Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Tattooed Man


As I write this, I am also staring out a nearby window, into the darkness of my street.  I’ve even moved my desk just so I can keep this vigil.  It needs to be done, though—I believe I’m being watched.

It started several days ago.  I try not to leave my house more than I have to for fear of revealing my location, but I have this pesky habit of eating occasionally, so trips to the store are necessary.  It was on such an outing that I first encountered him

I was making my way through the frozen foods when I noticed a man at the end of the aisle.  He struck me as odd immediately; he had no cart or items of any sort.  Nor did he seem to be shopping.  Instead, he looked to be waiting on something or someone.  Despite my paranoia, I wrote it off as nothing and continued to stock up.

It wasn’t until I reached the next aisle, that I started to become worried.  There he was, at the end of the walkway again.  It was almost as if he’d been there the whole time, still waiting.  I chose to skip the aisle.

His presence seemed to loom over me as finished making my rounds through the store.  The Pale Forest market is quite small, and its aisle’s are tightly packed, so I was acutely aware of this specter even when I couldn’t actually see him.  My heart raced a little every time I went around a corner, fearful he might be only a few feet away.  I even rushed through checkout, one eye fixed on what might be behind me.

But I didn’t see him again that day.  I had even convinced myself that I was being silly for allowing my imagination to turn a shopper into a devil.  But that was before I drove past my old house again.

I know this wasn’t a good idea.  Going back to a place that is likely under surveillance was both stupid and risky.  My curiosity got the better of me, though.  I don’t feel any sense of nostalgia for the house—it was my parents' but I’m not a sentimental person.  I am intensely interested in finding out who broke in originally, though.  I had finally decided to go inside and look around, but I didn’t get the chance.  As I drove past, there was someone standing in my driveway.  I immediately recognized him as the man from the store.

I sped away, but thankfully he didn’t try to follow me.  What he was doing there I can’t say, but it didn’t seem logical to attribute it to coincidence.  He was there waiting, as he had been before.  But this time it was obvious he was waiting for me.

Despite the threat he represents, the man is at first glance quite unassuming, both thin and of average height.  At the store and my house, he was wearing a long, brown coat, cinched in the middle.  He is bald, which combined with the wireframe glasses he was wearing, made it difficult to discern his age.  I would guess he is in his late forties, though.  Most distinguishable, however, was the tattoo on his neck.  I hadn’t noticed it in the store because he’d been wearing a turtleneck, but now it was mostly visible.  It looked like letters or perhaps numbers, but I couldn’t see it clearly from my car.  Either way, it seemed in stark contrast to his otherwise quite businesslike appearance.

I haven’t left my house since that day, but the possibility of this threat suddenly showing up here is forever in my thoughts.  I now have a face to put with my fears.  I’m not sure that really makes me feel any better, though.

Until next time… 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fears and Trepidation


Over the past few days, I have been growing increasingly uncomfortable.  Not physically this time, but because of a couple of strange feelings that are gnawing at me.

Firstly, I am becoming more aware every day of how this Charlotte Hamm situation could be nothing more than an elaborate prank or worse.  Would it be out of the question for my enemies here in Pale Forest to create such a site to throw me off with false information?  Sure, Hamm hasn't yet contacted me, but can I truly trust anything she says when she finally does?  I still can't find even a shred of proof that she exists, so it's safe to assume Charlotte Hamm is a pseudonym either way.  This much secrecy definitely raises doubts.

My other vexation is most certainly seeing, and then writing about, Mayor Jack Huntley being at the mill the day I stuck onto the grounds.  No offense, believers, but in retrospect, I probably should have kept that much to myself.  If Huntley, a man of obvious means here in the city, were truly involved in something insidious, pointing it out over the Internet was probably a great way to get on his worst side.  It wouldn't surprise me if he'd had something to do with the person who broke into my old house.

Huntley has always been a little violent in his approach-- though the local paper prefers the term passionate.  One of this pet projects over the years has been closing Pale Forest off to outsiders, and he used this platform to win his position shortly after the mill closed most of its facilities.  He's decidedly "old guard" in that respect and he's managed to silence or simply run off most of his opposition.  If I'm now in his cross-hairs, its really my own doing.  A part of me says that I'm just being paranoid, but the last few weeks have taught me to question everything and trust nothing.

I've been having a reoccurring dream the last few nights in which I am trapped in a very tight area.  There is next to no light except for a thin, straight sliver to my left.  I'm almost always on my back and though I can barely move, stretching allows me to feel the walls on every side.  Banging on these does no good and screaming produces only a muffled sound.  Finally, after several agonizing, claustrophobic minutes, one of the walls suddenly rises and I realize where I am: the trunk of a car, bound and gagged.  Light comes pouring in, and as I squint, the laughing face of Jack Huntley taunts me.  It isn't really Huntley, though-- this version is greatly deformed and his eyes appear have been gouged out.  Despite the fact this horror is not at all how he actually looks, subconsciously I know it's him.  Thankfully, I always wake right as he reaches for me.

Nightmares obviously can't to actual harm-- except for, perhaps, depriving a person of sleep-- but the risk in this case seems all too real.  I'm not going to stop what I'm doing, but the idea of the most powerful people in Pale Forest wanting me out does cause me more than a little stress.  Hopefully tonight will be more restful.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Help from Unexpected Places


Thanks to many of you and your efforts, we've completed the story that Charlotte Hamm started here with her post!  The rest was found by solving puzzles on the site she linked,  They were fairly tricky, but you made short work of them.  After the last puzzle, there was an email address that replied with the actual end of the story and a link to Hamm's Facebook where she promised to help me. I am grateful to each and over one of you that assisted in getting this done; it would have taken me far longer on my own.

Here is the completed story, in case you hadn't gotten a chance to read it.  I have preserved the way it was broken up by adding asterisks in between sections.

 The Room Beneath St. Matthew
“It’s down here,” Jimmy gulped.  His eyes had a sort of madness in them and his voice was shrill, even for a teenager. “Well of course it is—where else would it be?”  Father Irby was clearly annoyed.  Jimmy Donovan was a silly boy who told silly stories, and this latest interruption had deprived the priest of Shirley Connor’s hospitality, including her famous shepherd’s pie.  More than his stomach had been left to grumble. “Sorry, that was stupid,” Jimmy responded without looking back.  He seemed only partially aware of the cranky, older man trailing behind him as he weaved his way through the various crates and stacks of books in St. Matthew’s cellar.  He stopped at the far wall. “Well?” Father Irby scowled. Jimmy took a deep breath to steady himself.  “Ok, so I’ve been down here cleaning the last few days because my parents volunteered me last week in mass.” Irby smiled plaintively.  “Your parents do like having you around St. Matthew, yes.” “Well, I’d just about finished the front part here when I heard something strange.” “What exactly?” “Kind of a whistling noise from somewhere over here, near this bookcase.  It sounded like wind coming through the hall somehow.” “And?” Irby was finding it difficult to mask his impatience with the teenager. “But that’s just it, Father Irby!  There aren’t any windows down here.  Where was the wind coming from?” Irby frowned.  “This church is over one-hundred years old, Mr. Donovan.  I’m sure it’s acquired more than a few drafts.” Jimmy nodded, but the adrenalin refused to retreat from his eyes.  “That’s what I thought at first, too.  But then I followed the sound over to here.”  He stopped to tap on one of the lower shelves.  The returning sound was somewhat hollow.  “I think this one’s fake, but I didn’t want to take it down without you knowing.  I wouldn’t want to make you mad at me.” The old priest grinned at the boy’s naivety.  “I can’t say I understand why you thought this was important, but I’ll play along.  Come on.”   Taking ahold of the hollow plank, Irby and Jimmy began to pull.  At first they did so gently, out of respect for the case’s age, but when it refused to budge, they were inclined to apply a bit more force.  Eventually the tired, old nails gave way, causing both of its assailants to stumble backwards. Steadying his legs, Irby was at a loss for words.  There, where the wood used to be, was a row of dials set in what appeared to be gold!  They were made right into the shelf’s frame.  “What on earth...” Jimmy was already inspecting them.  “Well I didn’t think we’d find this.  What do guess they are?” “I haven’t the slightest idea,” Irby admitted.  “They do appear quite old, though.”  He ran his fingers over the cold, metallic surface of the dials.  Though there was no doubt they’d been here for untold years, the letter embossed on each glimmered in the dim cellar light.  Irby rotated one, producing another letter.  There seemed to be six options for each of the five dials.  Perhaps they were meant to spell something.   Jimmy appeared to be mulling the situation as well.  “Do you think they’re some kind of lock?” The idea had crossed Father Irby’s mind, too.  If there was some sort of door hidden by bookcase, that could explain the whistling sound Jimmy had heard.  But what was behind the case and how could it be opened?
Neither Jimmy nor Father Irby knew exactly how the answer had come to them, but both had thought of the riddle and its solution without being prompted.  Jimmy had spoken it first, but Irby turned the dials almost in lockstep.  This strange fact aside, their curiosity was far too great to turn back now.  With a click, the door had opened, and they had pushed through into the shadows of centuries past. Jimmy turned on a flashlight he’d been using while clearing the cellar out.  Now illuminated, the hallway where they stood looked radically different than St. Matthew.  The corridor was made of stone, but it seemed far more ancient than even the old, Catholic church, and the floor was covered in the dust of many centuries.   Jagged edges of mismatching stone adorned the walls, grabbing at their sleeves as they made their way down a hallway and around a tight corner.  Here the way was once more barred, this time by a door in plain sight.  It was large, sturdy, and studded with metal but lacked any semblance of a handle or key hole. Irby pushed it with his shoulder.  “Locked,” he groaned.  “Though that’s really not surprising.” “Where do you think we are?” Jimmy asked, finally forcing them both to confront the insanity of what was actually happening. “Well, we’re definitely in some portion of St. Matthew, but I’m as surprised as you to find out any of this exists.  I’ve been here for thirty-five years, and no one has so much as mentioned a hidden passageway.” “I bet we’re the first people to come down here in maybe a hundred years!” Jimmy mused, his eyes growing to the size of half-dollars at the thought. Father Irby sneered.  “I doubt that.  Someone has to know… right?”   That the question had been rhetorical meant little to Jimmy.  “No way.  People around here can’t keep a secret.  If anyone knew, everyone would have.” “That’s a fair point,” Irby conceded.  “But either way, it looks as if we’ll not be going any further tonight.  That door isn’t going to budge.” “Do you think there might be some other way to open it?” “Such as?” Jimmy shrugged.  “I dunno.  It just seems like there should be.  The dials opened the other, right?  There has to be some trick to this one, too.” Though the teenager’s know-it-all attitude annoyed him, Irby found he couldn’t help but agree.  This was all very strange, and perhaps it was simply the desire to see what was on the other side of the door, but it did seem there had to be a way.  Turning back now without even trying would be foolish. “Maybe,” Jimmy began with the look on his face people get when they’re about to say something crazy, “there’s some sort of phrase we have to speak.” Irby gave him an odd look.  The locking mechanism on the shelf had been cryptic but also manifest.  “What, you mean like ‘open sesame’?” he chided.   Jimmy’s faced turned red, though it was hard to tell in the dark.  “It seems crazy, sure, but it just feels… right.” Did it?  Irby wasn’t certain, but suddenly, despite all rational thought, the idea made sense.  To admit his realization was difficult though—he had an obligation to be the mature, leader in all of this.  Perhaps he’d let the teenager attempt to solve the riddle first before stepping in to help.
“Do you actually know the language you were just speaking?” Irby had a look of immense confusion on his face.  “No…” Jimmy stammered.  He was shocked at how quickly the words had come to him as well, but their meaning wasn’t important.  Only the effect mattered now; the door had responded to his chant with one, long, violent shake before producing the telltale sound of a lock triggering within.Irby cautiously opened it before gasping at the sight before him.  They were now standing in the middle of a large, circular room, its walls covered in what appeared to be human skulls!  It was somewhat sickening.Jimmy, who had literally jumped, could barely speak.  “What is this?”“I believe I’ve seen similar things, Jimmy,” the priest pondered, “when I was in Paris.”  Irby was referring to the catacombs, and already his mind was filled with incredible ideas.  If this was the same type of place, there might be all sorts of ancient, religious relics here in St. Matthew!  But why would something of this nature exist here in Massachusetts?Pricking his courage, Jimmy forced himself into the macabre room.  “I’m beginning to wish I’d never found that fake shelf, Father Irby.  This is all too weird.”“What?” Irby felt an enmity towards the teenager’s ignorance.  “How can you say something so stupid?  We’re here on what could be the precipice of a great discovery and you’re scared!”“I wouldn’t say I’m scared…”“Oh, you wouldn’t, eh?” Irby interrupted.  “Then how exactly would you describe your sudden timidity?  Shameful!”Jimmy shrank back, clearly wounded by the priest’s hostility.  “I just meant this seems dangerous, that’s all.  We don’t really know what’s down here.”Irby blinked once or twice, composing himself.  He wasn’t really sure why Jimmy’s completely understandable reaction had set him off, but now he felt somewhat embarrassed.  “No, you’re right.  I don’t know what came over me.  I guess I’m just excited about the truly remarkable discovery you’ve made.  I apologize for snapping like that.”“It’s OK,” Jimmy said with a feeble smile.“Now let’s see if there’s any reason for being down here.  If not, we’ll leave right away.  I promise.”But any hope Jimmy may have had of a hasty exit was soon shattered, as a quick investigation of their surroundings produced two items of great interest.  The first, a wall covered in strange symbols, seemed like a lost cause as there was no way of interpreting them.  Thus it was quickly abandoned for an even more amazing sight: an ancient, stone chest resting upon a small platform!  It looked as if it must weigh hundreds of pounds.  The tantalizing promise of what it might contain was almost too much for Irby to bear.  “How do we open it…” he repeated to himself more than once as he stared lustily at its seemingly impenetrable facade.“Father Irby?”  There was a sense of urgency in the teenager’s voice.  “Are you all right?”The same anger flashed in Irby’s face, but he was able to stifle it this time despite the meddlesome boy’s best efforts to infuriate him.  “Yes, I’m fine, Jimmy.  I’m simply trying to discover a way in which I might open this chest.  Now, if you don’t have any suggestions, perhaps you should stand back.”Jimmy nodded but didn’t budge, prompting a derisive look from the priest.  After a moment, the teenager seemed to gather his courage to speak.  “Maybe it has something to do with the marks on the back of the chest.”Irby stopped to glare at Jimmy before walking around to where the teenager had been standing across from him.  Sure enough, there were ten symbols emblazoned in the stone.  Though he didn’t recognize them, their purpose seemed evident.  Pressing one, it sunk into the chest slightly, as if on a spring, before returning to its previous position. Now he just needed the correct sequence.
The order having been solved, as all the other puzzles had, the chest’s lock flipped up without any effort.  The lid, however, wasn’t so cooperative.  It took all of their combined strength to lift it enough for the stone to finally slide backwards and off the platform.  It struck the floor with a violent crash, rattling the room and causing small rocks to plink down on both intruders. With an almost eerie quickness, Father Irby descended on the now vulnerable container.  Its contents were mostly old scrolls and odd looking coins, which generally would have been of great interest to the priest.  For now, however, he seemed wholly disinterested as he feverishly tossed them to and fro. “What are you doing?” Jimmy asked.  He was clearly becoming worried for the older man. Without looking back, Irby, disdain dripping from his every word replied, “Not that you would understand, but there’s something here in this chest that needs to be found.  I can feel it.” Jimmy began pacing the room.  He could tell Irby was acting strangely but he was unsure how to rebuke someone he held in such esteem.  Honestly, he wanted little more than to run from that place, but he didn’t dare leave the older man alone in this state.  “Do you want help?” he finally asked, though it wasn’t what he had resolved to say in his mind. Irby scoffed but said nothing; he wasn’t about to let Jimmy steal his moment of glory.  The priest couldn’t believe the teenager thought he could trick him with such an obvious gesture.  It was downright insulting. Undeterred, Jimmy crept in a little closer to where Irby’s pudgy arms could be seen flailing in and out of the chest.  By now the priest was leaned over, obscuring his face.  Jimmy was just able to make out a steady stream of muttering coming from within.  It made him intensely uneasy. Just then, Irby burst from the remains of what he hadn’t yet strewn upon the floor.  He had a wicked grin on his face and in his had he held a strange, golden object.  It looked a little like a large magnifying glass with a pentagram where the lens should have been.  Though obviously valuable, the very sight of it made Jimmy feel sick. The priest had no such reservations.  Cackling, he began waving it around the room in triumph, producing odd, disorganized tones.  Jeering, he even shook it right in the teenager’s face as he danced about. Jimmy, now actually frightened by the spectacle in front of him, pleaded with the priest.  “Father Irby, please!  You’ve got what you wanted—let’s just go!” “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” the priest suddenly stopped his gyrations to announce. “Yes, I really would!” It was an honest answer, though he doubted very much that Irby would listen. “Oh, we will!” the priest unexpectedly agreed.  “But first, this temple has something to tell us!  We mustn’t go before we hear; that would be rude!” Jimmy wanted to protest, to insist they leave right away, but he couldn’t.  Deep inside he knew Father Irby was right.  He’d been fighting it, but there truly was something they we supposed to learn from all of this.  And now they had the ability to do so. The teenager walked carefully over to where Irby was standing by the strange symbols. He appeared to be trying to use the relic from the chest to interpret them but hasn’t having any luck.  Jimmy knew why.  “You aren’t using that the right way.” Irby spun his head around to face the interruption with inhuman quickness, startling Jimmy.  His eyes looked almost hollow and he spoke in what could best be described as a hiss.  “I don’t understand!  This is supposed to be my moment, yet I have to listen to this insipid usurper!”  He seemed to be looking right through Jimmy as he spoke.  “But… if he could help, then...  Yes, it might be worth a try.”  His eyes, their huge pupils pulsing, finally made contacted with Jimmy’s own.  “Show me what you know!  Quickly!” Instinctively, the teenager reached for the relic.  Though he did not do so without a great deal of reluctance, Irby eventually conceded.  Remembering the sounds it had produced when the priest shook it, the teenager held it beside the first symbol extruding from the wall.  Drawing it back, he struck the golden block, eliciting a tone that seemed more complete than what the relic had been able to make on its own.  Deep inside, the note spoke to him and he understood. Now he needed to see what the rest of the symbols had to say.
Darkness more profound than anything he had ever experienced came over Father Irby at the conclusion of the last note.  It seemed to bubble up from the recesses of the worst of his fears and hatreds, consuming him.  He knew what it wanted, and though he desired to please the evil now pervading his mind, there was a part, however small, that resisted. Through the haze of malevolence, Irby saw Jimmy still standing by the last of the symbols.  He seemed oblivious to what they had truly meant.  Theirs was the gift of insight—wisdom beyond all worldly comprehension.  That was the secret of the temple below St. Matthew, buried for what it offered and the cost of its education.  For this knowledge would not be imparted without sacrifice.  Irby knew this.  The notes described their bargain, the terms of which were almost too horrendous for the priest’s mind to bear. To fulfill his end would be so simple.  The boy, oblivious to the higher power at work, would not see it coming.  Already Irby felt the strength of the temple flowing through him; one strike would surely be enough.  And then the ritual could begin and he would be granted everything he’d ever desired. But that one, nagging part of him would not relent.  This wasn’t right, it told him.  Nothing was worth this atrocity. So it went, this internal struggle for the soul of Father William Irby.  Though it lasted but a few seconds in actuality, the battle was an eternity’s worth.  The sides were obvious: the promise of omniscience verses the righteousness by which he had tried to live his life.  To accept the promise of the temple seemed the obvious and easy choice, but the sacrifice was more than just the teenager’s life.  Irby would be forced to give up his very humanity. In the end, the shadow was cast down and Irby resisted the greatest temptation he would ever face.  He’d not shed innocent blood, nor would he play the role of a modern day Eve by accepting the devil’s counsel.  The corruption beaten, it left him there on the floor, weakened, but clear of mind and conscience.
Seizing on an opportunity, the attack came swiftly.  The blow was singular but fatal.  There had been no attempt to block the assault, and now the lifeless body lay broken upon the temple floor. Jimmy Donovan stood over his would be adversary, a smile on his face.  The old man had truly gotten just as he had deserved.  It was almost infuriating to think Irby had truly believed the temple had chosen him as its acolyte.  Hadn’t it been Jimmy who’d solved every riddle, uncovered every secret?  But he mustn’t be too angry at the priest.  After all, this arrogance had been his undoing in the end. Jimmy, unlike Father Irby, had made peace with the sacrifice, and he had eagerly agreed to carry out the temple’s request.  He had seen the doubt in Irby’s eyes as he wrestled with the same decision.  And it was then he knew he’d won.  The power here demanded absolute submission—Irby’s wavering had cost him his chance and sealed the teenager’s victory.  The priest’s final act of pride was believing he could simply refuse and then walk away.  Jimmy had known better. As he began the ritual, one that would bind him to powers from realms beyond our own, Jimmy was overcome by the feeling of destiny.  He had not mistakenly discovered this temple while cleaning; the temple, and the forces within it, had found him. And now his eyes truly would be open to what the temple had to show him.
Charlotte mentioned in her Facebook post to us that we'd be faced with similar decisions as the characters in the story if we kept probing into Pale Forest.  I'm willing to do so regardless, so I hope you are too.  With her help, maybe we can begin to finally make some real progress.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Room Beneath St. Matthew


Late last night, the author or several short stories I've posted on this blog left a comment for my previous post, The Visitor.  I have of course been trying to find out who Charlotte Hamm is since I read "The Monster on Browning Street" and noticed its similarities to Pale Forest, but had up until now lacked any real success.

Now she seems to have found me.

Here is what she posted:

The Room Beneath St. Matthew 
                “It’s down here,” Jimmy gulped.  His eyes had a sort of madness in them and his voice was shrill, even for a teenager.
                “Well of course it is—where else would it be?”  Father Irby was clearly annoyed.  Jimmy Donovan was a silly boy who told silly stories, and this latest interruption had deprived the priest of Shirley Connor’s hospitality, including her famous shepherd’s pie.  More than his stomach had been left to grumble.
                “Sorry, that was stupid,” Jimmy responded without looking back.  He seemed only partially aware of the cranky, older man trailing behind him as he weaved his way through the various crates and stacks of books in St. Matthew’s cellar.  He stopped at the far wall.
                “Well?” Father Irby scowled.
                Jimmy took a deep breath to steady himself.  “Ok, so I’ve been down here cleaning the last few days because my parents volunteered me last week in mass.”
                Irby smiled plaintively.  “Your parents do like having you around St. Matthew, yes.”
                “Well, I’d just about finished the front part here when I heard something strange.”
                “What exactly?”
                “Kind of a whistling noise from somewhere over here, near this bookcase.  It sounded like wind coming through the hall somehow.”
                “And?” Irby was finding it difficult to mask his impatience with the teenager.
                “But that’s just it, Father Irby!  There aren’t any windows down here.  Where was the wind coming from?”
                Irby frowned.  “This church is over one-hundred years old, Mr. Donovan.  I’m sure it’s acquired more than a few drafts.”
                Jimmy nodded, but the adrenalin refused to retreat from his eyes.  “That’s what I thought at first, too.  But then I followed the sound over to here.”  He stopped to tap on one of the lower shelves.  The returning sound was somewhat hollow.  “I think this one’s fake, but I didn’t want to take it down without you knowing.  I wouldn’t want to make you mad at me.”
                The old priest grinned at the boy’s naivety.  “I can’t say I understand why you thought this was important, but I’ll play along.  Come on.”
                Taking ahold of the hollow plank, Irby and Jimmy began to pull.  At first they did so gently, out of respect for the case’s age, but when it refused to budge, they were inclined to apply a bit more force.  Eventually the tired, old nails gave way, causing both of its assailants to stumble backwards.
                Steadying his legs, Irby was at a loss for words.  There, where the wood used to be, was a row of dials set in what appeared to be gold!  They were made right into the shelf’s frame.  “What on earth...”
                Jimmy was already inspecting them.  “Well I didn’t think we’d find this.  What do guess they are?”
                “I haven’t the slightest idea,” Irby admitted.  “They do appear quite old, though.”  He ran his fingers over the cold, metallic surface of the dials.  Though there was no doubt they’d been here for untold years, the letter embossed on each glimmered in the dim cellar light.  Irby rotated one, producing another letter.  There seemed to be six options for each of the five dials.  Perhaps they were meant to spell something.
                Jimmy appeared to be mulling the situation as well.  “Do you think they’re some kind of lock?”
                The idea had crossed Father Irby’s mind, too.  If there was some sort of door hidden by bookcase, that could explain the whistling sound Jimmy had heard.  But what was behind the case and how could it be opened? 
This appears to be the beginning of a story, but the link points to the church's site with no mention of anything from her narrative.  The website is almost certainly fake, but that's really all I noticed upon a cursory glance.  I will of course be looking into this more today, keeping in mind the very real possibility that it's simply a prank.

I'd appreciate you help too, though, believers.  The more quickly we figure this out, the sooner we can either move forward with the information we glean from it or discard it without wasting too much time.

Until next time...

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Visitor


Last night, something unnerving happened and I felt I had to tell you about it.

I was working late, at my computer, when an instant message arrived.  I don't use the service much, but I do leave it open so I can maintain the impersonal relationships with college friends, business associates, etc, that we've all become so very adept at.  It hardly seemed a strange thing as I clicked over to the chat box.

There was only a single question waiting for me.  "Having a nice night?" it asked.  I did not recognize the sender, so it meant little to me and I chose not to reply.

A few minutes later, however, the same person sent me another IM.  This one read, "Don't ignore me", which was a little creepier.  Still, I wasn't about to engage this person in conversation, so I blocked the user and tried to push it from my mind.

Ten minutes passes and I was beginning to feel secure when my phone buzzed.  The number was foreign to me but the text, which read "Now you've offended me", was obviously from the same person.

At this point I was becoming panicked.  Every noise conjured images of madmen sneaking in windows and I couldn't help but look behind me every so often as I sat at my computer.  The familiar feeling of being watched that I had thought to leave at my old house came flooding back.  This paranoia was no doubt the intent of the messages, but rational thought was becoming harder to come by.

I had just gotten up to get out of the house when the phone began vibrating again.  Hesitantly I tapped at the notification, adrenalin surging through my blood.  "I have something to show you," it stated, the implication clear.

"Who are you?" I responded, fumbling over the keys.

Almost immediately the next text came.  "I'll show you."

The next several seconds were painful as I sat in my living room floor, expecting a knock on my door or even a sudden shadow in the hallway.  Thankfully, there was nothing but silence.  Even that seemed to stir the dark thought in my mind, though.

A few minutes later I received the last text.  "Sleep soundly," it jeered.  I of course did not.

I convinced myself it was merely a scare tactic.  That is, until I drove by my old house today.  Even from my car I could tell the front door had been forced.  I couldn't bring myself to go inside, but I doubt anything was taken.

If this is tied to the blog, I am confused.  How could someone following me through this site not know I had moved?  Perhaps they thought I was lying to confuse them.  Thankfully I was not.  If nothing else, this experience has made me even more determined to maintain my secrecy here in Pale Forest from now on.  That might make things inconvenient at times, but it's preferable to meeting this man in person some day.

Until next time...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Caught in the Act


My absence since Wednesday was not by choice. As I had mentioned, my plan for yesterday involved sneaking into a facility to procure information. I was hoping that this would go without a hitch, but that would have been too simple I suppose.

First, let me state that my target was the mill. I intended to start big in my new found bravado, though maybe that was foolish. The idea was simple: I'd wait until the mill workers were on their lunch break and then sneak in. I would have waited until the damn place closed, but as we've discussed before, they seem to run all night.

I arrived at the mill at about noon, not sure of then they would take their break. When one-thirty came, I was feeling pretty restless. The thought that they might not ever take a true lunch had at this point crossed my mind. Still, with the small crew they now have operating the facility, it seemed logical that at least most of them would eventually stop to eat. Eventually, however, I gave up on this being the case.

Now I had a decision. Leaving seemed the wisest idea; with them all there and working, the odds of being seen were pretty high. Despite the prudent nature of this option, my pride wouldn't allow it. I had come with the goal of getting inside the mill, and I would do just that regardless of the risk.

I spent the next half hour looking for a reasonable place to enter. Obviously the main gate wasn't going to work. Eventually I made my way around the back and found an outcropping that went up slightly higher than the wall surrounding the mill. I am no athlete, so shambling up the rocks wasn't easy but I did make it after several exhausting minutes. This still left me with the problem of getting back down on the other side. Thankfully this prospect had occurred to me and I had brought rope. I made very certain there was no one in the immediate vicinity before I repelled down the opposite side of the wall.

Once inside, I admit I felt a rush of adrenalin. I'd never done anything like this, after all, and perhaps I was making it into too much of an adventure in my mind. This probably led me to be less guarded than I should have been.

Anyway, I now set about the task of seeing just what was going on inside the mill. The production of paper does not need to be done 24/7. Keeping low (I'm not sure this really helps-- guards are probably just as likely to see a bent-over intruder), I made my way around the back of the facility. Pale Forest's mill consists of several buildings, as I've pointed out before, and I knew the majority of the workers would be in the main one in the center of the compound. Hopefully the others would thus be left to me.

The first structure I came to appeared to be a storage facility. This, unfortunately, was confirmed when I managed to force the door. There was only a couple of rooms, one filled with vats of foul smelling chemicals (presumably for bleaching/creating the paper), and the other housing many empty boxes. There was little of interest.

Leaving, I next made my way to a silo type building. It was also locked, but thankfully I looked through the window before attempting to break inside. There was a man in the front room, sleeping at his desk! I couldn't quite see what the silo contained from my vantage point, but there was only one entrance and no other windows. This was my first frustration.

The second came soon after as I darted from the silo towards the main building. Right as I was no more than twenty yards away, the front gate opened, and a car began making its way towards me! Quickly ducking behind a dumpster, I was confident I'd avoided detection.

As I watched, the car, a long, brown sedan, came to a rolling stop out in front of the main building. By now, a couple of men had emerged from the mill to greet the visitors. I recognized one of them as Stanley Fouts, the mill foreman. He's a large man, but quite old. He was with the mill back when my father started, though he wasn't yet in any position of power. It wasn't strange to see him there, though-- he is the foreman. I was far more interested in the person driving the sedan: Pale Forest mayor, Jack Huntley. Why he would come to the mill in the middle of the day was confounding.

I wish they had said more than their greetings there in the open. They soon disappeared into the mill leaving me to crawl out from my hiding place, confused. For a moment I contemplated following them inside, but I didn't get the chance to act on that instinct. Behind me a grinding sound had started, startling in its sudden emergence. Though it had begun as a low hum, within a few moments it had grown to almost unbearable levels! It was, of course, the one I had heard previously at the mill-- similar to the one from my youth, yet less organic. I grabbed my ears to try and block it out, but it must have been coming from someplace very close and I couldn't even think. I began to feel sick and my head pounded, but I knew I had to get out. Breaking into a sprint, I ran full speed towards the rope I had left attached to the top of the wall. In my haste, however, I must have hit an uneven patch of ground. I vaguely remember falling and then rolling, but the grinding had become a maelstrom in my head and I think I must have blacked out.

I came to with a ring of what appeared to be aliens surrounding me. I started to scream, but my mind began clearing and I recognized the beings as human. They were wearing odd suits that covered their features and made them quite frightening. The entire experience was rather surreal to say the least.

Fouts was not at all pleased with my trespassing. His men (I was later told they were wearing hazmat suits to protect against a chemical spill) dragged me to him and then detained me while the police came. I then spent the rest of Wednesday in lockup before I was able to post bail. I will eventually have to answer for the changes, but for now I am free to do as I please.

Despite what appears at surface level to be a failure, I am not disheartened. The trip, though ultimately doomed, did give me what I consider valuable leads to pursue.

  • What was inside the silo?
  • Why was Jack Huntley there in the middle of the day?
  • What is the purpose of the grinding sound?
  • Were the worker's suits really to protect against chemicals?

These are all parts of the larger picture, and though I don't yet have answers, they present paths to pursue that I wasn't previously aware of. This will certainly give me plenty to look into over the next few weeks. As long as I don't wind up in jail for any of this.

Hopefully the cost of their discovery doesn't wind up outweighing the importance.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New House, New Plan


Just a short update today on my situation. Firstly, thank you for all of the well wishes; I am feeling much better already. This is in no small part, I believe, thanks to me getting out of my old house and moving to another, more secretive location. I am trying not to be too paranoid, but I must admit that a very large part of me is incredibly relieved to be away from a situation in which I felt I was being watched constantly. Though I am still wary of those in Pale Forest who'd like for this blog to end, I am feeling more like I have a chance to conduct my investigation in peace now.

To that end, I will be visiting a few places over the next week that I initially did not wish to step foot in. The realization I have to push through my fear to discover what I'm looking for is becoming more clear to me. There are just too many questions that simply can't be answered in a library or over the Internet, and right now I'm the only one who can take care of this in person. Hopefully there is still help to come from somewhere, but if there isn't, I'm prepared to do what it takes regardless.

 I'm surprised, though, by how much your support helps me with this task. The people of this city have no intentions of being anything but obstacles, but chronicling my research with you believers let's me know that I'm not truly alone. Thank you for that.

Tomorrow is an important day, but not for the reason it is for many of you (Pale Forest doesn't really celebrate Valentine's Day). Instead of buying chocolates and cards, I'll hopefully get some of the evidence I need to really start figuring this out. I can't really say where I'll be-- it's pretty obvious that not everyone who reads this blog wants me to succeed-- but I'll post my success afterwards. If you don't hear from me, it will probably be safe to assume I didn't get in and out undetected and I'm in jail (or worse).

Until next time (hopefully tomorrow)...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bumps in the Night


This morning I awoke from my fitful sleep and, after clearing my head, immediately began playing back the audio recording made during the night.  It was mostly the usual sounds of slumber-- the bed creaking, breathing, etc.  This in fact went on for hours.  I listened, my attention drifting as I went about the start of my day.  Then, about four and a half hours in (making the time roughly half past three), an few odd sounds joined the normal ones.

I have uploaded the audio so that you can listen as well, followed by a short interpretation of what I think we are hearing in the recording.

  • 0:06: This sounds like me rolling over and can be used to get an idea of the volume of everything in the clip
  • 0:18 - 0:23: This breathing is definitely me, thankfully.  It is labored due to being sick.
  • 0:24: This, again, is me coughing.  I hope it didn't startle anyone...
  • 0:38: The scratching sound begins and runs for almost 30 seconds.
  • 1:03: There is a loud, "thump" sound.

After that, the unidentified noises stopped.  I will spare you more audio of my snoring/coughing.

The sounds are obviously very troubling.  I have no clue what the scratching could be, but it is what I described vaguely remembering in my past post.  I don't own any animals, so it can't be something of that nature.  It is loud enough to hear quite plainly and sounds organic, though not really familiar in any way.

The thump is also frightening.  It sounds for all the world like my door, as if it had been barely cracked and then quickly closed again.  I remember starting a bit in my sleep last night; was this the cause?

I have decided not to tempt fate.  With an obvious backlash in Pale Forest over this blog, staying here isn't a wise choice.  Thankfully a friend (perhaps my last here) has volunteered to let me stay elsewhere.  I will hence be keeping my whereabouts secret.  Hopefully these sounds-- and this damn illness-- won't be joining me in my new location.

Until next time...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Under the Weather


The past week has been difficult as I find myself suffering from some strange illness.

For the past few weeks, I have had headaches with some regularity, but now they've been joined by a collection of more troubling symptoms.  What's more, over-the-counter remedies don't seem to have much affect.  Thus I have felt too poorly to do much investigating.

Mostly I have laid in my bed, partially awake in a sort of fevered delirium.  I am sure many of you have experienced something similar-- an out of body feeling, as if watching yourself try to sleep.

Worse yet, I have found that my focus when in this state is on the door to my bedroom.  For some reason, my mind, though not in a fully functional state, seems to expect something to come through it at any moment.  I am just partially aware of this fixation during the night (given my general comatose), but I recall the sensation of being deathly afraid after I wake.

In the light of day, I am of course embarrassed by my subconscious's childish fear.  But each night brings the same, primal apprehension.  I am hoping it is nothing more than the product of an elevated temperature, but I swear I vaguely remember creaking sounds the past two nights.  This has caused me more grief than I care to admit.

Rolling over on my side to avert my gaze from the door hasn't been successful, either.  I must be involuntarily pitching on to my back again during the night to assist in breathing.

To help me literally rest assured, I've decided to setup a tape recorder tonight and see if I am imagining the sound.  I will let you all know the results tomorrow.

Until next time...

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Cavern's Lights


As promised, here is a story I read about Black Path Caverns when I was younger.  Notice that some of the references seem right out of the same mythos as the rest of Pale Forest.  The author is unknown, and we've always assumed it was fiction, though no one ever knew for sure.

The Cavern's Lights 
I remember my first trip to the cave.  I was only fourteen, but my dad had been many times and finally gotten around to taking me with him.  He was something of a “weekend spelunker”, I guess, and though the gene hadn’t been passed to my older brother, I was always fascinated by his stories of hidden passageways and subterranean rivers.  Now that I was actually here, I couldn’t wait to see everything for myself.
It was a little disappointing, then, when I realized that this first trip was to be limited in scale.  As I look back on it, plunging down into the depths of the caverns right away would have been potentially catastrophic, but the teenage me didn’t hold the same appreciation for my dad’s common sense.  Nevertheless, this was only a taste of things to come, serving to heighten my desire to know more about the world hidden from the sun.
Caving soon became the way my dad and I connected.  He was often busy at work, so spending time with my brother and I was difficult.  Here, lost in the labyrinthine tunnels, we were free to relate without the worries of the outside world.  It was if nothing else existed beyond us and the silent, stone walls.
Before too long, I was an expert within the confines of the cave.  Smaller than my dad, I was capable of wedging myself into areas that he couldn’t venture, exposing the cavern’s innermost secrets.  He of course protested to these solo missions at first, but later realized just how knowledgeable I had become and relented more often.  The pictures I often brought back didn’t hurt, either.
Eventually I “out-grew” my father.  My ability had eclipsed his, and I’d begun to see him as a sort of anchor.  I knew I’d never discover all the cave had to teach me with him holding me back.  That’s why at the age of seventeen, I began caving by myself—I’ve been doing so ever since.  No matter how often I return to the caves, though, I am always filled with nervous anticipation of new discoveries.
I am now twenty-five and my knowledge of the caves near my hometown is beyond any other living person.  I have seen things in the depths that no other eye has, a fact in which I take no small amount of satisfaction.  Some locations, however, I have shared with others as their beauty has compelled me to do so.  This, then, is my account of one such trip I took with an ex-girlfriend.
From the moment we arrived at the caverns, I could tell Sharon was anxious.  Whether this was because of the activity itself—she was a caver as well, but the risk associated with this particular descent was inherent—or the anticipation of what the weekend might hold between us, I wasn’t sure.  I should pause here to explain that I had been seeing Sharon for over a year at this point, and the general feeling was that we were creeping closer to a proposal on my part. I actually did have a ring with me, so her expectations, if she indeed had them, weren’t unfounded.  I remember putting my arm around her shoulders to try and reassure her.
“Don’t be scared.  I know this place really well,” I explained. 
She only nodded, but her attitude did perk up a bit after that.  I suspect my words played less of a role than my touch.
Our wristwatches were the only indication of how long we spent crawling through the cave’s meandering passageways that day, but I know it took hours.  Between the exertion itself and convincing Sharon to follow me into the suffocating darkness, I was exhausted when we finally stopped to rest.  So was she, but my promise that the trip would be worth the work had pushed us both along.  We were already well past the portion of the caves that she had seen and were now approaching areas that only I had ever mapped, so the break seemed well earned.  I took out a few small protein bars and spread a blanket on a flat portion of the cave floor.  Though we had often shown each other a great deal of “affection” while in the caves, today we found ourselves too weary to do much.  We had no such problems devouring the bars, however. 
To pass the time, I told Sharon several stories about my experiences in the cave.  She listened intently to all of them, but seemed the most interested in those dealing with the unexplained or frightening.  My story of a shadow that seemed to follow me through the tunnels one day brought squeals of delight, as did the mystery of a child’s laughter I’d heard in one small room.  Sharon seemed unsure of whether or not I was simply making them up, but, for my part, I wasn’t about to admit either way.
After a brief respite, we decided to push on towards our first destination: an underground grotto.  Sharon had often heard me speak of it, and since I’d assured her that we were no more than an hour away, we quickly picked up our threadbare camp and resumed our descent.  True to my word, we were soon staring into the shimmering surface of the most beautiful and untouched body of water we’d ever seen.  Illuminated by the single lamp I had brought along, it looked almost like glass.  Initially Sharon dipped a single toe as I began to strip, but soon after joined me.  Thanks to underground vents, the water was as warm as any hot tub and felt great on our sore muscles.  We spent several hours enjoying ourselves before climbing out and falling asleep wrapped around one another.
We reluctantly said farewell to the grotto some hours later and continued on towards our next point of interest.  This room I had also told Sharon of—deep in the caves sat a magnificent ballroom of sorts, held aloft by crystalline columns of stone.  It was not easy to reach; one had to shamble down a fissure in the cavern itself and then through several tight passages.  It took us around four hours from the time we’d left the grotto to reach it.  I watched as Sharon marveled at nature’s architecture.  She agreed that my stories had hardly done it justice.  I’d brought some actual food which we ate here in a kind of subterranean picnic.  Though the meal wasn’t fancy, the setting made it seem fit for royalty.  After a few pictures, we moved on towards more of my discoveries.
And so it went for hours.  We saw rivers and plunging falls, ornate stalactites, and even a hole I’d not thought to descend for the fumes that it emitted.  With every stop, Sharon and I grew to understand each other more.  Here were two kindred spirits in the one place they both could understand.  It was an amazing time for both of us.
Finally there was but one more stop on our tour.  The grand finale before returning to the surface.  This secret I had not told Sharon anything about, though she knew I was keeping something special for the end.  I only hoped she’d complete the arduous task of reaching it.  She almost backed out when we reached the water’s edge.
“What are we doing here?” she asked.  “We’ve seen rivers like this already.”
“True.  We’re going past this, though.”
“But how would we reach…” she paused as I handed her a snorkel.
After a few moments of insisting I wasn’t joking, followed by a few more of cajoling, she reluctantly agreed to the trip.  We packed most of our clothes in my waterproof pack before going under, and then set out with only our small, underwater flashlights to see.  Of course I could have gotten us there blindfolded, but I don’t think Sharon would have approved.
Eventually the trip through the murky waters required us to actually pass under a stone wall and swim briefly with the cavern directly overhead.  I am not at all claustrophobic, but this portion even gets to me at times.  I had not told Sharon about it beforehand.  As I had feared, she hesitated at this point and seemed ready to double back.  Not willing to let her miss out, I grabbed her by the hand and began pulling her along.  Though she resisted at first, Sharon did seem to realize I knew what I was doing and allowed me to lead.  The experience made me feel quite close to her.
Emerging on the other side, we both began to gasp for air and I hugged her close before she could bemoan my slight bit of treachery.  Switching off my flashlight, I whispered into her ear, “We’re here.”
She didn’t seem to notice the main attraction until after I had switched hers off as well.  Curiously, we could still see each other’s faces.  She gave me a quizzical look before looking up into the source of the faint, blue light filling the room.  Sharon gasped at the sight.
We were standing in an expansive dome, at least three stories high, the top of which was filled with dazzling orbs of light!  They seemed to float just beyond arm’s reach.
“It’s amazing,” she cooed.  “Like we’re outside, looking at the most beautiful night sky ever.”
This of course she knew to be impossible, but the description was accurate.  Remembering how I felt the first time I’d seen this seemingly impossible sight, I suggested we lay down and just stare at them for a while.  We did, and their hypnotic effect was just as I had remembered.
A half hour later—or perhaps more; we were quite drowsy—I finally got up the nerve to go through with the final part of my plan for the weekend. Reaching into my pocket, I fumbled for the ring I had brought along.  Producing it, I turned to face Sharon, the first person I’d thought enough of to bring here.
“I know about you and Scott.”
Sharon seemed startled from her restful state.  “Hmm?” she asked, dreamily.
I could feel the anger in my voice.  “Your ex, Scott.  I know.”
Sharon, still on her back, pushed up on her elbows.  “You know what?”
“You went to see him when I was out of town two weeks ago.”
Even in the darkness, I could sense the color running from her face.  “I think you’re confused…”
“Don’t lie to me!” I snapped.  “I found the messages!”
“What?  You went into my phone?”
Something horrible was welling up in me.  “You have no right to be self-righteous.  You cheated on me, remember?”
Sharon sat silently for a moment or two.  “Look,” she began, “it was a terrible mistake.  I’m so sorry.”  She reached for my arm but I pulled away which seemed to wound her.  “I don’t understand.”  I could tell she was about to begin crying.  “Why did you even bring me down here if…”
I knew what her pause meant.  “Oh don’t be ridiculous,” I scolded her.  “If I had planned some sort of revenge, I could have taken it at any time.”  The idea that I would hurt her actually stung.  I was not a violent person.
“Then why?”
I shrugged.  “Maybe I just wanted to see if there was anything to save.”  I took the ring and showed it to her.  “But I guess there isn’t.”  Chucking the ring across the cavern for effect, I got up to pack.
Then it happened.  Sharon, without a word, stood and began crossing the room towards the place where the ring had landed.  But she didn’t get there.  Within a dozen feet or so, she stopped, as if caught by something.  She immediately began to scream.
Cautiously I made my way out beside her, sidestepping the danger she had so foolishly missed.
“Help!” she yelled rather piteously.  “I’m…”
“Stuck?” I suggested.  She continued to writhe in front of me which only succeeded in causing the long, sticky thread to wind more tightly about her. “What would you have me do?”
Sharon had real fear in her eyes.  “Get me out of this… thing!  What is this?  Where did you bring me?”
Turning away, I smiled as I made my way back towards our blanket.  Behind me, the trap wound about Sharon’s face, silencing her screams.  This made it much more enjoyable to watch.
Glowworms are amazing creatures, I had always thought so.  But it wasn’t until I’d found these, that I’d fully understood just how fantastic they truly are.  At almost eight feet in length—or as best I could estimate—they were like nothing known to man.  What they normally ate, I shudder to imagine, but on this occasion they had me to thank for their meal.  I knew I’d never have been able to do it myself, after all, so perhaps I owed them a bit of gratitude as well. When it was all over and done with, I gathered our things and set out on the journey upwards.  
There have been questions about Sharon since that day, lingering doubts in people’s minds, but with no body or way to find her, they have all but faded completely.  And I am free to return to the caves almost daily, to plumb their depths and discover their secrets.
Maybe this makes my reluctance to hang around the cave for longer than I did a little more defensible.

Until next time...

Black Path Caverns


I'm embarrassed by the lack of anything compelling to share regarding my latest inquiries.  I had several theories to look into over the past few days, but nothing has panned out the way I had hoped.  In lieu of this, I thought perhaps I would post briefly about one of the more interesting places here in Pale Forest that I have not yet described.  I will do this from time to time in order to paint a more vivid picture, but today I will limit myself to one of the most foreboding locations I can think of: Black Path Caverns.

As a child I heard many frightening stories describing the caverns, but I never had the opportunity-- or the nerve-- to actually visit.  I must admit, after my first trip last weekend, I hope not to have to return.

About a mile outside of town, the main road forks.  Most people will remain on the paved portion, but those in seek of something more sinister will take a left, down a long and somewhat overgrown, dirt path.  This bumpy, unlit stretch is known rather charmingly as Skeleton's Walk  (due to how narrow it becomes at certain points). Of course, this is just what the morbid people of Pale Forest call it.  You won't find the road at all on GPS.

Skeleton's Walk

I had driven out here following a lead that was quickly squashed, but I did take a couple of photos for you to enjoy.  From the moment I arrived, my resolve began to waver.  The mouth of the caves looked as if it might swallow a person whole and there was an unnerving whistling sound coming from within.  Suddenly the terrible memory of ghost stories told to me when I was young came rushing to my mind (I'll try to find and post one of these later tonight in case you want a little bedtime reading).  That was enough for me, so I quickly found my way from the place before the sun could set.

The Cave's Mouth

I wish I weren't such a coward.

Until next time...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Notes from Nowhere


Yesterday I received an email from one of this blog's readers.  In it was detailed the man's own experiences with what he said was a similar evil to what I have written about.  I have omitted a portion of the email as it wasn't pertinent to his story, but I have included the tale in its entirety.  It would seem that there is in fact a small but vocal group, willing to share what they know.
I was only nine when I heard it for the first time.  It wasn't like a voice, mind you, but rather lilting notes that I understood to be the beginnings of a song.  Early on they seemed like little more than a creation of my own imagination.  But as the days passed and the tones grew more confident in their hold over me, I become aware of the fact they were originating from somewhere outside of my mind.
Within a few months the singular notes became less fragmented and random.  They were growing into something not quite melodic, but with a semblance of rhythm, that had a deeper meaning.  It was at this time that the song began to take shape and the notes gave birth to thought.
There was something haunting, even in its simplistic beginnings, that I was drawn too, but I did not entirely like the song.  My apprehension was useless, however.  I soon found that I could not ignore the notes when they came, which was with more regularity every day.  When I tried, they grew dark and frightening, so I eventually sat and listened.  Sometimes for hours.
My mother began to become worried about me.  I remember her telling my father how my behavior wasn't natural or healthy.  I don't recall his response; the song, as if aware it was being discussed, grew to drown them out. He mustn't have been too concerned, though, as I was left alone with the notes for several months longer.
By now the song had grown in strength and cohesiveness.  There was a melody that I was quite familiar with, but several harmonies had recently joined in, each with its own voice and demands.  While the first had simply desired my attention, these new additions were more insidious.  I was now being ordered to do things I would not otherwise have done.  The details of my sins I won't write; I am ashamed to include them.  Sufficed to say, they were not the usual, mostly harmless transgressions of a child.
My father was now obliged to agree with my mother's take on the situation and I was placed under the supervision of a child psychologist.  I remember her office smelled of old books and disinfectant.  She seemed genuinely interested in my story, though I suspect it was more for the oddity of it than anything else.  I can't say for certain how good at her job she really was, since I had only visited her for a few sessions when the notes in my head began keeping me awake at night.  The tune had grown uncharacteristically bright and excited.  I knew what they wanted and, after almost week of no sleep, I relented.  
It took firemen the better part of the day to extinguish the blaze I'd started in the psychologist's restroom.  Luckily no one was seriously hurt, but that was end of any therapy for me.
With no professionals willing to help, and facing the very serious allegations of arson, my parents were at their end of their rope.  They handled this in very different ways.  My father had resigned himself to the fact his son was a lost cause-- a bad seed that was better off behind lock and key.  My mother, however, had not given up hope.  She still loved her son, despite the evil growing inside of me, and was determined to save me from it.  Taking what little we had between us, mom and I left my father and found a place by ourselves where she felt she could help me.
The notes from nowhere saw this interference as unacceptable.
Not too long after we had moved, the song became unbearably depressing.  I remember crying for hours on end, though I didn't know why.  It was as if a funeral dirge had burrowed itself into every one of my thoughts.  My mother assumed my mood change was a result of my father's betrayal, but she was wrong.  The notes wanted me to do something horrible-- I just wasn't aware of what-- and I knew I was powerless to prevent it from eventually happening.
Deep down I think I had always known what the song demanded as a final act.  It wanted me to itself and there would always be an obstacle in the way.  I did not wish to do my mother harm, though, and I fought with the notes for weeks as the dirge grew more and more oppressive.  My spirit was broken and I had stopped eating.  Finally I gave up; if this was what the notes spoke to me, then I had to act.
Creeping from my bed one night, I crawled down the hall of our apartment like the loathsome creature I had become.  My mother's bedroom door creaked slightly as I pushed it open and slithered inside.  Raising up, I saw her, this woman that had not given up on me even though she probably should have.  She was asleep and completely unaware of the dangerous monster not more than five feet from her heart.  I began to weep.  The notes were pounding in my skull and I felt as if I were outside of myself, watching a horror movie play out.  The song reached crescendo.
That was the last time I looked upon my mother's face.  Fleeing through the night, I was terrified, but also overjoyed. My decision to leave had been difficult, but I had come face to face with the evil inside and resisted its call.  The notes were not pleased.  They alternated between furious and pleading, but I ignored them the best I could as I fled into-- and from-- the darkness.
I have been running ever since.  Though my victory that night saved my mother's life, I dare not return to her for fear that my resolve won't be as great this time.  I have learned to resist more often, but I admit I have done some truly monstrous things since that night as well.  The song is now a symphony, complete with overtures, discernible instruments, and a dissonance that is both compelling and horrible.  I have attempted to write it down several times, but the notes escape me and the chords are nothing more than white noise when played.  This is probably for the best.
I have accepted this curse will never leave me and I no longer wish to live with the knowledge of the things I have done to appease it.  For this reason, I decided some time ago to destroy the song, but it is aware of my intentions.  So far I have not succeeded in drowning it out, but eventually I will.  And then it will play no more, its notes finally silent.
And I will rest.

There have been no replies to my emails thus far, but I will continue to try and contact the author.  Should he respond, I will post what he has to say.

The outpouring of similar stories has been overwhelming thus far, believers.  I am not sure what to make of it all.  Is it possible they are all true and the story of Pale Forest is wider spread than I thought?  Perhaps.  I will be back soon with an update on my own detective work which will hopefully shed some light into all of this.

Until next time...