Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Mensana En Corpore Sano"

You can't find me. You can't catch me. You don't even know where to start looking. That's your whole problem: you are looking. You aren't listening.

I am walking across the country on the sounds of children laughing, of adults gossiping, of parents worrying, of babies crying and people screaming and everything in between. I am walking on waves.

I was like you once. I lived a normal life. I had a normal job. I woke up in the morning and I went to my normal job and I came home and I did everything I was supposed to do. I ate and I slept and I shit. I was like you all are, a biological machine, a thing made of flesh and water and electrical impulses.

And then they came to me. The Lords of Shouting, the Masters of Howling. They had no bodies, no need for food or sleep. Without bodies, they lived as vibrations in the air, a sound unlike anything I had heard before.

They offered to make me like them: to strip away the meat, to make my soul sing. How could I refuse them? How could I turn down their generous offer?

I can't tell you that it didn't hurt. Of course it hurt. It was like dying. My skin was stripped away, then my muscle, then every layer until I was only bones. And then my bones turned to dust and I was left with nothing. Nothing except myself.

I was finally free and for the first time, I could see what I had been missing. I had never known true freedom. I had always been encumbered by walls and floors and distance. To see something, I would need to open my eyes, to turn and hope my vision wasn't hindered (not to mention the fact that I wore glasses).

I have no eyes now, but I see much farther and much better. I can move at the speed of sound. I can hop and skip across cities and towns. I can see what people say. And if I feel in the mood, I can wrap myself around them and give them a show.

You've seen my work. The first few times, I hadn't meant to do it. It was involuntary – one moment they were alive and so delighted to hear my symphony, the next they were on the floor, blood pouring from their ears. Too much of a good thing.

And then I decided that I liked it. If people could not live like this – and the Lords of Shouting are very picky in choosing who to change – then I could at least show them what they were missing. Even if doing that makes them hemorrhage, even if they die, at least their last moments shall be filled with sound and fury.

And that's why you can't catch me. Because I am sound and fury and I am nothing. I was never there at all.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


It started with the factories, but nobody took any notice. Of course nobody did, since people build factories everywhere. You drive past them every day, why should these new ones be any different from the rest? They just blend into the background, like grass or trees, or wallpaper. So there's new ones nearer to town, who cares? Nobody really cares who built them, or what they make, they're just...there.

So what if all the workers look weird, maybe they're foreign or something, right? With their dull, lifeless eyes, and their weird, oddly fluid movement, and the fact that they wear damp clothes even if there's been no rain for a month...just ignore it and move on.
And what does it matter that nobody knows what they make. They must make SOMETHING, right? It's not as if it's just there for no reason, right? Besides, it's hardly worth worrying about.

And that huge amount of smoke and steam they produce? Only natural. ALL factories produce that much. Even if it's one factory, clouding the entire sky with clouds of smog. It's just a side effect of the industrial process, nobody really notices, nobody really cares.
And so it went on. Unnoticed. Just another event in an uneventful town. I don't think people were even aware of it.
Until it started to rain.

But nobody noticed that, either. It always rains, it's England. Just a part of nature. Water coming out of the sky, getting into drinks, into ponds, into swimming pools. Into anything, really.
And then we drink it.
It was a day later when tragedy struck. People going into comas. Half the town. More! People noticed THEN, Didn't they? Something was obviously behind it. Something must be wrong, but what? Can't be the factories, of COURSE not, they're everywhere. They must be safe. Can't be the rain either, of course, it always rains, so rain must be fine.

And then the rain stopped, and people started waking up. They were... Odd, at first. Only spoke when spoken to, repeated the same phrasing, seeming to have lost all sense of self, but in a few weeks they were back to normal, living their lives, talking to their families and whatnot. No trace of what had happened but quickly forgotten memories. The police investigated, of course, but they couldn't find the cause and eventually just...gave up. It's not like anybody's dead. Not like anything is REALLY wrong, just a few people went to sleep for a while, that's all.

Things went back to normal pretty quickly. Most people forgot the incident entirely, minus the odd piece of gossip or speculation about what had really happened. The factories kept on going, the sun kept on shining and the wheel of life continued to turn. That was a year ago.
And then the rain came back.
They're slamming against my window now, the people who fell, the people who drank the water, who stood out in the rain. Their eyes are dull and lifeless, their movements strange, oddly fluid and yet... still utterly wrong. Human bones don't work like that, human BODIES don't work like that. Just like the men from the factories.

I haven't drank the water. I've been keeping a supply i bought the next town over. Supposed to be made from Emerson Lake, wherever that is. Can't leave the house though, or they'll do what they always do. What they did to those who wouldn't go out into the rain, who just sit inside and play video games, or read books or something. Hold them down and pour it down their throats.

So i've been stuck in here writing. Just... writing. Always writing, i guess i've nothing else to do. Besides, every time i try to stop, well... there's nothing else i can really be bothered to do. So i write this, and a million other pages of nonsense, as i try to think of a way out. Try to FOCUS. Which is getting harder and harder... so i just keep writing. Gotta keep writing...

Always writing.

"The Two Sides of Jack"

If the ages of Mrs. and Mr. Clarke corpses were any indication, the murder had only taken place a day prior. Detective Dawson's fellow police officers directed him towards the kitchen where the murder weapon, an extremely sharp meat cleaver, had been slammed into the kitchen table.

"Hey Dawson," Corporal Johnson called for him. "We searched the building top to bottom like you asked and we haven't found a single trace of the Clarke boy yet. The only area we haven't been able to check out yet is the attic, which has been blocked off from the inside."

"Then it's probably a safe bet that he's up there hiding. How long until you can break down the door?"

"Ten to twenty minutes."

"Fine." Dawson sighed. "Just make sure you don't scare the kid. He's been through enough already..."


"Hello Doctor Paxton." The man in the handcuffs greeted his interrogator. "How's the wife and family."

"They're um... They're fine. But that's not what I'm here to discuss today, Jack."

"Of course it isn't. We're here to talk about how good ole Jack of All managed to break into this facility of yours."

"We'll get to the bottom of that, don't you worry. However that isn't the reason for this interrogation. Tell me, why are you so interested in the entity known as Laughing Jack?"

"He was my roommate in college."

"Now, Jack," Paxton said as calmly as possible, "we all know you didn't break into the Project Evolution archives and almost destroyed all documents concerning the Laughing Jack entity, just to tell a few jokes! So for the sake of everyone's time, can you please tell me why."

"Fine, I'll humor you Doctor Paxton. But you'll have to remove these handcuffs first."


At long last the door fell apart and the boxes, old furniture, stored suitcases, and the various other objects that blocked it were moved. Dawson flipped the light switch multiple times but the lights came on. So instead he pulled out his flashlight and proceeded up the stairs. Judging by the cobwebs and the dust covering the wall, no one had entered this part of the house for ten years at the minimum.

As Dawson inspected the run down attic, he caught a glimpse of a rat scurrying away from the light and to a small nearby door, hidden by the mounds of junk surrounding it. Despite his better judgment, Dawson started to knock on the door.

"Jimmy? You in there?"


"So let me get this straight: you created that...thing as a quasi-servant designed to spread as much mayhem as possible?"

"Yes, Polly, that's exactly what I just said! Now, unless you want to be force feed crackers, you had better stop repeating whatever I say," Jack insulted him. "Anyway, Laughing Jack was only one of many entities I created as a means of insulting all those pesky organizations that want my head on a silver platter. While my 'children' distract them by spreading mayhem, I get to perform my deals in peace."

"But then one of your field agents somehow recovered the box I constructed as Laughing Jack's home. If I left you morons study it, there could be a possibility of you figuring out how it works and create your own little monster. If I wanted to continue my work uninterrupted, I had to destroy it and any information abo-"

"Bullshit!" Doctor Paxton exclaimed.

"Excuse me?" Jack asked.

"You heard me! Every single word of your explanation is bullshit!" Paxton screamed at the top of his lungs. "You're not nearly narcissistic or cliche enough to name all of your creations after yourself. And if this was true, why not send your creations to destroy the box for you? And furthermore, how would we have any information about it if we just managed to obtain it! There was literally no reason for you to do this"

As Paxton finally started to calm down, a large smile came upon Jack of All's face and he started to clap.

"Very good, Paxton, very good. But there's just one little problem with that idea of yours.... What if all those little holes in my story were planted there for the sole purpose of making you think my story was bullshit?"


Dawson put his ear up to the door and from within, the soft sound of moaning could be heard. Confused and worried about the fate of Jimmy, he kicked down the door and ran into the hidden room.


With a quick snap of his burnt, bright red hand, Jack's handcuffs came off and latched themselves onto Paxton's wrists. The security guards tried breaking down the door but it didn't move an inch, no matter how hard they banged on it. Paxton was trapped with Jack.

"You see, Paxton, while I applaud you for not trusting me, I also find you quite moronic. You see in our line of work we can never dismiss the possibility of a theory being real. That sort of shit can get you killed."

With another snap of the fingers, an old hand crafted Jack-in-the-box appeared in Jack's hands. As he turned the clank of the box, a very distorted and off-key version of Pop goes the weasel started to play. And as the song was about to end Jack sang along

"All around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel;
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun,
Pop! goes the weasel..."

As the echo of the songs climax spread throughout the room, a pale skinned figure appeared out with no warning. At first glance it was an average clown with matted black hair that wore patchy, black and white outfit with striped sleeves and socks. It was only when it opened it's intense white eyes surrounded by dark black rings and it's mouth full of sharp jagged teeth, that it's true nature was obvious. With great speed, the creature lunged at Doctor Paxton and began strangling him to death.

When the good doctor finally stopped breathing, the clown went to the door kicked it open. Before the men on the other side had time to register what was happening, "the clown" extended it's arms and wrapped them around the men like anacondas. As they were slowly crushed to death, Laughing Jack and Jack of All laughed with one another.

"Hehe... Where the hell is my flask?" Jack wondered.


Dawson tried screaming, but nothing managed to come out. Incapable of doing anything, he vomited near the corpse of Jimmy Clarke whose empty eye sockets were stuffed with hard candy. And on the wall behind him was a message written in blood that said: From you best pal in the world, Laughing Jack


Alysson had no idea where she was. It was dark. She couldn't remember anything. Her mind was a churning whirlpool of emotions and images her consciousness simply could not parse. The blurry half-seen photographs left her with a disconcerting and sickening feeling every time she brought them up in her head. She started forward in the darkness, searching for something, anything, to bring her a sens of place, something to ground her and orient her. Her arms reached out in the darkness around her, feeling nothing. Her bare feet slid along the floor, but she encountered no bumps or cracks to trip over.

Alysson's stomach lurched as she fell to the ground. The floor was smooth under her fingers, free of any dust or grit that would indicate foot traffic or even a connection to the outside world. Alysson slid her fingers over the floor, searching for the slightest defect or impurity. She let out a whimper that was muffled and eaten by the darkness. The hard ground beneath her was fee of any scratches, joints, or other mundane faults. The perfection terrified Alysson. Crawling forward on her stomach, she journeyed for an end, a wall, an existence. As she continued to find nothing but hard and prefect floor, Alyson began to openly sob and weep. The wet trail left behind on her cheeks remained stagnant. There was no breeze in this empty realm to dry her tears.

Alysson slithered forward endlessly. She had no concept of time nor any landmarks to mark her progress. The constant slide of the perfectly smooth ground was the only assurance she had that she was moving at all. Her tears stopped flowing. She began to try to untangle the chaos of her mind. Blurry visions of unidentifiable places and happy faceless people were all she could conjure in her mind's eye. She concentrated and tried to clear the empty pictures with all the force of will she had left, but the longer she spent dwelling on her forgotten memories, the more they faded.

Alysson continued struggling forward in the black with a mind as perfectly dark as the shadows surrounding her.

The girl could not recall why she was crawling forward along her belly. She was sure there was some better way to travel, but she couldn't remember what it was. There as an instinctive urge for her to continue through the dark. Her subconscious pushed her forward, insisting that something important was out there in the unknown before her. She needed to find something. She didn't know what it was. It seemed like the perfect floor beneath her and the perfect night around her were the only things she'd ever known.

The girl hadn't moved for a while. She didn't try to move. She didn't think of moving. Her breathing was steady as she lay on her stomach, staring out into the inky black. She thought of nothing. She felt nothing. The floor seemed to fade from beneath her. In an endless void, the girl floated with nothing but flesh and bones inside her.

The darkness was complete.


I fucking hate cancer research/support groups.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a terrible disease and my heart goes out to the strong souls who have to live with it. I hate cancer, but I really hate all the fundraiser-based support groups. Why?

Crazy, ridiculous, and shitty public stunts as ‘Symbols of Support.’

For example, let’s talk about a particular organization in particular; Leap for Love. These guys have been in my area for the past five or something years, always doing the same thing annually. What “thing” you ask?

Rappelling off the third tallest building in my city. Fun, right?

Yeah. I don’t see why they have to add such a pointless public stunt to an already successful fundraiser, it’s just an added waste of time in my opinion. However, I associate myself with idiots. Every year my buddies donate over one-thousand dollars for the cause, and then throw themselves off of a building attached to a harness and several cables. Of course I’ve been sensible every year and just refuse to involve myself in their exploits.

Until this year, that is.

This year, unfortunately, my buddies pressured me into getting me up on that building to subsequently rappel down it. Joy. I really question why I’m friends with those assholes. They threaten, belittle, and abuse me just so I can do some stupid, life risking shit. This isn’t the first time they’ve controlled me into doing something for their amusement, either. I’m fucking weak.

We all arrived at the building where this was all going down, matching team T-Shirts and all, and checked ourselves in at the event desk. They took our group up to the third floor patio, suiting us up in our gear and ran through a safety/training crash course. One by one, we were led to the edge of the deck for a test rappel. They attached cables to our gear and had us rappel ourselves onto the street below. When it was my turn I made sure to move as slow as I could just to piss the volunteers off. Overall, that was the most amusing part of my day. I reached the street and the woman leading the test told me that I did, “Exceptionally good, dontcha’ know!”

I wanted to punch her in the throat.

So after a good three hour wait in the uncomfortable sun, wearing the most uncomfortable safety harness the world has ever seen, I was taken up to the rooftop for my trial. I want you to know that I am not even remotely joking why I say that the entire time I was up there, the instructors (GoPros and all) constantly told me to “Look at that view, brah!”

Fucking douches.

Once again, I was hooked up to the cables and briefed on what I should be doing during my descent. For the sake of time, and wanting to get things over with, I maintained obedience. Let me tell you, standing on the ledge of a 32 story building is pretty damn terrifying even when connected to hundreds of anchored cables. I advise you never experience it for yourself.

As you’d expect, I started rappelling down the building. For the most part, it didn’t suck! I kept my eyes locked ahead, eased the controls, and closed my eyes for half the trip.

It didn’t last much longer, though.

I thought I had finally touched down on the street below, as signaled by the sudden and nerve jolting snap I felt. With this in my mind, I opened my eyes and looked down.

I hadn’t even made it halfway down the fucking building!

I looked up and realized the jolt was caused by the automatic brakes, which lock in place if you start moving too fast. In order to unlock it, you need to tug on the cable and lift the device upwards. Almost as if it was destined to be, mine decided to be a piece of shit and jam itself. I kept tugging at the cable, getting increasingly frustrated, until one exceptionally hard yank released it.

That would be when I fell the rest of the way.

I broke it. I broke the fucking breaks. I was speeding down the side of a building with no way of stopping and/or slowing myself down. The ground below was getting closer and closer, and the thought hadn’t even occurred to me yet that I was going to be sidewalk jelly in mere seconds.

It was also at this moment that I blacked out.

Darkness, silence, dramatic effect… This is what I experienced in my state of mental shutdown. It was weird, even for a blackout-induced dream. There was nothing but void, and myself. I felt at absolute peace, but at the same time I felt tinges of panic and imprisonment. I couldn’t move; it was as if someone had locked my joints in a permanent Mister Roboto pose.

Like I said, it was weird.

Then it got even worse. Slowly, strand-by-strand, I found myself becoming entangled in a mass of ivory strings. They covered every inch of my body, binding my limbs together and cutting deep into my skin. I felt every tear, break, and rupture of my body as these strings spread themselves. They started to burrow deep into my muscle tissue, eating away at my tendons and replacing them with solid masses of string.

My eyes were violently pulled out of my head by some unseen force, and in the empty sockets were places to wooden orbs. Yeah, you heard that part right. Despite having my eyes ripped out of my head, I could still see everything that was happening to me. It’s an indescribable horror, honestly. Thankfully, I woke up soon after. Not before hearing some creepy ass laughter, though. Seriously, it sounded like a woman was cackling her lungs out all around me.

Hah, I’m fucked up.

By some divine or hellish miracle, I survived the fall. Apparently, according to what the volunteers say, my brakes locked back up right before I hit the ground. Normally this would have broken someone’s spine, but they told me that my blackout had made my entire body limp. Did you know that when someone is completely limp, their bones have less of a change of breaking?


They removed all of my gear, insisting that I needed to see a doctor (Which I didn’t), and got me to my feet. Other than a few aches and bruises, I was perfectly fine! The only thing that felt remotely weird was the way I walked. I guess falling at least 20 stories while blacked out makes you feel weird on your feet. After signing myself out at the front desk, I gave my buddies a kind-hearted ‘Fuck you’ and caught a bus back to my neighborhood.

It felt good settling back into my couch and doing nothing as per usual. The rest of my day was spent watching television before going to bed. I got up and headed for my bedroom. Again, the way I walked just felt off, although it was almost a full body feeling. My joints felt both relaxed and stiff, moving with strings attached.

Kinda like a puppet.


Within the depths of our imagination, we are willing to believe only what we want to believe. Centuries worth of conflict has been the result of this fact, and nothing good has ever come from it. We sit here, prisoners of our own minds, left to our own devices and eventually kick the bucket. Of course, we are complacent with our ends. After all, it fits into what we believe in right?

I regret to say that, as of this moment, humanity has never been more wrong.

The most horrifying truth exists only outside our barriers, a place we dare not believe in because it just doesn't seem plausible enough. This place has hundreds of names, and hundreds of interpretations. Heaven, Hell, Nothingness, Cosmic Eternity, whatever you want to call it. We fear the Dark, things outside of our comprehension, and blame it on others who share different yet similar ideas.

The Dark has a name.

That is, if you consider it a single being, which I do not. It's more of a collective; A collective of horror and impossible nightmares. They are eternal, or at least appear as such. They come in many different forms. One is a woman with wooden flesh and strings wrapped around her figure, another sits silently by your bed, and another stands in the dark. Waiting. Watching you with hidden eyes.

The last of which, unfortunately, is where I met my end.

He came to me through several dreams, speaking of the nothingness that was Him. Of course, at the time, I was just another Lamb. I saw him as nothing more than a chocolate pizza induced nightmare, one that a little nyquil and Pepto could deal with in the morning. I only wish that was my case.

From that day, I've seen Him everywhere. Standing at the end of hallways, at the end of an alley, even my closet.

I've seen Him.

He is the true definition of Nothing, and we are to embrace Him.

I did.

I entered His realm, through the doors he has taunted me with. I entered His being through my bathroom door, of all places.

A realm of pure Nothing. He has told me that there is another with a deeper Nothingness, but I refuse to believe that. This is what we are destined to face someday. We are to fade into the shadows of narrow corners and winding passages.

There's just us and Him, in reality.

Just Us, and our City.

"Drywall and Wiring"

"I need to step out for a second, it'll only be a minute."

The lab coordinator, my boss, had merely given a cheery "Okay" and left me to my business, peering through her glasses at the glass pipette she was using to draw up the ammonium hydroxide for her test. The fume hood hummed softly and the flask sonicator buzzed like a cicada as I left the laboratory, walking through the rows of delicate instrumentation. An aged Gas Chromatograph whirred as it ran its samples; the steady heartbeat of the HPLC machine pulsed as pressurized liquid ran through its tubing. That is the thing about a laboratory - nobody realizes how noisy it really is, how even voices are contained and echo inside the cream-colored walls.

This is what I heard every day at work, what I came to every morning and what served as a soundtrack for the samples of milk I tested. It was present even as I wandered into the hallway leading to the front office. It wasn't a big laboratory building by any means, with a single building and just three departments - microbiology, chemistry, and the specialized milk chemistry laboratory, all consisting of maybe two rooms each and all connected directly to each other via hallway. And in this hallway was the lunchroom, to the right, and two bathrooms, to the left. This was my destination.

I knocked on the door of the first bathroom, then, finding it occupied, proceeded to the second. The door shut and locked behind me with a soft click, and I went about my business.

I was about midway through washing my hands when I looked up at the other door, a holdover from when the lab was merged from two adjacent buildings into one. The door was aged somewhat, its wooden door frame well-worn and its silver-tinged hinges beginning to rust, but otherwise a fairly average door, with a small metal grating at the bottom for ventilation and a smooth, silver, orb-like handle. I had never opened it, assuming it was glued shut or something, and never asked about it, since I figured it likely probably just contained drywall and wiring anyway. But as a scientist, (and as someone with a curious mind in general), I wasn't satisfied with assumptions. Even if I knew there was probably nothing but a closet behind it, I wanted to see for myself. So, drying my hands with paper towel and shutting off the sink, I walked over to the door.

My first surprise was that the knob actually turned at all. I'd been sure it was totally unable to move, and yet it swung open just fine.

My second surprise was that the hallway I'd just entered from was behind it.

Confusion marred my brow as I peered into the hallway. Wasn't this where I just came from? Was there more to the building I didn't know about, and the hallway simply appeared to mirror the other one? There was more space to the front of the building, after all, space I'd never been inside let alone seen. Maybe this lead to additional storage, although I thought it was a pretty weird place to put a door leading to it. Why had I never been asked to obtain supplies from this area of the building before? To be honest, it was strange, and more than a bit unnerving...

I threw my reservations aside and wandered into the hallway, the door closing behind me with a soft click. I was instantly bewildered to notice the door to the lunchroom in front of me, still closed, still with a box of doughnuts setting on the table visible through the window. As I looked down the hallway to my right, I saw the chemistry lab, and to my left, the front office. Nothing hummed, nothing whirred, and nothing buzzed.

I blinked in confusion and looked again. Wasn't this where I had just come from? But it couldn't be, the hallway to the labs was through the other door in the bathroom! Was this an additional, adjacent laboratory to my own? If so, where was everyone?

"Rick?" I asked, calling for my coworkers as I wandered down the cream-colored hallway towards the milk lab. "Alicia? Rob? Anyone?" I gained no response, and felt chills creep down my spine. Where was everyone? For that matter, why couldn't I hear talking, or instrumentation working, or even the simple hum of the fluorescent bulbs above my head? It was completely quiet, unnervingly so. The kind of quiet that made one feel very alone, and very watched, all at once.

I entered the chemistry lab and immediately felt as if I'd stepped into a foreign world. The room wasn't oriented the same way - the boss' office, normally off to the right, was now off to the left, and the door to the milk lab now resided to my right. It was like the room had been totally flipped. Even the benches where the HPLC, Gas Chromatograph, and Karl Fisher Titrators rested was flipped, mirror-image style. It was like walking into a reflection. And nothing was making any noise, at all, despite everything being plugged in. This concerned me, because if the instruments weren't running it could mean they'd been turned off, or it could mean a power failure - and both could mean invalidated test results. I quickly checked the bench of instruments, but all were running properly - the HPLC pumped its liquid medium, the titrators mixed their fluids, and the Gas Chromatograph silently injected itself with samples as its green prep light blinked. But no sound came from any of them, nothing but pure, utter silence.

Creeped out, I walked around the bench, back the way I came, but as I did, I took one look at the outlets behind it and stopped.

Nothing was plugged in. Not only that, there weren't any cords running from any of the instruments at all.

The Gas Chromatograph's green prep light continued to blink.

I nervously proceeded to the milk lab, finding once again that the room had been mirrored from the one I knew - the fume hoods now were off to the right, and the counter with the sonicator was to the left. Despite everything being on, nothing made sound, and nobody was there. My forgotten flasks rested in the fume hood as before, but otherwise it was as if the entire lab had been abandoned. Maybe everyone was in the back?

I walked through the silent laboratory and towards the back doorway, which I knew lead to the room with our scales and NMR instrument. But as I reached the door, I saw that everything inside was black, as if the lights had been turned off. That was odd, why was it pitch black in broad daylight? There was a window in that room, surely it would have been lit up by the sunlight since it was already noon. I tried to open the door, but to no avail - the door was completely stuck. Confused, I turned around - and nearly jumped out of my skin. My flasks were sitting on the countertop, still corked as if waiting for me to shake them. But that was impossible, I'd left them in the fume hood and nobody was supposed to touch anyone else's tests while they were running! Besides that, there was nobody in here... so who had moved them?

Unnerved, I decided it was probably best to find my boss and try to figure out what was going on. This was certainly not normal, and it was creeping me out. I left the milk lab, the door shutting noiselessly behind me, and walked down the hallway towards the front office.

Only, there was no front office. In fact, there wasn't a microbiology lab, front office, or even a second bathroom. There was only a dead end, a single cream-colored wall barring off that area - along with the only door out of the building.

I broke into a cold sweat. Was this some sort of weird nightmare? I was sure I'd driven here this morning... but was I positive I was really awake? I pinched myself to be sure, and jolted back. No, this was real... and as I ran my hand along the smooth, cream-colored wall, I realized that this couldn't be a dream...

I ran towards my boss' office in the back of the chemistry lab, and furiously began pounding on the closed door. "Tracey!" I cried, bewildered and hoping for some answer from my boss. "Tracey, it's me, Jennifer, are you there?" No answer. I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I pressed my ear to the door to listen for any sign of life, but the sound I heard... the noise... it... It sounded like tinfoil being crushed and glass being broken. It sounded like destruction. And it was getting louder by the second.

I looked up again in horror and backed away from the cream-colored wall. No office. No front door. Nobody, nowhere to go... I was trapped. I didn't know by what, and I didn't know why, but this was clearly not my workplace and I had to get out of here, immediately.

I ran towards the bathroom as if possessed, flinging the door open and shutting it behind me. The crunching noise followed me, I could hear it outside of where the lunchroom door used to be, I could hear it behind me, all around me...

I slammed the door noiselessly shut behind me and ran towards the other door. I have to get out. This is a nightmare, this isn't real, I have to get out!

My hand grabbed the smooth, silver doorknob and turned, the door flinging open.

There was nothing behind it. No hallway, nowhere to turn. Only drywall, interspersed with old wiring.

I laughed coldly.

The crunching behind me started to sound like grinding, like chewing. I backed against the white wall where the other door had once been, unable to stop the tears flowing down my face as I sunk onto the floor. The walls began to crackle and the mirror over the sink shattered. The door began to slowly rot.

And all I could see in front of me, as the room began to implode around me, was a doorway that lead to nothing. Nothing but drywall and wiring.

"Witch Hunt at Swanton Creek"

It all started, the town whispered behind his back, when the sickness took his sons away. Left his wife crippled, turned him into a shell of a man. First he found the bottle, then the draft found him.

Most men left for the War in one piece and came back broken. Arnold Corbin left a broken man and came back as something more. With his bible in one hand and a Purple Heart medal in the other, Reverend Arnie took to the park and began preaching his sermon to anyone and everyone who would listen. After a couple of years, he found a tiny little church in need of a minister. Every Sunday he preached to his flock in a thunderous voice that shook the rafters. His daughter played the organ for hymns that were at first quiet but soon challenged Reverend Arnie in volume.

Soon after Reverend Arnie came back from the war, there was something the townsfolk only referred to as “the incident.” Lily Corbin went out dancing with Billy Weston one night. For a time after, she was terribly pale and withdrawn. Most folks attributed it to the fact that Billy Weston disappeared the next day; skipped off with his last paycheck and her heart to boot.

Lily went “to visit family” which didn’t fool much of anybody, especially when she came back with a red-faced child and dressed in widow-black. The kindly people of Swanton Creek let the Corbins keep their little secret. There was no real harm to it.

In fact, by the time they found Billy Weston’s body, most people didn’t even remember his name. Much less the dubious parentage of one wee bright-faced tot.

(Lily remembered, though. She remembered the screams, the tears, the yelling. The sharp stings, the tearing, the scraping. She couldn’t close her eyes without remembering.)

The town grew in size, and oddly enough, the population of birds boomed as well. They all seemed to be attracted to the newly-erected telephone wires. The popular theory was that the birds were listening to the town’s newest media for gossip. It was one of those superstitions that happens too often to be discounted. As soon as some secret was whispered across the wires, it would spread like wildfire through the town. Far too often, Reverend Arnie would gently pull the person into his church for a confidential talk.

While the town’s sudden boom in growth wasn’t directly attributed to Reverend Arnie, the town whispered. He’s a good luck charm. We need a man like him around to keep us honest. The holy man became something the sleepy town of Swanton Creek could be proud of.

Pride can be a crutch. The town depended on Reverend Arnie to keep them honest, but who kept watch over Reverend Arnie? It was a question most people didn’t think to ask. Slowly, the church confessionals became more common. People were being taken to task for the mildest of sins.

Sins they hadn’t even committed yet. Sins they’d only talked about. Then, sins they’d only thought about.

“How does Reverend Arnie know?” The townspeople asked Lily, who would shoot a nervous glance at the sky, then smile and shrug.

“I don’t know,” she said. Over and over again. Until that wasn’t enough of an answer. The people grew aggressive. Started shoving at her, demanding an answer that she couldn’t give. Until the final, horrible culmination that left her broken and bleeding in the streets.

Wee William Corbin saw the whole thing, perched behind a trash can. The crowd dispersed, faces hidden by the cover of a moonless sky. A murder of crows took to the air as they passed, though they left one single body behind.

William met the cold black eyes and knew in the most primeval part of his mind that his grandfather already knew about the terrible deed and would see to it that everyone paid dearly for their crimes.

The next day, Reverend Arnie stepped down from his podium and bid his congregation to follow him to the corner where he had first begun to preach.

“Come forth,” he shouted from the pulpit of the streets. “Come forth, my people.” They gathered around, people and birds alike, until nearly the whole town stood before him. “Know that there is evil among you. A serious injustice has been committed. I ask you now to answer for your crime!”

There was a moment’s pause, then the grocer pointed at the milkman. “He’s been charging you extra and pocketing the profit!” Angry mutters rumbled from the crowd while the birds fluttered and shifted.

“She’s been taking kisses from the boys under the stairwell!”

“He puts his thumb on the scale!”

“She favors my sister more than she does me!”

The yelling grew louder until there was no individual complaint, merely a sea of fear and anger. Just like they did with Lily Corbin, shouts grew to shoves which turned to blows. Blood ran thick through the streets, and above it all stood Reverend Arnie and his flock.

"A Better Place"

I saw an angel today.

It was a beautiful sight; a heavenly host garbed in a robe of shimmering white, his face shining with bright light.

He did not speak, only reached towards me, holding out a perfect hand to me. From that moment, I have served Him.

I do not see Him all the time; rather I see His work in all things, the huge beautiful works of architecture and the little things, like the pattern on the membrane of a butterfly’s wing.

Recently, I have begun attending church more frequently. I know there is a God now, and I would pray to him.

My friends do not seem to see the light. They think that I may be going a little too far in my worship, but that’s rubbish. Nothing is too much when you praise the Lord.

I can see Him again, as I walk through the street. He’s there, in front of me. I smile as I walk by, the only one who can see Him, the only one who’s seen the light.

As I pass, He nods and gestures to the road. I do not falter; my time has come, and I am ready.

Placing my bags on the pavement, I stretch. I won’t need them where I am going.

He smiles at me and nods one last time.

I run.

Not from Him, but into His loving arms.

Into the road.

I gasp as the car knocks the wind from me, as my bones crack and crunch, as my head strikes the floor, but I am smiling, for I know I am going to a better place.

The world goes fuzzy, and I see it all fading to white.

It is calm here. I hear nothing, but I am not afraid. I know my Lord will appear and lead me to Heaven.

I clutch the cross around my neck. Soon I will be there.

I can see Him, in front of me. He is indistinct, blurry, but I know it is Him. I can feel it. He stands over me.

I can feel my soul lifting free of my body, rising, ascending!

Yet what is this pain I feel? Anguish, ripping and tearing through my body.

The figure is clearer now, and I cry out with horror. What was soft white cloth before has now become an ugly grey lizard skin. His charming smile is toothier than I remember. His eyes, before shining with a holy light, now burn with unholy darkness.

As He tears my soul from its body and devours it, I close my hand on the cross around my neck and wonder if there truly is a God.

"The Bringer of Life"

Long have I fought against Death.

It is part of me; I could do nothing else. Not after she left us. I was just a child when my mother fell ill; she had just divorced my father when the infection pierced her like an arrow out of nowhere.

My earliest memory is of her funeral: strange people in black, emotions contorting their faces like masks; shortly after, her remains were cremated. I never really knew her, but even then, nothing more than a toddler, I was changed by the indescribable pain inside me.

I was sent to live with an old acquaintance of hers. I never saw my father again. But the old man loved me as his own, and paid for the best possible education. As I grew older, he was more than a surrogate father—he was my mentor.

Despite all he did for me, I missed the woman I barely remembered.

Distraught at the all-too-soon decease of my mother, I decided to do what I could to help others, and to spare them my incessant grief. My life was devoted to the healing and beneficence of all men. With my mentor’s encouragement, I excelled in my learning. All fields of medicine were mine to explore, and I learned as much as humanly possible, until graduating.

After some years of working as a heart surgeon, I chose to offer my talents to everyone, everywhere, for free. I went on the road, healing anyone who asked. They called me a miracle worker.

Things went well as I cured just about everyone I came across. Until one day in a small rural town, where technology was at least a decade behind, I found something I could not handle.

A young man was presented to me, with strange marks all over his body. He was underweight and uncontrollably vomiting.

His father suggested it was bad food poisoning, but that couldn’t be right—this had been going on for weeks. I tried other ideas, such as various poisons or infections, but ultimately could find no sure cause of the illness.

The young man died.

The mayor appeared that evening on television, decrying my presence there. “We were told not to interfere with His discipline,” he said. “He told us everything would be alright once Henry learned his lesson. That if we interfered, there would be further punishment, for all of us. And what did you do? You brought an outsider to interfere! Look at what you’ve done.”

During the following days, dozens of the townspeople fell ill, with all different kinds of infections, cysts, boils, tumors. I was powerless.

But one night I had a dream. A distant silhouetted figure beckoned me toward a well. In it was healing water.

In the morning, I found it not far from the motel where I was staying. It was old and abandoned, but there was still water.

Despite what the mayor had said, some of the sick still came to me, pleading for me to help. I gave them the water in desperation, and every single person who came to me was quickly rid of their disease, regardless of what it was.

Soon a crowd had gathered around, amazed. The mayor was not happy.

“What have you done!?” he cried in horror. “He will surely kill us all now!”

A knife suddenly gleamed in his hand, and he rushed toward me.

We struggled, pushing back and forth, me trying to gain control of the blade.

“Help me,” I grunted to townspeople. “Please.”

They stood in place, uncaring. Some visibly shook their heads from side to side. Others seemed enthralled at the spectacle, as though the life or death situation was all in good fun.

At last the mayor, being a large man, overpowered me. He stabbed me countless times, blood flowing onto the grass, leaking into the well where the healing water was.

I died.

A white-faced man appeared before me, His nose tapering to a point like a beak. The rest of Him was shrouded in darkness. It was just He and I in the void around us.

“Get up,” He said. His face did not move with the words.

“Why? What’s going on?”

“Get up. We have work to do. Now you see the truth.”

He handed me a bird mask.

I awoke, breathing desperately. The mask was in my hand.

I looked at the blank faces of those around me. Those I had healed, and those who loved them.

They cared not for me.

Standing shakily, I slid the mask onto my face. I was a new person.

I knew now that I had wasted my life, but He was here to guide me.

Long have I fought against Death.

No more.

Having tasted of mortality, and of the ungratefulness of man, I choose the will of the Bringer of Death. For none deserve anything less.

"Endless Loop"

Despite what his closest friends and family thought of him, Henry Clayborne was not the CIA Operative he had lead them to believe he was. In reality he was spy that would sell his nations secrets to the highest bidder. While he had managed to avoid suspicion for quite some time, he made the mistake of creating a routine for himself.

At the end of every month he would arrive at the same restaurant, where he would sell the information he had acquired to his latest client. After about six months or so of doing this, Henry was caught. It didn't take long for the jury to realize he was guilty of treason and to sentence him to death.

On the night of his execution he didn't say a word as he prepared for his demise. The last thing he saw was a brief glimpse of static and a guard that watching over his execution, smiling as three bolts of electricity shot into Henry...

Completely shocked that he somehow still alive, Henry found himself no longer sitting in the electrical chair but hanging onto the ledge of a cliff. In the brief instance he looked down Henry saw sharp, jagged rocks below him. If he let go he was certainly going to die. Miraculously someone managed to see him in peril and desperately tried to help him.

Eventually Henry managed to grab the man's hand and was about to be pulled to safety. However as the man tried helping him Henry noticed something wrong. The man had the exact same face as the security guard. Out of shock Henry let go of the man's hand and was instantly killed on impact...

Or at least he should have been because he found himself alive yet again, this time in the middle of the road where he was about to be hit by a drunk driver. As the car collided with him saw yet another flash of static and right before his eyesight failed him, he saw a crowd watch as he was run over with another man that looked exactly like the security guard calling 911.

For what seemed like years the cycle would repeat itself non-stop. He would wake up perfectly unharmed and then die with a flicker of static being the last thing he say.

On Monday, he was killed during a shootout between the police and some biker gang.

On Tuesday, he was slowly mauled to death by a lion that escaped the zoo.

On Wednesday, he was killed in a bombing in Iraq.

And so on and so forth.

Until one day right before he was about to be hit by a train he saw yet another man that looked like the security guard in the distant, waving at him. At first Henry didn't see anything different about the "man" that had followed him throughout his many deaths. But then he started noticing his horrifying appearance.

His arms were too long, almost as if they were stretched out through some sort of medieval torture device, his tongue was at the very least six feet long, and his teeth looked like they belonged in the mouth of a great white shark. But the worst part was its eyes; there was only an endless wave of static where its' pupils should have been.

At that exact moment Henry realized that his endless torture had been brought on by this creature. But why him? Was it because he had angered the creature somehow? Was the creature punishing him for his sins? Then a terrifying thought went into Henry's mind:

What if there is no reason? Perhaps the creature merely likes playing with it's food.

Henry contemplated on this idea for about three seconds before his entire body was torn apart by the train.


In the dark underbelly of humanity, a demon sits. The skin of a pale, fish-white belly is stretched thin from its relentless appetite.

It feeds on our sickness, our hunger, our hate. It feeds until the stomach splits open and pallid children wiggle out in a flood of red.

The children spread. They feed. They sate themselves on a diet of pain and misery. Like animals, they eat far past what their flesh can stand. Until they, too, split and release a flood of pale, squirming children.

They die and multiply from over-consuming our senseless violence. Not one knows the pain of an empty belly.

"Nobody Helps Me"

Stop! No! You're all making a damn terrible mistake! Don't you feel them?! Jumping! Jumping!




And they scream in my ears and burrow under my skin and into my eyes! You can see the tunnels on my arms, can't you?! They're as plain as day!

You can't see them!? You goddamn. FUCKING BASTARD! No-no don't go don't go. You don't understand. So many times I've been told not to worry. I have cause to fucking worry! Daniel- fucking Danny- that shit-stealing brat of mine was the one who caused this! Fucking cocksucker brought birdseed into MY house like a dipshit!

They came so fast. So fast and so quick. I can see them if I close my eyes.

The dog had to go- it was the only necessary course of action! I had to kill him! And of COURSE I had to gut the mutt like a hog- I needed the evidence- the bugs buggies bugs gbugs.

My wife divorced me soon after. She tried taking my Danny away from me. I had to kill HER, too. Not just for me or for Danny but for the whole world- she was damn full of those buggies! And she never helpedSHE NEVER FUCKING GAVE A SHIT! I know she tried, but she was too occupied with her job and her needs and RICKY. RICKY that little manwhorefucker she was still interested in him if I was RICKY she'd go to the ends of the fucking Earth for RICKY but I'm not RICKY SO I'M FUCKING SORRY I COULDN'T BE YOUR PRECIOUS RICKY FOR YOU SARAH... she CLAIMED she never spoke to him after the proposal but I knew. Oh I KNEW. So I shot Ricky, too.

So I tried using herbal remedies- sebben dust, Cat's Claw, Bentonyte Clay and MSM, but nothing worked. So I went to the doctor fucking pharmaceutical lapdog whore and asked for help but the doctor was a dirty big bucks Pharisee whore so I killed him. And then I tried killing myself but I realized how to make the bugs stop. Forever.

I tied Danny to a chair and doused him and myself in kerosene and lit a match. I was glad the house was burning and Danny that little shithead was up in smoke for what he did to me but the cops grabbed me before I went up and they-

oh. Sorr, but that's all the scoop you're gonna get. Maybe now they'll know why and what I was feeling. Hey, is my poison needle ready, Governor? The bugs probably chewed my veins up so be careful stickin it ha ha ha ha


oh God.

"Flash Me the Winning Smile"

In 1942 Adrian Botwovski was acquitted of all charges. He was arrested for five homicides in which he slowly dismembered and disembowled five female Polish immigrants who lived in the same neighborhood. His winning smile somehow lead to his full acquittal to the shock and anger of the families of the deceased.

Amateur. Brash and brutish. Going STRAIGHT to the gutting!? Bah. It has none of the flourish and true artistic beauty that comes from tenderly grasping, caressing, revering and almost worshipping each organ as you remove it. And he forgot to remove the eyes.

In 1967 Michael Sorton was somehow miraculously acquitted by unanymous vote of the jury even though he stood ground for one charge of assault and one charge of murder. HIs infamous blinding of Lucinda Forrester with binoculars that had blades in the lenses and his even more infamous killing of Margaret Doyle with a bear trap set in the pillow will have to face no repercussions. The jury foreman was later reported talking about his winning smile.

Subtle, and treating the kill or the torture more like a true art form, a find Rembrandt (that, in a literal sense, the Lucinda girl will never have a chance to enjoy again). But too impersonal. And he burst the Lucinda girl's eyes instead of removing them with dignity and grace! Does the fool not know the beauty of a freshly harvested eye!?

In 1988, Allistair Cheney was arrested for the manipulation of fifteen girls into the ritualistic murder of eight other girls; he is also suspected of the rape-murder of 28 young boys in his hometown of Shenuba, Georgia. He was aquitted, surprisingly and to the shock and hatrid of the American public, his winning smile won the hearts of the jury in a manner similar to the Botwovski and Storton cases of the 40s and 60s.

This man! This man disgraces all serial killers everywhere! What happened to the kids aside--though I prefer to leave the canvas that is the body of my victim untainted with foolish disgusting portrayals of lust and power other than the work of my knife--but this person has the gall-! Having others do the killing for you! Switching between a set group of targets and modus operandi!? Where's the uniformity!? Where's the art?! The pizzazz--it's like carving one of Shakespeare's sonnets into a man's back and he's treating it like Dr. Seuss's Book of Masochism! I would kill this man and make him eat his own testicles had he not been shot by an angered and vengeful police officer not one month later!

How any of these men call themselves "killers" is beyond me, and the worst thing of it all is they get off with a paltry, insignificant mortal smile! Oh... oh I assure you My smile is a lot better, and my methods, well, you know my methods by now, don't you? Well, most of them.

Come on now--don't whine, nobody can hear you under that gag and you couldn't see your way out either--let's see if I can't turn carve skin and flesh into a magnum opus of true beauty.

"The World Died..."

When the world came to an end, it was a grand, dramatic affair. The seas ran clear with ichor, smoke and flames filled cities ravaged by war, the screams of the masses were like the most beautiful singing, and ice coated the world.

People turned on each other, guided by invisible strings, cutting swathes through crowds in a macabre dance. People stepped through doors only to disappear off the face of the planet. A horde of shadow-men attempted to organize everything back to the way it was at the beginning of time, tearing down buildings so as to bring nature back into dominance.

A slender man stalked the land, impaling all he could find on his many tentacles. Every insect was a monster, every bird a storm.

When it was all over, all was silent for a while, almost as if a moment of silence upon the death of an entire species. Suddenly, from all around, came a grotesque applause. As if a host of abominations beyond understanding had just seen the greatest entertainment they'd ever known.

The world died on the silver screen.