I wanted to put out an update to let people know what’s going on. If you follow me on social media, you probably already know about my run of bad luck! I haven’t had computer access for a while, so it was difficult to typing up anything more complicated than a status update.
Unfortunately, Anchorage, Alaska was hit by an earthquake last Friday– I was affected, but I’m fine aside from a messy apartment! There were no fatalities or major injuries, but lots of damage to infrastructure. Given the scale of the event, I’m really surprised and incredibly grateful. Things could have been so much worse!
As far as stories, art and narrations, I am going to wait until the semester ends before putting out more content, but I have a backlog of ideas and half-finished works I’ll be able to plow through when time permits.
Some good news: I’ve been published! Two of my stories have been included in the monster anthology Monstronomicon. (Book available in paperback and e-book on Amazon now!) Shiny, polished versions of “Pass It On” and “Another Reason to Quit Smoking” are included in the book. Profits from the book are being funneled towards funding a sizzle reel so the stories can be pitched as an anthology horror TV show.
There is also a Kickstarter campaign going right now, if you’re interested! (ending 12/31/2018). Different tiers have some really neat prizes, such as audiobooks and copies of the book. This is the first time I’ve been published, EVER, so this accomplishment has me smiling in spite of my circumstances.
Sometime in the next two weeks I plan on posting a creepy Christmas story, so keep an eye out for that! It’s already outlined, but I need to concentrate on my finals and group projects. I’ll be free for the semester in a week, then have a reduced workload for the spring semester (when I’ll GRADUATE!)
Things are looking up! Thank you everyone who has been showing so much love and support. I know that I’m very fortunate, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes!
[I previously posted this story on r/Nosleep and removed it because I’d been feeling insecure about it. I had called it ‘Unforgiven’, but am renaming it because that technically isn’t a word.
I recently found the story after thinking it was gone forever… and decided I’d go ahead and share it again!]
I wish she’d die.
That invasive thought came like it always did, as though it were set on a timer. It was finally morning, but I felt as though I’d been in a fist-fight with my nightmares. I was always tired, but I never wanted to sleep—the memories kept me up at night, then replayed while I slept. I had someone to blame—the woman who had hurt me. Even now that she was in prison, she managed to have some power over me. Justice hadn’t been served… if it had, I wouldn’t still be suffering… right?
I wish she’d die.
Maybe then I’d get the relief I needed. I stared up at the ceiling, internalizing that dark wish– one I’d never act on, because that would make me the villain. I had to pray instead that someone else would take care of it for me. That happened in prison all the time, didn’t it?
I closed my eyes, taking the prescribed deep breaths. I knew I was getting too worked up, and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. I counted each breath… Like the doctor told me to do, even though it didn’t work. I was even told not to think about it, not what happened… or my condition, as though somehow it might just go away. I tried to follow their instructions, but I couldn’t stop the thoughts, or the nightmares.
My bedside table was a chaotic display of fluorescent orange bottles and crunchy flowers. Prescriptions, and old bouquets from well-wishers who had long given up on me. People stop sending flowers when you take too long to get better… right around the time they stop caring. The dead flowers reminded me of that every day.
I wish she’d die.
I took my time getting out of bed, absently smoothing the sheets as though they weren’t ripped to shreds—evidence of the battles I fought even in my sleep. I grabbed my phone off the bedside table and skimmed through texts from my mother:
“Stop doing this.”
I hadn’t called her in months. I’d call her later, but first I needed to take a shower. The film of nightmares left my skin sticky, the long t-shirt sheer to the point of indecency. I felt disgusting! Taking a shower used to be a cure-all, I would always feel better when I was clean. It wasn’t so simple now because I never felt clean.
I gathered my towel, and a change of clothes before heading to the bathroom. I didn’t bother turning on the light, the high window in the room let the sun stream in just enough that I wasn’t stumbling around blind. As I brushed my teeth, I deliberately kept my eyes trained on the faucet so I wouldn’t have to see my face.
My phone started to vibrate again, more texts punctuated with an occasional call. I didn’t pick up. I didn’t want to talk to her because I wasn’t better yet. I knew she’d just tell me to snap out of it, like it really was that simple. What would answering her calls really accomplish? I’d only give her more reasons to worry. She didn’t understand what I was going through, what that woman had done to me.
I wish she’d die.
The lights flashed brightly, as if in response to my dark thought. In the darkness, the sudden intensity burned into my ill-adjusted eyes. It only lasted for a moment before the light winked out, leaving only the square of sunlight from the window. My first instinct was to rationalize it, but doubt quickened my pulse. Maybe I was just imagining things? I made sure to double check the switch, flipping it on and back off for good measure. Lately, I’d been prone to hallucinations so it wasn’t completely out of the question that I’d imagined it.
Trying to shake it off, I undressed and stepped into the shower. It didn’t take long before something strange happened—the shower curtain began to draw back. I caught it with my hand and tugged it back into place. Even though there was no one here, the thought of the curtain opening and letting anyone—even the mirror— see me, was enough to freak me out. I didn’t want to be seen; not by myself, not by anyone!
I tried to be dismissive, but it didn’t last. My hands were shaking as I reached for the faucet, ready to retreat back into my room and hide. Before I could, the curtain was ripped down and left spreading on the floor like a dark, pooling stain. Startled, I couldn’t help but scream! As I ran for the door… a woman materialized from shadow, someone I’d never seen before.
“Who–?” I shrieked, but before I could even finish the question she vanished, leaving me face to face with the mirror that I’d been avoiding. It was so dirty, far dirtier than it should have been—to the point it couldn’t even reflect. On its surface, written in the grime—a message:
The words sent chills through me. I tore my eyes away, more convinced that I needed to get away from this place before my mind cooked up even darker delusions.
“I’m having a nightmare.” I rarely spoke these days, to hear it under these circumstances was particularly jarring. I bolted, reaching for the door and cried out when I realized it was locked from the outside. At this point I was well beyond terror, throwing my shoulder against the door to break it down.
“No! This isn’t happening!”
I heard a sigh behind me; turning slowly, full of dread: there she was again, the woman I’d seen in front of the mirror. I knew she’d never left. Locking up with terror, I could only stare. There she stood, with dark hair that fell in the way that shadows do; her lips were violet, accentuated by bloodshot eyes. I could feel her contempt, judging this dark world of mine.
“What do you want?” I managed to ask her. She turned away from me, looking into the old mirror—perhaps she could see something in it that I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look in the mirror?” the question she asked caught me off guard. “You’ve neglected it completely.” As if she sympathized, she touched the tarnished frame—not even glancing my way. It was like she wasn’t here for me— she was here for the mirror.
I wish she’d die.
“I know. That’s not what I asked.” She’d heard the words I’d never spoken. I was caught off guard, leaning against the locked door.
“Well…” I felt compelled to reply, though the question was hard to answer. “I know I’m not who I used to be. I don’t want to see that.” If she found my answer strange, she gave no indication.
“I can make her die. You know the price.”
As she said so, the words sprang to mind: two graves– Hers… and mine. My grudge against the woman who ruined me had taken over my life. I had stopped living for anything else. In a sense, she had killed me. The person I was, and the person I could be—
Did it really have to be this way?
I didn’t know how I’d never asked that question. This fatal choice… I was being offered the revenge I’d wished for, but the price to pay was steep. I could choose that path, but was that what I really wanted?
Yes, the darker part of my heart cried. It held so much power over me, and yet–
“No… I won’t be her victim twice. I won’t follow her into Hell, she can go there herself.”
The apparition finally looked at me, she was smiling– softening into something less ominous. The mockery and contempt she wore dropped away like pretense.
“Yes… she will be judged, but not by you. If you continue down the path you’re on, you will be destroyed.” I knew she was right. My fixation on murder couldn’t possibly end well, I needed to move on with my life.
Before I could even finish the thought, the woman was gone. So was the darkness and filth that once filled my house.
I turned towards the mirror. For the first time… in a long time… I saw my reflection. I was still myself, there was no one who could have changed that— except for me. When the phone rang, I picked up and smiled into the receiver. The healing had begun, I knew I couldn’t shut myself away any longer.
“Hi mom… I’ve missed you too.”
I’ve always had an aversion to the cracks between things.
You know– tiny, dark spaces where a hand barely fits, but often ventures—in search of something lost. It’s always something important you lose in those places, isn’t it? Car keys, a watch, a cell phone—things that will have you groping the darkness without much thought.
The worst for me was the cracks in the couch, those narrow pockets of darkness. It wasn’t a rational fear, but knowing that didn’t help. I took measures to avoid searching there, obsessively keeping track of my things so I wouldn’t lose them in the first place.
For example, my keys always hung in the same place, and my cell phone was either charging or clipped to my pants. The television remote took a little more ingenuity; even though I had a place for it, it always had a way of ending up between the cushions. I’d know exactly where it was, and go fishing in the cracks with a pair of tongs because I couldn’t bear sticking my hand down there.
I was tired of living like that, I hated myself for being afraid of something so benign. I couldn’t help it though, I had an instinct that all the logic in the world couldn’t shake.
I thought I’d found the perfect solution when I found the string.
Braided neon nylon—I bought a spool of orange, the color of construction crews and traffic cones. I tied a string around the remote, leaving six feet of length to dangle and drape over the coffee table.
It worked beautifully.
The remote was always easy to find, that string was easy to see. When the remote inevitably found its way between couch cushions, I’d reel in the string at a strategic angle. It worked well, why wouldn’t I try it with other things too?
I bought more neon nylon string, several spools in different colors: orange, yellow and green. I tied them to everything small and easily lost. My headphones, my charger, the kitchen scissors… even the salt and pepper shakers!
It worked so well, I brought the strategy out of the house too. I tied the yellow strings to things that should always be on my person; my phone, my keys, my wallet… if I ever saw yellow, I’d know I lost something. My pockets were always bulging with balls yellow string; for peace of mind, it was a small price to pay.
At work, I tied green strings to things that fall in that space between the wall and the desk; the pens, tape and stapler. It was an orderly chaos, those neon nylon strings. There was a method to my madness, but no one else understood it.
When my boss called me into the office about the complaints, I did my best to explain. He didn’t get it, but he couldn’t make me stop. I could do whatever I wanted, so long as the items were my personal property and I wasn’t tying them on company time.
With time, my house resembled an art project rather than a living space. Bright orange strings draped across every surface, in every direction—carefully laid out, strategically placed. Walking around become an exercise in balance and flexibility, but still… it was worth it.
Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect solution; the problems with this method of organization began to present themselves before long.
The strings tangled; it became hard to tell which strings attached to what. I spent a lot of time maintaining, untangling everything and monitoring the cracks between things to see if any thread lead into the dark.
I stopped inviting people over, it was too tiring to explain. No explanation I could give seemed adequate. I knew it was strange, but it made me feel safer. I was in complete control, the puppet master in this colorful world.
There were other problems too; the slightest movement would cause a chain reaction, the strings constantly quivered and rustled softly with only the slightest touch—even a breeze through an open window was enough to cause constant motion. I always saw movement in my periphery, only to realize it was the string when I turned to check.
At night, I’d wake up because several strands would swipe softly against my skin. Once I realized it was just the string, I’d relax and fall back asleep… but that initial moment, half asleep, when you feel an unexplained touch…? Terrifying.
After a while, I got used to the poking and prodding of the strings and stopped noticing… until the night I woke up on the floor.
I wasn’t sure why I’d woken up at first, reaching for the blacklight on my nightstand… only to realize I was touching carpet. Unable to see in the dark, I waited for my eyes to adjust. Before long, the furniture around me took shape… only slightly darker than the blackness around me.
Once I was better oriented, I was able to sit up to reach the nightstand; I felt resistance as I found the light, and realized with the neon illumination that I had somehow become tangled in the strings.
Thick bundles of cord were coiled around my calves and left elbow, pulled taut. The strings stretched out the door and down the hall, vibrating and twisting—braiding together, as though to form a thick rope. I tried to reach down and untangle myself, but it was too difficult.
Panic set in when my body unexpectedly moved, the knots tightened by a sharp pull—I slid across the carpet, towards the door… becoming more tangled as I struggled. I caught the door frame with my free hand before I could be yanked out, the door frame creaking in protest as the wood strained and warped.
I heard things breaking in another room, and the soft scrape of objects being dragged… all of the strings were moving in one direction— the persistent tug didn’t stop. My grip grew weaker as I held on for dear life, until my sweaty fingers slipped. Splinters of wood bit into my skin, and once again I was reeled into the deepening darkness, down the hall.
I fumbled for furniture, anything I could catch onto… and found nothing. I felt like a fish on the end of a line, the catch of some unseen monstrosity in the dark. It was not a gentle current, knocking me into walls and the various objects that joined me on this harrowing journey.
Raw terror almost sent me into a blind panic, but my survival instincts kicked in. Nature and genetics hadn’t bestowed me with sharp claws, but I still had teeth– and I used them, tearing like an animal at the strands that had twisted about my elbow. The friction tore at the corners of my mouth, but I ignored the pain and bit down as hard as I could, sawing at the threads until they frayed and snapped.
It worked, though my mouth was burning and bloody– long, limp strands of string hung from the crook of my elbow… now I had control of both arms. I started ripping off my pajama bottoms— screaming in pain when I dislocated my ankle to slip free from the massive knot. I felt like a coyote in a trap, doing what I could to free myself even if it meant an injury.
Free, I hobbled down the hall on one foot, it was easy enough to dodge the undulating strings as they began to converge into one thick mass. I turned on the hallway light, using the wall as support as I eased myself slowly towards the kitchen. I was in bad shape, covered in rug burn and blood. Adrenaline kept me moving even when I shouldn’t have been able to stand.
Not much was left of the kitchen. Everything I’d tied had already been pulled into that tangled body… fortunately; the knife block hadn’t made it far. For practical reasons, I hadn’t tied strings to any of the knives. Although the block had been knocked to the floor, the knives were still safely housed inside. I grabbed the biggest one with my least injured hand.
Armed, I limped after the strings into the living room– the source of the pull. When I turned on the lights I could see objects catching on things, getting stuck. Everything was converging on the couch, in the gap between the left armrest and the cushions.
Now that I was closer to the source, I could hear it… a sucking sound, wet and smacking, as though my couch were enjoying a plate of pasta, noodles of string being slurped into that cramped abyss.
Pushing back the disbelief, I got to work with the knife—hacking inelegantly at the writhing neon vein, freeing what possessions I could before they were all sucked down that bottomless maw.
I didn’t save much, but it was better than nothing. At sunrise, I paid the paperboy $100.00 to dump the couch on the curb for me, and another $20.00 so he wouldn’t ask questions.
Even at a distance, from the safety of my window… I could still see those neon nylon strings, a spray of orange twisted into the frayed ends of rope. It stuck out of the gap, only a few inches in length— as if to bait me to reach out, and reel the darkness in.
I could reclaim all I’d lost, with just a pull of the strings. But no, I wouldn’t take the bait. I knew something was waiting on the other side to pull me in. No… I’d let my lost things stay lost.
For all my fear, I’d somehow neglected to remember that a string can be pulled from both ends.
“Eavesdropper” has been added to my YouTube channel! I wrote the story but haven’t posted the text version anywhere but my Patreon page. The video features my voice, my speed-drawing, and a story written by me.
I originally wrote this story so I could compete in this week’s Faceoff Friday in the Facebook group Sinister Showcase, which is a group on Facebook where narrators and writers showcase their work (horror). Check if out if you haven’t already!
This story isn’t going live on Reddit until August 2nd, and will probably undergo some minor tweaks by then… but if you don’t want to wait– maybe the narration will do the trick. Maybe it will wake you up on your morning commute?
Thank you so much for dropping by!