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Autopilot

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Have you ever forgotten your phone?

When did you realise you’d forgotten it? I’m guessing you didn’t just smack your forehead and exclaim ‘damn’ apropos of nothing. The realisation probably didn’t dawn on you spontaneously. More likely, you reached for your phone, pawing open your pocket or handbag, and were momentarily confused by it not being there. Then you did a mental restep of the morning’s events.

Shit.

In my case, my phone’s alarm woke me up as normal but I realised the battery was lower than I expected. It was a new phone and it had this annoying habit of leaving applications running that drain the battery overnight. So, I put it on to charge while I showered instead of into my bag like normal. It was a momentary slip from the routine but that was all it took. Once in the shower, my brain got back into ‘the routine’ it follows every morning and that was it.

Forgotten.

This wasn’t just me being clumsy, as I later researched, this is a recognised brain function. Your brain doesn’t just work on one level, it works on many. Like, when you’re walking somewhere, you think about your destination and avoiding hazards, but you don’t need to think about keeping your legs moving properly. If you did, the entire world would turn into one massive hilarious QWOP cosplay. I wasn’t thinking about regulating my breathing, I was thinking whether I should grab a coffee on the drive to work (I did). I wasn’t thinking about moving my breakfast through my intestines, I was wondering whether I’d finish on time to pick up my daughter Emily from nursery after work or get stuck with another late fee. This is the thing; there’s a level of your brain that just deals with routine, so that the rest of the brain can think about other things.

Think about it. Think about your last commute. What do you actually remember? Little, if anything, probably. Most common journeys blur into one, and recalling any one in particular is scientifically proven to be difficult. Do something often enough and it becomes routine….

Lightning

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  • Post date: 12 December 2013
  • Submission by:
  • Length: Short

We had just moved into a little ranch house in the suburbs. Storybook neighborhood – quiet, friendly neighbors, picket fences, the whole nine yards. Suffice it to say that this was supposed to be a new start for me, a recently single dad, and my three-year-old son. A time to move on from the previous year’s drama and stress.

I viewed the thunderstorm as a metaphor for this fresh start: one last show of theatrics before the dirt and grime of the past would be washed away. My son loved it anyway, even with the power out. It was the first big storm he’d ever seen. Flashes of lightning flooded the bare rooms of our house, imparting unpacked boxes with long creeping shadows, and he jumped and squealed as the thunder boomed. It was well past his bedtime before he’d finally settled down enough to go to sleep.

The next morning I found him awake in bed and smiling. “I watched the lightning at my window!” he proudly announced.

A few mornings later, he told me the same thing. “You’re silly,” I said. “It didn’t storm last night, you were only dreaming!” “Oh…” He seemed somewhat disheartened. I ruffled his hair and told him not to worry, there should be another storm soon.

Then it became a pattern. He would tell me how he watched the lightning outside his window at least twice a week, despite there being no storms. Recurring dreams of that first memorable thunderstorm, I figured.

It’s easy to hate myself in hindsight. Everybody assures me there’s nothing I could have done, no way I could have known. But I’m supposed to be the guardian of my child, and these are useless words of comfort. I constantly relive that morning: making my coffee, pouring milk over my cereal, and picking up the newspaper to read about the pedophile local authorities had just arrested. It was front-page stuff. Apparently this guy would select a young target (usually a boy), stake out their house for a while, and take flash photos of them through their window while they slept. Sometimes he did more….

The Flesh Market

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Have you ever visited Edinburgh? Beautiful city, no matter what time of year you go. The castle that sits at the centre of the city is awe-inspiring, looking down on the surrounding area from the Mount. The peaks and valleys of the land have resulted in a city that flows with the landscape. Streets that surround can be steep, with the numerous sprawling alleyways even steeper. It is here that we find Fleshmarket Close.

It could be mistaken for any other darkened causeway in the city. It sits among the shops and tourist traps, relatively non-threatening, and can be used as a short cut to get down to the station if you are in a hurry. The name has been justified, through some who point out that fleshmarkets were a local term for butchers, and through others who suggest it a hangout of women of the first vocation. These are incorrect. There is a market on the close, but flesh is not the product. It is the currency.

Market hours are dusk until dawn, and the entrance fee is one mouthful of your own blood. Prepare a glass, and progress down the alley. As you get halfway down, swig from the glass and spit it against the wall. The blood will bubble and spread across the wall, coagulating into a hardened scab. This will then start to flake and scatter. A rather anti-climatic door will be revealed beneath. Stepping through is disorientating as logic will tell you you are stepping into a building. The space you are stepping into has no walls, with darkness shrouding the edges. It is at the penumbra that a number of stalls are set up, run by individuals who look like market traders from across the globe, from Arabian merchants to Cockney grocers to New York street con-men. All of their clothes are splatted with blood and offal

These figures will entice you to come speak with them and will gesture to numerous signs around their stalls regarding the sales they are currently having. Upon approaching one of the stalls they will start to…

Insomnia

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BOOM!

Kaitlyn bolted up in bed in a cold sweat. She nearly fell out in a panic, and then managed to right herself. After catching her breath, she managed to calm down and glanced at the clock. 12:30 AM. Fucking great. She knew that she always took at least an hour and a half to get to sleep, and she had to be to work at 4:30.

She let out a deep sigh and flopped down on the bed. It was probably storming outside, she thought, the thunder must’ve woken her up. After a bit of thought, she decided it might be a good idea to go into the kitchen and grab a glass of milk or something, she didn’t care. Anything to help her get back to sleep. She got up and pulled on a shirt and a pair of shorts and walked out to her kitchen groggily, without bothering to turn on a light.

She opened the fridge and tried to gain her bearings as she poured herself a glass of milk. She
sat down and gazed out the window. Something seemed off… which was strange, because the night was as still as ever, with no wind and the trees seemingly transfixed to the ground, and raindrops falling all around them. Suddenly, she saw something dart among the trees. She gasped in fear, but then got the better of herself as logic kicked in. It must have just been part of her overreactive imagination. Whatever she thought she saw out there couldn’t have been real. It couldn’t have… she gained confidence in this thought. Nothing could hurt her. She was in her house with locks on all the doors and a rigged security system. Nevertheless, she got up and slowly inched over to the knife rack just to feel more secure.

After finishing her glass of milk, she turned to the sink and rinsed out her cup. She felt safer now, so it came as a surprise when she turned around and saw a dark figure standing in her window. She screamed, a loud, shrill scream, and turned to whip a knife…

Prisoner’s Dilemma

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Hear me out.

I don’t plan to stay here long. One way or another, this place won’t hold me. Yeah, sure – I know ‘they all’ say that. But trust me – I’m different. No, that’s not right – I’m probably bog-standard, but the circumstances are different. And the circumstances are going to make things a little difficult. Unless I tell someone – even if I tell someone.

Since I was a little boy, I’ve had a problem. The doctors call it kleptomania, to me it’s a challenge. Not a challenge like the kind you see in the big budget block-busters, the one where the suave gentleman spy gets the girl, a fortune, and the respect of the people he’s stolen from.

It’s a challenge to reign myself in. A challenge to try to keep myself from taking something, anything – and a challenge I always inevitably lose.

First memory I have is when I was six. My parents were in this store, a resteraunt or something. There were a bunch of pastries, fresh and flaky and delicious behind the counter. Glazed with honey, and chocolate, and maple syrup that looked like it’d be taken from a broken and unresisting tree.

The server was a nice lady. She saw my smile and the innocent look in my blue eyes, and I remember her saying from rosy red lipstick that couldn’t hide last nights bruises that she wanted to give me an extra little gift, for free.

And while she and my parents were talking, I helped myself to several from inside the display case, shoving them crudely into my pockets.

I never ate them, just felt nervous and nauseous and thrilled.

Somehow, my parents never found out. They found out much later, and my father got so angry that his face swelled up like a big old balloon. He yelled and shouted himself hoarse, telling me to never steal again and – yeah, you’re right. None of it’s important now. Even if I’d wanted to, which I did… I couldn’t.

Guess my self-control is pretty crap, huh?.. Just joking with myself, it’s why I’m laughing.

Over time, I moved…

Hanging Gardens

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They say that these woodlands contain the path to paradise itself. It has been a long way to reach these mythical gardens, my knees are scraped and bloodied from the various thorns nipping at my legs along the path. Snakes and sirens were attempting to seduce me with their hypocrisy, but I refused to heed their calling. I was a pure at heart, unspoiled by all temptation and evil.

My path was blocked as something was swaying back and forth from a tree. I looked at it closely. I could make out a face with long black hair and some dark colored stubble leading down its chin. Its head was cast down with closed eyes. It was a dead man hanging from a tree.

I walked closer to it in disbelief and fear. What would a hanged man be doing here on the trail to Heaven? I looked at its face when it sudden jerked its head up towards me. I jumped back in shock. The man opened his eyes, blank and pitiless before they focused their selves on me. He opened his mouth to speak, quiet and choked, and whispered this:

“Perfection is the great abyss…leave now lest you share my fate; a ghost dangling at Heaven’s gate.”

With its warning spoken, the dead man hung idle once more. I tried to speak to him, confused and distraught about what he meant by a punishment, but I got no further response from him. I looked at him in a confused anger.
What was there to fear about paradise? I certainly am not on the wrong path, as he had mentioned Heaven. I was free of all man’s sins and malice, surely they could let me pass? Maybe the man was a sinner and was being punished for trying to reach grace?

Not heeding the deceased man’s warning, I started to walk past the hung man, pushed on by curiosity to find out why he would have spoken such a thing. Surely, there was nothing to fear. I walked through the sycamores and the blushes. My knees scraped once more from the wild, torturous…

Fanatics

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For me, collecting is more than a hobby – it is a way of life.

To me, there is no greater thrill than that moment when you complete a set or find the one rare piece that has eluded antiquarians for years. I love things – cards, figures, dolls, puppets, watches. And as my desire to surround myself with material possessions grew, I found that I did not care for the things so much – but the thrill of collecting them.

So after I’d collected several years worth of goods, it was only natural that the store grew up around me. Little Dreams Antiques. Say you know me from our little chat, and I’ll give you a discount on two items of your choice – and we’ll both share a good laugh.

… Where to start, where to start. I’m fifty-something years old, set in my ways, and my recent passion has been collecting video games. Not to play – I’m a bit out of the loop when it comes to their stories or art. I’ve got a hunch that in the next twenty years, rarer video games will fill the niche that baseball cards seem set to create. And with rare mint games already going for a decent amount on the market, I’ve been looking at them as sort of a nest egg.

Now, my store has achieved something of a reputation for having rare stock on hand. As such, even though I’m located smack in the city center, I’ve got a pretty reliable core of customers. Old friends, if you will – the creme of the crop. I enjoy a good conversation with them almost as much as knowing that the collectibles I sell will find themselves in good hands.

I’d be lying if I said she’d made it into that inner-circle. She was too young – too young!.. – to be an old-timer, and bought electronics almost exclusively. At first I’d seen her loitering in the back of the store with her grey clothes and her down-cast face and assumed she was one of the gawkers that never bought nothing. Turned…

Second Floor Knock, A True Story

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Let me start by pointing out that I have been told, and have figured out on many occasions, that I have an over-active imagination. That being said, I have thought a lot about the night that this story will focus on and I can’t talk myself into believing that it didn’t happen. As the title says, this is a true story. I do write Creepy Pastas, but this story is true, it really happened, or so it did as far as I’m concerned. I don’t share this with many people, so feel good, you’re in a way, special.

A few years ago, I lay in my bed one night doing what I do every night, thinking. I thought a lot in bed, sometimes clouding sleep. I couldn’t help it, the dark and absolute silence… I felt so alone and, well, thoughtful. At the time, I slept in a loft bed, it was a good way to save space in my room because I could slide other small furnishings under it and use the rest of the open room for whatever I want. Another thing to note: I lived on the second floor of my building. My families’ apartment was on the first floor, but it was a two-story apartment, and my room was on the second floor. The building was actually a bit elevated off the ground too, so it felt more like my room was two and a half floors up. My window faced outside to a small courtyard that spanned next to the entire long apartment building. Now that the scene is set up, try to put yourself in my position, in my room, that night.

I lay there, thinking, dozing off when I notice a small noise. It’s hard to describe it now, it might have been easier the day after it happened. The best word I can think of to describe it was… a scratch. A long, drawn-out scratch. I lifted my head off my pillow to find where it was…

Gorr’Rylaehotep

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There was a loud bang on the door, followed by more equally loud bangs. The woman stood up from her couch and walked towards the door. She was watching the news which was reporting recent kidnappings in her area and was wondering when her husband would return home from work. As the woman walked to the door, she wondered who it could be at this hour. It was almost 10 o’clock at night. Could it be her husband? No. He would have come through the garage. Or even the back door. The woman reached the door and cautiously unlocked it, then slowly opened it just large enough so she could peek though. When she realized who it was she quickly opened the door. The woman welcomed the police officer and asked him what she could do for him at this time of night. The officer glanced into the woman’s eyes and slowly said,

“Ma’am, you need to come with me. Your husband went off road and crashed into the nearby forest.” The woman stared back at the police officer for what seemed like many minutes before replying,

“Take me to him.”

She followed the officer back to his vehicle and told the officer to get her there as fast as he could. She was in shock.

“How could this have happened?” the woman asked.

“Well ma’am, we believe your husband either swerved out of the way of something, or he lost control of the vehicle. When we found his car, he was inside and unconscious. There should be paramedics on the seen taking care of him now. I was told to come and get you.”

The woman was trying to comprehend this. She needed to see her husband now. She needed to talk to him before it was too late. The police vehicle pulled onto the highway and started to gain speed.

“Not much farther now.” The officer said.

After a couple minutes of silence, the car pulled onto the side of the highway. About 10 feet up ahead, the woman could see a busted guard rail and tire…

The Girl In The Night

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Let me start off by saying that as far as I can remember, this is all true, it’s not ‘creepypasta’ or anything like my previous posts, there’s no satisfying conclusion or an explanation, so if that’s what you’re here for, I’m sorry but you won’t find it, but this is how I remember it. It’s a story of two incidents that occurred in my mother’s house separated by years of normality, the latest of which happening in the early hours of the morning beginning the 26th of December 2011.

Though the 2 events are years apart, the first happening when I was just a child, not too young, but young enough to be terribly afraid of the dark. That’s not to say I’m over it, it’s just that bit harder to justify. Anyway, I’m getting off track, I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that although years apart, for the sake of closure, let’s say at least 8 or 10, that the 2 incidents are somehow connected. Like, a lingering feeling that rears it’s ugly head as I lay mine down to sleep, a feeling that still haunts me. A feeling, that it’s not over. It could be another 10 years, it could be tonight, but whatever happened, was too weak, too tame, to just be finished.

Back to what I came here to say, the first incident, the first encounter if you will. Years back, one of the few memories of my childhood that unfortunately, remains crystal clear in my head. I was watching T.V in the attic. Now, our attic isn’t a normal attic, it was converted to a bedroom, which is now used by my mother, it’s nothing creepy or out of the ordinary, it wasn’t an old black and white T.V, it’s a relatively new “Daewoo” flatscreen, and the room is better furnished than my own. Sorry, I’m getting sidetracked again, I just don’t really want to think about it. I was watching T.V in the attic, which is where our story starts.

It was getting late, it was time for me to go to…