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Story Critique / My cousin the Taxidermist
« on: 08:57 PM, 01/20/19 »
My cousin was kinda a weird guy, I didn't see much of him despite living roughly in the same town. He had always lived out on a farm outside the city limits, but still in the same general area. Despite his awkward behavior, probably brought on by living so far from most people; he was a good person. He was also a damn good taxidermist, and I mean a damn good one.
He picked up the hobby from going hunting with his father and learning to stuff and mount bucks as trophies. He picked up the skill fast, my uncle was proud of him. I was damn proud of him, my cousin was an artist when it came to stuffing animals. Throughout high school he made a good amount of cash doing taxidermy for hunters in the area. Some of his work still sits in the local hunting store as a testament to his skill, and an old advert for his business.
He's been missing for nearly a year now, we've lost hope that he'll be seen again. Since my aunt and uncle have passed, the duty of assorting his affairs have been place on myself. So I took the time to go out to the old farm that has been in the family for generations, where my cousin had been raised and lived till his disappearance. Where he also had a large garage set up for cleaning and stripping game, as well as taxidermy.
I was the only person who say him regularly when he was still around. Regularly for us meant about once a month, we'd usually just hunt or fish in some of the surrounding land. Besides the hunters who'd come by when wanting his service, he had no one else. His disappearance while upsetting to most of the hunters, only held weight to me. He was my last living relatives, not including my children.
Going back through the house felt a little surreal, the house itself like a ghost. Everyone who lived there was gone now. Yet the photographs and furniture still sat, grampa's favorite chair, my aunts old dolls that she collected still on shelves. The trophies my cousin and uncle had from hunting, still on the walls or standing in the corners. The place was dusty but was just as it had always been, and I guess it was now mine.
The workshop was barren when I entered, no tools or works in progress. It seemed that my cousin must have left on his own accord, not letting anyone even me know. It wasn't until later that week when I received a letter did I wonder. It was from old man Jacobs, who owned a local storage facility. It was addressed to myself, asking to come by and clean out the units my cousin had been renting. He seemed to express sympathy for my loss, while giving me as much time that I need to swing by.
I went the next day to go clear out the thing left behind, figuring it was mostly old family mementos. I was a bit shocked when Mr. Jacobs told me there was three units, I hadn't a U-haul or a pick up and would have to make multiple trips. The first unit was just as I expected, old family furniture and boxes of photos. I took my time with these, looking back at photos of grampa and gramma's wedding. My dad and uncle in some of their early birthdays, being twins it was had to tell who was which. Ones of me and my cousin, back when things where better, back when I still had a family.
I had cleared it out, making sure to get everything. I even took the worn wardrobes back with me to the farm. I hadn't much use for the workshop so I could store thing there. I didn't sleep that night though, a heavy storm kept me up. I sat flipping through the family albums again and again, while making space for them on a shelf. During the windy night I heard a tapping. A branch from a bush under the window must have been hitting up against the house, something I'd have to look later.
The following day, I made my way to the storage units first thing in the morning. The second unit was bound to be full larger items. It sat next to the final unit that sat on the end of its row. When I finally got inside to look, it was a bit of a shock. From wall to wall it was covered in various stuffed animals and pelts. From full bears and mountain lions, perfectly mounted buck heads, to boxes of small and large pelts. Some of them seemed familiar, like the buck that head been caught in the barbed wire a few years back.
I remember that summer, we'd been out camping for the weekend and when we got back it was there. Stuck in the barbed wire of the fence, tangled something awful. In its desperation the buck managed to get a post out of the ground. Then managed only to get more wrapped up in it. The thing must have been there for a day because it reeked. It had that rotting meat smell, gamey and putrid. Not much of the thing would have been useful, but I guess the head was intact enough for something.
The other things I figured had minor imperfections or where to be sold online. He would post his stuff online from time to time when bills got overdue. Others would be marked with notes with prices and names. It wasn't unusual for a hunter to try and haggle after the item was made. Either because they didn't have enough on them or just didn't respect an artisans craft. So some of these had been held for a later payment or to be sold to buyers able to pay their worth. From time to time he'd donate some to nature museums, it was his form of charity.
I knew I wouldn't be able to take all this stuff with me in my sedan so I made a few calls. Desperate to get the bigger items sorted, I sold them cheaply to the locals who hunted the animals. Figured if my cousin left them all here then I could sell them for whatever I wanted. I loaded the boxes of pelts and hides in my car, figured a bear-skin run and old cattle hide where to good to pass. The smaller things would just be sold later, or used for projects. After waiting hours on this one guy to show up and get his moose, I finally had the place emptied.
Later while back at the house I had been so tired, I didn't want to mess around with the bushes. So I ordered a pizza and decided to browse the movie streaming services. I was about halfway through some show I'd put on to kill time, when it dawned on me. If my cousin did leave on his own accord, why did he leave all those stuffed animals unsold? Most people would sell them to make travel easier, or take them with for examples in a new place. My thoughts got side tracked when the pizza guy showed up, I tipped him an extra 10$ for the distance and put on "Old Boy".
I remember falling asleep on the couch at some point,  not being bothered to get up. Sometime in the night I woke up to use the bathroom, and heard that tapping noise again. I found it a bit strange considering it was a calm night. No wind or anything that could cause one of the branches on a bush to hit up against the house. I couldn't tell at the time if it was possible an animal in the trash cans or just the old house making noise. In all honesty I just to tired to want to investigate, something so mundane. I would just get some better trash cans and have the places looked at later in the week. Making sure the place is safe to live in and no animals can mess around in the trash.
The third and final day of cleaning out my cousins old storage was finally here. I was going to be glade when it was all over and I could just continue with things as normal. I was a bit worried however, the final storage unit was on the end of the row and was larger than the others. It was one of those storage spaces with its own little side door you can open instead always using the sliding one. I figured it would be even more stuffed animals and boxes of horns and hides. That I'd have to try and contact people to sell or take the things I didn't need.
So when I got to the storage center, I was going to open the main door and just take photos of the stuff. Go to a local pawn shop or the sporting store and see if anyone was interested. I remember the events that actually transpired all to clearly. I opened the garage style door and was greeted with a rancid odor. The hot, wet gamey smell of a carcass filled the air around me. A smell like an animal had been killed and in the process of being skinned. The unit itself contained a human corpse lying on the ground skinned and bare. Collapsed in front of a prefect effigy of my cousin, dressed in his Sunday best standing in a neutral position.
The police ruled the murder of my cousin as suicide, despite the obvious flaws in the logic. A person can't skin themselves while making a near lifelike representation of them at their best. However they saw a clear cut case in the fact that he was skilled in taxidermy, and was the only one known to have a key to the unit. I'm still fighting the system, demanding they look further into the case then nothing at all. I can still hear the tapping, and I think I know that it is. It sound a bit like a small metal object tapping against the glass of a window.

Story Critique / The figure in the hall
« on: 11:25 PM, 01/16/19 »
So there's a story I must tell, it happened to me nearly a decade and a half ago. I don't quite remember the finer details or even an date. All I do know is it happened when I was roughly around the ages of four through six. Back when I lived in a house built in by my family in the early 1900's, by my great grandparents with help from their own parents. It was one of the first homes in the area, yet was built on the steepest spot of a hill. Where the gradual slope made its decline to a typical Nebraskan hill. My great grandmother would get the driveway paved almost yearly, until the end slopped nearly to the extreme of the hill.
They lived in the house until they passed, handing it off to my grandfather. At least five of my family members passed within the walls of the home; who knows how many may have passed in the area before them, natives or travelers heading out Oregon way but cut short. My great grandparents passed in their bedroom, within a year from each other of natural causes. My great grandmothers sister who never married lived and passed in the smaller of the rooms, again of "natural causes". My great aunt lived in the basement of the split level home, even in my youth I never saw her. However when she died I had to help removed her nightmare of a cat, and finally the last known death was my grandfather.
I do remember that day fairly well, my mother was taking me to see him; which was a normal occurrence, because I hated daycare. Even though it was out of her way my mother would take me over to see my grandpa to spend time with him. That day when we arrived at the house none of the lights seem to be on. This was the time before mainstream cell phones, and defiantly before my parents had gotten one. At the time we assumed he must have been asleep still, and we had our own key. My mother opened the door and the place was dark, but regardless I ran up the stairs before my mother could do anything. At the top of the stairs in the hallway to my left, he laid motionless. From there the days events become a blur, I was too stunned unable to fully comprehend the situation, just knowing something had changed.
This is how we came to live in the house, we were the last members of the family who still lived in the area and we simply couldn't let it go. It was in this house that some of the most unexplainable things happened to me from hearing noises that weren't there, like a television while no one else was home. Or the garage door opening and when going to check the door was closed. Things that could be seen as a child's imagination running a bit freely. While living in this house I developed night terrors for no explainable reason, that still plague me from time to time. One night however I saw something that is completely unexplainable.
I awoke in the night having to use the bathroom, much like any child would. My bedroom was the smallest one, where my mothers great aunt had slept in previously, it was across the hall from the bathroom. I had climbed down from the oddly large bed my parents had gotten me, one that covered most of the space with its various drawers. Now like I mentioned before my memories of the events aren't clear, but I do know what I saw. It was when I opened my door a very tall and stark white figure was making its way down the hall to the other rooms in the house.
The figure was obscenely tall, extending in height to the ceiling of the hall. It must have been around eight to ten feet tall, to tall to be either my mother or father. It seemed feminine, though there was no visible indication of any gender. The figure just gave off a presence that seemed to delicate to be a mans. It wore a long flowing cloak or gown, as stark white as it's skin, that contrasted against the hall giving out a small glow. The gown was similar  to that of a woman in a medieval painting of a handmaid or possibly a nun. The only notable items where the long dress with a head piece, that covered most of the head except the facial area. The features of the figures face seemed to be sharp, but not noteworthy enough for me to remember.
It was at this point, for whatever reason I simply shut my door and crawled into bed, to the best of my recollection I just went back to sleep. Never wanting to question about the figure in the hall, but by how my older sister seemed to react to strange noises I felt she had seen it too. I still think about the figure to this day questioning what it was or meant. I don't think it was a burglar simply by the way they where dressed, and how nothing was missing or broken the next day. The figure itself almost seemed to pop out at you like when you use white out on lined paper. It just didn't blend in right and almost screams to be seen. Perhaps one day I'll go back to that house and find my answers.

This if a challenge just for fun, fore bored people of all writing levels. I have a habit of grabbing books and just reading a sentence out of context and then flipping through to another page and acting like its the next part. This usually makes my friends laugh as the results can be ridiculous. So because of this I want to see what people can do with a random part of a story.
 Each person who wants to participate takes any book they currently have on hand, and use it was a jumping off point. Just flip through to any page and grab a random paragraph. Use this as the opening of your story (yes you can rework the paragraph but the purpose is to write around a random opening.). Please as either a note or something give credit to the author and story who's paragraph you borrowed.
Personally I'd recommend stories with a good amount of normal situations that will lead well into any story.  I also recommend you write your story either on the critique board and link it here or write as a response. Again this is for fun and just to give you a story opening you can't control.

My random paragraph:
 "He almost laughed, but when they lifted him, the pain overwhelmed him. He dropped back into darkness..."
borrowed from Blind by Kevin T. Stein published in The Dragons At War, a Dragon Lance saga collection of short stories.

It was a fairly normal Saturday night for me, I was bored, lonely, and willing to make bad decisions. My friends where busy with previous engagements, and I had recently quite my job; a habit that I can't seem to kick. My final paycheck from that job had just came in, and of course it was not going to be enough to last me long. So I decided to visit one of the many bars on the main strip of my small Midwestern city.
The place was called "The Underground" because it was a repurposed tornado shelter that was never filled in, and converted into a bar around the mid 60's. It was your typical place, a small kitchen serving overpriced slop, the wrap around bar of cheap liquors, and a few billiard tables. Most of the patrons where your weekend warrior and hick types. It was a busy night, free pool as long as you where drinking. I figured I could probably hustle a few bucks off some stupid drunks while feigning my own drunkenness.
I ordered a pitcher of some cheap beer, found a little table to settle down and scope out my victims. There was already plenty of jackasses talking big, while missing ever shot they took. It wouldn't be hard to scam them, as long as I used the right method.In the end I decided to go with a "dumb luck" routine, noticing they where already placing money on the games. After whittling down the pitcher to the halfway mark, I stumbled my way over to the guys at the pool table. Acting over eager to play but unsure about placing any money down, as far as they knew.
In the end I walked away from that table about a hundred bucks richer. The guys where either already to drunk or to stunned to try anything, at least not in the bar. I returned to my corner and had a couple more drinks, while watching over the rest of the hall. Not many people where putting money down, and the ones that where seemed to look at me weary. When I noticed a chick at the bar around my age. Which is unusual for this place, most chicks our age either attended college parties or didn't really drink anywhere but at home. Or they all together didn't drink or party, focusing on their studies and not their social life.
She was stunning, sitting there at the bar ordering cocktails one after another. All made up for a night out on the town. She sat alone, with a few stools between her and the next patron. She had on a tight little plaid skirt, the best way to describe the color would have to be greyish. Underneath she wore fishnets, torn just above the knee with some high heeled boots that rode up to mid-calf. Under her crop jacket she wore an old Sum41 tee, the one from around the time of their second album "Does this look Infected". It looked like she'd had it since back around then, cause it fit poorly in all the best possible ways. A bit tighter near the chest, while resting above the navel. Her dark hair was styled in a shot layered bob cut, with muted toned makeup applied lightly just to gently highlight her features.
I figured I would try and make a night of it, chat her up and see if it leads anywhere. So I went over to the bar, ordered a few doubles sending some her way. She accepted them and even met my gaze, I figured since I was the only guy her age in the whole place I had a clear shot. That was if she wasn't looking for older guys, who'd probably lose their cash before getting anywhere with her. Surprisingly she made her way down to me before I could even get a chance to prepare myself. Things seemed to be turning out just like I could hoped they would.
I remember clearly that Def Leppard's "Love Bites" was playing at that moment. A song I knew well, having been dragged to nearly every show they played near where I lived. All I could think at the time was that she was looking fine, and now sitting at the stool next to me. She ordered us some more shots before starting up a conversation.
Getting a better look at her she was quite pale, and it only served to make her steely blue eyes all the more enchanting. Her smile was bright, each tooth sat straight and perfect. We talked about relatively shallow topics, favorite bands and concerts. Movies we'd seen over a thousand times and could spew off every line in the directors commentary. It was the standard getting to "know" someone, when in reality you could probably care less about the actual person. Choosing to focus on the more physical aspects of them while trying to imagine the fun you could have.
I was honestly surprised with how much we both had in common, down to our favorite film. Wes Cravens New Nightmare, the last and definitely most tongue in check of his "Nightmare" films. We where both fans of horror, from the classics to the laughably awful ones. Luckily I was able to get at least a feigned expression of impressed when bringing up the widescreen VHS fact. Most people aren't aware that Wes had to make the VHS copies in widescreen; because you could see Freddy's hat when he's supposed to suddenly pop out in front of Heather in the final dream encounter.
Most of the conversation continued in this vein, mainly about horror flicks. We didn't even bother giving each other our names; but that was kind of the point wasn't it. Eventually after a heated debate about weather Jason or Freddy had won their little bout. For the record Freddy wins because he brought back memories of his terror, which would allow him to return. She invited me to her place to re-watch the film so it was fresh in our minds. I would say everything was going to plan, both hers and mine.
So we left the bar, ditching out on the tab by putting it on the guys who'd lost to me at pool earlier. I wasn't shocked when she said she didn't have a car, making mine the only option to get to her place. Most people probably don't drive to a bar then pound down drinks expecting to drive back. This would only mean that I'd be relied on to get her home. She gave me directions as we went, a left here and take that street ahead. All while learning heavily over the center console, her breasts pressing hard against my shoulder as she drunkenly supported herself on me. Her breath was moist and sour, clearly she'd drank more than I thought.
Her place was an apartment in an old house that had been converted, the neighborhoods were full of similar places. All the large houses built during pioneer times, now run down slums for the trash the settlers decedents became. Her apartment was in the back and on the top floor, that had probably been an attic at one point in time. Only three apartments used this entrance, connecting to the main area through the laundry hall. It wasn't anything special, just a small studio with no sign of any room mates. The only furniture besides the stove and fridge in the kitchenette was an old pullout sofa and a TV. She popped in the DVD and we sat on the stained and ragged mattress.
It was now that I knew fully that no one would miss her. However I decided to play along just a bit longer. It wasn't far into the movie that she leaned in closer than before, her breath hot on my neck. She continued to nuzzle up against me, as placed my arm around her. She was kissing my neck and breathing heavily. She placed a hand on my chest, slowly working her way to my groin. I drew her closer in and kissed her, she tasted like a myriad of spirits and liquor. Making her lips like an intoxicating poison all on their own. She made her way into my lap, exactly where I wanted, no needed her to be.
She leaned back in and I went to whisper into her ear. "You shouldn't have invited me in." I told her but before she could let it sink in, I did. Bearing my fangs, plunging them deep into the jugular; getting what  I was after all along. I don't know if she felt any pain, as my own experience is but a faded memory. From the sounds she made, it's was as euphoric for her as it is for myself. They always made noises of pained ecstasy, as if the last moments of their life was both an orgasm and a stroke. I drained her dry not a single drop left, unable to control myself once the sweet ichor had touched my starved lips.
Once the deed was done I sat there in her apartment, unsure if I should pity or envy the poor girl. She was so easy to get alone, yet she could experience the one thing I've longed for decades, release. I let an idea lull in my mind until finally deciding, she would not die here. So preparing to do something I hadn't done in countless years, I slit my own wrist. Filling my mouth with my own bitter dark ichor, then giving her one more kiss. Forcing the blood from my mouth into hers, a process that once done would bind us. For better or worse we would always end up back to each other, unable to stay apart. Until the force that bound us was broken by the death of one, or I released her from my servitude.
I left a note about the true nature of the events that went on, before leaving into the night. Giving all she'll need to know to find me if she so wished, and most do. She will come either to thank me or to curse my name. Now there is nothing more to do but wait, hoping she didn't do anything too stupid in the wake of her new dawning. Maybe I'll even bother to get to know her name this time around.
(**Note** please leave some feedback, it would be a shame if you ended up just another feed bag. I added a few sentences from the rough draft and reworked some parts.)

Story Critique / Re: I think my apartment is haunted
« on: 11:49 PM, 01/ 1/19 »
Trollish yet heartwarming, the best kind of trollpasta.
I was trying to coerce people into giving feedback by just writing a pretty obvious trollpasta without any shame. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any time feel free to critique any of the things I've written, most are first drafts and thus proper trash.

Story Critique / I think my apartment is haunted
« on: 07:21 AM, 01/ 1/19 »
I moved into a small studio apartment in November of 2018. I was finally considered an adult, I had my own little fortress of solitude. I could do whatever I wanted, as long as it didn't break my agreement. The owner of the building had told me that people didn't seem to last in the place that long, and thus I didn't have a proper lease. It wasn't long after that I started hearing and seeing strange things.
Now I didn't initially think much of it, when I was a kid I suffered from odd auditory and visual hallucinations. Some of these where your typical things out the corner of your eye, or hearing your name called when it wasn't. So I simply just thought that whatever caused them as a child was still a very real factor in my life. The voices I heard in my apartment where three distinguished male voices.
It started the first week I'd been there, at random times I'd hear someone talk. Originally I thought it was a neighbor, being loud enough for me to hear. However after getting to know my neighbors and the sounds they made through the walls; I came to the conclusion that it wasn't them. The voices continued to persist, becoming more frequent the longer I lived in the apartment. Things began to spiral out of control, around a week and a half after moving in.
I was coming home from work one night and my lights wouldn't turn on. My initial thought was the bulbs needed changed, or the power company made a mistake. When suddenly they came back on, but the walls where secreting a green slime. The lights flickered as the voices returned, giggling and snickering until the finally proclaimed in unison "Nosferatu!".
At the time I was so tired and annoyed from my long day I simply shouted "That joke hasn't been funny in like seven years!".
"Don't ruin this for me now." one of the voices had responded in a deep stilted mocking tone.
The lights had stopped flickering at this point, but my walls where still covered in goop. I cleaned it up with a towel, making sure it didn't leave any kind of damage that would get me thrown out. Then I grabbed a ginger ale from the counter and made myself a dinner. Nothing more was out of the ordinary till my little blue YETI brand cooler fell of the counter. With a low mumbling voice saying undistinguishable words.
At the time I just assumed that I must have bumped it so that it was at a tipping point. The contents shifting and eventually making it fall. After finishing my food and picking the cooler back up, It was already late. I'd been up nearly all day working a double shift, dealing with crappy people. So I decided to get some sleep and enjoy my day off in the morning. As I drifted off, the voices seemed to come and converse with one another.
I learned to just ignore things I heard late at night when I was a child, so I did my best ignoring them till I passed out. While I slept, I dreamed of being covered in spiders like a lot of spiders. I mean a copious amount just crawling in my skin, covering every amount of my body. Consuming me and forming a vaguely human shape, like some sort of spiders man. When I was suddenly and violently awoken by the crash of a toaster oven next to my head. I was tired and delirious at the time and just sat there on my bed screaming.
When I saw the visage of some soy-boy hovering over me as I had been sleeping. I tried to muster up some form of courage and shouted at the figure. "Who the fuck are you? And why are you in my apartment?", it came out embarrassingly meek.
"I'm a ghost, well half ghost." The pale man said through the hair that hung down half his face.
"How can you be half ghost and if you say your dad was a ghost, I swear I'm going to get you exercised!" I said in a tired yet angrily annoyed toned. Not really waiting for any response, just hoping to doze back off.
I still live in that apartment with all the strange things that seem to happen there. The "ghosts" still try to annoy me but I've grown quite found of them. Their antics are just a small part of my life, but every time I still brings a smile to my face. That was until I came home and received a letter. It was a restraining order addressed to me, from that toaster over that nearly crushed my head.

Story Critique / The Hidden message in Twin Peaks
« on: 12:52 AM, 12/26/18 »
The phrase "Who killed Laura Palmer?" is one the American public knows quite well, at least to those familiar with the TV show "Twin Peaks".  For the uncultured few either to young or uninterested in cinematic arts, the show was an American soap-opera with a unique plot. It centered around an FBI agent Dale Cooper, assigned to a strange murder in the forests of the American north-west. The murder of Laura Palmer was the greatest question of the early 90's ever proposed on the small screen. The show itself was the brain child of David Lynch; for those who don't recognize the name you might know him as the director of many Nine Inch Nails music videos.
   It's well known by film analysis that Lynch's earlier work "Eraser Head" was influenced by his life. To be exact it's a metaphor for the feelings he had when reluctantly becoming a father  nearly a decade earlier.  The reason this is important is because it plays into the reason I believe Lynch created "Twin Peaks". When Lynch was younger, despite what he may tell you, he once attended a party on the outskirts of Philadelphia; where he was living at the time. From the second hand accounts I could gather from the lucky few who knew parts of the story; the party had considerable amounts of drugs and booze. Lynch was in  attendance because of his friends in the local independent film and art community. Needless to say Lynch partook in the festivities, it being the late 60's early 70's from what my sources could guess.
   It was after this party when Lynch, now intoxicated on cheap scotch and cocaine, that he made the decision to drive back home. From what my main source, who I'll refer to as "Uncle Jerry" Lynch wasn't in his right set of mind. Uncle Jerry was another eccentric artist in the Philadelphia area, who was in attendance at the party and knew the man well. He claims he was inspiration for the strange brother of Mr. Horne in the series. I met Jerry at a local film and television event in Omaha, Nebraska; where he settled doing work with Alexander Payne from time to time. We had gotten to talking at a bar in the hotel and Lynch came up, more importantly Twin Peaks came up. Jerry ordered himself another whiskey and began to tell me the story; as he heard it many years ago from Lynch himself.
   When Lynch made his decision to leave the party, he did so without making much of a fuss. He simply slipped out of the main room the party was at, then made is way to his car. He had gotten behind his wheel and made his way back home into the city. Jerry said Lynch described the ride as "Anguishing" his mind racing and jumping between focal points. One moment focusing dead ahead in the road, the other at the needle in the speedometer. A needle that gradually climbed it's way up the numbers, as Lynch was gripping the wheel white-knuckled. He didn't even notice the woman in the middle of the road until after the loud crack, as she was flung over the car. Lynch supposedly described that moment as "Sobering", slowing the car to a stop to see what had just happened.
   Lynch is said to have stood there in shock and awe of the whole situation, not quite believing it all. He couldn't believe that he just hit a woman with his car, or why she would have been in the middle of a highway this late at night. There was no sign of another car that could have broken down, or a house nearby that she could have lived in. More important was that she seemed to be a high-school student, she looked fairly young and had the shirt of a school in Philly on. Lynch still effected by the cocaine was in a frantic panic when he realized she wasn't moving. Despite his better judgement he dragged her off the road and into the woods at the side of the road. Later retelling these details to Jerry, expressing his guilt and shame for not doing the right thing that night.
   It was this guilt that lead him to eventually write "Twin Peaks". He used it as a form of therapy, using Laura as a stand in for the nameless girl he accidently killed. This is the reason Laura seemed to have lived a life so unbelievable of a teenager in a small north-eastern town. Her extravagant behavior a mirror of the night and life style Lynch wanted to put far behind himself. Laura's reckless behavior also helped Lynch rationalize why the girl he hit was ever in the middle of the road in the first place. Far out of the city limits late at night, with no sign of a vehicle or residence to justify it. Lynch attempted to place partial blame on the corpse he left on the roadside, but found he wasn't able to. Even when he tried to give response to why she was out there, his mind could only feel remorse and even pity. For all he knows she could have been dragged out there by a classmate and ran from him when unwanted advances persisted. Only to get run down by the first car that came across her as she attempted to make her way home. The other most uttered phrase from the work I s "Fire walk with me." a phrase associated with the death of Laura Palmer. A phrase that Lynch must have came up with from the guilt he held onto for all those years. Using the phrase and show to admit a sin he didn't mean to commit. Much like how the killer of Laura never could have knowingly caused her harm, but in the end was the very person to end her life.

Story Critique / Omaha
« on: 11:16 PM, 12/23/18 »
   I know I'm taking a big risk to my personal safety, but I feel this information needs to be shared. For those who may not know Omaha Nebraska is considered, by some, to be the heart of America. The city itself is surrounded by suburbs, one of which is Bellevue. On the outskirts is an Air force base known as Offit. If you know any Airmen then it's possible you know about this base. This base holds a few little known secrets.
   The first secret that is probably known to anyone willing to do a google search. The base was used to secure Former President George W. Bush, shortly after the 9/11 attack in 2001. The reason why may shock you, obviously the location of the base is a clear advantage. Any outside force would have to make their way into the heartland to harm the president. However there is another reason, the STRATCOM portion of the base is one of the few places in America where Nuclear weapons can be armed and launched. I personally knew one of the staff members trusted with a key needed to preform a launch. Each personnel needed represents one of the three core branches of the military; the Army, Air force, and Navy. They also act as one of the many steps for the launch sequence in any situation.
   This is just the secret that the military isn't afraid to let slip, at least to people who live close enough to be curious. It's used as the key reason for the high security procedures, but that's not the real reason. Due to its relatively empty surroundings, along with it's already high security, the base has a well funded R&D department. Most of the projects are simple aircraft and weaponry advancement. Small things like increased fuel efficiency and experimental craft; the large sections of flat plains allow for efficient emergency landings necessary for early stage developments. Beneath the layers of the base and the Nuclear shelter lay another structure.
   This is a place where the R&D department really spend most of the budget, this is the shadow base the government denies all existence. There is one other such base perceived to exist, deep into the American Mojave Area 51. Both bases are Air force operations with connections to nuclear testing, set in relatively flat land. Now as for what's beneath Area 51, I can not say for sure but I know what's beneath Offit.
   I do not know the proper term for the underground complex, so I will just refer to it as O-002. I've heard a few stories about the base O-002, from my source at the STRATCOM complex. Each of his stories are played off as just an urban legend told by bored guards in the lonesome nights. However, I've managed to get access to the "legendary" sub-base. I lived outside of the city limits for a portion of my teenage years. There was a section of land that my friends and I use to do Airsoft on. The farmland was about half an hour away by car from the edge of the base. On the land was bunker like structure, that lead to a tunnel.
   The tunnel itself was long and sloped gently downwards, lit with large overhanging florescent tubes. My friends and I decided to come back and explore it another night, when we weren't holding mock firearms and dressed in fatigues. It took us about a month to return and head down the tunnel. We went and gave our parents the impression we where making an overnight trip of our games. We had packed bags and brought along our gear just to make them believe. We left the gear at the entrance to the tunnel and went with only our backpacks of snacks.
   The tunnel was long, extremely long, our little day trip seemed to take us ages. At the time we simply thought it was because of the dull grey walls. The floor continued to slope slowly and steadily downward, leading us further beneath the surface. Eventually we came to a metal staircase section that lead us further beneath down. Each flight bringing us closer to answers at a faster pace than the gradual slope of the entry way. It was on these stairs that I began to experience migraines, as far I know none of the others experience a similar effect.
   We made our way down the entire staircase, before my migraine caused us to slow down. My friends worried, starting to second guess the idea of going further. Trying to use my headaches as an excuse to turn back and leave this place alone. I was stubborn, wanting to continue after taking a short rest. It was during this time that I became weaker, with my head throbbing steadily. I remember passing out, there at the bottom of the stairs; when I came through I was in a small room.
   I had been sat in a chair, cuffed to a table; similar to those you see in TV and movies for interrogations. I sat there unsure of where exactly I was until it dawned on me, this must be the base. A man dressed in military attire entered the room from a single metal door, he came to the table and sat opposite me. He asked question after question, but each one seemed to make less sense than the previous. I asked him where my friends where, but I never received a response.
   After hours of questioning my migraine returned but with it a voice. The voice was deep and slow, but indecipherable. The military personal opposite me seemed to notice my discomfort and began to ask  me questions of my health. His words where muted and seemed to be drowned out by the other. Now repeating the same sounds, in some sort of chant rhythmically like a heartbeat. I still couldn't make out the words that where being said, either by the man or the voice in my head.
   I eventually passed out once again, only to come to in yet another room. It was a sterile looking hospital room, I was unsure if it was still apart of the base or not. The voice then returned louder than before, it seemed to seep into the room from walls. As if the source of it was just on the other side of each wall. Enveloping me in its rhythmic chant, now understandable, it told me "You are mine, and I am yours."
   It felt like weeks I was in that room, with food being slid through a slit in the door. The voice persisted, there where times when it seemed to lessen. Yet it never silenced, always their in the back of my mind eating away at me. When one night it suddenly seemed to cease, and when I awoke the next morning I was back in my room. As if nothing had happened, my parents never mentioned my week long absence. The friends I went with that day never showed back up, no word of their disappearance at school or any of the papers. The voice still comes back to me occasionally, it tells me things you couldn't comprehend. It tells me to return to the base, and "Free it".

Because of a bad internet connection I lost an hour of me rambling on about the key points in a remake I would make. (I was going to do film school but had drop out because of a few reasons.) Without a doubt I'd do "Nightmare on Elm Street" and the short and simple reson is simple. To me as a child Freddy was real. As far as I can remember I hadn't even seen the movie till I was about 14. From the age of 4 up until about 12 I had horrible night terrors that most offten contained Freddy. Like I said I have no memory of seeing the film till I was much older but there in my dreams freddy stalked and attacked me in ways indicative of the character. Some of them very silly, like him hidding begind a curtain that dosen't even go past his knees. To this day when I have a night terror if a single light switch doesn't work I wake up in a sweat. So personally Freddy is terrifying because I've had 10 years of legitamate fear of him in my dreams.

Back when my friend Barry and I where teenagers in the 80's, we where the typical bored west coast stoners. Even though we lived in Hawaii at the time, I was still a product of a California upbringing. While Barry had been raised on the islands his whole life, he was the only friend I had after moving there. We spent most of our time around my families little patch of land, where my parents grew exotic fruits. Smoking and just hanging out in a small shack that served as our growing space.
Barry and I where somewhat outcasts, neither of use really fitting in with the locals on our island, which was primarily natives and asian-americans. Barry's father was immigrant from a war-torn nation across the sea and my grandparents, who lived with us where from the UK. It didn't help that my fathers parents where strange. It was because of them, that one night Barry and I stumbled unto some weird books. As it turned out my grandparents had both been into Thelema when they where younger; before they had my father.
Being bored and stoned, we decided to flip through them and see what it was all about. Things like occultism was still seen as "evil" at the time, so all we knew where the mid 80's pre-conceptions. We read through the few books we had found until my grandfather discovered us. He was ecstatic to be able to hold conversations with people who didn't immediately seem judgmental. Eventually he would let the two of us go through the rest of the books and writings he had held onto. He even claimed some of the side notes where written by Alister Crowley himself; when going over research of the lower ranked members.
Barry and I continued to read through the tomes and notes, mainly out of boredom. Then we came across a ritual in the back of an older tome. The pages where stuffed with notes written with pronunciations and hypothesis. The actual text seemed to be some sort of Hebrew or Islamic language from what the notes hinted towards. The only thing the notes seemed to be consistently sure of was a list of instructions. Those instructions, even if I could remember them; I'd not share for how dangerous it could be.
We decided to attempt the ritual as something to do, while we smoked pot and hung around on the outskirts of the island. We spent about a week gathering the materials listed and going over the instructions. We got to a point where we felt comfortable with what to do, it was time to put the ritual to the test. It was time to see if any of the books and notes we had spent so much time reading held any truth.
I had decided the best place to preform it would be the shack we had converted into our smoke shed. We removed the old sofa that we'd carried over when Barry's parents bought a new one, and placed it in my garage. Then before the ritual we rolled a joint and smoked it, preparing ourselves for what we assumed would only be disappointment.
Again, I'm not going to give details as the ritual involves burning large amounts of incense and herbs in a small enclosed space. That and we would soon discover, it was not very safe or smart to preform a ritual you stumble upon. At some point Barry slipped and broke the salt ring, when he then began to rise off the ground. I still remember the last words I've ever heard him say to me "Don't ruin this for me now."

I guess the only horrifying thing that was funny in retrospect happened as a kid. So one morning when I must have been at least 5 or 6. I woke up around 9 it seems, with a very faint audio of the Mulan film playing. So I got up looking for what room my sister she must have been watching it in. I found the house completely empty, no one in the living room, the bed rooms or the basement. The funny part is no tv was on in the house either...

Story Critique / I've Seen Hell
« on: 12:14 AM, 11/13/18 »
My high-school years where a slushy of standard fare and more eccentric courses. From the mundane mathematics or science, to my photography and other media classes. Because my preferred classes where at the Tucker Center; a place where the career skill and practical arts courses are held. I signed up for the college level world government and religions courses there.
These became my favorites, a purely neutral look at each topic respectively. The two driving forces of social economics, since the dawn of civil mankind. It still niggles at me that they where taught by the same professor. Who ran the oriental cultural studies at the local university. None the less this two courses gave me a new perception on topics not commonly taught in nationalistic public schools. Religions and governments  generally seen as enemies or historical failures of there times. Giving me, the ability to form opinions of my own to better educate and identify myself.
My professor did the best she could to give thorough overview of all the topics. I remember that day in government class we just finished discussion on the political cylinder. How there truly wasn't a left or right on a slide spectrum; it was indeed a cylinder. Where the ideal government, something resembling a reformed Roman Republic with Democratic influences. Sat opposite of total anarchy, where both sides of the normally perceived spectrum's met. Where ideal implementation of Communism and Totalitarian Fascism teetered the line of complete chaos. Either from lack of law, or the out-lash from to much.
That day in religion; my course in the same room, same teacher would be a special presentation.  Items she had collected from nearly three decades of exploring and helping others. Things from the European cathedrals to oriental temples, ones of cultural or spiritual significance. The main topic of today was a painting she acquired in India.
Traditionally done in the 12th century style of the region. Painted by a Buddhist that had been imprisoned for begging, by a Hindi Sheikh. The English translation for the title was something along the lines of "Representation of Hell". Thought the painting more resembles Siddhartha's dispelling of ten-thousand demons.
The painting was done on the thin cloth he was given for a blanket. Paints made from bugs and feces, as well as anything else he could get his hands on. At some point the cloth had been stretched across a wooden slab. Then was placed in a frame like display case able to house it and the wooden slab.
The actually depiction was of Yama, the Hindu god of death re-purposed as the devil. He lounged in the center, an engorged blackish-blue three-eyes, multi-armed boar. Grasping in one had a representation of the artist and in the other three symbols of Buddhism. The implication of crushing the practitioners waiving the instruments in mockery.
Yama sat upon a throne of fire, kindled by charred human remains. Onlooking a man being disemboweled by Raksasha clawing fist-fulls of entrails into their gaping maws. Other men where being broken by the wheel. Gawked at by ogre-ious creatures with fires and decapitated body parts littering the spaces between. Behind an image of the Sheikhs palace with men rapping and murdering renditions of other Buddhist.
A commentary to his captors, a voice silenced but still very much alive. The artist had finished the painting, and was able to send it off before his execution. The grim gift waiting for the Sheikh upon his return from overseeing the executions. Having been sent by a courier by a prison guard. Who must have taken pity on the artist or harbored hatred to the Sheikh. The lord sent out for the guard and courier to met the same fate as the artist in his fury.
In the months to come the lord would see his dominion  crumble. It has been invade by Islamic forces who placed there own lord in power. The last thing he saw was his palace ablaze and his people tortured. A mirror of the painting he had received, the omen he ignored.
The story of this painting goes untold till it was brought into my professors ownership. From there it was used for study, showed to classes and lent to a local museum of classical art. A commentary on the delicate line between religions and politics in early societies.
A year ago I nearly died of drowning, my heart even stopping for a consecutive forty seconds at one points. During this I had a dreamlike experience of what I believe to be hell, that I recall in sleepless nights. What I saw on that day, was a much different representation. I have no confirmation on what I saw being real or just a state of heighten DMT the brain experiences as it shuts down. My vision was also more Judea-Christian, possibly a subconscious view influenced by western society.
I awoke in an icy tundra, shrouded in fog and flurry surrounding me. Cold air cracking my skin in sharp searing slashes.  I began to wonder the barren waste, to warm myself and search of shelter. Coming across something silhouetted in the distances, the only thing in visible to me. As I came close enough to make out the details of the shape, I was greeted by the visage of a man.
Waist deep in the snow frozen solid except for the neck, a perfect statue clawing to be unearthed. It breathed short shallow breaths, the only viable sign was the steam coming of it's breath. The man seemed to be sleeping, and from the parts of him viable he was adorn Roman garb. I slunk past the statuesque figure and continued into the storm. Where more and more they littered the valley beneath the first.
Not all of these slept, many  wailed in agony crying out to me for help. Others in the densely populated areas whispering. Attempting to tell secrets into my ear as I squeezed between them. Yelling out to me when I began to move away. After what felt like hours I came to the base of a mountain.
A single passage lie in-front of me, the only hope to escape the blizzard and find warmth. Looming over the pass, a large ebony figure contrasting the marble throne it slumbered on. Grotesquely obese, he resembled the demonized Yama from the painting I'd seen years ago. Then reminding me grimly of the fate I could suffer if I stayed, succumbing to frostbite. So I took advantage of the giants rest and entered the mountain.
Worry began to flood my mind as I sat in the entryway, what would happen if he awoke? Was he and his legions of frozen men the only creatures I'd come across? The pass was warm, like a summers night a pleasant change from the tundra. The walls of the pass an amalgamation of jagged stone faces twisted in silent moans. The very foundation of the mountain seemed to be screaming in anguish beneath it's weight.
The deeper I trekked into the mountainous mausoleum the heat increased, till the oils and fats in my body began to boil. Creating lesions and blisters upon my flesh, that burst and spewed pus as I ventured forth. The heat bellowing like a drunkards sour breath. A strong stench of burning flesh and rotted eggs permeated the air, strengthening with each step towards to end of the passage.
Volcanic pools swirled and crept along a rocky pathway. Another mountain range spewing ash and lava off into the distance. A strong back-draft hit me as I emerged from the passage, bringing the small amount of fluids to a sizzle. Spires protruded from the lakes of fire, more amalgamations of tormented faces in agony. Chard remains upon a gravel shore reaching towards the safety of the path, to no avail.
I continued down the only path I could till I came across the high-back of a throne. A large stone slab upon it, with writing in a language that must have been Spanish or Italian, perhaps Latin. I ran my fingers over the embossed statements, spaced visibly into phrases. Perhaps grim proclamations of some dreaded fiend. I circled the throne admiring its craftsmanship, solid stone etched and embossed with scenes of biblical and ancient tragedies.
Upon the third or forth passing a man appeared in the seat, lounging back propped in the corner legs draped across the opposite arm. A Pale lean specimen loosely cloaked in sheer linen, once a brilliant white now stained with soot and rusted crimson. He slunk out of the throne and sashayed towards me, and that is when I took notice of his beauty.
Sun bleached hair, stained with more soot and crimson. Clumping into thick mangy strands of once flowing locks.  The cloak only being allowed to conform in ways to highlight his slim muscular tone. Broken membranous vestigial wings hung lifelessly from his shoulders; reminiscent of an avian wings yet stripped of feathers, thin and insecttile . With each step he took closer to me my heart throbbed a deep and sudden thunder. Creating a rhythmic ringing echoing in my eardrums, that the man seemed to respond to.
He reached out and caressed my cheek with a gentle care, and our gaze met. His silvery eyes a distraction from the hell-scape surrounding us, an unforeseen comfort in such a place. Blocking out all from my view, except for him. He brought me into his embrace, our bodies connected with little or no space between us. The blood rushing through me, into my now erect member as he leaned in for a kiss.
His lips brought a serge of emotions, ranging from ecstasy to dread. Bile churning in my stomach as I withered and melted. Like a gourd left to rot as late autumn turns to early winter. I was nearly spent when a tug came from behind, bringing me back into consciousness. Yet still stuck in my nightmare, the other figure was pulling me away from the first. Attempting to spirit me away from this place.
The second figure was a gaunt and skeletal visage, with tears and lesions soring his body. Hovering above on leathery bat wings, carrying me in it's arms. Soaring above the other, as he attempted to reach out and follow, mocked by a creature who hadn't been robbed of flight. As we arose the features began to become more human like. As if a corpse rotting in reverse.
Slowly obtaining the form of a man, with long dark hair and thick shortly cut beard. His eyes a dark hazel green, warm and inviting. His wings took shape into that of a magpie, dark feathers coating them in the same shade as his hair. It was around this time that I returned to my physical being, yet still watching this man go above the ambulance and into the skies above. He made his way heading to the cloud lines, growing more rotund and wised as he vanished above. The only being able to traverse throughout the embodiment of death.
I think about these two separate images of a places matching depictions of hell, different and yet the same. Niggling at my mind, leaving me in a stupor. Was my vision of hell, was hell even real or was my mind only showing me what I would expect to see. Or just like the unnamed Buddhist prisoner and his captors. Was hell the constructs of man struggling against our own flaws, and pushing ideologies unto others. A self fulfilling prophecy of the human condition, that is life.

General Discussion / Re: Question by a newbie
« on: 11:49 PM, 11/12/18 »
. I’ve got two stories one of which I really want feedback on. I just need overall advice and opinions so I can improve as I return to writing. Anyone who sees this can feel free to give there critiques as well and I’ll link the main one below.

General Discussion / Question by a newbie
« on: 04:00 PM, 11/12/18 »
So I’ve recently joined the site and have a few questions. Where is everyone? Is it’s just a post October decline due to the season? I noticed that at least during the times I’m logged in it seems like only guest are on. Is this just the normal state of the site or even a season based loll?

   In the rougher parts of St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad there is a game played by some of the more intriguing locals. It's not a game of skill or physical ability, but one testing your mental fortitude; it's a well guarded little secret by those who play it, well till now. I've been haunted by the events of the last time I've played, and so I'm breaking the silence.
   I was first turned on to the game by a co-worker, he and I went to the same school but didn't speak much to each other. He was a grade or two above me, one of the "cool kids". He'd been working at the fast food eatery for a few months by the time I got hired on. As we worked shifts together we started talking, eventually become friends. Not the real close kind of friends you spend time with, just the type of friend you know when placed in close proximity. It was about a month later when winter break started that he mentioned it for the first time, the game.
   From what he told me originally is that there was an old office; nestled in the back of a building that hadn't been used for a decade or two. The building itself was in the rougher parts of town, it hadn't seen any major renovations since before the rise of communism. During those times it had been used by mobsters to extort rations and other various black market deals. Now it sat vacant as far as anyone could tell, but the other spaces where still active. The alleyways near the place still had the occasional dead body found there. Usually from drug overdose or things the local papers listed as "Unknown" cause.
   He told me the office itself was just a small simple room, with a single chair centered inside waiting. It's in this chair that the game takes place, for those who sit there between midnight and 3AM. He told me that his oldest brother discovered the game when he was in high-school and played it. Eventually telling their other siblings and making them play it. By the time my co-worker was in junior high, it came down to his turn to participate.
   Supposedly if you make your way into the office just before midnight, taking your seat in the darkness alone; the game can begin. Shutting your eyes, slowly pressure like someone grasping your shoulders will build. As time goes on the weight will grow, slowly and steadily as a tingling sensation jolts up and down your spine. You'll then begin to fell more hands grouping at your body. Whatever you do, don't open your eyes and stay calm. At the end of the three hours; a small box will be left at your feet.
   According to his siblings if you sit there for the three hours, you win. Your prize inside the small box left in front of you. From what they know each box will contain a similar prize, solid gold pieces of a puzzle. They don't always fit together and are for some sort of three dimensional object. Possibly even for multiple different puzzles, as none of them have been able to fully finish one.
   I initially passed this off as him trying to impress or spook me, be he kept insisting that the game was real. Thinking it over in my head for the rest of the shift I supposed it could be real. His brothers and sisters had probably found the place and used it to smoke pot or drink. Making up the game with their friends to initiate the younger siblings to the secret. With the real "gold" being in on the secluded little space all the cool kids go to shoot the shit.
   On the following day to my surprise he brought a few blocky gold pieces. Claiming that they where only a small amount of the ones he's "won". This only served to unsettle me, who had enough money to give out these prizes and why? In my mind this "game" took on a sinister aspect, was this how some sick bastards lured in teens to grope and prod to their liking? My stomach churned at the idea, especially when thinking of how frequent bodies turned up in the alley nearby.
   I don't quite remember how, but eventually he talked me in to attempting it. Weather it was the idea of the gold or the sheer curiosity of what was going on. By now we had became closer friends; spending time outside of work or school. I even me a few of his siblings, who insisted that the game was well worth succumbing to curiosity. They even showed me their pieces of puzzles, various shapes and sizes, but gold nonetheless. I asked if so many of them had played, and played multiple times; why didn't they have a finished puzzle. They only chuckled, noting that they aren't handed out in order. If they where, then other players clearly had the majority of the pieces.
   They all took me to see the infamous building, and the office inside. It was old, and must have served as apartment at one point. It still showed signs of the odd little flat here and there. The ground level served as various shops and businesses. Pawn shops, convenience stores and even a barbers lines the main street.
   Nestled between the convenience store and the barbers was a reinforced glass door. It led to a simple landing and a staircase. We walked through the building, making our way to the third floor. They gestured to a plain wooden door at the end of the hallway. It was the door to the office that now sat nearly abandoned, with it's rare late night visitors. Seeing the door only made my arms weak, and palms sweaty.
   My mind returned to the thoughts of creeps waiting in the darkness. Eagerly awaiting for those brave or stupid enough to enter. Ready to grope and prod at the technically willing individuals, indulging in their own sickness. They took notice of disdain growing on my face. Reassuring me that as long as I kept my eyes closed and stayed relatively calm, I'd be fine. Ensuring me that later tonight will change my perspective on the situation.
   I recall working going normal, with just me and the manager for the better part of the shift. I didn't dwell on thoughts of the activity I'd be engaging in that night. Work distracted me, that is until the closing shift cashier came in. After my shift I sat in the lobby, eating my meal and contemplating. Questions raced through my head over and over again. Who ran this game and why? Was I really going to go through with this nonsense?
   I was finally on the verge of being in the "IT" crowd, the cool kids. Would not going through with this ruin it for me? I was looking for things to kill the time as all this kept lolling over in my head. I decided to go into the convenience store there on the street. I tried to get some information on the building and the area from the clerk; but they seem'd to know nothing more than I did.
   "You remember where to go right?" one of his elder brothers said; as they came up the sidewalk to the door I'd been waiting in front of.
   Nervelessly I crocked out "Y-y-yeah... it's the last door on the third floor right?" fidgeting my hands, glancing between the three of them.
   "Good, we forgot to mention. From here on you'll be on your own, we cant come with you to the door." my co-worker said leading me through the door and shutting it behind me.
   The gravity of the situation hit me, why cant they come with me?  Perhaps this was all a joke. They where going to wait till I was good and scared and then jump out at me. Then we were all going to have a good laugh and I finally be one of the guys. The idea that it was all some elaborate joke eased me allowing me to continue.
   Through the glass they gestured for me to make my way up the stairs. In this lighting the landing looked different. The only light coming from a bulb protruding from the wall, halfway up the stairs. That single bulb flickered dimly with every other step, the only sound that of my feet hitting the steps. The only sign that anyone still used the building where cigarette buds littering the floor. As I reached the first floor the air grew stagnant and musty. The stench of mold permeated the air, I wondered why I didn't notice it in the day.
   The third floor hallway was darker than the other, no windows for moonlight to brake up the shadows. I tried feeling for a light-switch on the wall nearest me, but it was useless. Deciding that it wouldn't have made much of a difference if the lights on the other floors was anything to go off of. I checked my phone as I headed to the final door at the end of the hall. It was 11:45PM, the game was growing closer than it had ever been before.
   A feeling of unease returned as I reached for the doorknob, what if I backed out now? How would they know, unless this was all some sort of prank. If that was the case I'd probably lose my newest friend, and my only chance to be cool. What if I waited on the stairs returning to them after, and it wasn't a prank. What would the people behind this do if they found someone so close to the room but not in it. Not to mention they'd ask to see the puzzle piece, if any doubt was in their minds.
   Ignoring all the feeling in my gut, I headed into the room closing the door behind me. All I had to do was get through this once and put it all behind me. The idea of being able to pawn off or sell the gold to someone was just a bonus. I made my way to the chair sitting solemnly in the room. It was like one of those chairs from a science lab at school. A hard acrylic seat and matching backs, with hollow metal legs.
   Here in the room the smell of mold was stronger, as if it was the origin point. There was something more, a coppery metallic seemed to singe my nose hairs. I finally closed my eyes and relaxed, and at nearly that same moment a pressure weighed down upon me. Heavy and sudden it reminded me of being a child in family photos; fathers hands resting on my collar bone.
   A tingling bolted up and down spine, chilling me to my very core. I scrunched my face in discomfort, attempting to further close my eyes; they way a child does when afraid in the night. I wanted to flee, to jump up and push past the other person in the room. Not stopping till I was back at the bottom of the stairs, with my friends who surely would understand. The pressure on my shoulders swelled, with a crawling sensation manifesting in my skin. Hands seemed to grasp my ankles, cementing me to the spot.
   Another set of hands began to crawl across my body, caressing me gently. More hands grouped at my forearms grasping with immense strength. Suddenly a sharp prodding under the back of rib-cage hit me. It felt as someone was reaching up inside me, routing through my organs searching. Sheer panic flooded me, had I been duped? Was my co-worker and his brothers  bringing me here to harvest my organs? Did they work for the black market and that's how they obtained the gold; to further lure people into the trap?
   Bile churned in my stomach, I'd been played by someone I called my friend; someone I had gotten close to only to be stabbed in the back. I'd most likely end up just another body in the back alley's of St. Petersburg. Labeled as a victim of a mugging or as "unknown death" by people on their payroll. However if I sat here calmly there could be a chance I make it. I could make my way to the convenience store and make sure an ambulance can find me. That I could hopefully tell someone what happened and who was involved so it couldn't happen again this easily.
   The grips tightened once more, now even more hand where moving across me as they pleased. Some clawed across me, painfully dragging nails down my arms and back. While other hands teased, gently rubbing finger tips on my chest and thighs. Sudden hot flashes raged across my body, while a rough grasp cupped my groin. Then a dull crushing weight hit my sternum, and it seemed like something was pulling at my rib-cage. Rattling it like an enraged prisoner, eager to escape.
   How many people where there in this room? From the feeling it had to be at least ten or more people, both males and females. Nails clawed furiously, the gentile caresses turning violent like the rest. A voice then whispered into my ear"Thanks for playing with us." It sounded like an unattractive husky woman attempting to be more alluring than she probably was.
   Stunned and horrified, I could only sit in silence paralyzed with my eyes shut tightly. I don't know how long I was sitting there, but it felt like hours. I didn't come to till my phone went off in my pocket. It was my mother texting me, worried where I had been and if I were okay. The time was 4:25AM, I returned her text with a call sobbing. I begged her to come to the area I was at and that I was scared out of my fucking mind. She stayed on the phone with me as she rushed to my location. It was here that I realized if something had opened me up, I would have bled out by now. I then noticed the small jewelry box sat by my feet, inside it was a small golden puzzle block.
   I met my mother outside the convenience store, still shaking from the experience I just went through. She rushed at me embracing me, glad to see her precious baby was safe. Her touch only worsened my condition, it caused me to vomit and pass out. When I awoke I was in the hospital being poked and prodded all over again.
   The doctors ran blood tests to see if I had been on drugs, while psychologist listened to me retell the incident. Due to my hysteria the wanted to keep me for a couple days. Looking over my mental state, while prescribing me anti-anxiety medication. The lead psychologist wrote it off as a normal reaction for someone with un-diagnosed anxiety reacting to a cruel prank gone wrong. After a few days they let me return home as long as I stayed on the medicine.
   Returning to work a few days after being released, there he was. He looked haggard and unkempt, I was surprised they let him work looking like that. I couldn't hold back my anger, I lashed out at him then and there. He was apologetic, spouting some crap about running off because some guys tried to mug them. My anger at him only grew, if it was the truth then it meant he had left me there at that damned building. We worked the rest of our shift  in silence.
   Afterwords he approached me "Hey man, I know your mad at me and you have the right to be... Can I at least explain myself to you?" he asked sincerely.
   I wanted to explode on him all over again, but I decided to hear him out before giving him what he deserved. He wasn't very coherent, from what I gleamed the game originated back when Czars held power. Supposedly they played and forced others to play for their own personal gain. The areas where usually placed of great pain and grief; if the nobles couldn't find one they made one. Who knows how many surfs they killed in attempts to make a suitable place.
   The exact amount of games and players where unknown. One player kept a journal detailing their personal experiences. According to some of the entries, it was believed to be owned by the mad monk Rasputin. I didn't buy his bullshit at the time. He produced a small business card and told me it was for a support group for other players. I'll never forget those last words he said to me.
   "You know there's a way to cheat the game..." his voice grew soft "If you can un-focus your eyes, there's no need to shut them."
   He left after that, and I never saw him again; he committed suicide that same night. I received a sealed letter in a manila envelope a few days latter. In it he expressed remorse and urged me never to play the game again. He insisted that I go to the support group and try to make the best of my life. He also told me that any anger I felt was justified, and that he was leaving me his pieces. There at the bottom of the envelope were thirty small golden shapes. With one large flat piece the size of a child's palm rested in the pile of mixed blocks.
   Week's passed and the idea of calling the support group lolled in my mind. I wanted answers to what was going on and weather for better or worse I called them. They gave me the time and place of the monthly meetings, and I was shocked to hear they where held at a civic center. I knew I had to commit to this and get answers.

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