by Sean Watson
We did not believe in the old things of the woods. Our belief did not change their reality. They lived in holes in the high places. They waited.
They witnessed the rise of mountains, watched glacial ice pulverize and smooth away most of the jagged edges. They migrated along with the frozen behemoths, or slept within them, the frigid temperatures barely registering on the Kelvin scale of their origin, before finally settling into the scarred landscape left by the ice’s retreat. The forests rose around them.
They saw the cook fires, the putrid reek of cooked flesh simultaneously beckoning and repelling their attention. We were few in number then, but they felt a change coming. They observed as we began cooking inside wooden boxes, our thin walls battling back the dark and the cold they called home. With the walls came a great flood of our kind. They waited, and took what they needed from the shadows, as always.
We called it a bear attack. What else could so savagely rend our kin into piles of tattered meat and snapped bones? We could not explain why the beasts were so selective about the organs they took, but that was a question best unasked. To be fair, when they were glimpsed, a bear is what most of our kind saw. The human mind had the choice of that interpretation, built in the modern sections of the brain, or tapping deeper down into the ancient structures our evolutionary ancestors worked more closely with. Those structures would compel a man to a sort of gibbering self-destruction, rather than futilely face these horrors with pathetic notions of fight or flight.
They waited. They are becoming bolder now. In times past, they would take rarely and selectively, usually loners or off-track adventurers. Last night, they took an entire family.
Six sweet souls, eviscerated, consecrated, selective portions donated.
You’re probably wondering why I’m sharing all this with you. Why I know these things. They need some of us, you see, to make way. To aid in the readying. I have heard their language, like needles jabbed in the base of my spine. I have read their texts, scrawled upon skins, the words unknowable but granting me holy knowledge. They have shown me our place in the things to come.
It is beginning, here in this valley. We have all been chosen to serve them, and their even more aged masters, from before stars lit the heavens. Don’t you see? We are incubators for the components of their rites.
Not now, but soon. They will wait.
By Andrew Nadon
As I walk along the elephant rock on the mountain, I cannot help but feel some unwanted company. I look back and side to side, tottering like a jack-in-the-box after just being sprung, but I can see nothing. Still, a presence remains. I quicken my pace. The bonfire is only a couple thousand feet away. Why did I wait until dusk to make the trek?
The trees twist and bend in the wind, cracking like some ancient body; several ancient bodies converged as one, the weight of whatever follows skipping on the boughs, urging me forward. I’m fine. Nothing is there. Just me, the wind and the trees. And the eyes. Or one eye of whatever watches in the dark spots off the trail. It’s there even though I cannot see it. Nothing.
I pause my movement to listen for movement. Only yawning trees and whispers in the wind. Was that my name? Who’s there? Better to pound out the noise with my footfall and I continue. Only a thousand or so feet to go until the warm embrace of the flames. May they consume the thoughts in my mind.
A shriek! Like an old woman in distress, but it’s probably just a crow wavering in the conifer above. Is she just as uneasy as I or is she mocking me? I cannot see her. Is she even there? The answer comes in the form of another shriek, louder this time and more sorrowful. I keep moving. Almost there now.
Why did I forget my headlamp? On I blindly stumble as the light finally succumbs to the night. The dark spots now blend into one enormous pit of black. I wonder, for a moment, if I should turn around and go back. Don’t be ridiculous. I cannot miss the party. They all said they’d be there.
The trail heads up for awhile, then down again. One more small leg of the journey left. I’ll hear them soon and see them dancing in the light of the flames. My foot catches a rock and I hit the ground hard, barely enough time to brace for the fall. My wind has left me and I wait to catch up with it. One breath. Then another. And another. I’m not alone. Something is breathing with me. I cannot see it but I feel it on my neck. In and out in tandem. I brush away nothing and pick myself up, skin prickling in the warm chill. I’m further than I’d like to be to go home; so forward.
I’m close now but where is the light? The laughter, the songs? All should be just ahead, but nothing. Nothing but darkness, a treacherous path and mocking whispers at my heals. As steadily as I can I put one foot in front of the other. The fire awaits as the darkness consumes. I’m almost there. So close to the end.
The Lighthouse Guest
By Keri Harris
I have always been fascinated by lighthouses. They have an eerie yet calming effect on the land and sea around them and they seem to act as a bridge between the realities of the two. The light sweeping through the shadows in a neverending dance.
Today lighthouses are no longer lonely isolations for their keepers but instead tourist attractions with many visitors. You can even stay the night in some that have been remodeled and made into bed and breakfast locations. It is at just such a lighthouse that this story takes place.
Upon arriving you are greeted by a spunky goat who roams the grounds. He is pushy as all goats are, head butting and charging as he pleases. The hostess jokingly tells you to make sure your door is locked at night or the goat may join you in your bed.
This particular B&B is nothing more than three cottages circled around the light tower with a stone wall surrounding the grounds. There is plenty to explore in the 171-yearold building, books and other writings to read as well as artifacts and trinkets all related to the lighthouse. The shore is rocky with many tide pools hiding the treasures of the sea.
After nightfall, sitting outside you become mesmerized by the sweeping of the light. It is peaceful with only the lull of the waves beyond the wall. Dark. Light. Dark. Light.
Between the sweeps your eyes catch movement against the wall. It’s hard to make out anything in the dark. Then it’s light and all you see are the shadows. And then another movement from the corner. Dark again and something pulls at your pant leg. You tug it back thinking it’s stuck on a weed. It tugs again. Light sweeps over and there is a black shape next to you but you can’t make it out. In a panic you fall back.
Dark again. You can feel something breathing directly in front of your face. The air is hot and smells like damp earth. The light is coming but you close your eyes not wanting to look. The light is bright enough to illuminate the eyelids and you can see there is a figure blocking the light. Dark again, what do you do? Before the light comes back you have a choice, face your fear or bolt? You choose to run. After scrambling to get up, you turn to flee. Feeling along the wall. Light, shows the way. You can hear nothing except the pounding of your own heart.
Dark, this time something pushes you. You are frozen with fear. Light. You can see a shadow next to yours on the wall. Dark. You stare down into that darkness for what feels like forever. Is that a pair of eyes? Yes, it is, but they are not human. They stare back up at you boring into your soul. You scream, the shadow with eyes screams back! Light…
It is only the goat.
By Jaxon Larsen
Once, in Skagway, Alaska, 2035, a family for years thought they had been haunted by an evil presence. Soon after they moved to a different house, the mother became pregnant. When the baby was born, the mother named him Daniel Hawkins. The mother looked into the baby’s eyes and dropped him. The baby didn’t cry, not even a peep. The mother was terrified and burst into tears.
The doctor asked, “Ma’am, are you alright?”
The mother said, “It’s the devil! Please take it away from me!”
The doctor said, “But ma’am you mus…”
The mother interrupted, and shakily plead, “Please, I beg you!”
The doctor nodded his head. He picked up the baby and brought it to the nursery. The baby didn’t fall asleep until he saw the mother walking toward the exit.
Ten years later, Daniel is sent to military school for being disruptive and inattentive, unless he was gazing at a screen or staring into the sky. He was hoping he would see something unusual, but he did not see anything until day five, which was a very special day. It is when the extraterrestrials come to abduct and help other humans. Daniel stayed up all night watching them. He couldn’t take his eyes off them. The next morning, he said that he had seen his mother, and the other extraterrestrials told him about the life to be one of them, and how to stay alive in circumstances like this. His mother said, “We will rule the humans until they beg to help us, then, we will enslave them.”
The next day, Commander said that he saw Daniel staying up all night, and he got very mad and punished him. Daniel remembered what his alien mother said, and he stayed strong, even when his commander yelled at him. When he was walking up the stairs to his dorm, his dorm mate walked past him and they had a conversation.
His dorm mate said, “It was the aliens, right?”
Daniel just ignored him and moved along. When he arrived at his dorm, he turned his computer on and stared blankly at the screen, ignoring everything around him, doing nothing. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw an email from the Commander. It was a video of a UFO in what appeared to be the 1920s or 1930s. He shut his computer and ran outside and stared at the sky. He saw very bright rainbow lights. They seemed extremely close. He again heard his mother say, “Your human mother will pay for what she did to you.” I will take care of you and hunt your mother down. Daniel closed his eyes and thought of his mother screaming, just like what happened when he was born. He said, “No, do not harm or hurt my human mother. I will let you take care of me, but, please, don’t hurt her.” He heard his mother say, “We will enslave and kill all humans.”
By Valerie Larsen
As she lay in bed staring at the ceiling trying to fall asleep, an eerie green glow crept in from the frosty bedroom window. Assuming it was the alpine glow of the northern lights, she dismissed it as being a normal fall/winter occurrence. Even the beauty of the aurora borealis did not pique her interest tonight, as she was feeling very melancholy. As she gazed upward wishing for slumber, she noticed the green misty glow hovering above her tired body. This was NOT the northern lights. What was it? She was the only person in her home, and she had no visitors. (Well, no HUMAN visitors).
Her small Alaskan town had made her feel isolated, lonely, cut off from human contact. The previous day, she had attempted to contact the spirit realm, through the classic Ouija Board, in order to have “company” of sorts, to contact her passed loved ones, as she thought it may be a temporary “cure” for the boredom. Who knows what she may have conjured in her attempts to avoid loneliness. The spirit world can be a dangerous door to crack open, especially for the hurting, desperate and lonely individuals. She knew this could be dangerous, and open doors to evil entities preying on her vulnerabilities, but, her need for contact and interaction, and, well, LOVE, in her mind, outweighed the potential dangers. She foolishly continued to try to contact the departed.
She had thrown caution to the wind, and as she gazed anxiously upward at the green mist, she assumed it was a spirit of a loved one trying to connect with her. She felt no fear, no evil, no negativity. Yet. As the green mist lowered slowly toward her body, she began to allow the mist to take over both her mind and body. She could not move, as she was paralyzed to its encompassing power. A little fear and anticipation began to creep in, but she could not move, nor speak. As the mist slowly entered her nostrils and mouth, her mind began to race as if something was controlling it with a sort of “remote control”. She saw languages she had never known before, snippets of history she had not previously known, what WAS, and what was yet to come on earth. She saw images of world leaders, emperors, kings, and bursts of things from past generations. It was too much knowledge bombarding her human mind all at once. She wanted so badly to warn people of the things she saw to come, but her frail human mind could not handle the overwhelming stress of it all. The last thing she saw before she was carried away out the window through a beam of light was a tall, lanky, set of gray bodies and large black eyes looking down upon her human face and body. She HAD unknowingly made contact, but not with any human spirit. The beings took her away, never to see her loved ones again.