Sunday, November 20, 2022

Miner Inconvenience

Bob felt his arms feel like jelly. He didn’t really understand why, but this coal vein couldn’t be accessed by machinery. His boss simply handed him a pickaxe and a bucket and told him to get to work. It was exhausting, and he hated every second of it. But that was normal. He always hated every second of his job. He wanted out, and he had been applying all over.


As he worked the ground with his pickaxe, he noticed a strange spot. A black blob etched into the rock. It almost seemed like coal, but it was reflective, like obsidian maybe? Bob felt a very sudden urge come on him to strike the black spot. He couldn’t explain it, it was like standing on a balcony and getting the urge to jump. It was like the urge he had every morning to just drive away and not go into work. This time though, he couldn’t fight it. He picked up his pickaxe and threw it down on the black spot. It instantly crumbled into a tiny, unremarkable hole. Bob shrugged, weird, though he wasn’t a cave scientist or anything, so maybe that happened all the time.


The rest of his day was the same garbage as always. Dreading every second of it, until his shift ended and he got to drive home and indulge his fantasy of a career change. Bob sat down at his computer and loaded up some job search sites. As he got ready to apply, however, something seemed to shift in his mind. After all, he was working in a coal mine, he was making good money, right? He didn’t want a pay cut, right? He liked being a blue collar man, he took pride in doing the work no one else would. He was hero, a real American. He didn’t need a new job, his was just plenty.


The next day at work was awful. The boss was on the warpath, screaming at anyone and everyone he came across, and he came across Bob a lot. Bob felt his body struggle with the work. He almost fell asleep on his lunch break. His whole day was just a mess. The entire time what kept him going was the dream of escaping, the dream of something new, something different.


That night he again sat at his computer. Again he loaded up the job sites. Again he started to have second thoughts, thoughts about his coworkers and how he enjoyed hanging out with them and would miss them. Miss the camaraderie. Bob skimmed the job listings and decided none were worth it.


This cycle continued, over and over, year after year. Friends left the job, the boss got angrier. One day the boss was replaced by an even angrier one. Bob felt himself age, felt his muscles ache, and almost even felt his hair grow grey. With each part of his body breaking down he found it harder and harder to do his job. Every day he’d tell himself to quit, and every night he would tell himself to put up with it just a little bit longer.


Finally, there was a cave in. Rocks and debris poured onto Bob, crushing every bone in his body. He had just enough time to ponder that this job had finally killed him.


Suddenly he awoke. He was young again. He looked down and saw the crumbled pit of black whatever he was so intent on breaking. He swore to quit the next day. He got home that night and started to think. After all, he was working in a coal mine, he was making good money, right? He didn’t want a pay cut, right?

For Two Decades I Investigated Paranormal Reports Online for the Government, Now I'm Ready to Share What I Found [Part 5]

Hello everyone, Frank Kennedy here. I know it’s been some time since my last update, but I found this case file the other day, and thought it was worth sharing. See, TV, and media in general, lets us escape our everyday troubles and find a moments respite. What happens, though, when a TV show is the cause of our everyday troubles? What happens when those troubles become far more then “everyday”? In 2016 a young woman made a series of posts to a forum discussing Japanese animation that describes her experience with just that. It begins in mid June, with a post titled:


“Managed to grab a drawing of Daisuke from [Show name redacted]!”


“Hey guys, I just wanted to share my latest find. I went to the [Location redacted] anime [slang for Japanese animation] convention for the first time, I wasn’t expecting much but I was so surprised! I had a great time going to all the panels and performances, and I even got some merch! I could go on about all the stuff I bought, but what I really wanted to share was this print I got of Daisuke! I feel like I’m the only fan of [Show name redacted] out there, I never here anyone talk about it, so when someone had a drawing of my favorite husbando [slang for character one is infatuated with] for sale, I had to pick him up! Like omg, he’s so cute!!!”


Attached were photos of the drawing, which are no longer part of the case file for reasons I will explain later. From what I can recall, however, there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about the drawing or the character compared to others from the same medium.


The post gained little traction, and was followed shortly after with a post titled “I’ve hung Daisuke up!” showing the picture framed and hanging on her bedroom wall. There was no more activity relating to the picture for a month, until a post titled “I love when Daisuke talks to me” was made:


“As a lot of you know, my parents’ marriage hasn’t been going great lately. They used to take it out on me, but I guess now that I’m in high school they’ve turned to my little brother. Last night they were screaming at him and I could hear everything from inside my room. I wanted to go out and stand up for him, but I was so scared, I just curled up into a ball. I looked up at Daisuke and imagined him holding me, comforting me. I knew he wouldn’t be scared, he’d protect me. The thought was really nice. As I dreamt of him I heard a voice. I opened my eyes and looked around. It was the drawing! I watched his lips move and everything. He told me that everything was going to be alright, and that I didn’t have to worry about anything, he’d take care of it. Now, I know I probably just fell asleep and dreamt that, but it made me feel so cozy and happy to have him tell me that. Thanks Daisuke!”


This was followed a couple weeks later with one titled “Daisuke’s so great!”:


“Since my last post, things have been going good. Mom and Dad have been keeping their distance, especially with my brother, and I’ve really gotten to know Daisuke! He’s just like he is in anime, so cool and heroic. Every night before bed me and him talk. He says he loves me, and that he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me, or my brother. I feel so good with him. My friends wanted me to come hang out with them last weekend, but I couldn’t help but stay home and chat with my Daisuke!”


Her tone changed a little the next week with “Daisuke helped me??”:


“Last night was awful. I was just in my room doing nothing when my Dad burst in. He was drunk, and he was mad. He screamed at me and I told him to stop, that I hadn’t done anything. I got up and he pushed me hard, I fell backwards and landed on my bed. I started to cry. I saw my Dad lift up his hand like he was going to slap me like when I was little. Suddenly he started coughing. It was really violent, like he wanted to puke but nothing was coming out. Tears were streaming out of his eyes and he shuffled out of my room. He was coughing the rest of the night. I didn’t know what to do or think, and then I just heard Daisuke, in an aggressive voice, say that he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me. Did he do that to my Dad?”


Again, no one responded, and no updates were provided for a month, until a post titled “Daisuke is scaring me”:


“Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know what’s going on. My Dad is really sick, he’s coughing all the time, and he’s lost a ton of weight. He has another doctors appointment next week, but I don’t think its going to be good news. I know my Dad hasn’t always treated me well, but I still love him, I don’t want him to go. I’m so scared. Both of losing my Dad and Daisuke. He tries to talk to me every night, but I try to ignore him. Every time I ask him if he’s doing this to Dad he tries to change the subject, or says something about how he’s ‘protecting’ me. I don’t want Daisuke to protect me anymore. He tells me he loves me, that he won’t let go of me. It’s terrifying. Sometimes I wake up at night and try to stay still, just so that he won’t try to speak with me, but he always knows. He says he knows everything about me, and that he loves every little part of me, and that it would be bad if I don’t love him back. I don’t know what to do anymore. I need Daisuke gone. I think I’m going to stop by the convenience store on the way home tomorrow and buy a lighter, that way I can get rid of Daisuke for good.”


That was the last post she made. I made attempts to reach out to her, but I received no response. I also tried finding news stories pertaining to the situation and location, but nothing came up.


When I first made this case file, I marked the investigation as inconclusive. There was no hard evidence pointing to the supernatural, and there was lots that could suggest an overactive, escapist, imagination. Now that I’m revisiting the case though I want to change that conclusion. When I opened up that file, the copies I had of Daisuke’s illustration had turned into pages of pure black. I typed the shows name into Google, and I found no results at all. It was like none of it had ever existed. Finally I typed in the anime convention that she had went to, and I found out that it had never taken place. Goosebumps covered me as I read that it had to be canceled. The venue was destroyed. Burned down.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Hegemony

The whole world seemed to stop that day. It all happened so quickly and so suddenly. Some of us were at work, some of us were lounging around at home. It started with a breaking news report, and then another, and then another. Each one grew graver and graver until all the phones and all the TV’s and all the radios around the world started blaring alarms. It had finally happened. World War 3. Some were moved to tears. Many didn’t react at all. Perhaps for some there was some bizarre joy in the liberation of death and destruction. However, we all waited. With baited breath we waited for the missiles to come and for it all to end. They never came. We waited and waited and the missiles simply hung in the sky, as if frozen in place.


The tension built. We started to grow impatient. The only thing worse then death is the anticipation of it. In all our hearts there formed some perverse desire for the bombs to fall, for the conclusion to come. As the bombs stayed still we all started to panic. That was when the message came. All the phones and all the TV’s and all the radios sang at once. It wasn’t a song, but a sternly worded message. “Well that was disappointing. You’ve had your chance.”


If there was any confusion as to who sent the message it became painfully clear when the missiles all turned to face Russia and China. In a few terrifying moments over a billion people were wiped off the earth. People always joked about America having stolen UFO tech, but clearly something was up. We were all scared out of our wits.


After the dust and fallout settled some countries immediately surrendered to the Americans, other’s merely swallowed their pride and kissed the ring. Every once in a while some group, some rogue state, would try to rise up and break free, and every time the same message would appear, on all the phones and all the TV’s and all the radios. “Well that was disappointing. You’ve had your chance.”


Rude Awakening

Like entering into a dream partway through I came back into existence. I was resting against something. I got up and turned around. I screamed. I cried. I curled into a ball and vomited. Corpses. Already stinking from the rot. I had been laying on top of a pile of bodies.


My horror magnified as I examined the people further. The one with the salt and pepper goatee was my father, and the one with the big mole on her cheek was my mother. In the pile too was my best friend, my high school crush, my fiance, my brother and my sister. I think there was more but I couldn’t force myself to look any longer. They were all clearly murdered. Severed and stabbed. The thought started to emerge in my mind, a fuzzy shadow off into the distance, but I swiftly squished it down and out of my consciousness. I couldn’t have done this, I’m a GOOD person, a NICE person, not a MURDERER.


I tried to peace back together what might have lead to this. The last thing I could remember was walking in the woods. It was kind of chilly but I didn’t need a jacket. I had convinced myself that I was there to unwind, to decompress, but somewhere in my mind was the knowledge that I was there for ...something. I couldn’t put it to words, maybe I just didn’t want to.


I kept walking, I had been here before a few times, I knew the way and the trail was easy to walk. No one had ever shown up on the trail this late. Maybe that’s why I went so late, I would be at peace. This time was different though. There was someone up ahead. Their face was shrouded by a hood. Drug dealer? No, he didn’t quite look like one.


I got closer, the man’s shadowy face drifted towards me. His eyes almost seemed to glow in the darkness. As I approached he stopped me and whispered in a hoarse, yet charming voice:


“I know why you’re here tonight”


I was taken aback, but asked what he meant,


“I know that you aren’t here for no reason, I no that you are here for ...something”


“Y… yes, ...something,”


The man held out his arm, “What is the something you wish to seek?”


I stared at him for some time, and then I answered, “For all my dreams to come true.”

The Clown in the Corner of your Eye

The clown never leaves. Everywhere you go you can see him. Just in the corner of your eye, just for a moment. You start to think that he must be following you. He must be following you. You call in sick for work, you drive an hour out of town. You step into a random mall. There he is. He is always following you.


You get nervous. You must be paranoid, right? No one else is noticing this, right? That’s when you hear about the murders. All over town people are being killed. Randomly. Brutally. You’re not an idiot, you can connect the dots. It’s the clown. You do research. The killings all happen in areas you frequent. The clown is hunting you. Targeting you. You hate the clown. You despise the clown.


One day, you are walking down the street. It’s at night. The convenience store was a reprieve; no clown in sight. You turn a corner. There he is. The clown is standing right there. He’s not in the corner of your eye anymore, he’s right in front of you. The clown. The murderer. You reach into your pocket. You have a knife. As soon as you pull it out, the clown runs. You’re faster. He turns a corner and winds up in a lonely back alley. You follow him there. He falls down and tries to say something. You know better. You plunge the knife in deep. You do it again. You do it again. You’re out of breath. You walk home. You shower. You sleep.


You wake up. You had a crazy dream about a clown. You get dressed. You go to work. A couple weeks go by. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see something strange. Is that a clown?


The clown never leaves. Everywhere you go you can see him. Just in the corner of your eye, just for a moment. You start to think that he must be following you. He must be following you. You call in sick for work, you drive an hour out of town, the radio talks about the child murdered in an alley two weeks ago. You step into a random mall. There he is. He is always following you.

Friday, November 11, 2022

I'm Terrified of Meeting My Girlfriend's Dad

This night has been the most disturbing of my life. I guess I’m posting this just to know what to do next, but I’m really scared to do anything. Any advice would be appreciated though.


First some background. I met my girlfriend, Faith, back in our sophomore year of high school, about two years ago. Me and her hit things off instantly and I developed a huge crush on her. Unfortunately, she had a bf already. I did my best to move on from her and dated a girl for a little bit until that fell apart, but eventually I found myself being the shoulder Faith cried on when her boyfriend went missing. It was really disturbing, they went on a date and he dropped her off and then just fell off the face of the earth. Now I’m not the type to exploit someones grief, so I made sure to keep a bit of distance while she worked through her emotions. However, after a few months she invited me out and one thing led to another and we started dating.


Things have been going well lately, and she’s been over to my place and met my parents, but I haven’t met her dad yet. Her mom passed away when she was young so it was just the two of them after that. I guess he’s pretty overprotective sometimes so Faith doesn’t want us to meet until she thinks he’s ready. Regardless, he’s been out of town this weekend, so Faith invited me over to keep her company.


At first it was pretty chill, me and her just relaxed and watched some cheesy horror movies. After a while though we got into a pretty deep conversation. She told me that she had really bad nightmares sometimes, of her mother. She would dream that she was walking down a hallway, and she could hear her mother sobbing in another room. Part of her would want to run towards her, another part would want to run away. Before she could do something she would hear a sickening cracking sound and a guttural scream. She said it sounded like baseball being hit but louder. After that she would wake up in a cold sweat.


She also told me that she was scared of me leaving when we went out. She said that her old boyfriend disappearing really freaked her out. The way he just got in his car and never came back. She started to shudder a bit and I could tell that she needed comfort. We cuddled for a bit and I offered to grab her a blanket. She told me they kept some in a closet down the hall upstairs.


I walked up and looked for the closet. When I found it I noticed that one of the bedroom doors was slightly open beside it. I figured it must have been her Dad’s room because of the d├ęcor, and I decided to just quickly poke my head in. Maybe I’d see what his interests were and impress him when we actually met.


The room turned out to be pretty barren. Save for the Boomer rock posters I saw when I first peeked in. Just when my curiosity was satisfied I heard a door pop open. I looked over and saw that her dad’s closet had opened on its own. Now, I didn’t want him to suspect someone was in there so I went to close the door and stopped.


I stared at the contents of the closet in a quiet shock for a moment. There was a bizarre collage of sorts plastered onto the back wall. The first third was dedicated to Faith’s mom. Pictures of her, accompanied by newspaper clippings of her death. I never realized she was murdered. Below that was a picture of her ex-boyfriend, handwritten notes about his address, and newspaper clippings of his disappearance. Circled in one of the clippings was a passage about the one piece of evidence the police found, his lucky baseball bat, wiped completely clean but left in the woods. The bottom third was empty, aside from a picture of me, and a note about where I lived.


I stared at that… thing, for so long that I could hear Faith start climbing the stairs. She was asking how long it was going to take me to find a blanket. I quickly and quietly shut the closet door and slipped out of her dad’s room. I pretended like there was an emergency at home and I needed to slip out. Faith looked worried, but I told her everything would be alright, even though my heart told me otherwise.

My hands trembled the whole drive home.


I wanted to ask my parents for help, but they were out on their date night, so the whole house was empty. When I pulled up to the driveway I heard a loud crashing sound. Just in the corner of my headlights a humanoid shadow sprinted away from my house. My whole body ached in fear. I took a deep breath and walked out of my car to the front door. When I reached the doorstep I felt like I wanted to puke. The doorknob was heavily scratched, like someone was trying to pick it, though that wasn’t the scariest part. On the ground was an old baseball bat, dropped in a hurry.


What do I do?


Thursday, November 10, 2022

What do They See?

Robert and Vlad looked at each other in excitement. How many years, how much money had it took? The two of them had poured their hearts and souls into the project. Ever since he was a kid Robert had dreamt of meeting aliens, other intelligent lifeforms, and hearing what they had to say. What their view of life and the universe was. Now, dolphins weren’t quite aliens, but they are intelligent, and the prototype him and Vlad had created would allow them to see just what they were saying to each other.


The device was a modified VR headset that would interpret dolphin communication. Robert and Vlad had discovered that the clicks and whistles of dolphins was, in a sense, a more sophisticated form of data encoding compared to human language. Dolphins didn’t communicate ideas so much as they transmitted images to each other. It was like if human language, art, and writing were all mixed together as one. It took years for the two to come to that conclusion, and now they stared at the culmination of even more years on top of that. The two looked at the device and then at each other, Vlad smiled, and gestured for Robert to try it first.


Robert put it on, and after carefully calibrating the different settings, was able to tune into the thoughts of the dolphins kept in the aquarium area the room over. Slowly the images started to pour in, images of food, of the ocean, the trainers at the aquarium, nothing all that abstract to be honest. Robert moved his head around, allowing him to better explore the images and scenes the dolphins were transmitting each other. Out of the corner of his periphery he saw something strange, a formless black blob. Slowly he rotated his head to get a better look at it, but it just looked like a blurry mess. Robert sighed and pulled off the helmet,


“It looks like we messed something up, some image is not coming in right,”


“Oh yeah?” Vlad noted, “Let me try it, I’ll see if I can’t re-calibrate it.”


Robert handed the headset to Vlad. For the first few moments Vlad seemed to simply take in the imagery, exploring it like Robert, until he paused:


“I think I see it Bob, a black blob?”


“Yes, do you think you can get it to focus,”


“I think so,” Vlad started adjusting the buttons and dials on the headset, slowly trying to give the blob shape. Suddenly Vlad stopped, his knees started to shake, his hands trembled. Robert stared in shock as tears slowly poured down Vlad’s face, until he fell to his knees, ripped off the headset, and crawled into the fetal position.


“What happened Vlad?” Robert said, his voice filled with worry, Vlad remained silent, completely silent.


Robert stared at the headset, what could possibly have done this to Vlad? He knew he should get help but he had to know, he had to understand. He picked up the headset and set it back up. He wandered the myriad images until he found the black blob once more. This time he focused in on it, watching it intently. The blob got bigger, expanding over the entire viewpoint of the device like ink spreading across a piece of paper. The dread started to take over Robert. Every primal urge in his body told him to take off the headset, but something was starting to resolve in the darkness. He had to know what it was. He had to know what it was. The image got clearer and clearer, over the headset he could hear the dolphins in the other room panic and cry. Finally the image appeared fully before him and Robert screamed. It was all he could do, as every bit of his sanity left him.

If a Mirror Tries to Talk to You, Don't Listen

“Hey,” the voice took me by surprise, as far as I knew I was all alone in the house. My parents had gone out, like they usually did on weekends when I was a teen so I shouldn’t have been hearing any voices at all. The voice itself was strange, it sounded kind of like mine, but not, like if you heard a recording of yourself talking.



I stared at my reflection in the mirror. We had just gotten it, from an estate sale my Dad went too. It was beautiful and ornate, with a black carved exterior of plants and flowers all around it, while inside sat my reflection. Long blonde hair, blue eyes, thin lips and a crooked nose. Yep, my reflection alright, so when it’s mouth moved and I heard “Hey,” again, I froze in fear. My reflections mouth may have moved, but I certainly could not feel mine do the same.



“Hey,” my reflection called out again,



“H… hey,” I replied sheepishly,



“Guess what,” the reflection smiled,



“What?”



“I know what you’ll look like in ten years, do you wanna see?”



Now, obviously I can understand that talking to my reflection was crazy enough, and that letting it show me my future was just asking for bad news, but I was a teenage girl back then. A self-conscious one at that. Would I be really hot? Would I be just as gangly and awkward as I was back then? I really wanted to know, so I asked the mirror to show me.



The whole mirror turned black, like an ink slowly spread over and consumed it. Seconds later the ink dissolved and I saw myself, beautiful, a long, black, dress. My lips were full and luscious, my crooked nose fixed. My hair had so much body to it. My eyebrows and makeup looked so perfect, far better then my amateur attempts and beauty. I looked incredible. Like I always wanted to look. Like I always dreamed I would look.



“Touch me,” the reflection smiled. I reached my arm out, slowly bringing it towards the mirror. There was so much wrong with this, all of this. My heart was pounding and I was desperately trying to break the urge to do what the reflection asked. My arm stopped right before the mirror’s glass and I sighed. Just as I was about to pull arm away the reflection reached out of the mirror and grabbed it. I instinctively screamed, and it must have been loud, because the startled reflection loosened its grip on my arm and I pulled it away before it could be pulled in.



The mirror became inky again. When the image returned it was me, but with missing teeth, an even more crooked nose, and severely overweight. My hair was thin and poorly maintained, while facial hair seemed to sprout from all sorts of unsightly places on my face. Deep down it was an image of everything I didn’t like about myself. The reflection started to scream and I screamed too, screams of pure horror, until finally I grabbed a nearby vase and threw it with all my strength into the mirror. It smashed into a million pieces, and I stared at the remains in shock and terror for some time. They say that breaking a mirror gives seven years of bad luck, but after meeting that demon... I think my bad luck started before then.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

What I Saw on the Beach That Day Will Stick with Me Forever

This all happened when I was 12 years old, I kept trying not to think about it but recent events in my life has brought it back into my conscious, and I guess by writing about it and sharing it online I hope I can work through some of the emotions it gives me.



I didn’t exactly grow up in the best environment, I know these days everyone thinks that parents watch over their kids too much but for me and my best friend it was the opposite. Our parents didn’t care about us at all. Me and him were neighbours and we would leave at the crack of dawn and not come back until sunset, a lot of the time even later. Neither of our moms would ever say a word, and frankly most of the time they were too drunk or high to say much of anything at all.



So, for a while there, me and him would go and hangout by the river. Not far from our house was the bridge that you’d drive over to get to the river bank, and that spot was where you’d normally go to fish or raft, however, the bank on the other side was normally unoccupied and that was where me and him would go and explore. There was a very rough hiking trail that me and him would take that allowed us to get pretty far downstream. After a couple of weekends we had managed to hear the traffic from the next town over and decided that hiking all the way there was going to be our goal.



The next weekend we set out even earlier then normal and spent several hours just marching straight to our goal. Nothing really remarkable happened, we had been exploring the area so often that we knew exactly where to go, and our adventures had even started to smooth out the hiking path. Eventually the sounds of nature started to give way to that of traffic and we hardened ourselves to keep going. The traffic got louder and louder and we started to get excited, and our excitement continued to grow until we hit a roadblock.



We hiked through a wooded area just beside the riverbank for about half an hour until we came to a clearing blocked by a rusted chain-link fence. The bolts on the “No Trespassing” sign seemed to stain it with tears of rust. Me and my friend looked out onto the other side. The clearing was more like a strip cut out of the woods, which continued on the other side of it. To our left we could see the riverbank, it was sandy, with strange lumps all over. To our right was a hill that eventually reached a few buildings, all of which looked dilapidated.



Now, me and my friend had gone lots of places we weren’t supposed to be by that point, so I shouldn’t have had any misgivings about climbing the fence and going forward, but something about the whole situation just seemed off and I couldn’t help but want to turn around and go home. My friend teased me a bit and said nothing would happen, but eventually I convinced him and we got back home very late at night.



Throughout the next week he kept bothering me about that clearing. Trying to convince me to keep going. Eventually he wore me down, and despite my gut feeling, we set out again the next Saturday.



Like before, everything went smoothly and when we got to the rusty fence my friend climbed up and over to the other side and beckoned me to join. As soon as I touched the fence my fear came over me once again but I did my best to hide it. With a deep breath I vaulted myself over and we started making our way to the woods on the other side.



We stopped halfway across, down at the point where the riverbank met the river there was a man standing around, beckoning us to see him. I didn’t want to get near him but my friend walked over to him and I followed a few paces back.



The man seemed out of place. We lived in a very blue collar area so the fact that he was wearing a black business suit made him really stand out, especially out here in the middle of nowhere. Not to mention that he was wearing a matching black fedora, a choice that almost made him seem like a figure from a different era. At the same time, something about the way he stood and presented himself gave off an aura of authority, I felt like me and my friend were bound to get into a lot trouble just due to how important this man looked.



While him and my friend talked I looked around the riverbank and my eyes zeroed in on the mounds I had seen earlier. They were sand sculptures… of faces. Each and every one a different face. On the one hand they were creepy, yet at the same time I couldn’t help but marvel at the attention to detail. Each one was so real it almost looked like it was made from a mold of some sort. More than anything they really disturbed me. Between them, the man out of time, and even the way the beach seemed so perfectly cut out against the landscape, sent danger signals to my brain.



Soon my friend came back and told me that the strange man had told us to come with him. My friend looked really excited at the prospect, like he had been offered something for it. That creeped me even more. I pulled my friend in close and told him we had to book it. He looked disappointed in me but I guess the look of terror on my face swayed him. I watched until the man turned away for a second and me and my friend bolted.



The next few days I was on edge, fearing that that strange man would come and find us somehow. Me and my friend didn’t talk about it until one day after school. He started walking in the opposite direction of our houses. I asked him where he was going and he told me he was going to the beach. My heart sank, I rushed towards him to try and stop him. My friend just turned around and sucker punched me in the stomach. I fell to the ground and watched him walk away, my whole body shaking with anxiety over him.



He never came back to school.



After a few days of him being absent I started to get extremely worried. I had never really paid attention to any boring adult things before, but I started combing through the newspaper and the evening news, trying to see if there was anything about a missing child. I would wait by his house to see if he came by. Nothing. It was like he never existed. Eventually my anxiety reached a point where I knew I couldn’t go on if I didn’t check the beach.



That Saturday I set out. The walk was maddening, going down the familiar trails without my partner in crime. Eventually I made it to that cursed spot. Mustering up my courage I hopped the fence. I walked to the beach, terrified that I would find his body. I heard a footstep behind and turned around. The strange man was right behind me, as if he materialized. I bolted across the beach. Suddenly I lost my footing and fell in sand. I looked beside me and screamed the loudest scream of my life. The adrenaline my body produced forced me up and away just before the man could grab me. I leapt over the fence on the other side of the beach and sprinted all the way to the neighboring town. I knew someone who lived there and I got his parents to drive me home. The entire drive I was silent, the thing that I saw seared into my brain. I don’t think I’ve had a good nights sleep since, as every dream turns into a nightmare when I see it:



My friends face, alongside all the others, in the sand of the beach.

Friday, November 4, 2022

My Last Confession

Ever since my wife fell ill I have kept a journal. I wanted to catalog our journey as I supported her and helped her recover. Instead I ended up recording a laundry list of sins and regrets. I don’t know if God exists, and after all that’s happened I honestly doubt it, but, if he does, I hope that by posting these journal entries and sharing them with the world, he will accept my confession, and grant me mercy.






The emptiness of the country roads at night is my greatest comfort these days. Ever since Beth had gotten sick I found that the best way to clear my mind is to cruise down the lonely roads. I had heard of men who abandoned their wives when they fell ill, and I always thought I would never be like that. But… its hard, so hard sometimes. I’ve had to learn how to cook, how to clean, thank god we don’t have any kids… I never realized how useless a husband can be in a marriage until Beth became bedridden, and though I’m trying so hard, the temptation is there, and I hate myself for it.



I guess the reason I was on the road was because of this woman at work: Sue. Me and her have gotten along great, we just seem to click, I don’t know why, but I haven’t bothered bringing up Beth much, let alone her condition. I know when Beth first started losing her mobility me and her had talked about my… needs, and yet the idea of getting a lover is so much more nauseating when it becomes real. No matter how many blessings Beth gives I can’t help but feel like I’m betraying her, but at the same time, if I don’t find an outlet I feel like I’ll be betraying myself.



These thoughts played around in my mind and I suppose that’s why I didn’t notice what was laying in the road until I heard a loud thump. I stopped my truck and walked out to see what it was. A person. By the looks of it they had been strung out on something for some time before I showed up.



I looked at them in shock for some time, slowly forcing myself to accept that they were dead. My heart raced and I tried to force deep breaths to calm it. It didn’t help. I knew I had to phone the police, confess, do the right thing. At the same time a disquieting thought crept into my head. What about Beth? Who would take care of her if I was in jail?



I shook my head and pulled out my phone. I opened up the keypad and paused, a text popped up from Beth, asking when I would be home. Almost without thought I closed the app and turned on my flashlight instead. No damage to the truck. No one around for miles. I motioned towards the side of the road and saw a thick, overgrown woods. A body in there could rot away for years without being noticed. I should’ve at least been more ashamed of what I did, but I dragged the corpse into the woods and sped off.





A lot has happened since my last entry. A lot. That night I came home, my brain mired in fog, barely remembering what happened and desperately trying to deny it. Beth was fast asleep. I sat down on the couch and watched TV until my mind was so distracted that it would allow me to doze off as well.



The next day was incredible, I woke up to the sound of singing. I walked into Beth’s room and she was upright and smiling, the first time I’d seen her sit upright without my help in months. As she looked at me I could feel tears roll down my eyes. She was still weak and fragile but I could finally see some of her old self come back.



She stayed that way for a couple days and when we brought her to the doctor she was just as shocked as we were. As she examined Beth she couldn’t help but well with tears too. She told us not to get our hopes up, but at the same time she admitted she had never seen a patient that far gone recover to this point.



Seeing Beth recover filled me with joy, and took so much stress off my chest. Though I immediately replaced it with some from somewhere else. At the same time all this was happening I was still going to work, and one day Sue invited me over to her place for drinks. On the one hand, Beth’s recovery made me feel a lot of guilt for saying yes, but at the same time, I needed some sort of release, and if Beth were to recover further it would still take months. So I lied to Beth about having to work late and found myself in bed with Sue less then an hour later. On the drive home I told myself it had to be a one time thing, I had gotten what I needed out of my system and now I had to stay loyal to Beth. It didn’t matter. Soon I was working late once or twice a week, taking Sue out to all the places I had wanted to take Beth and spending all my pent up energy and then some.



However, that is not the guilt that motivates me to write today. That guilt comes from last night. It was just me and Beth, I cuddled with her as we watched TV. Even that was a level of intimacy that we hadn’t had in a long time. As we watched TV though, I could smell something in the air. Smoke. I got up and checked the room. Then I opened the curtains to see if it was coming from outside. To my shock smoke and flames were billowing out of my neighbors house. I rushed to my phone as I told Beth what was happening. As I unlocked my phone Beth put her hand on my arm and squeezed, “Don’t phone the fire department honey,”



“What?” I replied in shock,



“Don’t phone them, please, I’m sure someone else has and I don’t want you to be play hero, okay? I just want to spend more time with you,” her voice cracked a little, “just like we used to…”



I stared deep into Beth’s eyes, shocked and disturbed at what she was saying. At the same time, her grip on my arm had become iron tight, and I knew that she wasn’t going to make my life easy if I didn’t go along with her. I swallowed. I sighed. I sat back down beside her.




We laid beside each other in silence for an hour. My heart racing until the sound of sirens finally reached my ears. For a second I felt a bit of ease, until, drowning out the sirens, the firemen, and the TV show we were watching, a woman wailed. It was a sound I had never heard before, and one I couldn’t describe. The sheer intensity and weight of my neighbor’s cry was soul crushing. It tore deep into me. The next day I learned that her two kids were asleep inside when the fire broke out. By the time the firemen came there was next to nothing left of them.





Another miracle occurred, Beth is up and moving again! The doc is as shocked as I am, and its just been overwhelming. She’s still weak, and at first she could barely get up at all, but slowly we’ve been working on it. For the past month me and her have been going on walks. At first just down the block, but lately we’ve been going further and further. I haven’t seen Beth this happy in such a long time, maybe ever. She loves that she finally has a bit of independence. At first I was just as thrilled as her, but this week has changed things a bit. I feel like I’m making some insane jumps, but here’s the deal:



I’ve still been seeing Sue. I keep telling myself that I need to break it off, especially now that Beth is recovering, but… there are some days I think about Sue more then Beth, and as much as I despise the thoughts, the fantasy of making my thing with Sue more serious keep popping up.



The other day, Sue texted me. She wanted me over, badly. I don’t know that Eve was tempted as much as Sue was tempting me. I had to go. I started throwing some presentable clothes on when Beth approached me and asked me if we could go for a walk. I told her that work had asked me to come in, that it was urgent, we would have to do it a different time. Beth pouted, and, after a pause, asked if she could go alone. I always accompanied Beth just in case she fell or got in trouble, but that day, with Sue pulling me from across town towards her, I told her it was okay. I helped Beth out the door and told her to call me if anything happened. As soon as she cleared the driveway I sped off towards Sue’s longing embrace.



I came back a few hours later, Beth was back, singing to herself in her room. Everything seemed good. That feeling continued for a couple days, magnifying further as Beth seemed to recover even more. She was more energetic, lifting and moving things on her own. Instead of staying in her room she started moving all around the house. It seemed like we were turning another corner, and something about that bothered me. I didn’t know why until we were watching the news one night, and the reporter brought up a missing child, who was last seen the night of Beth’s solo walk.



It sounds absurd, I know. But the pattern was starting to form in my mind. Why did Beth’s recovery always seem to coincide with tragedy? It must’ve been a coincidence. I must be a bad husband, Beth was alone and vulnerable, and whoever abducted that child could have harmed her. But…



But…





It’s all gone to shit. I’ve fucked it all up. Everything.



Sue called me a few weeks ago, told me to come see her. She’s pregnant. It broke my heart to see the joy in her eyes and know that I couldn’t match it. I faked the best I could and tried to figure out a way out of my mess.



Me and her kept texting about it the coming weeks, it was clear she was keeping it. I started thinking things. Thoughts I never thought I would have. Beth was starting to get healthy, she still had a long way to go but maybe she didn’t need me anymore. I could go and be happy with Sue and maybe I would be so happy the guilt would go away. I just wanted the guilt to go away. Maybe that’s why I started being careless, leaving my phone open. Maybe I wanted to be caught, to purge the guilt. Two days ago I walked back from the bathroom and saw Beth quickly place my phone down out of the corner of my eye. She didn’t say anything, and neither did I, but the anger in her eyes… it broke me.



Fast forward to earlier tonight. I needed to lift the weight off my shoulders, I needed comfort, I needed Sue. I didn’t even bother texting Beth and coming up with some half-assed excuse. I just sped over to Sue’s place.



The two of us cuddled up and watched a movie together. I placed my hand on her stomach and for a moment felt like I had done something right in the world. Just as I started to feel at ease I heard the sound of breaking glass. Me and Sue both froze until the sound of the front door being unlocked sprang us to action. I rushed over to find Beth stumbling through the door. She was carrying a knife. My heart pounded. I told her to put the knife down, that we could talk about it. She looked at me with sadness in her eyes. Sue found me and as soon as she saw Beth screamed. Beth lunged at her with the knife and caught Sue in the arm, Sue screamed and ran as fast as she could, leaving a trail of blood behind her. Beth chased after her, and I could hear Sue cry in pain. I could hear her cry for me. I was paralyzed from shock and fear. Sue continued to cry my name, the cries getting weaker and weaker until they finally stopped… I could hear Beth start coughing, which finally triggered my legs to move. I could hear the sound of someone falling to the ground. The coughing turned to sobbing. I walked in to Beth on the floor, Sue beside her, her lifeless eyes gazing into my soul. Her hands resting on her stomach. Beth looked to me, tears welling in her eyes:



“I’m so sorry… I had to do this… for me… for us… for you…” Beth’s hands started to shake, “One… more… only one more… then I’ll be better… all better… that’s what she said, that’s what she said.



My body trembled with fear. What had Beth done? What mess had she gotten herself into? And all over a man who just an hour ago was thinking of leaving her. The words… “one more life” echoed in my head. I told Beth to leave, to run home and shower and throw out her blood-stained clothes.



As soon as she left I walked to my car and grabbed my laptop. When I returned I stared at Sue, and started writing this, my confession. I just want Beth to be happy. Something I failed to provide. As I wrap this up I look at the other thing I brought from my car. A long piece of rope. I’m so sorry Beth, Sue, everyone.



One more life.


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