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Topics - Skill Flea

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16
Featured CreepyPasta / Autopilot
« on: 01:16:36 PM 01/08/17 »
Have you ever forgotten your phone?
When did you realize you’d forgotten it? I’m guessing you didn’t just smack your forehead and exclaim ‘damn’ apropos of nothing. The realization probably didn’t dawn on you spontaneously. More likely, you reached for your phone, pawing open your pocket or handbag, and were momentarily confused by it not being there. Then you did a mental recap of the morning’s events.

Shit.

In my case, my phone’s alarm woke me up as normal but I realized the battery was lower than I expected. It was a new phone and it had this annoying habit of leaving applications running that drain the battery overnight. So, I put it on to charge while I showered instead of into my bag like normal. It was a momentary slip from the routine but that was all it took. Once in the shower, my brain got back into ‘the routine’ it follows every morning and that was it.

Forgotten.

This wasn’t just me being clumsy, as I later researched; this is a recognized brain function. Your brain doesn’t work just on one level, it works on many. Like, when you’re walking somewhere, you think about your destination and avoiding hazards, but you don’t need to think about keeping your legs moving properly. If you did, the entire world would turn into one massive hilarious QWOP cosplay. I wasn’t thinking about regulating my breathing, I was thinking whether I should grab a coffee on the drive to work (I did). I wasn’t thinking about moving my breakfast through my intestines, I was wondering whether I’d finish on time to pick up my daughter Emily from the nursery after work or get stuck with another late fee. This is the thing; there’s a level of your brain that just deals with routine, so that the rest of the brain can think about other things.

Think about it. Think about your last commute. What do you actually remember? Probably little, if anything. Most common journeys blur into one, and recalling any one in particular is scientifically proven to be difficult. Do something often enough and it becomes routine. Keep doing it and it stops being processed by the thinking bit of the brain and gets relegated to a part of the brain dedicated to dealing with routine. Your brain keeps doing it, without you thinking about it. Soon, you think about your route to work as much as you do keeping your legs moving when you walk.

Most people call it autopilot. But there’s danger there. If you have a break in your routine, your ability to remember and account for the break is only as good as your ability to stop your brain going into routine mode. My ability to remember my phone being on the counter is only as reliable as my ability to stop my brain entering ‘morning routine mode’ which would dictate that my phone is actually in my bag. But I didn’t stop my brain entering routine mode. I got in the shower as normal. Routine started. Exception forgotten.

Autopilot engaged.

My brain was back in the routine. I showered, I shaved, the radio forecasted amazing weather, I gave Emily her breakfast and loaded her into the car (she was so adorable that morning, she complained about the ‘bad sun’ in the morning blinding her, saying it stopped her having a little sleep on the way to nursery) and left. That was the routine. It didn’t matter that my phone was on the counter, charging silently. My brain was in the routine and in the routine my phone was in my bag. This is why I forgot my phone. Not clumsiness. Not negligence. Nothing more my brain entering routine mode and over-writing the exception.

Autopilot engaged.

I left for work. It’s a swelteringly hot day already. The bad sun had been burning since before my traitorously absent phone woke me. The steering wheel was burning hot to the touch when I sat down. I think I heard Emily shift over behind my driver’s seat to get out of the glare. But I got to work. Submitted the report. Attended the morning meeting. It’s not until I took a quick coffee break and reached for my phone that the illusion shattered. I did a mental restep. I remembered the dying battery. I remembered putting it on to charge. I remembered leaving it there.

My phone was on the counter.

Autopilot disengaged.

Again, there lies the danger. Until you have that moment, the moment you reach for your phone and shatter the illusion, that part of the brain is still in routine mode. It has no reason to question the facts of the routine; that’s why it’s a routine. The act of repetition. It’s not as if anyone could say ‘why didn’t you remember your phone? Didn’t it occur to you? How could you forget? You must be negligent’; this is to miss the point. My brain was telling me the routine was completed as normal, despite the fact that it wasn’t. It wasn’t that I forgot my phone. According to my brain, according to the routine, my phone was in my bag. Why would I think to question it? Why would I check? Why would I suddenly remember, out of nowhere, that my phone was on the counter?

My brain was wired into the routine and the routine was that my phone was in my bag.

The day continued to bake. The morning haze gave way to the relentless fever heat of the afternoon. Tarmac bubbled. The direct beams of heat threatened to crack the pavement. People swapped coffees for iced smoothies. Jackets discarded, sleeves rolled up, ties loosened, brows mopped. The parks slowly filled with sunbathers and BBQ’s. Window frames threatened to warp. The thermometer continued to swell. Thank fuck the offices were air-conditioned.

But, as ever, the furnace of the day gave way to a cooler evening. Another day, another dollar. Still cursing myself for forgetting my phone, I drove home. The day's heat had baked the inside of the car, releasing a horrible smell from somewhere. When I arrived on the driveway, the stones crunching comfortingly under my tires, my wife greeted me at the door.

“Where’s Emily?”

Fuck.

As if the phone wasn’t bad enough. After everything I’d left Emily at the fucking nursery after all. I immediately sped back to the nursery. I got to the door and started practicing my excuses, wondering vainly if I could charm my way out of a late fee. I saw a piece of paper stuck to the door.

“Due to vandalism overnight, please use side door. Today only.”

Overnight? What? The door was fine this morni-

I froze. My knees shook.

Vandals. A change in the routine.

My phone was on the counter.

I hadn’t been here this morning.

My phone was on the counter.

I’d driven past because I was drinking my coffee. I’d not dropped off Emily.

My phone was on the counter.

She’d moved her seat. I hadn’t seen her in the mirror.

My phone was on the counter.

She’d fallen asleep out of the bad sun. She didn’t speak when I drove past her nursery.

My phone was on the counter.

She’d changed the routine.

My phone was on the counter.

She’d changed the routine and I’d forgotten to drop her off.

My phone was on the counter.

Nine hours. That car. That baking sun. No air. No water. No power. No help. That heat. A steering wheel too hot to touch.

That smell.

I walked to the car door. Numb. Shock.

I opened the door.

My phone was on the counter and my daughter was dead.

Autopilot disengaged.

Written by Skarjo


17
My husband Jeremy has never been an abusive man but he’s always had that temper. I know that he loves our girl with all his heart and he would never lay a finger on her nor myself. I guess you could say our family is the poster child for traditional values. I take care of the house while he works at the coal mines, we live a simple but happy lifestyle. Whenever that man started screaming though, I would silently go into the basement with my little Sarah to get away from the noise. You see, I have very sensitive hearing and my husband’s yelling can really ruin a peaceful night.

For whatever reason, Jeremy’s temper would always worsen as the weather turned colder. He’s always had that bad back he never wants to admit having. Perhaps the lower temperature had a negative effect on him physically but then again Jeremy has always hated the cold.  I guess for as long as I’ve known him, there’s been many things that cause that man to rant and rave. The media, diet sodas, cheerleaders in football games, liberals, Mike’s dog; and all that was just during one very memorable breakfast with our extended family.

Jeremy does most of the bellyaching around here but there has been something that’s been driving me mad lately. Bells. I’ve been hearing the sound of bells ever since Thanksgiving. Jeremy and Mike were passed out on the couch, Sarah was in bed, and I was trying to clean the table. That’s when I began hearing the ringing of bells, I wasn’t afraid of the sound per se but I had no idea where it was coming from. The ringing was only there for a few moments before it disappeared.

As the weeks after Thanksgiving came and went, I kept occasionally hearing the sound of bells once more. Sometimes they were louder and sometimes they lasted a little longer. I was going crazy trying to figure out where they were coming from. Jeremy couldn’t hear them himself but was kind enough to comb through the entire house. Of course he found nothing. 

It was the 21st of last December when the bells finally had a point of origin. I was preparing dinner when Sarah came running into the kitchen with this huge smile on her face.

‘Mommy, its Santa! Santa is here!’

She pulled me towards the front window and outside stood a man with broad shoulders dressed as Santa Claus. He was standing at the front of the house, facing away from the door. A small red pot was by his side with a little sign that I could barely read: ‘Please consider donating!’ Although he was still facing away from the house, as I was looking at him, he began ringing his bell. I made sure the house was locked before grabbing Sarah and running for the basement. I had no idea who this man was and wasn’t about to take any chances. 

But then the ringing stopped and I could hear two men begin screaming at each other. One of them was definitely my husband, he must have just come home. I held my daughter as the minutes of screaming went on, until there was a loud bang and the screaming ceased. I ran upstairs, leaving Sarah behind, only to see Santa coming inside. The jingle of my husband’s keys was the last thing I heard.
   
It is now spring. I’m resting at my mother’s house trying to get back on my feet. My husband is gone and my child is nowhere to be seen.     

20
Your Stories / The Door to Door Ritual
« on: 02:03:02 PM 11/28/16 »
Like the taste of a fine wine, the best things in life are worth waiting for. It’s something very foreign to a lot of people, especially with modern technology barraging our feeble little monkey brains with a constant stream of information. If there’s anything I’ve learned about humans, it’s that they bruise very easily. Perhaps there’s the girl of your dreams that ended up marrying the other guy. Maybe your brother is a selfish prick and didn’t share the inheritance, or maybe there was that one bully that may have tortured you years ago; yet the scars still remain. We all have something in us that’s very unrefined and unhealthy. It should be only natural for a man to release some darkness inside himself so that his quality of life can be better. So I have a proposal. If you are suffering at the hands of another person, why sit in your own filth? Why not travel around a little? Why not try something new and exciting, with minimal danger and a clear path to success?   

“But why should I do this?” you may ask yourself. For starters, here’s a list of everything you need:

1.   Any type of paper
2.   A writing utensil
3.   A front porch with some sort of ‘welcome mat’ or anything that can be used to prevent a piece a paper from blowing away in the wind.

This is all you need to technically complete the first part of the ritual.  Why would there be more than that? The unknown is not interested in any physical sacrifices.  Why would the spiritual world have the need for anything like an earthly possession? Its inhabitants only have one possession anyway. Time. Paying for a service received by the unknown requires the payment to be another service itself. Makes sense right?

However, there is another list of items that you will probably need in order to complete the second half of this ritual. Don’t worry its nothing too crazy:

1.   A driver’s license
2.   A vehicle or mode of transportation
3.   A healthy supply of spending money

I know this second half of the list doesn’t sound very ‘spiritual’ but it will be important for completing your tasks in the event the unknown cooperates with you. Just let me show you how easy this really is.

Take your piece of paper and writing instrument, then jot down as much information about yourself as you can. Anything you can think of really. Your birthday, your address, or even your favorite type of animal. The trick here is to help the unknown track you down and figure out who you are. You can’t just write ‘Joe Smith’ and expect them to figure out which Joe Smith you are. These are not mystical creatures with powers beyond your wildest imagination after all. Also, the more you write about yourself the more likely it is for you to be noticed. One downside to this ritual is that it isn’t a one way street for you nor the unknown. If you attempt this, they need to pick you and they may not do so right away. Maybe not at all. So getting yourself noticed is a priority here. Help the unknown become interested in you. 

After you write your information down, turn the page over and begin writing more information. This time it needs to be about your intended target. The ‘girl of your dreams that ended up marrying the other guy, or the brother didn’t share the inheritance, or that one bully that tortured you years ago’. That person, the one person you hate and would love to see fall in the game of life. You should really describe this person in detail, similar to how you did for yourself, but also include reasons for why they are your intended target and why you are doing this at all. Perhaps include what you would like to see happen to him/her. Although, I will personally advise you to not ask for their demise. It goes without saying but it’s advisable for your intended victim to genuinely be a bad person. Help the unknown hate your target too. 

Once you are done, you simply stick your piece of paper somewhere on your front porch. It really helps if you take measures to insure that the paper stays on your porch, hence the welcome mat or whatever object you might have that can do the job. That’s pretty much it, afterwards you basically just sit around and wait for your call to be answered. The best things in life are worth waiting for and if you truly want to see your target suffer you will not mind the wait.

How long is the wait? It’s hard to say. The unknown needs to choose to answer you. Sure you could summon them but they could choose to not answer the call. The reality is that all the power in this spiritual ritual entirely depends on the unknown spirits. Crazy concept right? If they feel like you are wasting their only possession they have left, their time, then they may choose to ignore you and there’s really nothing you can do. Again, it’s advisable for your intended victim to genuinely be a bad person.
Now if you are answered here’s what you can expect.  Nothing is going to possess you nor hurt you. Instead your piece of paper will be gone and in its place will be a package of some sort. The size of the package, the type of box it is in, etc. can all vary. The only similar feature between every package that appears is the lack of a return address and one side being covered in cold, wet red tape. Nothing dangerous will occur if you take the box inside your home, in fact it’s the next step.

You need to focus on the side with the red tape and CAREFULLY remove it. The reasons for this will be made clear but I can’t stress enough about being careful when removing the tape. Underneath the red tape is an address that is written in blood, just kidding, it’s usually black sharpie. Sometimes it’s in blue sharpie but the point of this little joke is that the package is not fundamentally dangerous to handle. However, it is also very impolite to open other people’s mail so be a gentleman (or a courteous lady) and do not open the package. No one could ever know what’s in there since it could in the most literal sense be anything from a human skull to a piece of apple pie. The rules of this ritual are pretty lenient but please do not open that package. It’s for your own good.

In any case, once the tape is removed the address should be eligible enough to be read. Now here comes the ‘hard’ part and depending on what the address is, the most dangerous part of the ritual. You need to deliver this package to that address; by hand. In other words, you yourself need to go to wherever that address is and deliver the package like a door to door salesman. Please do not use the postage system or else this will not work out. Ruining someone’s life is a difficult job, a job that takes up time. Perhaps the best way to interpret this is to assume the unknown spirit that extended this olive branch to you wants to know how far you are willing to go yourself. It really depends on what’s inside the package and the person(s) your new unknown friend wants to give it to. This takes us to the second rule you cannot break, the last one of only two. You need to go to that location on the package no matter how far away it is from your house. There are no borders for the unknown.

Have no fear, for the rules are pretty lenient for actually handing your package off to the individual(s) at the address in question. Once you arrive, you do not have to awkwardly knock on the person’s door and then make up some story about who you are and why you are here. Although I guess you could do this without any consequence but as a precaution I wouldn’t be in the area when they open it. After all, the contents inside could be anything. In theory you could just leave the package at their stoop and play the age old game of ‘ding dong ditch’. You could even just leave the package there and take off, the only requirements for this to work is for the individual(s) at the given address to receive and open the package. You can’t exactly do much to influence the latter but the former is all on you.

If everything works out and we just assume you are able to return home safely, you can expect your target to face some consequences. If you wrote anything specific for your target to face, it is possible something different might occur. However, at this point, you can expect him/her to face the music one way or another. Overall, the ritual is very fair and will reward you if you can simply follow its few essential rules. It is impossible to be in any danger during the first phase and the only danger you will face in the second phase depends on the distance between you and the given address.

One final thing though. Some people to decide to look in the package or choose to not to deliver the package at all. Hell, I’ll even admit that sometimes the contents inside are priceless and more than a few people have chosen to simply take the goodies. A very small lucky proportion of them even get rich, become powerful public figures, and live really nice lives. It could be the ultimate lottery ticket if you are feeling incredibly lucky, brave, or just stupid. Should you pull any of these stunts, however, you might receive a bounty of packages on a regular basis. 
 
         

21
Your Stories / It's All About You
« on: 03:03:37 PM 11/23/16 »
It began last winter, the one where you had to shovel the driveway for that annoying elderly couple down the street.

“A little kindness today is worth your weight in gold tomorrow!” you heard your mother shout as you begrudgingly made your way to the O’Neils’ driveway.

You were armed with a large stick with some plastic on the end of it. It may have once resembled a shovel. You remember cursing as it broke under a layer of compacted ice. Your parents didn’t exactly buy the greatest tools for the harsh conditions of the winter in suburban New York. Was it really the lack of money? No of course not.

You remember don’t you? Under the Christmas tree opening gifts. Your little stash of gifts was way smaller than Scotty’s pile of wrapped goodies. A jaw dropping mountain of gold appeared under the tree like clockwork. Almost as if it was an offering from your parents to the demi-god that is your little brother. 

Sure, you don’t usually ask for much. Cards are nice and no gift is better than cold hard cash. Still, even you are a bit jealous of a kid that certainly did not deserve any of his gifts. Unlike you he is lazy. Younger sure but a complete failure. He’s been held back a grade, gets by doing the bare minimum at every turn, and simply doesn’t do anything extra. Dead weight.

Yet you remember all of those presents he got that Christmas day. It was a pretty moderate amount to be honest. The actual ‘size’ of his gifts may have contributed to the pile’s overall scale. That was the year he really got into Pokemon. Your parents bought him toys, plushies, even a small pokeball gumball machine, and other toys like it.

Now you were partaking in the usual ritual of Christmas day, a very boring spectacle since it was now reduced to watching someone else unwrapping gifts. That’s when you received text from your friend Jacob.

“hey some of us r hangin near the lib u should come. laurens here man!”

As much as you wanted to, you knew it would be almost impossible to leave during family time and Scotty still had a treasure trove of gifts to open. You were going to say something but then mom and dad left the room to retrieve the “surprise gift” for little snotty. That’s when you made your move and bolted for the back door.

As you later discovered, it was not a great idea to go out without a coat. After all you didn’t come back home until well after 10 pm. Your parents were going to be furious with you. Still, you had a great night and ended up making out with Lauren. Realistically there was very little they could do to spoil your night on cloud nine and with a big grin you approached the front door.

“Are they asleep?” You thought to yourself as you made your way forward into the colonial kitchen. Past the kitchen, past the living room and down the hallway to your room you went. Home-free for the night, you quietly went to bed never hearing from your parents again.       

Over the next couple of days after the holiday, your parents went from being lazy to downright neglectful. They were spending way too much time with Scotty, which honestly never bothered you at first. Hell, they never even mentioned the fact that you had ditched the family on Christmas day. There was nothing to complain about. 

However, as days turned into weeks, it was very clear they were no longer interested in parenting Scotty. Instead, they would give him whatever he wanted, buy him whatever toy he wanted, fed him whatever junk he wanted, and let him stay up as long as he wanted. As their attention of your little brother seemed to increase, he turned into an unhealthy mess. He wasn’t going to school as much and instead was slowly becoming a very fat little snot. All Scotty cared about now was eating, sleeping, and playing with his new Christmas gifts. Watching him eat is never a pretty sight as he now claws for his food in one hand while holding his 3DS in the other.

You’ve tried to confront your mom about this but they will not listen to you. She never pays any attention to you and runs off the second Scotty calls for her. A similar case happens with your father, its completely useless trying to reason with them. They call your point of view pointless.

Then you decided to confront Scotty directly, the idea came to you after you watched Scotty waddle for the bathroom with a sense of urgency. He probably had another accident and would be out of commission for a while. You suddenly realize you had not gone into your brother’s room for quite some time, in fact it had been since Christmas.

You enter his room to a gruesome sight. Candy wrappers everywhere, fast food left on the floor with reckless abandon, and all sorts of toys scattered around the room. It was as if a twister was hired for a hit job and the target was this very room. You go to leave, the smell is overpowering but before you do you see his stupid 3ds. The toy he never has out of his hand. You decide to pull a fast one on him and take it with you to your room.

Locking the door, you flop on your bed and open the small hand-held system. It comes to life and you immediately recognize that this is a Pokemon game. It’s one of the newer ones that you never really got into. The screen showed six pokemon, some of which you recognize. A snorlax named Andy, an exeggutor named Mrs. Philips, a chansey named Mommy, and an aggron named after you. Two other Pokemon were also there, a frog-like sprite named Daddy and a sprite that appeared to resemble a T-rex named Corey.

The overworld looks amazing. As you move, your sprite on the screen begins roller-skating around a big city. This game looks incredible to you and you immediately go out to find someone to battle. As you move around, the bottom of the screen showed something peculiar. The sprite of the Chansey was now rolling around in some type of sphere as your in-game character moved. It looked odd and you tried to tap on the chansey with your finger and an option to ‘play’ appeared. You clicked on it and heard a loud bang from your door, followed by a shriek.

“Mommy! He’s playing with my game! Make him stop!!”

You roll your eyes as Scotty and now your mother began banging at the door yelling at you to come out. You head over to the door and look down at the game one last time. You see the Chansey standing in a strange grassy field looking at you. Without thinking, you tap Chansey’s face with your finger. Your mother stops yelling.

It's super effective.         
   

26

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29
Your Stories / Nurture
« on: 07:27:24 AM 09/21/16 »
Hello children! Welcome to your very first day of 1st grade! I am your teacher, Ms. Clemens, and we are going to have so much fun together! I can’t wait to get to know you guys! Now I know summer is over and it’s hard to feel too happy today, but this my first day teaching. So we are all going to get through our first day together! Ok!

Now, first thing is first. Does everyone have a working notepad?

Excellent! Alright I can’t wait to chill out with you and um, just get to know you. Ok! Now is there an Elissa Aikman here!

That’s a cute bow you got on your head! And wow! You wrote your name perfectly! I hope the rest of the class can take notes like you can! In fact, you get a gold sticker! Ok! Let’s keep going.  Is there a Marcus Brentwood here?
.,.
Marcus please! Don’t raise your hand like that sweetie! Just use the notepad next time and you can get a gold sticker like Elissa!

Much better, here’s your golden goat sticker Marcus!

30
I work at a gas station in rural Pennsylvania. It's a boring job, but it's pretty easy and it pays all right. A few weeks ago, this new guy started; I'll call him Jeremy.

Jeremy is weird. He's about 25 or 26, and he hardly speaks, but he's got the creepiest laugh I've ever heard. My boss and I have both noticed this, but it's never been a problem, so there's not much we can do about it. Customers have never complained about him, and he's always done his job fairly well. Up until a few weeks ago, anyway—that's when things started going missing. Employee theft can be a problem at any business that sells consumer goods, and there's only one person working at a time at this gas station (it's a pretty small place). About two weeks ago, my boss started noticing that we were short on motor oil. At first, it was a few containers at a time, then entire shelves and boxes from the back room. Pretty soon entire shipments would be gone the day after we got them, and it would always be right after Jeremy's shifts. My boss has checked the security camera tapes from every single night he worked, but he could never catch him in the act. Jeremy would lock up at closing, then the motor oil would be gone the next day.

My boss usually takes the tapes home with him to try and catch Jeremy stealing, but his daughter had a softball game last night, so he asked me to watch the tape for him. He offered to pay me overtime, under-the-table, so obviously I took that offer. There are three cameras, so he gave me three different tapes to check. I figured it would be a long night, but I'm trying to save up for vacation, so I really needed the money. I took the tapes home, popped them in an old VCR and sat back.

Two days ago (the last time he worked), Jeremy started at 4 PM. Everything seemed pretty normal at first. He counted up his drawer, switched off with the girl who was working before him, and waited for a customer. The first person who came in was Mrs. Templeton (the timestamp on the video read 4:03), a regular. She picked up her cigarettes and a newspaper, and paid with a twenty. Nothing unusual there. The next customer was some local guy named Ron. He drives a motorcycle, usually comes in every few days. He filled up his tank, got a bag of beef jerky, paid with his credit card, and then left. Next was some guy with a cowboy hat. I'd never seen him before, but we get plenty of strangers passing through, just like at any gas station. He got forty dollars worth of diesel fuel, paid with a hundred dollar bill, and went on his way. I sat back and sighed. The only thing more boring than doing this job is watching someone else do it.

My boss's offer was enough to keep me watching though, so I left the tape on. Everything seemed pretty normal. I had a feeling that if Jeremy was stealing motor oil, he knew we were suspicious of him by now. I didn't expect him to be dumb enough to let us catch him on camera. Things stayed boring and routine until about five o'clock.

At 5:03, Mrs. Templeton came back in; she must have forgotten something. But she didn't. She bought the same pack of cigarettes as before, and the same newspaper. She paid with another twenty. That's odd, I thought, but then again, she's a little absent minded. I thought Jeremy should have told her she already got her smokes, but it's not against the rules to sell somebody the same thing twice. That's when Ron came in again. He bought another tank of gas (for his motorcycle again—I later checked the outdoor camera because I thought maybe he had another car he wanted to fill up) and the same pack of beef jerky. He paid with his credit card again.

No big deal, I figured this was just a weird coincidence. Mrs. Templeton is forgetful and Ron probably owns more than one Harley. That's when the guy in the cowboy hat came back in. I felt a chill run down my spine. "Don't get diesel, don't get diesel," I found myself whispering to my empty living room...but he did. He got forty dollars worth of diesel fuel and paid with another hundred dollar bill. Every move he made was identical to his first visit, right down to the way he scratched his nose before he walked out. Either this guy is rich, owns a lot of trucks, and just moved into town, or something really bizarre was happening. I kept watching.

Every customer for the next hour was the same as before. Every single one. I was seriously freaked out, and then at 6:03, Mrs. Templeton walked back in. She bought her cigarettes and newspaper again, and paid with a twenty again. I thought I was going to lose it. I only watched another half hour before I started fast forwarding through the rest. It was all the same. Every customer would come in at the exact same times, exactly one hour apart.

Now I know what you're thinking. That sneaky motherfucker Jeremy had messed with the tapes. He had run a loop of his first hour of business over and over. That wasn't the case. There are windows around the cash register area that the camera covers, and I watched the sunlight fade as time ran on. Jeremy's routine didn't loop over—he swept, mopped, restocked, and did all his duties exactly how you would expect. But the same customers kept coming in.

I was panicking at this point. Something was seriously wrong with what I was seeing, and I had no explanation for it. I skipped ahead to when he locked up and walked out to his car. He hadn't stolen anything, but I kept watching, just to make sure. I fast forwarded one last time, to about midnight.

At exactly 12:03, out of nowhere, Jeremy's face pops up on camera. I don't mean he moved his head into view, I mean that one second the store was empty, the next second his face was all I could see. He wasn't looking at the camera, he was looking at me, I was sure of it. I screamed and fumbled for the remote. By the time I grabbed it, he was gone, just as soon as he had left. One frame he was there, the next he wasn't. My hands were shaking like crazy, but I popped in another tape. The other indoor camera shows the back area, by the cash register, and I would be able to see how he got up to put his face in the camera like that. I skipped ahead to 12:03, but there was nothing. I would have been able to see him standing on a chair or something on this tape, but he wasn't there. I didn't see him enter the store at all after he left. It's like he wasn't really there. He doesn't know the security code, and no alarms were triggered that night after he locked up.

What I did see, however, was that at 12:03, the motor oil vanished off the shelf. All of it. Same as Jeremy's face, one second it was there and the next it wasn't. I turned that tape off and went to bed, but I didn't get a wink of sleep. My body is exhausted right now, but my mind is racing. That tape was undoubtedly the creepiest, most disturbing thing I've ever seen in my life.

I work in a few hours. My boss asked me to bring the tapes back in and let him know what I found, but really, what the hell am I going to say? Jeremy works the night shift tonight, directly after me, and the plan is for my boss to come in just before I leave and confront him with me (as I'm supposed to be the one who caught him stealing). I have no idea what I'm going to do. I suppose I'll have to show my boss the tapes, but I don't want to watch them with him. I never want to see something like that again. I can't get the image of Jeremy just smiling directly into the camera out of my mind; it was the creepiest look I've ever seen on another human being's face.

Anyway, I'm gonna try again to get some last minute sleep before I have to go in and deal with this. I'll let you guys know what happens...

UPDATE (2:49 PM): Updating from my phone, apologies in advance for errors. My boss just finished watching the last of the tapes. I told him what to expect, but you really can't prepare someone for something like that. He's scared shitless (I still am too) and Jeremy is due to come in at 4. We've got a little over an hour to get our shit together, but neither one of us knows what to say to him. Is he just a fucked up guy who likes to steal motor oil and scare the shit out of people? Or is he something else? I don't know if this is crazy, but does anyone think he could have anything to do with the time loop? My boss said he never noticed anything like that in the other tapes, but the way he popped up in this one made me think he knew I would be watching. It's like he wanted me to see what he could do. Like he was showing off or something. The way he smiled into the camera was like a little kid showing you a sandcastle they just built or something. I don't know, I probably sound crazy. I sure feel the part. I'm going to talk to my boss some more. We have to calm ourselves down and figure out how to handle this. I'll update again tonight, but I have a really bad feeling about how this is going to play out.

UPDATE (4:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.

UPDATE (5:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.

UPDATE (6:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.

UPDATE (7:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.

UPDATE (8:33 PM): No sign of Jeremy. Tried calling him, but his phone has been disconnected. We're calling the police.

UPDATE (10:58 PM): Holy shit. Holy shit holy shit holy shit. I just got home and saw my previous updates. Things make less sense now than ever. Here's what I can tell you. I went to work, Jeremy never showed up, my boss and I decided to call the police, as you're well aware. When I picked up the phone to call, though, the sun went out. I shit you not, that's what I thought happened. Apparently I blacked out for exactly five hours, because when I looked at the clock, it was 9:33. I think I got stuck in Jeremy's time loop, and then I snapped out of it at the exact point I blacked out, if that makes sense. But that's when things got really weird.

My boss was right next to me when I blacked out, ready to corroborate my story to the cops. When I came to, the phone was in my hand, but it was dead. Not even a dial tone. My boss was still right there, but he wasn't moving. He was standing up, but frozen. I looked at the clock again, and it wasn't moving. The second hand was stuck on the 12. It was 9:33 exactly. The clock on the register (computer screen) wasn't moving either. My phone was frozen. There was even a customer at the register, waiting for my boss to get him cigarettes. I'm betting that would have been his fifth pack of the day.

I got the fuck out of there. Didn't lock up, didn't turn the lights out, and sorry guys, I didn't grab the security tapes to upload on the internet. Believe me, that was the last thing on my mind. The gas station is on a major highway, and cars were parked all along it, except they weren't parked, they were frozen. The people inside were sitting still as wax statues. I got in my car and prayed that it would start. Thankfully it did.

About halfway home, time started up again. The static from the radio turned into music, like it's supposed to be, and from what I could tell by listening to the host talk in between songs, no one noticed the time freeze, or whatever it was. I was the only one. Well, I'm sure Jeremy noticed as well. I still have no clue where he is or what he's doing. I'm hiding in my room and calling the police again in the morning. I don't know if I ever got through to them before, or if I did, whether they took me seriously. I'm scared for my life at this point. I'll update tomorrow, if I can.

FINAL UPDATE (10:33 AM): I finally fell asleep last night around 4. I have no idea how I did it, I guess exhaustion finally got the best of me. This morning, I woke up to my phone ringing; it was my boss. He'd been calling me since about 6. He woke up when time turned back on last night and immediately called the cops. They came by to see what was wrong and he told them everything. The police around here are all small time guys; they were more concerned with the missing motor oil than anything, but my boss figured he would take it, as long as he had their attention. They decided to go looking for Jeremy.

We keep all our employees' applications on file, and since Jeremy just started working here, his was easy to find. They checked the address on it and headed over to his house. You're not gonna believe what they found.

The address Jeremy listed on his application was an empty lot. Or at least now it is. There used to be a house there, but it burned down in 1993. Being a small town, almost everyone remembers that fire. A family of four used to live there way back when. Rumor has it that they had an estranged son who they never really talked about, but I can't say for sure if that's true. What I can say is true is that after an insurance investigation, the fire was ruled an arson. The entire house was soaked in oil and torched with a Molotov cocktail. The entire family was sleeping when it happened; none of them survived.

They never caught the guy who did it. Rumor has it that when they tried to contact the estranged son, no one could find him.

Anyway, my boss called and told me this, and I freaked out. Then he asked me to come to the gas station. "What are you, crazy?" I said, but he assured me that the cops were there with him. Then he dropped a bomb: the FBI were also in town and they were going to talk to me one way or another, so I might as well come in. It was about 7:15, and I wanted to go back to bed, but I figured I wouldn't be able to sleep much more anyway, so I went down.

Four men in suits greeted me and told me to have a seat. We went over everything two or three times until they got all the details down. I told them about Jeremy, the security tape, last night at work. Everything. Finally, after I finished, one of the agents said, "Oh Christ, we've got another one on our hands." Then they made me sign a bunch of papers saying I wouldn't tell anyone about what happened, so I can't say much more. I might be breaking the law just by posting this.

So now I'm home. I'm not sure what to do with myself. That agent's words when I told him the story are going to haunt me for the rest of my life.

Anyway, I've got to go. I have some errands to run today, and then I have to go in to work to pick up some tapes. My boss and I think this new guy Jeremy (he's a complete creep) is stealing motor oil and I have to watch the security footage to see if I can catch him doing it. I have better things to do, but my boss is paying me overtime, under-the-table, and I'm trying to save up for vacation so I could really use the money. It should be pretty simple; the oil always goes missing right after his shifts. I figure I'll just watch the tapes, catch him in the act, and that will be that.

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