Friday, 22 February 2013

Last Of The Sparks

Back in February of 2008, I decided that I needed a change in my monotonous life. Whether that change would come in the form of a new job or a new toothbrush, I didn't know. I was never the most adventurous person, I've always found it difficult to veer away from my comfort zone and the limit of my existence usually depended upon which book I was reading at the time. It took me a while to realise that my happiness often derived from the stories that my mind was living in; I was an avid bookworm – as miserable a synecdoche it is.

Once I realised my true outlet, I immediately knew what I wanted. I purchased a small shop, quit my boring job, renovated the building and transformed it into a bookstore – I had never been happier. The next two years were the best of my life; the store had become a huge hit with the locals, my perspective on work had been completely altered and I was feeling genuinely happy for the first time since childhood.

It was during the winter of 2010 that she walked into my store. She stepped inside out of the snow and approached me with a large bin-bag. Etchings of age covered her pale face and hands – she must have been at least 80 years old. Slamming the bag on the counter, she simply said:

“These are for you.”

I looked inside the bag to find a selection of some of the greatest novels ever written.

“Why? Do you want money for these or some kind of book trade?” I asked confusingly.

“No, they're yours to have. Take them.”

She gave me a feeling of uneasiness. Her dirty grey fringe slightly concealed her face as a cold gaze met my vision.

“Are you sure you want me to have them, wouldn't you rather sell them?”

“No. I have no use for them, nor for money.”

“Okay... thank you. What's your name?”


She muttered her final words and left my store.

I found it all too strange that somebody would give away such great books for nothing, but I suppose some people are just nice. I made my way home that night and took the books with me so that I could go through them. I piled them up on the table and was surprised to see that all of them were in fantastic condition. A couple of them seemed to be first editions and others were versions that I had never even seen before. It took me a moment to realise, but the novels that I was looking at were not as I had remembered them to be.

The first book that I picked up was The Green Mile. On the front cover, there was an image of John Coffey smiling and holding two dead, naked girls; I opened it up and flicked through the pages. In this version of the novel, he was in fact guilty of the rape and murder of both children. I made my way to the end of the book and read the execution scene. All of the officers were laughing uncontrollably and screaming racial taunts as he was being executed. I'd had enough and dropped the book.

The next book I picked up was The Catcher In The Rye. The artwork upon the front page seemed to be of a dead body splattered on the street, drawn from an aeriel view. I flicked through the book until I reached Chapter 14. After Holden Caulfield talked about messing with the idea of suicide, he broke down in tears and jumped out of the window, cracking his skull on the pavement below. The book abruptly ended after that.

I then picked up Lord Of The Flies. The defining image on this novel was of a large child with the face of a pig; he was covered in blood and surrounded by decaying corpses. After grazing through the pages, I reached a point of the story in which Piggy is described as being “non-human, vicious and a hungry animal”. A chapter or so later, Jack insults Piggy which leads to him losing his temper and ripping him apart. Piggy then proceeds to kill and eat the rest of children. The remainder of the book was the same line repeated over and over: “Piggy sat alone on the island waiting for death”.

I read through the few books that were left in the pile and they had all been changed in some sick way: The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, To Kill A Mockingbird, Ulysses, every one of them. Just as I reached the bottom of the pile, I noticed that the final book was one that I had never even heard of before. It was called Last Of The Sparks. I found this slightly unnerving, as my name is Aaron Sparks; but I decided to pick it up anyway.

The front cover was of six gravestones with words too small to be read etched into the granite. I looked up into the top corner of the book and noticed that there was a sell-by date on it – 12/2/2013. I nervously opened it up to the beginning of the story: Chapter 1 - Alice Sparks. My stomach dropped as I read my mother's name upon the page. I felt dizzy and confused as I anxiously made my way through the chapter. It seemed to detail a regular day in the life of the character; until I reached the last page. Alice was crossing over the road when the heel of her shoe broke causing her to fall. She didn't get to her feet fast enough and a speeding driver struck her, puncturing both of her lungs.

I felt sick to my stomach. I put the book down and got straight into bed hoping for some sleep. I lay awake all night as countless questions ran through my mind; the only thought that managed to put me to sleep was: “It's just a book”. The next morning when I got into work, I was feeling worse for wear. It wasn't until around lunch time that I began to perk up and regain a bit of energy. Then the phone rang. I answered the call to my father crying on the other end – I immediately knew what had happened. I closed the shop and ran to the hospital, but it was already too late; she was gone – hit by a speeding driver they said.

I spent the next couple of weeks helping take care of my dad. Me, my brother and my sisters stayed with him in turns and looked after him; we all looked after each other. It wasn't until a few months later that I picked up Last Of The Sparks: it had scared me so much the last time. I opened it up to page 37 and there it was: Chapter 2 - Patrick Sparks. This story was more of the same, right up until the part in which he killed himself with a rifle in the kitchen; while on the phone to his son. I ran to the phone to speak to him – comfort him – but then I realised what I may be doing. The phone picked up at the other end and before I could say a word, he was gone.

I got my black suit and tie out once more and repeated the same process for another parent. It ruined us all. After the funeral, I refused to touch the book. What if I had been causing these deaths by reading it? I couldn't go through it all again. But on Christmas Eve of 2011, I got a phone call from my brothers wife, Heather. Will had been putting up christmas lights on the roof, when he slipped on ice and broke his neck – he died almost instantly. I threw the phone at the wall and began to sob into my sleeve. Anger took the pain away for a moment as I picked up the book and read through Chapter 3. It was exactly as Heather had described.

I fell asleep and woke up the next day with the book still on my lap. I decided to check who was going to go next out of me and my sisters and hopefully warn them in some way. I turned the page: Chapter 4 - Mary and Sarah Sparks. I rushed through the story as fast as I could until I reached the end. Both of my sisters and their partners would drown in a lake after colliding with another car on a one-way bridge. That same sickly feeling took over me. I met with my sisters later that day to exchange gifts and I told them as calmly as I could muster to be careful when driving. I had to sound as sane as possible mentioning the lake, the bridge and the fact that all four of them would be in the car at the same time; but at least I told them.

Mary and Sarah drowned eight months later in August 2012. After I went to the funeral, I picked up the book and turned to the final pages: Chapter 5 - Aaron Sparks. But I didn't read it. I'd rather not live in fear for so long, so I decided to save it for nearer the time; after all, there was a sell-by date on it for a reason. Everything has been normal for the past five months or so, although I've lost interest in reading so I'm back to my old miserable self. I questioned myself every day as to why she was doing this to me. But it didn't matter, it was all going to be over soon anyway.

I've just finished reading the final chapter. Its 12/2/2013 and I'm sitting in my basement waiting for her to arrive; that's the way the ending goes... or so I've read.  



When I was 12 years old, my parents finally decided to split me and my younger brother up and give us our own rooms. I was a couple of years older than Alex so I got the bigger space, while he stayed in the box-room. My dad wasn't too happy about having to move all of his junk down into the garage, but times change and I needed a room for myself.

The four of us lived in a bungalow on a quiet suburban street – a rather reclusive area. Me and Alex would get bored sometimes as there wasn't much to do, but for the most part, all we needed was each other. Being two young boys with no one else to play with in such a huge neighbourhood, we were as close as two brothers could be.

One day after school, we arrived home to find that all of my belongings had been moved into the the room next to Alex's. I didn't expect to feel sad about it at the time, but deep down I knew that sharing a room gave us a stronger bond. After the realisation that we could no longer talk to each other at night, we had to come up with a plan. I devised a childish kind of morse code – a series of taps and scratches that we'd relay to each other on the wall behind our beds. I knew that this way, we wouldn't get caught talking in the hallway or become bored during the night. After about three months, we had become experts at our secret talking and had managed to learn just over a hundred words. In our few months of doing this, there was one night in particular that stood out amongst the rest.

In the early hours of the morning, I was awoken by the familiar taps and scratches – this was confusing because Alex had never woken me up like this before. I sat up and listened intently to the words etched into the wall. It was vicious; it didn't sound like Alex and some of it I couldn't even understand. At that moment, I noticed Alex stood in my doorway: “What are you doing Jack?”. I stared at Alex in horror as the morse code upon the wall continued. Slowly realising what was happening, he began to tip-toe towards his bedroom door. Peering into the dark room, he could see that his window had been opened; somebody was in there.. Alex slowly back-tracked, making his way into my room and closing the door. We didn't speak, we just listened. The taps and scratches continued getting louder and more ferocious with every second; becoming violently intense until the persistent scratching built up into a loud bang. We couldn't take it any longer. We screamed as loud as possible and our parents came rushing in.

In a fit of panic, we tried our best to explain to them what had happened. Mum sat and comforted us in my room while Dad went and checked Alex's room. Seeing the open window, he sprinted into the garden to investigate, only to find that there was nothing there. After that, our parents tried their best to convince us that it was just our imaginations; but we know what we heard. After we had finally calmed down, we were put back to bed and all of the windows were locked. An hour or so later, I heard more tapping at the wall:


“I'm awake Alex.”

“Me too, I can't –“

“Me neither, there was definitely something there, something wrong.”

“I know, I know... Jack he's here. He's looking at me.”

“What? Don't joke Alex, It's not funny.”

“Jack, he's staring at me through the window right now. I've got to move.”

The tapping ceased and Alex came stumbling into my room with a look of unconsciousness in his eyes. I shut the bedroom door and we sat on the bed shivering. We knew that there was no point in shouting our parents as they wouldn't believe us; there would be no evidence of anybody being outside and we would most likely end up in trouble. Then we heard footsteps; they were accompanied by scratching that seemed to be leading from the outside of Alex's room and inching towards my room. The heavy stepping stopped and a shadow blocked the moonlight behind the curtains. The window began to move a little as if it was being unlocked. We held our breath as it shook and creaked; but luckily, it stayed closed. The figure leaned up against my window – almost completely shrouded by the shadows – and stared in to my room for what felt like an eternity. After a while, the shadow disappeared and never came back.

I asked Alex the next morning what the man by the window looked like; he told me he couldn't remember – but it wasn't a man. After the incident, we both seemed to block it out of our memory. We got back to our normal lives and completely forgot about it. Alex got the worst of it but he was doing fine and that was the main thing. It wasn't until three years later that I realised it was never really over.


I was 15 years old and freedom-bound during the summer of 2003. I had just finished school for the holidays and earned a three month break to do whatever I pleased. Me and my friend Paul had originally planned to stay at home playing video games the entire time; but those plans were soon shot down when I was told that Paul had to stay with his grandparents for a month. Paul spent a good hour or two expressing his love for the farm house his relatives owned; speaking highly of the lakes and fields that surrounded the family home. Eventually I gave in – it was clear I was to be joining him on his visit.

After packing my bags and saying goodbye to my parents; I headed down the road to Paul's house with Alex helping me on my way. Me and Alex were still pretty close, but the older we got, the more we would drift apart. There were no more late night talks or playing out in the street together – and I missed that. Once we had arrived at the house, Alex said goodbye, dropped my bag and ran off towards the direction of our local sweet shop. Me and Paul hopped inside the car and we were on our way.

We arrived safely at the farm within an hour or so. It wasn't too far away, but it looked completely different from where we lived. – just a huge house isolated in the middle of nowhere with only hills and trees for company. After we arrived, time seemed to fly by and before I knew it we had already been there for a fortnight. The area was beautiful and his grandparents were lovely so I had no complaints.

One particular day after we'd eaten our dinner, me and Paul headed out to explore some more and somehow managed to venture too far. We'd usually spend the evening playing around in the fields or climb tress; but this time, we'd ended up a mile into the maze of bark. Eventually we reached a small stream and decided to have a rest. The sun lay low and twilight was fast approaching, but we couldn't head back without having time to relax first.

After a while, I began to feel as if somebody was watching us from the surrounding trees. I looked around countless times but didn't seem to find anything. I was on the brink of paranoia, when Paul frantically pointed out a small wooden box that he'd noticed floating downstream. All too excited to discover what was inside, I hurriedly made my way in the same direction; until I was running so fast that I'd overtaken the box completely. I leaned over the bank as far as I could and managed to fish it out from the torrent. I looked back in Paul's direction expecting him to be nearby; but he was miles away. “I can't have run that far.” I said to myself.

I sat down and slowly opened the box. Inside, I found a small photograph and a scruffy, hand-drawn picture. The photo seemed to be of a small boy on his birthday; he was wearing a party hat and stood surrounded by torn wrapping paper – the biggest smile plastered on his face. Once I had managed to dry the picture off, I could easily make out a drawing of a family. There were three children and two parents stood outside of a dirty two-storey home. One of the children looked very sad and was separated from the rest of the family. Upon further inspection, I could see another person in the background; a much bigger man with an expressionless face staring from the corner of the house. It took a minute to register with my mind, but the events I'd hidden away from 3 years prior all came rushing back. A shiver ran up my spine and I picked myself up off the floor. I began to walk back towards Paul but my legs had gone weak. Then, in the quiet of the darkness I heard a noise from the trees behind me: tap, tap, scratch. My legs suddenly worked.

I ran towards Paul as we hurriedly made our way back to his grandparents cabin. Soon after we had arrived home, I managed to settle down. There were still doubts in my mind of who that drawing was of, but the noises that followed my discovery kept leading me back to my original fear. Was that me and my family in the drawing? Who was the sad child standing on his own? What does the photograph have to do with anything? I went over the same questions in my mind, over and over and over – until the phone rang.

Paul's grandma handed me the phone and told me it was my brother:


“Yeah Alex it's me, what do you want?”

“I have something I need to tell you.”

“Okay, I'm listening.”

“You know my friend from school... Tom?”

“I think so. I think I've met him once or twice. Why?”

“Well that day after I said goodbye to you, I bumped into him down at the shop.”


“Well it turns out, he lives on the same street as us. Always has.”

“So, why is that unusual?”

“Well, it's not really. I suppose... It's just, why didn't we ever see him playing in the street?”

“Maybe he wasn't allowed to play out when he was younger.”

“Yeah maybe, I don't know it's just strange.”

“It is a bit, but some parents are like that.”

“I guess. That's not really the main reason I called anyway; I just found that unusual. I have something else I have to tell you, but it's a big deal. We've never really spoken about it.”

“Okay, go on.”

“Well today I was at Tom's house and ended up staying over for dinner. It got dark pretty early so we decided to tell some creepy stories. For some reason, I suddenly remembered that night, you know, the night a few years back. I got the courage to tell him about 'the man' and what he looked like...”


“Well he freaked out, he forced his fingers into his ears and started shouting. He kept repeating 'Don't talk about the man, forget the man'. I didn't know what to do. His mum came running upstairs and told me I had to leave. I'm back at home now anyway, I think I'm safe. So you should never come back okay?”


That's when the phone cut off. I immediately rang back, only to be greeted by the sound of white noise. I stood there, shocked at what I had heard Alex say. A moment later, he called me back:

“Sorry about that, the phone cut off.”

“It's... fine. Don't worry about it. I think we should talk when I get back – talk properly. I'll be home in a week. See you then.”

“Cool, see you then Jack.”

After I hung up the phone, Paul questioned me rigourously. I didn't tell him much of anything – there was no need to – and I barely spoke a word for the rest of the time there. After all, I didn't want to sound crazy. But all I could think to myself during that week, was that Paul has always lived on the same street as me too; so why didn't I ever see him playing outside when he was younger? Maybe I was thinking too much.

I arrived home feeling worse for wear and noticed that Alex was waiting for me by the door. I was told that Tom's mum had disappeared and just left him on his own; all she'd taken with her was her jewellery box. Poor Tom went into foster care not long after his mum went missing; it wouldn't be until a couple of years later that I'd meet him again.


Way back in 2005, I was invited to my first high school party. All I'd wanted since I turned 16 years old was to experience alcohol, friends and stupidity all in the same place; and after a long, boring year, I was finally able to.

I arrived at the party with Paul at 8pm and immediately got to drinking. We danced, laughed and avoided vomiting; but after being there for a few hours or so, we began to get bored and realised that we hadn't been missing much at all over the past year. We finished the last of our drinks and headed towards the front door. However, just as we were leaving, I heard somebody shout my name from the corner of the room. I turned around to see Tom standing there – swaying from side to side and happily slurring his words. I decided to stay a little longer.

After talking for a while, I felt as if I'd known Tom my whole life. He was only a year older than Alex, but he seemed much more mature. He was very open about everything that had happened and didn't seem to mind talking about it. He told me that his foster family were not the nicest of people and never seem to care about anything he does – they make him feel like an outcast and treat him like a stranger rather than a son. He told me that he hasn't heard from his mother since she disappeared and doesn't know whether she is dead or alive. He even mentioned that he was failing in school, but he just didn't care anymore. His life was ruined.

When the party was over, I told Tom that he could sleep at my house so he didn't have to make his way to the home he hates so much. I set the futon for him and watched as he collapsed into a drunken slumber. When I woke up the next morning, Tom was already awake and holding something in his hands that I hadn't seen in over 2 years:

“Where did you find this?” he said.

“I haven't seen that in a long time – forgot I still had it.”

“Yes okay, but where did you find it?” he spoke urgently.

“I found it a couple of years ago. It was floating down a stream in Oakshale and I managed to fish it out of the water. Why?”

“This is my mum's jewellery box. That photo was taken on my 7th birthday – the day my Dad left.”

“Are you being serious?”

“Did you find this box before my mum left me?”

“I did. When I got home a week later, Alex told me that your mum was gone.”

“This is so fucked up. Look at this drawing. That's me and my foster family, I'm sure of it. Even the house looks the same.”

At this point, neither of us knew what to think. This all seemed impossible. I pointed to the man drawn hidden in the background and watched as Tom's face lost all colour. I had no choice but to ask him about 'the man'. I told him everything that Alex and I had been a part of back when I was 12. About Alex seeing him but me being spared. I mentioned to him about the scratching and the strange conversation with Alex back in Paul's grandparents house. He listened to what I had to say and it seemed to give him comfort. Maybe knowing that he wasn't the only one to experience such things made him feel a little better.

After a long silence, Tom began to speak:

“When I was younger, I would see him all the time. He would come to my window, find me at school, watch me as I tried to sleep; he was everywhere. As I've gotten older I've been seeing him less and less. But I do still see him. He usually appears at night; a tall, scraggly looking old man. His eyes are the thing I remember most. Pure black, with the most intimate glow behind them that almost seems relaxing. Yet, you're full of sheer terror, it's strange.”

Before I could say anything to Tom, he picked up the photograph from the box and showed me something that was written on the back of it: “Follow the stream to 66”. I had never noticed that written on the photograph before. Tom asked me if I would take him back to where I found the jewellery box in Oakshale. The way I saw it, I had no other choice than to say yes.

We set off walking to the stream with the hope of finding something – anything – to do with Tom's mother; but I don't think either of us really knew what to expect. We had been walking for around half an hour when Tom stopped and pointed to a sign in the bushes for a shortcut to Oakshale. Upon seeing the sign, I was filled with a sense of fear that I'd never felt before; I really didn't want to take that shortcut. I told Tom that I had a strange feeling – almost like deja vu or an extremely vivid dream – but he told me not to worry. As we were nearing the sign, I noticed a white, spotted bow on the floor. It was playing out exactly as I had seen it. I made my way back on to the main road and refused to go anywhere near the trees by the sign. I don't like to think of what might of happened in those woods.

Eventually, we arrived at Oakshale and began to follow the stream. As we neared an old wooden bridge, Tom pointed to a small house on the opposite side from us. We headed towards the front door but there didn't seem to be a house number anywhere. “This must be 66.” Tom said quietly. We made our way along the front path and knocked on the door. To this day, I still find it difficult to explain what happened when that door opened.

Tom's mum answered the door and stared at both of us:

“Can I help you?”


“I'm sorry, I think you're mistaken.”

I stood silently as Tom exchanged words with the woman who was once his mother.

“Mum it's me, Tom. Are you okay? What happened to you?”

“I am not your mother. I don't have any children, so will you stop saying otherwise.”

At this moment, a man I had never seen before approached the door and chimed in on the conversation.

“What's going on here? What do you kids want?”

“Dad? It's me. Where have you been? Where has mum been? I don't understand.”

We must have stood there – shocked and confused – for twenty minutes before Tom's dad ended the conversation.

“Look, we couldn't take it anymore. It's your turn to deal with it now. We like it here and I think we're safe. So you should never come back okay?”

The door slammed shut and Tom began to cry. We left that house and made our way home in silence. As we were heading back through the trees to reach the main road, I turned around to look at the house one last time. Standing on the bridge, as clear as day and staring right at me was a tall, black-eyed man pointing at the stream. I tensed up, feeling sick and dizzy; but I didn't mention what I'd seen to Tom. That was the first time I'd seen my worst fear. I wish I could say it was the last.

A month or so after going back to Oakshale, I was given a school report to do on local history. I had been doing research, working my way through the years and was going through hundreds of old newspapers. I stumbled across a paper that was dated August 17th 1958. The main headline was detailing the death of a young boy who had drowned near his family home. A headline from a paper dated May 8th 1960 was of another young boy who had drowned whilst playing near a local brook. Over the next 6 years, five more child deaths graced the front page of local newspapers. Then, in the winter of '66, the killer was caught.

On November 12th 1966, the front page headline boasted the quote: “It's the only thing I'm good at”.
Solomon Wallace had killed seven children over the course of 8 years and had finally been brought to justice. His final victim was 7 year old Kimberly Matthews. She was lured away from her back garden where she was playing and had been drowned in the brook running along the back of her house on Kershall Street – the same street that I live on. Her body was found nearby after an elderly woman noticed the white, spotted bow she often worn, tangled up in the weeds. During the final court hearing of the brutal killing spree, a disgruntled father of one of the children shot Solomon Wallace three times in the back. After being taken to the hospital and placed in the intensive care unit; his nurse returned to his room, only to find out that it was empty.

After weeks of intense searching, Solomon Wallace was never found. Most people believe that he died from the gunshot wounds; some believe that he got away with it scot-free. However, some people like me are still unsure to this very day. Things gradually got worse after our visit to '66'. The occurrences became more common and sleepless nights were a part of our lives. But it wasn't until meeting Michael three years later that things would become worse than ever.


It was the day of my 20th birthday and I had been persuaded to go for a meal with my family. I was never one for family events – being forced into spending time with relatives you barely know doesn't really feel like a present – but it made my mum happy so I agreed. This happened to be my worst birthday yet; I hadn't exactly been feeling great for the past year or so and neither had Alex. The experiences involving Solomon had become more frequent and were really starting to take their toll on all of us. Well, except for Paul, he seemed to be doing fine.

About half way through the meal, I excused myself from the table so I could go to the bathroom. I had just finished washing my hands when somebody approached me:

“You're Jack aren't you?” he said.

“Yeah I am. Do I know you?”

“I don't think so. I'm Michael, I live down the road from you.”

“Oh yeah, another kid who stayed hidden for his whole life.” I said snidely under my breath.

“Ha, I guess so. I actually used to see you playing out when I was younger. I was never allowed out, you know, because of him. You and your brother were pretty gutsy.”

“Him? So you know too then. Same shit, different story.”

“I know about it, so does my mum. We've never seen him but my dad has. Him and a couple of his friends were a part of it back in the late 70's. He gets to people you know, fucks them up – drives people crazy. That's what he did to my dad's friends. Either you or one of your little friends will be gone soon.”

“Shut your damn mouth. We'll be fine. We have been for the past eight years and we will be when it's all over. We just have to ride it out.”

“Sure you will. Just make sure you keep in touch with your buddies daily. Those most tortured usually suffer in silence.”

For the next few days, I took the advice of Michael. I made sure to keep in contact with Tom while me and Alex looked out for each other. Tom seemed to be doing pretty well, considering he'd had it the worst out of the three of us; but Paul wasn't doing so well. He told me that something bad had happened and that things were worse than ever. Up until this point, Paul had never mentioned to me that he'd experienced anything out of the ordinary – I'd asked him once but he denied ever seeing anything. I guess he was suffering in silence...

Paul was looking worse than ever when he told me the story; very thin, pale and evidently tired. He told me that it was around 3am when he was woken up by a breeze coming in through the window – he expressed bewilderment at how the window had been opened because he keeps it locked at all times. He got out of bed, ran over to the window straight away and tried to lock it; but the latch was snapped. After closing it shut, he slowly walked back to his bed and sat down. That's when he appeared. Paul had seen him at his window before, but not like this. His face was not as distorted as usual; he could make out his black eyes and a look of sick happiness on his twisted face. The window slowly opened and Solomon's tall figure began to jerk in through the opening. Crawling and wheezing heavily, he kept his eyes locked on to Paul and he couldn't look away. Creeping over to where Paul was sat, he pointed his finger towards Paul's wrist and marked a cross into his skin using his fingernail. In doing so, he stared at Paul and smiled. After that, Paul told me that he passed out – the mixture of pain and fear had become too much for him – and woke up the next day with his window latch still broken. It wasn't a dream and he had the scar to prove it.

A few days had gone by and we were all terrified by Paul's story; we had no idea what to do. We couldn't hide, we couldn't tell anybody because they'd react the same way Tom's parents did and we definitely couldn't stop him ourselves. We were being tortured nightly by someone or something, and it was made that much worse by not knowing what we were dealing with. After a surprisingly good night's sleep, I awoke to a knock at the door – it was Michael.

After getting dressed, he took me on to the brook along the back of my house:

“There's something you need to see. It's only about a mile away from here.” he said nervously.

When we finally reached our destination, I was confronted by an old, abandoned house. I immediately knew where we were, but I didn't know why:

“Why did you bring me here?” I asked angrily.

“I thought you should see it. I thought maybe you'd like to know that it's still here.”

“Well I didn't know that it was still here, that's for sure. But I really don't want to be anywhere near this house.”

“You need more answers and if there's even a slight possibility that you'll find some here, we should go inside.”

I hated to admit it, but he was right. I had nothing. Some history on Solomon and the colour of his eyes wasn't going to get me anywhere. I had to go inside; for all of us.

“Okay. Fine. Let's go then.” I said with an infinite sickness in my stomach.

Upon going inside, we could see that it was completely abandoned and destroyed. The stairs leading up to the second floor had collapsed into a pile of wooden rubble, the living room and kitchen looked as if they had been lit alight and there was nothing left in the house that indicated that anyone had ever lived there. The only thing that looked to be in shape was the basement door. Michael was the first of us to grab the door handle. He anxiously turned the knob and began to walk down the rotting wooden steps. I nervously followed as the light from the living room slowly lessened, the further I stepped into the dark hollow.

As I turned the corner, I was greeted by an entire wall of photographs lit solely by a large candle on a dirty, old table. Hundreds upon hundreds of images scattered all over the place. Some looked as if they were from the 60's, some from the 70's, the 80's – then there were the more recent ones. After looking through them, we had found pictures of everyone we knew. There had been crosses drawn on random pictures, while other pictures were clear of such markings. Tom's photo had a cross on it, Alex's photo had a cross on it, Paul's boasted the same scribble and mine did too – but Michael's was clear. There were even pictures of our parents from when they were younger. Tom and Paul's parents had been crossed out, as had Michael's Dad; but my parents and Michael's mum were clear. None of this made any sense. What did the crosses mean? It didn't mean death because all of our parents were still alive; so what did it mean? I was wracking my brains in confusion. Then we heard footsteps.

We froze on the spot, too scared to move. The bangs were getting louder as they approached the basement door. That's when I realised that I'd left it open; it was clear that we were downstairs. The final bit of light hitting the basement turned to black and it become apparent that there was somebody standing at the top of the stairs. Michael and I tip-toed and hid beneath the steps as Solomon began making his way down from above our heads. He gasped for air as he reached the bottom stair. His lanky frame hobbled over to the table and took a look around at the photographs. The fear I was feeling didn't scare me still; it compelled me to run. I nudged Michael and urged him to follow me. Right before we were about to run, Solomon turned around a let out an angry croak. We ran. We were running as fast as we could but he could somehow keep up. All I could hear was the panting, the morphed laughing, the hunger. He was only a foot behind us when we reached the top of the stairs. Michael slammed the door shut behind him as we reached the living room and headed straight back out onto the brook.

We followed the trail urgently and made our way towards our homes. I now had even more questions than ever and no answers to accompany them. When I arrived at my front door, it was already open. I walked inside the house to find my mum, dad, Alex and Tom sat in the living room. My mum and Tom had been crying; the air suddenly felt cold. Paul had been found dead in his room. He had slit his wrists during the night – the night I had been having a good night's sleep. It seems that Michael was right and now one of us was gone; I just didn't expect it to be Paul. He drives you insane and there's no escape when you suffer in silence. I'll never forgive myself for not giving Paul more of my time, I can't help but feel that maybe I could have saved him.
I know one thing for sure; I lost a great friend that day and I'll never forget him.


Four years have gone by since Paul ended his life. I'm now 24 years of age and living in my own apartment, far away from my old neighbourhood. Alex and Tom have their own place and spend their time studying in university. While I attained a simple retail job; barely managing to scrape enough money together to live off. Our lives had been scare-free for the past few years and we were just beginning to get back to normal. There was the odd nightmare, but aside from that, the three of us were doing good. Well, that's what we thought.

About six months ago, I was over at Alex and Tom's place having a few drinks and watching a couple of movies. The talk of the intoxicated soon began and before we knew it, we were discussing everything that had happened. None of us liked to even think about the events, never mind talk about it – but I suppose that's what alcohol does to you. We found ourselves dissecting Kershall Street, remembering the people who used to live there and all the people who left. Tom's parents were long gone – losing their minds down in Oakshale. Not long after Paul died, his parents left too. Then Michael was forced to leave with his mum and dad, as well as other neighbours just up and leaving. The street seemed so empty when we left.

When me and Alex moved out, our mum and dad decided to stay put. They liked the street, the area, their jobs and they had never been part of anything that had happened. It didn't take me and Alex too long to figure out that the reason we were the only kids allowed out to play in the street was our parents lack of experiences with Solomon. Most of the other parents happened to be part of the strange history in some way.

After a few drinks and some intense talking, the three of us fell into a drunken slumber. It wasn't until the early hours of the morning that we were disturbed by a bang at the door. Me and Alex opened our eyes and attempted to focus our vision. Tom was nowhere to be seen. A feeling of pure sickness hit my stomach that wasn't drink-related – I immediately knew what was happening. Alex wasn't as fast to react to the situation we were in, after all it had been four years. We stood up and made our way towards the front door. Just as Alex turned the handle, his face changed. It was almost as if at that moment, he had the realisation of what could be outside. He slowly opened the door, but there was nothing there. Just a small white, spotted bow on the ground.

We slammed the door shut and made our way back to the living room. It didn't take me long to realise that I knew where we had to go. The article, my deja vu, the bow; it all added up. The shortcut through the woods to get to Oakshale – the place I refused to enter – was where Solomon would hide the dead bodies of all the children he drowned. If Tom was going to be anywhere, it would be there. I still had the fear and didn't want to be anywhere near Oakshale at this moment in time, but we had to find Tom.

We eventually made it to the woods and stopped on the road. Everything seemed so surreal. I took a few deep breaths and stepped on to the grass. At that moment, Alex pulled the bow out from his pocket, as a brisk wind blew it from his hand and on to the floor where it had been once before. I shouted at him, questioned him as to why he brought it? The only answer he could muster was that he felt like it was a big part of our whole story. As true as that may be, I didn't want to be reminded of what I felt I once saw in my mind. We slowly made our way into the woods and walked for a good ten minutes, but nothing happened. Maybe it was just a dream or deja vu or whatever you want to call it. But then the smell hit us.

We turned a corner, cut through some trees and there it was. My nightmare.

The moonlight shone brightly through the crooked branches of the trees. It bounced off the stream and seeped through every gap in sight. The tall, skinny figure of Solomon Wallace had his hands on Tom and seemed to be leading him to the water. The figures of Paul's parents hanging in the trees, spun slowly, drenched in blood and smiling like kids on christmas. Tom's mum and dad were sat slouched against the bark opposite Tom. They were disfigured – maimed. Cut apart and sewn back together to seem smaller and younger. They all looked so happy.

The look on Tom's face however was indescribable – a fear once thought impossible to feel. It surely matched the horror that me and Alex were feeling inside. Solomon stopped and looked at us with his black eyes. He banged and scratched on the tree next to him, but we couldn't understand. He took a few more steps towards the stream and stepped into the water with Tom. The torrent only reached Solomon's waist but it had completely submerged Tom. We didn't know what to do. We stood there, stunned and useless. Then Tom fought back. He kicked and tussled until he relinquished Solomon's grasp. Me and Alex snapped out of our trance and ran towards the water. Tom slowly crawled out of the stream as his fear was replaced by anger. Solomon let out a deafening scream and marched towards us. The three of us picked up a large rock from the floor and rolled it towards his boney structure. The stone knocked him over into the stream; landing on his chest as he failed to move it from on top of him. We couldn't stay to see the damage done.

We ran home as fast as we could and called the police. We told them everything. The story of Solomon, the dead bodies in the woods, the suicides; we didn't miss anything out. The police didn't seem to care. It was as if everybody knew but never spoke about it – an entire town built on silence. They sent a team out to the woods and found everything that we'd described. All of the disfigured corpses and even the body in the stream. It was finally all over. Nothing was written in the local paper the next day and the three of us were barely questioned on what happened that night. I guess everybody was still unsure on the whereabouts of Solomon Wallace and whether he really did die that night.

Two days ago, I got a phone call from the police down in my old hometown. The autopsy had finally been completed and the officers thought that I should know the results. The body belonged to that of a man named Mr Ted Bradley – Michael's dad. I hung up the phone, called Tom and Alex and told them to get over to my place the next day so that we could talk. They arrived as I'd asked and I erupted – rambling in fear, telling them that he was still out there, sobbing like a baby. Then they interrupted me:

“We just found this in the lobby downstairs.”

They handed me a small box. We opened it up to find a broken window latch and a small drawing of my apartment. The picture was dated 5th February 2013 and had a small cross next to it. On second glance, Tom noticed it and pointed out the scribbled image of Solomon in the corner of the page. That's when we heard the scratching. The three of us ran into the bathroom and locked the door; that was almost 24 hours ago and the noise has barely ceased since. It seems as though nobody escapes, not even us. So here we are, terrified in our final moments, razors at the ready...


Friday, 2 November 2012

The Salesman

I was 15 years old during the weekend in June when everything would change. My mum had decided to skip town to visit her distant family, as she felt that she had earned a break. Nothing unusual about the decision to just up and leave as she often goes to visit 'the other side' as she called it. She'd either visit her parents – a part of the family that I actually enjoy seeing – who occupy a modest cottage up in the hills of some English countryside; or if she was feeling tolerant, she would make the lengthy trip to see her annoying, yuppie cousins, living it up in their seemingly never-ending Spanish property – that's where she was going this time. I never felt the need to put myself through listening to their constant, loud-mouthed whining of their quest for importance; but given the choice now, I would have sat through a week of their intolerable rambling if I could have known what that weekend had planned for me.

I was awakened by my mum on the Friday morning, and as usual, she'd gotten me the day off school. I was told that she'd be back on Monday morning, just in time to make sure that I'd gone back to school to reassure my teachers that it was nothing more than a three day stomach bug. I carried her bags to the car, gave her a kiss on the cheek, waved her goodbye, and just like that, she was gone. I wandered into the kitchen to make my breakfast, all the while thinking how excited I'd gotten the first time my mum had trusted me to stay at home on my own. It was different now, nearing trivial. Almost the entirety of that first day consisted of me  lazing about. I listened to my music, played some games, watched a movie, all of the usual things a bored teenager would do. Then I fell asleep. After what I think was about 2 hours of sleep, I was awoken in the evening by a knock. 

I arose from the couch like a zombie, still sleepy and aching from the awkward position that I'd somehow let my limbs rest in. I had initially planned to ignore the knock at the door but the thought of it being a friend made me want to answer – having company always made the weekend go faster. I clenched the door handle with a faint smile on my face and hoped that I didn't look as tired as I felt. With my eyes still half closed and that strange taste in my mouth that I get after a sleep, I opened the door. My eyes soon widened when I realised what I was looking at. A tall, bony looking, old man was standing in my doorway. He was dressed in a black suit and tie with an ageing bowler hat placed on top of his scraggly, grey hair. His white shirt was stained with a yellow and brown tint that I could only guess was coffee; and the shoes that he was wearing were very well kept, very shiny – so much so that I could see my reflection in them. He began to speak; his words were hushed, maybe even hissed in a child-like sort of tone, but I couldn't focus. I knew he was speaking but I couldn't concentrate on the words he was saying, not while I was looking at his face; staring into his eyes. His aged complexion was taut – wrinkled and very pale, almost like a hazy shade of silver; but the edges of his eyes were completely black. What looked like smeared charcoal surrounding his vision only highlighted the depth of his gaze. There was nothing human about them, they seemed hollow, lifeless. The fear that gripped me when he stared straight through me was like nothing that I'd ever felt before. 

I took a deep breath and finally mumbled a word, "Hello." I said.

He smiled – a disgruntled plight to infect my dreams. It seemed to extend upwards toward his ears as if there was nothing stopping it. His mouth was packed with razor sharp, dirty black teeth. Every once in a while his black tongue would swipe the surface of his upper deck in a slurp. With his head tilted slightly to the left, he crooned softly "Hello there child, I'm here to offer you something important, something that you might need. I'm a salesman you see, just a salesman. Please, all I need is a moment of your time in exchange for some peace of mind. Are you interested?"

I couldn't move, I could hardly breathe – I felt frozen. Terror had encompassed me. I finally muttered a sentence "I can't - I have to go - it's too much, I'm sorry."

The door slammed behind me and I could breathe again, I could think. I slouched down to the ground, trying to process what I had just witnessed. When out of nowhere a thud made itself known. I looked up, with my mouth ajar and my eyes darting about, then I slowly stood. Making my way into the kitchen I could hear a gentle humming; it was a happy kind of tune but the unknown source made me shiver. My stomach dropped as I turned the corner, he was there, humming that tune, smiling that smile as he sat at my table just staring at me. I backed away towards the front door where I was welcomed by a shadow "That can't be him." I thought to myself. I began to tear up, I couldn't help it. I headed straight upstairs, past my bedroom, past my mum's room and vanished into the bathroom. I could hear him, he was singing now, right outside the door. I panicked, I didn't know what to do. Then it hit me, my only choice. I couldn't believe I was actually contemplating climbing out of the second floor window; but I had to. The shadow passing by through the light on the other side of the door was forcing me to do it. I opened the bathroom window and stared outside – but then I stopped. There he was, standing on the edge of my garden, waving at me and slowly drifting down the road; taking his song with him and slowly fading into the distance.

That night I slept in the bathroom. With the door and window locked, I set up a bed using a bunch of towels. I just couldn't bring myself to leave until daylight emerged. The next day finally arrived – after what seemed to be the longest night of my life – and I had to get out of the house. I went over to stay at my friend's house for the day – Adam was his name, a small, skinny guy who I'd known all my life. I thought that he could help me forget about what had happened. It's a strange feeling you get when something so frightening happens to you, but seems so unrealistic; you begin to doubt yourself. It's almost as if you have two minds – but I knew in my heart that it was real; and if I didn't believe after the first meeting with the salesman, it would definitely be forever etched in my mind after the weekend was over.

Later that night I was told that I couldn't stay at Adam's house, as his family had to get up for church in the morning. I begged and pleaded with him to let me stay but his stubborn mother was having none of it and sent me on my way. I only lived three streets from where his house was, so it wasn't much of a walk; but I still had to walk back in the dark of night and I wasn't looking forward to it at all. That face kept creeping into my mind. The fact that someone had been able to scare me out of my own home was sickening; and that damn song he kept humming... that song he kept humming... I turned the corner and I could hear it. The tune, the voice, he was here. I looked down the road expecting it to be empty "Just my mind playing tricks on me." I thought; but there he was. Standing under the streetlight staring at me, smiling. He began to walk towards me – his hum turning into a song, singing louder and louder as he began to run at me. I had to run, I sprinted in the other direction as fast as I could. I could hear his footsteps behind me "How is he so fast?" my frazzled mind wondered. I had to get back to Adam's house, I had to. I turned the corner and banged on Adam's door frantically "Open the door! Open the door!" I shouted. His mother answered looking terrified, questioning what had happened to me. I stumbled into their house and scurried backwards; only to look outside and realise that he was gone. Was it my imagination? It couldn't have been, but there was nothing there. Nothing. Nothing, except for an old bowler hat on the ground. Needless to stay, she let me stay at the house that night, because – as she put it – I wasn't fit to stay on my own.

I woke the next morning feeling like a mess and looking even worse; but at least the sun was out. I had to get back home, I hadn't been there in a whole day and I had to make sure everything was okay. I thanked Adam and apologised to his mum; then I was off on my way. I stood at my front door, took a deep breath and gripped the handle. Then I heard a bang, then another and another. I jumped back from the door in pure fear, I couldn't believe it was him again; how is he doing this? Just as I had gathered the courage to turn the handle and go inside; my mum opened the door to me. I'd never been so happy to see her in my entire life. I hugged her and told her never to leave me on my own again. 

After that we went inside and sat together all day – something we haven't done since I was a young boy –  and everything felt safe again. She showed me her new white dress that she had bought while she was away, she told me all about her visit to her annoying cousins and spoke very highly of her weekend; but I couldn't do the same. That afternoon I told her everything that had happened. She listened intently and couldn't believe that something so horrible had happened to me. She felt so guilty. She apologised over and over and told me that we would go to the police station the next day, but right now it could wait and we had to get ready for dinner. I was confused that she had said that, but I suppose I was safe with her. An hour or so later, we settled down for our meal. I told her all about school, explained to her how much better I had gotten on guitar, update her on my love life and she just sat there and listened; smiling as I ate my meal. 

She stared at me and I felt uneasy, her smile slowly got bigger and bigger. All the while, her new, white dress slowly melted into a black suit. She hissed "Do you see how easy it is to give someone some of your time?" At that moment, he was stood right in front of me. I cried out loud "I knew it wasn't over, what do you want? Why me? Why my mum?"

"You know why I chose you child, you never listened. I told you it could have been something that you might need, I told you it was important but you ignored me. You didn't have the time; your precious time. The only way I could get you to listen was by using the one person that you trust, that you listen to; and let's just say that I like to be somebody else, if only for a while."”

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'll listen now"

"It's too late for that. It's too late. It's a shame too, child, because it really could have saved your life."

Then that was it. It was over. Done. So, how am I writing this now? Why am I telling you all of this? Well, you've given me some of your time so here is your supposed piece of mind; I like to be somebody else, if only for a while.

Monday, 29 October 2012

The Midnight Lock-Up


This story began about five days ago but I've only now just got round to writing it down. I'll take my time to make sure I share everything with you and the fact that this whole ordeal hasn't once left my mind makes me feel certain that I won't miss any details. It's going to be a very long story, maybe too long for some people; but I just need some sort of explanation to keep me from feeling insane. I'm hoping that if I write it all down, maybe I or someone else can make some sense of it – as little as there may be.

Well I suppose this story actually began 48 years ago and the only reason I know anything about it is because of my Grandad. From the 60's up until the late 80's, my Grandad used to work on the ships as a deckhand. He worked on many different ships under the wing of many different captains, and so the sea – being the exciting place that it is – left him with hundreds of stories to tell. When I was a young boy, I would continuously ask him to tell me these stories – even the ones I had already heard. Some of them were gruesome, some of them were funny, there was even a few sad tales; but only one of them was genuinely scary. I remember almost all of the stories that he'd share with me but I think it's obvious which one stood out the most.

My Grandad was 23 in 1964 and he'd just been drafted onto a ship that was delivering cargo to countries in South America. It was no different than the other two ships that he'd previously worked on, except maybe it was bit bigger. I won't give the real name of the ship, but for future reference, we will call it The CWS. My Grandad began the story by explaining to me just how strange the captain of the ship was; how he was a lot happier and friendlier than other captains he'd worked with, but only during the day. Once the clock was nearing midnight, he would become paranoid, angry and agitated – the complete opposite to his day-walking self. He'd scurry around the ship, briskly rushing everyone into their private quarters; ignoring any questions they would ask. Then, just before locking each door, he would stare into their eyes and plead with them not to try and leave their rooms until the morning came... almost everybody listened.

At this point, I should mention that the captain had an annoying habit that the crew had to put up with; he would sing 'Do You Want To Know A Secret?' by The Beatles, all day, every day without fail – and that's the only song he would sing. Even in the night, they could hear him humming the tune from behind his locked cabin door.

After being on the ship for a week or so, all of the sailors were beginning to grow more and more annoyed at the actions of the captain. His seemingly split personality, his constant singing – all of his annoying traits; but most of all, it was the way he locked everyone in their rooms of a night, almost as if they were children not to be trusted. That was until one night changed the way they were all feeling.

It was the usual time of night when the captain would dart about, clumsily rushing everyone into their cages; but one of the deckhands – JP – had a plan. Earlier on in the day, he had altered the lock on his door so that he could open it from inside of his room with ease by using a magnet. My Grandad was told that JP had the intention of getting everyone else out of their rooms for a party on the lower deck; so naturally, they were all excited and ready for a night of drinking. With his ear up against the door, my Grandad listened intently to what was going on outside of his room. Over the captain' monotonous pop-song droning, he heard a lock snap open and the hushed creak of a lone, metal door. Just as footsteps began echoing throughout the empty halls; the humming stopped. As my Grandad winced at the door in annoyance, he heard – all of them heard – vicious thuds and screams of pain; howling and scratching at the floor while JP begged for help. His cries were growing fainter, almost as if he was being dragged through the ship; lower and lower into the steel abyss. As the fading remainder of his pain erupted from the halls, my Grandad stepped back in horror as all movement outside the door had stopped and the damp corridor echoed silence.

The next morning as the doors snapped open, nobody wanted to step outside; but they had to. After mustering enough courage, my Grandad finally stepped out into the hall as the most putrid odour he'd ever smelt surrounded him. Holding his nose and gagging, he looked around, to see a small puddle of what looked like blood and oil mixed together. The only assumption that the crew could come up with, was that the 'inmate' had simply gotten out and sustained an injury. Curious as to what the captain would say, they all got ready for a day of work. They sprinted through the foul smelling hall and onto the upper deck. Once they arrived upstairs, they noticed the captain was already up there, singing his usual song as if he didn't have a care in the world. In an uproar, the crew questioned him on what had gone on the night before, but they didn't get an answer; he just sang. None of them ever saw JP again, and the next three months were the longest of their lives.

The rest of the time on the ship was dictated by the captain. The crew became quiet and despondent as The Beatles reigned over their eardrums. The work they once loved had become dreary and the ship felt like a prison. The crew would never question the captain and none of them would dare leave their room after hours. Until one night, a couple of months after what happened to JP, my Grandad finally had enough and curiosity got the better of him. He took on the same plan that JP had, except he was going to be more careful; as my Grandad said “If it was the captain's fault, I needed to know for the sake of us all”.

It was 2:03am and my Grandad finally mustered up the courage to approach the door. He took the magnet and slowly began to ease the lock to the left. A second or so before the lock snapped open, the humming stopped and a huge bang echoed violently through the darkness. He forced the door forward with all of his strength, hoping that whatever was out there wouldn't get in; but nothing tried to. He slowly inched the door towards him, enough so that he could peer into the dimly lit hallway in front of him. As he did so, he heard the quiet pitter patter of something stealthily bounding towards him within the darkness far ahead. The smell came back and filled his room. After taking a moment to gag into his sleeve, as if out of nowhere, a heavy panting made itself known from just outside the door. After momentarily freezing, he slowly began to react to the situation he was in. I don't know why he did it or how he got the courage, but he gazed back out into the hallway. My mind has never forgotten the look of sincerity and terror on his face as he described to me in detail what he witnessed in that corridor.

In my Grandad's words “It was a four legged creature that had thick, razor sharp hair that seemed to be coated in oil or tar. I don't know if it was the smell or the fear I was feeling but it made my vision quite hazy for a moment and gave me the worst pain in the back of my head. It was on eye level with me when it was on all fours, so I can't imagine how big it would have been if it stood upright. It had black hooves on it's hind legs, but it had what looked like black, clenched human fists on it's front legs. It's face was the worst; where it's mouth was were just three holes in the left, right and centre of the usual place a smile would occupy. It looked as if they had been ripped to create something resembling a grimace, then joined together by two large slices inbetween. It's eyes were shaped like that of a cat's; but with a white sclera, all black pupils, much larger and turned on their sides. It stared right at me – eyes widened; opened it's mouth to reveal hundreds of razor sharp, dark yellow teeth and let out a deep, human shriek. That's when I slammed the door, locked it and passed out for the night.”

After that incident, my Grandad was never curious again. He still had another two weeks and then he knew he was off The CWS for good. For the remainder of the time there, he stayed silent like the rest of the crew; every now and then he'd go to tell someone what he witnessed, but he decided it would be best to just stay quiet. Leaving day couldn't come fast enough and as he hopped of the ship with rest of the crew, he looked back at The CWS for one last time, as the captain waved off into the distance; singing his song while his new crew got to know the ship. A year or so later, my Grandad heard from a friend that the ship had been found off the coast of Argentina, completely abandoned: after that, he never heard anything of it again.

My Grandad is 71 now, long retired and happy as ever. After I picked the local newspaper up last week, his memory was jolted and what must have felt like a dream – or a nightmare – made his heart drop. The CWS was docked at an old harbour, not three hours away from where he lives and is being used as an attraction to bring a bit more money to the area. I was sure that my Grandad would see it as a tour of his worst fears; but nonetheless, he looked at me – almost instantly – and said “We have to go”.

So we did.


It was only a few of days after noticing the opportunity in the newspaper, that me and my Grandad finally decided to go and experience The CWS in all of her former horror. We gathered everything that we would need for the trip and set off in the early hours of the morning. By the time we'd arrived at the harbour it was nearing midday, so we headed towards a nearby cafe for some lunch. I'd like to think that we were both hungry enough to merit a meal, but I had the feeling that we were just stalling for time.

We took a table with a window view so that we could admire the ship for as long as we wanted to before going in. My Grandad seemed so distant as he looked up at that rusted metal monolith; his eyes open wide as if trying to pierce the steel. In his fixation he barely spoke a word for a good twenty minutes or so. After the food we had hardly touched went cold, he finally loosened his gaze and faced me “I'm ready to go in” he said.

Heading towards the floating structure, I began to realise how nervous I seemed to be; sweating wildly as huge metal butterflies crippled my stomach. Yet, I had no reason to feel this way. I suppose the story had a bigger impact on me than I had thought. We trudged through the puddles and black land surrounding the harbour until we finally hit the pier. Looking over at my Grandad, he seemed to be a lot more relaxed than I had anticipated. We climbed the stairs up towards a huge metal door on the right side of the ship and approached the ticket barrier. My Grandad being over sixty meant that he only had to pay £2, whereas I had to pay full admission; not a bad price for brain deteriorating nightmares. Then with a couple of deep breaths and what seemed like infinite hesitation, we stepped onto The CWS.

Once inside, we slowly made our way to the top of the ship to look around. It only took me a moment to realise how safe and well-kept it looked after all these years; so I began to relax as the images of a dark, damp ghost ship subsided in my mind. We started off upstairs and had the intention of making our way down to the Orlop Deck; but after a second look at the small leaflet that had been handed to us, I noticed that we could only experience half of the ship. The bottom three decks had seemingly disappeared off the map, leaving us with only a part of the experience – although I'm sure my Grandad didn't mind after all that had happened.

After re-visiting a few of the old stories he'd told me as a child, we finally decided to leave the Quarter Deck and head on down the stairs to the next floor. Up until now, we had only seen three other people wandering about on the ship with us – we just assumed that there were others on the lower decks – but once we went downstairs; there were no other people in sight. This deck seemed dirtier and it didn't really have anything to offer. It was mostly just empty space and a few metal doors that were sealed shut – even my Grandad didn't have much to say about this deck. “There would usually be a few cargo crates on this deck” he muttered; but that was it.

We reached the final deck that we were able to explore and made our way down the narrow corridors ahead. Looking left and right, we could see nothing – every door seemed to be locked and other corridors were completely blocked off. After speeding through a metal maze for nearly five minutes without seeing anything worth mentioning and already having explored the other two empty decks, I couldn’t help but feel cheated out of an interesting experience; and my own money. As we neared the end of the deck, we finally reached a huge door that was actually open; but just as I turned around to express my disbelief, I realised that my Grandad had not been following me.

I stopped in my tracks at the edge of the door and peered down the path I had walked. I shouted for a full minute but he was nowhere around. I know I should have backtracked to find him but I had finally found an open door and somewhere that was worth exploring. I assumed that he would find me shortly; after all, with all of the locked doors and blocked corridors, there was only one way forward. I stepped inside and scanned the room. It was a huge area with at least twenty tables in and an old, dirty kitchen. It was clear what this place was, but I couldn't help wondering why everything was so neglected on this part of the ship when the Quarter Deck was so spotless. Maybe this room was meant to be locked too?

I made my way into the kitchen and began to look around. Everything was old, damp and rotting. There were still plates on tables and coats on the backs of chairs; it was clear that I wasn't supposed to be in here. As you can expect, I was getting a bad feeling from the place, so I decided to leave. Just as I turned to exit, I noticed a door in the far corner of the room. I didn't want to approach the door but I felt like I needed to; after all, it was probably locked anyway. Dodging tables and various stains on the floor, I slowly made my way over to the corner of the room. I placed my hand on the cold steel of the huge metal handle and mustered enough strength to pull it down. Then it opened.

A huge wall of damp air hit me as I recoiled and coughed into my hands. I examined the darkness to try and make out where I was; but I couldn't hear or see a thing. At this point, I wasn't sure what to expect – the door was unlocked, so for all I knew, it was part of the tour. I felt my way along the side of the cold wall to try and find a light switch; then as the lights flickered on, I realised where I was. I was stood at the top of a set of stairs and staring down into puddles of dim light at the foot of the steps; now I knew why the other decks were unavailable for viewing.

I took the six steps down into the yellow light, so I could closer look around at what was hidden on the deck. The dim light showed a miserable labyrinth of cold metal and dripping walls; a rusted case of neglected memories. Once at the bottom of the stairs, I couldn't help but think of the story and the way my Grandad described the setting; this all looked very familiar to the images in my mind. I navigated my way further into the dark – the murky lighting now only as strong as a candle. As countless drips echoed throughout the domain, I couldn't help but remember the silence from not two minutes ago “I must have wandered further in than I thought” I mumbled to myself. That's when I reached a small staircase leading further down into a red glow.

I made my way down the stairs and noticed eight doors – almost in a circle – surrounding me. One of the doors was bigger than all the others and centred at the back of the room. Above it, lit up with a small red bulb was the word 'Captain'. It was then that I knew where I was. It was almost exactly how I had pictured it; but the fear I felt when imagining it was nothing like when I was there. It was always in the back of my mind that there was a chance my Grandad had just created the story for me when I was a child – or maybe even exaggerated a real experience he had – but now I knew that he'd had told me the truth all along. With my heart growing cold and pounding faster, I turned to head back upstairs; but I froze. That's when I heard the singing.

“Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? Closer, let me whisper in your ear...” I felt sick to my stomach as the song echoed through halls growing louder. It was impossible that this was happening to me. I headed straight back up the stairs – I've never ran so fast in my entire life. Just as I got to the top, I heard a huge bang from below followed by a hideous, deep shriek. I carried on sprinting towards the dim light at the bottom of the staircase that I had so stupidly followed before. My head began pulsating with the worst pain I had ever felt and I started to grow dizzy. As I ran, I could hear a quiet pouncing following me from behind, hitting the puddles and panting heavily. The worst smell hit me as I was almost back upstairs; I knew it was close and I knew it was real. I reached the top and slammed the door behind me, locking it straight away. As I stumbled into a nearby table, a ferocious thud hit the metal; just the once. I picked myself up straight away and headed back down the corridors.

I finally found my way out of the maze and back onto the Quarter Deck where my Grandad was stood. I was shaking as I tried to get my words out. He took me off the ship and back into the car. I never told him what happened and at the time, I wasn't sure if he thought I was joking or if I really did experience something. I just wish he was there with me to have kept me from going through that door. I spoke to him yesterday and told him everything. Thankfully, he believed me and had me talk him through every little detail. Going over it so many times has helped me a lot more than I thought it would. I never witnessed what was following me through those halls, so I can't give you details of it's appearance; but I know it was definitely the same creature that terrified my Grandad all those years ago.

After a lot of research and countless phone calls to some of my Grandad's old sailor friends, we finally found out some information. Apparently, the ship is docked at that specific harbour because the captain was born in the nearby town. In an eight year run of the ship, he was the first and only captain that The CWS had; so out of respect, they placed the ship there. Nobody can explain to us how it went missing for 48 years and then suddenly appeared where it is now. It's been five days since I was on the ship and I'm feeling a lot better than I initially did. That's why me and my Grandad are going back to the ship – I know it sounds ridiculous, but we feel like we have to. Within the next couple of hours, we will be heading back to The CWS; but we are going to the nearby town first to talk to the locals and find out some more information.


It's been about three days since we got back from our trip to The CWS and the nearby town that we'd heard so much about. It took me a while to even process the fact that we were going back after what happened to me last time; but my Grandad seemed keen and I suppose that you could say I needed some kind of closure. After all the research, hassling and phone calls we'd made, it seemed like we had no choice but to investigate further. If only I could have known the story we were digging deeper into; I would never have dreamt of getting involved.

We set off on Monday morning and decided to head straight on to the town, having no stops whatsoever. It was just approaching midday as we drove silently past The CWS. Remembering what happened to me and knowing that we would be back on the ship soon enough, gave me the worst feeling in my stomach. The supposed nearby town was actually a fair distance away from the where The CWS was docked. It took us almost another half an hour to witness the welcome sign; but we eventually made it.

Nearing the town – passing by the mounds of unkempt greenery and land – we expected it to be an old, desolate fishing town with few people inhabiting it; after all, the entire area we had passed up to now was horribly mistreated. Yet, we noticed as we were nearing the area, that what we could see up ahead was beautiful. We kept on driving until we reached a small bridge that took us over into the town – and what a town it was. It was very well kept and looked as if it got a good bit of business for a seemingly hidden little village. There were rows of shops either side of us, a small B&B, another harbour that held minuscule fishing boats and a few rows of houses further back that were hidden behind the shops. I remember looking over at the fishing boats for a moment, then turning my head to the North to look at The CWS; I felt so small.

After we had gotten over the shock of how nice the town was, we decided it would be wise to start looking for information immediately. We wandered the streets, trying to find somewhere that we thought might be useful; and that's when I spotted it. In the midst of all the bustling shops, there was a small, dark sweet shop in the far corner of my vision that caught my eye. I figured that maybe the person who owned the shop would know a thing or two about The CWS or The Captain; so we headed on over. At first glance, anybody would assume that the shop was shut. Nobody was going in and it looked as if it hadn't been in business for years; but when we approached the door, the sign told us otherwise.

As we went inside, we were greeted by a friendly old man who looked too frail to even be out of his own house. He gawked at us awkwardly, shaking with every breath, until my Grandad finally decided to ask him a few questions. The first of which was “Do you know anything about the ship docked a few miles away? The CWS.” A look of anger filled his face “No” he replied. My Grandad asked him another question and he gave us the same answer again. He must have said “No” at least five times; each time getting quicker and louder, until my Grandad couldn't even finish his sentence.
We knew that he knew something so we kept pushing the questions until he took a deep breath and wrote something down. “Take this and go see his sister, she might talk to you. Now leave.” He then hurried us out of the door and back onto the street.

After a quick bite to eat, we set off to find the house written down so that we could talk to the captain' sister. We arrived at a huge house on the other side of the village and knocked on the thick wooden door. A thin, old woman opened up with a smile on her face. She said hello and happily invited us inside. It seemed like she hadn't had company in a long time – her eyes were glazed over, almost as if she wasn't completely with us. Once inside, I cut to the chase; there was no need in making small talk – she was either going to talk to us or she wasn't. I immediately asked “Would you be willing to talk to us about your brother?” and to my surprise, she told me she'd love to. I let my Grandad ask her the questions as he knew more about the captain, the ship, the history; he had all of the knowledge. So I sat back and wrote down everything that was said in the interview. SA is my Grandad and EB is The Captain' sister:

SA: So The Captain of The CWS, he was your brother?

EB: His name was DB, and yes he was, a wonderful brother too. Very caring when we were children. Of course, I didn't get to see enough of him when we got older; being the captain of a ship is very hard work.

SA: So when was the last time you saw DB?

EB: Oh, must be 53 years ago now, he died sadly; I remember it vividly. 9th September 1965.

SA: How did you find out about his death?

EB: It had been reported that The CWS has been found completely abandoned off the coast of Argentina. No bodies, no missing life boats, nothing. My brother being The Captain and both of our parents being dead; I received the call of his death. It was a very sad day for me. He just never knew how to stop it.

SA: Stop what?

EB: The thing that got rid of them all. They should have just stayed in their rooms, it would have been better for everyone. He wouldn't have felt so guilty I'd imagine; it wasn't his fault though.

SA: Stop what? What are you talking about?

EB: I know about it you know, he told me everything. It was on christmas '59 that he came back home to visit us. He was acting weird the whole time; twitching and mumbling to himself. He wouldn't talk to any of us properly all day, until he took me off to one side before he was leaving. He told me that he'd found something and it had followed him. Followed him from the sea, to the ship, to the land; it just wouldn't leave him alone – I felt so sorry for him. He mentioned something about thinking that it was all just a fisherman's tale, so he had to find out. Then he kissed me on the cheek and left in a hurry. Later on when I went upstairs, I seen that he had left me his journal on my bed. There was a lot of scribblings in there that hurt me to read.

SA: Did he tell you anything else? Was that definitely the last time you saw him?

EB: That was the last time; I'll always remember it. The fear in his voice when he told me everything that had happened will stay with me until I die. Like I said, he had seemed anxious all night, as if he had been followed. He went upstairs to use the toilet at one point and everyone downstairs could hear him shriek. He came down shaking and awkwardly laughing, telling us that he thought he saw something in the mirror. It must have scared him terribly because he was very loud.

SA: Do you still have the journal? Can we look at it?

EB: Take it. It's upstairs in a box under my bed. I've only ever read it twice; I don't like the memories.

After that, we thanked EB and left with the journal. By the time we got out of the house, it was beginning to get dark; so we decided to stay at the B&B for the night and re-visit The CWS the next morning. As we were strolling down the street, heading for the B&B, I could have sworn I heard that same scream I heard on the ship. It echoed in the distance, but it shook me to the bone. That night, I read through the journal while my Grandad got his rest. It was interesting, chilling, disturbing, sad, confusing. As a child I had never considered the possibility of The Captain to be an innocent man; but I did now.

I'll update you again as soon as possible with what I found out in the journal; as well as giving you the details of my latest experience on The CWS. I never thought that it could get any worse, but it did.


It's been over a week since the last time I shared my 'investigation' with you all, and a lot has gone on in that short time. Not only do I have to tell you all about the journal and my last venture onboard The CWS; but I also have some news regarding what has happened to me in the last nine days. None of what I'm going to tell you is good news and it's going to be the last chapter in this ongoing nightmare of mine, but so you all know right now; there is no happy ending.

As I sat in the corner of the room soaked in moonlight, I began to read through the old journal I had been handed by EB. Flicking through the first twenty pages or so, I could tell that the captain had once been a completely different man than the psychopath I had been told about in countless stories. He seemed like a friendly man; easy to get along with. I could tell that he was excited about his new job on the ship. He said he loved the feeling of being in charge and looking after his crew; and I could tell he meant it. He'd spend page after page describing the feeling he gets waking up in the morning and breathing in the ocean air; knowing that the rest of his life would be spent at sea. It wasn't until about half way through the journal that I noticed something that jogged my memory:

We docked in Brazil yesterday to drop off cargo at some local businesses. I noticed a bar not too far from the ship as we were loading it all onto the pier. We all knew we'd end up there for a few beers, so me and the boys decided to head on down as soon as we were done with offloading. I thought we were only gonna' have a few, but once you're in the mood... you're in the fuckin' mood! We'd gone a couple of months without booze and gambling so we ended up there all night (and most of the morning too, shh) It was about 2:00 am and I was playing poker with the bartender' son and a couple of his fishing buddies. I'd just won with a full house when one of the guys said “You think we should tell him the tale?” they all looked at me, eyes wide open and smiling as one of them began the story. He said that there is a local myth, a fisherman’s tale of a beast called The Kazatrapp. It happened about 6 years ago and has been a sailor's worst nightmare ever since. A salmon hunter from the nearby village was out fishing one day looking for his daily produce. He'd been out there from the morning until the late evening and he'd felt that he'd finally found enough. It was pitch black out so he decided to make his way home, but in doing so, he heard a loud scream from within the rocks up ahead. At first he assumed that he was hearing things but then it happened again. From the screaming and grinding of the rocks, he felt sure that someone had somehow gotten trapped on the rock formation. As he neared the rocks, a huge creature stood up, right in front of him and shrieked. He turned his boat around as fast as he could but it was too late, the creature had already jumped on the boat. That's when he ended the story. I asked him “What is that it?” Apparently friends and family of the man noticed a huge change in him. He was quieter and more wary of everything around him. He was on his boat a lot more too. Not long after though, the man killed himself. For it being 'the nightmare of every sailor' there wasn't much to the story; but I suppose it was a bit frightening. I thought maybe it was true, but of course it's is just a fisherman's tale so it's most likely bullshit. Although if I'm ever out at sea and I hear a scream like that, there's no way I'll be going to check it out...

After finding that entry in the journal, I was curious to find out more. It wasn't until the last three pages of the journal that I found something that made me shiver:

It actually happened. I don't know why it happened to us but it did. We got caught in a storm last night so we all had to pitch in. All of us were working hard on the quarter deck, when one of the crew said that he heard something strange. We all laughed it off and joked about him for 'hearing things' but then it happened again. At first I thought it was the radio, The Beatles were playing and we were all singing along so every other sound was drowned out; but not this – we all heard it this time. It was an almost-human shriek. I immediately thought of the story of The Kazatrapp, but it couldn't have been, it was a myth... I looked over the right side of the ship and could just make out a shadow on some rocks. It looked up at the ship on all fours, screamed, then dived under the water. Again, we heard the scream but this time it was from the left side. We all made our way to the other side of the ship and there it was. It stood up on it's hind legs and followed us with its bright white eyes. It jumped from the fuckin' rocks right on to the ship! I don't know how, but it did. We looked it in the eyes as it's mouth muttered words under it's breath. I couldn't believe it actually spoke, it was some kind of language none of us could understand. It sounded like hundreds of voices merged together – some talking, some screaming. After that, I was stood there watching my entire crew being ripped apart. I just fuckin' stood there... I couldn't move. It was so effortless. I watched it punish them. Biting, ripping and throwing. After it was all done, it charged at me, pinned me down, screaming in my face. It shoved some of the flesh hanging from it's jaw into my mouth. I vomited, I just couldn't take it. It looked into my eyes and growled “Mine”. Afterwards, it charged right down to the bottom of the ship. I could hear the banging and feel the tremors all through the steel. I'm on my own in my room now with the door locked. I can still hear the voices of my crew. I just don't know what to do.

After I'd finished reading the journal, I felt that I could make much more sense of the situation. Not everything was documented, but we had more information and could assume the answers to some of our lingering questions. I thought to myself that the captain had become a part of the ship because The Kazatrapp wouldn’t allow him to leave; he was almost like a pet. He would lock his crew away every night so that he could save them from being killed – he wasn't a bad person at all. I thought to myself about the song I had heard on the ship. Was he still alive? Was he bound to The CWS and being kept there by The Kazatrapp? This is the reason I had to go back on the ship. I couldn't live with myself knowing that I'd let an innocent man suffer.

The next morning, I told my Grandad that we should just leave everything and go back home. He didn't seem to mind; he was old and tired. He'd gotten to go back to The CWS and that was enough for him. I drove him back home and told him I'd come and see him tomorrow. Then as soon as his door closed; I took the same long journey back to the ship. With sheer determination and no fear, I clambered up the stairs, bought my ticket and made my way onto the deck. Once again, it was completely bare – there must have been five people on board at most. I set off down the stairs and into the maze of corridors I had navigated before; but it was a lot quicker this time. As soon as I headed into the room and faced the door in the corner; that lack of fear I had ten minutes ago had now been replaced with heavy breathing, trembling and a sickly feeling in my stomach.

I slowly made my way over to the door and placed my trembling hand on the lock. Then, just as I pulled on the handle, the huge metal door flung back and hit me in the face. I hit the floor and almost immediately fell unconscious; not before I felt a hand grab me by the leg and drag me down the stairs into the darkness. Afterwards, I awoke in a dirty room lying on an old bed. As soon as I opened my eyes, it was there; just staring at me from the other side of the room. It was on all fours and kept edging towards me, then taking a step back and screaming. I stared at it and felt as if I was staring death in the eye; I'd never been so scared in my life. It's jaw jutted outwards and the same voice that sang the song I'd heard came out of it's tattered mouth. The captain had not still been alive; it was The Kazatrapp all along. I questioned myself on what it would want with me; but the only thing I could think was that it wanted me dead. It slowly moved towards me, grabbed me by the head and showed me it's sharp, yellow teeth. Then, in a voice too dark to be human, it whispered “Mine”.

After that, it let me go. It just let me walk out of the room and back off the ship. I haven't been the same since and it definitely wasn't worth it for the few answers that I've gotten. How much truth can you find out about a myth, a legend, folklore – whatever it is. I've been in my house for the past week, trying to get the courage to write this all down because I knew I'd have to go over it all again. It may have let me leave the ship, but it will never leave me alone. I can still hear the voices of a hundred dead men; and sometimes it will appear to me. Whether it's outside my window or waiting for me as I turn around; it's always standing there, staring me down. It has only attacked me a couple of times; so I know it doesn't want to kill me.

This will be the last time you hear from me, this is my final update; I thank you all for your time. I can deal with what has to be done from here on out – I finally know what to do. I forgot to mention however, that I took another look at the captain's journal yesterday. I found a page that was stuck to the back of the book. When I peeled it back from the cover, there was one more sentence scribbled down on the dirty, yellow page:

Ending it all is my only option. I'm so sorry, please forgive me...