nosleep

I found a laptop in a hidden tunnel - (Part 2)

I found a laptop in a hidden tunnel - (Part 2)

Alright… a lot of shit's happened since this. Nothing that I would consider good, though.

For simplicity, I’ll split them into what I would consider three distinct developments.

The ongoing investigation Weird shit happening with Jeff The other videos

Here goes nothing.

Regarding the investigation, the rabbit hole just keeps getting bigger, and I don’t anticipate finding any way out any time soon.

I’ve been keeping in contact with one of my buddies – Colt – an officer who's been working on this. But the things he’s telling me… I can't make sense of them.

Apparently, the officers that went missing were simply never found. Colt and his team went down the other branch of the tunnel to search, obviously. But what they found made half of the guys quit right then and there.

They came across a crudely dug hole. Maybe 3 meters (I used to live in Canada, metric just makes more sense), in diameter. Supposedly, it appeared so abruptly that he nearly fell in himself. Well, it's pretty obvious what happened, right?

But here’s where shit starts getting bizarre again. They tried illuminating the thing. But no matter how much and strong the lights that they used were… it simply wouldn’t penetrate the darkness. At one point, they started thinking that it was just some kind of black substance staining the ground. But when they tested it out by dropping down coins... they went through. And they never made a sound.

It was a hole, indeed. And one that didn’t seem to end. But the insanity-inducing shit didn’t end there. Allegedly, there were dusty footprints on the other side. So… at least some of them didn’t fall in?

They created a makeshift path over the hole, attempting to get through. The guy who went over first – their superior, walked for about five seconds before freezing. He seemed to be… looking at something. Out of nowhere, he flipped shit and scrambled back, to the side they'd come from. Before they could stop him, he destroyed the path.

“That’s a dead fucking end!” Was all that he said before basically sprinting away. Everybody was so stunned by this that they simply followed suit. He was supposed to be giving the orders, after all.

After that, he demanded a transfer. When that was denied, he simply quit. He never told anybody what he actually saw. And nobody’s gone down there ever since.

However, Colt’s been hearing rumors. Supposedly, government agents have been popping in and out of the station, asking obscure questions. They may have already gone down there, farther than Colt and his team did. But he doesn’t know.

That’s where the investigation stands at the moment. No questions answered, but a fuckton more needing to be asked.

As for Jeff… I have no idea. Implicitly, I knew it had something to do with the shadow figure that I saw. I just didn’t want it to.

I’d decided that watching the other videos was the only opportunity that I had to scrape together any kind of answer. But when I went over to his place and prepared to knock… his door was already halfway open.

I put my guard up. Moving painfully slow, I grabbed my pistol and made my way in. I swept the place, preparing myself for anything. But there was nothing. The only place that I couldn’t get into was Jeff’s bedroom. It was locked. Actually… I think it might’ve been barricaded shut.

I knocked and knocked, all while calling out and telling him that it was me. But he never answered. I knew that he was in there, though. I could hear somebody moving around.

It was fruitless, though. I considered simply breaking the door down. But that could've been disastrous. I didn’t know where Jeff’s mental state was. There was a chance that doing this would get my torso blown off.

Nevertheless, the laptop was still open, sitting on his kitchen counter.

Here’s where the other videos come in. Well... only of them, actually. You'll see why.

I was feeling paranoid as hell, so I made sure that I had my back to a wall, and a clear view of every entrance and hallway in front of me. I also didn’t let go of my gun. After telling myself to calm down, I clicked on the next video.

“Investigation”

Just like train to oblivion, it started out shaky as hell. It remained frenetic, both sights and sounds, for about a minute. When it finally focused, it became obvious that we were in front of what looked like a decrepit apartment building. It panned around, revealing a multitude of police cars, piercing the night with their red and blue lights.

But… there were also SWAT vans. It also became evident that this was actual filmed footage, unlike train to oblivion. I still don't know how that was possible. The camera turned to face a man in SWAT gear, who nodded.

“It’s on there?”

“Yeah… yeah, think so.” The man behind the camera responds. I assumed that it must’ve been mounted on his helmet or something.

“Why the fuck do we have to film this?” He asks.

The other SWAT shrugs his shoulders. “I don’t make these fucking rules.”

Right after he says this, there was a distortion in the frame. Things became buggy for a second, before the video seemed to cut to a point where they were already in the building. The place looked like hell. Dirty walls and floors inside a decaying foundation. I couldn’t imagine that it was a place anybody actually lived in.

There were about seven of them, all climbing the stairwell. There was also a sound coming from nowhere obvious, although the source must’ve been one of the top floors.

And that fucking sound… It’s hard to even describe. Like some kind of high pitched croaking, if you can even imagine that.

The climbing goes on for a few minutes, before one of those distortion cuts happen again. This time, they were in a hallway, standing in front of a door. The croaking sound was deafening at this point. Something big must’ve happened between the cuts, because there were only four of them now. One of them was even missing a hand.

The man with the camera was desperately pounding and kicking at the door. But no matter how hard he tried, it simply wouldn’t budge. Eventually, one of the other guys started screaming at the top of his lungs in what sounded like sheer frustration. He stood back, inserting an M203 into his rifle attachment. Everybody else followed suit and got out of the way. The video distorts again just as he’s about to launch it.

When we cut back, the man was on his knees, weeping erratically. The croaking was also still there, loud as ever. The camera pans and we see the door. Despite evident signs of an explosion taking place, it’s still fully intact.

The last few seconds of the clip consisted of something breaking through the ceiling. An awfully long, dark red arm reaches down and picks up the weeping man, pulling him upwards. That’s where it ended.

I barely noticed the cold sweat dripping down my forehead.

What the fuck was this?

I got up and paced around, contemplating whether or not to stay. Whether or not I was ready to keep watching. I really didn’t want to. Inexplicably though… it felt like I had to.

But as it turns out, that decision wasn’t up to me. I heard a loud BANG coming from Jeff’s door only a few moments later. It was coming from the inside. I went over to take a look. But before I could even call out Jeff’s name, another bang came through. This time, it made a crack. Another bang and there was a hole. For a brief moment, I caught a glimpse of what had made it. And then I got the fuck out of there.

I suppose that you could call it a void with some kind of a form. A solid shadow in the shape of a man. I would've been perfectly okay with not finding out anything more.

But again… I don’t think that decision’s up to me. I took the laptop. But I don't know what that means for me. Like I said, I’m not getting out of this any time soon.

Oh my god, please post more ! GIVE US MOAR !

Omg I didn’t think it was possible to want an update even more than I did from the first part, but apparently it is. What is this narrative wizardry??

The biggest mystery is still how the first video was filmed

I love this series! Can't wait to read more!!

Will someone please take 1 million dollars from me?

Will someone please take 1 million dollars from me?

It started with a dollar I found in my pocket at work. It was my lucky day, finding some cash. The dollar was normal except for a bit of writing on the top. It looked handwritten and said:

“Give this cash away today, or death and disease will come your way.”

I definitely did not write that but it didn’t really bother me. People write all sorts of weird stuff on money. I once got a twenty with a phone number on it for a sex hotline. I shrugged it off and went back to work. The job was busy and frustrating, as usual. I got paid so little for putting up with so much shit. Don’t EVER become a telemarketer.

I left a little late and walked to the bus. On my way I saw two homeless men, one asleep and one sitting with a cup. I remembered my dollar and grabbed it out of my pocket, slipping it into the man’s cup.

“Bless you,” he said gratefully. I smiled and was about to turn away when he shouted, “Oh hell no! I don’t want this!” He balled up the dollar and threw it back at me.

“What the hell?” I picked up the dollar. “I was just trying to help you.”

“That shit isn’t help! I don’t want the Charity Man’s money. You keep that cursed shit.” He got up and walked away from me, nearly running.

I smoothed out the dollar. That was a weird reaction to say the least. I sighed and placed the dollar next to the sleeping man. At least he would benefit from my generosity.

The rest of the day went by as normal. I called my kids (who live with my ex) and wished them a good night. Little Joey and Julia. I tried to work on my busted car but it was fruitless. I had intended on paying some bills but my child support just got taken out of my account, so I was down to my last $100. I didn’t mind paying it but it sure would be nice to make enough to pay the bills on time. I went to sleep without dinner.

The next morning I woke up at 5am like always and caught the bus to work. A customer screamed at me for a good twenty minutes and that was just before 8. I took a break and reached in my jacket for some cigarettes. I pulled out the carton and a $100 bill fell out. It took me a moment to realize it came from my jacket. I picked it up.

“Give this cash away today, or death and disease will come your way.”

Now I was officially creeped out. I knew for a fact I didn’t have that money in my pocket. Who keeps hundreds on them anyway? Plus the creepy note…I decided to go looking for that homeless guy. Maybe he could tell me more.

I found him on a street corner, panhandling. He was a white guy in his forties with camouflage pants and an unruly beard. He thanked everyone who walked by whether or not they gave him money. I approached him slowly. When he saw me his face went pale.

“I don’t want your cursed money, man,” he said sternly.

“I know. But I found some more of it and I don’t know what it is.” I held out the bill. He studied it and shook his head like a disappointed father.

“You’ve been touched by the Charity Man.”

“Who is that?”

“Never seen him. Don’t know if anyone has. All I know is that if you find one of his dollars, he’s got you. You have to give away everything he sends you in 24 hours or else something bad is gonna happen. And he won’t stop. Tons of guys on the street got fucked up by the Charity Man.”

I laughed a little. “You’re telling me some ghost guy is giving people money to give away?”

He stared at me, humorless. “I don’t know if he’s a ghost or a demon or whatever. But if you don’t give that money away you’re gonna regret it.” He took a step back from me. “Now leave me alone. You fucked up my buddy yesterday and I’m not going to let you do it to me.”

I went back to work more confused than before. This couldn’t be real, right? I stared at the bill as angry people yelled at me. Nothing made sense. In truth, I could really use $100. But I didn’t feel right about it.

On my way to the bus I stopped in a local coffee shop and ordered a regular. I slipped the bill into the tip jar. The barista saw me and her mouth fell open. “Oh my god, thank you!” She told me the coffee was on her.

I thought about the Charity Man all night. Was he real? Was he just some weird entity that wanted to be generous? Or was this really a curse? I forgot to call my kids and my ex texted me something nasty. She liked to call me a loser and a charity case. I turned my phone off and closed my eyes.

The next day I woke up to find a paper bag on my table. I hesitated to approach it. One the brown paper was written, “Give this cash away today, or death and disease will come your way.” I swore and opened the bag. Ten one hundred dollar bills were neatly stacked inside, the saying written on each. $1000. That could pay my bills. Hell, it could get my car working again.

I didn’t want to risk it. I walked by my neighbor’s place and stuck the bag inside his mailbox. He had a little girl, maybe he could use the money.

I’ll admit, it felt sort of good to give the money away. This must have been what rich people felt like when they give to the poor. My workday wasn’t that bad and I thought maybe things were changing for me.

When I got back to my house my neighbor was outside with a ton of his family, grilling and drinking. “Eli!” he called to me. “I came into a little money and we’re celebrating! You want a brat?”

I grinned. “Nah, but you enjoy. You deserve it.” He lifted his beer to cheer to me and I went home.

I went to sleep happy. I think I had finally done what the Charity Man wanted. I gave the money to someone who really enjoyed it. Who could use it. I was sure it was done now. I could back to my boring broke life.

But I didn’t. Because the next day, in the sink of my bathroom, was another paper bag. This one was much bigger. On it’s front was scrawled, “Give this cash away today, or death and disease will come your way.” Inside the bag was $100,000. I skipped work and spent the morning counting it. My breath was heavy and I was shaking as I placed each bill down. I didn’t do enough. Maybe that guy was right – it wouldn’t ever end.

Suddenly I realized something. How to stop the cycle. I licked my lips. Fuck this curse, I was going to spend it all in one day. Me. I NEEDED the money anyway. This fucked up thing that was happening to me must be stopped. Maybe this would do it.

First I paid my rent for the next 12 months. Then I paid off my credit cards, my debts, and my bills. I still had $50,000. I went to the dealership and bought a new car, cash in hand. Now I was down to $20,000. I called up my bank and set up two college funds, one for each of my kids. $10,000 each.

I even drove across town to my ex’s place so I could see the kids and tell them the great news. Joey wrapped his pudgy arms around my neck and Julia just giggled, not sure what a college fund was. They were onlky 8 and 6 after all. Stacey, my ex, wasn’t happy to see me but she had to at least appreciate what I had done. I had never felt so good. Debt free, new car, and happy family. This was my chance to change everything. I was a new man.

That night I spread out in my bed, joy overflowing. “Take that, Charity Man,” I whispered. I swore a shadow moved across the ceiling as I fell asleep.

The next day there was no bag waiting for me. I was elated. I beat the system. Maybe this is what the Charity Man wanted all along. I triumphantly strode to my car, ready to quit my job and find something better. Money would no longer rule my life.

That’s when my phone rang. It my ex. I rolled my eyes but I knew I had to pick it up. “What’s up, Stacey?”

“Eli…you need to come over.”

“What’s wrong?” Her voice was shaking. I had never heard her so scared.

“I need you. Please. The cops are here. I have to go, but please come.” The phone went dead.

A pit in my stomach grew. My confidence shrunk. I drove as fast as I could to Stacey’s. Four cop cars blocked off the road. An ambulance sat in the driveway. I ran out of my car. Stacey was sitting on the front stoop.

“Sir, this is an active crime scene,” a cop stood in front of me.

“My wife…my ex wife is there. My kids live here.”

The cops raised his eyebrows. “Those were your kids?”

“Were?”

Stacey saw me and launched into a run, falling into my arms in tears. “I don’t know what happened. He never showed any signs. I…I…”

“What happened?” I took her by the shoulders and stared into her eyes.

She sniffed. “It’s Joey. He killed Julia.”

It felt like all of the blood left my body. I was cold and empty. Stacey slowly told the story for me. She walked into their shared bedroom to find Julia hanging from the light in the middle of the room. Joey was hitting her with his baseball bat. He was all smiles. He said his new friend said Julia was a piñata, full of candy.

“What did he call this new friend?” I asked, quivering.

“The Chair Man? The Chair City Man? I couldn’t understand him.” She touched my face. “They arrested our baby.”

I spent the day with Stacey, in and out of the police station. I was asked to identify Julia even though we all knew it was her. My baby was blue and purple. She was hideous on the metal table, eyes bulging. I got to see Joey for only a few minutes in between his interviews. He was seeing a psychologist and a social worker, all while handcuffed.

When I entered the room he beamed. “Daddy!” He went to hug me but the officer stopped him.

“No touching,” he said.

I fell to my knees. “Joey, why did you do that to your sister? Didn’t you love her?”

“I love Julia,” he responded, a little confused. “We were playing piñata. Julia tried herself up and I was the one who got the candy. We were the greedy kids who wanted all the sweets! The Charity Man said it would be fun.”

“What did this man look like?”

He locked eyes with me. “He looked like you, Daddy. Exactly like you.”

I got home a little after midnight. I didn’t turn the lights on, I just wanted to go to sleep. I wanted this to be a dream.

I thought I had ended the cycle, but I had actually played right into his game. I got greedy. It was all my fault.

I didn’t want to wake up. The reality of yesterday was still fresh in my mind. I stumbled into the kitchen. I felt something beneath my foot. It was a one hundred dollar bill. I rubbed my eyes and saw that my entire kitchen had been strewn with them. Hundreds of bills in every crevice. Each with the same god damn writing.

“Give this cash away today, or death and disease will come your way.”

It’s noon now. I counted the money and it is exactly one million dollars. I have 12 hours to get rid of it. Please, someone take this from me. I live right outside of Austin. I will drive however long to give this to you. Please.

I can’t lose anything else.

Just keep dumping whatever he gives you at churches around the city. In a bag with ‘this is for you’ .... or call The secret service say you found a million dollars and you think it might be drug money...they will take it off you, do the same next day, and the next, they’ll put you under investigation and watch you. The secret service will find the charity man...

When you give the money away does the curse effect the receiver? The homeless man refused it, but the neighbor obviously spent the money.

Maybe someone else has been cursed with the money and they’re sneaking into your house and dropping it off?

And finally the scp foundation would join him and help

honestly scp needs the money, they'll just take all of it.

I found a laptop in a hidden tunnel. I can't understand what was on it.

I found a laptop in a hidden tunnel. I can't understand what was on it.

I suppose "found" isn't exactly the right word. It's a bit complicated. You'll see what I mean.

I'm a Cop based in eastern Nevada. Been one for about 12 years. Experienced a lot of things during that period that I could've gone lifetimes without.

But everything that I've seen up until this point - as sick and twisted as they might've been... at least they've made some kind of sense, or yielded some kind of logical conclusion.

But this... I just don't fucking know.

The call came through late at night. A panicked-sounding man was breathing heavily into the phone, saying something along the lines of:

"We need help, it's out, they let it out."

It was hard to say for sure. He was barely coherent. After a few minutes, the line goes dead. We trace the call to a small shack in the middle of a forest on the other side of town.

We found a cell phone that looked like it'd been smashed, lying in the grass a few feet away from the entrance. And no man.

We go into the shack and search around, but find nothing but a small stool. We scoped the place inside-out, but there seemed to be nothing. Eventually, one of my partners - a 240 lb beefcake named Jeff, plopped down onto the stool in frustration.

As soon as he did this, the entire floor under it gave way. He didn't fall too far, thankfully. Only about four meters. But he'd uncovered something... truly bizarre.

It was a man-made tunnel. Undergoing the standard protocol and taking extreme precautions, we jumped down.

Here was the disconcerting part... the tunnel went both ways. In other words, this was not the starting point. We decided to send four guys one way and three the other. I was part of the three that went backwards from where we'd initially broken through.

From the illumination of the flashlights, the tunnel seemed to be pretty barren. Rough, muddy walls and ceilings, along with wooden supports about every half-meter.

It got me thinking who the hell would go through the process of making this place.

Eventually, we came across what appears to be a ladder descending further downwards. I could sense the hesitation in the air. This was not what we'd expected.

We all stood there for a second, not wanting to admit to each other that we really didn't want to go down there.

But then we heard the scream. Ear-piercing. It wasn't faint, nor was it distant. It sounded like it was coming from only a few meters below us.

Fueled by a sudden adrenaline rush, I decided to go down first. The climb was short, only taking me about 15 seconds.

I found myself in what I can only describe as a small computer lab. Dirty concrete floors and walls, but there were four monitors, all displaying an error screen, all hooked up to what I thought was some kind of power source.

But I can't say for sure. I was never a computer guy.

Actually, not all of them had the error screen. One out of the four had its screen smashed to bits.

Suddenly, we heard another scream. We turned our attention to a half-open door in the far corner of the room.

For a brief moment, I saw a dark, shadowy figure move past. The screaming stopped as abruptly as it started, being replaced by the sounds of something dragging on the floor.

We barged into the room, guns drawn.

But it was about the size of a closet, and there was nothing there. Well, not nothing.

There was another tunnel, smaller and a lot more crude than the one we'd first entered. It led straight vertically down. We shone our flashlights through it, but were met with only black.

Safe to say, we didn't pursue whatever had presumably just gone down there. We were all beyond petrified.

I could hear hearts beating and rapid, scattered breaths as we sprinted back out and up into the shack again. When we did, we were alone.

We waited in stunned horror for the other officers to come back out. But they never did.

Now, I know that cops are supposed to be the bravest of the brave. But at that moment... we simply couldn't move.

Eventually, we just called it in. Backup arrived, and we told them what had happened. Their collective faces morphed into one of abject confusion. But I could tell that they were horrified just listening to our accounts.

I decided to take a break from work. They allowed it. In fact, they never even followed up and told me what had happened. At the time, I thought that was a good thing. But I could never sleep. It's not even that I was having nightmares. I was just too terrified to let my brain rest.

Even with my wife lying at my side, I still felt a vague, perpetual sensation of danger.

I needed some kind of closure. I decided to go into the station and ask around myself.

I knocked on the Captain's door, and he let me in. The first thing that I saw when I entered was his expression. I'd never seen him look so terrified before.

"You want to know what happened, don't you?"

I nod. He lets out a dry, humorless laugh.

"Well...I don't know." Was his response.

He stopped speaking after that, instead simply staring at me in silence for about a minute before I finally decided to leave. I was too shaken by this to discuss the issue with anybody else.

That encounter certainly didn't help my case.

I went back home and sat on my couch, going through marathons upon marathons of every comedy movie I could find on Netflix.

This helped, but only a little.

And then I got a text from Jeff.

"Come see this. Right now."

I could only assume it had to do with that room. I thought about it for a few hours before finally making my way over to his apartment.

I needed some kind of closure. I needed to take any chance of finding it.

As soon as he invited me in, I noticed that he had the same look of indistinct dread that the Captain had. But he was a little more willing to talk.

After a quick and somewhat reserved hello, he gestured to a laptop sitting on a table behind him.

"What the hell is that?" I asked him.

He lets out a long exhale before answering.

"Recovered. From that room in the tunnel."

I thought back to the time that we were down there. I did remember seeing a laptop on one of the tables. I guess this was it.

"How do you have it?" Was my follow up question.

This time, his response was simple.

"I just took it."

"Why?"

He looks away for a second, his demeanor turning contemplative.

"Something's gotta make sense here. Something that they're not telling us."

Silently, I agree.

I asked him what he'd found on it.

"Five video files." He says. "All 5-10 minutes long."

"Have you watched them yet?"

"Only one."

"Things making more sense?"

He shakes his head before sighing. "No. But I think you should see it anyway."

He leaves the room to grab me a cup of coffee before sitting back down at the table.

I open up the video folder and see the names of the five clips:

"Train to oblivion"

"Investigation"

"Fireworks"

"Triangle"

and

"The obscure man"

"Watch Train to oblivion" Jeff says.

I take a few moments to think about it before ultimately obliging.

This was better than nothing, I thought to myself.

I press play. This is what I saw:

It starts out with what I assume is handheld footage. As expected, we were on a train. However... there was something immediately wrong. The person behind the camera - it sounded like a woman, was near-hyperventilating. She was running down a narrow aisle, while lights flickered above her. In addition to that, it looked as if they were in a tunnel, with the windows only showing darkness.

As she ran, she kept opening the cabin doors and peering inside. Every one of them had people. Lifeless people, with limp faces contorted into inhuman expressions. Mouths stretched out way too far, eyes sunken inwards and noses turned completely sideways.

At some point, she tries opening a door, but it seems to be locked. We hear hushed whispering coming from behind it as she starts banging on it, begging to be let in.

This is interrupted by heavy footsteps coming from somewhere to her side. She quickly turns her head, facing what looks like 3, extremely tall figures about fifty meters away.

She shrieks and starts running again. The video goes on like this for a while. Her just sprinting around the tight space and screaming, while we see intermittent glimpses of the figures following her. However, it wasn't until the end where we got a good look at them.

She finds a bathroom and runs into it, locking it from the inside. She sits there, whimpering for a while before the door starts rattling. Her screams become deafening as it finally breaks down.

I nearly scream myself when I see what did it.

Tall, pale... things wearing what looked like dirty suits. But it was their faces that got me. I don't even think that I can call them faces, in all honesty.

They were just... swirls of skin, if that even makes any sense. Like a pale of vortex of flesh. One of them reaches out a bony hand and grabs the woman's wrist. A brief struggle ensues that ends with us facing the mirror. The woman's face was now twisted into the same horrendous expressions that we'd seen on countless other passengers just before.

We hear a loud horn blare before the video finally ends.

But... here's the weird part. Not that all of this hasn't been weird so far. This just added another level of horror on what we'd already experienced.

In the mirror's reflection, there was no indication that the woman was holding anything to film with. No camera, no phone, nothing. In fact, her hands were down to her sides. And the creatures sure as hell weren't filming.

I remained in downright silence for what felt like an hour after watching this. Jeff said nothing, just staring at me.

I didn't know what to make of this. Eventually, I decided to get up and leave. Jeff didn't protest this.

I'm back home now. There's no clear solution here. It's obvious that my sleeping woes aren't going to end. Not until I figure something out.

But... that seems like a daunting task. And one that I don't think I'm prepared to handle right now.

I think that the best course of action may be to go back and watch the rest of the videos. Surely, there's some clue as to what happened within them.

However... one thing is pushing me away from that decision. As I was getting ready to leave Jeff's, I saw something out his kitchen window.

There was... a figure, standing behind a street sign. Actually, it was barely a figure at all. It looked more like some kind of shadow. And I think it was looking right at me.

My suggestion- send your family on a nice vacation. Make sure they’re not at risk. While they’re gone, Home Alone the shit out of your place and watch the videos with a loaded shotgun. A shotgun seemed to work on strange suits for a friend of mine who works as a barista.

Agreed, more please I'm scared and intrigued.

I feel it already is.

OP's Factory series mentioned creatures that initially appeared to be men in suits. This may be a sequel from another perspective.

The fact that nobody mentioned that the creatures looks like slender man sends a little unease on me.

I found maternity clothes in my closet. But I’ve never been pregnant.

I found maternity clothes in my closet. But I’ve never been pregnant.Packing was going well.

Until I found the maternity clothes.

They were folded neatly, sitting in the back of my closet. Two pairs of pants, three shirts. At first I thought they were my sister Amanda’s – but when I checked the tags, they were Large. My size, not hers.

I brought them out and examined them. They looked like my style – short-sleeved, hues of purple and blue. Maybe a gift I bought for someone, and forgot to give? Or maybe I just thought they looked cute, and bought them even though I wasn’t pregnant… But maternity styles aren't exactly flattering on someone who isn't pregnant.

I shrugged, threw them into one of the boxes, and continued packing.

But then I found something else. Shoved in the corner of the closet, under some blankets and old dresses, was a toy fire truck.

I picked it up, turned it over in my hands. It looked vaguely familiar, with the little yellow ladder and painted blue windows. Maybe it’s Brayden’s? Amanda, her husband, and their one-year-old son often came over to visit. Maybe they’d left it behind.

Shrugging, I slowly lowered it into the box.

Riiiing.

“Hey, Mom,” I said, layering clothes on top of the box.

“Hi, Rosie. We’ll be there in about twenty minutes. How’s packing going?”

“Pretty good,” I said, folding another shirt on my lap. “Actually, do you remember if Brayden has a toy fire truck? I just found it in the closet, and I think it’s his.”

A strange silence came from the other end.

“Mom? You still there?”

“Yeah. We’ll see you soon. Bye!”

Click.

When they finally made it to the apartment, they were eerily silent. Amanda was scratching at her neck, like she always does when she’s nervous. Eliot held Brayden, refusing to make eye contact with me.

“I need to tell you something,” Mom said, sitting at the table. The grim look on her face made my heart start to pound.

“Is that why you were so weird on the phone?”

She nodded. Then she sat down, and with a shuddering sigh, said: “That little fire truck… belonged to your son.”

“What?” I burst into laughter. “Mom, what are you talking about? I don’t have a kid.”

“No, but you did. You gave birth to a little boy, last year.” Mom pulled out a crumpled tissue and brought it to her eyes. I glanced at Amanda and Eliot. Neither met my gaze; both stared at Brayden, pretending he needed attention.

“When he was about three months old, you took him to the grocery store. On the way back, you got into an accident. You were badly injured, and he…”

He died?

Mom fell into quiet sobs. After several seconds of silence, Amanda spoke. “Dr. Albright said you have retrograde amnesia. When we realized you didn’t remember him, and saw that you were happy… we decided to leave it that way.”

“You’ve been lying to me this whole time?”

They nodded.

“I had a little boy… that I can’t even remember?”

“We were just trying to protect you,” Amanda said. Mom nodded.

I didn’t reply. I just sat there, in shock, staring into space.

And then I felt something on my leg.

I looked down. Brayden was standing there, holding the truck. With a pointed finger, he lifted the little ladder up, then smacked it down again.

Smack, smack.

I jolted up.

Images shot through my head. Cloudy and vague, in disjointed pieces, but that was it – I remembered something*. I was lifting the ladder, snapping it down, showing him how it worked*…

Smack, smack.

And then Mom walked in, carrying a bowl of oatmeal.

“Oh, Mom, thanks – but I’m not hungry.”

“Come on, it’s good for your milk supply.”

I took a few bites. And then I felt sleepy – so sleepy. “Why don’t you take a nap?” Mom said. “I’ll watch him. You get your rest.”

And when I woke up…

I was in the hospital, and he was gone.

My head snapped up. I stared at the three of them, my heart pounding.

And that’s when I realized it. Mom’s eyes were dry. Her sobbing sounds were the same rehearsed gasp of air, the same weak whimper of grief.

“You’re not crying,” I said.

Mom looked up at me. “What?”

“You’re faking it.”

Her eyes faded to anger. “Ridiculous! What kind of a daughter –”

Smack!

“What kind of a daughter does that to her mother? Ridiculous!” She was talking to Amanda in the kitchen, unaware I was standing right outside the door. “It’s an embarrassment! What am I supposed to tell Grandma?”

A loud clink, as Amanda set down her cup. “And it’s not fair. Eliot and I have been trying for six months. Nothing. Then Rose goes to a party, fucks some random guy she doesn’t even know, and – bam! – gets pregnant. I’m the one that deserves a baby. Not her.”

“I agree,” Mom replied, her voice taking on a strange, light tone. “That should be your baby. Not hers.”

I stared at the three of them. Acting, pretending like they cared.

Then I grabbed Brayden. Hoisted him onto my hip, held him tight against my chest.

And then I ran out of the apartment. I heard their yells echoing behind me – of confusion, of realization; but I kept running.

Brayden squealed with delight in my arms, still holding the little fire truck.
I found maternity clothes in my closet. But I’ve never been pregnant.

Packing was going well.

Until I found the maternity clothes.

They were folded neatly, sitting in the back of my closet. Two pairs of pants, three shirts. At first I thought they were my sister Amanda’s – but when I checked the tags, they were Large. My size, not hers.

I brought them out and examined them. They looked like my style – short-sleeved, hues of purple and blue. Maybe a gift I bought for someone, and forgot to give? Or maybe I just thought they looked cute, and bought them even though I wasn’t pregnant… But maternity styles aren't exactly flattering on someone who isn't pregnant.

I shrugged, threw them into one of the boxes, and continued packing.

But then I found something else. Shoved in the corner of the closet, under some blankets and old dresses, was a toy fire truck.

I picked it up, turned it over in my hands. It looked vaguely familiar, with the little yellow ladder and painted blue windows. Maybe it’s Brayden’s? Amanda, her husband, and their one-year-old son often came over to visit. Maybe they’d left it behind.

Shrugging, I slowly lowered it into the box.

Riiiing.

“Hey, Mom,” I said, layering clothes on top of the box.

“Hi, Rosie. We’ll be there in about twenty minutes. How’s packing going?”

“Pretty good,” I said, folding another shirt on my lap. “Actually, do you remember if Brayden has a toy fire truck? I just found it in the closet, and I think it’s his.”

A strange silence came from the other end.

“Mom? You still there?”

“Yeah. We’ll see you soon. Bye!”

Click.

When they finally made it to the apartment, they were eerily silent. Amanda was scratching at her neck, like she always does when she’s nervous. Eliot held Brayden, refusing to make eye contact with me.

“I need to tell you something,” Mom said, sitting at the table. The grim look on her face made my heart start to pound.

“Is that why you were so weird on the phone?”

She nodded. Then she sat down, and with a shuddering sigh, said: “That little fire truck… belonged to your son.”

“What?” I burst into laughter. “Mom, what are you talking about? I don’t have a kid.”

“No, but you did. You gave birth to a little boy, last year.” Mom pulled out a crumpled tissue and brought it to her eyes. I glanced at Amanda and Eliot. Neither met my gaze; both stared at Brayden, pretending he needed attention.

“When he was about three months old, you took him to the grocery store. On the way back, you got into an accident. You were badly injured, and he…”

He died?

Mom fell into quiet sobs. After several seconds of silence, Amanda spoke. “Dr. Albright said you have retrograde amnesia. When we realized you didn’t remember him, and saw that you were happy… we decided to leave it that way.”

“You’ve been lying to me this whole time?”

They nodded.

“I had a little boy… that I can’t even remember?”

“We were just trying to protect you,” Amanda said. Mom nodded.

I didn’t reply. I just sat there, in shock, staring into space.

And then I felt something on my leg.

I looked down. Brayden was standing there, holding the truck. With a pointed finger, he lifted the little ladder up, then smacked it down again.

Smack, smack.

I jolted up.

Images shot through my head. Cloudy and vague, in disjointed pieces, but that was it – I remembered something*. I was lifting the ladder, snapping it down, showing him how it worked*…

Smack, smack.

And then Mom walked in, carrying a bowl of oatmeal.

“Oh, Mom, thanks – but I’m not hungry.”

“Come on, it’s good for your milk supply.”

I took a few bites. And then I felt sleepy – so sleepy. “Why don’t you take a nap?” Mom said. “I’ll watch him. You get your rest.”

And when I woke up…

I was in the hospital, and he was gone.

My head snapped up. I stared at the three of them, my heart pounding.

And that’s when I realized it. Mom’s eyes were dry. Her sobbing sounds were the same rehearsed gasp of air, the same weak whimper of grief.

“You’re not crying,” I said.

Mom looked up at me. “What?”

“You’re faking it.”

Her eyes faded to anger. “Ridiculous! What kind of a daughter –”

Smack!

“What kind of a daughter does that to her mother? Ridiculous!” She was talking to Amanda in the kitchen, unaware I was standing right outside the door. “It’s an embarrassment! What am I supposed to tell Grandma?”

A loud clink, as Amanda set down her cup. “And it’s not fair. Eliot and I have been trying for six months. Nothing. Then Rose goes to a party, fucks some random guy she doesn’t even know, and – bam! – gets pregnant. I’m the one that deserves a baby. Not her.”

“I agree,” Mom replied, her voice taking on a strange, light tone. “That should be your baby. Not hers.”

I stared at the three of them. Acting, pretending like they cared.

Then I grabbed Brayden. Hoisted him onto my hip, held him tight against my chest.

And then I ran out of the apartment. I heard their yells echoing behind me – of confusion, of realization; but I kept running.

Brayden squealed with delight in my arms, still holding the little fire truck.

I think a DNA test would prove that's your baby, unless you and Amanda are identical twins. By the way, you've got yourself quite a smart little boy, there. :)

I think she either gave me something much heavier than your average sleepy drug, or something happened while I was knocked out. I woke up in the hospital, so I dunno -- maybe I really was in some sort of accident. That part of my memory hasn't come back yet.

Wait but OP how did your mom make you have amnesia???? It sounds like she drugged you but how would that give you such long term amnesia?? This is so god awful -_-

Oh, that's absolutely awful OP! Get a room out of town and try to lay low while preparing to move, it's sounds like you're going to need to. Good luck to you and Brayden!

Weird shit I've seen as a Marine 2b

Weird shit I've seen as a Marine 2bWeird shit I’ve seen in the Marines 2b

Part 1

Part 2a

Following the mysterious ‘incident’, I was told that I was going to be sent down the mountain to answer a few questions. To be honest, I was relieved. It was cold and I didn’t want to hike anymore. Everyone else in my company sort of just believed what they were told. He came down with ‘mountain sickness’ and just walked 30 kilometers over the course of a few hours.

I tried to tell a few people about all the creepy shit I had been noticing, just to make sure I’m not going crazy. Before anyone could respond, my squad leader pulled me aside and told me “Don’t talk about these things, okay?”. Maybe he knew something I didn’t.

But yeah, cool. They sent us up here… knowing something was fucking off. Typical military BS. Just stick our heads in the sand and pretend everything is great. I was glad I was leaving for a few days but there was nothing but complete dread whenever the idea of coming back entered my mind.

The Humvee to take me back down finally showed up and the ride was uneventful. They took me to a small, concrete office-like building. The military police guys were just like me and had a job to do, they got a statement and asked if I noticed the guy anything ‘unusual’ about the guy before he disappeared. Nope. Seemed normal to me. 

Then the NCIS guys came in, I’ve dealt with them before over something else and they are usually good natured guys. Not these ones. Brisk, to the point, and methodical. They read off all the facts about the case like they were reading the nutrition info on a cereal box. Unsurprised and monotone. They’d definitely seen this before. They asked the same questions. When I had told them about all the creepy things I had noticed, they told me that I was probably suffering from mountain sickness too. I was beyond pissed but I knew better than to argue with them.

Another thing, they asked me if I had taken any pictures that day. I told them I didn’t, but I thought that was strange. Next, they asked if they could swab my boots. To this day, I am honestly confused as to why the hell they did that. I don’t know if they were fucking with me or it was part of something else. My ONLY assumption is that this ‘thing’ alters the the surrounding area on a microscopic level. Maybe there was isotope it produces that may have stayed on my boots? I have no clue but if anyone has any similar stories or information on why they did that, please let me know.

At the conclusion of my interview, they made me sign a document stating that I wouldn’t talk about anything and that they would contact me when I was free to disclose any information. This was a few years ago and they never got back to me, so it may not be legal to talk now, but I have a cards up my sleeve that I’m not going to talk about.

Anyway, I walked back to our fabulous 5 star concrete huts to get some sleep. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone as there were a few guys that stayed back because they had sickle cell anemia and could actually die if they went above a certain altitude. I took one of the best hot showers I’ve ever had in my life and headed to my bunk. I was exhausted, but I still couldn’t sleep. Now, I rarely smoke, but I still carry a pack on me just to make lucrative trades or sell to desperate nicotine fiends in the field. I felt like now was a good time to smoke so I went outside. Maybe it would calm me down. All was going well until that dreadful feeling came back again. Shit, the treeline was maybe 40 meters away. I don’t know how the hell it followed me or why. Could there be more than one?

I stomped out my cigarette and went back inside. I managed to calm myself down and fall asleep but I would always wake up suddenly after maybe 10 minutes. No dreams, just the overwhelming feeling that you’re being observed. 

The next day, I packed all of my gear into the Humvee and helped the driver load some stuff into the back. The drive was uneventful and I managed to catch some sleep, only to be woken up by rough terrain here and there. When we finally arrived, it was almost afternoon and the company was preparing to cover some serious terrain that day. Just my luck.

Before I knew it, we were trodding up a steep mountainside. I didn’t think it could get any worse until it began to sleet heavily. It was bad. The wind picked up and it felt like we were being cut with glass. I couldn’t see. People were getting lost and the rocks were slippery. We hiked for hours upon hours and I swear these mountains were trying to kill us. The sun began to set and our clothes began to freeze on us.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I’d notice that our compasses were acting weird. No matter how hard you tried, you would eventually end up walking towards the base of a particular mountain that was nicknamed Devil’s Incline on our map. This was a military map that someone had made in the 1980s, I don’t know if I’ll be able to find it. Coincidentally, I also got that same feeling of being stalked again. Fuck.

Anyway, our guides get us to the right destination - a place called Sardine Rock. As soon as we stop, people start shaking violently because they are no longer hiking and producing 0 body heat. Someone was smart enough to predict this and had two man tents driven up to our rendezvous point on massive trucks. We RARELY use tents, but this was literally a life or death situation. 

To make things worse, the wind picked up and it started to downpour violently. You couldn’t hear yourself talk. It was chaos. If you’ve ever set up a tent in the wind, you’ll know how impossible it is. By the time we had everything staked in, the tent had a few inches of water at the bottom. Our sleeping systems are waterproof but our entire bodies were soaked to the bone, so they eventually became wet from the outside in. Then the temperature dropped and things got worse. 

Being in the military, you always have to have someone on watch. Since there was still sunlight out, I volunteered to stand it while everyone else hid in their tents. Here’s a picture I asked a friend to take, just to illustrate the misery. My GoreTex/rain jacket is completely soaked through. Worst day of my life.

Finally, I got back inside of my tent and tried to get some rest. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I was suddenly woken up to someone outside asking for help. It was the same voice of the guy who went ended up 30km. Except that guy is still in the hospital. He would call out someone’s name and say it a few times and then try to get them outside. I think it was my squad leader who yelled at everyone to stay the fuck in our tents and not to go outside. 

For the next few minutes, he practically begged us. It sounded like he was in the treeline maybe 20 meters away. Somehow guessing our names. Here it was, trying to break us down when we were at our lowest point. It could have gotten right through our tents, but it just wanted to fuck with us. 

Finally, it stopped and just as I thought it was gone. I heard it say my name twice, in a taunting kind of tone. Then a huge tree came tumbling down and that was it. Thanks dick. Traumatized, everyone stayed inside until their tents until we heard trucks coming. Over the radio, we were told to pack our tents in less than 30 seconds and get on the trucks. We have no more than 5 minutes. I wasn’t going to be the first one to step outside, so I waited until a good number of people got out. I’ve never seen a group of people move faster in my life. The tents were stuffed into their bags, poles bent, and bags were halfway on our bodies. People practically stumbled into the trucks.

We were told that we were being evacuated due to terrible conditions and that we were heading back to base. But we all knew the real reason. I was relieved to be out of the cold, but we were still on this damn mountain and that thing would still be able to find us. When we got back, we all showered and got into dry clothes. No one talked, they just went to sleep and tried to understand what had gone down that day. Each and every single one of them realizing that we would likely go back up there in a few days.

Here’s another picture of a friend taking a break before we stepped off on our hike that day.

Updates, more pictures, questions
Weird shit I've seen as a Marine 2b

Weird shit I’ve seen in the Marines 2b

Part 1

Part 2a

Following the mysterious ‘incident’, I was told that I was going to be sent down the mountain to answer a few questions. To be honest, I was relieved. It was cold and I didn’t want to hike anymore. Everyone else in my company sort of just believed what they were told. He came down with ‘mountain sickness’ and just walked 30 kilometers over the course of a few hours.

I tried to tell a few people about all the creepy shit I had been noticing, just to make sure I’m not going crazy. Before anyone could respond, my squad leader pulled me aside and told me “Don’t talk about these things, okay?”. Maybe he knew something I didn’t.

But yeah, cool. They sent us up here… knowing something was fucking off. Typical military BS. Just stick our heads in the sand and pretend everything is great. I was glad I was leaving for a few days but there was nothing but complete dread whenever the idea of coming back entered my mind.

The Humvee to take me back down finally showed up and the ride was uneventful. They took me to a small, concrete office-like building. The military police guys were just like me and had a job to do, they got a statement and asked if I noticed the guy anything ‘unusual’ about the guy before he disappeared. Nope. Seemed normal to me.

Then the NCIS guys came in, I’ve dealt with them before over something else and they are usually good natured guys. Not these ones. Brisk, to the point, and methodical. They read off all the facts about the case like they were reading the nutrition info on a cereal box. Unsurprised and monotone. They’d definitely seen this before. They asked the same questions. When I had told them about all the creepy things I had noticed, they told me that I was probably suffering from mountain sickness too. I was beyond pissed but I knew better than to argue with them.

Another thing, they asked me if I had taken any pictures that day. I told them I didn’t, but I thought that was strange. Next, they asked if they could swab my boots. To this day, I am honestly confused as to why the hell they did that. I don’t know if they were fucking with me or it was part of something else. My ONLY assumption is that this ‘thing’ alters the the surrounding area on a microscopic level. Maybe there was isotope it produces that may have stayed on my boots? I have no clue but if anyone has any similar stories or information on why they did that, please let me know.

At the conclusion of my interview, they made me sign a document stating that I wouldn’t talk about anything and that they would contact me when I was free to disclose any information. This was a few years ago and they never got back to me, so it may not be legal to talk now, but I have a cards up my sleeve that I’m not going to talk about.

Anyway, I walked back to our fabulous 5 star concrete huts to get some sleep. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone as there were a few guys that stayed back because they had sickle cell anemia and could actually die if they went above a certain altitude. I took one of the best hot showers I’ve ever had in my life and headed to my bunk. I was exhausted, but I still couldn’t sleep. Now, I rarely smoke, but I still carry a pack on me just to make lucrative trades or sell to desperate nicotine fiends in the field. I felt like now was a good time to smoke so I went outside. Maybe it would calm me down. All was going well until that dreadful feeling came back again. Shit, the treeline was maybe 40 meters away. I don’t know how the hell it followed me or why. Could there be more than one?

I stomped out my cigarette and went back inside. I managed to calm myself down and fall asleep but I would always wake up suddenly after maybe 10 minutes. No dreams, just the overwhelming feeling that you’re being observed.

The next day, I packed all of my gear into the Humvee and helped the driver load some stuff into the back. The drive was uneventful and I managed to catch some sleep, only to be woken up by rough terrain here and there. When we finally arrived, it was almost afternoon and the company was preparing to cover some serious terrain that day. Just my luck.

Before I knew it, we were trodding up a steep mountainside. I didn’t think it could get any worse until it began to sleet heavily. It was bad. The wind picked up and it felt like we were being cut with glass. I couldn’t see. People were getting lost and the rocks were slippery. We hiked for hours upon hours and I swear these mountains were trying to kill us. The sun began to set and our clothes began to freeze on us.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I’d notice that our compasses were acting weird. No matter how hard you tried, you would eventually end up walking towards the base of a particular mountain that was nicknamed Devil’s Incline on our map. This was a military map that someone had made in the 1980s, I don’t know if I’ll be able to find it. Coincidentally, I also got that same feeling of being stalked again. Fuck.

Anyway, our guides get us to the right destination - a place called Sardine Rock. As soon as we stop, people start shaking violently because they are no longer hiking and producing 0 body heat. Someone was smart enough to predict this and had two man tents driven up to our rendezvous point on massive trucks. We RARELY use tents, but this was literally a life or death situation.

To make things worse, the wind picked up and it started to downpour violently. You couldn’t hear yourself talk. It was chaos. If you’ve ever set up a tent in the wind, you’ll know how impossible it is. By the time we had everything staked in, the tent had a few inches of water at the bottom. Our sleeping systems are waterproof but our entire bodies were soaked to the bone, so they eventually became wet from the outside in. Then the temperature dropped and things got worse.

Being in the military, you always have to have someone on watch. Since there was still sunlight out, I volunteered to stand it while everyone else hid in their tents. Here’s a I asked a friend to take, just to illustrate the misery. My GoreTex/rain jacket is completely soaked through. Worst day of my life.

Finally, I got back inside of my tent and tried to get some rest. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I was suddenly woken up to someone outside asking for help. It was the same voice of the guy who went ended up 30km. Except that guy is still in the hospital. He would call out someone’s name and say it a few times and then try to get them outside. I think it was my squad leader who yelled at everyone to stay the fuck in our tents and not to go outside.

For the next few minutes, he practically begged us. It sounded like he was in the treeline maybe 20 meters away. Somehow guessing our names. Here it was, trying to break us down when we were at our lowest point. It could have gotten right through our tents, but it just wanted to fuck with us.

Finally, it stopped and just as I thought it was gone. I heard it say my name twice, in a taunting kind of tone. Then a huge tree came tumbling down and that was it. Thanks dick. Traumatized, everyone stayed inside until their tents until we heard trucks coming. Over the radio, we were told to pack our tents in less than 30 seconds and get on the trucks. We have no more than 5 minutes. I wasn’t going to be the first one to step outside, so I waited until a good number of people got out. I’ve never seen a group of people move faster in my life. The tents were stuffed into their bags, poles bent, and bags were halfway on our bodies. People practically stumbled into the trucks.

We were told that we were being evacuated due to terrible conditions and that we were heading back to base. But we all knew the real reason. I was relieved to be out of the cold, but we were still on this damn mountain and that thing would still be able to find us. When we got back, we all showered and got into dry clothes. No one talked, they just went to sleep and tried to understand what had gone down that day. Each and every single one of them realizing that we would likely go back up there in a few days.

Here’s another picture of a friend taking a break before we stepped off on our hike that day.

Updates, more pictures, questions

Hoooold on there pal, you must be new around here.

Here in /sub/nosleep we wait WEEKS between updates, okay buddy?

I jest. Keep up the great work man. This is as creepy as it gets!

Ikr?? This is amazing, not only is the story, the writing style and the grammer really good, but this dude is pumping them out so goddamn quick.

Just use the mortars and level the entire tree line, problem solved.

This is like the SaR guy and the other guy fixing power lines. Damncreepy stuff in the woods. I’ll be waiting for you encounter with the stairs if you ever have one. Great work! Keep ‘em coming!

Edit: i’m sorry i think i used the wrong term. But the story was he works for this company and their job was cutting branches off these power lines deep in the woods and then some creepy shit started happening. There were 3 or 4 updates if i remember correctly and it was posted here around last quarter of 2017.

Has anyone heard of the Left/Right Game? (Part 10)(Final)

Has anyone heard of the Left/Right Game? (Part 10)(Final)

Well then… here we are.

I have to be honest; when I posted the first of these logs from my bedroom in North London, I didn’t think it would go very far. After all, why would it? I wasn’t a regular contributor to this site, nor a seasoned veteran of the paranormal. I was just a man who missed his friend, seeking a few words of wisdom from an online message board, open to the idea that it wouldn’t lead anywhere.

Suffice to say I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Over the past two months, the incredible advice I’ve received from this forum, and the amazing leads you’ve sent my way, have opened up entire worlds of possibility. It’s thanks to all of you that I’m where I am now; sitting in a rental car on a quiet street in Phoenix, Arizona, posting the last of Alice’s records.

I realise I’ve written more than usual for my part. Apologies for this. If you want to skip straight to Alice’s section, that’s fine.

Otherwise, please consider this the prologue to the epilogue.

It’s very, very early in the morning over here, with only the gravest of the graveyard shift out on the streets. By all rights I should be in bed, and not wasting petrol on an aimless drive through the city. The ritual helps me think however, and I’d recently been given a lot to think about, courtesy of a young woman at a local bar.

She was a forum member, who’d contacted me over Direct Message. When we met up earlier in the night, it was clear she’d done a great deal of research; charting every mirror shop in Phoenix in an attempt to reconstruct the route Alice took on February 7th 2017.

We spoke for quite a while; about the game, about Alice, and about life in general. Once closing time rolled around, she handed me a printout of the most likely route, with all the key locations circled. Then, in the final minutes before we parted ways, she nervously asked me two questions. The first put me in a rather sour mood. The second provided the fuel for my 3am drive.

Question One; Are you sure she wants you to find her?

I’ve been hearing the same query from a few of you recently, especially since Part 9 was posted. People commenting that Alice made a clear choice when she left Rob behind in the silent city. That I was searching for someone who wasn’t seeking return.

I’d like to take a moment to respond to this, as I responded to it earlier tonight. To be clear, the Alice I know wouldn't do that. She was planning to come back, she’d told us as much. I’m not going to waste your time with my theories, but we’ve seen what the road can do to people's minds, how it can carry them away against their better judgement. I understand why it's being asked but if those sorts of questions are all you have to offer, I’d kindly ask you find another way to help.

Question Two was less clear cut; what are you going to do now?

It’s something you guys have also been asking me, but that was the first time I’d heard the question out loud. In the awkward silence that followed it became obvious to her, and in some ways to me, that I didn’t yet have an answer.

I decided to take a drive while I figured it out… I’ve been in my car for the rest of the night,

After an hour of aimless meandering, I realised I was close to one of the marked locations; the alleyway where Alice first entered the underpass, the point at which she first disappeared into the road. Turning into the side street, just after a large intersection, I was briefly relieved to see no sign of the tunnel. The part of me that still hoped this game was a fiction swelled at the sudden lack of evidence. My reaction was short lived of course, as I quickly realised that the tunnel wouldn't have shown itself to me anyway. Even if the game were real, I’d hardly been sticking to the rules on my way here.

There was no denying that the place resembled Alice’s descriptions however, and with a long time to go until I’d feel remotely tired, I decided to work my way back along the route, retracing Alice’s steps towards Rob Guthard’s street.

OK so I have to admit at this point, I suffered from a momentary lapse in intelligence. In a fog of distraction, residual jetlag and general dullardry, I drove for longer than I’d care to admit under the misconception that I wasn’t playing the game. I thought this because I was heading in the opposite direction, and had started my run with a right hand turn, when the rules explicitly state that you begin by turning left. Of course, as I’m sure all of you would have realised immediately, that didn’t mean I was out of the game, it just meant I started playing with my first left turn, one road later.

Alice was always the smart one.

What I’m trying to say is that, due to this fairly mindless oversight, I wasn’t exactly looking out for the Woman in Grey as I drove past what should have been her corner. There wasn’t a mirror shop this time of course, that’s only the 34th turn when you’re coming the other way, in fact I’m not sure which of the many passing streets it was. It is strange though, as I think back through my journey, I feel like I would have noticed her. The streets were practically deserted, so much so that any pedestrians stood out immediately. I know I should’ve been looking more closely but, if you asked my honest opinion… I don't think she was there at all.

The moment I realised this, I felt it again; the faint perverse, hope that I’d been misled, that the entire story was nothing more than a twisted, elaborate fabrication.

It wasn’t long until I passed an old mirror shop and, 34 turns later, arrived on what must have been Alice’s starting street. It was an inner-city neighbourhood whose residents were all fast asleep. From the moment I realised that the game was in play, I’d been thinking less and less about this particular road, and more about the one directly after it, resting just beyond the crossroads. I’d come halfway across the world on the strength of Alice’s account, but I’d seen no first hand proof of the Left/Right Game. If the whole thing was a hoax, then the next road should just be another street. If it was real, then I’d know soon enough.

I crawled up to the junction with my heart in my throat. With every inch of road that passed under my tyres, I found myself hoping more and more that it wouldn’t be true. Let someone be playing a prank on me, let the logs be counterfeit... let Alice be anywhere else but on that road.

I took the corner in a wide arc, parking myself in the centre of the crossroads, my headlights facing down the next turn.

Ahead of me was a quiet residential street; lines of neatly parked cars, rows of well-kept yards and squarely drawn windows. Yet at its centre, in utter defiance of the modest surroundings, the road sank into a deep and dimly lit corridor, cutting beneath the street, and disappearing into complete darkness.

I’d always known it was true.

In the presence of grim confirmation, the question I was asked earlier that night started to ring in my ears, as if echoing out of the tunnel itself. After an entire night’s driving, after two full months of searching, I still didn’t have a response.

In the end I just left the engine running, as if turning it off would somehow be a sign of retreat, and decided to type up the notes you’re reading now. I thought maybe the process of putting it all down on paper would bring me clarity, and leave me with either a note of farewell or a note of apology to Alice, for not having what it took to find her.

And now… here I am; still undecided, still writing, still sitting in this rental car on a quiet street in Phoenix, Arizona.

Though perhaps the street’s not as quiet as I thought.

I’ve just looked back to the previous road, down the street where Alice began her journey. As I type this very paragraph, I can see a figure standing on the sidewalk, just outside one of the houses. It isn’t the woman in grey this time.

Though it’s almost too dark to make out, I can tell the figure is an older male, well built and imposing, the rugged features of his weathered face half lit by moonlight. I’ve never seen this person before, yet he bears a striking resemblance to another man; a man whose description has been well recorded within the pages of Alice’s logs.

He watches me in silence, staring through the window of my still running car.

I wonder if he can help.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

The Left/Right Game [DRAFT 1] 20/02/2017

The Left/Right Game was once nothing more than a 9-page document, peeking out of a yellow envelope, resting quietly on my desk.

I remember reading it on my lunch break.

I remember it made me laugh.

The submission had arrived with the first post, quietly making its way around the office, treated by everyone as a short-lived novelty of little journalistic value. The story was easy to dismiss, appearing all too similar to the rambling ghost stories and blurry UFO sightings that filled our mailbox on a daily basis, and which most of the senior staff had learned to instinctively ignore. Doomed by association, the document was quickly passed over, my desk merely a pit stop on its way to the rejection pile.

I was curious however and, after an uneventful few months in my new role, I had no compunctions about fishing from the scrap heap. Placing the envelope in my satchel, alongside a misfit crowd of similar rejects, I slipped away to a local coffee shop, reading it in an armchair by the window.

Somewhere around page three, between the description of the game’s rules and the exhaustive list of “Required Skills”, my mouth started to curl into an irrepressible smile.

They’d been gloriously wrong about this one. It wasn’t some paranoid diatribe, nor a sensationalist plea for attention. Within those pages lay an introductory glimpse of a man’s passionate obsession. As I read on, something about his earnest eccentricity, incredible thoroughness, and unquestioning confidence made it impossible to put down. When I turned the final page, reading the last of Rob Guthard’s charming and refreshingly well formatted submission, I knew that this was the story I wanted to tell.

Later that day, I found myself in the editor’s office making a case for it. They didn’t quite see what I saw, but I was intent to win them over regardless. I told them the story would be characterful, colourful, thought-provoking and, at the very least, that I wouldn’t be gone long.

It’s been twelve days since then; ten since I first entered the Wrangler in Phoenix, Arizona, five since I commandeered it myself, leaving Rob behind in the silent city. I haven’t updated much recently, save for a regular set of notes made for my own benefit. In all honesty, after I finished writing up my account of the city, I was struck by an overpowering sense of needlessness. There was no one left to receive these logs, no friends to proofread, no editor to hand them to. It seemed pointless to maintain the same prosaic format as before.

I still largely agree with this assessment. It’s only due to a set of exceptional circumstances that I’ve chosen to type up the following account in full.

Whoever this reaches, I want to thank you for reading up to now.

I’m quite sure this will be my final instalment.

The moon has broken, and in my entire life, I’ve never witnessed an evening so still.

The air is cool and quiet, and the Wrangler cuts cleanly through it as I glide down a stretch of even tarmac. The scene is defined by calm and absence. Not a cloud in the sky, not a solitary whisper of breeze, not a single blade of grass stirring on the dark green banks beside me.

Yet even on a night as peaceful as this, I can’t help but feel far away from home. The city had served as a turning point in that regard. Before we reached those titanic monoliths, the landscapes we passed through generally resembled the world I once knew. A few obvious exceptions aside, there was nothing about the environments that looked truly divorced from reality. That’s all changed now. The aberrant aspects of this new world are unignorable, constantly hanging at the corner of my eye, passively injecting a sense of wonder and disconcertion into the otherwise silent night.

A few days ago the moon started to crack like old porcelain. I hardly noticed at first, my eyes fixed on the road as it loomed above me, quietly splintering into three jagged pieces. As of tonight, the empty space between each fragment has significantly increased. If I focus on the sky for a little while, I can almost see them falling away from each other, charting infinite and lonesome trajectories through a barren cosmos, against a backdrop of foreign constellations.

The stars themselves fall further than they should. The night sky travels down past the horizon and continues below it, wrapping underneath the grassy bank. It’s as if the road, and the narrow plains on either side, are suspended in the middle of a vast abyss; a platform in the middle of open space.

At least that’s what I thought it was at first. It didn’t take long before I noticed the broken moon was appearing twice in the sky, both above and below me. A pair of orbiting satellites; identical and in perfect alignment. That’s when I realised that there were no stars below me. I was merely staring across a flat surface so flawlessly mirror-like as to cast a perfect reflection of the heavens above.

I was driving through the centre of a lake.

The water is impossibly still. Since leaving the shoreline proper yesterday night, I’ve seen neither a wave, nor a ripple across its placid surface. It’s also undeniably vast, reaching beyond the horizon in every direction and continuing further still. Without being sure how I know, I’m aware that the waters carry on for an unspeakable distance, that I would sooner reach the stars themselves before setting foot on its opposite shore.

I lean over and switch gears. The act of driving the Wrangler was a daunting one at first, but after the first two days I’ve managed to make do. An old scarf wrapped tightly around the steering wheel serves as a makeshift handle, allowing me to navigate corners one handed. I don’t have an elegant solution for the gearshift, but I’ve quickly grown used to the process. If I’ve learned anything from the road, it’s that grace is the first casualty in the fight for survival. Adaptability, no matter how clumsy, outlasts it at every turn.

A few minutes later, the Wrangler pulls up to a spacious verge. A large circle of land surrounded entirely by dark waters. At the far end, the grass seems to fall away, dropping sharply into the lake with a dead stop. The road continues of course, but it's the only thing that does. With nothing on either side, it forms a narrow bridge of perfectly flat asphalt, raised on a bed of mud and rock.

I press my boot onto the brake pedal, easing the Wrangler to a steady halt at the centre of the clearing. For the first time today, I open the car door and climb out of my seat. The dull tap of asphalt shifts to a soft rustling as I make my way over to the lakeside.

There’s something on the shore, a barely discernible object, almost entirely concealed by a shock of verdant undergrowth. It’s a miracle I’d managed to spy it from the road, though perhaps something about the stark uniformity of the landscape had made it stand out.

As I advance towards the water, and the object draws near, its indeterminate form solidifies in my mind.

It’s a human arm, reaching out from the water and onto the bank. I crouch down to examine the few pertinent details. The fingers are still embedded firmly into the soil. The thumbnail is broken, coloured by a peeling coat of faded varnish. There’s a pallid, emaciated quality to the skin, spreading down the arm until it disappears beneath a thick, woollen sleeve. At the point it meets the surface, the water soaks into the fabric, turning it black from the original grey.

With a sad exhalation, I rise to my feet and lean over the water’s edge.

The body of Marjorie Guthard lies against the silt, her cheek resting on the lake bed, her wide bewildered eyes staring out into the open lake. She’s been almost perfectly preserved. Save for the striking tautness of her skin and its mottled, grey pallor, she looks exactly like the woman I saw on the 34th turn, who’d tried to repel me from the road, who’d spoken of a lake drinking her wounds clean.

It seems her ramblings weren’t completely void of fact. It’s clear to see that Marjorie has been exsanguinated, so completely in fact that the only evidence that blood ever flowed through her veins, is a large dark stain across her shredded blouse.

It doesn’t take long before the perpetrator makes itself known.

As I stare into the water, a steady stream of formless whispers sink up through the depths of the lake. The softly spoken murmurings drift up to my ears, taking root in the back of my mind and instantly blooming into a flurry of deeply persuasive promises.

I find myself entirely transfixed by the still water, as a myriad of generous offerings unfold in throughout my consciousness. The whispers suggest an end to the phantom pains in my absent arm, perhaps even a completely restored limb, stronger than it had been before. Furthermore, it shows me a glimpse of its incomprehensible span, its furthest bank reaching across countless worlds, its deepest point lying below everything. I’m offered total knowledge of every league, every fathom, every inconceivable shore.

My hand reaches down as the whispers continue, every bargain steeped in sweet beneficence. A moment later, my outstretched fingers brush against the soft grass, and wrap around Marjorie’s exposed arm.

Digging my heels into the ground, I lean myself backwards and pull. The water ripples and splashes as I drag Marjorie’s lifeless body slowly onto the bank. I feel the voices in my mind grow louder, erupting in anger as I back away from the lake.

The promises had been convincing, each quiet solicitation undeniably persuasive. But after seeing Marjorie’s wretched fate and the look of eternal betrayal in her vacant eyes, I found myself aware of a subtle undercurrent behind every syllable, a sense of desperation and timeless hunger emanating from beneath the lake’s surface. I already have a clear understanding of what would have happened if I’d lost myself to those waters. I suspect it’s no coincidence, that of the countless shores it showed me, all of them appeared to be deserted.

Marjorie wouldn’t have stood a chance. She’d left the forest alone, grievously wounded and without a vehicle. She’d walked the whole way here, bleeding endlessly, the road’s rejuvenating power battling every moment against her body’s natural inclination to die. I suspect the road’s influence wasn’t strong enough, and when a whispering voice promised, ever so sweetly to mend her, she would have been in no position to refuse.

Her other sleeve brushes against dry land, her body leaving the water for the first time in decades. I keep pulling until my boots hit asphalt, laying her down on the grass just beside the Wrangler.

After a moment of sober vigil, I walk to the back of the car and fetch Rob’s foldable spade.

A long few hours follow. I’ve never dug someone’s grave before, and my injury is hardly conducive to the task. My fleece tied around my waist, pearls of sweat running down my brow, I manage to slowly chip away at the damp earth. Five hours later, my back cramping, my hand raw from gripping the shovel, I attempt to lower Marjorie into the rough pit with some semblance of grace, her legs dropping limply into the soft soil despite my best efforts.

It takes over an hour to shovel the soil back. It’s a sobering and ugly task. As a layer of dirt covers her face, I realise this will be the last time a living person lays their eyes on Marjorie Guthard. Burying her suddenly feels disrespectful, as if it’s an act I don’t have the right to perform.

Once it’s done, I drop onto my knees, a dull ache in my muscles as I smooth out the disturbed ground with the back of the shovel.

MARJORIE: You.

Even before I turn to face her, I can hear a scowl in her voice. There’s an odious depth to that one acrid syllable, a potent witch’s brew of contempt and accusation that feels like it’s been festering in her drowned lungs for decades.

Reluctantly, I rise to my feet and turn around, finding myself face to face with the woman I just buried. She looks different now, her clothes are dry, her skin clear, with nothing to be seen of the deep, dark gash in her blouse.

AS: Marjorie.

Unlike the empty vessel below us, the woman in front of me is by no means at peace. She shakes and wretches with the same indignant fury I witnessed when we first met. When she speaks, her words shudder under the weight of her own turbulent emotions.

MARJORIE: I chased you. I ran to you. I… I gave him up for you.

AS: I’m… I’m sorry Marjorie, I don’t know what you mean. Tell me what you mean.

MARJOIRE The things I saw, things so beautiful. And I saw her, walking alone through the new worlds. I gave everything up for you!!

I don’t know quite what to say. It’s pointless to ask her what she means, to try and understand her frenetic ramblings. In the end, I can only try to speak her language.

AS: Marjorie I… I didn’t mean you to.

Marjorie’s trembling breaths burst into a despairing fit of laughter.

MARJORIE: Oh… oh yes you did. Yes you did. And now… now you’re here.

Marjorie’s wild and volatile demeanour shifts once more, her laughter degrading further into a desperate crying panic.

MARJORIE: And what do I do now? What- What do I do?!

Marjorie cringes with the terror of the self-imposed question, placing her head in her hands and repeating it over and over again. As I watch her wrestle with despair, I’m struck by an idea I’ve never before considered. The disconcerting notion that, in death, we are not transported to a set destination by some ethereal attendant. That in fact, nothing is decided for us. Perhaps the manner in which we spend our afterlife is down to us, a decision we have to make ourselves.

Marjorie is standing over her own lifeless body, still lost, still entirely unmoored.

There's no sign of boundless paradise, inescapable damnation or everlasting nothingness, and the common thread they share, a final release from the weight of our own agency, is similarly absent. Perhaps we never get that freedom, perhaps we continue like we always do, accompanied by all our imperfections, uncertainty and discontent.

Perhaps we must choose our eternity.

After all my time on the road, that’s possibly the most terrifying notion I’ve encountered.

AS: He never stopped looking you know.

Marjorie snaps out of her wretched despair, instantly aware of who I’m referring to, staring up at me with an expression I’ve never seen her wear before.

AS: I saw him, walking on the road. He didn’t stop. He was never going to stop. I think he was looking for you Marjorie, he still is.

Marjorie stares through me. For the first time since we met on that quiet Phoenician corner, I can see the faint spark of something other than misery and rage across her tear stained face.

I hold her gaze for a moment more, before pulling my phone from my pocket. In a single sweep of my contacts, I delete every number except for one. A number I pulled from the Nokia during our second night on the road. A number that connects to a lost wanderer of the road.

AS: I don’t know if this can help but… stranger things have happened.

As she stares up into my eyes, I feel like we’re finally meeting for the first time. Without a word, Marjorie reaches out a quivering hand and takes the phone from my outstretched fingers.

Before I can say anything more, Marjorie Guthard is gone.

A few moments later, a refreshing breeze lands against my cheek, a soft zephyr, cooling my still warm face. It’s a welcome sensation, and the first movement I’ve witnessed in the air since I set out onto the lake. Wiping the sweat from my forehead, I stare quietly along the bridge, the breeze picking up around me.

It’s a subtle wind at first, brushing stray hairs across my forehead, chilling the perspiration on my neck. Yet as I reach my hand out, and feel the air slip between my fingers, I’m witness to a steady rise in both strength and magnitude.

The sound of the wind grows from a whisper to a howl, Seconds later, the hanging sleeves of my fleece begin to stream sideways. My hair lifts from my back, billowing in the throes of a developing gale.

I back up against the Wrangler’s hood as the air finally erupts into a roaring, cacophonous cyclone. My hand reflexively seeks the sturdy frame of the Wrangler, my fingers wrapping around the grille, my arm tensing as the unrelenting wind threatens to drag me from the road.

Squinting through the violent tempest, I focus on a single point in space, just above the threshold of the bridge. In the midst of the storm, a jagged line of white hot light bursts out of the ether, tearing through the night’s fabric, a crackling fissure that widens and yawns, forcing apart the curtains of reality as they frenetically struggle to recombine.

Staring through the shuddering fracture, I’m subjected to the briefest glimpse of a boundless, and impossible vista. It is a faraway place in both distance and time. An achingly beautiful and gloriously terrifying dreamscape, enduring on the majestic shores of infinity. Every moment there spans a millennium and unfolds in countless directions at once. Every passing shadow holds a darkness beyond measure, their edges burned by the glare of a waking sun which looks across every conceivable world with a hollow, rancorous intent.

In the midst of this maddening landscape, a singular entity approaches, gliding towards the portal with the clear intent to pass through. As it breaches the shuddering gateway, and the wind dies down around it, I stare up at its grand celestial form.

The being is unlike anything I’ve ever seen; composed entirely from electric arcs of brilliant, magnesic light which burst from a volatile and blinding central core. It sounds like a lightning storm, its plasmatic tendrils snapping and crackling, bursting chaotically through the night air before collapsing in on themselves. As they fall back into the creature’s centre, they emit pale clouds of vaporous fractals that fade softly into the air.

Somehow, even as my eyes barely adjust to the stark light, I realise that the entity usually burns much brighter. It's dampened its glow for my benefit, so that it can appear before me without scorching my eyes from their sockets.

AS: It’s you… isn’t it. You’re the voice I’ve been hearing. You’re the one who brought me here.

The bristling maelstrom of light hangs in the air, crackling and shifting, its transient limbs strobing with chaotic incandescence. Part of me wants to hide, part of me wants to run, but neither are an option anymore. Releasing my hand from the Wrangler’s grille I take a single step forward, standing on my own and staring up into the entity’s smouldering core.

AS: Can I get an interview?

The creature doesn’t react. In the following silence, I feel it observing me. When it finally responds, its voice ruptures the night, echoing through my skull.

VOICE: There is little time, but you may ask what questions you have.

Each reverberating syllable forms a string of literal shockwaves in the surrounding lake, emanating outwards from the being in a perfect circle. I watch the waves roll into the distance, showing no sign of ever diminishing, and I think about what question to ask first.

In the end, it comes to me quickly; a promise is a promise after all.

AS: What happened to Marjorie? Why did she do what she did?

The being pauses, as if considering its response. When it does reply, it speaks with a calm sobriety.

VOICE: She glimpsed an echo of the future, dreamed of the road, of the things that it passes through.

AS: Like whatever’s through there?

I gesture through the gateway, which is now almost entirely blocked from view by the creature’s spiralling form.

VOICE: She dreamed of untold frontiers. She saw a lone woman walking them. Over time, the fulfilment of that vision became everything to her.

AS: But it wasn’t her… she thought she was seeing her own future… but it was-

VOICE: It was you.

Those three words, as they burst into the open air, casting three narrow waves across the boundless water, hit me with a deep and heavy force. Unbeknownst to myself, decades before I was even born, Marjorie had been driven insane by dreams of maddening grandeur, of a life of boundless possibility and true significance. She had given everything up to chase a shadow… a shadow that eventually turned out to be mine.

I hadn’t just pulled Rob into this game, I was the reason for everything. I was the cause for the tragedy that befell his entire family,

AS: She didn’t just dream those sights. You influenced her. You let her see them… the same way you made Rob see me in Aokigahara. You pushed and you prodded wherever you needed so that I’d end up here. Are you the reason Bobby got the rules in the first place?

VOICE: Yes.

AS: But… why? You toyed with so many lives across… across decades. Why me? Why does it matter that I travel the road?

VOICE: Because across all humanity, across every conceivable permutation, you are the one who makes it the furthest.

It speaks plainly, as if the statement were a foregone conclusion. Yet its words strike me into silence.

The creature continues.

VOICE: I’ve watched you work your way here, through skill and through tenacity… and undeniably through luck. You were brought here because of these qualities, and they will carry you further along the road than any other.

AS: Then why didn’t you just bring me here? All that influence and you didn’t lift a finger… after everything that happened-

VOICE: Events transpired as they needed to.

AS: As they… needed to?! People died! Marjorie. Bobby. Ace. Apollo. Eve. Lilith. Everyone. They’re all gone. Do you not care at all?

In response to my words, the entity remains silent for longer than usual.

VOICE: I care more than you know. There are things greater than your understanding, forces that exist beyond the realms of your comprehension that you would consider a threat to everything you hold dear. My actions were guided by a higher standard of knowledge. Your protests are predicated on false understanding.

AS: You’re saying I don’t understand death?

VOICE: You don’t.

AS: ... That still doesn’t make it right.

VOICE: Regardless, my influence is necessary. That which is necessary must be.

AS: What even are you?

VOICE:: I cannot answer that question in any way you’d understand.

AS: That's not good enough.

The creature doesn’t respond, as if it doesn’t feel it needs to. So far it’s returned my every argument with impenetrable certainty. From the domain it occupies, knowing what it knows, my arguments must seem entirely facile. Even if it did feel the need to justify itself, after seeing the place it hails from, I wonder if there’s any way I could ever comprehend its motives.

Still, that doesn’t mean my arguments are invalid, and the creature’s lofty dispassion does little more than stoke my desire to oppose it.

AS: And what if I don’t want any part of this?

VOICE: You are travelling the aberrant strand; a singularly stable flaw in the fabric of reality. As it carries you further from the world you know, you will be freed from the influence of the old laws. You have already noticed the effects in those who settled the road, those who were lost to it and in yourself; energy without consumption, knowledge without requisite experience. You are shedding entropy, and causality and in time you will reach realms of understanding you cannot currently fathom. You will find answers to questions you never thought to ask. You will discover absolute truth. For this reason, you will carry on.

AS: That’s the only reason?

VOICE: Do you need another?

It doesn’t come across as a question, but rather another blunt statement of fact. I understand the effect it’s speaking of. Ever since the city, I’ve been encountering vague notions and fragmented ideas that occur to me randomly and without announcement. New avenues of thought leading to revelations that would otherwise lie beyond my mortal reach.

I’ve started to comprehend things I could barely have conceived of back home, and though the onset of these notions had been terrifying at first, they grow less so with every passing day.

AS: No… no, I don’t trust you. I don’t-

VOICE: Your trust is immaterial. You will travel the road regardless.

The creature’s already stark glow starts to intensify.

VOICE: I’ve watched you, on every turn … across every moment of your journey.

One of the creature’s countless protrusions lashes out at the empty air, forming another harsh, glowing fissure. It wrenches itself open in a few stilted jolts, a transparent, almost crystalline membrane stretched across the gap. Through it, I can see myself, in the centre of a cornfield, examining a block of C4 explosive.

It’s as if I’m staring into the past through a jagged shard of one-way glass.

VOICE: I’ve watched you questioning.

Though we can’t be seen through the aperture, I see the glasslike membrane shake with the force of the creature’s voice. As the window collapses, I can see the rows of corn thrown into a frenzy.

A second arc lashes out at the sky, forming a second aperture. This time I’m expecting the sight before me. I see myself, crying in the forest… a silent radio by my side.

VOICE: I’ve watched you struggle.

The second window closes. The creature has made its point.

VOICE: I’ve watched you fight… to make your way here.

VOICE: You will not turn around.

AS: You make it sound like I don’t have a choice.

VOICE: You do have a choice Alice, but you have already made it.

As much as I’ve grown to detest the creature’s presumption, in that moment, I know it’s right.

What it’s saying is true. I’ve done things I never would have imagined in order to get where I am now. In fact, if this being hadn’t arrived at all, I’d already be heading out over the bridge.

I’m not proud of what drives me; that same, ugly impulse that led me to refuse Rob’s offer of return, that made it so easy to leave him behind in the silent city. But there’s no denying the impulse is there. It’s been with me the whole time, long before I ever arrived in Phoenix, Arizona… and it’s buried deeper than I’ve ever wanted to admit.

AS: Can I… do I get to say goodbye?

The entity says nothing. It hangs in the air, flickering and coursing with rupturing bolts of light. The next thing I hear is a faint mechanical hum emanating from the Wrangler behind me. Turning around, I pace briskly back to the car, opening the door and reaching into the passenger seat. My notebook is booting up, seemingly of its own accord.

Picking up the laptop, I lift the lid as I march back towards the bridge. I stare up at the silent being before me. When I look down to the laptop, my email client is already displayed on the screen.

AS: How… how long do I have?

VOICE: Long enough.

The entity begins to regress, its arcs diminishing as the being at its core turns away. Its message has been delivered. There is nothing more to discuss.

As it passes through the gateway, into an unknowable world far removed from my own, I call out after it.

AS: I’m still not certain I trust you.

The being focusses on me once more, as the fracture begins to close. A final set of waves pass across the surface of the lake as it solemnly replies.

VOICE: … I remember.

A moment later, the being is gone.

I stand motionless in the middle of the road, the entity’s final remarks washing over me, its curious choice of words echoing in my head. In the renewed silence, the faint stirrings of an overwhelming and terrible revelation start to form in my mind.

It could have simply said that it knew of my mistrust, that it heard the overtones in my voice, saw the disdain across my face or otherwise sensed it in the space between us. Instead, the being spoke as if my current feelings were a memory, dwelling somewhere within its depths.

It was undeniable that my time on the road was changing me, but in all this time I’d never truly considered how those changes might evolve as my journey continues.

I’d never thought about what I might gain, what I might lose… or about what I might inevitably become.

A short while passes before I lower my eyes from the empty space above the bridge, to the screen of my notebook. Lowering myself down, I cross my legs and rest my back against the Wrangler.

If you’ve been reading from the beginning, you’ve finally caught up with me.

I hope you’ll allow me a few personal messages.

To Rob. I hope you’re able to read this someday, and I am so, so sorry for everything I’ve done; for everything I may do. I hope you understand that I didn’t know, and that none of this was your fault. You did the best you could, and the days I spent with you were the most significant of my life. It was an honour to know you and I hope that, among these pages, you find the answers, and the peace, that you deserve.

To my mum and dad, I’m sorry I won’t be sending this to you. In the end, I was carried along this road by a profound selfishness, and I just can’t bring myself to face you. I can’t imagine the pain I’ll be putting you through, and I won't try to justify my actions. All I can say is that I love you and I’m sorry that my last act towards you was one of cowardice.

And finally to you; the person to whom this message will be addressed. I’m sorry. I always thought I’d see you again someday, that the roads I took would eventually lead me home. That doesn’t look so likely now. Though I could say a lot to you, I’m not going to.

But I wish we could have been friends for longer.

It feels like a lifetime since I first arrived at Rob Guthard’s quiet street. I remember the uncertainty as I waited for him to open his door, with no concievable idea what was about to transpire.

Like so many other things, that’s now changed. Despite being in an entirely new world, further from home than anyone’s ever been, I know exactly what’s going to happen next.

I’m going to take a drive. Take a left, then the next possible road on the right, then the next possible left. I will repeat the process ad infinitum, until I wind up somewhere new.

And from there I’ll keep driving, beyond worlds, beyond time, beyond the bounds of my imagining. To a place where the lake runs dry, where the broken moon drifts away, and the stars disappear in the rear view.

To a place where everything has fallen away, and the road is all there is.

So wait, is the entity Alice? Is that why it remembers her distrust? And who better to be so sure that she won't understand yet than herself?

And to u/NeonTempo, this has been one of the best emotional roller coasters I've ever been on. Thank you for taking us on this ride with you.

you see god before you, appear from a rift of blinding light in the sky

his body is that of raw energy, appendages stretching outward like lightning in the sky

you feel his presence turn towards you, silently. The being observes you in all its glory like a scientist observe a specimen

with bated breath and hairs on end, all your nerves shout out one thing at once

"can i interview u"

I laughed out loud. Great story. Loved the ending

Yes, that is the implication.

I hope I don’t sound like a dick. Some particular parts that stood out to me: When speaking to Alice, the entity remarks:

You will discover absolute truth. For this reason you will carry on.

Alice responds with:

That’s the only reason?

To which the entity responds with:

Do you need another?

This segment of conversation is enough to warrant a flashback to Alice’s own thoughts and contemplation earlier on in the journey, which she described her passion for discovering the truth. This is also stated by OP in the opening paragraphs of the first part.

I think the most defining part, however is the last line the entity says to Alice, and Alice’s thoughts on that. It says:

I remember.

To which Alice thinks:

The being spoke as if my current feelings were a memory, dwelling somewhere within it’s depth.

Lastly, she concludes her idea with what I believe is the most crucial statement:

I never thought about what I might gain, what I might lose... or what I might inevitably become.

Overall, my favourite part of this series is that seamless transition at the end that concludes not only Alice’s story, but perhaps also the decision of OP. It would certainly go along with the recurrent, and continuous theme of the series. Perhaps OP himself is the end goal of the road, to have been led there, and guided by someone who has taken the same perilous journey.

I’ve been following this series since day one. Thank you, /u/NeonTempo for giving me the pleasure and anticipation to read a truly remarkable story. One that has far surpassed any series on no sleep, and that of books I’ve read in recent years.

I don’t know what kind of ending I was expecting, but it wasn’t that.

I need some time to process what I just read...

This was an incredible, original, gripping story - maybe the best I’ve read here.

UPDATE No. 3: My landlady is acting really creepy and I don’t know what to do. Confession.

UPDATE No. 3: My landlady is acting really creepy and I don’t know what to do. Confession.

For all of you who have been following me on this journey, I’m so sorry that I have misled you. I have a confession to make.

In my first post, I wasn’t telling the entire truth. I have covered up certain facts that now, I am beginning to realise, are integral to getting myself out of this situation.

 

I have dreamt of that haunting figure in my old house since the incident on Sunday and I can’t keep quiet any longer.

 

In order to really explain why I lied, I need to give some background on my relationship with my landlady.

When I first moved in last year, we were on good terms and maintained a friendly relationship until this year. In that time, I got to know a bit about my landlady and her background. As far as I know, she’s never married and has no children, but she has two brothers and a sister who all still live in China.

She’s always been very secretive about why she moved to the UK alone, so I never pressed the issue. From what I can gather, her extended family are quite poor and she regularly sends money back to them.

 

At the start of the year, she confided in me that one of her grandnephews had just been diagnosed with leukaemia and the family was struggling to keep up with the medical bills.

She then immediately told me that she’d be raising the rent, quite substantially, because she needed to send more money back to help with her grandnephew’s treatment. Since my room was the largest one in the house, I was going to be the hardest hit.

I was immediately sceptical about the story surrounding her grandnephew, particularly since it came right before the conversation about the rent. I thought it was just a sob-story she could use as an excuse to hike up our rent and make a tidy profit.

I told her categorically that I couldn’t afford it and this understandably caused a rift between us. Our relationship degenerated quickly during the first few weeks of January and eventually devolved to us having loud arguments in the hallway whenever we crossed paths. She was afraid that I would become a squatter and I in turn was afraid that she would turf me out last minute, leaving me with no place to live (my boyfriend’s place is too far out for me to commute to University).

 

The situation escalated past the point of reconciliation and, on the night I wrote my first post, it had reached fever pitch. This is the point where the real story diverges from what I wrote in my original post. I was not innocuously asking if my boyfriend could stay over, nor was I the first one to initiate contact.

 

On that Thursday, someone at work had clearly tampered with my landlady’s lunch or eaten it, because I got a text from her at around 3pm saying:

 

“Where my lunch? You think this funny?”

 

I replied telling her that I hadn’t done anything to her food, but she didn’t believe me and kept accusing me of lying. The conversation devolved into her calling me some expletives, and I returned the favour.

This texting spree spanned several hours, since she was at work and was only checking her phone intermittently. By about 6pm, she finally sent her ultimatum. In her own words:

 

“You pay [higher rent cost] or you get out my house tonight”.

 

I was overcome with a mixture of anger and panic. It was in this weird haze of emotions that I said something that I now deeply regret.

 

“What’s the point in paying so much for all of this treatment if your grandnephew is just going to die anyway?”

 

I shuddered with contempt, disgusted with myself for saying something so heinous but equally inflated with a sense of self-righteousness against my money-grubbing landlady.

 

Everything I said about the storm was true and, when my landlady called me at around 7pm, the suddenly vibration of my phone did startle me. I was reluctant to pick up the phone, as I knew I was in the wrong, but I was still a mess of fear and rage.

 

I answered the phone to a cacophony of abuse from my understandably outraged landlady but, rather than concede, I decided to argue back. It is not something I’m proud of.

She must have been on her way to her car, because I could hear the rain in the background and the heavy sound of her footsteps. We must have been arguing for about 10 minutes before she suddenly paused. There was a sharp intake of breath.

 

Then I heard her get hit by the car.

 

I heard her scream; heard the crunch of her bones under the wheel, and the screech of tyres as the driver tore away from the scene.

I heard her weeping and begging for help, her cries smothered by a torrent of raindrops. And I hung up on her.

 

I had no idea where she was or what to do, but I felt somehow that I might be implicated in the accident or she would find some way to blame me.

So I went back to my computer, I put my headphones in, and I kept right on working.

 

It wasn’t until about 9pm that I finally mustered up the courage to send her a text reading:

 

“Are you alright?”

 

From then on, the story is the same. The creepy responses, the scratching on my door, the menacing whispers. All of that was true.

Deep down, I knew she was dead long before the police officer told me. I knew from the moment I hung up that phone, and I know now that she will never leave me alone.

 

I thought that offering up my housemates might help.

But it hasn’t.

You might be a piece of shit OP.

You made the right call. I haven’t read it yet, but every one seems mad at you so I’m just gonna go ahead and give you props for doing the right thing.

Edit: You're a bad person, OP.

You offered your roommates? That's fucked straight up.

umph.

I’m married to my ex-boyfriend from high school... the one I broke up with 10 years ago? (Part 2)

I’m married to my ex-boyfriend from high school... the one I broke up with 10 years ago? (Part 2)

What’s confusing is why is Beth telling this story as if it just happened? Stevens thread was posted just over a week ago about the reunion

This is insane I love hearing from different points of view I can’t wait to hear more!!!!

Yeah I wanted to give this a chance after the disappointing ending from Steven’s perspective but this timeline is confusing.

Stories on here are meant to be true. Made believable. This goes against the rules because Beth has already been taken care of so she can’t be typing this. Also it’s all already happened but you’re writing it like it’s happening now.

UPDATE: My landlady is acting really creepy and I don’t know what to do.

UPDATE: My landlady is acting really creepy and I don’t know what to do.

So this post is a follow-up to my previous one about my landlady acting strange. Needless to say, the situation has only gotten creepier.

 

The night I wrote the message, I had been working pretty much non-stop all day on assignments. Even though what happened with my landlady had utterly freaked me out, I ended up lying down on the bed and pretty much passed out not long after writing my posts.

I was so exhausted that I didn’t even turn out the light. Honestly I’m amazed I was able to sleep for so long.

 

The next morning I woke up feeling pretty groggy and I got up to make coffee. It was so out of it that I didn’t remember what had happened until I went to open the door and realised it was locked. I must have been feeling brave, because I opened the door and went downstairs.

I noticed my landlady’s door was closed and the coast was clear, so I went and made coffee as normal. I figured maybe I’d dreamt the whole thing, or at the very least that it hadn’t been as bad as I remembered.

 

I made coffee, got ready for class, and left the house on Friday morning. As I walked out, I noticed that my landlady’s car wasn’t parked outside, so I assumed she had gone to work as normal that morning and I felt relieved.

 

I was totally freaking wrong.

 

I came back from classes at around 5pm, went out to get some groceries, then came back to do some more work in my room. At about 7pm I was just flat out overcome with hunger, so I got up to make dinner.

 

As I opened my door, I looked straight at my landlady’s door and immediately stopped in my tracks. Her door was open, just a crack, and she was stood in the opening just *staring at me. All of the lights in her room were off and her face was obscured by the darkness, but I could tell there was something wrong.

 

I know this sounds insane, but it looked as though her lips and nose were missing. Like the bottom half of her face was just one huge cleft palate, with red open flesh marked by the whiteness of her bare teeth.

 

She kept alternately eyeing me and the threshold to my room. She was breathing heavily and making these grotesque guttural sounds, as if she was choking on water.

 

My room was fully lit but, without the hall light on, it was actually quite dark in the hallway. I had my mobile phone in hand but that was it. Without even thinking, I just made a break for it.

Blood rushed to my head and my heart was pounding. I could hear her door open; could feel the vibrations as she literally thundered after me down the hall. When I made it to the bottom of the stairs, I noticed that her heavy footsteps had stopped. She must have stopped at the top of the stairs.

 

The downstairs hallway light was on, and I feel like this may be somehow connected. Either way, I didn’t dare to look back. I shot out of that house and just kept running until I made it to the nearest café.

 

I was barefoot, I had no money, and my mobile was rapidly running out of battery. Fortunately I was able to get through to my boyfriend, who I’d already spoken to about the situation. He came to pick me up and I stayed over at his house Friday night.

 

I’m using his laptop to write this post out as we speak.

 

After I got back to his, I was feeling so shook up that I could barely move, but eventually he calmed me down and convinced me to call the police. I also contacted my other housemates, but one of them is currently back home in New Zealand, one of them still hasn’t responded, and one of them didn’t really understand what I was saying (English isn’t his first language).

When I mentioned my landlady’s name to the police, I noticed a sudden change in the dispatcher’s tone. She told me to wait and that they would be back in touch, but I didn’t hear from them again until today.

 

This is where it starts to get really strange.

 

So another police officer, this time a man, called me back and asked me to confirm my landlady’s name and our address. He paused for a long time, and then finally he told me that the woman I’d encountered in my house couldn’t possibly have been my landlady.

 

My landlady was killed in a hit and run accident on Thursday night. I was dumbstruck. I asked them why the police hadn’t contacted me, but it turns out all of us have been living in the house illegally (we’d been paying her cash in hand, so I had my suspicions) and they had no idea there was anyone else living in the house.

 

Apparently they were able to identify her based on her name badge, which she was wearing at the time of the accident. However, as despicable as this sounds, the police officer told me that her corpse had been robbed before they’d found it.

Her mobile phone, wallet, keys; everything but the clothes on her back had been taken. He said it was highly possible that whoever had her mobile phone was the one sending those text messages to mess with me, and they probably used the ID in her wallet to figure out her address before coming to rob the house.

 

At first this sort of made sense, but then I told him about how the messages were in Chinese. How would some random thief know how to write fluent Chinese? The police officer’s only answer to that was they’d done it the same way I had, by using a translator.

 

I then broached the subject of the creepy whispering and how disfigured the “person” that had chased me looked. He said he believed it might be a homeless person, potentially injured and suffering from a mental illness, but then I asked how a homeless person could possibly get from the scene of the crime to our address (over 30 mins drive away) in such a short space of time?

 

It all just doesn’t add up. If you were going to rob a corpse, why would you then go to their house and stay there overnight? And why harass people connected to the victim?

I asked him if anyone else had come forward in connection to my landlady and he told me I was the first.

 

After a lengthy discussion, he told me he wanted to meet me in person to try and get some information about next of kin, but first he was going to send some officers to our address. He told me to sit tight at my boyfriend’s house (where I am now) and wait until he called me back. I’ve informed my University to let them know and they’ve given me some leeway with regards to assignments and classes this week. I think this definitely counts as extenuating circumstances.

 

All of this happened at around 5pm today and I was starting to feel much better about the situation. I was going to write this up tomorrow and head to bed, but I just received this text message from my landlady:

 

“谢谢你请我吃饭”

 

I think I’ve managed to type it into Google Translate correctly, but all it says is “Thank you for asking me to eat”? I don’t get why she’s still talking about food? Is there something I’m missing here? Maybe she is some homeless person who’s stolen my landlady’s phone and is trying to trick me. But why does she keep using Chinese?

 

What should I do? Should I respond to the message, or phone the police and let them know?

I think she thanked you for bringing her food. The cops that went to investigate.

谢谢你请我吃饭 literal meaning is thank you for asking me to eat, but in spoken chinese it usually means more in the line of thank you for treating me to a meal. I think you just got the dispatchers killed, please update us OP

Hi! I speak some Mandarin and can kind of help you out here. Though google translate is right in giving you that translation, 请/请问 means please, sometimes 请 can also mean to treat someone to a meal. “Thank you for treating me to a meal”

Omfg I thought I was reading /sub/legaladvice.

I felt the baby kick [Update]

I felt the baby kick [Update]

Part 1

Dr. Ambrose stood silently by the bed, as the ultrasound technician rolled her equipment in.

“They’re just going to take a quick peek, okay, Mia?” I said. But I could hear the quiver in my voice, and she looked back at me with fearful eyes.

“Is the baby okay?”

I no longer had the strength to explain, once again, that we had miscarried. So I simply said: “Yes.”

She smiled at me – a warm, beautiful smile – and my heart sank.

“This is going to feel cold, okay, honey?” the technician said. She squirted jelly onto her abdomen, and then applied the probe.

An image appeared on the screen. Gray lines and curves, sweeping through swaths of black. I leaned forward, trying to make sense of the image, but it was so jumbled –

“There’s the head,” she said.

Mia squealed with delight.

A round object appeared on the screen. It looked, remarkably, like a normal baby’s head from ultrasounds I’d seen online. I breathed a sigh of relief, and squeezed Mia’s hand –

She moved the probe down.

I gasped.

A mess of pointed, sharp lines. Not the natural curves of tiny little arms and legs, not cute miniature hands and feet, not anything that looked remotely human –

“My God,” was all Dr. Ambrose could croak.

And then –

The screen went black.

The technician fiddled with the dial. “That’s so weird,” she said. “It just stopped working. Let me try to – ”

“It’s okay, Mandy. That’s all I needed to see.” Dr. Ambrose began walking to the door, and motioned for me to follow.

The hallway was cold and quiet. The footsteps of patients, the murmur of the nurse’s station, were muffled and distant. I felt – no, hoped – this was all a dream, somehow…

“Mia’s in danger,” he said, sternly.

My heart began to pound. I felt the tears burn my eyes, the hospital spin around me.

“If we act quickly, we can save her,” he said, adjusting his glasses. “We have to remove it, as soon as possible.”

“Remove? You mean kill?”

“Well, yes, it would die in the process.”

I turned to the window. Mia was lying on the bed, one hand on her belly, smiling. And I could hear, through the door, a muffled lullaby…

I felt the tears rolling down my cheeks. “If that’s the only way, Dr. Ambrose. Whatever it takes to save her.”

He nodded, and began down the hallway.

“Wait, Dr. Ambrose!” I called after him. “The ultrasound – have you seen something like that before?”

He didn’t turn around.

“I think we should buy him one of those cute rattles,” Mia said, caressing her belly. “You know, the ones that have the colorful beads inside, and the plastic ends that are good for teething.”

“That sounds great, Mia,” I said. My voice trembled, as I held back a sob. Behind me, I heard Dr. Ambrose open the door.

“And we’ll do –”

Clank, clank, clank.

Mia looked up, as Dr. Ambrose rolled the metal cart across the floor.

“What’s going on?”

“He’s just getting some stuff ready,” I said.

Mia bolted up, with such force that I jumped back. She stared at the tray, and the metal instruments that gleamed on it. “What are you doing?”

“Don’t worry,” he said in his calm, soothing voice. “I’m just going to check on the baby.”

He walked towards her, needle in hand.

“No!” she screamed.

“Mia –”

She lunged at him.

I tried to hold her back. But she easily swatted me away, suddenly much stronger than before. She grabbed Dr. Ambrose’s shoulders, and shoved him aside.

Crash.

He collided with cart. The instruments clattered to the ground. He stumbled up, but slipped and fell back down, his head making a sickening thwack against the floor.

And then she ran.

Down the hallway, faster than I’ve ever seen her go. “Mia!” I screamed, my feet slapping on the linoleum. “Please, come back!”

Two nurses intercepted her. One grabbed her shoulders, trying to pin her against the wall; the other tried to use her body weight to knock Mia off balance. But she shoved them aside, as forcefully as she shoved the doctor, and ran towards the exit.

When I got there, I yanked the door open, and screamed her name.

But there was only darkness.

We found her the next day, on the outskirts of the forest.

She was alive – but bloody, bruised and weak. So back into the hospital we went. Dr. Ambrose wasn’t happy to see us, but even he had to admit the truth: she was in perfect health, and there was no trace of – well, whatever had been inside her.

We returned home that afternoon. As I tucked her into bed, and turned on the TV, I asked: “What happened out there? In the forest?”

“I don’t remember,” she replied.

She may not have remembered her night in the forest, but she remembered everything else – where we lived, what I liked at the grocery store. We even had a little anniversary celebration.

Everything was back to normal.

At least, that’s what I thought until tonight.

At three am, I woke up in an empty bed. The door to our bedroom hung open, and a sliver of golden light shone through. “Mia?” I called.

In response, I heard the rumble of a car’s engine.

I threw on my jacket, ran down the stairs, and opened the front door. The taillights of her car glowed in the darkness, disappearing behind a bend.

And then I did something I’m not proud of –

I jumped in my car, and followed her.

Mia took three rights and a left, taking her down a secluded street that bordered the woods. She pulled over at the curb. I cut the headlights, scooted down in my seat, and watched her.

She stepped out of the car, and walked towards the trees.

Then she lowered something into the grass.

I squinted.

No.

It was a rattle, with multicolored beads, wrapped in a pretty blue bow.

First, congratulations, new mommy. Second, do not judge your baby just because he is different, he can be a good boy. Good luck.

Well that’s good! I was afraid her baby would tear her apart as it tried to come through the birth canal.

Kid must be pretty tough to make it out there all on its own.

As the other mama, she has to bring it home though, it’s your birthright.

Nah, kill it with Blessed Silver. Solves that problem.

Congrats on the baby boy?

Try one of these subthreads