Today, 208 years ago, Edgar Allan Poe was born. In his honor, I want to post one of his poems that I recently used part of in my own story.
With the snows of the lolling lily.
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.
Today, 208 years ago, Edgar Allan Poe was born. In his honor, I want to post one of his poems that I recently used part of in my own story.
With the snows of the lolling lily.
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.
When I was young I suffered from Depression. Well, I suppose I should say I still suffer from Depression. Over the years I have learned to manage the symptoms, to live a seemingly normal life. Saying that, I understand why some people commit suicide. I can’t condone it, but I understand that they have become blinded to any other course of action. To them, there is no reasonable option and anything that waits for them after death is better than the life they have been living. They can’t see that their actions may hurt people around, or even the action itself scaring someone.
I am a truck driver for a living. I ship packages overnight to many surrounding states and make it home for the weekend. As such I spend long hours by myself but it has never bothered me. However, I wish to tell the tale of when one such late night nearly cost me my life and my mind.
Suicide by Truck is not unheard of in my business. I doubt the victim ever considered they might even hurt the driver, but as I said before they are near unable to. There is one overpass that had become notorious for suicide. I’ll have to refuse to tell you where it is, but if you live nearby you likely heard of it. A large fence was put in to keep people away from the ledge. I’ve passed it a number of times before. Sometimes flowers can be seen hanging on the fence to pay respect to poor kids who ended their lives. I always have given it a glance as I passed, knowing how easily I could have done something similar in my past.
It was early on a Tuesday that it happened. The sun still had a few hours to go before it would give any light. The road was empty. I was haveing a typical night before the engine on my rig turned off on its own. I carefully slowed to a stop and pulled over to the side of the road. My Headlights were the first to go after that then the lights in the cab. I was nearly surrounded by darkness before I even realized where I was. I could see the lights on the street start to go out when I realized I was only a few feet away from the overpass.
A living darkness surrounded my truck and everything around me. It filled the cabin and it seemed to force its way down my mouth and nose suffocating me. I couldn’t see anything and I could not breathe. A great wave of despair had washed over me as I struggled. I know I was going to die and felt things I had not faced since I was young. Part of me fought for life, while another simply wanted the suffering to end.
Only seconds passed before a small light entered my world. A blueish light outlining a person. Then another appeared and another. They moved painfully slowly towards the truck. As they moved closer they showed their shapes to be disfigured. They looked broken and twisted, it did not seem possible they could move at all. All while I struggled to breathe they moved closer. I was afraid they were coming to finish me off. A part of me was ready and waiting for them, begging them to end this suffering.
My head was screaming in pain as my body was about to give into the darkness. Just then the first of the blueish figures reached the truck. It’s hand touched the side window and its head looked in at me. He must have been impossibly tall or floating to even reach such a height. It did not have a face, but a dark void where one should be. Then I saw the others touch my truck surrounding it. Suddenly the headlights turned on, cutting through the darkness like a sword. I gasped for air as I could breathe again.
The blue lights were gone, and the darkness had left with them.I turned the keys to my engine and my truck started without a problem. The lights on the streets seemed to shine like they had never turned off in the first place. I drove away and pulled into the nearest motel I could find, leaving a message with my boss that the delivery would be late. I could not sleep, so I watched the sun rise wondering what happened to me. The darkness had nearly killed me, and the creepy figures in blue. They scared me, but it felt like they saved me from the dark. I thought of my own past and thought of me back then. I never wanted to hurt anyone, and I wondered if what I saw were the spirits of those who had hurt themselves but did not wish to drag anyone else down with them.
I do not have a name, but I’ve been called many things. I have been called a demon, a ghost, a poltergeist, a spirit and even the boogeyman. However, I have no memory from before this incorporeal existence to confirm or deny any such names. I have no eyes yet I can see, I have no ears yet I can hear. I do not have a body, I have no shape. If I strain my will I can mimic a human’s. If I will it I can move objects with my thoughts. However, both take a great toll on me and grow more and more difficult as the number of witnesses increases. I do not know what I am, but I know am very old.
I can not escape the property of the house I was born in. An old 1937 American Foursquare. A very square looking home sitting in a rather average American suburb. My cage reaches as far as the sidewalk where I can watch people pass by but never follow. I do not believe I was born with the house as my memories only reach as far back as near the end of World War II. I lived with the Stockley family at the time. William Stockley was the master of the house and was married to his wife Ann. They had three children, two boys and a young girl named Ashley. Both boys joined the war and never returned. Like any young thing I craved attention and tortured the family with mischief. If the Stockleys could not find something, it was because I hid it. If they heard sounds at night, it was me banging on the walls.
My youthful antics never scared the Stockleys away. Time, however, made much faster work. Ashley had grown up, married and moved away. William and Ann stubbornly stayed in the home till they both grow old. One night, not long after the 70’s had started, William sat in his study reading while Ann slept. William suffered a heart attack and died on the floor. He did not join me as a spirit of any kind, he just simply ceased being alive and I could do nothing to aid him. It was the first time I truly realized how helpless my existence was. Ann moved in with her daughter and I never saw any of the Stockleys again.
I was left abandoned for a while after that. I felt loneliness for the first time. However, soon a new family moved into the home. I remember it was around the time a nuclear scare happened not far from the home. Protests were a topic of conversation as the Grahams had moved in. Donald and Maria Graham and their two children Mark and Robert. I was much more reclusive with the Grahams. I was much more brooding and withdrawn. Always watching, but no longer trying to be heard. I had long since stopped trying to test my limits.
The Grahams lived a rather uneventful life. I watched them for years go about their dull lives. I kept my distance, stayed unattached. They grow older and eventually left. They moved out west for a better job. This lead to the Youngs moving in. A modern family for a more modern age. Jane and Hank were the parents, both worked for a living. Elizabeth was their daughter, the kind of girl that would put posters of then-popular boy bands on her room walls. James was the youngest and most fascinating in the family.
James was broken and everyone else in the family ignored it. He was thirteen when I first met him. As I observed him, he observed others much the same way. He would spend hours alone and the rest of his family seemed happy to be away from him. His room was his sanctuary; a place he could be his true self. He changed when he left his room, he faked normalcy. Any breach of his sanctuary caused him to turn violent. The first time I saw this was when he nearly broke his older sister’s arm slamming it in the door. So his family avoided trying to break into his world.
As he grew older, James grew worse. He had a terrible fascination with death. What started with books and pictures grew into him sneaking corpses of small animals into his room. When he was fourteen he started to sneak out of the house at night. Going where I could not follow and coming back hours later. He had a habit of writing when he was upset. Often words or phrases in repeat like a mantra. Most often he would call his family and anyone else around him a liar. He seemed to think that everyone around him lied to him when they spoke of things like love and wanting the best of him. He hated them for it. He then started to collect knives.
It all came to a conclusion when he was fifteen. After one of his night trips out he came home with a handgun wrapped in a towel. The kind with a clip and sliding barrel, I had never seen one outside of what books and newspapers I could read around the house. He calmly grabbed a nasty looking knife with at least a 7-inch blade, out of a table drawer. He stuck the handgun in the back of his pants and calmly and carefully snuck into his sister’s room. He looked at her sleeping in her bed for a moment before grabbing a pillow and violently holding it over her face with one hand. He took his knife with the other hand and started stabbing the knife into the blankets his sister occupied. She screamed for a moment into the pillow but repeated stabs to her chest and lungs prevented her from giving much resistance.
When Elizabeth stopped moving James looked down at his work. After he was content he slowly started walking to his parents’ room. No longer comfortable just observing I tried to warn them. After a bit of effort, I managed to knock a lamp by their bedside off a table causing it to smash on the floor. They both awoke, but were completely unaware of the danger heading towards them. James walked into their room and saw that they were no longer sleeping. In a single motion, he dropped his bloody knife and pulled out his gun. It was still dark and his parents did not have time to figure out what their son was holding before he pulled back the slide on the pistol and fired several shots into each of them.
James looked at each of what used to be his parents and simply walked away. He went back to his room, pulled out another clip for his gun, collected his knife and started walking towards the front door. I realized he was not going to stop. He was going to keep killing till the police killed him. I was horrified and furious as he walked toward the end of my cage. I focused all of my will power on him, trying to stop him from moving. In a flash, my point of view had changed. I was now holding a gun and stopped several feet from the door. I had possessed him. I was in control of his body, but I did not know for how long. I pulled the slide back on the gun like James had done not long before and put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. With a thud, I was once again watching a boy bleeding on the floor, lifeless.
The police arrived not long after. The house was closed off, the bodies collected. It all seemed to go by in a blur. It was not long till I was alone again. I could hear people talk as they passed the house. Another version of what happened emerged from the murder-suicide the police had reported. They said that this house is haunted. That a spirit had possessed the boy to kill his family and then himself. Perhaps it was because they could not comprehend anyone doing what James had done. However, I never felt more alone.
It is easy for the lost and the outcasts to find solace in technology. When you are lonely, you grab hold of anything that grants you comfort and eases your pain. Robert was such a person. He spent his days on forums and comment sections seeking out validation in his existence. He has never met his closest friends, they exist only as words on a screen.
You can find the worst and best of humanity on the web. However, people like Robert rarely seek out the best. They spiral down dark corners looking at things worst than themselves. That is where he met John. Robert did not know much about John other than that he was a cynical person who enjoyed talking about the downfall of society and failings of mankind. He showed Robert images. Pictures of people in pain, or dying. Pictures of monks lighting themselves on fire, of little girls trapped in a flood. They were images meant to elicit a certain type of emotion, Despair.
Robert and John spoke to each other for nearly a month since the first meeting. Robert became fast friends with John and started to adopt many of his nihilistic views. As John had planned, Robert truly grew tired of his life and humanity around him and like a predator stalking prey, John carefully waited for the moment to strike.
“What if you could escape this reality?” John asked.
“That be nice,” Robert agreed.
“All you have to do is agree and I can show you something,” John replied.
“What are you talking about? Whatever show me,” Robert finished.
Rob immediately felt a dizzying sensation as the lights went out around him. For a moment the world went black, then his eyes adjusted to the dark. He was still sitting at his keyboard, but the screen had no power along with the computer. He tried switching the computer back on but it was useless, the desk lamp next to him also failed to turn on. He stumbled around his dark house till he found the front door. He looked outside to find that every house around him was much the same. No lights, no power. The streetlights were out as well. “A blackout?” he thought to himself. However, he saw no one else. It was cold, and the world seemed to glow lightly with the light of the moon, but he could see no moon or stars.
Walking outside, Rob could not escape the feeling of everything being slightly wrong. Walking to his car he noticed the color seemed slightly off and the body felt cheap. Like a poor imitation of what it should be. The sidewalk, street lamps, and even the windows of the houses and cars all seemed like cheap imitations of the real thing. Like a Chinese knockoff of a whole town. This surreal world only grew odder with the lack of the wind and any noise outside his own footsteps.
Rob walked the streets of this imitation world for several hours or at least what felt like hours as the passage of time seemed impossible to tell. It wasn’t till he saw a light at the end of an empty road did he have a direction. At first, it was simply a glow in the distance but as he approached he could make out the shape of a monitor. In the middle of the road sat a computer on a desk. The only thing with any power for miles.
This world seemed like a dream. Slight imperfections giving away hints that this was not his reality. None more so than the glowing computer screen that sat on a desk in front of him. On the screen was only a basic text program with a line of text blinking, waiting for a response.
“Hello, again Robert”. Rob instantly knew it was John.
“Where am I?!” Rob reached down to the keyboard and typed.
“You are still home,” John immediately typed back. “However, I suppose that is not what you wanted to hear. Your body is home, your mind is in another reality just like you asked,” John continued. “As long as you are not using your body, I will take it in the meantime. Enjoy the peace Robert,” John finished. As the last words appeared on the screen the power went out. The glow was replaced with darkness. Robert desperately tried to type back and turn on the computer but it was useless.
Once again Rob was left alone in this dark world. He had no sense of time and was unsure how long he had been there. The only thing he could think to do was walk. He tried opening doors to surrounding buildings but they were sealed shut like they were never meant to be opened. Windows only showed near empty insides with furniture that looked fit for a model house. He kept walking, never feeling tired or hungry as surely hours must have passed. It was as he walked that he found a small gray building fitted with a red door that looked completely out of place in this world. On the door, a white piece of paper with the words “Keep Out” in black ink sat.
Robert ignored the warning without any hesitation and opened the door revealing a completely dark room. The horrible smell of rot and death reached out. Still, without hesitation, Rob stepped into the room and as his eyes adjusted he could see what was making the smell. The building was one impossibly large room, like some sort of warehouse, with concrete floors. Stacked in the center were dead bodies all in deep stages of decomposition. Skin hung from them like leather.
“Ah, ah, ah, Robert, you should learn to read signs. No need to look on at your predecessors,” a voice rang in Robert’s head. The smell began to overpower Rob causing him to flee. As he walked away from the building the red door slammed shut behind him.
Unable to work up the nerve to try the door again Rob walked away. He found himself wandering endlessly in a daze. He no longer recognized any of the scenery. Architecture and age seem to change rapidly. Buildings in styles years apart sat next to each other. Yet, it all seemed fake. Like props on a movie set, they could pass for the real thing from afar but fail on close inspection. He could not escape the feeling of being watched as he moved along.
Continuing his journey Robert noticed other red doors like the one he saw before. They did not have any signs on them, but he still hesitated to touch them. His courage from before had faded. However, as time passed and any other options failed to reveal themselves he decided to try. The closest door was attached to an old stone building that seems fit for a long-lived city like New York or Philadelphia. Slowly opening the door he saw a deep darkness in what appeared to be a glass door holding it back, but it was not glass but a perfect slice of water. With a touch, Rob could feel water drip onto his skin, but the larger mass refused to fall out the door. With a deep breath, he smelled the nostalgic scent of the sea. Daring not to enter, Robert moved on looking for another door.
Another red door sat attached to a wooden cabin. A building completely out of place sitting between two brick buildings. Slowly opening it, Rob shielded his eyes as bright sunlight spilled out. Inside the door, a vast savanna spread out before him. A dry golden grass seemed to go on for miles only broken by the occasional small tree. He had ever only seen such a thing on TV and pictures of Africa. Looking at the gray world behind him and the golden one before him Robert stepped through the door.
The first thing to hit Rob was the oppressive heat. The change was drastic from the cold world behind him. Looking back, the door he stepped through seemed to sit attached to nothing. The world was much different than the one before. If the world before was a dream, this one was more a vivid memory. A sense of odd nostalgia entered Robert’s mind. Walking forward into the endless planes the red door behind him vanished. Despite the heat, he still did not feel thirst, hunger or exhaustion. He was fascinated by the vastness of the world before him. Besides the vegetation, not another living thing seemed to exist. That was why when he noticed the grass moving in front of him his eyes focused immediately. Time seemed to slow as a female lion burst out of the grass and sprinted at him at full speed. Rob only had time enough to turn away before it reached him and pounced on him. Hugging and grappling on to him with sharp claws. He hit the ground with a hard thud as his vision went black. A few moments later Robert was able to open his eyes once more. However, he was unable to move. He did not feel any pain but could hear the sounds of footsteps as the lion moved into his view. It looked into his eyes before opening its jaws and reaching down to bite him in the throat.
He awoke once more on the cold streets of the grey world before, gasping for breath. A dark voice laughed in Rob’s head once more.
“Curiosity can be a dangerous thing, Robert, it killed the cat after all,” John said with a laugh. “Am about done on this side, you will be home soon enough. You were a good sport so perhaps I’ll sate your curiosity a bit.” The red door before him opened again. This time, a different scene lay before him. A vast village made of sandstone sitting under a bright sun. “Am old Robert, very old.” The door closed again as John spoke, only to open again. This time to a small computer server room, electronics in black boxes lined the wall while a single computer screen and keyboard sat on a desk at the end. “However, even old things can adapt to the age, Robert.”
“It’s time now, I can’t stay here for long,” the voice of John spoke for the last time, “The human body simply can’t handle it.” The world around Rob started to fade, his vision blurred, it turned black with a familiar dizzying sensation. When light entered his eyes once more he found himself in a cold wooded area. Rob tried to center himself but he did not have the energy to stand. He was desperately thirsty, his whole body felt dry. When he finally glanced at his arms he tried to scream but his dry throat could not get a sound out. He could see his bones with leathery skin hanging off of them. The last of his energy left him as he collapsed completely to the grass floor. His eyes quickly dried to the point he could no longer move them, not a tear could escape. His body was already a long dead corpse that would never move again.
It had been days since he saw the sky. Gravity pushing him deeper and deeper into the hole. Every moment the walls would get tighter. He could hear voices above him, people walking along the street. Something had caused sound to echo down into the abyss, but never out.
It had been a cold winter. Pot holes on worn out city streets were a common sight. He was walking home from work on a late and chilly night. His name was Connor and he worked late waiting tables. He walked the same path hundreds of times, every time never stopping to look at the little alleyway dark with shadow, where the street lights shine did not reach. But this time, this last time, he stopped when he heard a sound. It was a whimpering like a hurt animal. Connor followed the sound expecting to find a hurt dog in need of help. The sound came from a crack in the cement, a dark chasm just big enough to fit a person.
Connor tried to light the hole with his phone’s flashlight. Still expecting to find a trapped or hurt animal. However the world turned black as something forced him forward into the abyss. His arms were pinned to his sides. His phone provided the only light but he could only look further down the hole and there was nothing but more earth and darkness awaiting him. His struggles only pushed him further and further down. His screams did not reach any ears.
His phone’s light did not last till morning. He struggled to get some kind of call out, but even if he could see the phone no signal would find its way out of this hell. Hours passed and Connor know day had to have come, but he saw no sign of the sun. The lack of light was so great he could not trust that his eyes still worked. However the worst part was the sounds he heard. People passed the little alleyway going about their day. He could hear them, soft words echoed down to him. He screamed for help every time he heard one, but no would ever come. His throat was on fire but still he screamed on.
Time had become a blur for Connor. The voices from the surfaces faded the further he slowly fell deeper into the darkness. He first cursed the voices that moved on without helping him, but now he missed them. Isolation fed on his sanity. Hunger and thirst fed on his body. Hope of rescue faded and the realization he was going to die set in. His mood had shifted between anger and grief. He no longer had the energy to struggle. He drifted in and out of consciousness. His mind would drift to dreams of freedom. He dreamed of the sun and it’s warmth and of people helping him out of his hole. However this only added to his frustration as he awoke, fall asleep and have to start the dream over once again.
Some part of him had accepted death. He hoped for the time he start to dream and it would never end. He feared the waken world. In the darkness he started to see things. He thought he saw red eyes watching him further in the dark, despite the fact his own eye have been deprived of light for so long. He just wanted to sleep. However sleep was soon taken from him. His numbed and stiff body soon awoke with searing pain. Something damp oozed from the rocks around him and stuck to his clothes like tar. It burned his skin and he was unable to move his arms to even attempt to wipe it away. Connor’s body felt on fire. He tried to scream but the ooze made its way into his mouth with each attempt. He only hoped shock would take him soon, so he could die in peace.
The following testimony was released along with a number of leaked documents from a government server. It was found without context, names and places redacted. It appears to be the statement of a man or woman at some sort of medical facility. The documents leaked alongside it appear to be unrelated and offer no further clues to its authenticity.
My name is [Redacted]I have been here for I don’t know how many days. You tell me am supposed to tell my story. Am too tired to fight you, the drugs you give me mess with my head.. Frankly i’m scared and I don’t know what will become of me.
It already feels like ages ago. I lived in [Redacted]a rural area with cool quiet nights. I miss being able to see the stars at night. They always filled the sky, and in that time of year fireflies blinked along with them. I was what would be considered a night owl and often walked along the train tracks on such nights to clear my head. The cool air and quiet darkness helped to relax me. It was dark, trees lined the sides of the tracks before buffering between the road proper. I tripped, on what I don’t know, but I fell and landed on my palms. They stung with pain and blood started to drip down my right palm. The pain was small and sharp, but I cut myself deep enough that blood oozed down my arm as I raised my hand for closer inspection. It felt warm and sticky. I rushed home leaving a trail of blood droplets along the way.
I washed the blood away in my bathroom sink, bearing the sting of rubbing alcohol on the cut. It was deeper than I thought. If I could not stop the bleeding I would have to go to the emergency room for stitches. The thought of going to the hospital was something I dreaded greatly. Not just for the fees, but the thought of the crowded, sickly place. The sanitized surfaces and needles entering and exiting flesh all played on my fears. I wrapped my hand tightly in towels and waited till finally the bleeding stopped. I bandaged the cut with some wraps out of my own small first aid kit and called it a night.
In the morning the wound throbbed and swelled. Ignoring the pain I cleaned and rewrapped it before going to work. I worked the day ignoring the pain, after all I still needed the money. The day was tough, but uneventful. I cleaned the wound again when I got home and rewrapped it once more. It was not till that night the situation changed. About four hours into a deep sleep I awoke with a sharp pain in my hand. The pain was excruciating. I rushed to my bathroom to see my hand was bleeding once again. I unwrapped it and held it under the running faucet. I could see something red and stringy sticking out of the cut. I pulled on it, sending a shockwave of pain up my arm. It was vine like object with fishhook like thrones.
The more I tried to pull the red vine out of my wound the more the thrones dug itself into my flesh. I never saw such a thing in my life. Blood gushed out in greater quantities. I felt myself getting woozy. I managed to call 911 before I passed out. My irrational fear of hospitals no longer seemed to matter when I felt like I was going to die. I only came in and out a couple times after that. I remember bright lights, and lots of people in white looking over me. Needles taking blood samples, and someone pulling at and clipping away samples of the vine in my hand.
When I awoke again I was here. In this white room. At first I thought it was just a private room in the hospital but that’s not true is it? After all, what kind of hospital room has no windows and feels the need to keep their patient strapped down. You have me on an IV but I have no idea what’s inside it, if I make too much noise you inject something else into it that puts me asleep. You won’t tell me anything. You sit there and copy down everything i’m saying on your little laptop, and I imagine that the only reason you have not put me back to sleep is because you wanted to hear my story. Am afraid if I stop talking you will be done with needing me conscious.
You have been poking and prodding at it. This thing in my hand. It’s growing, I can feel it moving down into my arm. I don’t know how far it will go and am scared. I know what you are doing. Am just a host to you. You don’t know what this thing is either and you want to study it for some reason. You are harvesting it for study, and am just the soil it happens to grow in.