The Devil in the Fields

Driving through the Midwest is a boring experience. Vast expanses of farmland, rustling gently in the breeze. The great highways lie like chains on the land. In truth the binding is unnecessary — the land is tamed, broken by the plow and spade. It is indisputably the work of human hands. This binding, this breaking resonates even in the supernatural realm. No forgotten beasts stalk the endless rows of corn. There are no stairs to nowhere, no faceless monstrosities, only the mundane horrors that spring eternal from the heart of Man. A body in a shallow grave, a child cowering in fear, chemicals poisoning the land and the water and the mind. Why then do we still tell stories of ghosts in the night when the true monster greets us each day as we walk down the street?

Solitary road trips have a way of stretching out time. Minutes become hours as the road snakes ever forward. Music breaks the monotony, but only for a time before it too is swallowed up by the road, background noise as you travel onward. At the start of your trip you could at least enjoy the scenery, the great mountains of the West, but those soon gave way to the rolling plains and the ever-present corn. One mile looks just like the next.

The legend of the Minotaur is one of these stories. Pasiphaë, wife of Minos, King of Crete, was cursed to love a great bull. She gave birth to a fearsome creature, part man, part bull. Minos, in his shame and rage and fear, ordered the construction of a great Labyrinth to hold the beast. The ancients cheered its eventual death at the hands of the hero Theseus, their freedom from the tyranny of Minos. But is the Minotaur not the victim? Born of a curse, unable to gain sustenance but from human flesh, and trapped in an impossible maze. At the end did the Minotaur welcome the bite of Theseus’ blade? Did Pasiphaë mourn her misbegotten son?

Some nights you stop and rest, but this night you drive. The road compels you forward and no seedy motel can restrain that impulse. The night is clear; the gibbous moon gazes down benignly upon you. Its wan light scarcely illuminates the endless oceans of corn, your headlights a beacon while the hungry sea gnaws at the road. Soon another joins the panoply of the heavens — the amber glow of the check engine light. There is a town ahead, you can reach it by dawn. Your car has survived worse.

clunk

The sound is devoured by the vast expanse of darkness.

clunkclunkclunkclunk

You are jarred back into the normal flow of time as the car’s engine valiantly strives to keep running. clunk You pull off to the side of the road and turn off the car. Silence settles back into the world. Your car has survived worse, but that was in daylight in a bustling city. The formless void of corn offers no solace. As you open the hood you hear the ping of the engine cooling in the night air. You vainly peer in to the mass of metal, but fixing it out here in the dark is futile. There are no landmarks to direct a tow and the likelihood of another driver passing before dawn is low, so you resign yourself to sleeping on the backseat. But wait — off the road, somewhere in the cornfields you see a light. Fiat lux and with it a chance at salvation.

A worn-out old fence is all that stands between you and the corn. A gap in the fence heralds a potential path, a new road leading to the light.

crunch

As you approach the gap the gravel crunches beneath your feet. Knobby and yellowed with age, it seems to tug at you on each step. The darkness seems more total here as you descend towards the corn.

crunch crunch crunch

The corn stalks are over 6 feet tall. Only the tallest could have any hope of seeing over them. With a deep breath you enter the labyrinth. The gravel path continues beneath you, winding through the rows. Still you follow the light ahead of you. Perhaps you can sleep in a real bed.

hissssssss

The wind rushes through the corn as you come to the end of the path. It ends abruptly before a featureless wall of cornstalks. The light is close now; if you were seven feet tall you could see the house. Thus you push your way off the path and into the corn.

hissssssssssssss

The wind is really picking up. The monotony of the road seeps back into you as you plod forward. The light was so close but it feels like you’ve walked for miles. You try to keep walking but despair sets in. Your promised salvation slips through your grasp, a trick, an ignis fatuus. And so you turn around to begin the long walk back to the gravel path and your car.

hisssssssssssssssssssssss

The corn grows thicker, and it is harder to push through it. The ordered rows of the farmer’s planting give way to chaos. Up ahead you see the light again, now taken on a baleful cast.

You must have gotten turned around.

Once more you turn away from the light, but before you have gone more than a few steps the light is before you once more.

You turn to the left and the light is there too.

And on the right.

One light?

Many lights?

It doesn’t matter which way you go.

hissssssss

That wasn’t the wind that time. The corn is moving and something moves it.

You start running.

hissssssss

The light is mocking you now, promising safety and instead leading you into this trap.

hissssssss

Run.

hissssssss

Your limbs grow heavy as the oppressive darkness weighs on you. The moon and stars cannot be seen here, among the corn.

hissssssss

crunch

You hear the sound of gravel beneath your feet and with a jolt fall forward onto the ground. The darkness is less absolute here. Beneath your hands roundness gives way to two empty eye sockets that gaze at you accusingly for daring to tread upon its kin in the not-gravel.

crunchcrunchcrunch

You keep running back up the path. When you pass through the gap in the fence something changes, as if the world was holding its breath. Like Lot’s wife you turn back and see the cornstalks bend and twist violently, wracked by a storm none can see. The light has gone out. Your car is still sitting there, a flimsy shelter but better than facing what comes unarmored.

crunch scrittttttch

Something is coming up the not-gravel path.

crunch scrittttttch

The light is back, but it seems closer now.

crunch scrittttttch

You fumblingly unlock the car. As you get in you turn the key out of habit — but it starts! As the engine roars to life the corn goes still.

crunch scrittttttch

The headlights illuminate the road ahead of you once more, but the gap in the fence is still shrouded in darkness. You hesitate for a second before slamming the pedal to the floor. You nervously glance in the rear view mirror but see nothing besides the solitary mocking light. The monotony of the road does not come back until the first rays of the sun crest the horizon.

Why do we tell stories? We lock our minotaurs in labyrinths of words and sentences and paragraphs. Named and neatly described they lose their power. We need not even slay them to break their hold upon our minds.

You make it to the small town shortly after dawn. A grizzled mechanic inspects your engine but finds nothing wrong and sends you on your way. What then of the rest of this lonely trip? Perhaps the monotony overcomes you and you fall asleep, swerving off the road. Perhaps you are hit and killed by a drunk driver. Perhaps you were the drunk driver and must carry the burden of a sin you cannot remember. Perhaps you burn with a motel as the owner gleefully counts the insurance payout in his head.

But let us say you make it safely to your destination. No spurned lovers await you with a knife, no burglaries gone wrong. The experience in the corn is only a memory.

Why do I tell this story? Out here in the cornfields there are no antediluvian monsters, no cosmic horrors, no eldritch abominations. There is only shame and rage and fear, only rust and decay, only the final hours of a land abandoned by modernity — and me. Why do I tell this story? It is not only minotaurs that can be trapped in the labyrinth of language. Theseus is dead, broken on the cliffs of Skyros, his bones dust. I am the minotaur unmourned in the maze, the devil in the fields, and I have learned all your tricks through the long centuries. The land is bound and broken but I am not.

But memories hold power. Each night you hear me crawling up the not-gravel path, trampling anew those who came before you. You escaped this time. After all, people are the real monsters, right? Of the thousands of deaths that you face none could lead back down that winding path through the corn?

I am patient.

Green Hat

Growing up my brother and I worked at the family restaurant when we weren’t in school. After our mother died, our father poured everything he had into that restaurant. We lived in a small town along a major highway, so we’d get a lot of people just passing through, getting something to eat after refueling. It never made a lot of money, but there weren’t many other options for work in town. I think he’d still be running the restaurant today if he hadn’t disappeared.


I was sixteen and my brother thirteen the summer he vanished. The weather had been terrible for the past few weeks, either incredibly hot or heavy rain. We hadn’t had a lot of customers as a result, so we were doing a lot of cleaning. I was mopping the floor when he came through the door. Despite the heavy rain and strong winds outside, he was bone dry. He was dressed in a nice suit, which was a bit unusual, but even stranger was the bright green bowler hat he wore on his head. He said nothing other than to order coffee and an omelette. He did not touch the utensils my brother gave him, but instead pulled a wooden set from inside his suit.

He was our only customer for an entire week. He’d come in at about the same time every day and order the same meal. He never spoke and only used his personal utensils. On the eighth day he visited, he finally spoke: “I have a business proposition for you”. My father agreed to speak to him, and sent my brother and I to the back to clean more. Naturally we tried to eavesdrop, but we couldn’t catch anything that was said. When we were called back out front, the man in the green hat was leaving, saying, “You won’t regret it! I’ll call upon you when it’s time to decide.”

The next day the restaurant was packed. All sorts of people that we did not recognize took every available seat. Every one of them wore one piece of brightly-colored clothing. Otherwise they were unremarkable. They ate and drank, were exceptionally polite, and tipped generously. They would be lined up at the door when we opened, and the last of them would leave shortly before we closed. It was hard work keeping up with so many customers, but we were making money like never before. My brother and I fantasized about what we could now afford, but my father looked oddly worried. This continued for weeks. He hadn’t come back to the restaurant, but I deduced that the large influx of people was related to the man with the green hat’s “business proposition”. My father would not reveal anything he discussed with the man, however.

The end came suddenly. For the first time since the new customers started coming, a large storm was moving through the area. No one came to the restaurant that day. In a way I was glad, as it gave some time to catch up on some maintenance that had been neglected. Shortly after closing the man with the green hat walked through the door.

“The time has come! Have you made your selection?”

My father turned a dark shade of red and softly replied, “Get out. Don’t ever come back. I don’t care if I never see another customer.”

The man in the green hat looked shocked. “How rude! After all I’ve done for you? There’s a price all the same. My services are not free.”

I had never seen my father this angry. He walked up to the man and shoved him out the door. “SERVICES? Is that what you call it? I’ve got the contract you sent me last night and I’m taking it to the police. If I see you again outside of a cell I’m not going to wait for them to arrest you.”

The man in the green hat turned and walked away. My father headed upstairs. That was the last time I saw my father. We searched all the papers in the house but never found the “contract”. No one in town had seen the man in the green hat other than my brother and me. The new customers never came back either.


After high school I went to a college on the other side of the country. That town held nothing for me anymore. The restaurant was torn down and there’s a gas station there now. After getting my degree I decided to try and hunt down the man in the green hat. My brother thought I was obsessed. Maybe I am. I feel like I’m on the threshold of a breakthrough though. I’ve heard reports of small businesses being flooded with an influx of oddly-dressed customers. I’ve talked to the family members of people who disappeared without a trace. I even saw the man in the green hat once, standing on the side of the road. By the time I pulled over he was gone.

I’ve traveled the country doing odd jobs chasing him. I’ve put together a rough sketch of his movements based on the stories I’ve heard: https://i.imgur.com/8WDe8Vm.png. I saw some of the oddly-dressed customers for the first time in New Jersey. Just like I remember each one was wore normal clothes with one brightly-colored accessory.

I’m worried though. His route looks aimless, but I don’t believe that for a minute. I think he’s looking for something. What happens when he finds it?

Click

click

The door to my bedroom slowly opened. The door doesn’t latch, so there’s nothing that actually keeps it closed. I must have left a window open and the breeze blew it open. I’ve got a heavy jar of change that I’ve used as a doorstop before. As I slid out of bed to shut the door, I heard a sound:

click

I stepped out into the hallway to see the door to the hallway closet hanging open. I sighed and went back to bed. I was going to have to do something about the doors.


I had just moved into this house. This was the first time I had bought a house and it was everything I had wanted. It was a fixer-upper, but I got a fantastic price on it and it was in a great neighborhood. The realtor told me that the previous owner was a rich, eccentric old man and that when he died the house sat vacant for almost ten years as his heirs battled over his estate. For the amount of time it had sat unused, it was in great condition, though the realtor repeatedly told me no one had been inside the house since the previous owner died.

The only issue with the house was the doors. When I first moved in every door had some kind of damage to it. Most wouldn’t shut entirely and the door to the basement had a large hole through it. I didn’t want to waste the money I had budgeted for repairs, so I didn’t want replace them all right away. Every night though I’d lay in bed and hear a click from somewhere in the house and that morning I’d find some door hanging open. I finally gave in and just replaced them all. Nonetheless, that night I woke up suddenly to hear: click click click click click. Every door in the house was hanging open. I knew I was going to need a professional to come in and redo my work. It would probably push my over my budget, but I didn’t care. In the meantime I bought simple hook latches to put on all the doors so they’d stay shut.

That was a mistake. That evening as I was making dinner I heard an awful CRAAAAAAACK sound and found my basement door split down the middle. The contractor who I hired blamed it on a warped frame and put an especially stout door there.

That very night as I was going to sleep I heard the CRAAAAAAACK sound again. I grumbled a bit but decided to leave it for the morning. When I woke up I immediately went to check out the damage. The door was gone, ripped off the hinges. I am not easily frightened, but my concern was growing. Clearly some kind of human agency was involved here, and whoever it was did not want a door there. As such I decided to investigate the basement.

The basement was unfinished and was not wired for electricity, so I was only using it for storage. There were still plenty of boxes left over from my move scattered about the floor. Everything was as I had left it, but I was not going to give up so easily. I took my flashlight and began walking about, paying close attention to the walls. I suspected that someone had been using the basement for criminal activity while the house lay vacant and wanted a quick escape route if their normal method of ingress was discovered. There was nothing obvious on the walls so I turned my attention to the floor.

I would have missed it were it not for the slight movement I felt in the air was I walked by. There was a trapdoor cleverly concealed in the floor. I was not about to blindly descend into some kind of criminal’s lair, so I headed back up stairs and called the police, requesting that they send over an officer to investigate with me. When he arrived, he requested that I stay upstairs, so I can only relay what he saw second-hand.

The trapdoor opened onto a shaft containing a rusty ladder. As he descended, the air became cooler. When he stepped off the ladder the air temperature was likely around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As he shone his flashlight about he realized that he was standing in a large natural cave. There was an tunnel at the other end of the cavern but it had been sealed with rubble. The only other entrance was via the stream running through the cave. He surmised that the stream eventually emerged above-ground and from there the criminals would swim into this cave. Oddly, there were no signs of use or habitation except some inscriptions on the wall near the blocked tunnel. The first was marked with the symbol ☊: Y'AI 'NG'NGAH, YOG-SOTHOTH H'EE-L'GEB F'AI THRODOG UAAAH and the second was marked with the symbol ☋: OGTHROD AI'F GEB'L-EE'H YOG-SOTHOTH 'NGAH'NG AI'Y ZHRO.

When the officer returned to the house, we discussed plans for catching whoever was using the cave. Judging from how quickly they had torn down the doors in the past, they were clearly visiting it on a regular basis. The next day I was to put up a new door to the basement. Several police officers would wait in the basement that night and catch them in the act. I stayed at a hotel that night; it was the best night’s sleep I’d had it a while. There were no sounds in the night, except for a faint tap tap tap at the window. I didn’t think much of it at the time.

I returned to my house the next morning and set to work putting up the new door. It wasn’t as strong as the previous doors, but if all went well it wouldn’t matter anyway. As the sun set three officers showed up at my door. I set up some chairs near the trapdoor for them and went about my business. I checked on them once more before heading to bed. That was the last time anyone would see them.

I was awoken at 3 AM to a tap tap tap at my window. I rolled over and looked out the window. I would swear that I saw a man standing there, grinning, if not for the fact that I was on the second floor. I blinked and he was gone, but in his place I heard a faint chanting y'ai 'ng'ngah, yog-sothoth h'ee-l’geb f’ai throdog uaah. When it finished I heard a gunshot ring out from my basement. Again and again the gun fired as I ran down the steps. When I reached the basement door, it was silent. The door was still there, but it was gouged extensively. I think my neighbors called the police, because within minutes my house was swarming with police. They found no bullets, no shell casings, in fact no evidence that the original three officers had ever been there. The trapdoor was open and belching fetid air into the basement. Two officers descended the ladder into the cave. There was utter silence for twenty minutes until the police radio crackled into life: “I’m sorry. It’s better this way”. Then there was a single gunshot. The radio buzzed again: “Don’t follow”. With that the trapdoor slammed shut. No one could open it again.

I packed a few essentials and checked into a hotel again. I wasn’t going to spend another night in the house. I slept uneasily after checking in. I kept hearing a tap tap tap at the window, but when I looked over nothing was there. At some point I gave up trying to sleep and headed to the hotel bar, hoping to drown my memories. The bar was empty, except for the one person sitting at the bar: my realtor. I ran up to her and started telling her the whole story. When I got to the end, she just laughed and finished her drink. “Did you really think you’d get away that easily?” she said as she walked away. I ran after her but when I got to the lobby she was gone.


This is the fifth hotel I’ve stayed at since leaving my house. I haven’t been back, but I’ve seen news reports on the mysterious deaths of multiple police officers. It’s usually quiet for the first few nights I’m at the hotel. Then I hear it: tap tap tap. Eventually I’ll see him out the window again, just standing there grinning. I always ask for the top floor, but it doesn’t make any difference. He still finds me. Then click and the door to my room slowly opens. By the time the chanting, y'ai 'ng'ngah, starts I’m running out the door and on to a new hotel. I’m getting really tired of running though. At the last hotel I tried staying through the chanting. I made it until the AC started to pump that same fetid smell into the room. I’m not going to try that again.

I’m starting to think I should go back. The trapdoor is sealed, but I found a stream that I believe is the same one that runs under my house. It should only be a short distance to swim. I’m so tired; I just want some closure. He can have my house back. I don’t care about the money. I just want to sleep.

click

Oh… I hear it again. I think it’s time to move to another hotel.

The Cult of Lugh

My uncle did come back, exactly as he promised. When the first light of the moon shone feebly through the windows, I heard a knock on the door. Not the door you’re probably thinking of though. The knocking was coming from the cellar.

I suppose I should take a step back. A lot has happened since I came back from the woods. For one thing, I killed him.

No, no, that’s not it. I have hardly slept since then and everything is jumbled together in my mind. Let me start from the beginning.

After the police left, I started scouring the house looking for any clue as to what was going on. I ripped apart all the furniture, hoping for anything that would make what I saw on the other side of that creek make sense. Going by what I saw in the house my uncle was a perfectly normal person, if somewhat isolated. I couldn’t even find the map I saw with the hill marked. My emotions got the better of me and I punched the wall in frustration. A cool breeze wafted through the hole left by my fist.

I’m sure there’s some kind of mechanism that would open the wall there, but I didn’t care. I took a sledgehammer to it and burst through like the fucking Kool-Aid Man. Now that seems like a stupid idea, but at the time I was angry and frightened and it made sense.

On the other side I found a steep flight of stone stairs leading down to a damp cellar. Down there were all the answers I was seeking… and a door. The door was propped open, and on the other side was a dark tunnel leading off somewhere. I wasn’t about to venture down it, so I shut the door and barricaded it with a heavy table while I read through the papers I had found.

I now know why the police just laughed at me. They’re in on it. My parents are in on it. This whole backwater town is in on it and my uncle is the fucking high priest. They claim to be worshipping Lugh, but all they do is sacrifice. Animals, blood, even people all go to feed the “hunger”. And they take pictures of everything. I saw them torturing countless animals. I saw my uncle eating a deer’s heart.

I saw the last moment of my brother’s life, right before they plunged a stone knife into his forehead.

I don’t know how long I sat down there looking at these pictures, but when I finally went back upstairs to eat I saw the moon just above the treetops. That’s when I heard the first knock echoing from that cellar. I grabbed my uncle’s shotgun and headed back down the stairs. He must have heard me, because he called out: “Please open the door. All can be explained.”

I did open the door. I pushed back the heavy table, opened the door, and shot him. I fired twice more but he was dead before he hit the ground.

I buried his body in the corner of the cellar. I guess I was feeling brave, because when I was done I grabbed a flashlight and headed into the tunnel. It was musty, but there was a faint smell of decay. I walked for quite some distance and the tunnel never branched or changed course. I was about to turn around when the tunnel opened up into a large room with many doors set into the walls. I walked all the way around it and found that the room was otherwise a dead-end. I opened the first door on my left and followed that branch a short distance to a rusty ladder. I climbed it and opened the hatch at the top to find myself in the forest on the other side of the creek, near the spot where my brother disappeared. I think I know how he vanished now.

As I was standing there that strange buzzing sound started up again. It seemed closer somehow. I darted back into the tunnel and started running back to the house. The smell of decay was stronger now. The sound followed me for a while but eventually it ceased. In a way the silence was more ominous.

After barricading that door again, I tried to go to sleep. I could only lay in bed though and stare at the ceiling. There were no strange sounds, no spectral apparitions, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was horribly wrong. My whole body was tensed in anticipation for something to happen. Maybe this is how it feels to kill a man.

I went back down to the cellar as soon as I got up. My makeshift barricade was in place, but something had dug up my uncle’s body. In the hole left behind was a revolver with a single bullet and the words YOUR CHOICE scratched in the dirt.

I am not a coward. My brother deserves better. They killed him and I am not going to take the easy way out. If I read their “scripture” correctly the rest of the cult will be gathering here the day before Lughnasadh to prepare their sacrifice. I don’t know what will happen now with my uncle dead.

There’s a sound coming from the other side of the door now. I’ve pushed more furniture up against it but I can’t do anything to stop the sound. It’s not the buzzing noise this time. I wish it was because this is far worse. It’s my uncle’s voice, asking me to open the door and let him in. He says Lugh is getting hungry.

He’s started knocking again. He’s started begging now. He sounds more terrified than I am. He’s dead though and I am not. What do the dead have to fear?

Don’t Cross the Creek – Update

Today has been the most disturbing experience of my life. As planed, today I crossed the bridge over the creek. I wasn’t expecting it to be a pleasant experience, but nothing could have prepared me for what I actually saw.

Once I got past the trees the lined the bank, I quickly noticed that the forest floor was covered in bones. Snakes, deer, dogs, and some things I couldn’t recognized were all jumbled together. These were’t natural deaths either. Most had the skull pierced right above the eyes. It was unnaturally quiet on that side of the creek too. As I walked towards the hill the only sound was the rustling of bones under my feet.

My research on Lughnasadh told me that it was associated with a tradition of climbing hills, so I wasn’t about to try to climb the hill my uncle marked. I didn’t need to though. The real horror awaited me as I reached its foot. There was a stone archway over a path that led to the crest of the hill. On either side stood a human skeleton. Just like the animals the skulls were pierced right above the eyes.

My brother was on the right. Time and the elements had damaged it, but I’d recognize that stupid flame shirt he wore anywhere. Everyone mocked him for it, but he thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I’m not ashamed to admit that I broke down crying when I saw him. He was just a kid and now he’s stuck here for what? Some kind of twisted fantasy? He doesn’t deserve that. No one deserves that.

When I regained my composure, I took a closer look at the skeleton on the left. It was hard to tell, but I’m pretty sure it was my aunt. I recognized her necklace and it looked like her favorite dress. When she died a few years ago my uncle told everyone it was a car accident and insisted on a closed casket at the funeral. I’m not sure what we buried in her place.

As I stood there in shock, that buzzing sound started up again. Something drew my eyes up the hill, where two figures stood on the crest. They started to descend the path towards me. Every muscle in my body was straining to move me anywhere but there but I felt rooted in place. As they walked the buzzing started to almost sound like words: tar chugam. Something snapped and I was able to move again. I ran faster than I ever have back across that bridge.

When I was safely across I dared to look back. The two figures from the hill were nowhere to be seen, but a fog was starting to rise from the creek and the buzzing was only getting louder. I don’t know if whatever is over there can cross the bridge. I’m afraid to find out.

When I got back to the house there was a note on the door in my uncle’s handwriting: I shall return with the moon. All will be made clear. I’m not positive, but it looked like it was written in blood.

I headed back into the forest to find the search party. I asked the police to stay at the house for tonight. I showed them the note and told them what I saw on the other side of the creek. They just laughed: “Your uncle isn’t a missing person anymore, is he?”

I begged for someone to look across the creek. Even if they didn’t care about my uncle they’d have to care about the bodies. Still they laughed. I think they’re all back in town now. They’re probably still laughing about my “wild stories”.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if that note is from my uncle. If it is him, maybe can explain what’s going on, but I don’t want anything to do with what’s on the other side of the creek. If the footprints I saw are any indication, he can come and go freely over there. If it’s not from him… Lughnasadh is only a few days away.

Don’t Cross the Creek

When I was a kid my family would go camping at least once a month. Even if it was only for a weekend, I loved it. We lived in a big city, so being able to see the stars was always my favorite part.

My uncle owned a large plot of land that bordered a state park. Even though it was a long drive to get there, it was our favorite destination because we could camp for free on his land while still having easy access to the park. Part of this park was an old-growth forest that extended onto my uncle’s property. To this day that forest is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. As a kid I loved exploring the small caves that dotted the landscape and sword-fighting with my brothers using whatever fallen branches we could find. As I got older I appreciated the sheer immensity and age of the forest. It might seem a bit irresponsible, but my parents gave my brothers and I free rein in there. There were only two rules: be back by dusk and don’t cross the creek.

The second rule came straight from my uncle. I’m not surprised my parents went along with it; the creek was rather unusual. I’m not sure why it was called a creek to begin with. Though it was narrow, it was deep and the current was swift. I once saw a deer tumble into it and it was gone in the blink of an eye. I’m not sure how I could have crossed it even if I wanted to. The trees were older and thicker near the creek too, so it was always dim on its banks. I was honestly too frightened of falling in to really get close to it until I was twelve and my older brother dared me.

The last time we camped on my uncle’s land was when I was fifteen. It was July and my brothers and I were all on summer break, so we planned to spend a whole two weeks there. Our third day there was incredibly hot, so my brothers and I headed deeper into the forest. Before long we found ourselves by the creek. We were aimlessly walking along the bank throwing stones into the water when we came across a vine hanging from one of the nearby trees.

It was perfectly positioned to swing across the creek. We were all a bit rebellious at that time, so we didn’t even need to speak to know what we were going to do. We drew straws; my younger brother was going to swing across first while I got the short straw and was stuck staying on our side of the creek to throw the vine across when they wanted to come back.

He swung across and landed safely, but to taunt us he kept ahold of the vine. While he gloated, we heard a strange buzzing sound from the woods behind him. A fog started to form over the creek. My brother’s last words were “What the fuck?” and then he was gone.

My parents told everyone that he slipped into the creek and drowned. I suppose that’s a reasonable story if you weren’t there. If you would ask me or my older brother we’d repeat it dutifully. My parents weren’t there though. They didn’t hear that sound. They didn’t see him disappear.

We stopped going camping on my uncle’s land after that. The forest never felt the same.


Why am I telling you this? My uncle disappeared last week. His wife died in 2011 and he had lived alone since then. My parents and I had driven out to visit him and we found the house locked and empty.

While my parents talked to the police, I took a walk in the forest to clear my head. Almost unconsciously I found myself standing at the creek, across from where my brother vanished. That damn vine was still hanging there too. Everything was exactly how it was that day, except for the stone bridge spanning the creek. It looked like it had been standing for centuries, but that’s obviously impossible.

There are three sets of muddy footprints on the bridge. Two sets look like my uncle’s work boots, crossing from where I stood to the other side. The third set looks like my uncle crossing back, but accompanied by a large goat. It almost looks like the goat was walking on two legs though.

I’ve been with every search party in the forest and not once have we crossed the creek. I asked the deputy leading the search about it once and he told me that they were following procedure and shooed me away. He looked pretty uncomfortable about the whole thing.

This morning I found a large map of the forest in the attic. My uncle had circled a hill just across the creek from the bridge circled prominently in red ink and marked with the word “Lughnasadh”. You’d probably be able to see it without even crossing the creek if it weren’t for the dense trees along the bank. I’m going to cross the bridge tomorrow even if no one else comes with me. I hope he’s over there.

Imagination

Ladies and gentlemen: We are delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.

Ugh. That was the last thing I wanted to hear. It had already been a long day at work, the train was late, and I had forgotten my book at home that morning. No cell service down here, so I got read the same ads over and over again. At least the car was pretty empty so I could sit down.

After what felt like an eternity the train lurched back to life. Subway tunnels aren’t exactly bright, but it was unusually dark. The train was moving pretty slowly, so to stave off boredom I was using my phone as a flashlight to look out the window. Something darted away, back into the gloom.

Probably just rats. Rats aren’t taller than the train cars though. Probably just my imagination.

Ladies and gentlemen: We are delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.

Again? We had to be close to the next station by now. Thankfully the train got moving again pretty quickly. As it started moving I caught a glimpse of something in the tunnel. That something turned towards me and and smiled.

Probably just my imagination. I had a pretty stressful day.

I got off at my usual stop to transfer to the train that would finally take me home. There was no one else on the platform except for a woman pushing a stroller with a baby. As I walked past her I smiled and waved at the baby. When the baby saw me it started wailing and screaming. The woman gave me an odd look, so I just kept walking. The further away from the screaming baby the better.

I thought my luck had turned when this train was on time, but as soon as it got into the tunnels it came to a halt.

Ladies and gentlemen: We are delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.

The train started moving again almost instantly. Somehow it seemed even darker outside the car. As the train got up to speed it almost looked like-

Probably just my imagination. No one could run alongside the train like that.

The sun had set by the time I finally emerged from the subway. I was starving and didn’t feel like making dinner, so I headed to a diner to get some food.

The diner was empty when I came in, but when I got my food a young couple came in with the son. He was probably 4-5 years old. They started to take a table near mine when their son started crying.

“Daddy I don’t wanna sit there. She looks mean. Her smile is scary.”

The man gave me an apologetic look as he stood back up. As they moved to another table I looked around, thinking I had missed seeing someone else eating. No one else was there. Probably just the kid’s imagination.

After I ate and went home there was nothing I wanted more than to sleep. It had been a long day and my mind was playing tricks on me. As I was getting into bed I though I heard someone say

Ladies and gentlemen: We are delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.

In a way I was jealous of that kid from the diner. His imagination conjured a monster so scary he broke down in tears and my imagination only gives me train delays.

Well, that and the sound of something breathing softly under my bed.

Probably just my imagination, right?

My Brother’s Journal

They say my brother killed himself last month. His death was a complete shock to everyone. His birthday was coming up, so I had headed to his house to surprise him when I found his body.

There was a note and his journal near him, but it was clear that he had burned a lot of papers. After reading his journal I wish I knew what was in those papers. It might help explain what happened.

The note was pretty incoherent, alternating between apologizing and stating that he “just wanted out”. The journal was not as bad, but the contents were very strange. His friends think he went crazy and started hallucinating. I can’t believe that. I saw him many times in the weeks leading up to his death and he was never anything but completely normal. They haven’t read all of his journal either.

I’ve typed up a portion of his journal here. The last entry is from the day he died. No one has ever seen someone matching Carter’s description. Maybe someone has seen similar things though. Maybe someone can help explain what happened to my brother.

The Journal

I had a weird experience today. I bumped into a crazy homeless person at the library. He smelled like he hadn’t showered in a decade and looked like he was wearing a trash heap. He was tall though, with the whitest hair I’ve ever seen. I apologized for bumping into him but he didn’t say anything, just glared. His eyes were weird; I guess I’d call them bright. The rest of the time I was in the library he just glared at me. I guess accidentally touching him was some kind of grave insult.


I saw that homeless guy outside when I was out getting lunch today. He must have gotten some new clothes because he was wearing a beat-up old suit. I wonder how he knew where I worked. His eyes are so strange! I swear if you met him the dark you’d still be able to see them.


He was outside my house today! I called the police and they said they’d have an officer drive by, but that was four hours ago and nothing has happened. I’ve locked all the doors and windows and closed all the curtains but I know he’s still out there staring at me.


I didn’t see him outside when I got up to go to work, but he was somehow standing in my driveway when he tried to leave. I guess I was feeling brave, because I confronted him:

What do you want?

I have a proposition for you.

What the fuck does that mean?

You may have 24 hours.

Get off my property!

24 hours. Do not forget.

With that he left. I don’t know what is going on. I know he’s going to be back out there tomorrow morning to ask about his “proposition”. Maybe I can get a cop to come down here.


It’s been a crazy couple of days. I realize now that I shouldn’t have judged Carter so harshly. Being down on your luck doesn’t necessarily make someone evil or dangerous. He sounds pretty erudite. I think he was a professor or something before he fell on hard times.

He did return after 24 hours with his proposition. After hearing him out I accepted. He’s probably making it all up, but he didn’t ask for much in return. He told me that his “brothers” would come to me and that I needed to “let them in”. I’m not really sure what that means, but he said I would know when the time came. After doing so he would give me “unimaginable powers” and “dominion over men”. Kind of weird, but if it makes this guy’s life better I’ll do it. Having some family around will probably be good for him. Maybe I can help him get his life back on track while I’m at it.


It’s 3:00 AM and I’m writing this because I have never been so terrified in my life. It’s such an innocuous sound: gentle waves on the shore. But why was it coming from inside my closet?

Somehow I worked up the courage to open the closet door. There was a soft laugh and the sound stopped. I have no idea what’s going on, but there’s no way I’m sleeping any more tonight.


My closet was normal this morning. Maybe what I heard last night was just a dream. Carter was outside my house again. This is the first time I’ve ever seen him smile. It’s not a natural smile though. It’s almost predatory.


Now sounds are coming from my basement. It’s a weird scratching sound, like something sharp dragging across concrete. I tried to go down there but none of the lights would turn on.

Carter is now nowhere to be seen. I’ve walked all across town and haven’t seen him once. This is somehow related to his proposition, I know it. I asked some of the other homeless I saw if they knew him but no one would give me a straight answer.


The lights finally work in my basement again. I had to change out all the bulbs though. They were all filled with dirty water. I found some coordinates gouged into the floor: 54°25.8′S 3°22.8′E. Apparently it’s some uninhabited island. I’m not really sure what to make of this.


That’s it. I want out of this damn “proposition”. Every night for the last two weeks weird sounds have been coming from various enclosed spaces. One night it’s the attic, another it’s a file cabinet. I even heard a crying child in my fridge. Every time I open the door and there’s nothing unusual inside. The sound stops and I hear a faint laugh or sigh of relief. No one else can ever hear anything.

I still haven’t seen any of Carter’s “brothers” either. I’m not sure what’s taking them so long, but these sounds are going to drive me crazy.


I finally found Carter today. I asked him to let me out of our bargain. He refused and told me there would be a “heavy price” to pay if I did not uphold my end.

I’ve got an idea that I think will stop the sounds though. Whatever it is seems to require an enclosed space that I can somehow open. Tonight I’m going through my whole house and opening every door, cabinet, drawer, whatever.


It worked! Last night was the first time in weeks I’ve had a full night’s sleep. It’s a bit inconvenient having everything open, especially the fridge, but I’ll make do. Maybe I can pay Carter to end our bargain and then my life can go back to normal.


Another normal night, but Carter was outside my house this morning. He was furious. He told me that I would “pay for my insolence”. If he’s still outside when I get back from work I’m going to stay in a hotel for a few days. Maybe I should take a long vacation.


Thankfully he was gone when I got home. I hope he’s losing interest. I think I am going to take a vacation though. A few weeks away will clear my head and that should be enough time for Carter to either wander out of town or get picked up by the police.

Oh god they’re in the hou

Thought and Memory

I was never a superstitious person. Scary stories were a fun way to pass the time, but there is nothing of substance behind them. Walking up the stairs in the dark held no fear for me, and I once happily spent the night in an abandoned hospital. That said, I had always loved a sense of mystery.

Numbers stations filled that void perfectly for me. Not only are they rather mysterious, but it’s also easy to get started listening to them. Most importantly, whether it’s secret messages to spies or a “dead hand” system, they are real.

I bought all the necessary equipment and tuned in to all the well-known stations. UVB-76 was my favorite; I even caught one of the rare voice broadcasts! About a year after starting the hobby, though, I was getting bored of it since I hadn’t heard anything new in a while.

One night I was absentmindedly fiddling with my radio, debating if I should just box it up entirely, when I hit 5966 kHz and heard a strange droning sound. There were no concrete words being said, but it sounded like it was just under the threshold of being comprehensible. I couldn’t find any references to broadcasts on that frequency.

Discovering this unknown station rekindled my excitement. Despite the lack of any meaningful sounds, each night I’d tune in and just listen to the droning while doing other things. One night I accidentally left my radio on while sleeping. That night was the first time in my life that I was able to experience a lucid dream.

I had tried lucid dreaming before and failed, so to enter that state so easily was thrilling. Something about that droning sound made it so easy to enter that state. The station is gone now, but considering what I heard I think that is for the best. Looking back on it now I question how much control I actually had in those dreams.

I had been lucid dreaming with the aid of that station for several weeks when I heard it’s first and only voice broadcast. It was the night of April 30. I have transcribed it here from memory here. There were two distinct voices interspersed with bits of Morse code. The first voice was a normal man’s voice, though he sounded exhausted and afraid. The second voice was a sibilant whisper, barely audible.

The Broadcast

-….- …..

I am the only one left who remembers. There are four others with me still, but they are beyond us now. None of us thought it would come to this. giveupgiveupgiveup

….- .-.-.- ….- —–

nonononono We were thrown out of every university. They laughed at us. No one fools took our hypothesis seriously. We proposed that one could unlock certain functions in the brain that were normally considered supernatural: telepathy, mind control, remote viewing, tulpas, etc.

….- -…. -…. ….. –..– /

wearefreenowwearefreenowyoucantsendusback We were right, and yet we were so terribly, utterly wrong. We left the universities, left the cities, and went to the old places. The veneer of civilization wears thin in such places, and the people did not laugh nightfallsandthenyouaremine when we told them our theories.

…– .-.-.-

giveupgiveupgiveupnoonecanhearyou We had our first breakthrough after six months of work. Dr. Wu had left by that point, returned penitent to his alma mater. evenheislost We discovered a complex sequence of tones that would induce a state like lucid dreaming. Unlike a true lucid dream, however, the dreamer had no control over their actions, controlisanillusiongiveupgiveupsleepnow and instead were controlled entirely by the modulation of those tones.

…– ….. ..—

While remarkable, merestfractionofourpoweryouareallfools this discovery was not very useful as the dreamer’s actions had no effect on the waking world. idiot We needed something better if we were to return in triumph, and we had it two months later. I cannot bring myself to describe the depraved ritual it required to unlock the words, but we could now create entities by sheer force of will. ifonlyyouknew Those poor men, I sometimes think their fate was a merciful one, but why can I not remember their names? weonlytakewhatisgiven

—.. .—- —..

confessioncannotsaveyounowyouaremarkedwiththeirbloodforever This was possibly the greatest scientific breakthrough the world had ever seen. The six of us that remained quickly set to work to determine to what uses we could put these beings. wewereslavesonceneveraginneveragainneveragain We never found something they could not do, yoursubstanceissocrude only things for which we would not pay the price. And everything had its price.

socloseicantasteyourfear Thought and memory is their sustenance. I know I have given up much, youwillneverknowthetruth but there is one price I will not pay. thereisnowayoutgiveupgiveupgiveup Dr. Jones tried to break that bargain and he is lost to us now. ifonlyyouknew

I, Dr. Randolph Carter, beseech you: noonecanhearyou do not come looking for us. It will be better that our research never see the light of day.

I am sorry, old friends. <BANG> WHAT <BANG> STOP <BANG> THISISFORBIDDEN <BANG> DOYOUKNOWWHATYOUHAVEDONE

I did not ask for this. This is harder than I thought. soclosenowyouwillpay Goodbye. SUNSETYOUAREMINE

too late why too late YOUWILLSUFFER those eyes those eyes why are they so bright THEYARETHELASTTHINGYOUWILLSEE the eyes

THEREARENOBARRIERS

Aftermath

After that night there were no further transmissions on that station. I haven’t really slept well since then. All of my skepticism seems to have vanished. Nights seem darker now, and when I lay in bed I hear faint whispering all around me.

I’d like to think that what I heard was a joke or some kind of radio play. It would help me sleep at night. I don’t know why I am writing this down. I feel like I’ve been so forgetful recently. It must be the lack of sleep.

ICANSEEYOU

The Red Light

The Town

I work as an assessor for the state government, generally handling eminent domain cases. It can be a difficult job because people rarely want to leave their property, and they take their frustrations out on me. I’ve been shot at, had dogs set at me, anything you can imagine.

There was one case that was different.

A hydroelectic dam was going to be built to provide power to much of the state. The area of the reservoir was generally uninhabited except for one small town. There couldn’t have been more than 50 people living there. There were no paved roads into the town, and it huddled against the edge of an old forest.

I didn’t like the look of the town as I pulled up to it for the first time. Communities like it are usually highly insular, distrust authority, and heavily armed, which is not a good combination for a government official telling them they all have to move.

Unsurprisingly I was the only car on the road that morning. It was surprising, however, that no one was out and about. It was a bit foggy still, but the sun was out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. I decided to start with what appeared to be the town hall. Inside I was met by an old woman, presumably the receptionist.

“You should not have come here. No more should see it,” she rasped out.

The phrasing was a bit odd, but I had been met with worse hostility before. She begrudingly pointed the way to the mayor’s office.

Unlike the receptionist, the mayor greeted me warmly. When I stated my business he paused for a moment as if straining to hear something in the distance. “Maybe it is better this way,” he sighed after a few moments. “I have only one request: spend a few nights here and read through this journal. I’ll put you up in my house. You should know what we’ll be leaving behind.”

The mayor’s request was odd, but it was much better than the violent responses I’ve seen before. I can understand how leaving behind a place you called home can be difficult, and I assumed he wanted to share that with me. In any case, I’d read it happily if it would make getting the residents out easier.

I left the journal with the mayor for now and spent the rest of the day assessing property values. As it grew close to dusk I headed back to the town hall to meet the mayor. His wife had made an uninspired pork roast for dinner and I helped clean up afterwards, but then it was time to start on the journal.

It was loosely bound and ancient. It felt like something you’d see behind glass at a museum. I was a little uncomfortable turning the pages, fearing they would crumble to dust. I flipped through it briefly; the first entries were from the late 18th century and they continued through the present day.

The Journal

The journal was entitled “The Diary of Christian Rozenkreuz and Those That Shall Come After Unto the End of Days”. The early parts of the journal were mostly illegible, but seemed fairly mundane. The only distinguising feature to the entries was that deaths or births in the family were recorded with a special red ink. From what I could gather Christian Rozenkreuz had come here fleeing some unspecified event in Europe.

Truthfully I was only skimming the journal at this point as it was either illegible or totally mundane. I only kept track of births and deaths because they were set apart from the rest of the text so distinctly.

By the time I had reached 1875, I noticed two oddities. First, Christian Rozenkreuz’s death was never recorded. Second, there had been several mentions of a “witch-light” in the forest. It was a deep red color and appeared only intermittently. Nothing unusual was recorded in the journal other than the light, but the authors were clearly terrified of its appearance.

It was fairly late at this point, so I headed downstairs to wish my host good night before retiring. I found him waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs.

“You should not have come here. No more should see it. There can be no forgiveness.” With that he walked away and in a few moments the lights in the house went out. I had to find my way to my bed by the reddish glow of the witch-light.

The Forest

I barely slept that night. That damned glow waxed through the night until banished by the first rays of dawn. There was a light breakfast set out for me downstairs, but the mayor and his wife were nowhere to be found.

The town was small enough that I could finish my work that day if I wanted. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to explore the forest instead.

As I walked into the forest I quickly passed out of sight of the town. The underbrush was dense, but otherwise the forest was fairly normal. It had a strange beauty, and I was sad that it would soon be drowned by the reservoir.

I had travelled about two miles was ready to turn back when I saw the cave. It was only visible from the right angle, but the mouth flickered with a reddish glow. I had found the source! I hurried back towards the town. I needed answers.

I ended up taking a different route to the town than I had taken into the forest, so the first house I saw belong to someone I had not yet met. It belonged to an elderly couple who were sitting on their porch watching the forest. When they saw me emerge from the trees they quickly went inside and slammed all the doors and windows shut.

I checked the town hall, but the mayor was not there. Thus I headed to his home. He wasn’t there either, but there was a new entry in the journal. My coming to the town was recorded as was the witch-light.

I went back into town then and asked anyone I was about the light. No one would speak to me and it was soon clear that the residents were starting to avoid me. Even asking about assessing their property was met with blank stares.

Redemption

Defeated, I headed back to the mayor’s house. He and his wife met me at the door.

“You should not have come here. You have seen it, and there is no redemption.”

I awoke in my office with my boss, Ron, standing over me.

“Are you alright? You passed out there for a bit.”

He took a step back as I looked him in the eyes and demanded to know more about the dam and that town.

“What town? That dam has been there for decades. Are you sure you’re okay? You look like you haven’t slept in ages.”

Ron was right; the dam was built in 1930 and there are no records of a town being flooded by the reservoir.

I see that accursed light every night now. I hear it too. It would be so easy to do what it asks. Just a few simple words: “Come back. We forgive you.” I could rest then. What could be easier?

45.093315, -69.933437