Modern Vampyre – Prologue

Contrary to popular belief, vampyres do exist. The modern interpretation, however, is so far removed from reality that one would hardly know a vampyre if it bit him to his face.
-William S. Christos

Somewhere in New England, 178X

As the rain beat down upon the roof of a horse stable with torrential might, two men looked at each other in the eyes. One was weak with a crippled leg and sallow skin. He wore an old leather hood and clothes that were worn well past their prime, yet still sufficed enough to do their job. His hands were tightly bound together with thick rope behind his back. He took long, heavy breaths that could be seen each time he exhaled. Drawing some phlegm back into his nose, he glanced down at the ground around him. Three of his fellow villagers lay dead at his feet; their warm blood soaking into the hay and dirt. With a gulp, he looked back up at the man in front of him.

“Are you going to kill me?” he asked.

The Redcoat before him pursed his lips together and paused to think for a moment. He glanced down at the bodies and then back at the man before him.

“What is your name?” the Redcoat asked.

There was a long hesitation and a trembling in the man’s jaw before he managed to compose himself and finally speak.

“Albien,” he said.

Before the war had started, Albien had been a humble farmer. He didn’t have much to his name; a small one-room house and a tiny plot of land to grow his food. Having little land was not good for a farmer. Having poor land was even worse, and his land was the poorest of the poor. Not much grew and what little did was considered of inferior quality. Oh, it was edible and nutritious, but to the eye and to the tongue, there was no delight to be found. In a general sense, there was very little flavor to the crops he grew and the majority of it was malformed. All in all, it was so unappealing that few were willing to buy his crops. This often meant selling what he could at a severely reduced rate, which afforded him very little income.

Despite his plight being the result of a poor choice of land, Albien had placed the blame solely on the British, so when the War of Independence broke out, he was quick to take up arms. In a sad twist of fate, however, this was perhaps the worst choice he could’ve made. If he had remained farming, his life would’ve likely improved as a steady supply of rations was always in need, regardless of appearance or taste. His decision to fight would, however, prove to be disastrous. Being a soldier was something he was altogether ill-equipped for. Though focused, Albien struggled through every aspect of army life.

The years of the war were hard on him and things took a turn for the worst a few months ago when he took a musket ball to the shoulder and another to the back of his leg. The one to the shoulder somehow went clean through without striking any bone. The one to the leg, on the other hand, had lodged itself in the calf muscles.

Albien was taken to a local hospital, which was little more than a large tent full of cots and curtains, where he was treated. With some remarkable luck, the doctors didn’t need to amputate. After extracting the musket-ball, the wound to the back of his leg healed surprisingly well, though it left him with a permanent limp. The shoulder wound, on the other hand, only seemed to get worse. Green pus began to ooze from the stitches while cold sweats rolled down his entire body. During this time, Albien didn’t eat. It’s not that he refused, he just didn’t have the strength to do so. As the infection from his shoulder seemed to spread and his body lacked the strength to receive nourishment, his belly began to swell and his skin began to shift to an almost pale greenish-yellow giving a ghoulish look to him.

And then, one day, the wound stopped oozing and healed, and he sat up.

Soon, he had the strength to again eat and to walk soon after that. Though the wound had healed, his complexion never changed and his belly remained bloated. While some at the hospital feared his ghoulish appearance, the staff remained ever considerate, which is why he was gracious and understanding when it came time for him to be discharged. “There is nothing more we can do, I’m afraid,” they told him. “Unfortunately, we don’t know how to fix what has happened to your body, but you are able to take care of yourself now and we need to make room for other patients. Surely you understand.” He did understand and he was grateful for all that they had done. And he returned home.

As he gimped into town with his discolored skin, bloated belly, and sunken features, few people recognized him as the man who once sold unremarkable crops and those that did let out gasps of horror. The women shooed their children into their homes while the men stared and judged. It seemed as though there was not a friendly face to show pity on an old neighbor. With a slow, yet deliberate pace, he soon made it back to the home he had left years ago to fight the British.

Albien’s home was much as he had left it, with few items except for the necessities. His crops long gone, there was nothing for him to eat, so he scrounged some coins he had hidden away in case of an emergency to purchase some bread. That would get him through the night at least. For the next few days, he got by with begging, though few would help him. Some that knew him from before the war gave him some fruit or coffee, but none would let him into their homes. The rest of the townsfolk shunned him. By the end of the week, with no money for food and so few willing to help, he was enervated and malnourished and as such, he took to the shameful tasks of survival.

Every evening after sun-fall, he would head out to the alleys with a wicker basket from home and rummage through the trash in search of food. Most of the time there was very little worth eating. On a good day, he might find a half-eaten piece of fruit or some stale bread. On a great day, maybe a bit of leftover meat. If luck was on his side, he’d catch a rat and kill it to cook and eat at home. Though he tried to be as discrete as possible, passersby would sometimes see him and turn their faces in disgust. It shamed him what he had become, but he knew he must do this to survive. Perhaps by spring, he’d be able to cultivate his crops once more and resume a more dignified life. This, however, was not meant to be.

One evening when Albien was making his rounds, he came across a body in the trash. It was naked and appeared to be male, though he couldn’t be completely sure as the genitalia was missing. Though the body seemed to have been dumped not long ago, it was quite withered in appearance, it’s flesh sunken in. He reached out with two fingers and gave it a push. The corpse’s limbs flopped over with the push fully exposing its left arm. The flesh felt dry, but not so old dry that it had been dead long. He also noted that by the way the arm flopped, rigor mortis had not yet set in. And then he noticed a peculiarity on the arm that was now exposed.

A chunk of flesh was missing from the underside of the wrist. It appeared as though it had been torn out, exposing the muscles, veins, and tendons. Splotches of desiccated blood held to the internals and edges of flesh where the tear had happened. As he leaned in for closer inspection, an ear-piercing scream broke the silence of the night.

Albien looked up to see a woman and her husband looking in his direction. He shook his head and pointed at the body saying, “No, no. This was here. I…I just found it.” As more people came to investigate the screams, he panicked and ran.

As he ran through the village, he could hear more shrieks and screams as more people came to witness the corpse he had left behind. He ran and ran as fast as he could, bounding around corners and darting through alleys, hoping to make it home unscathed when he heard another scream suddenly silenced by gunfire. This scream was different, though. It did not come from behind him where he had left the corpse, but instead from the direction he was running towards.

In an instant, Albien was frozen in his tracks, unsure of what to do. He stood still and firm like a plank, arms down to his sides, his body rigid as if it had turned to stone. He dared not even breathe. As he listened for anything at all, silence seemed to engulf the world around him. No screams. No gunshots. No footsteps. Not even the sound of the wind. It was as if the entire world stopped to prepare itself for the end of time. When it seemed like eternity had finally passed, the sky opened up and drenched the Earth in the tears of God.

The sudden downpour snapped him back to his senses. The rain was coming down so hard, that sound of it drowned out anything more than a few yards away. As a cautionary measure, he ran to a house nearby and pressed himself against the outer wall. With deliberate circumspection, he peered around the corner in the direction the gunshot rang from.

Off in the distance just on the outskirts of the village, he could see what appeared to be the body of a woman lying on the ground. He squinted a bit, attempting to get a better visual of what was happening through the rain. At first, she didn’t appear to move. She just lay there without any sign of life. He put his hand to his forehead in an attempt to shield his eyes from further rain. This allowed him to see her much more clearly. With this better view, she seemed very familiar to him.

She was young, around sixteen. Her skin was ashen and dotted with light freckles. Golden blonde hair spilled out of her cream-colored bonnet. Her dress was yellow and stained with grass in ways indicating that she had fallen somewhere nearby and either slid or rolled to her current location. Not far away was a basket with apples spilled about on the ground around it.

Oh goodness, he thought as he pulled himself back around the house. This was Harold Markinson’s daughter, Rebecca.

Albien peered back around the corner and confirmed that it was, in fact, Rebecca Markinson. She hadn’t moved in the slightest. Despite his fears, he thought it best that he should go check on her. He took a few steps out when without warning, her head turned in his direction. Stopping dead in his tracks, he looked into her eyes as she mouthed the word help. It was right then, a bayonet plunged deep into her heart and blood gurgled out from her mouth. The shock caused him to gasp loudly and at the other of the bayonet, a British soldier turned to look at him. They locked eyes and the soldier pointed at him and shouted. Albien couldn’t quite make out what the Redcoat said through the rain, but he was certain the words were Kill him!

Albien did not hesitate to see if there were more British around to follow that order; he just turned and ran with as much gusto as his crippled legs could muster up. He hadn’t crossed much distance when a musket ball cut through the air past his head and splinted the corner of a nearby house. With that, he turned into a nearby alley and began zigzagging through the streets, taking every unusual path he was able to. He wasn’t taking note of where he was heading, only that he was moving away from the British troops. If he had made note of his surroundings, he would’ve noticed that he had paused to catch his breath not far from where he initially found the naked body. However, he had not made note and had ended up a mere three houses over.

By this point in time, a sizable crowd had gathered at the scene and though many of the people were simply trying to catch a glimpse of the body, some were hunting about their surroundings for anything out of the ordinary; any sort of clue that may lead them to the murderer. Anything out of the ordinary. The crowd knew a man had been killed in a horrific and vile manner. The crowd knew that Albien was seen with the body. The crowd knew that Albien had become a scavenger and that he ran when confronted at the body. What the crowd did not know was that Redcoats were about to storm their village.

“Hey! It’s him!” a voice shouted.

Albien looked up to see a towns-person pointing in his direction. It quickly went from one towns-person to many and the many began marching to his direction. He ran, and they ran after him. Despite his crippled physique, Albien knew the streets of this town better than anyone and with a little luck, he was sure he could lose them. He wasn’t, however, sure he’d be able to return home.

Without warning, gunshots echoed in the distance and the screams of his fellow townsfolk could be heard. The Redcoats had arrived and they were offering no quarter. Albien hesitated for a moment as he considered going back to help, however, his consideration dissipated when he realized that some of the townspeople completely ignored their fellow villagers being slain to continue their hunt for him. And so he decided to run. Though at this point his ultimate goal was to escape the village lest he die by the hand of neighbor or by the hand of Redcoat, he had to make so many turns to avoid being seen that he never quite reached the outskirts.

Despite the heavy rains, Albien spent so much time running that he was becoming parched. Eventually, he had to stop and catch his breath. When a safe opportunity arose, he ducked behind a house as shots of gunfire and screams could be heard in the distance. His dry throat gasping for breath, he opened his mouth towards the sky to catch some of the rain and then slumped against the house as he reflected on his situation. He had sacrificed what little he had for his burgeoning country and now both the enemy he had fought against and his fellow countrymen were looking to kill him. He almost broke down to cry when he heard voices through the downpour.

“Come on. I think he went this way.”

Blast!, he thought. They’ve found me. And with that, he ran as best as his crippled leg could carry him. It wasn’t long before he found a small horse stable at the edge of the village. Knowing that he would be seen if he tried to leave the community with foes so close-by, it wasn’t a difficult choice to hide in one of the empty stalls and enshroud himself within the straw. Unfortunately for him, the footprints he left in the mud outside the stable led his pursuers right to him.

“Come on. Who do you think you’re fooling?” a voice asked. “Get out of there, lest we drag you out.”

Albien sat up and brushed the straw away from his face and torso. Before him stood three of his neighbors, soaking wet and with various implements to end his life. The one in front had a black mustache and held a musket with both hands at his waist. A large satchel was slung over his shoulder and lay by the opposite waist. As for the two in the back, one had a red wiry beard and carried a pitchfork. The other one was thin as a rail, clean-shaven, and carried a rope.

“Stand up.” The one in front said calm, but firm.

Albien did as he was told and most of the remaining straw slid off of his body, though some remained stuck due to his dampness. He attempted to brush it off but was interrupted by the one who told him to stand.

“Stop.”

Albien did as he was told and adjusted his posture to make himself as presentable as he could.

“You know why we’re after you, don’t you?” the man with the musket asked.

Albien gulped and nodded before speaking.

“I didn’t do it,” he said.

“Then why did you run?”

“I panicked. I was scared. There was screaming and people were looking at me awful.”

“Because you did those awful things.”

“No!”

The one with the musket curled his lip and thought for a bit before speaking.

“I’m sorry to say this,” he began before motioning to the other two to tie him up. “Under normal circumstances, we’d drag you to the courthouse to be dealt with by the law. That said, it is my regret to inform you that our current circumstances do not afford us such luxury.”

“I didn’t do it!” Albien protested.

“That may be so,” he said reaching into his satchel, “but at current, I don’t really have any choice.” His hand emerged with a small cartridge that he tore open with his teeth. “I don’t know if you’re aware, but the British have arrived and are unleashing a slaughter upon us.” Half-cocking the musket, he opened the flash pan and poured in a small bit of the cartridges black powder.

“But I fought against the British as part of the Continental Army!” Albien protested as he was being restrained with rope as another held him at bay with the pitchfork.

“And for that, we are truly grateful. That does not change the fact that you are most likely the murderer and for that, justice must be dealt.” He shut the flash pan and poured the rest of the powder down the muzzle of the musket.

“Please,” Albien pleaded.

The man inserted the musket ball into the barrel followed by the cartridge. Albien just watched as the man removed the ramrod and pushed the cartridge and musket ball in to seat the charge. After putting the ramrod back, he cocked and aimed the musket at Albien’s chest.

“For this, I am deeply sorry,” he said. “Do you have any last words before I execute sentence?”

“Oh, enough of this!” a distinct voice said from the next stall.

All four men turned to see disheveled Redcoat step out into the open. Pale skin hung on a skeletal frame with messy black hair and pronounced cheekbones. A slight red stain was visible around his mouth. His coat was opened and a torn cotton shirt revealed visible ribs. His shoulder belt was completely missing. In fact, except for his trousers, boots, coat, and shirt, he appeared to be missing every other part of his uniform. No tri-tip hat, no cartridge box or haversack or anything. Not even any weapons.

“I can’t bear to see another man go down for my crimes,” he said. “This individual you have tied up did not kill the naked man in the alley.” He paused for a moment while the others looked on somewhat perplexed at the situation unfolding before them. After an awkward silence, he said, “I did. I’m sorry. I was hungry. I haven’t had a proper meal in nearly three months. I was desperate.”

There was a long, uncomfortable silence before the one with the pitchfork twisted his face into disgust and spoke up.

“What kind of person considers another man’s penis a proper meal?” he asked.

The Redcoat was bewildered for the briefest of moments before realizing what he was talking about and gave a relaxed laugh.

“Oh, no!” he said. “No. No. No. No. Noooo. I can see why you would think that, but I assure you, I did not eat his penis.”

This time, the thin one who had brought the rope spoke. He thought for a moment to gather his words, and asked in a somewhat unsure manner, “Then……what happened to it?”

There was another uncomfortable silence in the stable. Albien had not expected to be accused of murder, yet here he was about to die at the hands of his fellow countrymen as a soldier of the people he once fought stood before them admitting the murder was his. The three accusers thought they had the murderer in their grasp, yet here was a lone Redcoat admitting the crime in a situation that would clearly get him killed. And as for the Redcoat, he was now having to explain to those who would surely kill him what happened to someone else’s penis. It was a confusing and awkward situation for all involved.

“It’s not one of my finest moments, I’ll admit,” stated the Redcoat. “The thing is, I was quite malnourished at the time of the killing and he was surprisingly strong and spry. I found him very difficult to restrain and I feared he may escape or worse, warn someone of my presence. As such, I felt it was in my best interest to disable him.” He held his tongue and then spoke his next words carefully. “I ripped his penis off to make it more difficult for him to fight back.”

The four recoiled in horror and disgust.

“I agree,” he continued. “However, this issue left me with another problem. While I had disabled the individual, he was now losing precious blood at a rapid pace. As such, I was forced to tear open his wrist with my teeth and consume as much blood as I could before he lost it all through his…..wound.” He sounded uncomfortable as he said that last part and even winced a little as he said it. “Anyhow, after I had finished eating, I needed to dispose of the husk. The first thing I did was toss his clothes into the fireplace. Then I bought the body out into the alley to hide in the rubbish. It was my hope that sanitary practices here were not any better than the part of England from which I hail and that the rats and insects would consume most of the body before it was found. It is my displeasure to say that before I could sufficiently conceal my work, I heard someone approaching and fled.”

For a few long moments, the sound of the rain seemed extra loud. The way it pounded down on the roof of the stable, the way it splashed in the puddles on the ground. Somehow, it seemed to drown out the gunshots and screams in the distance and the only thing in the world right now were these five men. All the cards and been laid out by the Redcoat and no one was quite sure what to do with the hand they had been dealt with. The sound of the proverbial table being flipped broke through that of the rain when the one with the pitchfork shouted out loud.

“You son of a bitch!” he yelled as he thrust his pitchfork into the belly of the Redcoat.

The Recoat staggered backward a few steps as a small bit of blood oozed out around the tines of the pitchfork. To the surprise of everyone, however, he seemed more annoyed than anything. He looked down at the pitchfork in his belly and frowned. With two hands, he grasped the handle and pulled it out of his body against the force of the one who had stabbed him with it. Then, with a thrust, he pushed it away, knocking the fellow to the ground.

“So,” the Redcoat said with disappointment, “this is how it is to be.”

With brutal efficiency and cat-like reflexes, the Redcoat thrust the fingers of his left hand into the stomach of the man with the gun and took his musket with the other hand. Then with the musket, he fired a musket ball into the throat of the man who had carried the pitchfork. And finally, to the man who had tied up Albien, he simply twisted the man’s head enough to snap the man’s neck.

After taking some time to survey the works of his hands, he looked up and locked eyes with Albien. Though quiet, Albien was breathing heavily through his mouth. Phlegm seemed to crawl down his sallow skin from his nostrils to his lips. The Redcoat studied him hard, as though he was trying to figure out what to make of this deformed man with a complexion he had not seen before.

“Are you some kind of ghoul?” he asked.

With a long draw, Albien pulled the phlegm back into his nose. He looked at the bodies of those around and pondered if he would be next. Swallowing the nothing in his mouth, he spoke.

“Are you going to kill me?”

The Redcoat before him pursed his lips together and paused to think for a moment. He glanced down at the bodies and then back at the man before him.

“What is your name?” the Redcoat asked.

There was a long hesitation and a trembling in the man’s jaw before he managed to compose himself and finally speak.

“Albien,” he said.

The Redcoat made an audible hmm and nodded ever so slight. He put his hand to his chin and seemed to think about something for a moment, then he sighed and walked behind Albien and removed his bonds. Albien pulled his hands to his chest and rubbed his wrists as the Redcoat walked back in front of him, but never turning to look at him. Instead, he kept his back to the recently freed man and looked out into the rain.

“You didn’t answer my question,” he said. “Are you some kind of ghoul?”

Albien removed his hood revealing a head of thick, graying hair which made his pale greenish-yellow skin somehow seem more vibrant. In all truth, Albien was not nearly as deformed as people made him out to be and his deformities, for the most part, weren’t all that uncommon. He wasn’t the only person in the village with a gimp; there were others before the war and even more after it had begun. And his hunch wasn’t a hunch at all, but merely a rounding of one side of his back from the way he carried his injured shoulder up and his head down close to it. Really, the only thing that was strikingly unusual was the color of his skin that he tried to hide by wearing a hood. But with a strange twist, the hood only seemed to accentuate all three of these things which may have created the idea of a monster in people. Yet without the hood, he seemed almost completely normal.

“I don’t believe so, no,” Albien replied.

“What are you, then?”

“Man to the best of my knowledge.”

The Redcoat thought about this before speaking. Then he turned to Albien and looked him over again. He had never seen such a person, yet aside from the color, there was nothing that couldn’t easily be explained away. Through the rain, the sounds of muskets firing the screams were becoming fewer, but they were slowly getting closer. He looked at the hood in Albien’s hands and decided that he didn’t care what he was. If Albien could help him, he would be most appreciative. Pointing at the hood, he spoke to Albien.

“May I have that?” he asked.

“Uh, sure,” Albien replied.

The Redcoat snatched up the hood and pulled it over his head. He then took his coat and shirt off and began undressing the bodies as Albien just stared and watched, unsure of what to do. He noticed that Albien was just standing there and reached out to shake his hand.

“Forgive me,” the Redcoat said. “My name is Abstinence. Abstinence Jackson.”

“Abstinence?” ask Albien as he returned the handshake.

“Yes,” replied, Abstinence. “My parents were puritans who were deadset on having a girl. Then I came along and like how stubborn puritans can be, they weren’t changing the name they had picked for anything.”

“Puritans? But wouldn’t that mean you’re…”

“Look, we can discuss my family history any other time, but right now, British soldiers are making their way through the village and if we are still here when they arrive, they will kill us both. If you help me get out of here alive, I will guarantee that the remainder of your days will better than you can currently imagine. Will you help me?”

Albien didn’t really see that he had much of an option. Help the man who helped him or die. He opted to help.

“Alright,” he said. “What do you need from me?”

“Thank you,” said Abstinence. “I can’t let the rain touch me and I can’t be seen looking like a Redcoat. Help me put on whatever will cover my skin.”

Quickly and carefully, they removed the most protective clothes they could from the bodies. Leather boots and gloves, a heavy shirt and pants. Unfortunately, these were not enough to completely protect Abstinence. Scavenging through the other stalls, however, Albien managed to find a thick horse blanket and Abstienece was quick to wrap himself in it.

The gunshots grew louder as the two looked out into the rain.

“You won’t regret this, Albien,” said Abstinence. “This I swear.”

And with that, the two ran out into the rain and headed for the forest. By the time that the British arrived at the stables, they were long gone and the rain had washed away any footsteps or mud that would point to them ever being there or where they were going. All that remained were three dead bodies and a torn British uniform.

Shadow Demon

Hi. My name’s Sammie. This is going to sound crazy, but I’m pretty sure that something is planning to kill me. I don’t know what it is, but he’s been toying with me for years. I say he because that’s what I can most assume from its shape, but honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is that he’s terrifying and every time I see him, he’s somehow more intimidating.

I don’t really remember the first time he visited me, but I first recall his visitations shortly after my father died. I think I must have been five or six years old at the time. I woke up late in the night. It was an extremely peaceful night which is why I think I remember it so well. There was no wind or noise from traffic, no strange lights to cause unnatural shadows. It was so peaceful, I almost immediately fell back asleep. However, just as I was closing my eyes, I heard a brief creak from across the room. My eyes opened back up just enough to see that my closet door was open just a crack. I stared at it for a while, and then after nothing, began to close my eyes again. This time, however, just as my eyes began to close, I saw the door open just enough to see inside.

At first, I thought I saw nothing, just blackness as one would expect from a closet in the middle of the night. I stared at the blackness for a bit and after a time of seeing nothing, I started to roll over and saw him. Not instantly, mind you. What I noticed was that the darkness at the top of the closet was not as dark as the rest of the closet. I squinted a bit and realized that the darker darkness had a shape. I couldn’t make out all of it, but I could definitely make out the side of a head and part of a shoulder.

And I froze up. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t look away. I couldn’t do anything at all except for lie there and watch.

As I stared at the darkness in my closet, I could make out a faint red where an eye should be.

And I screamed.

My mother came rushing into my bedroom, flicking the light on, and slid onto my bed pulling me close. I don’t know for how long I continued screaming. I just know that it scared the hell out of my mother. She stayed with me in my bed that night. By the time I finally fell back to sleep, the sun was beginning to rise.

After that first incident, I didn’t see him for quite a long time, or at least, not that I can remember. In fact, it was such a long time that I had completely forgotten about him until I hit my early twenties when I saw him again.

I was living on my own then. I had a small studio apartment that was cheap and since I was single, it was large enough for me. It comprised of three rooms; a kitchen, a bedroom living room combo, and a bathroom. One room led right into the next. My bed was between the kitchen and bathroom doorways, the foot of it facing the kitchen.

Three or four years passed before I had my first incident in that apartment. It was summer as I recall and though warm weather was expected, that night when I woke up, it was unusually warm. I was sweating heavily and my mouth was parched. Groggy, I attempted to build some saliva to wet my mouth but I could move neither tongue nor lips. Thinking this strange, I attempted to push myself up to get a glass of water, but my arms would not work. Not just my arms but also my legs and fingers and head and neck. Not even my eyelids would bring me respite by closing. All that I could do was to look around by rolling my eyes towards the various corners of my room.

That’s when I saw him, standing in the middle of my kitchen, staring at me through his two dull red eyes.

He was immense in stature, his head nearly touching the ceiling. Though he was darker than the shadows themselves, I could strangely make out definition and form. Two very small horns protruded from his mostly smooth head. Sparse wiry hair seemed to hang from the sides of his head, crooked and bending in many directions before falling down. Had long teeth that kept his lips from closing that were as black as the rest of him. Each of his fingers ended in points like claws and though I could not see his feet, I image they were of a similar nature.

The creature’s body was very muscular and toned, as though an artist has sculpted it out of marble. I could tell that even if he did not have those terrible claws or teeth, it would be no great feat for him to rip me limb from limb, tearing me apart effortlessly. Don’t ask how I could see all these features. I, myself, do not know either for the creature was darker than the darkness and logically, I could not have seen anything except for the basic shape and eyes. It’s as though he communicated something to my subconscious, filling in the details that I could not actually see.

And he just stood there, staring at me, barely moving. He must have stared at me for a good fifteen or twenty minutes, though it felt like much longer, every second the terror becoming much more intense.

I do not know when he left, because as soon as I regained the function of my eyelids, I immediately closed them. And then, almost as soon as I closed them, I was asleep. When I opened my eyes again, it was mid-morning and I felt strangely refreshed. I must have expended so much energy in my terror that my body took all the time it needed to fully rest.

I told of the incident to my friend Tom. He seemed to immediately recognize it.

“Oh yeah!” he exclaimed. “Sleep paralysis. That sucks. I get that from time to time. The most frightening thing I’ve ever been through. Happens to me every now and then. For me, it’s generally a witch crouched over the side of my bed just watching me.”

“How do you deal with it?” I asked.

“Honestly, I just keep telling myself it’s all a dream and that it will pass. The effect is minimal and it generally helps divert the fear.”

“Generally?” I asked.

“Well, sometimes, it seems to intensify it. A lot. You know, it’s moments like those when I wish I was one of those Christian fuckers.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Well, you look up anything that has to do with Christians and sleep paralysis and they’re always so sure it’s demonic. So they pray to Jesus, with their mind I guess, and it immediately goes away and they’re filled with real comfort and peace. What I would give to be able to make those moments disappear just like that. It’s like some kind of Jedi mind trick.”

I took in what Tom had to say and spent some time at my computer researching. It certainly sounded like I experienced sleep paralysis. People waking up during the REM stage of sleep report seeing all sorts of things, demons, aliens, witches, shadow men, etc., often in relation to their culture. For example, in the fifties after reports of UFOs and became more mainstream, sleep paralysis incidents reported as alien abductions jumped up drastically. It was good to know that I was not alone and that the demon was not real. I thought I would be able to cope should it happen again. I was, unfortunately, quite mistaken.

It was roughly three or four months before my next incident and it was so much worse. I woke up in the night again, completely paralyzed. I told myself that it was simply sleep paralysis and that there was nothing to fear, that it was all in my head. I looked around as best I could and saw nothing but my small apartment. If I could’ve, I would’ve have smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. As the only thing I could do was move my eyes, I just stared ahead into my kitchen. And that’s when I saw him.

At first, he wasn’t completely visible. He was there but hiding, as though he were waiting for me to notice him. I noticed an odd shape at the edge of the kitchen doorway. It was a just a shoulder barely visible from behind the door frame. The moment I saw it, what I can now only refer to as the demon leaned in from behind the frame. As he emerged, my heart began to race. First his hair, then his head and horns, and finally his dull red eyes appeared. The doorway being so near to the foot of my bed, he was much closer than the previous visit. And nearly as quickly as he leaned in and made his presence known, he quickly and quietly leaned back behind the frame.

At once, I let out a deep gasp of air and regained control of my body. Daring not to go into the kitchen, I closed my eyes and pulled the covers over my head, whimpering quietly. Hoping he wouldn’t hear me. Hoping he wouldn’t come after me.

Exhausted, I fell asleep in my own tears.

I woke up to birds chirping. The sun was shining through my windows. I was exhausted and still frightened. Carefully, I got out of bed and made my way to the kitchen. It was exactly as I had left it. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing it was, in fact, another bout of sleep paralysis.

After this incident, I thought future episodes would be easier, eventually learning to ignore the demon and go back to sleep. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As time progressed, the shadow demon began appearing more and more frequently. First, he would appear once every few months, then every other month and then once a month. Soon the monthly visits would be every few weeks and then weekly, and so on and so on until it was every single night. He never did anything other than stare at me, so you would think that I would’ve grown used to it, but I didn’t. Somehow each night was more terrifying than the last. It got to the point where I could swear I was even seeing him before going to bed.

See, my bathroom mirror was right in line with the door to the bedroom which was right in line with the door to the kitchen. When I was brushing my teeth, if my eyes glanced up, I would often just stop and stare into the kitchen through the mirror. I would sometime stare for minutes, worried that he would be there. Climbing into bed wasn’t any easier. Even though he was always in the kitchen, I couldn’t bring myself to get close to the underside of my bed. I’d have to leap in so that the nothing that wasn’t there wouldn’t grab me.

All of this was taking its toll on me. I hadn’t had a goodnight’s sleep in months. It got to the point where I was trying to force myself to not go to sleep. I managed to stay up for nearly three days before I fell asleep on the couch in front of the TV. For better or worse, I fell asleep watching A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge. I’m not really sure why I was watching that while being tormented nightly, but it seemed to help, at least for the moment. Perhaps it was to help me cope, perhaps it was simply a distraction. Either way, I fell asleep watching a horror move about a pedophile who murders children in their sleep.

The next morning I woke up shortly after seven-thirty; the sun shining through my windows. Good Morning America was on. Al Roker was giving the latest weather forecast. Sitting up, I scratched my head and looked around. I couldn’t believe it. I actually slept the entire night and I felt completely rested. For once, I had a glimmer of hope.

Though in the past, I’ve had difficulty getting to sleep if there was any light brighter than a dim VCR clock, I now kept the TV on every night. For the first few weeks, I still went to sleep on the couch. It did not face the kitchen and it put me directly in front of the TV. Once I had gotten comfortable with sleeping again, I moved back to my bed.

My bed felt so amazing. It was like reuniting with a good friend that hasn’t been seen in years. I just sunk into the mattress and fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. Being able to sleep in my own bed again was true bliss. All was good for a few more weeks.

And then I woke up again.

I woke up on my side unable to move. The TV was still on; Austin City Limits was playing on PBS. It sounded like they had a country artist playing, a very lively country artist. As the credits began to roll, the glow of the TV cast shadows of a Coca-cola can and an empty box of crackers sitting on the coffee table onto the couch and opposite wall. Despite being paralyzed, I wasn’t immediately afraid. There was light in my room and though I could not see into the kitchen from the position I was in, there seemed to be no indication that my shadow demon was there. I wondered if perhaps my brain had finally come to accept my situation and relax. That is until my TV went dark for roughly half a second as it went to a commercial break between programs.

In that half-second of darkness, my shadow demon was revealed to me, not in the kitchen but instead standing in the corner of my room on the other side of the TV. He was still there when the glow of the screen resumed. He was standing just behind its reach, remaining firmly in the shadows. There was something different about him too. He looked mad. Very mad. And that terrified me.

Had I successfully kept him at bay for a short time while he figured out how to get back in? I don’t know, but whatever the situation, he seemed very displeased by it. I don’t know for sure if the glow of the TV was keeping him at bay, but he seemed like he was held back by it, so he just stared at me and I back at him. Though I can’t be sure, his chest seemed to be rising and falling, as though he were taking deep and heavy breaths, though I heard no sound except for that of PBS advertisements.

I’m not sure how long we stared at each other. I don’t even remember falling asleep. I just remember waking up again around ten in the morning feeling exhausted. I looked at the spot where the shadow demon stood and I realized something I perhaps should’ve realized when I woke up. The corner where he was standing was where my computer desk was. The monitors and desk would’ve been going right through him. He couldn’t possibly have been there.

I shook my head. What a stupid thought. There were so many reasons that didn’t make any sense, first and foremost being that if it was my brain causing hallucinations, then the desk and monitor never would’ve even been a factor. Secondly, if it was an actual demon, who am I to dictate how they do and do not operate. For all I know, the only thing they need is enough darkness. Material may be immaterial to them. The sheer absurdity of it all actually made me laugh for a moment.

Looking at my desk again though, I did get an idea.

That night before I went to bed, I turned on both computer monitors and made sure to set them to never go to sleep. I picked a nice white background with bouncing text for a screen-saver to keep that area bright. And it worked for a few months. I didn’t see my shadow demon except for once when my friend Tom crashed on my couch.

We had stayed up drinking and watching really dumb comedies. We actually fell asleep with all of the lights in the apartment on including the TV and monitors. The reason I know this is because I woke up on the floor half in the kitchen, half in the bed/living room with everything still on. Tom had gotten up to use the bathroom. I was still too out of it to get up off the floor and into my bed, so I closed my eyes and went back to sleep before Tom had finished. It was during this time that he must have turned everything off before going back to sleep on the couch.

I don’t know when I woke up again, but it was totally dark and I was on my back looking up. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening or where I was, then I recalled waking up earlier with the lights on and realized I was still on the floor. The next thing I realized was that I couldn’t move. My heart began to race as panic set in. In the past, I had generally seen my shadow demon in the kitchen or the corner of my room. Now here I was on my back in total darkness; not knowing where my demon was or what he would do. And then I saw.

Out of the corner of my eye, in front of the couch, I could see a long, black leg right next to my head; mere inches away. I could feel my breath slipping away as my eyes followed the legs path up to the body and eventually the head. It was my shadow demon, just standing over Tom, staring down at him. Watching.

In all my time I had never been so close to him. He’d always stayed at distance. But now here he was, right next to me, fixated on my friend. I panicked, but couldn’t move as he just watched Tom. But then, after a time, he turned his head slightly and looked down, right into my eyes. He’d noticed me and I could almost see his terrible grin as I stared into his dull red eyes. He started to crouch down and I lost consciousness.

When I woke up again, Tom was eating Lucky Charms at the table. I didn’t tell him about what happened, but after that point, I wouldn’t let anyone sleep in my apartment again.

Over the next few years, I would take to increasingly drastic measures to keep from being visited as I slept. It wasn’t long before the computer monitors were no longer cutting it, so I turned on a desk lamp. That was all good for a few weeks and then I’d have to add another light. Then things would be fine for a while again until he found another shadow to hide in. This cycle continued until all of the lights in the apartment were on. I couldn’t sleep in all the light, so I would have to lie on my side and face the wall. I would often stay awake for a couple days at a time eventually falling asleep from exhaustion, but never because I just needed sleep. This was taking such a physical toll on my daily life that I eventually gave in and went back to sleeping with the lights out.

He would come every single night and so my remaining strategy was to lie physically against the wall, face in. I could always tell he was there, but thankfully I could not see him, usually. Eventually, I learned to fall back asleep knowing that if I couldn’t see him, he couldn’t hurt me. While I still awoke in terror every single night, things seemed to be getting better until one night when he broke me.

I was lying to the wall like I always did, but I must have shuffled at some point in my sleep as my face pointed downward somewhat when I woke up. There was a small gap between the bed and the wall, maybe an inch or two, so when I opened my eyes, I was peering down that little tiny space. There, looking back up from the space, was the shadow demon. He was under my bed.

I think I must have blacked out because the next thing I remember was waking up cold and very wet. It was raining hard and I had left the window open all night. The sounds of splashing as vehicles drove through puddles were not as comforting as it would’ve been during previous incidents. In the past when I’d wake up, there was always a new step I could learn or trick I could do to keep him just far enough away. Seeing him under my bed let me know that there was no safe place. I broke down after that.

I started going to therapy. I participated in sleep studies. I was even prescribed prescription medications to help me sleep. Nothing worked. The therapy uncovered nothing. The sleep studies showed that while I did enter sleep paralysis, they saw nothing out of the ordinary. The therapy and sleep study not being able to provide any sort of relief, they tried medications. Oh, that was so much worse. Most nights, the medications worked fairly well and allowed me to sleep through the night. The nights where I woke up, however, the shadow demon’s presence was so much more intense. Those nights, I could sometimes feel him put a hand on my shoulder or chest. The worst was when I’d feel him pat my hair with his hand, just letting me know he was there and I couldn’t escape.

The therapy and drugs not helping, I turned to alcohol hoping that I would pass out long enough to wake up in the day time. It got really bad, sometimes drinking an entire 30 pack of cheap beer or a whole fifth of whiskey in a night. It helped for a while. One of the beautiful things about drinking yourself to sleep was that you could easily fall asleep with all the lights on and so I did. It was great for a while. I’d wake up in the night and stumble into the bathroom to take a piss and then go back to sleep on the couch. I had long stopped sleeping in my bed since that time I saw the shadow demon peering up from the space between the bed and the wall. This became a boon to me. I thought, if I got drunk enough, I couldn’t fall into sleep paralysis and if there was no paralysis, there was no demon.

I had done it, I thought. I had found the trick. All that I needed to do was drink myself to sleep and make sure I leave on all the lights in my apartment.

It was good for a while, until one night when I woke up paralyzed on the couch. All the lights were on, so that was a good sign. My eyes looked around the room until they spotted him. I had left the bathroom door open and although the light in the bathroom was on, it couldn’t reach all the way into the bathroom closet which had no door. There he was, peering at me from behind some clothes hanging up in the closet. The closet had a shelf so he was crouched down. I could tell he was grinning, waiting for his time.

So the next night and from then on, I always remembered to close the bathroom door any time I wasn’t in it. Problem solved.

What I hadn’t considered, however, was how bad the constant stream of alcohol was affecting my sleep. I was passing out, yes. Losing consciousness, yes. But what I wasn’t getting was quality sleep. I soon learned that if your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, then your body will find a way.

I woke up one night to take a piss. I opened the bathroom door and walked in to take a piss. When I finished with my business, I started washing my hands in the sink, then my face. As I wiped my face dry, I could see in the mirror that my kitchen light was out and in its darkness was my shadow demon.

The game had suddenly changed. Never before had I see him from a non-paralyzed state. His chest raised and lowered with heavy breaths. My heart pounded at my chest as I stared at him through the mirror. I was afraid to move, not knowing what to do. Do I keep my eye on him or turn to face him? Though it must have only been moments, it felt like an eternity. Finally, I decided to turn around with a bolt.

He wasn’t there. Thank God.

I breathed a sigh of relief before remembering that the bathroom closet was now behind me and the silent panic set in once more. Slowly, without turning to look, I stepped out of the bathroom and closed the door behind me. I then stared at the kitchen for some time before going to sit down on the couch. I pulled my knees up to my chin and held them close with my arms. I didn’t dare to go turn the kitchen light on; that would mean going through the darkness. I just waited until morning when the sun arose.

I later learned about micro-sleep. If your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, it will snatch it where it can, in short half-second to thirty-second bursts. Perhaps that’s what happened when I saw him in the mirror. Perhaps, I was asleep. Perhaps I was paralyzed. Maybe it simply wasn’t long enough for me to know it. All this I tried to rationalize, but I couldn’t be sure. What the experience showed me, however, was that I couldn’t continue on the way I had been.

I got a job working overnight security at a mall thinking that maybe if I took a night job, I could sleep during the day when the number of shadows would be more limited. I hadn’t considered that in my current condition that walking all by myself through a big empty building full of shadows might be too much for me. The cameras apparently showed that I was way too nervous and jumpy to be considered reliable should an actual emergency arise. I was let go after a few weeks.

Unable to maintain a job or normal relationships or even help with sleep paralysis, I began looking down alternative paths. Specifically, I turned to ghost hunters and paranormal experts. None of them were able to find a thing and all concluded that it was all simply a figment of my imagination. That is until two people showed up at my door.

At first, I thought they were Mormons with their black pants, white t-shirts, and black neckties. One of them was tall and lanky with a small stack of books under his arm. The other was of more average height and build with glasses. Before they could speak, I almost told them I was not interested when I saw the van behind them. It was white with plain black lettering on the side: Deep Paranormal. I started to open my mouth, but before I could find the correct words, the average one spoke.

“You’ve become quite the anomaly of the ghost hunting world, Sammie,” he said. “I don’t know if we can help you, but I believe we can confirm?”

“Confirm?” I asked, perplexed.

“The shadow demon,” he said. “We can say with great certainty that they exist, but until now, no one has ever been able to get proof. May we come in?”

“Uh, sure,” I replied. “Right this…” They walked past me. “…way.”

They immediately began looking all around my apartment.

“Wow!” the average one exclaimed. “It’s smaller than I would’ve thought. This should be easy.”

“I’m sorry,” I stammered. “How do you know about this?”

“We ghost hunters talk to each other. Well, us smaller ones anyhow. We generally don’t share anything with the television groups. They have a tendency to make us all look like idiots. We have secret forums that only the most trusted can access. It allows us to improve as a community while at the same time protecting the privacy of those we work for.”

“Really?” I asked. “Because you showing up here uninvited doesn’t make me feel like my privacy has been protected.”

“And under normal circumstances, we would never have come or been given your personal information. However, considering your situation and what we have to offer, it was felt that it may be in both of our best interests.”

“And what makes you think you can do what no one else has been able to?”

“Photon detection,” the lanky one finally said.

“Exactly,” the average one explained. “It’s not new technology by any means, but it is something that’s been out of our reach until recently. Your shadow demon will be our first attempt at capturing one on camera with this method. Using an algorithm by Ahmed Kirmani and his colleagues at MIT, we can take a picture of something in near-total darkness. And not just ordinary pictures either. Three-dimensional pictures. These photos will have depth. Theoretically, we should be able to confirm whether this is all in your head or not.”

“Wait,” I began, “if you’ve never caught one of these on camera before, how can you confirm it’s all in my head if you don’t catch one with me?”

“All other possibilities have been ruled out,” the lanky one replied.

“Precisely!” the average one exclaimed. “Though no one has been able to get photographic evidence of a shadow demon before, there is enough anecdotal evidence that they exist, something that no other ghost hunter has been able to find with you. If we can’t find any proof with this method, you might just be crazy.”

I shrugged, not knowing what else to do. “Great,” I surrendered. “What do we do?”

“Just let us set up our equipment and then carry about your night like you normally would. We only ask that you make sure every possible light source is either out or blocked.”

“Fair enough,” I said. “Let’s get to this.”

The next few hours involved the setup of various equipment that I had no idea anything about. It all seemed specially designed for total darkness because there weren’t any little lights on any of the equipment to let you know it was working. They explained to me that they could read all of the instruments from their van, which is where they would be all night.

That night I went to bed around 11:30 after a few beers. When I woke up to the birds chirping at 7:30 the next morning, I realized I had a rare night of complete sleep. I felt fully rested. When the average-sized one knocked on my door, I expected him to tell me that because of my full night of sleep, they didn’t get anything and would need to run the tests for another night. As such, I was a little surprised to seem him looking deeply unsettled when I opened the door.

“Um…..could you please follow me to the van?” he asked. “We have something to show you.”

I grabbed a bathrobe and followed him out to the van parked in my yard. Climbing inside, the lanky one was preparing the footage for me to view. It was clear something bothered him too as he looked up at me briefly, shook his head slightly, and then back down at the screen.

The average one pointed at the monitor which was replaying the events of the night in an infrared night-vision at high speed from different cameras.

“This is you at night. The night-vision cameras are one of the tools others would have used. They detected nothing. None of our other instruments have either. However,” he began, “our photon detection camera……” He turned his attention to the lanky one. “Bring it up.”

The lanky one hesitated a few moments before ALT-TABing over to bring up a different screen. I became instantly paralyzed with fear.

The average one swallowed and then spoke.

“So, no one has ever found any evidence of any kind during times of complete sleep. In the past, it was believed that the Shadow Demons only appeared during the sleep paralysis state and the train of thought was that they caused it. Um…..this case has just upended centuries of belief and study. From this image as well as others we captured, we can presume that they can appear anytime and may always be watching the people they torment.”

I heard is words, but they seemed empty and hollow against what I saw on the screen. On a background that was mostly white, I could make out the shapes of some items in the distance. My desk, my television, etc. Things that were closer to the camera were much clearer. I could see myself lying in bed in black and white detail. It wasn’t the greatest image. My face looked like poorly done gray CGI, but you could make out details like my cheekbones, the depth of my lips, nose, and eyes. You could tell it was definitely me.

However, standing over my bed was a tall black mass that was very clearly defined. Despite looking like a terrible computer-generated image, it was clear that it was my Shadow Demon. You could make out every muscle, horn, and even wiry hair. From another camera, you could see white where his eyes would be and the shape of his teeth. He was real. He was real and he was there when I didn’t even know it. And now I know.

“Are you religious at all?” the average one asked.

“No,” I said vacantly. “Atheist.”

“That’s too bad,” he replied. “Listen. We’re going to continue monitoring you every night. There’s a lot of information we can gather that could potentially change the world as we know it. For now, I highly suggest you look for spiritual guidance. I would recommend Catholicism. I don’t much agree with it myself, but they seem to have the most experience with this sort of thing and are often the most willing to deal with it. I can put you in touch with some priests who deal with this sort of thing if you like, but it’s generally best to start local. It helps to have a connection with a congregation who can support you.”

“Thanks,” I said meekly as I continued to stare at the image on the screen.

Nothing to be Afraid of

Such a peaceful relaxing night it’s been. Sitting there at your desk digging away through the splendors of the internet; or perhaps you’re sitting upon your bed or a comfy chair sloughing through a good book. It doesn’t really matter what it is you’re doing at the moment. You could be working on a puzzle for all that matters. The point is that it’s an incredibly peaceful night. And it’s these nights, my friend, that are the most fear inducing.

No, it’s not those stormy nights like the books always tell tales about. The crash of thunder, the flashes of lightning, and the loud pats of rainfall are all joys to the mind that reassure it everything will be alright. No, my dear friend, it’s those quiet peaceful nights that cause the greatest fear, the most internal panic. At least with a storm you know something is happening, but not with a peaceful night. No. Those are the nights where upon you finishing your activity whatever it may be, your mind suddenly becomes aware of the nothing that is going on.

Take for instance this very thing you are reading right now. Chances are that you are reading this on your monitor late in the evening, perhaps with some other creepy tales you’ve found on the world-wide web. Perhaps time has passed and this has somehow made its way to the Kindle or print format. Whatever format your current fancy, I believe it is safe to assume that you were most likely bored and decided to read some tales to tickle your imagination. What you may not have noticed is that the odds are in favor of it being an unexpectedly peaceful night.

Sure, you may sit up and take notice out the window at this very instant and hear the conversations of passersby or the sounds of rain and thunder. You laugh as think to yourself, “Ah-ha! But you are wrong Mr. Storyteller. It is indeed a normal evening.” And you, sir, would be a fool. It is not the now when you shall notice the nothing, but the then.

As you continue to read, your mind will slowly, but surely, begin to forget the words that I have just laid before you moments ago. Perhaps it will be by the end of this warning or perhaps you will read a few more stories. Perhaps it may be an evening where you are performing another quiet but solitary activity, but mark my words, by the time you are done you will forget and then you shall notice the nothing.

I can tell you precisely when it will happen, too! It will happen when you are finished reading and decide to retire for the evening. It will happen when you turn off your monitor, power down your Kindle, or close your book. That is when you will notice the nothing. Not a sound will come from the outside. Not the sound of rain, nor wind, nor automobile, nor man, nor cricket. If there are street lights at your home, they will either work perfectly or not at all. Not a flicker nor moving shadow shall be seen from them. Creaky floor boards and pipes will be unusually silent unless you are the one to cause them to do so with heavy footsteps or a turn of the faucet.

You’ll probably go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, but the nothing that you have now perceived has caused your mind to panic, looking for things that aren’t there and listening intently for even the slightest of noises. As you turn on the faucet, it seems so loud. It should be comforting, but the knowledge of the nothing has caused your brain to panic and now the normal comfort of the sound of rushing water serves only to distract you from it. You turn it off and brush your teeth, watching the mirror with suspicion. You will freeze slightly under the feeling that you may see something from the other room in the reflection watching you.

You’ll laugh and tell yourself there is nothing there. And you would be right. Nothing is there. Nonetheless, you’ll rinse with relative quickness just in case. After perhaps doing any other bathroom business, you will make your way through the home making sure all the doors are locked and all the lights are out. And though you know for certain that nothing is there, your brain tells you that something is there in the nothing and as such, you have to look anyhow. Every window, every open closet, and the space between the bed and the floor is carefully eyed with cautious diligence. Just in case.

Getting into bed, you’ll probably chuckle about how silly you’re being. It’s just your mind acting up from reading ghost stories all night. But wait…you weren’t reading ghost stories this time were you? You were reading Huck Finn. Or where you up all night working on your taxes? It doesn’t matter. The point is, you could have been doing anything when you noticed the nothing.

You will get to sleep relatively quickly. Sure, you may be on edge a bit, but the nothing won’t keep you awake and you’re tired. In the morning you will wake up refreshed, most likely forgetting how unnatural the nothing was the night before. Or if you do remember it, you’ll probably have a good laugh of it with your friends and share a few stories.

The scientists say these incidents are our minds just playing little tricks on us and they would be right most of the time. Yet as disconnected as we may be, we cannot be fully separated from nature and everyone knows, albeit subconsciously, that nothing is completely unnatural. What if one night you were to learn that there really is nothing to be afraid of?