I've enabled tags for members of this community. I don't know why they weren't enabled before, possibly because I'm an idiot.
Please tag your posts in ways that make sense. Also feel free to tag posts with your user name, in the format "username:your-name". So I'd use the tag username:shadefell. This way if people want to search for posts by one person, they can easily find the tag for it.
A delivery van is sometimes spotted offloading in alleyways in the old parts of downtown and around Capitol Hill. It is a generic van, off-white, with tinted windows on the cab and some markings that indicate affiliation with a medical concern.
The van's driver always wears a sweater with a high collar, regardless of the weather, and a hat that shades his face. It seems like a uniform. The supplies he unloads seem like medical supplies. There is a "How is my driving?" sticker on the window, but whoever calls in can never remember the license plate, and hangs up, feeling foolish. It does not matter: the van's license plate isn't registered anywhere.
Only when the driver is bringing in a delivery can you ever get close enough to see the supplies the van carries. If you climb inside the back, you will find rows of canisters much like the type used to hold nitrous oxide. They are labeled, but the labels are indecipherable. Twist the knobs on the canisters, and bubbles formed from a sticky solution will shoot from the spigots. They are too dense to float in the air. If you eat one, or it gets by chance into one of your mucus membranes, you will experience an emotion. Whichever one it is, it will be so sharp it will be painful even if the feeling itself would usually be regarded mild and pleasant. There is a high chance that the feeling will not be pleasant.
The bubble solution is a genuine medication, meant to treat a common medical problem.
It is just not common among people like you, or me.
Going into the back of the truck is not advisable. The treatments are expensive and cannot be paid off with any currency you are aware of.
On 6 september 2009 at 11:15 PM a call came in at 112, the Dutch equivalent of 911. On the line was a woman who lived in one of the stately old houses in the Old South part of Amsterdam. She was hysterical.
She screamed for help, claiming that someone was trying to get inside her home. All the while there was the sound of glass breaking in the background. The dispatchers tried to calm her down, telling her to go somewhere safe, but after a few seconds the line went dead.
Cops arrived at the house only to find the front and back door were locked. They went inside and found the woman on the living room floor, strangled. In her hand she held a baseball bat, still clutching it tight even in death. There were pieces of broken glass in her hair and sticking out of her other hand.
When they searched the home they found no sign of a break in or of an intruder like the woman had described on the phone. But they did find all of the mirrors in the house had been smashed. Blood on some indicated that the woman had done it by hand first, before she had found and used a baseball bat. All of the mirrors, except for one that hung in the living room.
Police set aside the theory of an intruder and instead went looking in another direction. They were wrong.
Something did get into that house that night. It didn't use a door or a window. It used something nearly every home has, something it can use freely, without ever being caught. Something that may even be in your home.
Do you have a mirror in the room with you. Then smash it now.
It happens in the early evening in Los Angeles, when the light is gray and low; a flock of birds flies overhead, shrieking raucously. The sound of their calls is like nothing you have ever heard before; it reminds you of harsh laughter, or sharp screams. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. In the half-dark you cannot see them clearly.
Though you try you cannot figure out what kind of birds they are. They are not starlings, nor house sparrows, nor crows. They never are near enough for you to truly see their shape and markings. You wonder if perhaps they are bats on the way to their feeding grounds, but that does not seem to fit either, from the glimpses you can catch of them.
If you are a birdwatcher you may be tempted to keep your binoculars near for when the shriekers fly overhead. Do not give in to this temptation.
You cannot possibly be prepared for what you will see.
Sandusky residents were long used to Cedar Point ending their season after a couple weekend-only weeks of September when, about ten years back, the park found a way to keep bringing in guests despite the cold weather.
From early September on, the park was filled with Halloween theming, from the decorations to the appearance of haunted house attractions and so on. In recent years, the grotesque and disturbing creatures have not been limited to the haunted houses, taking over (well-marked) portions of the midways and paths.
It's all in good fun, the park assures guests, and the employees in costume are never allowed to touch you. The park isn't lying about the guidelines it sets for their employees.
But it wasn't the cold that kept them from staying open later in the year, and it's not the employees you should be afraid of.
If you’ve spent any time in Youngstown, you’ve driven past them. Old steel mills or copper plants with their windows busted out and the sun shining in one side and out the other. They’re enticing—what secrets could be hiding behind their crumbling brick walls? You imagine that despite the No Trespassing signs, people have been coming in and out ever since the doors were boarded up. You intend to be the next.
You crawl in through a broken window and are faced with a rather boring sight. A thick layer of dust covers a room devoid of furniture or any other interesting artifacts. With a flashlight in hand, you go from room to room and are faced with the same blank walls and empty floors. Soon, you realize that there is something wrong with this image. There are no beer bottles, no graffiti, no signs that anyone has been into this building since it was abandoned years ago. Why not?
Eventually, you realize that it’s not just humans who have been avoiding the old factory. You don’t see so much as a single mouse dropping on the dusty concrete floor.
In reality, there probably is a homeless man or group of thrill-seeking youths in the building, and there are plenty of mice and birds. But none of them will hear you scream.
In 1889, the Great Seattle Fire destroyed a huge swatch of the young town. During the rebuilding, the streets were lined with concrete walls and new buildings of brick and stone were assembled stories above them on re-graded streets. The Underground was condemned just decades later and now only parts of it are accessible, mostly to tourists and amateur historians.
There are two tours. One you can find at its ticket office, well known on Pioneer Square. The other finds you, when a nondescript woman or man approaches and asks if you ever wanted to see the underground. Often they approach locals. They’re tour guides, they explain, and the price of the tour is cheap and scheduled right for when you wanted to take it. They seem sincere, even earnest.
There is no reason not to go with them. You will have a good time and the memory will remain unusually bright in your mind, cherished as you grow old, shared with children and grandchildren. You will see an interesting old city, impeccably renovated, walled in by concrete and brick archways.
But it is not the Seattle Underground.
There's a man who goes from shop to shop, never straying out of the center of Amsterdam. He's thin, frail and at first glance he looks like just another sweet old man.
But there is something odd about him. You'll know when he approaches you. Something is off. He'll smile at you and compliment your hair. It's such pretty hair. Lovely hair. And could he have a lock of it? Please, just give him one lock?
You'll probably think that he's joking. Don't.
Don't smile, don't hesitate, don't be polite. And whatever you do, don't say yes.
The unseen preys most heavily on those who are alone: those who are alone for the night, and those who spend their lives alone. Prey animals are most vulnerable when separated from the rest of the herd, after all.
When alone, one might barely hear a soft knock at the door. The sound is so faint that one will pause and listen again. It is odd, how so faint a sound can carry through whatever else one is doing. The knock will come again, weak, slightly louder. There may be a compulsion to check the door, to check the lock, to check the chain. There may be a compulsion to open the door and see what brushes against it.
Do not open the door.