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I’m a cast member in your favourite TV show, and I’m running out of time.

I’m a cast member in your favourite TV show, and I’m running out of time.
Part 1
Part 2
I would normally start off my newest post thanking those who are continuing to read our story and supporting us, as well as translating what my castmate was trying to tell me.
But this time I don't have that luxury. This time, I'm terrified out of my mind, and I don't know what to do right now. The good news is I've managed to find an internet connection within the confines of this hotel. However, every way of getting help is still blocked. So once again I'm coming to you. This time it's not just to give you an update, but also ask you for help. I don't have to find a connection on set anymore, which is a relief, and I can post this hopefully today. (Sunday 11th October).
Thankfully, I now have at least some kind of hold on the date. Once learning it last time, I made sure to input it into this phone, so I can make sure to anchor myself to some kind of normal.
Since I last posted, I've managed to stay myself. Though at this point, I don't even know what that means. I'm clear headed at least, and my thoughts are mine. Which, right now, is precious to me. I'm desperate to stay myself. To stay sane. Because every minute that goes by, I'm struggling to hold onto reality. I'm struggling to accept this as my life right now. It's not a TV show or a movie, or some overpriced book you might get at Barnes and Noble. This is really happening to me, and if I'm honest, I'm fucking terrified. Sorry. Once again, I can't stop shaking. So, the following account may contain typos or whatnot. I don't really care. I'm just going to write down everything I know.
Due to COVID, our filming schedule is all over the place right now. Which means we film on weekends too. Mostly reshoots. I know if my castmates and I weren't being drugged and turned into emotionless zombies, we would definitely complain. But as you know, they're not themselves right now. And no matter how much I'm in denial, neither am I. Anyway, this morning we were due on set.
Last night, I couldn't sleep. After seeing Noah's message, my thoughts wouldn't shut up. I kept thinking about him trapped in that room, strapped down like an animal. The cartoon that he was being forced to watch, and the scarlet rush of blood dribbling down his chin. Everything I saw felt like some kind of vivid hallucination, especially after seeing him every day since. Sure, Noah only spoke to me as Katie, and on set. But he seemed like his usual self, even if he was acting.
Noah plays Katie's love interest Will on the show, and the two of them are practically the same person. So, apart from the all too familiar foggy eyes that looked straight through me, like everyone else, Noah didn't seem like anything drastic had been done to him. Which I was sure of when I saw him in room 309, staring blankly at some ancient Looney Tunes cartoon, where the static seemed to control him. No, I wasn't imagining it. I saw it with my own eyes. Noah, his body trembling, quivering under tough restraints. It looked like he was having a seizure. His wide eyes and parted lips still haunt my memory. He was silently screaming at me for help, and I couldn't do anything; only watching as a seemingly innocent cartoon caused him to writhe, blood spilling down his shirt.
That's what I can't understand. If I'd seen that, if I had witnessed Noah go through that trauma, then what had they done to him? Brainwashing seemed like the best guess, but it seemed like more than that. James had spoken of a first stage of treatment, which was the pill. Whatever had happened to Noah, that must have been the second. Is there a third? How many stages are there, and where does it end? What the hell is James planning?
However, even if Noah was more or less acting like himself, his message to me was haunting my thoughts. FIND DEREK. What could that mean?
Derek was one of our producewriter's, as well as James's brother. According to James, he left the show due to creative differences. After everything that's happened over the last few weeks, I know that's a lie. But why would Noah tell me to find Derek?
As far as I knew, the two of them were only close as colleagues. Derek seems like the last person Noah would go to for help, so why did he seem desperate for me to find him? My character Katie was obsessed with mysteries, and let them rule her life. I started to wonder if she really was starting to take over me. Because part of me, splintered pieces of me deep, deep down, couldn't stop thinking about the bobby pin on my bedside cupboard, and if sticking it in the lock and jimmying it a little, would unlock the damn thing.
But then I came back to reality, and quickly realised that the door to my room was locked by a key-card. Not a key. But Katie, her ghostly presence skating the back of my thoughts, still wouldn't shut up. She was thinking of every escape attempt possible, and it was hard to block her out. After playing her none-stop, it felt like the character was slowly bleeding into me, every part of her spiderwebbing into my brain, leeching on.
Why Derek? I wondered, pushing Katie out.
Why did Noah want me to find James's brother, and where was he, anyway?
It didn't make any sense, and overthinking it just hurt my head. I was lying on my back, staring at the ceiling, trying to force overpowering thoughts to the back of my head, when I heard it. Buzzing. At first I thought an insect had flown in. I sat up in bed, blinking in the darkness.
Leaning over to switch the table lamp on, the room flooded with light. But after several disorienting seconds of searching for a fly, there was nothing there. Except I know I heard it. Burrowing under the thin blankets provided, I tried to sleep. But it was still there; a buzzing noise that was getting progressively more erratic. I checked the lamp to see if it was the bulb, but the buzzing noise wasn't coming from anywhere near me. Again, I tried to force my brain to sleep, but the noise progressed from buzzing, to a seemingly relentless swarm burying its way into my brain.
I couldn't take it. Slipping out of bed, and on shaky legs, I scanned the room. It was definitely an insect, I thought. Maybe it was trapped. The clock on my bedside read 1:00AM, glaring red numbers burning into my eyes. After stumbling around, looking for an invisible insect, I gave up on my side, and fell to my knees beside Rory's bed, ducking underneath to check.
Rory had been worrying me the most, after completely losing his English accent in favour for a broad American twang. Just like the one he fakes to play Mac. I was used to him slipping in and out of English and American when we were shooting before all of this, where he would usually break into his English twang, when he broke out into laughter, or misread his lines. But now he spoke purely in an American accent. It shouldn't have, but it chilled me to the bone. Like I was losing him to Mac. I knew James planned to silence us and turn us into zombies, but this was something else.
As usual, Rory was fast asleep, curled into himself. I made sure not to wake him up, staying as quiet as possible. But the closer I got to my cast-mate, the buzzing rattling in my ears grow louder, and my heart dropped into my stomach. Slowly getting up, I leaned close to Rory. His eyes were shut, lips parted peacefully. I had to know. Getting as close as I could, his warm breath grazed my cheeks as I pressed my ear to the side of his head. The buzzing noise collapsed into a low humming.
It sounds crazy, but it sounded like there was something there. Inside his head. Like a swarm of bees had nested in his skull. I jumped back swallowing a shriek, and slipped back into bed, struggling to hold down a panic attack. I spent hours trying to find a logical explanation to what I'd heard. But I couldn't. The noise stopped eventually, leaving me to bask in silence. But silence was worse. I almost wanted it back, so I could understand it.
So I could make sure I wasn't losing my fucking mind.
Before I knew it, early morning sunlight was streaming through the blinds, and I'd had next to no sleep. When I was teetering on the edge of slumber, my brain would remind me of Noah convulsing under restraints, blood spattered down his shirt. Izzie, and her vacant eyes burning right through me, and the angry buzzing sound emitting directly from Rory's head.
I cried myself to sleep, managing a mediocre one and a half hours.
I dreamed of clusters of bees feasting on fleshy brain tissue, burrowing directly into my skull, the buzzing noise becoming screeching static streaming its way inside me. Rory's voice pulled me back to reality, and I opened my eyes to find him standing over me.
Rory's smile is something that keeps me sane. Before falling under the spell of the pill, there were rare moments when he would flash me a reassuring grin, even when I knew he was breaking apart inside. His larger than life personality was something I treasured, and when I blinked up at him, struggling to keep my eyes open, all I could see was Mac. All I could see was his character.
His expression was blank, brown eyes glued to me. Except I wasn't seeing the loveable idiot I normally saw in both fictional Mac, and real Rory. Instead, I was seeing an emotionless shell with my friend's face. The buzzing noise was gone, and once again I had to remind myself it was real. It had been real. I had heard it, and everything I was seeing and hearing wasn't a figment of my imagination. Even if my mind was struggling, stretching to find logical answers.
"Get up." Rory's voice sent shivers slipping down my spine, Mac's American accent dominating his tone. He didn't smile, only inclining his head to the side, like he was looking at a stranger. His arms were folded across a thin short sleeved shirt he was using for pyjamas.
My castmate jutted his chin. "We have school."
For a second, my guard was down, the façade I'd managed to keep, crumbling.
"School?" I questioned him, choking back the fear in my tone.
"Of course, Robin!" James’ voice trilled, filling my blood with ice. It was like an electric shock. I twisted around to face him, fashioning my expression back to vacant.
Luckily, the writer didn't seem to notice. He was standing on the threshold with the usual. Two white plastic cups of water, and a paper brown bag of Mcdonalds breakfast.
After weeks of being mindless, and having the same routine, it was starting to take its toll on me. It was monotonous, and I was sick of the same bacon sandwich which tasted like cardboard, the same lukewarm fizz of coke slithering down my sandpaper throat. The thought of popping the pill into my mouth made me feel physically sick, but I kept a nonchalant face as James took a step towards us. Rory as usual stood still, his arms by his sides, staring forwards, like a soldier awaiting orders. I copied him, mentally begging the boy not to speak.
I wanted my castmate that morning. I wanted Rory's familiar accent and venomous mouth. Like that first morning. I wanted him to rebel in some way, spitting swears at James, like he was still holding on, like he was still with me, and I wasn't alone. Except the Rory I knew was gone, and I had to come to terms with that behind my façade. James cleared his throat. "Good morning to the two of you!"
Rory nodded, and I did too, making sure to pinpoint my glassy eyes directly at the writer. He did the usual, handing us the capsules, watching us take them, and checking if we had actually swallowed. I lodged my pill behind my teeth and waited in tense silence while James started going through our schedules for the day. "Okay, we have a script reading this morning, for episode six. Which is of course the episode when..."
The writer's voice faded out in my ears, reduced to a low mumbling barely scathing the back of my consciousness. I only heard "script meeting" and something ignited inside me, an idea slowly piecing itself together in my mind. It's rare when we go to the writing offices. We haven't been since the start of the season, when everything went to shit. All I could think about was Noah's message. Derek left the show, but his office was in the building. If I managed to get in, there would no doubt be answers in there.
"Robin? Does that sound okay?"
Snapping out of my thoughts quickly, I gave James a curt nod, despite having no idea what I was saying yes to. His gaze lingered on me for a moment, before he broke out into a grin. "Wonderful. Now open, sweetie. I want to make sure you're being a good girl."
His words made my skin crawl. All I wanted to do was wipe that triumphant grin off his face. But doing that would expose me. So, I stepped forward obediently, hating how familiar my body was with his voice, eager to submit to him. Opening my mouth, I stayed still, maintaining my blank expression. Though James only checked quickly before pulling away, confident I had swallowed. "Alright!" He clapped his hands together and gestured to the food. "A car will be waiting for you in fifteen minutes. Eat and get ready, and then we'll head to the writing offices. We've got a lot to do today, so hurry up!"
With a cheerful almost dance to the door, James disappeared quickly, whistling to himself. When he was gone, I spat out the pill as usual, dumping it in the coke.
After forcing myself to eat the sandwich, I showered and dressed, formulating a plan in my mind. Before the script meeting, I was going to break into Derek's office. Thankfully, it's spaced out from the other writing rooms on the top floor, while the others are below. I knew that faking sickness wasn't going to cut it after last time. As far as I knew, James did expect at least a flicker of humanity inside of us. A few days ago, Lana had asked to go to the bathroom. I knew she was completely under the pill's control, but still asked. James nodded, seemingly unfazed by my castmate speaking out of turn.
So that's what I was going to try. Dressing in a sweater and jeans, I grabbed a leather jacket that had been left out for me. Rory was still on my mind, as well as Noah's message. James expected us both to be waiting side by side when he came to collect us, and when I stationed myself next to my castmate, I leaned into him, listening out for the buzzing. But it was gone. Part of me wanted to grab Rory and shake him, attempt to snap him out of it. Before I could, James arrived, this time with the others in tow.
We followed him like the obedient drones he had turned us into. Noah and Izzie were shoulder to shoulder, Rory and I, and Lana bringing up the rear. Something burned inside me, an overwhelming urge to talk to them. Try and knock some sense into them. I wanted to drag Noah to the side and question him about Derek. I knew that was fruitless though. I was the only one awake, like always. The others were trapped in some impenetrable trance while my mind was full of clarity.
The car-ride to the writing offices was the same as always. I sat in the same seat. I listened to the same radio station crackling through James's expensive speakers, pretending to listen when he went through our schedule for the fourth time. It always struck me how trapped I truly was, when I turned my head and stared out of the window. Life seemed to go on as normal outside, while mine crumpled in front of my very eyes. We drove past ordinary people, some of which probably knew of our characters, and had no idea about the truth behind us. That I was a prisoner of the show.
Refusing to let myself slip into bitter melancholy, I fought to stay awake. My mind was working at a hundred miles an hour, and a clash of aromas, an overwhelming whiff of perfume and cologne from my castmates, turned my stomach.
We arrived at the writing offices and were escorted inside by James and two guards. The whole way there I was struggling to think of the perfect excuse to break away from the group. I stuck to Noah's side, finding comfort in his company, even if he wasn't all there. He stared forwards, unblinking, an unsettling smile on his lips. The crew were buzzing around, talking animatedly, and I caught looks thrown our way. Pursed lips and slitted eyes.
I stayed stock still, watching James swipe his key-card in the door and push it open, but my mind was whirring, my stomach collapsing on itself. My cast mates stood together, blank eyes and unsmiling lips, bar Noah. And I quickly came to the realisation that the looks from the crew. They looked... unnerved. The five of us were freaking them out.
"There!" James, with his usual smile, widened the door, and ushered us in. When the others took their seats silently, I hesitated in the doorway. The room was far too warm, and my skin prickled with heat. The table was already set up with multicoloured scripts and glasses of water.
Glimpsing a slip of paper with my name, designating my seat, I got a crippling wave of Deja-vu from our last meeting. Before James had entered, Noah had put Rory into a teasing choke hold, Izzie slapping at him to let the boy go, Lana rolling her eyes and smirking at her phone. Looking at them now, they were strangers. And it hurt. It fucking hurt that I couldn't do anything. I couldn't move. My feet felt like they were glued to the floor, waves of emotion hitting me like waves of ice water.
"Robin."
James's voice sounded like it was underwater. Instead, I was seeing myself handing my phone over to James. My phone. My chest clenched, bile burning the back of my throat.
I'd become so used to living like a prisoner, like a submissive doll, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to live normally. And I had. In this room, just weeks ago, I'd had the luxury of staring down at my phone when James was interrogating me, clutching it to my chest, and making a note to myself that I had to call mom at some point.
I never had. There was probably someone texting her for me, to avoid her getting suspicious.
"Robin!"
James's hiss of my name made me inwardly jump, my stomach slithering into my toes. My eyes were burning with tears. I felt like I was drowning. Nodding my head in acknowledgement, I blinked at James blankly, hoping to God I wasn't showing any emotion.
"Is something wrong?"
James's eyes were sharp.
My throat was dry. "Yes." I responded, copying the others' almost robotic tone. "Can I use the bathroom?"
The writer's eyes narrowed, but he nodded. "Of course. Should we start without you?"
I didn't move, even when my legs urged me to get the hell out of there. James's gaze didn't leave me, his lips curved into a smirk. He was testing to see if I was going to answer. On the pill, we're supposed to be silent unless we have a command or are spoken to. So, I didn't answer, making sure to hold eye contact despite my pounding heart.
After an uncomfortable moment, James shook his head.
"Go," he muttered, gesturing to the doorway, "You look a little peaky, so take as long as you like."
His smile only broadened, and without missing a beat, I hurried out of the door, only for him to slam it behind me. "Right!" He said from inside, his voice had the tone of a school teacher. "Let's begin with Mac and Stella, shall we?"
To my surprise, there were no guards on the hallway, and I found myself staring at the exit doors. Escape. I could run and not stop running until I'd found someone who could help me. When I weaved the scenario in my head, however, I knew I'd only get blank looks and rolled eyes from strangers.
They'll think I've lost my mind, I thought, backing away, and heading towards the stairs. Which meant the only way I was going to help myself and the others, was delving into Derek's office. Taking the steps three at a time, I headed to the top floor.
Still no guards, which was weird.
When I wrapped my hand around the bronze handle to Derek's office, it clicked and slid open.
After twisting around and searching for pursuers, I stepped inside, shutting and locking the door behind me.
The second I strode into the writer's office, I knew there had been been some kind of struggle. Derek Marley was a neat person compared to his brother, and every time I had visited before, everything would be in perfect order on his desk, scripts and filming schedules in colour coded piles. Instead, what I was faced with was chaos. Derek's desk was upturned, an explosion of paper piled on the floor.
His Macbook was on its side in a pool of what looked like old invoices. I froze in the doorway, before picking through the pile of Derek's belongings. There was definitely a struggle.
My character seemed to come to life inside my mind, pointing out the obvious. A mug of coffee on the carpet, its contents spilled and long since dried into the carpet. A black pair of glasses were under the desk, the lenses smashed. Someone had stamped on them. The laptop looked like it had survived the attack, and I grabbed it, setting the Macbook on the floor. The screen lit up when I pressed the power button, and I let out a sharp breath of relief.
When I was kneeling down, inspecting the laptop's screen, something caught my eye, a glimmer of silver under Derek's plush leather chair. I reached for it, my fingers curling under something cylindrical and narrow. A syringe. Not just that. Something was wrapped around the plastic. With shaking hands I unravelled a hand-written letter. The syringe was labelled Sevredol - 100mg. But right then, I was captivated by the letter.
The handwriting was unmistakably Derek's short-hand.
It shouldn't have surprised me, considering Noah's message, but seeing my castmate's name heading the letter sent me into a cold-sweat.
-
Noah.
I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I know how much you want out, but I’m telling you releasing this to the public will be your downfall. Especially through my Instagram account. I spoke to my brother, and after many disagreements, I’ve come to the decision that he is not well. He's not thinking straight. This year has been cruel to us, as you know. Due to the pandemic and halting production back in Mach, I'm afraid James has become driven to keep the show on air, and will do anything to make sure it does.
I have a confession to make. I've written this letter multiple times, unsure of how I'm going to tell you this, because I've made many mistakes. Those of which you will never forgive me for. I can't pin all of this on my brother. This project is ours, and I'm not going to deny being involved. If you’re reading this and I have not managed to tell you in person, it means something has happened to me. But do not worry about me.
I will be fine. What I need you to do, boy, is focus on what I'm going to tell you.
On my laptop are details of the horrific plans my brother and the network combined have for you, Isabelle, Rory, Lana and Robin. He is convinced that you are sick for wanting to leave, and is willing to do anything in his power to keep the five of you on the show.
Though I have my suspicions he’s been wanting to do this for a while.
I couldn’t participate in it fully. Admittedly, I did agree to the beginning stages. I wanted discipline and compliance with the five of you, since we are approaching a rough stretch of months. But the later stages are where I draw the line. My brother is trying to play God, and I want no part in his sick activities.
The master password to my laptop is DELTA6785-1245.
Click on the folder labelled "PROJECT DAFFODIL" and you will find all details there.
I just hope you find this before my brother begins the later stages. Tonight, he is planning to begin stage one. If he ever reaches the harrowing phases, use the shot, and remember: Time is your worst enemy. You can NOT let my brother reach stage four.
Be safe. All of you. Everyone here is against you. You were right, Noah. The show has lost its heart. James has turned it into a money making machine. I'm deeply sorry that what started as a passion project between us all has reached these lows. DO NOT go to the police. There are people far higher up than my brother who want to see this project through to the end. My brother is treating it like an experiment, and right now, you are his guinea pigs. Make no mistake. If you do get away from James, you will not be free. The show owns all of you. The police will send you back to my brother.
You will also find the contact details of a friend of mine you can trust. She can get you out of there and to a safe location. But you need to be careful.
Again, I'm so sorry. To all of you. My sins will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Derek.

-

I didn't have time to go over what I'd read, but it was enough to send me into fight or flight. With trembling hands I stabbed in Derek's password and the galaxy background flashed up.
The battery was almost dead, so I had to be quick. Following the instructions in the letter, I scanned the mass of folders scattered on the desktop, clicking into one named "PROJECT DAFFOIL" and was prompted with a password. I typed in the same one, and after staring at the rainbow wheel spin around, a box popped up with columns of folders.
The top folder was the name of our show, followed by our names in alphabetical order:
Lana Faraday - SUCCESS
Rory Gallagher - SUCCESS
Robin Harley - TBD
Noah Keating - SUCCESS
Isabelle Wright - SUCCESS
TBD. My mind was whirring. To be determined. Meaning, whatever had been done to the others, was yet to be done on me. While the other names were highlighted light green, my name was a much darker orange. I felt sick. I wanted to shut the laptop and run. I didn't know where I was going to go, but I had to get away. Sometimes being blissfully ignorant was a good thing, but I knew I had to see what Daffodil was. I had to know what they were doing to my castmates.
I started with Noah, clicking onto his name. A list of .MOV files appeared, and I clicked into the first one, bringing up QuickTime player.
It was a video clip lasting eight minutes. Though I didn't have to press play to understand what I was watching. I found myself staring at the same room I'd seen Noah in, this time flooded with dizzying white light. This time he was in a reclined position, his eyes closed, a plastic mask pressed over his face. Noah's eyes were an angry red, and I glimpsed what looked like bandages wrapped around his ear. It was what was beside the chair that sent my heart into a frenzy; a silver contraption which looked straight out of Doctor Who.
Unable to stop myself, I went back to list of names, this time clicking on Rory's name, bringing up the same player. The same background, clinical white light bathing his face. Like Noah, Rory's eyes were shut, a mask pressed over his nose and mouth. His wrists were strapped to leather arm rests, and seatbelt like restraints pinning him to the chair. Rory's right eye looked swollen, just like Noah's.
Clicking play, I dragged the video forward. When it started playing again, Rory's eyes were blinking open, staring dazedly at the camera.
A voice played through the speakers, and I jumped. James's voice.
"Insertion successful. Give me a moment to talk to the young man."
Rory's eyes widened, his gaze flicking around the room. He gave a half hearted tug on the restraints. His pupils looked dilated and foggy, but he looked alert. Awake. The mask had been removed. For a moment he looked like he was struggling to speak.
“What?" Rory slurred, his English accent coming out full pelt. “What's goin' on?"
James chuckled, his laugh sputtering into static though the speaker.
"The date is the first of October, two thousand and twenty, and the time is eight minutes past ten," He said, before clearing his throat. "How are you feeling?"
Rory grunted. "Like I've been hit over the head. What..."
He licked his lips, shaking his head, "what did you do to me?"
"Your sickness, young man. We're simply treating your sickness. Now, state your name."
Rory tugged at the restraints pinning his wrists to the armrests. "I'm not sick, asshole."
"I'm not going to repeat myself," James's tone hardened. "State your name."
"I can't move." Rory struggled in the restraints, hissing in pain when he twisted his head to yank at the restraints. "Why can't I move?!"
"Your full name, please," James said breezily. "For documentation purposes."
"Rory Gallagher," Rory snapped, lips curling into a snarl. "What the fuck is this?"
"Your age and occupation too, please."
"What?"
Glaring at the camera now, Rory blinked rapidly.
"I'm nineteen...no, no, I'm twenty. I'm an... uh, I'm an actor."
"Very good!" James's voice was grating, patronising.
"Once again for me? There's a good boy."
"You son of a bitch," Rory gritted out.
"What the fuck did you do to me? Where are the others?"
I caught a stray tear dribble down his cheek. Rory's voice was shaking, even if he was putting on a front.
"I want to go home. I want out, do you hear me?"
"The other's aren't important," James hummed. "Once again, please."
Rory's jaw clenched and he looked like he might start yelling, squirming in the restraints. But an ear-piercing screech sounded out, and I recognised it automatically. The static from the cartoon. I expected Rory to start convulsing like Noah, but the boy just flopped down, his expression going slack, his arms slamming down on the arm rests.
"Your name." James said, a hint of delight in his tone. "Nice and clear for me."
My castmates eyes were open, but there was nothing there. It was exactly what I'd been seeing for weeks now. The same glassy eyes, a void of nothing through warm browns.
"Mac."
The American accent came out natural and fluent, bleeding into the name. "Mac Price."
"Age?" James prompted.
Rory didn't blink. "Sixteen."
"Uh-huh," The writer was practically laughing with glee. "Occupation?"
"High school student." Rory droned.
"Wonderful!" James trilled.
"Simply wonderful," He was taking to somebody else.
"Give him a few weeks to settle in, and then we can move onto the final stage. Complete removal of lingering consciousness. Of course, we can replicate the young man's personality easily, for press days and of course the fans, that will be easy. Once the chip is stable, there will be no need for the boy," he cleared his throat.
"He will be disposed of. Do you understand me?"
Another voice. One I didn't recognise.
Though my ears were roaring.
"Yes, sir." the voice murmured. "Uh, I'll need to keep an eye on him for a few hours, to make sure the device is connected to the iris. We do not want a repeat of what happened with Mr Keaton."
"He's stabilised, and Miss Harley has been taken care of."
"Mmm. It's hidden in plain sight, Marley. For that, I must applaud you."
James chuckled. "That was all my brother, Dr. Jason. He is the smart one, after all."
Something turned in my gut, and I lurched back, choking up the sandwich I'd eaten earlier. But I didn't have the luxury of barfing my insides out. I had to get the information I needed, and get out of there.
I didn't need to watch anymore.
Shutting down the clips, and then the following windows, I searched for Derek's emergency contact.
Scanning through the files in the PROJECT DAFODIL folder was fruitless, but a blank folder caught my eye. Clicking into it there was a name, address and number. Looking around, my gaze lingered on a scalpel sticking from the pile of papers.
I had to get it out. That's all I could think of. Whatever the hell was inside their eye, I had to get it out.
I grabbed the scalpel, slipping it in my right boot. I shoved the syringe and Derek's letter into my jeans, grabbed a pen, scribbling down the details, and got out of there, fast, wiping bile off my chin with the cuff of my sweater. I could barely breathe and my fingers kept grazing my right eye. James's words wouldn't leave my head as I stumbled down each step. It felt like I was floating on air.
James was turning us into our characters, and had succeeded with everyone but me.
Not just that, he was planning on "eradicating lingering consciousness".
That meant fully removing them, right? In favour of whatever he's replaced them with.
When I got back to the script read-through, James took one look at my ashen cheeks, and the bile staining my sweater, and nodded, gesturing for me to sit down, without questioning me.
The meeting didn't feel real. Nothing felt real. My mouth worked, but they were words James wanted me to say. I ran through my script as Katie, making sure to come to life as her, when allocated, and when the read-through was over, I let the writer pull me back to the car, shoving me inside.
I felt paralysed. Knowing what was going on, and what his plans were for us, I couldn't move. Couldn't breathe. We drove back to the hotel in silence, and Rory and I were taken back to our room as usual. But this time, a television screen was rolled in. The same type I'd seen in 309.
"Sit down. Both of you." James commanded, and Rory did so. After a beat, I did too.
A man came in and set up the TV, inserting what looked like a VCR into an ancient player. The same black and white cartoon popped onto the screen, flicking through static.
Rory's gaze went directly to the screen, and the writer nodded with a smile.
"That's right, Mr Gallagher."
I did the usual, copying Rory, but James came to kneel in front of me. He grabbed my chin and jerked my head forwards. His eyes were hard and merciless. Inclining his head, he hummed. "You're not quite ready yet, Robin," he hummed. "your mind is far too sensitive, young lady."
Part of me wanted to question him, choking out tangled cries in the back of my throat.
Instead, I stayed still. I held my breath, swallowing a screech.
James's grip hardened. In my peripheral, Bugs Bunny was chewing the same carrot, Daffy Duck advancing towards him. "You're a stubborn little bitch, aren't you, hmm?"
The writer stood up, seemingly composing himself. "Anyway. Here's some late night entertainment for you both." his eyes flickered to me. "Hopefully, this will stabilise you, sweetie." He pouted. "I don't want to risk losing my best star, after all."
With a cheery wave, James left.
But the door didn't shut. It bounced, before hitting the frame.
Retreating footsteps told me the writer hadn't noticed. Jumping up, I grabbed one of the paperbacks James had provided me for "entertainment" and wedged it under the door.
Failing to switch the TV off, I grabbed the table it was on and turned it around, and Rory blinked, his gaze wandering, like he was searching for it.
"Rory."
Kneeling in front of the boy, I grabbed his shoulders and shook him, but he was limp, like a doll. His eyes were glassy and vacant, staring at the TV screen.
"Hey!" My voice was teetering on the edge of hysterics and I slapped him. Hard. "Rory, look at me," My voice wobbled. "Hey! Look at me!"
But he wasn't looking at me.
He wasn't fucking looking at me, and I wondered if he already was Mac. If Rory was gone.
I couldn't stop myself.
Grabbing the lamp from my bedside table, I slammed it into the back of his head.
I only realised my mistake when my castmate fell back onto the bed, his eyes rolling into the back of his skull. He's still breathing, but I'm terrified for him.
What do I do? I need to get this thing out of him, but I don't want to blind him. I have a scalpel, but I don't know anything about eye anatomy. You saw what James said. If I don't get this thing out of him, out of all of them, I'm going to lose them.
Please help me. Please tell me what to do. I don't know what to do, and Rory isn't waking up.
I still have the shot that Derek left, but I don't know what it is. I can't search anything, I can't look for medical help, I can't do anything, and James could be back at any moment.
Is there a way to get this thing out of Rory's eye without blinding him? Is there a way to check for concussion?
Please help me.
submitted by RobinAnonymous to DrCreepensVault

8

I'm a 'phony' paranormal investigator, and I'm in over my head.

Yes, I’m a ‘phony’ but not a shyster, nor a conman. I’ve never tricked anyone out of their money. Really, given there aren’t any codified formal standards for what constitutes a ‘paranormal investigator’, phony is a relative term. I did have a genuine interest in the paranormal (as a skeptic) before all the madness. I’ve watched videos on youtube about unexplainable events, ghost phenomena, haunting psychology, and occult symbology. I didn’t believe any of it to be real, I just thought it was cool. It was a hobby. I just want it to be clear, I never intended to do any harm. In fact, the opposite is true! I wanted to help, and that’s how I fell into this job.
Apologizes for the opening rant. I just wanted to make sure all *that* was clear from the get-go. My name is … well let’s go with Peter and my real job was building-inspector. Yeah, I’m that guy that everyone hates because I have to tell them when they didn’t do the job right the first time. Well, that’s the stereotype at least, as far as I know, I’m fairly well-liked. (Of course, I generally worked with people that can do the job right the first time so, ya know...) My trade comes with a lot of cool gadgets like a thermal camera to check for insulation leaks, an electromagnetic field detector to check for bad wiring, and useful knowledge about electrical, plumbing, air ducting, et cetera. These trade tools and skills ended up being the start of my current ‘job’.
It started a few years back when my old buddy, let's call him ‘Louis’, and I were having a boy’s night out at our favorite tavern. Louis is an accountant, married to a lovely woman, has two little kids he loves dearly, but he had a problem that was driving him nuts. They had recently moved into a new house and his wife and kids were convinced it was haunted. Strange noises, flickering lights, cold spots, et cetera. All the usual sorts of ‘phenomena’ that can usually be explained by loose ducts/pipes, bad wiring, and poor insulation. Louis had tried to convince his family that there had to be rational explanations for it all; but they were all so scared and so worked up they had convinced themselves it was a ghost, that they have to leave, all that nonsense. It was so bad the kids were struggling with school due to lack of sleep, and Louis and his wife were constantly on each other's nerves.
It was then I had the most brilliant idea ever... that I would later come to regret. I told Louis ‘hauntings are all about psychology, people think there is something to be scared of so they get scared, it doesn't matter if the thing they’re scared of is real or not’. Thus I reasoned If fear could be caused by something *thought* to be scary, perhaps it could be cured by something *thought* to deal with the scary thing. I remembered seeing this tell-all story about a fortune teller once, she explained ‘people don’t really want their fortunes told they just want good news and they want to believe it. That’s what she really did, figured out what her customers wanted, and put on a big mystical show and told them what they wanted to hear.’ I could do the same thing for Louis’s family. So I proposed a plan, “Go home, tell your wife and kids your friend the paranormal investigator is coming tomorrow to get rid of the haunting. We'll make a big show of the whole thing to sell it psychologically, then I’ll go over the pipework, electrical, and whatnot. I'll help you fix whatever is really creating the bumps in the night, and that should solve the ‘haunting’.” Louis agreed.
I arrived the next day and put on the show. I went for this whole Ghostbustersesque science-based approach to occultism. I told Louis’s wife and kids about my trade tools and how they were used both for home-inspection and ghost hunting and we made a sort of game of checking the house out. We laid down some newspapers and the kids helped me draw protective wards from ‘magically infused salt’; which was just table salt from a bottle marked with occult runes I found on-line. I made sure to draw ‘real’ protection symbols because I knew the kids would look them up on-line just like I did. I burned some sage with a few nice smelling herbs mixed in to ‘cleanse negative emotions and energies’ (again something I learned from Youtube). As I had expected we found some old wiring that needed new insulation (EM fields can cause feelings of paranoia), a few loose pipes, and some old insulation that needed to be replaced. We got everything fixed up and soon after the ‘ghost’ was gone.
My paranormal investigator career should have ended there, but it didn’t. Turns out Louis’s wife was WAY into the occult and paranormal. I mean she had special teas and crystals, she was a part of multiple paranormal related groups on Facebook; the whole nine yards... and she had fallen for my act hook, line, and sinker. She decided to tell all of her friends about how I had saved her family from the ghost, and the next thing I know I’m getting calls and messages from people asking me to investigate their hauntings. Now, I could have just ignored them, or just explained it was all an act, but there was a problem. What would happen if word got back to Louis’s wife and kids that I was a fake? I couldn’t be sure, but probably nothing good.
Of course, this was also an opportunity. What I was really doing with the ghostbuster stuff? I was home-inspecting...just with an extra bit of showmanship and improving. So I figured I’d run with it. I’d tell people to call my company and schedule a ‘home-inspection’ (which was what I had to call my paranormal investigation work for ‘tax reasons’) and I’d just do the whole show and get paid to do my job. I didn’t charge extra! Even if someone offered to tip me I always turned it down. I made good money just doing my job. I didn’t need extra… well at the time I didn’t.
I would come to regret not taking the extra money after the pandemic hit. The unfortunate design flaw in the profession of home-inspector is you have to be able to go INSIDE the homes to inspect them. If people are afraid of a deadly virus, that doesn’t happen so much. After three months of not being able to do any jobs, the company I worked for went belly up. (Smalltown companies not being ‘too big to fail’.) I was now unemployed and trying to find a new job during a pandemic was like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. Financially I would be alright for a while, but as of this writing the pandemic is still going and I’ve even seen reports of some places having ‘second wave outbreaks’ which says to me it's not getting fixed anytime soon. So one day I got a message on Facebook, someone tried to contact the company to schedule me for a ‘haunting-inspecting’ (that’s what we ended calling it) and found out the company was gone. I explained what happened, and then they asked if they could ‘just hire me directly? Maybe pay me under the table, if taxes are an issue?’ They were quick to add that normally they would never propose such a thing, but they feared for the well being of their two-year-old and their spouse was serving overseas.
Now, just so it's clear the ‘tax reasons’ as you’ve probably surmised was just a cover on my part to explain away why the ‘professional paranormal investigator’ had a day job; just another part of the act, really. I hesitated as I thought about how to reply to the message. Everything I had done so far was above board. In terms of legality I had been paid to inspect a home and that’s what I had done every time. I just happened to do some other stuff as a free service to give families peace of mind. Of course, that wasn’t an option anymore. I’ll spare you the legal BS, but essentially I couldn’t ‘legally’ or ‘certifiably’ do home inspections without being a part of a licensed company (the laws are weird here). Of course, there were no laws against selling peace of mind. I had a N95 respirator as part of my trade tools (and I mean the real deal with replaceable filters and eye protection) so the virus wouldn’t be a problem. What if I just went over and did my thing? Most of the little repairs I could do myself, anything I couldn’t handle I could recommend a friend that could (and they needed work just like I did). All the ghostbuster stuff would still be technically free so I knew I wouldn’t be conning anyone. So, I agreed to help. (Turned out they had a lot of bad wiring and an infestation of a mold that could cause hallucinations. It was no wonder they were seeing things.)
Well, the requests kept coming and I kept doing my bit. Things were fine till last Saturday and my most recent case... Now keep in mind I had encountered some weird things while doing this job. Like one time the ‘ghost’ turned out to be a psycho that had been living inside the walls of the client’s house. (I just about screamed when I spotted him with my thermal camera.) A few of the haunting cases turned out to be stalkers, heck there was this one time I had to knock out a punk with my monkey wrench when he tried to break in. This last case though, even with all of my experience; there were things I can’t explain. I’ll do my best to recount the events below.
The client lived in a huge manor house in a heavily forested area. It was a really old place, one of those turn of the century constructions that had been added on to and updated over the decades. The clients were a family of five. The husband (whom I’ll call Winston) was a nurse, the wife (Dana) a school teacher. They had one daughter (Janine) in her twenties who was living with them because she lost her job during the pandemic. There was a ten-year-old boy (Raymond), and a baby boy (Oscar). Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself the same question I did when I first saw their home. ‘How did they afford a huge manor type of place on those two salaries?’, well turns out there was a good reason, though I didn’t discover it till shortly before I began writing this.
I pulled into the driveway and found Winston waiting for me. Even before I got out of my truck I could tell he was on edge. Keep in mind he was a big dude well built. He struck me as the type that could handle himself in a dicey situation. Yet, his hands trembled as he waved to me. I also noticed he had set up a lawn chair in a sheltered spot near the garage, which meant he felt more comfortable waiting for me outside on a cold windy day rather than inside his own house. Something must have spooked him good. I pulled on my mask and hopped out of the truck. Before I could even introduce myself he jogged over to me and started talking up a storm. “Thank god you’re here!” was all I could make out before his speech devolved into overly excited non-sense and frantic hand waving.
It took me a few moments of my own gesturing to get him to calm down enough I could actually talk to him. “Winston WINSTON! Calm down. Ghosts feed on fear, you have to calm down or you’ll just make it stronger.” That was popular theory within the ghost hunting community. It was one of those pearls of wisdom I used as part of my act. I hoped it would be enough to get through to him.
Winston looked briefly alarmed but began to settle down. I tried to encourage him. “Deep breaths, relax. Where is the rest of your family?” I had been expecting five but had only met him thus far. I had a sudden worrying thought that maybe the reason he was so panicked was someone was in immediate danger.
“Dana and Janine took the kids out; they'll be back later. I figured it would be safer if they weren’t here for this.” Winston explained between ragged slow breaths. “Honestly if it weren’t for the damned pandemic we’d all be in a hotel or something.” He looked me up and down, sizing me up. “How can you be so calm when you deal with this paranormal stuff all the time?” He asked in an almost pleading tone.
The real answer was ‘I know all the paranormal stuff is fake’, but I didn’t say that of course. Instead, I shrugged and opened the side door of my truck. “It’s all about professionalism.” I began calmly and methodically equipping my gear as if everything that was going on was just another day on the job for me. “I’m supposed to be the expert, right? If I start panicking then everyone else is going to as well. So no matter what I never show fear, I get scared sure… I’ve had a few nasty encounters, but so long as I act like I’m not afraid I tend not to feel quite so scared. ‘Fake it till you make it’ like they always say.” In truth Winston's nervous deposition had me on edge, but true to my own advice I wasn’t showing it.
He nodded slowly, “Right, professionalism… okay.” He let out a long slow breath.
“Alright so tell me what’s going on in your house.” I made a big show of bringing out my ‘ghostbuster’ gear; such as the bottle of ‘magic salt’ I talked about earlier and my ‘photon buster’; which was another prop I came up with for showing off to kids. It’s just a high powered flashlight with an engraved lens. I had researched banishment runes online and scratched them into the plastic, so the symbols are projected like the bat-signal.
“There’s so much I hardly know where to start.” He began with a sigh.
“Well, start at the beginning. What did you notice first?” I prompted and we began walking to the front door.
He struggled a moment as he tried to collate the contents of his memory. “Well… it started with little things. We’d hear odd noises at night, felt cold spots, lights flickered…” I had heard all that before, but the next part surprised me. “So, I had a buddy come in and check the wiring and whatnot, assuming there was a mundane explanation… he found and fixed a few issues but the phenomena didn’t stop.” This was the first time I had ever done one of these after someone had already done what I was planning to do. At the time I reasoned the buddy might have been an amateur, thus hadn’t found every issue or maybe he didn’t do the fixes right.
Winston continued, “After a while, we had gotten used to the little quirks, but things started getting worse. Objects would move when no one was looking. On at least three occasions I set my coffee mug on the table turned away for a moment and found it tipped over and spilling out on the floor. I thought maybe I had knocked it over by accident the first time but, by the third, I knew I hadn’t.” I wrote that one off as clumsiness and denial. Sometimes people blame ghosts for losing their keys and wallet around.
“And it just kept getting worse!” He continued. “Soon we’d find paintings on the floor, furniture toppled over, books pulled off the shelf and stacked on the floor …” He listed off a few more things, most of them I could write off as exaggerations, people forgetting to close drawers, or a bored ten-year-old trapped indoors making a mess.
I thought I had it all figured out then Winston dropped the bombshell. “It got really bad when I opened the hidden room, and then there’s what happened in the kitchen this morning!” I paused just short of the front stoop. “Hold on… secret room? And what was that about the kitchen?” Winston opened his mouth to speak, but he couldn’t seem to find the words. After several long moments, he finally said, “You’ll just have to see it for yourself…” He opened the door and gestured for me to enter.
Unconsciously my hand rested on the handle of my monkey wrench as I walked in. I didn’t know what to expect now. I stepped through the threshold and immediately felt a chill run down my spine, causing me to shudder involuntarily. “You feel it?” Winston asked as he stepped in behind me and closed the door, but didn’t lock it; as if he thought he’d need to get out in a hurry. “Chilly in here,” I admitted. I heard a familiar beeping and realized my EMF detector was on and going utterly nuts. I turned it off figuring there must have been some bad wiring on the doorbell or something. “Kitchen is this way.” Winston gestured with a shaky hand and timidly began walking down the hall.
We reached the kitchen, Winston stopped at the entrance and refused to take another step. I walked in and … well… it was just plain unreal! Someone had taken every knife from the butcher’s block and shoved them into the ten-foot-high ceiling hard enough to make them stick. Every drawer and cabinet was wide open and every item (pots, pans, boxed foods, fruits, etc) was placed on the floor arranged by size order. The refrigerator, a huge two-door model that must have weighed at least three hundred pounds was UPSIDE DOWN! As if someone had managed to lift the entire thing up and flip it over! The doors were hanging open and the contents of the fridge had violently spilled out onto the floor in a sticky mess of broken eggs, milk, and juices. The mixture of fluids was smeared across the floor up the wall to the ceiling as if a dozen hands had dragged the mess around. I blinked as I took in the scene. Most of it I could explain away, but the refrigerator? The knives shoved into the ceiling? Who or what could even do that?
Winston’s question snapped me out of my confused stupor. “Have you ever seen anything like this before?” There was a frightened tremor in his voice. I could see the fear, and the pain of having his home... his family's safe haven so violated in his eyes. Without really thinking I answered out of reflex. “Yes, twice. The first time it was staged.” I had one guy try to ‘debunk’ me, to expose me as a fraud (which I sort of am, I suppose). He set up a fake haunted house with various tricks and spooky events to make me think it was actually haunted. Of course, I ended up catching on to his plan and his scheme failed. (He did a lousy job installing some of his tricks. I ended up fixing a few of them for him.) I might have thought Winston was trying to pull the same thing, but I could see the pain and fear in his eyes. If he was putting on an act it was Oscar-worthy. I continued, “The second time…” I fell silent as I thought about that moment I found the intruder hiding in the walls of a previous client’s home. I felt the air in the room suddenly grow colder, and shivered involuntarily. I swallowed and took a good long look around before turning to Winston and saying, “Have you called the cops, yet?” Winston winced and half nodded, “We’ve had to call them several times over the months. They came out a few times and checked the house top to bottom, they never found anything. I think it’s to the point they’re not taking me seriously anymore. I called them just before I called you and they haven’t arrived yet.”
It was time to get out. Whatever was going on here was beyond me. It would take at least three really strong guys to flip that refrigerator and they might still be in the house waiting to strike. “We’ll call the cops again and wait for them outside, it’s not safe in--” I was suddenly interrupted by a woman’s scream! It shattered the quiet like a hammer to a mirror. I felt my heart jump into my throat and had to swallow hard to force it back down. Winston's eyes shot wide open as he heard it, then called out his wife’s name in terror. He turned and ran towards the source of the scream before I could stop him. Dana should have still been out with the kids, it couldn’t have been her, but I doubted Winston was in the proper mindset to realize that fact. Of course, if it wasn’t her who or what the hell was it? I hesitated a moment deciding between pursuing Winston not wanting to let him face whatever threats there may be alone, or running outside to safety and calling the professionals to handle this. I ran after Winston, reasoning he was likely in immediate danger and I was the only one around that could help him.
It was a struggle to keep up with Winston. He was in full-on panic mode, and I was carrying around a bunch of heavy tools. I caught a glimpse of him as he turned a corner and began trotting down the stairs into the basement. I made to follow him but paused for a moment as something odd caught my attention. The basement door was secured via a rope so it couldn’t be closed. One end of the rope was tied around the door handle, the other was secured to a hook screwed into the wall. I puzzled a moment as to why it was like that, but soon Winston’s frantic call for his wife down the basement reminded me of the more pressing matters.
I made my way down into the basement. The sudden chilliness in the air took me by surprise. I felt the need to rub my arms to warm them up. I found Winston running around frantically opening cabinets, checking rooms, just tearing up the place whilst calling for his wife. “Winston!” I cried out. “She’s not here! Remember she’s out with the kids!” He didn’t even acknowledge me. I ended up having to grab him by both shoulders and shaking him as I reminded him his wife couldn’t possibly be here. The veil of fear and madness finally lifted from his eyes. “But, I heard her scream!” He protested. “I heard the scream too, but you already told me she took the kids away from here for safety’s sake. She wouldn’t come back until the problem is dealt with, right?” My words seemed to sink and he relaxed and spent a moment trying to catch his breath.
I was rather winded myself and leaned against the wall as I gasped for air. It was hard to take deep breaths to the mask, but I knew more or less how to. My eyes happened to settle upon something my brain couldn’t make sense of. “What heck is that?” I gestured to an opening in the basement wall. It was hinged like a partially open door but just looked like a wall. There was no door frame, or handle just an angled section of the wall leading into an open space behind. Without even having to look Winston answered. “That’s the hidden room we found last night. All the really weird stuff happened after we opened it.”
The air coming from the secret room smelled like stagnation and death even through the mask, and I had just changed the filters. So how I could even smell it was mind-boggler. The inside of the room was darker than a moonless night. As if the light from the rest of the basement was unable to pierce its abyss. I used my thermal camera to look inside, but I didn’t dare cross the threshold. The room was at least twenty degrees colder than the rest of the basement, and I mean right up to the hidden door, which should not have been thermodynamically possible. With the aid of thermal vision, I could see the contents of the room: a table, large hooks hanging from the ceiling, a drain in the middle of the floor, a rack of butcher’s tools. By this point, I had a dozen questions jockeying for attention in my mind. The one that came to the forefront of the moment was, “Winston… why do you have this room in your house?”
“I didn’t know it was there, I swear!” He replied defensively. I hadn’t meant my question to be an accusation, but it must have come across that way. “Just happened to find the hidden door cracked open last night and I opened it up the rest of the way to take a look inside. I’m pretty its the source of the haunting.” I stood there stunned unable to form a coherent sentence to speak. More questions filled my mind. ‘Was this real?’ ‘Is this place, ACTUALLY haunted?’ ‘Where had the scream come from?’ ‘Was all this a setup?’ one in particular though that had been at the back of my mind demanding attention suddenly came to the forefront. I asked him, “Winston, why is there rope keeping the basement door open?”
In an almost off-hand manner, he answered, “It slammed shut on Janine once trapping her down here. Some sort of force must have been holding it closed because it took me, Dana, and a crowbar to get it back open, even though it doesn’t have a lock.” Above us, there was a loud tearing sound and then a wooden SLAM! We were both startled by the noise and then looked up the stairs. Sure enough, the door was now close. I could see the part of the rope that was still tied to the handle hanging limp. Judging by the fraying the two halves of the rope had been torn apart. Winston chanted ‘No no no no!’ As he raced up the stairs and began shoulder ramming the door in an attempt to break it open.
The air suddenly grew colder, so cold I could see the fog of my breath puffing through my respirator’s vents. The lights began to dim and flicker threatening to go out. I focused on staying calm, reasoning this could all still be some sort of test or the work of some home invaders, but all that went out the window the moment I saw the THING manifesting in the dark of the secret room. I couldn’t really see it with my eyes, mind you. In fact, if I hadn't happened to look into the room with my thermal camera that very moment I might never have known it was there. I watched through on the LCD screen as a swirling vortex of cold air formed in the room from seemingly nowhere and began gradually pulling itself into a monstrous human shape. It was at that moment I realized just how screwed we were. This was it. This was an actual haunted house. This wasn’t someone’s test, this wasn’t some home invader’s elaborate plan... Something I could not explain was happening before my very eyes!
The inky darkness of the shadows in the hidden room began to slither forth like the tentacles of a creature from Lovecraftian nightmares. I was shocked, so dumbstruck and stunned at what was going on I didn’t even react till one of the tendrils touched the toe of my boot and I felt a sudden icy coldness in my toes like dipping them into a frozen lake. The pain was enough to snap me out of my stunned state and send me running to the stairs. When I reached them and started climbing I stopped and due to some sudden inspiration drew a line of salt and a protection symbol across the first step. I guess because I had done something similar so many times it felt natural to do it while in a panic, or something.
Winston was still banging on the door trying to get it open. I moved next to him and began slamming into it with him. I tried the knob, it turned freely, but the door wouldn’t budge. It just felt as if something was holding it closed by pressing against the other side. The inky tendrils of darkness kept creeping towards us the void seeming to swallow any light, maybe even the basement itself. Think of it as like a wall of pure black slowly closing in on us. There was no way we could get out in time, the door was just starting to buckle but we couldn’t get it open fast enough. It had almost sat down and given up, but then the strangest thing yet happened. The darkness got to my line of salt and was suddenly halted. I heard a frustrated roar echo from the depths of darkness as the hungry voice pushed against an invisible wall.
Winston turned and saw the salt holding back the darkness then he looked to me. “You’re the actual real deal!” He declared with a renowned vigor in his voice. “I guess so!” I answered back and redoubled my efforts. “Same time on three,” I suggested and indicated the door. My partner nodded. “1.. 2.. 3!” We slammed into the door causing it to buckle and crack. “1.. 2…” I faltered as the stairs beneath my feet suddenly shook violently as if a giant hand had grabbed them and began thrashing violently. I looked back and realized the shaking was scattering the salt I had laid down, our protective wall was crumbling! Winston looked back and realized the same thing. We exchanged a glance and at the same time, we shouted ‘Three!’ and slammed into the door, busting through in a storm of splinters.
We fell through then scrambled to our feet. Winston slammed what was left of the door closed behind us and propped it closed with a chair wedged under the handle. I drew a wide semi-circle of salt around the door and chair and quickly drew every useful symbol I could think of. I was startled by the door shaking suddenly as if struck by something on the other side, I almost stepped on the circle which would have broken it, thankfully Winston was there to help me regain my balance.
“How long will the salt hold?” He asked. “No clue!” I answered. “Let’s just get out of here!” The lights suddenly flickered out and the floor beneath our feet began trembling as if there were an earthquake. The inky black shadows began oozing up through the floorboards like rising floodwaters. I didn’t have enough salt to cover the entire floor so escape was our only option. We sprinted towards the front door in a panic. Winston was screaming asking ‘What the hell is going on?!’ My only response was ‘Just keep running!’. We made it into the hallway and it was dark due to the lights going out so I took a flashlight from my tool belt and flicked it on. We ran down the hall but Winston suddenly skidded to a stop in front of me and I accidentally ran into him. I was about to ask him why he halted when the answer became apparent. There were ‘branches’ of shadows blocking the exit like the wall of a hedge maze. We could see the front door and the safe haven of outdoors just on the other side of the barrier, but couldn’t get through. Winston grabbed a potted flower off a nearby table and threw it at the barrier, maybe to breakthrough or just out of anger. The pot shattered against the shadows as if it were a brick wall. I tried flinging my salt at it, but it didn’t seem to have any effect. The wall of creeping darkness had already blocked off the way we came and the only door in the hallway we could reach led into a closet.
I scanned around frantically with my flashlight looking for any other possible options when Winston suddenly grabbed my hand. “Your light, shine it on the branches!” He shouted as he forcefully directed the beam. When the light touched the shadowy branches they began to tremble and shrink. I didn’t understand why at first but then I realized I had accidentally grabbed my photon buster flashlight. Any branches touched by the projected banishing rune were withering away as if being touched by a flame! Just before the encroaching wall of darkness could reach us we burned a hole through the blockade and slammed through the front door.
Never had the warmth of daylight felt so good as when we emerged from that haunted house. Winston’s family had just pulled into the driveway when we emerged from the nightmare. A woman I presumed to be Dana excited her van and helped her husband off the ground. She looked and saw the wall of shadow chasing after us. “What God’s name is that?!” She screamed. Winston took a hold of her and began directing her back to the van shouting for his family to get out of there. They all quickly piled into the van and peeled out. I was right behind them in my truck.
So… Now we come to present to me writing this right now. Winston and his family are staying with me at my place, we’re all fine. We had some concerns about Covid, but frankly compared to everything else that happened it doesn’t seem like such a pressing issue anymore. We tried calling the cops, but they didn’t believe a word of what we said. As of right now, I’m at a loss. There is clearly some evil force running rampant through Winston’s home. In fact, I did some research about the place and found some dark history. The manor was once the home of a serial killer back in the 1880s. He managed to avoid justice for years thanks to being the brother of the town’s mayor. Eventually, the citizens of the town took justice into their own hands. They broke into the manor in the middle of the night and lynched him in his own kitchen. Over the decades dozens of families have lived in the home, but never more than a few months at a time. Winston and Dana had been told by the realtor there were reports the place was haunted, but at the time they didn’t believe in the supernatural. To them, it was just old rumors that had thankfully brought the price of the home down enough for them to be able to afford. I find myself scoffing as I write this. The American dream turned into a nightmare outta hell.
Thus I turn to the internet, to anyone reading this. Winston, Dana, and their children need help. They’re looking to me to give it to them but I don’t know what to do. If there is anyone out there who can help in any way please reply to this thread. I may be a ‘phony’ but I’m not heartless. I’m not leaving them to try and deal with this on their own.
submitted by Zenru45 to nosleep