Red Doors

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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.

Stargate Diner

diner-336499_640.jpgThere exist a diner not found on any map. It will not show up on any GPS. It appears on long roads to those hungry and in need of rest. Open 24/7 and always occupied by strange regulars and a cheerful staff. A bell would ring if you entered and a smiling waiter would show you to one of the many wooden booths. Wood panelling lines the walls and classic rock plays softly on a radio. The coffee is heavenly, just don’t mind the stares from the regulars.

Tell your troubles to the waiter, she won’t mind in fact she is counting on it. She would listen with an open mind and a kind heart, and when you finish she would tell you “Don’t worry dear, all will be well.” Words that seem to lift a weight off your soul. Just like that you know, all will be well indeed.

Take Mrs Emmie Barnet for example. A businesswoman, traveling the long road home. She complained about her old Pontiac to a smiling waiter over a cup of coffee. “Don’t worry dear, all will be well” she was told, and with renewed confidence she traveled onwards towards home. Only a few hours later she was hit by a drunk driver. She survived with a number of injuries but her hated car was totalled. Her wish granted, but such things have a price and Mrs Barnet’s injuries were not enough. When her children visited her in the hospital she found herself unable to feel any warmth towards them. A part of her soul was taken.

So things go, over and over again. Such faustian packs are made every night. The diner never seems to be in the same place twice for those wise enough to put together the pieces. Most however simply never notice. There memories of the diner fade like a dream.

Now you may wonder what does Stargate want with bits a pieces of human souls. Well you see Stargate serves more then just mortal clientele. The strange regulars all have a specific taste and the diners cook knows just how to please each one useing the special ingredient gathered for him. So next time you unload your troubles to a stranger be weary, for that stranger may take from you more then just your burdens.

Eye of Madness

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Is insanity contagious? In school, I learned of many diseases that can affect the mind but I never understood the horror someone must face when their very thoughts could be affected by something so out of their control. My name is Jacob Mason and before it all started I was an ER nurse just outside Boston. I was used to hectic days, the sight of blood and even death but nothing could compare to what I’ve seen since that one dire night. It was what passes for a normal weekday in the ER, chaotic. A line of people needed to be seen. All the staff did their best to see to everyone while sorting them between the time of arrival and seriousness of the injury. My eyes had long gotten used to the fluorescent lights and smell of sanitizer that filled every inch of the hospital. The waiting room was filled with the sounds of low muttering, and coughs contrasted by the loud yelling and rushing of staff that filled the rooms behind.

A homeless man was rushed in on an ambulance. He was young, unwashed, unshaven and covered in self-inflicted knife wounds. The blade had been recovered by the police and he was already bleeding profusely before he reached the hospital. Still, the doctors worked all their magic to try and save his life. I was called over to assist. Holding the struggling man still as the doctors tried to stop the bleeding in each wound. Another nurse rushing towards us with donated blood. I looked into my patient’s eyes, he looked terrified. It was then that he started to violently cough blood, it splattered into the air and into my right eye. Another nurse wordlessly took my place as I rushed to an eyewash station to clean out the biohazard. I was at risk for a number of blood transferable diseases, but that was always a risk and the hospital was prepared for it.

I was not there when the man they brought in died. A John Doe, we could find no trace of his identity. That was all the information I was privileged to hear. The rest was up to the police. I was used to the coming and going of many of patients, but he was someone I now truly wish I know more about. I took an HIV test and had blood work done to check for other diseases. The news seemed positive I seemed to have had little worry that I had any infections. However, within twenty-four hours I was experiencing symptoms to something I am still unable to fully explain.

I awoke ready to face another long day when I noticed it. A blot of something in my right eye. Like a single drop of black Ink in the corner of my eye. It moved when I tried to focus on it and when I looked I could not see it in the mirror. Trying to wash it out failed to yield results. Before my shift started I had a doctor who was a friend take a look at it but he failed to see anything wrong. Soon I was wrapped up in another busy day and failed to follow up on it. It did not obstruct my vision so I let the issue wait. It wasn’t until that night that I started to worry something was truly wrong. It was after another busy day I waited in my bed for sleep to take me. My eyes were closed, half asleep I could feel it. Like worms crawling across my eye stretching. Contracting and elongating to reach further and further across. I awoke in a panic, fumbling around to turn on a light. It was then I could see it. Reaching out of the black little dot in the corner of my eye, tentacle-like growths now obstructed my sight. They streaked across my pupil making my view look like peeking through a fence.

This time, I did not hesitate. I rushed back to the same ER I worked at. This time, a patient myself I was granted no special favors. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair under fluorescent lights with the familiar mumbling and coughing around me I waited. My discomfort soon turned to sharp pain. My eye felt like it was attacked by a red hot needle. All I could do was cry out in pain as I covered it with my hand. It was then I saw something in my eye. Something moving in the hazy darkness. It looked like faces in pain shifting in a mass of flesh. Each face trying to escape before being swallowed by the flesh and replaced with another.

By the time the visions had stopped I was being rushed into the back to be looked at. My eye forced open and carefully examined by a doctor. The pain was gone, replaced with the tedium of awkward questions and paperwork. I was in shock, unsure what to even tell the doctors. They looked at my eye, took more blood but only ended up shaking their heads. I saw the familiar eyes of pity and annoyance, the kind reserved to the hypochondriacs and the mentally ill. I know what they were thinking. Hours passed as I waited for a specialist and an ultrasound, meanwhile, I started to grow hopeless and anxious. I did not like being so out of control, to be the patient. After hours of waiting, a doctor sat me down and looked me in the eyes. He told me my initial tests looked good and that some other tests may take some time to process, that I should go home and rest. Before I could leave he handed me a piece of paper with the name of a psychiatrist that could help me.

I left the hospital feeling hopeless and drained. I called out of work and decided to rest as the doctor ordered. After drifting to sleep I dreamed. I dreamed of masses of flesh as dark as oil. They looked almost human but wrong. Misshapen as if they were made of melting wax. The almost humans all looked at me as if just noticing my presence. The crept slowly towards me. I awoke in pain, sharp pain. My eye felt like fire and nothing I did could ease it. Painkillers were useless. The pain would occasionally subside just long enough for me to start to fall asleep once more then start again just as I was about to pass out. I did not sleep at all that night.

I did not sleep the next night as well. Or the one after. My days turned into a blur of pain and sights that become harder to explain. As the blackness spread across my right eye it looked as if a painting was ripped in half to reveal another painting underneath. The two paintings contrasting against each other but at the same time creating a whole. I was losing my mind. I stopped even attempting to go to work. My tests came back negative. The doctors seemed more certain that this was a mental problem. Mental or not the pain was real to me.

Hopeless and wrapped in despair I did something reckless, auto-enucleation. Before I started I called an ambulance. I know the dangers involved and would need aid as soon as possible. Taking a scalpel I carefully cut into the orbit of the eye. I started like a surgeon careful and precise before pain and adrenaline turned my efforts violent. Cutting muscle and flesh without regard to which. Before I know it, what was left of my eye was a thick soup dripping out of its socket while leftover muscle tried in vain to hold the mess in. I passed out before the paramedics made it to my home.

I awoke in a dark hospital late in the night, drifting in and out of consciousness. My hands bound to rails so I could no longer harm myself. I had succeeded, my right eye was black. I could live with one eye, the pain was gone replaced by working pain killing drugs. For the first time, I could sleep. I had won. However, I could feel something move…it pushed against the bandages that covered my eye. Finding an opening. Something warm and slimy pushed out of the bandage like a popped pimple. It slid down my cheek. I tried to grab it but my hands were still chained. It wormed its way down my shoulder then my arm and dropped onto the floor with a splat. I could not see it in the dark as it vanished. My ordeal was over, my pain was gone as was my visions but I fear I let something out.

Sloth

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Gregg lived the life of a shut in. A recent college dropout something inside his mind had cracked from the social pressure. He convinced himself he only needed some time, time enough to sort out his life and get back on track. However as he waited his little apartment filled with trash, and the stink of unfinished delivery food. His savings dwindled by the day. The longer he stayed in the hole he dug, the harder it would be to climb out.

As he lay in his bed he stared at the ceiling. Contemplating his life and fate. A small black mark had caught his attention, a bit of dark mold in the shape of a circle. Gregg watched it, just one more problem in his life that needed to be fixed. Soon the young man dozed to sleep. A monotonous dripping sound becoming white noise. Drip, drip, drip…

That night dreams haunted the young man. Gregg found himself walking up an endless set of stairs. He did not know why he was climbing, but felt he needed to reach the top, such vagueness often being the nature of dreams. However no matter long it seemed he climbed he could never make any progress. Stopping or resting seemed to only cause him the sensation of falling further down the endless staircase.

Gregg awoke to a mild burning sensation on his leg. It was still night, darkness filled the room. Silence was only broken by the occasional passing car. Attempting to reach down and rub the area of discomfort he found that he could not move, his body was paralyzed. This realization fully awoke him. He felt groggy and sick. Fear growing in his mind as he tried but his efforts proved futile. The burning grow on his leg as a black ooze dripped one droplet at a time onto his bed.

The black mass grow on his lower body. Slowly seeping through bed sheets and onto flesh its acidic nature burning. Sheets, bed, and flesh all burned together sealing Gregg in. he could not scream nor move. He fell in and out of consciousness unsure of how much time had passed between each moment. His agony was slow and painful, made worse by the knowledge that there was no one who stop by any time soon enough to save him.
His landlord was the first to find the organic black mass on top of the bed. Worried parents had contacted him when they could not reach their son for days. He did not suspect it was once human at first, just a mass of black mold. The smell was rancid and the man felt the urge to vomit an urge he succumbed to when he saw what remained of a skull with bits of flesh still hanging to it. It seemed to stare at him, pleading for help.

Man Vs….

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John stepped into the ring to the sound of cheering fans. Looking near the front row, he could see his young daughter with a worried look upon her face. Two men in black suits sat behind her, waiting with ill intent in case John try backing out of the fight. The crowd gave a roar as his opponent entered the ring. A large, muscular man with dead eyes. The large man barely seemed coherent, till another little man in another black suit whispered something into his ear. The man’s dead eyes soon focused on John as both men moved to the center of the ring.

There was no ceremony or announcer to start the fight simply a bell going off after the ring was clear of all but the two fighters. John quickly puts his fists up in a boxers defense while his opponent wasted no time going on the offense. The muscular man throws a right hook aimed at John’s left forearm. The shot hit its target with inhuman strength, snapping bones.As bone broke out of skin and arm went limp the crowd cheered. Before John had time to react to his broken limb a left hook had already followed hitting his right forearm, shattering the bones inside. Both arms broken and useless the former boxer had no defense against his inhuman opponent. A jab to his right eye broke bone in his face and smashed the eye into a jelly. John fell to the floor. With only one eye left, he could see his daughter being dragged away. He wanted to yell to her, but a kick to the gut soon knocked him unconscious. The whole fight lasted only moments. Barely a warm up for his opponent, and only an opening show for the audience.

John awoke strapped to an operating table. Only his left eye was usable, but he could see enough of the horror around him. His left hand had already been removed, only a stub remained. A man in a mask was holding a saw ready to remove the right before he noticed John awake. He motioned two large men over to hold him down. There would be no anesthetic used, he was not worth it. Between John’s screaming a man readied two synthetic arms sized for John. They hoped to get him ready for another fight as soon as possible, the longer he recovered the more money was wasted. They could replace his broken body with synthetic parts as they saw fit. Increasing his fighting ability as they did. Before John passed out from the pain he wondered if he ever see his daughter again.