Thursday, November 14, 2013

Strange Email

Maybe you can help me with something.

So after I posted my appeal to Jonas, I was pretty anxious.  But he didn't respond the first day.  Or the next.

Then, out of nowhere, I got a really weird email.  I can't say if it was from Jonas since the email address wasn't anything I recognized.  The stuff in it was creepy enough that I thought I'd post it and hope someone might know more about what it could mean.  If nothing else, it might be entertaining for some of you.

I was happy to hear from you.  I have been waiting for you to try and reach out to me, actually.  It did take longer than I expected, though.  Did you not notice the messages I've been leaving for you?  I thought I was being pretty clear with them. 
Yes, it has been some time since we last saw each other.  But I am very much OK.  In fact, I would say I am better than ever.  There is a source of something... special here in Pale Forest.  A wellspring, almost.  I don't know if I'd call it power, though it certainly makes me feel differently.  And I crave it all the time now.  I guess one might compare it to a drug.  Either way, I'm not even sure you'd recognize me now.  Maybe that's the problem-- I could have walked right past you recently and you wouldn't have known.  I might have missed you as well. My eyes are not as good as they once were, though the other senses more than compensate.
I will try to contact you again tonight, directly this time.  Listen closely for my coming.  I will try and be more clear this time in my message, but you must pay greater attention to the changes around you, no matter how insignificant they seem.
See you soon.

There wasn't even a name attached and the email address returned an error when I tried to reply.  So that's a dead end.

Anyway, no one came to see me and I didn't notice any "changes".  I'm guessing this was someone yanking my chain.  Which pisses me off.  Maybe this means something to one of you, though.  If so, please let me know.  But try to keep the pranks to a minimum.  I'm trying to find a missing person.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Are You There?

OK, I've put this off long enough.

I'm "Reed Carter" (no that isn't my real name).  I was one of Jonas' few friends in Pale Forest.  I've been trying to get up the nerve to post for WEEKS.

This is crazy.  I haven't heard from Jonas since freaking June and I'm worried.  I've BEEN worried.  But I haven't said anything.  The people here are weird and I'm kind of afraid of them.

But then those short horror stories were posted and I thought maybe he was back.  I knew where he was hiding, so I went out there again.  I'd gone a couple of time but not lately.

The house he'd been staying in was still empty.  The windows were broken but there was no trace of Jonas.  Now I'm trying to reach him through his blog.

If you're out there, Jonas, you know who this is.  Let me know if you're OK.  I don't think I can help you anymore, but at least I'd know you weren't dead or something.

That's all I wanted to say.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two Sentence Horror

After being awoken by the sound of something feral racing around in my backyard, I was relieved to hear the familiar sound of my dog coming through the pet door.  It wasn’t until I noticed him asleep on my bedroom floor that I truly began to worry.

Ted dashed in from the rain before removing his coat and opening his front closet’s door.  His usual hanger was taken already, though, by an unfamiliar jacket, still dripping water onto his floor.

Half asleep, I stumbled into my apartment during the middle of night only to find the hallway and kitchen lights wouldn’t work.  I’d just reached the living room lamp when a voice behind me whispered “That one’s broken, too.”

Though Jonathon was initially happy to hear his son had gotten over the fear of the monster under his bed, it didn’t last.  “Oh, no, daddy,” the child explained, “it told me it was moving to you and mommy’s room.”

I have a reoccurring dream where I’m being chased by an evil version of myself, and last night it finally caught me.  This morning I woke up and my shadow was right up against the bed.

Even though June considered herself to have a real “green-thumb”, today she had found something quite unexpected in her garden.  Given the state of decomposition, the body was already quite old.

Linda wasn’t usually troubled by impatient people knocking on the bathroom door; it happened at work pretty regularly.  Today, however, she’d stayed home…

I had just left town when I noticed a car that had apparently run off the side of the road and pulled over to help.  “Thanks for stopping,” the paper in the empty driver’s seat read, “now turn around.”

After stepping from the shower, Robert was shocked by how much gray he saw in the mirror.  The thing behind him had skin the shade of something that had been dead for weeks.

 “I can't sleep,” Kevin told his wife as he rolled over beside her in bed.  But, as usual, she was no help; she’d been much less talkative since her death.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Night's Chill


As I write, I find myself somewhat distracted by the thick, smoke-like breath I create with every exhale.  This bit of interruption is possible for two very distinct reasons.  One, I am still alive, as the breathing helps to remind me.  Secondly, I have taken to writing outside on my laptop where it is oddly cold for this time of year. 

While this decision might strike many of you as odd (and believe me when I say I arrived at this place through no lack of contemplation), I have decided I will no longer live in the crippling dread of the demons that come to me by night.  Of course, though I call them "demons", I have no proof they're anything other than racoons or some other nocturnal animal-- as rare as that would be here in the woods.  No, I have not seen them.  Nor have the crude traps I've setup around the house caught anything or even been sprung.  But what I have witnessed are the markings they leave on the trees-- wild scribblings that, despite their feral nature, do seem to be more than a simple marking of a territory.  Many are repeated in almost identical fashion, as if there is a sort of language behind them.  I have taken to trying to decipher it, but I wonder if the excercise is simply driving me mad. 

Additionally, there is the feeling I experience when the noises begin each night.  It's a sick drop in the pit of my stomach accompanied by the requisite goosebumps, and though this is probably little more than fear, it is followed by a nausea and dizziness that I can't simply explain away.  It was uncomfortable at first, but has grown debilitating lately, which I have attributed to being in a closer proximity to whatever is out there.  As a result, I have been incapable of actually going outside to confront my demons as I had originally planned.

Because of this, I have taken to staying outside as much as possible during the day.  As even being near the etchings in the trees causes the beginnings of the sickness, my hope is to use this smaller "dosage" to build up an immunity.  Maybe then I'll be able to actually endure being close to the source.  Of course, being successful in this might prove to be my greatest mistake yet.

Life, after all, often proves even more temporary than wisps of breath in the icy air.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm Losing It


I don't think I'm alone anymore.  The new house seems to be compromised already, but not by the same type of threat.  This is something new.  Something potentially even more dangerous.  Are the things that have found me even human?

Without giving my exact location away, I'll say the place I'm staying now is out in the woods itself.  I wasn't thrilled to find this out, but I also wasn't really in a position to turn anything down.  Now I think maybe I should have.

The noises started a few nights ago.  They were slight at first, almost timid.  In fact, I thought very little of them despite knowing there are no natural sounds in the forest at night.  Perhaps this was simply me trying to convince myself there was no danger where it actually existed.  Regardless, I know better now.

The almost imperceivable "rustling" sound came back the next night, but it was closer, and joined by another more disturbing noise.  It was a sort of wheeze, as if whatever was out there was smelling the air for something.  That rasp has stolen what little hope I had of the noise being anything easily explained as well as the majority of my sleep.  It's hard to rest with the knowledge you're surrounded by unknown threats.

The situation seems to be moving towards an inevitable end, as last night the sounds were right up against the walls of the house.  The rustling is now more of a scraping noise, which makes sense with what I found outside today-- the trees nearest the porch were scratched pretty severely.  Most confusingly, though, there was definitely something coherent about the marking, as if there was some sort of message in them.  If it is indeed a language I certainly don't recognize it, but the speculation makes me feel sick.  What are they communicating to one another out there in the dark?

I can't believe it, but I'm actually contemplating going out there tonight to see for myself what has been sniffing around the house.  I've almost convinced myself that the truth can't be any more horrifying than the anticipation.  Of course, that might not be true.  If the things rip me to pieces, I suppose I'll have my answer.

Until next time...  

Sunday, May 12, 2013



As promised, I've been looking into some of the more cryptic or unknown people here in Pale Forest.  The first on my list was the foreman at the mill, Stanley Fouts.

Fouts is a large, imposing man.  He is almost entirely bald-headed (and has been for years), but incredibly hairy everywhere else.  His dark, deep-set eyes are usually hidden in a perpetual scowl, and his frame is heavy-set but powerful.  I remember him being a harsh man, even back when my father worked at the mill.  The years have done little to soften him.

He was furious with me when I was caught at the mill, which now seems only natural given what I found out about him.  Of all the people in Pale Forest, Fouts is perhaps the most ardent "seperatist" around.  He cares little for those he doesn't know personally and shows open disdain for anyone not from town.  He apparently includes those who've migrated to Pale Forest (including me) in this general hatred.  He is also quite secretive in his affairs, which seems to go hand-and-hand with the Pale Forest "us against the world" mindset.

As a result, it's been difficult to find out much about him.  But I managed anyway.

Stanley Fouts traces his family back to basically the earliest days of Pale Forest.  They have always been involved in the mill, as well, with at least six foremen coming from their ranks (some of the records have been lost or simply left blank, so the exact number is impossible to find).  In fact, the Fouts line is sort of the de facto blue-collar group here in Pale Forest.  That's a badge of honor, by the way; very little is judged with higher esteem here than doing one's duty without fail.  Of course, that fact also lead to the family's blackest moment and darkest secret, too.  Some sixty years ago, Warren Fouts, a previously outstanding member of his clan, let the lineage down.

Though it took some real digging to figure it all out (most of the blight had been stricken from history) there was just enough to piece together most of the story.  Apparently Warren overstepped his rank-and-file stature by trying to become more.  It seems despite the fact his job should have been passed along in an almost genetic fashion, he wanted a greater degree of power than it could afford.  In fact, he even ran for mayor.  Now, in most cultures, this wouldn't seem like a big deal, but there is a sort of caste system here in Pale Forest.  And Warren had violated it.

Why he did, I can't say.  The was no print given to his side of the story.  The backlash, though, was swift.  Not only did Warren Fouts lose the election (to Jack Huntley's great-great-uncle, no less), but the transgression set his family back for years.  It wasn't until Stanley, in fact, that they were again trusted enough to be elevated to the top position at the mill.  Obviously, Warren's stain took a while to wash away.

I can only imagine how much Stanley would appreciate me sharing this on the Internet.  He has undoubtably done all he can to make the entire thing disappear so as to avoid any further embarrassment.  Of course, the type of person who'd go to such lengths to maintain secrets is exactly the type of person I'm most interested in exposing.

Until next time...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Insufferable Wait


While I would love to return to the woods and check out the path again (perhaps love is the wrong word, but I do plan on going back), the area has since been roped off as a "protected" zone.  Apparently, some rare bird's been spotted there and now no one is allowed encroach upon its habitat.  Of course, I've never seen any living things in there, let alone an endangered bird, so the whole thing is more than a little off.  Add to that the fact the Mayor's office is directly responsible for the move, and you get what looks more than a little like a cover-up of some sort.  The presence of guards seems a little heavy handed for protecting a bird as well.  Regardless, the path is currently off limits.

So, instead I've been trying to find out more about the players involved in all of this.  I've written about Mayor Huntley several times, and there's very little else to say about him, but there are others I'd like to investigate.  I'm going to spend some time researching the tattooed man and the mill's foreman, Stanley Fouts.  Perhaps there is more on them than I previously imagined.

At least that will give me something to do.

Until next time...  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ghosts of the Past


I apologize for the lack of updates, but finding a new home proved to be not altogether easy.  Then there was the matter of getting the Internet connected even after I'd moved, since the place had been empty for some time.  Add all that up, and very little has been accomplished of late outside of finding a safer base of operations (how's that for making myself sound important?).

Now I can get back at it, so hopefully the next few days will be filled with exciting news.  I appreciate your patience, though, so I'll leave you with a story my father once told me.

He'd been working long hours at the mill when a very strange thing happened as he was leaving for home.  His keys were not even in the driver's side door when a sound to his left startled him.  It was dark-- even the lights around the mill were mostly off for some reason-- so he couldn't quite tell what he'd heard, but it reminded him of a large animal digging through a trash can.  Then it sounded again, but closer.

My father said he began frantically looking for the right key (his duties at the mill meant he carried many) as the noise seemed to be creeping closer.  As luck would have it, he then dropped the entire keychain in his haste, losing it instantly in the enguling darkness.

By now the sound was right on top of him, but he still couldn't see it's source as he searched desperately along the ground in front of him.  Then, in his mind, he saw the image of the flashlight he carried on his belt.  He'd forgotten all about it in his sudden state of panic (the fact that my father was so bothered is noteworthy in and of itself as he was generally quite emotionless). 

Almost reluctantly, he reached down to the light before bringing it up and switching it on.  Immediately he screamed as the beam illuminated a single pair of mishapen eyes about chest level!  He said he didn't remember much of the night after that and it wasn't until he was found the next morning, having apparently passed out beside his car, that he finally came home.

This story was only related to me once, and even then the act seemed more an effort to rid himself of the memory than actually share anything.  Eventually the entire thing was written off as a product of fatigue by the mill's appointed investigation.  My father refused to speak about it afterwards.

As a child, the story haunted me, but I'd pretty much written it off as well over the years.  Now, as things continue to reveal themselves, I am forced to revisit those opinions with a more open mind.  Perhaps there was more than exhaustion at play that night.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Stench Under the Porch


The hard truth that I've been found seems unavoidable.  I guess I can't be surprised; it was seemingly inevitable.  Still, I would have liked to have remained hidden until I had a bit more evidence.  The past few days, however, have made it clear that's not possible.

It began Monday.  I was on my way out when an overpowering odor assaulted me.  At first it was just too extreme for me to even guess where it was coming from, but as my senses adjusted-- as much as they could, anyway-- it became clear the stench's origin was somethere beneath me.  As I was on the porch, the task of locating the foul smell was a bit daunting.  Nonetheless, I resigned myself to climbing down underneath the house.  I did put on a small, white, filter mask and my work gloves first, though.

As it turned out, the process of finding the source of the odor was a short one.  Immediately after flipping my flashlight on and sending bugs scurrying from the unwanted beam, the somewhat macabre scene turned my stomach.  There, improbably, was a dead deer!  It had been shot, apparently, but how it had managed to wedge itself under the porch was a mystery.  I spent the next hour dragging it out.  I've attached a picture, though I'm not sure why-- perhaps I just want you all to know what I'm dealing with.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the last of its kind.  Yesterday it was a large dog that turned up dead and moldering under the wooden boards in front of my house (I'll spare you the visual evidence this time), and today the stench is back again.  I haven't yet gone to investigate, but I am tired of this morbid ritual.  Even more than that, though, I'm fearful of what this portends.

Obviously, whoever is leaving these "gifts" intends them to scare me, and while I am not really worried about winding up beneath the porch, I am concerned that now I'm being spied on.  My detractors have done quite well in disrupting my plans with nothing but my blog to work with.  How will I accomplish anything if they have my location?

Plus, there's the matter of actually removing the carcasses every day.  It's not at all pleasant, and knowing that someone is coming here during the night to drop them off is disturbing.  I actually tried to stay awake last night, and managed to stave off sleep until after four in the morning, but I never heard anything.  How is that possible?  The process of placing the bodies must be far quieter than removing them.

I guess it's time to move on from this house as well.  At least the next location will likely smell better.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Voice of "Reason"


I've just received another letter from the mayor of Pale Forest, Jack Huntley. Despite his probabl desire otherwise, I have decided to post it here again.


I'm disappointed to see you're keeping the blog up and running. I had hoped getting the trespassing charges against you dropped would have proven I'm on your side. It was a pretty huge favor, right? Oh well. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.

I must INSIST at this point that you stop your wild accusations, though. Seriously, Jonas, are you really using your time to write about magic paths in the forest and imaginary people following you? Please understand this: NO ONE is out to get you. We're just tired of the constant, negative attention your blog is causing us and the town of Pale Forest.  We're a private group, you're right about that, but that doesn't make us bad.

I'm not one for making threats, Jonas, even though my office obviously gives me more than enough clout to stop all of this.  However, I still think you're capable of making the right decision and I'd like to see that happen without me stepping in.  Please don't disappoint me.

If, however, you stick with all this foolishness, please know that I won't be pulling you out of the fire any more.  Make wise decisions, Jonas.  I know you can.

Here's to what is hopefully our last discussion on this,

--Jack Huntley
I'm fairly certain this latest letter is in response to me accusing of him of being behind the tattooed man.  It's also interesting to note how his attitude has changed since his first letter.  Huntley is far less "fatherly" this time around, assuming a greater degree of authority instead.  It might just be talk, but I'm of the opinion he's simply beginning to show his true colors.  Regardless, he's probably going to be angry I posted this even though he should have expected me to do so.  I also think it's reasonable to assume he plans to be more active in trying to shut me down from now on.  I'm not sure how he intends to police the Internet, though.

I need to be more careful about my trips into town I guess.  Huntley will no doubt be looking for an excuse to cause me trouble.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

He's Back

Following the experience in the woods, my string of bad luck is apparently continuing.  The tattooed man is back.  Though I hadn’t encountered him in quite a while—a fact for which I was exceedingly grateful—he seems to once more have taken an interest in me.
He reappeared two days ago, as I was once more in the library reading about the history of the town.  I happened to look up from my research, and suddenly he was in front of me, some ten or so feet away.  You can probably imagine my reaction drew a few stares from the people around me.  They, however, seemed to be ignoring the newly arrived, inked specter.
His entrance pretty well shut down my investigation and I spent the next few minutes trying to simultaneously ignore and study him.  It was a fool’s errand.  I eventually gave up and simply left the library, scurrying to the car with my eyes transfixed on the library behind me.  Thankfully he never emerged to chase me as I imagined he might.
The next appearance came yesterday while I was conducting a short reconnaissance mission (I can’t say where I was as it’s somewhere I intend revisit very soon).  Again he managed to sneak up on me despite the difficulty of doing so.  The location, suffice it to say, was not a heavily frequented one and I should have been able to see anyone well before they were close.  The tattooed man, though, obviously isn’t your average person; he was virtually on top of me before I even noticed him.  Unlike the last time I encountered him out away from everyone, this time he didn’t disappear right after I’d seen him.  Instead, he did as he generally does and stood just out of reach without actually interacting with me in any fashion.  Since I wasn’t technically allowed at this location, I decided to leave in a pretty abrupt manner.
So there you have it; the spy is back.  I call him that because I’m growing more convinced with every occasion that he’s working for whoever is trying to shut me down completely (possibly Mayor Huntley).  This was my initial opinion and there’s been very little to change it since.  It’s virtually impossible, however, to get a clear feeling on what his intentions are.  He’s so damn stoic!  Though he’s clearly there to watch me, he never makes eye contact, speaks, or shows any type of emotion.  The frustration it causes is almost unbearable.  I also have more than a little trepidation over the whole ordeal, but my curiosity is beginning to outweigh my fear.  Eventually I’m going to summon up the courage to confront my tattooed shadow.   Today just isn’t likely to be the day.
Until next time…

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Still Here


I don't think I've ever been more thankful to post.  Here in the light of day, I'm actually just glad to be doing anything at all.

Last night was the most terrifying few hours of my life, and I'm certain the number of gray hairs on my head has grown exponentially.  I will do my best to recount the events, but I admit my memory is a bit foggy.

Well after the sun had set, I made my way to the spot where I'd first encountered the hidden path some time ago.  This went as planned, though there was an instance in which a police car pulled out behind me and seemed to be running my plates.  With the mayor making it quite clear he's unhappy with me, this kind of thing represents a very real risk.  The squad-car eventually turned off onto another road, though, and I continued without incident.

The forest was as creepy as ever when I pulled up along the side of the road and exited my car.  Though I've had the distinct displeasure of being hemmed in by them many times, I'm still amazed at how fully removed from the rest of the world I feel when surrounded by those trees.  I proceeded to wander through them for a few minutes, a flashlight my only company, until, amazingly, there it was: the path!  I had a hard time containing my excitement even though there was no one around to share the moment.

I immediately set off along the path, determined to reach the end this time.  It wasn't long, however, until I discovered the way seemed different this time.  There were hills and bends I didn't recall and I came upon several forks (I must have chosen the correct ones every time, though, since they kept leading me further into the woods).  I guess there's a chance I entered the path at a different point, but that doesn't explain how everything seemed to have changed.  I wasn't about to turn back, though.

It was probably around midnight when the sounds started.  They were faint at first, but I still noticed them because the forest had been, as always, eerily quiet.  More than anything, it was the sound itself that bothered me.  I'm certain it was the same as the one I heard outside and inside of the mill, though less mechanical and a bit more like what I remember from my childhood!  It was all I could do to not turn and run back towards my car, but by then I was probably further from where I started than I was the bridge.  Or so I hoped.

The sound continued to grow so I kept moving to push it from my mind.  Eventually, though, it'd become too much to ignore; the sound was all around me, as if coming from everywhere.  It wasn't yet in my mind as it had always been as a child, but the threat didn't seem any less real and the tumult was growing painful.  Eventually I couldn't go on-- the bridge was still no where in sight and my head was pounding from the migraine the sound had caused.  I remember stopping in the path, kneeling with my hands over my ears, and then closing my eyes.

Then the noise stopped.  It didn't fade gradually as it had grown, but died like a plug had suddenly been pulled.  I slowly lowered my hands but hadn't yet opened my eyes when the newly found silence ended far too soon.

This is where my memory fails me.  There were words spoken, there in the woods, but I can't for the life of me recall what they were.  I only know there was a voice.  From the shadows of the forest, born of whatever noise had preceeded it, a single voice spoke to me.  And it was angry.

I discovered this morning that my shirt and pants had been torn to shreds from catching on branches as I blew through them.  And all the way back to my car, that voice shouted at me.  I never saw the person, but I swear I recognized the voice.  I can't put a face with it, but it was definitely familar.  Perhaps it was the "watcher" mentioned in the poem I found, though the prospect is rather fantastical.

When I got back here, my first acts were to bare the doors and then post the frantic message you've all probably seen by now.  I'm actually a little embarrassed by it, but at the time it was all I could manage.  By the way, "Steve" is the name of one of my few friends here in Pale Forest.  And no, it's not his real name.  I then waited the darkness out, afraid of "bumps in the night" and the proverbial "bogeyman" as if I were a child.

In retrospect, posting my plans here was probably my undoing again.  I desperately want to include everyone in this, but at times I guess I should keep certain things to myself until afterwards.  Hopefully I haven't blown this opportunity.  Either way, thankfully I'm still around to lament these kinds of mistakes.

Until next time...

(no title)

i can't write now.  my hands won't stop shaking. its all i can do to get this much up here. something happened in the woods and im watching the house.  ill update as soon as i can. 

if i don't post for a day, he must have come here and found me. get the information from the safe place i told you about, steve, to the authorities, but not anyone in pale forest.  someone we can trust.

theres a tapping on the window every so often and i think i hear something in the grass outside.  i hope im wrong.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Back to the Woods

Today’s news might be huge.  I’ve located a potentially important piece of information in a book I found in the library one town over.  It's part of a collection of local stories and bits about landmarks written by several authors, but one or two of the poems are about Pale Forest.  The book definitely wasn’t in our library, but that’s not too surprising; the people of Pale Forest really don’t like being written about.
Anyway, one of the poems is especially mysterious, and even mentions the Aerie!  It doesn’t write out directions or anything like that, but it does give some idea of its location.  The entire poem is strange, but here’s the portion I’m most interested in:
Within that wood so deathly white, the twisting path reveals,
The hidden way, by darkest night, the watcher often steals.
And, oh, to reach the rarest sight and cross the last expanse—
The Aerie waits, my friend; you’ll see!  Though few are giv'n the chance.
It’s strange-- no question about that-- and most would write the lines off as little more than meaningless, but with what I know, it could also be much more.  What if the “hidden way” is the path I found in the woods that night?  It was certainly dark, and the path does seem suspciously like the one in the poem.  I haven’t been able to find it again but that could be because I haven’t gone back at night.  That’s a strange explanation, of course, but I’m beginning to embrace the potentially supernatural aspects of all this.  The expanse could be the bridge, too, which would mean I was practically at the Aerie that night! 
It that's true, though, why couldn't I see it over the trees?  It's supposedly several stories tall.  I'm reluctant to attribute everything to "magic", though I've finding myself forced to do so with an increasing regularity.  And who's the watcher the poem mentions?  It can't be the tattooed man-- the book these lines came from was published in the 1950's!
I’m not going to lie; going back, with what happened last time, is not high on the list of things I want to do.  That’s even truer when going at night is concerned.  Still, if the path leads to the Aerie, then it’s worth facing my fears.  I’ll just need to make sure the batteries in my flashlight are up to the task.
Until next time…

Sunday, April 14, 2013

No News...


It's been a slow week for me and I apologize for not having anything new to share.  I'm still looking into the tower and it the possibility of it's real name, but unfortunately I've been unable to find anything worth mentioning.  While I am convinced the evidence is out there, it's taking a bit longer than I had hoped to locate it.

This is also the first week in some time in which Charlotte Hamm hasn't posted a story.  Perhaps this is a result of me not really piquing her interest.  I suppose if I don't give her anything to comment on, she has little incentive to do so.  I'd hoped, though, she'd have something to share regarding the tower.

I suppose I can't complain, really.  No one has threatened me this week, I haven't felt as though I'm being followed, and there's been no sight of the tattooed man.  Still, I can't help but feel the lack of opposition means I'm going in the wrong direction.

This will be a short update, as I'm off to do a little reconnaissance.  I can't say where just now, but hopefully it will lead to me having something more meaningful to share very soon.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Tower's True Name


I have a few things I need to share with you today.  Firstly, I’ve spent a great deal more time trying to locate William’s Tower.  As a reader pointed out on the Facebook page, I had completely misinterpreted the name of the structure, which may have slowed my progress.  I’d skimmed that section quickly in my excitement and assumed the tower was named for the guide who’d been lost, but I went back and looked at it more closely and reminded myself the mayor’s name was William.  His brother, the unfortunate Marcus, was not the namesake.  Blame it on writing without access to the source material and a feeble, stressed memory.  I suppose I could have looked back at the previous post and seen where I’d listed the brothers correctly, but it slipped my mind.

Apparently, the title “William’s Tower” came from the structure being commissioned by the elder Pettigrew as his last act before stepping down.  The name sort of stuck with the locals, but I don’t think it was the official title.  Think of it as more of a colloquial thing only the people of Pale Forest know.  And they don’t generally speak to outsiders very often.

If that’s the case, then anyone outside of Pale Forest who knew the tower existed would probably have called it by the actual name.  I’d not thought of this yet when I went down into a few nearby towns to seek help, but it makes sense.  In fact, I did find a few mentions of something called The Aerie at one point, but the information was extremely vague and I didn’t think much of it at the time.  It wasn’t really even described as a tower, but the name is promising.  Could that be the real name?  It’s entirely possible.  Now, of course, I have to start over, but at least I have a decent lead to use.

Also, I promised to give my opinion of the latest story from Charlotte Hamm.  It’s clearly a warning, in my mind, about Jack Huntley.  Interestingly enough, this is the third week in a row where I think she’s directly answering a question I posed here, which is encouraging.  What isn’t, however, is her bleak evaluation of my situation with the mayor of Pale Forest.  I suppose I’m the boy in the story who’s been warned to watch what I say, but I’m hoping Huntley won’t literally attempt to cut out my tongue at some point.  Of course, he might be able to do even worse.  Either way, I don’t intend to allow him to silence me.

I’m curious what the warning means, though.  Does Charlotte want me to stop?  The boy in the story does survive, so I’m thinking she’s just offering her opinion on Huntley, which I agree with.  He can’t be trusted, obviously.  Charlotte, on the other hand, I’m still trying to decide about.  What do you think, believers-- is Charlotte someone I can actually believe?

Until next time…

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Tongue Also Is a Fire, a World of Evil among the Parts of the Body


Another Friday means another short story.  I can't discuss it right now, as I'm checking on a lead I received regarding the location of William's Tower, but I'll be back to do so as soon as possible.
The Tongue Also Is a Fire, a World of Evil among the Parts of the Body
My earliest memories of are of staying with my “Meemaw” in her old, white house in the country.  It was quiet there—nothing else around for miles.  Meemaw liked it that way.
She was an extremely particular woman.
I was only six at the time, but already a headstrong young man.  As a result, Meemaw and I would go round and round, usually over silly things.  I remember, for example, playing in the front yard at dusk and being asked to come inside.  Meemaw’s requests always came across a bit too much like orders for my taste.  That night, I chose to ignore her and stay outside, though I did not voice my dissent.  A few minutes later, Meemaw came flying through the screen door, down the wooden steps, and out to me, wooden spoon in hand.  She gave me quite a lashing.
Another time, I’d been “asked” to finish my vegetables, but I didn’t see the need.  So, instead, I sat quite still, my jaw clinched and my hands gripping the sides of my chair.  Meemaw played it cool, but I could tell she was angry.  The punishment, however, was cruel and efficient; she served me the same meal every night from then on until I finally ate it.  I believe I had food poisoning for a few days afterwards.
But the worst row we ever had started because I refused control my tongue.
I’d been with my Meemaw for around two months over the summer (it’s hard for me to know exactly how long) when it happened.  She’d been down in the cellar, working on her hobby—which was pickling—when I thought it’d be a great idea to rifle through the refrigerator.  I’d barely gotten into the leftover pie when I heard the unmistakable sound of the basement door opening.  Caught with my hands covered in evidence, I quickly slammed the door to the refrigerator and high-tailed it up to my room.
Meemaw was right behind me.
Now cornered, I didn’t even try to explain as she lit into me.  Meemaw was really laying it on thick, too.  She was apparently very disappointed and not afraid to say so.  Eventually, through my sulking, I’d heard just about enough.  I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” she asked, her lecture still hanging in the air.
“Yes,” I replied, a wry smile on my face, “I wish… I wish you weren’t such a b****.”
The look on my Meemaw’s face was priceless; exactly as I had anticipated.  Don’t ask me how I knew that word at such an early age—I just did.  And now it was probably going to get me beaten.  But, to my surprise, she didn’t slap me.  Nor yell and pitch a fit.  No, she simply stood there, shocked, before turning around and exiting the room.  My victory rather hollow, I dared not move from my spot on the bed until morning.
The next day I crept tentatively down the stairs to breakfast.  To my relief, there was Meemaw, bustling about the kitchen.  Pancakes sat on the table.  I took a seat, confused but relieved; why had she made a special breakfast after what I’d said the night before?
She didn’t speak until after we’d finished.  “Son,” she began as soon as I’d taken my final bite, “last night, you said something pretty terrible to me.”
I nodded meekly.
“But I’m not mad anymore,” she reassured me.  “I just don’t want you to ever say anything like that again.”  She stood and began clearing the table.  “After all, what if those were the last words you ever spoke to me?”
Swallowing hard, I rose and left the room.  Meemaw was right; though I didn’t feel as if I really knew her all that well, she was old and the summer couldn’t last forever.  I shouldn’t talk like that.  Her guilt trip had at least momentarily worked.
That wasn’t really the end of the fight, though.  Soon my mouth would make things far worse.
By now it was late July and the days were scorchers.  My bedroom was especially unbearable, so I began spending more and more time downstairs where the air conditioning was the strongest.  This, apparently, made things difficult for Meemaw to watch her “stories” in the middle of the afternoon.  I remember her giving me the evil eye for the first few days, but eventually she came right out and told me to go back upstairs and be quiet.  This did not sit well with me, but I was trying my best (as much as a six year old can, anyway) to control my tongue.  I obeyed initially.
But children are impetuous and my Meemaw was incredibly stubborn.  Eventually, push came to shove, and I’d had enough of being banned from the first floor and said as much—though probably in very different words.  Meemaw, not at all pleased by my impertinence, began barking at me to get up and get out.  Naturally, I refused, making matters worse.  This continued for several minutes before, and I’m not sure exactly what precipitated it, I finally told her to go to hell.  Again, my mouth had gotten out of control.
This time, however, Meemaw did not react with quiet shock and indignation.  Her eyes flashed white rage and she leapt at me, her arms flailing.  I immediately began running for the stairs, and my Meemaw, having driven me from the room as she’d wanted all along, thankfully let me flee.
The next few days were very different.  I spent most of my time avoiding Meemaw while she returned the favor.  In fact, she was intentionally spending more time pickling than ever, in an apparent attempt to have as little to do with me as possible.  I didn’t care though; my childish mind had decided she’d been pretty unfair to me and I didn’t want anything to do with her.  It wasn’t until she stopped making meals and the leftovers in the fridge ran out that I even became concerned.
Had I really not seen her in more than two day?  She’d gone down into the basement to stuff fermented cucumbers into jars on Friday, but now it was Sunday night.  Uh oh. Several miserable ideas began to run through my head.  What if she’d simply left me to rot?  She was pretty mad, after all.  I couldn’t really imagine her doing that, though, so it seemed unlikely.  Maybe she’d been down there alone and gotten hurt… or worse?  Suddenly our last words had returned to haunt me, just as she’d promised they would.  But maybe there was still time, I reminded myself.  I would go down into the cellar and see if she needed help.
The door creaked as I rather timidly pushed it open.  I’d never liked the idea of this cellar, so dark without windows, and now my first trip down into it came under rather inauspicious circumstances.  Immediately the scent of spices and vinegar assaulted me senses, though I was relieved by the absence of the smell of death.
Descending further, the plank-like steps bending beneath me, it became harder for me to see.  The lights were turned off for some reason and a haze hung over the stiflingly hot room.  I eventually reached the bottom, feeling along with my feet as I desperately hunted for a light switch.  But there didn’t seem to be one nearby.  I shuffled out further, afraid of what I might run into or trip over, but resolved to be as brave as possible.  Every so often I’d bump what I supposed must be a jar, sending it rolling and tinkling off into the shadows.  This was the only noise to break the silence for several minutes; though I wanted to call out to my Meemaw, fear forbid me to do so. 
Finally, just when I thought the suffocating darkness would break me, I felt something graze my face.  Startled, I almost fell backwards before righting myself and recognizing what it must have been; a pull cord!  I quickly tugged at the thin string, bringing much welcomed light into the cellar.  Thanks to the many, reflective, glass jars stacked precariously around me, the one bulb was plenty to illuminate the entire area where I stood.  Amazed, I took the sight in; Meemaw had been very busy.  Columns of different colored pickles inside variously sized jars were everywhere, rising almost to the ceiling!  It was a miracle I hadn’t knocked any over.
But my Meemaw was nowhere to be seen.
Relieved, I set out to investigate the area.  The cellar was large and cluttered so I knew it’d take a few minutes to be certain she wasn’t hurt.  Everywhere I went, though, I found only pickles, bobbing disgustingly in their musty jars.  Finally, there was only the back corner left to search.
Picking carefully through the stacks of jars (some teetered as I passed), I eventually wove my way back to the solid, stone wall of the cellar.  Though my Meemaw was not there, something else did catch my eye.  Here, hidden away, was a shelf with several decorative jars upon it.  Each had a date written across the lid, some going back as far as a decade or more.  I picked one up to inspect it in the corner’s dim light.  These must have been my Meemaw’s prized bunch.  She’d mentioned them before, though I’d barely listened.  Now it seemed sad to be standing there, holding them without her.  I’d been so cruel, and now she was gone and I didn’t know where she was.  I felt a tear roll down my cheek as I sat the jar back on the shelf, disturbing the dark liquid within.  The object inside, visible now, did not look like a pickle.  But what was it?  I leaned in and squinted.  Was that… an ear?
I caught a faint whiff of something terrible right before I heard her voice.  “So, you’ve found them, eh?”  Meemaw’s words were devoid of any emotion as she moved slowly through the room.  She’d suddenly appeared, as if from nowhere, and she reeked of death.  She stopped to smile when she was no more than a few feet away.  “Those… those are my special ones.  These others,” she said, motioning towards the hundreds of jars, “are just a hobby.  But that back there, that’s my calling.”
In my innocence, I wasn’t sure what to think.  She was safe, which made me happy, but there was something sinister in her voice, and then there was the matter of the ear in the jar.  I backed away as far as I could as she moved past me and towards the shelf.
“Children are just so naughty,” she hissed while returning the jar I’d removed to its rightful place.  “And I’ve been chosen to fix them.  It’s quite a burden, really, but I don’t mind.  These tokens of all the good I’ve done are reward enough.”  She took another jar down before tossing it me.  “Careful you don’t break it.”
I barely managed to catch the jar before it could crash into the ground.  Raising it towards me, I noticed it was empty.  The marking on the lid read 7/29/87.  Today’s date.
“I did warn you,” Meemaw began as she removed a pair of tongs from her pocket, “that those horrible things might be the last words you ever said to me.  But you didn’t care.  You children NEVER care!”
Suddenly she lunged for me, but I managed to move just beyond her grasp, knocking over several dozen jars in the process.  Her eyes were wild as she circled back around.
“The keepsake you found,” Meemaw said as she closed in, “belonged to a girl who wouldn’t listen.  Her ears didn’t do her much good, obviously.”  She darted forward but once more I was too quick.  “Another, which you may have seen, is the hand of a boy who took things.”
“Meemaw, no…” I pleaded.
“I have many such trophies,” she continued, ignoring my whimpering, “a nose, several eyes… even a toe or two.  But I admit; you’ll be a first!”  This time Meemaw practically leapt upon me, catching me by the collar of my shirt.  I could hear her cackle as she raised me from the ground before spinning me around to face her.  Though I was struggling, she was surprisingly strong as she forced the tongs into my mouth, pulling harshly at my tongue.  “You’ll thank me for this later,” she declared as she raised a pair of scissors to my eye level.
Realizing this was my last chance, desperation kicked in and I mustered all of my strength for one final attempt to escape.  Rearing back against the wall, I brought my legs up and caught Meemaw in the stomach, knocking her backwards and into several dozen jars.  My natural instincts were then to run, but I’d only reached the steps when I noticed she wasn’t following me.  In fact, she hadn’t yet moved from the spot where she’d landed.
Against my better judgment, I slowly walked over towards this beaten woman, to find her coughing but otherwise lying still.  Beneath her was a growing pool of blood from where she’d landed on several rather large shards of glass.  Her skin was already a ghostly white as she looked up at me with pity in her eyes.
“You poor little fool,” she scolded.  “I was the one chance you had at salvation and you spurned me.”  She paused as she choked.  “Those other children… they’re lucky to have met me.  I saved them from themselves!  But you… you’re beyond that now.  What a disappointment…”
Those were the last cruel things Meemaw ever said to me or anyone else.  I remember crying for a good hour before finally deciding to leave by the road that ran past the old, white house.  Thankfully, I was picked up by some very nice people and taken to the police department.  There, the couple who’d found me gave the authorities directions back to Meemaw’s house while I waited in a back room, scared and disconsolate.
It took the state almost a week to locate my parents.  They were overjoyed to see me, though I didn’t really remember them.  The woman who I’d known as Meemaw had apparently drugged me at the time of my kidnapping a few months prior, robbing me of many faces and memories.  Thankfully that was all she’d manage to steal.
The police spent several months clearing out and cataloguing everything in Meemaw’s house.  They found a secret door in the cellar that led to a sort of burial plot.  There was one empty, freshly dug hole, but in total, she’d taken nine children.  Several officers quit after the investigation.
To this day, I wonder what could cause someone to do something so terrible.  I have no answer, of course.  I’m pleased to say, however, that while my tongue has since gotten me into trouble more than once, I don’t believe it’s leading to any sort of damnation.  And I’m very glad it’s still attached.
I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to eat pickles, though.
Until next time...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jack Huntley


Today I was shocked to receive a letter from the mayor of Pale Forest, Jack Huntley.  What's more, it appears to be handwritten!  I've never so much as met the man in person, so direct correspondence was not something I expected.  In fact, I haven't even seen him around town since that day at the mill.

While I'm certain he'd frown upon me doing so, I've decided to transcribe it here for you all to read.
It's come to my attention that you're still going on about the town and how "weird" everything is here.  I've decided to write you and ask you to please stop.
Before you dismiss this letter, though, hear me out.  I know you've got readers and all on that blog of yours, but, honestly, you're not doing anyone any favors by spreading a bunch of silly rumors-- and that includes the more impressionable people who might actually be buying what you're selling!
As I'm sure you know, Pale Forest is a small town with folks who value their privacy.  This whole business of ghost stories and what not might be entertaining to children, but when you start including real people in them, maybe it's time to stop and think about who it is you're hurting.  You grew up here, Jonas, so you of all people should have respect for the fine people of this town and their wishes.  As mayor, I know I do.
But look, this letter isn't just to scold you or anything.  Hell, I've known your family for years now; your father was a great guy.  In fact, my real wish is for the Clark family name regain its place here in Pale Forest.  To help that happen, I've spoken to the fine people at the mill and you'll be happy to know we've cleared up that whole "trespassing" issue so you won't be prosecuted.  But don't thank me or anything; just think of it as an investment in what I think can still be a very bright future here.  Of course, even as mayor, I can't pull strings forever, so I hope you see this as the opportunity it really is.
The bottom line, Jonas, is Pale Forest is a great place to live and we're mighty proud of it.  I know it must have seemed cool to write those stories at the time, but hopefully by now you're realizing just how much you have to lose.
Let me know if I can help in any way,
--Jack Huntley

So, obviously, Huntley has taken notice of the blog.  I'd suspected as much several times, but now it's painfully clear he'd rather it not exist at all.  He's also not afraid to use some rather thinly veiled threats to get his point across, either.  Still, I can't say I'm not grateful he wiped the trespassing issue from the books.

Also, I'd like to point out that bit about my family is complete rubbish.  If, on the of chance, Huntley even knew my father, I'm quite certain he'd have treated him with the same disdain he shows all outsiders.  Of course, I'm immensely proud to say I wasn't born here, so I don't care if it causes Huntley to look down his nose at my family.

What do you think the letter means, believers?  Should I be worried?  Let me know.

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Tower


Though I haven't gotten over to the library as often as I've wanted to, my hectic schedule's permitted me some investigation into the town's history.  On this latest trip, I read the tale of a strange building I've heard of but never actually seen.

It's called William's Tower, so named for the unfortunate guide, William Pettigrew, I mentioned a couple of posts ago.  It was supposed to be a way to both honor him and enable the town to spy storms from miles away without having to go too far up into the mountains.  Since the weather had been what claimed poor William, this seemed pretty fitting.

However, since the tower was deemed rather dangerous itself, and because the mayor at the time didn't want it "attracting" outsiders, it's location was kept a secret.  I'm not sure how you hide a several stories high, stone tower, but apparently they found a way because I've certainly never been out to it.

I do recall hearing it mentioned many times as a child, though it was generally discussed in a sort of hushed, reverent tone.  No one ever actually talked about having been there; they merely accepted its existence without questioning it any further.  Obviously keeping all of this secret is important to the people of Pale Forest, which, of course, only makes me more curious.

While I doubt anyone will help, I'm going to try and find out more about this tower and why it's location is still secret 160 years later.  Someone must know where it actually is, after all, since there was a picture in the town's book of history (which must have been taken well after its construction).

It looks quite plain to me.  Why all of the secrecy, then?  I must find out how to reach it, and if the photographer knew the way, then there must be others who do as well.  I'm going to find them and then William's Tower.

Hopefully this isn't another dead end.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"This Story Could Save Your Life"


I was shocked to see another story from Charlotte Hamm posted today, but it seems she is becoming more active.  I immediately read it, given the ominous title, and wanted to share it with all of you as well.

This Story Could Save Your Life
I take the subway every night.  Sometimes it’s really late, too, since I work an odd-hour job, and my station isn’t home to many night owls.  As a result, I’m often one of only a few people around when I get off the train.
It was especially late a couple of nights ago when my train finally came grinding into the station, and I was really groggy from a tough shift.  Pushing past the few people still remaining on the train, I stepped off and was soon alone on the platform.  I glanced around; though I was used to arriving at a mostly cleared station, it had never been completely empty before.  The lights above me flickered.  Shrugging off the weirdness of being the only person around, I started for the stairs to the outside world.
I’d only gone a few feet when a sound behind me caught my attention.  It was almost like footsteps, but there was a noticeable “scratching”, too.  I immediate spun around, but, to my relief, only the blackness of the subway tunnel greeted me. 
Resuming my original plan to head home, I had almost reached the stairs when the sign pointing towards the restrooms caught my eye.  I really did need to go, and my apartment was still a ten minute walk away.  On the other hand, the station was exceptionally creepy tonight and I didn’t really want to be here any longer than necessary.  But was I really going to let my silly nerves get the best of me?  In the end, nature had called and I figured I should answer.
The restroom was just as empty as the station had been.  To my right, a sink had been left running for who knows how long.  I turned it off before heading into one of the stalls.
By now I had managed to subdue my wild imagination.  It seemed pretty ridiculous for a grown person to be afraid to use the restroom, after all.  Above me the lights flickered again, though I paid them little notice.  Laughing out loud at my own childishness, I reached for the tissue. 
Suddenly the unmistakable sound of a door opening filled the restroom.  Someone else was apparently here.  I resisted the urge to call out; it was likely another train rider who’d be more freaked out by being greeted from someone in a stall than I was.  A moment later, I was glad I hadn’t.
The scratching sound was actually the first thing I heard, though it was soon followed by the familiar footsteps I had encountered on the platform.  They echoed off the tile floor as whatever was out there seemed to shamble into the restroom.  My blood running cold, I sat quietly, unable to even blink.
Outside the stall, the “thing” would take a couple of steps and then pause to emit a sort of rasping noise.  I swear it sounded as if it was smelling the air, looking for something.  The most logical answer, of course, was me.  All this time, though, I fought the urge to scream or bolt from the stall.
Eventually it stopped and stood still for what seemed like an eternity.  In fact, I could almost have convinced myself it was gone, but for lingering “sense” of it being too great.  It did finally begin to move again, and upon doing so, seemed to focus in on my stall!
Transfixed, I could only listen in horror as it grew closer to my very vulnerable position.  It wasn’t until it began scratching on the door of my stall that I almost lost it and screamed.  The sound, however, caught in my throat.  Now I look back on it and think this may have saved my life.
The thing was now clawing and pounding at the door, seemingly aware I was inside but unable to do anything about it.  I could hear its raspy breath and growing frustration as the entire stall began to shake from the assault.  Just as its rage seemed to reach a fever pitch, though, and I was sure the door would give way, it suddenly stopped.  It took a good minute for me to snap back to reality, but, when I did, there was only silence waiting on me.  I noticed my arm was still outstretched from where I’d begun to reach for the tissue.  I apparently hadn’t moved an inch during the entire ordeal.
Though it was difficult, I eventually summoned up the courage to get up and out of the restroom.  The vibe I’d gotten from the thing was gone now, which helped.  Luckily, I didn’t experience anything unusual as I literally ran out of the restroom and up the stairs.  Bursting from the subway and onto the street, I was grateful to see the surprised faces of a young couple walking by the station entrance.  I’m sure they thought I was crazy, but that didn’t really matter; I had made it out and now everything was back to normal.
Or so I thought.
I’ve spent the last two days thinking about that night, and I can’t make any sense of it.  There’ve been no reports of anything strange happening at the subway station, but there were a few unexplained disappearances mentioned on the news.  One such case involved a man I know I’ve seen once or twice on the train.  I couldn’t have been the only person to encounter the thing and get away, right? 
I’ve actually gone back once—during the day, when plenty of people are there—to try and sort it all out in my mind and maybe find someone else doing the same.  Everyone else, though, seemed to be going about their business, quite oblivious to the person skulking about looking for “clues”.  I’m not even exactly sure what I expected to find.  The thing didn’t leave footprints or something like that, if, in fact, it truly had feet.  I definitely don’t remember seeing anything at all through the slim openings around the stall’s doors. 
However, it’s what began happening last night that truly has me worried.  Afraid to leave my apartment, I called in sick to work before bolting every lock on my door.  I’m used to sleeping during the day, so my body wouldn’t let me rest, and I instead camped out in my living room to watch TV. 
It was around midnight when the lights flickered for the first time.  This made me uneasy, but I reminded myself that I was at home, behind a barricaded front door.  Eventually I did doze off, despite a few more uneasy moments, finally waking as the sun was coming up.  But it didn’t stop there.  All throughout today I’ve noticed odd things that leave me with goose bumps, such as unexplained sounds, fleeting glimpses of something unrecognizable in mirrors, and the same, pervading sense I had in that stall.  I think whatever it was I escaped down in the subway has found me.
As the day wears on, I’m terrified of what might happen tonight.  I’ve made plans to stay out as much as possible over the next few days, but I’m not sure that makes any difference.  I’m also aware that I might be placing other people in danger by simply being around them after dark.
So, here it is, the point of my story.  I won’t be giving you names of the places where I’ll be, the times I’ll be there, or even my real name, but if you’re out late over the next few nights, and the lights flicker, leave.  If you feel an overwhelming, evil presence, don’t ignore it.  If you hear strange footsteps or other, unexplained sounds, get up and get out of wherever you are.  Run and don’t look back. 
I won’t, and I’ll likely have a head start.
This one is more than a little frightening to me. Though the title provided what turned out to be unwarranted hope of some explicit directions, she does seem to be telling me something here.  It appears she is aware of the person stalking me and how he seems to be getting closer.  Her advice, apparently, is to run whenever I feel his presence.  Perhaps she knows more about his nature than I had imagined.

I am also bothered by the monster in this one.  The deliberate movements, scratching, and stalking are all very similar to what she's already written about.  It also conjures of images of long-armed fiends, their hands grinding against the ground as they walk.  Very unnerving.

Please feel free to post your own impressions of the story and what it might mean.

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Lost Workers


While doing some research into Pale Forest, I stumbled upon something quite interesting.  The library here in town, which I frequent, has a large, leatherbound book that chronicles the city's history, and though I had previously thought it too archaic to read, my recent quest has changed my mind on the merit of deciphering the behemoth.  To that end, I have spent many hours recently, staring at the browned pages.  My fear is I will eventually be restricted from the library (if, say, Mayor Huntley were to intervene), so I've read rather feverishly of late.

During my session with the tome yesterday, I came upon the record of a plan to open Pale Forest to an influx of immigrants in an attempt to expand the mill's facilities and business.  While the story is of course a familiar one (my family moved here when my father obtained a job at the mill under similar circumstances), it caught my eye because it isn't referring to the events that led me to Pale Forest.  This occurred in the 1840s.

Apparently, back then, Pale Forest was even more closed-off from the world than it is now.  In fact, a single road ran into and out of the town, and it was dangerously unkept-- it was actually part of Skeleton's Walk, which, at the time, came down out of the mountains.  Despite this, however, the town council voted to go ahead with their plans to increase the papermill's production.  They did not, however, vote to improve the road itself.

I suppose most of you have figured out where the story goes from there.  The night before the new workers (mostly immigrants and escaped slaves from the South) were supposed to arrive en masse, there was a terrible storm that, as luck would have it, centered over the mountains and the already precarious roadway.  Unable-- or perhaps unwilling-- to help, the people of Pale Forest waited to see if the mill's new workers would be able to brave the conditions.  The next morning, the awful answer was all too apparent.

Not one of them ever stepped foot into Pale Forest.

The book goes on to explain their guide, a man by the name of Marcus Pettigrew, was also lost in the maelstrom.  This was of some importance, as he was the mayor's brother and one of the more prominent men of Pale Forest.  His loss devastated the mayor, William Pettigrew, who never fully recovered from his grief or the outrage the incident sparked within the town's population.  William, it seems, had pushed for the very expansion that had become his greatest personal and professional failure.  Disgraced, he stepped down and was replaced by Ichabod Manley who, other than having a truly outstanding name, was a strict isolationist.  Pale Forest was thus closed off once more.

After reading this, my curiosity was piqued.  How many times has the city been opened to outsiders only to close again?  And, if this is a reoccuring theme in Pale Forest's history, is it possible there's some sort of pattern?  I intend to dig into the book even more over the next week, and I'll keep your posted on what I find.

Until next time...

Friday, March 22, 2013

"He's Going to Cut It Out of Me!"


Charlotte Hamm has once more posted a story on her Facebook profile.  I found it just a few minutes and have copied it for you to read.

He's Going to Cut It Out of Me!
I’m not sure if I should share this, really.  It might make me sound like I’m insane.  But after what happened two nights ago, I feel like I have to get it off my chest or I really will lose my mind.
I was sitting at my computer, around ten, when the second monitor in my setup flickered and went black.  This was the third time it’d done this in the last week, and my “secret” repair method (punching it) didn’t work like it had before.  It was time, I guessed, to replace it.
Firing up Craigslist, I immediately noticed something was wrong.  The site was definitely off.  The font was different-- larger and spaced oddly.  Some letters even appeared to be slightly higher or lower than the others in a word.  The effect was a little disorienting.  Assuming this to be some weird glitch, I hit refresh and the page went back to normal.

I put in the search “HD computer monitor”, chose the price range I wanted, and waited for the results.  But instead of a page full of listings, only one was returned.  And it didn’t seem to have anything to do with my search.  The title simply said “Help” with no additional information below it.  Curious, I clicked on the link. 
The ad, which I thought was probably a posting for a job or something along those lines, was empty, offering no indication of what type of help the person wanted.  Disinterested, I back out to the search again. 
This time I took out the price specification I had entered to expand my search a little.  The results were the same, though; the one “Help” listing is all that popped up.  Confused, I backed out again and changed the search to simply “monitor”.  This would definitely pull up something else, I thought.
But it didn’t.
By now I was annoyed.  Not only had Craiglist’s appearance apparently been bugged earlier, but now the search feature was broken.  This was turning into a frustrating night.
Curious if this was an isolated problem, I decided to search for something else.  I settled on “iPhone” since there are always plenty of those listed.  I didn’t specify a price or a model, either, just to be sure I’d get something back, but the “Help” listing was still all that showed up. 
Clicking on the link again, I decided to try and contact the seller to see if there was a real person behind this apparent bug.  To my surprise, there was an email option.  I quickly typed out a question, inquiring if the person knew why their ad was showing up for every search.  Within a minute, the first reply had arrived.  It was rather cryptic, though, and simply read “Please.  Help me.”
A little creeped-out but undeterred, I decided to ask who the person was.  I had barely pressed send, however, when the response “I don’t have much time!  Please, help me!” showed up in my inbox. 
The whole thing seemed like a prank, really, but I couldn’t understand how someone could set this up unless they worked at Craigslist.  Still, I was interested enough to play along.  In my next email, I asked how I could help and what the problem was.  The tone was more than a little tongue-in-cheek, though.
A few seconds later, the reply came and was far more alarming the ones before it.  It read, “Please, he’s coming for me!  I’ve heard the screams in the rooms around me.  He’s going to cut it out!”  I immediately responded by asking who was coming and what was he going to cut out, but there was no reply for several minutes, prompting me to write the entire thing off as fake.  Eventually, I grew tired of waiting and decided to refresh the page to see if the problem had been fixed. 
When the page had loaded, there was still only one ad on the screen, but it wasn’t the “Help Me” listing I had grown to loathe.  Instead, the title read “Man Seeking Women”, a startling change which made me laugh.  I, of course, had to click on the link to see the rest.
Inside was further information, unlike the last listing.  It said, “Ladies, are you tired of looking for love in all the wrong places?  Don’t let dating ruin your life.  Contact me and I promise to steal your heart!”  Again, this seemed pretty cryptic, but I was intrigued by the craziness of this whole ordeal, so I went ahead and sent the guy an email.  I obviously wasn’t looking for a date, though; I simply wanted to know if this was somehow related to the other phony listing. 
The reply came quickly, just as they all had.  I have included the entire thing.
"Dear Sir,
First, let thank you for bringing this to my attention.  You actually did me a favor by doing so, and I won’t forget it.   While I did not send the other emails, I can guarantee you won’t be bothered by them anymore. 
I thought this was really weird since it was the first email that seemed personalized and not just some generic, bot-like response.  I couldn’t bring myself to reply again, though; the experience had just been too strange to keep it going any longer.  Shutting my computer off, I changed quickly and fell into bed.  That night I didn’t sleep well, though.
The next morning, I woke up still thinking about the emails.  All of the tossing and turning the night before had given me plenty of time to dwell on them, and I’d decided to email “Steven” again.  So, skipping breakfast, I went over to my computer and switched it on.  To my disappointment, though, Craigslist was back to normal and I couldn’t find the link.  Even weirder, the emails were all gone from my inbox.  In fact, I had almost convinced myself I’d dreamed the entire thing by the time I left for work.
That hope was a short-lived, though.   Rushing down my front steps, I almost tripped over a small, cardboard box.  It definitely hadn’t been there the day before.  I stooped down to pick the container up, the sound of its contents rolling around inside instantly noticeable.  I dropped it again when I read the card taped to the front.
"Dear Sir,
After our correspondence last night, I felt obligated to make amends for the annoying emails and to thank you in some way for helping me out.  I don’t even want to think about what might have happened had someone else gotten those first few messages.  Please accept this small token as proof the offender won’t trouble you again.
P.S.  This might be my finest work, yet!

Aside from the foreboding title, I'm not sure we can assume much about this story.  It does weigh on my mind that the story's time frame (2 days ago) could apply to my incident in the woods, but the theme obviously doesn't really go along with anything that's happened.  If Charlotte is trying to warn me about the tattooed man, I would probably be wise to listen; I just wish she wasn't so damn cryptic all the time.

If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments.  I could use the help on this one.

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Watcher in the Woods


I am frusterated.  There's no other way to say it.

The past few days have seen me scouring the woods outside of Pale Forest, looking for the path and the bridge mentioned in my last post.  So far, however, I've been unable to find either.  I am left, then, with anger and confusion over the whole issue.

How can it simply have disappeared?

You also have to bear in mind how reluctant I generally am in regards to even venturing into the forest.  I have to psyche myself up for each trip, and its getting harder every time.  Thankfully I haven't gotten lost again like I did that night, as I've always brought along a compass (the GPS on my phone won't work there for some reason) and only go during the day.  Still, after many hours combing the area I know I was in, there's no trace of the path, let alone the bridge.  Now I'm beginning to think I should just give up.

That decision isn't entirely born of frustration, though; there is another, more palpable reason to not return.  I think the tattooed man might have followed me into the forest this last time.  I'm not entirely sure, though, as the image of him was quite fleeting (that alone is strange, since he generally makes himself quite obvious). 

I was slowly climbing the side of a rather steep hill when it happened.  My eyes were mostly focused on the ground, so I wasn't concentrating on much of anything else.  I happened to glance up at one point, though, and I swear he was already at the top of the embankment, staring down at me. 

The next few minutes are a sort of blur, but I must have toppled backwards in surprise and hit my head on the ground at the base of the hill.  I don't believe, however, that the fall influenced what I saw next.  As I came too, my eyes still adjusting, the sight of his awful, leering face suddenly came into view for a split moment.  It was extremely close this time, too, as if he were kneeling right beside me!  I remember screaming as I sat up, only to find I was alone again.

The question is, of course, was he really there?  I can't believe I imagined the entire thing, but the alternative is perhaps even more improbable.  If he were following me, how was he able to remain undetected?  The forest, as I've mentioned, is ghostly quiet, so I doubtlessly would have heard him at some point.  Also, there's the "small" matter of his disappearance.  I looked around after the ordeal; there wasn't a trace of anyone to be found.  He would have seemingly had to teleport out of the forest to vanish in that fashion.  Of course, I'm not too fond of writing it off as my imagination, as this along with the lost bridge begins to build a compelling case for my insanity.

So there you have it.  Between my inability to find the bridge and this, admittedly, questionable sighting of my new nemesis, I have decided to table the search for now.  Perhaps I'll wake up tomorrow and feel differently, but that remains to be seen.  Either way, I still have a lot of questions to answer.

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Bridge


Two days ago I was sitting at my computer, half asleep, when I heard a very distinctive creaking sound.  It was the pet door made into the house's back entrance (I don't have any animals, but the actual owner of the place I'm staying does).  Unfortunately, my mind immediately went to the end of "The Monster on Browning Street", which made it difficult to check the noise out.  Eventually I did manage to pry myself out of the chair and cautiously creep into the back hallway.  To my great relief, there was nothing there, and a quick search of the house turned up little more than empty rooms.  My guess is that the wind, which I have known to sometimes move the pet door, was responsible.

Despite this explanation, my imagination had now been unchained and was already creating all sorts of wild tales.  It eventually drove me from the confines of the house and out into the world to try and distance myself from my irrational fears. Though I had been drowsy before, it was actually still a little before dusk, and my mind was fully awake now.

Not wanting to go into town and risk meeting my shadow, I decided instead to merely drive around for a while.  This lasted for about half an hour.  Slowly, my nerve returned to me as I wove through the back roads of Pale Forest.  In fact, I'd made up my mind to turn around and head back home when an odd sensation came over me.

Passing what at first appeared to be little more than another stretch of nothing on a road surrounded by such, I was suddenly overwhelmed.  It felt very much like the hazy experience of looking at an old photo from before your first real memories.  Was this road, this place, somehow connected to my past?  Almost involuntarily, I found myself pulling over.  I sat there in my car for a minute or two, mulling over what it was I'd just experienced, but was unable to make sense of it.  Eventually it become clear I'd have to investigate.

Stepping from my car, I was immediately greeted by some rather long, wispy grass, this portion of the road having been long forgotten by the city.  There was a somewhat steep embankment a few feet away (though not so much that I couldn't climb it) and then the forest itself.  I shivered at the sight of those hideous trees despite the fact I knew my path would take me into the very heart of them.

Though it was by now beginning to get dark, there was still enough light to pick my way through the forest with little trouble.  I marveled at the eerie silence as I made my way deeper into the woods; even now, as hundreds of nocturnal animals should have been waking, there was only the sound of leaves crunching underfoot.  It was fascinating and a little unnerving at the same time.  This was about the only interesting observation I was able to make, however, as my sense of nostalgia seemed to be growing farther away with every step.  Stopping, I realized I was alone with nothing more than the trees for company, and they would share no secrets.

Now resolved to chalk the experience up as a worthwhile yet fruitless effort, I turned around to head back to my car.  However, as I started my return trip, I quickly noticed something was wrong.  The forest I had just traversed appeared different in some way.  I had taken careful note of landmarks to help guide me back, but now I couldn't find them.  It was as if the trees themselves had been sneaking around while my back was turned.

I wandered for another fifteen minutes or so, growing increasingly anxious.  I had not been very deep inside the forest, I reminded myself.  Why was it I couldn't see the edge of the trees?  Eventually I found a cleared strip of woods that appeared to be a path.  Though I had not noticed it earlier, I rationalized following it would probably be more advantageous than blindly circling around, so I did.  I admit, I was curious about who would have carved the path, but my options were few and the minutes before pitch dark even more so.

It wasn't long before I had confirmed it was indeed an actual path, though I had no idea where it was leading me.  To make matters worse, after just a few minutes of following it, I came upon a fork.  Not wanting to stop and truly contemplate the choice, I simply turned left and picked up my pace.  I was by now quite confused as to what direction I was going and which would actually get me back to my car, so there was little logic used in my decision.

The path now took me through a sort of grove where the trees were densely packed and the light scarce.  Rounding a cluster of these, I stopped, practically mid-stride.  There in front of me was bridge, and though it was short and looked stable enough, there was no way I was going to cross it.  I am not afraid of bridges, so that played no role in my inability to set foot on it.  There was something else-- a sort of dark, foreboding.  The weird feeling of deja vu was back and even stronger, though I don't know on what occasion I would have visited this bridge before.  I stuck around just long enough to take a picture before heading back from where I'd come.

I made good time back to the fork, this time choosing the other direction.  It was now dark and I was having an increasingly difficult time keeping my footing.  Thankfully the path had apparently been cleared recently, though I was hopeful I wouldn't run into the person responsible for its upkeep.  A few frantic minutes later I emerged from the forest, thankful to see the night sky.  I am still unsure how I'd failed to see the edge of the woods from the fork, as it was actually quite close.  Even more curious, however, was the fact the path actually brought me to within twenty feet of my car!  I am almost certain it should have been in plain sight when I first entered the forest, but I have no explanation for why I missed it.

I drove back out there yesterday with the intend of forcing myself to cross the bridge, but though I am relatively sure I found the same spot, the path to the bridge was no where to be found.  Not wishing to once more become lost in the forest without the path to guide me, I didn't venture inside.  Perhaps I was simply looking in the wrong place, though.  I'll expand my search for the path and the bridge it leads to at some point in the new future, though I'm wary of what I might find on the other side.

Until next time...