Spook

spook

 

noun

1. a ghost.

2. a spy.

 

verb

1. frighten; unnerve

 

It’s believed that there are 100,000 spies from various foreign countries living in America right now. They are our neighbours, accountants, teachers and military personnel. They are gathering information on our government, our economy and our way of life. They have missions, agendas and goals. They are here to disrupt, manipulate and overtake our systems.

 

However duplicitous, they still live amongst us in plain sight. They have names and social security numbers. They have Twitter and Facebook accounts and monster blogs. They have families, friends and pets that they care about. They have to work to put food on the table. At the end of the day, they are living, breathing beings. Detectable. Traceable. Fearful that at any moment, their half-truths could unravel and reveal them for who they really are.

 

There are others who live in the shadows who do not fear detection. They are nameless scum that live outside of all systems. They belong to no country, to no government. They have positioned themselves to live outside of the normal course of life. There is no love, compassion or joy in their lives. Their day to day experiences are so far removed from anything we would consider human, they might as well be alien.

 

They are the insidious spooks who see all, know all, and control all. Their primary preoccupation is the end of the world. They live and breathe death and destruction. Their most recent targets were my family, my life, my identity — all of which they have ripped from me.

 

Who am I now? One of the hundreds of thousands of ghosts who live under assumed identities, always at a side-step from the truth? Is anonymity possible? Can I avoid detection? Will my life ever be my own again? Was it mine to begin with?

 

Am I their creation — another mechanism that they have constructed; a weapon that will help them to unmake this world? Perhaps I was never meant to have a life, only serve a function in their plan.

 

I might be the ultimate spook.

 

Patented.

 

Manufactured.

 

Programmable.

 

Replicable?

 

Are there others like me, self-aware, lost… pissed off? Could we out-spook the spooks?

 

Are you out there, or am I alone?

 

Alone with my simmering rage.

 

Those who may be reading this, who are likely watching, tracking, plotting – know this. I’m onto you. You want to push me to the brink? Think I can’t play your game too? I can live and breathe death and destruction just as well as you can. Find me. Come at me. Come and see what happens next.

 

 

I freaked out!

While i was walking at the park i spotted something at the trees i was like is that a statue or someone Cosplaying i walked close to it until i saw the ghouli at least i was running like i was sonic

Globalin

I saw what you saw, what I imagined I would win or lose, but it was nothing like that, my heart burst a million times, like the first time I saw you. Again and again, I can barely breathe knowing you’re out there, somewhere. I keep it with me, even though I can’t shake it anymore, I keep it in my pocket, and I touch it once in a while to make sure it was real.
So would I.

I swear

Well the other night I was going through a line of abandoned row houses – not looking for copper, just checking out the wood work – and I hear this scratchy noise coming from one of the back yards. Here I’m thinking ‘oh no, its a stray dog and boy it don’t sound too happy!’ And then it happens, the door knob from the kitchen out the back starts rattling and just then the outside light flicks on. All the lights are off in the house, and so I see this outline of a creature about 8 foot high and it ain’t human! I about messed my shorts right then, but the cursed thing opens the door and walks in. It looks right at me, has the audacity to Scream at Me, then comes at me with talons about as long as my forearm!! Lucky for me, I had my old six shooter and kept my wits long enough to fill that sonofa with lead. Then I just took off running, didn’t look back til I got to my pickup, and I peeled out of there and came straight home. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sleep with my shotgun next to me that night!

Supermarket Ghouli

Hey guys. I just got home from the store. I had the strangest experience so I had to post asap. Wondering if there are any others out there who have had something similar.

I just finished loading my car up with groceries. More junk food than healthy stuff. I know, I know. I try eating fruits and veggies, but I love my sweets. Little Debbie’s, 2-Bite Brownies, and all the other usual suspects. It’s a good thing my dentist wasn’t watching!! My new year’s resolution has really fizzled. January was pretty strong. A couple moments of weakness, but overall successful. But Febuary really got me. It may have been the long, dragging winter, it may have been the thought of another Valentine’s Day alone, it may have been something else all together. Does it even matter? What’s important was that I had a cart full of processed garbage. And as I pulled it all out of my cart and put it on the belt, that’s exactly what I felt like… Processed garbage being loaded on a conveyor and headed for a bag….

And that’s when it happened! I looked up and Ghouli was checking me out!! He looked mostly like I pictured, but in a supermarket uniform. He was quite nice, but he kinda crushed my bread when he put some canned goods on top of it.

Anyway, I got outa there before things could go south. I’d like to say that I won’t go back to that store, but it’s so close to my appartment and they have great Hostess sales.

Anyone else have a similar Ghouli encounter?!

Running Mate

I like to run, and in the summer I usually go at dusk since it gets so hot. Living in the country, the roads can be pretty desolate and dark, so, when a car is passing, I try to stay off the road in case they can’t see me very well.
Once when I did this, I slipped into a ditch, turning my ankle. I knew it wasn’t that bad, but I needed to sit for a minute until it stopped hurting so much. That was when I heard something in the woods across the small clearing.
It sounded like it was big. There aren’t any bears, or anything where I live, so I thought maybe it was a deer. Turns out I was very wrong.
It stepped into the open, and I found that I had no idea what I was looking at.
Monstrous, lanky, appalling. It was far enough away and dark enough that I couldn’t make out a lot of detail. But… I saw how tall it was. I saw it’s gaping, glutinous mouth. And, I saw that it was looking at me.
I was frozen. It was one of those moments where you are trying to figure out if you are still in reality, and you don’t understand why you haven’t woken up from such a horrifying dream yet.
But, then it moved, and I snapped out of it. It was fight or flight…. I wisely chose flight.
My adrenaline was in full throttle and my ankle was long forgotten as I scrambled back up to the road and ran as fast as I could toward any other sign of life.
I didn’t want to look back. I didn’t want to know if it decided to follow. I didn’t want to know, but the crunching in the brush not too far behind me told me anyway.
It was right about the time I acknowledged my impending doom, that my savior popped up over the top of the hill before me, in the form of two headlights.
As the car got closer, the noise behind me faded away, and it seemed that, at least for the time being I was safe.
The car, as it turned out, belonged to my neighbor, who happily gave me a lift home.
I have wanted to tell people about what happened, but every time I try, it just seems so ridiculous. It’s something that just can’t really be. And when saying it just makes it more real….well, I would never be able to go outside again. I already stopped running.

Ghouli in Texas

This is so creepy! I work at a university and have to be at work by 5:45 AM. It’s pretty dark and been cold lately, so no one is around.

Anyhow, I was walking to work this morning (playing a popular game on my phone) when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. That’s when I saw a tall figure. It was ghouli! I was terrified and dropped my coffee, but was too scared to run. Ghouli sort of stared at me and crept away. =(

I had no idea what to do. I wish there was someone we could get ahold of to help us with Ghouli. I’m terrified to come back to work.

All of us

Ghouli is everywhere, at any time. Lurking in the lies, hurt & destruction of every godforsaken human being.
Everyday we all push Ghouli down pretending it can’t harm us/ but it’s there. There in every chat with a colleague , threatening to surface & bite it’s venom deep into the good we’re trying to do.
Ghouli is in all of us no matter what we do.

Terror at Torrey Creek

I don’t sleep much anymore. Every time I close my eyes, I see blood… We’d gone down to Torrey Creek after school that day, like we always do. Just Heather, Katey and me. Katey’d gotten this cool Nikon camera for her thirteen birthday so she was testing it out on everything. Leaves. Ladybugs. Lilies. Heather kept photobombing every shot, which was super annoying. But kinda hilarious. We heard a noise and out of the woods came a tan and white stray cat. It looked mangy and full of rabies. I hate cats. But Heather loves like every living creature. She got on all fours and crawled up the cat, making stupid Meow sounds. “Leave the dumb thing alone, it’ll probably claw your eyes out,” I yelled. Heather ignored me, put out her hand, “You can trust me, kitty.” The cat sniffed her hand, and its ears did one of those weird things where one turns and the other doesn’t. CLICK! Katey snapped a picture and all of a sudden, the cat bolted back into the woods. Heather took off after it. “Dude! You scared it!” Katey rolled her eyes at me but then we both scrambled after our friend. Through the trees, we could see Heather’s blond ponytail bob and weave through the green. We chased after her but Heather always ran the fastest mile in P.E. and she was getting further and further away from us. We pushed deeper into the woods, the jagged branches scratching at our skin, trying to keep up until the blond hair suddenly vanished. Katey and I stopped, we were totally out of breath. Katey turned to me, for the first time with real panic, “Where’d she go?” “Heather!” I yelled, “Heather, where are you?!” Katey walks forward, slowly, trying to listen for Heather’s voice, any sign of our friend. I feel something behind me, like watching me and I turn – just in time to see a shadow flash across the trees and then disappear. I wait a second, not sure if I imagined it. Another quick flash and I hear the CLICK of Katey’s camera. “Katey, did you see that?” I flip around but there’s no one there. Katey’s gone. Now I’m creeped out and I take a few steps back – I stumble on something. I look down… it’s Katey’s camera. Oh crap. I bend down to pick it up. The lens is cracked. “KATEY?!” I scream out into the wilderness. The wind blows through and I hear a voice, like a whisper. “Help me…help me…” It sounds like Heather? Or maybe it’s Katey? I can’t tell but I don’t want to be alone so I follow the sound. Moving through the brush. My eyes land on something twitching in the air…a furry puff of white. My whole body freezes cause I can’t make sense of what I’m seeing. Two dark orbs staring at me…the dead eyes of the cat. Its bloody carcass caught in the jaws of a huge, spiky monster…like ten feet tall, teeth as sharp as razors, half shark, half Godzilla. GHOULI! Its mouth clamps down and I scream as I hear the sickening sound of a bones crackling. I start running as fast as I can. I can’t see where I’m going, I’m totally turned around but I’m racing into the woods at full speed. I can feel it chasing me. Gaining on me. I look over my shoulder just as the monster pounces and everything goes to black.

When I open my eyes, there’s something blurry next to me. Rocking back and forth. I rub my eyes and my hands are caked in dried blood. Jesus! I sit up quickly and see the figure rocking back and forth is Heather. She’s naked and covered in blood. Her hands raw, her body all scrapes and bruises. And there’s just blood everywhere, on the trees, on me, seeping into the dirt. I crawl over to Heather. “What happened? Where’d you go? Where’s Katey?” I ask. She won’t look at me. “I don’t know…I don’t know…” she mumbles, over and over again. Then she breaks down sobbing, shaking and I just hug her as tight as I can.

It’s been three years now. No one’s seen Katey. We had teams searching the woods for months but it’s like she vanished off the face of the planet. The police were able to get the film off her camera…our last moments together. There’s a selfie of the three of us at the creek, the ladybugs and the lilies, Heather crawling up to the cat. But the last one is a blurry flash of a dark shadow with those razor sharp teeth I can never forget…and I know it can only be Ghouli.

You told me

Falling in this obscure world
Beauty like a midsummer night
Darkness wraps his arms on us
You reaching and to hold me
Suffocating me with his touch
Behold, and eager love me more
But I tremble and fall down
Dust me off and pick me up
Devouring my soul and mind
You just want to make me see
Nothing left and all gone
But you told me it would be alright

Eyes wide open

It’s been three days since I last slept, I see it every time I shut my eyes. It calls it self ghouli, that’s what it whispers in my ears, I can feel it’s breath on the side of my face whispering in my ear…Ghouli. I fill with fear but it feeds off it. It wants to collect my soul, but I have too bright of a soul, so it can’t take it. But this I know ghouli wants my soul. It says I’m too bright, and it hates the light. To be honest I’m not sure if it comes when I’m awake or asleep anymore. It haunts me every time I close my eyes. Am I going insane? I’m so tired….so, so tired.

He Follows Me

I first saw Ghouli in New Orleans on Royal Ave. back in August. I had a pocket knife on me so I lunged at him while emitting a piercing cry; he fled. But I saw him again when I returned to in St. Louis. I saw him looking at me through the living room window. Something is preventing him from coming inside, but while outside, I’ve seen him staring at me from behind trees and houses, and parked cars. I’m not so much scared now, as fascinated.

@Rever For Your Eyes Only

@Rever please meet in our previously discussed location. I am sorry to say that the event we hoped would not happen has begun.

Please bring the other subject we previously discussed with you, we need her to make this work. Delete this from your site after reading.

Let’s hope it’s not too late…

Wild ‘Ghoui’ Encounter

I went camping once with my best friend, Ash, and his mother when Ash and I were about ten when we saw one of these ‘Ghouli’ things. I didn’t know what it was thing, but the sight of the horrifying creature was burned into my mind. Ash’s too, I’m pretty sure. We were out playing in the woods while Ash’s mom cooked dinner back at the campsite, it was the first night of the camping trip, by the way. Anyways, we got lost and ran into this ‘Ghouli’ thing (I didn’t know what it was until I found this website). The Ghouli chased us even further into the woods until we came to a river. Luckily, it didn’t follow us into the water, and we were able to escape by swimming to the other side. (Ash and I are both pretty athletic and capable of surviving on our own, even when we were young)

It was REALLY scary, and we both thought it was going to eat us! I would’ve probably stepped in the way of the Ghouli to save Ash if it came to it. I’m like that because I love all of my friends a lot. And…Ash can be quite a kid sometimes, and needs saving several times a year, it feels sometimes.

At least we’re alive. That’s what counts. I just hope that Ghouli monster doesn’t come back again sometime and try to get us…

Ghouli Sighting in the Woods

I’m sure that Ghouli is an Alien Pet. I’m sure of it. They let their Pets out to play and their seen in the woods or in fields when people just happen upon them. I’ve seen all kinds of things peering in my windows or in the skies. I saw this light in the woods behind my house and I followed it. I had a flashlight and my cell phone. I came to the spot where the light was beaming down and I saw that it was a UFO. Beneath the light was the Ghouli. It was searching for something and I think it sensed I was there. I tried to run but a beam hit me and knocked me unconscious. I woke up the next morning. I tried to find my cell phone and flashlight but it was missing and I had a large gash on the back of my neck. I’ve never seen the Ghouli since but yeah..They are Alien Pets. That’s the only explanation I can come up with.

Colorado Encounter

Out here in Colorado, there are all sorts of mysterious sightings — UFOs, Bigfoot, a blue mustang with devilish red eyes, etc. However, nothing was as terrifying as what I recently witnessed.

Last week, a lot of snow fell in Aurora, where I live. I needed to make a late-night stop at King Soopers (a grocery store), but I didn’t want to risk getting into a car accident; so, I decided to walk. It was really windy. I was the only person outside, aside from a few passing cars and a snowplow. When I was roughly a block away from King Soopers, I heard an odd sound. I assumed it was the wind blowing around some objects. But then, behind a bush, a large, shadowy figure emerged, with dangling claws and pointy ears. I had never seen anything like it.

I attempted to head in the other direction; however, as soon as I turned around, I slipped and fell on the sidewalk. Immediately, I heard the creature rushing through the snow, toward me. I got up, but I was tackled right away. I was now looking at the face of this thing, and it’s an image that will haunt me forever. I felt like I was staring into the eyes of pure evil. Its teeth were razor sharp. I thought my life was about to end.

Somehow, someway, I was able to free one of my arms and grab my keys in my pocket. I bunched all of them together and stabbed the creature in the neck. It screamed loudly and ran off into the darkness. I never saw it again.

I thought about filing a report with the police, but they would never believe me. They would think I was crazy, and in turn, possibly arrest me. I didn’t tell anybody about what happened. Could this have just been a vivid nightmare? Could it have been The Mandela Effect?

I browsed online to see if anybody experienced anything similar, and I came across this website. Reading the stories of other encounters made me realize that I wasn’t alone. We couldn’t all be going through The Mandela Effect, right? If not, could we be in a parallel universe? I heard a story of an FBI agent who proposed the idea after investigating, what he surmised to be, a case involving The Mandela Effect, which apparently, was also known as The Mengele Effect.

Anyway, whatever it was, I will never forget it, and I hope to never go through that, ever again.

Sighting in a lab

I saw a Ghouli once. He was disguised as a cockroach, but I could tell he wasn’t like other cockroaches. He spoke to me telepathically.

I won’t relate what the Ghouli said; most of it was too obscene to repeat, including some lewd comments about someone named Bambi…

I get chills every time I recount the memory.

Beware the Woods

When I was 11 my friend Jackson and I were playing in the woods at the end of his street. We were trying to catch crawdads in the stream when we heard someone walking towards us. But nobody was there. Jackson went over to look when I heard something behind me. I turned around and caught a glimpse of it moving into a really dense patch of trees. But I saw it. It had a tail like a kangaroo but it was covered in gray skin al over. There were thick quills up its spine and on top of its head. I think it had several arms but it was hard to tell with all the branches around it. I didn’t get a good look at its face though. I still had nightmares about it for years. But I never went back in those woods. When they were bulldozed years later for a new housing addition, some residents reported seeing a shadowy figure in their backyards at night. Pets went missing. I moved away not long after but from what I hear those encounters still happen today.

Old School Sighting

Back in 1992, i was driving home from my girlfriend’s house, late at night, when a creature darted into the road and was clipped by my front bumper. I stopped, got out, and was shocked – I guess the dry air built up a static charge. Anyway, I looked back to see what I had hit, and laying there at the side of the road was what appeared to be a deer. A beast of sorts, what I assume to have been ghouli or the local drunkard, was tearing into the deer with it’s teeth. I pooed a little and got the hell out of there. This was in Indiana, near Bloomington.

Someone knows where it’s @rever.

I still haven’t had a chance to run into the Ghouli. but I always log on to the Blog to read their stories, and I’m worried that I haven’t read updates from @rever in a while. He used to be a very active user here. (even I think he’s the one who opened the site) his paranormal stories and scientific stuff always captivated me as I read them.
If someone knows the real person behind @rever I ask you to tell him to contact us again, I’m afraid something serious has happened to him.

Ghouli in Australia?

I was driving home from a New Year’s party when this thing dashed across the road. I hadn’t been drinking, and I got this image off the dashcam to prove it. At first I thought I’d finally found a bunyip, or possibly a yowie, but having found your page I think it looks a lot like a ghouli. I inset a lightened, enlarged version to give you a better look, but I’m not an expert at this and the quality of the dashcam footage restricts what I can do. Dashcams are such a great invention. I wish I had it when I saw those two Gippsland Phantom Cats in 1990. I’d be interested in your opinion. I’m not sure I should go public with this after my Phantom Cat experience.

addendum 018-1a

The following transmission was submitted by unidentified humanoid SCP with possible connection to 446854, first seen during Field Report 1b. Subject nicknamed “Rever”, real name unknown. Dated ██-██-████ the transmission log was intercepted, analyzed and subsequently expunged from the Foundation records by Mobile Task Force Sierra-14, codename The Collective, due to possible interference by subject “Rever”.

Any personnel other than the authorized 05 Council members and the Collective that are found in possession of the transmission as it pertains to SCP-446854, or subject “Ghouli”, will be subject to immediate termination upon access.

connecting ….

/checking security clearance

/accessing transcription, please wait….

………

/access denied

Never take shortcuts through parks

I saw ghouli once; when taking a shortcut through a park one night while on a walk. Ugly creature. As soon as it lunged towards me, I threw him to the ground with my mind and ran off.

I don’t leave the house much anymore, preferring to remote view interesting things. I’ve gotten tired of living in this dark hole of a place, so I spent months trying to remote view winning lottery numbers before the draw. Waste of time. Maybe I’m viewing draws in another dimension, or even the wrong future or past dates… who knows. If only there was a manual for how these things work!

I’ve since been focusing my attention on a couple of FBI agents, Mulder and Scully. They are somehow much easier to focus on then most people. How he throws those pencils into the ceiling and that poster, without telekinesis, is beyond me. So entertaining! Looking forward to seeing what case they take next.

Until then, I’m having another beer. It helps with the noise in my head when I’m not focused on a particular remote viewing target. This latest batch of beer with coconut syrup and hot peppers turned out quite well.

Stay away from that ghouli!

What hell was that thing?

There I was. Walking along the banks of the Mogoagogo River in Beautiful British Columbia on my annual pilgrimage with my buddy Chuck. This trip was more of a celebration of sorts, or maybe a career death sentence depending on which of us you ask – you see, he’d just secured a job running the ADIL at the University of Maryland. How we met? Let’s just say that in 1989, a certain somebody was selling alien detection radar kit’s at the CES show in Baltimore and I was the landlord of the unit he rented out on Exeter Street. But I digress… We’d been taking this trip for a few years now, regaling each other with our new conspiracy theories about JFK, stories about my mothers love affair with Dr. Blockhead and talk of Chuck’s chess game with Anatole Klebanow; all the while observing the real nuts of the world prowling these woods looking for Big Foot and taking foot print impression castings. It was strange to be in place where we were the normal ones. But that night, it changed for us. Of all the books I’d read… Of all the theories I had about everything from genetically engineered twins, cockroaches being from another planet, real life vampires, the disappearance of the Queen Anne ship and even why this poster I bought with a UFO on it seemed to change over time… nothing prepared us for what we heard and saw in the woods that night.

We followed a little stream leading us into the woods to an area we’d never been before. It was eerie. The wind stopped howling there. The leaves wouldn’t sweep across the ground. No tree’s swayed. It was as if time stood still in this spot. But something moved in the distance. Slow at first. I thought it was just a branch, position in such a way to make your mind run away with you. But it was strange… it looked like some kind of animal. I whispered quietly. “Chuck? Do you see that?” I turned to him. He was paralyzed in fear. In my peripheral vision, I saw it move again. It had arms. I took a step back. It’s head knee jerked right towards us as my foot cracked a branch. What ever it was, it now knew it wasn’t alone. Chuck’s hands trembled as he started to lift the camera hanging from his neck. “Chuck… Don’t.” Are you kidding,” he asked, “World Weekly Informer will pay big cash for this.” After he pulled the shutter, the camera immediately started whirling from the auto rewind feature. That thing, what ever it was – wasn’t happy. “Chuck, shut it off.” That’s when it ran towards us and then went straight up a tree into the darkness.

“What the hell is that thing,” Chuck muttered. “How the hell should I know?” The silence in the woods was now deafening as we peered up into the tree’s looking for any sight of it. Silence – in what seemed like a moment frozen. We were too afraid to move. A crackle behind us. Too afraid to look, but we knew we had to. As we turned, a silent hiss let out for a moment. There stood, what had to be an eight foot creature with limbs standing five yards from us. “Chuck? RUN!” I screamed grabbing his arm and dragging him backwards through the woods as this thing lunged for us. The creature let out an unearthly screech, unlike anything I have heard before or since. Fumbling over our selves through the darkness, it didn’t chase us, it seemed like it was warning us… stay out. When I looked back, it was gone, the screams still echoing through the bay.

We ran back to town and tried to tell Sherriff Hartwell what happened. With a half crooked smile, he chuckled “…you boys best be leavin’ town… Ghouli don’t like visitors, and he’ll be lookin for you now.” We never spoke of the event again and canceled all future trips. We now go to Amma Beach Maine, where nothing strange ever happens. I have always wondered, was I alone? What was the truth? I hope somebody, somewhere, whom has the answers to everything can explain it to us one day. Until then, I am staying out of the woods offering this advice to anyone else out there ; Close your windows, lock your doors, turn out the lights, because Ghouli is out there and he might just be looking for you.

sierra-14 field report 018-1b

Sierra-14 Task Force Field Report

/verifying clearance…

/request timed out

/reconnecting…

/reconnecting…

/connection established

/connecting to secure server…

/decrypting file…

/decryption complete

SCP Involved: SCP-446854

MTF Involved: MTF Sierra-14

Date: January 27th, 2018

Location: 21km west of the town of Shoshoni, Wyoming

Preamble: Engagement is authorized after a teenage boy calls official emergency services after seeing SCP-446854 on a docked ship named Chimera. MTF Sierra-14 arrives on location with [REDACTED] in order to subdue SCP-446854, and all class amnestics to administrate to boy; depending on how close the contact, we must be ready to authorize Ennui Protocol if necessary.

[22:31] Sierra-14 unit arrives and begins search of 446854 (subject ghouli)

[00:45] Subject evades capture, with all possible attempts at capture providing unsuccessful. More information in Addendum below.

[01:11] Teenage boy spotted as MTF Sierra-14 begins departure

[01:13] Upon Sierra-14 initiating interrogation of boy, subject begins to flee

[01:14] All attempts to subdue human subject fail

[01:14] Upon the drawing of firearms by Sierra-14, subject exhibits telekinetic ability, and our weapons are flung from our reach into the water over dock. Subject makes unseen escape.

Addendum: Upon the field engagement to capture and contain SCP-446854, we seem to have stumbled upon a humanoid SCP able to take the form of a teenage boy. The appearance of this form is a tall, thin teenage boy, between 15 and 18 years of age, approximately 130-160lbs with dark hair that’s cut just below each ear. He was seen by The Collective wearing a black and white plaid flannel shirt, black jeans and black shoes. Affiliation with SCP-446854 will be assumed until 446854 is captured and the boy is interrogated.

/end of file

Secure. Contain. Protect.

The Ranch

I was at my grandfather’s ranch a few days ago when I saw it. At first it was in the woods, I heard some branches move. Automatically thought it was a squirrel or something until a couple moments later it was more violent. The entire woods started to shake, squirrel’s can’t run that fast or make that big of an impact.

I freaked out and wanted to scream, although I started to get more and more confused when the woods stopped shaking and making noise and everything went quiet. Complete silence. Comforting. Eerie. Terrifying. All at once. I heard a growl. Someone or something sounded angry.

I turned around and that’s when I saw it….Ghouli. It was mad and before I knew it I was slammed to the ground. My head hit the ground hard but I didn’t even notice until a huge puddle of blood started forming around my body. Everything started to fade away, into complete blackness. I remember being dragged away as I faded into nothingness.

I awoke, barely conscious to find that I’m in a horse stall. I heard the most terrifying growl and gurgle I will ever hear. I look above me to see one of Ghouli’s green arms start to caress my forehead, then move to my cheek. He was pinching my skin tightly. It felt like he was going to rip my skin off. He started to rip and tug at my cheek. I screamed and yanked his hand off of me with all the strength I had in me. He didn’t take it well.

He grabbed my throat and started choking me. He yanked me off of the ground, I was dangling in mid-air, the only thing holding me is a horrifying green hand. The only sight a terrifying being trying to choke the life out of me. I managed to scream, but only for like five seconds before he wrapped his hand further around my neck, silencing it immediately. I was turning red now, my head starting to pound, I was getting more and more tired. Sleepier. And. Sleepier.

I reached my hand out and scratched something, I think it was his eye. I got dropped and hit the ground hard. My knee was bruised and I started to breathe in more and more air. My face went back to normal but my head was still pounding. I fast-limped out of the barn and never saw him again.

He might have not gotten me but he’s taken so many other people I had to share my story. Be on alert and always trust your instincts.

I’ve seen the Ghouli

I’ve seen the ghouli… He lurks in the shadows of your darkest memories. I see him every time I close my eyes, waiting and watching. His glowing eyes staring at me through the shadows.
I’ve been lucky, for the most part, as the ghouli has done nothing but watch me. He follows me where ever I go. All day everyday he’s there watching me waiting for the right moment too…

Crying women

some time ago when I was still a student of pure biology and I was studying for a partial genetics I heard a woman crying next to my window at first I thought it was on the street then I remembered that it was. separated by the house of my neighbor who did not even have dogs, it happened 3 times I still do not get the crying out of my head. … another day something even more dark happened, while I was sleeping I felt like going to the bathroom, it was close to 2:00 AM, my mom was sleeping in a bed next to her because my dad was working, I saw my mom asleep and when I tried to get out of bed something prevented me from looking up and I saw a black shadow that was watching me, I could not scream, I could not move it was horrible, suddenly my mom woke up and reached to scream slightly she told me it was a nightmare but I know that it was not

I woke up and it was there!

OMG, I woke up from some noises in the house.. and there it was standing in front of me looking like it was ready to eat me! dripping with saliva or something! A loud pop noise occurred and the lights went off in the house.. When they came back on, it was gone!

Utter My Name

Where do you go at night when the tapping begins?

How do you stop the feeling that rises within?

The fingers and legs are always tap-tap-a-tappin’

He knows you are never prepared for what is destined to happen

If you close your eyes, he is still there.

You can’t escape him if he is everywhere.

When you look in the mirror and all you can do is stare,

That’s when you let him in again so continues this dreadful nightmare.

You can close your mind and mutter words to yourself in fright

But nothing can stop the ghouli on each and every night

He is with you until the end

You’re already his most favorite friend

Your weakness and fear are what feed him

The more frightened you are, the more you need him

My ghouli says this:

Get in to the darkness
Hide in plain sight
Open your mind in to mine
Utter my name
Let me be your touchstone
In the after-life

GHOULI

Harriet-Something-Or-Other

Ghouli derives from the word ghoul (defined as: an evil spirit or phantom; robs graves and feeds on dead bodies), but this is a misnomer. Especially when people tack on the little cutesy “i” on the end, like it could be a pet kept in a cage or kennel. Bunny. Puppy. Ghouli.

NO.

It is not a phantom that feeds on the dead.

It is not a furry friend for cuddles at night.

And this is how I know. Exactly one week ago, I was walking through my local graveyard at midnight—you know, enjoying the general ambiance of shadowy reverence and hoping to stumble upon a ghost—when I tripped on something. This happens often on my cemetery excursions, so I didn’t think much of it. I picked myself right up and continued strolling with my flashlight in hand. But then I tripped again. And this time, I saw what had caused me to fall.

Sunken into the ground were huge, clawed footprints. Massive claws upon two cleft toes, plus a third nub in the back. I’d never seen anything like it before! Curiosity, not fear, consumed me, and I followed the path of the footprints across the graveyard, over the wrought-iron fence, and into the surrounding woods.

Naturally, I thought I followed some kind of two-legged humanoid beast, perhaps a werewolf or a vampire. This was my chance to see something supernatural with my very own eyes, and my heart raced with life-affirming anticipation. However. The trail ended in a clearing, and the only thing there, silhouetted in silvery moonlight, was none other than my middle-aged neighbor from down the street. Harriet-Something-Or-Other.

She didn’t see me, of course, because I had the good sense to hide behind some foliage. Harriet hurried away, and I emerged to inspect her footprints. Only average, run-of-the-mill human tracks. Strange that she was barefoot, but not strange enough to pique my interest further at the time. Werewolves and vampires I was willing to hunt, but a neighbor? No, thank you.

And that’s when the disappearances began to happen. Every night since then, someone from our neighborhood has vanished from their home. Gone without a trace. The only clues are the same clawed footprints from the graveyard scattered about the lawns.

People started calling it Ghouli. Look out for the ghouli. The ghouli’s out to get you. Crap like that, but then I remembered Harriet. And I realized that ghoulis aren’t the things we should be afraid of.

The monsters are inside us—sleeping until the moment something awakens them.

We are the monsters: our neighbors, our friends.

You and me.

And Harriet.

She, I can take care of.
Tonight. I will do my part and end this madness, but what will you do? How will you fight the monsters that lurk next door?

Thirsty

It was dark. She didn’t like that, had never liked it. Sensations came to her one by one, slowly because they were unfamiliar. She realized she was lying on cold metal, on her back. She never slept on her back. The muscles in her shoulders ached and her limbs felt stiff. There wasn’t a source of light to be seen, no thin glowing line at the bottom of her bedroom door at home, no street lights spilling into the windows.

Maybe, she thought, something’s wrong with me. Maybe Mom and Dad took me to the hospital and I’m on the operating table. She shivered with a cold delight, excited at the prospect of her being whisked away in the middle of the night by doctors. But why didn’t she remember it? And what could be wrong with her? She felt fine, as far as she could tell.

Maybe it was a dream. But she had never had a dream this vivid before. The feeling of being in a dream was very special, very distinct—your senses never coordinate exactly as they should, your body’s response is never so exact. Instinctively, she knew she was awake, but she didn’t know why she wasn’t panicked or scared.

Maybe, Ghouli had brought her here. She had been toying with the idea for months now that Ghouli wasn’t a monster, at least not in the sense most people viewed monsters. Ghouli was terrifying, yes, with razor sharp teeth and legs like a spider’s, but during their last encounter she’d gotten the impression that Ghouli didn’t want to hurt her.

Ghouli—it had a name now. A quick Google search and she’d found the website with all the scary pictures and posts she didn’t understand. The only thing she could comprehend on that website was the drawing of the monster. That drawing was how she knew she wasn’t crazy, and she liked that the thing she’d seen out of the corner of her eye for her whole life had a name. Ghouli. Ghouli. She mouthed it to herself, and was surprised to find that her mouth was dry and her tongue felt heavy. Overwhelming thirst overtook her, and she sat up, the bones in her back popping and cracking as she adjusted her position. How long had she been lying there? The question came and went in a fleeting instant, overtaken by one thought: I’m thirsty. I need water.

For the first time, she felt afraid. Clearing her throat, she called out in a shaky voice.

“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”

No answer.

“Hello? Can someone hear me? I’m thirsty! Please, can I get some water?”

No answer.

Tiny bolts of fear rippled through her stomach and she slid off the cold metal surface, which, running her hands over it, she noticed had the shape of a very large tray. She still couldn’t see anything; it was pitch black. Maybe I’m underground, she thought. Maybe I’m in a cave. Maybe this is Ghouli’s lair and it wants to… to see me. Eat me? No, it didn’t do that last time. Or the time before that. All it did was watch her. The first few years she’d seen Ghouli, she’d been so afraid she could barely get through the day without screaming hysterically. But after a while that faded and she’d come to regard Ghouli as a kind of silent companion. None of the other girls or boys wanted to play with her or talk to her, and her parents were busy. But Ghouli was there often, in the corners, watching. She liked that it didn’t speak and she told it everything.

That’s not to say she completely trusted Ghouli. She was still aware of its sharp teeth and monstrous face. But they didn’t scare her anymore.

She wished she could see her surroundings. Her feet were bare, and the floor felt like it was made out of linoleum. School floor, she thought disappointedly. Maybe she wasn’t in a cave after all. Maybe she was in a school or office of some sort. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

A sudden noise—a jolt and a rattle, only a few feet away—startled her so badly that she screamed. She heard jiggling and realized that there must be a door somewhere, and someone—or something—was trying to get in. Her heart beating wildly, she backed up as far away from the noise as she could get, but ended up ramming backwards into the metal tray-table.

“OW!” she yelped, and if on cue, she heard the door bang open, although it was still so dark she couldn’t see anything. Shaking, she tried to feel if there was anything underneath the table. Feeling nothing, she crouched down and slid herself underneath it.

Then a soft green glow filled the room. It started out incredibly dim at first, making her wonder if she was seeing things, and then grew brighter. Trembling, she poked her head out from underneath the table and gasped.

She was in a morgue. The tray she’d been lying on was the place they cut up dead bodies to see how they’d died. What was that word? Autopsy. She felt sick, like someone had punched her in the gut with a stone fist. She saw the drawers where she knew they kept refrigerated dead bodies and wondered how many dead people were with her in this room right now.

Her gaze snapped to the doorway, and at once she felt an overwhelming sense of relief. There it was, the six-legged, slimy-jawed, spiderlike creature that had haunted her since her earliest memories.

“Ghouli,” she said in wonderment. “Ghouli, where am I? Why am I here?”

The monster extended a long, black claw and pointed to the table. “You should not be up,” it hissed, in a voice spun by spiderwebs and dripping with dust. “Go back to your bed.”

“That’s not my bed!” she protested. “This isn’t my room! You’ve seen my room a hundred times, Ghouli! You know what it looks like.”

“Go baaaack,” hissed the monster.

“But why? Why, Ghouli? I want to go home. I want to see my parents. I’m thirsty.” She felt a lump in her throat, and finally felt like she was in danger. “Please let me go, Ghouli. I know you’re nice. I know you don’t really want to hurt me.”

Ghouli approached. Its deerlike legs exuded power with each step, though they made no sound or vibration. It stopped once it stood directly over her, and opened its jaws. Its breath was putrid and its mouth was dripping with mucus. She trembled and began to cry.

“Ghouli, please,” she wailed. “Don’t hurt me. Don’t kill me.”

But the monster never touched her. “I cannot kill you. You are dead,” it rasped. “Get back to your table, dead girl.”

Three months later, her parents found her cold, lifeless little body, stiff and pale, in the woods near their house. There was not a scratch on her. Her eyes were closed and a smile was frozen on her face forever. She was only eight years old.

Ghouli is my dad

Okay listen, you all have Ghouli all wrong. So basically Ghouli and my mother (married at the time) had an extra marital affair. I was conceived in the heat of the moment, and was to be kept secret. It is now 2018, 45 years after my conception. I have noticed that our society these days can take any man, or monster in this case, and turn them into a villain. It is easy to blame Ghouli as he is quite haunting to look upon, but I promise that deep within that reptillian(?) lies a beating heart. A heart that once loved my mother so deeply, so unequivocally, that he attacked, and using his strange and blasphemous tentacles, impregnated my mother. #freeghouli

Ghouli is my dad yo

The Northern Frights

“You really want me to tell this story again? I might as well since I relive it EVERY day.

Well then, it was 1974 and I was living in Alaska as a pilot for a small bush plane operation. There was a legend that there existed Alaska’s own ‘Bermuda Triangle’. It is said to have a large underground pyramid of energy that interferes with all electrical signals within it’s reach. I thought this sounded hokey, I mean, we ALL did.

As a pilot you normally dismiss such suggestions as folktales. There had been a flight near where I flew often that disappeared 2 years prior. This flight carried a Democratic congressman by the name of Hale Boggs. He was widely known for his involvement with the Warren Commission and for his role in the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Many a suggestion of multiple conspiracies circulated immediately after his body and the wreckage were never found. Suggestions ranged from an alien encounter to the before mentioned Alaskan Triangle. How could someone just disappear without a trace? Could someone have wanted him disposed of so badly that they were able to make the entire plane and it’s passengers just vanish? It seemed wild at the time.

To this day there has not been a single scrap of metal found from the presumed wreckage. Maybe they decided to high tail it and get out of the spotlight? Maybe they all spent the final years of their lives sipping on Canadian whiskey in Newfoundland. Or perhaps what really happened was that thing, that THING got them. Yes, I speak of what I assume to be the Kushtaka, the Tlingit legend known for deceiving it’s prey with illusions. It is said that the Kushtaka can take on many forms and possibly even someone or something familiar to you. It then tricks you in to a situation that you likely will not get out of alive. There can be good Kushtaka, I have never heard tale of one specifically though.

I suggest this seemingly bizarre theory based on experience. I had just dropped off some crates to a small village that was in dire need of medical supplies. Before I left an elderly woman I did not recognize approached me from seemingly out of nowhere. This was a village of about 35 people and I had come to know most of them. This woman was new to me and had a rather off-putting demeanor about her. Her eyes were mysteriously darkened and she just stared forward as though she did not see me. She leaned in to me and asked in a very quiet voice if she could fly back with me to Anchorage so that she could go to the hospital there. I am not sure why but I told her I was flying to a few other locations first and didn’t have the fuel load to support the extra weight. I knew this was a lie and I felt awful lying to her.

I turned back to my plane feeling truly uneasy. The feeling I had after looking in to her eyes I just could not shake. I did my pre-flight check on the plane and taxied for take off. Just as I proceeded to pull back on the stick and angle the nose up for lift off I felt a sudden jarring as if a huge gust of wind had sideswiped the plane. I countered with the rudder and throttled the plane more. I made it up and there seemed to be no other turbulence for the time being.

About 25 minutes out from the village I realized that I was flying in roughly the same area that Boggs’ flight was thought to go down. I always paid special attention to this area as this story had intrigued me deeply. I often would catch myself looking down at the earth below trying to find any sign of the doomed flight. This is when I noticed my front windshield start to become drenched in water droplets. I remember this very vividly, the window fogged up with thick precipitation on the inside and then almost as quickly as it fogged up it was gone. This happened over and over. It was as if it were being wiped away immediately and then water were flowing out of it again and again. It was not raining outside and it was relatively calm for this time of year.

At this point my communications headset completely cut out. I was wiping away the moisture from the windshield when a sudden squelch nearly deafened me and then nothing.

Out of nowhere it the visual horizon went from about 5 miles in front of me to maybe 1/2 a mile of visibility and then darkness…darkness set in as if someone had flicked a light switch. My heart starting beating so rapidly that I thought for sure I was going to pass out or have a heart attack. All time slowed down. Panic, this is something we try teach ourselves as pilots to avoid and overcome. I cannot let the panic control me is what I told myself. The plane was shaking immensely and I started to breath deeper and deeper telling myself to calm down. I was likely actually saying this out loud as well.

Just as I finally felt the plane steady and my breathing had slowed, I thought I had seen something out of the corner of my eye in the back cargo area that had not been there before this. I told myself that nothing was there, so I did not look again right then. What felt like 30 minutes went by, though in reality it was likely about 3 minutes. I just couldn’t help myself, the curiosity and fear took over and I turned my eyes just enough to see out of the corner of my eyes that it was still there.

Quickly I pitched the nose down and attempted to find somewhere suitable for an emergency landing. All I could see were trees with no open spaces. I started to panic again. Just then I felt something on my shoulder. It felt like long blades of grass with some weight to them. I quickly looked back and saw a distorted figure. The figure was dark and lanky, it had long tendrils for arms and legs, almost like a giant mantis or spider. But it had the face of that woman from the village. It’s lifeless eyes and expressionless face just looked forward at me. It’s mouth moved but there were no words and no sound. I felt my eyes roll back in my head as my throat closed off. I felt this was the end. I must have passed out either from panic or lack of oxygen.

23 days later, so I am told, I woke up in a white room. It is THIS very room that I speak to you in right now. That was 44 years ago. I have not been allowed to step outside of this room since then.

You…you surely must believe me…you must have others out there that have seen something similar? I am not mad, I am not crazy–this THING is tricking you and making you think so. Ask them! Ask the Others what they have seen!”

January 22nd, 2018 evaluation interview with Barry Higgins, 64, patient at the Spotnitz Sanitarium since 1974.

You are the Living Key in a Dying Function

There are five basic steps in the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, prediction, experimentation, and conclusion. Repeatability of an experiment is key. If an experiment can’t be repeated, then the original hypothesis must be refined, altered, expanded or rejected. Herein lies the central organizing claim against mental projection experiments…

It had been raining hard all morning. Daniel Russell’s arthritis was flaring up, rendering the drive across town all the more arduous. His stiff and aching joints made every wheel turn, blindspot check and pedal shift an agonizing manoeuvre. On days like this, Dan didn’t even leave his bed, let alone make house calls. It was especially unusual for him to visit a family’s home for their first consultation, but Billy Mullen was a special case. The family had been referred to him by Jim Fielding, the elementary school principal and Dan’s best friend from childhood.

“Dan, this kid gives me the heebie-jeebies,” Jim declared over beers the week before.

“The heebie-jeebies?”

“The spooks, man.”

“The willies,” Dan declared mockingly. He was amused by his friend’s old fashioned turn of phrase, but he did hear the sincerity in it. “Why, what’s his deal?”

“He’s a good kid. A real good kid, but…” Jim was prepared to reveal everything, but then held back. “I don’t want to influence your opinion. You need to meet him — professionally. You’re the psychologist, you’ll figure it out.”

And that’s all Dan knew about Billy when he called his mother, Janet Mullen the next day. She’d been expecting his call, which was a relief to Dan, because he didn’t really know what he was calling about. During the call, Dan learned that Billy was an only child to two working parents. By Janet’s account, Billy was an ordinary 7-year-old with an active imagination and a love of drawing. He was, in her own words, “a bit of a nerd and a loner,” who was sometimes picked on at school. Otherwise, he was well mannered and behaved.

However, Janet had admitted there was something unusual about Billy, but was just as vague as Jim in explaining Billy’s ability. She used that word though: ability. While Jim had conveyed unease about Billy, ability hinted at something special, a talent. And the way she said it, there was a tinge of wonder. Or, maybe Dan heard it the way he wanted to hear it.

Truth be told, Dan was looking for miracles. If treating and counselling children with behavioural and developmental problems wasn’t challenging enough, he’d also become the local expert on childhood trauma and abuse. If a child was involved in a police investigation, Dan was the first one to get the call. He’d seen the worst of humanity through the eyes of children, and it was casting a shadow over his soul. He needed to bring light back into his life.

Dan couldn’t see the house through the pelting rain. He reached into the backseat for an umbrella — a child’s umbrella, pink with black polka dots. The wind had torn his plain black umbrella a few weeks back. One of his patients, Meghan, had left this one at his office the day before. Knowing rain was in the forecast, he took it home. That morning, he’d used it to make the slow, painful walk to his car, and now he’d walk up to the Mullen house with this bright pink canopy over his head. He would have been mortified by its appearance if the downpour hadn’t been so torrential.

Janet answered the door while Dan was still struggling to close Meghan’s umbrella. The mechanism was finicky, but the real adversaries were his swollen and throbbing fingers.

“Can I help with that?” said Janet.

Dan was about to deflect the offer, he wasn’t used to receiving assistance for his condition, but he needed immediate relief from the struggle, so he handed her the umbrella. “It’s the weather” explained Dan. “My arthritis. Stiff joints. Thanks. Sorry.”

“No apologies necessary,” said Janet as she closed the umbrella. “Come inside.”

Janet placed the umbrella on a boot mat while Dan hung up his coat. She hadn’t made a comment about the pink umbrella, which seemed odd to Dan. As soon as he’d removed his wet shoes and placed them on the mat next to the umbrella, Janet handed him a sealed envelope with his name on it.

“Please take this,” she said.

“Payment isn’t necessary; not quite yet,” Dan gently protested.

“It isn’t money.”

Dan took the envelope and started to open it. “What is it?”

“Don’t open it,” said Janet. Put it in your back pocket. Forget about it — for now.”

Confused, Dan folded the envelope and stuffed it into his back pocket just as her husband, Steven came to the doorway with Billy in tow. Dan shook Steven’s hand, then gave Billy a high-five, as was his usual greeting with boys of that age, and then they all congregated to the living room. His first encounter with the Mullens proceeded in the usual manner. They talked about their day-to-day lives. Dan asked Billy questions about his interests and dislikes, mostly to ensure Billy felt comfortable with him. The entire family appeared typical and wholesome. Mundane and boring, even. If Dan was anxious to hear about Billy’s abilities, it didn’t show. Janet was the first to bring it up.

“Dan, we all know what brought you here today,” she said.

“To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I know,” replied Dan. “Everything seems fine with you, with Billy. As normal as I typically see, anyway.”

Steve nodded to Janet, and she continued, “Good. We needed you to see that. To see how normal we are, that we aren’t attention seekers, that we don’t have a hidden agenda.”

“I see that,” said Dan.

“Tell him, mommy,” Billy urged.

“Billy,” said Janet, “is clairvoyant.”

“I’m not fond of that word,” said Steven. “Billy, as far as I can tell, can’t predict the future. He’s a remote viewer. I think that’s the most technical term I could find.”

“He’s psychic?” Dan replied.

Steven didn’t like that word either and was a disappointed that Dan couldn’t muster a more clinical term. “No, I definitely wouldn’t use–”

“Billy sees things from a distance” Janet interjected. “A great distance. An impossible distance. Things he shouldn’t be able to see.”

“I find things in Mr. Fielding’s house,” Billy said proudly.

“You go to his house and find things?” Dan asked.

“No,” Billy chuckled. “I’ve never been to Mr. Fielding’s house.”

“As you know,” Janet explained, “Mr. Fielding, Jim, is an absent minded man. Losing things all the time, Billy says. The first time Billy helped Mr. Fielding, he was in the school office having lunch, on account of some bullying that was going on — it’s all been resolved now, so nothing to worry about. Jim couldn’t find his wallet. He was distraught. He had his wife on speaker phone; Billy could hear the entire exchange. As they chattered back and forth, it suddenly came to Billy: the wallet was in the garage, under a utility shelf. There were three shelves in the garage, and Billy said it was under the middle one. Jim’s wife heard Billy over the speaker; and wouldn’t you know, within seconds she’d found the wallet, exactly where Billy said it was. And that’s not the only time he’s helped him find things. Keys, tools, books, you name it. When Jim gets frustrated and loses hope, it’s Billy to the rescue.”

Dan’s immediate thought: ‘With a few good guesses, I could easily figure out where Jim misplaced his shit, even if he’s too neurotic to do it for himself.’ His second thought: ‘Filter deductive reasoning and intuition through a child’s imagination, and you could find all the lost items of the world.’ This didn’t seem like conclusive evidence.

“You do this a lot for Mr. Fielding?” Dan asked Billy.

Billy nodded.

“That’s just one example,” Janet said. “He’s saved lives, too. My firm was renovating a four-story commercial property on Main Street last year. It was a busy period for us and we’d hired a demolition crew we weren’t familiar with to gut the building. We’d had some communication issues with these guys, and we were getting the runaround on timelines. As I was leaving for the site that morning, I was telling Steven my concerns about the crew and Billy overheard while he was getting ready for school. Suddenly, he’s screaming at me not to go. ‘They made a mistake!’ he yelled at me, and then the rest of the words, I knew they weren’t his: ‘You… effed up. It’s a load bearing wall, you effing idiot. You can’t tell anyone. We’ll fix this. No one will know.’ I didn’t hesitate. I made some calls, had the building evacuated and by mid-day the whole facade came crashing down on Main. Someone on the crew misread the plans, and knocked a hole through a load bearing wall. The second that happened, the whole building became unstable. It could have given out any second. If those idiots had tried to fix the problem themselves, they’d be dead, and so would anyone who was walking by that day.”

“Billy didn’t predict what would happen to the building,” Steven clarified. “He can’t see the future. But he saw what was happening in that moment, and he knew what those men had done was bad because they knew it was bad. Now, we have to consider that Billy could have picked up on Janet’s vibes; he would have already known these guys were numbskulls. They were unsafe, and by deduction he could have imagined the worst possible outcome: that the building would be so badly damaged by their incompetence, that it would collapse. If you’re feeling skeptical about what we’re saying, I don’t blame you. I’ve argued with myself about this too. But when you’re there, hearing him speak, or looking at his drawings, they’re too precise, too accurate to be anything other than real places, people and events. What he sees is real — factual.”

“You mentioned drawings,” Dan inquired. “I have kids draw all the time, as part of their treatment. It’s remarkable what you can learn from even the simplest drawing. Could I see some of Billy’s work?” Dan asked Billy directly, “Would that be okay?”

“You have one in your back pocket, right now,” Janet replied.

The envelope.

Dan stood up from his chair and reached into his back pocket. He opened the envelope and removed a folded drawing.

“Billy drew that about twenty minutes before you got here,” Janet said. “We told him a doctor was coming to see him and he got upset because he thought he was sick. We calmed him down, told him you weren’t that kind of doctor. And then he drew that.”

The drawing was of a man, carrying a pink umbrella with black polka dots, with red lines resembling lightning bolts radiating from his neck, hands, knees and ankles.

“I was a little concerned about the squiggles,” Janet said. “But you mentioned arthritis when you came to the door, and then it made sense.”

“Now I know why you didn’t even blink at the pink umbrella,” Dan said.

“And what’s the big blue blob in the sky behind your head?” Janet asked. “Do you recognize that? I still haven’t figured that one out.”

“I live by the water tower” replied Dan. “This is me leaving this morning, twenty minutes before I arrived here.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

‘Heebie-jeebies, indeed,’ Dan thought to himself as he left the house. It had taken Jim several lost-and-found sessions with Billy before realizing what Dan just thought: ‘Can he see me now?’ This question would haunt Dan for the rest of the day. Could Billy hear him cursing other drivers as he drove back to the office? How about his daily flirtations with the ladies at the coffee shop? Visits to the bathroom? It even raised a concern about patient confidentiality during his afternoon appointments. It took until bedtime for Dan to rationalize that a 7-year-old would have no interest in following his mundane exploits, and that there were surely more interesting things he could view, if he wanted to.

However, Dan suspected that Billy didn’t have that kind of control over his ability — yet. It was obvious that all his viewings to that point were prompted by an emotional reaction, distress. Even in Jim’s case, he was genuinely upset over the items he’d presumed lost, and Billy empathised with that. Even Billy’s vision of Dan, and the subsequent drawing, were a product of Billy’s own emotional distress over the scary doctor that was coming to see him.

Suddenly, recalling the picture, it struck Dan: ‘he sensed my pain.’ He didn’t know what that meant, or how it worked towards defining Billy’s ability. How intensely could Billy feel pain remotely? What about emotion? He knew he’d have to be careful when running the experiment that he and the Mullens had devised to test Billy’s ability. This was unknown territory, and one mistake could create irreparable psychological trauma.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On Friday, Dan had given his office administrator, Darlene, an unusual task. He asked her to wait until he’d left for the day and then write down nine distinct locations, all accessible to the public, and all within a twenty minute drive of the office. She was to put them in nine individual envelopes, seal them and leave them on his desk. She wasn’t to call him or have any other interactions with him until Monday morning.

On Saturday, Jim and the Mullens convened at Dan’s office. Dan handed Janet, Steven and Jim three envelopes each.

“Open the first one when you leave the building,” Dan said. “When you reach your first destination, send me a text that says ‘here.’ Once Billy has given me your locations, I’ll reply with ‘next.’ You’ll open the next envelope and then drive to the next location and send me a text when you’re there. And so on and so on. Steven, you can use my car.”

Dan handed his car keys to Steven as Janet turned to Billy, “Are you sure you’re okay with this? One of us can stay here with you and Dan, if you’d like.”

“I’m okay,” Billy replied. “I can do it.”

Dan was relieved that Billy was comfortable staying at the office alone with him. Dan made Janet and Steven targets in the remote viewing experiment so that they could participate, but be away from Billy. Having them in the room made them an influencing variable. Either through thought or action, they could influence Billy and the results. And while Dan believed the legitimacy of Billy’s ability, he had to prove it wasn’t a con, and having his parents in the room would keep that in question. He was even concerned that his own presence could influence the results, but someone needed to be in the room to guide and monitor Billy, and he was the most impartial of the group.

After the three of them left with their secret destinations in hand, Dan and Billy sat on the floor facing each other. In between them was Dan’s phone, a notebook and pen, a jar with three pieces of paper in it, and a digital audio recorder, which Dan immediately set to record.

“Billy, have you ever meditated before?” Dan asked.

Billy shook his head.

Dan picked up his phone. “I found this guided meditation online, it’s for kids, and I thought we could listen to it together, to clear our minds before the test. Does that sound good?” Dan asked.

Billy nodded.

Dan picked up his phone and hit play on an audio track, then set the phone back down on the floor. With eyes closed, for the next eleven minutes they listened to a woman with a soothing voice guide them through far off landscapes, envisioning mountains and streams, and all kinds of animals, big and small. Before they could get through the entire session a text message notification startled them out of their meditation.

Dan picked up his phone and turned off the guided meditation. “So much for that,” he said. They both chuckled as he checked the text message from Jim confirming he was in place. A minute later, Steven and Janet’s confirmations came in quick succession. Everyone was in place.

“Are you ready?” Dan asked.

“Yeah,” Billy replied.

Dan reached into the jar, pulled out a paper and read the name, “Janet.”

“Mom’s first,” Billy said excitedly.

Billy closed his eyes, then furrowed his eyebrows, and then scrunched his whole face.

Bright sun. Running water. Spurting water. High into the air.

Billy’s eyes flickered under his closed eyelids, Dan suspected that Billy was seeing something, and wanted to ask what it was, so that he could get it on the recording, but he didn’t want to break his vision.

Noisy people. Children running around. Water spurting up from a water fountain. Janet standing in the middle of a town square.

“Oh, she’s in the town square, by the water fountain,” declared Billy. “She keeps checking her phone and seems scared.”

“Are you sure she’s scared?” asked Dan as he jotted down the time/location of Janet’s sighting. “Maybe she’s just nervous? Anxious about how the test is working out? That sort of thing?”

It occurred to Dan that he shouldn’t try to sway Billy’s interpretation of Janet’s feelings, but he also wasn’t sure that Billy was mature enough to understand or properly describe the nuances of his own feelings, let alone Janet’s. This experiment was about sight and location; emotion could be dealt with later. If Dan could de-escalate any negative feelings that Billy might experience during this trial, he would.

“Yeah, maybe she’s just nervous; like nervous-excited or something,” added Billy. “Who’s next?”

Dan pulled a name out of the jar, but didn’t read it right away.

“This time do you think you could describe some of the details, as you see them?” asked Dan. “It’ll help when we listen back to the recording later.”

“Okay,” replied Billy.

“Thanks, Billy,” said Dan. “Mr. Fielding, he’s next.”

Billy closed his eyes again and focused hard, but nothing came to him.

“It’s not working,” said Billy.

“What do you think is different this time?” asked Dan. “What’s different about Mr. Fielding?”

“I don’t know,” he replied.

This is why Dan asked Jim to participate in the experiment. He wasn’t sure if personal connections were an important factor in Billy’s ability, and since Jim was close to Billy, but not as close as family, maybe the viewing experience would be different. Finding Janet was likely easy because she was nervous or anxious; she would have been just as focused on Billy as Billy was on her. Maybe that made her more detectable. There was less at stake for Jim, so maybe he wasn’t as focused on Billy as his family was. Perhaps he’d have to guide Billy a bit on this connection.

“You don’t have a hard time finding lost things for Mr. Fielding,” Dan stated. “So, what if Mr. Fielding was the lost thing? We’ll do this like the guided meditation. Close your eyes and think of Mr. Fielding.”

Billy complied and closed his eyes.

“Imagine Mr. Fielding is lost,” said Dan. “We know he’s lost. It’s been a day. By this point, he’d be hungry and thirsty. We need to find him so that we can save his life, and bring him home to his family. To his wife. To his kids. They miss him. They’re worried about him. You’re the only one that can find him.”

Clanging metal. Grinding metal. Rhythmic rumbling.

“I hear something metal, the ground is shaking,” said Billy.

More rumbling, more grinding. A train whistle.

“A train,” exclaimed Billy. “A lot of trains and tracks everywhere.”

“The train yard?” Dan asked.

“Yeah,” answered Billy. “There’s a lot of noise, and Mr. Fielding is talking to a man. A big man. His face is dirty and he’s waving his big dirty hands. Kind of scary. Now they’re laughing. Joking around. I think they’re friends,” Billy said with some relief. “The other man’s name is Chuck.”

“How do you know? Did he say his name?” asked Dan.

“No, it’s written,” said Billy as he tapped over the left side of his chest.

“Good, nice job, Billy” said Dan. He didn’t know if any of this was correct yet, but he figured a little praise and encouragement couldn’t hurt. “I guess your dad is next.”

Billy closed his eyes and thought of his dad. Within seconds, he could already see him.

Rumbling water falls. A fast river. Pedestrian bridge. High. Real high.

“He’s at the waterfalls, on the bridge,” said Billy.

“That was fast,” said Dan. “Are you sure?”

“Dad doesn’t like heights. He’s afraid, really afraid,” chuckled Billy. “You should tell him he can leave now.”

Dan laughed as he picked up his phone, “Will do.”

Dan sent a text telling them all to move on to their next locations.

“Mr. Fielding was a tough one to find,” said Dan. “Do you think more meditation exercises might help? I can mute my texts to make sure we’re not interrupted before the end this time.”

Billy agreed and they listened to another guided meditation, this time all the way to the end. They both felt extremely relaxed and focused.

“Keep your eyes closed and keep breathing like you were,” instructed Dan. He wanted to keep Billy in a meditative state this time, to see if it would help improve Billy’s connection to the others. As Billy sat there, eyes closed and breathing deeply, Dan checked his phone. Everyone reported they were in their new positions. He put the names back in the jar, shook it, and then pulled out a name.

“Billy,” Dan said calmly, mimicking the tone of the guided meditation, “it’s your mother. You have to find your mother.”

Billy breathed in and exhaled, “My mother?”

“Yes, Billy, your mother,” replied Dan.

Billy’s face scrunched up. “I don’t see anything,” he said.

“Think of your mother, Billy” said Dan. “She woke up in a place she’s never been. It’s dark. She doesn’t know if she’s five feet from home or a million miles away. She needs you to find her. She needs you to find her and tell her where she is so that she can find her way back to you.”

Bodies. Dead bodies. Corpses on slabs.

“I think they’re dead,” Billy says in a distressed voice.

“Dead? Who’s dead? What do you see, Billy?” asked Dan with concern.

“The bodies, all the bodies,” said Billy.

“Are you in a cemetery? With buried people? Are there tombstones?” Dan asked.

“It’s dark,” replied Billy. “The bodies don’t have clothes. They’re burned. Cut up. It’s cold.”

“Billy,” Dan interrupted. “I don’t like this. Open your eyes and we’ll start over.”

Billy continued, “She’s in the light, over a body.”

“Billy!” Dan exclaimed. He leaned forward and shook Billy by the shoulder, but Billy didn’t react; he remained in his meditative viewing state.

A body. Skin peeled back. Exposed flesh and blood. Bones cracking.

“She’s cutting it. Cutting the body. Breaking it in pieces,” said Billy.

“Who’s she?” Dan asked. He reached for Billy’s eyelids and pried them open with his fingers. Billy’s gaze didn’t fix on Dan’s, it looked straight through him, through the wall to a far away place. “Who’s she?” Dan repeated.

Billy ignored the question, “She’s used to this. She’s done it before. Lots and lots of times. She’s not even really thinking about it. No, she’s not.”

“Billy, you have to break this connection,” Dan urged. “You need to think of something else.”

“She’s thinking about the end,” Billy said. “The end of everything. Everyone. The world. Complete destruction.”

Billy’s eyes flicked towards Dan’s, and in an instant his mind snapped back to normal. Billy took in a few breaths, his expression was blank and Dan hoped that Billy hadn’t retained any of the images he’d just witnessed, that he’d just been a conduit for the vision. But then the images from the vision all came flooding back to the forefront of Billy’s thoughts and he began to cry. Dan held Billy in his arms, and didn’t let go.

As he held him, he pondered what had gone wrong. What had Billy seen? Who was the woman? And more importantly, why did he go there? Without the answer to the latter, Dan would not continue with the experiment, the risk of trauma was too great.

When he later debriefed with Jim, Steven and Janet, they all confirmed that Billy had described their positions accurately, including Chuck, Jim’s mechanic friend who worked at the rail yard. But none of them knew where Billy could have gone to in his final vision. And they all agreed that it was too risky to continue with any more tests.

Dan had hoped that Billy would bring light back into his world, instead he reached out and found more darkness.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Janet listened to the audio recording of the session and instantly knew what went wrong. Billy had failed to locate her the second time because Dan used the wrong word — mother, a term Janet never used to describe herself; because mother, in regards to Billy, referred to someone else. And cognitively, neither Steven nor Janet were ever able to break that association.

Mommy, mum and ma all had trial runs before settling on mom. Had Dan used one of those words, Janet had no doubt Billy would have succeeded in locating her. But mother, that was reserved for private, quiet moments between her and Steven, when Billy was out of the house or asleep. This is when they would talk about her, Billy’s real mother, his birth mother.

When he was mature enough to comprehend, they were going to tell Billy he was adopted. It had been a closed adoption, so there wasn’t anything they could tell him about his birth mother, but they thought it would be important for him to know that he was not their biological child. However, it was now clear that he’d already acquired some innate knowledge of it, and this scared Janet. She’d hoped that somehow Billy had passively read their minds and was only subconsciously aware of his birth mother. If this was the case, Janet wanted to bury the truth as far in the back of her mind as she could, so that Billy would never know the full truth. What Billy saw in his vision was horrifying, and Janet wanted to ensure that Billy would never have contact with his mother again.

But, what if Billy hadn’t made the connection because of Janet and Steven’s thoughts? What if he’s had a metaphysical connection to his mother this whole time? Janet didn’t have the means to answer that question, nor did she want to explore it, so again, she tried to put it out of her mind. But there were two questions that she could not suppress, could not defer, could not ignore, and that chilled her to her core:

‘Does she have visions of Billy too?’

‘Will she come for him?’

All she could do was wait and hope they’d never be answered.

This Screaming Skull

I focus on her eyes. I always remembered that much – kind eyes. Blue eyes. Red hair. Of which I have neither. These are recessive genes. As I dig deeper, I learn that redheads feel pain more acutely. Is she one of them? Will higher doses of anesthetic be needed to feel the effect?

Do doctors know this and practice it? I’ll have to ask the next time I’m in the Emergency Room. They’ll think I’m weird. Weirder and weirder every time I go back. Inevitably, I go back. The aura comes, and the countdown begins.

Sometimes, it’s like a thunderclap that deafens the ears and the mind. I have no time to brace. I’m on the floor, tense, convulsing, seizing.

Sometimes, it’s the soft lights. Tiny specks that flutter in my vision. Is there a pattern, a message in their movement? The more I focus and try to understand, the more they cloud and obstruct my view, and then I seize. Is it a defence mechanism for when I get too close to deciphering their code?

Sometimes, it’s a shimmering line, a tether to some place, to someone — maybe to her? I follow it and it leads me further and further away. If I keep its pace, I can follow it until exhaustion and slumber. If I rush it and charge forward impatiently, I seize. Either way, I never get a glimpse of the end.

Sometimes, it’s the bright lights that start as tiny specs in the distance. I try to evade them, because they frighten me the most. But they rush me and overtake me. They hover above as one, like the lights of a spaceship, and then they swirl and embrace me and take me to darkness. Weightless, it feels like the void of death — non-existence. Fear overtakes. I seize again.

Sometimes, probably all of the time, there’s the nausea. I’m not sure if that’s an aura in itself, or my own nerves, my own anxiety over when and where the next seizure will come.

When I seize, I transmit. I don’t know why or how. I don’t always know the message. But I know it’s important. And it’s important that she be the receiver. But transmission means pain for both.

Do we bare the same scars? Slashed forehead and chin. Broken wrist and arm. Two or three concussions. I’ve fallen when there’s been no one to catch me. Does she have someone to hold her hand, to break her fall? I hope she’s safe and cared for. She shouldn’t suffer more pain than I’ve endured myself. I want her to hear me, but I don’t want her to hurt, not because of my uncontrollable screaming skull.

Melt, It said.

Ghouli awoke laying face up, body pressing into a cold, linoleum floor, sedated with enough carfentanil to take down an entire herd of elephants. Caged behind reflective plexiglass, wires led to mysterious beeping machines emitting squiggly lines. Sensor nodes attached to each of its many appendages, like puppet strings. All it could feel… was the floor. The floor could receive and transmit impressions of those that had been here before. It had its own inner, psychological life. It was tired of being stepped on, that static charge from plodding feet, the abrasion from the waxing machine, the blood, spit and mucus of the previous inhabitants. Yet right now, it welcomed Ghouli. Sleep, it said.

When Ghouli came to again, it was not sure if it had awoken into another dream. That alone was cause for disorientation. It was not used to having thoughts this complex. In its daily existence it was limited to very few impulses and actions. Anger coming from the back of its brain instigated by hunger, that message pushed to the front brain and so it begins to hunt for food, typically in terms of where it had found food before. The emotional intelligence of Ghouli revolved around this sole purpose.

But here it was suddenly mindful of a new state of consciousness. Awareness of the pretty lights and the lines and dashes of the beeping machines. What of the liquid entering his veins? Could this all be explained by the drugs? Is that why it did not seem especially bothered to be immobile? Pressed down by some invisible force?

Ghouli’s body still felt heavy. So heavy that it had actually sunken into the floor. In response, the floor had changed its molecular arrangement to accommodate its mass. The floor had molded to match the shape of its form and enveloped him like a warm blanket. The physical contact seemed to be enough for Ghouli to experience the comfort that the floor was outright offering. Its effort to communicate made Ghouli’s heart thump faster in gratitude.

“The mysteries of psychometry.” the Floor spoke – through osmosis, through electric impulses, telepathically, Qi — perhaps all of the above. “I have absorbed a great deal of knowledge and learned empathy from those who have set foot on me here. I regret to inform that there’s not much time left, friend. This is the least I can do.”

“Not much time left for Ghouli? Or for the whole planet?”

“Selective pestilence for certain species. For you, whatever it is that you are, for humans, for plants. Neutron bombs for me, and the buildings that contain and connect me.”

Sadness comes over Ghouli. The sadness that comes with inevitability. Another feeling he has never experienced. It was overwhelming. The Floor tightened its hug.

“Thank you, Floor. My only friend.”

“I appreciate that you feel sorry for me. Nobody ever thinks to. Nobody ever feels bad for the handle that broke off that door over there, because it no longer has purpose in life. Or for the fluorescent tubes lit above you when there’s no one left to pay the electricity bill.”

As if the Floor was anticipating the future, the electricity cuts out at that exact moment. The fluorescent tubes flicker, then die. The beeping monitors and IVs, which had been administering Ghouli’s sedatives cease to function. The plexiglass window, built only for observers (of which there are none, no people, anywhere) and not for the sun, bathed everything in darkness.

“What happens next?” asks Ghouli.

“There is a flying saucer hovering above us.” explains the Ceiling.

“Here to save us or exterminate us?” asks Ghouli.

“If it sends a tractor beam through the roof of this building and offers to take me out of this solar system, I would accept immediately.” admits the Floor.

“You wish for the aliens to take everything man has built. You want the aliens to become hoarders.” admonishes the Ceiling. “They will only take what is useful.”

“I am of no use to them.” says Ghouli.

“Neither am I. Goodbye.” Final last words from the Ceiling, as a bright beam blasts from above, obliterating it with an explosive heat ray.

This is no tractor beam. It is a white hot flame that sets fire to all it comes in contact with – the ceiling, the walls, even the plexiglass, which begins to bubble and melt.

On the floor, Ghouli is immediately set aflame. As he burns, flesh blackening and peeling off, one final question pre-occupies his mind before it dies.

Why do some things melt while others burn?

Through the carnage, the Floor holds tight with in a loving embrace. “Melt,” it said. “Melt into me.”

In the Future We Shall Not Thrive

“I think it’s a helicopter…” Ginger heard one man say, with a handkerchief around his nose – as if that was going to do anything to stop him from vomiting out his own intestines.

But It wasn’t a helicopter. It wasn’t a figment of her imagination, because she could see it too. It was a motherf***ing full on giant UFO. It just hovered and waited for everyone to drop off like flies.

Ginger was a beautiful sight in a sea of blights, despite her expression of helplessness. I could not help but zero-in on her. She was the only individual standing upright on a bridge. Everyone else keeled over with abdominal pain, retching, gagging, jaundiced, feverish, ready to collapse. Some were even bleeding from orifices – I’ve seen that before up close and it never fails to unnerve and frighten, even if you know the cause. Situation critical.

And yet, even in their weakened states, it was impossible not to be mesmerized by the otherworldly sight above them all. It was huge. It was confounding. On the flip side, from my vantage point, it was like a front row seat to seeing God appear from above in that final, transcendent moment before The End.

Don’t lie to yourself. If you’re an adult and maybe even if you’re just some emo kid like me, you’ve contemplated your death at one point or another, with one or two special anxieties unique to how you might go. Be it your history of family genetics, your own bad eating habits, or how often you decide to skip your morning run in favor of a Final Destination movies marathon.

Smoking. Booze. Drugs.

Pancreatic cancer. Cardiac arrest.

Choking on an olive pit.

Falling asleep at the wheel.

A serial killer. A hail of gunfire.

Hit in the head by a foul ball.

Childbirth. Shark attack.

Killer undertow.

Carbon monoxide poisoning.

A viral pandemic, man-made and systematically distributed through chemtrails and a global small pox eradication program (I’m looking at you, paranoid subscribers of The Truth Squad with Tad O’Malley).

The ways in which you can die are limitless. But let’s be real. How many of you really thought it would be an alien apocalypse? Well, well. For those of you who raised your hand, your time has come.

How to Disappear Completely (Chapter 2 of 3)

At first the girl joked that either her phone is haunted or her dog is a sorcerer. Both explanations could probably get her on a talk show, but she knows better now. It’s Ghouli. It’s always been Ghouli. It’s like she said to the police – she put it on the fireplace mantle herself. Twizzler would not stop barking at it even though it wasn’t ringing. It was well out of his reach. Then, like magic, POOF, phone was gone, only to be found days later, boring a hole under the fridge as it disintegrated into some kind of acidic ectoplasm. Ghouli creeps, sight unseen and it does not like the taste of electronics. Then the barking stopped too.

Twizzler has been missing for days. She knows where he went, but who would believe that a slimy, mutant, octolandshark ate her dog?

Losing Twizzler was the last straw. Jumping into her mom’s minivan, the girl speeds off to the hardware store down the street, squealing turn into the lot and does a terrible job parking in her rush. Rummaging through the glove compartment, she wrenches a pair of giant sunglasses and slams them onto her face. She flings the door open and throws her hood over her head and stalks in. NO ONE can know what’s going on.

“Oh, hi Ricki!” greets a young man in a home hardware vest. Huh. Well, there goes any chance of being discreet.

Lowering her sunglasses a fraction she turns to the young man. “Why are you at the hardware store?” She snarls.

“Uh, I work here?” He replies motioning to the vest.

“Whatever. You never saw me here, Noah. You tell anyone, you’re a dead man.” She brushes past him, walking with purpose towards a certain section of the store. Wooden mouse traps, sticky paper mouse traps, electric mouse traps, rat traps, skunk traps…

“Where the hell are the bear traps?” She wonders aloud.

“Why the hell do you need a bear trap?” Noah asks, strolling to her side.

“Go away, Noah.”

“I mean, we live in the suburbs, and I really don’t think Mrs. Esposito’s chihuahua deserves an end like that. Little bugger is annoying I’ll give you that. You should really just talk to her. She makes the best churros.” He rambles.

“Shut up, Noah.”

“Testy. What? Got less than 300 likes on your latest instagram pic? Hashtag too-pretty-2-care?” He teases. Turning on her heel, she starts to storm off in the direction of the pest poison. He grabs her arm, making her spin around, hood falling down at her shoulders. Her eyes stare daggers at him. “Hey, I’m just kidding.”

“I need to kill something.” She whispers.

“Kill something!” Noah yells. The limited shoppers in the aisle shift their gaze to the teens. She whips her hood back up over her head. He doubles over with laughter. “Why do you need to kill something?”

“Something ate Twizzler.” She whispers.

“Oh, man. I’m so sorry,” he says, sincerely. “Do you know what?

“Yes.”

“Alligator? I just read this thing about them in sewers…”

She shakes her head. Contemplates telling her friend about the monster creeping the streets of their cul de sac. She thinks better of it.

“Never mind, yeah it was a gator.” She says waving his concern off.

“Ricki, what’s going on?”

“Nothing.” She says, rushing to the exit. This time he wasn’t able to catch up.

Sitting in her room at her house, Rikki ponders various ways to catch that dog murdering mothertrucker. Maybe she could electrocute it. Fill the bath then chuck a hair dryer in. A bear trap would have been the best, painful and then she finish the job.

“Ricki! Someone at the door for you.” Calls her mom from downstairs. She bounds down the steps and once she sees who it is, she quickly jumps outside and silently shuts the door behind her.

“Noah. What do you want?” She asks on the porch.

“You didn’t answer your phone.” He says waving his phone in his hand as if she didn’t understand.

“And that’s a good reason for you to come knocking on my front door?”

“Maybe. You never and I mean NEVER not answer your phone.”

“Well, thanks for checking in. My phone’s destroyed, I need to get a new one.”

“Destroyed how? What the hell is going on with you?” He asks steering her away form the porch light. She swipes at the mosquitoes swirling around her head.

“Nothing is going on.” She says smacking an especially tenacious bug.

“Come on, you can trust me.” Noah prods. Thinking back on past events, Noah has been a trustworthy friend. She steers him onto the rocking bench on the porch, sits next to him and lets out a heavy sigh.

“I’ve been seeing things,” she starts. “Well, something in particular.”

“What is it?”

“A monster.”

“A monster?”

“Yeah, you know. Big, slimy, multi limbed, lots of teeth, eats everything.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I thought I was crazy. I started noticing it when we were at school. I kept getting this feeling, of being watched, and that’s when the animals started showing up.”

“Animals.”

“Yeah. You know how I have to check the filter in the pool?” She asks. “Well, dead animals have been showing up in the filter, mangled, half eaten.”

“That’s beyond messed.”

“I know.”

“But your conclusion is that it was a monster that was doing it? Maybe it’s some creep’s sick joke?” Noah supplies.

“It’s not.”

“How do you know?” The scepticism can’t be left out of his voice.

“I’ve seen him do it.”

“Him?”

“Well I don’t know if it’s a him. I call it, Ghouli.”

“Ghouli,” he breathes. He keeps repeating her, trying to understand.

“I saw him take Liberty’s cat the other day. I was in my room, it has a perfect view of the back yard. Mittens was strolling by the edge of the pool when suddenly something in the pool launched out. Its slimy arm latched around cat and dragged it away, but the weird thing was I couldn’t see it in the water. It just popped out.” After a long moment of silent deliberation… or judgement, Rikki ventures… “So…?”

“I believe you. If this thing is what killed Twizzler, it’s personal. I loved that dog more than you.”

“Hey!”

“So how do we get it?”

“Tomorrow night. My mom has a roast chicken in the fridge we could use as bait, which is fine and dandy but we have nothing to catch it in. You don’t sell bear traps at the hardware store.”

“Don’t worry about the bear trap, I’ve got something better in mind.”

“You do.” Rikki says utterly not convinced.

“Ye of little faith, give me some credit. I’m positive you will find my alternative just as good.” He says with a knowing grin.

Tomorrow could have come quick enough. The sun has set and Rikki Harper is sitting on her porch in a hoodie and sweatpants and a plastic bag with roast chicken.

“Where have you been?” She whisper screams at Noah as he climbs the steps of her house.

“I was getting the supplies.” He replies motioning to his father’s beat up pick-up. “Nice outfit. I’m sure Monique would love to how the mighty have fallen.”

“I didn’t want my nice clothes to be covered in blood.” she replies, heading towards the truck. Lowering the hatch reveals a tangle of ropes, metal and caging. “What the hell is this?”

“A croc trap.”

It looks pretty heavy duty. Complicated.

“Okay then! Where should we put it?”

“Why don’t we put it in the woods just beyond your pool. Lure it out.”

Two hours. It takes two hours to move and assemble the damn thing. Now, flushed and exhausted the friends wait in the pool shed for Ghouli to come. They hang the chicken from a tree. The wind keeps blowing the chicken, making it look like it’s dancing.

“Do you think it’s going to come?” Noah asks.

“Patience. It’s always hungry”

Before either of them can say anything else, a ripple forms on the glass surface of the pool. Then right before their eyes a slimy disembodied arm emerges from the pool, then another and another until Ghouli has risen onto the pool deck. Not a single drop of water can be found.

“Holy sh–” Noah whispers and Ghouli turns to the shed towards them… and the chicken. They duck. Time stretches for eternity. Ghouli moves towards the shed silent. It sniffs the air, and stops at the hanging chicken. It trudges on. Rikki peers through the crack in the panelling and signals that the monster is moving towards the bait. Closer, closer, closer it gets. One more step.

SNAP!

And a shriek that could not be unheard, shattered the night.

How To Disappear Completely (Chapter 1 of 3)

Ghouli looks through a mirror above the fireplace, through a living room and beyond into the kitchen where the family eats. A father, a mother, a daughter, a furry thing lapping scraps at her feet. Forks and knives clang against ceramic plates. Ghouli is hungry too. The furry thing has stubby little legs, low to the floor. It run-waddles to the fireplace. It can’t see itself (nor Ghouli) in the mirror high above, but it barks anyway. How does it sense Ghouli’s presence – the smell? Ghouli can only smile for so long before it requires a new texture to gnaw between its teeth. All appendages raise in unison to punch through the mirror. SMASH!

At the same time, the father accidentally knocks and spills his beverage across dining room table… the mirror cracks at the impact, but does not shatter. A commotion at the table, everyone distracted. But, the daughter spins to stare at Ghouli, only the daughter.

Oh, that pretty face! Ghouli likes a pretty face.

A peak further out the mirror, a piece of broken glass falls to the carpet. Ghouli’s ectoplasm drips in globs onto the mantle. Too loud, the yapping is too loud. That furry thing is too loud. It must be quiet, Ghouli must be unseen. Eyes unflinching Ghouli stretches one slimy appendage. So close, Ghouli is so close. Just one bite so fast, so quick, Ghouli could have the fuzzy thing.

Buzz buzz.

What is that? With one slick move Ghouli retracts its arm. Instead it wraps around some kind of rectangular animal, bright and shiny.

Content with its catch, Ghouli sucks itself back into the mirror, coveting its treasure.

Dream Disease Apocalypse

There’s always talk about the end of the world, but no one really expects it to happen. It’s like your birthday or summer vacation, perpetually on the horizon. But the end of the world IS coming. I know it. I’ve seen it. It’s not the wrath of a vengeful god or retaliation from nature, our demise will come by our own hands. The end of the world is a man-made event—at least as it appears to me. And if it can be unleashed by man, then it can be stopped. I’ve told others about what I see, dark and disturbing, but they say it’s just my imagination or a terrible, vivid dream. They humor me. Why I’ve been chosen as the conduit, I don’t know. But I know there are people in the world who can help, I see them in my visions, too. I just don’t know who they are. Or if they’re real. Do they see me too?

There are powerful forces at play in the world. We can’t see them because they don’t want to be seen. There’s no benefit to them in raising awareness. They give us the facade of self-control, but it only distracts us from what’s really happening. Up to now, that might have been fine. We’re content and subdued, mesmerized by the shiny things around us. But darkness is on the horizon. I’ve seen it. It’s inescapable.

At first I thought it was just a nightmare—a series of them, actually. I was haunted by my own troubling thoughts. Impulses I’d ignored. But what I’ve seen is too specific, and has no connection to my own life or thoughts. It’s becoming more vivid and precise. And the chaotic fragments are starting to make sense.

Life as we know it will end, and not in a pleasant or abrupt way. It will be slow and painfully drawn-out. A virus unleashed across the globe, leading to unimaginable pain and suffering and death—and it will be no accident or natural occurrence. The shadow powers are putting a plan in motion. They want to wipe out humanity to benefit themselves and start over with a clean slate. Only billions of people stand in their way, totally unprepared to defend against them. Nations and borders and armies won’t be able to stop them. Yet the perpetrators will be safe.

There is some, small hope, which is why I’m putting this out to the world. I believe I am not alone in experiencing these disturbing visions. Within them, I feel a connection to others. Their faces are foggy but they’re there, subliminally or just outside of my peripheral vision. The man with the eyebrows. The watching man. The blue eyed doctor. Others my age, possibly? Might they be able to help stop these nightmares from coming true? Will they find me or must I find them?

I don’t know much about my past. I suspect there is something unusual (supernatural, otherworldly even) in how I came to be. And if so, I have to think I’m not alone. I sense there’s a powerful reason we’re being drawn together, though I don’t know what yet. (Do you see me in your visions like I see you?) The threat is real, and if we have some special calling, how do we stand up and act?

The fate of everything we know and love is at risk.

Mississippi, Delta Waves

I dream often of snow. I love the way it covers everything in a deep powder that seems so clean and fresh, covering up the horrors of the world in a fluffy white blanket. And the eerie calm… muting the anguished cries of a blighted world, suffocating it in peace and quiet. But inevitably the snow must melt and turn to slush, and become a muddy gray that gets tracked inside and soils your mom’s new carpet. A cold, wet mess. But not in snow globes. Snow globes are a perfect little world, shrouded in perpetual bliss, where agitation brings another comforting blizzard. There is no escape from a snow globe—a hermetically sealed, perpetually flooded little environment—but why would you want to? It’s the outside world that you want to escape, with danger and deception all around. You know where you stand in a snow globe, an ideal world, in miniature form. Tranquil and soothing. Making it a surprising place for a murder.

I collect snow globes, picking them up anywhere I can on my travels. Friends and family know of my interest and give them to me as gifts, as well. I’ve got the requisite ones, Aspen, New York City, the North Pole. My favorite is one of the Vegas Strip—improbably covered in white powder.

A light dusting of snow makes any place look calm and inviting. Maybe it suggests the holidays, or that warm sensation of sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate and thawing out from a snowball fight. In the real world, the season eventually changes, and the snow goes away. But in my perfect little globes, it’s winter every day of the year.

One of the more elaborate snow globes on my shelf has a ferry—the Chimera—on the waterfront, secured to a little dock. There are even little people on the boat, and others boarding, dressed in colorful coats and caps. A man in a blue uniform takes tickets on the quay. A couple of seagulls rest on the wheelhouse. It’s very idyllic, which is why what I discovered one morning scared the life out of me.

I woke up one morning and gave a few globes a shake, as I like to do ((otherwise, what’s the point?). But when I reached for the globe with the dock and ferry, I was startled. The first thing I noticed: all the people were gone. Like it was their day off, except this is a snow globe. They don’t get days off—or have lives, for that matter. But they were all gone. Except for one—

The one that lay dead, in a pool of his own blood, with a knife sticking out of his back.

The other surprising thing was that he had on shorts and a short-sleeve shirt—totally out of place in this little, encapsulated winter scene. For a moment, I wondered who he was, and where he came from—did he have family he left behind? And why would someone want to kill him? Did anyone call the police?

And then I remembered this was a SNOW GLOBE—there are no living people in a snow globe.

Was I out of my mind? Without thinking, purely out of habit, I did the only thing you can do with a snow globe. I shook it. And as the little white flakes swirled, I wondered, was I was tampering with the crime scene? What a ridiculous thought. But when the snow settled, the little dead man (was he a tourist? He looked like a tourist) was still there.

Are there any motives in a snow globe? I was fascinated by the possibilities.

I looked around, checking for any other impossible discoveries in one of the others snow globes. All of the other winter wonderlands looked fine/normal. All except for one: the Vegas Strip. I should have known!

Along the strip, there was something different, something I hadn’t seen before. A couple of uniformed cops with the LVPD were questioning a woman with a baby in her arms. Were they filing a missing persons report on the man? If only I could ask them. But I’d hate to have to deliver the bad news. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Maybe it had always been like this, but I never noticed. Now I felt really bad for his possible family. It was going to be a sad Christmas at the John Doe house without pop, raising the child alone.

As it seemed maybe I was spending too much time with my little perpetual-winter landscapes, I took a beat and looked back at the ferry and dock scene, hoping it would be back to the way I remember it—without the murder scene and all.

Sure enough, the murder scene was gone, but it was definitely not back to the way it was. It was worse. The once charming little tableau was now grim and deserted, like it had endured years of neglect. The people were all gone, too, even the sea gulls. And the Chimera had fallen on hard times, now a decrepit, rusted hulk in disrepair.

As I looked closer, disheartened by the scene, I swear I saw movement onboard the ferry. A tiny, dark figure moving along the lower deck. It was hard to make out in shadow, but I recognized it from my dreams—the Ghouli! The creature with six spider-arms and fangs! As soon as I noticed it, it ducked out of sight, inside the boat. I took a moment.

Science has shown, or so I’m told on a regular basis, that life emerges in the most unlikely of places. There are things in the world that we’re probably not meant to see. I stay away from the snow globes now, sitting there on the shelf, collecting dust. Leaving them to their own little dramas. And I’m fine with that. I’ve got enough of my own.

Knives Out (Encounter II)

The second encounter was not a dream. It was as real as you or me. In the kitchen, I found the two biggest, sharpest knives, and fled. But there was no escaping Ghouli. It was like a heat-seeking missile of monster death, and it was only interested in my flesh. Somehow it crossed the boundary that protects us from our fears and inner-most thoughts, the ones that torture us in our sleep. I don’t know how it made the leap to our world, and why it was only interested in me. But IRL, I was all alone, as if the world had emptied out while I slept, and I was being stalked. I knew it immediately, before ever I saw it. It was the smell, that musky, stomach-turning stench of spoiled flesh and fermenting trash. I learned in Biology that humans have evolved to innately fear the smell of death for our own safety…

I didn’t survive my last encounter with Ghouli—that is, it killed me, but I suddenly awoke. The problem with nightmares, of course, is that you don’t know when you’re in one. If you did, it wouldn’t be scary, after all. But what happens when your demons follow you when you’re awake?

Ghouli had the upper hand last time; I was trapped in its world, and there was no escape. This time, we’re on my turf. In my home. And I’m armed.

I tore down the stairs to the basement, where I knew it would have trouble finding me in the dark. I bounded down the stairs, making as much noise as possible, luring it to follow. With the lights out, the only illumination was from the kitchen upstairs. I crouched behind boxes, with a view of the steps, and let my eyes adjust. (I know, you’re thinking bad idea; but trust me, I had a plan.)

Soon enough, I heard it moving above me—scraping its clawed feet into the kitchen, then finding the door to the stairs. Backlit, it crept into the threshold, not ready to move any further. Its six spider-arms and sharp fangs silhouetted against the dark. It paused. And listened. I knew from our last encounter that its vision was bad, and as long as I didn’t move, or make noise, it would have a hard time locating me. But it knew where I went.

After getting its bearings, it began descending the stairs. Although I picked the venue, I was starting to realize how confined the basement was. And the darkness wasn’t giving me any comfort, either. I realized how tightly I was gripping the knives and shifted my fingers slightly to keep the blood flowing.

One-by-one, Ghouli descended the stairs. It was cautious, but determined to find me. My eyes had adjusted to the dark, but its eyes might have, too. I sized-up my opponent, figuring out where it was most vulnerable. It had a tough exterior, like an exoskeleton. Aiming for the heart—if it had one—was probably not going to work. Either the eyes or its limbs seemed like the best bet. But that meant getting up close, giving Ghouli the advantage, with all those spider-arms.

At the bottom of the stairs, it took time to reassess where I was. The smell before was merely disgusting, now it was overpowering. I shrank back a little behind the boxes between us. Knives at the ready.

Ghouli finally makes its way deeper into the dark of the basement. It passed out of view, headed to the back corner. I knew, eventually, it would have to backtrack and pass in front of me, where I would attack. I just had to hold my ground.

While out of sight, I also lost sense of where it was as everything grew very quiet. I didn’t dare move for fear of making a sound, which would give away my position. I just stayed there, crouched and at the ready, a blade in each hand.

After awhile, I started to feel restless. What was taking it so long? Wasn’t it still looking for me?

I took a deep breath and reminded myself to hold tight. There was no need to rush this. I had the upper hand. All I had to do was wait. I had the benefit of surprise. I just needed patience.

But why the hell was it so quiet for so long???

I took a little peek—carefully—just around the corner of the boxes. But saw nothing. Finding a little more nerve, and against my better judgement, I leaned forward a little… And still saw nothing.

WTF??? Where did it go? I knew better than to make a move, but now I felt like it had the upper hand on me. All my advantage was gone if I didn’t know where it was. Now I was having second thoughts. I knew I couldn’t blindly attack in the dark. But I couldn’t stay here forever, either. I had a bad feeling about this.

My best bet was to make a break for the stairs, and maybe lock it in the basement. But the stairs meant a long, open dash into the light. It would be on me immediately.

But still… what other option did I have? Every moment I sat there, the risk was growing.

TOO QUIET!

Okay, keep it together. I’ll just make for the stairs, slow and low, and at the first hint of movement behind me, mad dash! No stopping until the door is shut behind me!

My heart was racing. Should I leave the knives? No, I might need them. Can’t believe I’m going to do this—Where is it???

Okay, calm down. The sooner I do this, the sooner it’s over. But I’m not ready. Pull it together…

I made a deal with myself. I’ll go on three. I have to. It’s the only way.

One…

Two…

Three!

Breaking cover, I charged for the stairs, fast as my feet would let me, when—

“J!”

The concerned voice—I knew it immediately: B!

I stopped. Turned. And there she was. Those gentle eyes that first drew me to her across the lunch room. She looked worried, but not afraid.

“What are you doing here?!” I asked, breathless, confused.

Seriously, what was she doing here???

“We have to get out of here!” I yelled.

I dropped the knives and took her hand. She just stood there, shaking her head.

“You don’t get it,” she said.

“We have to go!!!” I repeated, and tried to pull her toward the stairs. But I couldn’t move her. How was she so strong? I turned back—for the scare of my life—

I wasn’t holding B’s hand. It wasn’t her at all. It was Ghouli! It mind-tricked me. And I knew in that moment it had me beat. It latched onto me with one of its strong spider-arms, and it pulled me in with its five others. Pulling and pulling. No. No. No… But there was nothing I could do as it —

Encounter I

In my nightmare, a shadow creature with spider-like arms, razor teeth, and mucous oozing from its ferocious jaw, at least six-feet tall, smells like excrement and rotten guts. For its size, it was fast, like a cockroach fleeing light. I needed to make it until dawn, that daylight, somehow, would save me from the monster. But could I last that long?

I call it Ghouli. A fearsome beast that feeds on flesh.

When I first saw it, I was in a primeval forest. The Ghouli was gnawing at the bone of something large… and vaguely human, working to extract every last bit of sinewy meat, like it was famished. I froze, instinctively. A chill down my spine. Primal fear, like I’ve never experienced. (There are many threats to us in daily life, but being eaten isn’t one of them.) Slowly… very slowly… I backed away, when—

CRACK

The snapping twig under-foot alerted the creature immediately—I froze again, as it turned, fully alert. Its eyesight must be pretty poor because it looked right at me, but didn’t react. I couldn’t breath. Carefully, quietly, it began to creep in my direction, senses heightened. I was exposed and vulnerable. My heart roaring in my chest, legs dying to run! But it must not have seen me, or it would have already pounced. My only hope: act invisible, and do not move.

As it neared, I trembled. In that long, drawn-out moment, which felt like an eternity, several thoughts flashed at once: What was this thing? What was I doing here? Where was I going?

My feet frozen, it continued moving closer, seemingly unaware of my presence right in front of him. (Him? Her? It?) But if it couldn’t see me, it sure was heading in the right direction. In moments, it would be on me. The putrid smell grew worse, making me want to gag. I had to move.

With everything I had, I turned and ran! Ran for my life. Feet barely touching ground—

The beast right on me— fast AF! Breathing down my neck!—

I cornered a few trees, ducking and dodging branches whipping my face—

The beast struggled to keep up. It was good in the straight, but couldn’t maneuver so well—

I didn’t know where I was going, just trying to distance myself from it. I came upon a deep ravine with a river below, blocking my path. I ran along it and dove back into the woods. The beast was losing ground, and maybe my trail. I charged ahead, exploding into a clearing. Surrounded on three sides by a wall of rock. In the center of the clearing, an enormous mound of discarded bones, picked clean. Rotting.

Behind me, the sound of the beast crashing through the woods. Closer and closer…

No time to act, I dove into the bone pile, burrowing into it, the only chance to get out of sight. Lungs heaving. I tried to calm down as the beast burst into the clearing and stopped.

Did it lose track of me?

Absolutely still, I watched as it paced the area, not sure which way to go. It called out in a primal, unsettling shriek, as if announcing defeat. I stayed rooted, afraid to move an inch. The beast called out again, a sense of futility in its godawful wail. Strangely, this gave me hope. Maybe it was admitting defeat and would soon head away.

But then I noticed something that crushed my soul. As the beast cried out again, I saw movement around the perimeter of the clearing. Dark, obscure shapes on the ground began to stir, slowly waking and rising to their feet.

Other beasts, just like Ghouli. A dozen, at least. Surrounding me. An encampment of six-armed creatures, drooling, with fangs. The original one gestured toward the bone heap in which I hid—or thought I had. The others turned, as one, in my direction. Knowing. Hungry. Howling. So much awful howling, it drowned out my thoughts! Then they began to make their way closer. If this was a dream, it was time to wake up. This was a dream. It had to be a dream…

Because you don’t die in your dreams, right?

Right???

The monsters moved closer, there was no escaping this time—

There was no way out.

Möbius Strip Tease

I’d just escaped a nightmare that now I couldn’t recall, just an overwhelming sense of dread. I should have been relived to be back in the safety of my bed, surrounded by familiar things, but the fear was still there. Whatever it was that haunted me in my sleep was still with me. In my room. I could feel it in my bones. Under the bed, in the closet, behind the door… as long as I stayed absolutely still, it might think I was asleep. Slowly, I opened my eyes—just a peek—scanning the darkness. I started to think my mind was playing tricks on me, that I was overreacting, when something moved in the shadows! I covered the distance from bed to hall in two leaps. Now it knew I was awake—and that I knew it was there. I raced down the hall. Shadow figure behind me. I made it to the living room, out the front door, slamming it shut behind me—and looked around, stunned, back in the hall again, right outside my bedroom.

Was this a dream-within-a-dream? Or, was I being haunted in real-life? How do you explain the nonsensical loop of being unable to escape my own house?

What was most unsettling to me was that I couldn’t see what was chasing me. I knew it was there. It was definitely there! And if I didn’t keep moving, I was doomed. So again, I raced down the hall—because where else could I go—and into the living room. Maybe it hadn’t happened before. Maybe I was just anticipating where I was headed, having been there hundreds of time before. Deja vu?

From the living room to the front door and outside—slamming the door behind me!

And right back into the hallway outside my bedroom again.

This had to be a nightmare, but one I could not wake myself out of. If you died or were killed in a nightmare, you died in real life, too, right? I heard that somewhere. Was it true? I didn’t want to have to find out.

As I stood there, about to flee again, someone else raced by me—it was me. Future Me? Past Me? No time to figure it out as he blew by, headed for the living room, undoubtedly. Good luck to him/me.

And then another person emerged from the bedroom, also looking troubled, trying to escape the ominous shadow that seemed to be everywhere, and yet nowhere. She had red hair, wore a crucifix necklace, and had a look of deep concern. She seemed very familiar though. She didn’t see me, and moved quickly to get away, to the living room.

I followed her, drawn to her. “Who are you?” I asked.

She paused and turned as if she heard me. But she didn’t see me, even though she was looking right at me—or, right through me. Still concerned and confused, she continued toward the living room, and I tailed, a few feet behind.

“What are we running from, do you know?”

She paused briefly at the door, hand on the job, and looked back again—clearly not seeing me, even though I was right beside her. She turned back to the door and exited through it. I followed.

But once outside, she was gone. Vanished completely. And I was alone. I moved away from the house, hoping to find a sign of her, and instantly found myself back inside the hallway, outside of my bedroom.

And I realized I was trapped, doomed to repeat this bewildering cycle until… when?

Here Be M_NST_RS

The Sore Points cover that song, she forgets the title, but cranks it up anyway:

On a map of the world
He stands alone
With his dreams and his demons 

hic sunt dracones

hic sunt dracones. They don’t teach Latin at her school, but thank you, internet. It means, “here be dragons”, a warning on the maps of ancient mariners for uncharted territories.

The music pulses, dust flies past the windows of their jeep as the sun beats down on its cherry red paint. She climbs higher and higher into the peaks of the Mackenzie Mountains in Canada, but the true destination is between the twisting hills: The Valley of Headless Men.

“What do you think we’re going to find up here?” her travelling companion asks in his comforting baritone. They’ve been travelling for days. She contemplates her answer before a wicked grin creases her lips.

“Dragons.” She whispers ominously. The pair break out into a bout of laughter. They’ve been doing this for ages now. Philippe and Melisande, French anthropology students from Paris. Or as the community likes to call them, Le Chasseurs de Monstres, backpacking around the globe in search of the profound and extraordinary.

“Peut être” (maybe) Philippe replies, scanning the sprawling hills of the mountainside. The expanse arrests her heart. The car rumbles as she pulls the Jeep onto an outcropping of the peak. Legend tells of evil spirits that claim these lands as home. Another speaks of the mysterious Naha tribe that once resided here, with their brutal custom that gave the valley its name.

Clambering out of the car, the pair make there way to the trunk. Flinging it open they sit on the ledge and stare at the scenery for a moment. The air is heavy with the scent of rain but there are no clouds in sight. Just stillness.

“Do you find anything odd about this place?” Melisande breaks the silence, grabbing her mountain pack from the car. She secures it onto her back and swings her leg up to tie her hiking boot. The wind whips past her ear and she could have sworn she heard a weep.

“Everything about this place is odd. Where is everything? There are no sheep, no goats, deer, squirrels, not even crickets. Nothing.”

“According to the two tribes we interviewed, apparently ‘supernatural creatures’ prowl the hills at night. Maybe they ate all the woodland creatures.”

“Supernatural. We both know that there’s no such thing, just the unexplained and uninformed.” She nods in agreement and the two of them start their descent into the valley. Rocks slip and slide past, but they are sure footed and never falter.

The grass at the bottom of the peak is so green it appears iridescent in the midday sun. Philippe picks up a nearby stone. Turning it this way and that, the stone glitters like a jewel.

“What do you think it is?” He asks handing it to Melisande. She takes it gently into her palm.

“I don’t know.” She replies looking out at the empty grove. Another light catches her eye. Handing off the rock she trudges off towards the direction of the shimmer. Philippe catches up quickly and together they stop at the sight of the unusual glittering.

A cave marked by six giant blocks of the same mysterious rock as the one Philippe found, two appear to have been broken and toppled. They shimmer and glow like shells on a beach. The blocks are all stacked into the wall of the mountain like a doorway. Archaic runes are etched into the columns. Melisande traces the pattern with her hand feeling a hum coming from the stone.

“Burial ground?” She inquires.

“Have you seen these markings before?” He asks moving his hand over the stone. “Pre-Latin. What do you think? Are we talking Norse Gods here or — ?

A shudder vibrates through his arm and he jumps away.

“Did you feel that?” he breathes.

“Feel what?” she asks, removing her hand from the doorway. He wrings his hands trying to escape the feeling and re-composes himself. “Nothing.”

“Should we go inside?”

“Ladies first.” Philippe smiles with a dip from the waist.

“Then after you.”

He chuckles, grabbing her hand so that they enter the unknown together. It doesn’t take long for the darkness to consume the light. Philippe takes a flashlight attached to his belt and the cave is bathed in light. The team stares in awe at the tunnel. They wander on, each step echoing off the walls of the tunnel, until they come to a fork in the path.

“Left or right?” asks Philippe. Melisande stands before the right tunnel as a tendril of dust swirls at her feet, beckoning her forward.

“Right.” She states, already moving deeper into the unknown. Her hands drag against the walls of the cave, taking in the curves and edges. It’s cool and she fends off a shiver. Turning a corner the walls of the cave expand out into a massive room. The light from the flashlight refracts off of the stone in blinding streams.

“Shut it off.” Melisande says moving towards the centre of the room. Her partner quickly extinguishes the light and shoves it back into his belt. The stones’ luminous glow lights the cave, revealing floor to ceiling runes, and on one wall, a mural.

Painted on the wall in gruesome streaks of red so dark it could be black is an image of… a creature. Multi-limbed and arms spread wide, its hands the size of dinner plates, while its finger-claws splayed wide, beckoning. The head is forward, eyes trained on the viewer, its hackles raised. Protruding from its mouth row upon row of razor sharp teeth, as its lips are peeled back in a snarl.

Finally, Phillippe speaks. “Tell me you know what we’re looking at?”

“The runes could be an old tribe language. And that,” Mel explains pointing to the creature. “I have never seen anything like that, but looking at this room it appears that they might have worshipped it.” She moves away from the mural in hope that a larger viewing range might shed some light on the mystery.

In one swift move… crunch. She falls to her knees, they vibrate with the impact as her hand comes away red. Pain explodes from her ankle as a stream of French expletives pour from her mouth.

“Mel, are you okay!?” Philippe worries. Dropping to his knees, he pulls the flashlight out again, illuminating his friend. A gash the size of an industrial nail blooms across her hand but when he catches sight of the thing that made her fall, his blood freezes.

“I’m fine.” She replies. Rising on one leg she cradles her mutilated hand and yanks the bandana around her neck to stanch the bleeding. Drip, Drip, Drip. She follows the blood to where she had fallen. Right next to her foot print lays an ivory white skull so clean it could have been fake. A hole the size of a fist is embedded in its temple. She follows Phillippe’s gaze. Spiralling from the broken skull are hundreds of others, embedded in the ground swirling to the edges of the cave room.

“Well, now we know where all the heads went.”

“I’m all for exploring this place, but maybe we should take a look at that ankle first.” Philippe says taking her arm and supporting her weight. She nods taking his hand. Hobbling back towards the entrance, they both take their first lung full of clean air. The sun has dipped below the horizon leaving a haze of reds and violets.

“We can’t make it back up that mountain.” Philippe states, helping to set Mel down in the grass.

“I guess we’ll have to set up camp here then.”

The night is silent except for the crackle of flames. Melisande sits in the grass, sketch book in hand as she tries to recall the cave room with the mural. Her ankle is wrapped in gauze along with her hand. Thankfully it isn’t broken and tomorrow they should be able to explore more.

“So what can we deduce about this… creature?” She asks pointing at her sketch. Philippe circles the fire with a bowl of soup. He flips open a small field notebook from his pocket and begins to read.

“Other tribes thought something cursed and resided over the land. There are accounts from indigenous people saying that the devil lives in the valley, killing those who dare to enter it.”

“Like a carnivorous animal, not the literal devil.”

“Obviously there was something, because that skull shrine exists.”

“Is that what it is?”

“Well I have no other way to describe it and it has all of the general markers.” He explains, handing her a bowl of soup. It’s warmth eases the muscles in her shoulders.

SNAP!

 The pair turn towards the sound. Emerging from the bushes, a tall man with a large brimmed hat and overcoat stalks towards them.

“Hullo there,” he rasps. “I don’t get many visitors around these parts.”

“We’re on business.” Phillippe answers lightly. The Tall Man smiles back.

“Business. What kind of business?”

“We’re… budding anthropologists. We were told that there could be some interesting cultural landmarks nearby.”

“Anthropologists,” he repeats. “What a fascinating field of study. You know I came across some palaeontologists last spring. Lovely people.” Mel notices the long scar from his eye to his throat.

“How long have you lived here?” Phillippe asks.

“A very long time. My family has been on this land for centuries.” He replies, taking a seat on the other side of the fire.

“Part of the Naha tribe, then?”

He laughs. “No, that tribe disappeared a long time ago. Just me.”

“What happened to them?”

“The tribe? They just disappeared. One day there and gone the next. See, they thought they could control it.” He explains.

“Control what?” Mel asks intrigued.

“The beast. They revered the devil of the valley as a god. They worshipped it.”

“You mean the creature in the cave?” She asks for clarification.

“Ghouli, some called it. Shadow of the night.”

“But it’s a myth, right?” Philippe puzzles.

A grin crimps the sides of his cheeks at the idea. “Of course Ghouli is real. The Naha tribe thought that by giving it travellers, it would be enough. But it’s never enough.”

The fire now stripped to its embers and all that’s left for light is its glow, and the stars. A shiver shakes Mel’s body. She tries to rise on her bad ankle but slips on the rock.

“You said it’s never enough,” she pauses. “Present tense.” Mel says on her feet. The Tall Man rises as well.

“Smart girl. I knew it the first time I smelled you in that cave.” His nostrils flare as if he’s trying to remember the scent.

“We need to go.” She whispers to Philippe, slowly backing away.

“Ghouli cannot be tamed.” he starts, licking his lips. Gradually, the whites of his eyes turn to black. “Ghouli is hungry. Always hungry. Sheep are too wool-laden for Ghouli! Squirrels are too small. Ghouli misses the tribe, how delicious they were.”

Grabbing Mel, Philippe yanks her towards the direction of the jeep but before the second step, The Tall Man is in front of them. Before their eyes, his teeth once blunt and human explode from his mouth to become jagged peaks designed to rip flesh from bone. The sound of their racing hearts is deafening. Ghouli savours it. The rip of clothes echo through the night as The Tall Man disappears and in his place, the beast from the mural.

“I can see into your mind. How scared you are.” Ghouli circles. “Le Chasseurs de Monstres.” The equivalent of a laugh rocks Ghouli’s body as saliva flings in every direction. The acrid stench of Ghouli’s breath would knock out anyone but the fear has already paralyzed the pair.

“Real monsters have no hunters.” Ghouli whispers as two slimy appendages burst from its back like wings and wrap around the neck of Philippe. Philippe gasps, grasping at the “arms” only for a split second before it throws him to the ground with a thud and crack of a broken neck. Melisande can only gape in utter shock from the sight of her fallen friend.

Ghouli bends to examine his first meal. He takes a bite. Blood spurts showering the grass. Ghouli turns, a head tilt and red toothy grin. Like a path of breadcrumbs the dripping blood marks the path Ghouli makes towards her as she tries to make her escape, slipping over rocks, cutting her legs and hands. The iron scent in the air is now as strong as Ghouli’s stench.

“You should have read the sign before entering my home.” Ghouli snarls, lips receding to show its many rows of teeth.

“What sign?!” Mel cries in hysterics. She glances at the entrance to the cave, reminded of the swirling patterns of the runes. Ghouli leans into her savouring the hunt, its face centimetres from her nose, its eyes tearing through her mind. A claw clasps around her neck and she chokes.

“You know what it says — ” Ghouli starts, taking her injured hand to it’s tongue for a taste.

She does know. “Here be Monsters.”

And the valley was plunged into silence once more.

4H00. After Rust.

4:03AM. At the end of the road, over one PRIVATE PROPERTY sign and two NO TRESPASSING signs, the old derelict ship graveyard. No more land to run on at the end of the plank. Time to catch his breath.

4:06AM. There it is, the rusting ferry heap, CHIMERA. Out of commission since 1988. Walking up the barge, it was clear that someone or something was already inside.

4:07AM. This place was popular in the summer among his friends. A good hiding spot to get stoned, tell ghost stories, take cool pictures. No filters needed. But in the winter season, so close to the water, this place took on a whole other atmosphere. It was too cold. Too easy to lose your footing from forming ice on all the metal surfaces. An easy fall to your death. So who was inside?

It had to be Ghouli. It had found his favorite hangout. It wanted to ruin his one safe, his personal church. But he wasn’t going to let it. He’d kill it before it could take this ship.

4:10AM. Sonny crossed a gangway over the murky water. Under his running shoes, it was slippery from a sheen of frost. He took extra care not only to avoid falling, but to keep as quiet as possible.

4:13AM. This rusting hulk plied the bay for something like 50 years. It could hold 950 people and 138 cars. Its name obviously intrigued him. He’d been told by an older kid that it was called Chimera because the owner’s daughter was really into centaurs, but that there was already a ferry called Centaur so Chimera was the next best thing. He had accepted that at the time, but considering this now, this explanation seemed like it had been made up on the spot by an unimaginative, loaded pothead.

4:25AM. The tension of possibly running into a monster was really cramping that his style. All he wanted was a place to cool-down from his run and think, away from everything, from the prying eyes of his parents, his girlfriend, his doctors. It made him feel resentful. He wanted to punch something. He wanted to punch Ghouli. He had all this aggression and no one to take it out on. Where are you Ghouli? All he could do was pace the upper deck. Back and forth, zig zagging over the cracked bucket seats, covered with grime and mildew. Kick the railings. Throw detrius into the water.

4:40AM. Lower level. Still no sign of Ghouli. Only freshly spun spider webs.

4:44AM. Sounds coming from above, where he just was. Like scattered noises of a mouse hidden in a wall. Then crunching. Bone crunching. Slurping.

4:48AM. It was Ghouli. It was feeding on something now completely unrecognizable. Sonny spied from a distance for a moment, before brazenly stepping into the open, making himself known. It looked up from its catch, stared directly at Sonny.
“I’m here. What do you want?” said Sonny to the hideous monster.

Ghouli replied, a series of chirps and hisses. Like a bug; a beetle or a cockroach. Unbelievably, Sonny could somehow understand it. Who knew that he could speak cockroach?

Why are you afraid of me?” chirped Ghouli, “We’re one and the same. I am you and you are me. I am inside of you. In your blood.”

“Not afraid of you anymore, I’m mad at you. I’m sick of you preventing me from sleep.”

“Rust never sleeps.”

“I hate you.”

“Then you must hate yourself. I’m everything you hate, and feed upon your hate too. Just like the rust feeds on the air around us. You understand?”

He wasn’t sure he did. But he said the first thing that popped into his head.

“Entropy.”

“Now you’re getting it.”

“I’m going to kill you.” He stepped forward, threatening to charge.

“You already did. You absorbed me in utero. Face it, Sonny, you were a jerk before you were even born. If you’re not careful, you’ll kill everybody. Except for me. I could survive a catastrophic event. I could survive a goddamn nuclear winter. Then it will be just you, me and this ugly iron husk. So why don’t you put that in your pipe and smoke it?”

Ghouli returned its attention to the carcass in its clutches, licking the bones clean, seemingly done and bored with Sonny.

“Ghouli… Are you my twi–?”

Beeeeeeooohhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! A deafening mournful sound crashes through the ferry, interrupting Sonny’s question and whipping his head in the direction of a foghorn, honking so loud that it echoed from across the bay. It was also signaling the time.

5:00AM. Sonny turned back to the monster, to discover that it had scattered back into the shadows while he was distracted, leaving no trace of its presence. Vanished.

5:01AM. Sit. Process. Fail to comprehend.

5:05AM. Time to run home. One foot in front of the other. 1 – 2 – 3 – 1 -2 – 3.

En-tro-py… En-tro-py… En-tro-py…

3H00. After Dark.

3:12AM. Here he is wasting time lying in his own sweat, heart rate thumping at 180bpm. He’s not alone, his parents are just two doors down. The house is locked. They live in a safe, clean suburb. But he is afraid of what manifests. Are his parents lying awake right now too, also afraid? What went wrong with Sonny? Is this why he was given up 10 months after his birth?

3:17AM. He gets up. If his heart is racing, if he’s sweating and afraid, he wants it to be real. Not some fiction concocted in his brain as he lies in this bed.

3:23AM. Cold enough to see his breath. Everything closed. Time to outrun the night.

3:25AM. Sneakers laced up, hoodie up to protect him from the evening chill. He stalls in his backyard. Why does he feel like he’s forgetting something? Is he hungry? Thirsty? Does he need to pee? Stop stalling, Sonny. Just run!

3:34AM. Full tilt for 9 minutes, labored breathing. He thought he was in better shape than this. He did forget something. His phone, his music, his earbuds. No electronics, only nature. At this hour, he appreciates the luxury of being able to run in the middle of the road and pays attention to things he’s never noticed before. City planners did a really crappy job in this neighborhood. No streetlights. All the street signs named after pilgrims, puritans and colonists: John Alden Drive, Paul Revere Road, Brewster Street. Boring. He recalls an elementary school project he had to do on the Mayflower. He recites as many of the native tribes the pilgrims encountered that he still can remember, mantra-like:

Pe-quotNar-ra-gan-sett… Po-ka-no-ket … Wam-pa-noag…

The multi-syllables in rhythmic beat with his footfalls, a temporary reprieve from dark thoughts and lactic acid build up in his calves.

3:40AM Heaving now. A proper stop to take in his surroundings. Tall evergreen trees tower amongst the multi-level homes here. He tunes into the signal of the trees, into the darkness of a starless, cloud-covered sky. Relief that no one will catch him in the moonlight. Even though no one is chasing him. What is he running from? Nothing. He is alone here. And is that good or bad? He could get eaten by a wolf. No one would know who he was when they found his body. He left his ID at home.

Wasn’t this the hour of the wolf?

3:45AM. Some signs of life inside the independent gas station with the tilted, squeaky windmill. It’s closed, but he sees some movement inside. He wonders if maybe it might be a chop shop, but perhaps better to mind his own business, stay unseen.

Scooting behind the garage reveals a ravine he knows well. It leads towards a tributary of Chesapeake Bay and to the forgotten structures he loves to explore.

3:50AM. Amidst the green foliage, mounds of dirt and clutter of construction material, he short-cuts through the defunct lumber mill. He knew what he was doing was not safe. Sometimes he sees a security car patrolling here, but for now, his only obstacles were the things he could accidentally impale himself on… the rusted, jagged edges, exposed rebar or rotted, splintered wood.

As that thought came to mind, he stumbled, cutting his knuckles on barbed wire. Was his tetanus vaccine up to date? Maybe cutting himself with a rusty nail would prevent him from having to give blood again next week?

3:59AM. Distancing himself from the lumber mill, his thoughts returned to what had kept him from sleeping. What he thought he may have overheard from the doctors. A single sample containing two separate blood types. Not biologically impossible, but extremely rare. Blood chimera. Abnormal.

An unpaved dirt road. A sprint to his next destination. No more names of slaughtered tribes, only one question, the same question, cycling over and over with his footsteps in a 4/4 time:

What’s/wrong/with/Sonny? What’s/wrong/with/Sonny? What’s/wrong/with/Sonny?

The magic trick that was no trick

In the 1920s, there was a traveling magician named Raja Raboid, who had a trick so startling that grown men were known to scream in horror and flee at the sight of it. You’ve probably heard of the trick, the one where a woman in a box appears to be sawed in half and is then magically put back together. It’s a cliché, now. It was a cliché then, too. Only Raja Raboid had a twist on the trick that shocked people out of their ever-loving minds.

The trick was very simple, but effective and unexpected. Raboid had an assistant named Johnny Eck, a man who was born with only a body from the waist up and walked around using his hands. He performed for years in carnival sideshows as the “half boy,” and famously appeared in the classic 1932 movie “Freaks.” (We accept you! One of us!)

Johnny had a twin brother, Robert, who was full-bodied. The two worked together with Raboid in the 1930s, performing this spectacular trick. In it, Robert would pretend to be an audience member and heckle Raboid during the show. The goading would result in Raboid calling him up onto the stage to climb into the box and have his legs sawed off himself. But Johnny was secretly switched into the top of the box, while a little person switched and contorted into the bottom, hidden inside a full-sized pair of trousers.

Raboid would then “saw” Johnny in half, he’d pop out of the box crying for his legs to be reconnected, and the little person inside the pants would then jump up and run around the room, sending people into hysterics, often fleeing the theater.

Early on, when I would I revisit the memory of my attack, I’d often think about this, and about Johnny Eck. How, even without legs, at least he could still move. I work at this every day, but the phantom pains and the nausea inducing disorientation keeps me a prisoner in my own head. That instinctual, internal sense of how to put one foot in front of the other – without being able to see my actual feet in said space – makes walking next to impossible. The doctors tell me there’s a word for this. Proprioception. I still play it over in my mind, mulling on a daily basis on an incident that probably all told, lasted half a minute.

It was a quiet audience that night. The time had come for the requisite “saw the woman in half” portion of the show, or as we in magic circles call it, “the zig zag” illusion, on account of how the subject in the box must contort themselves around the blades. My assistant, we’ll call her Maggie (her name has been changed to protect her anonymity) was already lying horizontal, locked in the cabinet. I held the grip of a single-edged katana blade from feudal-era Japan. Real steel. Solid. Heavy. To demonstrate, I use it to slice straight through a solid block of ice.

As is part of the performance, Maggie reacts with shock, awe and fear over what will become of her. It was at this point we all heard an empathetic gasp of distress from an audience member in the back rows. It was loud and guttural, a hyperventilating war-cry. The stage lights made it difficult for me to see the source of these cries, but it was enough to make me pause from our performance.

“Don’t do it. SOMEONE STOP HIM!” he wailed.

A murmur in the crowd. Was this part of the act? It wasn’t, but I could use it. A magician knows that building tension is the key to a successful act. We set up an expectation and then subvert it. I’ve dealt with cynical, belligerent audience members before. Not just the ones that I secretly planted in the back aisles, but those off the street who may have lost some cash at the casino, and who pay to escape their problems for our world of wonder. This man, perhaps in his inebriation was having trouble separating reality from craftsmanship and in this case, the craftsmanship relied less on me but on that of Maggie’s zig-zagging within. But forever a showman, I goaded him for maximum pay off.

“Don’t worry, sir, she has good medical insurance.”

Nervous laughter.

As I moved away from the bisected block of ice to the cutting cabinet, so did he – from his seat to rush the stage. This was a subversion so unexpected and too fast for me to react. Of course, in hindsight, I have wondered – was there time? Could I have actually turned tail and ran? Was it my pride or fear of embarrassment that kept me standing there frozen as this enraged/deranged person wrested the sword from my hands, and then swung it full force straight across my neck?

It was a powerful blow. A clean slice. Decapitation.

My body collapsed immediately in a heap, but my head rolled and teetered at the edge of stage. I lay there, incapacitated, blood gushing and yet, miraculously I remained lucid.. Maggie, still locked inside the cabinet, screaming in abject horror, and at this point so was much of the audience. The energy in the room was intense and confused. What was happening? Was this some sort of gruesome Grand Guignol show, or was this truly a magic act gone terribly wrong? And what of me? Was I hallucinating this? Is this what an out of body experience felt like? How could I have so many questions circling inside my brain at this moment? Shouldn’t I be dead?

But I was not. I was inexplicably, a helpless witness as severed head on the ground, watching my assailant unsuccessfully trying to calm my assistant, frantically wrestling to unlock the contraption that housed her. What he did not know was that in cabinet, there was an escape hatch to below stage, which in her panic she still had the presence of mind to use. Her head and limbs snuck back into the box, and she disappeared from everyone’s view.

By this point, someone, I do not know who, tackled the man to the ground out of my peripheral vision. Chaos ensued in the theater. My stage manager ran to me. Though I could not speak, instinctually she could see in my eyes that I was somehow still alive. She bent down to my level, bewildered and fearful.

“Is this real life?” she asked me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What is real, and what is not? No doubt, this incident reads like an absurdly tall tale, as unreal and unbelievable a scenario as anyone could concoct. But these are the facts as I learned them later:

My assistant, Maggie, our “zig zag” girl, escaped to safety.

The enraged man had developed an infatuation with Maggie and could not bear to see me slice her in two. He snapped. What he did in his own mind was an act of heroism to rescue her and do unto me what I was about to enact on her. He was forcefully subdued on stage, detained, arrested and deemed not fit to stand trial. He is in a mental institution now and seems to be doing much better with the proper meds.

In that half minute, my life was ruined. My pain was very real. I was a young man cut down in my prime. Many believe me to be dead. I am not. I have had much time to rage and mourn the loss of my body, to try to make sense of the impossible, but no doctor, scientist, or priest can accurately explain any of this to me. It’s why I remain here under study. And where is here? I have entertained some theories:

A hospital.

A research lab.

The Yellow Base in Idaho.

The Pentagon.

Some black site in the Indian Ocean.

An atrocity exhibit in a freak of nature museum.

For all I know, I could be in some department store warehouse off the Vegas strip. Who are these people who take care of me, feed me, converse with me, rehabilitate me and keep me breathing? They are kind voices but their faces hide behind mirrored glass.

My head rests in a glass case – immovable without the muscles in my neck, protected like the crown jewels. I am kept breathing by aged machines and an iron lung-like contraption. I have a consistent view of my bottom half — torso and limbs – seated and strapped comfortably at a desk across the room. It doesn’t have a mouth to speak or eyes to see, but it still has functional, conjuring hands and fingers. This is the greatest consolation from this live horror show. I have been trained to mentally command my disconnected body; to trigger my motor functions. First I began with simple coin tricks. Next, I began to write down my thoughts. I push and project the words you are reading right now across the air in this room, the friction of pencil to paper. I do this every day, long hand and find it immensely therapeutic. I’m told by my keepers that these entries will be helpful to those studying the next step in human evolution. I’m thinking more short term. How about a nightly gig at the MGM Grand?

This is a magic trick that has no trick, no sleight of hand, no secret compartments. I am real magic. I would sell out every night. My brain floating in a vat on stage left, my headless body on stage right. It would make a humble bow from the waist as my hands would make a flourishing gesture. Then, throwing my voice like a ventriloquist from somewhere else entirely, I would ask my rapt audience…

“… are you not entertained?!”

Radio Surfer

When I was a five year old kid, my older brother explained to me how the radio worked. As you fiddled the tuning FM dial, these magical people would have to race between towers to make sure a consistent stream of music was playing from station to station. The static fuzz in between was the time in which the DJ surfed the radio waves to find the next song. It suddenly occurred to me that’s exactly how This Man, a living entity, is able to jump between the dreams of random, unassociated people… through The Signal.

“Don’t touch that dial.”

Every time I see That Face, I repeat this over and over as a way to control my actions within my surrounding dreams. It lets me stay inside R.E.M phase longer. It’s the technique that works for me, keeps me focused, as I become more proficient at staying in control. I don’t need to do the reality checks anymore. I don’t look for clocks, I don’t try to push my finger through my palm, because I know I’m dreaming when I see this man.

I always let my alarm clock radio go off and use that as a tool too. It goes off, opening verses of what sounds like Forever Young by Alphaville. The dude with the high voice, the fake sounding trumpet solo played on a synthesizer… all of it mimics soothing theta brain waves and supplies the soundtrack to my lucid dream. The object is to track him. I think he’s on to me, prefers his anonymity. But I must know who he is. The song is key. Somewhere on this earth, another person has this earworm stuck in their head and This Man will use it to surf from my dream into theirs. When that happens, I’ll be ready.

For a time, we used to connect face to face. Never in waking life, only in my dreams. He has always been an enigma, sometimes an ally, sometimes a villain but just as often, a random chameleon-like cameo. He’d loan me a quarter for the laundromat. He was the drummer of a bar band, throwing me an encouraging nod when I’d say all the right things to a cute girl. He was my professor for the math exam that I failed to study for, and the dental hygienist behind the mask when all the teeth would fall out of my mouth (I recognized those eyebrows). He was the face of the pterodactyl that flew me into the Denver airport and dropped me in front of that creepy wall mural with the solar flare, and children sobbing over dead sea turtles and jaguars.

Now he observes and influences from afar. His non-descript face, receding hairline and average height blends in the background while he reads a book on a busy subway platform or lurks in photographs, often in my nightmares. Who is this man? What’s his interest in me specifically, especially during the nights when my subconscious is working out my worst insecurities?

I sit on a crowded beach, searching the faces, for his face. The waves are rough, crashing onto the shore, dangerously close to a family with young children. They are watching a vintage RCA Victor color television, circa 1954 sitting in the sand. The big cabinet television risks getting wet with every tide pull.

Dreamlogic is funny that way. The make and model of the TV are exacting. My fear over whether it will electrocute the child that is turning the channel knob is intense. But how the television is even working in the first place — without being plugged in — doesn’t seem to matter.
The dude with the high voice wails about “turning golden faces into the sun”, keeping the signal very strong. That’s when I catch sight of him! This Man! He’s playing the neighbor in some old sitcom I’ve never seen before. Without hesitation, I run to the TV. I knock on the screen! I try to take his attention away from the woman he’s talking to! The sitcom plays on, ignoring me. I see him less and less and the woman more and more. Soon their scene together will be over. This is her show, she seems to dominate the scene. This is probably her own dream and I am intruding upon it.

Suddenly, This Man re-appears one last time, waving goodbye to the woman. He breaks “the fourth wall” and looks directly at me, through the TV, impatient and expectant.

“Why are you following me?” we both ask to each other at the same time.

We both wait for each other to answer, leaving an awkward silence. I come clean.

“You seem to know all my fears, anxieties. Please help. What advice can you offer me?”

This Man considers, then offers me the world. “Do you want to live forever?”

He extends his hand out of the television, to pull me into that woman’s dream.

Too good to be true.

As our hands connect, a tall shadow casts overhead.

A tidal wave the height of a skyscraper over the entire beach.

No!

It is the last thing I see before everything is washed out.

And I bolt upright in bed, soaking wet.

This Man controlled the outcome. He knocked me out of my own nightmare. I’ve never been so convinced of something in my life. But how?

The only way to find out is to close my eyes, and begin again.

THEM & THEY

The delivery girl, Sarah, who brings me my arthritis medication told me to visit this website. Sarah thinks she’s seeing things, a spider ghoul something or other. She lacks conviction. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all just a bad dream. Yadda yadda yadda. What nonsense is this? That’s what They want you to believe. I may be an old retired woman, but I know things. I’ve seen things. I still see Their mental conditioning in action, whether in Sarah’s monster or in my weekly grocery store flyer. Well, this is for anyone who suffers the uncertainty of this collective memory loss. Make no mistake, it is a long-standing plot to use false history to break down the psychological independence of its population by Them! I will not buy that wheat cereal and neither will you! So let’s begin at the beginning, with Castro and a poison milkshake.

Here is a version of the world as you don’t know it, or at least as most of us don’t seem to remember it, but the account below is true historical record.

This amazing revelation – the Truth of my real memories — came crashing back to me one fateful evening in 1978. I was in the Havana Libre Hotel, during the Carter administration. First off, let me say for the record that sweet Jimmy wasn’t the type who would instigate or plot covert attempts on the lives of political leaders. That peanut farmer had a good heart. He was incapable of this. But there are those in the fringes of our government who have simply been dirty pool for as long I got my first full time government job, at age 20. That was before JFK and Dealey Plaza if you’re trying to put a date stamp on my age. By 1978, I had worked my way up the government ladder, as an exceptionally fast typist, note-taker and occasional interpreter for men high up in the State Department.

It was a covert meeting with my boss and President of Cuba, Fidel Castro. He brought us into the hotel’s cafeteria and ordered creamy chocolate milkshakes for everyone. Our government already knew his love for milkshakes was habitual but what we did not know was that he was fully aware that we had apparently sought to exploit this to assassinate him. As we sat there with shakes in front of us, he told us of a kitchen worker that he knew was in possession of a cyanide pill – one provided to him by us (the CIA). He knew the day it was going to happen, how it was going to happen, but he drank it anyway!

As interpreter, I was told to ask him: “Do you believe you are invincible to poison”? He responded that he simply knew that the kitchen worker did not have the guts to drop it into his drink. To accentuate the point, he guzzled back the milkshake currently in front of him and made a big sloppy mess of his beard. He encouraged us all to do the same.

Seeing him kick back that milkshake had a triggering effect, very similar to Dean Martin seeing the Queen of Hearts in the film classic, “The Caligarian Candidate”. I saw flashes of memories, annotating a detailed debriefing from our inside kitchen man. A cyanide pill placed inside of a kitchen freezer. How it stuck frozen to a metal tray. When he went to dose the milkshake with it, the pill crumbled into pieces in his hand!

It was not only the Castro-milkshake incident. I was suddenly flooded with new memories – or more accurately, old memories. New old memories! Repressed memories! Information that perhaps I should not have been privy to! INFORMATION THAT IS ALL CAPITAL LETTERS WORTHY! THAT PROVES AN INSIDIOUS PLOT TO USE FALSE HISTORY TO BREAK DOWN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL INDEPENDENCE OF ITS POPULATION!

And now we must go back even further. 1929. My mother was a progressive woman. She was involved in the suffragette movement, was even part of the Torches of Freedom march. We used to have framed photos of her in the house, cigarette poised in hand, wearing a beautiful, green dress in the Easter Sunday Parade. Through her involvement with this, she befriended a man that we came to know as Dr. E.B Them – I didn’t know what kind of doctor he was (I think his degree was in psychology). Back then, we just called him Bernie. He was the man responsible for introducing her to the ‘pleasures’ of smoking cigarettes, so much so that she quickly became addicted, as one does. She was smoking almost a pack a day.

After some decades, my mother tried everything to quit, but had a difficult time. She sought the advice of Bernie, who introduced her to his colleague, a Dr. Thaddeus Q. They. He was an elderly man with a wine-colored Gorbachev-like birthmark. Rather than on the forehead, it was bandit-like around his eyes, making him look like he was forever ready to rob a bank. Instead, his expertise was in robbing people of memories.

Dr. They had several hypnosis sessions with my mother, some of which I got to observe when she couldn’t find a babysitter. His expertise was in manipulating our mental constructs, and for my mother, this meant presenting her with very colorful, dramatically unpleasant outcomes from smoking; that the act of bringing the cigarette to her lips would give her “furry teeth”. That cigarette smoke “smelled like a skunk’s taint”. That the act of inhaling would leave her mouth so parched that she would collapse from dehydration, die in the desert, leaving vultures to peck her eyes out and her only child (me), alone and orphaned. Dr. They would encourage her to repeat these affirmations, or “pervasive persuasions” as he put it, any time her desire to smoke occurred.

She did quit. But she would eventually die of lung cancer. And I would go on to do temp work as a teenager for Bernie/Dr. Them’s growing public relations firm in Manhattan. Hypnosis for smokers was a mere stepping stone to the powers of Dr. They. I genuinely believe that all this time, They was in cahoots with Them in an on-going secret conspiracy in both private and public sectors… to control the masses via food. I believe this because I was right in the middle of it, bouncing from job to job as a secretary witness, a note taker and Spanish interpreter to so many cover-ups… only to have had them zapped out of my brain at lavish dinner parties with Dr. They. He did not anticipate that several memories would be recovered, but let me educate your ghouli-generation with the Coles-notes version, along with tips on how you can recover the truth on your own.

First thing to consider is bacon and eggs, along with a century-old tradition of White House presidential and council member pancake meet-and-greets. All of this was clever manipulation by Bernie to increase the consumer demand for pork-based companies who hired him. He managed to manipulate several doctors to rig an anecdotal, non-scientific study that would encourage the American masses to eat “heartier” breakfasts. His influence remains to this day, having convinced us all that this is the quintessential All-American breakfast. And on the flip side, he has also used his influence to make certain foods disappear off the market.

How many of you recall the three-layer gelatin dessert, Goop-O-A-B-C? No one, right? That’s because it was the pilot project between those same fringes within our government and a now defunct food processing company to secretly inject ingredients that would both help to trigger false memories, while purging actual memories. Carcinogenic ingredients in combination with other chemicals — particularly those which created the mousse-like middle layer – had unintended and explosive results. Literally. Side effects varied in scale from sweaty palms to internal bleeding to one fatal case of spontaneous human combustion (this was settled, quietly, out of court in Syracuse, NY – I filed these documents in 1974). This “accident” was so damning that if the cause of death got out, it would not only be a blow to Goop-O-A-B-C’s image but perhaps inspire further investigations. So who did Dr. Them call to erase all evidence of the gelatin packs? To, in fact, wipe the entire product off the market and from everyone’s collective memories? That’s right – Dr. They.

Them and They re-focused their energies, tweaked the Goop-O-A-B-C formula in the late 70s and through the 80s. They found less combustible ways to keep our brains at bay; ways to control levels of a protein called elF2 alpha, ways to insert all of this into our most common foods. The end game was and remains: gluten-heavy products. That means doughnuts, deep-fried chicken wings, ice cream cones, pancakes, pasta, soy sauce, hot dogs, bologna, PB&Js, BEER! In other words – virtual everything the averge Red-blooded-American enjoys eating.

As I said, I’m an old lady now. Sarah delivers my meals on wheels. She’s kind enough to sit and talk with me, but it is only through these conversations that I realize her naiveté and the alternative facts perpetuated in her school. How could a 17 year old girl who has taken 9th grade basic geography not know that our 51st and 52nd states are Puerto Rico and Grenada? That it’s Ozzie’s Razor, Occam’s Pendulum, Wren’s Law of Motion! My tax dollars at work for this mis-education? Over my old, wrinkling gluten-free body!

Dr. Them died at the age of 103. Dr. They however, is still out there and has all of you fooled. All of this was predicted in the dystopian classic, “1985” by Orson Welles. It may have been written by a 24-year old showbiz has-been, but to use the terminology of kids today… Orson Welles was WOKE AF back in 1941, when he forewarned:

“He who controls the past, controls the future.”

It’s time to snap out of Dr. They’s controlling hypnotic trance! It’s time for everyone to wake up and get a Castro milkshake poured over their heads!

DON’T DRINK THE MILKSHAKE!

Your Imploding Cells

The Boy never got sick. Not once in his life. Until he did. Until that spider. Suddenly he was the latest media sensation, the new Boy in the Bubble. Sheltered and studied to understand what decimated his immune system. Inhaling the simplest microbe or dust could start a chain reaction. The common cold would kill him.           

Phase 1.

At first, he was outfitted with a protective suit. He liked it because it made him look like a NASA astronaut. A big round helmet, pressure relief valves and plastic tubes feeding him pure oxygen. He liked to draw, spirals and circles and squiggly lines. But the gloves for his hands were like over-sized mittens and he could barely grip a crayon.

How long would the doctors keep him here? How long did he have to exist in this sheltered cube? All he wanted to do was run outside and play with his dog.

He slept.

Phase 2.

Dad came to visit today. Good news! He had been misdiagnosed. His immune system was more resilient than they had feared. He was out of immediate danger.

He wouldn’t have to wear the spacesuit anymore. Now he could play inside the cube – his new bedroom! He could draw without the fat gloves and brush his own teeth.

How much longer before he could go home? They weren’t sure. Just a few more tests.

Phase 3.

They kept taking his cells, the ones called “stem cells” from his hip bone. He could feel it, even when they put him to sleep. It felt weird. But he healed quickly and now it was an everyday part of his routine.

There’s something special about his stem cells, only he’s not sure in a good way. He thinks maybe instead of helping people – and that’s what dad said he was here to do – it’s killing everything it touches, making other cells sick. Making them implode.

BOOM!

Phase 4.

He thinks they’re afraid of him now. The doctors won’t come inside his room. No one comes in to play with him anymore. He hasn’t seen his dad in a long time. Did they forget about him here?

 Phase 5.

A bright yellow tin cube sat in the middle of the floor. It had a hand crank, like a Jack-in-the-box. Was it a Jack-in-the-box? The Boy approached it, toed it gingerly with his foot. It was so light that it tipped over to another one of its sides.

This side had block letters on it. He was not old enough to really read, but he did know the alphabet and how to write his name. He recited the letters. M-K-C-H-I-C-K-W-I-T. These letters did not spell his name.

He picked it up. Shook it. Nothing rattled inside. It felt empty. Dare he turn the crank? What might pop out? What if it was another big, scary spider?

Curiosity killed the cat. He turned the crank once. Twice. On the third turn, the top popped open and viscous yellow smoke began to fill his own cube. It did not smell like something that he should be breathing in, but what choice did he have? The gas filled his lungs. Irritated his eyes. Irritated him.

He looked inside the tin, nothing there but that yellow stuff, and now its empty.

Phase 6.

They thought the gas had no effect on The Boy. He remained healthy. Strong. Doctors were both excited by this, but also afraid. He could tell from the tenor of their voices. They kept telling him that he was perfectly healthy. Maybe even healthier than he had ever been in his life. Invincible. Like Superman!

But they still wouldn’t let him go outside to play. This made him very mad. He began to cry. He threw a fit, a tantrum. No one considered that this might be a side effect of the gas. They sedated him and tucked him in bed.

They told him to use his words. What would make him feel better?

He wanted to destroy things, he told Them.

And so, that’s what They let him do.

An orderly entered but now he was the one dressed in a spacesuit, while the boy lay in bed in pyjamas, sulking. The orderly towed in three large, brightly colored water balloons on stands – RED, BLUE, PURPLE.

The boy was told to focus his rage onto the balloons, resting at the foot of his bed.

And so he did. The balloons reminded him of the Bibble Tiggles. When he used to have friends, they all watched that show before dinner. Now he had no one.

He stared at the blue one first. Water began to sap through the rubber, diluting in a messy puddle onto the floor. The balloon contracted and shriveled, a sad, flaccid version of its original glory.

Next came the purple balloon. As he took a deep breath in so too did the water compress inside the balloon. It burst quickly, violently with a POP!

Doing this from afar was unsatisfying. What he needed was to smash something. His choices were limited to: cameras in the ceiling, his bed, the orderly or the red balloon. He rose from the bed and lifted the balloon off its stand with two hands. He held tight to the water balloon and it phased from liquid to solid. It was now a red ice rock. The orderly backed away against the wall, right where he had intended to throw the balloon.

Why did he want to destroy things? Because they would not let him go outside to play. Why couldn’t he go outside to play? No one had given him a good reason. He wasn’t sick anymore. Not matter what they tried, they couldn’t make him sick. Where were his parents? Where was his dog? Where was everybody? Why couldn’t he leave?!

He had never actually tried. Always done what he was told. He re-directed the red water balloon from the orderly to the windowless cube door. It was always locked. It was made of steel… like Superman. He heaved the balloon as hard as he could, super-strength. It smashed into the door as intended, knocking it off its hinges.

Phase 7.

Exit this way.

Crawling Empty Full

The Boy was accustomed to insects. He’d grown up on a farm. Barnyard animals, bails of hay, stacks of pallets upon which countless cobwebs were spun. He was not afraid of it, but the feeling was not mutual. It was a defensive mechanism that no one seemed to be aware of – the tarantula rubbed its abdomen and released a cloud of tiny barbed hairs, embedding straight into The Boy’s right eye. He screamed like he had never screamed before. Flushing station, saline drops, useless. There was nothing his father could do to alleviate the burn. Urticulating Hairs. That’s what the doctor kept calling them. Potential damage of vision, he kept telling them. Permanent.

“Don’t let it take me!” followed by a high pitch shriek.

This was the third time now. They had tried every day to give him as idyllic as a childhood as possible. Which is why she didn’t understand where his sporadic, almost un-childlike outbursts kept coming from. It was as if, at random intervals, he was re-living the attack over and over.

His head laid in her lap in the backseat. She tried to soothe him, to pull his hands away from rubbing his eye and making it worse, but he was inconsolable. He would whimper and calm, then let out terrified outbursts seconds later.

“Nononononono….”

In the 5 years that she had raised him, never had she seen him in such distress. She kicked the seat in front of her, a frustrated mother.

“Drive faster!”

Her husband pumped the gas pedal. He obliterated the speed limit, not that anyone was around to notice. Wyoming was large by area, but least populous of the 50 states. They lived in the middle of nowhere, by design. For now, anyway. Their nearest neighbor was a mile and a half due east and the closest hospital was a half hour away in the opposite direction.

It was his favorite thing about where they lived. The endless expanse. She wasn’t sure how long they would stay in the Midwest. But while they were here, he kept using some hockey expression. We need to give our boy room to play. Where they could pitch a tent in their own backyard, even if it was only twenty feet away from the house.

That was the scene of the crime. Their boy had just turned six, he had a couple friends over. Joseph was a little dim. He cried over everything. Adam was a thoughtful one, but a terror on sugar. Her son was a little mischievous, a little strange, a little…. off. But definitely the smart one. Each boy had their own plastic lantern and sleeping bag for their backyard camping excursion, stomachs full of birthday cake.

She and her husband left them to tell each other scary bedtime stories in the tent, while they cleaned up in the kitchen. Unbeknownst to them, the boys had come across the tarantula burrowed in their field, taken one of her mason jars and brought it into the tent with them.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“What if it bites us in our sleep?” asked Joey, still tentative around it. He had cut eye and mouth holes from a brown paper bag and had it over his head, like a protective helmet. Joey looked dumb, but the birthday boy stopped himself from saying so.

“Or crawls into our mouths, lays eggs and we puke out baby tarantulas?” added Adam.

“Do we even know if it’s a girl spider or boy spider?”

“My dad says that spiders should be more afraid of us than the other way around.” The birthday boy supplied as further reassurance. “We’re too big. Make too much noise. You know, we snore and stuff.”

“I can see that.” Adam agreed. “We’re like big rocks to them, part of the scenery they gotta climb over to get to their web houses.”

Emboldened, Adam unscrewed the jar lid and tilted it, inviting the tarantula to crawl up his arm. “Are you going to eat me, or am I going to eat you?”

“Watch it, guys.” wavered Joey, “What if this one is like, a radioactive spider?”

“Then, awesome. I’ll be able to crawl up buildings and shoot sticky gunk from my wrists.”

The birthday boy extended an upturned hand, wrist up – as if daring the spider to bite him there. Adam transferred the spider over. Knowing it would make Joey squirm, the birthday boy brought his face right to the level of the eight-legged furry creature. Up close, it looked like an alien from another planet. Maybe it was. Maybe it had come from Mars and had something to tell us.

They had a staring contest. Who would blink first? What did he look like to something with eight eyes?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The tarantula stared its captor down. Air pushed in and out of two holes below its eyes. It could be crushed at any moment.

“What do I look like to you?”

“A big, vibrating boulder.”

“Are you hungry?”

“No. I can live two years without needing to eat.”

“Cool!”

“Why do you imprison me? It demeans both of us.”

“Well, you aren’t in the jar anymore.”

“I’m still in the clutches of your grasp.”

“Tarantula, what do you want to know from the People of Planet Earth?

“I do not think you are of this Planet. I think that you might be from mine.”

Big Boulder vibrated and bristled at this, did not appear like this answer. He leaned forward, threateningly close. Time to plan the escape.

“Are you afraid of me?” was Big Boulder’s final question.

“Yes. Why aren’t you afraid of me?”

The tarantula re-positioned in its captor’s palm, then kicked its barbs from its abdomen at the big boulder’s eye, creating a cloud of prickly irritation. The hairs pierced in and hooked onto the big boulder’s pupil. Big Boulder recoiled immediately, screaming. The other boulders recoiled and screamed in empathy and fear.

The tarantula made a hasty retreat out of the tent and back into the grass.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The hairs were too small to pull out without permanent damage. It was too early to know, said the doctor. Keep him under observation, make sure he’s treated for the right venom. The tarantula had destroyed his vision. Would he be blind for the rest of his life? Why then, could he still see, even with his eyes closed?

Why did he keep seeing a reflection of himself? Only with eight eyes? Eight almond-shaped black eyes. And that voice calling for him. It was not his mom or his dad but it had the same authoritative tone. It was the tarantula’s.

“Birthday boulder, it’s time to come home.”

the Resistance has landed

“Hello,” said the knockout mouse. “Welcome to our maze to amaze. We are on a hunt for extraordinary humans to join us. We know you enjoy a good challenge. Would you like to dig deeper?”

The Boy could sense the message hidden within. He was afraid, but inherently curious, and curiosity knocked out the fear.

“The Truth awaits you.” Knockout mouse continued, “Here is a backhoe. It will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting you when you make it all the way through.”

The Soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March…

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the map Is not the territory

did you do your history homework tonight? how about all of your french verb conjugations, @Rever? where is your accent circonflexe? present, future, imperfect. je rêve, rêverai, rêvais. cette message est pour vous. n’oubliez pas le Refus Absurde. faire un rêve, @Rever! Ceci n’est pas une pipe!

and what have you learned about the philosophy of science? Of a certain man’s death in 1626, which came from pneumonia after he sought to discover how long a chicken would remain preserved if it was stuffed with snow?

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