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Messages - NuclearCorpus

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Story Critique / The Black Rocks
« on: 04:29 PM, 04/21/18 »
The only thing to really know about my town is that it is called Luxerra. If you were to look at the history book, not that many would mention Luxerra, the first recorded mention of our town was that of Lux-Terra or, in English, land light. The only thing my town was made for was the lighthouse and that has persisted to this day.

Anywhere you go in the town, you can see that damn lighthouse. If you are sitting in The Outskirt, the furthest pub in Luxerra, you will be able to see the ancient bricks. The thing is even when I was an adult, I was never in The Outskirt or any pub in town. Even as a teenager, I really didn't drink and just spent most of my time on the beach, simply taking in the ocean. I hated the smell of the ocean but I loved the sights and I would drag my friends down, letting them take in the sights with some company. Even without people, you still had company on the beach in the form of rats. Rats would swarm the beach in search of littered fast food and dropped sandwiches. They scurried over the black rocks of the beach, chewing on Kentucky-fried bones. If you stayed awake long enough and let midnight roll around, you could eventually see the lighthouse guard.

He was some poor worker that had to live in the lighthouse but basically got paid nothing because he had heating and housing. With the pennies he was paid, he basically only brought booze and headache medicine. At around midnight, he would stagger onto the balcony with a loaded flare gun to the music of scuttling rats, drop his arm over the handrail, and shoot blindly down at the rocks. The red light would cast the rats' shadow across the sand, dousing the yellow beach with a crimson hue. The black rats would scurry and squeak in pain, disappearing into the night shadows. If you looked out of your window towards the sea, you would see that red flare burst every night like a clock. The drunk guard would stagger like a well-oiled clock and always mark the midnight hour with a steady burst of red light.

So, when I was finishing high school, it acted as an advent calendar. Every burst of red flame made me a little bit closer to a few months of freedom until college. As the day got closer, everyone I knew collected booze and tried to make excuses. We were all going to meet on the beach for a party, the last party we would ever have as friends. All of us were going to different colleges and most likely, none of us would ever see each other again. So, we were trying to make the last time we saw each other special. As most of us collected booze, Robert stole wood from his father's farm and Francis basically stockpiled lighter fluid. A big beach bonfire to burn down some boyhood bridges, it sounded perfect.

On the last day of school, we all went home and collected our supplies, dragging them back to the beach at eleven. I had boxes of beer that I stole from my dad, Robby had whiskey that his dad gave him, Melissa brought wine, and the rest of them were free-loading on our alcohol. The only ones I were really happy with were Richard and Peter who dragged planks and lighter fluid to the beach.

We spent about an hour just drinking and building the bonfire, dropping pieces on top of each other. As I drank supermarket whiskey with one hand and moved a plank with my other hand, I felt something spray the back of my neck. Dropping the plank, I turned and saw Robert holding lighter fluid, squeezing it down. I tried to chew him out for what he was doing but he quickly ran off, splashing other people with it. Quickly, I pumped myself with whiskey and socialized him with the other people at the parties. We eventually built up the bonfire enough and we were trying to find the lighter, attempting to remember who actually had the lighter. I looked over at the lighthouse and saw the shadows of people playing on the black rocks, dancing around like chimpanzees. At the roots of the black rocks, the fat rats suddenly darted across the yellow sands away from the drunk teenagers. Following the rats for a moment, I looked from them to the top of the lighthouse. The drunk guard suddenly burst through the door and staggered onto the balcony.

In my drunken mind, I couldn’t remember why he was staggering onto the balcony. My thoughts swam as I sleepily thought of answers until he revealed the bright red flare gun. As he threw his limp arm over the rail, I remembered and he pulled the trigger. The crimson light shot down along the ancient wall, lighting the primitive white paint, and slammed into the black rock. The red flare suddenly into a yellow inferno, casting the rock and two teenage friends into a blaze. Their long shadows were cast along the beach and as the fire burned away their clothes and skin, their shadows were eaten away too. They screamed, their voices squeaking and twanging as their vocal chords warped and burned. On top of the lighthouse, the guard stared down as the two bodies ran towards the ocean. They collapsed before they even reached ankle deep and the waves fell over their now-collapsed forms.

As people ran and screamed for help, some reaching for their phones, I looked up at the guard. He was stood on the rail for a moment but, in a swift motion, fell towards the black rock.

Story Critique / Black Rabbit.
« on: 06:32 AM, 03/31/18 »
I review old things from my childhood in a little notebook that I have. I know it is a slightly weird hobby but it's what I do to keep sane so, I am going to keep doing it when I am working a nine-to-five and feel as dumb as a bag of rocks for not dating someone in high school. I will admit though, there is a certain insanity in dissecting nostalgia because nostalgia is meant to be a warm stupid feeling and to dissect it just makes it into a sad drawl. Nostalgia is like a pet frog, reviewing nostalgia is like dissecting that pet frog whilst trying not to cry. However, the stuff I found is like cutting open a frog and finding cat guts inside.

I remembered this book from my childhood about a cute little rabbit and all it did was play, make friends, and run around. It was such an adorable book and I remember adoring it when I was five years old. My mum always used to tell me stories about how I used to point to the cute, fluffy rabbit on the page and go “that’s me!” in an excited voice and I would giggle as I would love that cute little rabbit. Throughout my life, I always thought of that little rabbit and enjoyed the idea of just a cute little bunny hopping around and playing all day. Even in my rebellious teenage years, when everyone rebelled by smoking, drinking and getting tattoos, I pondered the idea of getting that rabbit tattooed onto my arm because of how much it had an effect on me. So, when I went to find the book again, it was a shock to me how much it had changed.

What I remembered to be a five-page book was actually a thick tome filled with pages. I had memories of picking it up as a kid and being able to hold it without a problem but now my wrist twinged in pain from the weight of it. Turning to the first page, there was the rabbit I remember seeing as a child and it brought back wonderful memories. A large rabbit with black eyes, a cute button nose, and a little blue shirt that hung loosely around a large but fluffy belly. The shirt reminded me of one that my mother used to slap onto me when I was little and we needed to go outside. In all the pictures of me and my mother, there was always me in that shirt.

Slotting the book away onto a shelf, I told my friends about the book and whilst some blew me off, the few that had children or were having children perked up at the idea. I rattled off the nostalgic tales that I could barely remember and a few of them were excited to get it for their maybe-babies or their children.

Despite my memories of the book being that of a playful bunny, when I finally got around to read the book, it was a lot different than I recall. Whilst the first five pages held the same playful tone, the next were a simply dive down into the depths of depression and the poor rabbit seemed to be going through hell. Bullied, pimpled, depressed, even writing a suicide letter and I remembered none of it from my childhood except for nebulous feelings of connection to the poor rabbit. You know when you see a car wreck and thank God it wasn’t you? This was like looking upon a car wreck that you had experienced before. The rabbit grew but it did not grow in cuteness, rather it grew ugly and bitter. Its endless notebook of suicide notes and bullying kept it from being ever truly happy and then I flipped to a page with the most detailed drawing of all.

The rabbit was positioned in a pub surrounded by rabbits that looked similar to it, all of them gruff and jaded but all with the same spots and dashes of white fur that the protagonist had. They sat around a round table, looking up as my childhood rabbit stood close by. Above the table was the unmistakable visage of a swastika, large and proudly hung above the group. The next page was the rabbit writing propaganda for the group but as the illustrator could not use words (as rabbits cannot read), the page was simply covered in drawings of hatred, swastikas, and war crimes as the rabbit gleefully continued to draw them. I closed the book before bothering to turn the page, I knew the secrets that the book would tell after those pages. Secrets that I wish no one to know.

I placed the book down and visited a local second-hand bookstore, asking for copies of the same book. When I was shown to them, there were two copies of the thick books and as I cycled through the two books, they told the same secrets again.

I have yet to ask my friends what they thought of the book because I do not want to know what they think of me. At the back of my book, there is a mirror that says you are the rabbit. At the back of the books I looked at, there is a picture of me and saying I am the rabbit.

Story Critique / Cat-Brain
« on: 07:25 AM, 03/28/18 »
You ever think about the future? I remember when I was little, I always thought that I could have put my brain into a robot and it would be like a friendly terminator. Imagine being able to recall a hundred percent of your memory, understand every little tick with a camera instead of an eye, and just being able to hit a button and go to sleep instead of staring at the ceiling, waiting for sleep. Well, guess what? The friendly terminator is going to have to wait around twenty years because, right now, all you can goddamn do is put your mind into a piece-of-shit cat.

I would like to say that I have nothing against cats and that they are really wonderful animals but they are not really as great as people. Although I am rather short for a man, I can say proudly that I am taller than a cat, stronger than one, and probably able to beat a cat at chess or any game that requires opposable thumbs. However if you really want to live forever, you can stick your brain into a shitty cat and live out that cat's life, then bunny-hop over to another cat and live out that cat's life until your descendants eventually either put you to sleep or you get hit by a car. Unsurprisingly, I don't know how much of the actual technology works because that wasn’t really my position, I was meant to make the language more flowery and sell the public/university on the idea. Unsurprisingly, using cold and calculating scientific terms made the public hate the studying scientists and so, they brought in someone studying creative writing because why the fuck not? I wrote speeches, little articles, I made sure it all sounded nice and the public liked it, etc. It was rather interesting I will have to say and I got paid in free food, so. The scientists were rather cool people but I did have to remind them not to talk about it whilst I am eating, conversations about feline brains and carcasses whilst eating a fish and chip donner kebab hardly helped the experience of eating.

However, I must have complained too much about it at home as news managed to reach my father, a man who spent most of his time in the hospital. Whether it was my mother or it was my brother, one of them had told him and suddenly my phone was buzzing non-stop with texts from him. The one time I tried to respond to his questions about the cats, one of the scientists was behind me and I remember him telling me that I should tell my dad about all the positives. Most of the students and scientists were scared of bad press and the idea that one of their family members would spill the beans about the negatives was one that seemed to haunt their dreams so, I told my dad about what they wanted me to tell him. I told him it was a way to live forever, a way to escape disease, and every other talking point that they told me to write about.

That's how my dad became the first person to get plopped into a cat. This was months later because, you know, the Houses of Parliament had to argue about the possibility of it being immoral and yadda yadda. All that really came from the Houses of Parliament arguing about them is them abandoning it, just simply saying that it isn't technically illegal and they had other things to worry about. So, because of London basically shrugging its lawmaking shoulders, my dad visited the lab whilst I was writing another letter to another union of doctors. As I tried to force another group of doctors to accept the idea of feline fidelity, the scientists tried to explain to my dad how it all worked and what was going to happen if someone accepted the proceeding. I don’t think that they ever thought my dad would have taken the surgery but I had a sickening feeling that he wanted to because of what he looked like. To the scientists, he probably looked a little ill or maybe just a little under-the-weather but he looked so much different to me. The last time I remember seeing him, he had been a large man and full of life, his cheeks were rosy at Christmas from all the wine he had drunk and his nose as red as Rudolf’s. Now, he was thin and his skin was pale, the merry redness was gone and his now grey-brown eyes made him look like a husk.

After the science jargon had been thoroughly preached to him, my dad popped the question about being put inside of a cat. They were taken aback but I could see in their eyes the glint of progression and possibility. The glint reminded me of a child seeing a firework for the first time, it was just pure glee and discovery.

That glint lasted for the few months that they made my dad sign legal papers, look at maths, and bits of biological science. Every day, my father would come in and stare at another legal document, stare at a diagram of a cat skeleton, or stare at a bar chart about the chemicals in his brain. That's all he did, he just looked vacantly at until he could leave or sign something to write away his rights. After his last two-hundred-page contract signed, there was finally a surgery date. It was the tenth of September and a Doctor Mars was going to be doing the surgery. I liked Doctor Mars, he was a good guy and always listened to everything anyone told him. The reason he was so good at listening was because he was a good student and had barely spent more than a month being a doctor in the real world. A boy who could barely stomach the sight of a brain (despite being a brain surgeon) was going to stick needles and knives in my dad, pry his brain out, and stick it inside of a goddamn cat.

I would be lying if I said I didn't drink that night. I didn't know why I was drinking, I wasn't mourning him because he wasn't dead. Did you ever drink when someone else failed an exam or fucked something up? That is what it reminded me of. My friend and I once did shots after he got divorced. I guess that's what I was doing, I was drinking to my dad's failure to keep his dignity. I drank a third of my bottle of Jack and then went to sleep. In my dreams, my dad was a human.

I remained in my house until the surgery date, coasting off of the leftovers that I still had. When I said that those scientists had no dinner table manners, I meant it and I had about a few months worth of leftovers. While I swallowed back pieces of subway sandwiches, half-eaten bags of ice-cold fries, and mixtures of other foods, I thought about my dad and what was going to happen to him, I dreamed of it too. Although the scientists had assured me that they weren't going to slice open some stray cat and jam someone's brain into the cavity, that is what happened in the nightmare. Some greying cat would have its skull cracked open, a scientist would peel its scalp back, pull out bloodied skull fragments, and rip out the cat's brain like it was a loose tooth. The dreams would always end before they squeezed my dad's brains into that tiny broken cat skull but I could imagine it when I took my morning shower.

On the day of the surgery, I ignored the texts from my mom asking me to visit the 'hospital' and be with my dad during his surgery. Instead, I sat and watched cartoons that dad and I used to watch. Over the course of the day, I drank another third of the Jack Daniels. I didn't even know I was doing it and had to stop myself from drinking the rest. I remembered little snippets from the cartoons and kept absentmindedly talking along with the cartoons as I smiled, remembering my six-year-old self and my dad sat cross-legged, watching them on the old tube television. I fell asleep as I watched those old cartoons, a smile stretched across my face as I dozed off.

When I woke up the next day, I had a few hundred texts from my mother and a singular photo message from her. I remember telling her not to send those because they cost so much to send on her plan. As I opened my phone up, it was a picture of a tabby cat. It was a typical stripped, dotted, patterned brown cat and I wondered for a moment why she had sent me it. Then I could see the scar line just a notch above the cat's eyes, a singular line that ran in a circle around its head. The green eyes of the cat staring at the camera were that of my father's, staring at me. My heart sank deep inside, my lungs were suddenly short of breath, and I felt like a drowning man in an empty lake that was far from civilization. I wasn't dead but I might as well have been, floundering alone in dark waters.

So, I had to swim to shore and get to know my dad. The first thing that you have to realize is that the surgery never mentioned speech and my dad couldn't speak, he had to tap an Ouija board if he wanted something. Staring at what was my dad, slapping his paws onto a piece of cardboard if he wanted food or water to even communicate.

Asking him a simple question would result in about five minutes of him tapping the little stupid board. If he wanted some food, he wouldn't just go "food", he would go "I would like some Oreos please". It was hard not to twitch whenever I heard his little paws smack into the board. You could hear the little pitter-patter of the Q and A whenever you were in the house even if you were in the bathroom. My dad was still a free man though and would go anywhere he wanted when he wanted. He would even go to the local shop with a dollar in between his cat teeth, exchanging it for a pack of sweets or something like that.

That was my father's downfall. He went out to get a pack of smokes when it was only him and I in the house. Despite me telling him that he can't just smoke again, he left the house with a twenty lodged between his cat teeth. Whilst I muttered about how he can't just start smoking again, there was the sound of screeching tires. You know how it is when you are driving. If something runs out in front of your car, you quickly hit the brake with your two feet and hope that you won't kill what is in front of you. There was the screech then there was a thud like someone hitting a pillow with a baseball bat. I ran out and dad was splayed across the road, his little cat body about half the size it was meant to be. His face, his fur, everything was fine but the car hit him at such a speed that it just jolted him to death. His mouth hung open and his eyes stared sterilely up to the sun, the ball of fire making his green eyes dance. I scooped him up into my arms and carried him into the house, my ears deafened to the driver trying to apologize to me. My shoe hit an empty shoebox on the way to the phone.

He was buried in a shoebox in the garden, a little cross was made out of torn up cardboard with "Dad" written on it. I buried him in the back garden because he was a cat. I drank the rest of my Jack Daniels and cried because he was my father.

Story Critique / Printed in solid gold
« on: 04:48 PM, 03/10/18 »
Small towns are the most isolated communities of all time and I would be lying if I would say that doesn't scare the hell out of me. Ninety-nine percent of small towns in America could become satan-worshipping, weapon-stockpiling radicals overnight and no one would notice because of how isolated and small they are. So, if you ever want to hear some really weird stories, ask anyone about the small town that they came from because you are sure to get a really weird story.

Talking about worshipping the devil, that was basically my hometown. Everyone in my town knew Tommy and if you wanted to be anyone important or you wanted your life given to you on a platter, you wanted to be friends with Tommy. Tommy gave you everything you wanted for a price and that price was usually doing his homework or something else. Do you know how, in the movies, the popular kids have literally what appears to be hundreds of kids as their friends? Tommy seemed to have thousands and made those movie kids look like chumps. The thing I remember reading in one of my classes is that a person can only really have one-hundred-and-fifty friends and reading that, even hundreds of miles from my hometown, brought back memories of Tommy and his few thousand friends. They made me imagine him having a little black book of friends, which I could really imagine him doing. Tommy Jones was one of the most organized and the most to-the-point person I had ever met. If you wanted Tommy to come at half-past-twelve, he would be there at twenty past and if you said that you wanted to hang out for an hour, you hung out for exactly an hour. No ifs, no buts; an hour was an hour and Tommy's time was very precious. One of my memories was that of sitting in the park with my friends and just seeing Tommy walking up and down the high street around twenty times, visiting people and going into shops. It was pretty insane to watch but he managed to have it, he seemed so superhuman in how he was able to schedule everything.

One of the funnier ones was that of Toby and I am going to talk about Toby because it kind of shows the lengths Tommy went for people. Toby once jokingly asked Tommy if he will send him off to MIT to get the Pirate certificate and Toby, a week later, was on a Greyhound bus to Massachusetts to start his lessons in archery, fencing, pistol shooting, and sailing. For those who don't know, MIT awards official "Pirate Certificates" to students who have completed said courses. Just going to say that Tommy somehow got one of his friends into being a student at MIT simply because of a joke about wanting a pirate certificate. That's how much money Tommy had and how many strings Tommy could pull. Toby came every holiday to talk about how much he loved MIT and how much he loved his courses but he always spent what felt like a day simply praising Tommy and thanking him for paying for him to go to MIT. People started to just call Toby "Pirate" because it just seemed so funny and the name has stuck. However, this has to be the most insane thing about the whole situation because, at eighteen or nineteen, Tommy had enough burnable income to send his friend to one of the highest Universities in the country. I checked, MIT has an eight-percent acceptance rate; eight-percent.

You may be asking how Tommy got his money and you would be the same as the rest of our town. Although his father seemed to have his fingers in every single legal money-making idea that could be possible and it seemed that he worked at almost superhuman levels to keep himself afloat, considering that he seemed to have a different Lamborghini for each day of the week. Theories stemmed from being an oil baron (in the middle of Kansas), to being a banker, to be a stockbroker, to be a major lawyer, and even to being a drug dealer. Despite the fact that his mansion had never been raided by the DEA, he seemed too friendly and too nice to be a drug dealer. Tommy's father donated to charities, to schools, went to church, helped veterans, funded local businesses, and many people tell stories of seeing him hand over almost small fortunes to homeless people on the street. Hell, even my old high school has a "Brad Jones science lab" which is a top-of-the-line science lab that makes the rest of the school look like an archaic museum. So, lots of people think that Tommy gets his money from his dad but no one could really have that much money, it would almost be impossible to have that much money if you were getting a dollar a day off of everyone in the world.

I could try my best to document the best stories of Tommy but I think that would ruin the history of my town. What do people say? That only victors write the history books. Well, in this sense, the survivor is going to write what really happened and I don't want to sit here and write about how much Tommy was a good guy. He really wasn't. So, to get it off my chest, I am going to rant about Tommy for a little bit. He was a goddamn psychopath with so much money that he was able to buy people off into being his loyal cult members, pay people to be too friendly to just be friends. He was like Bruce Wayne if instead of Batman, he became some kind of serial killer. Tommy isn't a serial killer by any means but he had every single aspect that a serial killer would have except a body count.

When I was too young to understand, I did want to be Tommy’s friend. I was six-ish or seven and I always noticed how his friends always got the good birthday presents, he even got a kid a top-of-the-line TV for his room (I think the dad sold it for beer money). So like any kid who wanted a TV, I wanted to be the guy’s friend. My parents called me selfish but my friends egged me on and so I tried it. I walked up to Tommy and struck up a conversation about his Gameboy (which had a weird custom paint job, looked like Roger Rabbit), asking him what he was playing. The only thing I remember about that conversation is Tommy’s eyes, which I would catch quick glimpses of when I remembered that you were meant to look people in the eye when you were speaking to them. Tommy’s eyes didn’t really move. When people speak, they move their eyelids around and their pupils dilate or even just slightly move, it’s how people are. Tommy’s didn’t, they were simply fixed and they looked almost painted on. An intrusive thought told me to poke the eyeball and see if it was wooden and luckily, I didn’t go through with that plan.

Luckily, we managed to reach the end of the conversation without me poking him in the eye or anything else that would land me in prison. However, he did invite me to his house after the end of school and looking back at it, I find it rather strange that he would bother to do that. How long were you friends with someone until you invited them to your house? Usually, it is a month or even more than that. Maybe I am a little bit secretive but I can't imagine inviting someone around the very day you met them. I accepted it though because I was young and stupid, so after school, I followed him to his house.

We met up with his group of friends afterward and they were the strangest group of people. Usually, there is a connection between friends that you can easily see. All the nerds hang around together, all the jocks hang around together, and that is the kind of thing that happens with everyone but Tommy's friends were all over the place. There was three of them and there was a massive jock who seemed to blot out the sun, a kid wearing a muscle vest who had no muscles, and a thick-spectacle-wearing nerd that I always remembered answering every question in class. We all walked to the end of town, letting all the liquor stores and corner stores fade over our shoulders until we were surrounded by crop fields and in the distance, a large white monolith to the Jones family.

The Jones family house was one of the richest family I had ever known and their house displayed that in a strangely wonderful way. I say strange but I should mean extravagant but not wasteful, they were showing their wealth in the greatest way possible; practically. While their nick-nacks and paintings were in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, their appliances and necessities cost way more than those nick-nacks. For example, Tommy showed off a katana that was in his living room and he wielded it around whilst talking about its price and where it was from. Was it a Shin Gunto? I think it was but anyway, apparently it was a Japanese officer's sword from World War 2, Tommy said it cost almost over a thousand dollars and he wielded it around like it was a toy. He even pressed it against the muscular kid's shirt. After he eventually put it away, we went into the kitchen for some snacks and I saw his fridge. Although the fridge may seem like an odd thing to notice, it should be said that his fridge was the size of a master bedroom and looked like something you would find in a butcher's shop. Every kind of drink, meat, and food was being cooled to a calculated degree. It must have cost thousands but Tommy didn't care about that, he simply snatched up a few ice cold drinks and gave them to us.

I had never had red coke before, the kind that my mom would call "full fat" and to me, it tasted almost heavenly. As the large kid pressed the coke against his chest, Tommy started to talk about how people always want things and he really hated people who were simply his friends for his money. The nerd unconsciously grinned at hearing the possibility of having something and I have to admit, I was thinking about all the things that I could possibly get. I really wanted a comic I think that I saw in the shop but the comic guy wouldn't sell it to me, saying that The Shadow wasn't for kids. Although I have to admit, even for a comic printed in solid gold, I wouldn't have followed Tommy down his dark path.

After a peculiarly long speech about how we were his real friends and he would do anything for us (strange because I had only met him that very day), he asked us what we really wanted in life and by that he meant, what we wanted right now. The large muscular kid said that he wanted some weight-lifting thing that he saw on TV, meant to make you look like Arnold in his prime, and it cost almost a grand, muscle vest kid wanted some TV for his room, one of the biggest available at the time, and the nerd wanted a statue of Boba Fett. After a few chuckles had died down at the nerd kid's expense, Tommy asked me what I wanted and I really didn't know. I mean, I did. I wanted the SNES with that really cool custom TMNT painting I had seen in a magazine but it felt weird to say that I wanted that, it felt really materialistic. Quickly, I remembered what my mom used to say if she won the lottery and that was to put me into Benedictine College, one of the best colleges in the whole state. So for my mother, I said that, said that I wanted to have money to go to college. Tommy seemed to grin at this and only later did I really think about it. Muscle kid's gift was about a grant, Muscle Vest's was even cheaper than that, and I still don't know how much a Boba Fett statue is but I am going to guess it is less expensive than a few years in college. Something about the price made Tommy smile and remembering that smile makes me nervous, it still makes me wake up at night. I have to admit, even now, I still see that smile in my dreams and even without the rest of his face, that smile makes me wake up in sweats.

Tommy grinned his grin and he started to talk about games, completely making the last conversation disappear into the back of my mind as he talked about Monopoly and Grand Theft Auto and games like that.

Tommy seemed to be able to hypnotize people with his words because before I knew it, we were wandering towards a peculiar door underneath the stairs. I say peculiar because it was blue whilst the rest of the doors in the house were white but despite the massive colour difference between the wooden slabs with handles, the basement door seemed to fit in the wall too well. You could walk by that door a thousand times and still not see it unless you hit the handle with your elbow or were actively searching for the basement. So, in the midst of a conversation about stealing helicopters and shooting at pedestrians, we were all standing by the basement door before I even realized we had moved and the only thing that snapped me out of it was the heavy, click thud of the door handle turning. The basement was surprisingly well-lit and well-cleaned, the concrete was surprisingly spotless. Tommy quickly walked into the basement and the rest of his posse quickly followed him down into the surprisingly, sweet-smelling cellar. It smelled like clean chlorine and pines, like a lovely pool surrounded by a forest. I could hear giggling coming from the basement and I quickly followed them through the door and down the crystal-perfect stairs.

When I reached the bottom, I turned and saw them surrounding a dog cage. Inside, there was a beautifully-groomed and visually well-fed German Shepherd and I recognized it immediately. It was the dog that was plastered all over town, flyers, and posters that blanketed every tree, telephone pole, and wall. It had been missing for a whole two weeks and it had been in Tommy's basement the entire time. As I looked towards the dog cage, I remembered the name of the poor dog. It was Al. The poster even mentioned how he would respond with a smile to "Al the pal" but the dog in the cage wasn't really smiling, it was trying to back away from the people surrounding the cage but they were surrounding it and it couldn't back off to any corner of the cage.

"What the fuck are you doing?" I said. I know I didn't sound strong or resilient, I just sounded like I was confused but I don't remember being confused. I just remember feeling a pit of dread that grew like stones in my stomach.

Tommy ignored me and slowly slid the cage door bolt away from the door, the door drifted open and the dog quickly shot to the back of the cage, cowering and shaking at the simple sight of Tommy. Surrounding the cage was the same collection of shit you would see in any basement, boxes and boxes of useless family heirloom crap, tool, and sports equipment. In the hands of the muscled kid, there was a baseball bat and in the hands of the nerd, a rusty hammer. Muscle Vest was searching through the boxes, trying to find his own tool to do whatever he was about to do.

I repeated myself, trying my best to make myself loud.

Tommy simply told me that all I wanted to get was in the basement and if I wanted it, I would have to get in on this. In his outstretched hand was DeWalt nail gun, offering it to me. That type of DeWalt nail gun was one that I used later in life and I could remember the power of it, it could punch a nail through three two-by-fours and I remember hearing horror stories about it destroying peoples' hand.

I ran out of that house as fast as I could. I don't really remember that much from it. In my memory, one second I was in the house and the next I was booking it down the road and the next I was bursting through my front door, almost collapsing onto the shaggy, green carpet. I don't know if adrenaline fucks with your memory but something about that day caused me to drop twenty minutes from my memory forever but even if there was a way to remember it, I would not spend a single cent on remembering those things. God knows what lurks behind those black spots in my memory.

I escaped that town later on in life but Facebook always reminds me of my hometown and all my friends they are still there. The amount of missing pets posts I see every week...

Your Stories / Canal Cowboys
« on: 04:28 PM, 02/26/18 »
There are always those kinds of videos online and they can never be erased from your memory. The webpage could 404, the upload could delete the video or hell, the police could even get involved but that video is permanently in your mind forever and it is never going to leave it. Everyone has one video stuck in their minds and every generation with the internet will have a video like that. There is Two Girls, One Cup, there is Two Guys, One Horse, and there is even the infamous spankwire video but those are all the famous ones. Those are the kind that trend and everyone has seen at least a few times but there are always a few that slip through the cracks and that only a few people have seen. These can be harmless to downright awful and, back when billing per month was unheard of, I found my video and gladly shared it with my friend.

However, before I go into the video, I must say that it never had a true effect on me as it did my friend. The only reason I can think to why is that I am colour-blind and my friend isn't. I must firstly state that being colour blind doesn't mean that my vision is like that of a black-and-white film, it is more akin to being handed a box of thirty crayons and only being able to see twelve shades of those crayons. While everyone else can see thirty shades, I can only see twelve of those shades. Although this may seem extreme to try and explain, the number of people who have pointed to a bright red thing and asked me to tell them what colour it infuriates me still. Anywho, this video had a smattering of flashing colours at the beginning and the end but I could barely tell the difference between them. Between these splashes of colour, I could certainly what was going on.

For lack of a better term, the video felt like it was supposed to be a macabre music video. The music sounded like someone had mixed together a roaring fire and the beating of a heart, making them into this strange tortuous symphony that was beautiful to listen to. I sometimes wake up in the dead of night and I can still hear it in the floorboards, making me feel guilty. The imagery was that of burning logs and old medical imagery, snapping in between the two or even making them go over each other. An old picture of the human nervous system would flash on screen, transparent enough to see the roaring of a fireplace underneath it and the picture would zoom into the brain, letting the image of a brain sit in front of a burning log for a little too long and then another image would come on. The only real visual that has remained in my mind for long is that of a real brain, being handled by a man in vinyl gloves. Underneath those gloves, his pale hands were stained brown but he wore the gloves anyway as he fingered along the folds of the brain.

He played with the brain for a while as the macabre music played over it, the heartbeat and fire suiting his slow trailing fingers perfectly. His slow index finger that pulled along the top of the brain perfectly matched the mix of the music, fire crackling and heart beating in almost perfect sync. I remember cringing but also feeling my heart as it followed along the beat, rapidly getting too fast for my tiny chest as my heart tried to escape to my throat. After the strange massage of the brain, the video cut to a frying pan over a campfire. There was a moment of worry in my mind but they were confirmed as the gloved man threw the brain onto the pan, the hunk of thinking meat suddenly spitting like it was a tangled ball of bacon fat. The music continued but the fire sounds got louder and louder until they engulfed the heart, making the beating disappear into nothing. The music cut out as the frying pan experiment faded away, then there was the strange splash of colour on the screen again.

I wasn't as affected as last time but I still felt unwell but when I looked at my friend, Ryan looked downright sick. He was shaking like a leaf and breathing like his lungs were water balloons. Offering the chair I had selfishly hogged, he quickly walked over and sat down but not before almost tripping over himself, dizzily shrinking into the chair. I asked him if he was okay but he only could whimper that he felt unwell and something was wrong with his eyes. I asked again because the eye comment scared me at the time and he just listed off what his eyes felt like, they felt sore, tender, irritated, stiff, and were aching.

Quickly, I told my mum that Ryan was terribly ill and needed to go home. She simply told me that I should walk him home and maybe get him a Lucozade on the way. Pocketing a pound, we walked out and Ryan and I stumbled down the street towards his house, heading towards the local corner shop. He could barely drink the Lucozade that I brought him. I didn't want to feed him it like he was a child but I tried to coax him into drinking it so he could actually have some strength or even ability to walk on his own. He had barely drunk a quarter of it before we reached his house and he struggled to get himself inside.

As I walked home, I tried to hum the tune to the video. Not out of spite or out of curiosity, it was just something my mind was doing. The song was strangely hypnotic and it just seemed to enter my mind at random times, making me hum along. It was like when I was in primary school and they practically forced us to learn Mister Blue Sky, the song would just randomly come back into my mind because of how long it had been drilled into my head on how to sing it correctly. Something twinged though when I realized that I learned Mister Blue Sky for entire months whilst I had only heard the brain song twice, yet I could hum it with almost immediate recall like it was a favourite song of mine. I stopped humming it but it was still in my mind, beating in the back of my head and my feet seemed to stomp to the tune.

As I slipped into my door, I could hear the chatter of a conversation in the kitchen. It seemed calm but heated like how parents used to argue about who gave who lice at the sleepovers. I tried to sneak up the stairs but the old wood creaked and, as the phone clicked to hang up, I was called to the kitchen. I cursed my lack of exercise and wandered into the kitchen, facing my mother. She asked me what I showed to Ryan but I told her that it was just the normal things that we watched when he was over there.

She shuddered, saying; "well, your friend is seriously ill. His mother might be taking him to the hospital."

I raised an eyebrow, he was only unwell and his eyes hurt a little. It was hardly like he had had his arm broken from watching the video. I thought that his mother was simply overreacting and went upstairs, slipping into my computer chair to watch some more videos.

After a few hours of staring into the abyss, I slowly slipped out of the computer chair and curled up under my blanket. In my dreams, I could see the gloved hands come from the darkness of my room and rub along my head, massaging my brain underneath my hair and skull. The hands were larger than real life, a singular hand could envelop my head and suffocate me with a singular thumb but that didn't happen. It simply and carefully massaged my head like the fingers did in the video, trying to get to my brain like a dog tries to get to a bone in the ground. I woke up in a cold sweat.

After waking up, I just wanted to see Ryan and see how he was. Really, there was no reason but I think that there was something wrong or my mind was simply guilty for what I had done to him. I got ready quickly and ran out of my house, snatching my keys before I shut the door behind me. Running over to his house, I found the door was slightly ajar and it made me stop stone dead in my tracks. 

Ryan's house wasn't amazing, it wasn't really anything great about it or noteworthy apart from how unnoteworthy it is. It was so unnoteworthy that it became noteworthy again and because of that, I will always remember the concrete shitbox with a little oak tree on Canal Street. The thing I always remembered about that house and is forever burned into my memory is that they always locked the doors no matter what you were doing. Even if the entire family was around for dinner, that front door was locked and double-locked to make sure no one could get in. Seeing that black slab swinging lightly in the breeze made me nervous and I really didn't want to go in until I heard the crying.

There were tears and tears and crying just coming from inside the house and I could tell it was his mum (his dad had run away ages ago). His mum was just bawling in whatever room she was in but I couldn't go inside, I just felt myself not wanting to go in. I felt like if I walked in, part of my world would be broken and remain broken. So instead, I simply walked to the oak tree and sat down at the roots, leaning my back against its trunk. I wasn't really relaxing, just staring at the crystal blue sky. I would have thought it would be grey but no, bluer than it has ever been. I just sat there, trying my best to listen to nothing. After a minute or an hour, I simply walked away back home. Something in my mind was trying to just tell me to walk home, forget what happened, pretend everything was normal.

Monday rolls around and Ryan didn’t come to school. Tuesday comes, Ryan isn’t sitting at his desk. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; all come and go and Ryan is nowhere to be seen. On Saturday, I had to be told by my mum that Ryan had run away, disappearing into the night. Ryan’s mum had spent the week searching the nearby woods, trying to find her son. All she found were snack wrappers but those could have been anyone's. I still feel guilty, I don’t know why but I do. Somewhere out there, there must be Ryan and he must either be having a normal life or be in the woods like an animal but I always pray that he is out there. Sometimes I don’t, sometimes I remember how I was told about how he stole all the kitchen knives before he ran off and I imagine my once-best friend slicing open my head but that’s only sometimes.

I miss you, Ryan. Canal Cowboys for life.

Your Stories / Mario Drive-in
« on: 06:34 PM, 02/19/18 »
Modding is a major part of the internet. Most people who spend little more than a few hours on the internet per day have probably modded a game at one point in their lives. Whether it was to adjust some poor textures or make their wildest fantasies about a female character's rack come true, it is impossible to deny that modding has a place in the hearts of money. However, it is always puzzling to me why people mod some games (despite my obvious nature of searching out these strange mods). People have even tried to mod Bioshock before and sadly, were unable to finish the mod because everything in Bioshock is hidden behind layers of security and hard-coding. If Bioshock isn't safe, then one of video games culture icons isn't either; Mario. Everything from Rube Goldberg machines to dialogue-less rendition of Mrs Dalloway.

Luckily, all my prattle isn't for nothing as I am talking about a mod myself, it was called the Drive-In mod and it was for Super Mario 64. Just a word of warning, hacking/modding Super Mario is shockingly easy. You simply get a program called "n64split", open the SM64 ROM with the program, and just like that it splits it into little editable chunks of textures, code, data, geometry, music, and models. With this folders, you can turn Mario into Sonic, Luigi, or make him look like he did in Super KKK Bros.

So getting away from the details, I was looking around for one of these out-of-the-way mods. I don't know why I liked them because most of them ended up to be rather bad, it was like that coin-flip date game. You are meant to flip a coin at every junction and go right if it is heads, left if it is tails. Only in someone's wildest dreams would this end up anywhere good as more often than not, you are probably going to wind up having a date in a seedy diner that still serves wonder bread. So, out-of-the-way mods was like that as only once in a Christmas blue moon did I ever find a good one. As I was getting slightly tired of my short trip to some forum, I found it; "SM64 Drive-In" the poster said proudly. All the forum post had was a title, a download link, and a short sentence about hoping people enjoyed it. It was the kind of mod I liked. Looking up at the post date, I realized that it was only posted the day prior and thought that I could be getting something really special. Unsurprisingly, SM64 mods had come along way from 1996 to July 2017.

After scanning it for viruses, I let the little file into my computer before realizing how large it actually was. It was going to take a while to download this and the little green bar barely filled after a few seconds of me staring intently at it. I hit the more details button and quickly saw the massive amount of textures pouring into my computer. Although I couldn't see the little nicks and crannies of the textures yet, the time the little names spent on top of the download meter told me all I needed to know. I hoped to God that this was something like Norman Rockwell or something fantastic but I gritted my teeth slightly, reminding myself of the Skyrim mod.

A mod that took a whole night to download and all it really did was change the sun/moon to a scarily high-definition of the Goatse image and made every chicken into a garble of textures, making my frame rates dip from two-hundred to ten at simply seeing one chicken. So, I kept my expectations in the dirt and made sure that I wouldn't be disappointed when I felt the pang of regret at allowing the thing into my computer.

While I was waiting, I went back to the forum post and clicked on the guy’s name. Despite calling himself “InBloom94”, he wasn’t exactly in bloom himself. He commented so sporadically and posted only one. All of his comments had little negative numbers next to them, despite some of them being compliments and most being really meaningless replies or just “looks good!” comments. He just seemed to be the most bog-standard lurker of all time. He only posted occasionally, never anything too noteworthy or intelligent. I wondered what the negative numbers really meant, they were deep into the hundreds and only a few really stayed below ninety. As I was about to scroll over them and hope for an explanatory pop-up, the download popped up, saying that it was completed. My mind completely shifted towards that and I was about to start my little ritual of moving models and MP3s around but then I clicked on the folder and saw a little read me file. Simply read to activate the program and it would do it all for me, leaving the original game intact. To be honest, that kind of kindness in a modding community was almost unheard of and I appreciated the simple click-and-done approach. Tapping the program, a black window popped up.

"Let's All Go to the Lobby!" was written out in that classic SM64 font, if not slightly compressed into the small window. I hit enter and the text disappeared, unveiling our castle for the game. It was just a small drive-in theater with blocky cars, a blocky little projector room, and a big white screen across two large posts. Hitting enter again zoomed the camera into the car park and Mario appeared from one of the cars, popping out of the window like he would a pipe. A little wooden sign was directly in front of him and it read; "to change the movie, go to the projector".

I had to explore first. Every car was blocky with black windows except for Mario’s, which had the open window for jumping in and out of. There was a small food stand but it had its shutter closed and you couldn’t do much apart from jump at the metal shutter and hear the metal shudder as Mario leaped off of it. In the projector room, there was a large 1930s projector and a selection of reels. There was only three but they were; King Kong, Superman, and Godzilla. I had imagined something a little more substantial, to be honest. Imagine We Need to Talk About Kevin but Mario is Kevin, how fun yet morbid would that be to play? I just imagined that the guy would be trying to push the envelope a bit, something that was a little more gritty and a little more eye-catching. I could see why this didn’t have a lot of attention because, from the looks of things, it was family friendly. Grezzo 2 got a Kotaku article because it was gory, offensive, and held nothing to be sacred. Family-friendly mods don’t really go very far and don’t get that much attention as it is the way with most things. People are going to remember a poorly-made blood-soaked funhouse of violence over a beautiful-crafted masterpiece about Barney the purple dinosaur.

Selecting King Kong, the octagon reel floated through the air and attached itself to the massive camera. The projector flickered to life and the classic "KING KONG" title flashed over and over on the screen, overly-done film grain and scratches played over the text. I went back to the car and Mario hopped through the window, sliding into the dark abyss of the interior. The screen faded to black and the text “King Kong” faded into view.

After the text disappeared, Mario stood in front of an apartment building but as I rotated the camera, there was the massive model of the empire state building. Slowly, I panned the camera up to take in the full view of the magnificent monument. It was huge, depicting it in an incredibly beautiful way for the graphical limitations. I didn't move for a few seconds as I saw the office lights inside flicker on and off as if people were moving through them, a red beacon on top of the tower flickered on and off, and the building was rendered in such a way that it seemed too beautiful for the Nintendo 64 to handle. As I moved Mario forward, a massive claw wrapped itself around the building and Bowser's looming head appeared around it, casting a shadow over Mario. Bowser started to climb to the top of the building, one of his hands clasped around his chest as if he was protecting something. As I was focused on Bowser, the game had spawned in platforms leading up to the top of the tower and I quickly understood what was going on.

It was just a big game of third-person Donkey Kong but now there was Bowser instead of the gorilla in a tie and it was a lot harder to anticipate the obstacles. Instead of barrels, this time it was the little planes from the King Kong movie that were trying to shoot down the beast. Crop Duster planes with their wings broken off rolled suspiciously down the metal ramps as if they were wooden barrels but I managed to hop and jump over every one of them and eventually reach the top. I wouldn’t say it was a difficult game, the only real hardship was trying to climb over a ledge and getting smacked with a plane that you didn’t expect to be there. It took around ten minutes at the max.

Reaching the top, I realized how large Bowser was. He dominated the top of the Empire state building, holding the only-slightly-taller beacon for support. Despite Mario being the short guy he was, I never remembered having to pan the camera upwards to see Bowser in any other Mario game. Bowser simply stomped around the tower, stamping his feet and holding his claw close to his chest. I was crushed under his feet many times before I realized I had to climb up the beacon like a flagpole and stomp on his head a few times. Three or five good hits later and Bowser was about to tumble down but he pulled himself back up with the beacon and, peeling his head away from his chest, held up Princess Peach up to Mario. I tried to move towards Princess Peach but Bowser fell from the building, his lifeless claws grasping around Princess peach as they both plummeted from the roof. Jumping from the beacon, I landed near the edge and looked down the building, Bowser tumbled down to the roadside and slammed facedown. His claw was underneath his chest, Princess Peach would have been about as thick as a slice of Salami. A few Toads gathered around the corpse of Bowser and one of them garbled "It was beauty killed the beast"! The audio was ripped from the movie but it was destroyed by whatever editing software the guy had used, the highs and lows of the voice seemed to waver and crackle like a bad cassette tape. The stage faded to black and Mario squeaked a ya-hoo behind the black screen.

Mario popped out of the car and I went up to the projector booth again, sliding in the Superman reel this time. The food stand was still closed but I noticed a door by the side of it this time, a little door that said: "employee's only". If the food stand was closed, I doubt the door would open so I went back to Mario's car to watch the Superman movie. 

The screen faded to black and "Superman" wandered onto the screen, fading out as quickly as it came. Mario appeared on top of a rooftop, newspapers circling in the wind of the big city. It felt like the guy had simply reused the New York map again. Looking down at Mario, I noticed a cape that he was wearing. The guy must have stolen the flag model from Bob-omb Battlefield and painted it red, it fluttered so strangely on his back. I hit the jump button and Mario rocketed into the air, I almost thought it was a glitch but he soon came back down, landing in the same spot. Timing my jumps, I managed to launch myself from roof to roof, jumping around like I was a superhero. I stopped for a moment and looked around, seeing nothing, in particular, to go to. I jumped around until I got bored enough to jump from the rooftops to the roads. As soon as I hit the pavement, there was the classic Preach scream of "Mario!". Quickly, I snapped around but couldn't find anything. The shouts kept going on and on, coming from all different directions but I couldn't see anyone. All it was were empty buildings and a completely abandoned city but all I could hear was her shouting Mario's name. I was allowed to jump around for about a minute until the stage just abruptly ended, leaving me without finding Peach. It simply faded to black and Mario got plopped out of the car again.

Wandering over to the projector booth, I noticed that the door was open to the food stand. The shutters were still closed but the door was open, wide open into the darkness. I wondered if he implanted something more gruesome in the food stand, something that would give this mod a bit more teeth. Even if it was Psycho or some basic horror movie, I would be happy that the mod went all out. Walking over to it, I was disappointed when all that was there was a single hovering piece of paper. It was just a simple piece of notepad paper, hovering above the floor like it was an invisibility star. I ran to it and the text popped up, a little note left behind by the mod author.

“So, how do you start one of these things? Are you meant to start it with reasons or just by saying that you are going to do it? As you can tell, I imagine it is obvious that I have been ignored and I feel like the universe is giving me the middle finger as I am just trying to do all the things that I am meant to do. I am meant to get through school, meant to start a family, meant to even just have a girlfriend; I have done none of these things and that is worst of it really. Not living up to society's expectations and haven't for my entire life. I have never had a friend, never gained good grades, and what am I meant to do? Flip burgers until I die as I try to simply live, skating around the brink? I don't believe that what is life about. So, we shall see how it goes. If the universe isn't trying to shit on me, then I offer this. If I haven't gotten any friend, good grade, or even message by the end of January, then I am going to end it all."

I alt-tabbed. The mod had been posted last year in November and the author hadn't been active since the January 31st. I quickly wrote him a message about how I loved his work but never got a message back. I didn't want to find out what Godzilla was about.

Your Stories / Hitler Youth vs Slenderman
« on: 08:18 PM, 01/14/18 »
Why do some creatures hide in the woods? Do they have something to hide from or are they simply wounded, seeking shelter? That may be the case for many creatures but it was not the case for this one. This one was there for a reason and it was no simple wounded animal, it was almost the devil incarnate. There was nothing to it but the hatred that it had behind its own face.

However, I get ahead of myself. I am Hans and as you can guess, I am old. Because I am old, people like to try and avoid the years I have lived and try to beat around the bush when the war comes up but I will tell you that I never joined the army but I saw Berlin fall. I was more of a boy scout, I was a member of the Hitler Youth. I think I was one of the first thousand members but I couldn’t really tell you if I was, I just remember my mum always loving that Hitler fellow and thought I was going to make her proud by joining his little club for young kids. I was right. She basically praised me for being so interested in Germany.

The Hitler Youth wasn’t like the boy scouts of America. Compared to them, we were basically warriors. We were given daggers - not tools but daggers and we were told to use them if we needed to. This meant if we were to catch an animal at camp or have to cut up some wood, there was a number of reasons for why we had the knives on us but the greatest reason was when we camped out in the woods.

It was a cold winter in 1938 and I should remember, I can still feel the chill on my fingers if I really think about it. Our entire group was going on a camping trip out into the black forest to see if we had actually learned anything throughout our training and if we would make good soldiers. The only boy I remember was Gunther, a large boy that more resembled a pig if you dressed it in burlap. He had been making jokes about my mother for the entire walk to the woods. They weren’t good jokes, they were the ones you hear off of boys in high school nowadays but they don’t give boys knives anymore. So, when I was sure our leader wasn’t looking, I pulled out my knife and held it up to him. I do mean up, he was about twice the size of me and had the muscles of a well-fed gorilla. I told him to cut it out before I cut him before sliding my knife back into its scabbard. You know what that gorilla did? He waited until I was turned around and then, like a coward, clobbered me in the back of the head with his meaty fist.

I staggered forward but quickly whipped out my knife again and without thinking, slashed towards him like I was cutting a swordsman. Looking up at his face, I saw a slit in his cheek that dripped blood like a nicked hose. He glared at me. I glared back. A silent agreement was taken between the both of us and we kept walking, catching up with the group and we walked in silence for the rest of the trip.

We reached base camp quickly and, from there, we set up everything we needed. Everyone got their own jobs; skinny kids set up tents, fat kids set up food, bullies got to do supervisor work, and some kids were forced to make perimeters even if they didn’t want to. We were just like a real army. I was one of the kids left on doing a perimeter. All it really was was making sure that there were no animal nests near the camp, so they didn’t distract us or come get us. There had always been newspaper clippings of Youth members finding people hiding in the woods. Luckily, I found nothing but I did feel something.

It wasn’t like I could feel something lurking in the woods. My chest was tight, my breathing was short, I could feel my eyes twitching, and my hands shaking. I couldn’t stop myself. I knew nothing was wrong, I knew at that moment that I had not seen anything to make me feel like that but my body was reacting as if an ax-wielding maniac was in my face, the ax head tapping my forehead. It stopped. Just as soon as it came, it stopped and I quickly started to suck in air as fast as I possibly could, filling my lungs properly. I slowly started to walk away from the forest line, fearing that it was doing something to my mind. Imagine going to a room in your house and suddenly feeling a weight on your chest and as if your shoulders were slowly filling with sand, that is what this felt like. I was going to stay away from every single tree in that place until we went back home.

When we had all finished our jobs, we were able to sit in front of the campfire and relax for a moment. I rested on a log and stared at a large boy slowly shoveling a strudel in his mouth, wiping his face with the paper bag his mother must have wrapped it in.

Despite the many tales of campfire stories, we were never told stories like that. We never had our murderer in the woods or our monsters that lurked behind the great oak tree, we were always told how to be good citizens and great Germans, those were all the horror stories we needed. Just the simple idea of not being a good German was enough to sink us down into blubbering children, so we were always on our best behaviour, especially around our parents and our leaders. However, at this camp, there was nothing about being a good German. The leader simply asked us how we were feeling, what our parents were up to, and how school was going. It took me many years to realize why he was so friendly. He was scared of the war, scared we would lose, and he didn't want to seem like a bad German, didn't want us to rat him out to the authorities so, he was nice to us for that one single night. Despite what happened that night, his sad smile and him asking us how we were, our grades; just a scared adult among happy children.

After that, we were sent to eat and it was a hearty meal. One of the larger boys had brought along almost a suitcase of food, which was rather shocking to most of us. However after the shock wore off, we ate like kings on fire-cooked sausages, steaks, and even a cold apple pie. It was a wonderful taste, my taste buds had not been against these kinds of foods for a while and it was like an explosion of flavour. All of my family's money went to German clothes, German toys, German posters, every single thing that was German except food. We were like skeletons with clothes wrapped over, so the heavy thud of food felt amazing. I felt drowsy immediately after swallowing down the food, so I slinked away to my tent and laid down, my eyelids drifting shut.

I awoke in the middle of the night. My eyelids simply flickered open and I could see one of the campers standing by staring up at the stars. I blinked a few times, trying to understand what he was looking at but there was darkness where he was standing. For a moment, I could see the space between the trees make the shape of a giant man, its body skinny and his arms reaching down to his ankles. The shape suddenly disappeared as I blinked again and so did the camper. I blinked again. The camper was still gone.

I called out for the camper by name. I know I did, I know I said his name but I can't remember it. I called again louder, then louder still but no one called back. I got out of my tent, pulling my dagger from my trousers and holding it like I was about to cut someone's guts out. So, I continued to call out the camper's name but holding a dagger towards the extinguished fireplace, thinking that whatever creature had snatched him was still there in the shadows.

The other campers started to groggily get up, rustling in their tents and moaning about what was going on. Gunther was the first to get close to me. He grabbed my shoulder and whispered, asking what had happened. I quickly explained to him and before I could finish, he too held his dagger in his hand. Gunther called out to the others, describing in simple words what was happening and suddenly, everyone was on high alert. They were fanned out like a military unit and poised to strike as they circled around the campfire, leaving the one side open to whatever creature once stood there. The camp leader came out with matches and fuel, running towards the campfire. He shouted about trying to see the beast, so he squirted the liquid onto the fire and threw a match, letting a high flame shoot up into the sky like a firework. The human outline was back in the trees but it flickered in and out of the firelight. A split second it was a man, the next it was simply trees.

The leader's back opened like a cannonball was shot through it, blood spewed from his back and quickly matted his dirt-brown clothes into a chunky red mess of torn fabric. The blood sprayed forward, coating something in front of it. The dark blood coated a strange tendril that was pierced through his back. The tendril waited. Every one of us were frozen like stones. The tendril slipped out of his back with a wet slide, it was like hearing a snake move through water. It slipped out of him and he dropped to the floor, landing on top of the box of matches. His body landed perfectly, the matches were at the center of it. Behind the fire, there was no longer an outline. It was a man. It couldn't have been a man but it was. His - its body was destroyed like its insides had been shrunk down but its skeleton was the size of a small building. Its body looked completely destroyed, a husk of a human being but that he was still standing tall. I was looking at the impossible.

One of the campers broke formation, charging towards it like a Viking of old. He was close to it, near enough to almost touch it, and then I blinked. The camper was suddenly on the campfire. All our heads moved towards the campfire as he started to scream, his skin quickly roasting and turning from a peach to a red and then a charred black. Two others snapped out of it and ran towards him, grabbing his arms and trying to pull him out of the fire. His arms simply peeled away from his body, leaving the rest of him in the fire. The smell... if I told you the smell, you would vomit when you smelled burnt bacon in the morning. One of them held his arm outstretched, unable to drop it out of fear, and the other grabbed him by his leg and pulled him out, dropping him onto the dirt floor. He still screamed, screamed like every fiber of his being was being roasted like Sunday dinner. The camper carrying his leg disappeared as we all stared at the screaming form on the bed. He was there and then he was gone, simply disappeared into nothing. I wish I could remember them, I would remember them forever.

There was only a few of us left now. There was only four of us; two I do not remember, me, and Gunther. I don't know how they were all gone. We came there with hundreds, now there was only four of us. The creature had taken some in our sleep and none of us had noticed, they had disappeared in the night like they were shadows at noon. I blinked and the lifeless, burned body was taken away. He simply disappeared while we were staring at him. I could feel the smell suddenly disappear from my nostrils, that smell of pork suddenly turned to the smell of the forest and the vision of himself suddenly in the version of the dirt ground below him. I wanted it to face us but it simply made them disappear into the trees like they were nothing. The only corpse that remained was the leader, his blood swelling the cardboard of the matchbox. The pale creature stared at the four of us from the fire and tilted its head slightly, not curiously but as if it was trying to smile but didn't know how. It disappeared without a trace, the flames flickering as the creature changed back into the trees. No longer a man, it was only trees.

I wanted to cry just there, I wanted to just let my emotions slip out and to wet the fire with my tears until I couldn't cry. I wanted to scream, I wanted to shout, I wanted to scream for my mother to hug me and protect me, to tuck me in and tell me that the monster wasn't real and it was just in my head and that Father Christmas would be there soon to bring my presents. That didn't happen, it happened and it would take the other two before I even finished trying not to cry. The only people who remained were Gunther and me.

The creature let us carry the leader out of the woods, watching us the entire time we slowly walked along with him. I grasped both of his still wrists with my hands, his pulse not beating along my fingertips, and walked along the path towards the exit. The creature left us before we reached the end and our town was over the hill, we were so close to home. We carried that dead man all the way home, dropping him in front of the town doctor’s door, and we sat on the steps beside that corpse, staring into the dark pavement below. We did not cry, we simply screamed internally, and stared at the ground until our mothers uprooted us from our spots from the steps. We went home and never told anyone, we said we didn’t remember what happened to anyone. The newspaper spun it as an evil person living in the woods and telling people to watch out for a large nose and clawed hands. He didn’t have a nose, he didn’t have clawed hands, he was the trees.

He was the trees and he took my friends.

Fleming Storage Units WIPs / Re: Screaming Into The Void
« on: 05:23 PM, 11/27/17 »
I finished my story too early and now I am wondering if it was rushed.


I do like the opening paragraph, it felt like someone was quickly woken up and asked about their weekend. It is a good starter and quickly shows you what kind of character we are getting here. First sentence tells us that this character has a grandmother, tells us there is a dead body. Second sentence tells us further about the grandma and so does the fourth. The fifth tells us the main subject of the story "The unit" and the sixth is the arrival to the unit.

I like the bit about the rat, it is pretty interesting. It shows that the character is afraid of this thing and easiy shows us in the first instance that she has some wits about her in terms of animals. Plus, the simile "crackled like styrofoam" is genuinely disturbing, good job.
It felt like a great story overall! Great ending too. I loved the addition of "It appeared that the boy's lower body had been driven over more than once. "

These are just notes along the way so if they appear disjointed, they probably are:

- I find it strange to say "his" before you say that it is your grandfather or grandad. I mean, wouldn't you say "my grandfather's funeral"? Although it isn't truly important, I think that it would make sense to say that you would want to say grandfather and establish this is not this guy's unit immediately. I do like how this is just a guy who has been avoiding it until the last possible minute, it feels believable and I will say is a great opening because I feel in tune with this character if you understand what I mean.

- Random insert here but I don't think I would imagine Rita to be beaming with joy at 9am for her job but that might just be me and you can leave it in if you want. I do like the addition of the smile, although some might say it is a cliche, I feel like that is true of many. They smile way too big and it makes me nervous as hell.

- "Walking into my room on the first floor I realized how crappy the color scheme was. Purple with lime green circles on everything cloth based bit at least the tv looked pretty good." in this part, you say 'bit' where you meant 'but' (I bet you have already gotten that a lot and I apologise just in case) and I think you could easily go for a semi-colon where you put that period/full stop. "Walking into my room on the first floor, I realized how crappy the colour scheme was; purple with lime green circles on everything cloth-based. At least, the TV looked pretty good." I imagine you could have written it like that but whatever you want to do. I don't mind.

- I liked the little description about super 8 hotel food. I think you could increase the description a little (if possible) to make it into something unique like how in a story I read, it calls coffee "dull-tasting tar". That would help.

- "I thought back to the funeral he had died in his sleep peacefully, but he was the was the one who taught me everything I needed to be a successful poet." but would imply that him teaching you to be a poet is a reason to why he didn't die peacefully. Also, you repeat "was the" as in, "he was the was the". I think you could have said... "I thought back to the funeral and remember them saying he died peacefully in his sleep. I felt like I should have been more poetic about that, he taught me how to be a successful poet but I couldn't find the words". Something like that.

- "parking in the lot with scott’s bar a building that looks abandoned for awhile." with implies Scott's bar is a vehicle as well. As in, "I parked with a Corvette". Maybe you could have "parking in Scott's Bar lot. The bar looked abandoned for a while, no one to complain I wasn't a customer."

- "unit lost and make a right then a left at unit 1", do you mean unit lot here? (I feel like clippy, I am so sorry).

- I do like how "newer forms of poetry were blasphemy" gives the grandfather a religious angle, I like it.

- "ripped it because I had gotten the rhyme scheme wrong." ripped it doesn't sound right in my head but it may sound right in yours? I think "ripped to pieces" may be more appropiate.

- I think the line about not realizing mice could get into a storage unit should go after the character has discovered that his grandfather's books had been chewed by mice.

- "came back in 10 minutes with my car." Again, not sitting right in my head; "came back ten minutes later with my car" perhaps?

- "bite a bullet", isn't the phrase "to bite the bullet"?

- "just like any other a waiter took me to a seat in a booth" 'a' should be 'as', right?

I think the ending of it being a... body could be altered for it to be a skeleton or something else or a bone. Something that implies death instead of being a half decomposed body. Like.. a suitcase full of ripped up women's clothing? Something like that. It was a decent story. Just needs some help. I recommend that you run it through Grammarly for a quick grammar fix-up.



I think it might be a little clearer to say "I moved to open it" or something, since he doesn't get around to "trying" the key.

Edited. Thank you.

Edited again.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed it, could do with some editing but definitely good. Would like to see what others think!

I will try my damnest to edit it! I'll post the story again (as a comment) when I edit it.

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