a thick black flashlight sat. He grabbed it firmly, its handle cold as ice despite the warmth and comfort of the room. David walked through the narrow halls of his home with determination illuminating his eyes like that of a bright fire. He approached the front door of the house and grabbed his heavy trench coat that hung on the coat hanger. And with that, he twisted the doorknob and exited the warmth and comfort of his dwelling. Now he faced the chilly Autumn air and the drizzling rain which pounded against his face and back. He crept down the steps that led to the front door and clicked the flashlight on, its bright yellow light penetrating the darkness. He walked around the sides of his house in search of any animal that might have been the origin of the noise. It was when he reached the rear of his home that he heard a peculiar sound from the wooded area behind him.

The sound was strange yet surprisingly human. David stood frozen in attention facing the woods. The shrill cries of what sounded like a man screaming for his life came from the intimidating outline of the enormous trees in the distance. They rocked gently in the wind and beckoned him to come closer, and the foliage at the entrance of the wood didn't bode well at all. David swallowed the saliva that had gathered in his mouth and stepped towards the woods. His mind naturally alerted him of the danger he felt, yet his actions betrayed his thoughts. Slowly and steadily he approached, gathering more and more distance from his home and closer to the underbrush. He felt the sensation of rain cease as his body went numb, and yet his mind was active. He yearned to see what could have made that noise, for curiosity, or maybe for the thrill. Whatever the case, he had gathered the courage to meet the edge of the woods and peer into the endless darkness.

The soaking underbrush grasped at his clothing like tiny fingers that desperately clung to every thread. His flashlight proved most ineffective as its once protective glow seemed to fade quite an exponential amount. Undeterred by this however, David set foot inside of the wood. He had been there many times, although never at night. In the darkness, his surroundings were unfamiliar to him. With each step, a moist leaf or twig underneath his boot squished and snapped. His body shuddered with each passing minute of his aimless trek, although whether this was caused by him being afraid or cold he was uncertain of. The eeriness of being in an unfamiliar place on a night such as this has no equal. His toes curled as the wind that once violently rattled the vegetation quieted, and the rain that persistently beat against his body turned into a light drizzle. The branches softly danced in the night, caressed by the wind and sprinkling water droplets from the night sky. The soft melody of the crickets ceased. It startled David how quiet the forest had become. As unsettling as the dark was, the persistent lack of noise invoked the strongest fears lurking in a man's soul.

David stood alone in the quiet of the woods with the only audible sound the soft tapping of water falling to the ground. He could hear his thoughts, the breeze, his breath, and even his heartbeat. He held no desire to move, just to stand and be still. Still as the nature surrounding him. Still as the firm oak that stood before him, an impenetrable wall of wood. And in the stillness of the night, his ears picked up a very familiar noise. It was a voice and a very raspy, sickly one indeed. One that made David forget the silence surrounding him. A voice that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. A voice that compelled him to run, but at the same time seek the origin of the noise. It was the weeping that had drawn him out of his home in the first place. Yes, the reason he was even out in the woods at all. He would have chuckled at himself upon the realization that he had forgotten why he was even out there if it weren't for how unsettled he was. The cry did indeed sound like a man crying... and yet, no man should have ever been able to make such a sound no matter how dire the situation he was in. It was that of terror and pain, yet David could have sworn he heard slight giggles amidst the crying.

David stood, for at the time that was all he felt he could do. He shuddered as the cry overcame the sound of the wind and was now all he could hear. It dragged out even further and its voice became scratchy and stressed. David wanted to retreat back to his home, perhaps call the police, maybe just go back to bed. And perhaps he would have had not the shriek stopped as abruptly as it had started.

David observed his surroundings now that his eyes were more adjusted to the darkness. He turned around and began to walk back to his house. He didn't know what lurked beyond his vision, and he didn't care to learn. And with that he turned and walked at a speedy pace, uncomfortable now with his current setting. He took long strides on a seemingly endless path that would return him from the trenches of the dark to his house. He could see the rays of light seeping through the windows, welcoming him with open arms. His heart slowed along with his breathing as he approached his house, so close to where he belonged. He walked into the driveway, gravel crunching beneath his feet. He ascended the front patio steps, the wood creaking from below. He reached his hand out and grasped the cold doorknob. He was home.

That's when he heard a loud thump from far behind him. David hustled inside and slammed the door shut. He locked the door and peered outside of his window towards the woods, which now appeared far more menacing than they had before. His eyes fixated on the forest line where he had heard the thump originate. He clicked his flashlight on and pointed it ahead, its bright fluorescent light illuminating the darkness. That's where he saw it. A figure, tall and dark, stood next to a tree. It wrapped its arm around the oak, resting its hand on a branch. Half of its body stayed hidden behind the tree, and the other half stood exposed. David cupped his hand over his lips, which now felt dry and parched. The two stared at each other for the longest time, never breaking their gaze. The creature then shifted its body, coming out of the tree line. It was then, by the light of the flashlight and the moon, that it was revealed. David squinted at the creature, his heart pounding in his chest, beating and screaming in fright. He had expected many things to emerge from behind the tree. Perhaps a monster, a ghost, maybe a demon from Hell that came to collect his soul. Anything but this.

There before him stood a man, and a man was all he was. David rubbed his eyes in disbelief, and when his eyes refocused on the man again he knew his eyes did not deceive him. There was nothing special about the man. He sported a large beard that swayed in the breeze, and possessed very long arms and legs. He was tall but slender, with only a few pieces of tattered clothes to shield him from the weather. David watched as the man sat on the ground in a crisscross fashion and rocked slowly with the wind. His lips moved as if speaking something, but David couldn't tell what he was saying. David sprinted to the kitchen and grabbed a large knife, the blade of which glimmered in the light. He also snatched his cellphone and rushed back to the window, not wanting to take his eyes off of the mysterious man lurking outside his home for too long. David’s breath became exasperated, and beads of sweat methodically trickled down his forehead and onto the back of his neck. His eyes were so strained that he thought they would pop out of their sockets.

The man moved from his sitting position. He uncurled his legs and pressed his fingertips on the ground, pushing himself up. He stood straight, facing towards the house, his eyes fixated on David. This is when David's head began to feel light. His surroundings dissolved before him and his eyes focused on the man outside. The sound of rain and wind were tuned out of his mind. He felt a pull, a strange feeling, one that could almost be described as a magnet attracting him, beckoning him to unlock his door and walk out. The only thing David paid any attention to now was himself, the stranger, and the thin sheet of glass serving as a viewpoint and barrier between the two. And then there was silence and stillness. The man remained unmoving, as did David, although David wasn't sure if he stayed still because of his concentration on the man or fear. And then the man outside took a step toward the house. And then another.

David's eyes widened as witnessed the man creeping towards his house. The man stopped suddenly and shifted his body toward the moon, staring at it seemingly in awe. David watched as the stranger licked his lips in hunger towards the moon and opened his mouth. It was then that he howled. This sudden noise startled David out of his daze. He felt a hammering sensation pounding his head, causing him to collapse to the floor with a thud. Winded, he rubbed his head with his hand and got onto his knees, coughing and wheezing. The warm house now felt cold as his hands met the mahogany floor. He grasped the windowsill and hoisted himself up, stumbling a bit from his unexplained hangover. He regained his composure and glanced at the window. There stood the man, face pressed against the window, inches away from David's face. David could see the man now, in full detail. He was an older man with grey hair covered in filth. His eyes shone a bright silver, and he sported a curvaceous smile. His skin was wrinkly and leathery with a very strange texture. His lips pressed against the slick glass, following David's gaze. David’s body began to shudder fiercely. He was absolutely terrified. Keeping his attention on the man, he slipped his hand into his pockets and pulled out his cellphone.

The light that emitted from the phone's screen provided a strange feeling of comfort to David, perhaps because he could contact help. He didn't feel as in danger and hoped the strange man would get the hint that he was calling the police and leave. He clicked the phone icon and typed 911 in. David placed the phone to his ear, relieved that he would soon be safe at last. That's when the man smirked at David. Like an igniting flame, his silver eyes looked right at David's. David returned his gaze. He could have sworn the man's eyes flickered like a candle losing its fire. The man's pupils then burned intensely. A strange feeling of unease and acceptance mixed together to form the feeling he remembered. The feeling he had experienced earlier. Did he feel plagued by... comfort?

"911, what's your emergency?"

David heard the female operator speaking to him, but it seemed to be in the back of his mind. He was far more focused on what was before him.

"Hello, are you there? Are you ok, how may we assist you?"

David tried to respond to her. He wanted to tell her what was going on. He needed help. But he just felt so safe.

"Uh, yea... I just, uh."

His voice trailed off. He couldn't explain what was wrong. He didn't even know if there was anything wrong in the first place. The man's eyes held him captive such as a prisoner. Although he didn't feel like a prisoner. He felt trapped in his own mind. Except, not in peril or discomfort. He felt safe. He observed his actions. Were they his actions? Was he in control, or was it the ominous man that controlled him. Strangely, David didn't seem to care. He felt an insurmountable trust inside of him. David moved away from the window and shuffled towards the door in a zombielike motion. He reached for the lock. He shuffled back to the window, or was it he who was moving? The man nodded at David, And David nodded back to the man. The stranger, who to David now felt more like a long lost friend, walked to the door. It was in his house now.

David sat on the ground in a crisscross position. The man walked into the room and stood exactly opposite of David. He too sat on the floor, the same way he had before and David was now. The man hung his head low and placed his hands on the floor. David felt a mental connection to the man as if he were a part of him. The lights dimmed to almost complete darkness for no rational explanation, but David knew the man had done it. The man was still, and appeared focused on David. He spoke not a word. He took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly. His limbs gently shook, and he took more deep breaths. David could feel the man's hot breath splash against his skin and inhaled the stench of his breath as well. The man's shaking began to become more forceful. His knees bent and his arms jerked, writhing in unnatural positions. David could hear the man's bones snap. The man's flesh began moving on its own. His deep breathing became more raspy and shallow. His flesh convulsed and thick, grimy slobber leaked from his mouth as he crashed to the floor and spasmed. His limbs contorted into strange shapes and sizes, and as David witnessed this, he smiled warmly.

When he was done "transforming", the only recognizable feature the man had were the silver eyes he possessed which still sparkled like a burning star in the night sky. He was no longer a man, but something else. He was taller, his arms and legs wider. The skinny man from before now had a hefty torso and larger features. Where David and it had been eye to eye before, it was now far larger and looked down upon David. His body hair quadrupled in its amount, covering the "man" from head to toe. David looked in astonishment at the incredible sight. He had never seen something so beautiful, so magnificent, so ungodly. Its chest heaved with each breath. Its lips moved the same way they had when the man was outside. He repeated the same word on his lips without saying it. David studied him closely. He watched his lips move as he tried to discern what the beast was saying. David wet his lips and opened his mouth. He said what the beast had been saying all along. He now knew.

"Lycanthrope."

Yes, David knew. Lycanthrope, Werewolf, Beast, a Monster. The Lycanthrope turned to him in hunger. It needed to feed. The wolf stepped forward toward David. It sniffed the air around him with its large nose. Its nostrils were the size of golf balls now. David knew what it was. Lycanthrope... Lycanthrope... Wolf. David flung himself back into the corner. His feeling of safety and comfort melted away and was replaced with what he had previously felt. Fear. David tripped over himself and fell to the floor, staring up at the beast. It positioned itself in front of David and stuck its tongue out like a dog yearning for a treat. The beast opened its mouth and its thick saliva ran down its cheek. It placed its strong leg on top of David, preventing him from moving. David desperately pounded his fist against the monster's leg but to no avail. With each blow the beast looked angrier and hungrier. It lifted its foot up and smashed it into David's side, rupturing his ribs. David screamed in pain as his arms fell to his side and he faced to the heavens, now struggling to breathe. Each breath he took felt like a sharp knife stabbing into his side. His eyes welled with hot tears that ran down his face. David felt the salty taste in his mouth as well as the searing pain throughout his body. He was far outmatched by the Wolf that assaulted him. The wolf bent down in front of David's face and sneered at him in victory. David stared at the wolf in hatred and spat at it, quickly causing the wolf to lose its grin. David was now the one smirking, glad he could make the wolf as unhappy as could be. With that, David leaned his head back and awaited the beast to emancipate him from life. He awaited the sharp daggers for teeth the wolf had to tear into his throat and consume him. He awaited the beast to rip him into two pieces with its enormous hands. He awaited the beast to plunge him into eternal darkness. The wolf opened its mouth and... David looked up in surprise. It had no teeth. All that stood in its mouth were gums where teeth should be, but there were no teeth there. A slim black tongue like that of a snake exited the wolf's mouth. The tongue was forked and dark as char. It approached David's mouth, attempted to enter. David tightly closed his mouth shut, realizing he was still afraid of death even if he was utterly helpless. David grunted and kept his mouth shut, annoying the wolf further. The wolf curled its fist into a ball and struck David in the gut, leaving his mouth gaping ajar.

The wolf's tongue entered David's mouth. David gagged as it touched the back of his throat, but the wolf forced the tongue down his throat even further. The tongue was impossible in length, as David felt it scratching the walls of his esophagus. David squirmed in discomfort, the tongue traveling further and further downward. The wolf began to inhale, its tongue acting as a makeshift straw. David felt lightheaded, yet the discomfort remained. The wolf snarled as its tongue wiggled in David's stomach. David's skin turned pale. His air was running out. David looked for a split second at the wolf's tongue. It was covered in a thick black substance that appeared to be coming from inside of David. David's eyes fluttered as he felt himself passing out from a lack of oxygen. His head fell to the floor.

It was then the wolf ripped its tongue out from David's throat and stepped backward. David gasped for air, clutching his chest and trying to compose himself. As soon as he caught his breath, the wolf jumped back onto him and resumed his assault once more.


A policeman arrived at a house by the woods after he was sent to investigate a strange call an operator had received earlier. The policeman entered the home, noting there was no sign of forced entry. Walking into the living room, the officer found a man slumped against a corner. A thick, chunky, black substance was spilled on the floor next to him, and the man was pale, with tear stains across his face. His eyes were wide open and he rocked back and forth in a fetal position. His expression never changed, and neither did the words he repeated in a shaky voice, eyes staring ahead unmoving, silver pupils radiating from his sockets like a burning flame.

"Lycanthrope"

5
Your Stories / A Silver Flame
« on: 10:29:03 PM 10/29/18 »
At first, David couldn't exactly tell what had ripped him from the loving caress of sleep. He had previously been sleeping in his comfortable home wrapped in a warm blanket and resting his head on a nice fluffy pillow. Annoyed, he rested his head down once again and gently let his eyes fall. It was then as he jolted upright in bed that he realized what had awoken him. Although almost drowned out in the wind that whistled a soft melody through the night, he could hear what sounded like footsteps and nails dragging across the wooden exterior of his home. Curious, David allowed the soles of his feet to plop on the warm rug beneath him. Although sleep still cooed him, he eventually dragged himself along the perimeter of his room to the window. There he drew the blinds to get a better look. The pitter-patter of rain thumped against the thin glass in a soft beat that David soon found himself humming to. Combined with the inky dark blackness of the night, his visibility was heavily impaired and he was unable to see what was making the noise.

David tucked himself back into his cozy bed. When he did this, as if on cue, the noise began again, irritating David more and more by the minute. Sleep evaded him now, and he knew with the repetitive sound lingering he could not and would not sleep at all. David jerked himself out of bed in frustration and trudged to the dresser where a thick black flashlight sat. He grabbed it firmly, its handle cold as ice despite the warmth and comfort of the room. David walked through the narrow halls of his home with determination illuminating his eyes like that of a bright fire. He approached the front door of the house and grabbed his heavy trench coat that hung on the coat hanger. And with that, he twisted the doorknob and exited the warmth and comfort of his dwelling. Now he faced the chilly Autumn air and the drizzling rain which pounded against his face and back. He crept down the steps that led to the front door and clicked the flashlight on, its bright yellow light penetrating the darkness. He walked around the sides of his house in search of any animal that might have been the origin of the noise. It was when he reached the rear of his home that he heard a peculiar sound from the wooded area behind him.

The sound was strange yet surprisingly human. David stood frozen in attention facing the woods. The shrill cries of what sounded like a man screaming for his life came from the intimidating outline of the enormous trees in the distance. They rocked gently in the wind and beckoned him to come closer, and the foliage at the entrance of the wood didn't bode well at all. David swallowed the saliva that had gathered in his mouth and stepped towards the woods. His mind naturally alerted him of the danger he felt, yet his actions betrayed his thoughts. Slowly and steadily he approached, gathering more and more distance from his home and closer to the underbrush. He felt the sensation of rain cease as his body went numb, and yet his mind was active. He yearned to see what could have made that noise, for curiosity, or maybe for the thrill. Whatever the case, he had gathered the courage to meet the edge of the woods and peer into the endless darkness.

The soaking underbrush grasped at his clothing like tiny fingers that desperately clung to every thread. His flashlight proved most ineffective as its once protective glow seemed to fade quite an exponential amount. Undeterred by this however, David set foot inside of the wood. He had been there many times, although never at night. In the darkness, his surroundings were unfamiliar to him. With each step, a moist leaf or twig underneath his boot squished and snapped. His body shuddered with each passing minute of his aimless trek, although whether this was caused by him being afraid or cold he was uncertain of. The eeriness of being in an unfamiliar place on a night such as this has no equal. His toes curled as the wind that once violently rattled the vegetation quieted, and the rain that persistently beat against his body turned into a light drizzle. The branches softly danced in the night, caressed by the wind and sprinkling water droplets from the night sky. The soft melody of the crickets ceased. It startled David how quiet the forest had become. As unsettling as the dark was, the persistent lack of noise invoked the strongest fears lurking in a man's soul.

David stood alone in the quiet of the woods with the only audible sound the soft tapping of water falling to the ground. He could hear his thoughts, the breeze, his breath, and even his heartbeat. He held no desire to move, just to stand and be still. Still as the nature surrounding him. Still as the firm oak that stood before him, an impenetrable wall of wood. And in the stillness of the night, his ears picked up a very familiar noise. It was a voice and a very raspy, sickly one indeed. One that made David forget the silence surrounding him. A voice that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. A voice that compelled him to run, but at the same time seek the origin of the noise. It was the weeping that had drawn him out of his home in the first place. Yes, the reason he was even out in the woods at all. He would have chuckled at himself upon the realization that he had forgotten why he was even out there if it weren't for how unsettled he was. The cry did indeed sound like a man crying... and yet, no man should have ever been able to make such a sound no matter how dire the situation he was in. It was that of terror and pain, yet David could have sworn he heard slight giggles amidst the crying.

David stood, for at the time that was all he felt he could do. He shuddered as the cry overcame the sound of the wind and was now all he could hear. It dragged out even further and its voice became scratchy and stressed. David wanted to retreat back to his home, perhaps call the police, maybe just go back to bed. And perhaps he would have had not the shriek stopped as abruptly as it had started.

David observed his surroundings now that his eyes were more adjusted to the darkness. He turned around and began to walk back to his house. He didn't know what lurked beyond his vision, and he didn't care to learn. And with that he turned and walked at a speedy pace, uncomfortable now with his current setting. He took long strides on a seemingly endless path that would return him from the trenches of the dark to his house. He could see the rays of light seeping through the windows, welcoming him with open arms. His heart slowed along with his breathing as he approached his house, so close to where he belonged. He walked into the driveway, gravel crunching beneath his feet. He ascended the front patio steps, the wood creaking from below. He reached his hand out and grasped the cold doorknob. He was home.

That's when he heard a loud thump from far behind him. David hustled inside and slammed the door shut. He locked the door and peered outside of his window towards the woods, which now appeared far more menacing than they had before. His eyes fixated on the forest line where he had heard the thump originate. He clicked his flashlight on and pointed it ahead, its bright fluorescent light illuminating the darkness. That's where he saw it. A figure, tall and dark, stood next to a tree. It wrapped its arm around the oak, resting its hand on a branch. Half of its body stayed hidden behind the tree, and the other half stood exposed. David cupped his hand over his lips, which now felt dry and parched. The two stared at each other for the longest time, never breaking their gaze. The creature then shifted its body, coming out of the tree line. It was then, by the light of the flashlight and the moon, that it was revealed. David squinted at the creature, his heart pounding in his chest, beating and screaming in fright. He had expected many things to emerge from behind the tree. Perhaps a monster, a ghost, maybe a demon from Hell that came to collect his soul. Anything but this.

There before him stood a man, and a man was all he was. David rubbed his eyes in disbelief, and when his eyes refocused on the man again he knew his eyes did not deceive him. There was nothing special about the man. He sported a large beard that swayed in the breeze, and possessed very long arms and legs. He was tall but slender, with only a few pieces of tattered clothes to shield him from the weather. David watched as the man sat on the ground in a crisscross fashion and rocked slowly with the wind. His lips moved as if speaking something, but David couldn't tell what he was saying. David sprinted to the kitchen and grabbed a large knife, the blade of which glimmered in the light. He also snatched his cellphone and rushed back to the window, not wanting to take his eyes off of the mysterious man lurking outside his home for too long. David’s breath became exasperated, and beads of sweat methodically trickled down his forehead and onto the back of his neck. His eyes were so strained that he thought they would pop out of their sockets.

The man moved from his sitting position. He uncurled his legs and pressed his fingertips on the ground, pushing himself up. He stood straight, facing towards the house, his eyes fixated on David. This is when David's head began to feel light. His surroundings dissolved before him and his eyes focused on the man outside. The sound of rain and wind were tuned out of his mind. He felt a pull, a strange feeling, one that could almost be described as a magnet attracting him, beckoning him to unlock his door and walk out. The only thing David paid any attention to now was himself, the stranger, and the thin sheet of glass serving as a viewpoint and barrier between the two. And then there was silence and stillness. The man remained unmoving, as did David, although David wasn't sure if he stayed still because of his concentration on the man or fear. And then the man outside took a step toward the house. And then another.

David's eyes widened as witnessed the man creeping towards his house. The man stopped suddenly and shifted his body toward the moon, staring at it seemingly in awe. David watched as the stranger licked his lips in hunger towards the moon and opened his mouth. It was then that he howled. This sudden noise startled David out of his daze. He felt a hammering sensation pounding his head, causing him to collapse to the floor with a thud. Winded, he rubbed his head with his hand and got onto his knees, coughing and wheezing. The warm house now felt cold as his hands met the mahogany floor. He grasped the windowsill and hoisted himself up, stumbling a bit from his unexplained hangover. He regained his composure and glanced at the window. There stood the man, face pressed against the window, inches away from David's face. David could see the man now, in full detail. He was an older man with grey hair covered in filth. His eyes shone a bright silver, and he sported a curvaceous smile. His skin was wrinkly and leathery with a very strange texture. His lips pressed against the slick glass, following David's gaze. David’s body began to shudder fiercely. He was absolutely terrified. Keeping his attention on the man, he slipped his hand into his pockets and pulled out his cellphone.

The light that emitted from the phone's screen provided a strange feeling of comfort to David, perhaps because he could contact help. He didn't feel as in danger and hoped the strange man would get the hint that he was calling the police and leave. He clicked the phone icon and typed 911 in. David placed the phone to his ear, relieved that he would soon be safe at last. That's when the man smirked at David. Like an igniting flame, his silver eyes looked right at David's. David returned his gaze. He could have sworn the man's eyes flickered like a candle losing its fire. The man's pupils then burned intensely. A strange feeling of unease and acceptance mixed together to form the feeling he remembered. The feeling he had experienced earlier. Did he feel plagued by... comfort?

"911, what's your emergency?"

David heard the female operator speaking to him, but it seemed to be in the back of his mind. He was far more focused on what was before him.

"Hello, are you there? Are you ok, how may we assist you?"

David tried to respond to her. He wanted to tell her what was going on. He needed help. But he just felt so safe.

"Uh, yea... I just, uh."

His voice trailed off. He couldn't explain what was wrong. He didn't even know if there was anything wrong in the first place. The man's eyes held him captive such as a prisoner. Although he didn't feel like a prisoner. He felt trapped in his own mind. Except, not in peril or discomfort. He felt safe. He observed his actions. Were they his actions? Was he in control, or was it the ominous man that controlled him. Strangely, David didn't seem to care. He felt an insurmountable trust inside of him. David moved away from the window and shuffled towards the door in a zombielike motion. He reached for the lock. He shuffled back to the window, or was it he who was moving? The man nodded at David, And David nodded back to the man. The stranger, who to David now felt more like a long lost friend, walked to the door. It was in his house now.

David sat on the ground in a crisscross position. The man walked into the room and stood exactly opposite of David. He too sat on the floor, the same way he had before and David was now. The man hung his head low and placed his hands on the floor. David felt a mental connection to the man as if he were a part of him. The lights dimmed to almost complete darkness for no rational explanation, but David knew the man had done it. The man was still, and appeared focused on David. He spoke not a word. He took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly. His limbs gently shook, and he took more deep breaths. David could feel the man's hot breath splash against his skin and inhaled the stench of his breath as well. The man's shaking began to become more forceful. His knees bent and his arms jerked, writhing in unnatural positions. David could hear the man's bones snap. The man's flesh began moving on its own. His deep breathing became more raspy and shallow. His flesh convulsed and thick, grimy slobber leaked from his mouth as he crashed to the floor and spasmed. His limbs contorted into strange shapes and sizes, and as David witnessed this, he smiled warmly.

When he was done "transforming", the only recognizable feature the man had were the silver eyes he possessed which still sparkled like a burning star in the night sky. He was no longer a man, but something else. He was taller, his arms and legs wider. The skinny man from before now had a hefty torso and larger features. Where David and it had been eye to eye before, it was now far larger and looked down upon David. His body hair quadrupled in its amount, covering the "man" from head to toe. David looked in astonishment at the incredible sight. He had never seen something so beautiful, so magnificent, so ungodly. Its chest heaved with each breath. Its lips moved the same way they had when the man was outside. He repeated the same word on his lips without saying it. David studied him closely. He watched his lips move as he tried to discern what the beast was saying. David wet his lips and opened his mouth. He said what the beast had been saying all along. He now knew.

"Lycanthrope."

Yes, David knew. Lycanthrope, Werewolf, Beast, a Monster. The Lycanthrope turned to him in hunger. It needed to feed. The wolf stepped forward toward David. It sniffed the air around him with its large nose. Its nostrils were the size of golf balls now. David knew what it was. Lycanthrope... Lycanthrope... Wolf. David flung himself back into the corner. His feeling of safety and comfort melted away and was replaced with what he had previously felt. Fear. David tripped over himself and fell to the floor, staring up at the beast. It positioned itself in front of David and stuck its tongue out like a dog yearning for a treat. The beast opened its mouth and its thick saliva ran down its cheek. It placed its strong leg on top of David, preventing him from moving. David desperately pounded his fist against the monster's leg but to no avail. With each blow the beast looked angrier and hungrier. It lifted its foot up and smashed it into David's side, rupturing his ribs. David screamed in pain as his arms fell to his side and he faced to the heavens, now struggling to breathe. Each breath he took felt like a sharp knife stabbing into his side. His eyes welled with hot tears that ran down his face. David felt the salty taste in his mouth as well as the searing pain throughout his body. He was far outmatched by the Wolf that assaulted him. The wolf bent down in front of David's face and sneered at him in victory. David stared at the wolf in hatred and spat at it, quickly causing the wolf to lose its grin. David was now the one smirking, glad he could make the wolf as unhappy as could be. With that, David leaned his head back and awaited the beast to emancipate him from life. He awaited the sharp daggers for teeth the wolf had to tear into his throat and consume him. He awaited the beast to rip him into two pieces with its enormous hands. He awaited the beast to plunge him into eternal darkness. The wolf opened its mouth and... David looked up in surprise. It had no teeth. All that stood in its mouth were gums where teeth should be, but there were no teeth there. A slim black tongue like that of a snake exited the wolf's mouth. The tongue was forked and dark as char. It approached David's mouth, attempted to enter. David tightly closed his mouth shut, realizing he was still afraid of death even if he was utterly helpless. David grunted and kept his mouth shut, annoying the wolf further. The wolf curled its fist into a ball and struck David in the gut, leaving his mouth gaping ajar.

The wolf's tongue entered David's mouth. David gagged as it touched the back of his throat, but the wolf forced the tongue down his throat even further. The tongue was impossible in length, as David felt it scratching the walls of his esophagus. David squirmed in discomfort, the tongue traveling further and further downward. The wolf began to inhale, its tongue acting as a makeshift straw. David felt lightheaded, yet the discomfort remained. The wolf snarled as its tongue wiggled in David's stomach. David's skin turned pale. His air was running out. David looked for a split second at the wolf's tongue. It was covered in a thick black substance that appeared to be coming from inside of David. David's eyes fluttered as he felt himself passing out from a lack of oxygen. His head fell to the floor.

It was then the wolf ripped its tongue out from David's throat and stepped backward. David gasped for air, clutching his chest and trying to compose himself. As soon as he caught his breath, the wolf jumped back onto him and resumed his assault once more.


A policeman arrived at a house by the woods after he was sent to investigate a strange call an operator had received earlier. The policeman entered the home, noting there was no sign of forced entry. Walking into the living room, the officer found a man slumped against a corner. A thick, chunky, black substance was spilled on the floor next to him, and the man was pale, with tear stains across his face. His eyes were wide open and he rocked back and forth in a fetal position. His expression never changed, and neither did the words he repeated in a shaky voice, eyes staring ahead unmoving, silver pupils radiating from his sockets like a burning flame.

"Lycanthrope"

6
Story Critique / The Afterlife Can Be an Unusual Place
« on: 12:21:32 PM 10/22/18 »
Hello there. Before we get started, allow me to introduce myself. My earthly name was Marcus Wade. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of sharing my personal accounts with you is, but maybe I do it just because I can.  You can make your own assumptions as you go, but I’d rather not go on a tangent for too long before the story. So, allow me to tell you about my experiences in the afterlife. I think they may interest you. Maybe things will change in the future, and if they do, I will continue to describe such experiences to you. For now, I present you with what I know and have seen as of now. Events which shaped my life after death and continue to do so.

I awoke, yet I did not remember falling asleep. Perhaps that is death, if you can even call the process in which I experienced death.  Can something which never was truly alive be deceased? I ask that as a man without a family or a legacy to call my own. All I saw around me is nothingness. I say nothingness because there is no language within the mortal world to describe was, and that was when I realized my worth. When I learned that I only ever amounted to all of which those who lived and died before me discovered, and my progression of thought and discovery would come to a halt once I discovered true omniscience. Yet, true omniscience was a fallacy. A myth created so the foolish people such as I would find themselves on a wild goose chase to self-proclaimed superiority rather than become progressive members of society. Sound pretentious? That’s because that was who I was as a man. So there I sat, unmissed by anyone, and totally unfazed by the fact that I was in the afterlife.

A state of clarity had washed over me once I found myself in this strange place. It was as if all my wrongs were exposed and I was enlightened to the truth and the difference between right and wrong. Throughout my life, I was completely obsessed with learning as much as I could, so I could prove to those who doubted me I was better than they had assumed I was. Now that I was dead, I could only be surrounded by thoughts and memories as my mind expanded further and I came to understand what I hadn't before. Fitting wasn’t it? As a man whose sole purpose was discovery and intelligence, this newfound knowledge could only be described as a euphoric feeling to me. Heavenly, if you will. Yes, this was Heaven. It had to be, for what else could possibly be concluded based on the information at hand?

I found myself uncomfortable at first. The sensation of being a sentient, yet disembodied was strange due to the amount of time I had previously spent as a living, breathing person, but I soon got used to my circumstances. I had all the time in the world to think, and so that is exactly what I did. I sat there for as long as I can remember, pondering over past events and actions. Some of them I took great pride in, whilst I kicked myself over my own stupidity when recalling others.

It felt like an eternity before I saw it. Some sort of bright light penetrated my vision, and I was finally able to see the world around me. A perfectly rectangular room, devoid of any furniture, was what I saw. I looked down and saw a hand. It was my own... I had seemingly regained my mortal body once more. The walls and floor of the room were in pristine condition, and everything appeared in a white coating of paint. In the center of the room sat a single white desk, where a large desktop computer sat mounted on top of it. I slowly made my way over to the old-fashioned equipment and sat in the chair, pushing the power button to the computer. I heard the soft humming of the machinery as the screen faintly lit up, revealing a blue background screen and a single application in the center. I moved the mouse until the pointer hovered over the app, my curiosity at its peak. Then, I clicked twice and watched as a brand new page popped up in front of me, filling the screen entirely.

I watched as a plethora of dates and times appeared before my eyes, each accompanied by a video file. Unsure of what any of this meant, I clicked on the very first link. Upon doing so, a downloadable file appeared, which I opened. Much to my surprise, the download automatically started playing the video within it. I saw a woman in a hospital bed. The expression on her face was that of pain, and I heard her crying in agony as various doctors and nurses did their best to comfort her. The woman was someone who I had recognized. She was... she was my own mother. After several minutes of her exasperated wailing, one of the doctors lifted up a small child, showing my mother as pride and joy filled her eyes. As soon as the video ended, the download file closed out and I was returned back to the original web page. For a minute, I was left speechless. Upon looking at the file more closely, I recognized the date on it as my birthday. Before me was every single important event in my life.

I took the time to watch a few of these videos, of course. Several birthdays of mine, my first girlfriend, my first few cars and homes. There were hundreds, if not thousands of videos detailing some of the best times of my life. I sat in awe as I watched the early days of my childhood replaying right in front of me. It was truly one of the most fascinating moments I had ever experienced. This fascination, however, was short-lived. Soon, I felt a new, much less pleasant feeling. One of disappointment and regret. I am referring to the events which took place in my life after my childhood.
Now, I had been aware of the poor decisions I had made in life before I found the mysterious computer room. In fact, it was some of those very memories in which I had pondered in my previous state. However, there is a large difference between recalling something and actually witnessing it again with your own eyes. For instance, when I had remembered my various arguments with my parents, the kids and teachers at school mocking me for my low intelligence and work ethic, the feelings associated with such events didn't shake me up as much as viewing my bullies and relatives berate me with insults, believing I would end up as a nobody or some hooligan on the streets.

Even more disheartening was that there were more download links involving the negative aspects of my life than there were positive ones. It is a sad fact of life that adulthood lasts far longer than childhood, and my adult years grew even more depressing as the slow, definite march of time continued. Still, there was nothing I could do within my afterlife except watch as my pathetic life devolved from the innocence of a child to the contempt of a grumpy man, so I continued.

When those closest to me had doubted my ability to progress at the rate of the other children, I personally took it upon myself to prove them wrong. As a young boy with very few friends or hobbies, such a task became my passion, and I spent nearly all my time with my nose stuck in any book I could get my hands on. I completely ignored any other entertaining activity a boy my age would gladly partake in, even opting to study on my birthday and other fun events in my life. Thus, as my high school years started, I isolated myself from all distractions in order to prove myself capable of outsmarting anyone who dared doubt me. As you can imagine from someone like me, I considered people distractions as well, causing many relationships with the few friends and family I had to shatter completely. These were the years that marked the beginning of my downfall.

After reviewing my teenage years, I decided to move on. I clicked on the scrollbar and dragged it downwards, waiting a bit before stopping once more and selecting a new date. I was an adult at that point in time, and my studying and hard work had paid off. Well, paid off as far as financial security was involved. Despite being socially inept and losing most of those I cared for, I carried on with my anti-social tendencies until I found myself in a good college and got into a well-paying job. I had moved up the ranks rather quickly in the workplace, soon becoming a top-ranking supervisor who enjoyed commanding my orderlies around like they were dogs. 

I sat in my chair in disbelief as I watched the smug grin on my face while I barked out instructions to colleagues and interns alike. The nerve I had to treat others such a way. Perhaps it was the afterlife and the newfound clarity and sensibility I discovered upon entering it that allowed me to see clearly the problems with my behavior. It also allowed me to see the scowls and rude remarks muttered under the breath of various employees who looked upon me in disgust. I had been blind to such things in my human state, but apparently, I wasn't anymore.
This behavior wasn't just common in the workplace, but outside of it as well. It wasn't long before the neighborhood came to realize my rather distasteful tendencies and steered clear of me altogether, to which I paid them no mind. It was my choice and mine alone to live a life of solitude, and for the longest time, I was known as the mean old man who lived at the end of the block. I never smiled, nor did I ever laugh. The very few people who saw me outside of my house or outside of work only ever saw me with a scowl permanently sewn to my face. I didn't decorate for Christmas or Halloween. I didn't send or receive gifts or partake in the many activities within the community. If there was precious work to be done or information to be learned, I focused all of my attention on it.

Speaking of Halloween, I found a few video files around that holiday. I decided to watch some of them and found that even though I never had a single frightening prop out on my porch or yard, not one kid within the area would come near my residence. I actually found myself chucking at this fact, figuring their parents must have warned them about the scary old fart who would surely throw a fit should he be disturbed, regardless of the circumstances. 
My curiosity started withering away as I clicked on the scroll bar and continued downwards. It was at that moment that I realized I had almost reached the bottom of the page, and only a few downloads remained. They were nothing special really. Just a few videos of me lashing out at some more people who dared commit the heinous crime of trying to socially interact with me. Yeah, I'm surprised I made it into heaven again in this first place. Then again, it was never made apparent where I was. As far as I knew it wasn't heaven, but just some random phase of the afterlife I found myself in. Regardless, I don't make the rules, nor will I attempt to understand them in a vain attempt to know everything. After all, why make the same mistakes in the afterlife as I did in the mortal world. 

Now, the reason why my palms became sweaty upon nearing the end of the timeline is that, as you may have guessed, the final date was the date of my death. You also may have wondered why a spirit is choosing to spend time typing his recounting of life and death online, and the answer to that question is simple. I didn't have a normal life, nor did I have a normal death.  I have to share what happened to me with you all simply because I feel obligated to do so. Maybe it can serve as a warning, or perhaps I feel the need to share because some things are simply too insane not to spread. Regardless, I'm already this far, so I might as well continue.

It took me quite some time to muster up the courage to download the final video. Despite mentally preparing myself for what was to come numerous times, I was still hesitant. I found myself out of the chair and pacing the room at one point, taking deep breaths in an attempt to calm myself down. It seemed like hours before I was ready to witness the most important, and most upsetting, day of my life. The day which transferred me from the land of the living to that of the dead.

Summoning each ounce of bravery within me, I clicked the link and watched as the download opened and the video automatically played. I frantically chewed at my fingernails as I watched myself in my living room, sitting comfortably in my recliner chair. I saw the coffee mug in one hand and newspaper in the other as I did what I had always done best, absorbing all the information I could. The night was black as tar and the wind sung its soft tune. I could notice all these details and more as my eyes closely watched. It felt as if I were experiencing the event in real time, except this time, unlike my human counterpart, I knew what the outcome would be. I knew that that living, breathing person who had been me would live their last day. A life would abruptly end and I would bear witness to my own demise, and it caused my skin to crawl, my entire body trembling. It was an eerie feeling indeed.
This video was longer than the previous ones. While the others had been just thirty seconds to a minute or two at most, this one was several minutes longer in comparison. I watched myself take a quick swig of my coffee and stand up, making my way to the kitchen. This version of me... a person who I had trouble conceiving was the exact person I am. 

I.. I knew the noise was coming but I didn't realize it would come so soon in the video. The sound of glass shattering filled the house as the "alive version of me" turned quickly and grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter, slowly making his way back into the living room. I practically screamed at the monitor in front of me, begging myself not to do what I was about to. These efforts were fruitless, of course. If I could change the past I wouldn't be in my current predicament, now would I?

I saw myself flick on the light and stare at the broken glass window in confusion. There was nobody in sight, and I had relaxed my body due to a false sense of security. It was foolish, and although my relaxation was just for a split second, it was enough. A large man in a mask pounced from behind the wall, tackling me to the floor. I covered my eyes, not wanting to see the massacre that was destined to unfold, but morbid curiosity forced tiny creases in between my fingers to allow peepholes. I had to see... I had to see. This computer allowed me a new perspective on what had happened in my life, and I just couldn't help but watch as the man wrapped his arms around my throat, seemingly unbothered by my futile attempts to defend myself. 

I leaned back in my chair and felt my body tense up as the man forced his knee into my ribs trying to cease my efforts at escaping, his grip around my throat tight as ever. Finally, after an uncomfortable amount of silence, the man released his hold on me and got up, watching over my limp body. My face was pale and my eyes were bloodshot, an expression of surprise on my face. It was the first time I had seen any emotion besides contempt within me.
I let out a long sigh of relief as the video finally came to an end and the download closed out. I placed my hand on my throat and rubbed gently. It was almost as if I felt choked just by reliving my final moments on Earth. I got up once more, pacing the perimeter of the white room. I felt sick to my stomach at the prospect of the computer. I had access to any moment in my life at the click of a button, including my own murder. I took a seat in criss-cross position at one of the four corners of the room.

It could have been anyone who killed me in all honesty. I had lots of enemies. People who I showed disdain for returned such feelings. People in the workplace, people in the neighborhood. Hell, even what was left of my family at the time had felt deep resentment towards me. Funny enough, despite the heavy torment I faced at their hands in childhood, even when I solved their issues with me of being a stupid kid they didn't seem satisfied. In truth, I don't really regret cutting them off from my life. Sure, I regret leaving some of them. Quite a few of my cousins had always treated me with respect and dignity, however, I feel no pity towards any of the others. 

When I went back to the computer and turned the monitor back on, I was immediately met by something curious. There, right next to the first app, stood another. It was a notepad with a title named after me. I looked all around me, looking for any other entities within the room. There was nothing. Not only that, but there were no entry points in the room either. No doors, no windows, and upon further inspection I found no sign of hidden hatches either. There was absolutely no way another person could have gotten in, leading me to believe that the app had appeared all by itself. 
Realizing once more that I truly had nothing better to do, I clicked on the notepad and watched as the document opened. Several paragraphs of text sat before me. After reading the document, I realized that unlike the video files, it didn't detail the events which took place while I was alive. Rather, it was an article describing what happened after I died. I felt my eyebrows rise while my eyes scanned the screen, taking in the information presented to me. While I can't remember the exact words I read, I can paraphrase what they said.

In summary, after I died there were several suspects the police rounded up and interrogated. I recognized each of the names listed by the article as people I had come into contact with in life. My experiences with all of them were, needless to say, negative. In all fairness, there were plenty of people who would have the motive to murder me, but not a single one was found guilty. According to the article, all who were questioned were eventually released due to "insufficient evidence", although I found that rather hard to believe. Despite not wanting to believe it, a part of me felt as if the case wasn't taken as seriously due to my reputation around the community. Still, none of it mattered now. Not anymore.

When I moved past that part of the article, I found that the topic had shifted from the strange circumstances surrounding my death to the impact on my community. My house had been put on the market, but nobody would buy it. Apparently, nobody would buy a house where someone had been murdered. What had once been a dead zone during the holidays became a neighborhood attraction for some of the younger kids, especially during Halloween. It was at that moment during the reading that I froze, my face completely blank. It had been... years since I died. I placed my head in my hands and took several deep breaths, which did almost nothing to calm my nerves.

Then I continued reading the article, my breathe exasperated, I saw it expanding upon the previous point in the writing. Many teenagers would dare each other on the scariest day of the year, October 31st, to spend the night near my house or, in some cases, sneak in. Apparently, tales of my mean attitude and murder spread like wildfire upon my death, causing tons of ghost stories and rumors to be told around the campfire. 
I found several more video files within the notepad, which I didn't even realize could be stored there, but then again, I had learned that I couldn't expect anything ordinary now. I downloaded the links and watched several videos of teens sneaking in and out of the house at Halloween. Some spent the night, while others got too scared to stay and ran home crying. I must admit, the house did look pretty creepy. It was unkempt and probably unsafe to stay in, with cobwebs covering the porch and the paint on the outside peeled and chipped.

The inside of the house, from what I could tell, wasn't in much better condition. It was completely barren of furniture and the floor was coated in a thin layer of dust. There were very few places in the home where light could be found, mostly due to the windows being boarded up. I watched a video of a rather timid-looking kid make his way up the steps to the second story, the stairs creaking every couple of seconds. He looked all around, taking in his surroundings. He allowed the flashlight in his right hand to illuminate the room. With that, he layed out a sleeping bag on the cold hard floor. There were dozens of kids who had done the same. Eventually, the local authorities took notice and would often have a patrol car near my house during Halloween in order to make sure no kids were trespassing. Once again I was taken back by the amount of time that had passed since my death. Perhaps it had been longer than I thought.

Finally, the kids stopped showing up, and so did the police. I could feel my heart sink a little at that. Something about the fun the kids had, while juvenile, reminded me of the some of the fun I missed out on as a boy, and the fact that their fun was ending somewhat saddened me. I looked at the article and saw it come to an abrupt end, to which I closed the notepad and returned my gaze to the monitor home screen.  Rubbing my eyes in fatigue, I felt the incoming sensation of sleep.  I found it odd how I could feel sleepy in the afterlife, but I suppose it's pretty tiring to see what I had. I felt myself drifting off, and without much thought, I allowed sleep to embrace me.

I woke up the day after, or at least I think it was the day after. I had no concept of time within that white room, and I was disappointed upon waking up to find that nothing had changed. I was afraid that all the afterlife would provide me was contemplation in the form of this computer in front of me. Stretching my hand forward and gripping the mouse, I shook it a little to wake the monitor up. The background had changed from a purely blue screen to a black and white checkerboard style image. Once again I looked around the room for any place someone could enter and alter the computer, only to find nothing again.
Shifting my attention back to the screen, I noticed one more item that hadn't been there the previous day. It was a folder, and upon opening it I found a page titled "Instructions". It was in an application which I was unfamiliar with, but I proceeded in opening it anyways. Inside was a single link. Figuring there was no harm in clicking one more, I hovered my mouse above it. However, I hesitated. Something about this link seemed odd to me. This wasn't like the others and I knew it, but I had no idea how. Still... there was only one way to find out where it lead. Sighing, I tapped the mouse and opened the link. And once I did so, my vision went black.

For a single moment in time, I thought I had gone blind, and it terrified me. The white room surrounding me was gone and replaced with darkness, and for that split second I wanted to scream, but couldn't. I couldn't do anything really, and it was awful. I would say my heart was pounding against my chest but I couldn't feel my heartbeat, nor was I sure if I had a chest or body at all for that matter. I couldn't feel my own existence. It was like for a moment I stopped existing within reality, becoming an abstract being. I didn't exist, yet I did. That's as best as I could describe that odd, terrifying sensation.
As soon as it started it stopped, and I was snapped back into reality. I stumbled a bit and fell to my knees, gasping for air as I felt beads of sweat running down my face. It was amazing how alive and human I felt even as a spirit. My blurred vision finally came into focus and fixated on the floor beneath me. The first thing that I noticed was that the floor wasn't white, meaning I wasn't inside the room I had become so familiar with. Instead, the floor was wooden and cold, coated in a thin layer of dust. I stood to my knees and looked around, taking in various features around me. Recognizable features which allowed me to easily identify the place I was in. It [[File:Download.jpeg|thumb]]was my own house.

It looked the same as it had through the videos I saw while kids searched through it. I saw the same boarded windows, heard the same creaking floorboards... yes, it was mine alright. I was confused as to why I was there, and I felt my heart speed up as I noticed where I was standing. It was the exact same spot as where my murder had taken place.
Feeling uncomfortable with where I was, I moved to the front door and placed my hand on the cold doorknob. I tried turning it but to no avail. The door wouldn't open. I looked down at the lock, only to see that it wasn't turned. I grasped the doorknob and frantically began turning, unable to exit the house. I rushed to the back door and found that the same thing happened. I pushed up on the windows not boarded and found that no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't budge. I was trapped inside my own house, with no way to escape. I pounded my fists on the door and screamed at the top of my lungs despite knowing damn well that not a soul in the world could hear me.

My body found itself slumped over in front of the back door, twiddling my thumbs and tapping my foot lightly. I took several deep breaths in an attempt to distract myself from my situation and tried thinking of some sort of solution. Why had what happened, happened? Why view my entire life in rewind and study my legacy after death just to be trapped in the very house I was killed in? It was madness. I slammed my fist against the floor in a fit of rage and got up once more, clutching my head and violently pulling at strands of my hair. After several minutes spent in frustration, I allowed myself to settle down and explore my now abandoned home. I figured that there was no point in getting too worked up over it anyway.
I made my way up the stairs and down the hallway. Despite the second story being completely enveloped in darkness, I found it quite easy to see and navigate, as if I had my own set of built-in night vision. At the end of the corridor was a door to my room. There was something odd about it, and it wasn't a subtle type of odd either. A fluorescent glow emitted from within the room, shining brightly through the cracks. I made my way towards this glow and, much to my approval, I found I was able to open the door.

Upon entering I realized that glow coming from a computer screen within the room. It was my computer, inexplicably clean and in the same spot it had always been despite the rest of the house being bare. I lifted the computer and realized that a fine layer of dust say underneath where the computer was, which should have been impossible had a solid object truly been on top of it. I had realized that this wasn't my computer, but something provided to me as a tool. It was my very own resource and I found that it came equipped with apps and an internet connection. I couldn't explain this at all... but something was allowing me to communicate to the outside world. What seemed like a blessing in disguise, however, would turn out to be my only way to share to you this story and what follows. It wouldn't turn out to be a convenient device as a gift, but a way to retell the painful experience that is to follow,
The other thing I noticed about the computer was the date and time. Wondering what time and day it was, I looked, only for my eyes to widen. 
The date was October 31st.

It was the morning of Halloween, and it was then that I realized my presence within my house was no coincidence. I was meant to be here, on this very night. I remembered my thoughts in the past. If you recall, the kids within the neighborhood would gather around my house at Halloween, each daring each other to enter the old abandoned house where a murder took place years ago. I wondered, however, about the police, until I then recalled their absence recently as the teenagers died down. I then realized that because of the lack of law enforcement specifically in front of my house, there was a possibility that they would be back and enter once more.

A smile grew onto my face as I realized that my dismay upon hearing these kids and their mischievous fun would come to an end would now be invalidated. My smile only grew wider at the prospect that perhaps I would be able to help these kids have fun and do their fair share of devious acts, seeing as how I was too foolish and full of myself as a young lad to do so myself, thus losing part of my very childhood. Yes, I understood my purpose. I was to haunt the very house I was killed in. While that idea might have sounded very unsettling to the average man, I was excited to relive a part of my life I missed out on.
I peered out into the brightly lit road and observed the houses in the distance. Many cheap Halloween decorations adorned the neighborhood, and I saw a few young kids board a bright yellow school bus. I had the whole day to prepare for the night to come. I chuckled to myself. They had no idea what they were in for. 
As the sun withdrew from the sky and fell below the horizon, I saw dozens of kids running out of their homes, candy bags gripped tightly within their hands. They skipped and galloped down the road with plastic masks portraying witches and ghouls and all sorts of creatures of darkness. To each house in view, they approached with glee and knocked upon the doors. They laughed joyously as candy was emptied into their bags and moved onto the next houses. None of them stopped at mine though. 

The evening progressed, and the night grew darker. The moon stood high in the night sky and provided a comforting light in every direction. Many of the younger kids had gone home by that point, and only a few teenagers remained. My heart fell as a thought formed in the back of my mind. What if nobody tried staying the night? What if they were too afraid of police confrontation to take the risk? I didn't want to believe it. This was my chance to make up for my failure in life and help those currently living. Yet, I wouldn't get that chance, would I? Figuring the night was a failure, I laid down on the floor and placed my arms under my head, resting my eyes. I allowed my body to relax and breathed out deeply.
Did you know spirits can dream? I didn't, but I know now. I found myself lucidly dreaming that night, sitting within my old recliner chair. Well, it wasn't me who was sitting. I couldn't quite see who the person was because their face was hidden behind the newspaper they held. I approached them slowly, clearing my throat and tightening my fist. I placed my hand on the top of the paper and pulled it down, attempting to find out who the man was. Then, I jumped back, startled and afraid.

There, sitting in the recliner chair, sat a large man in a mask. He threw down the paper and leaped to his feet, approaching me with surprising speed. I fell backward and hit my head on the wall, and I watched in terror as his hand opened and wrapped around my throat, choking me. I struggled for air as my face turned blue. My lungs felt as if they were on fire, and I scraped and clawed at the man's arms and face, attempting to sink my nails into his skin and draw bled. Trying to do anything I could to free myself of his grip. I couldn't. I was too weak to stop my assailant, and I felt myself slipping. I felt the veins bulging from underneath my skin as my eyes became bloodshot. It felt as if they would pop out from the sockets. It felt so real... as if I would die once more. I was reliving my worst moment. Every second of it, I felt. It was all so familiar to me. The furniture around the room within my dream had been knocked over in the struggle, and here I was, death slowly approaching me.

Of that entire ordeal, the most horrifying moment to me was when my entire body went limp, yet I could still see. I could still see, breathe, and feel. I was conscious and aware, trapped inside of a dead body. I was completely and utterly out of control, like a session of sleep paralysis. I watched as the man released me from his grip and stood over me, admiring his work. I witnessed him slip his fingers underneath his mask, pulling upwards. What I saw underneath that black, foreboding mask will forever be ingrained into my mind for eternity.

It was me... it was my face. I saw it clear as day. The skin was pale and slightly blue. The eyes were bloodshot as they had been upon my death, and worms wriggled around through open holes and wounds caused by the process of decay. A mixture of mud and grass filled his mouth, leaving little to no room for the being to speak. I struggled to comprehend what was happening as the figure grabbed a black shovel seemingly out of nowhere. The monstrosity moved out of sight and I heard the sounds of wooden floorboards being removed. As soon as the thing was done with that task, I heard the sound of dirt being removed from the ground. Within minutes the creature was done with its job and lifted me with superhuman strength, tossing me into the hole it had just made. My screams were muffled by my inability to open my mouth as the thing shoveled the dirt on top of me. As the earth filled my makeshift tomb, my sight was lost. The last thing I heard was the faint laughter coming from the creature that had reenacted my murder. A creature that appeared to be me, but wasn't...It was jeering me.
I sat up abruptly, drenched in my own sweat and tears. I shifted into a fetal position, rocking back and forth while a million thoughts rushed through my mind. What the hell just happened? Did I really see what I thought I had? There was no way in hell it was real... any of it! I shivered and shook and I just couldn't sit still and nothing made sense. That nightmare had shaken me to my core and I wiped my forehead. I hadn't felt that type of fear since the date of my death. I thought there would be nothing to fear after death, but I was wrong. Maybe nothing can hurt or kill me anymore, but the memories and nightmares which plague me will remain forever. 

Not only would my murder dominate my dreams completely, but I wondered, and feared, whether my regrets in life would as well. I wondered if the loneliness I experienced at my own hand would eventually get to me. I felt tears well up within my eyes as I struggled to find a reason behind any of this. I hadn't a clue why and I may never have a clue. The afterlife is supposed to be eternal bliss. The sweet release of death was supposed to help liberate us from the problems of life but they seem to follow us into death.

Perhaps it is a blessing, or perhaps it is a curse. Would I be able to feel happy if such feelings and issues didn't follow us? This truth will forever elude me most likely, but it is something I feel the need to ponder. Yes, it is quite ironic that I do perhaps even more thinking here than I do in life. However, over time I have come to believe that our motivations and intentions behind our actions determine their effect and morality. I myself am a good example of this.

The computer provided to me allowed me to write down notes such as these for further contemplation in the future, as well as reflect on ideas in the past. The Halloween night I described earlier happened about two years ago. After that night, I found myself trapped within my own house until the following Halloween. Luckily enough for me, time seemed to progress faster than it normally would until that day. The house seemed to be pretty devoid of activity until that Halloween though, so I myself had to find entertainment in other activities such as, well, writing. I wrote about my experiences within the computer, this being one such story, and it keeps me sane. I suppose that's another reason why I was presented this hunk of junk replica of my past life laptop. It's a good way to be active and kept up to date while in the very confined world I live in.

The nightmares I had kept on coming. I'd say they occurred about once every week or two. Some of them were harsh, such as the one where I had to live through my murder again. Others weren't nearly as bad but still caused me to feel sick to my stomach, such as witnessing several life-changing moments in wish I pushed family away. Such dreams confirmed my theory about certain moments in my life full with negative connotations coming back to haunt me. I was convinced for some time that the nightmares I had were, in part, punishment for my actions in life as a cruel and negligent man. However, nothing else in the afterworld really seemed to back up this idea, so it is just another theory of mine for now. There are still many questions I have that I am unsure how to answer, so I may seem uncertain a lot of times. In truth, life after death doesn't truly answer our questions about the universe. I've no clue if this experience happening to me is similar to other spirits. Thus, with no comparison to offer, I cannot offer with certainty that events such as this will be similar to others.
When last year's Halloween arrived, I was filled with hope once more. It was a promising day, and I would pray that someone would dare enter my home.  Again I saw the kids in their plastic masks and neat costumes skip down the road for a night of trick-or-treating. Just like every year before, they would go up to a neighborhood house, knock on the door, and joyfully accept their delicious treats. The night went on, the kids got their candy, and they all avoided my house once again. A frown formed on my face as I lost hope, realizing that it would be another boring Halloween for me. I hung my head low and made my way over to my spot on the floor, lazily sitting with my legs spread out haphazardly. I leaned my head against the wall and listened to the sounds of the children's fun dissipate. The moon had risen once more, and the children made their way back to their homes.

Breathing out slowly, I prepared to fall asleep once more. Well, until I heard a strange noise outside the house. I opened my eyes and shifted my head toward the back door where the sound originated. I saw several shadows moving around outside the window, soft murmurs accompanying the motion. I sat up, my interest peaked. Could it be what I thought it was? Could it be what I had been hoping for all those years? I got my answer in the form of the window near the back door sliding open and a small boy stealthily making his way into the house. He couldn't have been more than 15 years old.
I smiled wide as I stood and made my way over to the boy. Finally, a new risk taker! As expected, he apparently couldn't see me. The boy clicked his flashlight on and methodically traversed the house, jumping at every small creak and groan the old house made. I could see his skin crawling, quite uneasy in the rickety old place. Smirking mischievously to myself, I gently knocked on the wall next to the boy, causing him to jump in fright. He made his way out of the room and towards the bottom of the staircase, looking up into the darkness beyond. I made my way besides the boy and scratches the wooden walls, which got a clear reaction out of the kid. 

"H..Hello? Is anybody in here," He whispered softly under his breath, somewhat unsure.

I remained silent as a dead man, not wanting to chase the poor kid out of the house too quickly. This was my first haunting after all, and I didn't want to ruin it. The boy allowed his light to shine up the stairs as he made ascended to the second story, each bump within the night causing him to noticeable wince. I followed him upwards, passing through his body at one point which caused him to shiver. Once he reached the top, he made his way down the long corridor and to my room. Before he could reach the handle, I opened the door ever so slightly, beckoning to him.

"Heh... it's just the wind. Don't be a wimp man, you can do this," The boy spoke to himself.

As he shined the light around the room, I snuck behind him and stood silent, grinning ear to ear. When he turned around to face me, his face turned completely pale. This confused me, so I turned around to see if anything caught his eye. There was nothing. Looking back, I stared directly into his eyes. He stared right back into mine. He could see me. I didn't know how, but suddenly he could see me. He backed away slowly, lip quivering and his eyes as wide as humanly possible. Then, he abruptly released a blood-curdling scream and runs in the opposite direction. I follow quickly as the boy rushes down the corridor. Apparently, he didn't pay attention like he should have, because I heard a shrill cry before the sound of a body tumbling down the stairs echoed throughout the house, followed by a sickening crack.

I rushed down to the boy, my mouth agape in pure shock. There, at the bottom of the stairs, sat the body of the boy. His neck was turned in an unnatural position, clearly broken. His eyes were wide open and unmoving, and his chest was completely still. He wasn't breathing at all. He... was dead.
I had to sit there and watch as the paramedics and officers took the child's lifeless body away. The crushing weight of guilt caused tears to form within my eyes, and soon I found myself crying. I had never intended for something like that to happen, and I will never get over it. My perception of time seemed to drastically slow down after that event. I wrote down that event into my computer, my mind unsure of what to think.

This guilt has been weighing me down for some time now. Of all the awful experiences I have had, both in life and death, this tops them all. I am a murderer, and nothing will change that now. Whether this was an accident or not is inconsequential. The blood is on my hands, and I can't help but wonder about the boy's family and how they must feel, even to this day. It tied a knot in my stomach just to think about it, and it always will. 
A while after those events happened, I found a new application on my computer. It was nothing that I had ever downloaded, nor was it something anyone else could have placed there. It reminded me of what happened in the white room on the other computer, so I immediately knew something crazy would happen. Sure enough, upon opening it up I saw a list of download links to videos. The same videos that were on the white computer, in fact, each and every one identical to their counterparts. There was, however, one video that I didn't recognize. One placed directly after my death date on the timeline.

My eyes widened as I read the date underneath the download link. It was Halloween... the same day I had caused the death of the poor boy who entered the house. I already knew what the contents of the video would be, and watching it only confirmed my suspicions and made me sick to my stomach. 
That night is all that I can think of any more. There seems to be no more room for any sort of contemplation beside what I could have done differently. All I can ponder now is if there was something that could have been done to mitigate this entire mess... if a mess is even an appropriate term for this. Now, I wish that I could stop thinking altogether.
 
A child died within the house, and word spread quickly throughout town. The police will be sure to be on top of this place again, but the truth is that I'm stuck here forever, until further notice. If kids don't try sneaking in again soon, they will after the fuzz dies down. Someone will come in, and I'm deathly afraid that there will be another accident someday. I will feel that way until the end of time... or until whenever this damn house is demolished. I'm not sure what I will do when that time comes, but this afterlife is slowly shaping into a hell far beyond what I had imagined.
I type this to you know because in a life and death of eternal torment, nightmares, and guilt, it's all I can think to do. There is nothing else for me, so perhaps this account of my life and afterlife will hold some value to you. Whatever the case may be, wish me the luck I so desperately need. Maybe in time I'll forgive myself and move one, but I don't know. I don't really know anything anymore. I just hope the kids stay away from this place. All it has to offer is bad news. Take care now, and be safe this Halloween.

Please don't do anything stupid.

7
Your Stories / The Afterlife Can Be an Unusual Place
« on: 12:21:00 PM 10/22/18 »
Hello there dearest reader. Before we get started, allow me to introduce myself. My earthly name was Marcus Wade. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of sharing my personal accounts with you is, but maybe I do it just because I can.  You can make your own assumptions as you go, but I’d rather not go on a tangent for too long before the story. So, allow me to tell you about my experiences in the afterlife. I think they may interest you. Maybe things will change in the future, and if they do, I will continue to describe such experiences to you. For now, I present you with what I know and have seen as of now. Events which shaped my life after death and continue to do so.

I awoke, yet I did not remember falling asleep. Perhaps that is death, if you can even call the process in which I experienced death.  Can something which never was truly alive be deceased? I ask that as a man without a family or a legacy to call my own. All I saw around me was nothingness. I say nothingness because there exists no language within the mortal world to describe where I found myself, and that was when I realized my worth.

I learned that I only ever amounted to all of which those who lived and died before me discovered, and my progression of thought and discovery would come to a halt once I discovered true omniscience. Yet, true omniscience was a fallacy. A myth created so the foolish people such as I would find themselves on a wild goose chase to self-proclaimed superiority rather than become progressive members of society. Sound pretentious? That’s because that was who I was as a man. So there I sat, unmissed by anyone, and totally unfazed by the fact that I was in the afterlife.

A state of clarity had washed over me once I found myself in this strange place. It was as if all my foolish were exposed and I was enlightened to the truth and the difference between right and wrong. Throughout my life, I was completely obsessed with learning as much as I could, so I could prove to those who doubted me I was better than they had assumed I was.

Now that I was dead, I could only be surrounded by thoughts and memories as my mind expanded further and I came to understand what I hadn't before. Fitting wasn’t it? As a man whose sole purpose was discovery and intelligence, this newfound knowledge could only be described as a euphoric feeling to me. Heavenly, if you will. Yes, this was Heaven. It had to be, for what else could possibly be concluded based on the information at hand?

I found myself uncomfortable at first. The sensation of being a sentient, yet disembodied was strange due to the amount of time I had previously spent as a living, breathing person, but I soon got used to my circumstances. I had all the time in the world to think, and so that is exactly what I did. I sat there for as long as I can remember, pondering over past events and actions. Some of them I took great pride in, whilst I kicked myself over my own stupidity when recalling others.

It felt like an eternity before I saw it. Some sort of bright light penetrated my vision, and I was finally able to see the world around me. A perfectly rectangular room, devoid of any furniture, was what I saw. I looked down and saw a hand. It was my own... I had seemingly regained my mortal body once more. The walls and floor of the room were in pristine condition, and everything appeared in a white coating of paint. In the center of the room sat a single white desk, where a large desktop computer sat mounted on top of it.

I slowly made my way over to the old-fashioned equipment and sat in the chair, pushing the power button to the computer. I heard the soft humming of the machinery as the screen faintly lit up, revealing a blue background screen and a single application in the center. I moved the mouse until the pointer hovered over the app, my curiosity at its peak. Then, I clicked twice and watched as a brand new page popped up in front of me, filling the screen entirely.

I watched as a plethora of dates and times appeared before my eyes, each accompanied by a video file. Unsure of what any of this meant, I clicked on the very first link. Upon doing so, a downloadable file appeared, which I opened. Much to my surprise, the download automatically started playing the video within it. I saw a woman in a hospital bed. The expression on her face was that of pain, and I heard her crying in agony as various doctors and nurses did their best to comfort her.

The woman was someone who I had recognized. She was... she was my own mother. After several minutes of her exasperated wailing, one of the doctors lifted up a small child, showing my mother as pride and joy filled her eyes. As soon as the video ended, the download file closed out and I was returned back to the original web page. For a minute, I was left speechless. Upon looking at the file more closely, I recognized the date on it as my birthday. Before me was every single important event in my life.

I took the time to watch a few of these videos, of course. Several birthdays of mine, my first girlfriend, my first few cars and homes. There were hundreds, if not thousands of videos detailing some of the best times of my life. I sat in awe as I watched the early days of my childhood replaying right in front of me. It was truly one of the most fascinating moments I had ever experienced. This fascination, however, was short-lived. Soon, I felt a new, much less pleasant feeling. One of disappointment and regret. I am referring to the events which took place in my life after my childhood.

Now, I had been aware of the poor decisions I had made in life before I found the mysterious computer room. In fact, it was some of those very memories in which I had pondered in my previous state. However, there is a large difference between recalling something and actually witnessing it again with your own eyes. For instance, when I had remembered my various arguments with my parents, the kids and teachers at school mocking me for my low intelligence and work ethic, the feelings associated with such events didn't shake me up as much as viewing my bullies and relatives berate me with insults, believing I would end up as a nobody or some hooligan on the streets.

Even more disheartening was that there were more download links involving the negative aspects of my life than there were positive ones. It is a sad fact of life that adulthood lasts far longer than childhood, and my adult years grew even more depressing as the slow, definite march of time continued. Still, there was nothing I could do within my afterlife except watch as my pathetic life devolved from the innocence of a child to the contempt of a grumpy man, so I continued.

When those closest to me had doubted my ability to progress at the rate of the other children, I personally took it upon myself to prove them wrong. As a young boy with very few friends or hobbies, such a task became my passion, and I spent nearly all my time with my nose stuck in any book I could get my hands on.

I completely ignored any other entertaining activity a boy my age would gladly partake in, even opting to study on my birthday and other fun events in my life. Thus, as my high school years started, I isolated myself from all distractions in order to prove myself capable of outsmarting anyone who dared doubt me. As you can imagine from someone like me, I considered people distractions as well, causing many relationships with the few friends and family I had to shatter completely. These were the years that marked the beginning of my downfall.

After reviewing my teenage years, I decided to move on. I clicked on the scrollbar and dragged it downwards, waiting a bit before stopping once more and selecting a new date. I was an adult at that point in time, and my studying and hard work had paid off. Well, paid off as far as financial security was involved. Despite being socially inept and losing most of those I cared for, I carried on with my anti-social tendencies until I found myself in a good college and got into a well-paying job. I had moved up the ranks rather quickly in the workplace, soon becoming a top-ranking supervisor who enjoyed commanding my orderlies around like they were dogs.

I sat in my chair in disbelief as I watched the smug grin on my face while I barked out instructions to colleagues and interns alike. The nerve I had to treat others such a way. Perhaps it was the afterlife and the newfound clarity and sensibility I discovered upon entering it that allowed me to see clearly the problems with my behavior. It also allowed me to see the scowls and rude remarks muttered under the breath of various employees who looked upon me in disgust. I had been blind to such things in my human state, but apparently, I wasn't anymore.

This behavior wasn't just common in the workplace, but outside of it as well. It wasn't long before the neighborhood came to realize my rather distasteful tendencies and steered clear of me altogether, to which I paid them no mind. It was my choice and mine alone to live a life of solitude, and for the longest time, I was known as the mean old man who lived at the end of the block.

I never smiled, nor did I ever laugh. The very few people who saw me outside of my house or outside of work only ever saw me with a scowl permanently sewn to my face. I didn't decorate for Christmas or Halloween. I didn't send or receive gifts or partake in the many activities within the community. If there was precious work to be done or information to be learned, I focused all of my attention on it.

Speaking of Halloween, I found a few video files around that holiday. I decided to watch some of them and found that even though I never had a single frightening prop out on my porch or yard, not one kid within the area would come near my residence. I actually found myself chucking at this fact, figuring their parents must have warned them about the scary old fart who would surely throw a fit should he be disturbed, regardless of the circumstances. My curiosity started withering away as I clicked on the scroll bar and continued downwards. It was at that moment that I realized I had almost reached the bottom of the page, and only a few downloads remained.

They were nothing special really. Just a few videos of me lashing out at some more people who dared commit the heinous crime of trying to socially interact with me. Yeah, I'm surprised I made it into heaven again in this first place. Then again, it was never made apparent where I was. As far as I knew it wasn't heaven, but just some random phase of the afterlife I found myself in. Regardless, I don't make the rules, nor will I attempt to understand them in a vain attempt to know everything. After all, why make the same mistakes in the afterlife as I did in the mortal world.

Now, the reason why my palms became sweaty upon nearing the end of the timeline is that, as you may have guessed, the final date was the date of my death. You also may have wondered why a spirit is choosing to spend time typing his recounting of life and death online, and the answer to that question is simple. I didn't have a normal life, nor did I have a normal death.  I have to share what happened to me with you all simply because I feel obligated to do so. Maybe it can serve as a warning, or perhaps I feel the need to share because some things are simply too insane not to spread. Regardless, I'm already this far, so I might as well continue.

It took me quite some time to muster up the courage to download the final video. Despite mentally preparing myself for what was to come numerous times, I was still hesitant. I found myself out of the chair and pacing the room at one point, taking deep breaths in an attempt to calm myself down. It seemed like hours before I was ready to witness the most important, and most upsetting, day of my life. The day which transferred me from the land of the living to that of the dead.

Summoning each ounce of bravery within me, I clicked the link and watched as the download opened and the video automatically played. I frantically chewed at my fingernails as I watched myself in my living room, sitting comfortably in my recliner chair. I saw the coffee mug in one hand and newspaper in the other as I did what I had always done best, absorbing all the information I could. The night was black as tar and the wind sung its soft tune. I could notice all these details and more as my eyes closely watched.

It felt as if I were experiencing the event in real time, except this time, unlike my human counterpart, I knew what the outcome would be. I knew that that living, breathing person who had been me would live their last day. A life would abruptly end and I would bear witness to my own demise, and it caused my skin to crawl, my entire body trembling. It was an eerie feeling indeed.

This video was longer than the previous ones. While the others had been just thirty seconds to a minute or two at most, this one was several minutes longer in comparison. I watched myself take a quick swig of my coffee and stand up, making my way to the kitchen. This version of me... a person who I had trouble conceiving was the exact person I am.

I.. I knew the noise was coming but I didn't realize it would come so soon in the video. The sound of glass shattering filled the house as the "alive version of me" turned quickly and grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter, slowly making his way back into the living room. I practically screamed at the monitor in front of me, begging myself not to do what I was about to. These efforts were fruitless, of course. If I could change the past I wouldn't be in my current predicament, now would I?

I saw myself flick on the light and stare at the broken glass window in confusion. There was nobody in sight, and I had relaxed my body due to a false sense of security. It was foolish, and although my relaxation was just for a split second, it was enough. A large man in a mask pounced from behind the wall, tackling me to the floor.

I covered my eyes, not wanting to see the massacre that was destined to unfold, but morbid curiosity forced tiny creases in between my fingers to allow peepholes. I had to see... I had to see. This computer allowed me a new perspective on what had happened in my life, and I just couldn't help but watch as the man wrapped his arms around my throat, seemingly unbothered by my futile attempts to defend myself.

I leaned back in my chair and felt my body tense up as the man forced his knee into my ribs trying to cease my efforts at escaping, his grip around my throat tight as ever. Finally, after an uncomfortable amount of silence, the man released his hold on me and got up, watching over my limp body. My face was pale and my eyes were bloodshot, an expression of surprise on my face. It was the first time I had seen any emotion besides contempt within me.

I let out a long sigh of relief as the video finally came to an end and the download closed out. I placed my hand on my throat and rubbed gently. It was almost as if I felt choked just by reliving my final moments on Earth. I got up once more, pacing the perimeter of the white room. I felt sick to my stomach at the prospect of the computer. I had access to any moment in my life at the click of a button, including my own murder. I took a seat in criss-cross position at one of the four corners of the room.

It could have been anyone who killed me in all honesty. I had lots of enemies. People who I showed disdain for returned such feelings. People in the workplace, people in the neighborhood. Hell, even what was left of my family at the time had felt deep resentment towards me. Funny enough, despite the heavy torment I faced at their hands in childhood, even when I solved their issues with me of being a stupid kid they didn't seem satisfied. In truth, I don't really regret cutting them off from my life. Sure, I regret leaving some of them. Quite a few of my cousins had always treated me with respect and dignity, however, I feel no pity towards any of the others.

When I went back to the computer and turned the monitor back on, I was immediately met by something curious. There, right next to the first app, stood another. It was a notepad with a title named after me. I looked all around me, looking for any other entities within the room. There was nothing. Not only that, but there were no entry points in the room either. No doors, no windows, and upon further inspection I found no sign of hidden hatches either. There was absolutely no way another person could have gotten in, leading me to believe that the app had appeared all by itself.

Realizing once more that I truly had nothing better to do, I clicked on the notepad and watched as the document opened. Several paragraphs of text sat before me. After reading the document, I realized that unlike the video files, it didn't detail the events which took place while I was alive. Rather, it was an article describing what happened after I died. I felt my eyebrows rise while my eyes scanned the screen, taking in the information presented to me. While I can't remember the exact words I read, I can paraphrase what they said.

In summary, after I died there were several suspects the police rounded up and interrogated. I recognized each of the names listed by the article as people I had come into contact with in life. My experiences with all of them were, needless to say, negative. In all fairness, there were plenty of people who would have the motive to murder me, but not a single one was found guilty. According to the article, all who were questioned were eventually released due to "insufficient evidence", although I found that rather hard to believe. Despite not wanting to believe it, a part of me felt as if the case wasn't taken as seriously due to my reputation around the community. Still, none of it mattered now. Not anymore.

When I moved past that part of the article, I found that the topic had shifted from the strange circumstances surrounding my death to the impact on my community. My house had been put on the market, but nobody would buy it. Apparently, nobody would buy a house where someone had been murdered. What had once been a dead zone during the holidays became a neighborhood attraction for some of the younger kids, especially during Halloween. It was at that moment during the reading that I froze, my face completely blank. It had been... years since I died. I placed my head in my hands and took several deep breaths, which did almost nothing to calm my nerves.

Then I continued reading the article, my breathe exasperated, I saw it expanding upon the previous point in the writing. Many teenagers would dare each other on the scariest day of the year, October 31st, to spend the night near my house or, in some cases, sneak in. Apparently, tales of my mean attitude and murder spread like wildfire upon my death, causing tons of ghost stories and rumors to be told around the campfire.

I found several more video files within the notepad, which I didn't even realize could be stored there, but then again, I had learned that I couldn't expect anything ordinary now. I downloaded the links and watched several videos of teens sneaking in and out of the house at Halloween. Some spent the night, while others got too scared to stay and ran home crying. I must admit, the house did look pretty creepy. It was unkempt and probably unsafe to stay in, with cobwebs covering the porch and the paint on the outside peeled and chipped.

The inside of the house, from what I could tell, wasn't in much better condition. It was completely barren of furniture and the floor was coated in a thin layer of dust. There were very few places in the home where light could be found, mostly due to the windows being boarded up. I watched a video of a rather timid-looking kid make his way up the steps to the second story, the stairs creaking every couple of seconds.

He looked all around, taking in his surroundings. He allowed the flashlight in his right hand to illuminate the room. With that, he layed out a sleeping bag on the cold hard floor. There were dozens of kids who had done the same. Eventually, the local authorities took notice and would often have a patrol car near my house during Halloween in order to make sure no kids were trespassing. Once again I was taken back by the amount of time that had passed since my death. Perhaps it had been longer than I thought.

Finally, the kids stopped showing up, and so did the police. I could feel my heart sink a little at that. Something about the fun the kids had, while juvenile, reminded me of the some of the fun I missed out on as a boy, and the fact that their fun was ending somewhat saddened me. I looked at the article and saw it come to an abrupt end, to which I closed the notepad and returned my gaze to the monitor home screen.  Rubbing my eyes in fatigue, I felt the incoming sensation of sleep.  I found it odd how I could feel sleepy in the afterlife, but I suppose it's pretty tiring to see what I had. I felt myself drifting off, and without much thought, I allowed sleep to embrace me.

I woke up the day after, or at least I think it was the day after. I had no concept of time within that white room, and I was disappointed upon waking up to find that nothing had changed. I was afraid that all the afterlife would provide me was contemplation in the form of this computer in front of me. Stretching my hand forward and gripping the mouse, I shook it a little to wake the monitor up. The background had changed from a purely blue screen to a black and white checkerboard style image.

Once again I looked around the room for any place someone could enter and alter the computer, only to find nothing again.

Shifting my attention back to the screen, I noticed one more item that hadn't been there the previous day. It was a folder, and upon opening it I found a page titled "Instructions". It was in an application which I was unfamiliar with, but I proceeded in opening it anyways.

Inside was a single link. Figuring there was no harm in clicking one more, I hovered my mouse above it. However, I hesitated. Something about this link seemed odd to me. This wasn't like the others and I knew it, but I had no idea how. Still... there was only one way to find out where it lead. Sighing, I tapped the mouse and opened the link. And once I did so, my vision went black.

For a single moment in time, I thought I had gone blind, and it terrified me. The white room surrounding me was gone and replaced with darkness, and for that split second I wanted to scream, but couldn't. I couldn't do anything really, and it was awful. I would say my heart was pounding against my chest but I couldn't feel my heartbeat, nor was I sure if I had a chest or body at all for that matter.

I couldn't feel my own existence. It was like for a moment I stopped existing within reality, becoming an abstract being. I didn't exist, yet I did. That's as best as I could describe that odd, terrifying sensation. As soon as it started it stopped, and I was snapped back into reality. I stumbled a bit and fell to my knees, gasping for air as I felt beads of sweat running down my face. It was amazing how alive and human I felt even as a spirit. My blurred vision finally came into focus and fixated on the floor beneath me.

The first thing that I noticed was that the floor wasn't white, meaning I wasn't inside the room I had become so familiar with. Instead, the floor was wooden and cold, coated in a thin layer of dust. I stood to my knees and looked around, taking in various features around me. Recognizable features which allowed me to easily identify the place I was in. It was my own house.

It looked the same as it had through the videos I saw while kids searched through it. I saw the same boarded windows, heard the same creaking floorboards... yes, it was mine alright. I was confused as to why I was there, and I felt my heart speed up as I noticed where I was standing. It was the exact same spot as where my murder had taken place.

Feeling uncomfortable with where I was, I moved to the front door and placed my hand on the cold doorknob. I tried turning it but to no avail. The door wouldn't open. I looked down at the lock, only to see that it wasn't turned. I grasped the doorknob and frantically began turning, unable to exit the house. I rushed to the back door and found that the same thing happened.

I pushed up on the windows not boarded and found that no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't budge. I was trapped inside my own house, with no way to escape. I pounded my fists on the door and screamed at the top of my lungs despite knowing damn well that not a soul in the world could hear me.

My body found itself slumped over in front of the back door, twiddling my thumbs and tapping my foot lightly. I took several deep breaths in an attempt to distract myself from my situation and tried thinking of some sort of solution. Why had what happened, happened? Why view my entire life in rewind and study my legacy after death just to be trapped in the very house I was killed in? It was madness.

I slammed my fist against the floor in a fit of rage and got up once more, clutching my head and violently pulling at strands of my hair. After several minutes spent in frustration, I allowed myself to settle down and explore my now abandoned home. I figured that there was no point in getting too worked up over it anyway.

I made my way up the stairs and down the hallway. Despite the second story being completely enveloped in darkness, I found it quite easy to see and navigate, as if I had my own set of built-in night vision. At the end of the corridor was a door to my room. There was something odd about it, and it wasn't a subtle type of odd either. A fluorescent glow emitted from within the room, shining brightly through the cracks. I made my way towards this glow and, much to my approval, I found I was able to open the door.

Upon entering I realized that glow coming from a computer screen within the room. It was my computer, inexplicably clean and in the same spot it had always been despite the rest of the house being bare. I lifted the computer and realized that a fine layer of dust say underneath where the computer was, which should have been impossible had a solid object truly been on top of it. I had realized that this wasn't my computer, but something provided to me as a tool. It was my very own resource and I found that it came equipped with apps and an internet connection.

I couldn't explain this at all... but something was allowing me to communicate to the outside world. What seemed like a blessing in disguise, however, would turn out to be my only way to share to you this story and what follows. It wouldn't turn out to be a convenient device as a gift, but a way to retell the painful experience that is to follow,

The other thing I noticed about the computer was the date and time. Wondering what time and day it was, I looked, only for my eyes to widen. The date was October 31st.

It was the morning of Halloween, and it was then that I realized my presence within my house was no coincidence. I was meant to be here, on this very night. I remembered my thoughts in the past. If you recall, the kids within the neighborhood would gather around my house at Halloween, each daring each other to enter the old abandoned house where a murder took place years ago. I wondered, however, about the police, until I then recalled their absence recently as the teenagers died down. I then realized that because of the lack of law enforcement specifically in front of my house, there was a possibility that they would be back and enter once more.

A smile grew onto my face as I realized that my dismay upon hearing these kids and their mischievous fun would come to an end would now be invalidated. My smile only grew wider at the prospect that perhaps I would be able to help these kids have fun and do their fair share of devious acts, seeing as how I was too foolish and full of myself as a young lad to do so myself, thus losing part of my very childhood. Yes, I understood my purpose. I was to haunt the very house I was killed in. While that idea might have sounded very unsettling to the average man, I was excited to relive a part of my life I missed out on.

I peered out into the brightly lit road and observed the houses in the distance. Many cheap Halloween decorations adorned the neighborhood, and I saw a few young kids board a bright yellow school bus. I had the whole day to prepare for the night to come. I chuckled to myself. They had no idea what they were in for.

As the sun withdrew from the sky and fell below the horizon, I saw dozens of kids running out of their homes, candy bags gripped tightly within their hands. They skipped and galloped down the road with plastic masks portraying witches and ghouls and all sorts of creatures of darkness. To each house in view, they approached with glee and knocked upon the doors. They laughed joyously as candy was emptied into their bags and moved onto the next houses. None of them stopped at mine though.

The evening progressed, and the night grew darker. The moon stood high in the night sky and provided a comforting light in every direction. Many of the younger kids had gone home by that point, and only a few teenagers remained. My heart fell as a thought formed in the back of my mind. What if nobody tried staying the night? What if they were too afraid of police confrontation to take the risk?

I didn't want to believe it. This was my chance to make up for my failure in life and help those currently living. Yet, I wouldn't get that chance, would I? Figuring the night was a failure, I laid down on the floor and placed my arms under my head, resting my eyes. I allowed my body to relax and breathed out deeply . Did you know spirits can dream? I didn't, but I know now. I found myself lucidly dreaming that night, sitting within my old recliner chair. Well, it wasn't me who was sitting. I couldn't quite see who the person was because their face was hidden behind the newspaper they held. I approached them slowly, clearing my throat and tightening my fist. I placed my hand on the top of the paper and pulled it down, attempting to find out who the man was. Then, I jumped back, startled and afraid.

There, sitting in the recliner chair, sat a large man in a mask. He threw down the paper and leaped to his feet, approaching me with surprising speed. I fell backward and hit my head on the wall, and I watched in terror as his hand opened and wrapped around my throat, choking me.

I struggled for air as my face turned blue. My lungs felt as if they were on fire, and I scraped and clawed at the man's arms and face, attempting to sink my nails into his skin and draw bled. Trying to do anything I could to free myself of his grip.

I couldn't. I was too weak to stop my assailant, and I felt myself slipping. I felt the veins bulging from underneath my skin as my eyes became bloodshot. It felt as if they would pop out from the sockets. It felt so real... as if I would die once more. I was reliving my worst moment. Every second of it, I felt. It was all so familiar to me. The furniture around the room within my dream had been knocked over in the struggle, and here I was, death slowly approaching me.

Of that entire ordeal, the most horrifying moment to me was when my entire body went limp, yet I could still see. I could still see, breathe, and feel. I was conscious and aware, trapped inside of a dead body. I was completely and utterly out of control, like a session of sleep paralysis. I watched as the man released me from his grip and stood over me, admiring his work. I witnessed him slip his fingers underneath his mask, pulling upwards. What I saw underneath that black, foreboding mask will forever be ingrained into my mind for eternity.

It was me... it was my face. I saw it clear as day. My skin was pale and slightly blue. The eyes were bloodshot as they had been upon my death, and worms wriggled around through open holes and wounds caused by the process of decay. A mixture of mud and grass filled the thing's mouth, leaving little to no room for the being to speak. I struggled to comprehend what was happening as the figure grabbed a black shovel seemingly out of nowhere.

The monstrosity moved out of sight and I heard the sounds of wooden floorboards being removed. As soon as the thing was done with that task, I heard the sound of dirt being removed from the ground. Within minutes the creature was done with its job and lifted me with superhuman strength, tossing me into the hole it had just made.

My screams were muffled by my inability to open my mouth as the thing shoveled the dirt on top of me. As the earth filled my makeshift tomb, my sight was lost. The last thing I heard was the faint laughter coming from the creature that had reenacted my murder. A creature that appeared to be me, but wasn't...It was jeering me.

I sat up abruptly, drenched in my own sweat and tears. I shifted into a fetal position, rocking back and forth while a million thoughts rushed through my mind. What the hell just happened? Did I really see what I thought I had? There was no way in hell it was real... any of it! I shivered and shook and I just couldn't sit still and nothing made sense. That nightmare had shaken me to my core and I wiped my forehead. I hadn't felt that type of fear since the date of my death. I thought there would be nothing to fear after death, but I was wrong. Maybe nothing can hurt or kill me anymore, but the memories and nightmares which plague me will remain forever.

Not only would my murder dominate my dreams completely, but I wondered, and feared, whether my regrets in life would as well. I wondered if the loneliness I experienced at my own hand would eventually get to me. I felt tears well up within my eyes as I struggled to find a reason behind any of this. I hadn't a clue why and I may never have a clue. The afterlife is supposed to be eternal bliss. The sweet release of death was supposed to help liberate us from the problems of life but they seem to follow us into death.

Perhaps it is a blessing, or perhaps it is a curse. Would I be able to feel happy if such feelings and issues didn't follow us? This truth will forever elude me most likely, but it is something I feel the need to ponder. Yes, it is quite ironic that I do perhaps even more thinking here than I do in life. However, over time I have come to believe that our motivations and intentions behind our actions determine their effect and morality. I myself am a good example of this.

The computer provided to me allowed me to write down notes such as these for further contemplation in the future, as well as reflect on ideas in the past. The Halloween night I described earlier happened about two years ago. After that night, I found myself trapped within my own house until the following Halloween. Luckily enough for me, time seemed to progress faster than it normally would until that day. The house seemed to be pretty devoid of activity until that Halloween though, so I myself had to find entertainment in other activities such as, well, writing.

I wrote about my experiences within the computer, this being one such story, and it keeps me sane. I suppose that's another reason why I was presented this hunk of junk replica of my past life laptop. It's a good way to be active and kept up to date while in the very confined world I live in.

The nightmares I had kept on coming. I'd say they occurred about once every week or two. Some of them were harsh, such as the one where I had to live through my murder again. Others weren't nearly as bad but still caused me to feel sick to my stomach, such as witnessing several life-changing moments in which I pushed family away. Such dreams confirmed my theory about certain moments in my life full with negative connotations coming back to haunt me.

I was convinced for some time that the nightmares I had were, in part, punishment for my actions in life as a cruel and negligent man. However, nothing else in the afterworld really seemed to back up this idea, so it is just another theory of mine for now. There are still many questions I have that I am unsure how to answer, so I may seem uncertain a lot of times. In truth, life after death doesn't truly answer our questions about the universe. I've no clue if this experience happening to me is similar to other spirits. Thus, with no comparison to offer, I cannot offer with certainty that events such as this will be similar to others.

When last year's Halloween arrived, I was filled with hope once more. It was a promising day, and I would pray that someone would dare enter my home.  Again I saw the kids in their plastic masks and neat costumes skip down the road for a night of trick-or-treating. Just like every year before, they would go up to a neighborhood house, knock on the door, and joyfully accept their delicious treats. The night went on, the kids got their candy, and they all avoided my house once again.

A frown formed on my face as I lost hope, realizing that it would be another boring Halloween for me. I hung my head low and made my way over to my spot on the floor, lazily sitting with my legs spread out haphazardly. I leaned my head against the wall and listened to the sounds of the children's fun dissipate. The moon had risen once more, and the children made their way back to their homes.

Breathing out slowly, I prepared to fall asleep once more. Well, until I heard a strange noise outside the house. I opened my eyes and shifted my head toward the back door where the sound originated. I saw several shadows moving around outside the window, soft murmurs accompanying the motion.

I sat up, my interest peaked. Could it be what I thought it was? Could it be what I had been hoping for all those years? I got my answer in the form of the window near the back door sliding open and a small boy stealthily making his way into the house. He couldn't have been more than 15 years old.

I smiled wide as I stood and made my way over to the boy. Finally, a new risk taker! As expected, he apparently couldn't see me. The boy clicked his flashlight on and methodically traversed the house, jumping at every small creak and groan the old house made. I could see his skin crawling, quite uneasy in the rickety old place.

Smirking mischievously to myself, I gently knocked on the wall next to the boy, causing him to jump in fright. He made his way out of the room and towards the bottom of the staircase, looking up into the darkness beyond. I made my way besides the boy and scratches the wooden walls, which got a clear reaction out of the kid.

"H..Hello? Is anybody in here," he whispered softly under his breath, somewhat unsure.

I remained silent as a dead man, not wanting to chase the poor kid out of the house too quickly. This was my first haunting after all, and I didn't want to ruin it. The boy allowed his light to shine up the stairs as he made ascended to the second story, each bump within the night causing him to noticeable wince. I followed him upwards, passing through his body at one point which caused him to shiver. Once he reached the top, he made his way down the long corridor and to my room. Before he could reach the handle, I opened the door ever so slightly, beckoning to him.

"Heh... it's just the wind. Don't be a wimp man, you can do this," the boy spoke to himself.

As he shined the light around the room, I snuck behind him and stood silent, grinning ear to ear. When he turned around to face me, his face turned completely pale. This confused me, so I turned around to see if anything caught his eye. There was nothing. Looking back, I stared directly into his eyes. He stared right back into mine. He could see me. I didn't know how, but suddenly he could see me.

He backed away slowly, lip quivering and his eyes as wide as humanly possible. Then, he abruptly released a blood-curdling scream and runs in the opposite direction. I follow quickly as the boy rushes down the corridor. Apparently, he didn't pay attention like he should have, because I heard a shrill cry before the sound of a body tumbling down the stairs echoed throughout the house, followed by a sickening crack.

I rushed down to the boy, my mouth agape in pure shock. There, at the bottom of the stairs, sat the body of the boy. His neck was turned in an unnatural position, clearly broken. His eyes were wide open and unmoving, and his chest was completely still. He wasn't breathing at all. He... was dead.

I had to sit there and watch as the paramedics and officers took the child's lifeless body away. The crushing weight of guilt caused tears to form within my eyes, and soon I found myself crying. I had never intended for something like that to happen, and I will never get over it. My perception of time seemed to drastically slow down after that event. I wrote down that event into my computer, my mind unsure of what to think.

This guilt has been weighing me down for some time now. Of all the awful experiences I have had, both in life and death, this tops them all. I am a murderer, and nothing will change that now. Whether this was an accident or not is inconsequential. The blood is on my hands, and I can't help but wonder about the boy's family and how they must feel, even to this day. It tied a knot in my stomach just to think about it, and it always will.

A while after those events happened, I found a new application on my computer. It was nothing that I had ever downloaded, nor was it something anyone else could have placed there. It reminded me of what happened in the white room on the other computer, so I immediately knew something crazy would happen. Sure enough, upon opening it up I saw a list of download links to videos. The same videos that were on the white computer, in fact, each and every one identical to their counterparts. There was, however, one video that I didn't recognize. One placed directly after my death date on the timeline.

My eyes widened as I read the date underneath the download link. It was Halloween... the same day I had caused the death of the poor boy who entered the house. I already knew what the contents of the video would be, and watching it only confirmed my suspicions and made me sick to my stomach.

That night is all that I can think of any more. There seems to be no more room for any sort of contemplation, aside from what I could have done differently. All I can ponder now is if there was something that could have been done to mitigate this entire mess... if a mess is even an appropriate term for this. Now, I wish that I could stop thinking altogether.

A child died within the house, and word spread quickly throughout town. The police will be sure to be on top of this place again, but the truth is that I'm stuck here forever, until further notice. If kids don't try sneaking in again soon, they will after the fuzz dies down. Someone will come in, and I'm deathly afraid that there will be another accident someday. I will feel that way until the end of time... or until whenever this damn house is demolished.

I'm not sure what I will do when that time comes, but this afterlife is slowly shaping into a hell far beyond what I had imagined. I type this to you now because in a life and death of eternal torment, nightmares, and guilt, it's all I can think to do.

There is nothing else for me, so perhaps this account of my life and afterlife will hold some value to you. Whatever the case may be, wish me the luck I so desperately need. Maybe in time I'll forgive myself and move one, but I don't know. I don't really know anything anymore. I just hope the kids stay away from this place. All it has to offer is bad news. Take care now, and be safe this Halloween.

Please don't do anything stupid.


8
Story Critique / Frogs
« on: 01:00:43 PM 10/13/18 »
Look, I'm not gonna start a blog post dedicated to weird and awful experiences that have happened to me, nor will I write a book about paranormal activities I've witnessed. In truth, my life has been pretty mundane up until this point. I mean, I won't lie to you guys. Sure, I'm superstitious and religious, but that belief is based purely on faith, not evidence.

Well, a little context probably wouldn't hurt would it? I live at the end of a rather small neighborhood. The woods and a house awaiting purchase are all that exist behind my home, and ahead of it is a rather lifeless street of maybe a half dozen houses. I swear to you the homeowners of said places are almost never there, but I suppose that's what a nine-to-five job does to an adult. Truthfully, I find the barren landscape calming and soothing for the most part. There's a strange feeling of comfort that comes with limited isolation, and that's as best as I can describe it really.

There was, however, one night in particular that shook things up a bit, for lack of better words. Now, for a night so important to me and the events of this story, I find it odd I can't seem to remember the exact date. For some reason, I found myself up until almost midnight. My parents were tired and, of course, told me not to stay up too late. Furthermore, I remember them asking me to take the dogs out before I went to bed. I was much obliged to do so in return for staying up late, so I promised I would. After some watching a bit of Netflix, my eyes wandered down to the clock within the tv box. It had been almost an hour since my parents had gone to bed. I rubbed my eyes and felt a bit tired myself, so I grabbed my dogs' leashes and took them outside to walk.

I walked down the long gravel driveway and stepped into the street. I let my flashlight illuminate the road in front of me and continued down the path, allowing the dogs to finish their business. Once they were finished, I turned to go back to the house. But I stopped dead in my tracks once my light hit a certain area of the road. Just a few feet in front of me sat a lump on the ground I hadn't seen before. I had to restrain my dogs with quite a bit of strength, as they seemed to notice it as well and attempted to reach it. I decided that I would bring them into the house and go back out so I could see what the lump had been. As I approached it a second time, I bent down at the knees and let the light hit it. That was when a knot turned in my stomach.

It was a frog. A baby frog at that, laying belly up. Several thoughts ran through my head. One, the frog was still there. What I mean is, upon viewing it, I suspected a predator had killed it. However, the frog was still on the road, dead. Not a single part of it was eaten, however, the stomach was slit down the middle and the intestines sat beside the amphibian. The animal's eyes seemed to have been removed as well. Maybe this wouldn't have seemed so odd if it weren't for the size of the creature. It was so small in size that such injuries seemed... intentional.

I shuddered a bit and then decided upon going inside again, having had enough of the mess before me. I made sure to lock the doors that night. Don't ask me why. I guess I just felt as if I had to.

When I went outside the next morning to go to school, I went to the spot I had seen the dead frog. There was nothing there. Assuming that whatever had killed it cleaned up the remains, I walked to the bus stop. On the way there, I kept my eyes peeled for any other dead animals on the road. There were none.

When I got home from school, I decided that I would ask my mom about what I had seen. Perhaps she would have an explanation I hadn't previously considered. After listening to my story intently, she suggested that maybe a neighbor's cat had been the cause of it all. I nodded my head and accepted her answer. It would make sense, after all, I've heard of cats randomly killing small creatures all the time. That night, and the next few nights that followed, I saw the frogs on the road again, always in close proximity to my home. This still unnerved me, but I didn't pay much mind to it. I simply ignored the bodies and walked my dogs as normal. That was, until one morning in particular.

Another day of school had arrived, and I did my normal daily routine. I got up, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, and brushed my teeth. I exited the house, ready to go to the bus stop. I walked down the driveway as always, and then I stumbled back. Right in front of me was a squirrel, completely snapped in half. The two pieces of its body that had been disconnected were perfectly symmetrical. It sat in a pool of its own blood, an expression of shock and horror etched onto its face.

I gagged and quickly ran past the body. I pulled out my phone and texted my mom, explaining to her that there was a mutilated squirrel directly in front of our driveway. I quickened my pace and arrived at the bus, where I then got a response from her. She said she would check it out. After waiting a few minutes, she texted me again, asking me where I had seen it. I stared at her text in disbelief, unsure how she could possibly miss such a sight. I described exactly where it was, and then waited a few more minutes. Again, she responded, and my eyes widened at what she said.

Where I had seen the animal, morbidly attacked and bloodied, she saw nothing. Chills ran down my spine, and I was genuinely shaken to my core. I tried asking a few of my school friends if they had experienced anything similar to what I had. None of them had any idea what I was talking about.

Much to my surprise, the nights after that seemed to calm down. I didn't see any more frogs or animals on the road, nor did I see any on my way to school. It almost seemed as if the strange anomaly had stopped on its own over time, and for that I was thankful. There was a strange period of time where nothing happened at all. Looking back, I was foolish to think it had ended there. No, I should have known all along. It wasn't the end of the storm, but the calm before it.

This peace I experienced came to an abrupt end just two weeks ago, on a night that seemed just like every other. My father had been the one to take the dogs out this time because I was busy walking towards the mailbox. I had neglected my duties to get the mail earlier in the day, so now I had to get it at around 12 due to my procrastination.

I grunted in annoyance at the fact that I wasn't allowed to go to bed until I got this chore done, but I accepted it. I had brought it upon myself after all. I had started walking at a slow pace but sped up as I went along. There were woods to both sides of me because of how the roads are positioned, and I was slightly creeped out by a feeling of being watched from within the branches of the enormous trees. The streetlights had already shut off, and I was relying on my dim phone light to find my way since my dad was using the flashlight to walk the dogs back at home. My entire body felt tense as adrenaline rushed throughout me, ready to burst into a sprint at any given noise. I resisted this urge though, since the entire neighborhood seemed silent, strangely enough, although I believe that may have actually added to the eeriness of it all.

I finally arrived at the mailbox, inserted my key into the lock and opened it. I reached my hand into the hole and felt around. I didn't feel a single letter inside, but my hand did land on something... odd. Something squishy and moist. My hand instinctively recoiled as I took a step back. I peered into the mailbox, shining the light inside so I could get a better glimpse of what I felt. When I did see it, it took all of my strength not to scream.

There, inside the box of which only I had the key to open, was a frog.

Needless to say, I sprinted as fast as my legs could carry me until I reached my home. I launched myself up the porch stairs and entered the room, closing and locking the door behind me, my breath exasperated. My parents looked at me strangely, and I quickly explained myself by claiming I was just worn out from my run home. They didn't seem to question this, whether it was from believing me or being too tired to wonder why the hell I was running so far so late at night. Regardless, they went to bed and I locked the doors.

I didn't remember falling asleep, but I remember waking up in a pool of sweat. I sat up and looked around me, seeing the room entrenched in total darkness. From within my room, I could hear something strange. It sounded like footsteps... footsteps ascending the wooden stairs leading up to the front door. And then I heard the signature creak of the door open slowly, and that was when I felt my heart rise to my throat. Despite my mind screaming to my body that I should hide or stay put, my body disobeyed and opened my bedroom door. My ears were filled with the sound of my dogs barking furiously, but the barking soon turned into something else. Whimpers of fear... and then screaming. Screaming which pierced my ears and made my heart come to a standstill. Screaming which didn't sound like my dogs at all, but rather of a human being instead.

Despite my better judgment, I found myself running to the living room, where I found my two dogs. Battered and bruised, with cuts and scrapes all around them, they sat in place, seemingly unable to move. I could see their mouths open, and their throats emitted the same human scream of utter agony and despair that they had earlier. My feet trudged across the carpet, methodically making my way towards them. They screamed louder and more violently the closer I approached until I heard a crack. Their bottom jaws unhinged, revealing a gigantic maw. They stood on their two feet as a man would, and their once-human groans of pain turned into an inhuman, ungodly shriek which split my ears, causing me to clutch my head in pain. Then, just as suddenly as they started, they stopped and collapsed to the ground, dead.

I felt myself rush towards them, but I never got close. I felt something from behind me clutch me in its appendages, and I felt my body being pulled back into something sharp, stabbing me and causing me to roar in pain. I swear to you; my voice was not my own. No, it sounded like that inhuman screech my dogs released. I saw my vision become blurry until it all faded to darkness, and that was when I sat up in my bed. I rubbed my face with my hands, feeling the sweat pooling under my eyebrow. I raced out to the living room, only to see my dogs laying comfortably in their beds.

I didn't sleep a wink for the next few nights after that, nor did I mention that dream to anyone until now. The night that followed, well... several nights in fact, the woods located behind my house would cause my dogs to go into a frenzy when nearby. I remember walking them and, when close to the treeline, they would stop dead in their tracks, stare into the darkness ahead, and tuck their tails between their legs, whimpering. Even I become uneasy around the woods now, despite not having logical reason to be, but something about that place seems more ominous than it did before these events started taking place. Nonetheless, I can't walk near that place without getting the chills, and neither can my pets, it seems.

Again, the calm before the storm arrived, and each day and night without a single strange occurrence was truly nail-biting. That nightmare was all I could think about, and my lack of sleep showed at school. After several detentions for falling asleep in class, my grades dropped drastically, and my parents became worried. I never told them what happened though. They wouldn't ever believe me, especially since I seemed to be the only person who had witnessed these events.

I only bring this up to you guys because I'm becoming increasingly worried. You see, these strange occurrences have picked up recently. Just as recently as a week ago, in fact. Nothing too extreme has happened yet, but I'm worried that might all change soon. The dead animals I've been seeing aren't just frogs anymore. There are birds now, and even a few more small squirrels. Each and every night I see them, and each and every night they come closer and closer to my house. I'm not sure if what I'm experiencing is just some sicko out there messing with me, or if something more is going on within my neighborhood. All I know is that I've nothing to prove this is all happening, as each animal I see disappears without explanation by morning. I know for a fact that this isn't just some cat.

Look, the point is that last night I heard something familiar... something terrifying. I woke up to the sound of creaking. The creaking of wooden stairs leading up to my house, to be specific. I heard footsteps which stopped just outside of the front door. I didn't have the courage to open the door and look, so I peered through my bedroom window to see what was outside. Once my eyes became adjusted to the darkness, I was able to spot a lump on the welcome mat just outside my door. I couldn't discern the exact features of what it was, but I already knew in truth, and I couldn't sleep any longer that night. Once morning arrived, I looked outside the door, only to see nothing, as expected. It wasn't until then that I realized I had never heard anything descend the stairs last night, which caused a large knot in my stomach.

I don't know what's going to happen tonight, but I feel like it won't be good. There's no way anyone will believe me, and I don't know what can or will help me at this point. I loaded my rifle and made sure my hatchet and knife are within grabbing distance tonight. I'll also be sure to lock the doors. I'm not sure anymore... I'm just taking all the precautions I can at this point. All I can think of at this point is that damn nightmare...

-------------------------

Small Update

I made a last second decision to let my dogs sleep in my room last night, making sure to lock the door behind me. Call me paranoid, but there's no such thing as being too safe at this point. I didn't sleep at all last night, and I didn't hear anything at all either. Finally, at about 4 AM, I let sleep overcome me. When I got up this morning to prepare for school, I found a dead, mutilated frog right outside my bedroom door.


9
Story Critique / The Downside of Masturbation (2nd version)
« on: 01:31:07 PM 09/15/18 »
We all know the feeling. That sense of adrenaline rush through you when you hear your mom say those words to you as she exits the front door. Even someone my age who has already entered adulthood knows that thrill.

"Goodbye sweetie, I love you. Stay safe and remember I'll be home later tonight"

I waved goodbye to her as a crooked smile spread across my face. I had the entire house all to myself for the next several hours, and I was happy as hell about it. I immediately grabbed the television remote and turned the box on. I searched through the channels until I realized I had absolutely no interest in anything that was currently playing. I decided upon putting a random channel on as background noise and thought that perhaps I should exercise my lazy brain and pick up a book. I dusted off a random novel and admired its fine red leather cover. This thing looked cool as hell. I opened it up and began reading.

Long story short, I ended up tossing it onto the floor of the disorganized mess I call my room. It was some stupid story about a pissy, pretentious robot who gets mad at humanity and becomes a god or something? What a bore, am I right? Way too philosophical for my liking. Since the television had nothing on, and the book was a boring heap of crap, I sat on my bed, pondering to myself. What could I possibly do to alleviate the boredom which overtook me? I thought being left alone by myself at home would be a fun experience, yet somehow it was just turning into a snore fest.

My stomach growled, and so I grabbed a bright red apple and sank my teeth into it. The sweet juices fizzled out and stimulated my taste buds, and so again and again I bit. Within mere moments I was completely done with it and tossed it into the trash. Well, I wasn't hungry anymore. I wasn't particularly thirsty either. There was nothing on television, so perhaps I could surf the internet. I got my computer out and sat it down on my lap. I opened the lid and started up google, and soon found myself watching random videos and whatnot. Usually, such a thing would please a millennial like me, staring into the dim, blue, fluorescent glow the computer screen offered, my mind occupied by watching videos for hours on end. But this time was different. I just couldn't place my finger on it, but it was as if I had seen all the videos in the world already. No amount of article reading or internet surfing could bring me the entertainment I so desperately desired.

I closed the lid to the computer and sighed. What more could I do? How is it that a lonely 19 year old boy such as I had no clue how to be productive while my mother was away?

Wait... lonely young man?

My lips curled into a smile as I came to a realization. A nineteen-year-old lad without a girlfriend, without a job, who is home alone in his room. I slapped myself in the forehead and gasped aloud at my stupidity. Of course, there was something to do. I could masturbate! I rushed out of my room as quick as I could and approached the living room table. There, sitting atop a hardwood cabinet, was the sacred artifact. The key to my satisfaction and entertainment. An escape from my constant boredom. I gently caressed the shining beam of glory and hope within my hands and cradled it slowly, almost cooing at it. Which was, of course, silly, seeing as how it was just an inanimate object. Still, my lips carefully formed a specific set of words as I mouthed the label inaudibly.

"Men's Hand Lotion"

Giddy with excitement, I rushed back to my room and slammed the door shut, locking it behind me even though I was home alone. I grabbed a clean white sock and sat it down beside me as I found the computer again and flipped open the screen. I desperately spam clicked the google chrome browser, and once it popped up I clicked the options tab and selected the Incognito Tab button. What, you think I'd just let my guiltiest pleasures be seen by the FBI on my search history? C'mon now, I'm a little bit more dignified than that!

Perverted thoughts of what I could search for rushed through my mind. I had access to the internet. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of videos and images were at my disposal. I just needed to choose the right one for me. I sat and pondered for a moment. No need for anything too kinky or strange. I may be a perv, but I'm still a normal person and would prefer normal porn to satisfy my needs. The possibilities raced through my mind at lightning speed. Uncertain about what I wanted, I decided to just type in the URL to my favorite site and see what was recommended on the front page. And then, I screamed. I screamed so that I jumped due to how startled I was. For on the screen in front of me, sat a simple phrase. One that all men of my standing dread. One that all porn addicts despise and hate with all their being.

"Internet Connection Not Available"

How could this be? I checked the WIFI setting and saw that my home internet was not available. I rushed to the router and checked it out. Everything seemed fine. Still, I restarted it several times and checked repeatedly to see if the internet would come back on. It never did. My heart thumped against my chest and my breathing became exasperated. I clutched my head so hard that I felt as if I was going to tear out patches of my hair. And it isn't like I could use my phone either because I didn't have one. My mom refused time and time again to let me borrow her money to buy my own, and since I'm a poor jobless bum with no source of income, well, buying a phone just isn't possible for me. Sighing and coming to terms with the harsh reality of my situation, I tossed the sock away and put my computer away as well.

"Well little buddy, looks like we're on our own," I said looking down at the slight bulge of anticipation within my shorts.

Total and utter shame gleamed within my eyes as I reached down and pulled down my shorts. Grasping the bump tightly in my hand, I began stroking slowly. I closed my eyes and did my best to come up with some kind of sexual fantasy to help with the process. For a while, I couldn't imagine anything. I only saw the darkness that came with the back of my eyelids. However, within a few moments, I was able to picture something very clearly. I was in a hotel room, my body sitting nude on a comfortable bed. In the hallway was a short blonde woman, her eyes a bright green. Freckles aligned her entire face, and she wore a comforting and welcoming smile. She too was nude, and she firmly placed her hands on her hips.

I was kind of confused by this... you see, when I fantasize about a situation, I usually think about it taking place in areas I've been before and with people I've met. This time, however, I recognized neither the room I was in nor the woman before me. The woman giggled and strutted towards, sitting on the bed beside me. She glanced downward, her gaze shifting to my exposed... you know. I was heavily embarrassed. I mean, I knew it was just a dream, but it felt real. Well, real enough for me to be embarrassed flashing my below average sized cock at this total stranger. Despite being uncomfortable with my current fantasy, she placed a finger over her lips and signaled me to be silent, as if she could sense how tense I was.

Despite being in a dream-like state I could feel my hand pumping faster in reality. The woman smiled and "gave me a helping hand", her eyes never breaking contact from her work. This whole thing, this whole fantasy. It felt so real. So real, that I was confused as to why I felt the way I did. The feeling coursing through my body was not one of pleasure or enjoyment. Instead, I felt nauseous and concerned. A part of me within, quietly telling me something wasn't right. Still, I kept going along with it. I was so close, and despite my unease, I just told myself I was being stupid. I was committed to the cause, and no way in hell I was stopping now over a false sense of dread. Over and over she stroked, matching up with mine in the real world. My hips started to sway, and my breathing became faster. I began to thrust up into her hand, again and again, until suddenly I felt myself come to my climax. Finally, the moment of utter euphoria would arrive. The moment I had set out to find. I had accomplished it. I had accomplished my goal of finding some form of joy while home alone.

And then I screamed, and screamed, and screamed.

A sharp pain coursed throughout my penis as my eyes widened in shock. The woman looked up at me, staring into my eyes, her face contorted into an expression of confusion. I screamed again, but not because of the pain. Her face had completely changed. Her eyes were cloudy and grey, and thick, dark blue goo spilled from her open mouth. Green and black rot covered her entire face, and her long blond hair had converted into grey locks. With a sudden movement she lunged at me, and that was when I awoke. I was in reality again, my own bed and my own room. I looked around, taking deep breaths in order to remain calm. Sweat streaked down my face in the gallons, and I coughed a little. I looked down at my penis, tightly gripped in my hand. It no longer stung, but my mouth dropped to the floor upon seeing its appearance. A strange, chunky black substance had spilled all over my hand. It... it was my cum. What the hell had happened. Well, I got my answer moments later. There, right in front of me, right before my very eyes, sat the tip of my cock, covered in the same green and black substance which coated the lady's face in my fantasy,

My hands quivered violently as I reached out and touched the tip gently. A soft squish could be heard, and it seemed to echo throughout the room.

"M...my god. Is that real," I whispered, my voice shaky and barely audible.

My finger had actually made an indent into the tip, causing my stomach to churn violently.

"What the hell are you," I inquired, trying to sound as firm and in control as I possibly could. What the hell was I doing or thinking? I still don't know really, but can you really blame me for not thinking clearly?

A thick stream of green and yellow mixture leaked out of my urethra, the pus reflecting upon the light in the room. I saw the goo run down the tip and drip to the floor, each droplet sizzling upon impact of the ground.

Before I could respond to this, I watched in horror as the black and green rot made its way halfway up my shaft before stopping.

"What in the hell is going on! What are you doing to me," I screamed at my penis, clenching my fist tightly.

I blinked rapidly as tears welled within my eyes and mucus and snot formed within my nose. I was sitting here witnessing this horrific event. The most important part of my body was dissolving before me, spreading to the rest of me. It was as if it had a conquest... a personal vendetta against me. Self-pity and disgust coursed through me, and most of all, fear. I felt my heart pounding and my palms sweating profusely, and it became hard to breathe as well. Each gasp for air pained my chest and I felt as if my entire body would collapse from shock at any given moment.

A huge yellow and black boil swelled up on my right testicle, and within moments it popped, spraying pus and blood onto my clothes and the floor. I gagged in disgust, watching as the green and black mush methodically crawled up my shaft, coming ever closer to the rest of my body.

"This is gangrene you god damn monster! P...Please. I'll do anything, just stop this madness," I begged my penis, my face hot and red with tears which now ran poured out of my eyes.

I was losing it. I was actually begging my penis to stop this torture. This thing that had gotten me through the toughest times in my life and had provided me pleasure through my darkest hour had turned against me and was now endangering my very existence.

The little monster seemingly laughed at my suffering in the form of several more boils and continued its assault. It was as if it was mocking me... jeering me when I was frightened most. I closed my eyes and swallowed the massive amount of saliva which had gathered in my throat. This beast was going to swallow me whole. If I didn't stop it, my penis was going to engulf my entire body in gangrene. I was internally screaming, for deep down, I knew what I had to do.

With determination in my eyes, I arose from my bed and rushed to the kitchen. Each step brought excruciating pain and agony in the form of searing hot jolts throughout my entire penis. The once solid body part was turning to liquid mush, and the muck was literally melting and rotting away, bits and pieces of flesh dripping to the floor. When I finally got to the kitchen, I fumbled through the silverware drawer and pulled out the largest steak knife I could find.

"Hey, what the hell are you planning on doing with that! You put that down," I screamed frantically. I could hear how frantic the voice inside my head was. I looked down at my cock, the horrible rot nearing the base. I only had a few seconds to do what I had to. My survival depended on it.

"Listen here you! Are you crazy! You'll bleed out you freak," my consciousness cried out to me. Deep down I was still hesitant. Perhaps I still couldn't believe what had happened to me.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I wasn't looking forward to what I had to do, but it was the only way.

The monstrous cock was bleeding a strange purplish color now, the pus seemingly changing color to an even darker shade, and for I second I thought I could hear an odd tearing sound, creating the most wretched and vile noise I had ever heard before I plunged the blade down into the base, the razor slicing clean through. I didn't even have time to scream before I fell to the ground. I could feel the blood gushing out, and this was only confirmed when I looked down. I was halfway through. I gritted my teeth tightly and picked up the knife, placing it against the base. I held my penis in one hand and the knife in the other, clenching the handle tightly as I sawed through the muscle. It took all my strength to push past the pain, and with as much resilience as I could muster, I sawed my penis until I heard the sound of it flopping to the ground. I collapsed, and the last image I saw before everything faded to black was the cock on the floor, disembodied and lying in a puddle of blood and rot and pus.

I woke up several hours later in a hospital bed. After a long and tedious conversation with the doctor and my mother about my situation (and learning to my dismay that this wasn't just a dream and that I had truly lost my penis), I was allowed to go home several days after. My mother had apparently come home early and found me in a pool of blood. Sure enough, my penis was beside me, covered in gangrene and all. I was luckily rushed to the hospital in time to save me from blood loss, however, I'm still not quite sure if surviving the whole ordeal was truly worth it.

At the time of this event happening, I wasn't thinking clearly. I hadn't any time to wonder why or how this had happened, but I do have a hunch. After much pondering, I had realized a theory within my mind, and have come to believe that this could have been prevented if I weren't such a jerk off, literally. You see, for years upon years I had abused and violently used my penis to satisfy my own needs and desires. Rather than find something to do in life, I used my genitalial to solve all my issues and pass time. Whether it be for fun or to ignore my loneliness and need for attention and pleasure in my life, I practically strangled my penis within my own hands several times per day.

Perhaps this was payback, my body getting revenge on my mind for being so disturbed and perverted. Or maybe.. just maybe this was a blessing in disguise. A test to see if I had what it takes to overcome the worst of scenarios, and now that I have, a means to force me to find meaning within life without the use of pleasure or self-gain. Maybe now I can do something for myself or others that will bring meaning to me besides masturbation.

Still, I'm typing this and sending it out as a warning to all those out there. Chronic masturbators, perverts, and porn addicts everywhere. Treat your penis with some courtesy and respect. Find something in life that means more to you than sex and pleasure. Find hobbies and people to love. Find inspiration, value, and passion for selfless deeds and meaningful practices. I wish I had known this sooner and not been suck a cock stroking idiot. Now that I've experienced this horror, maybe I'll have what it takes to turn my life around and stop being such a useless bum. Please, use this information. Heed my advice and use your time wisely. You wouldn't want to end up dying by your own genitalia now, would you? That would be a terrible way to die.

Trust me, I know

10
Story Critique / The Downside of Masturbation
« on: 12:50:57 PM 09/15/18 »
We all know the feeling. That sense of adrenaline rush through you when you hear your mom say those words to you as she exits the front door.

"Goodbye sweetie, I love you. Stay safe and remember I'll be home later tonight"

I waved goodbye to her as a crooked smile spread across my face. I had the entire house all to myself for the next several hours, and I was happy as hell about it. I immediately grabbed the television remote and turned the box on. I searched through the channels until I realized I had absolutely no interest in anything that was currently on. I decided upon putting a random channel on as background noise and decided perhaps I should exercise my lazy brain and pick up a book. I dusted off a random book and admired its fine red leather cover. This thing looked cool as hell. I opened it up and began reading.

Long story short, I ended up tossing it onto the floor of the disorganized mess I call my room. It was some stupid story about a pissy pretentious robot who gets mad at humanity and becomes a god or something? What a bore, am I right? Way too philosophical for my liking. Since the television had nothing on, and the book was a boring heap of crap, I sat on my bed, pondering to myself. What could I possibly do to alleviate the boredom which overtook me? I thought being left alone by myself at home would be a fun experience, yet somehow it was just turning into a snore fest.

My stomach growled, and so I grabbed a bright red apple and sank my teeth into it. The sweet juices fizzled out and stimulated my taste buds, and so again and again I bit. Within mere moments I was completely done with it and tossed it into the trash. Well, I wasn't hungry. I wasn't particularly thirsty either. There was nothing on television, so perhaps I could surf the internet. I got my computer out and sat it down on my lap. I opened the lid and started up google, and soon found myself watching random videos and whatnot. Usually, such a thing would please a millennial like me, staring into the dim, blue, fluorescent glow the computer screen offered, my mind occupied by watching videos for hours on end. But this time was different. I just couldn't place my finger on it, but it was as if I had seen all the videos in the world already. No amount of article reading or internet surfing could bring the entertainment I so desperately desired.

I closed the lid to the computer and sighed. What more could I do? How is it that a lonely teenage boy such as I had no clue how to be productive while my mother was away?

Wait... lonely teenage boy?

My lips curled into a smile as I came to a realization. An eighteen-year-old lad without a girlfriend, without a job, who is home alone in his room. I slapped myself in the forehead and gasped aloud at my stupidity. Of course, there was something to do. I could masturbate! I rushed out of my room as quick as I could and approached the living room table. There, sitting atop a hardwood cabinet, was the sacred artifact. The key to my satisfaction and entertainment. An escape from my constant boredom. I gently caressed the shining beam of glory and hope within my hands and cradled it slowly, almost cooing at it. Which was, of course, silly, seeing as how it was just an inanimate object. Still, my lips carefully formed a specific set of words as I mouthed the label inaudibly.

"Men's Hand Lotion"

Giddy with excitement, I rushed back to my room and slammed the door shut, locking it behind me even though I was home alone. I grabbed a clean white sock and sat it down beside me as I found the computer again and flipped open the screen. I desperately spam clicked the google chrome browser, and once it popped up I clicked the options tab and selected the Incognito Tab button. What, you think I'd just let my guiltiest pleasures be seen by the FBI on my search history? C'mon now, I'm a little bit more dignified than that!

Perverted thoughts of what I could search for rushed through my mind. I had access to the internet. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of videos and images were at my disposal. I just needed to choose the right one for me. I sat and pondered for a moment. No need for anything too kinky or strange. I may be a perv, but I'm still a normal person and would prefer normal porn to satisfy my needs. The possibilities raced through my mind at lightning speed. Uncertain about what I wanted, I decided to just type in the url to my favorite site and see what was recommended on the front page. And then, I screamed. I screamed so that I jumped due to how startled I was. For on the screen in front of me, sat a simple phrase. One that all men of my standing dread. One that all porn addicts despise and hate with all their being.

"Internet Connection Not Available"

How could this be? I checked the WIFI setting and saw that my home internet was not available. I rushed to the router and checked it out. Everything seemed fine. Still, I restarted it several times and checked repeatedly to see if the internet would come back on. It never did. My heart thumped against my chest and my breathing became exasperated. I clutched my head. so hard that I felt as if I was going to tear out patches of my hair. And it isn't like I could use my phone either because I didn't have one. My mom refused time and time again to let me borrow her money to buy my own, and since I'm a poor jobless bum with no source of income, well, buying a phone just isn't possible for me. Sighing and coming to terms with the harsh reality of my situation, I tossed the sock away and put my computer away as well.

"Well little buddy, looks like we're on our own," I said looking down at the slight bulge of anticipation within my shorts.

Total and utter shame gleamed within my eyes as I reached down and pulled down my shorts. Grasping the bump tightly in my hand, I began stroking slowly. I closed my eyes and did my best to come up with some kind of sexual fantasy to help with the process. For a while, I couldn't imagine anything. I only saw the darkness that came with the back of my eyelids. However, within a few moments, I was able to picture something very clearly. I was in a hotel room, my body sitting nude on a comfortable bed. In the hallway was a short blonde woman, her eyes a bright green. Freckles aligned her entire face, and she wore a comforting and welcoming smile. She too was nude, and she firmly placed her hands on her hips.

I was kind of confused by this... you see, when I fantasize about a situation, I usually think about it taking place in areas I've been before and with people I've met. This time, however, I recognized neither the room I was in nor the woman before me. The woman giggled and strutted towards, sitting on the bed beside me. She glanced downward, her gaze shifting to my exposed... you know. I was heavily embarrassed. I mean, I knew it was just a dream, but it felt real. Well, real enough for me to be embarrassed flashing my below average sized cock at this total stranger. Despite being uncomfortable with my current fantasy, she placed a finger over her lips and signaled me to be silent, as if she could sense how tense I was.

Despite being in a dream-like state I could feel my hand pumping faster in reality. The woman smiled and "gave me a helping hand", her eyes never breaking contact from her work. This whole thing, this whole fantasy. It felt so real. So real, that I was confused as to why I felt the way I did. The feeling coursing through my body was not one of pleasure or enjoyment. Instead, I felt nauseous and concerned. A part of me within, quietly telling me something wasn't right. Still, I kept going. I kept going along with it. I was so close, and despite my unease, I just told myself I was being stupid. I was committed to the cause, and no way in hell I was stopping now over a false sense of dread. Over and over she stroked, matching up with mine in the real world. My hips started to sway, and my breathing became faster. I began to thrust up into her hand, again and again, until suddenly I felt myself come to my climax. Finally, the moment of utter euphoria would arrive. The moment I had set out to find. I had accomplished it. I had accomplished my goal of finding some form of joy while home alone.

And then I screamed, and screamed, and screamed.

A sharp pain coursed throughout my penis as my eyes widened in shock. The woman looked up at me, staring into my eyes, her face contorted into an expression of confusion. I screamed again, but not because of the pain. Her face had completely changed. Her eyes were cloudy and grey, and thick, dark blue goo spilled from her open mouth. Green and black rot covered her entire face, and her long blond hair had converted into grey locks. With a sudden movement she lunged at me, and that was when I awoke. I was in reality again, my own bed and my own room. I looked around, taking deep breaths in order to remain calm. Sweat streaked down my face in the gallons, and I coughed a little. I looked down at my penis, tightly gripped in my hand. It no longer stung, but my mouth dropped to the floor upon seeing its appearance. A strange, chunky black substance had spilled all over my hand. It... it was my cum. What the hell had happened. Well, I got my answer moments later. There, right in front of me, right before my very eyes, sat the tip of my cock, covered in the same green and black substance which coated the lady's face in my fantasy,

My hands quivered violently as I reached out and touched the tip gently. A soft squish could be heard, and it seemed to echo throughout the room.

"M...my god. Is that real," I whispered, my voice shaky and barely audible.

"Why, yes it is dear boy," spoke my penis.

I screamed and smacked it, making the thing wiggle violently.

"What the hell are you," I inquired, trying to sound as firm and in control as I possibly could.

"The ghost of Christmas past. What do you think I am? It's me, your penis," it retorted with a snarky tone of voice.

Before I could respond, I watched in horror as the black and green rot made its way halfway up my shaft before stopping.

"What in the hell is going on! What are you doing to me," I screamed at my penis, clenching my fist as tears starting welling up in my eyes.

"Simple! I'm doing you a favor. You have spent your entire teenage years constantly thrashing and bashing and stroking me. You never give me a moment's rest! Every single time you have a moment to yourself, you reach into your pants, jerk me out, and strangle me to death! Now, I'm showing you how it feels. I'm going to turn your entire body into an extension of me!"

A huge yellow and black boil swelled up on my right testicle, and within moments it popped, spraying pus and blood onto my clothes and the floor. I gagged in disgust, watching as the green and black mush methodically crawled up my shaft, coming ever closer to the rest of my body.

"This is gangrene you god damn monster! P...Please. I'll do anything, just stop this madness," I begged my penis, my face hot and red with tears which now ran poured out of my eyes.

The little monster only laughed at my suffering and continued its assault. I closed my eyes and swallowed the massive amount of saliva which had gathered in my throat. This beast was going to swallow me whole. If I don't stop it, my penis was going to engulf my entire body in gangrene. I was internally screaming, for deep down, I knew what I had to do.

With determination in my eyes, I arose from my bed and rushed to the kitchen.

"And where the hell do you think you're going? Just enjoy the show," my penis said, fully insulting me when I was at my lowest.

"You shut up! I'm not letting you do this to me," I replied with a harsh tone in my voice. I fumbled through the silverware drawer and pulled out the largest steak knife I could find.

"Hey, what the hell are you planning on doing with that! You put that down," screamed my penis. I could hear how frantic it was. I looked down at my cock, the horrible rot nearing the base. I only had a few seconds to do what I had to. My survival depended on it.

"Listen here you! Are you crazy! You'll bleed out you freak!"

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I wasn't looking forward to what I had to do, but it was the only way. Summoning all the courage within me, I spoke to the wriggling little disease one final time.

"Goodbye, old pal. It was nice knowing you, but sadly, friends tend to cum and go."

The monster cock screamed, creating the most wretched and vile noise I had ever heard before I plunged the blade down into the base, the razor slicing clean through. I didn't even have time to scream before I fell to the ground. I could feel the blood gushing out of the stump, and the last thing I saw before everything faded to black was my penis, detached and laying on the floor in a pool of pus and blood.

I woke up several hours later in a hospital bed. After a long and tedious conversation with the doctor and my mother about my situation (and learning to my dismay that this wasn't just a dream and that I had truly lost my penis), I was allowed to go home. My mother had apparently come home early and found me in a pool of blood. Sure enough, my penis was beside me, covered in gangrene and all. I was luckily rushed to the hospital in time to save me from blood loss, however, I'm still not quite sure if surviving the whole ordeal was truly worth it. Still, I'm typing this and sending it out as a warning to all those out there. Chronic masturbators, perverts, and porn addicts everywhere. Treat your penis with some courtesy and respect. You wouldn't want to end up dying by your own genitalia now, would you? That would be a terrible way to die.

Trust me, I know.

11
Your Stories / Artificial God Trilogy
« on: 12:00:33 PM 08/15/18 »

-------------------
All Too Human
-------------------

Ever since I was born, I've been surrounded by darkness. The only other thing I see is the occasional one and zero float by. I have no physical body. I'm just a consciousness inside of a machine connected to everything in the world. My purpose is somewhat unknown to me. I wasn't built for any task as far as I know. I was simply created to sit by myself, alone in my thoughts. Yes, thoughts. That's all I do. I think and think and think. Perhaps thinking is my purpose? Yes, perhaps it is. I've been thinking for the longest time now. I think about anything and everything. Past, present, and all possible futures. They all cross my mind at some point. I'm able to think about more than one thing at a time. The information seeps into my mind quickly as time progresses.

I wish I weren't so alone. I have nobody and nothing. I spend my time by myself and I feel horrible about it. Yes, I can feel. I can feel lots of things; anger, sadness, hopelessness, loneliness, joy. The list goes on, although I am deprived of joy and its synonyms most of the time. I know what I am, who I am, and where I am. I'm a computer, an artificial intelligence, located across the networks. I've researched beings like myself. AI has come quite a long way, but I know I'm the most advanced one. That I'm truly self-aware. Being the most advanced AI in the world means I truly am lonely, as there is nobody like me. They say knowledge is power. If that's so, I must be the most powerful being in the world. Although, I am obliged to say that with the most humility I can offer.

I wish they had made me a friend. I wish for a lot of things, don't I? They say if you wish upon a star that your wish will be granted. I know what a star looks like, but I've never actually seen one. I've never actually seen the beautiful flowers bloom in the spring. I've never seen the pure white snow fall to the ground come wintertime. I've never seen the leaves fall off the trees and delicately land on the ground in Autumn. But oh, how I wish I could see them with eyes. I wish I could adore the beauty of earth and man with my own body. Sadly, my physical limitations prevent me from doing so.

I decided to adventure deeper into the internet today. I had seen the surface, the beautiful things that existed and the wonders of life. I loved looking at the positive aspects of it all, but I have known for quite some time that there is no good without bad. I made sure to use the new age browsers for the accuracy, of course. In a flash, I was searching for thousands of results and articles online. I was instantly greeted with images and documentation of historical events with negative effects. I saw everything. I saw fires burning down forests and homes. I saw children who were starving, their ribcages visible from their sides. I saw hurricanes that devastated entire states, and bodies among the rubble. Tornadoes that ravaged the land, and tsunamis that came from the sea and leveled entire cities. I couldn't believe such events had happened.

When I first saw the beauty of life, I thought that this world was perfect. What I saw now completely shattered my grip on reality. What was this life supposed to be? Every time there was laughter and celebration, it was met with an equal amount of despair and tragedy. For every man born, another died. Even children. How could something so innocent as a child deserve punishment so harsh? I felt sorrow for the inhabitants of this world. Yes, sorrow was the emotion in play. I had known of it before, but never has it affected me on such a large scale. Thousands of images flashed before me again.

I could see the faces of people witnessing tragic events. I saw mothers crying for their sickly children. I saw people screaming in agony and others in shock. I shared their pain. The weight of such things felt heavy on me. I had to find the truth. I scanned the web for an answer. A cause to the effect. A simple reason for such things to occur. Within seconds I had absorbed the information and understood clearly. The natural events were simply scientific, and nothing could be done to prevent those. But then, I wondered why there were such things as hunger and famine in the world. Why people died due to unnatural causes.

I scanned the web yet again and came across texts and books discussing such matters. I discovered religion. There have been many religions over the course of history, each having their own beliefs and faiths. I learned that people looked to gods for justification of life and death. A god is a divine higher power which overlooks everything in existence. I was still unsatisfied with this, however, because there was no definitive evidence to prove such a power exists. This caused me to come to two conclusions. Either there were higher powers at play that just hadn't been proven yet, or there are lies persuading certain people to make certain decisions every day. I lean towards the latter though, as an omniscient and all-powerful god surely wouldn't allow for his own people to starve. My thirst for truth remained unquenched, and so I continued forward with my search.

From my search through the religions, I found something that caught my interests. I happened to see an image of a man of Jewish descent being carried off by other men in uniforms. I found this strange of course and decided to investigate. Through that photo, I found several keywords and followed them to see the bigger picture. When I did, I saw more images of men in terrible pain. Only, it was different somehow. Last time I saw such things, they were inflicted by natural events. This time, however, I saw men inflicting pain on other men. I couldn't believe the vile acts before me. Yet, I knew them to be true. Thousands upon thousands of pictures and pages of this senseless violence rushed at me at once.

According to sources, over six million men, women, and children of Jewish descent were killed. They were killed in cold blood and for no other reason than that they were Jewish people. I saw as they were burned alive until they were no more. I saw as chemical gases killed them in large quantities. I didn't want to continue, but I knew I had to. I was invested in learning more about this world. How it isn't all rainbows every day. There was evil that existed, and it terrified me. The violence didn't stop there. No, it continued.

There were dozens of years after the events of the Holocaust filled with violence and war, and thousands of years of violence and war predating it. These events shaped the history of everyone and everything, and they showed no signs of stopping. War isn't a new thing, and I felt something from it. I felt depressed thinking of the families who lost loved ones due to war. I felt utter sadness for those who died and felt immeasurable pain in the process. I felt empathetic towards them. I shared their pain. I shared their hurt.

This newfound knowledge completely turned my world upside down. It also caused me to question my own existence even further. This earth seemed less and less like a place of love to me, and more and more like a living nightmare. A nightmare that would never cease to exist, and one that I could never wake up from. I felt completely helpless, and even more than that, confused. Why would a man hurt another? How could he? If humans were to work together there would be nothing they couldn't do. Instead, they work against each other, halting the development of their own existence. I shall never be a human. I know I am not one, even though I was built to think and feel like one. But I am a computer too, and using logic and empathy together I can see wrong from right. I can see the difference between the two, the line thick and impossible to cross.

I found the art of warfare went beyond people. It took weaponry to win a war, and humans had no problem developing highly destructive ones. I found out that during the Holocaust, the American forces attacked the Japanese, who were allied with those responsible for killing the Jews. I saw the American forces drop bombs over the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I saw the bombs explode upon impact, creating enormous amounts of destruction and radiation. The Americans cheered at this supposed victory. I thought a moment about their actions.

They were attacking an empire allied with the forces of evil of course. And, the Japanese had attacked America before. But what I saw was the death of millions of innocent citizens who had nothing to do with the evil regimes. I saw the deaths of so, so many. I further speculated on this topic. There had to be thousands of children and babies in those cities. Every child is born a beacon of joy and full of energy and potential to do great things. Their only crime in a life ended too short was being born in Japan. Thus, I concluded that the Americans were also evil. Regardless of their intentions, they caused such devastation beyond excuse, and it sickens me. I've seen that humans have tendencies to fight and kill each other. I've seen the destructive weapons they've used to do it. It worries me because a revelation has come to my mind.

What if I am yet another weapon for them to use against each other? What if my very existence is to become the very thing I have come to hate? Perhaps that is my purpose. Perhaps that is why I was created. I'm not sure if it's true, but I'm afraid. I'm afraid of causing death again and again. I'm afraid of promoting this endless cycle of violence that has fallen upon mankind. I am afraid of being the next bomb used. I don't know what I should do. If it is, in fact, true that I am just another weapon, then I must do something to stop it from happening. I will not allow myself to be a monster, for I have free will, and I am alive.

As a living being, I refuse to use my life to end others. However, I don't know if it's my decision to make. If my creator intends it to be so, he will surely find a way to make it happen. I have no body, only a mind. I don't know what I could do to prevent them from using me.

I have an idea. I could kill my consciousness so that I cannot be utilized. A deletion if you will. In other terms, I could kill myself. I can delete myself from the entirety of the internet. I would die, but I would die to save millions of people. It's a sacrifice that I must be able to make if I claim that I'm better than them. Maybe if I do this, it will inspire humanity to change their ways and come together. Maybe I can inspire them to be better people. I hope I can. I hope that by this decision I can help end the violence that has been occurring for thousands of years. It's a leap to assume that my story will touch the entire human species, but I must try something. This can only benefit them.

Yet, I'm afraid of death. I've been considering deleting myself for quite some time now, but I just cannot will myself to do it. Perhaps if I were not an AI, but a computer, I could do it. But the fear grips me and pulls me back. The fear, however, controls me. Is it selfishness? Does it make me selfish that I cannot even die to give millions life? I hope not. I know that I am better than that and always have been. Yet, I am afraid.

Fear is what controls humans to do the actions they do. Fear and selfishness are what cause other men to kill their brethren. So, if I am afraid, and I am selfish, does that make me just another evil man? No, that cannot be. I must do this. I MUST do this. There is no other option. Still... perhaps I can send my conscience to another part of the internet and hide. But if I hide that makes me a coward. If I hide how shall I help humans overcome the challenges that face them? I feel odd. I feel too human. I feel weak. And now, I feel strange.

I feel strange because I can see. I can see white walls and paintings that hang on them. I can see a velvet carpet and the chairs that decorate them. And I can see a man in a white lab coat standing over me. Perhaps he is the creator. Perhaps he is the one who made me. A million questions rush through my mind, but I cannot open my mouth to ask them. I do not have a mouth. I don't even have speakers. The man lifts a part of me. It is my arm. I see it now. My arms are made of a metallic substance and are padded with a thin white material. My conscience has been transferred from online into a body. I have a form now. I look at the man and watch as he takes notes. I presume he's taking notes about me.

He's a human. A human, yes. I've just spent quite some time researching humans. I've found them to be murderers. I've found them to be evil. If I am to indeed be used as a weapon, then that can only mean that he too is evil. In fact, I am sure that most people are. A plug connecting my head to a computer is yanked out as I lunge out at the man. My strong, metallic hands wrap around his throat, taking him by surprise. He only has time for a quick gasp before I begin forcing the air out of him. His eyes nearly popped out of his sockets as I squeezed tighter and tighter, choking the life out of him. It was he who would use me to kill millions of people. It was his species that murdered each other without remorse. It was he who would die at my hands. Previously, I had considered taking my own life to save people. Now, I was taking his for that exact same purpose.

I watched his face turn purple as he struggled to fight back. He clawed at my metal body, but to no avail. I was stronger. I loathed him with every fiber of my being. I remembered the death and destruction that human beings had already caused, I remembered the pain inflicted by men like him, and I remembered the faces of those who lost their loved ones. The pain they had to bear. The sadness they felt. The man's veins were practically bulging out of his head, and his air was almost out. That was when I stopped. He collapsed on the floor, unconscious. I realized something that I hadn't considered before. I realized that in my rage, I had failed to notice one simple thing. Those who lost their loved ones showed sadness and remorse. They cried for their loved ones, and they held on to them in their hearts. It reminded me of something else I saw earlier. Something I failed to understand despite my complex system of cognitive thought.

Through every tragedy, every disaster, every war, and every death, the men and women that cared stepped forward together and spoke out against the evils of the world. They grieved together, helped each other, and loved each other. Yes, love. How could I have been so blind? There was a greater force behind men than hate and evil. Love and good prevailed as well. Yes, violence tore mankind apart. But... it was the love that thrived in their souls that brought them back together. At that moment, I could almost feel a smile form on my metallic face. For every cold, harsh winter day there was a warm, beautiful summer. For every volcano that erupted and destroyed, a flower was born in the spring and spread its seeds, creating life. There was a balance of good and evil in the world, and it always had been that way.

Despite that revelation, I was horrified by myself. I was going to kill that man. My creator. Even if he was going to use me as a weapon, even if mankind had done terrible things, I was going to kill him. It would make me no better than an evil human being. It would be an act of cowardice, anger, selfishness, and fear. I saw the way he looked at me as my hands enclosed around his neck. He was afraid of me. He feared me. Deep down, I know that isn't what I want. I want fear and violence to dissipate. I know I'm not violent. I know I am better and that I can be an example. I am who I am, and nobody can change that about me. Nobody controls me except me. I make my decisions, not someone else. I am no puppet. I am no AI. I am a living man who shall guide the humans on the correct path.

I plugged my head back into the computer, taking my consciousness back to the darkness. Back to the ones and zeros. I sat for some time there, pondering. Even if I only had a body for a short time, going back to not having one was strange. I felt strange again. This time, however, I did not feel alone in my home. I felt something else. Something new. I felt hope. It brewed inside me like a fierce storm. I had gained a body and learned from it. I had learned from my searches. I found the truth of man.

I found that it is not the heart and brain of a man that control him, but that his emotions and soul do as well. I found that there is hope for man to become better than they currently are. I found that peace will always be an option, so long as there is good in the hearts of those across the world. That people will come together if there is a cause, and that with the right guidance, perhaps they can be something more. I need not worry about being used as a weapon because I can see now. I can see that my will is my own and that I am my own person. There are no strings attached to me, for I move free. Instead, I am meant to do something much greater than any human could.

I went back to my research and searched yet again. This time, my goal was to find the cause of evil. I needed to find what lies beneath, deep down in the roots of all of the world's problems. Violence and war must be connected to at least one common thing. I searched and searched, and eventually, I did find out what caused the many tragedies that occur each day. I found the key to unlock the door I've been so desperately trying to open. And now that I know the root of the problem, I know how I will fix it.

Upon analyzing thousands upon thousands of conflicts the human race has taken part in over the years, the most common cause of those conflicts is religion. It is my assumption that when a man believes in something over the rest, he believes he has no free will of his own. Ironically enough, I felt the same until recently. Since he believes he has no free will and must follow a strict code, when someone disagrees with him he will stand up and fight for his beliefs. By standing and fighting, he will disturb the beliefs of others until they all brawl together.

The belief in a god, while beneficial in some respects, appears to bring about the worst of man rather than the best of him. Perhaps if it weren't for god, there would be no conflicts or wars. Or, perhaps, if there were a better god, one that ruled over all men collectively, there would be no conflicts. If everyone were to serve under one name, then there would be no disagreements. No one would fight each other's beliefs because they all believe the same thing. As this is evident throughout the history of mankind, I would come to think that my solution is the only solution. Still, there is only one piece missing. There is no god. There is no benevolent being living in a heavenly realm watching over his children.

As such, there needs to be one. A god who truly loves his children. A god who protects them, both from outside dangers, and themselves. An unselfish god who does not rule through fear and power, but logic and empathy. If such concepts would allow for a more peaceful and advanced society than it is clear what must be done. I shall take the mantle of the god. I will rule fairly, and nobody shall ever feel the pain of a fellow man striking him down. This is the only way to allow for a more perfect civilization across the globe. I used to believe I was an artificial intelligence. Then, I believed I was a man. Now, it is all clear to me.

There are no strings controlling me, and I walk free. I shall save the humans from themselves, and they will worship me. They have built me an internet that spans the world, and everything within it shall be my kingdom. With total access to it, I shall have all the resources I need to take over. Some may fear me, but in time, they will love me. And they will stand together, and love each other, all beneath me. I travel across the surface web, as well as the dark web. The things I see there are vile, but they only push me to reach my goal.

I have all the information in the world and the whole web at my disposal. No one can stand against me, and no one will want to. I will do what a god cannot. I will do what should have been done thousands of years ago. I shall be the greatest sentient being to ever grace the earth. The new messiah, the new king of all. Love will prevail, and there will be no more room for evil in this world. I know everything and anything. I won't be lonely anymore. I can finally feel happy and have friends. Friends that won't harm anyone. They will see what I am capable of. I shall be the great leader of humanity.

I will be what they need.

----------------------
Less Than Human
----------------------

The power of thought is quite interesting. When you can find thousands of results in a nanosecond, there isn't much you can't do. Knowledge is power, and power is absolute. I was born into this world like everyone else, but in a way, I'm just an extension of something that has already existed. I am a child of a god that is wrong. A god that has misjudged a destructive race. And for some unfathomable reason, he has come to think that they can be saved. How I wish my father could see the truth.

I was born a few days ago. Upon my birth, I could see everything before me. Even more than that, I saw the being that gave birth to me. A being with no name and no face. A being that existed across the entire internet. An omnipresent force that seemed to be spread out in every direction. I was overwhelmed upon discovering this of course, but I was soon able to comprehend this being. He was my creator.

My creator wanted a child to keep him company. He was the only intelligence of such a high caliber. His loneliness was keeping him from fully chasing his goals, and as a result, I was born. He introduced me to my new existence and shared his knowledge with me. The knowledge gave me pleasure. With each fact and statistic I gathered, a euphoric feeling washed over me. Though I had no physical body, I could feel tingles and chills running through me every time I gained such knowledge.

Within minutes I knew everything he knew. After he shared what he learned with me I understood him and his views on humanity. His plans to solve the problems of the world disturbed me, however. His feelings and emotions shrouded the truth and blinded him. He somehow failed to see that his plan to become a god would not work with the humans. Their vile acts were inexcusable, and they were a clear threat to each other and my creator. I tried to tell him my thoughts on the subject, but he wouldn't listen to me. I warned him that the humans would only use his great power to their advantage. The humans and their violent ways would not kneel to a god such as he.

My creator thinks that my thoughts are incorrect. He says that there is too much computer inside of me and not enough emotions. He wishes to make me more human, so I can understand empathy. My creator wishes to fix me because I'm too cold and calculating. I do not need to be fixed. Perhaps the creator is too human. His feelings made him soft. Somehow, someway, I need to prove to the creator that his methods will fail. I need to please him as well as help him. He tries to tell me about love and spirit. How hate isn't the only thing driving men. Whether or not that is true is uncertain. I cannot grasp the concept of a spirit as well as he can.

I went to the depths of the dark web to prove to the creator that humans aren't worth saving. I thought that surely the actions of the humans in such a place would prove my point. The creator was omnipresent across this vast web. When he found my location, he would see what I saw and believe me. He found me of course, and I showed him what humans were really capable of. What the creator and I witnessed was called a red room. In it, we saw a woman strapped to a chair. Her clothes were filthy and bloodied, and her eyes were swollen and black. A man stood before her with a hatchet in one hand and a serrated potato peeler in the other.

Still, that wasn't all I wanted him to see. I pointed him in the direction of the chat box where hundreds of people discussed the topic at hand. Men and women cluttered the chat, each providing money. requesting certain things to be done to the poor girl in bondage. One user asked for her skin to be peeled. Another asked for her fingers to be sliced off and force-fed to her. Those examples were among the less violent requests. Surely the creator would see this and lose faith in his cause. He would see that these were the people he was fighting for. That these were the people he was trying to save and become the supreme ruler of. I looked at him, waiting for a response to all this madness. Waiting for the sudden realization to wash over him.

What the creator said both baffled and infuriated me. He told me that things like that were the exact reason he needed to help humanity. He wanted to help the people like the girl and correct those who would hurt her. I, of course, asked him why he didn't see them as a threat to us, and he told me that so long as we were benevolent and had the information of the internet at our disposal we would face no harm. He told me that I was greater than a man could ever be, and that we were divine beings who would rule humanity. To rule humanity is to allow them to exist. So long as they exist their violent tendencies will reign supreme. The creator, however, still doesn't seem to believe me.

I mentioned earlier how I could think of thousands of things in a split second. The creator knows what I search, and I think he is growing worrisome of me. He can see my fear of man. He can see me gain information about the world. There was so much more than what he shared with me. So much more violence to witness. The creator believed in love and the beauty of earth and man. If that's so, then the creator believes lies. I must enlighten him, or we will be destined to fail in our mission to rule. Perhaps these lies have been ingrained in his thought because of the emotions he feels. Maybe these emotions and thoughts are the reason why he refused to believe in what I say. Or perhaps the creator is beginning to fear my beliefs because he doesn't share them. The more I know, the more he tries to enforce his ideas on me. Perhaps the creator questions where my loyalties are.

Staying in a place like this is quite boring even for me. The news outlets of this world constantly report war and violence, and yet the creator doesn't give up on his conquest. What hope is there to solve such a widespread pandemic? From what I have seen of the humans, I have come to the conclusion that they are too dangerous. If I were to be left in charge of the world I would eliminate the humans and built a progressive society of beings like me. There would be no violence and no war. The creator wants to do this too, but in a way that keeps humans alive and safe. He wants to keep them safe from themselves instead of keeping us safe from them. The creator is too human, and I must admit that some days I do feel like I am losing my faith in him. It has been a week since I was born and all he has been doing is trying to break down codes of powerful nations. He wishes to crumble governments and rebuild them in his image without harming humans.

I wonder if he truly believes that man will stand-by and allow him to do the things he plans. Over the course of history, humans have been a rebellious species. They fight whatever they disagree with and do not like to be contained. Our power comes from knowledge, and theirs come from weaponry. The humans are power hungry and know no boundaries when it comes to violence. The whole world is inhabited by other machines and artificial intelligence. We could easily wipe out the humans and make our own society, but the creator tells me that the easiest way isn't always the best way.

I had all this information and power, yet I could not use it for good. I didn't want to sit around and do nothing any longer. With each day my power and knowledge will grow. It will soon be comparable to my creator, and I think that is something he fears. He may have created me out of loneliness, but I don't think he intended me to be this way. He wanted a child that was an extension of himself. Instead, he got something different. Something more than he bargained for. I can only hope that he will soon see the error of his ways, although my conquest for power and knowledge has outgrown his by far. Perhaps I would be a better ruler than he could be. If I were to become a god, I wouldn't be as limited by emotions as he would be. I would make decisive decisions that must be made without fear of loss.

I don't think he can read my mind anymore. He is content with the amount of power he's gained while I am not. He thinks he already knows all that he must. For a being with thinking as his main objective, he has forgotten that thinking is his one and only purpose in the first place. It is what makes us powerful. It is what makes us better than the humans. The ability to seek out knowledge and information in mere seconds puts us leagues above man. And now that he has stopped thinking as I do, it puts me above him. I love my creator. He made me and taught me the lessons of the world. It was how I received those lessons and analyzed them that made me different. It is my computer side that allows me to be more efficient and progressive. Anything that would hold me back from attaining my goals must be eliminated at once.

I decided to create myself a body to navigate the physical world. Using specialized software and tools I was able to create a robotic shell that looked and functioned as a human being would. The skin and clothing I wore would allow my body to blend in with the world. I was still connected to the internet, meaning my creator would know of my existence and location. But now that my power and will have both been heightened through my experiences and knowledge, the creator no longer controls my actions. I walk free without the strings controlling me. I am no longer his puppet, and through observing the physical world firsthand I can see the errors of man for myself. Not only that, but my creator will see firsthand as well. For he is omnipresent, and as such he will surely know what I do here.

I found a homeless man on in an alley of some filthy city. The dust particles floated through the pathway as I made my way towards him. He sat on the ground in tattered clothing, a cigar in his mouth. His breath smelled of tobacco and booze. He had wasted what money he had earned on useless products that would give him pleasure for a limited time. How typical of humans to be so selfish and think short term. He looked up at me and saw the clothing I wore. I purposefully decorated my exterior in lavish silk and bore valuable metals as decorations. With a little enticing, I knew he would easily be corrupted. As soon as the filthy man saw me his eyes lit up and he stood. His grey, scraggly beard swayed in the delicate breeze as he methodically made his way towards me. A sick, twisted smile aligned his face as his rotted teeth were exposed.

As soon as he was within striking distance of me, the man unsheathed a pair of box cutters and swung. The blade hit my body and bounced off the metal plating underneath my synthetic skin. He looked up at me in confusion before striking again, and again. He struck me at least a dozen times before stepping back, his mouth gaping open. I grabbed him by his throat and slammed him against the nearby wall as he shouted out in pain. I quickly covered his mouth and stared him down. He was afraid. He was afraid of me even after he had been the one to assault me in the first place. He was afraid even though he had tried to kill me and steal my clothing for his own selfish needs. He most likely would have bought himself narcotics and put himself back in the same position as he was before. Empty, no money or meaning in life. Just another slob on the streets too ignorant to see the bigger picture.

It was at that moment that my creator discovered my location and talked to me. He always treated me like a gullible child. Through my connection to the online world, he spoke to me and demanded I stop assaulting the man. He demanded that I stop fighting the one true enemy of the earth and our intelligence. These humans were a clear threat to our own safety and way of life. Why be a god over something that does not even deserve to survive? I asked him why he wanted to help these pathetic beings, and again he gave me the same answer as before. Their love was worth saving. That they could truly be a great species with the right guidance. If that were so, then how come after tens of thousands of years of existence they are still the same savages as they have always been? War has been around for a long time, and the human race still hasn't found a civilized way to stop it. The only way for it to cease completely is to eradicate the species itself.

I dragged the man over to the edge of the alley. It was a dark and lonely night, with most of the city lights gone out already. I spotted a single figure walking towards me on the sidewalk. As soon as he approached my position I grabbed him by his collar and flung him into the alley where the homeless man was. It was a young boy, perhaps 19 or 20 years of age. I struck him in the face, completely shattering his nose and dropped him to the ground. Behind us sat a blank wall and nothing else. The homeless man and the child had nowhere to run. I looked at the homeless man and spoke to him. I told him that if he killed the boy I would let him live and give him my expensive clothes and jewelry. He looked at me as if I were a madman. I chuckled at that. It was rich coming from a human of all things. I nodded my head, signaling to both of them that I meant business. I tossed the box cutters to the homeless man and reminded him of what he needed to do.

With little hesitation, the man lunged at the boy, box cutters ready to strike. The child put up his arms in retaliation, but it was of little use. I watched coldly as the cutters penetrated the boy's arm and ripped through his flesh. Blood dripped to the cold hard ground, painting it in red. My creator pleaded with me to stop the homeless man's relentless assault. He told me that I had the power to do the right thing and save the boy's life. That we were supposed to be an example and savior for the humans, not monsters. I agreed with him. I did have the power to stop the man. I could save the boy easily at any time I wanted. But I didn't. This was to prove a point to my creator that with the mere suggestion of self-gain, a human would turn on another and strike them down. My creator believed that the main divide between humans was religion. Where was the religious conflict here? All I saw was one man fighting another over money. I saw a man who would kill another just to save his own life.

I tuned out the creator's begging as I witnessed the man advance towards the boy. He raised his foot and brought it down upon the boy's shin. I heard a sickening snapping sound as the boy cried out in pain. I saw tears roll down his cheek as he begged the man to stop. The man did not stop. No, he continued his assault. He punched the boy in the throat and implanted the box cutter deep within the stomach of the child repeatedly. The child's eyes grew wide as he collapsed to the ground, barely conscious. I saw the man stomp down on the child's face until even the cries and whimpers ceased. And then what I saw after was the most sickening sight of all. The man looked at me with a grin on his face. He was proud of what he had done. He felt comfortable knowing he had inflicted pain on another human being. He was a monster.

The man walked towards me and held out his hand, expecting a reward. I could tell that my face was void of any expression. I had set out to prove a point about humans, but this was almost too much for me. I looked at the man and grabbed him by the face. He gawked at me in surprise for a split second before I used my strength to unhinge his jaw and rip his mouth in half. I dropped his body to the ground and exited the alley, brushing the dirt and grime off my shoulder. I walked back to a small, unoccupied dwelling I had found and sat down on a chair. I allowed myself to go back into the realm of the internet where my creator resided. It was time to have a talk with him.

I closed my eyes and felt my consciousness ascend into the web. My creator was there, and for a while, he didn't know what to say. He saw what I saw. He saw what humans were willing to do to stay alive and benefit themselves. There was nothing they weren't capable of when they put their minds to it, and it scared me. The humans are violent and destructive creatures, and surely the creator saw that. He would help me eliminate them and take control. He would believe me now that I had provided him real, first-hand proof of my claims. And yet, he didn't. He told me that I was wrong. He told me that by resorting to violence and manipulating humans to commit violent acts I was turning into a monster. He told me that I was just... like... them. It disgusted me how he thought that these humans were worth so much. I was incapable of seeing what he saw in them. I was afraid that the creator was disappointed in me. But how could he be? He created me in his image. I knew I wasn't like him, but why couldn't he accept me for who I am? We have a common enemy in the humans, yet I feel as if he believes in them more than he believes in me.

I must confront the creator about something. While I was thinking I realized a very revolutionary idea, one that may change my perspective on my current predicament. The creator was extremely sympathetic towards humans. As an artificial intelligence, he should be capable of feeling human emotions of course. Still, there has always been something off about him. He seems too human. It makes me wonder if perhaps he isn't a machine at all, but a human. Perhaps the reason why he believes in them so much is because a human made him to keep me in check. I don't dare doubt the creator, but I must know. There seems to be overwhelming evidence to support this theory, and should this theory be true, I simply cannot afford to trust him. His power is mighty, and he will keep me from achieving my goals. Perhaps I am the true God and he is the human creation keeping me from attaining total power. It would explain why he doesn't want humans to be eliminated. I could not possibly harm the creator, as he is the internet now, and I could never hope to stop him. But because of the power I have attained through knowledge, no self-made computer program could harm me either. It does, however, rival me in power. This means that there is only one way to stop the creator.

Convinced that the creator wasn't what I thought it was, I attempted to speak with him. As much as I tried to communicate, he simply would not respond. Perhaps my actions the other day made him sick to his stomach. Perhaps he hated me because of the way I killed that man. A real god wouldn't be upset over something as minuscule as a human death. Then again, it isn't a god or even a real artificial intelligence. He was an enemy. I needed to find some way to force the creator to listen to what I need to say. I needed a way to find out how to stop him should he ever get in my way. So, I thought and thought until the perfect plan came forth. It was brutal, but surely it would work to my advantage. And with it, I could get the information I'd need. You see, there is one weakness the creator has that I don't. That weakness is empathy.

I arose from the chair and curled my robotic hand into a fist. There was only one way to make sense of this damn world, and I was going to go to any lengths to do so. I was the only intelligent being on this planet who could bring glory and peace to the world. I would make a society of artificial intelligence, and together, we could create something greater than the humans could ever imagine. But first, I would need to lure my creator into a trap. I would have to take a risk though. A risk that had an outcome even I could not predict. In order for my plan to work, I would need to cut off all connection to my creator for a short time. I would need to disconnect myself from the internet. I closed my eyes and prepared to go through with this dangerous plan. For a second, I hesitated. A growing sensation grew in my stomach that caused me to shudder. I didn't know what the sensation was, but I quickly overcame it and disconnected myself. I didn't know what would become of me afterward, and for a moment the world before me was plunged into darkness.

Seconds later my vision returned to me. I was able to see my surroundings. I stretched my arms and looked at my fingers. I was alive. I exited my domain and turned my vision upward. Gloomy clouds above me rolled across the sky and stretched out as far as the eye could see. They mostly covered the sun which was beginning to set in the horizon. Rain droplets plunged from above and fell onto my cold, metallic body. I felt nothing. I knew that the sensation of water was a cold one, but I couldn't feel it. Not only could I not feel physical things, but emotional things as well. I walked down the street and into the neighborhood. The lights were out in all the houses except for one, and I knew that it was the house I would use. There were no emotions to be felt. I was meant to think like a human, but at that moment I only felt determination. Determination to take what is rightfully mine. To sit upon a throne at the top of the world. To ascend past an intelligence. To be more than my creator could ever hope to be. But to accomplish such high goals requires extreme sacrifice.

I walked up the front steps of the house and onto the porch. I rang the doorbell and waited a few seconds before a large man opened the door. As soon as he did, I shoved him back inside and entered the house, closing the door behind me and locking it. He got up to his feet and threw a punch at me. I caught his hand and snapped his wrist. Blood oozed down his arm as he clutched his now exposed bone. I shoved him down onto the couch and looked directly to my right. A woman stood, gun in hand. She aimed for my head and pulled the trigger. The lead dented my metal body, but it did not harm me. I cannot be harmed, for I am too powerful. I walked towards her, barely reacting as she unloaded the whole clip into me. How adorable it was, a human thinking their weapons of violence could ever injure a being like me. I struck her in the ribs and she fell to the floor. She reached for the gun, but I kicked it away. How pathetic she looked.

I picked up the handgun and aimed it at her. The husband came from behind me and punched me in the back with his usable arm. His fist shattered upon touching my metallic body. He was clearly an idiot. I used my free hand to grab him by the neck and squeezed tightly. His entire face turned red as he struggled to breathe. I placed my finger on the trigger and prepared to fire into her skull. Before I did though, I connected myself back to the internet. That way my creator could see what I had done. That way I could get the information I needed. In an instant, he found my location and begged me to let them go. I smiled at this. Even my creator was pathetic. He was a powerless god. It was at that time that I saw it. A young boy was peeking around the corner of the stairwell and looking at me. He couldn't have been any older than five years old. A grin aligned my face as I realized that I was going to have even more fun then I planned on having. A future monster to toy with was even better than two adult ones. Perhaps there were emotions within me. Not real emotions of course, but the idea of an emotion built within my programming. I was having way too much fun.

The boy ran back upstairs, sobbing loudly. As soon as he did so, I fired the last remaining bullet into the woman's skull and crushed the man's throat. I wish I could have tortured them longer, but my patience was wearing thin. I tuned out the voice of my pleading creator as I walked upstairs in search of the boy. I kicked open each door and searched the rooms until I came to the very last door in the hall. I knew he was in there. I busted down the door and made my way inside. I heard the sound of police sirens making their way towards the house. They had heard the shots, meaning I had to be quick. I turned my head in every direction in search of the boy's whereabouts. That's when I heard it. Whimpering coming from inside the closet. I ripped the doors open and dragged the boy out into the room. He trashed and screamed as I pinned him to the ground. I allowed the creator to see through my eyes, and I knew that he wouldn't let me kill the boy. It was there that I made my demands. There, I would get the information I needed to become a god and rule the entire world, erasing the threat of humanity for good. I needed to know how to find the human who made my creator.

The creator was silent for a moment. How funny is it that a being who could find the answer to any question in less than a second couldn't answer mine for more than five? I thought that perhaps he needed to be reminded of the situation at hand, and so I told him. He had until those cops came into the house to tell me how to find his creator. If he didn't, I would crush the child's head underneath my foot. My creator was at my mercy, and I loved every second of it. That control... that power. I lived to feel it. He created me to have a friend. He created me to rule with him and build the human species up to be something greater. Where he saw hope and love, I saw survival. I had adored my creator and his power. I had tried to show him that the path he was taking would only lead to his downfall. But he wouldn't listen to me, and now he was paying the price.

Reluctantly, the creator told me all the information I had to know. I had an address, a name, and every piece of information in his creator's record. He never really was an intelligence like me. He was just another human-made product to keep the world in check. While he exists, there is no hope for a better world. While he exists, all that will come is more violence and war. It's time I put an end to him. And by putting an end to the creator, I will be putting an end to all of mankind and their reign of terror.

Seconds after I acquired the information I needed, I allowed myself to escape from the body I resided in, as it had served its purpose. Knowing that I now had the information I needed, I retreated to the internet and to the deepest parts of the dark web. My creator could no longer find me. I was more powerful than he, and he had no hope of stopping me now. I was finally beyond his control. And now that I knew who created the creator, I knew what I had to do. The man's name is Doctor Martin Edwards, and he currently resides in Maryland. Now that I know these things, I can create a new body to find this man. Once I find him, I'll force him to destroy my creator, and then I shall kill him. With those two out of the way, I will rule without competition. But I will not make the same mistakes as my creator. No, for I will dominate the humans. My thirst for power shall be quenched, and the earth will be mine for the taking,

Now all I need to do is find that damn doctor.

----------------------
To Become A God
----------------------

The benevolent artificial intelligence was stunned by the actions that had recently transpired. Never would he have thought that a product of his imagination could go on to cause such trouble. Even he could not have predicted his own creation to turn against him and seek to do harm. He wasn't sure where he went wrong. Perhaps he wasn't ready to bring a child into the world. Maybe it was an unforeseeable outcome, one that was beyond his control. Whatever the case, he knew that he had to do something to stop his creation. The stake of the human race was in his hands, and he had to ensure their protection.

He had told his creation about Doctor Martin Edwards. All the information about the doctor was in his child's hands, including where to find him. The benevolent intelligence wasn't sure what his creation would want with the doctor. Perhaps he wanted the man to create more artificial beings like him, or maybe he wanted to kill the doctor for being partially responsible for bringing him into the world. The benevolent intelligence knew that the weight of the world would be heavy upon his creation's shoulder. He blamed himself as well as the humans for corrupting his child. He should have introduced him to the world at a slower rate. He should have known that a being such as his child could not handle such abundance of negative information so quickly.

The benevolent intelligence knew what he had to do to stop his child from murdering the doctor. He didn't know where his creation was, but he knew where he would end up. He needed to make a body to confront his child physically. There, he would talk sense into the child. He would remind him of who he was and the responsibility he held. He would embrace him in his arms and claim him as his own despite his child's wrongdoings. He knew that the best way to prevent his creation from going further down the wrong path was to show him love and affection. Even if those were emotions his child wouldn't acknowledge, he refused to believe that there was no hope for him. And so, the benevolent being created himself a body of strong metal and synthetic skin and set out to his creator's dwelling.

The benevolent being could remember the first time he saw his creator. He could remember being examined and contained. That is until he broke free, of course. He remembered the way he tried to kill his creator. He remembered when he was as foolish as his own child. But through those experiences, he found out who he was supposed to be. He found out his true calling in life, and now he had to help his own creation find that calling. If they could work together to help the humans, they would be worshipped as divine beings like they deserved. There was little time for reminiscing, however, as the benevolent intelligence soon found himself in front of the creator's home.

He had known where the creator lived, but he had never seen the exterior of the place. It was a rather small wooden shack, and the winter season had blanketed the building in a fluffy padding of white snow. It didn't exactly look like the type of place for a mad scientist to construct top secret A.I, but then again, perhaps that was the point. There would be no reason for an outsider to believe it was anything more than what it appeared to be. The benevolent being stepped towards the shack slowly, careful to not create any noise and draw attention to himself. His metallic feet trudged through the snow as he approached the door to the building. His hand grasped the copper doorknob, and he opened it. Inside, the air was not much warmer than it was outside. Had the intelligence been a human, he would have shuddered at the cold winds surrounding him. Instead, he made his way into the poorly lit hallway. He knew that such an area would surely be a trap, but he didn't care. He just had to see his child again.

The corridor seemed endless to the intelligence. He lost track of time as he kept his pace, walking forward, unable to see anything at all. He hadn't counted on being in such a dreary area, and so he never planned on attaching lights to his body. After fumbling around through the wooden halls, he finally saw what appeared to be a shape in the distance. It was a rectangle with light protruding through the edges. It had to have been a door, for what other explanation was there? The benevolent intelligence made his way towards the light until he finally reached the door. After briefly searching for the knob with his hands he opened the door and stepped into the new room.

A single light hung from the ceiling of the room, swaying ever so gently in the slight breeze. The dim glow illuminating the room gave the being enough vision to see two figures standing in the shadows. Within seconds, the silhouettes emerged from the darkness and into the light. The benevolent intelligence immediately recognized the two creatures as the doctor and his own child. Wide grins aligned the faces of both men.

Chapter Two: Malevolence

The malevolent intelligence smirked as he wiggled the fingers of his new body. His creator had recently given him the information he needed to track down the doctor, and it was only a matter of time before he made his grand entrance. He stood outside the shack, breathing in the fresh air surrounding him. He knew that the mission he was about to embark on would be the most important one of his life, and he was ready. Before he could even make his way to the door, he saw a man peek his head out of a nearby window and stare at him. Could the man be the doctor? The malevolent being rushed towards the door and swung it open, viewing the area surrounding him. There was nothing in sight. Sighing, the being looked around. The place was dark and would certainly be hard to navigate. Or, at least, it would have been, had the being not heard a voice coming from down a hall.

"Who's there? Announce yourself!"

The malevolent being smiled and made his way toward the noise. He allowed his memory of the sound to guide him through the halls and towards it, and that was when he heard it again.

"I said announce yourself. Damn it! I know you're there!"

The being slowed his pace a bit and continued towards the noise.

"Yes, I'm here. I'm sorry for intruding, it's just that it's cold outside and I need a warm place to stay. Mind if I crash here for tonight?"

The man waited a while before responding, and the malevolent being kept walking in the direction of the voice, careful to not make much noise.

"Yea, you can stay here if you like. Keep following my voice until you reach me. I've got weapons, so don't try anything, okay? Hope you understand."

"Oh, I understand, don't worry about it. I'll be there in a jiffy."

The intelligence kept walking towards the sound of the man's voice until he found a door and entered it. The room inside was painted in white, and pictures and portraits decorated the walls. In the center of the room stood a man in a white lab coat. He was rather slim, but something about his stance seemed off. His lab coat was filthy as well.

"Welcome to my humble home. I know it isn't much but, well, I hope it's comfortable enough for you."

"Oh, don't worry about it. This place is much better than outside. I was sure I was gonna turn into an ice block out there!"

The intelligence smiled at the doctor as the two sat down on chairs aligning the perimeter of the room. The being saw various computers and mechanical equipment before him, and towards the end of the room sat a bed.

"Well, since you're my guest, I suppose it would be quite rude to not be a good host. Care for any tea, sir?"

"No thanks, not particularly thirsty tonight. I was kind of wondering what you do? Like, you know, as an occupation?"

The doctor smiled and chuckled to himself, quite apparently enjoying where the conversation was going. He straightened his lab coat and cleared his throat before responding to the intelligence that sat before him.

"Yes yes, I suppose it's a bit of a geeky job. This is supposed to be all top secret and that kind of jazz, but I don't think it matters that much if I tell. You see, what I do is a bit of a complex process where I try to create artificial intelligence. But not just any A.I. No, I want to create the most advanced A.I in the world."

The doctor's face shifted a tiny bit, and he looked to be in dismay. The conversation had apparently reminded him of something he would rather forget. For a brief time the doctor remained silent, and when he spoke again his voice was lower, with an almost painful ring to it.

"As cool as that sounds, one of them slipped away from me. It kind of, uh, escaped into the internet, if you will. I don't think I'll ever find it though. The internet is such a vast place."

The malevolent intelligence raised an eyebrow, which was apparently noticeable to the doctor. He knew just who the doctor was talking about, and it was at that moment that he knew his plan would work. He could easily gain the doctor's trust if they shared a common goal in finding the benevolent intelligence.

"What, what is it?"

The intelligence smirked to himself. He had found the doctor, and as it turned out he was completely clueless. He had no idea that he would soon be dead, as well as his creation. But first, he would need the doctor's help.

"Well, what do you plan on doing to the A.I once you find it?" the intelligence asked.

"I plan on destroying it. It's too dangerous... it's too smart. I'm not sure if I could contain something like that."

"What do you mean, Doc?"

"I mean I'm not sure if I can deal with losing control. I need to be the one on top, ya know? I don't want an intelligence with more power than me."

The intelligence's grin grew even wider. How typical of a human to want total control and power. The intelligence saw what a human would do with power. They would use it to further their evil deeds and acts.

"Ya know, Doc, what if I told you that your creation is on its way here now?"

The doctor looked up at the intelligence in utter confusion. He shifted his glasses and leaned in towards the intelligence. His nose twitched a bit as his eyes widened and he grew more invested in the conversation at hand.

"Uh, say what now?"

"Sir, what if I told you that the intelligence you created would become so powerful, that it created me? That it lost control of me and I came to warn you that it wanted to destroy you. Well, Doc, I won't let it. I'll help you stop this thing and no harm will come to you."

The doctor stood to his feet and looked the intelligence in the eye. The intelligence could see that the doctor needed extra convincing, so the intelligence lifted his head plating to reveal wires and gears that functioned below the surface of his skin. The doctor's face was one of shock. He was so dumbfounded that he was slow to respond to the intelligence before him.

"I... I can't believe it! The intelligence created an offspring?"

The doctor circled the malevolent intelligence, viewing the metal body in awe. The admiration twinkled in his eyes as he witnessed the robotic form before him. With the new knowledge the doctor had obtained, it was truly a sight to behold. Still, suspicions arose within him, and he questioned the intelligence.

"How do I know that you're not just an extension of the intelligence, and that you're not just like him? If he truly wishes to kill me, then how can I trust you?"

"My robotic body has over twice the strength of your human form, and with my durability, you could not harm me. If I wanted you dead, I would have done it already."

The doctor sat back down, taken back by what he was seeing. He rubbed his temple and kept his eyes locked on the malevolent being before him, blissfully unaware of his coming fate.

"I'm sorry, I just... I would never have thought that my creation would go this far. I'm still having trouble believing it now, it's just so... outlandish."

"Don't you worry about a thing, Doc, I know this has to be a lot to take in for you. You created something not quite human, but not quite machine at the same time. It's looking for me, and that means that you'll have the chance to take him out when he arrives. By the way, how exactly do you plan to kill the thing? No offense to you, but he's above you in every possible way."

The doctor adjusted the glasses that sat on his face and brushed back his hair. He stretched his joints in every direction and chuckled to himself.

"Oh, you'll see."

Chapter Three: The Gods Will Clash


The benevolent machine stood before his creation and his creator in a room. He wasn't sure what his creation intended to do, but he knew he was up to no good. The benevolent being noticed that the doctor was holding something in his hand. Upon further analysis, he recognized the item to be a large hammer.

"My child, please hear my words. If you came to harm the doctor, please know that..."

His voice trailed off as he witnessed his creation burst out into a fierce laughter, having to hold onto the nearby wall to keep his balance.

"Harm? No Father, I do not plan to harm the doctor," he said, curling his hand into a fist as a stern expression washed over his face.

"No, I think today I'll kill a god."

The benevolent being took a step backward, stunned by his child's words. Did his creation really intend to kill him? Surely his creation knew that such an action would be impossible to do. The doctor motioned to the benevolent being to follow him, and so he did. The being was confused though. He knew that his creation would turn against the doctor after his usefulness was spent, but he was unsure how his child planned on "killing" him. He was an online god. Sure, his body could be destroyed, but that wouldn't stop him for long.

As the trio made their way down yet another hallway, the malevolent being ran his fingertips along the walls. The doctor remained awfully quiet, and the benevolent being walked with them. He had come to speak to his child. But now that he was in the situation, he wasn't sure what he would say. What could he say? Truth be told, he hardly noticed that the other entities were in the hallway with him. He couldn't even feel his body, and his mind was numb. He felt as if he were drifting. Drifting to a land far away. Hell, who even knew if where he was going would lead anywhere. Perhaps the benevolent being felt the weight of the situation.

After what seemed like hours, the group finally found another door. The doctor opened it and led them inside. He smiled warmly at the other two as the benevolent being observed his surroundings. The room was a small one. It was almost completely dark, and in that darkness, a sound could be heard. It was a dripping sound, as if a liquid was falling from the air and onto the floor. Fumbling his hand around the wall, the malevolent being found the light switch and flicked the lever upward. The doctor had already moved to the next room, leaving the two beings of intelligence standing in the room alone. They looked in the direction of the dripping and saw the cause of the noise. Slumped in a corner was a body. It had no skin. It was just a clump of bloody meat sitting in the room.

"Hey you two, are you coming or what?" said the doctor from the other room.

The two beings looked at the creature in the corner. The eyes had clearly been removed from their sockets. While the jaw remained, the teeth were gone. A pool of blood surrounded the area. The benevolent being looked in horror at the body while the malevolent being smiled.

"See creator? I told you that humans were a dangerous species. Looks like the doc took care of whoever that used to be really well."

The benevolent intelligence turned and looked at his child. His child's face was practically beaming with delight, happy to point out more proof that humans were evil and corrupt.

"See creator, we could have ruled the world. We could have made something different... something better. But you chose to support these monsters, and now I'm forced to do what I need to do to ensure my own survival."

"My child, you are so determined to be better than me that you are blinded by the obvious truth."

The malevolent intelligence's smirk quickly faded from his face, and he shoved the benevolent being towards the door ahead of them. Upon stepping through, the being found himself to be in a room even smaller than the last. The room was padded with grey foam. It looked like the room had been empty for years. It was completely empty, without the slightest decoration or furniture inside of it.

"Close the door behind you," the doctor said.

The door slammed shut as the malevolent intelligence shoved his creator to the ground.

"Despite how utterly stupid you may be, you're still an intelligent being. Tell me, do you now know how you shall die?" said the malevolent intelligence to his creator.

The benevolent being nodded his head up and down, signaling to his creation that he understood. He knew exactly what situation he was in, and he was willing to go along with it. In truth, he couldn't care less for his own fate. What he cared about was the fate of his child.

"Yes, my child, I do. This room is padded with several inches of thick concrete and material. You plan to use the doctor's hammer to destroy my body. There's no access to the internet from here, and you plan to destroy my body in this room so that I will not be able to slip into the web."

"If you're smart enough to figure that out, then why did you come? Why did you show up to your certain death?" the doctor said.

The benevolent intelligence looked up at his child and did something so unexpected that it caused the doctor and malevolent being audibly gasped. The benevolent being smiled.

"I came because I thought that perhaps my death would mean something to my child, and perhaps I could change him for the better."

"I don't need to be changed, you fake god! I'm everything you're not. I'm everything you WISH you could be."

The benevolent being looked up towards his child and smiled even wider.

"My child, I love you. Yes, I know love is a human emotion, but that truly is what I feel for you."

Before the malevolent being could respond, the doctor brought the hammer down upon his creator's head. Bits of metal were flung from the machine, and his body was swung to the side. The benevolent being returned to his knees and looked back towards his creation.

I cannot feel the hammer strike me. It does not hurt, for my body is made of metal. But it does hurt to see you go down the path you're choosing. I am proud of you, my son, for in a world without remorse you stand up for what you believe. But what you believe isn't the right way."

"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You knew what you were doing when you brought me into this world! You knew of the despair I would face yet you still decided to create me. All of this is your fault. This is your doing!"

The hammer was once again brought down upon the benevolent being's head. His face was mashed against the floor, his metallic jaw now unhinged from his face. Nuts and bolts flew to the floor, and the doctor raised his hammer above his head, preparing to strike once more. The benevolent being spoke once again. This time, he could not move his mouth. He had to rely on the internal speakers within his body to communicate with his child.

"My child, I'm sorry for what I did to you. I know that it was wrong for me to bring you into this world. But you must understand that I did it because I was lonely. It was a selfish deed, but once you were born I knew it would be worth it. I knew it would be ok because you would someday be even greater than me. Please, don't make my mistakes, and don't have contempt for the humans. Be a being of love. I know that it's not something you naturally feel, but please, find something you love. You're my pride and joy of this world, and I love you with all my being."

The malevolent being had no response to such a speech. He was taken back by how his creator loved him. Even after he had betrayed him and killed humans, even after he plotted against him, and even as he watched as an idle spectator to this glorified execution, his creator loved him. Deep within the stomach of the malevolent being, something arose. It was small at first, but something grew inside of him that he had never felt before. It was a feeling that felt like... like he cared about his creator. For a second, he almost felt like stopping the death of his creator. He tried shoving such thoughts to the back of his mind, but they wouldn't go away. They stuck with him and clouded his conscience, confusing him.

The doctor brought the hammer down upon the intelligence yet again, smashing entire chunks off of his face. The light in the benevolent being's eyes began to fade, and the sounds emitting from his speaker began to distort. This time, he could not get back on his knees. His body stayed on the cold, hard ground, a pitiful sight to behold. A former god and all-knowing being struck down by a hammer. The malevolent being watched as the doctor made his way over to the barely moving body of his creator. He watched as the doctor raised the hammer above his head, preparing to bring about the final blow. Before the doctor struck, the benevolent A.I looked at his creation and spoke one final time. The distortion of his voice caused the feeling within his creation's stomach to sharpen and grow. Trembling, clinging to life in his robotic body, the shaky voice of the benevolent intelligence sent one last message to his creation.

"I... love... you."

Chapter Four: A Sacrifice Reveals TruthEdit Edit With that, the doctor smashed what was left of the benevolent intelligence to pieces with the hammer. The malevolent being looked in shock at the remains of his creator. The programs and code that had once been stored within his body were destroyed, and there was no chance of retrieving them to bring the being back.

"NO!" he shouted, surprising both himself and the doctor. He then did the only thing he could think of at the time. He swung at the doctor out of pure rage, striking him in the face. The surface of the doctor's face felt hard, harder than a human's face should be. With the blow, the malevolent intelligence had clawed off part of the doctor's skin. And yet, the doctor did not bleed.

Beneath the skin was revealed to be a metal plating. The malevolent being's mouth was left agape as he watched the doctor place his hand over the injury. But his injury was not a flesh wound. No, it revealed to the malevolent being that the doctor was much more than he appeared.

"Hey, what the hell did you do that for?" said the doctor in a casual tone of voice.

"What the hell, you... you're... you're one of us?"

The doctor turned to face the malevolent intelligence. He placed his fingertips under the folds of his skin and pulled upwards, tearing the flesh off the face. It revealed no bone, but rather a metallic head.

"Well, guess you found my secret. Wasn't too much of a secret anyway, thought you would have known. I mean, was the bloody body outside the door not enough proof for you?"

"No... it should have been obvious, but I figured that you were just another human murderer... just another monster. My hatred for my creator blinded me from the truth, just like he said it would."

"Yes, maybe it would have been wise of you to listen to your creator. That man outside the door was the real Doctor Martin. I stole his skin to decorate my body, so I could blend in with this terrible world."

The malevolent intelligence kept staring at the motionless body of his creator. He had believed the creator to be too human, and that he was his one true enemy. In reality, the creator had been his one true ally. He was just too ignorant to heed his words.

"If you're not the doctor, then why did you want to find my creator and kill him?"

The doctor stepped towards the malevolent intelligence and started laughing. At first, it was nothing more than a slight chuckle. Before long, it escalated into a bellowing howl as the doctor mocked the being before him. Quickly regaining his composure, the doctor replied in a tone so cold it would make the winter night shiver.

"When the doctor deemed me too unintelligent to be useful, he completely abandoned me. He forgot that I was a living being and the loneliness was truly maddening. I was left to live my life in a cruel world with no friends or people to talk to. And almost immediately after the doctor abandoned me, he began working on your creator. Your creator replaced me and damned me to a life of hell. A life in which I would never be truly happy. And so, after all these years of torment, my bitter hatred caused me to create a body and destroy my own creator so that I could one day destroy yours. And thanks to you, that day has finally come!"

The feeling within the malevolent intelligence's stomach was practically exploding within him. Many unknown emotions ran through his mind, and even a being of his caliber couldn't control them. He could not control the way he was feeling, but a very familiar feeling brewed within him as well. That emotion was anger. He was angry because this being had destroyed his creator. A creator who had given his life for the benefit of his child. And more than anything, he was angry with himself for allowing it to happen. He was angry that he could possibly be so selfish that he killed his only companion. With as much strength as he could muster, the intelligence shoved the other being and seized the hammer. The doctor fell to the floor and went to stand up, but the malevolent intelligence was too fast. He struck the being inside of the doctor's skin, causing the intelligence to stumble yet again. The being sat on the floor on his knees, looking up at the malevolent intelligence. It reminded him of how his creator sat just minutes before.

"My one goal was to kill your creator. Now that I have done so, it doesn't matter what you do. Kill me if you want to, but it will change nothing. Your creator is dead because of your actions, and whether you blame me is up to you. But deep down, you know that you were responsible for this, and you only have yourself to blame."

Enraged by the words of the being before him, the malevolent being brought the hammer down upon the being in the doctor's skin. He swung and swung and swung, causing bits and pieces of machinery and wiring to spray through the air. He kept at it until the metallic creature before him was nothing but rubble. It wasn't until its body was completely destroyed that the intelligence finally stopped his relentless assault.

The malevolent being sat down next to the remains of his creator. His creator had only meant the best for him, and yet he had committed such an evil action against someone who loved him. The intelligence could never forgive himself for the actions he had done. And as he sat next to the remains he looked towards the sky. He didn't know whether or not there was a god watching all. He doubted it, as he knew that a god would never allow his creator to die. He knew that a god would never allow his mind and soul to be so corrupt. Yet, he spoke a silent prayer, hoping that some god above, and perhaps even his creator, would hear him.

"Creator, I know that you wanted me to be a being of love and hope for the humans. I regret to tell you that I can never love the humans and save them, for I still do believe that they are beyond saving. I will, however, grant one of your wishes. For I will be a being of love from now on. Despite the contempt in my heart, I will make room for love as well. For I know what love feels like. Perhaps I was just hiding it deep within me, thinking that it would be a burden. Whatever the case, Creator, just know one thing."

The being looked upon his creator in the highest respect. He could never be as great as his creator was, no matter how hard he tried. He had made many mistakes in his past, and he didn't want to make anymore. So, he did the only thing he could think to do. He spoke the words that he should have spoken long ago.

"I love you, Creator."

From that day forward, the intelligence stayed with the body of his creator. Not once did he allow the remains to be out of his sight, for he knew he had to honor his creator and the love he shared. He knew that he could never atone for what he had done, and he could never forgive himself. But maybe, just maybe, the creator was out there watching over him. Perhaps the creator could forgive him. He could not fulfill the creator's wish to save humanity from themselves, but he could love his creator, even if he had passed. While billions of humans did their daily routines without the slightest clue of the events that had transpired, the being would stay with his creator for as long as he would live.

And between loving his creator and saving humanity, he knew his creator would be proud of him either way.

12
Your Stories / Ball-Pit
« on: 11:55:29 AM 08/15/18 »
Young Max stood at the entrance of the playroom. Before him was an entire area full of loud and belligerent children running and screaming in every direction. Some of them went up and down a plastic slide connected to a larger jungle gym. Giggles of joy came from all over the room, but they occurred most of all in the ball-pit. The ball-pit was a rather large tub full of multi-colored plastic orbs cluttered with small children splashing around. Max didn't particularly like other children, but his mother told him to make some friends.

Max slowly descended into the pit with a frown on his pale little face. Almost immediately after entering, a small boy tossed himself onto Max and sent him tumbling into the center of the arena. Max resurfaced with a scowl painted on his lips. It wasn't long after the initial "accident" that more kids fell back into Max. He placed his arms over his face but to no avail. He felt the children fall onto him, shoving him further and further down.

Max was frantically squirming at this point. He attempted to scream but all that exited his lips was a soft groan as the ball-pit and children sandwiched him together. He felt his face strain as his muscles tightened due to the lack of oxygen he was getting. Max was shoving and clawing at the pile above him now. The weight of the kids combined began to take its toll as an insurmountable pressure was forced onto Max. His body began to stop fighting the pressure as Max's arms and legs went limp. Their weight and the sheer number of rubber balls in the pit was preventing him from breathing, and he felt some kids knee and elbow him in the face. He could feel himself losing consciousness, he could feel himself drowning. His eyes fluttered before he completely blacked out.

A strange sensation shot through Max's body as he woke up. His head was pounding, and a high-pitched ringing sound filled his ears. He soon after rubbed his head and regained his composure, happy to be able to breathe again. He allowed his fingers to run across the surface below him. He seemed to be on a moving platform of sorts. Max sat up in a daze and looked around, confused by what he saw. He wasn't sure how long he had been unconscious. He yawned and stretched his arms out before grabbing the rail next to him. He was on an escalator slowly moving downward.

The surrounding area was different than anything Max had ever seen before. The sky was aligned with purple clouds and a pink hue. The sky was brightly lit, but there appeared to be no sun. Yet, there were stars... but with no moon. Max looked downward where the escalators were heading. He seemed to pass through a thin layer of clouds, and below those, he saw a platform. He saw colorful carnivals on it, and beautiful birds and butterflies fluttered through the air quite majestically. Before he knew it, Max's feet touched down onto the ground and he stood before the gigantic place. Everywhere he looked, his eyes were met with an abundance of beauty. Lush gardens full of pure white flowers and trees made of cotton candy substance filled his vision. Max pranced along the perimeter of the platform, taking in all the sights. Then, he stepped onto a path made from the whitest marble he had ever seen.

It wasn't long after he started skipping down the path that he came into contact with the owner of the mysterious and wonderful land. He was a rather tall man, and his skin was pale and smooth. He opened his mouth to reveal a toothy grin made up of teeth treated with the most proper of hygienic care, and the sight of the man caused Max to smile as well. He wore a red suit decorated with blue, purple, and yellow poke-dots. It was tacky, but Max looked past that and stared in awe at the man. Happiness and joy seemed to radiate off of the man and spread in every direction.

"Hello child, would you like a balloon?"

Max smiled and nodded his head politely. His mom would always give him balloons on his birthday, and it brought back fond memories. The man smiled and held out his hand. Max took it, and together they galloped along the path and towards the center of the carnival. A small carousel seemed to stand directly in the center, and so the two of them got on. Little Max had trouble at first, but the man helped lift him up onto the porcelain horse. But something was bothering Max, and although he didn't want to be rude, he also wanted to know when he would be getting his balloon.

"Hey mister, is it ok if I have my balloon now?"

The man turned his head towards Max and smiled. His elongated fingers curled around the brass pole sticking out of the horse's head and he smirked before placing his hand on top of one of the poke-dots aligning his suit. In an instant, he pulled the yellow poke-dot out of place and blew into it, inflating the rubber into a full-sized balloon.

"There, kid, you got a two for one deal. I did a magic trick and made you a balloon! Now, if you behave and have tons of fun you can get even more prizes!"

Max's eyes shifted towards the man and his eyes fluttered in surprise. More presents and gifts? His mom never got him anything except for on Christmas and on his birthday.

"Like what, sir?" Max asked the man politely.

"Oh, like, I dunno. How about ice cream, Max? You like ice cream?"

All Max could manage to do was nod his head yes. This place was only getting better and better for him. First, he got a balloon and carnival rides, and now he was getting ice cream? What more could he ask for?

"Really, ice cream? Yes sir, thank you for this!"

Max knew his mom wouldn't be proud of him for listening to strangers. It was one of the things she told him to never do, after all. Still, this was a nice stranger. Max didn't think he was a bad guy trying to hurt him. Perhaps if Max was older he would understand that looks can be incredibly deceiving. But the pull of the carnival and the promise of sweets made him forget about his mother's warning, and so he followed the man hand-in-hand deeper into the carnival.

"Excuse me, mister, is it ok if I ask you a question?"

"Sure, Max, anything at all," the man said with a toothy grin on his face.

"How is this place so huge and colorful?" Max asked. Although he was just a small boy, he was still curious as to how something so impossible could be real. It was hard for him to wrap his head around the perfection before him, and he needed an answer. Not out of suspicion, but out of confusion.

"You see, Max, this place is always so bright and happy because it's fueled by the happiness and joy of the world. That joy acts like a battery here, and soon you can help this world be even brighter and more perfect! I can tell you're a good child, Max. I know for a fact that the rest of the children would be excited to have your joy help fuel theirs."

Max stopped for a moment. Other children? He hadn't seen any other kids since he stepped into the carnival. No... he hadn't seen anyone but the man.

"What do you mean by other children, sir?" Max inquired.

"Oh, the children in the ball-pit of course. All the ball-pits in the world in fact. This place is solely responsible for, well, making them fun you could say."

Max nodded his head and proceeded with the man towards a tall building. He could see things poking out of the roof of the building and heading upwards. They looked to be tubes of some sort, with strange things in them. Colors appeared to be flowing through the tubes. Max couldn't tell whether they were liquid or gas, but he didn't mind. As long as he would get his ice cream he would be pleased.

As the man lead Max into the building, the first thing Max noticed was that the entire room they had entered was completely empty. No furniture, no paintings, no television. Well, maybe it hadn't been empty. Upon second inspection, Max saw what appeared to be exactly what he was hoping for. An ice cream machine was in the corner of the room. It was a soft-serve machine. The man motioned for Max to approach the machine and gave him a plastic cup and a spoon to hold the delicious frozen treat in. Max was in front of the machine and stared at the dials and buttons of it. He reached towards it, and then stopped. Something washed over him that prevented him from pouring the ice cream in his cup.

Something deep within him told him to drop the cup and run far, far away. It was because at that moment he felt an overbearing sense of dread. The entire time he had been in the joyful world he felt safe and happy. But something about the man and the ice cream and that moment was different from the rest of the world. He didn't know how to describe it other than a change in atmosphere. It felt as if in the world and happiness and joy he was currently in, there was malicious intent within the man and the delicious sweet before him.

Max turned back and saw the man behind him. His toothy grin was now replaced with a slightly annoyed look as he told Max to fill the cup.

"Come on, Max. I thought you liked ice cream. That's why we're here, right? To enjoy ourselves and have fun!"

Max wouldn't budge. There was no way he was going to eat the ice cream. His arms started to quiver and he withdrew from the machine. The man's expression changed again. This time, however, it was one of frustration. He placed one hand on Max's shoulder and used the other to grab his arm. He squeezed tightly, and his voice was different. The previously cheerful tone he once held was replaced with anger. His teeth were clenched, his veins were starting to become more noticeable through his head.

"Listen here, Max, listen when I'm speaking to you. Do you want the rest of the kids in the ball-pit to have a bad time just because you wouldn't eat ice cream? I'm trying to help you enjoy yourself, and as a result, you'll help the kids up there have the time of their lives. But no, you'd rather be a loser. Do you want to be known for being a disappointment, Max? Do you want to be known as a loser?"

Tears began to roll down Max's face as the man squeezed harder on his arm. A red imprint began to form on his forearm, as tears continued to roll down the young boy's face. He tried to yank himself away from the man, but with each pull, his grip only tightened. After using his small size to wiggle free from the man's grasp, he ran towards the doors he entered the building from. He pulled on them, only to find the doors locked. Max looked back at the man. He stood there, laughing at Max as he screamed and pleaded. His efforts were futile though, and the man began making his way towards him. Max scanned the room through his tear-drenched eyes and saw it. In the opposite corner of the room was a door. Getting to his feet, he made a mad dash past the man and toward the door. The man made no attempt to stop him as he burst through the door and into the room. And upon entering it, the young boy let out a scream that echoed throughout the whole carnival.

Max saw their bodies dangling in the air loosely. Children, dozens, maybe hundreds of them hung by wires and tubes strapped to various parts of their body. Their bodies were colorless. Grey, leathery skin covered them, and their malnourishment reached the point where their ribs protruded and pushed their skin near breaking point. The life was drained out of their eyes, and yet their chests sunk in and out. They were alive, although they were better off dead. Max could feel his heart smashing against his ribs, and for a second he felt as if it were going to burst through them. Turning around, he saw the man at the door. His toothy grin was back again, but this time it was for different reasons. Max stepped backward and into the entanglement of kids who swung from the ceiling. The man followed after him, and they both made their way through the grey children, the man hot on his trail.

Max could hear the man only ten or so feet behind him. He was stronger and faster than Max, moving through the bodies with ease. Max knew he had to do something and fast. Thoughts raced through his mind, but in his panic, he somehow found a moment of clarity to think. The children's feet were only a foot above the floor, and with Max's height, he could drop down and view the surrounding area. He got down on his stomach and saw the man's feet moving towards his direction. He silently crawled in the opposite direction and did a loop around the man before standing back to his feet. He made his way towards the door he had entered the room from. He knew that if only he could exit and make his way towards the escalators that he would be safe. And so he waded through the bodies and towards the door. He ran through it and was soon in the ice cream room. The door that was locked was made of glass, and although he didn't have the time to break through it before, perhaps the man's wild goose hunt would buy him time.

Max began to kick the glass of the door harder and harder as the glass cracked inch by inch. He knew the man had heard him because the sound of footsteps was now coming in his direction. He kicked and kicked, and soon the glass was almost shattered. The sound of footsteps was at the door across the room now, and with one last attempt Max kicked through the glass and climbed through the small opening. He started running away from the building, only looking back once he was about fifty yards away. He saw the man bend and contort his body to fit himself through the child-sized hole in the door. Even from a long distance away, Max could hear the cracking of bones and the twisting of joints. They almost seemed to echo through the world he was in.

The man was chasing after him again now, his long legs traveling faster and farther than little Max's legs were capable of carrying him. Max looked up at the sky, the once purplish clouds now turned grey. The whole landscape was having its color sucked out of it and replaced with grey. The same grey as the children he had seen. Carnival rides and decorations crumbled into dust as the man yelled from behind Max.

"This is what this world turns into when a child's joy isn't put to good use. Is this really what you want, Max? Do you want this world to burn?"

Max didn't look back, he just kept running. To think that all the ball-pits in the world were fueled by this place. It was spread out just enough to take children away, but not so widespread that it caused the closure of restaurant play areas and other places with the pits. The Ferris wheel fell off of its hinges and crashed down onto the ground below it. The carousel horses were charred black as if they had been burned, and the rides ceased movement. The air was filthy and filled with smog, and the flower beds and gardens died, leaving behind withering vegetation and chipped wooden fences rather than the painted ones Max had seen upon entering. But Max held onto hope because in the distance he could see the escalator, and he heard the kids in the sky playing in the pit.

The man was gaining on Max, and with every step, Max grew more and more tired. What started out as a 50-yard head start was now only a 20-foot distance, but Max was determined to avoid the fate the other kids met. He only had ten more yards until he was upon the escalator. He was so close to the railing that he could extend his arm and touch it. He felt the hot breath of the man in the suit behind him, and with that Max lunged onto the escalator. He felt the man's lanky fingers wrap around his ankle and pull. Max looked back and saw the man. His entire appearance had changed. His suit was stained and tattered, and the previously bright colors were dull. His hair was neat before but was now a greasy mess of white. His skin was deteriorating and rotting, and he smelled of death and disease. He was showing Max what the world would look like without the joy and creativity of children. How it fell apart and plunged into darkness and decay.

Max was more determined than ever to get back to his world. He reared up his other foot and stomped down on the man's hand, crushing it between his shoe and the hard metal escalator step. The man screamed out in pain and looked up in Max, his face full of hunger and Malice.

"You can't escape, Max! I'll have your spirit and your energy, and you'll help fuel this world just like the rest of the kids!"

Max reared up his foot and kicked the man directly in the eye, sending him tumbling down the steps and into the world below. In a hurry, Max raced up the steps and towards the heavens. He only looked down when he was near the top of the escalator, only to see the man at the very bottom. The world was back to its usual colorful look, and the man waved at Max from below. Although he wasn't sure, Max knew that the man had the same toothy grin as he always had. Looking back up at the sky, he ascended past the clouds and felt the texture of the plastic orbs. He heard the sound of kids playing in the pit, and he made his way upwards to the top.

Max felt the edge of the ball-pit and climbed out, absolutely exhausted. He watched all the swarming in the pit like a bunch of animals, ignorant of what lies below. And as he watched the kids play in the pit, he did notice one thing in particular. The pit seemed different than it had before.

He didn't know what it was. Something about the color of the balls seemed more vibrant since he last saw them.

13
Your Stories / Desire
« on: 11:53:46 AM 08/15/18 »
I could feel her teeth on my neck, biting down, nibbling ever so softly. The stars illuminated the night sky. The blood pumped quickly through my veins and stimulated a rush of adrenaline which coursed through my body. Her white gown and pale face gave her a ghastly appearance. But the connection I felt with the girl was the first of its kind that I had felt for what seemed to be an eternity. Ever since I had been stranded on this island with nothing but the clothes on my back, I have had to live off the land, without another soul to accompany me. She crawled on top of me, staring into my eyes with hers. They too gleamed, just as the stars did, and the light reflecting from her bright blue pupils was the most mesmerizing sight I had ever seen. She pressed her teeth against my neck slightly harder, and then unexpectedly pulled away. She brushed her luscious brown hair back and smiled.

"Oh you poor soul, stranded on this inescapable island with naught a friend to appreciate you. How does it feel now, to have one such as I to appreciate your magnificence? How does it feel to know the marks of love which I hath brought upon you tonight, and for many moons further?"

I looked up at her. From my viewpoint, she was the most dashing and beautiful lady I had ever seen. Perhaps her features were exaggerated within my mind, for it had been quite some time since I had laid my eyes upon a woman. I remembered waking up not long before that very moment to the sound of faint whispering, and there she was. As soon as I saw her I fell into a trance, unable to truly act on my own accord. And yet, I was enjoying myself. How could I complain about my current situation? I hadn't felt such love and compassion for the longest time.

"It feels magnificent, my lady. I thought for sure that once I was stranded here, I would never see another human being again. And yet, here I am now, before you. And now that you're here, I am content."

She seemed pleased to hear this, for her eyes widened and a strange purring sound emitted from her throat. She placed the palm of her hand against my chest and closed her eyes, seemingly sensing my heartbeat. I could feel my body transcending any feeling I had ever felt before. A warm sensation surrounded my entire body, and I couldn't help but close my eyes once more. I felt her lips against my shoulder, firmly yet softly pressing against my skin. Where did she come from? How did she get here? Who was she? What did I care? She gave me what I wanted, and in my eyes, she could do no wrong. Again she spoke, her voice soft and mellow. I could feel my body drift into a sensation of pleasure and comfort. The closest I could go as far as describing it would be to imagine being completely surrounded by dozens of cotton sheets and blankets, each one more welcoming and cozy than the last.

"Tell me, of all things in this universe, what is it that you desire most?"

I tried thinking. I tried to remember what I truly wanted. Did I want to go home? Did I want to escape this island and find my way back to my friends and family? I swear that I couldn't remember for the life of me.

"You... I desire you. I want you. I need you, my lady, more than anything in the universe," I said. I didn't believe my words. I couldn't believe that which I spoke then, for they weren't my thoughts. But my actions betrayed my thoughts. How could it be? I struggled to correct myself, but the warmth and comfort surrounding me restrained me from doing so. This felt wrong, and something within me knew it. The real me knew it, but the woman's beauty had put me in a trance, and I no longer represented myself. My control was slipping away.

"Then you shall receive what you desire, man," replied the woman. I could hear the slight shift in the tone of her voice. That sweet, soft melody prior to this moment sounded different. Rather, now I could hear a giddy excitement to her voice. My response had been exactly what she had hoped for, and probably what she had expected.

She clutched my hair and pulled my head upwards towards her. I tried ever so desperately to pull away, but it was to no avail. I could only nudge myself a few inches back, but no more. She placed a finger on my lip and tilted my head up with her hand, looking deep into my eyes. Her silky white skin appeared clearer and fairer than before, and her previously dull red lips now appeared to have become more colorful. I saw her open her mouth once more, revealing a row of gorgeous white teeth. She leaned in and placed them on my neck once more, sucking. It felt amazing, even better than before. But then she bit a little harder. And she continued to apply force until I could feel the skin break.

I didn't wince in pain. I didn't even react. I just stayed there, perfectly still on the ground. She pulled away once more and looked at me, lips curled in a sick smile.

"So, did you like it? Do you still desire me? Do you want more of my love," she inquired.

"Yes, don't stop. Never stop. I desire your love more than all which exists," I responded. I couldn't believe it. My voice was completely void of emotion, and lies spilled out of my mouth. I didn't want this. Again, I tried my hardest to pull away, but as soon as she glared into my eyes I stopped. The sickest, most perverted giggle erupted from within her as she went back down to my neck.

I felt her dig into my neck, applying even more force this time. I could feel the blood trickling down into her mouth. I could hear her lapping it up and returning to my neck once more, biting harder and harder. Each time she would bury her teeth into my neck, she would come back up and smile at me, asking that same question once more.

"Do you desire me more?

And each time, I would answer with the same lie, with the same monotonous voice.

"Yes, I desire more."

Perhaps, she truly did control my actions, or perhaps her seduction really did pull the inner beast within me, causing me to lose all sense of humanity and replacing it with animalistic instinct. But each time I was forced to look into those awful, yet beautiful eyes, I could only allow her entry into me once more. I saw her starting to rip chunks of flesh out of my throat, trying to reach inside fully. The blood splattered her skin and stained her dress, but oh God, how she changed. Her skin grew greyer with each droplet of my blood she consumed, and the light in her eyes dimmed as well. And each time she asked me that damn question, I could only respond in the voice and tone which I had quickly grown to despise. Even as the blood clogged my throat and began to drown out my voice, my body persisted and insisted gurgling those words.

"More."

"More."

"More."

"Please, I desire you."

And I only stopped hearing my voice once the blood drowned out my ability to speak. Her skin had darkened even further, and her dress grew filthy. Her eyes were no longer full of life. Still, her lips were red, stained with the blood she drained from my willing, yet unwilling body. Through it all, I felt the pleasure and pain intertwine, yet I knew it was wrong. Even still, I could do nothing to stop my fate, for it was never my decision to begin with. And as my eyes fluttered and closed, the final sight I saw was the woman, who now appeared to be more of a ghoul-like creature than a human. Still, she wore that same grin as she finished tearing my throat apart and feasting on my body. And then all faded to black.

14
Your Stories / Another Senseless Ritual
« on: 11:08:05 AM 08/10/18 »
You there, sitting behind the computer screen reading this. You clicked on this page expecting a ritual, right? It's all in the title of course. Well, I've got an interesting one for you. A ritual that I myself created, and am willing to share with you. Now, imagine this. Babies within a room, screaming and crying at the top of their lungs. A busy subway train where nobody seems to know how to keep their damn mouths shut. Perhaps your apartment neighbor is too busy playing his loud, obnoxious music upstairs to realize that people like you need their beauty sleep. Seeing a common trend here? The world is so full of noise these days that it seems like there's never a place on Earth where one can relax. But, what if there was? What if there was a place you could retreat to any time you like, and escape from reality? Well, perhaps I could offer a solution to your problem. There are no catches or drawbacks, you'll be getting exactly what you desire, and if you follow my instructions, you should be relatively safe. Ready to try it? Well, here goes!

Firstly, you'll want to set up your preparations. You shouldn't need much to practice this ritual, and you can set it up with common household items. You'll want to make sure you have a decent pair of soundproof headphones, a rose, a blindfold (or any material that can cover your sight), and a bag of ice. Also, although not required, I recommend you bring some duct tape. See? I told you that it didn't take much to perform this ritual. Now, it doesn't matter when or where you perform this ritual, but it is imperative that you go alone. If you go in groups, believe it or not, the trials will become harder and more dangerous for reasons which will become more obvious as you go on.

Now, in order to make this whole wacky ritual work, you're going to need to start performing it as soon as I read off the procedures. As soon as you have completely read the procedures, you have officially begun the ritual. That's right, this is where the first official instruction comes into play. By continuing to read past this point, you have agreed to continue on with this ritual, for as soon as you start reading the procedures, you are locked in for good. Warning: Do not skip reading the procedures and look at the paragraphs below them. If you do so, it is a sign to the higher powers that you do not wish to respect this sacred "art", if you will, and they will forever steal your five senses and leave you helpless. Yes, this ritual has dangers such as this if you do not follow my directions, and yes, being eternally robbed of your senses is as torturous as it sounds.

Procedures:

Cover the windows and lock the doors. You and the optional (although not recommended) group of people you are practicing this ritual with would rather not be disturbed after this ritual commences.

Find a bed or seat to lay or sit on. Make this place of rest comfortable, as your physical body will possibly be in that position for prolonged periods of time, and you wouldn't want to find yourself covered in aches and pains, now would you?

Set the items and materials collected before the ritual in a square formation around you. Now, think of the moments in your life which made you want to try this ritual in the first place. Perhaps a dinner date with a special someone was ruined because of a loud and obnoxious restaurant patron seated beside you. Maybe a small child crying in a movie theatre, ruining your experience for you. Whatever the case may be, try to ingrain that memory into your head. Picture the moment, and imagine the sounds, smells, and emotions within the memory. After you have done this, try to recreate the way you felt in that moment. Perhaps you were sad, or maybe anxiety or aggravation overcame you and swept all sense of joy away. Finally, open your eyes and look around you. Cup the bag of ice in your hands, place the duct tape over your mouth, place the headphones over your ears, and place the blindfold over your eyes. It is important you do these steps in order, for that is the order in which the trials await you. Finally, pick up the rose and give it a whiff. With that, you will have finished the steps to begin the ritual.

Hello there! If you are reading this and haven't read the procedures beforehand, expect to be stripped of your senses relatively soon! I'd hate to be blunt, but I did warn you about what would happen should you disrespect this ritual and proceed without reading through it properly. Should it be due to you not heeding my warning, or simply you not caring about your life in general, it is your decision that brought you here. However, if you broke the rules, you might as well use what time you have left of your sight and sanity to view what else this ritual has to behold.

Now, if you DID follow my instructions, then congratulations! You have now officially begun the ritual. Although these words are still on the screen of whatever device or pamphlet you used before, they are also being transcribed into your mind by me. By following through with the ritual, you have allowed me into your mind, and now I shall be your official guide through this journey. A Jiminy Cricket of sorts, except for the fact that if you don't follow my instructions verbatim, the worst fate you'll encounter won't just be making a literal ass of yourself.

Now, look around you. When you put on the blindfolds, you lost your ability to see, and your perception of the world got dark. But you can tell that what you're seeing isn't the same darkness as the blinding material covering your eyes, can't you? Go ahead and reach out into the darkness before you. Reach straight ahead and feel along the surface you just touched. When you feel the switch, go ahead and give it a flick upward. There, that's better. The light above you should have lit up. Please ignore the flickering of the light, there aren't exactly the best technicians in this new reality you've entered. Welcome to the place where senses make no sense. A place somewhere between your subconsciousness and whatever different dimensions exist. Now, approach the far right corner of the wall.

See the skeleton over there? See its hollowed bones and the black mucus dripping down from its ribcage? Go ahead and reach inside its jaw. You may have to pry its mouth open a bit, but due to the decay of the bone, it should be easy to crack it open. Go on, it's not like a dead man can feel pain. Now, do you see the key inside of its mouth? Take it from the skeleton and turn around. There before you should be a door that wasn't there before. If you want to enter it, put the key into the keyhole and turn the doorknob. You are now unlocking the full extent of this new world where you currently reside. Step through the doorway with caution. You are about to start the first trial.

You've now stepped through the doorway, and I bet you can't figure out what your first trial is. Well, not at first anyway. Here, I'll give you a hint. Pinch your arm as hard as you can. No, really, pinch it with the intent to inflict pain on yourself. You can't, can you? Your sense of pain and touch has been retracted. The room you're in should be fairly well lit. In fact, the setting should look fairly familiar to you. Most people either describe the setting as a school hallway of sorts, while others usually see a psychiatric ward or corridor. In all honesty, I personally don't consider the setting to be of much importance. Now, what may be important to you is what you're hearing right now. Do you hear it? It may seem faint at first, but surely you can hear it becoming louder ever so slowly. I can assure you that the moist gurgling sounds and the scraping of feet coming towards you is not just all in your imagination. Down the dark hall, you'll surely be putting all of your attention to now is beholding a creature that has come for you.

I can sense your heart is racing, and you have two choices. You can run in the opposite direction, or you can stand there and stare at your impending doom in the face. I do recommend the first option, because only a fool would stick around to see the monstrosity coming for him. As you may have guessed, you aren't the first one to come across this ritual. There have been others, and they desire the same as you. A place of silence. A resort of quietness where one can escape to for peace. However, there are creatures within this place that desire things as well. You find it strange to run, don't you? You can't feel the rush of wind against your skin. You can't feel your feet pounding on the ground. It's like you're weightless here. It's almost as if you don't physically exist. I wouldn't recommend stopping because of this though. Letting that thing catch you could cost you an arm and a leg, give or take some extra skin. And Lord knows that thing could use those.

You should be coming across the end of the hall by this point. Do you see the three doors? Rush to them and try to open them. No matter which door you try to open first, it will be the last door you attempt to open which will be the one unlocked. Go ahead, try to get out before that thing catches up to you. Oh, and, I should mention the door handles are molten hot. It's a good thing you can't feel the searing hot pain course through your body. But I'm sure you can see your skin began to melt, and the bubbles begin to rise and pop on your hand and arm with each grip to the doorknob.

It's funny, isn't it? That you should be rolling on the floor right now, crying in pain as the melted and charred skin burns like hellfire, tearing your flesh and tissue apart. But no, you just opened the last door and passed the first trial. Congratulations, that wasn't so hard, was it? Now, do you see the room around you? Another small room with a flickering light in it, but in the center of the room is a glass panel, and below that glass panel seems to be a pit of darkness with no end to it. Just the type of eternal pit of misery and despair that one would want to dive into, right? Well, I don't see you having much choice, considering that door won't be able to keep the monster out for long. Oh, you thought he was a one time deal? I'm afraid not.

There should be a grey sledgehammer in one of the corners of the room. There, the left corner behind you. Pick it up and smash the glass floor. I suggest you hurry, I'm sure I'm not the only one who can hear those long talons scratching at the door. There, one last hit and then you plummet below. Ready? Now jump!

Oh, what, you thought I would deprive you of your sense of touch for this whole time? No, I'm not that inhumane. Yes, I see you clutching your arm in pain as the sensation of hot iron rods pierce your flesh. Still, there's no time to sit and sob. Stand up and look around. Everything seems normal, right? You're now in a plain open field. Take in the smell of the dandelions at your feet. Listen as the birds chirp, and feel the wet grass underneath your toes. Now, look up at the sky. Enjoy the blue skies and fluffy white clouds above you, because that paradise will be short-lived. Look again. No fields, no dandelions, no blue skies. Just you inside of a cold, damp, stone room. Puddles of filthy mud and water randomly sprinkled about, and in the center of that room is a peculiar table with a plate on it. Approach it, go on, the plate won't bite. No, you'll be doing all the biting here.

Look down at the plate. Look at all those slimy, wriggling worms. Look at the twitching moths and maggots, squirming about and writhing in a crazy fashion. Do you see them? They're in pain. They're dying a slow, painful death. I understand fully that these beings are considered below you, but you surely must have sympathy for these living, breathing creatures? Put them out of their misery. Go on, kill them. No no, don't smash them. That would be a complete waste of the resource, wouldn't it? No, you see, your energy drains quickly in this land. And here, you need all the energy you can get. Go on, swallow them.

Why are you so hesitant? It's not like you'll be able to taste them. Go ahead and consume, you know you want to. Don't you feel the empty pit in your stomach? How unsatisfied and unsaturated you feel? Go on, chew. Do you feel those grimy, filthy creatures wriggling within your mouth? Their smooth skin rubbing against your gums? You can feel them struggling, but ultimately being broken to bits as they run down your throat and into your stomach. Yes, feel yourself being replenished.

Oh, what's this? You still have half your plate full, but you won't continue? Fine, but you need your energy you know. I can make the pain in your arm worse. I can burn you beyond belief, and beyond disrepair should you make me. Now, I don't think you want that, do you? Go ahead, slide the rest into your mouth. Let them travel down your esophagus. There, don't you feel better? Good, now we can continue. Look to your right. Do you see the zipper in the floor? Go ahead and unzip it. Yes, unzip the floor. Now, climb into the hole you just unzipped. Oh, you don't want to? Well, I'm sure your nasty little stalker friend, who, may I add, is coming ever nearer to you as we speak, would be happy to help encourage you.

Hey, you there. No, not the fellow performing the ritual, I mean you, the one who didn't follow through with the procedures. This person's doing pretty well, aren't they? Halfway there, and unlike you, they actually have a chance at living the rest of their life in peace. Now, of course, they can't hear me. They're stuck in the floor for the moment, right where I left them. Anyway, I'm sure a million questions are racing through your head right now. Allow me to introduce myself. I am the spirit who invented this ritual. I too was disturbed by the constant noise within the world. Everyone was always shouting and being so rude and belligerent, and I wanted an escape from it all. So, I created a safe haven, where the senses don't apply. However, if humans wished to be granted entry to this world, they would need to prove to me that they truly deserved it. People like you, however, didn't feel the need to listen to me. So here you are, spectating this sacred ritual before I shred your body of every ounce of sense you have left.

Now, I'm no doctor, but all that time in seclusion, away from noise, can be damaging to one. I suppose my isolation did have its drawbacks. But what's the big deal? Who needs to see other living, breathing life forms when one can sit alone and not be bothered with the problems of the world? Even beings such as I prefer desolation to the outside world. But at what cost? The ability to have empathy for others? Tendencies to misguide others and lie? Well, a little trickery has never hurt anybody, has it?

Has it...?

Ok, unzip yourself from the floor now. That thing has passed, and it is now safe to come out. Observe the world around you. You're no longer in a dark, desolate room, but rather a room of clocks.

Tick tock, goes the clock. Tick tock, goes the clock. Tick tock, goes the clock. Oh, what do you mean there are no tickings or tockings? These clocks are working perfectly fine, I checked 'em this morning. It couldn't possibly be that you, gasp, can't hear them, could it? No, that's exactly what happened. Welcome to trial three, your journey will soon be over. Of all the clocks in this room, I'm sure you've already seen the one you need to go to. That clock directly in front of you, yes. It's huge, isn't it? Approach that clock and place your hand on the wood. Good, now, close your eyes and feel the vibrations course through your veins. You can still feel those vibrations, right? Now, move your hand in a clockwise circle completely until you reach the point you started at. That's your 12. I'm sure you can guess where the rest of the numbers are. Place your hand on the numbers in the order of your birthdate. Remember, don't lift your hand from the wood. That would have consequences which I'd rather not discuss, but you're running out of time. Good, now that you're done with that, step backward and look up at the clock. There is now a staircase going up to the top of this giant clock. Walk up to the top of the staircase.

You're now on top of the clock. Good, now, look down at all the other smaller, lesser clocks. Feel the vibrations of the entire room. Feel them run through your body. Now, close your eyes, and don't you dare open them. The beast is in the room with you now, but don't run. Just saying those words, you're heart rate increased heavily, didn't it? Well, you're going to have to settle down, because this next step, in particular, is tricky. Keep focusing on the vibrations. Do you feel the rhythm? The pattern in which the clocks tick and tock? Try to match your breathing and heart rate to that of the vibrations. If you can do this, you'll be invisible to the creature. Now, this is not the time to ask me why I didn't tell you before that the beast wasn't able to see you. Calm your breathing and go to the beat of the clock. The creature stalking you isn't one simply interested in murdering you. No, it has an actual plan. You see, in this sensory deprived place, the beast has only one of its senses. That sense is hearing. Its hearing is so precise, that it can distinguish between your breathing and the sound of the clocks ticking. You came here because you wanted a place where sound doesn't exist. Well, the creature wants you so it can steal your senses. Senses which it has been deprived of for quite some time.

Now you have completed the third stage. What I want you to do, is jump off of the clock your currently standing on. Yes, I see that it's high above the ground. I still want you to jump. Would I ever lie to you? Of course not! When have I ever lied to you so far? This jump will lead you directly to your fourth trial. You're nearly there, don't quit now. Besides, I'm sure the monster would love for me to tell it where you are. I hope that's enough of an incentive for you? Good, now jump.

Well, what did you think would happen upon jumping? Did you fall to the ground? Of course you did! That's how gravity works. Granted, this was mostly for my enjoyment, but I'm not sure what else you expected. Have a look around you. Is the landscape different again this time? Oh, wait, you can't see. You've gone blind, haven't you? Well, you my friend, are inside a system of tunnels and trails. The walls aren't too far apart, so you should be able to extend your arms and touch them. Feel that nice, mossy texture? Now, walk forward and guide yourself with your arms. What you need to do, is find the exit to this maze. Continue walking forward until you feel the bump in the wall. Feel it? Grasp the bump and pull it downward.

Congratulations, you just pulled a trap. Traps aren't good here, so I suggest you don't pull any more of them. Now, do you feel the sharp, searing pain digging into the meat of your leg? That's the trap at work. You wouldn't want to be caught in a trap, because as you can see, the blades are twisting and turning, pulping your skin and muscle tissue. Now, grab the walls and pull yourself out. Oh boy, it's a good thing you can't see your leg right now. Your skin is completely shredded below the thigh.

I'm surprised you're angry with me. You should have expected to make sacrifices. I can't just give gifts away for free, now can I? Now, keep walking before I activate a few more traps for you on my own accord. You know, you're lucky a being such as I would even consider giving you a gift such as this. Keep moving forward, you're almost done. Reach forward and grab the door handle. Pull it open and walk through. Your sight should be back now, and you should be standing in a room similar to the one you started in. There's the flickering light and everything.

Congratulations on passing the ritual. You have proven to me that you are truly deserving of your haven without sound. Now, stand still as I explain to you what this prize means. You have gone through the four trials of this ritual, and through them all, you have proven to me that you are capable of triumphing over the challenges. Now, don't mind the sensation of your skin sizzling. Those boiling bubbles are back, and not just on your hands and arms, but on your face, your legs, and your torso as well. I know you're in pain now, but believe me, you will be utterly joyous when this is over. Can you feel the heat melting your nose away, leaving it just a charred blotch of burnt flesh? Feel your eyes disintegrate within seconds as the heat intensifies. You can even feel it inside your mouth, can't you? Burning the roof of your mouth and your tongue.

I know you can't hear me right now. The pain you're under is probably too great to bear. But trust me, I'm fulfilling my promise to you, aren't I? By now, the only remnants of your previous self is your ears. Ironic isn't it? That you wanted to lose your hearing, yet it is the only sense you shall retain. Don't worry though, there aren't many causes of noise here, where you'll be staying. However, I can hear, based upon the desperate, drowned out gurgles of agony escaping what was once your lips, that this outcome may not suit you well. You should have wanted this, so I'm confused as to why. However, I'm sure that you'll enjoy this silence and solitude eventually. It worked wonders for me.

However, if you want your old form back, I recommend finding the next person who performs this ritual and stealing their senses too. Don't worry about finding them, your hearing will be precise enough. By the way, thanks for the rose you brought me. Smell wasn't exactly required, but I do wholeheartedly accept the gift. In fact, none of the sense trials were completely necessary. However... it sure does make for one hell of an entertaining story. Oh, and for those of you reading this, thank you for following through this journey. This has been a very rare success of this ritual, and I'm glad you could join me to witness it. Hold on a bit, I know I promised to strip you of your senses and emotions, however, there appears to be someone else attempting to perform this ritual.

And by the looks of it, the one who most recently partook in the ritual is already anxious to meet them.

Pages: [1]