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True Scary Stories Megamix 50 Of The Creepiest Ones I’ve Found In Awhile

Mystery guest

A few years back, I lived with my mother and german shepherd in a two bedroom rented town home. I got home from work one day and went about my daily routine. When it came time to eat dinner i knocked on my mom’s door to come and eat. I smelled cigarette smoke and heard her grunt a response. So I went back down and ate alone. I figured i would just put a plate away for her. Fast forward to about 2 am, I am awoken by someone holding my hand and gently shaking it. I immediately shoot straight up and look around. My dog, who is overly protective and sleeps with me every single night, isn’t in bed. She isnt even in the room. She most definitely was on my bed when i went to sleep. I sleep with the bedroom door shut and locked. She is scratching at my closed and LOCKED bedroom door from the hallway. Frantic. I bolt for the door. Let her in and she is searching the whole room. I’m now yelling for my mother. No answer. I force my dog to walk down the hallway with me. I still smell cigarette smoke. I bang on my mom’s door. No answer. So i just open it. She ISN’T even home. The bed is made and her tv is off. My dog and i search the whole entire house. Nothing is out of place. All the doors and windows are still locked. I was freaked out to say the least. The next day i called my mom and she told me she left early the day before to go visit my sick grandfather.

An ‘abandoned’ farm

I used to have a penchant for wandering around abandoned buildings when I was in high school. One time a friend and I decided it would be a good idea to explore a farmstead that hadn’t been in use for years. The whole experience was really bizarre.

The farmstead was accessible by a long gravel road that brought you to a cluster of dilapidated buildings around a central barn. We parked at the end of the gravel road near the turn off to the main road so we could walk around the property and just pull out quickly later. We went into the barn first and there were deer bones arranged in a circle around the skull and a bunch of blankets and wood stacked in a corner of the room. We thought it was really cult-ish and weird, noped our, and started walking back to the car.

Halfway down the gravel road we heard crunching, heavy footsteps and someone screeching behind us. Blood curdling screeching. We sprinted back to my car and tried to peel out of there as fast as possible but it had snowed the night prior and my back tire was stuck in a puddle of melted snow. My friend was screaming because she was so freaked out but wouldn’t turn to look at the path behind us. By the time I had gotten the car unstuck she turned around to see if there was someone following us and there was no one there.

I could have been a bird or something, but we both swear up and down to this day that someone was following us. I actually thought I was going to die that day.

A clan ritual

A friend of mine, who I think is trustworthy, was driving home on country roads late one night. He decided to take the gravel short cut past an old cemetery. He noticed several trucks and lights at the cemetery so he started to pull over to see what was going on. There were a bunch of motherfuckers in white hoodies in a circle. Some sort of Clan ritual we think, but don’t really know. He noped out of there really fast but some of them saw him and followed him in his car all the way back to town.

Walking in the dark

So, I visited my ex-MIL in rural Georgia over the summer couple years back. We’re talking deep, deep, deep rural South. No light pollution, so you can see a billion stars and the actual Milky Way across the sky. Well, the night I went it was one of those slim crescent moons, so it was even darker than normal. I can’t see my hand at the end of my outstretched arm levels of dark.

I’m walking their little rat dog around the yard along the edge of a forest and I’m probably 200 yards from their little trailer (which is the only source of light besides my flashlight). This little rat dog stops dead in his tracks and starts trembling. He looks up at me with his bug eyes popping out. I hear a rustle of leaves and a twig snap, maybe 20 feet to my left. I scoop the rat up and start powerwalking back to the house, looking in all directions with the flashlight.

Once I get halfway back, I hear a bloodcurdling, high-pitched scream from hell. It sounded like a woman was getting stabbed. Oh shit, this is some Hills Have Eyes shit and I’m gonna die. I ran as fast as I could back to the trailer.

A gift from a ghost

This one is kinda creepy, but also kinda comforting. This story was told to me by my grandmother, who is a no-nonsense kinda broad, so I believe every word of it.

My grandma had a neighbor/friend who unfortunately lost her husband when she was young, about 40 or so years ago. It was a sudden death, cardiac arrest or something like that. So this woman was so upset, because for a couple years after his death, she couldn’t dream of her husband. For some reason it really bothered her that she couldn’t experience a dream with him in it. It’s almost like she wanted it for the comfort.

Anyway some time passes, and this woman is preparing to sell her house and move closer to her kids (they lived a state over). Suddenly, she gets her wish. She starts dreaming, and her husband is in them. She has multiple of these dreams, and in every one her husband wakes her up, sits down on the bed, and starts speaking to her. However, his speech horrifies her. It was described to me as “backwards” or “garbled”. I imagine it to be something similar to the way Twin Peaks characters speak in the Black Lodge. So yeah, pretty goddamn creepy. She can’t make a single word out.

A few days before she’s about to move out for good, she goes to bed and dreams of him again. The dream is the same – except she understands ONE word he says. He grabs her in the dream and repeatedly says “rafters” – almost seeming panicked. She wakes up rattled, but returns to sleep.

The next day, as she’s finishing up packing in the basement, she looks up and sees the rafters. She remembers the dream, and is compelled to reach into them. She does, and pulls out thousands of dollars worth of WW2 bonds her husband had purchased without her knowledge. She swears he never told her about them. So he appeared in her dream to tell her so she wouldn’t leave all those bonds behind when she sold the house.

Story still gives me chills today.

Mystery tooth fairy

This is less scary/horrifying/creepy and more “unsolved mystery that still bugs me.”

When I was 5, the tooth fairy came and left me a quarter for my tooth. She also left me this beautiful intricately carved wooden pencil box.

In the morning, my parents both asked me where I got it. I told them the tooth fairy brought it.

Almost 30 years later, my parents still swear up and down it wasn’t them. They’ve confessed tons of other things they did, so I believe them when they say it wasn’t them. I would like to know where that thing came from and who put it there.

Tea shop of horror

When I was younger, my mom, my grandma and I liked to go to this little frou-frou tea shop that was about 40 miles from our home. It was a cute little place where you could get the classic tea and sandwiches and cute little desserts and all. One time we went, all was normal, but on the way home we received a call that my other grandma had passed away. Very sad, but as she had been battling cancer not exactly unexpected. The next time we went, a few months later, on the way home we received a call that my uncle had died suddenly of a heart attack. Creepy coincidence for sure, but we still did not think too much of it at the time. We went back a third time a few months after that, and for the third time on the way home, we received the phone call that someone had died. This time it was my grandpa’s brother. We never went back to that tea shop again. Now all of these people were elderly and not exactly in the best of health, so them passing away around the same time was not exactly creepy. But the fact that three separate times that we went to this place, three people died the same day and we received the calls on the way home, makes me think something about that place was cursed. It has since closed but I’m still nervous to even go to that area to this day.

And… another haunted tea room

This was circa 2001-2003 in Morgantown IN at a place called Auntie M’s Tea Room, sadly it is no longer there.

On three separate occasions while cleaning up after closing time I heard what sounded like a small child crying. It was soft and every time I tried to walk towards the sound it seems to grow further away or move into a different part of the restaurant altogether. It was unnerving to say the least.

A friend of mine worked there with me and once after hours she heard me call her name from inside the stock room and at the same time I heard her call my name from the front of the restaurant. We ran into each other on our way to answer the calls. We were both very confused when we realized neither of us had actually called the other at all.

Lastly and most chillingly… two people I knew passed away very shortly after eating at Auntie M’s and I was the person that served them their last meals on both occasions. One passed in an accident the other of a heart attack. Was just their time to go… but it really creeps me out that in that restaurant I served two different people their last meals on Earth.

Abandoned amusement park

I used to go explore abandoned places with my friends too! The weirdest experience was at this abandoned amusement park we went to.

The last time we had been there a skeleton of a cat had fallen from a ceiling tile inside of one of the buildings and freaked one of my friends out, but I wasn’t there, so I don’t know much about that incident.

But this park has a long walk to get to the entrance, and the gate has been bent just enough that you can step through it at the right angle. So we walk probably a mile across a field to get to this gate, and step inside. The first building is some sort of old storefront type of thing. We walk up to it and one of my friends notices a light coming from inside and we all fall silent as he steps forward to peek in. He looks back wide eyed, and naturally, the urbanexploringrest of us go over to the doorway and check what he saw.

The whole wall opposite from us was on fire.

It looked like it had purposely been lit on fire like no less than 10 minutes before we got there and we straight sprinted back to our cars after that.

Freaky shit.

No one was home

A few years ago I was trying to get hold of my parents for something, can’t remember what. Neither of them answered their cell phone so I called their home phone. The line picked up, and it sounded like someone was talking, but it was very distorted. After about 10 seconds the line disconnected. That was at 9 PM. My parents called me back around 10:30 – they had been out at a movie, which had started at 8:30. They live alone.

Stranger’s gifts

So, this is going on as we speak, but let’s take you back a couple of months to when this all started.
One nice warm day, end of August, early September I go outside and find this little ball of fur/feathers/hair and a dangling earring hooked in on my porch. Weird, I thought. I brought it up to my husband and said that there was some weird juju shit on our porch and it freaked me out. I was not touching it but it needed to go. He suggested that it was a nice gift from the tomcat next door, or something that our dog dragged home. My dog has never done that before, but hey, a way more logical reason than someone leaving weird juju shit on our porch. Cool.

Then last week, this fully intact lower mandible bone of a whitetail deer shows up on our porch in the exact same place as where the hair/feather/fur ball was placed. Again, I ask my husband about it and he says that the dog must have brought it with him. Again, something that he’s never done but logical. I still wasn’t going to touch it. The weird fur/feather/earring ball was still fresh in my mind and if someone was leaving weird shit on the porch I wasn’t going to touch it (thanks for taking that danger on, hon). It stayed on the porch for a while.

Yesterday, I was studying, facing my front door. Around lunchtime, my dog starts freaking out and I look up and there’s this older, disheveled looking lady (I think?) on our porch, who I had never seen before, walking toward our front door. She leaves something on the bench we have out there and turns around and walks away. After a beat, I get up to grab whatever pamphlet she left on our porch. Except, she didn’t leave a pamphlet. She came onto our porch. Took the lower mandible bone and moved it onto the bench. Right in the middle of two posts of the porch fence, right in line with a bright ray of sunshine. So, now I’m pretty convinced that there IS someone leaving weird shit on our porch and here’s hoping we’re not cursed!

Abducted in plain sight

My family and I went to Dubai in 2004 (I was 7) and we were in the hotel pool when we see 2 big men suddenly come in and steal this family’s little girl who looked around the same age as me and sped of into a car. There’s nothing anyone could’ve done because we were all in the pool and the daughters mother started crying historically. We ended up having to write a witness report for the police. I still wonder if they got their little girl back.

A voice saved my life

I was in a major car accident over a decade ago. My car was hit by another car in such a way where I lost control of the car, the car somehow went on a full circle on the highway. I t-boned a jersey wall, completely destorying it and cracking the next two in line, and I bounced off that onto an off-ramp, with my side of the car facing traffic.

I am about to exhale when I hear “hey kid. When I start counting you have 8 seconds to move your car or you’re going to be hit by an 18 wheeler. Do you understand? 8…7…6”

Voice didn’t have to tell me twice, I threw my car into drive and got onto the shoulder. At 1, an 18 wheeler drove by the spot my car was parked on.

I should have died, according to the cops surveying the crash site later, but I walked away with a few bruises and I needed a root canal a few days later. I probably imagined the voice, but damn I’m believing it was something other worldly.

Bell-bottom ghost

I’ve posted about this before, but when I was about 9 years old, 1995, in the middle of a bright summer day, I went to the refrigerator to get a popsicle. Suddenly a roughly teenage-looking guy, with long brown hair (like this), wearing a beige turtleneck and red plaid bell-bottoms (like this, but with dark green and black lines), turned around the corner into the hallway to my left, then vanished from toe to head as I looked at him. Told no one about it for years, until after my mother mentioned meeting the (now grown) kids who lived in the house before us, who asked her if she’d seen “the bell-bottom ghost”.

A friend

Walking home forest at night with a friend at like 2am (dont even ask…), we were about 14. We were having good time, talking etc. When out of nowhere our “friend” shows up and starts talking to us. Our friend started chatting with us and I felt a really strong sense of euphoria.

This friend knew both of our names, and things that he shouldnt have like exact details of inside my room, and things that happened to me before I moved into the country. Then he was just gone, and we both collapsed, physically exhausted.

It was then that we realised that we had never met this “friend” and we were still 10km from town and another 2km from our campsite. We just lay there for for so long, recovering. I never actually properly saw my “friend” I kind of just knew he was with us, and I can’t recall his voice either, All I remember is him asking to take us to his house “just turn left”. My real friend luckily had the sense to not let me go. That left turn led to this unfenced lookout with like a 5m drop to rocks. Dont even want to think about what wouldve happened if i had listened. Scary shit

Lost key

My friend asked me if I would go to her house after work and feed her dog as she would not be home until 3am or so (she worked in a bar).

I arrived at her house at 8:30pm and got the key she had left under the mat to unlock the door. Once I unlocked the door I turned off the alarm and put the key in a white bowl by the door (I am 100 percent sure I put the key in the bowl)

I fed the dog and played with him for a little while then went to lock up the house again and leave but the key was gone. Just then the dog started furiously barking and ran full speed out of the kitchen and up the stairs. He just sat there growling at nothing. The feeling that came over me at that time was so strange. I randomly burst out crying and couldn’t stop. Eventually I calmed down, put the dog back into the kitchen and looked for the key.

It was literally nowhere. I ended up finding another key that worked so I just locked the house and left. I told my friend and she looked daily for about a week. Then one day, the key was back in the white bowl.

A shadow person?

When I was in elementary school, I shared a queen size bed with my older sister and our family dog (a mutt that looked like a short haired Lassie) would sleep at the foot of our bed every night. When I was about 6 years old, I woke up one night around midnight and saw a dark figure standing at the foot of the bed. The figure was entirely in black without any eyes or a face. I tried to wake my sister up, but she rolled over to go back to sleep. My sister must have accidentally kicked the dog, because the dog woke up and raised her head and started growling at the figure at the foot of the bed. The growling then woke my sister up and she saw the figure and started screaming. When my parents came into the room and turned the light on, nothing was there.

Speaking in tongues

My wife has told me that very occasionally I talk in my sleep in some other language. She has no idea what I’m saying, but the language sounds a little bit familiar to her. When smartphones became a thing, she recorded me one time.

I listened to it the next day, and at first I thought it was Italian since some of the sounds and cadences were similar. I don’t know Italian, so that seemed really odd. I shared it with a colleague who grew up with Italian – turns out I was speaking Latin, which he had learned as a student.

I studied a bit of Latin as a kid. It’s long gone now, although I can recognize some words and know some Latin conjugations. He said that as far as he could tell, it was pretty grammatically correct and that I was talking about a mountain and a lake.

Weird as hell.

Loose screw

About a year before my son was born, my boyfriend’s father died. I had never met bfs father, but heard stories of his twisted sense of humor and how he liked to screw with people.

My boyfriend was not particularly close with his Dad. We lived in NC and his dad had taken off to Seattle when my bf was young. I don’t thing bf really grieved until our son was born and he realized that his dad would never meet him. That hit him hard.

Over the first month of caring for our newborn, we started to notice screws that had fallen out of household items. Kitchen chairs, towel rack, screen door, outlet cover… The most random shit. More than a dozen loose screws in the span of a week. Kinda weird, but we were sleep deprived parents and didn’t really have the mental stamina to waste trying to figure it out.

One day we’re chilling in the living room and a screw falls out of the light fixture and lands in my bfs lap. He starts laughing hysterically, so hard he can’t breathe. When he finally calms down enough to tell me what set him off he holds up the screw and says, “I finally get it. My dad is screwing with me!”

Never had a loose screw since.

Footsteps

So as a youngster me and my brother were staying up late playing video games since we didn’t have school the next morning. It was maybe 3am when we decided to shut it down and get in bed. My room is at the end of the hall while my brothers was right next to mine. After we shut it off and put the controllers away we both hear these heavy slow footsteps coming from the kitchen. The kitchen was the only room without carpet so they sounded pretty ominous. We gave each other a look and I called out down the hall “Dad?”. Well then the footstep sounds trailed back towards our laundry room and stopped. That’s also where our basement door is. Well we knew something wasnt right so we both start yelling for our mom and dad and they come rushing to us all sleepy and confused. And we frantically explain what we heard. My dad goes and checks it out and tells us that all the doors are still locked and closed and there wasnt anything showing anyone was in the house. Plausible explanation could be that it was just a murderer that broke in and scurried off when we called out but I always wondered what if it was a murder ghost instead.

Night visitor

My dad told me the story of when he was just out of college and visited friends in California. This was just prior to the Night Stalker killings in the 80s. My mom stayed home because she was not feeling well (actually was pregnant with me). My dad was sleeping on his friend’s couch and heard someone walking around. He called out his friend’s name, then his roommate’s and the walking stopped. He heard a window close after that and then nothing.

It’s very possible someone had climbed in the back window, was in the house, and my 6’4″ 240lb college football player of a dad scared him off by calling out. It’s kind of a family dark joke that my dad scared Richard Ramirez away, but my mom hates thinking about it because the dates and location works out that it very well could have been him in his early years “trying it out” before he started killing.

My wife is here

Used to do hospice home care. People who are actively dying see shit. Thing is it’s almost ALWAYS friends or family who have passed before, angels or demons. Never, like, a random dog. Or a kid they never met. Or a plate of spaghetti.

The rational explanation: It’s cultural. Even if you’re not a believer, everyone hears stories about white light and beckoning relatives and anegls and demons. So that’s what people see when their oxygen levels drop and their bodies are shutting down and they start hallucinating.

The explanation that scares the fuck out of me: someone with one foot in this world and one in the next can see things I can’t. The scariest one was a man who seemed TOTALLY LUCID. Normally dying people don’t make tons of sense and will occasionally say something like “My son is here, do you see him?” and then back to nonsense. This guy was otherwise in his right mind – except he was telling me about his wife who was sitting at the end of his bed. And she had dyed her hair again, despite him always liking her natural grey, but at least she had on that blue dress she always looked so good in. He had a perfectly rational conversation with her about how he missed her but the doctors said he would see her soon and not to worry, he wasn’t scared, he knew he was a very old man and no one lives forever.

Part of me thinks he was just having a different experience of death/hallucination. Part of me thinks he was fucking with me. Part of me believes she was there, I just couldn’t see her because I’m not dying.

I always worried one day I WOULD be able to see what they saw? What then, huh?

Lock your doors

I lived in one of the oldest apartments in the town I was living in. Couldn’t sleep one night but eventually I must’ve dosed off as I started having an incredibly vivid dream of myself laying in bed – everything the exact same as in reality – except my door opened and a creepy old lady started ominously walking towards me. I woke up and freaked out. I always lock my door, but just to be sure, I went and checked it. It was unlocked.

In utero memory

When I was pregnant with my first I had the worst night terrors. One night I was having a night terror where aliens were hovering over the house and had taken me to the dining room where they laid me on the table and tried to remove the baby from my uterus. I never got back to sleep that night.

Never thought of it again until a few years later, my son was now 4. We are driving home from somewhere when he pipes up from the back seat,

“Hey Mom – do you remember the night the aliens tried to take me from your belly and you said no?”

The goose bumps were instant and the husband and I just looked at each other out of the corner of our eyes……….still freaks me out!

Grandfather

My grandfather was a truck driver and taught me everything I know about driving, especially in snow.

I used to work at a drugstore and one night, I was closing another store in our chain and we had a snow squall that unexpectedly dropped a few inches of snow in our area. I wasn’t very familiar with the area, and I had my mom’s car so I wasn’t used to the car either. The snow was still coming down and I couldn’t see, so I was creeping home and panicking as I saw cars spinning out all around me. All of a sudden, I saw a light in my passenger side-view mirror, and I turned my head and sitting in the passenger seat, plain as day, I saw my dead grandfather. I heard him say he knew that I wasn’t freaked out by a little snow, and then I heard his voice rattling off all the things he taught me about driving in the snow. I looked back towards the road, and then he was gone.

It was a calming experience, when I saw him it was more “okay, Pop’s here, I’m okay,” instead of “OMG you’re supposed to be dead WTF,” and I stopped panicking and got home without a problem. It was most likely just my brain/eyes/whatever playing tricks on me to get me to stop panicking, but to this day it still freaks me out.

Evil laughter

Me and my family woke up in the night to the sound of manic laughing. Like evil manic laughing. All of us heard it, it was coming from the attic. My dad being not superstitious or scared of anything was white as a sheet. He pulled the attic ladder down and went up to find an old Dairylea Cow alarm clock that had faulty sound randomly going off. Don’t believe any supernatural activity made it go off, just hearing a manic evil laugh in the middle of the night from the attic made us shit ourselves.

Someone watching me from the woods

One time, I drove back to college after Christmas but before the winter break was over, so I was the first of my roommates to get back to the house we were renting. Our house was in a pretty isolated spot on the outskirts of a town in upstate New York. I pulled into the driveway behind the house, went to the trunk and grabbed one of my bags and then ran inside because I had to use the bathroom so badly- I’d been one the road for over five hours. I was inside the house using the bathroom for maybe five minutes.

Afterwards, I went back outside to get the rest of my stuff from the car. And there were footprints in the snow all around it.

Now, as I said, I was alone in the middle of nowhere. The only set of footprints should’ve been mine from where I’d gotten out of the car on the driver’s side, walked to the trunk, and then walked to the back door. Yet now, there was another set of footprints circling the car, and then leading into the woods at the back of the property. It appeared that the footprints had originally come from the woods as well. I had left my trunk open when I was inside because I’d assumed I was alone, and nothing had been taken. But someone had seen me arrive, come out of the woods, circled my car, and returned to the woods.

I grabbed the rest of my shit, locked my car, ran into the house, and locked the doors.

Mountain cottage

Moved into a cottage on the mountain. My back yard was a tree line. The moon lit everything so beautifully well, it hardly seemed like night at all. I began having recurring dreams. It was the same dream every single time. In my dream I would see myself laying asleep in my bed and then It switched from third person view to first person view. In the dream, I awoke to a whispering female voice. The thirst hit me. In the dream it was unbearable. I would climb out of bed , open the French doors, and head to the kitchen sink to get a glass of water. As I neared the sink, the voice would get louder and louder but I still couldn’t make it out. It was as if it were a foreign language but not one that I had heard before nor since.

Then, standing in my kitchen and looking out the window right above the sink to the tree line in my back yard well lit by the moons light, the voice suddenly became clear. She said “the devil is in the woods”. At this point a shadow darted quickly behind the tree line. I would then wake up from my dream , standing in my kitchen in the exact spot that I was in the dream. This happened almost every week for the entire duration of time that I lived in that house. It also always happened close to or right at 3 A.M.

Ghost mom

I remember one time as a child, I was home on a Saturday morning. For a bit of context, back then, my mom would usually go into work on Saturday mornings and be home usually by 12 pm. Now back to the story, I was sitting on the couch watching tv. The time started approaching 12 which meant that my mom was almost home. I very vividly remember hearing a car door close, hearing the car lock, and my mom walking into the house calling my name. When i got up to go greet her, there was no one there. Still creeps me out.

The window

When I was younger my older cousin lived with us for a bit because she was having behavioral problems at home. My parents had to go at night to pick someone up from the airport so the left my brother and I with her. My brother and I were both in bed in my room at this point (I think it was a school night) and she was up in the other room doing homework or something. But she finished up so she comes into my room to lay down with us but as soon as she opens the door or house alarm starts going off.

She quickly shut the door and come over to me to tell me to be quiet before goin back to hold the door closed since it didn’t have a lock. My brother (who’s older than me by a year) then woke up very confused about what was going on. So the alarms going off were all scared out of our minds and we can’t even call for help because her phone was taken away and we were too young to have one.

Our only option is to get to one of the landlines. One in the kitchen and one in my parents bed room. So we all get ready and at the same time we all run to my parents room and lock their door. My cousin checks their bathroom and closet to make sure no one is hiding in there before calling my parents to let them know what’s happening. They say they’re only two minutes away so don’t worry. But let me tell you those were the worst two minutes of my life.

After all is said and done we find out through the alarm company that the window in my parents room is what tripped the alarm. AND THATS THE ROOM WE MOVED TO!!! To this day my parents are convinced she was just trying to sneak in a boyfriend or something but I’m certain someone was trying to rob the place or worse and got scared off by the alarm because of how completely terrified my cousin looked.

No!

Personally, I’ve had an extremely strange experience and I don’t know whether to chalk it up to my 12-year-old brain at the time, or if it actually was of the paranormal nature.

My best childhood friend used to live in this house that was technically two houses merged into one, both were very old. The first night that I ever slept over, he told me about how a woman who lived in one of the houses lost her mind one day and drowned her children in a basin in the back, many years ago.

It was around 4 A.M. and I woke up in the middle of the night needing a drink of water. I came out of his bedroom, passing the staircase that leads to the second floor on my right, and walked out into the kitchen. On my way back to his room, for some reason I stopped dead in my tracks at the foot of the stairs, which I hadn’t really been looking at in my haste to make it back to his room.

I turned my head to look at them, and instead of a staircase leading up to the second floor there was a set of stairs going downwards on an intense angle, into what looked like nothingness. It was pitch black.

I stood there for what felt like 20 minutes, just gazing into this abyss that was before me, that wasn’t there before. My brain didn’t even register it as strange.

That’s when I heard an ear piercing (I mean, it sounded like it came from inside of my head) woman’s voice scream “NO!”. Needless to say, I booked it back to his room and I haven’t really said anything about it since it happened. The weird thing is that I can remember it like it was yesterday, even though so many years have passed and I’ve probably forgotten about more important events since then.

Haunted living room

A couple of weeks ago, I was laying in bed trying to go to sleep and I hear my TV come on. I lay in bed a few seconds hoping to hear my fat ass cat jump off the coffee table. I get up and go out to the living room and said fat ass cat is posted up on a table by the window and nowhere near the TV remote.

The way my house is setup, my bedroom is behind the living room and my living room TV is perpendicular to the wall, not parallel.

So I walk up to the back of the tv and right when I get next to it, it shuts off. Glow of the screen disappears, sound stops. I am 100% freaked the fuck out so I unplug it.

I go lay back down in bed. My heart is still going thump thump thump and I’m trying my best to pretend everything is a-okay.

So I lay there a few more minutes and then I HEAR MORE GOD DAMN NOISE FROM THE LIVING ROOM. I am so freaked out. I get my stun baton out to go check out the new noise. Because I might be able to tase a poltergeist?

I poke my head into the living room. The tv definitely isn’t on. I listen for a few seconds and realize this noise is coming from my laptop. The laptop I haven’t opened in probably two weeks.

I lift the lid on it and utorrent has decided to open itself and start running pop-up ads. I mute the laptop, go back to bed, and lay in bed awake until 4 am.

In the morning I’m texting my boyfriend about it. He does so googling. Turns out almost dead tv remote batteries can send garbage signals that the tv will interpret as the on signal. I’ve had my tv since 2011 and the remote still has vizio branded batteries.

I still don’t have a good explanation for the laptop.

Cursed

In two cases, my wife and I had dinner at a restaurant that then burned down that same night.

One was a pizzeria that was next to a sport hall (indoor tennis courts). We had dinner there, then read the next morning that the whole building was destroyed.

A couple of years later, we were on vacation in Namibia and went with the whole tour group for dinner to Joe’s Beer House in Swakopmund. The next morning, our tour guide told us that the place burned to the ground after we left that night.

Will-o’-the-wisp

I once saw a will-o’-the-wisp. It scared me shitless.

For those who don’t know, it’s a light seen at night in desolate areas of the countryside, hovering in the distance like a ghostly lantern. It’s one of the most widespread legends in the world, having many different versions in a variety of cultures, and it’s believe to be a ghost or a demon.

Scientifically speaking, the most plausible explanation regards to the decomposition of certain chemicals in a corpse (often cattle) which creates phosphoric acid, which can create a light.

However, when you’re in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night, fight or flight gives very few fucks about science.

Dark shadows

When I was about 14 for I started sleeping on the floor in my room (it helped with my back pains). I finished watching a movie on my laptop and for some reason I was looking at the light coming from the gap under the door to my bathroom. Then I saw two shadows pass, like two slow foot steps. There was no one in there. It scared the living shit out of me I started crying. I got up to check the bathroom but it was empty aside from a few beetles that had gotten through the hole In the fly screen. In all honesty that’s probably what it was – just some bugs over a light. Had me sleeping in my sisters bed for a month.

***

My husband and I live above our place of business. Out alarm company called us at 3AM to say there was a motion detect alert, just one, in a weird place. We assumed it was a mouse but went to reset/check it out.

Husband ended up face to face with a burglar who was on his way out the window he had broken. He ran back inside, I called 911 and we heard mad chaos going on in the depths of the building. So much crashing and smashing.

Burglar monkey climbed a 10′ iron gate, bodily smashed through two sets of commercial grade glass doors and was outside again. My husband was like yeah FUCK this dude, tore after him and tackled him. He got him on the ground and pinned him.

Bear in mind the whole time I’m narrating to 911, and chasing around in panties and tank top. I was a bit behind my husband, in the middle of the street about 15′ away when a minivan squealed around the corner.

It was his GF/getaway driver. I luckily missed it- I was super focused on reading the license plate which was one of those cutesy font out of state ones and therefore hard to read but she yelled “Get the fuck off him or I’m running your bitch over.”

Then she tried to. The audio and video I had to watch for the trial was horrifying. I had blocked it out nearly completely, and really didn’t remember how close it was. She guns the engine at me, I throw my hands up in front of my face when I realize what she’s doing and scream, and jump out of the way with inches to spare.

He jumped in and off they went. He bled all over my husband (YIKES) and eventually the DNA and the partial plate info nailed them. They’re both in prison. Addendum, trials SUCK.

***

My dad was a meth addict. He did lots of fucked up things – dropping me off at trap houses to have “sleepovers” with other “coke babies”, living in a house full of animal shit and hoarding. He sicked his pitbull on a black child. He was a real fucking character.

One night he came looking for my mom and I at our place. Mom wasn’t there. Grandma was babysitting me. I was sleeping in bed when somebody started to try and open my window. It was locked, but they kept jamming something into the bottom to try and force it open. At the same time, I heard the living room door being tried by somebody else. My grandma snuck into my room in her nightgown, apparently woken up by the same thing, and told me say NOTHING. Don’t even whisper. We laid under my bed while a group of men shouted for my mom to come out, slammed their hands on the windows to try and break them, and jumped on my grandma’s car.

She called the police and barely whispered into the phone. Eventually the cops arrived and the men scattered. Long story short, my dad and his other methhead friends came to the house with guns and knives with every intention to kill me and my mother because she was going to get custody of me. If my mom wasn’t so vigilant with locks (we had three different kinds on the front and back doors), we would have died.

***

My sister had this one friend when we were growing up I always got a bad vibe from. She would try to pick on my little brother but I would always stop her. I was 8, she was 10. Once we were at a lake and all the kids were swimming. I swam out to the deep roped off part but I was still little and really shouldn’t have. She kept acting weird and getting closer to me making this weird laugh. She pushed me off the wooden pole in the water and I got scared and started to swim back but she came up behind me and pushed me under the water. It didn’t click at first that she was trying to drown me but after she aggressively pushed me under the 3rd time I had this crazy moment of clarity. It was like the world slowed down ever so briefly. I relaxed and let myself sink, swam underneath her, and came up behind her. I grabbed her hair and shoved her face into the water, keeping my legs on her back so her body couldn’t rise. I waited until her struggling slowed down and let her come up. I waited in the water saying nothing, bracing myself for her retaliation but she just looked panicked and swam back to shore.

I told my sister who had already expressed that the girl was weird. We confronted her together and she just looked really dazed. In a monotone voice she said “I’m sorry, I didn’t know it would be like that.”

It wasn’t until I replayed those words in my mind later that I realized what she was saying was ‘Sorry I tried to drown you, it wasn’t until I was almost drowned myself that I realized how horrible it is to do to someone.’

***

I was out with a few friends, and with us was a girl that had just broken up with a psychopath (we didn’t know he was a psychopath, we found out that night). We were just walking back home from a restaurant, it was about 1 AM, and the guy came running out of nowhere, I don’t know how he knew where and when to meet us. He ran to the girl, lifted her shirt up and stabbed her in the gut, literally splitting her belly open like a fish, and then ran off. This whole thing happened really quickly, so we were all in shock. The girl was holding her own intestines in her hands and she was so shocked that she didn’t even seem scared, wasn’t screaming or anything. She just stood there. We called an ambulance and they managed to somehow put everything back and sew her up. This happened about 3 years ago and she still has pretty serious problems with her digestive tract, can’t eat certain things and that kind of stuff. That image of her just standing in the middle of the pathway holding her own guts will remain stuck in my head forever. The guy got 13 years in jail btw.

Edit: Now that I think about it, a big part of why they broke up was his constant abuse towards her weight. She wasn’t even fat, just a bit on the chubby side, I wouldn’t even call that overweight, but he would always tell her that she had a big gut. That was almost an obsession for him. So maybe the fact that he stabbed her in the abdomen is a symbolic action of some sort. I don’t know what was in that fuckhead’s brain and I honestly don’t even want to know.

***

I’m grew up in a poor country in South America and in the city I lived in we had a lot of slums. Think of a stereotypical slum somewhere in Brazil or Colombia, and that’s what we had. I am from a middle class family so we grew up mostly away from the dangerous areas, but every once in a while our worlds would intersect.

One such instance was during a school trip to a part of the slum that was fighting back against the gangs by trying to create jobs and keep their streets clean from drugs. We went there to study this phenomenon and to help paint some of the houses of the locals as part of a community service initiative.

Everything was trouble free until one of the gangs decided that this was the day when they would march into this part of the slum and reassert their dominance. Like 10 mean looking dudes just went straight up to the house of the local community leader to give him a chance to change his ways. This apparently pissed a lot of the locals off who gathered around the house and started getting very agitated. They weren’t as well armed as the gangsters, but there were probably 200-300 angry people with machetes, pipes, some guns, just getting angrier and angrier. Eventually the gangsters caved in and agreed to leave, but the crowd was out for blood and they pounced on them and beat the shit out of them and dragged them through the streets.

To answer the question of how we escaped a murder attempt. The crowd at this point was running high on emotions and adrenaline and like a collective hive mind they decided that our arrival was probably what prompted the gangsters to come to their slum in the first place, so they wanted to teach us a lesson to never interfere in their business again. Our teacher panickingly stuffed us all into the small school bus and drove off as people were coming at us and waving their machetes menacingly in the air.

I’ve read about the phenomenon of “crowd mentality” before but largely dismissed it. On that day I experienced it and it was the single most dangerous and scary thing i’ve ever seen. Here were a bunch of largely peaceful people who just wanted to do an honest day’s work and not get caught up in gang bullshit, suddenly turning into violent zombies who wanted to chop my head off.

***

Serious:

I had a guy high on both meth and acid break into my apartement in college. Somehow he was convinced he lost his glasses inside. Im doing dishes when my door gets slammed open. Next thing I know he is behind me im being choked to death in my kitchen.

As I was loosing consciousness I grabbed my roomates acrylic bong and frantically swung over my shoulder into his face. The bong broke but did nothing as the guy was choking me even harder. So I swung it again. Because the bong broke the first time I was hitting the guy with a 6 inch claw of acrylic glass.

Afterward his scalp and part of his cheek were hanging off the side of his face. Essentially I scalped him with a bong.

So I chase the guy out of my house. There is easily 2 feet of snow outside. He tries walking back to his house through a cemetary as a shortcut (Seriously ). And he passes out in the cemetary. The police only found him because I called the cops and they followed the blood and footprints through the snow.

And thats the part I was supprised about the most. I hit the guy on his scalp. There isnt much blood in a scalp compared to most the body. But my kitchen was covered in blood. His blood was on my refridgerator, counter, floor and celing… it was almost as traumatic to clean it. My roomates were gone for winter break. Thank god my roomates girlfriend came over and helped me.

Now as for the guy. The cops couldnt charge him for 2 days because he needed blood transfusions. He was charged with assault, breaking and entering and attempted murder. Not sure what he got convicted of but he went to jail for 4 years.

***

When I was two weeks into my first job as a 16 year old (at a smoothie establishment that should be known to NBA fans), we were robbed. It was late, and my coworker’s friends had been playing pranks on her all day, so when I saw someone burst through the door, i thought it was just that. Until, that is, i had something metal pressed against my back and an arm wrapped around my chest. The robber gave the whole stereotypical “give me all the money” spiel, and ordered us to go into the back room, kneel down, and face the wall. As I was kneeling and hearing him walking towards us, time seemed to slow down. Thankfully, I had been refilling juices whenever he came in, and so the door to the back room was partially blocked by a heavy cart. With whatever substance he was on, he wasn’t coordinated enough to get past it to us, so he fled. He was followed by my coworker’s husband and caught. When he was caught, they found an industrial sized pipe wrench wrapped tightly in his fist, so that he could get a stronger grip when swinging. I’m so glad that cart was there. Once a year or so, I would look him up in the parish prison roster to see if he was still in jail. One year, he suddenly wasn’t. I later found him named in a lawsuit as having stabbed his cellmate a half dozen times while the guy was asleep. Definitely doesn’t seem like the nicest of people. Nine years later, I’m still unpacking this incident in therapy – it’s why I dont like walking around cities at night or sitting where I can’t see the door.

***

I was exiting a bar once after last call and was with a friend who was a medic. We saw a girl laying in a snow bank near a telephone pole who had just been hit by a car. We ran over and tried to help her, some others were already on the phone with 911 and I, not having any medical training didn’t have anything to contribute but didn’t want to just leave, the whole situation was concerning.

I turn around for a second and start to hear people screaming… I turn around a a minivan was heading for us, the few people around this woman. They already started to run, but I was too late…

He hit me as I was trying to flee… put the car in reverse, ran over me again, and then went forward and run over me a third time.

Turns out the guy was high and drunk and got into a fight with the women’s bf, whom I bared a strong resemblance too. He thought I was him. Not to throw a pity party for myself but 9 years later I have a ton of medical issues, and my life pretty much started on a downward spiral since then… but sure, I guess I “survived”.

Edit: For everyone wondering about the guy, An off duty cop watched the whole thing go down, and copied his license plate number. He was apprehended 20 minutes later & charged with attempted murder, along with many other things.

He plea’d out to just 3 years in jail. He had actually killed someone else a few years before drunk driving. How they thought that was appropriate is beyond me.

***

I got jumped by two grown men when I was a freshmen in college. I was walking back from my friends house and it was about 30 past midnight. One posed as a homeless man asking for a dollar and the other had on a security jacket like he worked for the university’s safety patrol. When I passed the homeless guy saying I had nothing to give him, I saw the “security” guy walking towards me. This is when I felt a rear neck choke hold and the “security” guy started whaling on me. I had my bag on me, but like I said, I literally had nothing on me. They couldn’t take me down to the ground (surprisingly..I must’ve had an adrenaline rush). The guy posing as a homeless guy said “open the back pack, find anything let’s dip”. This lasted about 2-3 minutes, but it felt like forever. The whole time I could feel something pointy in my back, but I just like to think that the guy was extremely excited, and it wasn’t a knife. Luckily, it was right outside my friend’s house and a couple of them came running out when they heard the commotion. The guys fled immediately when 3 of my friends came sprinting towards them. I still look behind me when I walk home alone.

***

When I was a kid I was riding my bike home from a friends house at sunset. I rode past the community pool which had been closed for a couple months. There was a car in the lot with a guy in it. I didn’t think much of it as I continued the trek home. I cut through the local elementary parking lot which has gates. I get like 20 yards past the gate and I see that car pull up at the bottom. Thinking that’s odd. Anyhow he backs out away from the gate. My spidey senses were kinda tingling at this point. I get up to the school and head towards teacher parking lot which is my standard direction. As I’m about to turn the corner I see headlights from the parking lot. I stop and peek around the corner and it’s that fucking guy again. I flip my bike around and start going the long way around the school. He sees me but just gets back in his car. And starts driving around the front of the school. I camp in these bushes, heart pounding. He is slowly driving up and down the front of the school keeping an eye on the teachers lot. Another car comes down the street and he has to move his dumb car out of their way. As soon as he does I just blasted up to the street and full tilt flew my bike into some random open garage. So I’m hiding in the garage waiting for him to come around again. But he doesn’t. I give it a few minutes then decide to pop my head out. Still no one. Ok I’m a few blocks from home just gotta go for it. Bust out the bike and start hauling ass home. Not half a fucking block later this dude turns the corner on me. I just veer my bike into some random lawn and run up to the front door. I look at him and he’s just in the street staring at me. I grip the front door handle praying to any and every god these people don’t lock their doors. I see his reverse lights flicker and I know he just put it in park. I just rip that door open, run inside and slam it. Two old people just sitting there. I look at them and I’m like some dude is trying to get me out there. They don’t completely believe me cause they barely react to what I said. But they don’t kick me out or anything either. I’m watching the dude from their window and he’s just chilling. Then the grandpa looking dude gets up from his Lazy Boy and opens the curtain to look for himself. When he does this the asshat in the car just leaves. Old guy is like well looks like he’s gonna leave. I’m like I’m not leaving for a bit. So I hang out for 10 min and no creepy abductor car to be seen. I assume he figured i called the cops. Finally I’m like I have to get home. This is before cell phones were common for average people. I hop on my bike and I swear it felt like I drove 35 mph the whole way home. Get home and tell my parents. I’m exhausted and in complete shock. They basically brush me off. I’m stunned that every adult I interacted with acted like I was crazy. I basically never talked about it again it was so traumatic to talk about at the time.

That image of him in his car while I held the door handle to the random house is permanently seared into my brain. To this day it’s still as crystal clear as if it happened yesterday. Like 18-20 years later i decided to confront my parents as to why they didn’t do anything that day. They were like wtf you talking about. I explained it far better than I could’ve when I was a kid in complete shock. Anyhow, with the current, more expansive explanation my mother b-b-b-broke down. She started crying at this public restaurant cause she saw how serious I was when I was like how could you ignore what I said that day. As well as talked about how that morphed my stranger danger techniques for better or worse. Thankfully I was on the verge of puberty and ended up becoming a giant human being so my actual fears diminished quickly as I could defend myself. Until I moved away from that town however, I looked every day for that god damned car. Never saw it again. I would fantasize about what I’d like to do if I ever found that guy, hell, I still do.

TLDR dude tried abducting me at like 10-12 years old. Got lucky hiding in random garage and some old people’s house. Never got any level of justice

***

I was around 20-21 years old and walking home at about 3 am after a night out and I was absolutely plastered from drinking so much, I was about 200 meters from my house when a hooded figure jumped out from behind a bush and immediately had a knife pushing into my stomach as he grabbed my neck and tried pulling me in, fortunately I was stronger and pulled away, he went to lunge at me with the knife when suddenly he stopped, stared for what felt like an eternity but was probably a second or 2 and then said “Holy shit, I haven’t seen you in so long, my bad mate” and then walked off like nothing had happened. I still don’t know who he was to this day.

***

If you’re from the area I’m from this will probably sound familiar. But I got absolutely black out drunk at an end of the year/graduation party and ended up having to get taken home early. Later that night another student at the party ended up stabbing and killing 5 people. Turns out he had mental issues (schizophrenia) and thought everyone at the party was a werewolf/vampire who threatened his life. He never went to jail but ended up being founded non criminally responsible instead…

***

Had a homicidal roommate. He would graphically describe his murderous fantasies in vivid detail to me. Very gory stuff like peeling faces off and slicing guts open. Over the course of my time knowing him, he would describe his victim in detail. Every element of his descriptions aligned perfectly to me, with unsettling detail. I would confront him about this numerous times, stating I felt unsafe and asking if he wanted to hurt me etc. He would always slide around the questions with his words, never saying anything reassuring or direct. These conversations always left me feeling much more unsettled.

One day he just walks into my room with a dazed look on his face, almost as if he were in a state of psychosis. He sits on the foot of my bed not saying a word. I sat on a chair about 4 feet in front of him, and asked him what’s going on? I had a very disturbing feeling at this point. He quickly reaches into his pocket, pulls out an open-blade knife, and lunges at me. My first and only instinct was to lunge back at him. I grabbed him by the shirt, pressed my forehead to his, and screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!”. Shaking him as hard as I could. His eyes went scared, he dropped the knife, and just stumbled on his words, uttering “I don’t know, I don’t know’” as he walked out of my room. In hindsight what I did was pretty dangerous, I should have decked him right in the face or something else. He was a pussy when under confrontation, so I don’t know if he could have actually stabbed me. It was scary though! I reported this incident and past behaviors to the apartment management. He was evicted, the police got involved and searched his room. They found “illegal weapons” in his closet, whatever that means.

***

This all happened many years ago.

I was a lead man at a factory. A girl starts working there, and I take an interest. After a few months, I find out she is in a terrible drug-fueled abusive relationship. Every night, I tell her to call me, I’ll come get her. Finally after months, she calls me, I come get her and take her to my house.

The guy she was in the relationship with didn’t take too kindly to me taking her away. He spends the next 2 years harassing and threatening us.

A few months after she and I got married we went out for a few drinks. Her ex just happened to be at the bar we went to. He apologized to us for the threats and harassment. We were sitting outside talking with a few other people.

Next thing I know, I’m on my back on the ground with someone choking me. I try all I can to get them off of me, but being blindsided and them being on top of me, it wasn’t easy. As I struggle to get free, everything goes black, then I see “the light at the end of the tunnel”. In that moment I was certain that this was the end of me. I somehow manage to get a better hold of this person’s head, and I yank them off of me. We run to the car and get away.

A week or so later, my wife had been talking to everyone she thinks might know what happened. Turns out, her ex had paid 2 people $50 to kill me that night.

***

Chilling with the bros drinking at a park. As we drive off to leave, a car coming our way almost hits us. Driver obviously reacts like “wtf” and I guess the other car noticed.

They turned around and caught up to us at a stop sign. Other driver asked if we had a problem, we told them stop driving like assholes. Then their back window rolls down and two guys in the back draw Glocks with drum magazines.

We just kind of froze up at first but then our driver pulled off hastily. Later found out those guys got arrested for shooting someone else that same day.

***

A couple of years ago my brother and I went to walk the dog at like 11pm. We left through the side gate (live on a corner) and right as we exit I see this weird looking dude at the corner of the footpath walking weirdly towards us. Got bad vibes and told my brother to get the dog and get back inside. This dude is walking kind of side on and hiding something in his hand behind his back, as I’m getting my brother through the gate the dude says something like “oi mate can I come in, I need a blanket I’m freezing” I just ignored him and went inside and locked the door. We then get a call from the people who live two doors up, the same dude knocked on their door and their 10yo son opened it to see the dude holding a fucking hatchet. Anyway I’m glad I went with my gut on that one.

***

I was 15-16, at a party. I went outside on a balcony for a smoke with someone I was talking to, and there was already a guy out there. We chatted as a group, and the friend went back inside. I started chatting with the guy who was already out there, who seemed a little funny. He started talking about how he was in the Army for a little bit but got kicked out, then pulled out a big knife and handed it to me. I looked at it and gave it back to him. At that point he pushed me against the edge of the balcony, put the knife to my neck, looked me in the eye, and said “do you know why I wanted to join the Army? I wanted to fucking kill people, man. People just like you”. He then made a slicing sound with his mouth and took the knife away, then started laughing.

I went inside, grabbed my gf, and we locked ourselves in a bedroom. He ended up smoking a lot of meth that night and was kneeing holes in the wall and beating on the door. I slept with my knife under my pillow. The next morning he seemed totally normal, except for the fact that he had turned his jeans into short shorts.

Fucking scary looking back on it.

***

When I was 15 my schoolfellow, whose brother I was friendly with, asked me to follow him outside to a lightly wooded area behind our school where kids used to go smoke. Everything seemed totally normal- we were making casual small conversation- and once we got to the spot I said “hold on, I have to take a piss”. Turned my back on him to do the deed and next thing I felt was a super hard punch to my upper right back. Turns out this “punch” was actually a stab- specifically, a stab with an 8″ knife. He was kind enough to A) inform me I’d been stabbed and B) remove the knife. Survival instinct kicked in and I fell to the ground pretending to be dead, because he would of kept going otherwise. Once I fell to the ground he took my watch off my hand, which we soon learned (according to him) was the impetus for the stabbing- he planned to pawn it (a $200 Fossil watch my mom bought my on vacation to Italy a couple years earlier) and buy some coke. Once he ran off and I started getting up I noticed something was very wrong… I couldn’t breath. My friends happened to be behind the school when I emerged from the wooded area yelling for them to go get help as I’d just been stabbed. They thought I was joking around as I usually did, but one of them finally came over after I fell to my knees and saw I was being for real, blood going everywhere. They’d fetched a teacher who proved to be the human embodiment of incompetence- she got the bright idea to have me lay on my stomach, which could of expedited the process of flooding my lungs with blood, but thankfully didn’t as I only stayed in that position for a few seconds. The pain began to intensify as I was constantly gasping for air, but also some nerve damage had been done and my movement was greatly constricted. They propped me up against the lockers by the back entrance, where my blood coated the wall, and it took about 25 min for the ambulance to arrive. I was still in a great deal of pain even with the oxygen mask on, but it was nothing compared to the pain I’d experience shortly after in the ER/OR where they made a 5-6″ incision under my armpit in order to get at my lung so that they could insert a chest tube. The feeling of having the doctors hands INSIDE of me, feeling around and holding my lung while I was still awake (under local anaesthetic) is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever encountered and a sensation I will never forget. I still don’t know why they couldn’t have put me under fully for such a procedure instead of administering local all around my body… At this point my parents had been brought in and were in hysterics after seeing me on the OR table with blood everywhere. My mom was at home when the principal called to notify her what’d happened and ordered a cop to drive her to the hospital, a trauma centre about 30 min away from our home. My dad was at work on a construction site and went into a rage, getting together a band of his friends/workers to come to the hospital to find out who did this- they wanted to go kill the guy, but my mom managed to talk some sense into him. I was the most innocent 15 year old kid, never into drugs, alcohol, gangs, etc. and struggled for a long time with the question of “why me?” when there were so many much worse people out there than me… not that anyone deserves this kind of punishment. Was a $200 watch worth it? I spent a couple weeks in the hospitals trauma unit and then a further month or two at home recovering. Whoever stitched me up did a horrible job as they kept coming undone and I had to visit the ER several times to have that fixed… bleeding out in public was NOT fun… Psychologically it honestly didn’t do too much damage as I think I was just too young to grasp the full weight of what’d happened… but physically it left the entire area around my upper right back and right arm/armpit completely numb for the rest of my life. I was also told that the lung could randomly collapse at any time– apparently that’s a possibility for those having suffered a traumatic pneumothorax, can anyone confirm?–, but it’s been almost 15 years since the incident and I haven’t had any major issues with the lung thus far. The guy who did it was 17 and protected by the young offenders act here in Canada, which means he did zero jail time for this… I think he just got some community service hours. Blows my fucking mind- what a dysfunctional system…

***

Someone shot 17 semi-automatic rounds into my house while everyone was asleep.

They nearly shot my kids, they hit my bed I was sleeping in, there were bullets dinging around the room. It was pure dumb luck no one got killed because it was over by the time we were even able to react.

***

Like a decade+ or so when I was a kid my family and I took a trip to Tanzania for safaris. Well, one night near the Kenyan border we were out spotlighting for bush babies when a pair of headlights appear in the distance and blocks our car. A bunch of dudes with AKs hop out of their truck and our tour guide drops his head to the wheel and keeps his hands on it. Me, being what like 10 whined “what’s happening” and my parents basically quietly and sternly told me to shut the fuck up and stay down. Any time the guys with guns ask our tour guide questions he would just mumble responses and not look up. Apparently my mom watched the dudes rubbing their crotches and staring at her and my sister (who is just a year older than me). After probably like 10 minutes (but it was so long ago and I was so young I don’t really know) the dudes put their guns down, hop in their vehicle, and drive away. While pressing our tour guide for questions we would only get response like “oh they were just game wardens looking for poachers” and other bullshit.

Turns out it was (according to my parents after snooping around) a Kenyan militia who goes around and kidnaps tourist groups to hold for ransom. They stop one group, call up the owner of the park/ preserve, and say basically they’ll let this group go if he agrees to pay the ransom but if he doesn’t they’ll kill them and ruin his business if they don’t get X amount of money. If the game warden agrees to their ransom then they let the first group go. If he doesn’t then they kill and/or rape them. And then try again with the next group. If he doesn’t pay the ransom by then, well you get the picture.

Awfully, although this was one of the more urgent near death experiences our family has had, we still laugh about it since something terrible like this happens on nearly every trip we go on with the family. Israel and Egypt, nearly had bombs go off on us. South Africa, got stuck in a river with a very territorial hippo and jeep stuck on a termite mound with a very pissed leopard stalking us. Also in Tanzania I stuck my face in a boomslang and didn’t notice. India something else happened but I don’t remember what, I’ll add it if I remember. It’s a running gag with our family at this point, and we just assume any family trip we take something awful will go wrong. So much weird random shit happens to our family that our friends ask “what happened this time?” after a trip.

***

I don’t know if this counts because I didn’t find out until ten years later.

When I was 7-8 years old, when my parents broke up. My dad apparently tried to kill me and my mother, along with everyone in the household at time. Including the cats. He failed to get in house. The 2 times he tried.

***

In my late teens, I used to buy my weed from random dudes in the projects (low income housing.)

One day we gave some money to a guy named 40. He took it and went inside one of the buildings. We waited in the car for several minutes. We started to think he had taken our money and left. Right about that time, a car full of coked-up white dudes pulled up beside ours. Apparently my friend owed them money. They pointed a gun at him and said that if he had enough money to buy weed, then he could pay them back.

I really thought they were going to shoot us and just drive off like it was nothing, and I hadn’t even done anything wrong. I thought I was gonna pee my pants.

Right about that time, 40 came back out with our weed and an even bigger gun. He scared them away and then we went back to his apartment and smoked a blunt. What a good man. Turns out he was only selling weed because he had a 6-year-old daughter and that was the only way he knew to give her a better life than he had.

I babysat his daughter occasionally for the rest of that summer. I really hope she got a decent childhood and that her dad stayed safe and out of jail.

***

My brother has BPD and is totally incapable of controlling his emotions. He saw red and came at me with a steak knife and stabbed me several times in the neck. I guess I was lucky in that most of the stabs glanced off me as I was protecting myself with my arms, he didn’t really strike any clean shots where it could have cause me to bleed seriously but he wasn’t really aiming. A few inches to the left and he could have hit a major vein.

***

I was 15 and outside in my garage petting my cat. It was November so it was already dark by 5pm. Someone opened the door behind me without me hearing, grabbed me by my Ponytail and starting dragging me outside. They hit me on my head with a brick and knocked me out. Pulled me halfway around my house when (I’m guessing this is when) they stabbed me on the left side of my stomach. This must have brought me out of my daze, because my mom said she heard me scream from inside where she and my brother And sister were in the kitchen. They came out the front door and saw me bleeding out on the side walk, called 911. had 12 stitches (double layer) and a severe Concussion, and whiplash. didn’t eat and hardly slept for a week. They never found them.

***

Sophomore year of college went with a freind to go hang out at his old college. We were supposed to crash with a few freinds of his but we met a few ladies and ended up at a pool party. Next day went home and my freind started getting calls from one of his buddies moms asking if he’d seen him.

Turns out in the middle of the night a few guys broke into the house kidnapped my friends buddy and roomate. Took there car and drove them out to the middle if nowhere and executed them. I guess it was part of some gang initiation.

I was supposed to sleep there with my freind. I still somtimes think about it and get the shivers.

***

Serious

May 18, 2018. School shooting at Santa Fe Highschool, I was a sophomore at the time. Don’t really want to dive into the details but I remember running through the grass thinking that they were shooting into the crowd of kids running. Scariest moment of my life, but at least im here for the 1 year anniversary of it all.

***

A customer pushed me onto a rollercoaster track in the station (I work in a theme park), luckily rides are covered in sensors, and I tripped one. Which stopped the ride.

***

Was walking with a few friends to hit the bars after a bottle of Tequila as a young dumb 17 year old, through an abandoned dockyard because fuck getting a Taxi, we’re invincible right? Well outta nowhere a dozen men ran out of the darkness near a crumbling abandoned water tower with knives shouting at us, so we all take off naturally. Now we get to the bridge on the other side of the dockyard and my friend gets grabbed and the assailant goes to plant a knife in his back, I grabbed the guy and pulled him into some bushes right by the Waters edge. My friends continued to run and made off fine, I however was corned, and stabbed 4 times, including once in the head (will upload pics for proof if this takes off). As I’m lying against the fence and they’re deciding who’s going to finish me off one of them starts shouting my name because I knew him from school. He might have been in with the wrong crowd but he rugby tackled the one that was about to finish me off, pulled down the fence and sent me running. Still think about him time to time, between the Fluoxotine and the PTSD.

***

I was abducted at a gas station during undergrad. The locks on my car were broken, and as soon as I got back in, a strange man came in and forced me to drive him to an ATM. I am paralyzed with fear so any sense or reason I had went out the window. He claimed he worked at Wendy’s and for my generosity he would give me all the Wendy’s I ever wanted. On the way to the ATM he showed me pictures of his daughters (on his clearly stolen cell phone). Then a Whitney Houston song came on the radio and he starts BAWLING his eyes out and screaming “Why do all the good people have to die, only bad things should happen to bad people.” I go to the ATM, take out cash, give it to him thinking it’s over. He then makes me get back in the car and drive him somewhere else. We pass by some train tracks and I’m thinking this is it, this is where I will be murdered. He asks me what I’m studying in school, and I tell him Biochemistry. “I believe in jet propulsion and all that shit. WE ARE NOT ALONE ALIENS ARE AMONG US.” He then makes me pull over at a gas station and he tells me “drive away sweetheart”. I call the cops, had to do a line-up, apparently this dude had done this to a ton of other women, and some were less unscathed than I was….

***

Some time ago when I was like 14 years old I found a second handed guitar advertised online for a very cheap price, I wen’t ahead and contacted the seller, who ended up being someone who studied in the same school I studied in, so I went to his house and found that the guitar had no strings, which was no a problem to me but we got to an agreement of him putting new strings on the guitar if I went with him downtown to purchase them, to which I said yes.

We went downtown, got the new strings, and while getting back, a random guy approached us and started asking for money, I paid no attention but then this random guy pulled out a fire gun and pointed at us, he said that he was the guy in charge of the zone that we happened to be walkind around and that we must pay him in order to cross by.

I was kind of in shock but then the guy I was with (the guitar seller) started a discussion with the guy who had the gun and while they were doing that, the seller told me to run, and with no doubt I startet to run away as fast as I could right thourgh the middle of a street and between running cars, something obiously dumb, but I was in shock, so that was my reaction.

I remember that when I started to run, that guy still had the gun pointing at us, so while I ran I was weirdly expecting the sound of a shoot, but luckily that didn’t happen.

***

I used to live on the outskirts of downtown and would go visit a friend that lived downtown. He lived in a place that’s kind of like a halfway house so he wasn’t allowed to have overnight guests so I’d leave his place at around 10pm and catch the bus back home. The streetlights at the nearest bus stop were all out and that made me uncomfortable so I decided to walk to the next stop which ended up being an awful decision. There was an old guy under the influence sitting at this bus stop and he tried to hit on me. I ignored him and then he called me a bunch of names and started acting violent. I turned around to walk away and he reached over to grab me by my hair. He starts punching me, we fall to the ground and then he starts slamming my head into the concrete repeatedly. I was so focused on trying to fight back I never screamed or anything. A minute later a group of men end up pulling this guy off of me, restrain him and call the police. If those guys had not been in the area I probably would’ve died because the old guy was not slowing down. I was too traumatized to show up to court when he was charged so he ended up only serving 3 months.

***

I was walking to a bus station at 6 in the morning, and some dude on the sidewalk pushed me over and sliced at my throat with a knife, then walked off. Luckily his knife was blunt as fuck and so I got away with just a cool scar. I asked a guy who had witnessed the whole thing to help me call the police, and he said nah. Then I went on with my day.

***

Well. My mom got mad at me when I was 20 and I didn’t give her money for her birthday, which I’m assuming was to pay off drug dealers of hers, so she stabbed me between the ribs. Ended up getting stuck in the bone and had to get it taken out in surgery.

***

I went to Trafalgar square for new year with my friend about 18 years ago! We got totally sloshed on whiskey, fantastic atmosphere, 100s of people walking around! From memory I must of looked really pissed (that’s whisky for u), went for a stroll outside the bar on my own, stumbling probably, grinning ear to ear, when a stranger took my arm and started walking away with me. I was so out of it I just went along!

We bumped into a couple and I very quietly pleaded that I didn’t know this person! Thankfully they stopped and pretended they knew me and dragged me back!

Always dread to think what would of happened!

***

I was riding in a train across Eastern Europe. I was running low on money and even though I had been warned that a woman should not travel alone in second class seating I did not spring for first class. I was sitting alone in one of the compartments that seats six. This was also a mistake and a very stupid one to sit alone. Eventually the train stopped and a man got on – he was very drunk. He came into my compartment and I guess thought I looked like his ex-wife. He attacked me. If it were not for the fact that this particular station was the border between two countries I would be dead. Instead border patrol from both countries were on the train and while I was unable to scream, the door was open and at least a half a dozen uniformed men jumped him and saved me. I was in the hospital for a little while but recovered. At one point during the trial, one of the cops asked me if I wanted him and his buddies to hold the guy down while I hit him. I thought he was joking. So I said no, go ahead you do it. I was also joking. But it turns out they took it seriously and were about to! I did put a stop to that at least. But they were so offended that someone from their country would attack a young female American tourist. They were furious with him. So many people there depended upon tourism

***

I was doing volunteer work in Central America, working in a really bad area of the capitol city–it was a slum built on top of the city’s garbage dump. The whole place reeked of trash, and there were large metal cylinders coming up out of the ground throughout the area to vent the gas from decomposing garbage underground.

As a fellow volunteer and I walked down a dirt path, two men approached us. I’d never seen them before. They were acting strangely, but I just thought they were drunk or high–a lot of people in the area drank rubbing alcohol to get drunk, since it was cheaper than beer or liquor. Over time, drinking the rubbing alcohol would really mess with their brains.

As the men got closer, they began acting really friendly–too friendly. One of them came close to me, trying to put his arm around my shoulders. At first, it seemed like the behavior of a guy who gets happy and friendly when he’s drunk. However, an alarm went off in my head, and I gently–but firmly–pushed him away. I tried to make it seem lighthearted and playful, like, “Hey, man! How’s it going?” (Affectionate shove.) I didn’t want to make a scene, since I was a gringo; I didn’t want to seem like an ugly American.

This went on over and over down the whole path–he’d get close, I’d shove him off, he’d come close again. Finally, my friend and I came to a fork in the path, and we went one way while they went another.

After we got to the house of some people we knew, we told them about the two guys. (I was so focused on protecting myself, I didn’t even notice much of what was happening with the other guy.) They said, “Oh, everyone around here knows him. That’s his routine–he comes up to people, pretends to be friendly, puts him arm around them, then pulls out his knife and stabs them in the stomach.”

I was that close to getting stabbed to death.

***

Was a bouncer at a club in LA for a minute in the 90’s. Stopped some dudes clearly affiliated (in a gang) at the door after they refused security checks. After a few minutes of their threats & Manson lamps they left spewing all sort of warnings.

A little later it starts to wind down and because it’s a little slow & we’re overstaffed so I start to drink. I get a bit drunk (not wasted, but sleepy-buzzed) so I tell my buddy I’m going to go lay down in the back of his car for a while.

A few minutes after lying down I realize I have to piss. I get out and stumble a few into a spot between a guard gate (for a parking lot) and a building for a little privacy (there’s a few dozen people milling around in front of the club). I’m about 25 feet away from the club’s entrance and just off an alleyway.

While I’m relieving myself, a dude runs right past in front of me, around the guard booth to my rear, and unloads a 9mm (recovered rounds from back seat/trunk/roof/bumper) into the back seat of the car I’d just crawled out of.

“bam bam bam bam…” Unloading into the car.

He then turns, runs right back past me, and down the alley into the night. Don’t think he saw me at all.

Nothing really came of it. Except my partner was convinced I was a “marked man” and refused to be near me for a year or so.

Edit: holy crap, I kind of expected this to get buried. This was Los Angeles. I was about 25 (almost 50 now) so some specifics are long gone – but I remember this: my buddy was genuinely terrified by this, I don’t think he knew anything about it (in fact he seemed to interpret the event as a larger conspiracy to have me snuffed – not some random pissed off dude making a point/getting jumped in) and because he ditched the car/wouldn’t take my calls it got left at that. For those concerned with the car – it was, like, a 1980’s rusted out sedan…maybe a $500 car. Details about the slugs/number of rounds fired were relayed to me later by third parties (my friend and I were known in the neighborhood, people were talking about it). Thank you for the well wishes. Honestly though, this wasn’t even the first time I was shot at (it’s been a long strange trip).

***

Throwaway because it got some media. I’m a criminal defense attorney. I was representing this guy that had embezzled almost $500k from his business partner. He was looking down the barrel at several years in prison, a bunch of his assets had been seized by the government, was being sued by multiple creditors for north of $2 million, and was in the midst of an ugly divorce and wasn’t allowed to see his kids. I was one of 3 lawyers he had – criminal, civil and divorce. He was drinking a lot and using coke — I used to get this incoherent phone calls in the middle of the night that ranged from threats to crying.

He came to my office one day and asked for me but I was in court. My secretary said he was perfectly civil. He then went to his divorce lawyer’s office and shot him to death. Got stopped by the police a short distance away and was wounded in a shootout. He would later tell the cops that he had come to my office to shoot me that day and also planned to shoot his civil attorney.

***

I have a friend who had a party at his parents house when he was in high school that a ton of random people went to. He got super drunk during the party and went upstairs to go to sleep, knowing that his friends would watch the party for him. My friend woke up from his nap to a guy from his school sitting on top of him stabbing him death. He was stabbed seven times before it stopped and he laid there on the bed dying. The only reason he is still alive is because his best friend came upstairs to ask him if it was alright if he made a frozen pizza and found him. The assailant was put in jail and recently was released and it scares me to know that a guy who “wanted to know what it would feel like to kill someone” (said during the trial), is still out there free.

***

I jumped out of a moving vehicle. This was in college in a different country. There were commuter buses that takes us to and from the campus and dorms. I had to stay 30 mins later for a project so around 7:30 PM by then the commuter rush was gone. I was the only passenger and I was sitting at front next to the driver.

He was acting already shady, it was dark and rainy. He made a sudden dark turn of a grassy unlit hill. He said somethings wrong with the tires. I said Im getting off, he wont let me.

The hill leads to a cliffside where rapes and murders have happned before. I had the pointy stick of my umbrella facing him ready to jab if he tried anything, which he tried to reach/grab for me. I jumped and ran straight to the highway were another commuter bus stopped surprised seeing a girl coming out of the tall grasses.

I saw the driver of my previous ride, speeding away. Nothing was wrong with his tires.

***

My supposed best friend decided that my wife and I were too perfect. Therefore it must all be an act and I was obviously abusing her.

He was at our house after I made an awesome dinner and we were having fun drinking and singing karaoke.

I went to the kitchen to put some glasses away, came back and leaned on the couch with him slightly behind me to the left of me.

Then I heard a thunk and felt an amazing amount of pain on the top of my head. He had picked up the whiskey bottle on the table and smashed it into my skull.

I was very confused as to wtf was happening. Then the blood started pouring. I didn’t want to get blood everywhere so I went to the kitchen.

Dude is pacing back and forth saying weird shit. I thought about my gun (which was close by) but I wasn’t thinking quite straight. He left.

I had a huge concussion and still suffer side effects from it.

My number 2 goal in life is to live longer then that asshat just so I can shit on his grave.

***

I (18F back then, now 25) was on my way home at night after meeting a friend.

My home was just 10 minutes away from the trainstation. After a few minutes I felt someone following me. No big deal I tought, just someone else walking home. But I started walking faster. I realized the person behind me was catching up…weird. In my head I started to make up scenarios of how to defend myself if the person would attack me. Never would I think of this to actually happen.

Well, until I felt something on the back of my head, hitting me hard. I went furious. I turned around and attacked the guy. My mind was just full of anger towards this stranger who, what I thought, hit me.

We were wrestling until I fell on the ground. He was sitting on top of me, strangling me. I tried to crawl my nails into his eyes as deep as I could, but I started to black out. Suddenly there was this tought in my head “wake up, or you will die”…well, adrenaline kicked in again and I opened my eyes and screamed of the top of my lungs, attacking him again.

That helped. He stood up and began to run. I layed there for a few seconds, then I started to run home, still screaming.

My mom was already at our door and opened for me because my screams woke her up (or her mother senses, who knows?) She immeadiately called the cops and they could arrest him on the same night.

It turned out that he actually shot me in my head from behind. They assume that the gun didn’t work properly, the bullet didnt penetrate my skull and stuck in there, but as far as I know they never found out why the gun misfired. I’m glad though. He told the cops that he already followed me a few times in the past, but never had the guts to “do it”. He wanted to kill me and rape my dead body.

***

My wife, my kids and myself went to church one time and we ran into one of my wife’s old “flings”, this guy followed my wife around and our daughter and kept trying to talk to them. So I confronted him about it and told him to back off.

As we were leaving he makes sure to yell across the parking lot telling my daughter good bye. My wife forces me in to the car and we leave. So I message the guy on Facebook to ask him what his problem is and he tells me that my wife and daughter are his friends and I have no right to tell them who to be friends with. I told him again to back off our I would call the police.

Fast forward a week (I worked every other Sunday) I get a call from the pastor saying that they had to call the police on the guy because he was causing drama looking for me. When they arrested him he had a back pack with him that had a sawed off shotgun, a meth pipe and some meth in it.

***

Walking home from my pregnant gf’s house at the time.. Honestly it wasn’t a bad neighborhood. Well I’m walking basically just minding my own business, passed these guys maybe 3 or four of them , they were heading the other direction on the other side of the street.. Something told me to look back and right as I did that, one of them had a gun pointed to the back of my head.. I turned around fully and was just like yo! They were like give us your money etc I had a wad of dollars and not sure if it was quick thinking but I stuck my thumb in between the cash pulled it out and threw it on the road and it scattered.. As they went to pick it up I bolted.. These assholes chased me.. I just run to some dudes house who luckily for me he was cool let me in closed the door and called the cops.. A few weeks later those same dudes were arrested for robbery and killing the person they robbed.. These guys were from a neighboring neighborhood.. So ya..

***

So, I did not know it was a murder attempt at the time, but looking back now – it was a definite possibility. In middle and high school my next door neighbors were a boy one year younger than me (John) and his younger brother who was four years younger than him (Nathan.) My own younger brother and I had a similar age gap, and we found ourselves around each other all the time. Now I am a female and the rest of the group was all males, so there were just naturally times when the three of them would hang and I wouldn’t be around.

One day my little brother who was around 9 at the time comes home with a porno mag and is telling me about the porn videos they were watching as a little unit. Now guys, I have no idea if this is something that is done in your pre/adolescent circles, but it freaked me the hell out and I told my mom. My mom then went and told their single dad. What I didn’t know was their dad was an abusive piece of shit who beat both of those boys so badly that they couldn’t go to school for weeks. No, we didn’t call the police – we just filed it away and knew from that point forward to never tattle. I still carry the guilt of telling on John and Nathan with me to this day, because it set off a chain of events I would have never anticipated.

As we got older, the brothers started acting out more and more; bullying other kids, vandalism, weird shit like toying with road kill. As the level headed female in the group I opposed all of these things, and a faction emerged with me and the other neighborhood kids on one side, and John and Nathan on the other just fucking shit up and causing trouble. One day I had done SOMETHING to piss off John, and he came at me with a large chef’s knife. I didn’t have shoes on, so I took off running through the backyard and crossed into the neighbor’s. John was hot on my tail, trailing me by maybe 4 feet when I fell down. There was some sort of exposed PVC drainage pipe that had been shattered at the top that I didn’t see it and ran over, my foot was sliced open immediately and I went down screaming. I think it shocked him; my screaming, the sudden change of pace, and the blood. He stopped, laughed at me, then ran home- presumably so he didn’t get his ass whipped.

After I took care of myself, I told my mom what happened with the knife. She had started dating someone new, and I think this was the sort of feather that broke the camels back. We moved to another part of town in the same district about a ten-minute drive from our old house. Around that exact time we moved in, a new family moved into the house on the other side of John and Nate.

Things continued down a bad path for those boys. Over the next year they got in trouble with school, and would randomly show up at our new house locked out of their own. The year I went off to college I received a panicked phone call from my mom telling me to look up the local newspaper, John had murdered the girl who had moved into the other house next door to him. It was really grisley too, he chopped her up and stuffed her into a trunk that sat outside in his dad’s car all day while a family picnic was happening. He and his little brother got caught trying to throw the trunk into the river from a bridge at night by a cop who happened to be driving by. I just thought to myself that could have been me! Both brothers have been locked up for what has to be about ten years at this point, they were both tried and convicted as adults. Everyone in our town just wants to see them burn in hell, but honestly the only thing I can think about is how it might have been different if our family reported the abuse from the onset – maybe their little minds would’nt have warped from a tender age.

***

It wasn’t a murder attempt (maybe it was..?) but a stabbing attempt I guess. Happened when I was around 12-13 years old.

I was taking a lifeguarding course at a local pool with a friend of mine which had about 16 people in the class. The age ranges in the class can vary, and we probably had a mix of people between 12-18, but most were somewhere in the middle.

There was this one kid, probably 16-17 that really stood out to me and my friend as the typical “school shooter” type. Very solemn look on his face at all times, socially awkward and extremely quiet. We both got really strong serial killer vibes from him. It’s just one of those instincts you feel that tells you “something isn’t right”

We made a few jokes between ourselves about it, as we both noticed it almost immediately and were fairly uncomfortable being around him. This lasted for probably the first 2 hours of the 4 hour class. At that point we were asked to switch from pool instruction into a classroom, and had about 20 minutes to change and get into the classroom.

As we are all changing, this guy kept looking over at me and my friend – we tried not to make eye contact with him and just ignore it but we were getting extremely uncomfortable with how intensely the guy was staring. We were the only 3 in the changeroom and were intent on leaving as fast as possible. Eventually, my friend makes eye contact with the guy, who screams something along the lines of “STOP LOOKING AT ME”, pulling a switchblade out of his swim bag and lunging at my friend. I stood there, somewhat frozen as this was happening and didn’t really know what to do – whether to try and help or run. My friend ended up blocking the initial lunge with the locker door, and he sprinted towards the front exit of the changeroom, with this enraged knife-wielding teenager chasing him. When my friend had made it out of the changeroom the maniac turned around and started chasing me down. With pool deck floors, they are extremely slippery and almost impossible to run on but 12 year old me wasn’t exactly worried about that at this point.

I had to run from the changeroom/locker area, through the bathrooms, through a shower room and then onto the pool deck (the only other exit) all I remember is him catching up to me and he must have been within reach at some point on this 100m run, but I remember turning around once I made it on the pool deck and the guy was gone. I was half dressed, and basically still sprinting towards the lifeguard office.

Once there I found our instructor and told him what happened – and he didn’t believe me. He said I was lying and was just picking on the kid, nothing happened… etc. So I told him to try and find my friend with me (I was panicking, hyperventilating, but apparently not believable). My friend was still out in the lobby now with a ton of concerned parents around trying to figure out what was going on. Turns out when he blocked the knife with the locker door the knife got his forearm and he was bleeding pretty badly (not arterial, but probably a 6″ gash on the hairy part of your arm) Immediately my instructor ushered us away and called the police, building went into lockdown, etc.

To this day I have no idea what happened to that kid – he never came back to the class, and the police didn’t find him that night. I’m assuming he got arrested but I never heard about it. It was probably the closest I ever came to getting killed and I’m not exactly sure why/how he didn’t stab me, or if he slipped and fell before making it to me. He was considerably larger than me and definitely faster.

All I know now is I should trust my instincts more with people – they might turn out to be true.

***

I was pushed off a cliff by a former friend at his own birthday party (he was 14 and I was like 12), we were on a hike just the two of us and he took a detour and we reached a steep cliff and he just up and pushed me off. I caught on to a tree root that was jutting out (there was a big tree growing right where I fell, the root grew in a way that part of it was exposed and made a surprisingly good handle). He didn’t catch on and simply left me there. I was there for about an hour if I had to guess until someone else was alerted to my presence and managed to get me back up. I still have nightmares about it. I don’t know why he did it, but he had been an insane asshole to me for a long time in retrospect.

***

Attempted drowning in Lake Michigan by a mental patient on leave with family. I was 8. He lured me into deep water by throwing my sand shovel. He pushed me under. I passed out. He was noticed and seized. They did artificial respiration on me. Men on the beach. Many were medics. This close to end of ww 2. Still very frightened of getting in over my head. Am 75. That shit doesn’t go away.

***

When I was born my real mother had me put on life insurance as a way to “take care.” Of me or make sure I was good at first

Then the gears in her head started to turn and after I had hit my 18 month mark she had shook me so bad I had a swollen brain, bleeding eyes and I would be in an immense amount of pain. It was called SBS or (shaken baby syndrome.) she took me to see my dad who was in prison at the time and he had noticed the abnormally swollen head I had and asked my real mother if she knows anything about it she denied it completely cause she knew she was the one that did it to me, after she had left with me my dad told a guard that there’s something wrong with me and to call the police, I was sent to the icu unit for children and when I went to go see a pediatrician the doctor had called cps on her and I would’ve been put into foster care but my aunt who I recognize as my mom fought for me and she got custody, after that my real mother was sent to prison for who knows how long (I can’t remember.) and she’s been in and out.

To also recall she tried beating me when I was three years old after the first time she was out of jail and she was sent back after that, the board had a nail in it…

She is a crack head now whose only goal is to try to reenter my life and use me and this wasn’t the only time she tried doing it, the first time I was 16 and she promised me a car (lie) then said she loves me (lie #2) and that it was my dads fault etc etc etc (lie #3) I met her again at a little ceasars and she was acting like she missed me denied that she ever mentioned her telling me I’d get a car and then after I had gotten my first job she tried to say hey how are you and I just shuttled looked at her like every once of emotion was drained from my body and told her to fuck off.

***

3 men drugged me and kidnapped me. I woke up on a floor with one of them tearing my clothes off and my moonboot (broken foot). I tried kicking him off with the boot but he started knocking my head into the floor and I passed out. I woke up in daylight in a garbage bin, naked and in a pool of my own blood. I dont know how the fuck I got out of there or how I found the nearest policeman but I then collapsed again. Woke up in a hospital with 52 stitches in my head and 78 in and around my vulva and breasts. Doctor said it was the worst rape trauma she ever saw. They say it’s a miracle I’m alive and don’t know how I did it. They were never caught. I am a crisis, trauma and ptsd counselor now. They didn’t win.

Thought Catalog is the online destination for culture, a place for content without the clutter. Coverage spans th

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.


The pebble hit my window sometime around 12:45. I was wide awake, fully dressed for night-time operations, and prepared with a gym bag full of breakout tools. I had no clear idea of what breakout tools might have been, so I grabbed anything that I thought could be useful.

I had a couple of flashlights, a heavy-duty pair of bolt cutters, a hacksaw, a crowbar, matches, a throw blanket, and an extra set of clothes just in case she needed to get dressed on the run. I hoped I wouldn’t have to use any of them. As it turned out, I only used one thing, but I’ll get to that later. So. A pebble.

I leaned out the window and saw the entire crew standing in the shadows. Almost the entire crew. Jeff stood at the forefront in a balaclava and a turtleneck. He looked like a bank robber, complete with his own bag of tricks. The handle of a baseball bat protruded from the zipper.

Ashton and Ashley stood at his right, looking a bit like they were dressed for a Gothic dance recital, except for their masks. They just tied black t-shirts around their faces and peeked through the neck hole. It looked ridiculous. Makeshift dance-ninjas.

Khalil just wore a black t-shirt and gym shorts, no mask. He kept glancing around like he thought someone was watching, but he stood his ground. No jokes this time. I didn’t even see his eyes dancing in that way that let me know he had one locked and loaded.

Jill was conspicuously absent.

As quietly as I could, I climbed out of the window and down the tree. I could hear my parents go to bed hours ago. Both of them thought they had an early morning. Neither of them knew just how early they would be rising.

When I hit the ground I had to ask, “What about Jill? She’s not coming?”

“She’s the reason we’re all coming,” Khalil whispered, “Show him, Jeff.”

Jeff pulled something out of his back pocket. A folded sheet of notebook paper. He told me, “I found this taped to the outside of her window. She’s in trouble, Paul. Here.”

I took the letter from him and read the contents in the dim light of the street lamp. My stomach tried to lurch but there was nothing inside to shift. I couldn’t eat dinner that night, just played sick and went back up to my room. The letter read:

I’m in trouble. Bad trouble. I don’t have much time to write this. I bought some time by spilling a drink on my shirt. I told mom I had to get changed. I freaked up bad. I told her about Sadie, about last night. She hit the roof, screamed herself hoarse at me. Made me call the Carmichaels on speakerphone. Mr. C had that strange stilted voice just like Khalil said. Said he wanted me and mom to come over to talk after dark. After dark! She’s making me go. Don’t know what’s going to happen. If anyone finds this note, help.

I’m scared.

The letter was simply signed, -Jill.

I stuffed the letter into my pocket and said, “Come on. We’ve wasted too much time already.”

Even in our dark clothes I felt terribly exposed crossing from my yard to Sadie’s. Suburbia was no place for stealth missions, and with a careless glance out the window by anyone the jig would quickly be up. The lateness of the hour was our greatest advantage and greatest weakness. Once the trouble began, there would be no one to help us. We had to play it smart.

In the shade of Sadie’s tree, I motioned everyone to gather for a change of plans. Judging by the wide eyes shining in the moonlight and the shallow, rapid breaths my friends were taking, everyone was at least as keyed up as I was.

“Listen,” I whispered, “We can’t all go in there. There’s too many of us, too much risk of getting separated. Someone should stay behind as a lookout, and someone should cover the door. Agreed?”

“I’m going in there,” Jeff said, “No matter what. But maybe you’re right. So who stays and who goes?”

Ashton and Ashley clasped hands, and in unison, they whispered, “We’ll stay, together.”

I nodded. I knew they would volunteer, and I was glad to be right. I had no desire to put Ashley in danger, and Ashton was smaller than she was, if only a little.

“I’m going in,” Khalil volunteered, “I’m the biggest one here. If it gets ugly and someone’s gotta fight off Mr. C, I can do it.”

I wasn’t so sure about that. Khalil may have been big, but I’ve never seen him get into a fight. Any time he got close, he defused the situation with a joke and wound up making friends with his would-be opponent. Something told me Mr. Carmichael would not be tranquilized with a quick quip. Still, I didn’t argue with him. He was willing to put himself at one hell of a risk for his friends, and that meant a lot to me.

“I’m in too. Let’s make this quick,” I said, already reaching for a tree branch.

Jeff stopped me with a hand on my shoulder, and said, “You stay too, Paul.”

I tried to protest, but he held up a hand to stop me and said, “You’re the backup, just in case shit goes downhill in a bad way. Ten minutes. If we’re not out of here with Sadie and Jill in ten minutes, come in after us. Otherwise, be ready to run. All right?”

I wanted to argue, but it was no good. He was right. I might not have been as big as Khalil, but I was sneaky, I was fast, and in a pinch, I had my bag of tricks. Also, I was scared out of my wits, if I’m being totally honest. In light of all that had happened in the last few weeks, the inside of the Carmichael house was a huge and terrifying X-Factor.

So instead of arguing, I nodded, and whispered, “Okay. Ten minutes. Jeff, Khalil, stay out of sight. Find Jill, find Sadie. Grab Sadie, kicking and screaming if necessary, and get the hell out of there. We’ve all been in that house a million times, you know the quickest way out. If you run into any trouble, any trouble at all, scream your fucking heads off, okay?”

Jeff drew the bat from his own bag of tricks and whispered, “If we run into any trouble, they’ll be the ones screaming, courtesy of Mr. Slugger here.”

But I could see the falseness of the bravado in his eyes and in the slight quaver I detected in his voice.

Without another word he scrambled up the tree to Sadie’s bedroom, and Khalil followed quickly behind him. I realized then that surely her window would be locked and that point of ingress would be closed to us unless Jeff was willing to break a window and possibly alert the entire household. I began to consider other points of entry as the two of them crawled onto the roof and out of my line of sight.

My concerns were ill-founded, it seems. I could hear the soft sound of the window sliding up, and a hand extended over the edge of the roof, making an A-OK sign. The hand disappeared again and they were gone. I checked my watch with its glowing dial and immediately began to count the minutes down.

Under the tree, the three of us crouched in the dirt and waited, silently, for something terrible to happen. A minute passed. Two minutes passed. I couldn’t breathe.

“Is any of this real?” Ashley whispered. I could tell by the ragged edge of her voice that she was crying. “This doesn’t feel real. A month ago this was a boring neighborhood in a boring town and everything felt real. This feels like… like…”

“It feels like a nightmare,” Ashton finished.

Three minutes.

“Did she really eat Figgy?” Ashley asked, “Was she really running around… naked?”

“Jill said she did,” I said, simply, “If she said Sadie did those things, I believe her. She wouldn’t make that up. I haven’t seen Buck around either.”

“I haven’t seen any of the neighborhood pets around lately, have you?” Ashton asked, “Remember at the barbecue? There was like, six or seven dogs running around, at least. When was the last time you heard a dog bark?”

I couldn’t remember. I wasn’t thinking about it. Unless your neighbor’s dog has been barking all day long, you don’t think much about the sound after a while.

“I-” I started, not sure what I was going to say. I thought I heard a sound from inside the house, and my heart jumped into my throat.

Four minutes, twenty seconds. I didn’t think I could wait ten whole minutes to run in after them. My mind raced with a thousand terrible possibilities of what might be going on in that house. If they screamed, would we hear?

“Paul?” Ashton whispered.

“Yeah?” I answered.

“This isn’t just abuse, is it? It’s something worse. Sadie disappeared out of thin air. She was gone. Jeff said something else was in the closet with them that night. What if Sadie didn’t come back? What if it just looked like Sadie?”

“What if it was something else?” Ashley asked.

I didn’t answer. There was no answer.

Six minutes. I had to consciously will my feet to stay planted there in the dirt. It was maddening to stay there, asking rhetorical questions and knowing nothing. They say no news is good news, right? Wrong. Whoever ‘they’ are, ‘they’ are assholes. No news is torture. But I promised, ten minutes.

I almost lasted eight.

When I could wait no longer, I rose to my feet and grabbed my gear bag. Ashley and Ashton looked up at me, looking in that moment more like Hansel and Gretel lost in the woods than they did the sinister Children of the Corn.

“It’s time,” I lied. “Go wait by the front door and be ready to move. If you don’t see us all come running out in the next few minutes, haul ass back home and call the police. If you hear a scream, run home, call the police. Okay?”

Ashton and Ashley stood up immediately.

“Be careful,” They said.

I nodded and scrambled up the tree. They were already rounding the corner of the house by the time I hauled myself onto the roof. The window to Sadie’s room was a yawning portal into total darkness. To climb through into whatever mysteries were held within was unimaginable, so I climbed through before I could stop to think about it.

A charnel house stench pervaded the space where so recently I took the odor of lavender for granted. I smelled rot, blood, and filth mingling in the air among the buzzing of flies. I suppressed the urge to gag for fear that the sound would alert the things that once were the Carmichaels.

The room, so far as I could tell in the dim light of the moon, was utterly trashed, nearly unrecognizable. It looked like an angry bull had been set loose in the room, bucking and butting at everything in its path. Sadie’s vanity and dresser appeared to have been flung across the room and crushed. Her bedding was ripped to shreds and streaked with some dark, reeking matter.

The closet, I noticed, stood open. That rectangle of a darker blackness in the gloom-filled me with unspeakable dread. In some way I would never fully understand, something in there was the source of a horror that fell over our cul-de-sac and altered our lives forever. That something had been there from the beginning, waiting for the right moment. Sadie told us so. She thought it was a ghost lurking in the walls. How could she have known how much worse it could be? How could she know she would lose herself?

What was this bloodthirsty, feral beast Jill saw hunting naked in the moonlight? How could she become a thing like that? Could she still be saved?

The answer wasn’t here in her bedroom, I knew that. I knew I couldn’t stay there any longer. I had to venture into the halls, had to search for my lost friends. What I would do if the Carmichaels found me first, I had no idea. I held no illusions that the encounter would be a friendly one.

As slowly and quietly as I could manage, I opened Sadie’s door. When I found myself under no immediate attack, I dared to poke my head through the gap. The hallway was lit only by the few doors that stood open, pillars of dim light provided by the curtained windows. I reached into my bag for the flashlight, only to realize I didn’t dare use it. I would be shining a beacon to lead them to me.

My only answer was to crawl low against the wall and try to let my eyes adjust to the darkness. The trouble with that was the risk of finding something that had already adjusted before I could. The other trouble was, now that I was here, I had no idea of where to look. I guess if I had any expectations of what would happen when I entered the house, it was to follow the sounds of a struggle and run toward it.

Apart from the ever-present buzzing of the flies, the house was completely silent. I hoped that was good news. It could have meant that Khalil and Jeff were never discovered and that they too were still in the house somewhere stealthily searching for Jill and Sadie. I tried to hope that was good news, but the silence brought no such comfort. The silence was the sound of doom.

I had to get moving. The house was huge. My friends and the Carmichaels could be anywhere within. If they already managed to save Jill and Sadie, would I even know? I needed to find them fast, I needed to be planning ahead for our escape.

A gut feeling told me the living room and foyer were the greatest danger zones. If the front door was unguarded we could simply dash through to the outside. It wouldn’t be that easy. The basement had a storm door that led outside too, but we would have to pass through the entire house again to reach it. The back door led to the fenced-in yard. I knew from experience that Mr. Carmichael left the gate padlocked at night. We might be able to scramble over the fence, but only if no one was injured. If we were being chased the attempt would cost us precious seconds.

I grimaced in the darkness. A conflict seemed inevitable. If we were all together again I would feel better about my chances. I had to find Khalil and Jeff. Why was it so dark? Who turned out all the lights?

Enough with the hypothetical questions, I thought, I’ve got to get moving.

I crawled instinctively toward the first pillar of light, the first open door. It was a guest bedroom. The top floor had four bedrooms, including the master bedroom with its adjoining bathroom, Sadie’s room, Eliza’s room at the end of the hall, and this one. I slept there once when my parents were out of town. Mr. Carmichael sometimes slept in the downstairs bedroom when he and Mrs. Carmichael were fighting. Sadie told me so at some point.

The stench was worse in the guest bedroom, fresh, raw, and wet. The buzzing of flies was so loud there it was like television static. I should have left, but something drew me inside. Curiosity maybe, and never mind what it did to the cat. I crawled through the doorway, measuring every movement with the care of a bomb disposal technician. I noticed the carpet was tacky wet as if something had spilled there and no one tried to clean it up.

I could see the spill had originated on the bed, something was once was bound there with ropes that now hung limply from the head and footboard. Something that fascinated the swarms of flies. I tried to swallow, but my throat had closed to a pinhole. Have you ever tried to rise while every instinct you had screamed at you to stay on the floor? I felt like Gulliver when he was tied to the ground by the Lilliputians. When I finally found my feet I beheld a gruesome sight.

Something had died on that bed, died terribly. The sheets and mattress were so saturated with blood that it pooled on the surface like stagnant ponds in some hellish landscape. Bits of torn flesh and gnawed splinters of bone were all that remained of what was once a living thing. My frantic mind tried to dance around the truth and failed. The living thing must have been a human being. The ropes were spread too far apart for it to have been anything else short of a gigantic dog. And there was no fur.

“Jesus Christ,” I whispered, “What have they done?”

“Who’s there?!” A voice hissed from somewhere in the room. Panic flared in my chest so brightly that I thought for an instant I was having a heart attack. It was a miracle that I was too choked up to scream. The sound came from behind a heavy wardrobe. There was a closet there, I remembered.

“Jill?” I whispered, realizing I recognized the voice once my heart stopped pounding quite so hard. “Is that you?”

“Paul?” she whispered back. “Oh thank god! Quick, let me out of here before they come back.”

“Yeah, hold on,” I whispered.

Feeling terribly exposed with the light from the window and the open door at my back, I pushed the wardrobe aside just enough for a skinny girl to be able to slip through the gap. Jill squirmed through and we both ducked down behind the bed.

“Did you see them?” She asked me.

“Not yet,” I answered.

“They’re not human. They’ve changed. Sadie too. They stuffed me in the closet and made me listen when they… when they… We need to leave, now.”

“We can’t. Khalil and Jeff are in here somewhere.”

“Frick!” Jill hissed. “Those things must have seen them. That’s why they ran out of here in such a hurry.”

“Which way did they go?” I asked.

“They went downstairs, I think,” She whispered, “I could hear their footsteps thumping on the staircase. I could hear something else thumping down the stairs too. Something… heavy.”

Her eyes darted to the bed and I knew at once what she meant.

“We’ve gotta go after them,” I said, taking her hand. It was slick with sweat, just like my own.

“Yeah,” She said, rising to follow me, “but what are we going to do when we find them?”

“I don’t know,” I told her, thinking for some reason that honesty was still the best policy in this situation, “I’m kind of hoping I’ll think of something by then.”

“Frick,” she whispered, but she didn’t let go of my hand either. She didn’t run for Sadie’s window. Like myself, she was too concerned about the safety of her friends to give in to fear. Unlike myself, she saw what they had become and witnessed the grisly death of her own mother. Her courage was not tempered by ignorance like mine was.

I’ll never forget about that.

Jill and I crept down that pitch-black and seemingly endless hallway pressed against the wall as if an endless precipice yawned through the center in place of the once-plush carpeting. In the pillars of light projected from the doorways, we could see that the carpet was saturated with reeking filth. Debris littered a home that was once kept immaculate by a team of maids, hired twice a month by Mr. Carmichael to scrub the place from top to bottom. It now looked more like the den of a rabid bear than the home of a well-to-do suburban family. I could feel deep gouges in the walls that reinforced that image. What else could have done that if not a wild animal?

I wondered at the devolution, the decadence in the truest sense of the word that befell my friend’s family. What could have happened to them? To Sadie? Where did she go when she disappeared? How could all this have happened in the space of a few days? When we found her in the closet everything else seemed normal.

There was no sense or reason to any of this. As terrified as I was, I was perhaps equally sorrowful. How could our lives return to any sense of normality after tonight? How could I look out my window and see this house and ever know peace? It seemed impossible.

At the end of the hall was a sunroom where we used to play as kids. Beyond that was the landing. Once, when I was about five I wandered out of the sunroom, climbed over the baby gate, and fell down the stairs. I wasn’t badly hurt but I was frightened and bawled my head off. After that, the sunroom was converted into its current purpose by Mrs. Carmichael. She raised a miniature garden of potted plants there and doted on them with as much or perhaps even more care than she devoted to her own children.

The curtains were all drawn now, just as they were in the rest of the house. Whatever had become of the Carmichaels, they had the presence of mind to hide their activities from the outside world. Or, I supposed, they simply grew to shun the light like vampires and other unholy things. I wasn’t sure.

The plants had all been upended from their pots, torn to bits and strewn about the floor of the sunroom. I could only just see them in the gloom and took great care to avoid stepping on anything that could make a sound. I could tell Jill was doing the same. She still held my hand, but I could feel her jerking away as she dodged all the detritus.

She pulled ahead slightly and released my hand when I paused to adjust my bag. It was digging into my shoulder and growing uncomfortable, but I refused to leave it behind. I still harbored some hope that the contents would help us along the way. My eyes were finally starting to adjust to the inky blackness of the house. I could just make her out ahead of me, creeping toward a door I perceived as a narrow darker strip in the surrounding darkness. It must have been merely ajar, and not standing wide open.

Jill paused at the doorway, daring only to open the door wide enough that we could pass, and peered through. I saw her go rigid. She turned to me as I stepped closer, only a couple of paces behind. Her eyes were as wide as coasters, and she rose a single finger to her lips. Quiet, She mouthed. When I reached the door she stepped aside so I could see what was the matter.

Above the landing, a pair of skylights allowed a meager illumination. It was just enough to allow me to see her, standing perfectly still just at the top of the stairs. It must have been Eliza, I could tell that from her size and build. She was only slightly more defined than a solid shadow from the distance from which I watched her. She appeared to be nude, or nearly so. Something seemed to be hanging from her back, like a ragged cloak. The remains of her blouse, perhaps? I could smell her, a wild animal reek of sweat, blood, and shit.

As I stood there wondering what we could do, she cocked her head back and sniffed at the air. I could hear the sharp inhalations. She began to turn and I could see the greenish gleam of her eyes shining in the darkness like a coyote’s. I ducked behind the door before those strange eyes could be trained on me.

“Who. Is. There?” She said. It sounded more like an animal’s cry than human speech, except I could still hear a glimmer of Eliza’s voice under the harsh tones.

I glanced over at Jill, still wide eyes and flared nostrils. She pressed herself against the wall so hard I thought she was trying to slip through. In this strange house, I guess it wasn’t impossible. Out in the landing, I could hear slow footsteps approaching and that awful bloodhound snuffling.

Run! I mouthed to Jill. She just shook her head. She didn’t seem to be able to will her limbs into moving. Neither could I, for that matter. I reached into my bag, hoping something therein could be used as a weapon. If only I could have gotten my dad’s gun!

My hand closed over something cold and metallic. Hexagonal. The crowbar? It would have to do. Maybe I could buy enough time for Jill to make a run for it. Slowly as I could manage, for fear of triggering the Eliza-thing into action by making a sound, I drew the crowbar out of the bag. Her hand wrapped around the edge of the door. Her grimy fingers were tipped in thick, sharp, grotesquely long nails like talons. I held my breath.

From somewhere below us a terrible, ululating screech tore through the silence of the house like an air-raid siren. I couldn’t tell if it was a cry of fear or of rage, but whatever it was, the Eliza-thing found it more interesting than us. She stomped away and down the stairs making some kind of glottal noise in her throat. Simultaneously Jill and I released a ragged sigh of relief. The relief was only temporary, of course.

Jill said it before I could, “We have to follow her.”

“Let’s go,” I said, gripping the tire iron in my left hand. What good would it be against four of those things? Best not to think about it.

Abandoning caution, Jill and I dashed through the door before rational thought could freeze our legs in place. If our friends were down there, they did not have much time. The Eliza-thing was already out of sight, we the quarry forgotten.

At the bottom of the stairs I held Jill back and we stopped to listen. The silence of the house was broken, perhaps for good. Now we could hear the sounds of crashing, screams, and animalistic cries rang out from every which way. The ground floor was darker than upstairs if such a thing was possible. Jill and I knew the house well, but not well enough to chase those things blindly.

“Here, hold this for a second,” I told Jill, thrusting the crowbar into her hands. She took the bar from me silently, breathing hard.

I reached into the bag and fished out the two flashlights. At least I knew the batteries were good. They came new from the pack in the junk drawer. No horror movie cliché of the flickering flashlights for us.

In the flashlight’s beam, I saw Jill clearly for the first time since we parted ways at school this afternoon, hundreds of years ago. Her eyeliner streaked down her face in runners of dried tears and her chin-length hair ran wild. Her expression was one of fierce determination. She looked nothing like a quiet middle school student and all the world like a Valkyrie of Nordic legend. She held the crowbar in a white-knuckle grip like she was itching to use it on someone.

A thunderous crash reverberated through the house, sounding closer than ever. I forgot all about trading the crowbar for my extra flashlight.

“Let’s go,” Jill hissed through clenched teeth.

“Yeah,” I said, wishing I felt as eager to catch up with those fiends as she seemed to be.

We dashed off in the direction of the crash, though halls that lost all familiarity and grew somehow labyrinthine with my growing panic. Behind every closed door and blind corner, I expected a blood-crazed horror to spring forth and seize the two of us in its terrible claws. Still, we saw nothing, or nothing living at least.

We could hear them, grunting, screeching, and making some awful coughing sound I thought to be some species of laughter. Jeff and Khalil were running for their lives, and these things were making a sport of it. My only comfort in this breathless chase was the glimmer of hope that my friends were still alive. For now.

Jill and I burst through another door and immediately we were assailed, not by the Carmichaels but by a stench so unbelievably foul I had to reevaluate my definition of foulness on the spot. We found the kitchen. Finally, I retched, vomiting hot bile from an empty stomach. From just behind me I could hear Jill doing the same.

The least of the problem seemed to be the refrigerator. It stood open, the motor long since burned out. The food that remained within had putrefied and was busy with flies and maggots. What could be seen had moldered beyond recognition. Some blackish slime seeped onto the floor in a viscous puddle.

The worst of it was spread out over the dining room table, the countertops, and littered the floor in festering mounds. We would have to step through it to cross into the next room. Carcasses, and pieces of carcasses. Every pet in the neighborhood must have been present. Most of them had been eaten, guts and all. Bones, ragged pelts, and spilled blood were all that remained. Some of them had apparently been left for later consumption but had grown rancid and bloated in the lingering heat of summer.

My Buck was one of these. I saw him last, sprawled out by the microwave. Those monsters tore his throat out, and his final terror was frozen in his face.

“Buck,” I whispered, tears stinging my eyes, “Bucky, oh damn it, what have they done to you, Buck?”

I turned back to Jill, perhaps seeking comfort and found her frozen by grief far greater than my own. It was her mother, stripped naked, murdered, and tossed carelessly into the corner of the kitchen.

She had been bitten to death. All over her body were the sort of awful, ragged wounds that could only have been caused by many sets of teeth, and deep crescent-shaped gouges that must have been created by fingernails. What remained of her face was contorted in a rictus of agony. Her skin was torn at the wrists and ankles from her final struggles. Coagulating blood seeped from the countless wounds.

I held onto Jill, tears running down my face and, as a small blessing, blurring my vision. I had no words, nothing to comfort my friend. Her mother was one of the kindest, most loving people I had ever known. She didn’t deserve this.

“They made me listen,” Jill said, “They locked me in that closet and made me listen while they tore her apart. They made me listen while they ate her alive! I had to listen to her scream and I couldn’t help her!”

Tears flowed from her eyes freely, and though her expression was one of unfathomable grief, below the surface and in her voice was a stronger emotion still: Rage.

“We’ve got to go, Paul,” She insisted, grabbing the spare flashlight that hung out of my hip pocket. “We can’t let those things do this to Khalil and Jeff.”

“I-uh-I-” I stammered, swallowing hard. My mouth tasted sour, bitter. “Fuck! Come on then, let’s go get them and get the fuck out of here.”

The next sound seemed to come from the way we came, sparing us from trudging through the waste any further. We spun on our heels and dashed back through the door, slamming it shut behind us. Jill took the lead this time, her flashlight swiping left to right in search of some sign of our destination.

We found the foyer next, and I noticed to my dismay that the door had been nailed shut with heavy boards. We would not be leaving this way. I cursed under my breath, knowing that the back door and the storm doors would likely be sealed shut as well. Trapped. We were trapped in here.

Jill was already crossing into the living room and I dashed after her for fear of being left behind. There we were presented with three options. Two more halls and the staircase that doglegged off the hall to the left.

“Which way?” I asked.

“Shhh!” she answered, “Listen.”

I listened, but only for the briefest moment. That was when something stumbled through the hallway and fell at our feet, screaming and clawing at our pant legs. I shrieked and kicked at the thing until Jill illuminated the creature with her flashlight. It was no creature at all, it was Khalil. He was bruised, bloodied, terrified, and- still alive.

“Khalil!” I cried, pulling him to his feet. “Thank Christ, you’re alive!”

Jill bear-hugged the hyperventilating Khalil and kissed him on the cheek. Khalil pulled away.

“We’ve got to get out of here, guys!” He cried, his eyes darting every which way.

“Wait!” Jill demanded, “Where’s Jeff?”

“They grabbed him,” Khalil said, tears running down his face, “They grabbed hold of him and… and I just- I just ran! He screamed and screamed and I… I didn’t help him. Fuck, man, I just ran! God damn!”

“We can’t just leave him!” Jill cried, “He might still be alive. We can still save him!”

“He. Lives-but. You. Can’t. Savim,” Barked an awful voice from behind us.

I whipped around and shone my flashlight on the source of that strange voice. I shone my light on Sadie. What once was Sadie.

I looked upon that twisted thing that Sadie had become and I realized something for the first time in my young life. Until that moment I had harbored a secret hope that Sadie and her family could be saved. I still held to that fairy tale belief that the spell might be broken and everything would go back to normal. I realized at that moment that things didn’t always turn out okay. Sometimes things ended as badly as they possibly could. Sometimes darkness won the day.

The thing that stood in the archway held only a superficial resemblance to the sweet, pretty girl Sadie used to be. Her body had become a pale fun house distortion, too long of torso and limb, her posture crooked and stooped. Those breasts the schoolboys coveted hung withered and wrinkled on her emaciated chest. Swishing left and right behind her was a strange, fleshy tail. From her back fluttered bizarre diaphanous wings like those of a wasp. Her too-long fingers ended in filthy yellowed hooks and her feet came to resemble the cloven hooves of a pig. Her legs were streaked with blood and shit.

The worst of the changes were in her face. Her ears grew long and pointed and her hair fell out in clumps. Her eyes shone like Halloween lamps, green and eldritch. Not a glimmer of humanity remained in those luminous orbs. Her nose receded into gaping wet slits like the nose of a bat. Her Teeth grew jagged, brown, and far too large for her jaws. It looked like the mouth of those ghastly deep-sea fish with the glowing lure hanging from their foreheads. Gore clung between those teeth and saliva ran freely from her shredded lips.

“God…” I gasped, “Sadie, what have you become?”

A voice from the other hall answered. “Be. Coming. Soon.”

It was Mrs. Carmichael. She held a butcher knife in a clawed hand. The Eliza-thing stood by her side, grinning a needle-toothed grin.

“Need food. Food. Meat. Eat. The-ch. Ange. Needs.” A third voice, standing at the stairs.

It was Mr. Carmichael, or it was. He held Jeff by the back of his turtleneck sweater. Jeff appeared to be breathing but was unconscious. He stepped closer to us. Sadie, Eliza, and Mrs. Carmichael all did the same. We were surrounded. We were going to die.

“Let us go!” Khalil cried.

“Can’t. Won’t.” The Mr. Carmichael-thing grunted. His transformation did not seem as advanced as Sadie’s but his face had the empty, savage dullness of a feral animal.

“Lured. Here.” The Eliza-thing tittered, “Lik-cows. Cattle. T’gether. Enough. To-become. Soon-ow”

“No-scape.” The Mrs. Carmichael-thing growled. She raised the meat cleaver, now only a few steps away.

I was frozen there, useless. All of my childish plans for a daring rescue came to this single moment, and I choked. We were going to die, and we would die in the most grisly way imaginable. One by one they would rip us apart with their jagged maws to feed some bizarre metamorphosis. I could do nothing. Nothing.

Someone pushed me to the ground and split the air with a wild cry of fury. It was Jill. Six sets of eyes locked upon that thirteen-year-old, a five-foot-two eighty-pound hellcat holding a crowbar aloft.

She charged at Mr. Carmichael screaming what might have been her first swear word, “LET HIM GO, MOTHERFUCKER!”

She swung the crowbar with all her might, hard enough that I could hear it cut the air. With superhuman reflexes, the Mr. Carmichael-thing caught the cast-iron crowbar in mid-swing-

And he promptly burst into flames. The flame flared at his hand and spread wild-fire down his arm and beyond, until the thing that once was a man was engulfed entirely. It released Jeff and flailed away, emitting an unearthly scream. The other fiends stood dumbfounded around us, if only for a moment.

Jill, our savior, would not allow them the moment to recover. She still held the crowbar and charged the others, swinging wildly and landing glancing blows that flared like shooting stars in the darkness.

“GETITWAY!” The Sadie-thing bellowed, even as the flames began to spread across her shoulders and engulf her grotesque vestigial wings.

They scattered, leaving behind them snaking trails of fire in the carpet and the drapes. Khalil and I were frozen still in shock, Jeff only beginning to come to.

Jill was still vibrant and alive, more so than I ever saw her. Energy seemed to radiate from her in waves, like a miniature sun.

“Let’s go!” She cried, waving us along as the flames began to spread and the smoke billowed. Khalil and I followed, pulling Jeff to his feet and half-dragging him up the stairs after Jill. Sadie’s window was still the best way out. One by one we crawled through that portal, choking on smoke, one last time. Ashley and Ashton had already fled, having followed my instructions to leave and call the cops.

By the time the police and the firemen arrived, the flames had engulfed the entire house. They managed to extinguish the blaze before it spread to the other homes, but the Carmichael house burned to the ground. Thank God, there were no survivors.

The final cause of the blaze was officially determined to be an electrical malfunction. Unofficially, the investigators were baffled. There did not seem to be any obvious source or rational explanation for the fire. A couple of times I heard the phrase ‘spontaneous human combustion’ bandied about. Unofficially.

I know the investigators found the remains of all those partially-consumed animals in the rubble, along with the charred corpse of Jill’s mother. I know they found evidence of cannibalism in the autopsy. I know that the blackened skeletons of the Carmichael family were found to be strangely deformed, even apparently possessing extra bones. The adults never grasped the enormity of what had transpired, but they knew enough to want the truth safely suppressed.

I know none of those things made it into a police report. Money changed hands. Lots of money. Mr. Watkins was a lawyer and the executor of the Carmichael estate. Mrs. Valentine was a notary public. Forgeries were made. The police station was renovated and the fire department got that new fire truck they were hankering for. As far as the media knew, it was a tragic but essentially mundane house fire.

No one talked about what happened that awful night in the late summer. Eventually, I stopped trying to bring it up. The Carmichael lot stayed empty for at least as long as any of us lived there. A few interested parties came to inquire about the lot, but they were firmly discouraged.

One by one, we all began to drift away. Jill and her father were the first to go. He had a job opportunity in Silicon Valley and he was glad to leave the tragedy and the mystery of his wife’s death behind. The Valentines were next, followed shortly thereafter by the Watkins family. My parents sold our house two months after I went away to college. I haven’t been back there since.

For ages, I searched for some kind of rational explanation for what happened that night. I scoured the libraries and later the internet for some precedent, anything that could give me some manner of closure. Eventually, I found something. Indulge me for a moment, as I relate to this old fable:

Once upon a time, a baby was born to a loving couple. That baby was perhaps the most beautiful baby ever born, and the couple loved her dearly. They were, for a brief time, desperately happy.

The love and devotion this man and woman showered upon their progeny attracted the attention of the Fae, magical creatures of the wilderness. They conspired to replace the baby with one of their own, to be raised by the couple in the child’s stead. The couple suspected nothing and raised the impostor as their own.

In time, however, the child grew strange, savage, and deformed. It tormented the couple to their wit’s end, but they tried to love the child all the same. For their pains, the pretender only bedeviled them further.

One day a traveling blacksmith happened by their humble cottage and, seeing the horrid child, knew it at once for what it was. He told the married couple their child was a changeling, one of the faerie folk, and he knew how to prove it. He pulled from his tool belt an iron sledge. The child was cowed at once, but the blacksmith was not satisfied.

He pressed the iron head of the hammer against the child’s forehead, where it burned as if red hot. The changeling fled for the land of Faerie, for the strange folk held a peculiar aversion to iron and feared it above all else. The next day the couple’s true daughter was returned to them and they all lived happily ever after.

Stories just like that could be found all over Europe in the olden days. From what I read, the accepted explanation for this phenomenon was simple ignorance. They had no scientific explanation for deformities, mental illnesses, and birth defects, and attached to them a supernatural rationale. Here, with hundreds of years of learning on our side, it’s easy to dismiss the ideas of changelings and Fae.

For most people, it would be easy to dismiss. Most people did not have a door to the Faerie in their closets, and did not know anyone who did. And that’s for the best. The doorway we found in my friend’s closet that night robbed us forever of friends, family, and the ability to believe in a sane and structured world.

Twenty-six years have passed, and the nightmares have never left me. Again and again, I dream of wandering alone through those dark, hot, reeking hallways knowing something terrible is coming. I’ve lost count of the times I found myself awake in the middle of the night, soaked in a cold sweat. Some nights I swear I can hear whispers in the walls, but it must be my imagination. It must be.


As you could probably imagine, I caught all 31 flavors of holy hell from my parents when they heard from Mr. Carmichael. I never went back into the house, I just sat on the front porch and waited to hear the uproar. They subscribed utterly to Mr. Carmichael’s version of the events and in between screaming damnation at me, they bombarded me with questions I couldn’t possibly answer to their satisfaction.

The sun was rising when the riot act had finally been read out in its entirety. The gist of my further punishments were as follows:

1. I was now grounded for an additional month.

2. I would have no contact with Sadie for the indefinite future. This was at Mr. Carmichael’s insistence.

3. I would not be allowed to take driver’s ed or otherwise pursue my driver’s license until I turned eighteen. And…

4. Upon my return to school, any grade I received below a B+ would result in further grounding and revocation of privileges to be defined if and when they occur.

I considered these punishments to be an outrage and bullshit of the highest order. The one that stung the most was being cut off from Sadie. I had a million questions to ask her, they buzzed through my mind endlessly like angry bees. I was dying of curiosity. More than that, though, I just missed my friend. That she had returned to us was a huge relief, I was glad for that, but to be denied contact was just cruel. The hell of it is, I couldn’t blame them entirely.

I knew their anger arose from laboring under false pretenses. The only answer they had was that we had, for some unknowable reason, spirited Sadie away in some sort of hideout just to mess with them. They thought we would let the whole town go into an uproar, conduct a massive search, lie to the police, the media, make fools of everyone, just for a childish prank. Why would we do that? But there were no other answers. We didn’t give them any, at least. What could we say?

We didn’t know anything ourselves, apart from those few facts that were, to us, undeniable: Sadie entered that closet with Jeff, and Jeff left the closet without her. For two whole weeks, she was simply gone. No one, Sadie included, knew where she might have been. At the end of those two weeks, she emerged from that closet believing, or claiming to believe, that no time had passed.

Those facts provided no answers, only more questions. Our parents didn’t even have that to fall back on. The only point at which they had to cling was that we were all present when she disappeared and we were all present when she reappeared. Thus, we were to blame. Ipso facto.

It was maddening. Maddening. All of my life, as far back as I could remember, I had been fascinated by real-life mysteries, just like this. Ghosts, U.F.O.s, Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle, unsolved murders, I read all about them. I wished again and again that I could experience something so strange and unusual. Well, here I was. The strangest thing I would probably ever encounter, sitting right next door, and I couldn’t leave my room. How was I supposed to deal with that?

With nothing else to do, I spent hours with my desk pushed up to the window, watching the Carmichael house for any clues to what may be happening within. I scribbled pages of notes, but they were mostly obsessive ramblings. I didn’t see anything. Of course, the only window I could see clearly was Eliza’s, and that vantage point quickly became distinctly unhelpful.

Sunday night she had caught me staring up at her window. We locked eyes, and she slowly began unbuttoning her blouse. My jaw dropped, and in that frozen moment, I thought of something apart from the mystery of Sadie. Only, instead of baring the goods to me, she stopped halfway through and flipped me the old double deuce. Both birds, and a quick closing of her curtains. She hadn’t opened them since.

Despite her efforts, I was provided the one and only clue to Sadie’s well being all my spying produced. Just before the curtains closed, I saw her there. She was in Eliza’s room, looking right over her shoulder. I’m not even sure Eliza realized she was there yet.

I didn’t see much, it was only a split second after all, but I did notice something: Sadie’s hair was a rat’s nest. It was usually perfect, not a strand out of place. Strange, but probably meaningless. She had been through a lot, and slipping up on grooming wasn’t exactly unheard of in situations like that.

My only other link to the outside world, at least until my suspension ended in a few days, were the letters left taped to my window. The others were in almost as much trouble as I was, but they had school to meet up at and time to compare notes. Jill would condense all their discussions into these letters and leave them surreptitiously in the middle of the night.

The first letter read as follows:

Dear Prisoner Number 8008135 (Haha, boobies),

How goes your incarceration? Mine proceeds apace. My parents don’t seem to understand I’m happier in my room with my books, my music, and my beloved isolation. I hope I stay grounded forever. Just kidding. Sort of.

From what I gather the others are making do in their own ways. Ashton painted a beautiful portrait of his sister lounging on her bed. Did you know he painted? Khalil’s parents have kept him too busy to be bored. I saw him yesterday mucking out the gutters and repainting all the shutters. That rhymes! I’m a poet and heretofore I was unaware of the fact. Ha.

I’m not sure what Jeff has been doing to while away the hours. I asked him, but in response, he grinned and made a jerking off gesture. I doubt he’s been waxing the old beanpole this entire time, but who can say? My guess is that he is waging a grand war with all of his old G.I. Joe dolls.

Well, that’s enough small talk, I suppose. You must be wondering about the status of Sadie following her miraculous reappearance. Sadly, I do not have much to report. She did not come into school today.

The good news is that word of her safe return to this plane of existence has reached the other students. We have all been grilled thoroughly for details of the execution of our amazing prank, and I assure you it never gets old. Just kidding. It’s already about as old as Ronald Reagan’s pubes. I guess the good news is that you, Mr. Soup Bowl Assault, get to miss all of it.

Actually, school aside, not a one of us has seen hide nor hair of any of the Carmichaels. I suppose now is the time for privacy and healing. Or something. I’m sure you have been keeping your own surveillance, and if the answers are written on Eliza’s titties, please do let us know.

I will continue to post these dispatches if and when new information arises. Or if I’m bored and feel like writing a letter. My sister sent me a tape labeled ‘Meat Puppets,’ but I’m not allowed to listen until I’m ungrounded. Blah.

Your Partner in Crime,
Jillian Estelle Peters

Hours passed. I was so bored I did the reading assignment, which was Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I’ve never really enjoyed the reading our teachers thought would enrich our growing minds, and so I didn’t expect much from this one. It surprised me. The story of children marooned on a deserted island and their gradual (or in some cases not so gradual) descent into savagery dug its hooks into me and wouldn’t let me go. I read it cover to cover in that endless second day.

I guess I disagreed with the message Golding seemed to be forcing upon the reader. See, it seemed like to him civilization was equal to goodness, that morality and civilization were inexorably tied. Savagery, he maintained, was evil. Was it though? Civilizations made wars, civilizations created wealth and poverty, civilizations made slaves of lesser civilizations. It seemed to me that Civilizations never lost savagery, they mastered it.

I could make that argument in the paper I would have to write, but would my teacher accept it? Teachers, parents, they were the masters of the lesser race: Us. Their children, their students. If I wrote a paper spouting ideas like that, I’d get an F. Probably I would.

Piggy, I guess he was the paragon of society. Piggy was a wet blanket who wouldn’t adopt the new paradigm, total savagery. He died for it, and I guess that’s tragic. He was just a kid, after all. But what was the point then? That in the vacuum of the greater civilization we must hold to its tenets even if they serve no purpose in the wild? Even if they hold no value in survival?

The savage children hunted the wild boar, they provided sustenance. They sustained life. What would Piggy have done? Held a town hall meeting discussing the possibility of hunting game and the ethical quandary of preying on the lowly beasts of the wild?

I don’t know. Maybe I saw it all wrong. Maybe this was the wrong time to be reading a story like that, while I was angry at my parents and adults in general for what I felt was unjust treatment. I started and trashed my report three times before I decided I would try again later when I had more time to let the material sink in. More time to reflect.

The next morning I found another letter from Jill taped to the window. It read as follows:

Hello again, Paul

Dying of boredom. I stole that Meat Puppets tape while my parents were out. They either have way too much trust in me or they didn’t care enough to hide it. Weird stuff, but I like it. I like it a lot. Can’t wait to listen to it with you. ‘Plateau’ is probably my favorite track so far. Had to turn it off before the end so I could get it back downstairs before they returned.

School still sucks. Everyone else is bored but fine. Blah blah blah. Not much to report. Oh! Julian, you know Julian Moreno? During Social Studies he cut one so heinous we all had to flee into the hall until the stench dissipated. Everyone was certain he crapped his pants. I almost threw up. At least that distracted people for a couple of hours. Still getting grilled about Sadie.

What about Sadie, you ask? Well, no one has seen her. Still. No one has seen any of the Carmichaels. Still. What are they up to in there? Even Eliza is staying home. Why?

They’re in there, I can tell you that with a fair degree of certainty. Their cars are in the driveway for one. For two, you can see them sometimes behind the curtains, moving around. For three, well, for three there’s Khalil’s story. If you can believe it.

Yesterday after school, he told me, his parents sent him over to the Carmichaels to apologize for breaking into their house and all the other things they’re so sure we did. Khalil didn’t care, he was no stranger to issuing apologies he didn’t really mean. You know his personality.

So he goes over to the Carmichael’s house, knocks on the door. Nothing. Knocks again. Nothing. He’s about to turn and leave when he sees Mr. Carmichaels’ head silhouetted through the window on the door. What do you call those door windows? Oh, who cares.

Through the door Khalil heard Mr. Carmichael ask, ‘Who is it? Who’s there? Go away!’

Khalil said he sounded weird, real weird. He said it was hard to describe. He could tell it was Mr. Carmichael talking, but sounded wrong. Not like he was sick, exactly. Not gravelly or phlegmy, or anything like that. The closest thing he could come up with was that it sounded like Mr. Carmichael recorded all the words he said in advance, one by one, and cut them together.

You know how your speech has a certain rhythm to it? I think it’s called cadence. I think what Khalil was trying to say was that Carmichael’s speech had no cadence, or else the cadence was all wrong. Does that make sense?

So anyways, Khalil was kind of thrown off, but he wasn’t going to go home without giving an apology or his parents would flip out, so he said something like, ‘Mr. Carmichael, it’s me, Khalil! I’m sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to say I was sorry for everything.’

He only got part of that out. Carmichael cut him off with that same funky no-cadence speaking voice. He said, ‘Khalil. Stay away from here. You and all your friends. Sadie doesn’t want to see you. Ever. You’ve done bad.’

That’s word for word what he said, at least according to Khalil. You know how he exaggerates.

Well Khalil still wasn’t put off. Half of it was him still wanting to get the apology in. Reading between the lines, I think Khalil really was sorry about all the trouble. He jokes around a lot but he’s a good guy. He just wants everyone to be friends, to like each other. Even the parents. The other half was Sadie. He just wanted to see that she was doing okay. He’s sweet on her, you know. Like half the school is.

So one last time he tried. He said, ‘Mr. Carmichael, please can I just come in for a minute? I just want to have a quick talk and then you never have to see me again.’

He got about half of that out before Carmichael dropped the real bomb, the show stopper. Now, I wouldn’t repeat this if I didn’t think Khalil was telling the whole truth. You know that, right? He said, ‘Get out! Black N(-word), get out!’

Like I said, it’s hard to believe. You know Mr. Carmichael. He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, right? Mr. Watkins is one of his closest friends. How could he possibly say something like that? But he did say it. Khalil swears he did, and he was so upset. He wouldn’t joke about that.

This is really messed up. I have no idea what’s going on, and I’m really worried about Sadie. Eliza too. Sadie had to go somewhere, right? Maybe there’s something about her parents we didn’t know. Maybe they abused her? I don’t know how she could have disappeared like that, but maybe she slipped out somehow. I can’t figure it out. But I think she ran away and her parents found her and dragged her back.

Does that make sense? Would her parents pretend she was still gone and hold her prisoner in her room? Did we spoil something by finding her there? There are holes in that story, I know, but it’s like a puzzle with some of the pieces missing. It would make sense and come together if we had those missing pieces.

Well, I guess that’s it and now my hand is cramping. I’ll write again if anyone else learns something.

Your Friend and Confidante,
Ms. Jillian Agatha Peters

I read and reread that letter dozens of times over the course of that day. In the interim, I wrote a report about Lord of the Flies that was mostly bullshit but I thought was what Mrs. Clarke wanted to hear. I had plenty of other work too, and I slogged through all of it. It wasn’t easy and I can’t say I did a great job on any of it, but I didn’t intend for this suspension to lead to flunking and getting left back. All the while, though, my eyes kept darting back to that letter.

What did it mean? How could Mr. Carmichael say something like that? What is going on here? Would we ever find out? My mind was this horrid tangle of possibilities. The Carmichaels have been family friends my whole life, longer. Sadie has been my friend since we were both running around in diapers. If she was being abused, why didn’t she tell us? How did we not notice?

That was only one possibility though. Maybe it was the likeliest possibility, but I still couldn’t make sense of it. What else, then? Of course, I had a million ideas, most of them variations on the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers. All of them were ludicrous and improbable. Or so I decided. I had been spending too much time alone in my room with nothing to distract me but school work and something that would most likely seem a lot less mysterious in the fullness of time. When everything went back to normal.

I was naive enough then to think that everything would always eventually go back to normal. I know better now, but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

That was the final day of my week’s suspension. The next day I would get to leave the house if only to attend my classes and go straight home. I never thought I would be so happy to get to go to school. It was a sickening feeling. I waited until midnight to see if Jill would leave another dispatch, but no such luck.

Ditto that morning at six when I dragged myself out of bed. I was disappointed but not entirely surprised. She would see me at school and give me the lowdown then, surely. I was expecting more vague strangeness, but not the bombshell I received.

It would be a few hours before I would see her. Unlike the rest of us, she didn’t take the bus. Her dad took her to school every day before work. It was supposed to be a sort of bonding time between the two of them, I guess. She hated it, of course. Well, she said she hated it. I knew better. She loved her dorky parents, it was just that showing it didn’t really mesh with the image she was trying to convey.

I received a warm welcome from all the others. Jeff, Ashton, and Khalil had a banner prepared for me which read, “Welcome back, Psycho!” It came complete with a caricature of me smashing the face of Craig/Chris with the soup bowl. I never lived that down. Until I graduated high school the other students would feign terror every time the cafeteria served soup. People I hardly remember still call me Soup Psycho or Soup Nazi every now and again. The nickname switched when the ‘Seinfeld’ episode came out in ’95.

I won’t say that day was great or even enjoyable. Actually, it was terrible. First of all, it was school. School is always terrible. Secondly, I had to see the counselor during study hall to discuss my anger problems. I told her I didn’t have anger problems, I had asshole problems. Not the answer she was looking for. Finally, my violent outburst only enhanced my unwanted celebrity, and Sadie’s continued absence from school did nothing to help matters. As far as the general school-going public was concerned, she was still missing.

I didn’t see Jill until lunchtime and apart from Jeff, none of the others wanted to talk about Sadie. They didn’t know anything and they were sick of talking about the nothing they knew. Jeff intimated that Jill had something big to share, but he didn’t want to tell her story without her. The first four periods were a blur.

It was Stromboli day, which was one of the few items the cafeteria served that I truly loved. The side was always tater babies, which are just tiny potato wedges, but I loved them more than words can say. Somehow no potato wedges I have ever had since have matched them. Maybe that’s just nostalgia, though. As an added bonus, Jeff hated tater babies for some unknowable reason, and always donated his portion to me.

I sat at the usual table with all the others. Khalil was telling one of his countless jokes. I missed the body of the joke but the punchline was “Hey Murray! I found the guy who crapped in your tuba!” It must have been funny too because everyone within earshot was laughing their asses off.

The only one not laughing was Jill, who did not seem to be paying attention. I sat between her and Jeff. Jeff immediately scraped the tater babies off his plate and onto mine. He took a healthy scoop of my chocolate pudding, our long-agreed-upon payment.

Jill didn’t seem to want to talk, which confused me. I thought she would be eager to spill her guts, but all I got from her was “Eat your Stromboli, Paul.”

I did. I scarfed it down, actually, along with all the tater babies and a soda from the vending machines. She slipped me a note while no one else was paying attention. As discreetly as I could, I read it.

The note read Meet me by The Lockers. Jeff too, if you want. Tell no one. Wait a couple minutes after I get up.

Jill left almost immediately after I read the note, making sure to bus her tray and throw her garbage in the receptacle. It always tickled me that despite her punk affectations, she never lost her good habits. I guess being a punk didn’t have to mean being a rude jerk, but it was still amusing. She wore a denim half-jacket covered in studs and band patches, and the stitching was immaculate.

After downing half of Ashley’s Stromboli, I gave Jeff the secret signal to follow me. Never mind what the signal was, it’s a secret. I got up and dumped my own tray on the stack. Jeff belched loudly and announced, “Well, I gotta go take a shit. Later, babies.”

Khalil was halfway through another joke and no one took much notice of our departure. We met up with Jill by The Lockers. The Lockers were not our lockers, they were lockers situated in a dark corner of the hallways, a forgotten remnant of an old annex of the school lost years ago in a fire. No one used those lockers, which made the dark corner a perfect place for clandestine meetings. Read: makeout sessions.

Jill was waiting for us there, a hollow-eyed wraith lurking in the dim light.

“I won’t run away with you, Jill,” Jeff declared, “my heart belongs to another. I know it hurts now, but someday your heart will mend, my dear.”

“Shut up, Jeff,” Jill hissed, “This is serious, okay?”

“Alright, alright,” Jeff answered, holding his palms out and backpedaling in surrender, “So what is this all about?”

“It’s about Sadie, naturally,” Jill replied, “and it’s something so freaky and wrong that I figured Paul, you’d be the only one who would believe me.”

“So why am I here?” Jeff asked.

“Because she knew I’d drag you along anyway,” I told him. Jill nodded.

“Exactly,” She said, “So Paul, I guess you’re wondering why I didn’t leave you a letter last night.”

“I guess I just thought you would see me today,” I said.

“You’re half right,” She said, “except I did write you a letter, and I was going to leave it on your window just like before. Before I could, I saw something that made me forget all about my mission. Something that made me run straight home and lock the doors. Something really freaked up.”

“What was it?” I asked. She rarely swore, it was just another fun contradiction in her punk rock persona. I could tell this was not the time to tease her about it.

“Before I tell you, you gotta promise me two things: You won’t laugh at me, and you won’t tell the others. Swear on our friendship, or I won’t tell you. Okay?”

Jeff and I looked at each other, and we didn’t need a secret signal to agree to swear by her terms. We raised our right hands and in perfect unison we said, “I swear.”

“Okay.” She seemed to gather herself for a moment before speaking again.

“So the other two times I delivered the notes it was between, like, midnight and one A.M. Last night I dozed off, so it wasn’t until after three that I set out. The neighborhood was damn near pitch black at that point. It was so still I could hear the blood rushing in my ears. I didn’t think I was feeling any kind of fear or anxiety though, you know? It was still our neighborhood.

“Well, maybe somewhere deep inside I was harboring some deep-seated fears of getting caught because just as I was about to start climbing your tree, I heard a sound and it just about made me jump out of my skin. It was this horrible yowl. Just one yowl, loud and sharp, and suddenly cut off. It came from Sadie’s back yard, on the other side of the fence.”

Jeff and I exchanged a glance. The mass of tater babies and Stromboli in my stomach lurched in the way that told me I was about to receive terrible news.

“So what could I do?” Jill asked, “I had to know what made that sound. So I climbed onto the woodpile in your backyard and peered over the fence. That’s when I saw her. I saw Sadie.”

“Sadie made the yowl?” I asked, flummoxed.

“No.” Jill said, looking paler than ever, “The cat did. Ashley’s cat, Figaro, made the sound. Sadie was in the backyard, buck naked, filthy and on all fours. She had Figaro clamped in her jaws by the neck, and the cat’s blood was running down her chest. She was eating it… alive.”

“Jesus Christ,” Jeff said. I didn’t say anything, I was speechless. My stomach lurched again when I realized I hadn’t seen my dog, Buck Biscuits, in a couple of days. I didn’t think much of it before, since I had been spending my days in my room.

“That’s not the worst of it,” Jill said, swallowing hard and looking green. We looked at her expectantly. “She saw me. I gasped, I couldn’t help it. She heard me and she looked up, looked right into my eyes. She just growled through her teeth and ran back to the house. Her mom opened the door for her. I saw her just for a couple seconds, but she saw me too. She was dressed in rags, hanging off her. She was as filthy as Sadie. She… she looked like an animal. They both did. I… God!”

Jill began sobbing, and Jeff and I held her as the bell rang, signaling the end of the lunch hour. Eventually, we all went to our next classes. I don’t remember a bit of it. All I could think about was what Jill told us.

I didn’t doubt her for a moment. I guess that’s why she wanted to tell me. Someone else would assure her that it was all a bad dream or her imagination. Some insulting bullshit like that, blunt dismissal disguised as comfort. People just refused to believe what they thought should be impossible. I believed Jill, not because I was interested in things people thought were impossible, but because she was my friend.

The hell of it was this: My belief did not do her a bit of good. Jeff would back us up even if he didn’t fully believe her himself, but that didn’t do her any good either. If we told our parents what she saw, they’d be so pissed at her for sneaking out they wouldn’t take a moment to consider what she had to say. We were on our own. Worse than that, we were isolated even from one another after school let out.

There was only one thing I could think to do, and that was to catch Jill before her mom came by to pick her up from school. She couldn’t go back home, that much was obvious to me. She was in danger. Whatever might be going on with Sadie, Eliza, and her parents, they wouldn’t risk her spreading the word around.

Well, I knew that plan was shot all to hell when I heard her name paged over the intercom midway through last period. I slapped my forehead, realizing what day it was. Once a month Jill had a doctor’s appointment and had to be pulled out of class early. I’m not sure why she had to go to the doctor every month, she wouldn’t say. So much for the running away plan.

I caught up with Jeff waiting for the bus home. I could see that Jill’s story affected him just as it did me. I think I mentioned earlier how sweet Jeff was on Sadie. Long stranding crush and all that. The idea that she had somehow gone feral, filthy, and carnivorous must have been a hard pill to swallow.

“Hey,” I said, standing beside him.

“We’ve got to get her out of there,” he said.

“I agree,” I said, relieved that we were on the same page. “They saw her. They might come for her next.”

Jeff turned and looked at me for the first time. His face was naked, damp with sweat, and his eyes were hollow.

“Not Jill.” He said. “Sadie. Whatever fucked up shit the Carmichaels are up to, whatever they’ve been doing to her, it has to stop. Tonight. We’ll get her out of the house somehow, take her to my place. Call the police. Are you with me?”

“Jeff,” I said, flabbergasted, “This is… You’re talking about… Sadie was-”

Jeff grabbed me by the shoulder, his hollow eyes suddenly blazing.

“Are. You. With me?” He demanded.

The bus was pulling up in front of us. What could I say? Jeff was my best friend. If he asked me, I would have followed him into hell. It was so much easier back in those days to see things in black and white terms. You had to back your best friend’s play. Even if you were terrified.

“I’m with you,” I said.

TC mark

“Tonight,” was his only reply.



The house was searched from top to bottom and back again. An ad hoc rescue team of rapidly sobering partygoers turned the place inside out. We helped, or we pretended to help at least. None of us really thought we were going to find Sadie. We searched closets and cabinets, under the beds, in any container that could potentially contain a person and even those that could not.

We told our story to every adult present at least a half dozen times over, as if they could glean any new information that may have lead them to her location. Fear and confusion turned to anger, most of which was directed at us, as though we were somehow responsible. We were raked over the proverbial coals for that bottle of rum Mr. Carmichael had found. Punishments were pending for the very moment the crisis would come to an end.

It didn’t. Not that night and not for many to come. Once it had become abundantly clear that Sadie was definitely not in the house, in the yard, or on the roof, the police were called. Mr. Carmichael stayed behind to speak to the cops and he made me stay too.

I was selected, not because I knew anything more than anyone else, but by the pure dumb luck of being closest to him when it came time to nominate our spokesperson. Jeff would have been a somewhat better candidate, but we omitted the fact of his being in the closet with Sadie at the time of her disappearance.

The time spent sitting on the couch waiting for the police with Mr. Carmichael was tense, to say the least. He didn’t speak a word to me the entire time. He just sat there, chain-smoking his menthol cigarettes and glaring at me with his horrible red-rimmed eyes. His sleeves were pushed up and his tie was loosened. His face was red and his hair was damp and ragged with sweat. He stank of whiskey and fear.

I was terrified of him. Despite his wealth and his lofty position, he still managed to look like an angry working-class gorilla who just got laid off and drank himself into a rage. He looked ready to fight the next person to look at him funny. And we were alone together. I tried to say something to him. I have no idea what. I just wanted to cut through the oppressive atmosphere, thicker and more tangible than the cloud of reeking menthol smoke pervading the air of the living room.

The doorbell rang. The police were here.

“Wait here,” He growled, snubbing out his cigarette and rising to his feet. Through the picture window opposite the couch, I could see beams of light dancing every which way in the cul-de-sac. The others were scouring the neighborhood for her.

The entire night had taken on a surreal quality from the very moment of Sadie’s mysterious disappearance. I knew something that the adults would never admit. Even if they never found a trace of Sadie, which seemed likely, they would never even think it for a moment. There was a word for what had happened here, and it was something I had hoped to experience my entire life up to that point. The word was ‘supernatural.’

I guess I had romanticized the concept. It wasn’t exciting or intriguing or anything else I had expected. It was awful. My friend had vanished, impossibly, from a closet. She wasn’t hiding anywhere, she didn’t run away. She vanished, in the truest sense of the word. It felt awful.

I could hear Mr. Carmichael in the foyer explaining the situation to the police. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but he was clearly very keyed up and didn’t seem to be of much help. I could hear the softer tones of the police trying to calm him enough that he could file a comprehensible report. It didn’t seem to be going well.

Finally, he lead them into the living room. There were two of them. One guy looked like he was maybe in his early twenties, kind of a baby face with the thinnest suggestion of a mustache. Short too, I think I was taller than him, and I wasn’t a tall kid. He looked like he was playing dress-up in his uniform. The other cop was a woman. She seemed a bit older, stout and grim-looking. Her hair was pulled back in the sort of severe bun I associated with librarians.

They surveyed the room, littered as it was with the detritus of a wild party. There were empty beer bottles, highball glasses, and overstuffed ashtrays covering every available surface. I could feel their judgment, even though it wasn’t directed at me. I thought that was shitty. Just because our parents were having a party, that didn’t mean it was their fault Sadie had disappeared. From what she told us, it was a long time coming. Considering the voices and the sounds from the closet, I mean.

The cops sat down on either side of me, and I glanced from one to the other, unsure of which one I should be focusing my attention upon. Finally, one of them spoke.

“Hi, Paul,” Babyface said, “My name is David Smith and this is my partner Doris Montenegro.”

She nodded grimly and said nothing.

“We just have a few questions for you. I know it’s late and you’re probably eager to get to bed, so we’ll try to make this brief.”

I hadn’t actually thought about it in all of the chaos, but by then it was probably four in the morning and I was completely exhausted. I probably looked about as disheveled as Mr. Carmichael, if not worse. In the course of the search, I was forced to crawl into every nook, cranny, and crawlspace deemed too large for adult exploration. I was dimly aware of the fact that I was covered in dust and cobwebs.

“Okay,” I told them.

Officer Montenegro spoke up, “We just need you to describe, in your own words, what happened tonight. You need to be completely honest with us and omit nothing, no matter how much trouble you think it will cause for yourself or how irrelevant you may think it is. The safety of your little friend may depend on it. Do you understand?”

There was something about her that pissed me off, but I guess that may just be my own anti-authoritarian streak acting up. Then again, maybe I just didn’t like the way she called Sadie my ‘little friend,’ like we were just a bunch of dumb babies. Adults were like that. Somewhere along the way they forgot what it was like to be our age and they just thought we were a gaggle of brainless, helpless, subhuman house pets. They thought we couldn’t wipe our own asses without their direct supervision. I hated it.

I also knew that nothing I told her would increase the odds of their finding Sadie. Not unless the local police department had a paranormal crimes division. On the other hand, I had the feeling that our carefully edited version of the events of the night was far too flimsy for close examination. Mr. Carmichael was standing by, looming in the corner with his cigarette and staring out the window at the search parties activity. If I told them the truth, I knew, he would hear what we left out and likely grow furious. To hell with it, I thought and told them everything.

I told them about the scary stories, I told them about the séance, I told them about the rum, and I told them about spin the bottle. I told them about Seven Minutes in Heaven. I told them the most important fact, that we were all watching the door. That Sadie could not have gotten out of the closet without all of us seeing her.

Of course, they didn’t believe me. Why should they? I had committed the unforgivable crime of being twelve years old, and was therefore not to be trusted. They grilled me for some endless span of time, trying to poke holes in my story. They seemed to want so very badly for every one of us to have turned our attention away from the closet long enough for Sadie to slip away. I wouldn’t budge. They wanted to perforate my testimony by suggesting we were all so blind stupid drunk that we didn’t see her leave.

It was always like this. If your story didn’t fit the narrative of the assholes in power, be it your parents, your teachers, the police, or the dickhead working at the seven eleven, then you were a liar and an asshole and you got punished whether you were telling the truth or not. Whether you were innocent or not. Well maybe we were drinking and maybe we were making out. So what? That didn’t change the fact that Sadie walked into that closet and never walked out.

I guess I lost my temper. It was late, as I said, and I was scared for my friend and tired of all the bullshit and the accusations. I told the police many things that would do nothing to aid in their search for Sadie. Mostly, I told them what it was and where they could stick it. Mr. Carmichael tried to step in and I unloaded plenty of ammunition on him as well. Said some stuff I regretted in the cold light of day.

I think I said that I was starting to see our parents in a different light. I knew that Carmichael wasn’t my enemy, he was just a father who was afraid for his daughter. I knew that he was lashing out at me because he didn’t have a real enemy to fight and he was feeling impotent.

Here’s the thing: I realized that, and I was smart enough to know that, at least when I had the time to reflect on everything. And I was a kid. He was an adult, a full grown man. He had decades longer than me to learn how to see things from the other guy’s perspective, but he was locked in his own way of thinking. I was twelve years old and I was dead sick of that kind of person running things.

David, the babyface cop, defused the situation. I guess he was still young enough to remember being my age and not wanting to be treated like an idiot and a criminal. He asked me to take him to Sadie’s room while the other cop, Doris, stayed with Mr. Carmichael to help organize the search.

I was glad to do it. He was at least willing to act like a human being, and I was eager to get away from the other two. I showed him Sadie’s room, and to the best of my ability I mapped out all of our positions at the time of her disappearance. He didn’t say much, or at least he didn’t try to poke any more holes.

He examined the interior of the closet closely, drawing the same conclusion that we had: That perhaps she had escaped through some secret door. He didn’t find anything either. Finally, he just stepped back from the closet and shook his head. Eliminating the possibility that we had all somehow missed Sadie’s departure from the closet, this was the sort of locked door mystery story that Doyle or Christie might have written. Young as he was, he didn’t realize that this story was a better fit for Stephen King.

Eventually, I was released to go to bed while the adults took full control of the situation. Sadie’s disappearance made the news and it seemed that the entire country had gotten involved in the search. Posters with her face dotted the landscape. Every night you could see flashlight beams projecting into every dark corner of the neighborhood and surrounding areas. The Carmichaels were well known and well liked around town and they had no shortage of volunteers.

We returned to school on Tuesday with a sort of strange and unwanted celebrity among the other students. If any sort of education had occurred I was not aware of it. All I could remember from those terrible, endless hours between the bells were dozens of faces staring at me like I was some curious specimen in a science lab.

I was stunned and numb and belligerent and furious and confused and frustrated. Those were the longest days of my life. Every day that I had to get out of bed to face the world knowing that Sadie was still missing was a desperate struggle. All I wanted was for things to go back to normal and for everyone to forget who I was again.

The others seemed to feel much the same as I did. In a way, it brought us all closer together. We were all we had against the world. Time together alone was the only peace we had. We talked about that night nonstop but no one had any answers.

Jill blamed herself for what had happened and took it the hardest. She missed a lot of school, wouldn’t answer the phone most of the time, and sometimes when I did see her I could smell alcohol on her breath. Jeff and I worked hard to spend time with her. Neither of us would say so, but we were worried. There was a bandage on her forearm that looked ominous.

By the second week, people were starting to give up hoping to find her. No one told us so, of course. No, to our faces the adults, the parents, they put on their ghoulish ‘brave faces’ and assured us that Sadie would be found safe any time now. But when we walked in suddenly while they were talking, they shut up fast.

Midway through the second week we all stopped going to school. Our featured roles in the freak show had all become too much to bear. I heard my name and Sadie’s name in whispered conversations everywhere I went. Speculation had grown like some strange tumor.

Everyone had their pet theory, and most of those theories revolved around the six of us being co-conspirators in a heinous murder plot. It was infuriating and so I guess I didn’t help matters much when I made a big ugly scene in the cafeteria on the second Wednesday following her disappearance.

I overheard some guy I didn’t even know, I think his name was maybe Craig or Chris, telling another kid that Sadie rejected me so I had my friends hold her down while I cut her throat. I responded by throwing a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup in his face and breaking his glasses and nose. My departure from school was therefore not entirely voluntary. I felt really bad about it in retrospect but I guess you could say I was under a lot of strain at the time.

That Thursday I was sitting in my room alone, angrily throwing a foam basketball against the closet door, which I had not opened since that night. Closets were sort of a tender subject. Thankfully my clothes were all in a dresser or I would have been stuck wearing the same outfit from the party for the past week and a half.

I could hear the phone ringing downstairs but I didn’t pay it much mind. I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone, just one of the many statutes that defined my grounding for that whole lunchroom assault. Mom answered. I could hear the tones of her voice through the vent in my floor, but not the specific words. I threw the ball again. Thump.

Before my mandatory vacation from school I had visited the library in hopes that I might find some explanation or at least some precedent for what had happened to Sadie. Surely, I reasoned, she couldn’t have been the only person ever to disappear out of thin air. I wasn’t wrong.

In the 1500s the entire first English settlement in North America, about 115 people, disappeared without a trace. That wasn’t the same situation though. There are a million possible reasons they could have vanished, the mystery is that no one knows what that reason might have been. No one was there when they disappeared.

In the 1870s a ship, the Mary Celeste, was found adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean. The cargo and the crew’s personal effects were all found undisturbed, but of the captain and crew, there was not a trace. No sign of any of them had ever been found. But they were missing a lifeboat. Just one, sure, but that could have meant that the boat was abandoned for some reason and that the survivors were simply lost at sea. Such things happen.

On Christmas Eve, 1945, a fire broke out in the home of a West Virginia Family, the Sodders. Mr. and Mrs. Sodder and four of their children escaped the blaze unharmed. The remaining five children were never found. That must have been a kidnapping and arson. They were never found, but no one marked their departure. No one was there to see them vanish, like we were.

You see? People disappeared all the time. Sometimes it was strange and mysterious, but only because no one knew the facts. Even if we don’t know the truth, there’s still at least a reasonable theory for what must have happened. There was no reason here. No theories. Only a mystery.

I thumbed through dozens of books and countless stories just like those three. Only a few were as mysterious and inexplicable as our own. I studied them intensely for any sort of clue that might help us recover Sadie. They were fascinating but ultimately unhelpful.

Apparently, sometime in the 1870s in England, a man bet his friends he could run sixteen miles to the next town without stopping. To ensure his honesty, his friends followed him closely in a horse-drawn buggy. Somewhere along the way they saw him trip and pitch forward- and simply wink out of existence right before their eyes. He was never seen again.

In the 1970s a couple was driving from New Jersey to New York City. At some point, their windows had grown too foggy to see through and so they stopped to wipe down the windshields. The husband was clearing the front and the wife was clearing the back. When he turned to see how she was doing, he saw that she was gone. He heard nothing, saw nothing, had only turned away from her for the few seconds needed to clear the window. She was never seen again.

Only a few years before our own incident, in the early autumn of 1989, a couple was walking hand in hand through a wooded path at Lake Ray Roberts near Denton, Texas. The man, whose name was William Avery, said his girlfriend let go of his hand for just a moment and said ‘hello, little girl!’ to someone. When he looked to see who she was talking to, he found that she was gone. He didn’t see any little girl, either.

The common theme was this: The person who disappeared under mysterious circumstances was never seen again. Kidnapped, killed, or otherwise, they were gone for good. The only thing I took away from all my research was a dreadful certainty that the same would be said for Sadie Carmichael. Just another unsolved mystery for geeks like me to obsess over.

Lost in rumination over these stories, I was startled by a tapping at my second story window. It was after dark. I crossed the room to find the source of the noise and was startled yet again when I saw something small hit the glass.

Tap!

I opened the window and looked down the ground below. Jeff and Jill were standing below in the shadow of the Oak tree in the yard. I waved them up. It was as easy to shimmy up the tree to my window as it was at Sadie’s house. There was a risk that my mother would come up to check on me, but I didn’t much care at that point if I got in more trouble.

Music was not expressly forbidden in my grounding so I put the Green Day tape on at a volume low enough to avoid attention but loud enough to muffle our voices. Jill entered first, and Jeff shortly thereafter. They sat on my bed. Both of them wore the same grave, hollow-eyed expression I saw in the mirror.

Jeff broke the silence, glancing at the pile of open books on my floor and asking me, “So. Did you find anything useful?”

“Useful?” I answered, “No. Nothing useful. I’ve read through all of the books in the library I thought would have anything that could help us. Nothing. Bone dry. I found plenty of stories of disappearances as weird as ours but nothing about someone finding a way to get the vanished person back. What about you, Jill? Did you find anything on the World Wide Web?”

In 1993 the internet was in its infancy. Commercial internet providers were just starting to become available and in those days the users were sort of like pioneers. They were the early adopters, mostly tech geeks, and obsessives. It wasn’t like today where you could pull up Wikipedia and search for whatever you wanted to know in a flash. It was the days of newsgroups and the very first web browser had just appeared. Finding information was more of a miserable slog.

Jill had access to the web because, in some way too obscure for her to explain, that was how her father made his living. He forced her to learn all of the intricacies of its use because he had this idea that in a few years everyone would be connected to the World Wide Web and a working knowledge of it would give her an advantage over the rest of her generation. Of course, his prophesy proved true but at the time she detested spending all of those tedious hours learning about all that ‘nerd crap.’

She rolled her eyes, and said, “The only thing I found on the Web was a cadre of dweebs who were so fascinated that I was a girl that they would pretend to have any sort of information I could ever want. It took me hours to learn that no one knew a darn thing that could ever be described as useful. I still have a headache from staring at that stupid screen. One guy said my story reminded me of something he read once about fairies or something, but he said that it was something to do with babies and he only ever heard about it happening in England.”

“Well?” Jeff asked, “Did he say anything else?”

“Yeah. Yeah he did,” Jill said, scowling, “He said he was lonely and wanted to know if I would have cyber-sex with him in a private chat room. I told him I would rather stab myself in the crotch with a Christmas tree, and then I logged off. The World Wide Web is full of pathetic perverts. Probably all look like my dad, too. Fat, bald, and badly in need of a bath.”

I didn’t hear the last part because I was laughing too hard at the Christmas tree line. That might have been the first time I laughed since Sadie disappeared. I guess I needed it. When my laughter subsided a silence fell over us all. I remembered my mother downstairs and listened, for fear that she heard my mirthful outburst and was coming to put a stop to it. Nothing.

“So what are we going to do?” Jeff asked, quietly.

“Well,” I said, cautiously, “I have an idea, but maybe you’re not going to like it.”

Jeff and Jill looked at me curiously but said nothing. I took it as encouragement.

“Okay, so maybe this is grasping at straws, but consider this: Everything we did that night, the stories, the candles, the Ouija board, the shared drink, and the uh… coupling…”

“Yeah?” Jill asked. I thought she had an inkling of what I was driving at. She out of any of us might have known. Jeff wouldn’t have, but he was a close enough friend that I knew he wouldn’t laugh it off.

“Well,” I continued, “I mean maybe this is dumb, but in a way, all of that was sort of like a ritual.”

Jill lit up. I think I was broaching a subject she herself had given much thought. She said, “There’s more to it than just that. First of all, there was seven of us there. Seven is a powerful number, at least if you subscribe to numerology. I don’t, necessarily, but the number seven comes up again and again when it comes to magic and religion and all of that stuff. Maybe it’s insignificant but maybe it’s not.

“The other thing is, we did all of that stuff between the hours of midnight and three A.M. That’s the witching hour.”

“The witching three hours, more like,” Jeff said dubiously.

“It’s a sort of loose term, I guess,” Jill admitted. “Christians considered that time to be unholy because it was the time when no one was praying. They used to execute women seen outside at that hour because men are scum and I guess they thought that was a good enough reason to assume someone was a witch. At any rate, it’s considered the time of night where the spirit world is closest to ours.”

“Okay,” Jeff said, still dubious but not mocking, “but how does this help us?”

Jill yielded the floor to me, as it was my idea in the first place. She was just the resident expert on witchcraft and other strangeness.

“My thought is this: if we did perform a ritual that made Sadie disappear, maybe there’s a way to undo the ritual if we can recreate the conditions that caused it in the first place. Maybe we can undo the spell or whatever. It’s a long shot, but it’s the only idea I have. What do you say?”

Jeff snapped his fingers and said, “What about those weird sticks you brought? The stuff we were supposed to burn if things got too hinky?”

“Oh, the sage!” Jill said, “I forgot all about that. It’s probably still in her room. That could help but I think it’s really more for dispelling evil spirits.”

“So what else can we do? Do you have anything else to undo a ritual?” I asked. I felt energized like we were finally getting somewhere. Maybe it was all just a fantasy and I was buying into it because I watched too many bad movies and read too many bad books, but it felt right. A strange situation called for strange solutions.

Jill sighed, “You guys understand I’m not a witch, right? This is all speculation for me. I know a fair amount about all of this because it’s interesting to me, but as far as I know rituals and spirits and all of that crap are just made up by other weirdos.”

Jeff and I had nothing to say to this. We were all just scared kids grasping at straws. We were still young enough to believe that magic might exist, but old enough to know that it probably didn’t. The Green Day tape ended and I flipped it to the B Side.

Jill sighed again, “Okay, I’ll see what I can figure out. Jeff, you get the others together. I don’t know if we need everyone together again, but it couldn’t hurt. Paul, I guess you better just keep a low profile. You’re no good to us if you get yourself double grounded.”

“Wait,” I said, realizing something fairly important, “How are we going to get back in there?”

“Easy,” Jeff said, “Through the window, just like Jill did when she brought the Ouija board.”

“Not so easy,” Jill said, “I locked the window behind me. I’m going to have to find some excuse to get into her room so I can unlock it for us. That shouldn’t be a problem though, I’ll just tell them I left something in there.”

“Do you think they’ll let you?” Jeff asked, “Mr. Carmichael seemed pretty pissed off.”

“I’ll manage,” Jill assured him, “If he gives me any trouble I’ll just start bawling. That usually works.”

“All right, so we have something resembling a plan,” I said, “So when are we going to do this?”

“I think it should be Saturday night,” Jill said, “That’s exactly two weeks from the night she disappeared. We should try to time it down to the minute if we can.”

“Two weeks,” Jeff mused, “Fourteen days. Seven and seven.”

We hashed out a few more details but the bulk of our plan relied mostly on Jill’s knowledge of spells and rituals, as limited as that may have been. Within minutes of resolving the date of our operation, they departed, leaving me alone with my foam rubber ball and my fears.

For the next couple of days, I was in the dark. It was pure luck that my mom didn’t catch us meeting together in my room and I wasn’t willing to risk things further by arranging or allowing another meeting. For all my anxiety I couldn’t sit still or concentrate on anything for more than a couple of moments at a time. I would have given anything just to be able to walk down the sidewalk and clear my head. My eyes kept wandering out the window to the Carmichael’s house.

Saturday, just as darkness fell and still hours before our little operation would commence I caught sight of Eliza sitting at her window. She was dressed this time, of course. Eliza stared up at the night sky and paid little mind to the likes of me, just another despondent stargazer. Even from the distance that separated us, I could see her cheeks shining from the tears running down her face.

After a time she turned away, and so did I. Sadie was my friend and I wanted her back. I was terrified for her safety and just so confused and frightened about the whole thing. I couldn’t sleep or eat or even just act like a functioning human being. Jill wasn’t the only one who blamed herself for what happened, I just didn’t know it at the time.

I thought I knew what it was to suffer and feel loss but seeing Eliza up there weeping for her lost sister, I knew that what I was feeling was nothing compared to what her family must have been going through. They must have been fighting tooth and nail just to hold on and not give up hope that Sadie could be alive.

This plan of ours to reverse the ritual and bring her back, I knew it was laughable. We were just kids playing at something we didn’t understand in the slightest. I also knew I had to try something. Anything. The only thing about which I was certain was that Sadie was somewhere a search party would never find her. We had to bring her back from somewhere outside of a rational, numbered world. No one else would.

I told my mother I was turning in somewhere around ten P.M. that night. To support the illusion I turned out the lights and laid in bed, not sleeping, but waiting. At least that was my plan. Certainly, I thought I was too keyed up to sleep, until I found myself waking to the sound of tapping at my window. A silhouette stood out against the night sky and I jumped from my bed before realizing it was only Jeff.

With my heart still thumping from the scare, I opened the window and crawled through. I was already wearing dark clothing in anticipation of our nocturnal operation. We climbed down the tree to the ground in complete silence. The moon shone brightly that night, making a mockery at our attempts at stealth, or so I felt.

We crossed the yards to the tree that would take us to Sadie’s room. Jill, Ashley, Ashton, and Khalil were gathered underneath trying to look inconspicuous. No one was shouting or shining a flashlight in our faces, so I suppose they were successful enough. It was the witching hour, and all good Christians were in their beds asleep. Nobody here but us witches.

Without a word we all climbed up the tree and into Sadie’s room. It seems Jill’s mission went off without a hitch. I was almost as glad as I was scared of getting caught. Jill with her bag of ritual supplies went in first and the rest followed. I climbed up last, taking note that Eliza’s window was illuminated. I could not, however, see if she was seated at her window again. I supposed I would know soon enough, one way or the other.

By the time I crawled through Sadie’s window, her room was already lit, though dimly, by a trio of candles. A rolled up towel was placed at the bottom of her bedroom door to keep light from escaping into the hall. That was a smart move on Jill’s part. I wouldn’t have thought of that. The others were gathered in a loose semicircle around the Ouija board, shadows playing over their grim faces. The closet door was still closed.

I thought I was going to throw up. Seeing the room again for the first time in two weeks, I realized I had dreamed of this moment. In my dream I could hear Sadie weeping inside the closet, desperate and afraid. I tried to tell her I would help her, but my lungs had no air to push the words out. I tried to cross the room to throw open the door, but it felt like I was walking through wet cement. Every step seemed to take eons.

When finally I reached her closet door and threw it open, I found her inside long dead, gray dry skin stretched over bones. What was left of her face was contorted in agony. Her yellowed teeth were bared in her final cries for help that would come far too late. The inside of the closet door was furrowed with deep scratches. The scratches were streaked with rust-colored stains that could only have been dried blood. Her nails were embedded in the wood, ripped free from her fingertips.

Instead of throwing open the closet door, I simply sat with the others. I was too afraid to see what might have been inside. Nothing or something, both possibilities frightened me equally.

“Let’s begin with the séance,” Jill suggested. She spoke in a barely audible whisper. “If we can get in contact with Sadie that way, we may be able to help her find her way back. Is everyone ready?”

We all nodded our agreement, some more readily than others. I have no idea how Jill and Jeff managed to convince everyone to return, to say nothing of attempting another séance. Actually, that’s not true. I knew how, it was Sadie. We all loved her, we all wanted her back. The small chance of success was worth all the risk.

One by one we stretched our hands toward the planchette and rested two fingertips on its surface. With this done, we stared up at Jill in anticipation. There was no question that she would be leading the séance.

“Spirits,” Jill began, still whispering but addressing the room. Her head was thrown back and her arms were stretched up toward the ceiling, her palms out. “Spirits we beseech you: If our friend, Sadie, is among you, let her speak to us. Sadie, will you speak to us?”

We stared intently at the board, trying not to will an answer but simply to concentrate on the question. That’s what Jill said to do the first time around. We stared. And Concentrated. Nothing. The planchette moved not an inch in any direction. Confused, we all started to mutter softly to one another until we were cut off by a severe gesture by Jill.

Jill opened her mouth to ask another question, but she was interrupted by a voice so loud I thought at first it must have been Eliza.

“Hello!?” The voice cried out.

We all jumped back, ready to scatter before the bedroom door could open. Ashton’s hands were already on the window frame when the voice called out again.

“Jeff? Where did you go?” It came from the closet!

“Sadie?!” Jeff and at least two of the others called out. I said nothing, I was speechless.

“Yes, it’s me! Duh!” She said, throwing open the closet door. She looked exactly the same as she did that night apart from hair that appeared tousled from Jeff’s hands. She glared at Jeff and said, “How the hell did you get out of the closet so fast? I know I’m not that bad at kissing, so what gives? And why are you all dressed like ninjas? Well?!”

Ashley was the first to find her voice, and said, “Sadie! What the hell happened? We were so worried about you! Where did you go?”

I think Sadie was starting to ask Ashley just what the heck she meant, but Ashley smothered her with a hug before she had the chance. Ashton followed closely behind, then Jeff, Khalil, and Jill. I was the last to break my shock paralysis, but Sadie jumped away as soon as my arms wrapped around her.

“Okay! Get off of me, all of you!” She yelped.

She addressed us all but she was staring at me when she said it, or rather she was staring at my wrist, the only part of my body to come into contact with her. Feeling hurt and uncomfortable, I adjusted the bracelet I wore on that wrist, cast iron beads on a leather cord.

The others bombarded her with questions, but I guess in all the excitement we forgot to be quiet. The door flew open, the overhead light clicked on, and there stood Mr. Carmichael. He had a shotgun in his hand and his eyes were blazing.

“What in the Sam Hell is going on in here?!” He bellowed, “I damn near blew all your goddamn heads off! What are you doing-”

His jaw dropped, having noticed Sadie standing among us.

“Hi, daddy,” she said with a flippant little wave.

“Sadie!” He cried, shoving the shotgun into my arms and rushing to her. “Doodlebug, where have you been?!”

“I’ve been here, daddy.” She said, looking as perplexed as when she first stepped out of the closet. “I’ve been here all night.”

With tears of relief rolling down his face, Mr. Carmichael held Sadie to his barrel chest, repeating her name over and over again. From behind them Eliza and Mrs. Carmichael emerged, tentatively at first and then with the same gusto Mr. Carmichael had shown. They all smothered a baffled Sadie in their affections while we stood by feeling like someone’s third wheel collection.

“Yo, we should go,” Khalil suggested. We nodded and began to slip away.

It was at this time that Mr. Carmichael remembered we were there, or perhaps his relief subsided just enough to remember to be angry again. His face began to redden before he even started yelling.

“So maybe you guys want to tell me what the hell happened here? The six of you were here with my daughter when she disappeared and now you six are here when she comes back? Would you care to explain that? Huh?!”

Jeff spoke up, “Mr. Carmichael, we don’t know what’s going on, we just-”

“You just what?” Mr. Carmichael cut him off, “you just thought you’d play a fucking joke on my family? Is that it? You sneak my daughter out of here, pretend like she fucking disappeared, give my family the scare of our lives, then sneak her back in here like nothing happened? Do you think that’s funny or something? Funny joke?!”

“It’s not a joke, sir,” Ashley cried, tears running down her face. She didn’t respond well to getting yelled at.

Ashton threw an arm over her shoulder and added, “We didn’t do anything, sir, we just wanted to…’

He trailed off. There wasn’t an explanation we could give that would sound sane. We were all standing around a Ouija board and three guttering aromatherapy candles. Sadie was alive and well and nowhere near the spirit world.

“You just wanted to what?!” Mr. Carmichael bellowed, “Never mind! I don’t want to hear it. You get your devil board and get the fuck out of my home. I don’t want to see a one of you around here again, you understand me? And right after I call the police and tell them my baby girl is safe and sound, you better believe I’m going to tell each and every one of your parents. Now get the fuck out of here!”

We didn’t need an engraved invitation, that was for damn sure. The six of us scrambled out of that house as fast as our feet could carry us. I was almost out the door before I realized I still had the shotgun in my arms and set it on the coffee table before dashing out the door.

I caught up with Jill and Jeff before sneaking back up to my room. The others had already scattered, back to their respective homes to face the music.

“So that was weird,” I said. “It was like-”

“Like she didn’t even know any time had passed,” Jill said. “Definitely weird.”

“Two weeks.” Jeff said, “How did she not, like, die of thirst?”

“No idea,” I said. “She didn’t look any worse for wear, that’s for damn sure.”

“Did you catch a whiff of her breath, though?” Jill asked. We shook our heads. “It smelled like she was living off a steady diet of dead mice and dog crap. I thought I was going to throw up.”

I laughed, but Jeff didn’t. Jeff looked more troubled than ever as if her grotesque analogy sparked a disturbing memory for him.

“I gotta go, guys,” He said, and dashed off for his house.

“I guess I better go too, Paul,” Jill said. “I guess you’ll be grounded for life after tonight, huh?”

“Yeah,” I said, rubbing the back of my head. “But this is good, right? Sadie’s back, safe and sound. I don’t know if we did anything to make it happen, but at least everything can go back to normal. No more freak show.”

“Totally,” Jill said, slapping my shoulder. “I’ll see you when you break free, dude.”

“Yeah.” I said, “I’ll see you then.”

She turned away, leaving me alone. I stared up at the moon. It was full that night, a bright silver coin in the sky. If Sadie was back, safe and sound, then why didn’t I feel like everything was all right? Why didn’t I feel like anything was all right?

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