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Written by ErrBane in portal Simon & Schuster

The Black Orchid

Ch 1: A Seed is Planted

Blackened reeds bow to a gentle breeze. An emerald sky, rife with dark clouds, looms above. The stench of dried blood clings to the air—the hill is going to get another sacrifice, and it is glad.

The Dark Hill sits on the outskirts of the city of Arcana, its once vibrant veldt now a dreary shell of its former self: weeds choke the life from every tree and shrub, withering them away to nothing more than feeble stumps; blood spilled upon its once fertile soil has seeped into the ground, staining the grass black and the earth red; the melodious ditty of a hundred woodland creatures has been snuffed away and replaced by the faint shrieking of restless souls.

Along the crest of this dark, dreary hill is a very decrepit house, Mildred Manor, a thing made in the old Victorian style with broken shutters and crumbling steeples. From that home, that magnet of the macabre, comes most of the Dark Hill’s fetid food, the crimson elixir that smirches its once pristine grounds. Over the years, the house, cursed as it is, has become a nexus for grisly actions, each more gruesome and sinister than the last.

Every night, as the sun surrenders the skies to the moon, warbled screams, like some terrible lullaby, escape from the awful house. Many believe the sound to be a desperate call from the lonely manor, a dreadful bugle call only those with ill intent in their hearts can decipher.

On this terrible night, lonely and cold, as the sun’s final rays retreat into the horizon, one such soul heeds that call.

Cloaked in tatters as black as the grass upon which he walks, he carries a large bundle wrapped in dirty, yellowed sheets. This bundle, tightly wound, contours around a very human shape.

Up and up and up the hill he goes, coming to a stop in front of the mold filled door of the manor. He looks up at the broken steeples and the shattered windows. He takes a professional interest on the mark above the front door, the mark of Everything You Touch, the sign of the curse that plagues Mildred’s Manor—a decrepit, hovering hand with jagged lines radiating from it, and covering the whole exterior of the house.

With undue brutality, he kicks the front door, shattering it. Splinters fly in all directions. Upon entering, he staggers momentarily, as the cursed floor slants awkwardly to the left. Regaining his footing, he moves towards a vast, empty room on his right.

Awkward angles fill the room as the doorframe, fireplace, and windows are all slightly crooked. On the ceiling hangs a gangly, crooked mess of speckled bronze, a chandelier. Plumes of dust erupt every time the man takes a step.

Disgusted by the thing he carries, the man drops the bundle at his feet. From his pocket he removes a crystal vial, the liquid contents of which are suspended one over the other, orange and black, like water over oil. He shakes the vial until the contents fuse together. A bubbling sludge forms within the vial, and this the man pours over the top end of the bundle. Bubbles quiver and explode, others percolate through the dirty cloth. The man waits for some moments, making sure that the whole mixture soaks into the grimy sheets. When this is done, he exits the room.Ancient planks groan as he steps out of the room and throws away the vial in his hand. With a loud crash, it shatters upon a wall.

Once outside, the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a gem in the shape of a tiny lion. With the gem in hand, he starts to swing his wrist, like a cowboy about to rope cattle. With each revolution, the gem fills with a dim, silver glow. The man raises his arm over his head and, with a snap of his hand, causes a flurry of silver flames to erupt from the crystal. The flames do not burn the mildewed wood of Mildred’s Manor—instead, the silver sparks seep into every wall, every window of the house.

The man flinches as silver flames make the crystal vibrate in his hands, breaking with an audible snap. He begins to massage his hurt hand, but he quickly forgets his pain. He takes a few steps back to survey his work.

Like a shattering clock revealing all its gears, the house creaks and cracks, its bricks, wood, and glass all suspended in the air. Each of its pieces begin to shuffle around in a blur of motion. The house seems to breathe as all the debris expands inward and outward. Suddenly, as though nothing has happened, each segment falls back into place. Every piece lays peacefully at rest for some moments. But as the man begins to walk away, the house once more splits into its component parts, caught in a never ending loop.

Inside the shifting walls of the house, the bundle begins to move. The dirty sheets peel back to reveal a naked man. Save for the fact that his eyes are missing, there is nothing to indicate that the man is dead. Indeed, the squirming in his throat, making his head move as though he were having a nightmare, gives a distinct impression of a man asleep. Only when his mouth peels back, revealing his chattering teeth, does anything appear to be amiss. With incredible force, the teeth, like tiny, white bullets, begin to shoot out one by one, as gray roots erupt from the man’s throat.

Like some great, molting insect, the man’s skin adapts a grey hue and starts to dry up and slip from his body. His veins, no longer red, look like pulsing rivers of lava, orange and hot. The veins convulse violently, their contents gush out and leak into the mildewed floor.

CRACK.

The man’s jaw breaks as a large plant slithers out of his mouth. Five stygian petals, like the limbs of a man, bob up and down. The black flower dances upon the chest of the dead man and the Dark Hill, after months of starvation, is finally satiated.

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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by ErrBane in portal Simon & Schuster
The Black Orchid
Ch 1: A Seed is Planted

Blackened reeds bow to a gentle breeze. An emerald sky, rife with dark clouds, looms above. The stench of dried blood clings to the air—the hill is going to get another sacrifice, and it is glad.

The Dark Hill sits on the outskirts of the city of Arcana, its once vibrant veldt now a dreary shell of its former self: weeds choke the life from every tree and shrub, withering them away to nothing more than feeble stumps; blood spilled upon its once fertile soil has seeped into the ground, staining the grass black and the earth red; the melodious ditty of a hundred woodland creatures has been snuffed away and replaced by the faint shrieking of restless souls.

Along the crest of this dark, dreary hill is a very decrepit house, Mildred Manor, a thing made in the old Victorian style with broken shutters and crumbling steeples. From that home, that magnet of the macabre, comes most of the Dark Hill’s fetid food, the crimson elixir that smirches its once pristine grounds. Over the years, the house, cursed as it is, has become a nexus for grisly actions, each more gruesome and sinister than the last.
Every night, as the sun surrenders the skies to the moon, warbled screams, like some terrible lullaby, escape from the awful house. Many believe the sound to be a desperate call from the lonely manor, a dreadful bugle call only those with ill intent in their hearts can decipher.

On this terrible night, lonely and cold, as the sun’s final rays retreat into the horizon, one such soul heeds that call.

Cloaked in tatters as black as the grass upon which he walks, he carries a large bundle wrapped in dirty, yellowed sheets. This bundle, tightly wound, contours around a very human shape.

Up and up and up the hill he goes, coming to a stop in front of the mold filled door of the manor. He looks up at the broken steeples and the shattered windows. He takes a professional interest on the mark above the front door, the mark of Everything You Touch, the sign of the curse that plagues Mildred’s Manor—a decrepit, hovering hand with jagged lines radiating from it, and covering the whole exterior of the house.
With undue brutality, he kicks the front door, shattering it. Splinters fly in all directions. Upon entering, he staggers momentarily, as the cursed floor slants awkwardly to the left. Regaining his footing, he moves towards a vast, empty room on his right.
Awkward angles fill the room as the doorframe, fireplace, and windows are all slightly crooked. On the ceiling hangs a gangly, crooked mess of speckled bronze, a chandelier. Plumes of dust erupt every time the man takes a step.

Disgusted by the thing he carries, the man drops the bundle at his feet. From his pocket he removes a crystal vial, the liquid contents of which are suspended one over the other, orange and black, like water over oil. He shakes the vial until the contents fuse together. A bubbling sludge forms within the vial, and this the man pours over the top end of the bundle. Bubbles quiver and explode, others percolate through the dirty cloth. The man waits for some moments, making sure that the whole mixture soaks into the grimy sheets. When this is done, he exits the room.Ancient planks groan as he steps out of the room and throws away the vial in his hand. With a loud crash, it shatters upon a wall.

Once outside, the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a gem in the shape of a tiny lion. With the gem in hand, he starts to swing his wrist, like a cowboy about to rope cattle. With each revolution, the gem fills with a dim, silver glow. The man raises his arm over his head and, with a snap of his hand, causes a flurry of silver flames to erupt from the crystal. The flames do not burn the mildewed wood of Mildred’s Manor—instead, the silver sparks seep into every wall, every window of the house.

The man flinches as silver flames make the crystal vibrate in his hands, breaking with an audible snap. He begins to massage his hurt hand, but he quickly forgets his pain. He takes a few steps back to survey his work.

Like a shattering clock revealing all its gears, the house creaks and cracks, its bricks, wood, and glass all suspended in the air. Each of its pieces begin to shuffle around in a blur of motion. The house seems to breathe as all the debris expands inward and outward. Suddenly, as though nothing has happened, each segment falls back into place. Every piece lays peacefully at rest for some moments. But as the man begins to walk away, the house once more splits into its component parts, caught in a never ending loop.

Inside the shifting walls of the house, the bundle begins to move. The dirty sheets peel back to reveal a naked man. Save for the fact that his eyes are missing, there is nothing to indicate that the man is dead. Indeed, the squirming in his throat, making his head move as though he were having a nightmare, gives a distinct impression of a man asleep. Only when his mouth peels back, revealing his chattering teeth, does anything appear to be amiss. With incredible force, the teeth, like tiny, white bullets, begin to shoot out one by one, as gray roots erupt from the man’s throat.

Like some great, molting insect, the man’s skin adapts a grey hue and starts to dry up and slip from his body. His veins, no longer red, look like pulsing rivers of lava, orange and hot. The veins convulse violently, their contents gush out and leak into the mildewed floor.

CRACK.

The man’s jaw breaks as a large plant slithers out of his mouth. Five stygian petals, like the limbs of a man, bob up and down. The black flower dances upon the chest of the dead man and the Dark Hill, after months of starvation, is finally satiated.
#fantasy  #fiction  #mystery 
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Written by ErrBane

El Callejon

“I do it to help,” says the thirty five year old police officer, as she sits across from me. “I’ve known these people all my life. They sometimes hear or experience weird things--so weird and out of the ordinary that even their own families, friends, and neighbors don’t believe them. And if those they trust don’t believe them, why would the police? So they don’t bother going to them. Instead, they come to me. They know I’ll listen. They know I’ll believe them. In the grand scheme of things, it might not be that big of a deal. But that’s alright. If I can, at the end of the day, say that I’ve helped just one person, helped them even just a little, then it’s all worth it.” As she brings the smoking cup of coffee to her lips, she laughs and adds: “Plus, it’s really, really fun.”

There is something very coquettish about her smile which makes me feel like a teenager again. As the morning sun hits her glossy black hair, braided into an elaborate ponytail that hangs over her left shoulder, I can see why people flock to her with their problems: her plumb lips, colored with a maroon lipstick that beautifully compliments her mocha skin, and wide, warm smile, evoke a sense of familiarity, and thus, safety. And yet, the rich hazel eyes have an almost bewitching effect: they seem to want to draw out my deepest, darkest secrets, not so that she may hold some leverage over me, but so that I may rid myself of the burden.

From the second she entered the Café Cola’O, dressed in a very casual t-shirt and shorts, I found myself unable to stop talking. Such is her gift: instantly you feel like you’ve known her all your life.

On a Saturday morning, the Café Cola’O, on Pier 2 of Old San Juan, is not very busy. This suits the both of us; I want to be able to catch all that she has to say and she hates crowds. We sit on shiny silver chairs just outside the café, underneath the green metal arch that holds the stylized cup of piping hot coffee with the name of the place. I offered to meet her in her native Añasco, but she insisted on making the two hour trip through winding highways, bordered by massive mountains, covered in wire mesh to prevent the not uncommon landslide, over old bridges overlooking even older rivers, to Old San Juan because she really loves her coffee and Café Cola’O is her favorite place to get it.

Immediately after ordering, she began to narrate the history of coffee on Puerto Rican soil with the passion and expertise of a true connoisseur. All joy instantly left her face when I told her it all tastes the same to me. Realizing that she did not have a fellow coffee lover as company, she dropped the subject with the obstinate air of the child that is told she can’t have that really nice candy bar calling out her name.

But Rosa recovers quickly and her face is full of expectation with a look that seems to say: “Now that the pleasantries are over, we can get to the real point.”

Naturally, I didn’t need to remind her what that point was. In fact, I never had to tell her at all. Two days prior to our meeting, I had called her precinct, trying to schedule an interview. Having gotten wind of her latest “peculiar little problem”, I wanted to find out more about this intrepid officer. When she finally answered the phone, it took her no more than five seconds to figure out why I was calling. With nothing but my name and my place of employment, she instantly knew what I wanted and why. She has not stopped impressing me since.

“Oh, please”, she says, waving away my compliments. “There’s nothing impressive about knowing there’s a dog in the house when you hear barking behind the front door. N-not that you’re a dog,” she adds, hastily. I vaguely detect hints of blushing.

I can’t help but laugh at the remark as the confident and professional air of the officer vanishes briefly, giving me a glimpse of the somewhat awkward woman beneath.

With my question about the alley, her masterful demeanor swiftly returns.

“El callejόn,” she repeats the words with a faraway look in her eyes.

                                                                    ###

The cobbled streets of Old San Juan, indeed the whole barrio, seem like a scene frozen in time. Only the dozens of modern cars, with their drivers talking on devices foreign to the original dwellers of the city, break up the illusion. Colorful and evocative of a bygone age, its buildings are works of art that, one supposes, when seen in the hot Puerto Rican sun, must have sparked the idea that perhaps such artistic edifices should be put to good use. Thus, the modern version of the town arose: a thriving tourist trap built upon the shoulders of its natives, full of shops and restaurants that very few of the people living in the surrounding area can actually afford. Instead, they come to admire their heritage or to make a living--street vendors, with their homemade foods, litter the town square, battling for space against the hundreds of pigeons that make the city their home.

Maria Peña is among one of these vendors—-an unassuming woman of seventy two, she has, personally, manned her sherbet cart on that square for over three decades. Monday through Saturday, rain or shine, you can find the short lady, dressed in bright blouses, her short, curly hair white as the marbled statues of the Plaza de Arma fountain, behind her small, silver cart, underneath the massive, rainbow umbrella and smelling as sweet as the homemade confections she peddles--fruity concoctions blended in her own kitchen with the help of her children and grandchildren.

She shoveled out the treat, molding it into perfect scoops, and served it in a fragile paper cup, a welcomed rush of soothing cold in the Caribbean heat, as I asked her about her repeated calls to the police.

“Nobody except Rosa believed me, you know,” said Peña. “I called and called, but they never came. They didn’t call me crazy, but they might as well have. I knew what I saw.”

The opinion of the officers who spoke with Mrs. Peña was unanimous: “I mean, how could you not notice an entire alley? They just don’t spring up over night.”

I must admit that even I was skeptical at first, but there was genuine concern, and fear, in Mrs. Peña’s demeanor when she spoke, in whispered tones, about her experience with the alley. Rosa, too, had noticed this when she talked to Mrs. Peña. Rosa’s mother, being a childhood friend of Maria, asked her daughter to help her old friend, for Mrs. Peña was going crazy about the whole affair, telling everyone about it.

“She was losing her mind,” says Rosa of her first meeting with Maria. “She looked like she hadn’t slept in days. Bags under her eyes. Yawning after every word. It was sad. And it wasn’t even the strangeness of the situation that was doing it. What was really bothering her was that nobody, nobody, believed her.”

And who could blame them? After all, it was a rather farfetched scenario.Rosa leaned in, readying her hands--she has a habit of gesticulating when she wants to make a point--and asked:”Do you climb any stairs where you work?”

I admitted that I did.

“How many steps are in those stairs?”

For almost ten years, I have climbed the steps leading to the bullpen of “El Boriken”, and, try as I might, I could not, for the life of me, answer her.

“What about this: Think of your childhood home. Presumably, you spent quite a few years there. Can you tell me if there were any lampposts on that street? And if so, how many?”

I thought of my two-story home, with its many arches, its light pink paint, the black, iron-wrought gates, and the massive mango tree in the backyard. The street and its lampposts, or lack thereof, were muddled in my memory, but Rosa’s point was clear.

“Do you understand now? A lot of us go our whole lives not seeing what’s right in front of our faces. So, was it possible that, after thirty years of working in the same place, she happened to notice a piece of the scenery for the first time? Sure. Was it probable?” She lifted her cup gently to her lips, and with a coy smile, said: “Eso es otro veinte pesos.”

Though Rosa had no reservations about Mrs. Peña’s story from the get go, I certainly did. It wasn’t until she started to describe the event that I really believed in her or, at the very least, believed that she believed.

“That day,” Peña recalls, “started out like all the others, I guess. Got up at five in the morning, even though people don’t really start coming to the plaza until nine or ten. Just a habit now, I guess. Been waking up before the roosters since I could walk. But, anyway. I made my coffee, got to have my coffee, woke up the grandkids. Around six, I usually head out. I live in Trujillo Alto, so it doesn’t take me too long to get to the plaza. Just another Wednesday. But I do remember something that made me feel strange. Going over the bridge (the Teodoro Moscoso, a bridge lined with Puerto Rican flags, connecting southern San Juan with Carolina) the clouds over the lake looked real scary, like a storm was coming. None of the flags on the bridge were moving either. Real creepy.”

The eeriness of that day, as Maria Peña soon found out, was just beginning. As she drove into the old fortified town, on the way to her usual spot, she saw it. Nestled between two rows of shops, restaurants, and apartments, barely noticeable, was an alley, winding up in sharp angles all the way to nowhere; for the alley, Maria observed, did not open up on the other side of the street nor did any roads lead to it. Curiously, none of the buildings that bordered it opened up to it, having no back or service doors to speak of. Up to that point, Maria had no cause for concern.

The matter was odd, yes, but nothing to be worried about. It was merely an unexpected break in her daily routine, a new potential topic for small talk. Or it would’ve been, had things not become much, much weirder.

Mrs. Peña parked her truck, opened the cart’s rainbow umbrella, took out her folding chair, and began her lonely vigil for customers alongside her little handheld radio. As she listened to the morning’s news, she could not help but think back on that strange alley. She looked around and, seeing not a living soul in sight, decided her cart was safe from potential thieves and made her way to the little alley.

Devoid of people, or even loitering pigeons and dogs, the lonely, narrow alley appeared far larger and more foreboding. Maria made her way up the steep alley, taking in each of its cobbled stones.

“It was so clean,” recalls Peña, as she walked to the end of the alley. “The stones were as old as those of any other road, all broken and stained black, but they were clean and smooth, almost as if no one had ever really walked on them.”

On her way back down the jagged path, she first saw the sight that would plague her for weeks on end. From the cracks between the cobbled, weathered stones, Maria heard a sound like a boiling kettle. Before long, bubbles of dark crimson oozed out of the ground and burst, filling the air with a heavy iron stench. As more and more of these bubbles emerged, the viscous red liquid began to flow down that desolate alley, like nearly unearthed lava carving out a path.

Screams that could’ve woken the dead rung out in that ancient city. Mrs. Peña ran as fast as her legs could carry her, not once looking back at the macabre alley. When she finally reached her cart, she got on her truck and headed home.

That day, she kept what she saw to herself. Her daughter and son-in-law asked her why she had returned so early, but the elderly lady gave no answer.

The following morning, though shaken up as she was, Maria got back on the saddle and headed to work.

“I had to know. I had to know if what I saw was real, you know. I thought maybe it was just rusty water. Or maybe I was seeing things. I don’t know. I just had to go back.”

When she returned, the same ghastly scene unfolded once more. There was no escaping it now: the thing was real.

So Maria Peña did what any of us would’ve done in her place--she told the people who she trusted the most. They ignored her.

“Threatened to take away her car keys,” says Kendra Peña, forty, about her mother. “I wanted to take her to a doctor. What was I supposed to do?”

Maria offered to take her daughter to the alley so she could see the thing for herself, but Kendra steadfastly refused. And then came the phone calls--dozens of calls to the San Juan Municipal Police, calls which were repeatedly ignored. At her wit’s end, Mrs. Peña tried one more approach.

“I went back with my daughter’s camera. If I couldn’t take people to the alley, maybe I could bring the alley to them.”

As if the whole situation was not already weird enough, Mrs. Peña now found that the alley was apparently camera shy. For an entire week she returned to that frightful spot, hoping to catch the walkway in the midst of its grotesque display, but she had no such luck.

Giving it up as a lost cause, she stopped bringing the camera and soon, just stopped going to the alley altogether. Days passed, and the strange alley continued to linger in her mind.

But just when she believed the whole affair to be behind her, a chance encounter brought it all back.

Maria had gotten back to work, taking pains to avoid the alley. As she sat at her usual spot, a certain gentleman approached her little cart. It was a regular customer, a favorite of hers in fact. The elderly lady began to blush when she told me about him:

“Alfonso coming by is always my favorite part of the day. I hadn’t seen him since the renovations on his house started.”

I remembered the occasion well, as I covered it at the time. Alfonso Soto, set designer of the Puerto Rican Theater, had returned from a brief stint on Broadway, a stint made even briefer by his unceremonious firing. A notorious prankster, it was this trickster spirit of his that lost him his prestigious position. At a rehearsal for a new show, he replaced the sound cue of a door shutting with that of a gunshot, giving the lead actor, a rather elderly woman who had, just weeks before, recovered from open heart surgery, a heart attack. Luckily, the lady survived but the managers of the production were none too pleased with Soto’s antics, the latest example of which almost proved fatal.

“A whole block got covered with huge barricades because of all the construction they were doing,” continued Peña. “Got dust everywhere. And oh boy, the noise!”

She further mentioned how she casually spoke of the alley to Soto, omitting the small detail of the flowing blood. But once more she was met with the usual dismissive attitude. This rebuttal brought all of the previous curiosity and anguish rushing back. Enter Rosa Vega.

                                                                  ###

I was eager to hear her explanation. Weeks had passed since I had first heard of the alley, or callejόn, from Mrs. Peña, months since that lady first saw the strange sight of the bleeding alley that led to nowhere. Dozens of people did I question, all with the same result: They couldn’t say for certain whether they had noticed the alley before or not. Repeated attempts to view the blood phenomenon with Mrs. Peña failed. So, as I sat across from Rosa that Saturday morning, I was quite curious to find out the truth behind the whole thing.

“So, where do you start with something like this? Are these the sort of ‘cases’ you normally handle?”

Rosa laughs. “I prefer to call them ‘peculiar problems’. ‘Cases’ sound too…fiction-y. I can’t tell you the last time I heard an actual detective call it a ‘case’. But yeah, this level of weird is what I deal with,’ she chuckles wistfully. “They’re weird and, more often than not, kinda silly. I prefer it that way. My apologies to Mr. Chandler, but a good mystery doesn’t always need a corpse. But to answer your first question, you start at the beginning.”

“The beginning. So, the alley popping up out of nowhere?”

Rosa nods as she sips her coffee as though she is tasting it for the first time. “El callejόn apareciendo de la nada. Obviously that doesn’t happen.”

“Then the alley had been there all along. Maria just failed to notice it?”

Her right eyebrow raises slowly, annoyance filling her face. “You want to tell the story?”

I make no comment.

“Good. No, the alley was a relatively new addition. In fact, it’s not an alley at all.”

“But I’ve seen it. Maria’s seen it. You’ve seen it. It is definitely an alley. Maria and I walked the whole length of it.”

“You’re half right. There is definitely something between the rows of buildings, but it’s not an alley. That part was easy to figure out. A quick trip to city hall, and a brief look at some construction plans was all it took.”

I can’t help but laugh at how simple the matter is when she explains it. Why I didn’t think to do that is beyond me. But now I was more confused than before.

“Wait, so the alley isn’t real?”

“Nope. There is no alley in any of the plans I saw.”

“So then what is it?”

“Let’s go back a bit. When Maria told me about seeing the alley, I was immediately suspicious. Sure, it was possible that she had just happened, after thirty years, to notice something new which is not that difficult to notice, but come on. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, but it immediately warranted a pretty good question: ‘How does an alley spring out of nowhere overnight? And then when I heard about the blood—-“

“How do you explain that? I never saw it ‘bleeding’.”

“Because you let the gazelle see you. I was the stealthy hunter. I told Maria to go into the alley and I filmed her doing so. As we both expected, nothing happened. But then I told Maria to go back the following day and, lo and behold, the rivers ran red with blood. So, it was a show. A performance. But for only one person.”

The more she explained, the murkier everything became. She saw my growing confusion, and smiled slyly. Suddenly, she plopped her leg on the table and she pointed to the bottom of her sandal. There was something dry, crusty, and red.

“Maria was right. There was something weird about the stone. And it was obvious from the second I looked at them: they hadn’t been walked on at all, though they appeared to be old and worn. That got me thinking. So, I stomped on one of the stones. And, voila!”

She wiggled her foot before removing it from the table. I was still uneasy about the dried blood, to say nothing of her foot so close to my leftover sandwich.

“Relax,” said Rosa, leaning back on her chair. “Pig’s blood. Had it checked. So, here we have an alley that’s not an alley, with stones that aren’t stones, and, on top of all that, it bleeds. For no other discernible purpose than to scare a sweet old lady. All of it seemed so juvenile and…theatrical.”

It was at that moment that the gears started turning. From the broad grin on her face, I could tell she knew it.

“There you go,” she said, holding up her coffee cup in a mock toast. “Told you it wasn’t that hard.”

“But it still doesn’t explain how it got there.”

“That was the one thing that bugged me. Until, that is, you helped clear it up.”

“Me? But we didn’t meet until--“

“Well, not you personally. One of your articles. See, there was no way that elaborate little set piece could’ve been built in secret. So how do you build something without anyone noticing?”

I almost want to slap my forehead when the epiphany hits me. “The reconstruction.”

“The reconstruction.”

I marvel at how easily this unassuming police officer managed to unravel a weird, seemingly random web. Satisfied that all questions have been answered, I thank her for her time and for allowing me to share her strange story. To close the interview, I ask what’s next for her.

“Oh, I don’t know. There’s a boy in Lares who thinks one of his customers is a vampire. Might so see what that’s all about,” she says in the most nonchalant manner.

Had the words been uttered by anyone else, I would’ve done a double take. But since its Rosa, I look forward to finding out how that “peculiar little problem” turns out. We say our goodbyes, but not before I suddenly remember one unanswered question. I shout after her as she walks down the pier, a little more crowded now than it was an hour ago.

“Why? Why go through all that trouble?” I ask as I finally catch up with her.

She laughs and begins to walk away. “’Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?’ I certainly don’t.”

I watch her navigate the increasing throngs of people, all the while thinking about the strangest interview I have ever conducted.

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Written by ErrBane
El Callejon
“I do it to help,” says the thirty five year old police officer, as she sits across from me. “I’ve known these people all my life. They sometimes hear or experience weird things--so weird and out of the ordinary that even their own families, friends, and neighbors don’t believe them. And if those they trust don’t believe them, why would the police? So they don’t bother going to them. Instead, they come to me. They know I’ll listen. They know I’ll believe them. In the grand scheme of things, it might not be that big of a deal. But that’s alright. If I can, at the end of the day, say that I’ve helped just one person, helped them even just a little, then it’s all worth it.” As she brings the smoking cup of coffee to her lips, she laughs and adds: “Plus, it’s really, really fun.”

There is something very coquettish about her smile which makes me feel like a teenager again. As the morning sun hits her glossy black hair, braided into an elaborate ponytail that hangs over her left shoulder, I can see why people flock to her with their problems: her plumb lips, colored with a maroon lipstick that beautifully compliments her mocha skin, and wide, warm smile, evoke a sense of familiarity, and thus, safety. And yet, the rich hazel eyes have an almost bewitching effect: they seem to want to draw out my deepest, darkest secrets, not so that she may hold some leverage over me, but so that I may rid myself of the burden.

From the second she entered the Café Cola’O, dressed in a very casual t-shirt and shorts, I found myself unable to stop talking. Such is her gift: instantly you feel like you’ve known her all your life.

On a Saturday morning, the Café Cola’O, on Pier 2 of Old San Juan, is not very busy. This suits the both of us; I want to be able to catch all that she has to say and she hates crowds. We sit on shiny silver chairs just outside the café, underneath the green metal arch that holds the stylized cup of piping hot coffee with the name of the place. I offered to meet her in her native Añasco, but she insisted on making the two hour trip through winding highways, bordered by massive mountains, covered in wire mesh to prevent the not uncommon landslide, over old bridges overlooking even older rivers, to Old San Juan because she really loves her coffee and Café Cola’O is her favorite place to get it.
Immediately after ordering, she began to narrate the history of coffee on Puerto Rican soil with the passion and expertise of a true connoisseur. All joy instantly left her face when I told her it all tastes the same to me. Realizing that she did not have a fellow coffee lover as company, she dropped the subject with the obstinate air of the child that is told she can’t have that really nice candy bar calling out her name.

But Rosa recovers quickly and her face is full of expectation with a look that seems to say: “Now that the pleasantries are over, we can get to the real point.”

Naturally, I didn’t need to remind her what that point was. In fact, I never had to tell her at all. Two days prior to our meeting, I had called her precinct, trying to schedule an interview. Having gotten wind of her latest “peculiar little problem”, I wanted to find out more about this intrepid officer. When she finally answered the phone, it took her no more than five seconds to figure out why I was calling. With nothing but my name and my place of employment, she instantly knew what I wanted and why. She has not stopped impressing me since.

“Oh, please”, she says, waving away my compliments. “There’s nothing impressive about knowing there’s a dog in the house when you hear barking behind the front door. N-not that you’re a dog,” she adds, hastily. I vaguely detect hints of blushing.
I can’t help but laugh at the remark as the confident and professional air of the officer vanishes briefly, giving me a glimpse of the somewhat awkward woman beneath.
With my question about the alley, her masterful demeanor swiftly returns.
“El callejόn,” she repeats the words with a faraway look in her eyes.
                                                                    ###
The cobbled streets of Old San Juan, indeed the whole barrio, seem like a scene frozen in time. Only the dozens of modern cars, with their drivers talking on devices foreign to the original dwellers of the city, break up the illusion. Colorful and evocative of a bygone age, its buildings are works of art that, one supposes, when seen in the hot Puerto Rican sun, must have sparked the idea that perhaps such artistic edifices should be put to good use. Thus, the modern version of the town arose: a thriving tourist trap built upon the shoulders of its natives, full of shops and restaurants that very few of the people living in the surrounding area can actually afford. Instead, they come to admire their heritage or to make a living--street vendors, with their homemade foods, litter the town square, battling for space against the hundreds of pigeons that make the city their home.

Maria Peña is among one of these vendors—-an unassuming woman of seventy two, she has, personally, manned her sherbet cart on that square for over three decades. Monday through Saturday, rain or shine, you can find the short lady, dressed in bright blouses, her short, curly hair white as the marbled statues of the Plaza de Arma fountain, behind her small, silver cart, underneath the massive, rainbow umbrella and smelling as sweet as the homemade confections she peddles--fruity concoctions blended in her own kitchen with the help of her children and grandchildren.

She shoveled out the treat, molding it into perfect scoops, and served it in a fragile paper cup, a welcomed rush of soothing cold in the Caribbean heat, as I asked her about her repeated calls to the police.

“Nobody except Rosa believed me, you know,” said Peña. “I called and called, but they never came. They didn’t call me crazy, but they might as well have. I knew what I saw.”
The opinion of the officers who spoke with Mrs. Peña was unanimous: “I mean, how could you not notice an entire alley? They just don’t spring up over night.”

I must admit that even I was skeptical at first, but there was genuine concern, and fear, in Mrs. Peña’s demeanor when she spoke, in whispered tones, about her experience with the alley. Rosa, too, had noticed this when she talked to Mrs. Peña. Rosa’s mother, being a childhood friend of Maria, asked her daughter to help her old friend, for Mrs. Peña was going crazy about the whole affair, telling everyone about it.

“She was losing her mind,” says Rosa of her first meeting with Maria. “She looked like she hadn’t slept in days. Bags under her eyes. Yawning after every word. It was sad. And it wasn’t even the strangeness of the situation that was doing it. What was really bothering her was that nobody, nobody, believed her.”

And who could blame them? After all, it was a rather farfetched scenario.Rosa leaned in, readying her hands--she has a habit of gesticulating when she wants to make a point--and asked:”Do you climb any stairs where you work?”

I admitted that I did.

“How many steps are in those stairs?”

For almost ten years, I have climbed the steps leading to the bullpen of “El Boriken”, and, try as I might, I could not, for the life of me, answer her.

“What about this: Think of your childhood home. Presumably, you spent quite a few years there. Can you tell me if there were any lampposts on that street? And if so, how many?”

I thought of my two-story home, with its many arches, its light pink paint, the black, iron-wrought gates, and the massive mango tree in the backyard. The street and its lampposts, or lack thereof, were muddled in my memory, but Rosa’s point was clear.

“Do you understand now? A lot of us go our whole lives not seeing what’s right in front of our faces. So, was it possible that, after thirty years of working in the same place, she happened to notice a piece of the scenery for the first time? Sure. Was it probable?” She lifted her cup gently to her lips, and with a coy smile, said: “Eso es otro veinte pesos.”

Though Rosa had no reservations about Mrs. Peña’s story from the get go, I certainly did. It wasn’t until she started to describe the event that I really believed in her or, at the very least, believed that she believed.

“That day,” Peña recalls, “started out like all the others, I guess. Got up at five in the morning, even though people don’t really start coming to the plaza until nine or ten. Just a habit now, I guess. Been waking up before the roosters since I could walk. But, anyway. I made my coffee, got to have my coffee, woke up the grandkids. Around six, I usually head out. I live in Trujillo Alto, so it doesn’t take me too long to get to the plaza. Just another Wednesday. But I do remember something that made me feel strange. Going over the bridge (the Teodoro Moscoso, a bridge lined with Puerto Rican flags, connecting southern San Juan with Carolina) the clouds over the lake looked real scary, like a storm was coming. None of the flags on the bridge were moving either. Real creepy.”

The eeriness of that day, as Maria Peña soon found out, was just beginning. As she drove into the old fortified town, on the way to her usual spot, she saw it. Nestled between two rows of shops, restaurants, and apartments, barely noticeable, was an alley, winding up in sharp angles all the way to nowhere; for the alley, Maria observed, did not open up on the other side of the street nor did any roads lead to it. Curiously, none of the buildings that bordered it opened up to it, having no back or service doors to speak of. Up to that point, Maria had no cause for concern.

The matter was odd, yes, but nothing to be worried about. It was merely an unexpected break in her daily routine, a new potential topic for small talk. Or it would’ve been, had things not become much, much weirder.

Mrs. Peña parked her truck, opened the cart’s rainbow umbrella, took out her folding chair, and began her lonely vigil for customers alongside her little handheld radio. As she listened to the morning’s news, she could not help but think back on that strange alley. She looked around and, seeing not a living soul in sight, decided her cart was safe from potential thieves and made her way to the little alley.

Devoid of people, or even loitering pigeons and dogs, the lonely, narrow alley appeared far larger and more foreboding. Maria made her way up the steep alley, taking in each of its cobbled stones.

“It was so clean,” recalls Peña, as she walked to the end of the alley. “The stones were as old as those of any other road, all broken and stained black, but they were clean and smooth, almost as if no one had ever really walked on them.”

On her way back down the jagged path, she first saw the sight that would plague her for weeks on end. From the cracks between the cobbled, weathered stones, Maria heard a sound like a boiling kettle. Before long, bubbles of dark crimson oozed out of the ground and burst, filling the air with a heavy iron stench. As more and more of these bubbles emerged, the viscous red liquid began to flow down that desolate alley, like nearly unearthed lava carving out a path.

Screams that could’ve woken the dead rung out in that ancient city. Mrs. Peña ran as fast as her legs could carry her, not once looking back at the macabre alley. When she finally reached her cart, she got on her truck and headed home.

That day, she kept what she saw to herself. Her daughter and son-in-law asked her why she had returned so early, but the elderly lady gave no answer.
The following morning, though shaken up as she was, Maria got back on the saddle and headed to work.

“I had to know. I had to know if what I saw was real, you know. I thought maybe it was just rusty water. Or maybe I was seeing things. I don’t know. I just had to go back.”
When she returned, the same ghastly scene unfolded once more. There was no escaping it now: the thing was real.

So Maria Peña did what any of us would’ve done in her place--she told the people who she trusted the most. They ignored her.

“Threatened to take away her car keys,” says Kendra Peña, forty, about her mother. “I wanted to take her to a doctor. What was I supposed to do?”

Maria offered to take her daughter to the alley so she could see the thing for herself, but Kendra steadfastly refused. And then came the phone calls--dozens of calls to the San Juan Municipal Police, calls which were repeatedly ignored. At her wit’s end, Mrs. Peña tried one more approach.

“I went back with my daughter’s camera. If I couldn’t take people to the alley, maybe I could bring the alley to them.”

As if the whole situation was not already weird enough, Mrs. Peña now found that the alley was apparently camera shy. For an entire week she returned to that frightful spot, hoping to catch the walkway in the midst of its grotesque display, but she had no such luck.

Giving it up as a lost cause, she stopped bringing the camera and soon, just stopped going to the alley altogether. Days passed, and the strange alley continued to linger in her mind.
But just when she believed the whole affair to be behind her, a chance encounter brought it all back.

Maria had gotten back to work, taking pains to avoid the alley. As she sat at her usual spot, a certain gentleman approached her little cart. It was a regular customer, a favorite of hers in fact. The elderly lady began to blush when she told me about him:
“Alfonso coming by is always my favorite part of the day. I hadn’t seen him since the renovations on his house started.”

I remembered the occasion well, as I covered it at the time. Alfonso Soto, set designer of the Puerto Rican Theater, had returned from a brief stint on Broadway, a stint made even briefer by his unceremonious firing. A notorious prankster, it was this trickster spirit of his that lost him his prestigious position. At a rehearsal for a new show, he replaced the sound cue of a door shutting with that of a gunshot, giving the lead actor, a rather elderly woman who had, just weeks before, recovered from open heart surgery, a heart attack. Luckily, the lady survived but the managers of the production were none too pleased with Soto’s antics, the latest example of which almost proved fatal.

“A whole block got covered with huge barricades because of all the construction they were doing,” continued Peña. “Got dust everywhere. And oh boy, the noise!”

She further mentioned how she casually spoke of the alley to Soto, omitting the small detail of the flowing blood. But once more she was met with the usual dismissive attitude. This rebuttal brought all of the previous curiosity and anguish rushing back. Enter Rosa Vega.
                                                                  ###
I was eager to hear her explanation. Weeks had passed since I had first heard of the alley, or callejόn, from Mrs. Peña, months since that lady first saw the strange sight of the bleeding alley that led to nowhere. Dozens of people did I question, all with the same result: They couldn’t say for certain whether they had noticed the alley before or not. Repeated attempts to view the blood phenomenon with Mrs. Peña failed. So, as I sat across from Rosa that Saturday morning, I was quite curious to find out the truth behind the whole thing.

“So, where do you start with something like this? Are these the sort of ‘cases’ you normally handle?”

Rosa laughs. “I prefer to call them ‘peculiar problems’. ‘Cases’ sound too…fiction-y. I can’t tell you the last time I heard an actual detective call it a ‘case’. But yeah, this level of weird is what I deal with,’ she chuckles wistfully. “They’re weird and, more often than not, kinda silly. I prefer it that way. My apologies to Mr. Chandler, but a good mystery doesn’t always need a corpse. But to answer your first question, you start at the beginning.”
“The beginning. So, the alley popping up out of nowhere?”

Rosa nods as she sips her coffee as though she is tasting it for the first time. “El callejόn apareciendo de la nada. Obviously that doesn’t happen.”

“Then the alley had been there all along. Maria just failed to notice it?”

Her right eyebrow raises slowly, annoyance filling her face. “You want to tell the story?”
I make no comment.

“Good. No, the alley was a relatively new addition. In fact, it’s not an alley at all.”

“But I’ve seen it. Maria’s seen it. You’ve seen it. It is definitely an alley. Maria and I walked the whole length of it.”

“You’re half right. There is definitely something between the rows of buildings, but it’s not an alley. That part was easy to figure out. A quick trip to city hall, and a brief look at some construction plans was all it took.”

I can’t help but laugh at how simple the matter is when she explains it. Why I didn’t think to do that is beyond me. But now I was more confused than before.

“Wait, so the alley isn’t real?”

“Nope. There is no alley in any of the plans I saw.”

“So then what is it?”

“Let’s go back a bit. When Maria told me about seeing the alley, I was immediately suspicious. Sure, it was possible that she had just happened, after thirty years, to notice something new which is not that difficult to notice, but come on. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, but it immediately warranted a pretty good question: ‘How does an alley spring out of nowhere overnight? And then when I heard about the blood—-“

“How do you explain that? I never saw it ‘bleeding’.”

“Because you let the gazelle see you. I was the stealthy hunter. I told Maria to go into the alley and I filmed her doing so. As we both expected, nothing happened. But then I told Maria to go back the following day and, lo and behold, the rivers ran red with blood. So, it was a show. A performance. But for only one person.”

The more she explained, the murkier everything became. She saw my growing confusion, and smiled slyly. Suddenly, she plopped her leg on the table and she pointed to the bottom of her sandal. There was something dry, crusty, and red.

“Maria was right. There was something weird about the stone. And it was obvious from the second I looked at them: they hadn’t been walked on at all, though they appeared to be old and worn. That got me thinking. So, I stomped on one of the stones. And, voila!”
She wiggled her foot before removing it from the table. I was still uneasy about the dried blood, to say nothing of her foot so close to my leftover sandwich.

“Relax,” said Rosa, leaning back on her chair. “Pig’s blood. Had it checked. So, here we have an alley that’s not an alley, with stones that aren’t stones, and, on top of all that, it bleeds. For no other discernible purpose than to scare a sweet old lady. All of it seemed so juvenile and…theatrical.”

It was at that moment that the gears started turning. From the broad grin on her face, I could tell she knew it.

“There you go,” she said, holding up her coffee cup in a mock toast. “Told you it wasn’t that hard.”

“But it still doesn’t explain how it got there.”

“That was the one thing that bugged me. Until, that is, you helped clear it up.”

“Me? But we didn’t meet until--“

“Well, not you personally. One of your articles. See, there was no way that elaborate little set piece could’ve been built in secret. So how do you build something without anyone noticing?”

I almost want to slap my forehead when the epiphany hits me. “The reconstruction.”

“The reconstruction.”

I marvel at how easily this unassuming police officer managed to unravel a weird, seemingly random web. Satisfied that all questions have been answered, I thank her for her time and for allowing me to share her strange story. To close the interview, I ask what’s next for her.

“Oh, I don’t know. There’s a boy in Lares who thinks one of his customers is a vampire. Might so see what that’s all about,” she says in the most nonchalant manner.

Had the words been uttered by anyone else, I would’ve done a double take. But since its Rosa, I look forward to finding out how that “peculiar little problem” turns out. We say our goodbyes, but not before I suddenly remember one unanswered question. I shout after her as she walks down the pier, a little more crowded now than it was an hour ago.

“Why? Why go through all that trouble?” I ask as I finally catch up with her.

She laughs and begins to walk away. “’Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?’ I certainly don’t.”

I watch her navigate the increasing throngs of people, all the while thinking about the strangest interview I have ever conducted.
#fiction  #mystery 
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The dead walk out of the sea...
Written by Tylasmith in portal Horror & Thriller

deadly waters

a ship frozen over in the swarming sea of Cocytus This ship half way deep 

in the swirling crimson sea, frothed with snowflaked petals and murderous icicles protecting its core, a ruby scepter splitting through the earthen crevasses. A woman fully clothed in a sheet of ice, white roses adorned her head, her lips tinted red from the warmth received from the suns hospitality and eyes tucked to sleep she was stored underneath the boat a sleeping siren, she held in her hands a wooden cross weaving in out of her opaque hands , a sweet song churned through the waves of the lonely sea 

mistrusting eyes 

a gallant giggle 

a ghostly whisper, a daunting howl 

a scar slashed through an old man scowl 

a crew man's whistle 

brooding breast 

daughters of the ocean

a dagger dipped in warm blood 

a pirates booty 

a lady in waiting

Whistles to creaking floorboards of the ship

That burped through the waters

What happened to this ship that fell asleep in the arctic ocean

In the year of 1716

It was a stormy night the wind howled, the sky was a bruised purple it bleed a deeper red, the clouds a midnight black mixed with gray, the moon a stranger dancing in between the cracks of the sky, the air cold and thick and dragged out like cigars, the ocean shook with anger from the beating it was enduring from a wild captain named crossbones , a scar slashed upon an old man's scowl , he raped and pillage the sea of its earthenware riches , he and his crew traveled through each land gathering up the booty ( treasure of the land) and leaving the land naked and unearthed they were looking for the maiden encased in ice, the ocean daughter that held all the riches of the world . The ocean grew hungry tired and angry lurking around the corner for my trespassers to devour, now the earth had conversed with the ocean and had told the ocean about this crew that pillaged the earth of her beauty and her riches and her people were hungry and the ocean had told her about the crew that killed her sirens, and turned her waters a crimson red , her water wallowed murder and sin floated with bones of the lost crew of evermore 

they wandered her wanders and built dams to link the ocean with her rivers and lakes that she birthed, but they died in her hurricane that she created to cleanse herself of its residue of the wreckage that burned her waters with fire and anger 

the ocean encased the dead 

the suicidals 

the murders 

the slaves 

the adventures 

the nobles 

children 

and 

her 

daughters 

her 

dear 

sirens 

the ocean was lonely and craved the taste of human flesh 

the ocean craved specifically cross bone and his crew 

the ocean conquered and devoured 

now her daughters 

sing at the entrance of ocean 

 The dead walked out of the sea ( repeat 5x's )

if you  hold the key ye shall be free 

take a knee 

and surrender to the sea 

or flee

beg mercy 

and ye shall 

see 

the

ocean 

is 

for 

men 

not 

little 

boys 

brave

the deadly 

waters 

and 

embrace 

her 

current 

 

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The dead walk out of the sea...
Written by Tylasmith in portal Horror & Thriller
deadly waters
a ship frozen over in the swarming sea of Cocytus This ship half way deep 
in the swirling crimson sea, frothed with snowflaked petals and murderous icicles protecting its core, a ruby scepter splitting through the earthen crevasses. A woman fully clothed in a sheet of ice, white roses adorned her head, her lips tinted red from the warmth received from the suns hospitality and eyes tucked to sleep she was stored underneath the boat a sleeping siren, she held in her hands a wooden cross weaving in out of her opaque hands , a sweet song churned through the waves of the lonely sea 

mistrusting eyes 
a gallant giggle 
a ghostly whisper, a daunting howl 
a scar slashed through an old man scowl 
a crew man's whistle 
brooding breast 
daughters of the ocean
a dagger dipped in warm blood 
a pirates booty 
a lady in waiting

Whistles to creaking floorboards of the ship
That burped through the waters
What happened to this ship that fell asleep in the arctic ocean
In the year of 1716
It was a stormy night the wind howled, the sky was a bruised purple it bleed a deeper red, the clouds a midnight black mixed with gray, the moon a stranger dancing in between the cracks of the sky, the air cold and thick and dragged out like cigars, the ocean shook with anger from the beating it was enduring from a wild captain named crossbones , a scar slashed upon an old man's scowl , he raped and pillage the sea of its earthenware riches , he and his crew traveled through each land gathering up the booty ( treasure of the land) and leaving the land naked and unearthed they were looking for the maiden encased in ice, the ocean daughter that held all the riches of the world . The ocean grew hungry tired and angry lurking around the corner for my trespassers to devour, now the earth had conversed with the ocean and had told the ocean about this crew that pillaged the earth of her beauty and her riches and her people were hungry and the ocean had told her about the crew that killed her sirens, and turned her waters a crimson red , her water wallowed murder and sin floated with bones of the lost crew of evermore 
they wandered her wanders and built dams to link the ocean with her rivers and lakes that she birthed, but they died in her hurricane that she created to cleanse herself of its residue of the wreckage that burned her waters with fire and anger 
the ocean encased the dead 
the suicidals 
the murders 
the slaves 
the adventures 
the nobles 
children 
and 
her 
daughters 
her 
dear 
sirens 
the ocean was lonely and craved the taste of human flesh 
the ocean craved specifically cross bone and his crew 
the ocean conquered and devoured 
now her daughters 
sing at the entrance of ocean 
 The dead walked out of the sea ( repeat 5x's )
if you  hold the key ye shall be free 
take a knee 
and surrender to the sea 
or flee
beg mercy 
and ye shall 
see 
the
ocean 
is 
for 
men 
not 
little 
boys 
brave
the deadly 
waters 
and 
embrace 
her 
current 





 
#horror  #adventure  #mystery  #thesirens  #murkywaters 
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Written by Winterreign in portal Stream of Consciousness

Tainted.

I will taint your heart black. I will take the good and turn it evil. That's just what i do, i destroy everything in its path.i destroy everything that i touch.

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Written by Winterreign in portal Stream of Consciousness
Tainted.
I will taint your heart black. I will take the good and turn it evil. That's just what i do, i destroy everything in its path.i destroy everything that i touch.
#horror  #mystery  #dark 
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Written by RichWithey

Collecting You

My eyes darken on the horizon as 3am draws in

and I watch the fires ignite on the shoreline

It’s nearly time...

I walk the beach beyond the broken boardwalk

Seething with the nights compulsion

Sharpened to every heartbeat

In tune with every soul

A silhouette of a ripped and stained frame

Satined with danger

My ashen demeanour, tense and alert

Broken and berserk

I’m a lived-in character

You could say…

But I confess to you that mortality is a lie

If you decide not to die

and those shadows that you fear

Is a sanctuary for your tears

While darkened angels watch over you

Voyeurs in a fabricated garden

Never free from fantasy

A product of your insanity… Perhaps

Stuck between the ragged seams of the living and the dead

But supercharged beyond all you’ve read

Darkened angels ready to pursue

It’s nearly time...

To come for you...

© Richard Withey. All rights reserved.

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Written by RichWithey
Collecting You
My eyes darken on the horizon as 3am draws in
and I watch the fires ignite on the shoreline
It’s nearly time...

I walk the beach beyond the broken boardwalk
Seething with the nights compulsion
Sharpened to every heartbeat
In tune with every soul

A silhouette of a ripped and stained frame
Satined with danger
My ashen demeanour, tense and alert
Broken and berserk
I’m a lived-in character

You could say…

But I confess to you that mortality is a lie
If you decide not to die
and those shadows that you fear
Is a sanctuary for your tears
While darkened angels watch over you
Voyeurs in a fabricated garden
Never free from fantasy
A product of your insanity… Perhaps
Stuck between the ragged seams of the living and the dead
But supercharged beyond all you’ve read

Darkened angels ready to pursue
It’s nearly time...

To come for you...


© Richard Withey. All rights reserved.
#horror  #mystery  #spirituality  #culture  #nightdwellers 
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Avante Garde.
Written by LoganCraine

we

There's blood in the silver glitter at the ends of our fingers. We washed the rest from our hands easily, but our fingernails will be stained until we take the polish off. I sigh, annoyed. It took so long for us to get them looking nice after the last time.

I run a hand through our hair like I used to when it was long. I still get surprised when it ends abruptly instead of getting our fingers caught in tangles. I'm glad it's gone. It's a sort of victory. 

I push our glasses back up our nose with a nervous intensity, looking around obsessively to make sure we aren't followed back to our room. "Of course we aren't," I sneer. "Nothing ever follows us but the trees."

The trees seem to notice their cue, rustling their ever-bare branches along with us. I scoff. "If anything were to follow us, they're a pretty good option. They won't tell any secrets."

They send a larger noise in our direction before falling silent. 

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Avante Garde.
Written by LoganCraine
we
There's blood in the silver glitter at the ends of our fingers. We washed the rest from our hands easily, but our fingernails will be stained until we take the polish off. I sigh, annoyed. It took so long for us to get them looking nice after the last time.

I run a hand through our hair like I used to when it was long. I still get surprised when it ends abruptly instead of getting our fingers caught in tangles. I'm glad it's gone. It's a sort of victory. 

I push our glasses back up our nose with a nervous intensity, looking around obsessively to make sure we aren't followed back to our room. "Of course we aren't," I sneer. "Nothing ever follows us but the trees."

The trees seem to notice their cue, rustling their ever-bare branches along with us. I scoff. "If anything were to follow us, they're a pretty good option. They won't tell any secrets."

They send a larger noise in our direction before falling silent. 
#fantasy  #fiction  #mystery  #new  #magicrealism 
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Write about a terrible character—a monster, a villain, the worst person you have ever known—and make that character sympathetic to readers.
Written by AlSalehi

The Dawn of the Night

Hush be still

and let me in;

You I’ll hold

and place within.

Open Yourself

as this is my Day;

This is my Time

prepare for my Play.

Constricting your vision

thus blinding your sight;

Completing my mission

as Darkness mates Light.

I am the One

who commits this Rape,

Whilst drowning your Sun

beneath my cape…

As no arm of Law,

has the reach of claw,

To escape,

my Escape.

Now I mean no harm

as I may seem dark;

But blame me not

for absorbing your spark.

Alas I’m held captive

in an equation;

By an ‘Empty Set’

that solves for Salvation.

Without you beneath me

I am potential in a womb;

For your being gives birth

to my arousal to consume.

I shall take your drought

and relieve all your fears;

As I rain upon you

with oceans of tears.

Should you elect to breathe

underneath my blinds;

It shall be by a bond

that forever binds…

Me onto you

with few tears left to cry;

Leaving you wet

with no warmth to help dry.

Succumb now to this slave

of Nature’s whimsical yearning;

For I’ve many visits to make

whilst this Earth keeps turning.

Hush my beloved

be laid tranquil and light;

For ‘at the end of the Day’

I am, the Night!

Copyright © 1986-2017

Al Salehi

All Rights Reserved

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Write about a terrible character—a monster, a villain, the worst person you have ever known—and make that character sympathetic to readers.
Written by AlSalehi
The Dawn of the Night
Hush be still
and let me in;
You I’ll hold
and place within.

Open Yourself
as this is my Day;
This is my Time
prepare for my Play.

Constricting your vision
thus blinding your sight;
Completing my mission
as Darkness mates Light.

I am the One
who commits this Rape,
Whilst drowning your Sun
beneath my cape…
As no arm of Law,
has the reach of claw,
To escape,
my Escape.

Now I mean no harm
as I may seem dark;
But blame me not
for absorbing your spark.

Alas I’m held captive
in an equation;
By an ‘Empty Set’
that solves for Salvation.

Without you beneath me
I am potential in a womb;
For your being gives birth
to my arousal to consume.

I shall take your drought
and relieve all your fears;
As I rain upon you
with oceans of tears.

Should you elect to breathe
underneath my blinds;
It shall be by a bond
that forever binds…

Me onto you
with few tears left to cry;
Leaving you wet
with no warmth to help dry.

Succumb now to this slave
of Nature’s whimsical yearning;
For I’ve many visits to make
whilst this Earth keeps turning.

Hush my beloved
be laid tranquil and light;
For ‘at the end of the Day’
I am, the Night!


Copyright © 1986-2017
Al Salehi
All Rights Reserved
#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction  #nonfiction  #romance  #horror  #adventure  #education  #poetry  #science  #philosophy  #mystery  #politics  #spirituality  #culture  #lyrics 
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Written by Winterreign in portal Romance & Erotica

Master.

I will let myself and my body seep into the dark void and into the darkness for eternity.so take my hand and join me into the dark. Together we will rule this new era forever.

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Written by Winterreign in portal Romance & Erotica
Master.
I will let myself and my body seep into the dark void and into the darkness for eternity.so take my hand and join me into the dark. Together we will rule this new era forever.
#horror  #mystery 
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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by Jasper in portal Simon & Schuster

Bewitching Hour

The stale air smelled of bong rips and beer. Two of her friends were passed out on the unsanitary grey carpet at the foot of her bed; one was next to her, half-socked feet to the headboard, snoring away. She sat up, rubbed her eyes and opened them to a room slightly spinning. The little red numbers on the nightstand clock shone 3 AM.

Through the dim light she could make out the open door to the hallway. She searched for her slippers with her toes amongst the dirty clothes, empty 40s and snack wrappers. Clumsily, she made her way to the hall and reached for the grungy light switch on the rough apartment wall. Nothing. She flicked the switch several more times. Still nothing. With just enough moonlight filtering in through windows to see, she shuffled along the creaky wooden floors to the bathroom. This time not bothering with the light, she partially closed the door and sat on the toilet for a few minutes.

She opened the door and made her way back down the moonlit hallway to bed. No one was there. Her friends, sound asleep just moments before, were no longer in the room. She called out their names. No answer. Hoping they were resuming the party, she backed out of the room and cautiously made her way down the hall to the kitchen. As she emerged through the archway, there was just enough light to make out the scene.

Her mouth opened wide to scream but no sound came out. She stumbled backwards, gripping and digging her nails into the edge of the doorway to steady herself. Hyperventilating, she was overcome by a wave of nausea and immediately emptied the contents of her stomach, creating one more puddle on the already soaked tiles.

She fell to a squat, shaking, palms resting on a dry part of the hallway floor to either side of her and whispered ‘oh god’ several times. Hesitantly she raised her head, hoping she’d imagined it but her eyes met the same scene.

Her three friends were suspended upside down in the air just above the kitchen table, with their stiff arms straight out to the side as if crucified. Six slit wrists and three slit throats still gushed hot blood, forming individual waterfalls converging into a single lake spreading across the floor. It would be commingling with her sick in the entranceway in minutes. Their eyes were wide open and moving ever so slightly from side to side; they were still alive.

Desperately clutching to the idea that this was all a horrible nightmare, she stumbled back to her bedroom. She tried the bedroom light. It didn’t work either. Her frantic thoughts landed on her cell phone, which was on the nightstand. Her knees gave out again so she crawled across the dirty carpet strewn with clothes and empty bottles to find her phone. It was dead. Still on all fours, she started searching for her friends’ cell phones. To her luck she found all three but they were likewise out of battery.

With no landline in the apartment, her last hope was her laptop. Her laptop was in the kitchen. There was a chance that it might not be drenched in blood, but she feared going in there would prove to be a deadly mistake.

Just as she was steeling herself to try, the TV in the corner of the room turned on to static. Black and white particles fuzzed across the flat screen atop her dresser, the glow amplified by the adjacent mirror. The noise brought her out of shock and made her stomach drop. She shot up and across the room, attempting to turn it off as quickly as possible. Nothing happened. She pressed the button a dozen times but it wouldn’t turn off.

Back to her original plan. She spun around to look at the door, summoning the courage to make a break for the kitchen, but as soon as she took the first step the bedroom door slammed shut so hard it shook the pictures on the wall. She ran for the door and tried the knob vigorously but it wouldn't budge. Pressing her back up against the door, she surveyed the room, anxious that someone or something was now locked in there with her.

The white noise of the TV, her pounding heart and heavy breathing overwhelmed her senses. She shut her eyes for what felt like hours, wishing it all away but opened them seconds later when the temperature of the room plummeted. Suddenly colder than naturally possible, she could see billowing clouds leaving her rapidly exhaling mouth. Her arm brushed up against the brass handle behind her and it was so cold it stung. She swung her arm away and clutched it protectively against her chest.

Unable to decide between hiding in the closet and trying to bust out of the room, she remained paralyzed, pressed up against the cold wood of the door. Out of the corner of her eye, by the glow of the flat screen, she saw something move on the mirror. A fog was gradually creeping across the glass, creating a frosted canvas. Then as if by an invisible finger, her name was written in full:

Madeline Bianca Cross

Her mind whirled through the how and why of it all. There was no conclusion to come to except whatever this was, it was supernatural and taking its time tormenting her. Terrified of being stuck in the room, she took several gulping breaths and tried the doorknob again. Miraculously, it popped open. The door swung out of the way and she peered out into the silent hallway.

Finding her laptop now wasn’t going to help her survive and she hoped whatever was in the house wouldn’t follow her out. Her plan was to leave the only way possible: through the kitchen, down the narrow front staircase to the landing and out the front door.

There was no sign of movement in the hallway, so she readied herself to take her chances getting back to the kitchen. Thinking about the blood and their open eyes made her stomach turn but there was no way to avoid seeing them hanging there, helpless again.

Step by hesitant step, she held her hand out against the rough wall to anchor herself as she made her way down the hall. Halfway there and all of a sudden she heard the floorboards creak from somewhere behind her. Without turning to look at what had caused the noise, she ran the last five feet into the kitchen.

She was so petrified she almost forgot to be startled by the fact that her three friends’ bodies that were previously suspended so horrifically in the air were nowhere to be seen. The blood. The blood was still there in a viscous pool on the floor and continuing a globing drip, drip down from the table and chairs.

While scanning the floor for bodies, she entered the kitchen. Carefully, she edged toward the stairs, trying her best not to step in the blood on the floor. Part way there her slipper swept through the puddle accidentally, causing her to slip on the wet tile. Her knees and palms hit the ground hard with a splatter of blood but fueled by adrenaline, she barely felt the pain and scrambled up, lifting herself by the windowsill alongside of her.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she tried to remain steady on her feet and continued toward the exit. It had been her idea for her friends to come over instead of going out to the bars. She had convinced them to stay when Warren wanted to leave around midnight. They’d all been drinking so she insisted on them spending the night. If only she had just let them leave. If only they’d stayed awake and not fallen asleep, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. The regrets threatened to overwhelm her into falling to the ground once more and never getting up.

Wiping her tears away smeared dark streaks of blood down her eyes and cheek. Realizing how much of it was covering her forearms and hands she wiped them on her pants and back of her t-shirt, all the while looking uneasily around the kitchen. A silence-piercing clatter came from the direction of her bedroom. She stopped hesitating and shuffled the last few feet to the top of the stairs and looked warily down to the landing.

The glow through the nine panes on the door created enough backlight for her to vaguely make out the profile of a person, head lobed over to the side, staggering around to face her.

Even in the dark she could see enough of its features and clothing to tell that it was Warren. Her gut instinct told her that her friends had lost too much blood to be alive. She stifled the urge to call out his name. Whatever this reanimated thing was, it wasn’t Warren anymore.

Escaping through a window was her only chance. As quickly as possible she navigated past the blood without slipping and made it back around the corner out of the kitchen. She sprinted down the hallway to the largest windows in the apartment, the floor-length ones that opened onto the Juliet balcony overlooking the courtyard.

She came to a skidding halt and reached down to pull on the foot bolt at the bottom of the window. It came unlocked with a loud clunk. Pausing for a moment, she strained her ears to listen for sounds of movement, wondering where her other friends’ bodies might be. Tears rolled gently down her face.

The apartment was silent. Relief flickered across her mind but just as she switched the deadbolt above the handle, she heard something. A low scuffling noise as if someone was dragging a limp leg was coming from the kitchen.

Panicked and her palm moist from sweat, she gripped the handle futilely several times. She wiped her hands on the front of her shirt and tried the door again. It opened stiffly as she quickly glanced toward the kitchen. There was no sign of Warren but she instantly felt eyes on her from the opposite direction. Reluctantly, with a deep breath, she turned her head slightly to peer toward her right.

Her two friends Miles and Dani staggered toward her from the bedroom. Their lifeless faces blanketed in the blood that had poured from the now clotted gashes across their throats. Without hesitating she stepped onto the narrow balcony, clamored over the railing, and started climbing down the other side. It creaked under her weight in the brisk dawn air as she frantically looked around for something else to grab onto.

Suddenly, an icy hand grasped her white-knuckles that were clenched around the iron rail. She looked up into Dani’s once sweet, joyful face. Horrified, she tried to pry free but its nails dug into her skin. With a yelp, she let go. 

The last thing she saw was the lightening sky and the eyes of her dead friends watching her fall onto the spikes of the garden fence below. The rusty metal pierced her three times in the back and twice in the thigh, holding her there for several hours until her neighbor went for a morning run.

If only they hadn’t played with the Ouija board last night.

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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by Jasper in portal Simon & Schuster
Bewitching Hour
The stale air smelled of bong rips and beer. Two of her friends were passed out on the unsanitary grey carpet at the foot of her bed; one was next to her, half-socked feet to the headboard, snoring away. She sat up, rubbed her eyes and opened them to a room slightly spinning. The little red numbers on the nightstand clock shone 3 AM.

Through the dim light she could make out the open door to the hallway. She searched for her slippers with her toes amongst the dirty clothes, empty 40s and snack wrappers. Clumsily, she made her way to the hall and reached for the grungy light switch on the rough apartment wall. Nothing. She flicked the switch several more times. Still nothing. With just enough moonlight filtering in through windows to see, she shuffled along the creaky wooden floors to the bathroom. This time not bothering with the light, she partially closed the door and sat on the toilet for a few minutes.

She opened the door and made her way back down the moonlit hallway to bed. No one was there. Her friends, sound asleep just moments before, were no longer in the room. She called out their names. No answer. Hoping they were resuming the party, she backed out of the room and cautiously made her way down the hall to the kitchen. As she emerged through the archway, there was just enough light to make out the scene.

Her mouth opened wide to scream but no sound came out. She stumbled backwards, gripping and digging her nails into the edge of the doorway to steady herself. Hyperventilating, she was overcome by a wave of nausea and immediately emptied the contents of her stomach, creating one more puddle on the already soaked tiles.

She fell to a squat, shaking, palms resting on a dry part of the hallway floor to either side of her and whispered ‘oh god’ several times. Hesitantly she raised her head, hoping she’d imagined it but her eyes met the same scene.

Her three friends were suspended upside down in the air just above the kitchen table, with their stiff arms straight out to the side as if crucified. Six slit wrists and three slit throats still gushed hot blood, forming individual waterfalls converging into a single lake spreading across the floor. It would be commingling with her sick in the entranceway in minutes. Their eyes were wide open and moving ever so slightly from side to side; they were still alive.

Desperately clutching to the idea that this was all a horrible nightmare, she stumbled back to her bedroom. She tried the bedroom light. It didn’t work either. Her frantic thoughts landed on her cell phone, which was on the nightstand. Her knees gave out again so she crawled across the dirty carpet strewn with clothes and empty bottles to find her phone. It was dead. Still on all fours, she started searching for her friends’ cell phones. To her luck she found all three but they were likewise out of battery.

With no landline in the apartment, her last hope was her laptop. Her laptop was in the kitchen. There was a chance that it might not be drenched in blood, but she feared going in there would prove to be a deadly mistake.

Just as she was steeling herself to try, the TV in the corner of the room turned on to static. Black and white particles fuzzed across the flat screen atop her dresser, the glow amplified by the adjacent mirror. The noise brought her out of shock and made her stomach drop. She shot up and across the room, attempting to turn it off as quickly as possible. Nothing happened. She pressed the button a dozen times but it wouldn’t turn off.

Back to her original plan. She spun around to look at the door, summoning the courage to make a break for the kitchen, but as soon as she took the first step the bedroom door slammed shut so hard it shook the pictures on the wall. She ran for the door and tried the knob vigorously but it wouldn't budge. Pressing her back up against the door, she surveyed the room, anxious that someone or something was now locked in there with her.

The white noise of the TV, her pounding heart and heavy breathing overwhelmed her senses. She shut her eyes for what felt like hours, wishing it all away but opened them seconds later when the temperature of the room plummeted. Suddenly colder than naturally possible, she could see billowing clouds leaving her rapidly exhaling mouth. Her arm brushed up against the brass handle behind her and it was so cold it stung. She swung her arm away and clutched it protectively against her chest.

Unable to decide between hiding in the closet and trying to bust out of the room, she remained paralyzed, pressed up against the cold wood of the door. Out of the corner of her eye, by the glow of the flat screen, she saw something move on the mirror. A fog was gradually creeping across the glass, creating a frosted canvas. Then as if by an invisible finger, her name was written in full:

Madeline Bianca Cross

Her mind whirled through the how and why of it all. There was no conclusion to come to except whatever this was, it was supernatural and taking its time tormenting her. Terrified of being stuck in the room, she took several gulping breaths and tried the doorknob again. Miraculously, it popped open. The door swung out of the way and she peered out into the silent hallway.

Finding her laptop now wasn’t going to help her survive and she hoped whatever was in the house wouldn’t follow her out. Her plan was to leave the only way possible: through the kitchen, down the narrow front staircase to the landing and out the front door.

There was no sign of movement in the hallway, so she readied herself to take her chances getting back to the kitchen. Thinking about the blood and their open eyes made her stomach turn but there was no way to avoid seeing them hanging there, helpless again.

Step by hesitant step, she held her hand out against the rough wall to anchor herself as she made her way down the hall. Halfway there and all of a sudden she heard the floorboards creak from somewhere behind her. Without turning to look at what had caused the noise, she ran the last five feet into the kitchen.

She was so petrified she almost forgot to be startled by the fact that her three friends’ bodies that were previously suspended so horrifically in the air were nowhere to be seen. The blood. The blood was still there in a viscous pool on the floor and continuing a globing drip, drip down from the table and chairs.

While scanning the floor for bodies, she entered the kitchen. Carefully, she edged toward the stairs, trying her best not to step in the blood on the floor. Part way there her slipper swept through the puddle accidentally, causing her to slip on the wet tile. Her knees and palms hit the ground hard with a splatter of blood but fueled by adrenaline, she barely felt the pain and scrambled up, lifting herself by the windowsill alongside of her.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she tried to remain steady on her feet and continued toward the exit. It had been her idea for her friends to come over instead of going out to the bars. She had convinced them to stay when Warren wanted to leave around midnight. They’d all been drinking so she insisted on them spending the night. If only she had just let them leave. If only they’d stayed awake and not fallen asleep, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. The regrets threatened to overwhelm her into falling to the ground once more and never getting up.

Wiping her tears away smeared dark streaks of blood down her eyes and cheek. Realizing how much of it was covering her forearms and hands she wiped them on her pants and back of her t-shirt, all the while looking uneasily around the kitchen. A silence-piercing clatter came from the direction of her bedroom. She stopped hesitating and shuffled the last few feet to the top of the stairs and looked warily down to the landing.

The glow through the nine panes on the door created enough backlight for her to vaguely make out the profile of a person, head lobed over to the side, staggering around to face her.

Even in the dark she could see enough of its features and clothing to tell that it was Warren. Her gut instinct told her that her friends had lost too much blood to be alive. She stifled the urge to call out his name. Whatever this reanimated thing was, it wasn’t Warren anymore.

Escaping through a window was her only chance. As quickly as possible she navigated past the blood without slipping and made it back around the corner out of the kitchen. She sprinted down the hallway to the largest windows in the apartment, the floor-length ones that opened onto the Juliet balcony overlooking the courtyard.

She came to a skidding halt and reached down to pull on the foot bolt at the bottom of the window. It came unlocked with a loud clunk. Pausing for a moment, she strained her ears to listen for sounds of movement, wondering where her other friends’ bodies might be. Tears rolled gently down her face.

The apartment was silent. Relief flickered across her mind but just as she switched the deadbolt above the handle, she heard something. A low scuffling noise as if someone was dragging a limp leg was coming from the kitchen.

Panicked and her palm moist from sweat, she gripped the handle futilely several times. She wiped her hands on the front of her shirt and tried the door again. It opened stiffly as she quickly glanced toward the kitchen. There was no sign of Warren but she instantly felt eyes on her from the opposite direction. Reluctantly, with a deep breath, she turned her head slightly to peer toward her right.

Her two friends Miles and Dani staggered toward her from the bedroom. Their lifeless faces blanketed in the blood that had poured from the now clotted gashes across their throats. Without hesitating she stepped onto the narrow balcony, clamored over the railing, and started climbing down the other side. It creaked under her weight in the brisk dawn air as she frantically looked around for something else to grab onto.

Suddenly, an icy hand grasped her white-knuckles that were clenched around the iron rail. She looked up into Dani’s once sweet, joyful face. Horrified, she tried to pry free but its nails dug into her skin. With a yelp, she let go. 

The last thing she saw was the lightening sky and the eyes of her dead friends watching her fall onto the spikes of the garden fence below. The rusty metal pierced her three times in the back and twice in the thigh, holding her there for several hours until her neighbor went for a morning run.

If only they hadn’t played with the Ouija board last night.

















#fiction  #horror  #mystery  #supernatural 
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Written by Winterreign in portal Stream of Consciousness

Queen of nightmares

Would you like to dance with me, the queen of darkness and nightmares?

Do not be afraid, my prince and princesses.

Follow me into the dark side, where evil shall reign forever...

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Written by Winterreign in portal Stream of Consciousness
Queen of nightmares
Would you like to dance with me, the queen of darkness and nightmares?

Do not be afraid, my prince and princesses.

Follow me into the dark side, where evil shall reign forever...
#horror  #mystery  #darkness 
8
2
2
Juice
21 reads
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