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1. I died eight years ago.
It wasn't particularly tragic. Or unusual. Just a car accident. I don't blame the man who hit me. He was speeding because his wife was in labor, and there was black ice on the road. He lost control of the car and I lost my life.
It's not his fault. I know that. I'm not cruel. I am not vengeful.
If anything, I'm the opposite.
You see, I don't have any family left and I had lost my few friends around that time. When it was time for my funeral, the only people who came was my boss and the family who killed me. The wife held her newborn daughter close to her chest.
I hated my boss, and the cemetery was awfully lonely, so I followed the family home.
Lily may as well have been my own flesh and blood. She was sweet, and bright, and oh so very small. She had trouble sleeping if someone wasn't rocking her crib and her parents were so tired. After they put her to bed, it was easy for me to rock her crib for her. I didn't get tired. I could help her.
As the years passed, Jack and Lori realized that they weren't alone in the house. It didn't take long from there to make a connection between my funeral and when I had shown up. And I'd never been malevolent, so they weren't afraid or angry.
They started to burn candles on the anniversary of my death day. They left an empty chair for meals and holidays. I really felt like... A member of the family.
Someone is trying to force the door.
It's Lori's ex. He's obsessive. He's angry. He's going to hurt the family. My family.
The thing about ghosts is that the more offerings you get, the stronger you become. I'd been enjoying candles, trinkets, and even the occasional food item for the past five years. I was strong from that.
The knife feels warm in my hand. A shock of heat against the ice of my skin.
Lori, Jack, and Lily are my family. I care about them. And they're not gonna join me yet.
2. My girlfriend moved out three weeks ago. My cat, Ruk, was really close to her and now that she's gone, I can tell he's a bit lonely. Especially when I'm at work. I came home a few times to my curtains ripped up, or all the toilet paper in shreds.
The last straw was when I came home after working late to find he had clawed a hole the size of a dinner plate into the side of the sofa.
I decided I had to do something. I tried different toys, even catnip, but nothing worked. One night while browsing Amazon, I saw a pet camera. It's a tiny camera that records your pet on a live feed so you can monitor their behavior while you're away. It even has an audio function so you can talk to them.
Sounded silly but hey, I love my furry dude so I bought it. I got overnight shipping and installed it immediately. I decided to set it up in my bedroom, as that was where Ruk dwelled most.
My first day at work I think I checked that camera thirty times. When I spoke into the microphone, Ruk seemed to be happier, and I noticed there was no destruction around the house either.
By day four I figured I'd solved the problem with Ruk.
That leads me to right now. About thirty minutes ago I climbed in bed with Ruk, ready to close my eyes, when my phone buzzed. A notification from the pet cam. I almost ignored it, sure I'd just triggered the thing. But I opened it anyway. What I saw made my grip tighten on the phone.
Instead of a video of myself in bed I saw a man, tall, gangly, with pale skin, and large eyes. He was moving into my room with exaggerated steps, like a sneaking cartoon character.
He got right up to the lens, so close I could almost smell his rotten breath, and he smiled.
I immediately paused the video, terrified. I looked at the spot where the man should have been standing, but there was no one there.
I went onto Amazon and found the pet cam, and read the reviews, hoping for some weird glitch. It had to be a joke, right?
The first dozen reviews were pretty standard, but it was the last that caused me to bolt upright.
The customer complained that the camera was on a time delay, sometimes as much as fifteen minutes.
I went back to the video and pressed play with shaky fingers. I watched in horror as the man slithered under my bed, giving the camera a wink before disappearing in the darkness. Then I saw myself enter the room and climb in bed before the video ended.
Now I'm sitting in my bed, knowing he's under it. I could call the police, but I doubt I'd have time….
So please, do yourselves a favor and read the reviews.
3. -I love you mom
-I can hear footsteps on the stairs I think he’s outside my room
-I hear sirens but they’re far away
-I’m hiding in the closet I hope he didn’t hear me
-hang on I heard something downstairs
-the cops are already here looking for him, they’ll catch him
-Don’t worry mom, I’m SAFE, I love you.
-The cops said he’s some escaped serial killer and he’s been breaking into homes around the area
-Yes mom it’s on the news now. Ill keep my doors locked.
Messages are displayed in chronological order, with most recent at the top
4. “You okay, buddy?”
“You sure? You’re breathing heavy.”
“Good. Relax. It’ll go quicker that way. To start, I just need some basic information.”
“Let’s start with an easy one. What’s your name?”
“Well, Mr. Fromeir, how old are you?”
“Go to school?”
“Dunno. Just don’t.”
“You live with your mother and your brother Bill, don't you?”
“Good. Good. You’re doing fine. But now I need to ask some harder questions, okay? Can you handle that?"
"Good boy. Your brother Bill’s in some hot water, isn’t he? He’s been accused of something bad.”
“He did something bad. To that little girl. Jennie Connor.”
“To be frank, Mr. Fromier, I think you might know something about that. That's why you're here today. I think you have a story about Bill and that little girl.”
“Don’t be shy.”
“Relax. You aren’t in any trouble. Just answer me one question. Did you see Bill take Jennie into the woods?”
“I din’t see them.”
“I saw Jennie. Bill was home.”
“You say you saw Jennie go into the woods but Bill was at home?”
“Mr. Fromier, I find that a wee bit hard to believe. You know, we found Bill’s jacket in those woods. We found his jacket soaked in about a pint of blood. Jennie’s blood. We found her, too. Funny enough, she was just a few yards away. We took some pictures. Want to see?”
“Of the body. Want to see?”
“No, I expect you don't. They’re not pretty. But nevertheless they beg the question, what was Jennie’s blood doing on Bill’s jacket? And why do a dozen witnesses claim to have seen them leave together from the football game?”
“Mr. Fromier, I know you followed them from the field. We have it on CCTV. So I ask you again. Did you see Bill take Jennie into the woods?”
"I think you're lying.”
“Bill was home. We go together from football. Bill said take Jennie home.”
“You took Jennie?”
“It was cold. Bill said take Jennie and take my jacket. I said let's go to the woods. Jennie said no. It made me mad. I pushed her. She hurt her head.”
“I hid her in the woods. I was scared. I din’t want trouble. She woke up. She was mad and screaming so I hit her. I hit her so she shut up.”
“And the jacket?”
“I hid it.”
“Under my bed.”
“Christ, no, not under your bed.”
“Think! For once in your life, f**king think!”
“You hid it in the woods.”
“I hid it in the woods.”
“Yeah, don’t forget. It’s important.”
“When they ask for real, you have to remember. I'm sorry for yelling. I hate seeing you made a fool of is all.”
“I know, Bill.”
5. “Good morning, sunshine! Time to wake up!”
I open my eyes and see Nurse Judy, ready to give me my morning injection. I sit on the bed and roll up my pajamas sleeve. I feel the needle under my skin and the medication flowing inside my veins.
The nurse gives me a wide smile. “Good girl! You can go to the canteen now and have breakfast with your friends.”
Friends… I don’t have friends here. My friends are almost 60 miles away from me. Enjoying life, learning new stuff, making out at parties. Certainly not spending their youth in a psychiatric ward.
My parents put me there. It was after another anxiety attack at school. I lost control and tried to do something stupid.
Now everything seems stupid to me...
I pass by Nutsy Nora’s room. Her yelling is impossible to ignore. She keeps screaming “Kelly and Jenna” over and over again, whatever these names mean. I see two doctors rushing to her room with a set of tranquilizers.
This place is full of people like her. I don’t think I belong here.
I enter the canteen and hear a loud “Surprise!”. I look around and see other patients gathered around a cake with number candles - 1 and 7 - and an inscription: “Happy birthday, Robin!”. Right, it’s my 17th birthday. Yay. I totally forgot. I force myself to smile and blow the candles.
The cake tastes like soap. Or a cough syrup.
I hide both candles in my pocket when nobody's watching. I guess it’s the only gift I can count on today.
I stop one of the nurses on the way back to my room. I ask if my parents are going to see me. She shrugs and walks away without saying a word.
As I lay in bed, I stretch my arms and look at my hands. They look… so weird. So damn weird... Maybe it’s a side effect of one of those medications?
Nurse Judy interrupts my contemplation. She storms in with an afternoon dosage of pills.
“How are you feeling, my dear? Did you like the birthday surprise?” she asks, with that annoyingly sweet smile.
“Yeah, I forgot today’s the day.”
She takes my hand and says, “Oh, don’t worry, darling, it happens to everybody.”
As she holds my hand, I ask her why my skin looks so strange.
Nurse Judy gives me a sympathetic gaze. “I think it’s normal at your age, don’t you think so, sweetie?”
Is she trying to make a fool of me? Oh, I've had enough.
“But I’m only 17!” I say imploringly.
“I don’t know any other teenager with hands like these! Just look!”
I take the candles out of my pocket and almost rub them in her face.
“You see?! One and seven! Seventeen!” I bellow.
Judy gently takes the candles from my shaking hands.
“Robin, it’s not seventeen. Let me show you the right order. It’s seven and one.”
6. Because of all of the things I do to Renée, most people would say I hate my little sister. I’m here to set the record straight.
I didn’t let Renée’s cat out the back door because I hate her. Muffins is fine. I’ve been feeding him behind the shed.
I don’t flush Renée’s medications before she takes them because I hate her. I was pretty panicked when I thought the toilet was going to clog, though.
I didn’t erase her biology essay because I hate her. She got to see the cute librarian she’s crushing on, anyway.
I didn’t unplug her cell phone before she left the house because I hate her. I unplugged it so that mom and dad wouldn’t be able to call her.
I didn’t use the faulty outlet in the living room because I hate Renée.
I really don’t hate my sister. The fire didn’t kill Renée. Because Renée didn’t have to go back for Muffins. Renée wasn’t sleeping due to her medicine. Renée was at the library, doing her report.
I didn’t let our mom and dad die because I hate my little sister. I did it so that she wouldn’t end up buried in the garden like me.
7. Yesterday, Todd made it his mission to sleep with as many women as possible. He managed a whopping 37 in just 24 hours, an insurmountable amount for an average day. But this was not an average day. Who was going to say no to some sex?
He didn't know he'd soon be a father to 6 illegitimate children, or he wouldn't have done it.
Yesterday, Ann snapped and slit the throat of her toxic ex husband. The neighbors walking by saw the whole thing through the window, but simply looked at eachother, shrugged, and kept walking. Ann continued her day as usual, leaving the still warm body on her floor.
She didn't know she would be arrested for murder, or she wouldn't have done it.
Yesterday, Lacey took her husband and kids on a drive on the winding roads next to the ocean. Her hands shook as she gripped the wheel, while her kids sat oblivious in the back. She and her husband shared a meaningful look as she jerked the car to the right and into the crashing ocean waves.
She didnt know she would be shunned while laying 6 ft. under, or she wouldn't have done it.
Yesterday, the news was announced that an unsurvivable asteroid was headed straight to Earth.
Yesterday, the world erupted into unprecedented chaos as everyone had to decide what to do with their last 24 hours.
But today, utter and complete pandemonium occurred.
Because the asteroid missed.
8. Nobody wants to go near me anymore.
People used to like me, they'd sit next to me on a park bench, they'd smile when they saw me, they were completely comfortable bringing their girlfriends and kids around me.
Not anymore. Not since that awful murder. Now they cross the street to avoid me, and if they do look at me, it's only with a look of disgust.
I wish I could tell them all how sorry I was.
Sure, nobody blames me. It's not my fault. They know it wasn't my fault. But now, they can't stand to even glance my way.
I'm so lonely. God, what I wouldn't give to have someone sit down for lunch with me. I took the little things like that for granted for so long.
I had to watch him die. They hanged him, and left before he was even dead. I was the one that saw the life leave his eyes, saw the pain and desperation on his face, and I couldn't do a thing to help him. Those terrified eyes will haunt me for the rest of my life. I wanted nothing more than to reach out and save him, point the police to the murderers, and see those awful men put in jail for the rest of their lives.
But I couldn't. I'll never be able to. I can't control where my branches bend, and my leaves can only rustle and whisper in the wind.
9. Each morning when I wake up, I open the chest where I keep my son. I stroke his small skull and murmur ‘Good Morning’ although I know he can no longer hear me.
I hope he doesn’t think I’ve abandoned him. I hope he knows I never will.
When my son died of a fever, I refused to let him go. He was only a baby, and all that I had left. So I turned to the stories my own mother had told me, the rituals and legends I’d learned in childhood.
The rules of bringing someone back from the underworld seemed so easy. I scoffed at the stories of those who failed, sure that my willpower would be stronger than theirs. I forced my way through to the Fields of Night, and I found my son’s faint, pale soul. I guided it all the way back to his body, never looking back once.
When I saw my son open his eyes again and smile at me, I thought I had made the right choice. He laughed, he ran, he played just as he had before. I even believed I could pretend nothing had happened.
Then a few days later, I saw the rot creeping up his skin. At that moment, I realized my mistake. I hadn’t restored my son to life. I had only brought his soul back to his corpse.
I tried to comfort him as his body swelled and decayed. He wailed day and night in fear as his flesh fell from his bones. Only when his throat rotted away did he stop screaming. I attempted to return to the underworld, to return my son’s soul, but the way would not open to me again. I cheated Death, and my punishment was to keep what I stole.
When his ligaments finally broke down, I gathered his bones and placed them in the antique chest I inherited from my mother. Only the best would do for my son.
Sometimes my son’s bones lie still inside the chest for hours, even days, and I dare to hope that his soul found its way back to where it belongs. But sooner or later, his bones always begin to rattle again, and I know he’s still alive.
Once, all I wanted was to have my son here with me.
But now, I would give anything for him to die.
10. My father is the scariest man I’ve ever known and when armed with a bottle of beer he reaches nightmare levels. Just the crackle of his belt or rise in his voice was enough to make me shake like a leaf.
One night, while I struggled to get comfortable in bed from the bruises and sounds of my mom’s crying, I hatched an ingenious idea to stop the pain and suffering: scare dad. Clearly he just didn’t know how his actions made us feel, but if I scared him like he scared us, maybe then he would change his ways.
I tried anything I could think of to produce some fright and scare dad straight. I would hide and jump out at him, but he didn’t even flinch. I placed a toy snake in the toilet, but that only resulted in a beating for me.
Finally, I thought of destroying his alcohol. I know that people become scared when they lose something they love, so one by one I poured my dad’s bottles down the drain and eagerly awaited his reaction. I knew this would be it, this would be the thing to scare him!
That night, I remember my father discovering the empty bottles and becoming angrier than I’ve ever seen him. I remember him wrecking the house. I remember him storming into my room. I remember his hands around my neck and me seeing black.
Luckily, my planning and hard work that night paid off though! Today, my father lives in a constant state of fear. I’m always watching him, how timid and nervous he is at all times. Whenever I pay him a visit his complexion turns a pasty white, his body shivers like I used to and he breaks into a cold sweat.
I scared my father so good, you would think he saw a ghost.
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